Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Retro Review: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge

AKA: Marge goes crazy thinking Otto's ex-fiancee is trying to kill her and usurp her position in the family.

The Setup
: After Bart offers to host Otto's wedding at the Simpson home, Marge inadvertently talks Otto's fiancee, Becky, out of marrying him and she ends up living with the Simpsons.

Favorite Lines:

Wiggum: I don't know, Simpson. How do I know you didn't cut your own brakes?
Marge: Why would I do that?
Wiggum: I don't know ... get some attention from a handsome police officer?
Marge: That's crazy. Look, I know I don't have any proof, but this woman *is* trying to kill me.
Wiggum: Fine, let me tell you what I tell everybody who comes in here: the law is powerless to help you.
Marge: Do I have to be dead before you'll help me?
Wiggum: Well, not dead -- dying.

Lisa: Poor Maggie. How many insanity hearings have you been to in your short little life?

Lisa: Oh, I really miss Mom.
Bart: The kids are saying if you say "bloody Margie" five times, she'll appear, but then she gouges your eyes out.
Homer: I hear she mates with men, then eats them.


Teebore's Take: Well, it's a Marge episode, most of which tend to be pretty mediocre, at best. This is no exception. The plot is fairly straight-forward (if terribly contrived) and there's some funny bits scattered throughout, but there's not much to get too excited about. In fact, for whatever reason, this is one of those episodes I routinely forget about. Then I watch it again, say "oh yeah, this one" then promptly forget about it again.

Zaniness:

Marge's transistion from "jealous of Becky" to "thinking Becky is trying to kill her" is pretty far-fetched. As is most of the third act, featuring Marge's various attempts to evade the police and prove she's not insane.

Jerk-ass Homer:

Another Homer-lite episode, as he mainly plays a supporting role in Marge's drama.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

X-amining X-Men #12

"The Origin of Professor X!"
July 1965

"Stupefying Story by"
Stan Lee
"Spectacular Layouts by" Jack Kirby
"Slam-Bang Pencilling by" Alex Toth
"Sensational Inking by": Vince Colletta

Plot:
As Cerebro warns of an approaching menace of phenomenal power, the X-Men work to fortify the mansion. As the mysterious menace easily surpasses one defense after another, Professor X tells the X-Men of his childhood and his bullying step-brother Cain, who grows up to discover the Ruby Gem of Cyttorak, granting him the power of a Juggernaut. It is, of course, Juggernaut who is bearing down on the X-Men, and after overcoming the final defense, easily wipes the floor with the X-Men themselves before coming face to face with Xavier.

Firsts and Other Notables:
This is the first appearance of Juggernaut, a mainstay of the X-Men's rogues gallery. His sheer power and personal connection to Professor X make him a ripe target for reuse, either alone or in cahoots with other villains. He even joined the X-Men for a brief period time, in a storyline that was the sole bright spot of Chuck Austen's otherwise abysmal run in the early 00s.

Professor X's origin is detailed for the first time, alongside Juggernaut's, including the revelation of his first name: Charles. His father, Brian Xavier, was a scientist at the Alamogordo Nuclear facility along with Kurt Marko. Xavier believes his father's exposure to radiation at work accounts for Xavier's mutation. When Brian Xavier dies in an accident, Kurt marries his widow, Sharon, becoming a young Charles Xavier's step-father. Around the time she realizes he just married her for her money (Brian Xavier's fortune) Kurt's boorish son Cain comes to live at the mansion. Years later, after Sharon has died, Kurt, Cain and Charles get involved in a fight after Cain falsely accuses Kurt of arranging the accident that killed Xavier's father, which ends with Kurt saving the boys from a fire. Cain and Charles grow up together as antagonists, eventually serving together in the Korean War. In Korea, Cain deserts while under fire and Xavier gives chase. They comes across a hidden cave containing the mythical lost temple of Cyttorak and the Cyttorak Ruby. Touching it bestows the awesome power of the Juggernaut upon Cain, though shortly thereafter the cave collapses, trapping him inside.

Brian Xavier and Kurt Marko's work at a nuclear facility in Alamogordo, as well as the indication in this issue that Kurt knew Xavier would develop super powers eventually (suggesting there was some kind of experimentation/study of mutation going on there) proves to be fertile ground for flashback stories dealing with Xavier and the rise of the modern era of mutants in the Marvel Universe. Mike Carey recently completed such a story involving Brian Xavier, Kurt Marko and Mr. Sinister in the "X-Men: Legacy" book.

Jack Kirby is on his way out, as he only contributes layouts to this issue, leaving the actual pencilling to Alex Toth, making this the first issue of "X-Men" not drawn by Kirby.

Also, this is the first true two-part "X-Men" story, as it ends on a solid "to be continued!" cliffhanger for the first time.


A Work in Progress: The other X-Men learn about Cerebro. I'm not entirely sure why Professor X kept it a secret from everyone but Cyclops.

Cerebro only detects mutants, and Professor X makes it very clear several times that Juggernaut is not a mutant, yet Cerebro spends much of this issue freaked out by Juggernaut's approach, an approach about which it shouldn't even be aware.

Marvel Girl's telekinesis is referred to as "teleportation" again.

During the retelling of his origin, Professor X says he survived a car crash by
"creating a mental shield around me." Which is telekinesis, not telepathy.


Ah, the Silver Age: Cerebro lets its fear of Juggernaut known by beeping significantly louder than usual.

It takes the X-Men exactly five minutes to use their powers to "completely fortify and booby-trap" the exterior of the mansion. Needless to say, Juggernaut encounters far more fortifications than we ever see the X-Men setting up.

Professor X's father was killed in the accidental blast of an atomic bomb.


Professor X and Juggernaut served together in the Korean War. Which wasn't so long ago in 1965, but has caused all kinds of problems with Marvel's "sliding" timeline through the years. It's usually best to just remember that Xavier and Juggernaut served together in "a" war and forget the details.


The X-Men employ a gas against Juggernaut which causes a loss of balance.

"Professor Xavier is a Jerk!":
A teenaged Professor X decides it's unfair to compete in athletic events because his telepathy gives him an unfair advantage over his opponents, but only after becoming the star quarterback and winning a shelf's worth of trophies. Also, he never seems to consider simply NOT reading his opponents' minds.


Young Love: No time for loving as the Juggernaut approaches.

It's in the Mail:
Here's a missive that would be right at home on a modern message board, picking some nits regarding the assortment of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures found in the Savage Land in issue #10.


For Sale:
Not only could the kids of the 60s buy sea horses mail order, apparently they could get pet monkeys that way too. That just doesn't seem quite...right.


X-Men T-shirts are finally available! And have you joined the MMS yet?


Teebore's Take: A suitably suspenseful story, as Xavier's shrill declarations of Juggernaut's power are backed up by the scenes of a shadowy figure easily shrugging off the best the X-Men can throw at him, slowly drawing closer and closer to Xavier until coming face to face with him at story's end.

It does suffer a bit, however, from Silver Age style plotting, as Xavier insists on recounting his entire history in a long-winded, linear narrative, refusing even to name the approaching threat as Juggernaut until his flashback first sets up the dramatic reveal. At one point Iceman even asks him point blank exactly what kind of power their foe possesses, and Professor X insists there's "no time for that now" before proceeding to watch Juggernaut break through their first defense, then return to his origin tale to discuss the death of his mother and inheritance law. Later, as Juggernaut defeats the last booby trap, Xavier suddenly remembers one last defense, a steel inner wall.
Despite Juggernaut bearing down on them and time being critical Beast, Iceman and Angel proceed to dabble in some horse play as they race to be the one to raise this final defense.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Brief Thoughts About Baseball (5/18/2009 - 5/24/2009)

1. Well, the Twins started the week off terribly. Then Joe Mauer was moved up to second in the batting order and Morneau to third. The Twins got a 20-1 victory over the White Sox followed by a sweep of the Brewers...capped off by this!

2. Speaking of the Morneau's grand slam. Yahoo! had this note...via Rotowire:

It wouldn't be a David Bush start if he didn't get a little unlucky from the lack of bullpen support. He left the game with a two-run lead and two runners on, but lefty Mitch Stetter came on and hit Joe Mauer with a pitch and then gave up a grand slam to Justin Morneau.
(Rotowire.com)

Did they even see the game? Or did they fall asleep before it ended?

3. Here's something you don't see every day. And it was almost unassisted which really would have been something.

4. Speaking of things you don't see every day, apparently Albert Pujols hates McDonald's...or loves them...or just hates the letter I?

5. Last week lack of attention to detail cost the Rays their DH spot. Apparently you have to be detail oriented whilst running the bases too, as the Mets found out.

6. David Ortiz got his first home run of the season on Wednesday. He claimed afterwards he got all his confidence back and feels like a big league hitter again. I was skeptical. David Ortiz numbers for the rest of the week: 1 for 16, 0 Runs, 0 RBI. Yeah, you still have a ways to go Ortiz until you're a big bopper again...if you ever get back there at all.

7. Runner interference can be such a pansy call and it nearly cost Cincinnati a win. (It certainly cost one of my fantasy pitchers a win.) Maybe I'm just bitter because I don't like Grady Sizemore...he just looks like your classic prep school jock.

8. I should end by noting that Mauer is off the hizzy fo' shizzy. (This week's stats: 12 Runs, 4 Home Runs, 13 RBI, and a .458 batting average.) He's already eclipsed his home run total from last year...and he missed the first month of baseball! According to Yahoo! sports he's got the best per game average stats of any player in baseball with a significant number of at-bats. Basically, Joe Mauer is currently the best player in baseball...period. It's hard to believe he'll keep up this pace, but it'll be fun to see how long it can last.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Five Things I Hate About "The Phantom Menace" (That Don't Include Jar Jar Binks)

If you're like me, you were really excited to see Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I mean, it was the first Star Wars movie in over 15 years, how could you not be? Also, if you were like me, after seeing the movie you were thinking to yourself, "What the hell is up with that orb?"
I suppose it's telling of the movie overall that my lasting impression from Episode One was questioning the relevance of a random inanimate object. Soon after that I realized that I had no idea why the two sides were fighting in the first place! I suppose what I'm saying is that I've always felt that The Phantom Menace was a bit of a jumbled mess.
So, since Teebore is Mr. Positive and I am Mr. Negative, I suppose it's only proper that I'll be presenting you with the five things I hate about "The Phantom Menace" (that don't include Jar Jar Binks).

Anakin Skywalker Is An Annoying Kid: I mean...seriously? When people wanted to see the prequels and learn of the origins of Darth Vader, were they really pining to see him in diapers? Think how much better this movie could have been if Anakin was of an age where he could actually do something meaningful...and not by accident. (At least put him at an age where you can cast him with a competent actor...although I guess that really didn't work out either.) Watching an annoying kid stumble around with cheesy lines...I mean it's just...I don't know...whatever.


The Good Guys Win Via Buffoonery: Speaking of doing things by accident. Two thirds of the final climatic battle involved characters bumping into things and accidentally helping the republic. You've got Jar Jar Binks slapsticking his way to accidentally releasing explosive orbs that end up destroying many of the droid enemies. Meanwhile, out in space, Anakin Skywalker accidentally flies a hijacked starfighter into the droid control ship and seemingly randomly presses buttons on the starfighter and inadvertently destroys the control ship and saves the Gungans. Apparently, it's better to be lucky than skilled.
I suppose you could argue that the force guided Anakin's button pushing but that's still lame. I'm sure when a Jedi has to take a dump the force will guide them to a bathroom but I don't need to see it. I mean it's just...I don't know...whatever.

Pod Racing: You know what pod racing is? A big snooze fest. I don't watch Nascar, so why would I want to watch this? All pod racing was was a bunch of filler to showcase special effects. Couldn't George Lucas come up with an easier, less boring way for the Jedi to obtain Anakin's freedom? I mean it's just...I don't know...whatever.

Darth Maul Dies Like A Chump: I don't mind that Darth Maul died in principle. (Although, considering he was replaced by Count Dookie the decision does seem suspect.) But Darth Maul died like a pansy chump. They give us a bad ass light saber duel, but how does it end? With Darth Maul being mesmerized by a flip and just standing and watching as Obi Wan slices him in half. Couldn't Darth Maul put up more of a fight? There's ways for him to die and not look like an idiot, right? I mean it's just...I don't know...whatever.

Natalie Portman Didn't Get Naked: First of all, anybody who has read my movie reviews know that I always prefer nudity to non-nudity. But beyond that, after George Lucas wrote this script he must have said to himself "Wow, this the worse thing I've written since that crappy martian Indiana Jones screen play that would ruin the franchise if it was ever made into a movie." So knowing that this was D+ work, shouldn't he have tried to spice things up? What better way to spice things up than a little nudity? How much more fondly would this movie be remembered and how much more rewatchable would this movie be if Natalie Portman got naked in it? All I'm saying is that I mean it's just...I don't know...whatever.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Retro Review: Last Tap Dance in Springfield

AKA: Lisa takes tap dancing lessons while Bart and Milhouse camp out at the mall.

The Setup: At the mall to buy camp supplies for Bart, Lisa watches the film "Tango De La Muerte" and becomes determined to learn how to dance.


Favorite Lines:

Marge: Homer, sitting that close to the TV can't be good for you.
Homer: Talking while the TV's on can't be good for *you*.

Marge: I remember Little Vicki Valentine. Her perky smile and dancing brought America right out of the depression.
Lisa: Well, I think World War II helped a little, Mom.
Marge: Don't smart mouth, Lisa.

Wiggum: We'll catch that mall rat.
Lou: Sure hope this Acme kit works.
Wiggum: Gosh, that cheese looks good. Think I could grab it before that anvil hits?
Lou: Oh, I don't know, Chief. It's a million to one.
Wiggum: I like those odds! Ow! ... My mistake was grabbing the cheese.

Vicki: I'm sorry, Lisa, but giving everyone an equal part when they're clearly not equal is called what, again, class?
Class: Communism!
Vicki: That's right. And I didn't tap all those Morse code messages to the Allies 'til my shoes filled with blood to just roll out the welcome mat for the Reds.

Vicki: I'm ever so pissed!

Teebore's Take: After a string of episodes that ranged from mediocre to dull to horrible, this straight-forward and humorous episode was a relief. Dance teacher Vicki Valentine is pretty much an unlikeable bitch, but she satirizes well the Shirley Temple/child star "feel good" musical films of the forties. The portion of an old "Little Vicki" movie that Lisa watches-complete with a caricatured, good-natured African-American butler and a dancing cat-is worth the price of admission itself. The subplot involving Bart and Milhouse camping out at the mall is a bit over-the-top but funny nonetheless, particularly Chief Wiggum's boneheaded attempts at using a mountain lion to kill the giant rat to which he's attributing Bart and Milhouse's shenanigans.


Zaniness:

Bart's story is a bit unbelievable, but no more so than the plot of your average 80s teen comedy. And the self-tapping shoes Professor Frink gives Lisa at the end are pretty zany, but aside from that, this is a fairly "normal" episode.

Jerk-ass Homer:

Homer is barely in this one, aside from getting laser eye surgery in the beginning and failing to recognize Professor Frink's attempts at making Lisa feel better at the end.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Five Things I Love About "The Phantom Menace"



This week (yesterday, in fact) marks the tenth anniversary of "The Phantom Menace." Yes, believe it or not, it's already been ten years of hating Jar Jar and mocking tween Anakin. To celebrate (and in the interest of keeping things positive) here's five things I love about the weakest Star Wars film.


Qui-Gon Jinn: "The Phantom Menace" showcases, perhaps, the purest Jedi ever in Liam Neeson's Qui-Gon Jinn, a Jedi who kicks butt, takes names, and does whatever the Force asks of him, regardless of what policy or procedure or politics suggest he should do. There's also a bittersweet tragedy to his character, considering everything he does in this movie indirectly leads to the extermination of the Jedi for a generation.


The Music: Note for note, "The Phantom Menace" is arguably John Williams most accomplished score of all the Star Wars films (and, thankfully, ever second of it is available on CD; now where are my complete music compilations for Episodes II and III?). One could probably turn off the dialogue and simply watch the movie with the music and still get the same impressions from the story (in fact, in some scenes, the lack of dialogue would be a drastic improvement). From the seemingly sweet "Anakin's Theme" that subtly includes the ominous notes of "The Imperial March" to the epic "Duel of the Fates" which becomes the prequel trilogy's overriding theme in the same way Luke's theme defines the original trilogy, to the finale, which reprises the Emperor's theme from "Return of the Jedi" (sung higher and up tempo by a children's choir), the music of "The Phantom Menace" foreshadows what will come while establishing a musical identity for the entire prequel trilogy.


The Lightsaber Duel: Everyone knows the coolest thing about the Star Wars movies are lightsabers. So it's no surprise that the the most exciting part of "The Phantom Menace" was the intense lightsaber duel at the end between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul. Seeing, for the first time, a lightsaber fight that didn't involve old Jedi, half-trained Jedi or injured cyborg Jedi was the highlight of the film for me ten years ago, and a key element in bringing me back to watch it again and again.


The Jedi Council: Like Qui-Gon's action throughout the film, the Jedi Council helped define the concept of the Jedi for the prequel trilogy, giving the audience a glimpse of what life for the Jedi was like before Anakin went nuts and killed all their kids. Little did we know when Luke was getting zapped by a training remote aboard the Millenium Falcon, that once upon a time the Jedi were all about bureaucracy, complete with a ruling council and a space pope. While the council really didn't do much in "The Phantom Menace," the idea was visually and thematically significant, and it was fun to watch all those various Jedi and wonder what each of them did to earn a place on the council.


The Senate Chamber: Created on screen almost exactly as it was described in Star Wars novels written prior to "The Phantom Menace", the Senate chamber's vast scope and collection of aliens perfectly conveys the way a multi-world legislative body would operate.

(And yes, I'm citing the freaking Senate Chamber as something to like about "The Phantom Menace." This is the least of all the Star Wars films, after all. It can be difficult to find things beyond the music and "some Jedi finally kicking ass" to love about it.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lost 5x16-17: The Incident

......

Whew.

That was dense, intense, satisfying and infuriating.

Where to begin? Finales on this show are always difficult to unpack: they cram in so much, resolving the season past and setting up the season to come. This one, being the final season finale (next year's will be a SERIES finale, natch) did a whole lot of both.

So Jacob isn't Jack, or Locke, or any other temporally-displaced Lostie trying to do right, as many theorized and some hoped. Turns out he's just a dude, seemingly ageless like Richard, locked in some kind of struggle with a nameless, hairy other, weaving the threads of a tapestry like he does the lives of the Losties. In flashbacks, Jacob visited almost all the Losties in some capacity, bestowing a gift to each of them (Kate's lunchbox, a pen to little Sawyer, life to an injured Locke), at the very least making a point to physically touch them all. Jacob wasn't what was expected, but his story remains curious and compelling. It seems likely, despite his death, that he will take the front seat of the narrative next season after driving from the back seat for so long.

In 1977, Mad Jack got his bomb, Richard removed the Others from the messy situation, and Sayid got (fatally?) shot on the way to the Swan. All the time-tossed Losties converge there, all on board (though for some, reluctantly) with Jack's crazy "kill 'em all and let destiny sort it out" plan, and a good old fashioned shootout occurs. Like the season one finale, with the hatch blown open to show nothing but a gaping maw of darkness within, this season ends with its biggest question unanswered: did whatever happened, happen, or was Juliet's desperate deathbed detonation of Jughead's guts a variable that has drastically changed the future? (Personally, I think "The Incident" showed us just that: the incident. Begun when Radzinsky's drill struck the pocket of energy and capped off by Jughead, what happened, happened, and the resulting flash of light and burst of energy will hurtle the Losties into 2007. After all, as Jacob said on his deathbed, "they are coming.")

Back in 2007, Ilana opened her silver crate and it turned out Locke's been dead since last season's finale. Didn't see that coming (though Dr. Bitz uncannily pegged that Locke's body was inside the crate). Apparently the confident and smiley Locke (or perhaps that's 'cocky and smirky' Locke) striding through the jungle this season has actually been a manifestation of Locke, some other entity taken his form in order to exploit a "loophole" in the rules governing (protecting?) Jacob. Presumably, this Locke-usurping entity is the hairy man in black seen with Jacob observing the arrival of a sailing ship (the Black Rock?) while sitting in the shadow of the statue. Assuming everything Locke has done since arriving on the island has been orchestrated by this anti-Jacob (and that Jacob is a benevolent being in tune with the island's needs), Locke has been recast as an unknowing chump, helping give rise to a dark force while all the while believing he was communing with the island and fulfilling a grand destiny. Which, more so than Juliet's fate or the dangling question of the timeline's state, is the most unsettling and nagging idea to come out the finale.


Favorite Bits:
The look on Sawyer's face at the end of the first hour, as he, Juliet and Kate were blocking the road.


Jack and Sawyer's rumble in the jungle. That felt good.

Miles finally pointing out the notion that maybe everything Jack's doing is exactly what's always happened.

As asinine as I still think Jack's whole "blow up the H-bomb" plan was, the shootout at the end, with all the Losties coming together to fight off Dharma, was pretty cool. Plus, weaselly Phil+rebar=awesome. Felt bad for the Dharma guys who were just doing their job and got shot though.


Tidbits of Note:
Jacob's loom calls to mind images of the Norse Norns and the Greek Fates, beings who manipulated the length, weaving and use of thread as a metaphor for mortal life.


It's probably safe to assume the ship sailing by the island, observed by Jacob and that other guy in the cold open, was the Black Rock.

EVERYTHING about Jacob in that scene was white: his clothes, the tapestry, the sand on the beach, whereas his companion was clothed in black. If that's not an indication of good/evil, it's at least pointing out a dichotomy between the two.


For those that don't remember their bible stories, Jacob is the son of Isaac (who was once almost sacrificed by his father, Abraham). Esau is Jacob's twin brother, and was in line for the birthright of their father. Jacob tricked his father into giving it to Jacob instead (mainly by pretending to be hairy) which pissed off Esau for awhile. Jacob then went on to wrestle God and thus be renamed "Israel" before fathering Joseph, who eventually got a multicolored coat, turned Mormon, and moved to Egypt. Which is why all the Hebrews were slaves there when Charlton Heston showed up.

The lunch box young Kate tried to steal and Jacob later bought for her was the one she and her childhood friend Tom buried in their time capsule (along with the toy plane), shortly before Kate inadvertently killed Tom while attempting to visit her mom. I assume the boy aiding her theft was Tom.

Depending on how you want to look out, Jacob is either inadvertently responsible for Nadia's death or for saving Sayid from sharing her fate.

I'm 98% confident that Rose and Bernard are the "Adam and Eve" skeletons found in the cave back in season one.


Richard referred to Eloise as "our leader" suggesting, perhaps, that she is the solo leader at that time and that Widmore is waiting in the wings. Perhaps he ascends when she leaves the island for whatever reason.

The surgery Jack was performing was the infamous "five seconds" surgery he told Kate about back in the pilot episode, when she was stitching him up.

Jack and Jacob shared an Apollo candy bar, the preferred candy bar of the Dharma Initiative.

While waiting for Locke to fall, Jacob was reading Flannery O'Connor's "Everything That Rises Must Converge." It's a short story collection, but I know little about it beyond that. That title sure is suggestive, though.


The Dharma house Jack and Sayid entered from the tunnels was, presumably, Horace's. When Sayid was shot, he was wearing Horace's jumpsuit. If Sayid died/dies, does this mean that perhaps it's HIS body seen in the pit back in season three, from which Locke found the map to Jacob's cabin?

Jacob's cabin still had the dog picture in it, but all the other weird stuff (jars of liquids) was gone. It was also significantly less creepy in the daylight.

The knife holding the piece of tapestry to the wall appeared to be the same knife Jacob used to prepare his fish in the cold open.

Ben telling Locke he was a Pisces was, of course, a lie. Ben's birthday is December 19th, and Pisces are sometime in the early spring (Feb-March).

Sun found Charlie's Drive Shaft ring in Aaron's abandoned crib. Charlie left it there before leaving for the Looking Glass station in the season three finale.


Juliet dusted off Jack's old "live together, die alone" chestnut.

Presumably, the injury Dr. Chang received while stuff was flying around explains his prosthetic arm in the Orientation videos.

The sight and sound of Juliet, wrapped in chains, getting pulled into the drill hole looked and sounded a lot like Smokey, when he wraps himself around a victim and drags that victim away.

Jacob seemed to give each of the Losites something (though not necessarily something physical, such as Locke's life). At the very least, he touched each of them.

We saw Jacob visit most of the Losties before the crash of flight 815. However, he visited Hurley and Sayid AFTER that crash. Did ever visit them pre-crash?

Ilana asked for "Ricardus"; Richard responded to the "what lies in the shadow of the statue" riddle with a phrase in Latin. The Internet tells me it translates to: "he who will protect/save us all."

Juliet hit the bomb 8 times before it exploded.

Questions:
So: did they change things, or was the detonation of the bomb the "incident?"

What's the deal with Jacob and anti-Jacob? To what rules are they beholden? Of what loophole did Not Locke take advantage? What is the source of their conflict? Is this the conflict for which Ben, Widmore and Ms. Hawking have been preparing?

What are the extent of Jacob's powers? Why doesn't he age? Why does he need Richard to interface with the Others? How does he leave the island?

Is resurrected Locke anti-Jacob in Locke's form? Is anti-Jacob Smokey? Is he Christian? If so, where'd Christian's body go? Has Locke been inadvertently working with anti-Jacob since day one? Was Jacob ever in that cabin? Who broke the line of ash around the cabin?

If Not Locke is anti-Jacob, why did he need Richard to show him where Jacob was? Why did he bring all the Others along? Was it all just to sell the con he's pulling on Ben?

Is Jacob good or bad? Are we supposed to be happy or upset that he's dead (well, I think we're SUPPOSED to be upset, but should we be)?

If that was the Black Rock at the beginning, then how did it get so far inland?

We got a pretty good look at the statue: was that Sobek (with the head of crocodile), or Tawaret, the fertility goddess?


Are the Losties special because Jacob visited/touched them, or did Jacob visit them because he knew they were special?

Why was Ilana all bandaged up in that hospital? Why did Jacob need her help?

What "candidacy" were Bram and Ilana talking about? Could Frank be a candidate for what?

Assuming most of the Losties survive the detonation of the H-bomb, does Sayid make it?

Is Juliet dead?

Next week:
No new Lost until 2010, but I may have another long-winded Lost post or two up my sleeve before then.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Brief Thoughts About Baseball (5/11/2009 - 5/17/2009)

1. Sometimes it pays to look beyond the box score. Sure, you look at the Thursday's Twins game and you see that Justin Verlander pitched awesome but the Tigers' bullpen fell apart and the Twins won 6 to 5. What you miss is the fact that Verlander went back to the hotel early the night before during the Wednesday Twins game. The hotel clerk got the score wrong when Verlander asked and thus he went to sleep thinking that the Tigers won. Only when he took a taxi with team mate Curtis Granderson did he find out the Tigers actually lost...awesome!

2. The Angels' stud pitcher John Lackey came off the disable list and pitched for the first time this year. His start was auspicious...or is it inauspicious? Either way, you can see his first start of the season in it's entirety here. (Don't worry, it won't take long.)

3. I looked it up, the correct term would be inauspicious. Which would describe Thursday for Boston fans...finally. Red Sox and Celtics lost and the Bruins got knocked out of the playoffs. Yes, I have a bad case of schadenfreude.

4. Walk off grand slams are awesome!

5. Your team losing to walk off hits three days in a row isn't awesome.

6. The problem with following a team with a bad bullpen is that the losses are heartbreaking. But I've realized that any tied game that goes into the 8th inning and beyond for the Twins should be chalked up as a loss.

7. Is there any doubt that the Yankees are looking at the success Mauer and Morneau are having in Yankee stadium (combined 9 for 23, 5 home runs, 6 runs, 5 RBI) and are just waiting for them to become free agents?

8. Steve Phillips, ESPN analyst, said Monday night during the Met's game that the reason Johan Santana gets so little run support from the Met's offense is because his pacing on the mound somehow lulls the Met players to sleep. Ummm...yeah...and he used to be a General Manager!?

9. Did you know that rookie phenom pitcher for the Natinals Jordan Zimmerman's name rhymes with Gordon Fisherman?

10. Remember kids, even in baseball it pays to be detail orientated. The Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon accidentally listed a third basemen twice in his official lineup card. Because of magical baseball rules mumbo jumbo this meant that the DH was lost and the pitcher had to hit in place of MVP candidate Evan Longoria. Despite being forced to play a better, purer form of baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays still beat the Cleveland Indiands. Pathetic, Cleveland.

11. Brandon Morrow, now ex-closer for the Mariners, blew back to back saves against the Texas Rangers taking the loss in both games. He is now an ex-reliever on my fantasy team.

12. On Saturday the Cubs' closer came into the 9th inning with a 4 to 0 lead. He gave up 4 runs without recording an out. In the bottom of the 9th Houston's closer came in and gave up a run in 1/3 of an inning to lose the game. Teebore has both the Houston and Cubs closer. I guess that evens things out regarding Brandon Morrow.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

X-amining X-Men #11

"The Triumph of Magneto!"
May 1965

"X-traordinary script" by:
Stan Lee
"X-travagant art" by: Jack Kirby
"X-Ceptional inking" by: Chic Stone

Plot:
Professor X's new "radar image beam" senses the approach of an extremely powerful being, but is unable to identify him. Believing he could be a mutant, the X-Men are sent off to make contact with the being before Magneto. Calling himself a "stranger", the being takes the form of an old man and is drawn to Magneto. The Brotherhood demonstrates their power to the Stranger, but he quickly displays his power to the Brotherhood, which draws the attention of the X-Men. After a breif scuffle, the Stranger escapes with Magneto and Toad. The X-Men track the Stranger's mental emanations and find a bound Magneto and Toad. The Stranger reveals himself as a powerful alien whose people are interested in mutation, so he's taking Magneto (who insisted the Stranger ally himself with Magneto) and the Toad (because the Stranger is touched by his loyalty to Magneto) back to his home planet. He departs and the X-Men return home, thankful the threat of Magneto is ended. But then Cerebro sounds the alarm: an even more powerful threat is fast approaching!

Firsts and Other Notables:
The Stranger, one of Marvel's numerous and slightly vague cosmic beings, makes his first appearance. Eventually its decided that he is a cosmic vivisectionist with the goal of helping mankind achieve its potential, and also the ensure he's the last survivor of this universe, so that he can take Galactus' place in the next one.


This issue effectively marks the end of the first incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants:
  • Magneto and Toad are whisked off into space.
  • The Stranger turns Mastermind into a "solid block of matter" but the X-Men confirm he's still alive. He'll be back, but not for awhile.
  • Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver finally decide enough is enough and call their debt to Magneto repaid. Cyclops offers them a place with the X-Men, but they decline, deciding instead to return home to central Europe to avoid the whole human/mutant conflict. Their retirement lasts for...less than a month, as Avengers #16, the issue in which they join that team, was published at the same time as this issue.

A Work in Progress:
Professor X has a new means of locating new mutants: "a radar-image beam" which "converts radar blips into pictures of the object." I'm pretty sure we never see or hear of it again.

The X-Men now have a mentally-controlled helicopter to complement their mentally-controlled jet from issue #1.

Apparently the X-Men perform a security sweep of the mansion every time they return home. I'm fairly certain such a thing is never seen again either.


Ah, the Silver Age: The police, ordered to investigate anything suspicious, nearly arrest Cyclops for daring to wear dark glasses on a cloudy day. Later, when they arrive on the scene of the Stranger's departure, Beast distracts them long enough for Professor X to safely get inside the helicopter (so that no one knows he's associated with the X-Men). Beast's method of distraction? Jumping up and down. It works.


Check out all the slang terms for money in the 60s:


Jean swoons when Cyclops tells her "good girl", comparing it to Richard Chamberlain saying "my darling."


This bystander is highly observant:


Apparently, the names of evil mutants in Cerebro are just interchangeable slips of paper.


Isn't it high time YOU joined the Merry Marvel Marching Society?


Young Love: Jean worries about Scott's safety as he rushes into battle.


Later, she's concerned that Scarlet Witch might be hitting on Cyclops.


The Awesome and Terrible Power of Cyclops: Cyclops freaks out when the cops try to forcibly remove his glasses.



It's in the Mail: Dr. Bitz will pleased to know that the Marvel Mathematics Club of Lehigh University believes Dr. Strange to be Marvel's best character, second only to the Hulk (the X-Men rank third behind the good doctor).


Only you can make yours Marvel!


Teebore's Take:
The Brotherhood is surprisingly disassembled in a rather atypical X-Men story (this marks the first appearance on aliens in an X-Men comic: Lucifer turns out to be one, but he wasn't established as such in issue #9). Seeing the Brotherhood vanquished must have been a shock to readers back in the 60s; I'm still surprised, and I knew it was coming. The Brotherhood seemed to be firmly entrenched as literal and thematic opposites to the X-Men. Despite the repetitive nature of several issues in which they appeared, for the most part, they worked well to that end. Magneto will be back, of course, and he won't be gone for long. And while the Brotherhood as a concept survives (Magneto will pal around with a variation of this group for a bit, before Mystique forms her own version in the early 80s), the defection of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch really denotes the end of this Silver Age Brotherhood.

The story itself is fairly unremarkable, with the main "villain" an alien with vague powers and little motivation. The X-Men don't do much more than chase after the Stranger, and as surprising as it is to see the Brotherhood concept abandoned, it's even more of a shame that the X-Men themselves did so little to bring it about.