Monday, February 18, 2008

What he said


And this guy is in public relations?

Okay, his comment should not have been uttered aloud. Now. Does he have an idea of what he is referring to? I

Friday, February 15, 2008

CSI:NY "Playing With Matches"


In the Big Apple, an elite group of first responders exists. The "Boys in Blue", or NYPD, is well known as being one of the best in law enforcement. On the other hand, FDNY has produced some high quality blaze battlers, including Steve Buscemi, famous for such films as Reservoir Dogs. Yoo-hoo casting directors! Talk about a guest star....

During a race to a call, Engine 3 learns about people possibly trapped. This is nothing they haven't prepared for through hours of training. What they don't expect is the body which smacks up against the windshield. The impact is so great, a spider's web of damage covers most.

It takes no time at all for Det. Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise), head of the evidence roundup team, to be called in by Det. Jessica Angell (Emanuelle Vaugier) for help. He is wise enough not to tackle this on his own, so Det. Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) comes along for the ride. Soon, Det. Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap) arrives too.

When a patch is discovered nearby, the case takes a strange twist. The design resembles one worn by Alan Shepard on Mercury 3. Mac is quick to quote, "Houston, we have a problem". I have to hand it to the writers to have Gary Sinise utter a sly salute to Apollo 13. The victim is wearing a suit of sorts, leading the detectives to consider the role of outer space.

Back at the lab, Dr. Sid Hammerback (Robert Joy) tells Mac his victim died of smoke inhalation when toxic fumes filled his helmet, A meat thermometer was also discovered during autopsy, which accounted for the stab wound. Since rate of impact was approximately eighty miles per hour, Sid surmises a re-entry to the earth's atmosphere has something to do with the case. When Mac just looks at him, Sid mildly says he is not a forensic expert.

Kendall Novak (Bess Wohl), an in-house lab technician, helps by suggesting a more reasonable explanation. She thinks the victim might have been street luging, which is exactly what it sounds like. Accelerant increased the rate of speed so homemade sleds on wheels flew down a hill. When Messer and Angell attend a competition, they find "Mercury" (Jason Chambers Human Weapon). He admits to the stabbing, but claims innocence as to the death.

A luge professional, Sandra 'Concrete Cowgirl' Polk (Nicole Marie Lenz), owns of the suit. She wanted to help the victim take a step further in his career, since he seemed to have a talent. Eventually, she is cleared of wrongdoing. The death is determined to be accidental.

Meanwhile, Det. Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes) and Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) are asked by Det. Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) for an assistafter Vanessa Matlin's corpse floats out of an automatic toilet. Needless to say, this will be one for office annals! Although water hinders processing, Stella gets a lead from CODIS, the DNA database. She tells Mac she has an even bigger bombshell. There is a match, but the suspect is incarcerated.

Mac remembers Seth Riggin (Reid Scott My Boys) was found guilty of another's death, yet he has always proclaimed his innocence. Chances of a wrongful conviction are not high, but Stella mentions two people could have the same DNA. Mac is irked, but knows she has a point. The next order of business is chatting with Seth.

As Stella checks out Seth's cell, Mac talks to him. Seth is planning to appeal his conviction. Mac is confronted with evidence opening the door to reasonable doubt. Soon afterwards, he revisits Seth and says evidence will soon prove he played a part of Vanessa's death, albeit a small one. The original sentence is another matter altogether.

This episode was the last filmed before writers went on strike. I have to admit, this was a good place to stop. Gary Sinise got to experience perhaps not being right about nabbing a bad guy. As Seth said, the jury can look at the same stuff and see a completely different conclusion. Melina held her ground well, not letting Stella be intimidated by her boss and friend. Of all team members, she is the one he should be listening to most.
Sid's deadpan delivery of "I'm just a pathologist" was icing on the cake. He was quick to let Mac know the bizarre is sometimes the right conclusion. After the 'fairy on her shoulder' led to Peter Pan and an arrest("Happily Never After"), Mac can only raise an eyebrow. Robert Joy is to be commended for his acting prowess.
Kendall was, for once, on her own without Adam. It worked much better. Having Bess Wohl and AJ Buckley compete gets tiresome to watch.

Music Review The Blind Boys of Alabama Down in New Orleans


Previously posted on Blogcritics.

When the Blind Boys of Alabama decided to record with a new CD, they considered details. Only the best would do for the four time Grammy winners. While a number of places could have been picked, Louisiana won. And so, The Blind Boys of Alabama Down in New Orleans began birth.

As a pick-me-up down in the home of crayfish and Connick Jr., this makes sense. After all, much can be said for the rich music history. Where else would funerals be highlighted by a parade?

Wisely, gospel tunes are backed by New Orleans natives. David Torkanowsky (piano) joins Roland Guerin on bass along with Shannon Powell (drums). Special guests are Allen Toussaint, the pianist/producer who made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and the Hot 8 Brass Band, whose emphasis on horns is undeniable. This last choice was smart, since they are one of the city's 'most vital young acts'.

There is something for all on this CD. A spiritual overtone is evident. For some, both words and music hit listeners with a sledgehammer. A few are more subtle.

"Free at Last" focuses on the message of a cultural and political icon. Dr. Martin Luther King is being introduced to a new generation of listeners in one of the biggest forms of mass media. Music will endure no matter what happens in the world, whether or not events take place on a regular basis. Even someone who has never heard of The Blind Boys or Dr. King is drawn in with sassy opening notes. Using a clever move, the most memorable line from Dr. King's speech is penned as lyrics.

""Make a Better World" brings in The Hot 8 Brass Band for the first time. This song is a departure from what one might expect from typical gospel fare. Earl King, now deceased, wrote this as a still a message which people all around the world should learn. While I agree with the concept per se, the song itself did not resonate with as much impact as the previous selection.

"You Got To Move", to me, epitomizes New Orleans sound. While not discussing saints, this toe tapping song reminds those who understand man's common condition. Death does not discern between class, race, religion, sex, or anything else.

"Down by the Riverside" combines the talents of Allen Toussaint and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. They set off vocals nicely, but the words are interesting. I have to wonder if they discuss anti war on purpose in light of today's political era.

"How I Got Over" is one of the two songs associated with the late singer Mahalia Jackson. A little slower than the more peppy songs, it bears a listen. While none of us are guaranteed a life of ease, there is a way to get through one's troubles.

When I decided to write up The Blind Boys of Alabama, I knew little about their work. However. This CD isn't bad! Whether I enjoyed a particular song or not, the overall effect was a good one. Kudos have to be given out for performing in New Orleans. While there may or may not be a portion of the proceeds given to rebuilding efforts, the reminder of just how special the town is nice to see.

Book Review The Con Artist of Catalina Island A McAfee Twins Mystery


Previously published here.

The Con Artist of Catalina Island A McAfee Twins Christmas Novel, by Jennifer Colt, brings the identical sibling private eyes back into the hearts and minds of readers. Kerry and Terry McAfee may look exactly alike, but the resemblance stops on the physical level. Kerry is the brains while Terry has a wild child running through her veins. Even though it cost her a stint in prison for doing drugs, she and Kerry are family. Period. This time, it will take everything they've got to solve this holiday mystery.

Wouldn't you know it, relatives pull them into their latest case. After Cousin Robert lands in the ICU after a freak accident, the twins rush to the hospital. Aunt Reba chooses the stressful moment to drop a bombshell. It's clear a place to get away from day-to-day life would help soothe nerves. Catalina Island seems perfect.

Paradise turns into a mirage when the twins book themselves into a hotel room. It seems the previous occupants had a war of words. No big deal? It's not, except that the newlywed bride now appears to be missing. When a dead body turns up, things get sticky. A case of mistaken identity is the last straw. The twins must figure out what really happened before they can get back to the business of being related.

When relatives and business are put into the same sentence, there is almost certainly bound to be trouble. Leave it to Cousin Robert, and the 'almost' gets tossed into the sea. Remember that long held family secret? It ceases to be once Robert gets wind of it. Not content with holding it between relations, he decides to take matters into his own hands. Holiday stress is promptly increased ten times over.

This book is almost too rich a read. Robert and Reba play a larger role than is perhaps strictly necessary. While the storyline opened up a new layer of depth, I thought it a little distracting. Toss in some international intrigue and thought-provoking questions are raised.

Speaking of, I have a quibble regarding terminology. When we first meet two minor players, they are introduced as deputies. Later on, they get referred to as sheriffs. Last time I checked, those roles are hardly interchangeable. A deputy ranks below a sheriff, as a vice president is under a commander-in-chief.

CSI:NY "All in the Family"


Previously published here.

When Emily Miller buys flowers, she never expects to be killed by a bullet. It's not long before Det. Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) uses Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) and Det. Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) to help find a solution. A tooth tells Hawkes there might be another victim. Two seconds later, this is confirmed.

Det. Jessica Angell (Emanuelle Vaugier Two and a Half Men) is already on scene when they arrive. She tells them deceased number two is Judge Julio Riverton (Roy Werner Power Rangers Time Force, Renegade). Unfortunately, Madison (Ashlee Gillepsie 7th Heaven), his daughter, was the one to discover his body. After she and the two young men with her, Charlie (Greg Mikurak) , and Jake (Jericho), are questioned, lab results help them pinpoint the killer.

Dr. Sid Hammerback (Robert Joy) gives Mac and Stella a strange cause of death. The judge was bludgeoned instead of simply being shot. This is odd, since a bullet would have been faster.

An arrest is made. Jake beat the judge while Charlie watched. The act was in retaliation for being in the foster care system when they were younger. Mac reminds them their impulsive act left two dead, a woman without a parent, and no future for either of them.

Meanwhile, Det. Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) raises an alarm for Det. Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap) when he doesn't show for work. She covers with Mac, but gets Flack to find out what the story is.

Once the super at Danny's apartment building lets Flack in, a quick look around sheds light on things. A program for Ruben Sandoval, Danny's young neighbor, is nearby. It doesn't take much to figure out Ruben's death has been affecting Danny's work. However, Flack eventually finds his friend. What Danny tells him, though, is chilling.

Rickie (Jacqueline Pinol Lincoln Heights, Resurrection Blvd), Ruben's grieving mother, discovered the man responsible for the robbery, Ollie Barnes (Al Santos The Help, Grosse Pointe), has gotten out of prison. Somebody else killed her son, but she is not letting truth stop her revenge. Danny unwittingly helps her when she steals his gun.

It takes both detectives before Rikki is found. Danny manages to persuade her to not go through with her plan, but Ollie cannot leave without calling her a foul name. Flack has to pull Danny off before the situation gets worse.

Danny eventually brings her in for booking. Flack is there to help smooth things over, and tells Danny he needs to stop blaming himself. Danny doesn't know how, and leaves.

This was not a one hour episode, rather, it turned into two half hour shows back to back. I never truly believed the substory. Why would a mother go after someone who didn't kill her child? Whoops! Ollie Barnes was harsh in his judgment, but I understand his thinking.
Lindsay stinks when it comes to cover ups. Mac was smart enough to pick up on it. My only thought as to why he didn't question her more closely was Danny's emotional state. He's too consumed with guilt to be effective.
Flack, on the other hand, has never been one for gut wrenching emotion. He's like Mac in a sense. He had enough forethought to not put Rickie in jail, but perhaps he and Jessica Angell need a soul shattering moment....

CSI:NY "Happily Never After"


Ever thought you lived in a land of fantasy? Det. Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) and his team face situations like that every day. Since the cases usually involve a dead person, they rely on homicide detectives Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) and Jessica Angell (Emanuelle Vaugier) for an assist.

After a hotel owner is found buried under an ice castle, Det. Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap) finds the scene compromised by the presence of a snow machine. Suffice it to say any prints keep blowing away. However, there is no shortage of suspects considering the victim is Fiona Chisolm (Hannah Sussman NYPD Blue). Employees didn't like her, and neither did most of the public.

Only when liquid nitrogen tanks, used to create artificial snow, are examined closely does the solution come. Felix (Robert Cicchini Six Feet Under, 24), a chestnut cart operator, was angry since Fiona wanted to take away his license. Confronting her led to a physical altercation. She landed on the tank with a heay degree of force. The tank's nozzle embedded in her chest and froze her heart.

When Det. Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes) and Flack arrest Felix, he denies having killed Fiona. True. However, he learns a bigger lesson about the aftermath of revenge than the one he was trying to teach his victim. In the end, Fiona leaves her hotel to her employees and her dog, Otto, comes home to his new loving family. Hmmm..... sounds familiar.

Mac has the most interesting case of the day. A woman wearing only a nightgown is crushed between a bus and a taxi. Along for the ride is Det. Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo), still reeling from the death of his young neighbor ("Child's Play).

Angell tries comforting him by saying anyone would take the death of a child hard. She has no idea what the full story is, so Danny makes sure she understands this was a ten year old boy with a name and a face.

"Wendy" written on blue paint across the victim's chest is the first sign of an unusual case. Dr. Sid Hammerback (Robert Joy) tells Mac cause of death is a weapon not unlike a hook. Are you getting the references yet?

Adam Ross (AJ Buckley) helps the case along when his testing shows traces of a hallucinogenic called 'Foxy". Think LSD on a very bad trip indeed. Mac and Danny get another piece of the puzzle when they visit a mortgage firm where the victim's brother works.

Leslie Wright (Leah Rachel) died in part from the aftereffects of Foxy. When she was sufficently 'out of it', Tyler Bennett (Kevin G. Schmidt Clubhouse) took unfair advantage. She realized what was going on, and threatened to tell. Tyler killed her to prevent it.

This was a fun episode! Two different cases, but both with fairy tale shoutouts. My favorite line? When Sid told Mac, "Maybe you're looking for Captain Hook?", The unmistakable wince on Mac's face was classic Sinise. Although I have a hard time emotionally when Mac goes into strident mode (I know, job requirement sometimes, still), it's nice to see his human side.
Once again, Carmine showed off his acting chops. While not responsible for Ruben's death, his grief is palpable. Danny is smart enough not to do anything rash, but his colleagues are keeping an eye on him. Kudos to the writers for having Danny team with Mac on the next case he handled.