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January 2007

So Say We All

Battlestar_1 Humanity is under attack from terrorism, suicide bombers, religious zealots, an unpopular war with no end in sight, an overstretched military implicated in the death and torture of prisoners, all under the watch of a clueless God-fearing president.  Is this America circa 2007?  No. I'm talking about Battlestar Galactica, the most brilliant and daring show on television today.

"Battlestar Galactica" is the absolute best show on television today - bar none. It's a dramatic and bold statement on our post-9/11 edgy, hard-hitting drama..that just happens to be set in space. It's become a critical darling among television critics and sci-fi fans, but sadly it hasn't picked up as much attention from mainstream audiences. It has been all but ignored by the Emmys.  And that's a shame because it's truly must-see TV (can you tell I'm a bit obsessed?)

The main reason I think it hasn't gone mainstream is because it's sci-fi, which sadly turns off a lot of people (i.e. women) who don't like the genre. Or people whose image of "Battlestar" was the 1970s show of the same name featuring cheezy robots chasing Lorne Greene.  Today's Battlestar is the same in name only.

Pic_03 Yes, it's science fiction. Yes, it airs on the SciFi channel. But for those who might be turned off by sci-fi, space is just the setting. The subjects, themes, controversial topics tackled by Battlestar remind me of the 1960s-era "Star Trek", when Gene Roddenberry used sci-fi to address the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and other controversial topics of its day.

So what's it about? I'm not going to give away a lot of the plot. But in a nutshell: Humans in a distant galaxy are on the verge of extinction after a nuclear war launched by the Cylons, a race of intelligent robots originally created by the humans. They evolved and rebelled, as the show intro states.  A rag-tag fleet carrying the last 43,000 humans are fleeing from the Cylons towards a safe haven prophesied in the Sacred Scrolls: Earth.  They are led by a democratic government under President Laura Roslin, who was 43rd in line for the presidency  (get it? Dubya? 43rd president?) and gained office by default, who believes she is on a mission from God to lead her people to salvation. They are chased relentlessly by the Cylons, who are hell-bent on killing the freedom-loving humans with the aim of conquering the universe under their own religious beliefs. Sound familiar?

"Battlestar Galactica" is a reflection of modern-day problems we are facing - a true "ripped from the headlines" saga. It's no surprise that the show's plots and politics are hotly debated and discussed in blogs, books and a few college thesis.

There are all sorts of side stories and deeper plots, but that's the gist of the show. As if the great screen writing by Ron Moore weren't enough, "Battlestar" is a wonderfully-produced show, with film-quality direction, cinematography, special effects and a hauntingly-beautiful score by composer virtuoso Bear McCreary.

Pic_09 Most of the show's stars are relatively unknown save for one. It stars the brilliant actor, filmmaker and Latino activist Edward James Olmos as Admiral Adama, the military commander of the Battlestar Galactica fleet and voice of reason who is constantly butting heads with President Roslin (played by Oscar-nominated Mary McDonnell.) The show's other draw among every red-blooded male is the sexy Cylon called Number Six, played by Canadian actress and model Tricia Helfer (who incidentally, ahem, appears nude in the February 2007 issue of Playboy magazine).

After a long haitus, the second-half of the third season of "Battlestar Galactica" returns to television on Jan. 21 on Sci-Fi channel in the United States. Here in the UK, the second season just began airing this week.  But we're already all caught up thanks to, which offers the episodes for download a few days after the U.S. air dates.

So Say We All...

Are you ready for some football?

Redkinsflag The National Football League has announced that the first regular-season, overseas game ever will be played in London next season!!!  Woo hoo!  I don't care who is playing....I am SOOOOO there. And hopefully my mate "Blushing Whale" will be here when the game takes place.  I've been suffering from serious football withdrawal syndrome. And by football, I mean AMERICAN FOOTBALL, as it's called here in Europe, NOT soccer.

The game will likely be held in the newly-refurbished Wembley Stadium, which seats 90,000. The teams playing will be announced on Feb. 2, but the NFL says they will most likely be teams from the East Coast for logistical reasons.

I'd love to see my hometown team of the Washington Redskins take on the Baltimore Ravens or the Philadelphia Eagles. But there's little chance of seeing any of those teams in London. The NFL UK has announced that the two visitors must be teams that "resonate" with Europeans, even if they don't know the first thing about football. That means the likely contenders will be the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins because, for some godforsaken reason, the Brits are OBSESSED with anything having to do with New York City or Florida.  As far as British travelers are concerned, there are only three cities in the USA: NYC, Las Vegas and South Florida (especially Orlando and Miami).

Doesn't matter. I'll be there. In a Redskins sweatshirt.

Nfleuropalogo The whole point of this match is to expand American football's appeal in Europe and around the world. But there's about as much chance of that happening as soccer becoming a mainstream American sport.  With the exception of Germans, who love anything involving head-bashing, American football has never caught on in Europe.   

NFL has a minor league here called NFL Europa. But the teams are lucky to survive for more than two seasons. London's team, the London Monarchs, folded in 2003 due to lack of interest.  There are only six remaining teams in the league, five of which are in Germany: Amsterdam Admirals, Cologne Centurions, Rhine Fire, Frankfurt Galaxy, Hamburg Sea Devils and Berlin Thunder. They've also got some crazy weird rules, like four points for field goals over 50 yards, and each time must have at least one local national player must play each down, to make up for the fact that majority of players in NFL Europa are Americans.

The "World Bowl XV" will be held June 23 in Frankfurt, Germany.  I think I'll be washing my hair that day. See you at Wembley Stadium this autumn!

Amazing gRace

Banner I like to tell people I don't watch much television because, nowadays, it's politically incorrect and uncool to admit you enjoy TV, let alone own one.  But the truth is, I LOVE TELEVISION. We probably watch way too much television, especially now that we have a big beautiful new TV. 

Most of what's on the tube these days is absolute rubbish, especially here in the UK. A brief list of the shows we regularly or occasionally watch include: Battlestar Galactica, Desperate Housewives, Lost, 24 (Mr. Crab only), EastEnders (Mrs. Crab only), Coronation Street (Mrs. Crab only), Hollyoaks (Mrs. Crab only), Celebrity Big Brother, Airline UK, Amsterdam Nights, Deal or No Deal (UK edition, which uses regular folks, not models, to open the boxes), Ugly Betty, The Girls of the Playboy Mansion (Mr. Crab only), Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Next Porn Star (Mr. Crab only), The Golden Girls (Mrs. Crab Only), Melrose Place (Mrs. Crab only), 8 Simple Rules, Hope & Faith, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, CSI, Entourage,  Two and a Half Men, Spooks, the Simpsons any good movies that happen to be showing on Film4 Channel, and bad reality shows.

Most reality shows are absolute crap and I can't imagine why anyone in their right mind would ever apply to be on some of this trash like High School Reunion, Paradise Island or Fear Factor. But there is one show, and one show only, that we have always wanted to apply for and compete on:  THE AMAZING RACE.

The Amazing Race is a fantastic show (no, CBS didn't pay me to say that. But I'd happily endorse it!) It's part reality show, part game show, part travel and geography documentary.  It also airs in the UK, but is two seasons behind the US edition.  The Amazing Race is now taking applications for the 11th season.  Sadly, we don't qualify; one of the rules stipulates that contestants must not only be U.S. citizens but also must *RESIDE* in the US.   Personally, I'd love to see a series where the contestants actually have travel experience and street smarts. Most of the contestants on the show these days are absolute IDIOTS and only picked for their looks, past celebrity appeal or country bumpkins who have never left their home state, let alone the USA.  Maybe we're over-qualified...

The matrix has us: our new toy

A few weeks ago, our ancient behemoth of a television died a horrible, sudden death. It literally blew up when the internal tube exploded. I'm actually surprised it didn't happen sooner. The TV was easily 12 years old. It was given to me free by a former coworker, so at least we got a good 18 months use out of it.   And good riddance; I was tired of lugging that old TV around. It weighed at least 50 pounds.

It's been a long time since I've had to buy a television, and a LOT has changed in a few short years. So after careful and thorough research, we decided to pool our resources including some Christmas cash we received from Mrs. Crab's mom (thanks, Big Sal!) and went all out. We bought a Philips 26" LCD HDTV flat-screen.  Isn't she a beaut? She weighs all of 10 pounds and about 4 inches thick.  And we got a great deal to boot, thanks to all the after-Christmas sales on!

I'll admit I wanted a 43" screen but I thought that would be a little overkill in our little flat!  This television is HDTV, but unfortunately, there are no networks transmitting in HDTV yet.  Now if I could just convince Mrs. Crab to let me buy a Playstation 3 with Blu-Ray HD DVD player and a mid-sized surround sound system, this setup would be perfect! 

Bend it Like Beckham

Captny15201111523beckham_galaxy_soccer_n_1   So the big news today is that English soccer star David Beckham is leaving Real Madrid and has signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy.  This is HUGE news, not just in London or just the sports world, but internationally. David Beckham leaving Europe would be like Madonna moving to London. Oh wait, bad example...

The Beckhams are a brand. They are one of the most powerful, wealthiest couples on Earth. This move has major implications for business and entertainment industries as well as sports.  The Beckhams are internationally-recognized around the world. Recognized everywhere, that is, except the United States. 

Perhaps that's why they picked LA:  David can finish out his career playing a little footie; Victoria "somebody feed me please" Beckham can continue her shopaholic lifestyle on Rodeo Drive hanging out with her new best friend Katie Holmes; and both celebs can enjoy a life of relative obscurity in the United States where soccer is still seen as a little girls sport. 

I know, I know. The critics will say that soccer is becoming more and more popular in the United States. Sure that's true. They've also been saying that for 20 years. But who is going to the MLS games? Ever been to a DC United game? About 75% of the fans in the stands are Latinos and other immigrants who come from countries where soccer is already popular. You won't find many NASCAR, MLB, NBA, NHL or NFL fans who are also die-hard soccer nuts. 

Let's face it: Soccer has never been, and will never be, a mega-popular sport in the United States.

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