Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mayhem

The final minutes of May are ticking away. I thought at the beginning there would be rough times this month with all the remembrances of two years ago, but I handled it much better than I thought. For a while now I have felt less like screaming my fool head off and more like possessing a melancholic acceptance that my lot in life isn’t the one I would ever choose. In fact, if some told me to pull a scripted lifetime out of a hat and told me the one I am currently experiencing was among the random choices, I would never, ever stick my hand in. I have heard a number of people in my life who have gone through rough times ask, “What did I go through that for?” The answer is because you did not have a choice. I accept that. Begrudgingly.

There have been a few sleepless nights as of late. At this point, writing about them seems almost cliché. There is only so much interest anyone has in watching someone else flounder around in the doldrums before moving on to more exciting things. I keep trying to find a few exciting things to distract myself with, too. Not much luck so far, if you are curious. I am still hung up on would haves, could haves, and should haves. Not healthy, I know, but at this point, there isn’t much that’s healthy for me anyway.

If you are curious, a few personal encounters this month have shed some light in previously dark corners of my thoughts. I don’t want to elaborate and betray confidences, but some sense of closure has occurred for a few nagging irritants. Other wounds still remain to be healed. Regardless of any high minded notions, forgiveness and restitution isn’t a cure all. One can carry pain to the grave. But I do not feel as though I am as shackled to everything as I previously was. That’s progress, no?
Voices of History

I have found an archive of famous news reports and speeches in MP3 format. A couple of personal favorites are Lou Gherig's "Luckiest Man" farewell to the New York Yankees and the announcement of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's treaty with Hitler that promised "peace in our time."
Michelle Rodriguez Out of the Pokey

Michelle Rodriguez, who played doomed former LA cop Ana-Lucia Cortez on Lost, has been released from prison. Rodriguez served only four-and-a-half hours for violating her parole with a DUI arrest in Hawaii back in December. She was released early because of overcrowding, an reason which has always baffled me. Who cares if jailbirds have lots of room? Give them a sleeping bag, two armed guards, and let them stay out under the stairs. Going camping does not violate the Eighth Amendment. Geez.

Rodriguez still has to serve 60 hours of community service, receive alcohol abuse counseling, and speak with representative of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I give her about 30 minutes before she is back in trouble, driver’s license or no. Rodriguez is one of those folks who got too muh success too fast (fast and furious? *rimshot*) and doesn’t know how to handle it. In fact, she told an interviewer while promoting her Lost role that she was a gypsy who could find beauty in everything, even a jail cell.

That’s a woman who isn’t going to learn her lesson until someone gets hurt. Maybe not even then.
Which Doctor Who Are You?

You scored as The Ninth Doctor (Christoper Eccleston).

You liked the Ninth Doctor the most. You may be new to Doctor Who, but you like what you've seen so far. Hoorah for Russell T. Davies!

The Ninth Doctor (Christoper Eccleston)

100%

The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker)

88%

The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann)

75%

The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davidson)

63%

The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)

63%

The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)

50%

The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee)

38%

The First Doctor (William Hartnell)

25%

The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton)

25%

Which Doctor Who are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
"Better Days"--Goo Goo Dolls

We come to the last video in May Music Month. This song is the best way I know how to reflect both on the past and look ahead to the future.

When I sat down the last week of April and planned out the videos I wanted to use, I knew May was going to be a tough time of remembrance for me. Indeed, I have remarked on various days particularly in the middle of the month. But most all the songs I chose as a reflection of my current thoughts. Looking back, I realize I am more melancholic than I ever try to let on. Look at my choices. Almost all have a sad sense of loss. Eva Cassidy, Jeff Buckley, Jim Croce, and Kurt Cobain all died young. Johnny Cash was clearly dying in “Hurt.” Even the songs that weren’t so obvious to you represented more pain than joy to me. Well, I like sad songs. I always have. Music is deposed to stir emotions and there is no more powerful an emotion than sorrow.

All that said, I don’t want to end on such a downer note. Therefore, I chose “Better Days” as the ultimate song. “Better days” wasn’t a very nbig hit for the Goo Goo Dolls, but I liked it. The lyrics have a Christmas-New Year’s theme, but isn’t really a holiday song. The singer is asked what he would like for this year and he says he doesn’t need any material things. He just wants a chance to find better days. New Year’s is the day the world begins again. It’s the day we are all forgiven for the past year and a chance to start with a clean slate. It is an interesting idea, unfortunately not exactly true, but I am going to pretend not only that it can happen, but it ca happen on the final day of May. You may join me, if you wish.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bryce Howard as Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man III

As a big comics fan in general and a Spider-Man fan specifically, I was skeptical when I heard Bryce Howard would be playing Peter Parker’s doomed true love, Gwen Stacy. I do not believe she is destined to join the choir invisible in the movie series, but as you will see on June 1st when I begin a series of new daily posts just like I did with the music videos this month, the Blonde and the Web Head did not live happily ever after. I have changed my mind after seeing the following pictures of Bryce as Gwen. She’s actually the spitting image of the girl next door Gwen Stacy.You may click to enlarge any photo should you deem it necessary.
Clinton Gets Gored

At least that is what the Los Angeles Times‘ Jonathan Chait believes. It is way too early in the game to be making any particular predictions about 2008. But from the sounds of Democratic Party chatter, I’d say they are continuing on their path of self-destruction. While the GOP is killing itself with corruption and overspending, the Democrats are floundering about because no one is in charge. Seriously.

Look at the last few years. No one in the party waned John Kerry as the nominee. You can’t even name one campaign idea he had other than “I’m not Bush.” If the democrats thought Socks the Cat could have beaten Bush, they would have nominated him instead. We would have had a national debate on the constitutionality of being 35 in cat years, but that wouldn’t have stopped them. Move ahead a few months. No one wanted Howard Dean as head of the DNC, yet thee is he is. Who the heck elected him then? A growing number of candidates won’t even be seen in public with him. The Chairman of the DNC is a public relations job. His task is to sell candidates to voters. If those candidates won’t even be seen with him, they might as well have Tom DeLay as DNC Chairman. And if my some happenstance the Democrats retake the House in November, they are set to make the banal Nancy Pelosi Speaker.

All that in mind, the debate I linked in the above article is the killer. Hillary Clinton has too much baggage to win the presidency, so the party needs to nominate the one time loser, tall tale telling Chicken Little who swear global warming is going to destroy civilization and turn us all into Mad Max. The democratic Party is the oldest political party on the planet and it is marching proudly towards an ugly twilight.
Lost Park

The Castaways of Lost if they were South Park characters. And yes, I fon't really understand why Jin is a werewolf. i guess the Character Maker doesn't have an Asian motif.You may click to enlarge for a better look.
"Runaway Train"--Soul Asylum

Soul Asylum is one of the few alternative bands I ever thought was any good. While they have had several hits, most folks consider them a one hit wonder because of 1993’s “Runaway train.” What have linked below is not the famous original video for the song, but a live performance from MTV’ Unplugged. That kind of defeats the purpose of the original video, but I like acoustic versions and liver performances of songs, so here you go.

The original video is noted for featuring the photos of kidnapped and/or runaway children and a number to call if you have seen any of them. In a day when most record labels only grudgingly fronted the cost for a video as a promotional tool, Soul Asylum actually updated the video to feature more missing kids as it continued in the playing rotation. Does anyone remember the days when MTV had one of those? As a result, several kid were found and returned home.

I never ran away as a child or had any deep compulsion to do so. I have written previously about how my family fell apart from my early high school years on and never recovered, but I toughed it out. I was logical and waited until I was eighteen to establish roots elsewhere. Anyone who has read my postings for any length of time realizes how that turned out. You don’t have to be a jaded fourteen year old for the lyrics to resonate with you. I see a lot of myself in this song.

Life’s mystery does seem awfully faded nowadays. I used to think that years ago and every so often, I look back on those times and wonder how I could think that compared to what I am experiencing now. I fully expect in a few more years to look back on thses days and have the same realization. The idea scares the heck out of me.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Washed Ashore, Chapter Ten

"Fate"

Todd laid flat on his surfboard and paddled out into the higher waves. He still wasn’t quite sure whether The Big one everyone spoke even existed, much less would show up here, but so far the surfing had been good anyway. Maybe this wouldn’t be a wasted trip regardless.

Oh, who was he kidding? His whole life was a waste. This was the only part about surfing he really hated. The time alone out on the water gave him time to think. Th solitude reminded him of just how alone he was through, as far as he was concerned, no fault of his own. He’d been a good person. Did his own thing, never worrying tooo much about fulfilling others’ expectations of him, but who ever said he had to do that? Th answer to that question always came to him just before reaching the big wave--I do.

The board caught a growing wave and Todd slowly but surely stoof up on his board. He may not have accomplished much in his young life thus far, but he was good at this. Envibly good. He usually felt at peace riding atop a wave. It was as thought the entire power of nature was below him, guiding him where it wanted him to go. He liked that feeling, or at least he used to. Todd had so far lived a hapless life, buffeted by fate. He figured that was all right for now. He was young and had plenty of time to right things before settling down and establishing his life. The thing is that wasn’t happening. Sometimes twenty-two can be very old when the path towards the future isn’t clear. Todd knew it was time to quit spending his life in pursuit of some deep meaning in whimsical things. Unfortunately, he didn’t know any other way to go about it. There certainly weren’t any sign forthcoming.

Sometimes Todd couldn’t clear these thoughts out of his mind while riding a wave. That’s a bad thing. Lack of concentration can make bad things happen. Indeed, Todd lost his balance and sipped right off the board. Th surrounding waves kept crashing into him making it hard to come back up for air. Truth be told, Todd didn’t make much of on effort to do so. He floated beneath the surface of the water on his back. Looking up towards the surface, barely seeing the sunlight above, was surreal experience. Todd thought about just letting go.

On the beach, Wendy jumped up in a panic and stood a few frantic steps towards the shoreline. She looked back at Sean who was still sitting on the blanket he had been sharing with her.

“He’s down!” she screamed. Wendy was stunned Sean didn’t seem to care.

“Yeah, I know,” he replied.

“Shouldn’t we do something He’ll drown!”

Sean let out a reassuring but not too condescending laugh. “This sort of thing happens to surfers all the time. He knows what he is doing. Besides, he’s tethering to the board by his ankle. He isn’t going anywhere. Just come sit back down.” He patted the spot where she had been sitting.

Wendy took one nervous look back at the ocean and slowly walked back to the blanket. “All right. If you say so.”

Under the water, Todd’s lungs were about to burst. He considered for the brifest moment blowing all the air out. He wondered how long it would take for what little yellow sunlight he could see to turn death black. He released all the air in his lungs and began to choke as water invaded his lungs. He quickly recovered his senses and franticly resurfaced. He thrust his head above the water and gasped for a deep breath of air. A wave tossed him under yet again, but he quickly recovered. He violently struggled to get hold of his board and climbed back on. He collapsed face first on the board and spit out the water from his lungs.

From the blanket, Sean pointed to Todd. "See? He’s all right,” he told Wendy.

“He seems to be just lying there. Are you sure he's okay?”

“Yeah. Todd says this happens all the time. It’s the kind of rush he lives for. His heart is thundering like a freight train and he loves every minute of it,’ Sean assured her.

On the board, Todd lay motionless staring at nothing in particular. His lungs burnt. He could hear his own pounding heartbeat in his ears. Or was it blood ramming itts way through the tightened blood vessels in his head? He wasn’t sure. He wasn’t sure of anything anymore. Scores of questions ran through his mind, but the most prevalent was:

“What the heck am I doing?”

Wendy never took her eyes off Todd out in the water. Sean was getting frustrated at not being the center of attention.

“You know who else’s heart is thundering like a frieght train?” he asked her.

She seemed not to hear him, but after a moment, turned and jokingly rolled her eyes. “That is such a cheesy line.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m not really any good at this sort of thing.”

“What sort of thing?”

“Wooing a pretty girl,” he replied with puppy dog eyes.

Wendy rolled her eyes again. “I can see you haven’t. At least you haven’t been as blatant as some about what you really want.”

Sean looked genuinely hurt. "And what is it I really want?”

“Never mind. It’s not something I should have dragged up,” she told him “You shouldn’t tell a girl you want to woo her. She already knows these things. You have to just do it. We like the chase. We want to feel special, not that we have to jut assume you want us.”

“All right. How do I do that?”

“You’re hopeless, Sean,” she said half jokingly. After a moment, she let out a deep sigh. “Give me your hand.”

Sean lifted up his right hand. Wendy took it and placed it on her upper back just between her shoulder blades. Sean felt jittery.

“Just relax and keep it there. Don’t go for the small of the back or down Broadway. I want to know you care, not that you want to grope. Now gently pull m close to you without head butting me.”

Sean did so, sliding Wendy just in front of him. He stopped--miraculously--at just the right point.

“Now, get ready to kiss me,” she said.

Sean closed his eyes and pursed his lip ridiculously. Wendy flicked his lips with her index finger.

“Don’t pucker like Dudley Doright. Just let them hang loose,” she told him. Sean turned his head to the side and puffed built up tension. Wendy laughed at him.

“What? This is new to me,” he said.

“And I thought I was supposed to be the naïve, sheltered one,” she lauhhed.

There was a brief pause. ‘Your dad wouldn’t be too happy about this, would he?” Sean asked.

“Probably not, but Daddy has to let go sometime. Tying to make him happy has caused me a lot of pain. I’m not sure how right it is anymore.”

“How sure are you that this is right?”

“Very. You understand the boundaries.”

They looked longingly into each other’s eyes. Neither said a word as Sean pulled Wendy towards him. He wrapped both his arms around her and she did the same to him. They kissed long and deep. Sean gently laid back on the blanket as the kiss lasted longer than either expected and they completely lost themselves in it. Sean slid his right hand down to the small of her back anyway. Wendy didn’t struggle or protest Sean gently rubbed the small of her back for a few long seconds before the kiss broke off. Wendy propped herself on her arms and looked into Sean’s face. They both had awkward smiles. Scores of thoughts ran through Wendy’s mind, but the biggest was:

“What the heck am I doing?”

The Chief sat on an unnamed hill. Actually, it had an ancient name, but for some reason it was decided to literally change it to the Unnamed Hill because tourists seem to think that was more mysterious somehow. A lot of things had been changed for the tourists’ benefit. Most of that was the fault of the Chief’s poor judgment. At least he blamed himself for it. Oftentimes in dark moments, he’d come up here. It was the second highest point on the island. Only the inactive volcano was higher and no one thought it was wise to climb it.

But the Unnamed Hill would do. The Chief could look on all four sides of the island. Tonight, at almost sunset, he didn’t like what he saw. On the ar beach sat the Sandhill hotel and all it’s gaudy trappings. Further down the beach was despoiled by a boat dock where tourists went deep sea fishing. More towards the center of the island was a small town of shops, bars, and cafes set up. Malu once quipped the place looked like a company town designed by Jimmy Buffett. The Chief had no idea what either reference meant, but it adduced it was an insult. There was a small airport in the central part of the island. Trees thousands of years old had been chopped down to build it. All of theses structures employed tribesmen. The Chief’s tribesmen who had long forgotten where they came from in pursuit of western culture.

When these depressed feelings overwhelmed the Chief, he always turned towards the private side of the island. He used the tem scornfully nowadays. Fully half the island was now owned by Nathaniel Gideon. He had preserved the dense jungle, not out of any respect for the indigenous population, but to keep their prying eyes out of his business. Gideon promised them a better life. They never expected it would be at the cost of their souls. The Chief still took some satisfaction from the fact he could still see much of the roof of Gideon’s majestic mansion in th distance. The crazy recluse couldn’t hide nearly as well as he thought he could.

Still, there was not much satisfaction to be had. The island was wounded and the Chief knew it would soon be crying out his name. It was all his fault. He was trying to lead his people to a better life and destroyed them instead. Now a reckoning was about to come. Score of thoughts ran through the Chief’s mind, but the biggest was:

“What the heck am I doing?”

At a bar on the edge of the “company town,” The colonel sat nursing his fourth. A huge bandage covered the left side of his face. He was almost slumped over the table. The white liquor was affecting his personality. Pedro sat quietly across from him, as he had all night, peeling the label off the same beer that he had been staring at, but not drinking for the last hour.

“They don’t respect me, Pablo. They never have,” the Colonel slurred.

“Who, Senor?”

“Everybody, Pablo. My people. The whole freaking world. I am their better and they don’t recognize it.”

Pedro ripped the label clean off the beer bottle. “I am sure you are incorrect, Senor. The people of San Pedro are…children…Senor. Children rebel against their parents, but they eventually accept their wisdom.”

Pablo could barely hide his disdain for having to insult his people. The Colonel had done more to impede progress in San Pedro than three war and a famine ever could. He never wanted to attach himself to the Colonel, but his family’s future seemed to depend on it. Had he only known his people had the will to rise up and oppose this monster, he would have made a different choice. Maybe this was his penance for making such a bad choice--to be forever saddled with him, never to return home.

That’s the best option, isn’t? For the Colonel to fail and never return home? Pablo never believed in the Colonel’s fanciful quest to find some scepter that probably doesn’t even exist, much less grants the wisdom of Solomon. This was all a way to keep him as far from San Pedro as possible. To give San Pedro a chance top become a paradise again. If that meant Pablo had to remain in hell, so be it.

The Colonel was to drunk to notice that Pablo was lost in thought. He was too busy mumbling to himself.

“Respect, Pablo, comes from power, and I shall have it. All the power wisdom can bring. They knowledge is power. Well the knowledge I seek I here. I can feel it, Pablo. It is calling to me. My destiny. And when I reach my destiny, they will all pay. Everyone of them for refusing me my rightful place--including Donna Masters. She will pay the most of all, Pablo.”

But Pablo didn’t hear his name. Scores of thoughts were running through his mind, but the biggest was:

“What the heck am I doing?”

That night in bed, Alex and Donna laid as far apart as possible and pretended to sleep both. Neither questioned the other why. They both knew they were only feigning sleep, but neither acknowledged the fact. It had been like this since yesterday. Alex had wandered roamed the island, not speaking to anyone, nor coming anywhere near the hotel until time for bed. He had been mulling over his encounter with the Colonel, thinking about how powless it made him feel. How worthless. And why not? Hadn’t he spent his whole life being jerked around my someone else? Weren’t all of his empty accomplishments the result of someone else’s pushing him or on someone else’s dime? His entire life was that way now and he didn’t even know why. He just uprooted his entire family to accept without question the charity of an eccentric recluse Why? Maybe the Colonel was right. Alex wasn’t much of a man.

Donna spent hours yesterday sitting on the shower floor sobbing as the water ran from hot to icy cold. She didn’t care. Jo matter how much she scrubbed, she couldn’t get the feeling of the Colonel off her. She never said a thing to anyone about what happened. The Colonel hadn’t shown up again, but she knew he hadn’t left the island. Fear of his reprisal engulfed her thoughts, but she knew she could never tell Alez. He would never be able to forgive himself for letting the Colonel in the hotel. She feared for Sean. This was the first time since they had left California. That he had any friends. There was no way she could ruin it for him. She would just have to be strong. Donna resolved that she’d kill the Colonel if he ever threatened her or her family again.

Alex and Donna lay motionless and quiet into the night. It ws impossible to sleep. Scores of thoughts ran through their minds, but the biggest was:

“What the heck am I doing?”
Billie Piper IV

I have found a few more Billie Piper photos. At least one is definitely from her pop star days, two might be more recent promotional photos, and the last is from "Rise of the Cybermen" for any of you who have ever had a fantasy abour Billie Piper as Rose Tyler in a maid's outfit. Come on, admit it--you probably have. No nude/naked/bikini photos, however. Better luck..well, never.You may click to enlarge any photo should you deem it necessary.
"Time After Time"--Eva Cassidy

I love Eva Cassidy. I discovered her quite by accident on a (rare) quiet weekend in law school. I was flipping channels absentmindedly and came across Michelle Kwan figure skating. I couldn’t care less about figure skating, but I hung on that particular channel long enough to catch a few bars of a song I knew in the background, but sung in a beautifully different way. The song was “Fields of Gold,” originally by Sting. The university of South Carolina Gamecocks used it as one of the songs at home football games. But this was much different. This was a beautiful, angelic voice. This was the voice of Eva Cassidy.

Eva Cassidy was Irish and hadn't hit it big in the US. She often covered popular songs from US artists in a slow, sweet voice, making those songs her own. While on tour in 1996, Eva Cassidy felt a pain in her hips. She chalked it up to the stress of touring. Unfortunately, she had contracted melanoma, a form of skin cancer. By the time she was actually examined by a oncologist, the cancer had spread beyond treatment. Cassidy deteriorated rapidly. At her final concert, she stumbled to the microphone using a walker and sang Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." Eva Cassidy died shortly thereafter at the young age of 33.

I have never in my life cried over a celebrity. I'm not one to cry period. But I had one of the deepest sudden bouts of sorrow I had ever had upon learning that. A new artists i fell in love with had been dead for seven years. That year had been absolutely rotten for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fate of my mother and the subsequent toppling of my life. I let it all go right there in one quick burst. The world was a nasty, nasty, place. I'd always known that, but embracing it at that point in time shored me up for the future. The worst was, after all, yet to come.

The video below is my favorite Eva Cassidy song. It is a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” I have always liked the song, even if Lauper wasn’t a huge favorite of mine, but now I can’t even listen to her version. It pales in comparison to Cassidy’s soft, mournful voice. When I’m in the right move, I can still choke up listening to it. There is no real video for it. This is a liver version, but I am betting that Cassidy was best experienced in a small, inimate environment live. Alas, I will never find out for certain.
Memorial Day

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Lost: Penelope's Letter to Desmond

I can virtually guarantee Lost fans have been tearing up the internet looking for the text to the letter Penelope tucked into Our Mutual Friend, the book Desmond planned to read right before he died. The relationship between Penelope and Desmond is supposed to be an essential element of season three, so everyone wants to pour over every jot and tittle of the letter. Well, here you go--a video of the entire sequence. Get out your scalpels, ladies and gentlemen, and prepare to dissect.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive

...no matter how odd. One of the strangest search requests I see in my logs is for Adamanda tapping wet. It has happened a handful of times, particularly after her guest appearance on Stargate: Atlantis. This photo isn't from that episode, but I stumbled across it yesterday while wondering through blogs that have visted here and figured someone would want to see it. Frankly, I don't think it is very complimentary. amanda Tapping looks much better all dolled up, but o each his own.As a bonus, she is for all intents and purposes naked to boot. You may click to enlarge the photo should you deem it necessary.
Doctor Who--"The Idiot's Lantern"

An increase in searches for Billie Piper in various stages of undress inform me that a new Doctor Who review is due. I was expecting a fairly low key, London bound episode after the special effects heavy two parter that preceded. “The Idiot’s Lantern” fit the bill, but usual, the writers manage to do a lot with very little budget. I can’t say it was a great episode. The villain was a run of the mill bad guy who was disposed of in a way the Doctor has used before. But it was an entertaining way to kill a Sunday afternoon. Oh, and I’ve learned that “idiot’s lantern” is the equivalent of “idiot box” in the American vernacular. Apparently the idea that television rots the brain is universal or at least extends from the colonies to the mother country.

The episode begins with Mr. Magpie, owner of an electronics shop, is working on his ledger late at night. He is overdrawn in his account and is despondent. He lays his head on his desk and falls fast asleep. Outside,, a streak of red lightning hit’s the television antenna on his roof. He has awakened in a moment by a female voice on the screen. When he faces the television set, the red lightning streaks out and engulfs his head. Later we visit the Connely family. The father, Eddie, comes home and his son immediately begins nagging him to buy a television. Eddie says they might buy one since Queen Elizabeth is about to have her coronation and they don’t want to miss that.

The Doctor and Rose arrive in the TARDIS in full 1950’s regalia. Ironic, when you think about this being a Tenth Doctor story. The Ninth Doctor never made any effort to camouflage himself no matter what time period he and Rose visited. He always wore the black pants, black V-neck shirt, and black leather jacket--an ensemble that would have actually fit in with 1953 London. As much as he loathed humans, he’d probably resent the obsession with television, too. Missed opportunity, that. The two ride out on a scooter, thinking they are in 1957 New York to see Elvis Presley’s first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show . They quickly realize they aren’t, and when they see police dragging a person at of his home with a blanket over his head, they realize something else is wrong.

Tommy Connelly, Eddie’s son, comes out and tells Rose this has been going on for a few weeks. Everywhere, people are turning into monsters and being taken away. Tommy is called back in to the house by his angry father. Sometime later, the Doctor and Rose return to the Connelly’s posing as government agents. They get no answers from anyone, but the Doctor is sure Tommy wants to help. After cajoling, he does. Something has happened to his grandmother upstairs. The Doctor enters the grandmother’s room and finds a ghastly sight. She is standing in one spot, swaying back and forth, but her face is completely gone. Police storm the house and take the grandmother into custody.

The doctor follows and discovers a warehouse in which the police have been herding faceless people just like grandmother Connelly. The Doctor is discovered by the police and taken into custody himself. Meanwhile, Rose makes the connection, upon Tommy’s recounting of what happened to his grandmother, to investigate the television set. She notes that it came from Magpie’s store nd decides to go there. Mr. Magpie tries to shoo her away nervously, but it is too late. The woman whop appeared on the screen to him earlier appears now to Rose. The red lightning engulfs her head, too. While this is going on, the Doctor is being interrogated. The Inspector finally breaks down and confesses to the Doctor he has no idea what is going on. This is beyond anything he has ever encountered before. As he explains everything he knows to the Doctor, another policemen brings in the latest faceless victim--Rose.

On a side note here, there was an irritating plot hole. Like “Bad Wolf” last season, “Torchwood” is a running buzz word this season, referring to a UK version of the X-Files division of the FBI. It’s all supposed to lead up to a spin off series in 2007, but it bugs me that torchwood exists in 1953, the Inspector knows about it, this is right up their alley, and yet the Inspector claims he has no idea where to begin solving the problem of faceless zombies. Uh…try calling Torchwood, since that’s, you know, what they are for. The Torchwood mntion was in the background of the scene in which we first see the faceless Rose. It’s not supposed to grab oir full attention and I get the impression it was just thrown in willy nilly because every Earth based episode this season is supposed to have one regardless. It didn’t feel right to me.

The Doctor hooks up with Tommy and makes the connection between television and face being removed. They go to Magpie’s shop and encounter the woman on the screen. She calls herself The Wire. She is an alien who was executed by her race, but projected brainwaves through space to save herself. She has been “feeding” on humans through their television sets. She plans to use Magpie to boost her signal and eed on everyone watching the coronation of the Queen on television. The Doctor deduces she plans to use the tallest television tower in London to power her way across the city. H follows Magpie up the tower (interesting, considering the Fourth Doctor died doing the same thing.), grapples with Magpie, and through Tommy’s help working a jury rigged device back at Magpie’s shop, traps The Wire on a Betamax. When the wire is destroyed, everyone’s face returns and they are back to normal. At a street party in honor of the coronation, the Doctor and Rose toast as they watch Eddie, who as it turns out, ratting out the grandmother to the police, gets kicked out of his hoise. He was a jerk, yes, but not exactly a happy ending there.
“The Idiot’s Lantern” was really a paint by numbers story. Nothing significant happened and there weren’t any consequences. The writer hit the reset button at the end an everyone was back to normal as though nothing happened. Well, other than the break up of the Connelly family--an event I imagine was odd for 1950’s London. I was annoyed at the cliched manner in which The wire was disposed of. The Doctor juy rigged some ambiguous device and everything went back to normal. That kind of storytelling killed Voyager. I’d hate to see it become a habit here.

As a comic book fan, I also noted the similarities between The Wire’s origin and that of the Superman villain, Brainiac. Brainiac was a fugitive on the planet Colu who was executed for trying to overthrow its government. He projected himself through space as well, but landed in the mind of Milton Fine. Fine was a circus fortune teller who actually had some psychic abilities. Like the wire, Brainiac needed living energy to sustain Fine’s body as his physiology wasn’t compatible with Coluan bodies. Brainiac eventually succeeded, genetically growing himself a new body and returning to menace Superman and various other heroes for the last fifty years. With the fact that I am fond of Brainiac’s first story, take with a grain of salt that I thought “The Idiot’s Lantern” was just mediocre.

Rating: ** (out of 5)This was just too goofy not to post.
Alex Toth (1928-2006)

The legendary cartoonist and creator of Space Ghost has passed away. Godspeed, Mr. Toth.
"Hallelujah"--Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley’s ethereal cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is probably his most famous song. It has been used as background music in countless television shows and movies over the last few years. In fact, I’ll bet the only way most people have ever heard it is because of 2001’s Shrek and that is a shame. Not that it isn’t a decent movie, but to have such a meaningful song associated solely in the public’s mind with a cartoon is depressing.

A major part of the song is the chord progression. The chord progression of the verses is I–vi–I–vi / IV–V–I–V / I–IV,V–vi–IV / V–V/vi–vi–vi. Part of it is described by the self-referential first verse about the "secret chord": "It goes like this (I), the fourth (IV), the fifth (V), the minor fall (vi) and the major lift (IV)".

I think this song is so memorable because Buckley’s life was cut short relatively soon after recording the song. One night, Buckley apparently decided to go for a swim in the wolf River in Memphis, Tennessee and drowned. He was fully clothed and even wearing his boots when his body was found. Some have speculated that Buckley committed suicide and wore his boots to weigh himself down. Friends and family deny Buckley would do such a thing, but have reported he revealed to them shortly before he died that he was suffering from bipolar disorder. I understand personally the connection between that disorder and suicide. It will people people do all sorts of irrational things they never really wanted to do.

“Hallelujah” resonates with me because of it’s sad tone and cynicism about love. The video is a live performance. As far as I know, there is no real video for the song. Some prefer Rufus Wainwright’s version. I don’t blame them. I am a Wainwright fan myself, but nothing beats Buckley’s version, particularly live. He introduces the song with a little "flower stems in the gun barrels" peacenik speech, but he gets right into the song in less than a minute. Just bear with it.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

It's the Pitts

The Pitts plus one, actually. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have delivered their rug rat in the middle of darkest Africa. Rumors are they let a tribal chief name the little girl. Since the young one was christened Shiloh-Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, I’d say the rumor probably has a ring of truth to it. With a name like that, the poor kid is going to grow up to be a fighter. At least he has Tyler Durden there to teach him how. Well, he’ll have him right on up until the sex gets boring.

You know, on second thought, he may not need to fight. He’ll probably be a shaman and just summon some hell spawn to turn his bullies into turnips or something. The Norouvel Jolie-Pitt sounds like something out of a Robert E. Howard pulp novel. I could see Conan fighting his way out of such a thing. Speaking of hell spawns and demonic pits, brace yourself for the onslaught of paparazzi and gossip rags on baby hunt over the next moth.

You know who really has to be sweating like a bushy tailed cat in a rocking chair factory? Vince Vaughn. Jennifer Aniston has got to be grinding an ax about all this whether she will admit it publicly or not. Vince, Vince, Vince. The stork so often visits after the ball and chain is latched on ‘til death or Hollywood fickleness do us part.
Peak Performance

Call me unadventurous, but “because it is there’ has never struck me as a convincing reason to climb a mountain. Any mountain, much less the Holy Grail of Mt. Everest. Now I have an additional reason to avoid climbing Everest: the etiquette of climbing will get you left behind to die. Granted, I do know the ins and outs of climbing. I understand that a lot of people attempt to climb Everest woefully unprepared and die in the attempt. What’s worse, the corpses are left there for all time. No one “in the know” seems to wring their hands over the issue. Maybe I cannot pass judgment not being a climber, but as a moralist, I found the following story disturbing.

Mark Inglis, the first double amputee to climb Everest, was the first among forty other climbers to pass David Sharp, a British engineer who had run out of oxygen. Sharp had already reached the summit and was on his way down when his oxygen ran out. When Inglis encountered Sharp, he was near death. Inglis gave him some oxygen, radioed for help, and then left him there to die.

Inglis’ act of callousness has been criticized by none other than Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the top of Everest in 1953. Hillary went on the record as saying there I no way any decent climber or man in general could let another man die just to avoid impeding the glory of reaching the top of a mountain. Experts say Sharp probably could have been revived if he had been given bottle oxygen and brought to safety. It was clear that Inglis and his crew had weighed their options and decided it was more important to reach the summit than make an effort to save Sharp’s life.

There is no way to say with certainty Sharp would have survived had he gotten off the Mountain, but to me that doesn’t justify leaving him there to die. Now, in all my ignorance, I say if Inglis has the ability and resources to reach the summit, then he could have helped Sharp. They are much higher principles than personal glory. Inglis is not regarded now as the double amputee who climbed Everest, but as that jerk that let another man die while he played glory hound. That, dear readers, makes me all atingle.

I am trying to think about this logically. The situation is unique, I know. Perhaps your options are limited in helping someone in such a situation, although I cannot see how going down the mountain with Sharp is any harder than going up without him. If you meet a dying man in the street and refuse to help him, that would be considered morally reprehensible no matter who you were or what skills you possessed. And that is the rub. There is a certain duty every has in legal terms based on their skills. Many states have Good Samaritan laws requiring people with skills to aide those in need. A doctor cannot just pass by a bleeding man on the street. I would think that climbers have unique skills in mountaineering, safety, and rescue. I would think that also saddles them with a deeper obligation to help other climbers in need. Frankly, I don’t think you have to analyze in that deeply. A man’s life is worth more than reaching the top of a mountain. Period. A very tragic story.
Ladies of Lost--Sonya Walger

I have really good idea Ms. Somya Walger has been punched into searh engines rather obsessively since Wednesday night. No reason reason why those searhes shouldn't wind up, here. Walger plays Penelope "Penny" Widmore, a wealthy former love and current stalker of Desmond. Her father, Charles Widmore is one of the founders of Hanso and a major financial beacker of the DHARMA Initiative. How Penelope is attached to all this, whether her father is deceased and she is in charge of eveything, or any of a thousand different theories, remains to be seen. There aren't many photos of her around and ceetainly none nude, naked, or in a bikini. But look on the bright side--she is apparently headed for the island. maybe she'll take a string bikini along or build a nudist colony. That would compete with American Idol, no? You may click to enlarge any photo should you deem it necessary.
"Will the Circle Be Unbroken"

I don’t know who this young lady is or if she is going to pursue a career in music, but I predict big things for her if she does. She has a old soul and the voice of Emmy Lou Harris, a favorite of mine. You don’t know how fortunate I feel that when searching for a version of the song (I was looking for Elvis’ version to be honest) to have stumbled across this instead. Maybe it is the country boy in me, the one who spent the best years of his life in a small rural church, that loves it so much. It may sound hokey or grating to you, but it reminded me enough of better days growing up to bring tears--and I’m not normally a crier.

I’ve heard this song countless times and sung a thousand different ways. I know it mostly because it was the closing number for the Grand Old Opry every Saturday night. I sit here typing now and think back to those days when I was comfortably Southern. The days before college and law school when I pretended to be a citizen o the world. The days before I wanted to go to Washington as a politician. The days before I hid country music Cds and never talked to anyone about them. The days when home meant something other than a place to keep my stuff while I worked towards moving to the next place which never came. What happened to those days? I can’t tell you if I squandered them or if they were taken away from me. Probably a bit of both.

Will The Circle Be Unbroken was written in 1907 by Ada Habershon, an intensely religious young woman and acquaintance of evangelist Dwight Moody and Ira David Sankey. The music was "composed" by Charles Gabriel, a popular songwriter and composer of the era who is often solely credited with the song, but while he may have put the notes down on paper, the tune itself already existed as the African-American spiritual Glory Glory / Since I Laid My Burden Down. The song was originally intended as an altar call. By 1935, it had been adapted by the Carter Family (of which June Carter Cash emerged) to be more secular, but still twinged with Christian elements. The lyrics the Carters used are the ones we all know and the ones this young lady sorrowfully sings.

Friday, May 26, 2006

In the Sweet Bayh and Bayh

Here's a visitor to my blog for the FBI to ponder. Interesting, especially since it never happened and Sen. Birch Bayh is famous for pulling Sen. Ted Kenndey out of plane wreckage during one of those miraculous Kennedy/vehicle combinations that didn't result in someone being killed or made into a quadriplegic.

UPDATE: I spoke too soon. The pilot and a legislative aide were both killed in the crash.
You Don't Know Jack About DHARMA Island

Yes, yet another Lost post. The gibber jabber on the season finale and speculation for the third season hasn’t died down yet. A lot of it (at least the stuff I haven’t addressed yet) centers on two theories. The first is that one of the men in the Antarctic listening station looked a lot like Jack. The second is the real name of the island, to which the producers have yet to reveal, but say will raise eyebrows when we discover.

First things first. That ain’t Jack, Jack’s evil twin, or even Matthew Fox. The actor’s name is Len Cordova and he is billed as playing Man #1. The whole idea of twins began with a misdirection by the producers last year by leaking fake pages of a script that was supposed to be the first season finale. They leaked several, in fact, one most famously being an encounter with zombies. The pages were so over the top, they were supposed to immediately be recognized as jokes. For the most part, they were. But the idea of evil twins was kept in circulation because of the tie in novel, Bad Twin that was released a few weeks ago. Supposedly, the author of the novel was heading to the united states with the manuscript for the book when oceanic flight 815 crashed and was killed. Sawyer was reading the manuscript when he was confronted by Jack about the guns in “Two For the Road.” Some fans still believe twins may pop up in the future as one of the hatches was a genetic research station. Perhaps so, but the season finale wasn’t the beginning of that.

The second bit of speculation is the name of the island. David Fury, one of the executive producers who moved on after the first season, said late last year the island had a name, but it had not yet been revealed. Fans have referred to it as simply the island or occasionally DHARMA Island. The appearance of the four toed statue has started speculation that the island may be the fabled Atlantis or Lemuria. There are a few problems with both theories. Atlantis is said to be in the Atlantic Ocean, for starters. Plus the idea of the island being Atlantis is too cliched to be seriously considered. Lemuria, sadly, is a bit more fitting. Several legends surround it. One strike against the idea is that Lemuria is supposedly in the Indian Ocean, not the Pacific. However, there is one legend that puts it square in the Pacific.

Here’s the catch. Part of the legend is that the Pacific Ocean version of Lemuria (sometimes called Mu) was the home of reptillian creatures who died out when the island sank. The four toed statue has made some fans think it represents a walking, talking reptile. It was convenient for only a leg to be shown so it can’t be confirmed. Personally, I think it is a misdirection just like the bad twin and zombie bits from last year. It also sounds way too much like a jump the shark moment if it isn’t. So far, Lost has left it open whether science or the supernatural is behind the strange goings on. It just would fit in for the show to take such a wild turn. I think it is safe to say the island isn’t Atlantis or Lemuria.
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"Home Sweet Home"--Motley Crue

Metal turn a turn around 1987 a lot of fans despised00it became glam metal. The idea was to no longer be entirely grim and gritty, but have a softer side and maybe even produce an acoustic song to show your range. It became the standard for any new album produced to release a heavy, gritty song first as a single, then follow it up with a power ballad. It’s the ballads that are most remembered nowadays and this song by Motley Crue started it all..

I like the song itself. I like power ballads in general, but this one means a lot because “home” has been a nebulous term for quite a while that I mean never see defined at this point.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Hurley Bird

Here is an enlargeable picture of the bird from last night's Lost.The producers of Lost confirmed two facts today in their official podcast. First, the bird that swooped over Jack, kate, Sawyer, and Hurley is the only bird on the island. The assumption is that it is not nativve to the island and was probably part of the animal experiments taking place in one of the other hatches, just like the polar bear and shark. The second fact reenforces the idea--the bird actually did say "Hurley" twice. Now, how did it know who hurley was? Did Walt, who seemed to have some connection with animals, have anything to do with it? Sine Hurley was requested by the Others, then let go, one might be lead to think the bird mentioning his name had something to do with it.
Lay Down Your Burdens

Former Enron Chief Ken Lay has been found guilty on all six counts against him of fraud and conspiracy, with a combined possible penalty of 45 years in prison. now for the reality: he is going to a club fed prison and if you don't think he won't get a presidential pardon on January 19, 2009, you are too naive to get out of bed in the morning. Leave the real world to the professionals. A presidential pardon will not prevent civil suits from being filed against him and you can expect a very large one to appear sometime in the near future. In all likelihood, he'll still be a millionaire when it is all said and done, unlike the thousands of investors who have lost all their retirement savings because of him.
Lost--Desmond in Philosphy and Mythology

Lost continues its traditional of making allusions to philosophers and literaray works most viewers probably don't catch. The central character of last night’s episode was the long absent Desmond. If the tradition of philosophical and literary references in Lost hold up, then analyzing the character may bring about some clues as to where the show is headed. Or not. At the very least it is an interesting exercise and the Google searchers seem to like such things. Besides I have a liberal arts education and this is all it’s really good for. Humor me.

Desmond’s full name is Desmond Hume, named after Scottish philosopher David Hume. Hume was a skeptic who believed all knowledge comes to us by our senses. Our perceptions of knowledge are divided into two categories: impressions and ideas. Impressions he defined as anything w see, feel, or hear, including emotions like love and hate. Ideas are a consequence and/or reaction to our impressions. Hume theorized that it is impossible for man to have any ideas of something he has never gotten an impression of. The philosophy got Hume into hot water when he applied his theory to God, claiming there was no reason to believe in a Supreme Being since we can not sense him. We have created God in our own image because that is the only impression we could have of such a Being.

How does this fit in with Desmond? His entire world had shrunk down to just the hatch and the button. Kelvin forbade him from going outside because of the quarantine. The only thing then that he “knew” to do was to push the button himself as Kelvin had done for however many months they’d both been there. While the idea of saving the world is difficult to believe, it was the only thing Desmond had left to believe in. As we saw at the beginning of the season, it consumed his entire reality. Very interesting how viewpoints change depending upon what seem to be impossible circumstances.

Sayid, Jin, and Sun’s encounter of the giant four toed foot statue brought to mind ancient Greek literature. Either that, or whoever built the statue worshipped a barefoot Homer Simpson. Desmond’s story parallels Homer’s Odessey a great deal. The hero, Odysseus, was a disgraced soldier. His love is named Penelope as well They both have to sail around the known world in order to restore their honor. Recall from tenth grade English that Odysseus was once trapped on a cursed island. His plan to escape was halted by the death of one of his crew (in the show, Kelvin) Odysseus has to ravel to the Underworld (the tunnel with the failsafe device) in order to gain the knowledge to escape from a Seer. He encounters the goddess Athena (the electromagnetic pulse representing a god) which sends notice to his doubting home that Odysseus is still alive, the same way the magnetic pulse alerted the monitoring station and eventually, Penelope.

I think we are seriously going to deviate from the story from here. I suspect Penelope will head for the island and probably get trapped herself rather than Desmond finally find jis way home. While I am confident most everyone watching the show as no clue about the Odessey, I can’t imagine the writers going along with it plot point by plot point. Interesting nonetheless, though.
Vote Tally

Taylor Hicks won American Idol with 63 million votes--more than any presidential candidate has ever receieved. Says a lot about the United States, no?
Lost Season Two Recaps

If anyone is interested in reading my recaps of this season's episodes, they are all linked below with which character's flashbacks were featured. Each summary includes any new visuals, clues, and the URLs of websites established during that week.
Man of Science, Man of Faith (Jack)

Adrift (Michael)

Orientation (Locke)

Everybody Hates Hugo (Hurley)

...and Found (Jin & Sun)

The Other 48 Days (The Tail End Survivors)

Abandoned (Shannon)

Collision (Ana-Lucia)

What Kate Did (Kate)

The 23rd Psalm (Eko)

The Hunting Party (Jack)

Fire + Water (Charlie)

The Long Con (Sawyer)

One of Them (Sayid)

Maternity Leave (Claire)

The Whole Truth (Jin & Sun)

Lockdown (Locke)

Dave (Hurley, Libby)

S. O. S. (Bernard & Rose)

Two For the Road (Ana-Lucia)

? (Eko)

Three Minutes (Michael)

Live Together, Die Alone (Desmond)
"Silver Springs"--Fleetwood Mac

I more or less explained as much of abot why I like this song back when I posted the GOo Goo Dolls' "Iris" earlier this month. If you so desire, you may go back there and read between the lines or just listen to this song and use your imagination. It is much better if you don't think about the fact that Stevie Nicks is pining for Lindsey Buckingham here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lost--"Live Together, Die Alone"

There’s a lot to digest hre. As advertised, many pivotal questions were answered, a lot of new ones were asked, and some very strange new revelations took place. Interestingly, the flashbacks this week were from Desmond, the guy originally in the hatch and not seen since early this season. Some interesting back story about the hatch/Hanso/ DHARMA were revealed in those flashbacks. I’ve saved them until nearly the last part of the recap. The finale was two hours long, so be prepared for a larger than usual post. I can go ahead and tell you it was even better than last season's cliffhanger. By the end of this episode, everything has been thrown out the window.

We begin right where we left off last episode. The funeral of Ana-Lucia and Libby is interrupted by the arrival of a sailboat in the distance. Jack, Sayid, and Sawyer jump in the water and swim towards it frantically. They arrive and someone from inside the cabin fires shots. The three of them pull guns and crash open the cabin door. There is Desmond, not seen since “Adrift,’ drunk and cradling a shotgun. The castaways take him back to camp. In front of the fire, he babbles on about how there is nothing out there. They are all stuck in a snow globe. Everyone ignores him as he continues to drink down liquor. Sayid approaches Jack with a plan. He still suspects Michael is a traitor. He decides he’ll take the boat to the other side of the island, scope things out and meet up with Jack’s crew. Jack doesn’t want to think poorly of Michael, but he agrees anyway.

Locke enters the hatch to find Eko keeping vigil, waiting for the timer to run out so he can punch in the numbers. Locke tells him he is not going to do that. He does not want Eko to become a slave to a lost cause like he was. He attempts to smash the computer, but Eko stops him. The two come to blows and Eko locks him outside the hatch so he can continue watching the button. Meanwhile, Sayid is desperate to recruit an experienced sailor to go with him. Desmond refuses, but Jin agrees. Sun insists on going along to translate. Sayid and Jon protest to no avail. Jack’s crew also takes off for the other side of the island.

That night, Locke approaches Desmond. He is still sitting by the fire drinking. Locke asks to share the bottle. Desmond accommodates him. He remarks to Locke that they fixed the computer. Locke says they have, but tells him about the Pearl Hatch he found a couple of episodes ago. He describes how the button pushing was all a psychological experiment. Desmond spent more than a year pushing that button and is crestfallen at the news. Locke announces, with a grin, that tomorrow they are going to find out what happens when the button is not pushed.

As Sayid, Jin, and Sun sail around the island, they spot something in the distance. It’s a giant ruined statue that reminded me of the Colossus of Rhodes. Only one leg remained and Sayid remarked on the oddest thing about it--there were only four toes. Back at the hatch, Eko is sitting patiently whittling on his walking stick when he notes a power loss. He walks over to the fuse box to investigate when sirens sound and the blast doors come crashing down again, trapping him away from the button. We discover Desmond caused the doors to fall. He and Locke now wait for the timer to run out as Eko bangs on the walls for them to let him out. After a few moments, he finds a way out up through the original doorway the Castaways blew open last season. Eko recruits Charlie to help him get back into the hatch. He believes everyone on the island will die if the button is not pushed. Impressionable Charlie agrees to help.

Jack’s crew are walking through the dense jungle when kate stoops down, seemingly to tie her shoe. Sawyer notices it isn’t untied and asks her what she is up to. She whispers they are being followed. On the count of three, they turn and fore. Two others scatter, but one gets hit and killed. Kate wants to go after the other one so he can‘t tip the others off, but Jack says no. He tells them there is no need. They have been tipped off by Michael anyway. Michael tearfully confesses that he is leading them into a trap in order to save walt. Hurley puts two and two together and realizes Michael killed Libby. He turns to leave, but Jack insists they all have to go along with the original plan. They are all stunned by the revelation and aren’t happy with Jack for keeping it a secret, but they go along reluctantly.

Back in the hatch, Eko lines the blast door with more of the dynamite they found in the jungle last season. Charlie tries to convince Locke to give up through the door, but he refuses. Charlie has second thoughts about the idea. Eko rips off his belt and holds it up. The electromagnetic wave behind the far wall grabs the metal on the belt and slams it against the wall. There is more to this than Charlie understands, Eko assures him. Eko lights a match and stands at what he thinks is a safe distance. Charlie isn’t so sure. He runs as fast as he can, but gets caught in the fiery explosion. Behind the blast doors, Locke and Desmond are unaffected.

Jack’s crew arrive on a plateau when Kate spies a pile of canisters. They are all the notebooks that were sent to parts unknown from the Pearl Station. Suddenly, they see Sayid’s signal fite. He has been at the Others’ camp and found it deserted. Before they can sort anything out, they are attacked with poison darts shot from a distance. They all fall unconscious. Back in the hatch, Locke and Desmond are still waiting. Desmond is having doubts about what they are doing, too. Locke tells him again about the other hatch. Desmond asks if there was another computer. Yes, there was, but it only made printout of number sequences. Desmond grabs the printouts from Locke studies them furiously. He asks what date the plane crashed. It turns out to be the same day that Desmond had been far away from the computer and didn’t type in the code in time. Desmond caused Oceanic Flight 815 to crash.

We next go to the other side of the island where Jack’s crew are tied and gagged on a dock. A dilapidated ship pulls up and the faux Henry gale steps out. He tells Michael it’s time to do business. Back in the hatch, Charlie wakes up, beaten and bloodied. He sees Eko lying comatose. Behind the blast doors, Desmond panics and assures Locke they have to keep pushing the button. Locke still refuses. He does not believe this is real. He smashes the computer against th floor successfully this time. The numbers run down, the hieroglyphs appear, and suddenly the magnetic wave increase exponentially. Everything metal slams up against the wall. The hatch literally begin to fold on itself. Eko stumbles in and Locke looks at him ruefully. “I was wrong,” he says. The hatch comes crashing in on them. We do not know if they survived.

Desmond enters a crawlspace (check the Desmod flashback recap below) and uses the key from Klvin to to open some sort of chamber. When he does, a loud hum sounds and a bright, white light engulfs the entire island for a few moments. The hatch door comes careening out of the sky and nearly hits Claire back at camp.

When it is over, faux Henry Gale gives Michael his boat and a heading. Walt is already onboard. Michael asks how he can be so sure the secret of the island is safe. Gale tells him he’ll never find this place again, nor will he tell anyone what he had to do to escape. Without another word, Michael climbs on the boat, reunites with Walt, and shoves off. Mrs. Klugh approaches Hurley on the dock and unties him. She tells him he is free to go if he warns the rest of the Castaways not to come. Hurley looks at his friends tied up and hesitates a moment, then cowardly heads off towards the Castaways camp. The Others place burlap sacks over Jack, Kate, and sawyer’s heads. That’s the last we see of them.

Before hitting the absolute end, let’s run through Desmond’s flashbacks. A lot of interesting stuff here. We begin some years ago with Desmond being drummed out of the Royal Navy. A seamen is handing him back all of his belongings, including a novel. When he steps outside, a limo pulls up. Inside is Mr. Widmore, the owner of a very large construction company. His daughter and Desmond were an item. Widmore offers Desmond a briefcase full of cash to have no contact with Penelope, his daughter. Desmond takes the money.

Next, he is at a fast food restaurant in the US, but doesn’t have the currency to pay for his food. A woman beside him offers to pay--it’s Libby. They sit and Desmond explains that he wants to participate in a race around the world, but he doesn’t have a boat yet. Libby tearfully explains to him that her recently deceased husband had a boat. It’s a painful memory for her, so she offers to give it to Desmond. It takes some cajoling, but he agrees. Desmond starts training for the race at the stadium on the same night he met Jack in “Man of Science, Man of Faith.” Penelope pulls up in a car before he starts his run. He is surprised she tracked him down. They talk, but do not get back together.

Next, Desmond is on the sea and caught in a storm when his boat crashes. He is dragged unconscious into the hatch by a guy in a containment suit. When he awakens, the guy introduces himself as Kelvin. He is the CIA agent who captured Sayid during Desert Storm. Kelvin hears the alarm and types in the numbers on the computer. Despond asks what he is doing. “Saving the world,’ is the reply.

There are a few other flashbacks featuring Desmond getting acclimated to the hatch and pushing the button, including one scene in which Kelvin is drawing the map on the last door and another in which he shows Desmond the failsafe to release the electromagnetic pulse. In their final scene together, Desmond trails after him secretly and discovers he plans to escape on Desmond’s boat which has not been destroyed. The two struggle until Kelvin hits his head on a rock and receives a fatal wound. Desmond, panicked runs back to the hatch because the time is almost up. In fact, it is to late. The hieroglyphs are up, the magnetic pulse increases, and the hatch begins to fold unto itself. He types in the numbers anyway, but it is too late. Unbeknownst to him, Flight 85 crashes because of his mistake.

Now we reach the strange cliffhanger. We see an Antarctic research station and two Brazilians playing chess. A computer beside them starts going wild. One panics to the other. “Did we miss it?” There are looking for a giant magnetic pulse. They discover the one from the island. The other excited picks up a phone and dials. A phone rings in a bedroom somewhere else and a lady’s hand turns on the light and picks up the phone. It’s Penelope, after all these years.

“We’ve found it," says the voice on the other end of the line.

Like I said, this is a lot to digest. We got a lot of answers, but still don’t know what attachment Libby has to DHARMA, who the Others are, or if this entire show is just Penelope stalking Desmond. That was the oddest, most unexpected twist I think I have ever seen in a show. Sure, Penelope is rich, but spending so much time, money, and manpower to find a mysterious island that is apparently hidden from the outside world and can only be detected when the electromagnetic pulse is released seems extreme. I find this interesting because the Others can obviously leave the island whenever they wish, so they appear to be hiding themselves. Hiding from what? Why call yourselves good guys after all the deaths you’ve caused as well? The groundwork has been laid to elaborate on exactly who the Other are and that other people now have an idea where the island is. There was also an assumption a few characters would not survive. Locke and Eko are likely candidates, but we do not know what happened to Sayid, Jin, or Sun yet either. Who knows who made it. And who didn’t. One assumes Penelope/Hanso/DHARMA wants more than just Desmond. We don’t get to find out until October.

Ratng: **** (out of 5)
Hurley: The Fragrance for Men

Mercy, mercy me... ;)
Emotionless Utopia

Earlier this week, I reviewed the latest Doctor Who episode, “The Age of Steel.” Long story short, the episode featured a dying billionaire, John Lumis, who has discovered a way to preserve human brains in a cybernetic body. He rationalizes the human race would be better off this way: emotionless, never becoming sick, growing old, or dying. There is a near climatic scene in which the Doctor and John Lumis debate the virtues of his plan. Is a utopia of eternal stagnation a utopia at all? As I listened to the debate, a light bulb went off over my head. I’ve heard this argument before. It is quite similar to debates I have both heard and participated in between skeptic and Christians regarding the existence of heaven as a place of eternal happiness.

I don’t engage skeptics much anymore. I don’t think that was my calling, because there are a number of theological issues that I legitimately and comfortably accept on faith. I have a finite mind and a sinful nature. The natural man within me cannot grasp all or even most spirtual things. If it did, we couldn’t call it faith. With that in mind, I generally avoid the minor prophets and prophecy in general. It’s rather difficult to do. I am from the Buckle of the Bible Belt where the King James translation reigns supreme. If you have never encountered a KJV advocate before, know this--the book of revelations is their absolute favorite. Southernres are eaten up with Original Sin Guilt, embrace the concept of salvation by grace that saves them, and is ecstatic to read of the final judgment of those who have rejected salvation. At the same time, they are looking forward to the End Times as an escape from temptation. Growing up, it was often a topic of conversation among churchgoers as to who the Antichrist might be (The Ayatollah, Gorbechoav, and Qadaffi were personal favorites) and exactly when that Gommorah by the Sea known as California would sink into the sea as a result of Go’s judgment. California was the epitome of evil even if Hee haw was filmed there. On top of all this, I avoided the concept of heaven. Everyone else did, too. Everyone knows hell backwards and forwards. Heaven was a different matter.

Why is that? Because there are unanswerable questions about it. Wouldn’t eternal life get boring? What is life without challenge and growth? How can there be happiness without sorrow to compare it to? Surely heaven isn’t a hedonistic place, but even if it is, isn’t an existence in which one only seeks to amuse himself an empty one? Is it blasphemous to think an existence in which we do nothing but worship God boring? Why would an infinitely powerful being want to walk through a garden and talk with humans in the first place? How can I be eternally happy knowing friends and family are in hell? These are questions you can’t answer on earth. It is legitimate to say, ‘I don’t know” and move on, but rationalists can never accept that. It’s their right to do so, by the way. I’m satisfied with faith They can choose a different path as far as I am concerned. I was not blessed with the spiritual gift of evangelism.

In the episode, I of course agreed with the doctor. An eternal liffe without emotion, imagination, growth, and an inevitable end is not a good idea. Lumis makes a logical argument to the contrary, but he is speaking as one who is too attached to the material elements of the world. Ironic, considering his motivation for placing his essence into a robot body is to escape pain, sickness, and death. He wants to exist forever, minus anything that makes life worth living. And that goes for whichever opinion about the ideal life you have. Simple pleasures are gone and so are sins of the flesh if that’s your thing. Lumis is arguing in favor of the skeptic’s vision of heaven which they don’t like and the doctor is assuring him the skeptic idea of heaven is a bad one. Not that the show is promoting Christian concepts. That is completely unintentional on the writers’ part.

But what they have inadvertently done is settled the idea that you cannot logically define what heaven is. They would say that disproves heaven’s existence. I wouldn’t go that far. I accept the existence of spiritual things as a presupposition just as the skeptic presupposes everything has to a have a cause. (God is the uncaused cause--another presupposition of Christian theology) I am often curious, although I do not verbalize it much as I said above, exactly what changes about man once he dies and his sinful nature is removed. Obviously, heaven becomes the perfect concept of utopia, even for those people who fall asleep in church out of boredom. It is a necessary part of faith and a consequence of being currently separated from God that we cannot grasp the difference now. I found it interesting that a relatively inconsequential scene in a science fiction show explored the issue and came up with the right answer--there is no way to know right now how the idea of a heavenly utopia is going to satisfy everyone. You just have to take it on faith that the way things are is the way things should be.
Fire From the Sky

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen died yesterday. Virtually every obituary I have seen so far as dwelled on the only thing anyone remembers about him--his, "You're no Jack Kennedy" zinger to Dan Quayle in the 1988 Vice-Presidential debate. It is worthy of mention, because Quayle has (undeservedly) never recovered from it. After that debate, he was scrutinized for every and brutalized for every mistake--malapropisms and blunders everyone makes, but don't have the national press following them everywhere.

But that isn't for me. The thing I will most remember Bentsen for is that he advocated nuking North Korea to end the Korean War. Yes, that's one step futher tham my hero Gen. Douglas McArthur wanted to take, but I liked the idea of it when I ran across the anecdote back in colllege. Bentsen's foreign policy was a lot like Reagan's--make the bad guys think you're crazy. Don't you miss the old days when the democrats were just as gunslinging as republicans? Now the K Street crowd has taken over the GOP and the hippies are running the Democratic Party.

I'll go on record as believing that if Michael Dukakis hadn't chosen Bentsen as his running mate, Bentsen would have at least become like Zell Miller and maybe even have switched parties. we will never know. Godspeed, Senator.
"Under the Milky Way"--The Church

There isn’t one darn thing significant about this song or video other than I really like it. As far as I know, Members of the band are all waiting tables at Applebee’s right now in anticipation of the biannual royalty check off this one hit they managed. Calling it a hit is a stretch. As I recall, it barely made a blip on radio or MTV, but has found a new life in soundtracks. Right off hand, I remember the song being featured on Miami Vice and the movie Donnie Darko.

I believe I first saw the video on MTV sometime in ‘88 or ‘89. It didn’t much register on me at the time. The song was catchy, but so were a lot of other things I liked more/. A few months later, the song was featured in one of those Miami Vice montages the show was famous for. This was during the fifth and final season when the episodes often delved into surreal, existential elements. It was an enormously disturbing scene in an enormously gruesome episode about a CIA agent trained in torture at the School of the Americas (a real place in Georgia) to aid Lain American “freedom fighters” like Pinochet and Noriega uncover communist dissent. When communist revolution died down in the late ’80’s, he was cut loose and now practiced his craft on hookers he’d kidnapped off the streets.

It was a short while later that I realized what that song was. It and the video had all the elements of an ’80’s song--the hair, the style of dress, the beat--just as those ’80’s fads were dying. Indeed, there was a big difference between 1989 and 1990 as far as style and culture were concerned. We went from Motley Crue and Madonna to MC Hammer and Paula Abduhl almost overnight. Can you tell me a significant difference between the change in decade from 1999 to 2000? I can’t. There was a clear ending to the ’80’s and at least in my mind, this video marked it. It is a surreal, ethereal last gasp of the neon and pastels before grunge, rap took over music and the nation shifted its focus from the Evil Empire of communism to the much murkier villain of religious fundamentalism. I didn’t appreciate the song much then, but as I get nostalgic for the era, it grows in importance to me.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Taylor Hicks is the American Idol

Not officially, mind you. The results show will not air until tomorrow night, but it is on opposite Lost and I don’t have to tell you which show I’ll be watching, do I? Taylor ran away with the show tonight. Katherine McPhee belted out her star song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” yet again and knocked it out the park, but her other two songs just couldn’t hold a candle to Taylor. While it wasn’t popular for her, I liked her rendition of “The Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.” It was an odd choice to do again and this time she did a little jig with it instead of sitting on the stage like last time, but I was still amused by the whole affair.

By the way, for all the Googlers who have been searching for “Katherine McPhee is a Scientologist,” she isn’t according to her sister. Katherine went through one “Happiness” course at the behest of a guy she was dating and hauled tail once she realized she was burning cash for nothing. It teaches me two things. One, men involved with Scientology are domineering with their women (Tom Cruise, anyone?) and second, it is not only men who do stupid things in the name of love and/or lust.

Either way, Taylor nailed it tonight. His final song--the ones written especially for the idols--just soared, with the whole gospel singers for backup and all. No contest against Katherine’s saccharine “My Destiny.” Taylor may have a tough time grasping the meaning of the lyrics (he claimed Elton John’s “Levon,” which I about a rich jerk whose son can’t stand him, expresses family values) but he does make every song his own regardless. I’m betting that he will wind up like Harry Connick, Jr.: a decent sized, loyal fan base, but never a big star. Katherine will get a recording contract as well. She’s too good not to, but I don’t think she’ll make a splash any bigger than kelly Clarkson’s. Just my $ 00.02.