REVIEW: ORANGE COUNTY

CAST

Colin Hanks (King kong)
Jack Black (Goosebumps)
Schuyler Fisk (Snow Day)
Bret Harrison (V)
Kyle Howard (Royal Pains)
Catherine O’ Hara (Beetlejuice)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lily Tomin (I Heart Huckabees)
Carly Pope (Elysium)
Chevy Chase (Chuck)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Sarah Hagan (Buffy)
Leslie Mann (This is 40)
Harold Ramis (Year One)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Sandra McCoy (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Ben Stiller (Zoolander)

Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks) is a teenager from affluent Orange County, California. Although bright and intelligent, he has very little interest in education or studying, instead trying to lead a carefree SoCal lifestyle of surfing, drinking, and partying. A turning point comes when Shaun’s best friend Lonny (Bret Harrison) is killed in a surfing accident, causing Shaun to rethink his own life. One day, he finds a novel on the beach by the author Marcus Skinner, which quickly inspires him to become a writer. Upon learning that Skinner is an English professor at Stanford University, Shaun makes it his goal to attend Stanford and study under him, seeing it as an opportunity to escape from his superficial life in Orange County.

Shaun dramatically improves himself academically, obtaining high grades and SAT scores as well as becoming the president of his graduating class. Following the advice of his guidance counselor, Ms. Cobb (Lily Tomlin), who tells him that he is a “shoo-in” for acceptance, Shaun applies only to Stanford. This severely backfires as Shaun later finds out that he is rejected from Stanford, ironically because Ms. Cobb mixed up his academic transcript with that of a much less intelligent student. Shaun then reaches out to his wealthy father Bud (John Lithgow), who had left his wife and family to marry a much younger woman (Leslie Mann), pleading him to donate money to Stanford in order to increase his chances of being accepted. Bud, however, disapproves of Shaun’s dream of being a writer and refuses. In an attempt to help him, Shaun’s animal rights activist girlfriend Ashley (Schuyler Fisk) successfully convinces her friend Tanya (Carly Pope) to allow Shaun to be interviewed at his home by Tanya’s grandfather, a Stanford board member, so Shaun can explain his situation. Unfortunately, the antics displayed during the interview by his dysfunctional family members, including his alcoholic, emotionally fragile mother Cindy (Catherine O’Hara) and his dim-witted stoner brother Lance (Jack Black), cause Shaun’s interviewers to storm out in anger and disgust.

In a last-ditch effort to get him accepted, Ashley and Lance convince Shaun to drive to Palo Alto and plead his case directly to Stanford Admissions Director Don Durkett (Harold Ramis). By the time the trio arrive on campus, it is nighttime and the admissions building is already closed. While Lance distracts (and seduces) the secretary on duty in the office, Shaun and Ashley steal the address to Durkett’s house. They arrive at his home, where Shaun shows him his real high school transcript. Although impressed with Shaun’s credentials, Durkett is reluctant to admit him, as it is already very late in the admissions process. After much groveling, Shaun finally convinces Durkett to go back to his office in the Admissions Building and give it a second thought. Disaster strikes again, however, when Ashley drugs Durkett by accident with Lance’s ecstasy, stored in an Excedrin bottle, thereby causing Durkett to become high. Things go from bad to worse when Shaun and Ashley arrive at the Admissions Building and find it engulfed in flames, caused by Lance starting a fire while he was seducing the receptionist to distract her; Lance is now wanted for arson. They abandon the hallucinating Durkett and flee the scene to avoid being arrested.

Ashley finally becomes frustrated with Shaun’s obsession of only getting into Stanford, and points out that his attending would mean they would be separated, thus ending their relationship. She then angrily leaves Shaun on his own. Depressed, Shaun wanders the campus and meets a female student who invites him to a frat party. There, he witnesses the behavior of the Stanford coeds and is disappointed to learn that they are just as vapid and ditzy as the girls he knew from Orange County. After leaving the party with a more cynical view of college, Shaun, by chance, runs into Professor Skinner (Kevin Kline) and is invited to his office to chat. Skinner is amused with Shaun’s belief that he must study and work in a highly intelligent environment in order to become successful, pointing out that many famous authors such as James Joyce and William Faulkner grew up in places that were not intellectually stimulating, but still became great writers. Having an epiphany, Shaun realizes his previous misguided intentions and seeks out Ashley to apologize to her. After catching up with her, the two also pick up Lance (who is still hiding from the police) and drive home.

Back in Orange County, Shaun’s parents seek out each other to determine how to deal with Shaun’s problem. They end up reconciling, realizing that they are much happier together than with their respective new spouses. They also conclude that they have not been very good parents to Shaun and, in an attempt to make amends, Bud donates enough money to Stanford for the construction of a brand new Admissions Building (ironically, to replace the one that Lance burned down). This action gets Shaun accepted into Stanford. Although Shaun is initially ecstatic, he then remembers the things that both Ashley and Professor Skinner had told him. Shaun finally decides to stay in Orange County with Ashley and his family because he loves them too much to leave them, and he is now able to view living in Orange County as a positive influence for his writing career, rather than a detriment. The film ends with Shaun going surfing with his friends again for the first time since Lonny’s death.

There is nothing groundbreaking in Orange County. It’s a pretty straightforward teen movie with a realistic plot and great performances. with emphasis on the goofiness, this movie would’ve been a low-grade teen sex flick. Instead we have a real story about ambition and teen life with a few falls off of roofs and vases falling on heads

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REVIEW: CHUCK – SEASON 2

CAST

Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn)
Yvonne Strahovski (Batman: Bad Blood)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Joshua Gomez (Invasion)
Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
Ryan McPartlin (J. Edgar)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Halloween II)
Scott Krinsky (Transformers 3)
Vik Sahay (eXistenZ)
Julia Ling (Undoing)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Bonita Friedericy (Veronica Mars)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin City)
Matthew Bomer (Tru Calling)
Melinda Clarke (Gotham)
Nicole Richie (The Simple Life)
Tony Hale (Stranger Than Fiction)
Clyde Kusatsu (American Pie)
Jordana Brewster (D.E.B.S.)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Gary Cole (Crusade)
Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Andy Richter (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)
Jenny McCarthy (Two and A Half Men)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Patricia Rae (Life)
Katrina Law (Arrow)
Brooklyn Decker (Battleship)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Chevy Chase (Christmas Vacation)
Christopher Cousins (The Vampire Diaries)
Ken Davitian (Borat)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Morgan Fairchild (Roswell)

Sarah Walker (Chuck)

For those of you who have not watched Chuck before, I would recommend that you check out Season 1. Although Season 2 is superior in my opinion, Season 1 really lays down all the groundwork for what is to come.
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For those of you who have see Season 1, you will not be disappointed by what the new season has to offer. In S1, Chuck was mainly the passive observer, the guy who flashed on things, and often made situations worse than before. However, at times he was given opportunity to save the day, in something I like to call a ‘Chuck Moment’. Season 1 had a few of them (setting off the fireworks to distract the guards to save Sarah and Casey would be one) but Season 2 is full of them – and better off for it. Now don’t get me wrong, Chuck can still be blundering and innapropriate, but in the new season, he always gets the opportunity to be the hero. The first episode has a particularly good example of this.
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The season starts off very strong, following on with the storyline that involves the governement trying to make a new intersect (and invariably the team have to go on missions to help furthur that cause). In fact, the majority of the season is brilliant television, apart from a few select episodes that are merely good, dotted around the season. The season has a much more coherent storyline, with a smallish story arc near the start, and a solid story arc that takes off around episode 13.
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The character’s pasts are delved into alot more in this season, with a great appearance from Sarah’s father, a conman. Chuck’s past gets more attention however, as the long talked of ex, Jill gets reinvolved in Chuck’s life. Best of all may be the casting of Scott Bacula as Chuck’s father, who does a great job of convincing the audience of his connection to both Chuck and Ellie. Unfortunately, Casey’s past does not get an episode that shows him in a new light, like the Ilsa episode, rather a fairly disappointing face-off between him and his old mentor.
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Morgan’s back, along with the rest of the buy-more crew, and a new face joins the buy-more – that of Emmet (played by Tony Hale, of Arrested Development fame) to provide more comic relief in that bizzare place.

A truly amazing series, with twists and turns abound, and an ending that will only leave you wanting more.

REVIEW: FAMILY GUY – BLUE HARVEST

CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Flashforward)
Alex Borstein (Power Rangers Zeo)
Seth Green (IT)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Mike Henry (Ted)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Patrick Warburton (Scream 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)
Chevy Chase (Chuck)
Beverly D’Angelo (The Simpsons)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club)

While the Griffins are watching television, the power goes out and they are left with no other form of entertainment. While they wait for the power to return, Peter decides to retell the story of Star Wars beginning with “Part IV.”
A Rebel ship is captured by a Star Destroyer. On the ship are the droids C-3PO (Quagmire), R2-D2 (Cleveland) and the rebel leader Princess Leia (Lois). While the ship is boarded by stormtroopers, Leia tries to send an MPEG to Obi-Wan Kenobi through R2, but encounters so many complications that R2 offers to deliver the message himself. Leia is captured by Darth Vader (Stewie) while R2 and 3PO flee to Tatooine in an escape pod, where they are captured by Jawas.
The droids are sold to a family of moisture farmers, whose nephew Luke Skywalker (Chris) wishes to join the Rebellion and fight the Empire. While cleaning the droids, Luke stumbles upon Leia’s message inside R2, who later decides to leave the farm. Luke and C-3PO pursue him but are attacked by Sand People. Luke is knocked out by one of them (Opie) and is found by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Herbert), who takes them to his hut. Leia’s message explains that R2 contains the plans to the Death Star, which must be sent to her father on her home planet of Alderaan and asks Obi-Wan to help. Obi-Wan tells Luke that he must learn the ways of The Force and accompany him to Alderaan, and gives him his own lightsaber. Realizing that the Empire must be looking for the droids, Luke returns home to discover that his home has been destroyed and his aunt and uncle killed.
Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids travel to Mos Eisley to find a pilot to take them to Alderaan. At a local cantina they hire smuggler Han Solo (Peter) and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca (Brian), who agree to take them with their ship, the Millennium Falcon. The group is soon spotted by stormtroopers and they flee into space, evading the pursuing Star Destroyers before jumping into hyperspace. Leia is imprisoned on the Death Star, where commanding officer Grand Moff Tarkin (Adam West) has Alderaan destroyed. The Millennium Falcon exits hyperspace and is captured by the Death Star’s tractor beam and brought into its hangar bay. Disguising themselves as stormtroopers, Han and Luke along with Chewbacca set off to rescue the captive Princess while Obi-Wan goes to shut off the tractor beam and R2 and C3PO stay behind. Han, Luke and Chewie rescue Leia, and the four dive into a garbage chute to escape stormtroopers and find a couch. As they flee the Death Star, Obi-Wan turns off the tractor beam before being confronted by Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel. Vader strikes Obi-Wan down as the others board the Falcon, taking the couch with them.
The Falcon journeys to the Rebel base at Yavin IV, where the Rebels analyze the Death Star plans and find a weakness. Luke joins the assault team while Han collects his reward for the rescue and prepares to leave. The Rebel fighters attack the Death Star but suffer heavy losses during the assault. During his run, Luke hears Obi-Wan’s voice telling him to use the Force, and he turns off his targeting computer. Vader appears with his own group of fighters, and is about to fire at Luke’s ship when Han arrives in the Falcon and attacks Vader and his men, sending Vader’s ship off into space. Guided by the Force, Luke fires into the port, destroying the Death Star, and he returns to the Rebel base with his friends to celebrate their victory. Back at the Griffins’ home, Peter wraps up the story as the power comes back on. Everyone thanks Peter for keeping them entertained, although Chris points out that Robot Chicken already told that story.
Anyone who is a fan of Star Wars and Family Guy are going to love this special! I think the episode is a real return to top form. Extras like interviews with Seth McFarlane & George Lucas, episode commentary and a sneak preview of a reported sequel special (something, something, something dark side based on empire strikes back) I think it is worth getting.

REVIEW: FAMILY GUY – DVD SEASONS 6-10

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Flashforward)
Alex Borstein (Power Rangers Zeo)
Seth Green (IT)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Mike Henry (Ted)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Patrick Warburton (Scream 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST (VOICES)

Lori Alan (Wall-E)
Ellen Albertini Dow (The Wedding Singer)
Alexandra Breckenridge (She’s The Man)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Phyllis Diller (A Bug’s Life)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Indigo (Weeds)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Stargate SG.1)
Samm Levine (Veronica Mars)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Robert Constanzo (Batman:TAS)
Gary Cole (One Hour Photo)
Taylor Cole (Heroes)
Lauren Conrad (The Hills)
David Cross (Scary Movie 2)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Garrett Morris (2 Broke Girls)
Rob Lowe (Code Black)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Charles Durning (The Sting)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Hugh M. Hefner (Citizen Toxie)
Roy Schneider (Jaws)
Gilbert Gottfried (Anger Management)
Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs)
Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam Carolla (Road Hard)
Will Sasso (The Three Stooges)
Paula Abdul (Bruno)
Randy Jackson (American Idol)
Simon Cowell (The X Factor)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Jessica Barth (Ted)
Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl)
Harvey Fierstein (Independence Day)
Bryan Cranston (Drive)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Elisha Cuthbert (24)
Andy Dick (2 Broke Girls)
Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ In The Rain)
Frank Sinatra Jr. (Cool World)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Ed Helms (The Hangover)
Fred Savage (The Wonder Years)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Denise Crosby (Trekkies)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Jonathan Frakes (Lois & Clark)
Gates McFadden (Star Trek: TNG)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World)
Jay Leno (The Simpsons)
Richard Dreyfuss (Tin Man)
John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Veronica Mars)
Chevy Chase (Chuck)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Hart Bochner (urban Legends 2)
Christine Lakin (Valentine’s Day)
Brittany Snow (Prom Night)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Dwayne Johnson (Faster)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of SHIELD)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
Danielle Panabaker (The Flash)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
David Lynch (The Cleveland Show)
Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Shelley Long (Cheers)

At this point in the series, the beginning of the fifth season, the show has settled into being a showcase for Peter’s stupidity, throwing a bone to Brian and Stewie once in a while, and occasionally Lois and family. Only four of the 13 episodes aren’t focused on the head of the family, and unsurprisingly, the two of those four that aren’t Brian and Stewie stories are two of the best in the volume, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal.”
While it’s easy to see where an episode can go, one of the show’s biggest strengths is its willingness to do anything to get there, even if it won’t make it to TV, because they know that there will be a DVD release. Thus, you have jokes that would never get past standards and practices, and a reason for the show’s fans to check out the DVDs, as the episodes are expanded and uncensored. It has to be incredibly freeing to have almost no boundaries, and the writers take full advantage of it. It’s in this relatively free medium that a character like Quagmire, who has no filter and is obsessed with sex, can really shine. His behavior in “Bill and Peter’s Bogus Journey” is actually very funny simply because of how utterly obscene he can be on DVD.
As noted before, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal” are two of the best episodes in this collection, both of which feature the Griffins’ daughter Meg, voiced by Mila Kunis (“That ’70s Show”.) Meg’s character has grown up a bit, though she remains an awkward teen, and these two episodes focus on her explorations into love and lust. “Prick Up Your Ears” is a smart jab at the conservative Christian approach to sex education, and the effect it has on Meg, as well as Peter, is great, while “Barely Legal” show’s Meg’s crazier side, as she falls in love with Brian after they make out at her prom. A joke that’s born out of Meg’s insanity and efforts to woo Brian is among the series’ funniest, and again, one you only get on DVD. Also worth checking out is the B-story of “Mother Tucker,” in which Brian and Stewie host a morning zoo radio show. It’s a perfect parody of everything that’s wrong in radio.
The show’s guest-star list continues to be surprising in both its depth and quality, including Phyllis Diller (as Peter’s mom), Gore Vidal, Samm Levine, Carrie Fisher, Drew Barrymore (playing Jillian, Brian’s hot, but dumb girlfriend in several episodes), David Cross, Rob Lowe, Hugh Hefner and Roy Scheider. That the series can get a Gore Vidal to play himself getting shot in the mouth with a hot dog (it’s actually a funny scene, but not for that reason) is impressive.

This latest offering from the ‘Family Guy’ team finds the writers and producers doing their best to be more outrageous than ever before. No celebrity is too big to ridicule and absolutely no topic is considered too taboo.


But the acid test is this: when being profane and attacking and offending every minority group in existence, is it actually funny? The short answer is `yes’. This is not merely funny, it is very funny indeed. Rosie O’Donnell features in one particularly insulting sequence, and when Joe has a leg transplant and becomes his old active self, the guys decide the only way to fix things is to `re-cripple him again’. This is quite literally the most non-PC programme ever put on your TV screen, but it contains more invention and (frequently hilarious) jokes per minute than practically any sitcom. Highlights are two numerous to mention, but I particularly enjoyed the sofa at Quagmire’s shack and Peter’s stripper-cop routine at his daughter Meg’s hen night. Shocking stuff!

Only downside is the first two episodes were put out separately as the `Star Wars’ spoof `Blue Harvest’, so this pack is a little light at only 13 episodes.

another great Family Guy set Some of the best episodes include the one where Stewie helps Frank Sinatra Jr turn his fortune around with a club; the one where Peter meets Jesus; the one where Quagmire, Joe and Peter do Jackass style stunts, and the one where Mort ends up transporting himself to 1940’s Poland.


Even though everyone hates the episode, the one with Surfing Bird is a great episode, especially the parody with Stewie and Brian doing a scene from Office Space. Some people say it’s not Seth’s best moment, but it’s memorable like the chicken fight in series 6 and Brian being ribbed about his book by Stewie (“has it got a beginning, and end and a narrative?”

Highlights of this latest season to name a few include Brian committing murder, Quagmire becoming a Father, the truth behind Hannah Montana, Major West being ‘activated’ and the genius “Road to The Multiverse” which in my opinion is one of the greatest episodes within the last few seasons if not the entire collection.

Many of the episodes are extended when compared to their TV counterparts (blame the censors) along with dozens of deleted scenes which will keep even the most devoted or demanding Family Guy fan happy. Other special features worth noting are the Multi-verse featurette which was pretty interesting along with commentaries from cast and crew alike.

Despite being cancelled twice the show is still going strong and still offers brilliant humor, dialogue and cutback scenes after all this time. The characters continue to amuse and develop as the seasons progress (Stewie on Steroids stroke of brilliance) and there is plenty of scope for the future. The vast majority of the episodes are gold. I’ve already mentioned Multi-verse but also up there is “Dog Gone”.

If further proof is needed as to the series’ ability to succeed without its usual crutches, it can be found in “And Then There Were Fewer…” a mystery in Family Guy clothing. Series semi-regular James Woods gathers the town people for dinner, hoping to atone for his past wrongs, but someone starts bumping them off, leaving the group to figure out who the killer is and escape with their lives. Though the cutaways are present, they are worked into a genuine storyline, that’s both well-crafted and funny, feeling like a quality parody of the Agatha Christie school of mysteries. It may be close to blasphemy to say so, but there’s definitely a touch of Clue to the proceedings. The quality story is matched step-by-step by the animation (in the series’ first widescreen episode) and music, both of which may be the best the show’s ever produced (which is no feint praise.) The series may find itself in a rut at times, going to the same comedy well again and again, but when inspiration strikes, they take the show to another level.
As is often the case with this series, there’s always an attempt to push the envelope, including episodes focusing on suicide and sex changes, but “Extra Large Medium” is one of the show’s most controversial to reach airwaves, and it’s mainly due to a throwaway joke. Following a life-changing event, Chris (Seth Green) decides to finally ask out a girl he likes, and it so happens that she has Down’s syndrome. This leads to one of the finest songs the show’s produced to date in “Down’s Syndrome Girl,” as well as a line where the girl notes that he mom was the former governor of Alaska. It’s hard to figure out what the joke really is (it’s not really making fun of anyone, be it Palin or people with Down’s) but it pissed off a lot of people. Fortunately, the rest of the episode, especially that song, makes the headaches worth it, as Chris struggles with his feelings for his special gal and Brian’s attempts to break Lois of her belief in psychics accidentally convinces Peter he actually is psychic.
Though the series proudly sees the world from a liberal point-of-view, savaging republicans and conservatives at every chance, “Excellence in Broadcasting” stands as an unusual team-up, with Rush Limbaugh giving voice to himself, as he visits Quahog and gets what could be considered a friendly reception (at least by Family Guy standards.) Yes, there are jokes about the Republicans and Limbaugh himself, but he doesn’t get it too rough, and if anyone comes off badly, it’s Brian, who is easily swayed by Limbaugh into selling out his own convictions. It’s rather odd to see, and makes one wonder what went on behind the scenes to make it happen, as MacFarlane doesn’t seem the type to play nice, and the idea of Limbaugh working in tandem with an atheist pot advocate is mind-bending.