Cry Me A River

I gotta say, I just read the funniest thing on some Greensboro, right-wing blogs. Evidently CNN’s broadcast of the Republican debate was a total farce, some might even say a “setup”, and now CNN should be boycotted. It was so funny, I almost did a spit-take. You know the kind when you’re drinking something and you hear or see something so funny that you literally spit your drink out with that “ppppfffffttt!” sound? Yeah, that.

I never get tired of hearing cries from the right about how the MSM (that’s the main stream media for you less informed out there) is liberally biased. According to those in the know, every major media outlet is slanted left these days. This CNN/YouTube thing is just the latest in a long line of hippy drenched, pot-smoking, birkenstock wearing propaganda all designed to make even more of us hate George W. Bush than the 73% of us that do now.

So ignore the over 250 newspapers published daily by right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the highest rated news network on the planet, Fox News, the most listened to neo-cons on talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Neil Boortz and just remember that CNN can’t ask legitimate questions about Giuliani, an adulterer that spent tax payer’s money to have his love trysts paid for, all the while overlooking the hole in the ground that used to be the World Trade Center. Cause that would be biased.

P.S. – CNN does it to the left too. So as Taylor says “Deal with it!”

A Brief Video Tour of CandyBar 3

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth a googolplex, right? Yesterday Panic & The Iconfactory released CandyBar 3 for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and it has been greeted with open arms by Mac users and icon enthusiasts alike. There’s a great deal of new stuff packed into this release, not the least of which is the blending of CandyBar 2 and Pixadex 2 into a single, unified whole. I thought an easy way to show some of these cool new features was to make a quick guided tour. Video artifacts and nervous jabber aside, I think you’ll find it helpful.

To get the complete skinny and download a free trial version, point your favorite web browser to the CandyBar Home page over at Panic.com. Then surf on over to the Iconfactory and download tons of great, free icon sets and their accompanying Leopard dock styles. Have fun and thanks for watching!

UPDATE: The guys over at MacMost have put together their own screencast of CandyBar 3 and it’s pretty nice. They show how you can manually drop in dock images instead of using just iContainers, which is something I didn’t cover in my overview. Check it out.

An Illustrated Guide to Triad Subs

Regular visitors to my blog know that I occasionally dabble in submarine sandwich reviews. I’ve not reviewed a new sub place in a while, so this should serve as a stopgap until the next write-up. In all of my reviews, I use a “Yummie Scale” to rate the overall taste, appearance and value of the sub. At the bottom of this scale is Subway which rates a 1. At the opposite end of the extreme is Dibella’s Old Fashion Subs based in New York and Ohio which rates a 9. I grew addicted to Dibella’s when I went to school at R.I.T. and have never found anything that comes even close to them anywhere else. My friend Talos recently went up north for Thanksgiving and was kind enough to bring back Dibella’s subs for all of us at the Iconfactory, which gave me a chance to do this detailed guide explaining just what makes Dibella’s so good.

With my Dibella’s Godfather sub in hand (thanks to Talos), I made the rounds to some of the sub shops I frequent around Greensboro. The three that I chose were Giacomo’s Italian Market on New Garden Road, Subway (does it matter where?) and Jimmy John’s at the Quaker Village Shopping Plaza. I ordered the same basic Italian sub at each location to try and level the playing field as much as possible. The first tell-tale sign of a good sub is the cross section. Click the thumbnail image here to get a detailed look at the four subs by cross section as well as how they stack up by price.

Everyone from students to working folk appreciate the value of a buck. How that buck stretches when it comes to subs varies from place to place. This photo shows the dramatic difference of just what six bucks will get you around the Triad and how that compares to Dibella’s. If anyone knows a place in Greensboro or Winston that has 14″ subs for $7.50, please let me know.

The key to any good submarine sandwich is the bread. In my opinion, as your humble sub reviewer, sub rolls should be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Some places like Subway have what amounts to pathetic excuses for bread and it’s important that you know the difference. The sub places around the Triad seem to all use similar bread recipes and it’s starting to tick me off. If you own a deli, for the love of the sub, look here and study well. Our stomachs will thank you later.

So there you have it. The next time I get a chance to write up a Triad Sub Review, you can refer back to this handy comparison chart to get a better sense of all those things I’ll be talking about. Of course, you may not even enjoy submarine sandwiches, in which case you probably didn’t even read this far in the first place. What do I look like a mind reader?

Australians Wake Up

From Think Progress:

“Conservative Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who has been “one of President Bush’s staunchest allies,” suffered “a humiliating defeat” in national elections Saturday when the oppositional Labor Party wrested majority control of parliament away from Howard’s coalition by a 53% to 46.7% margin. Labor Party head Kevin Rudd, who is likely to replace Howard as prime minister, “has promised to immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and withdraw Australia’s troops from Iraq.”

Looks like the nation Bush and company have been clinging to as an excuse for a number of failed policies is about to abandon him. It’s about frickin’ time. Well done Australia, well done.

Giving Thanks

As families across this nation sit down with each other and give thanks for all they have, it seemed like a good time to put together a little list of some of the things I’ll be giving a nod to the big guy upstairs for. Maybe this will catch on. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I’m thankful for…

• my loving wife, wonderful home and my crazy, adorable animals.

• the most kick-ass parents a guy could ever have.

• the return of Futurama on DVD.

• the small amount of rain we’ve gotten in the Triad lately.

• my health.

• the people who invented TiVo.

• all the wonderful people I hear from every day on Twitter.

• the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

• the talented, creative people I work with.

and

• the brave men and women fighting abroad this holiday season.

Ten Reasons Why Spidey 3 Sucked

After having forced my wife to watch Spiderman 3 tonight, I was painfully reminded of why I didn’t really like this flick in the first place. Evidently, over the last 6 months my brain must have taken a vacation. I remember standing in Best Buy when the DVD hit the shelves and saying to myself “It wasn’t that bad, was it?” As it turns out, yeah it was.

I figured it might be a good idea for other geeks not to force their wifes to watch it either, so I’ve gone and put together a list of just some of the things Sam Raimi must have been telling himself as he made this disastrous third installment. It’s the only possible explanation. Oh yeah, this list contains spoilers, as if that matters.

• Spider sense is great for avoiding goblin gliders in the first movie, but not in the third. It evidently also doesn’t help to warn you that meteorites have struck nearby or that alien symbiotes are about to crawl all over you.

• When you are a man made of sand, it’s helpful that you can find a large truck with the words “Sand” on the side to hide in. Must be all that Manhattan beach erosion we keep hearing about.

• Police chiefs apparently keep detailed records of every single car jacking that happens in the New York City metro area. They also tend to hold that information secret until a seemingly crucial moment in the life of no-named student/freelance photographers.

• If you are planning on proposing to the woman you love, make sure the beautiful lab partner you kissed as Spiderman earlier in the day, just happens to dine at the restaurant you are proposing in.

• If you’re a struggling actress down on her luck, who’s being blackmailed into breaking up with the love of her life, what ever you do, don’t whisper to him “It’s a trap, Peter!”. Oh, and remember not to tell him why you broke his heart later on.

• Goblin grenades are powerful enough to completely vaporize Venom and turn large chunks of the Sandman’s arm to glass, but not deadly enough to kill Harry at point blank range.

• Forget a career playing virtuoso jazz piano! Who needs that when you can scrape and scrounge getting paid $50 a pop for pictures of Spiderman?

• When weening yourself of a violent alien symbiote, be sure to find the one church in all of New York City with the guy who absolutely hates your guts waiting in the wings.

• Butlers who clean the wounds of dead people tend to reveal crucial plot information months after they first discover it, and just at the proper moment.

• Lastly, whenever you introduce a story line about a poor, sick daughter, what ever you do, don’t follow it up or offer closure. Just remember that resolution is highly overrated.

Of course, this has all been said before by people brighter than me. I just wonder if I can get my money back from Best Buy…

Let’s Talk Turkey

When I think of my brief, yet humble career as an amateur chef, I divide my life into two parts: BB and AB. That is to say my life ‘Before Brining’ and my life ‘After Brining’. What is brining? To put it quite simply, brining it is a cheap, and relatively easy technique to help ensure that your Thanksgiving turkey turns out as delicious and juicy as it possibly can. It is essentially a marinade that delivers both flavor to the meat and helps lock in juices when the turkey is exposed to the high temperatures of cooking. I first learned the tip from Alton Brown and his awesome cooking show, Good Eats and have been using it every year since without fail. No matter if you plan to roast, fry or spin your turkey on a giant rotisserie, brining your bird is the first step on the road to culinary fullfillment.

There are many ways to accomplish the brining, but I’ve stuck with Alton’s method and recipe. You’ve heard of the expression “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Yeah, well that applies here so I’m going to give you the low down on just how I go about working the turkey magic.

The easiest container I’ve found to brine in is one of those big 5 gallon paint buckets from Home Depot. Go pick up a brand new one, and then give it a good hand washing before you get ready to brine. For a 14-16 pound bird you’ll want to brine for a good 12-24 hours, so plan ahead. Rinse the turkey completely inside and out and remove any packets of giblets and the neck that may be hiding in the body cavity. I almost forgot to to this one year believe it or not, so it’s always best to double check.

Turkey Brine Recipie:

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring it to a boil. Stir to dissolve all the solids and then remove from the heat. Cool the mixture to room temp. and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. The chilling part is important since you don’t want your turkey to go into a hot or even warm solution (can you say bacteria people?). Early on the day of cooking, (or better on the night before) combine the brine and ice water in your clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area like a basement or a garage. Turn the turkey over once half way through.

When it’s time to cook, remove the bird from the brine and rinse thoroughly. You may see that the color of the skin and meat has darkened slightly, that is a good thing. It just means that the brine did its work and the flavorings have penetrated into the turkey. A few minutes before roasting, heat your oven to 500 degrees. I use Alton’s method of filling the turkey’s cavity with fresh aromatics instead of bread stuffing. Stuffing dries out the meat and prolongs cooking time and I’ve found it’s best to avoid it.

Turkey Aromatics:

1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Place your bird on roasting rack inside a wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to the cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.

Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing the temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 min. before carving.

Trust me when I say that you will never have un-brined turkey ever again. I’ve heard people say that frying your turkey is the only way to lock in juices and ensure your bird doesn’t get dried out. To those people I say “Ha!” you don’t know jack. A brined and roasted bird is just as flavorful and juicy as any fried turkey could ever hope to be. Give it a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

My Favorite Republican

You couldn’t pay me enough to live in California. Between the fires, mudslides, earthquakes and ridiculously over-priced cost of living, I think calling the Golden State home would be more hassle than it’s worth. Sure they have the Sequoia National Forest, the Mythbusters and even Disneyland, but you gotta figure that a place that shelters the likes of Britney Spears and lures the Dodgers from Brooklyn can’t all be peaches and cream. Then again, I’m quite jealous of California’s Hollywood actor turned politician for the ages, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Besides the eternal coolness of having The Terminator as your governor, Schwarzenegger has proven he is an effective leader. Arnold has taken small, yet measured steps to turn California 180 degrees and set the tone on a number of issues. His initiatives have helped spearhead a new green economy, worked hard to bring California back from the brink of bankruptcy, provided affordable healthcare for adults and children alike and improved the state’s aging infrastructure. The part I like best about Schwarzenegger however is that he’s not afraid to do what’s best for his state, even though it may not be what his party expects.

CNN recently named him number 8 on a list of 50 people who matter most in business, and it’s easy to see why. Arnold has embraced green initiatives and found that doing what’s best for the environment and our children’s future, doesn’t necessarily mean destroying our economy. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Schwarzenegger recently launched the “Million Solar Roofs” initiative which provides tax breaks and rebates for the installation of 100,000 solar roofs per year in CA, every year for 10 consecutive years. The program will ultimately reduce energy costs for Californians while providing high-tech industry solutions to the masses. While the rest of the nation sits and debates about the merits of alternative energy, in typical action hero style, Arnold jumps in and gets the job done.

His background in body building and fitness has given him a strong commitment to universal health care that may very well become the future model for the country. While some problems persist, Arnold’s initiatives never-the-less have people re-thinking a system that fattens the insurance industry by denying patients coverage. His efforts with the Special Olympics and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports have made him a favorite of educators and health officials everywhere. In short, he is everything I’d like to see in my governor, and probably more.

When all is said and done, Arnold has proved he’s an agile politician. Although his core values sometimes gets him in trouble with his deeply blue state, he also recognizes that compromise wins the day. He is able to effectively separate politics from policy and do what’s best for the residents of CA. Local and federal leaders could learn a thing or two from this humble Austrian import. Despite the skiing accidents and bad one-liners, Arnold Schwarzenegger has helped make California a national policy leader instead of a follower. I wish the same could be said of North Carolina.

How bad can earthquakes be anyway?

You Know, for Spite!

This is the true story of how MarbleofDoom.com was born. Those of you with weak constitutions should look away now because it’s not going to be pretty. As any artist knows, the creative process can often be sparked by a number of things; a bit of music, a friend’s comment, a favorite photograph or even just the desire to fill an empty niche. However, in the case of the MOD, no such nobel pursuits came into play. Nope, what we have here is a good ‘ol fashion case of spite. Yes, spite.

Before I get into all that however, I should back up just a little bit. If you don’t know what MarbleofDoom.com is, go check it out. It’s basically a fun, website where Mac users can enter how much time they’ve collectively wasted waiting for the spinning beach ball of death cursor. Users enter time and the site reports on the total number of hours wasted. What’s the point? I’m glad you asked.

The spinning beach ball has been something that Mac users have been dealing with in one form or another since the platform was launched. Back in the early days, Mac users knew it as the dreaded wrist watch cursor that would spin until a process had finished loading. When Mac OS X came along, Apple decided to spruce it up. I guess they figured if you had to wait, why not wait in style? With the advent of the Adobe CS suite of apps, Mac users saw the frequency and duration of the beach ball increase dramatically. I know what you’re thinking. MOD was created to spite Adobe, right? Nope, not by a long shot cupcake. Now sit back down and let me finish the story.

Back in June, two of my long-time friends, Bob & Jiffy Burke, told me via Twitter that at Jiffy’s office, they referred to the beach ball as the “Marble of Doom”. The name really struck a chord with all of us at the Iconfactory and we started referring to it by its new name all the time. We loved the name so much that in September, I decided to add the lexicon to the official Wikipedia entry for the spinning beach ball of death. This is the part where the spite comes in. I was so proud of contributing to the mythos of the beach ball, that when my addition was removed a little over an hour later by a user named Sdfisher, I could hardly believe it. I mean, it was just another name for the cursor, what harm could there possibly be in adding it? According to Sdfisher:

“marble of doom” has 10 google hits, only one of which is Mac related. Removed.

Ask any one of my friends and they’ll tell you I’m not a vindictive person. I don’t fly into fits of anger or wish ill-will on anyone. But when I read that Wikipedia edit from Sdfisher, something inside me snapped. I immediately formed a geeky plan to leverage Mac users everywhere and get “Marble of Doom” back up on Wikipedia. After all, I owed Jiffy no less. Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself.

Months earlier, I had decided to actually record marble spin time using the excellent time tracking utility, On the Job. Every time I’d see the Marble of Doom, I’d immediately add the time to the fake MOD project. After one month of tracking the cursor, I was shocked to find that I was kept waiting a grand total of almost 1 hour. This experience gave me the brainchild for what would eventually become MarbleofDoom.com. All of the guys at work got excited about the project and I even enlisted the help of the talented Wolfgang Ante, our Frenzic and xScope partner, along with our own Craig Hockenberry, to help code the back end. The MOD website became a fun side project that we worked on in the down time between client work. We launched it on 10/19/07 and its popularity soared as Mac users everywhere could finally vent their frustrations with their glassy overlord.

“Marble of Doom” now has over 40,000 Google hits and has given more than a few people a good laugh while they wait for their Macs to return from la-la land. The best part however, was that on 10/30/07, a user named Rory O’Kane re-entered “marble of doom” as one of the names for the spinning beach ball cursor on Wikipedia. Take that Sdfisher! I told you this wasn’t going to be pretty, and now you know. God, I love the Internet :-)

“Bring ‘em on!”



President Bush is presented a T-shirt from Lcpl. Isaac Gallegos during a visit to the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, November 8, 2007. REUTERS Photo by Jim Young.

We hear a great deal about the number of our brave men and women who are killed in Iraq, but almost nothing is heard about those who are wounded, either physically or mentally. A photo-expose published this week from REUTERS makes it all too clear why. Go look at these images. They may be hard to take, but it’s vitally important that you do, no matter what side of the discussion you may be on.

Climate Denier’s Day of Reckoning

At some point (hopefully in the very near future) politicians, skeptics and blowhards who deny that human beings are altering the Earth’s climate will have to snap out of their right-wing fantasy lands and face facts. For Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina, that day finally came, thanks in part to his children:

Once a skeptic of global warming, Inglis got a hint that the political winds might be shifting when a longtime supporter warned that he might vote against Inglis if he “didn’t clean up his act on the environment.”

The warning came from Inglis’ eldest son, Robert Jr., now 22.

His daughter was no less blunt about the congressman’s refusal to embrace the view that global warming was being caused by human actions and that a serious response is needed. “I have three more kids coming up — and they seem to share the same view,” Inglis said.

Family pressure worked. Inglis traveled to Antarctica and, most recently, to Greenland to witness the effects of rising CO2 levels and temperatures. He now believes the science behind global warming. And he believes the politics are equally conclusive: Republicans will “get hammered” if they do not reckon with the issue soon.

Imagine that. A representative does a little research, takes a trip to see the effects of climate change first hand, and realizes that the bullshit climate critics have been force-feeding him for years was wrong. Perhaps there’s hope for us yet. In the meantime, Al Gore continues to fight the good fight and come to the aid of whales everywhere.

Lean On Me

My long-time friend from college, David Miller, has written a wonderful post about Twitter, the internet and blogging in general. His post goes to the heart of why so many people enjoy sharing their thoughts and experiences online. I’ve often read that some people don’t “get” why individuals blog or why someone would express themselves on Twitter in 140 characters or less. Dave hits the nail on the head with this bit:

“I think that it helps us not feel alone in the situations whether they are good times or not so good. That there are others out there who have had these experiences that make us human. It’s also cathartic for me to help express whatever feelings I’m having at the time.”

In a world when people can sometimes go days or weeks without talking or interacting with friends and family face to face, it’s comforting to know that you can reach out via the “tubes” and feel connected instantly. Blogging allows people to express themselves to those who might never have ever met in real life. Twitter goes one step further and distills these expressions down to ultra-concise nuggets of internet gold. It parses whole conversations into manageable chunks that we can either pay attention to or completely ignore.

I liken it to when I was in college, hanging out in the dormitory lounge for hours on end. People would come and go, things were happening all around me. I could either choose to participate in the discussion by throwing out my own occasional 2 cents, or I could sit back, watch TV, and eavesdrop on those over my shoulder. I knew friends like Dave were only an arm’s length away and would be there for me if I needed them. In a very small, and important way, Twitter is a lot like that. Think of it as a social, technical and professional support system for the digital generation. What’s not to “get”?

It’s Not Torture When We Do It

A couple of weeks ago, Brad & Britt invited callers to phone in and give their opinions on whether or not the interrogation technique known as “waterboarding” was torture and if the United States should be engaged in it. I listened to the program for about 30 minutes before heading to work and most of the callers who phoned in took the stance that it was not torture and even if it was, it was acceptable in order to save American lives.

Over on The Conservative Alternative (a local Greensboro blog) a similar discussion has broken out on the topic and I find it both fascinating and scary what some people will justify to themselves in the name of security. To them, waterboarding is acceptable because it combats the nature of the “greatest threat” our nation has ever faced – Islamofascism. As if we never faced any greater challenges than a religious mindset.

To the folks over at TCA, and all those who phoned into the Brad & Britt show that morning, I have one simple question:

“If you consider the interrogation technique known as ‘waterboarding’ to be an acceptable form of treatment for prisoners held by the United States, do you then agree that American service men and women, held by our enemies in a time of war, can be subjected to waterboarding themselves as a means to gain information?”

I tried to get several of the conservative commentators over at TCA to give their answer, but no one had the balls to actually come out and say yes or no. The reason why this is so difficult for them is simple. If you believe that waterboarding is okay when we do it, then it has to be okay when they do it to us, and that is something no one would ever agree to. No one in their right minds would try and justify applying “extreme interrogation techniques” to American service men and women held in foreign lands, nor should they. Torture is cruel, inhumane and ultimately self defeating as a means to gather information. Even those in our own government have admitted that waterboarding is torture, and yet somehow, it is considered acceptable behavior for the greatest nation on Earth.

I don’t know about you, but from where I’m standing we’ve lost the moral high-ground on issues like torture. The United States I grew up in didn’t lock people up without representation, it didn’t didn’t try to silence dissent and it sure as hell never tortured people. We’ve lost a great deal in the last six years, not the least of which is a true sense of what we’re fighting for. I have no desire for this nation to become like those who would seek to destroy us. But sadly in many ways, it appears we already have.

Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

SPOILERS AHEAD: This post contains potential spoilers for seasons 1 & 2 of the NBC drama, Heroes. If you’ve not watched yet but are planning to, then you’ll want to skip this post. You’ve been warned.

Unlike many of the fans that are addicted to NBC’s hit show, Heroes, I wasn’t hooked from the start. In fact, I never even tuned in until my wife convinced me to give it a try with the release of the season 1 DVD. She had been telling me how good it was for months and that I should really watch it. The guys at work loved it too and I often had to drown out their weekly discussions of the show with loud bouts of Tears for Fears pumping through my headphones while they would theorize about the various characters, plot points and next week’s episode. From the start, I had thought of Heroes as a cheap, TV knock-off of Marvel’s X-Men and not really worth my time. It took a couple of episodes before I saw how well crafted Heroes was, but once I did, there was no stopping. Burning through season 1 on DVD was thoroughly enjoyable & utterly addicting.

Each episode flowed freely into the next and I found myself caught up in multiple story arcs and solid character development. I really enjoyed watching Hiro Nakamura’s evolution from geeky Star Trek nerd to full fledged warrior, all the while keeping his sense of humor. Series favorite Claire, was surprisingly well handled too. I had assumed her character would be a rip from one of my all time favorites, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but again I was wrong. The story of Claire and her compelling father played by Jack Coleman, brought both drama and realism to this fantastical universe. The show even found a catch phrase that gave fans a type of “secret hand-shake” that only others of their kind would understand – “Save the cheerleader, save the world.”

Life was good. Until it immediately turned to crap.

I’ve been patiently waiting for season two of Heroes to “start”. So far, no luck. Unlike season 1, this year, the various characters don’t seem to be developing. There are vague notions of a new threat, and more foreshadowing of the future thanks to Isaac’s lost paintings, but in general, the arc is moving at a snail’s pace. By this time in season 1 viewers were solidly hooked and couldn’t wait for each new episode. This time around, I barely remember what happened last week. If it wasn’t for the “previously on Heroes” leader at the start each episode, I think I’d be lost. What’s going on? Where’s the magic?

I think one problem is expectations. So many fans got caught up in the amazing writing, acting and story arc development last year, that nothing the writers could do this time around could ever hope to come close. They’ve attempted to placate fans with new characters, abilities and a few geeky stars thrown in for good measure, all to no avail. Veronica Mars’ Kristen Bell and even Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek: TOS, can’t keep the sub-par writing of season 2 from showing. The new heroes we’ve been introduced to are relatively exciting (Monica the copycat girl and Parkman’s dad, aka Nightmare Man), but too many of the original favorites have taken steps backwards.

Peter loses his memory and has to rediscover his various abilities. Sylar lives, has lost all of his powers and is stranded somewhere in Mexico. Niki Sanders checks into the company “hospital” and suddenly she’s whole again. Claire has to go back into hiding and struggles to conceal her abilities from her high school peers. All of these developments are frustrating, regressive and unsatisfying. These “mini arcs” need to end immediately. Many series fans (including me) felt the season 1 finale was disappointing because Kring didn’t let the heroes be heroes. Instead of a climatic battle to defeat Sylar and solve the riddle of the exploding man utilizing all of the cast and their abilities, Hiro simply appears and stabs Sylar without so much as a whimper. Tim Kring spent the entire season introducing us to these incredible characters, building to a crisis the players would have to band together to stop, and it was over before it began. Kring can’t afford to make the same mistakes again, but he is.

Word comes this week that, due in part to the Hollywood writers strike, and dramatically reduced ratings, the planned mid-season spin-off, Heroes: Origins, has been shelved. The strike might be the official reason why we won’t see these six episodes (heck we might not even see the last half of season 2), but I think the drop in ratings is the more worrisome factor. Unless Heroes gets back to its roots and puts these characters in situations worthy of their namesake fast, we won’t have Claire, Noah, Sylar, and Parkman to kick around much longer. Will Heroes become just another great show killed before its time? As Hiro Nakamura might say, only time will tell.

UPDATE: Tonight’s episode “Out of Time” took some steps in the right direction. Several of the plot threads theorized by people commenting below came true (I won’t say which ones incase you don’t want to know) and things seem to be picking up. Perhaps November sweeps is just the kick in the pants the viewers like myself need to start to feel good about Heroes again. I just hope the writers strike doesn’t take the wind out of the series’ sails before it manages to get going.

UPDATE II: It seems that Heroes creator, Tim Kring, is aware of the problems with this season and issued a few statements about the fan’s disappointment. The good news is it seems he is committed to righting the wrongs and getting things back on track. Hat tip to Talos for this.