Monday, March 31, 2008
Baseball's Back, Baby!
The Major League baseball season kicks off for real (not counting time traveling games in Japan and ceremonial new stadium kick-off games) today, and it feels great to have it back. This is a great time of year: the season is young and full of promise (unless you're a Giant or an Oriole), everyone's "had a great spring" and is "going to be fun to watch." The stink of reality hasn't set in yet, and spring is in the air (not here in Minnesota, of course, where six inches of snow just fell. Can I just say it was weird listening to a Twins game while driving in a snowstorm?).
Yeah, the Twins are probably going to suck it up big time this season. Frnakly, they'll be lucky to finish over .500 and third in the division. But hey, there's always Fantasy Baseball, and since all your Gentlemen are playing in a league together, you're sure to hear an award-winning combination of belly-aching and boasting about it. For instance, let me just go out on a limb and say that my team is going to DEMOLISH the competition this year. I mean, come on, Jim Thome hit two home runs today. Two! At that pace, I figure he alone'll give my team upwards of 260 home runs. Beat that, Skynet and Emotionally Involved w/Wooden Objects!
This was the kind of movie that is neither good enough nor bad enough to really care about. I mean, it was an enjoyable enough piece of fluff, not a bad way to kill a couple of hours on a Friday night. But it was incredibly predictable. The direction was so lackluster it felt like a film class project instead of a major motion picture. Still, it was fun, and it made me want to play some blackjack. It also made me want to read the book to find out how much of their "system" was made up for the film and how much was real. So there's that. But not a lot to get too worked up over, good or bad.
The Teebore's are staking our claim to a new homestead this weekend, which means I'll be spending my time on that most hated of activities: moving. I don't like moving because it makes me resent all my stuff. I have tons of stuff: books, DVDs, comics, action figures, random Star Wars memorabilia. I'm a compulsive collector and a geek. Whenever a moving day draws near and the idea of having to haul it all around makes me start to resent my stuff. Usually we get along swimmingly. I don't like it when we quarrel.
But on the upside, with this move, I'll finally be able to free my entire comic book collection from its purgatorial storage at my parent's house and deliver it once and for all into my waiting, paradisaical embrace. Teebore and his comics will be together again.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
In my defense, it depends on what denomination you are. Some say the fourth commandment is Keeping the Sabath Holy and combine the covets and others do not. According Wikipedia anyway.But aside from all that, my real point is that the whole I'm your God and there's no other God's but me and keeping the sabath holy stuff has nothing to do with ethics in my opinion. And everytime I see the results of a survey that say something like 80% of Americans would not vote for a person to be president no matter what if they were atheist simply reminds me why I hate people.
He brings up a good point about atheism.
According to the completely reliable folks on WIKIPEDIA,
A 2005 survey published in Encyclopædia Britannica finds that the non-religious make up about 11.9% of the world's population, and atheists about 2.3%. This figure does not include those who follow atheistic religions, such as some Buddhists
I think a similar poll found American atheists in the 2 - 4 % range.
In recent years, GOD has taken a huge backlash from many Americans. They don’t want him in public schools or government fixtures in any way pointing to the 1st amendment as evidence Church and State are supposed to be separated.
Let’s look at the amendment verbatim -
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
People spend a lot of time concentrating on the first potion of that phrase while completely ignoring the second half. Forcing judges to take down statues of the 10 Commandments or forbidding prayer in public schools are perfect examples of “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
Why are many Americans so adamant of doing away with God when only 4% claim he does not exist?
It all correlates to morality. No one likes to be told they are doing something wrong. The main reason many people do not go to church or want to talk about GOD is because they do not want to feel guilty. The fact of the matter is we all make mistakes. Keeping God in your life and answering to him for your mistakes is an excellent way to prevent you from repeating them or being immoral in your day to day actions.
The next level to the discussion would be what makes someone “atheist”?
It seems most atheist denounce the existence of GOD or gods sighting the lack of empirical evidence provided by science.
There are many things science cannot prove the existence of such as hope, love, dreams, Genghis Khan, gravity, evolution, maturity, black holes, or ghosts. There may be evidence for or against those subjects, but nothing can be proven as a concrete fact.
Evolution – The biggest joke in human history. The idea of evolution is about a hundred and fifty years old and has never been proven. I live for the opportunities to debate how bogus a notion this theory is and it fires me up that an ‘idea’ is taught to our children as fact. Most of science concedes that it is not proven yet they continue to base discoveries and new theories on this bias.
Where is the proof or the concrete evidence? The transient forms of life? Fossil records that supposedly show the various stages of man’s evolution from an ape-like being to our present form could all fit in the trunk of a Buick. In order to work, evolution needed time, so all of a sudden we began teaching that the world was millions and millions of years old. How did scientists prove that the world was this old? They didn’t. Carbon Dating has been proven wrong and inaccurate.
I have a ‘science’ book in my personal library that indirectly shows how delusional scientists can be. It states –
In 1938 scientists were startled by the discovery in South Africa of a lobe-fin fish called the coelacanth. Many fossil coelacanths were known, dating back to nearly 400 million years old. Experts had thought they had died out 80 million years ago, but it seemed local people had been catching them for years. They are “living fossils,” survivors from prehistory.
More than 100 coelacanths have been caught, and some have been filmed swimming in the sea near Comoro Islands, off southeast Africa.
So, according to scientists who believe in evolution, in the past 400 million years, the entire planet has evolved into a new ecosystem and thousands upon thousands of species have evolved to better adapt to these changes, however, this ONE fish has not had a single cell change in any minute way ! ? ! ? Wow. That’s amazing. Evolution must be true. (place sarcasm here)
Michael Behe, a biochemist and intelligent design advocate, wrote a book titled Darwin’s Black Box in which he lays down his thesis that evolution as is generally accepted by science is impossible due to the irreducible complexity of several cell structures. Behe uses examples of modern irreducibly complex devices such as a mousetrap to illustrate his point. Without the base, the catch, the spring, or the hammer, a mousetrap could not fulfill its function of catching mice. All parts are needed to accomplish its design just as all parts of several cells in animals and humans are required to sustain life.
Leading scientists’ rebuttal to this argument hinders upon ignorance – give us time and we can discover how cells could properly function without all of the required components or they point to variations in species and combine them to form a perfect life sustaining being, one that hasn’t nor will ever exist.
My biggest problem with science is scientists do a couple years of research and display their findings as fact. If their hypothesis of the world being millions of years old is true, then a couple years of research (5 to 250 years) is hardly a reliable span for conclusions of things that occurred over several millions or billions of years.
Scientists generally seem to be anti-creationist because they argue that the creation theory (or belief) has not been proven by science, yet they fail to acknowledge that their "scientific" findings on evolution or the development of our world over billions of years has also not been "proven" by science either.
My point being that most scientists are also practicing a "belief". They go into a research project "believing" that the world is billions of years old and find "evidence" to support this belief.
Whether they want to accept it or not, science is a belief, and thus, by association, could be construed as a religion (kind of like the Tom Cruise Scientology thing.)
I feel sad when I see people blindly hiding behind a lie and a ruse and I challenge anyone who believes in Evolution to show me the facts that hold water behind their ‘theory’.
Back to the original topic – Why wouldn’t 80% of American’s vote for an atheist president?
My answer would be that most people prefer to practice a belief that offers hope. Science offers no hope for the future or the present for that matter. Science/ atheism says we are here for no purpose and strictly by accident. If this were truly the case there would be no repercussions for anyone’s actions because our existence is meaningless. If our existence is meaningless there is no such thing as morality.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Also on Monday I went to a concert. It was the Breaking Benjamin/3 Days Grace concert at the Target Center. It was good considering all I really wanted to see was Breaking Benjamin while 3 Days Grace and Seether do little for me.
Halfway though Breaking Benjamin's great performance Benjamin Burnley, the lead singer of Breaking Benjamin, stopped to introduce "two of his friends." Benjamin said that his friends were going to sing a song while he passed out a case of bottled water. So his friends sang and Benjamin Burnley walked around the stage and into the crowd passing out bottles of water.
I view the Twins signing Joe Nathan and Benjamin Burnley handing out bottled water in the middle of his set the same way, with complete and utter confusion.
I don't know why Benjamin thought passing out water was good idea. Does his throat get tired so he needs to rest it? Did he just want to 'give back to the fans' and felt the one thing the fans would really want is water? Did he just want to give his friends a chance to sing in front of a crowd? I just don't get what the bottled water was all about.
Why did the Twins sign Joe Nathan? Did they feel it would increase his trade value? Did they want to appease fans who have the audacity to call them cheap? (Who would do a thing like that?) Do the Twins really feel that Joe Nathan will help them win and that signing him is a good investment for the future? I just don't understand.
It's not like I'm opposed to these things. I've been begging the Twins to spend money and keep good players since this blog started. And it's not like I'm against the lead singer of a band giving out free stuff. If I was dying of thirst in the desert I'd certainly want to come across Benjamin Burnley rather than this guy! But why break up the flow of a concert just to give out water?
As far as the Twins are concerned, I've always felt that a good closer was more 'the final piece' of a puzzle that will take a baseball team from good to an elite level. The Twins seem to consider Nathan one of the first pieces you make sure to keep while entering a rebuilding year.
I'm not sure what to make of either of those things. But perhaps the Twins and Breaking Benjamin are simply just smarter than me. Feeling like I'm missing something is definitely not a new sensation for me. So, for now, I guess I'll just keep wondering the land of confusion...whoa-oh-oh.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The episode of The Simpsons which aired on Sunday January 27th, That ‘90s Show, has already become one of the more controversial episodes in recent history. It is a flashback episode, not unlike The Way We Were or Lisa’s First Word, in which Marge and Homer tell tales of their past to the kids. This time, the story involves Marge’s experiences at Springfield University and the evolution of Homer and Marge’s relationship after their high school courtship and before their marriage and the birth of Bart, all set against the backdrop of the 1990s. We see Marge and Homer living in a Melrose Place-esque apartment complex, Homer’s membership in first a Boyz II Men-style band with Lenny, Carl and “Lew the cop” and then in a Nirvana-inspired grunge band, and Marge’s relationship with an uber-PC, post-modern college professor.
Wait a minute, you, O Wise Blog Reader say, the Simpsons were on the air in the 1990s; Homer and Marge were married, Bart was ten, Lisa was eight, Maggie was an infant. How the hell could Marge have been in college and Bart unborn during this episode, you ask, confused rage seeping into your voice? Some of you might even recall the episode I Married Marge, in which we saw Bart’s conception and birth shortly after Homer and Marge saw The Empire Strike Back, which puts the date of Bart’s birth squarely in 1981.
But here’s the catch. Bart’s still ten. Lisa is still eight. Maggie is still a baby. Homer and Marge are still in their late thirties. This episode just posits that if Bart is ten, then he would have been born in 1998. Thus, there are eight years in the nineties for Marge and Homer to spend together before starting their family. This is even acknowledged by Lisa through some dialogue at the beginning of the episode.
What the Simpsons' writers have done with this episode is draw attention to something they’ve been subtly doing for years: sliding the timeline of the show forward due to the fact that their characters never age. In this regard, the show is not unlike the comic book universes of Marvel and DC, in which characters age very slowly, so that Batman, who first appeared in 1939, is always thirty-something, rather than the near seventy-year-old he’d be if the character aged in real time. In the Marvel Universe, for further example, the Fantastic Four went into space and got their powers (the event which is considered the “beginning” of the Marvel Universe in the comics) perpetually ten years ago. So today, they did that in 1998, even if the original issue that event occurred in was published in 1961. In 2018, they’ll have received their powers in 2008. And so on.
Such a concept is a difficult one to grasp, even for long-time readers of shared universe comic books. Was Bart born in 1981, as the episode I Married Marge said? Yes. Then did Homer and Marge spend the ‘90s unmarried and childless, as That ‘90s Show claims? Also yes. How is that possible? It just is. It’s true when you watch one episode, not true when you watch the other. Such “selective recollection” is often necessary when dealing with characters that never age.
Now, one can argue up, down, and sideways that not aging the Simpsons' characters, even gradually, is dumb and largely responsible for the creative rut into which many feel the show has fallen. I might even be inclined to agree with you, at least on some level. But I’m not about to argue that point here. The fact remains, for better or worse, the Simpsons' writers and producers and creator Matt Groening long ago decided to take advantage of the medium and keep the characters perpetually the same age. With that decision firmly entrenched, the writers of today simply decided to have some fun and craft an episode that wouldn’t be possible if they stuck with established continuity that was already stretched past credibility (Bart was born in 1981, but is still ten in 2008).
Some are bothered by this episode because it not only retcons the established continuity of the Simpsons, such as it is, but also, they argue, because it fundamentally alters the thematic foundation of the series. The Simpsons has always been about a working class family struggling to make ends meet, a deliberate attempt on the part of the creators to scoff in the face of the seemingly prosperous yuppie lifestyle of the ‘80s and the rise of the middle class in the ‘90s. Marge and Homer, as established in The Way We Were, were two working class kids, a bright young woman who fell in love with a lovable but directionless guy. They got pregnant, married and started a family because they had to, irrelevant of their own personal hopes and dreams. The Simpsons, when it began, was essentially no different than any other socially relevant sitcom. Go back and look at those early episodes, filled with obvious morals and family dysfunction. Look past the animation and you’ll a show that is much more Roseanne than Looney Tunes.
But that working class ethic, that struggle against the system to survive and raise a family that mirrored far more conventional sitcoms, was wiped out by the creators long before That ‘90s Show. The days when Homer and Marge worried about making ends meet when Homer lost his job following the German takeover of the power plant, or when the family had to stretch the budget to pay for an expensive surgery to untwist their dog’s stomach passed by many years and episodes ago. Nowadays, “money trouble” for the Simpson family is as realistic as Wile E. Coyote not falling until he realizes he’s run off the cliff. Any sort of working class sensibility was long ago washed out of the series, not with this episode, but gradually, over time. It was taken out in favor of more zany humor, outrageous situations, and pop culture references. Now a Simpsons episode is more likely to be about what new job Homer will get or what crazy scheme he’ll concoct which will threaten his marriage to Marge than it is to be about Homer getting a second job at the Kwik-E-Mart to pay for Lisa’s pony or Bart struggling to pass the fourth grade.
So That ‘90s Show is not the death knell of realism or working class ethos on the show just because it shows us that Marge now went to college, that she and Homer realized some of their dreams before starting a family, just because it implies their decision to start a family was just that, a decision, and not born of unlucky or foolish circumstances. That ‘90s Show is just one more episode in a long run of episodes (dating, some argue, all the way back to Mike Jean’s arrival as producer in the ninth season ten years ago)which has gradually changed the dynamic of the show from a traditional sitcom rendered in animation to something even more surreal, goofy and zany.
I liked this episode; I laughed more than I have at a lot of the more recent episodes. Sure, some of the jokes went for the cheap laugh, but I’ve always been guilty of enjoying a cheap laugh. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of Marge’s history professor, whose overly PC attitudes reminded me of a couple of my own college professors, and more than a few of my fellow students.
The Simpsons abandoned realism many years ago. They've been using a sliding timeline since the beginning. For good or bad, and the case can be made for either, this is the reality of the show. With that in mind, I’d like to see more of this kind of episode, which acknowledges and attempts to take advantage of the sliding timeline to tell a funny and enjoyable story, plain and simple.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Meet Kevin Johnson fills in, for the most part, what happened to Michael after he and Walt puttered away from the Pala Ferry at the end of season two. In a uniquely uninterrupted flashback (I think only Desmond’s story in Flashes Before Your Eyes similarly didn't cut back and forth between narratives) we see Michael, suicidal over having killed killing Ana-Lucia and Libby and the estrangement from his son that his confession of that act produced, get visited by a dapper Tom in Manhattan and told the island won’t let him die because he still has work to do. That work involves infiltrating the freighter, bound for the island in order to wipe out his fellow Oceanic survivors (so Michael is told), and wreaking havoc, first as an assassin and then as a saboteur.
The revelation that the island somehow has the ability to prevent suicide has implications that reverberate back through several episodes. When Jack was about to leap from the bridge at the beginning of the very first flash forward, was that his first suicide attempt, or one of many aborted tries? Was the car crash that drew his attention away from cordless bungee jumping the island’s way of stopping Jack’s death, because Jack “has to go baaack?” Was Kelvin’s partner Razinsky’s suicide (recalled in last week’s episode by the blood splatter on the wall of Desmond and Sayid’s cabin) “allowed” because he wasn’t “in tune” with the island, or because his “work” was done? The obituary for the mysterious person in the coffin that Jack visited in his flash forward listed suicide as the cause of death; if that person (and I’m even more sure now than ever that it was Michael) was on the island, is their “work done?”
As if to counter the claim made last week by Captain Gault that Ben is behind the faking of the Oceanic 815 wreckage, this week we see Ben’s side of the story, along with some compelling (but not airtight) evidence that it was Widmore who faked the wreckage. The line is clearly drawn and these two men are obviously standing across it from one another, but it still isn’t clear which one is the good guy and which one is the bad guy, if either is truly “good.” Both men have been shown to be capable of tremendous evil, but my inclination (and I assume a good portion of the audience’s) is to side with Ben, perhaps because we know him better and have seen his (slightly less evil) human side, or maybe just because his brand of evil seems more elegant and cerebral than Widmore’s brutal tactics, condescending nature, and gleeful Hired Goons, and thus, easier for us to accept.
Which made Sayid’s unflinching outing of Michael to the captain a cringe-worthy moment, at least to me. But Sayid has been given no real indication that the surprisingly forthright captain is less than trustworthy, besides a note he assumes came from Michael. Sayid has never been anything other than completely distrustful of Ben, and finding out Michael is working for Ben would only give Sayid more cause to distrust a man who murdered two people and sold out his friends. And there is, of course, the dramatic irony that Sayid is enraged by Michael working for Ben when in the not-too-distant future, Sayid will be doing the same thing. But before applauding or demonizing Sayid for his actions, consider two things: we have received confirmation that Michael is Ben’s man on the boat and that Michael was the saboteur. We are assuming that he is also the person opening doors and passing notes to Sayid and Desmond, but another person could be responsible for that. Also, when Sayid exchanged Miles for Charlotte, in the same episode in which we discover Sayid works for Ben in the future, Sayid spent time with Ben in the game room and the contents of their conversation remain unknown to the audience. Perhaps Ben told Sayid about Michael, and Sayid exposing Michael to the captain is yet another component of Ben’s convoluted plan, a component Michael is unaware of and a plan Ben managed to sell Sayid on during their discussion together.
Miles: We're here for him (indicates Ben).
Hurley: Um, we kind of, like, knew that forever ago.
And then Ben’s nonchalant announcement that Michael is his spy on the boat.
Did You Notice?
I don’t know what weird game show was on Michael’s TV when he tried to blow his mind, but the answer to the question was “Vonnegut”, author of Slaughterhouse-Five, which was referenced in Desmond’s episode this season.
Michael pawned the watch he and Jin fought over in the first season.
Apparently the Temple is another Dharma station (at least according to Ben’s map) and not some kind of weird…temple…
Maybe I’m imagining things, or maybe it can be chalked up to Michael’s ineffective flailing about, but it seemed like when they were fighting in the alley, Tom displayed some of the almost-superhuman fighting moves that Ethan (and sometimes Juliet) seemed to display from time to time.
Tom tells Michael he still has work to do, which is what Taller Ghost Walt told Locke when he was lying in the open grave.
Michael was wearing his hood up, just like Charlie did when he relapsed into druggie “Darth Charlie" mode.
My memory is fuzzy on this, so I could be wrong, but I think Tom listed off the Oceanic Six as the people who would die unless Michael did something. Could just be coincidence, or maybe the Six getting off the island are part of Ben’s overall plan, an attempt to open a second front in his war against Widmore, if you will, and he already has one his infamous lists prepared for who gets to leave as part of that plan.
Minkowski alluded to Nicholson in the Shining when Michael was bouncing the ball off the wall of his cabin; I thought of Steve McQueen in the Great Escape.
Michael’s off-island story wasn’t a flash forward, but it continued the almost universal portrayal of post-island life as something sad, heartbreaking, unfulfilling and/or suicidal, found in most of the flash forwards.
Guns served as Michael’s motivation twice in this episode: the failure of his pistol to fire convinced him of Tom’s claim that the island wouldn’t let him die and watching Kearmy and the other Hired Goons gleefully fire off their assault rifles later convinced him that Ben and Co. were right about the nefarious intentions of the freighter.
The irony that Michael’s actions to get back Walt (killing Ana-Lucia and Libby) later caused him to lose Walt all over again, once he confessed to him.
Who shot Rousseau and Karl?
Rousseau? Really? There seems like she has a lot more story to tell. And the producers told us we’d get a Rousseau flashback at some point. I didn’t see any blood-maybe she’s just stunned or something. Here’s hoping…
How does the island not let Michael kill himself? Is it literal or figurative? Did it prevent Jack from doing the same?
Was that Malcolm David Kelley in the window when Michael looked up? There seems to be some disagreement as to whether or not it was a new actor. Personally, it looked like “correctly aged” Walt, so I think it was probably a CG image inserted over an actor. The producers have long said that Walt is coming back, and that the factored in that the actor would age faster than the character when planning his character’s arc. Some are now speculating that if this was a new actor, then perhaps that was all BS or they’ve abandoned that plan.
Michael’s timeline seems a bit fuzzy to me. According to Lostpedia, Michael and Walt left the island 67 days after the crash. The Others left the Hydra station during season three on Day 74, so Tom would be accounted for until then. He next reappears on Day 80 playing football with Jack and is seen with the other Others until his death at Sawyer’s hands on Day 93 (the end of season three). So he would have traveled to New York and met Michael between days 74 and 80, which means Michael left the island, made it to New York, grew despondent, tried to kill himself, was injured to the extent that he needed a neck brace, healed, then tried to kill himself in the alley before meeting Tom in roughly ten days? That seems like a lot of things happening in ten days. Even if Tom went to New York during the Day 80-Day 93 span (I don’t think we saw him every one of those days) that gives Michael maybe twenty days tops to do all that. But also consider that Naomi arrived on the island on day 87, so assuming it took 2-3 days for the freighter to leave Fiji and get within helicopter range of the island, Michael would have had to be in Fiji on Day 85 at the latest, which means everything that happened to him, including meeting Tom, took place in 18 days. That still seems like a lot of stuff to happen in under three weeks, especially the "healing from his failed suicide" part. We know there is something screwy going on with time; are we supposed to chalk all this up to that, or are we just not supposed to be thinking about this?
How did Michael and Walt get from small boat leaving the island to living in New York?
We can (probably) chalk up the Libby that Michael saw in the hospital to his guilt/medicine, but how about the Libby that appeared on the freighter? Was that Smokey? If so, what are the implications that it didn’t want Michael to do something Ben, the self-proclaimed prophet of the island, wanted done?
Who are the innocents aboard the freighter? How did Ben realize this (he didn’t get a list of passengers until after he told Michael there were innocents aboard)?
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Nothing in this world is as it seems. We never can truly tell from an initial moment what is good or bad. Our life continues to roll along at an amazing pace, which makes it impossible to size things up as they occur. The point of the folktale above being we cannot tell a positive or negative situation as it occurs or even shortly after. Only in hindsight do we have the opportunity to attempt to analyze certain moments and how they have affected us.
As long as we follow a moral path and attempt not to let certain situations depress us or tear hope away, I believe we all can lead a happy and fulfilling life.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I immediately thought of this site and creating a poll in which you people vote on how many of the new sins I am or have been guilty of committing. Lord knows I wasn't going to actually WATCH the news, lest I get so depressed I hang myself afterward, so I looked up the sins on the internet and I was bit disappointed. Here they are:
1. "Bioethical" violations such as birth control
2. "Morally dubious'' experiments such as stem cell research
3. Drug abuse
4. Polluting the environment
5. Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor
6. Excessive wealth
7. Creating poverty
You know, considering this is the Catholic Church we're talking about, these sins are surprisingly reasonable. I figure browsing the internet for porn (excuse the redundancy) had to be on there. But, alas, it wasn't.
Now sure, this list has a few swings and misses *cough* 1 & 2 *cough* but overall, it's not as bad and/or silly as I was hoping for.
However, I'm sure Teebore is upset considering he's guilty of 5, 6, and 7.
Enjoy the wealth created from your newspaper empire while it lasts, Teebore. Soon the shoulders of the under aged newspaper delivery boys you stand upon will give way and stand against you. They will battle you the only way they know how, through well choreographed song and dance!
Monday, March 17, 2008
Some may feel it was a bit underhanded, manipulating the audiences’ expectations and assumptions based on a previously well-established structure just to make a last minute reveal all the more shocking. I wouldn’t even say those people are all that wrong. They’ve done it before, most noticeably when introducing the flash forward concept at the end of last season. Just as that episode introduced a new narrative structure we’ve since learned to look for, after this episode we’ll now have to be on the lookout for multiple structures occurring simultaneously in one episode. The difference, of course, as Dr. Bitz pointed out, is that this time the nature of the flashback was concealed solely to make the ending surprising, and served no other narrative purpose.
This episode, obviously, was about the death of Jin, in more than one way. After Jin emphasizes to Sun that the controlling, angry Jin of the past is dead, we learn that the new Jin, the one we’ve come to know and love, is also apparently destined to die. The Jin that was born on the island is destined to die there. Obviously, the notion that island-Jin is a much better person than flashback-Jin is nothing new to the audience; however, his proclamation to Sun is significant because it comes after he discovers Sun’s affair. It seemed clear that Sun feared above all that the revelation would bring flashback-Jin roaring back. That it didn’t, that island-Jin prevailed when faced with his biggest challenge, confirmed not only how much he’s changed, but that he will stay that way, all the way to his now-fated demise.
The two married men bonding on the boat; one of the few scenes we've ever had between two people just sharing information, not plot exposition.
Jin’s tombstone listed his date of death as 9-22-2004, the day of the crash.
I didn’t notice it the first time through, but in hindsight, Jin’s cell phone in the flashback was just slightly out-of-date in the same way Jack’s cell phone in the “Through the Looking Glass” flash forward was slightly too modern.
Is Jin really dead? I don’t believe Sun said anything at his grave that specifically referenced his death; perhaps the “funeral” was simply Sun mourning Jin’s absence (because he couldn’t leave the island for some reason). Or perhaps, as Dr. Bitz suggested, I’m overthinking things, and Jin is dead. He did get a DUI, after all.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Real Name: Arthur Curry
(Of course, Justice League: Detroit, as this era came to be known, with its mix of first string heavy hitters and newly created characters working out of a Detroit headquarters, is considered by most fans to be the low point of the Justice League, so Aquaman’s little venture didn’t turn out so great in the end.)
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Brett Favre had many reasons as to why he decided now was the time to leave. Chief among the reasons was that football felt too much like a job now. It was getting too hard for Favre to be mentally prepared for every game.
As the conference was nearing a close Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Gazette asked the question that was on everyone's mind.
"Brett, as always I'm honored to be in the presence of a god-like figure as yourself." Pete gave a slight bow before continuing his question. "When was the turning point at which you knew in your heart that this would be end?"
"Well, Pete," Brett looked directly into Pete Dougherty's eyes and a warming sensation poured over Dougherty's body. "I think I decided that I was going to retire the night before the NFC Championship Game. I was thinking about how cold it was going to be and how physical the Giants are and I began to get tense. I realized I wasn't looking forward to the game so much as I was dreading it. Football just didn't seem as fun as it used to be. So at that point I decided that no matter what happened in the NFC Championship Game I was going to retire after the season."
"Could anything have changed your mind?" Dougherty followed up.
"Well," Favre continued, "if I could have found something to relieve my stress, maybe things would have been different. I turned the TV on but I didn't find any of the shows entertaining. I was looking for something to make me laugh. Like maybe the high jinks of four single 30-somethings living in New York City."
"Well, gee, Brett," Dougherty responded, "that sounds like Seinfeld!"
"Yes, it does." Brett Favre looked towards the sky seemingly lost in his own thoughts. "Seinfeld is a very funny show. If Seinfeld was on that night I would probably be sitting here right now talking about how excited I am for next season."
Monday, March 10, 2008
The events of this episode reminded Juliet of just how controlling and powerful Ben is, and the ending, in which Juliet worries for Jack because he’s standing between her and Ben, is an ominous one for Juliet. We’ve seen Jack off the island, but not Juliet, which suggests that she is likely to either die in the process of the Oceanic Six being rescued, or be forced to sacrifice her freedom in order for Jack to leave.
The flashback this week was more thematic and character-building than it was revelatory, but it was still enjoyable to see some old Other friends again, especially Tom (he seems so out of place among the Others-I’d love a flashback explaining how he came to join them and why) and to see a different perspective on past events. The Others have a therapist. Goodwin was married to her. Last season, I assumed he was sent to infiltrate the Tailies due to some medical experience (Goodwin was seen at one point assisting Juliet in an operation of some sort, and Ethan, their surgeon, was sent to infiltrate the other camp). Now it appears he was sent by Ben as punishment for his affair with Juliet, with every intention that he wouldn’t make it back. It also seems placement on “the list” is negotiable; Ben mentioned Goodwin making a case for Ana Lucia that led to his being out in the field even after Ethan’s death at the hands of the Losties.
The big revelation this week, of course, confirmed that Charles Widmore, Penny’s dad, has a vested interest in the island, and is the man behind the Freighties’ mission. If we trust Ben, one player of the ongoing island backgammon game has now been identified. Several big questions regarding Widmore’s involvement remain: is he or his company responsible for the fake Oceanic wreckage? What is his relation, if any, to the Hanso Foundation or the Dharma Initiative? Is he aware that his daughter is attempting the same thing he is (to find the island) and is he actively working against her or just keeping her in the dark? Are his true intentions what Ben says they are: to take advantage of the mysterious properties of the island? Everything we’ve seen of him before suggests he is a ruthless and uncaring man; I found it particularly insightful that he mercilessly beat Ben’s man himself-something most “behind the scenes” villains would have had a hired goon do.
Either “You people had therapists?”-“It’s very stressful being an Other, Jack.” Or Ben wondering whether or not the rabbit he was served for dinner had a number on it.
Did You Notice?
The Tempest station obviously alludes to Shakespeare’s play by the same name, about a magical island, shipwrecks, island spirits and deformed natives named Caliban; needless to say, it’s rife with thematic and narrative parallels to Lost.
The scene at the beginning, with Juliet setting up her tent and Sun asking her why, seemed more or less inconsequential until examined in the context of the episode; putting aside all Jack vs. Locke debates about the Freighties intentions, deep inside Juliet knows that getting off the island won’t be as easy as flying away on a helicopter for her, not with Ben still in a position of control over her. The later events of the episode confirmed that instinct.
I’m assuming the previous time Ben used the Tempest station gas, as referenced by Charlotte, was the Dharma purge.
Zack and Emma, the two kids Juliet mentions looking after over dinner with Ben, were the children taken from the Tailies and most recently seen in the care of Cindy the flight attendant.
Juliet apparently resembles someone in Ben’s past that he loved (childhood friend Annie?); Juliet was also chosen to interact with Jack at the beginning of season three because she resembled Jack’s wife.
Once again, who his Ben’s man on the boat blah blah it’s Michael…
If their mission was benevolent, why didn’t Charlotte and Daniel just tell Jack and Co. what they were doing? I understand that’s it been previously established that Charlotte has taken the company line about keeping the Losties in the dark (especially after her experiences with Locke) but Daniel seems more willing to share information, and really, once they realized they were being tracked, wouldn’t it have made some sense to just stop and say, “look, we don’t trust you, but we’re doing something good. Don’t believe us? Come along and see.”
Was the scene between Locke and Claire setting up the events that will cause Aaron to be raised off the island by Kate?
What does it mean that “Ben is exactly where he wants to be?”
I’d like a closer look at the map Faraday had in this episode; come to my aid, oh mighty Internet!
It has to be asked: was everything Ben told Locke about Widmore true? It certainly makes sense, given the information we’ve already received, and Ben is usually, technically, honest, but it wouldn’t be the first time he wasn’t telling the whole truth, or telling a skewed version of the truth.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
I don’t go for the blockbusters. Special effects, cookie-cutter characters, and cliché plots rarely entertain me. I view movies as one of the pinnacle art mediums. The films I watch should affect me emotionally rather than passing time while dulling my senses.
In searching for films I tend to unearth or stumble upon some movies most people have never heard of.
Here are some that come highly recommended by me –
Niagara, Niagara (1997)
Robin Tunney (The main chick from The Craft and that rock climbing movie with Chris O’Donnell) shines as a woman plagued with Tourette's syndrome. Unlike other portrayals of the disease where the afflicted simply yells “c*nt” and “sh*tb*lls” every two minutes, Tunney gives a heart-wrenching performance that gives you a clearer understanding of the malady.
The film also stars Henry Thomas (Elliot from E.T.) and a guy whose character has an unhealthy relationship with chickens.
Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Lars von Trier’s brilliant story of an immigrant factory worker, played by Icelandic songster Bjork, who is slowly going blind. Bjork’s character escapes her dismal existence by retreating into a fantasy world where everyone breaks into majestic musical numbers.
The first 20 minutes is slow due to required character and mood development but once you see the first musical number you’ll be hooked.
If you don’t cry at the end of this film, you do not have a soul.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet is the French equivalent of Steven Spielberg had he been crossed with Terry Gilliam and Wes Anderson.
Jeunet’s film is a futuristic black comedy where a landlord/butcher keeps his tenants alive by serving them cannibalistic treats. A former circus performer moves into the butcher’s complex and cinema brilliance ensues.
If you liked 12 Monkeys or The Royal Tenenbaums, you’ll love this move!
The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
This isn’t a Disney movie. There’s practically no dialogue but the characters have more personality than most live-action actors and the soundtrack is thrilling.
The film is truly an animated masterpiece.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Evil Republicans: Shockingly, some Republicans are evil. (I suppose some Democrats are too, but I'm not going to get a career in Hollywood talking like that!)
Well, maybe evil is a strong term, but check out the you tube video on the side bar and decide for yourself. It's a bit grainy and it's long (13 minutes) but I think it's important to watch. It's important to understand how the justice system can be perverted and twisted for political reasons. I just wish I could do something about it.
Ironically, a "power failure" caused JUST this 15 minutes of 60 Minutes to not air on the CBS affiliate in southern Alabama...whose owner happens to be a major contributor to the Republican party.
Just Another Form of Child Abuse: Check out this article.
I hate when parents do something like this. It's self serving and is pretty much a form of child abuse. The kid named Brett will be fine, but the kid named Favre is screwed. He's going to go through a childhood of being teased and having his name mispronounced by non-football fans. I don't mind when parents think a little outside the box in naming their kids. But when a parent goes too far to name their kid after something they're passionate about that quite obviously is not intended to be a person's first name, it's just....lame.
What if the kid grows up not rooting for the Packers, or not liking football at all? In fact, my prediction is the kid will grow up to hate the Packers simply because of the hell his name has made his life. A name like that just pigeon holes a kid into something they may or may not want to be. And that's just wrong.
Send Out the Clowns: If you were walking down a dark alley at night and saw something walking towards you, which would freak you out more? If the person walking towards you was a tattooed thug wearing gang colors and a scowl on his face or a clown? I think the answer to that question is too obvious to require elaboration (c. Paul Harvey).
So I see this article http://www.sciam.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=854F6609-BEA7-52B6-D8B5F46B7618BF07 and wonder, why the hell do clowns exist anyway? Who enjoys these freakish monstrosities to begin with?
To be honest, I never disliked clowns THAT much. But they're certainly creepy enough that doing away with them completely might just make the world a better place.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go into hiding before the Cirque du Soleil crew use their acrobatic athleticism to back flip me into an early grave!
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Lost continues to successfully manipulate the concept of time, both for the characters and the audience. Was this episode a flashback or a flash forward? To the audience, it was technically a flashback, featuring 1996 Desmond instead of 2004 Desmond, but as far as Desmond himself was concerned, it was very much a flash forward.
Faraday, who, with this episode, cemented himself as the most interesting and intriguing of the Freighties, plays a central role, both in righting Desmond’s time-displaced consciousness and in throwing further fuel onto the “what is up with time?” fire. His line that the perception of time on the island isn’t necessarily the same as that of the people on the helicopter is significant for two reasons. First, he specifically says “perception of time”, not time itself; I think it is important to note that time itself isn’t changing, just how the characters are perceiving it. Secondly, he mentions that the difference in perception is between the helicopter and the island, not the boat and the island, which suggests to me that there is something between the two, through which the helicopter passes, that alters the perception of time. This would allow for communication between the boat and island via the satellite phones (whose signals would go up and over the time distortion) and the fact that it seems the dates of the two line up, while still accounting for the delayed missile, as it would have had to pass through the distortion.
This episode also introduced the freighter proper, and it was suitably ominous, from the pair of heavies that manhandled Desmond (there’s an image for you, ladies) to Minkowski strapped down in sickbay, to the foreboding “the captain wants to see you” line and a couple of new mysteries. Frank, the easy-going pilot in Jimmy Buffet gear, seemed even more out of place abroad the ship, with his laid back demeanor, willingness to help out Desmond and Sayid, and desire to waste away in Margaritaville emphasizing how odd he seems in context of whatever it is the boat and its crew is really there to do. Incidentally, if the mission of the island-bound Freighties is to capture Ben, why were the Absent-Minded Professor, a female Indiana Jones and a Ghostbuster sent ashore instead of people like, I don’t know, the hired goons back on the boat?
Did You Notice?
The bearing Frank was following, according to his cheat sheet, was 305. The bearing that Ben gave Michael at the end of season two was 325. Also, Eko (remember him?) had carved 3:05 onto his Jesus stick, which Locke noticed when burying him at the beginning of season three (“…look north John 3:05”).
Daniel said their perception of time on the island is “not necessarily” the same as to those on the copter; he said the same thing to Jack, regarding their presence on the island, that the Freighties were “not necessarily” there to rescue them.
Mrs. Teebore said the doctor was flashing the light in Desmond’s eyes to check for a pupillary response. Desmond’s pupils didn’t dilate as they adjusted to the light, indicating some kind of brain/nerve damage.
We can add Tovard, the last known owner of the Black Rock log, to our growing list of Hansos, along with Alvar and Magnus.
I made a point to pause and take a closer look at the soldier who bumped into Desmond and knocked the change out of his hand when Desmond was entering the army phone booth, but it wasn’t anyone I recognized.
What caused Desmond to become unhinged in time? Frank seemed to be following the correct bearing, but he may have been veering off of it ever so slightly because of the storm. Was it something in the storm? Just passing so near whatever it is that causes this problem?
Who wreaked the communications equipment, and why wasn’t Minkowski allowed to fix it?
Who opened the sickbay door? Ben’s man on the boat? Michael?
The producers have been specifically very adamant that none of their time travel stories will cause a paradox; so how do they explain the fact that Future Daniel had the correct specifications to give to Desmond, because Desmond gave them to Past Daniel? Does Daniel have memory problems (as has been suggested previously) so that when he’s on the island, he doesn’t remember Desmond visiting him and giving him those specifications?
Why did 1996 Desmond’s consciousness come forward? Just because 1996 was eight years in the past, and eight is one of the numbers? Just because Army Desmond is one version of Desmond we haven’t seen yet? Or is there some significance to that time?
Why was Penny calling the boat constantly and why was Minkowski under strict orders to ignore the calls?
What caused Penny to go from “leave me the hell alone, Desmond” in 1996 to “a person with money can find anyone” before he went on the boat race, and then, subsequently, seemingly devoting her life to finding him?
Could the effects of traveling through whatever-it-is around the island that distorts time be the cause of the “sickness” that afflicted Rousseau’s crew? Blackouts, madness, and nose bleeds leading to death: to the uninformed, those symptoms would certainly suggest some kind of disease.
Does Desmond’s time jumping have anything to do with him getting kicked out of the army, as established in his first flashback?
When did Daniel write that Desmond would be his constant in his journal? Right before we saw it, or in 1996, after Desmond visited him, or somewhere in between?
When/where did Present Desmond’s consciousness go when 1996 Desmond’s mind was in his body (in the present, Desmond was either conscious with his 1996 mind or blacked out, when his mind was back in 1996). For that matter, last season in Flashes Before Your Eyes, when Present Desmond’s mind was in the past, reliving all those events and talking to creepy jewelry store lady, where/when was Past Desmond’s mind?
Sunday, March 2, 2008
NO END IN SIGHT is the documentary equivalent of putting on your glasses.
The media and politic party spin have all bombarded us with their interpretation of how the Iraq war was and is being run. This film goes beyond propaganda detailing the actions and decisions of the people in charge of post-invasion Iraq from their own mouths, not some braggart and blowhard named Michael Moore who thinks he knows everything about everything and is unequivocally correct.
Everyone knows the Iraq War was a mess. As the Democrats and Republicans jockey for votes we tend to hear two different promises. The Donkeys want to pull out. The Elephants want to finish the job. Both views are narrow minded and potentially catastrophic.
I urge everyone to watch NO END IN SIGHT post haste. No matter how you stand you cannot ignore the facts laid out before you in this film.