Lost 5.3 “Jughead”

Kudos to Matt Butler for telling me on the phone the night before the episode aired that the model of gun the jumpsuit people were carrying was significant to telling the time period. I was surprised to find out that the flaming arrows came from the jumpsuit Others; I really thought we were seeing a third faction from the jumpsuit guys.

When Dan talked about burying the h-bomb, I found myself wondering if that was what was behind the concrete in the Swan Station, but it seems like it would have to be something more than that. Perhaps it was the h-bomb, but exposure to the natural electromagnetic properties of the Island transformed it over time?

Richard’s eyeliner: Just from the ABC makeup department or a reference to the ancient Egyptian style? We know Richard is very old, and Juliet said that “Richard’s always here.” Also, hieroglyphics have been seen on the Island. Then again, I could be reading all kinds of significance into something that’s just part of TV makeup.

So Charles Widmore was one of Richard’s Others in the 1950s. At some point he leaves the Island. A falling out with Richard? Does Widmore move the Island? I’m leaning toward a falling out with Richard, both from the evident conflict in tonights episode, and from the fact that Richard’s Others were in conflict with the Dharma Initiative. Widmore was certainly one of the powers behind Dharma, so right now I’m thinking he moved the Island, so he couldn’t go back himself, but he funded the Dharma Initiative and sent them there, at which point the disagreement between Richard and him continued by proxy. Ben assisting Richard in the Purge is the beginning of the Widmore/Linus conflict. Just a vague framework of a theory.

And yes, Elise and I both totally went “Awwww!” when Desmond said their son’s name was Charlie.


LOST 5.1 & 5.2, “Because You Left” and “The Lie”

I’m not going to bother trying to divide my thoughts across the two episodes, because it was essentially a two hour episode.

Time travel makes a great storytelling device. It puts Locke in exactly the same position as the audience: He knows he will be dead, and he knows it is part of bringing the Oceanic 6 back to the island, and he knows that it is to stop something horrible. But he doesn’t know anything else, because he is experiencing events in a different order than Richard. Clever.

Things I’d be willing to bet money on: Sun is the one who hired the lawyers that come to see Kate, Ms. Hawking is Dan’s mom, and Miles is Dr. Chang’s (aka Candle, aka Wickmund, aka Halliwax) son.

I still suspect that the Island may move in space as well as time. Since Dan and company may be moving in time independent of the Island, its hard to say.

The normal rules of time travel don’t apply to Desmond–is it beacuse he was born special, destiny or what have you, or is it because he will turn the key in the Swan Station and become unstuck in time himself, therefore exisiting outside of the normal rules?

Neil Frogurt clearly learned nothing about wearing red shirts during his time on the Island. The flaming arrows assumedly come from the Hostiles pre Dharma Purge?

So is Locke pretend dead, or is it just important that nothing happen to his dead body before it gets back to the Island and he pulls a Christian Shephard?

What Chris Sims Forgot

Chris Sims, the excellent geek humorist behind Chris’s Invincible Super-Blog, recently ran a post in which he listed the 25 Things Every Comics Collection Truly Needs To Be Awesome. The list is both entertaining and informative, as it actually touches upon a lot of comics tropes that some may not be familiar with. But I submit he forgot one very necessary component of an awesome comics collection:

Grant Morrison’s Doom Force #1

Grant Morrison was writing a now-legendary run on DC’s Doom Patrol in the early ’90s that was full of legitimately edgy, weird ideas with some really cool art while most of mainstream comics was obsessed with “dark” superhero books full of ridiculous violence and terrible artwork that all the 13-year-olds of the time thought was cool (and yes, sigh, I thought that crap looked good at the time too). One of the worst artistic offenders was Mr. Rob Liefeld, who had become something of a superstar in the field despite knowing nothing about perspective, anatomy, or how to draw feet.

So for a one-shot special, Morrison hilariously parodied all of the terrible conventions of the time. Anyone who was reading superhero comics in 1992 can appreciate Doom Force as one of the funnier things ever. It probably doesn’t work as well for an audience not in the know, but if you are trying to put together a truly awesome comics collection, then you are in the know, and you need a copy of this book. It probably wouldn’t hurt to get Morrison’s seriously great Doom Patrol run, either.

Possibly the funniest thing about Doom Force was all the fan mail Morrison recieved from people who didn’t get the joke and thought the writer and DC were finally doing something “cool” with Doom Patrol.

Sorting Things Out

The amount of music on my iPod continues to grow, as I begin to digitize the more obscure, long-forgotten corners of my sizable CD collection. On top of that, I’m starting to dig through Elise’s rather vast collection and pull in anything interesting I find there. One of the more complex — and fun, in a very geeky way — parts of this is editing the metadata for proper organization. I have become intimately familiar with iTunes’ “Get Info” pop-up.

When I go looking for an album on my iPod, 99% of the time I start from the “Genres” menu. Genre is the one bit of metadata I almost always need to edit on a newly added album, even if everything else there is correct, to keep the genre names in line with my own scheme of classification. The thing is, the larger the collection becomes, the more I feel the need to subdivide my own genre scheme. Initially, pretty much anything related to rock music went into one of four categories: Alternative, Metal, Punk, or just plain Rock. Then Hard Rock entered the scheme, to classify things that dwell in the fuzzy spaces between Rock and Metal. Alternative spawned Indie and Punk spawned Emo. Clearly, Prog needed to be distinct from plain, old Rock. To further ease finding things, any band still in Rock that was predominantly active pre-1980 was split off into Classic Rock. My most recent subdivision, Post-Punk/New Wave, was another split from Alternative.

So for those of you keeping score, now a “rock” song on my iPod could be: Alternative, Classic Rock, Emo, Hard Rock, Indie, Metal, Post-Punk/New Wave, Prog, Punk, or Rock.

One might be inclined to think that everything on my iPod is “rock.” One would be wrong, since I’m working with more than 30GB of music at this stage.

Which brings me to the part I need help with. Hip Hop is currently a single genre, and it is without a doubt the most unwieldy, long genre list on my iPod (although Alternative is pretty bad too, thanks to the tons of single songs I bought to fill out my “W-DRE” playlist). So I need to subdivide Hip Hop. My question is, how? Should I distinguish East Coast from West Coast? It seems there should be a Gangsta Rap genre. Is Jay-Z Gangsta Rap or just plain, old Hip Hop? Is having a Concious Rap genre too pretentious? Should it be Alternative Rap? And what defines Old School? Is it relative to the listener? Obviously Run D.M.C. is Old School, and I feel fairly confident that Public Enemy is too, but what about Dr. Dre? I mean, his best recordings are old, but does that make him Old School? Is KRS-One Old School or Alternative/Concious?

And, the most embarrassing question of all, if Linkin Park is Hard Rock, should Reanimation go with the rest of their albums, or should it be Hip Hop?

I’ve realized that as much as I love hip hop, I’ve listened to far, far less of it over the years than I have all of the various permutations of rock. Making those distinctions between subgenres of rock isn’t always easy, either, but I generally feel more confident about it because I know more trivial minutia about rock’s evolution and the various movements, especially those that would be considered somehow “alternative” to “mainstream rock.” So I’m asking for input, either in the form of answers to the above questions or opinions about hip hop’s various subgenres in general.

Blog Lapse

Man, I was really on point there for a while. Lost really helped me keep blogging.

Of course, I never posted my thoughts about the excellent season finale. I’m not going to right now, either, but it will happen at some point.

Other things that will also be covered at some point this summer:

iPods as the Ultimate Nostalgia Device
Watching the Twin Peaks pilot in 144 inch HD
Mongol, officially the most awesome foreign film since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The addictive glory of the Spore Creature Creator

Lost Update

So we’re only 2 days away from the 2-hour finale to Lost‘s fourth season. Actually, we’re technically 2 days away from the second part of the 3-hour long finale episode.

4.11 — “Cabin Fever”
I missed my update for this one, and considering that “The Constant” during aired during a multi-week period I had to cover in a single post, I’d say I’m in the habit of forgetting to blog about the best episodes of the season. The return of Richard Alpert and the inference that the Island has been looking for John Locke since his early childhood made for some great mythology clues. Is John a reincarnation of Jacob? Or is he Jacob, after some time travel goofiness?

Claire raises the question of what “dead” really means on the Island. Is she dead because she is in the cabin and seems to understand what is going on, or has she just been informed of something and gotten stoned since the last time we saw her?

4.12.1 — “There’s No Place Like Home (Part 1)”
The Oceanic Six return home, and questions as to some incongruities in their story are deflected by Oceanic’s lawyer. Sun buys half of her father’s business, and gets all bad-ass. And we’re finally going to see the Orchid Station! There’s not a lot to say about the first part other than that it was a very enjoyable setup for the two hours that are coming this Thursday.

Let me say, right now, that while I expect the ending to be very cool, I’m not expecting it to be anywhere near as huge of a reveal as the flash forward at the end of Season 3. That’s a once-in-a-series reveal that I only expect to be matched by the series finale.

Lost 4.10 — “Something Nice Back Home”

Poor Jack–so rarely does he get an episode these days that people don’t accuse of being “filler.” I have to say, I liked this episode. Sure, it wasn’t the crazy action of the previous week, and sure, I’m more excited about the trailer for the next episode than I am about anything actually in the episode, but it was still pretty darn good.

I think there was a high creepiness factor, something that the show does really well when it does it. Hurley was downright disturbing, and Christian Shephard’s appearance was an awesome tense/scary scene. The smoke alarm going off right before Jack sees him was a nice touch. Was it just the battery, or was it something else?

Of course, Rose vocalizes one of the big questions of the episode. Why can Jack get sick? Personally, I think the healing has something to do with moral judgments the Island is making, and I also happen to think that Jack is (or at least can be) a really bad person. He’s a borderline violent alcoholic and an obsessive stalker-type. Of course he can get sick.

Then we have the matter of Claire and Christian disappearing into the woods together. I’m sure we’ll get some answers (or at least some clues) about that this week.

Rousseau is really dead? I’m shocked by that, I truly thought they were just messing with us when she got shot. It still doesn’t rule out finding out more about her past, though, since the whole living/dead line gets a little blurry on the Island.

Blog Meme — Top 106 “Unread” Books on LibraryThing

There’s a meme going around some blogs which consists of bloggers listing the top 106 books tagged as “unread” on LibraryThing. (For those wondering about the numbers on the list, it’s the number of users with the book tagged as unread/number of users who list the book overall.)

The rules: bold the books you have read, italicize books you’ve started bu not finished, strike the books you read but hated (likely for school), add an asterisk* to books you’ve read more than once, and underline those you own but still haven’t read yourself.

1. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (236/9040)
2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (211/8954)
3. One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (183/11970)
4. Crime and punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (176/10686)
5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (162/12137)
6. Catch-22 a novel by Joseph Heller* (158/10885)

This requires a little explanation. I read this when I was 18, really liked it, then decided to reread it a couple years ago during one of my winter breaks from school. My level of appreciation had grown considerably, but I never finished the reread (I really should have another go at it).

7. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (155/8789)
8. Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra (152/6654)
9. The Odyssey by Homer* (136/10953)
10. The brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (136/7174)
11. Ulysses by James Joyce (135/6254)
12. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (132/6267)
13. War and peace by Leo Tolstoy (132/5952)
14. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (124/13764)
15. A tale of two cities by Charles Dickens (124/7460)
16. The name of the rose by Umberto Eco (120/7705)
17. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (119/7719)
18. The Iliad by Homer (117/8723)
19. Emma by Jane Austen (117/8948 )
20. Vanity fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (115/3827)
21. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (114/7115)
22. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (110/4806)
23. The Canterbury tales by Geoffrey Chaucer* (108/6164)

I don’t know anyone who has actually read ALL of them … besides, it was unfinished.

24. Pride and prejudice by Jane Austen (108/18291)
25. The historian : a novel by Elizabeth Kostova (108/6444)
26. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (106/8595)
27. The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini (106/13571)
28. The time traveler’s wife by Audrey Niffenegger (105/11412)
29. Life of Pi : a novel by Yann Martel (105/12689)
30. Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies by Jared Diamond (104/7492)
31. Atlas shrugged by Ayn Rand (102/5984)
32. Foucault’s pendulum by Umberto Eco (101/5616)
33. Dracula by Bram Stoker (100/6873)
34. The grapes of wrath by John Steinbeck (99/7811)
35. A heartbreaking work of staggering genius by Dave Eggers (97/6451)
36. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (97/9127)
37. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (97/5565)
38. Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books by Azar Nafisi (96/4404)
39. Middlemarch by George Eliot (96/4159)
40. Sense and sensibility by Jane Austen (96/8591)
41. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (95/5166)
42. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (94/11616)
43. The sound and the fury by William Faulkner (94/5042)
44. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (93/12421)
45. Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle I) by Neal Stephenson (92/3525)
46. American gods : a novel by Neil Gaiman (92/10317)
47. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (91/8869)
48. The poisonwood Bible : a novel by Barbara Kingsolver (91/7459)
49. Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West… by Gregory Maguire (90/8905)
50. A portrait of the artist as a young man by James Joyce (89/6646)
51. The picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (89/7165)
52. Dune by Frank Herbert* (89/9221)
53. The satanic verses by Salman Rushdie (88/3250)
54. Gulliver’s travels by Jonathan Swift (88/4857)
55. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (88/5358 )
56. The three musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (87/4127)
57. The corrections by Jonathan Franzen (84/5066)
58. The inferno by Dante Alighieri* (84/5873)
59. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (83/4377)
60. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (83/5794)
61. To the lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (83/4608 )
62. A clockwork orange by Anthony Burgess (83/6754)
63. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (83/4735)
64. The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay : a novel by Michael Chabon (83/5956)
65. Persuasion by Jane Austen (82/6478 )
66. One flew over the cuckoo’s nest by Ken Kesey (82/5908 )
67. The scarlet letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (82/7746)
68. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (82/4436)
69. Anansi boys : a novel by Neil Gaiman (81/6534)
70. The once and future king by T. H. White (81/4293)
71. Atonement: A Novel by Ian McEwan (80/6966)
72. The god of small things by Arundhati Roy (80/5508 )
73. A short history of nearly everything by Bill Bryson (79/6266)
74. Oryx and Crake : a novel by Margaret Atwood (78/3975)
75. Dubliners by James Joyce (78/5530)
76. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (78/5384)
77. Angela’s ashes : a memoir by Frank McCourt (77/6349)
78. Beloved : a novel by Toni Morrison (77/5523)
79. Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed by Jared Diamond (76/3822)
80. The hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (75/2520)
81. In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its… by Truman Capote (75/5473)
82. Lady Chatterley’s lover by D.H. Lawrence (73/3169)
83. A confederacy of dunces by John Kennedy Toole (73/6061)
84. Les misérables by Victor Hugo (73/4693)
85. Watership Down by Richard Adams (72/6255)
86. The prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (72/6361)
87. The amber spyglass by Philip Pullman (72/6644)
88. Beowulf : a new verse translation by Anonymous* (72/6349)

OK, I may not have read the translation listed here, but I’ve read Beowulf multiple times by multiple translators.

89. A farewell to arms by Ernest Hemingway (71/5121)
90. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance : an inquiry into… by Robert M. Pirsig (71/5554)
91. The Aeneid by Virgil (71/5057)
92. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (69/4625)
93. Sons and lovers by D.H. Lawrence (69/2563)
94. The personal history of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (69/4310)
95. The road by Cormac McCarthy (67/5097)
96. Possession : a romance by A.S. Byatt (67/4127)
97. The history of Tom Jones, a foundling by Henry Fielding (67/2131)
98. The book thief by Markus Zusak (67/3552)
99. Gravity’s rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (66/3260)
100. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells* (66/3046)
101. Tender is the night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (66/3128 )
102. Candide, or, Optimism by Voltaire (65/5083)
103. Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro (65/4317)
104. The plague by Albert Camus (65/4610)
105. Jude the obscure by Thomas Hardy (65/2944)
106. Cold mountain by Charles Frazier (64/4160)

Lost 4.9 — “The Shape of Things to Come”

“Oh, so you do speak English.”

This was probably the most action-packed episode of Lost ever. It was hard not to enjoy it. We now know that Sayid and Ben’s connection was forged over Nadia’s death. We also know that the Ben/Widmore conflict is some sort of sinister game to the two of them, albeit one in which they both seem truly invested in the stakes.

Ben can summon/control the smoke monster, although it still doesn’t mean he was lying when he told Locke that he doesn’t know what it is. He may have no idea what it is he’s controlling. I’ve got to say, the monster’s attack was one of the coolest scenes in the history of the show.

Alex’s rather brutal death scene helps undermine any sense of “safety” for the characters going forward.

There’s not much more to say that springs to mind … the episode was a great way to come off of hiatus, fun and fast-paced.

Lost 4.8 — “Meet Kevin Johnson”

I have held off until now, when my excitement for for Lost has again returned to a fever-pitch after the short hiatus, to comment on Michael’s return to the show. On a broad level, I think the episode is good; but on a nit-picking level there are things about the timing that still bother me.

We know time flows differently on the Island, but until we know just how differently, I am going to remain bothered. What gets me is that without knowing exactly when it is Michael and Walt get back to NYC (somehow), Michael then gets in his car accident, recovers, has his exchanges with Tom, travels to Fiji, and reaches the Island all in the space of, what, 3 weeks? Michael’s mother says he was gone for 2 months, putting his return at the end of November. We know that the Kahana arrives at the island before Christmas. I know time tends to get compressed in the name of storytelling, and generally that’s fine, but this episode was really pushing it to me.

One of the other things that initially bothered me about the episode could turn out to be an important point. I’ve assumed that Ben’s people, when leaving the Island, use the sub. But with communications being down, Tom couldn’t have used the sub. Even if Ben was lying to most of his people about the communications, hence why he is talking to Michael from his basement, he still couldn’t send Tom on the sub as that would be a give away. So was Tom teleported off the Island? There was a suggestion in “The Other Woman” that the whispers in the jungle have something to do with some sort of movement, could this also reach off the Island?

Generally, though, the episode is pretty good on its own. Tom is a fun character in it, and Michael doesn’t have to spend half the episode screaming “They took my son! WALT!!!” I doubt Rousseau is dead, or at least I doubt we’ve seen the last of her. Carl, much as I loved it when Ben talked to him this season, was a non-character plot device they were stuck with, and killing him off was wise.

I’m very excited about 4.9, “The Shape of Things to Come,” which is supposedly a Ben flashback.

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