Friday, January 30, 2009

Down Time

Every day, around 3:30 I hit a wall.

My eyes want to close. My head wants a soft place to rest. My brain wants a little down time. I used to just stop at Starbucks at three o’clock to get over that little hump, but I’m in shape and healthy now and don’t want to get back to bad habits.

Plus, that’s an expensive habit. Heroin’s got nothing on caffeine!

Lucky for me it has now been scientifically proven that taking 20-30 minute naps during the day actually increase productivity.

Google it. It’s true.

Those in charge may not agree, but it’s time that I take the nap nerds advice and find a place to recharge for the afternoon rush. In a perfect world I would have a nice quiet hammock room to retreat to or an enormous office with a leather couch to call my own. Actually, in a perfect world I would be incredibly wealthy and able to sleep until noon while beautiful, young women cater to my every need.

Where was I?

Right. Naps.

Since my perfect WORK world doesn’t exist, I need to improvise and figure out how to make myself more productive. It’s all about being the best employee I can be. NOTE: that’s going to be my excuse when I get caught. And I probably will get caught at some point.

And, hey, if I’m going to figure this out I may as well share it with all two of my loyal readers. If I can influence your lives just a bit, I’ll feel I’ve accomplished something. I’ve already given tips for boozing at work, why not add sleeping to the list.

Never claimed I’d be a good influence.

Let’s run down some options I’ve been considering.


AT MY DESK

Pros: Have accidentally pulled this off during a conference call. My own snore startled me awake after 15 minutes were lost forever. Have perfected the art of ‘I may look like I’m reading something, but I’m actually dozing’ posture.

Cons: Drool in keyboard; side window of my office offers full view of my seating area; solid chance my head would slip, bounce of the desk and render me unconscious.


UNDER MY DESK

Pros: Optimal setup as I have my own office and the desk is at the back end of the room. If I duck down nobody sees me from the door or the side window; could envision a George Costanza bed built into my desk scenario.

Cons: Floor is disgusting; people tend to come in looking for me often (I’m a popular guy) and it would be tough to explain why I’m curled into a fetal position under my desk.


UNDER SOMEONE ELSE’S DESK

Pros: Nobody would be looking for me in another office; layoffs have opened up several options.

Cons: Sound of my snoring might draw some curiosity; owner of office or visitor could arrive unexpectedly. Explaining myself under my own desk is a skate compared to trying to rationalize why I was under someone else’s desk. Also, same disgusting floor condition as in my office.


MEN’S ROOM STALL

Pros: Ultimate privacy; experienced from my ‘raging alcoholic’ era (still ongoing).

Cons: Not very comfortable; legs can fall asleep making it difficult to stand; could be trapped like a wild animal if unable to call for help; people coming and going (get it?) would disrupt sleep cycle; unsanitary.


EMPTY CLOSET/SUPPLY ROOM/MEETING ROOM

Pros: Often out of the way and quiet; could turn lights out for maximum sleep conditions.

Cons: Not many of these to be had around here; interruption of others looking for pens or toner; being trapped if impromptu meeting is held.


CAR

Pros: Used to sleep in car during college class breaks and during lunch at old jobs; comfortable; private.

Cons: Don’t drive to work (which is a problem); could draw unwanted attention when a passerby knocks on the window to see if I’m ok, doesn’t get a response, calls 911 and the Jaws of Life are used to pry me out. Sleeping in someone else’s car while this happened would pretty much be worst case scenario.


OUT IN THE OPEN

Pros: The best hiding places are often in plain view. Maybe in the comfy chairs at the main entrance or on top of the company President’s desk.

Cons: Job loss is devastating in this economy; very high potential for embarrassing pictures posted to the internet.


AT HOME

Pros: Know the area well; actual bed

Cons: Commute back and forth would eat up a lot of time; wife and kids could be there.


ROOF OF THE BUILDING

Pros: Nobody – and I mean nobody – would find me there

Cons: Might get locked out; windy and cold this time of year; could plummet 22 stories to my death.

Overall, I’ll stick with the desk option. Not under it, although that will be a serious option if I need some real quiet time.

See you in my dreams, everyone. If I had any.

Enjoy your weekends!

Today’s distraction: Life summarized in four bottles. Here’s to sticking with bottle number 3 for as long as possible. Cheers!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lost - Part 3

Leave it to ‘Lost’ to so casually introduce a new facet to characters we’ve known (or thought we had) for years.

I’m not just referring to Locke’s ‘Charles Widmore?’ line, although it was great to see Locke’s ‘I know something you don’t’ smile reappear.

I’m actually talking about the opening scene where ‘Lost’ drops the bombshell that Penny and Desmond are parents. Tell me this isn’t going to play a key role at some point in the future. Anyone else do the ‘awwww’ when it was revealed he was named ‘Charlie’? I miss Charlie.

I would tell everyone to look away, but we all know how it works by now, right?


What Happened

We’re greeted by the sight of Desmond frantically running through a marketplace shouting for a doctor (or was that the guy’s name?). Either way it’s because Penny is giving birth aboard their boat and she’s running into complications. All is well, though, as we jump forward to see Desmond sailing with a much older Charlie in his lap.

Quick sidenote: Did that marketplace not look exactly like the beach where the Oceanic Six landed in their raft? Did Desmond and Penny hangout there are dropping them off?

They’re on their way to London to find Faraday’s mother. Desmond is telling Charlie how he met Penny here and fell in love with her and Penny pops up to add ‘And broke my heart’ which immediately put her at the top of the Lost killjoy list.

Penny and Desmond argue about the sanity of this plan for what is probably the 500th time. Desmond promises this will be it, but did anyone else notice he did not promise he would not return to the island. He simply says ‘why would I want to go back there?’ and heads out.

After poking around a bit – including a stop at Faraday’s old laboratory (see New Questions) – Desmond finds one of Faraday’s ex girlfriends. Or student. Or whatever. Only she’s basically in a coma and on life support. Whoops! As Desmond heads out the door, one of the nurses lets slip the one Mr. Charles Widmore has been footing the bill for the girl. Not only that, but has been funding Faraday’s entire research for the past decade.

Widmore! Say it like Seinfeld says ‘Newman!’

Desmond confronts Widmore as only he can and gets him to admit that Faraday’s mother is alive and living in LA. Widmore also tells Desmond he should get far away from this situation. Loved how Desmond didn’t say a word and simply walked out of the office.

So, Desmond and Penny and Charlie are off to LA (where Ben, Jack, Kate, Hurley and Gray Haired Lady all happen to be). Let’s hope they don’t sail there as time is limited.

Meanwhile, our island friends are mush more informative as they jump back to 1954, are attacked by Others just like the old days, and discover that an American Army camp has been setup on the island. All of the soldiers are dead (as PAD helpfully tells Faraday after walking over their graves) since heavily armed, highly trained soldiers are no match for Others walking around with leaves for shoes and home made spears.

Once they get to the leader of this early edition Others, they are greeted by none other than Richard The Ageless Wonder. Richard doesn’t know Locke (just like he said. Richard’s so stinking smart) and Locke shows him the compass to prove his story.

But the big revelation on this day was a young Charles Widmore being one of Richard’s goons. Not only was Widmore on the island (remember Sun’s comment to him last season ‘You’re not the only one trying to get back to that island’?), but he was an active member of the Others for a while. He was still a dick, though.

Also, Faraday and Sawyer stumble across a hydrogen bomb that has been setup on the island. I’m guessing the army was getting ready to make a big splash by testing it out. Unfortunately for them the Others didn’t take kindly to the idea. The bomb is leaking radiation and Faraday actually tells the woman Other ‘Let’s just leave it. Since the island is still here 50 years from now it’s all good’. She, of course doesn’t believe him even when Sawyer shows up, disarms her and disappears in a bright flash of light.

Sadly, Locke doesn’t get an answer from past Richard about how to get off the island before he too gets shipped to another time. Damn! So close, too!


What We Learned

- Widmore’s fingerprints are on everything. Let’s see. He was on the island as an Other, he funded Faraday’s research, planted a fake plane in the ocean, sent a freighter full of mercenaries to the island, and still had time to make Desmond’s life miserable. Talk about your Type A personality.

- Charlotte’s fucked.

- Eyeliner was available to men in 1954.

- While it was a nice gesture for Desmond to name his son after Charlie, he really should have named him Drive Shaft.

- That if you are a character we’ve never seen before, there is a good chance you’ll die a horrible death. Like a flaming arrow in the chest or tripping a mine and getting blown to bits like the two doofuses last night.

- Latin is the official language of the Others, which is just rubbing it in at this point.

- Faraday loves Charlotte. He admits this just in time to watch her die of a brain aneurysm. Something tells me Faraday hasn’t had much luck in the love department.

- The hydrogen bomb was named Jughead. Don’t know why that’s relevant, but it was noticeable and this is Lost and what the hell. You know?


New Questions

- If Widmore was funding Faraday’s research, was he doing so in order to find the island?

- What happened to the girl Faraday did something to? Was she his first time traveler?

- Is all this time traveling wreaking havoc with the island’s history or is it making it? Think about this: Does Richard learn about the islands secrets and time traveling tricks because Locke told him after he was sent back by Richard? Wait, even better. It was hinted at that Richard’s visit to little Locke may have been prompted by Locke himself. He tells Richard ‘I’m born in 1956. You should come visit me’.

- Is Charlotte’s brain melting because she’s thinking about the same thing?

- Besides pointing North, what is the significance of the compass?

- Anyone else think that cute Other girl with the gun grows up to be someone we already know?

- What happened to Jughead?

- Is Desmond doomed to die on the island? He certainly seems destined to come back with everyone else.

- Speaking of Desmond, how can he still want to sail everywhere after his last experience?

- Lastly, what exactly happened to the island? We know it disappeared, but Faraday seems to think the island is jumping around in time but wouldn’t the island still be in the same spot? Or is it just the people on the island jumping around in time while the island actually moved to another spot?

Until next week!


Today's distraction: Take an IQ test. The trick here is you only have a few seconds to answer the questions. I scored 5% above the average. Which basically makes me average.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Working Stiffs

Round two of layoffs from my company and I’m still employed.

Suckers!

Again!

You’ve now had two opportunities to get rid of me (and me getting a nice, long, paid vacation) and you blew it. Too bad, so sad, you’re stuck with me now. At least until the next round.

While I’m still standing another member of my beer o’clock crew has fallen.

Beer o’clock, for the uninitiated, is our semi regular ‘meeting’ of elite, invite only people from around the office that come to my area, share in some bitching, venting and beer consuming. Focus on the beer consuming.

The initial group was actually just three people: myself (of course), my old friend DA and another, annoying admin who barely drank when we had our weekly Friday lunch at JJs. Buffalo chicken wings, several Stellas and many breath mints later we cruised through the last half day of the week in a great mood. Never got old.

After DA left me (I still haven’t recovered) things stagnated for a while. Then we expanded to a floor above the main floor and I got a new office with barely 10 people around me. There was a huge empty office at the vacated end of the floor. Once a refrigerator was placed into the small kitchen around the corner, the pieces were in place.

What quickly evolved was a weekly trip to the liquor store down the street, stocking the bottom vegetable drawer with Stellas and Blue Moons (cause chicks seem to like drinks you put fruit in) and Amstel Lights and Sam Adams, and the best of the best of the office meeting in that large empty office on Friday afternoons to release some steam while ingesting some barley and hops.

Codes were invented to keep the authorities off our trail. The vegetable drawer hiding place renamed beer o’clock to ‘veggie time’ and whenever one of the group was having a tough day an IM would pop up with ‘I’m hungry. May need veggies soon’. Within minutes plans would be made and beers were cracked open like the sound of angel wings rustling in heaven.

Hell, we even had a spot for the bottle opener in case one of us wasn’t around. It wasn’t in a common place where just anyone could get their grubby little paws on it, but was known by all the beer o’clock gang where it would be if needed. And it would be needed often in some months.

The summer slowdown was the best time for veggies. Work slows to a crawl on Fridays every week during the glorious (and much missed) weather which prompted bored club members to spend more time than usual in the large, empty office.

Don’t scoff at us. Don’t view us as outlaws and bad seeds. I’ve made friends for life during beer o’clock. Look at it as a team building exercise. We became closer as coworkers, released some anger and made fun of anyone not cool enough to be in our tight knit gang. It built morale and made working life much more tolerable.

I recommend it wherever I work. It began for me nearly 15 years ago when a client gave me a case of Sam Adams as a tip (best tip EVER). I brought it back to the office and shared it with the rest of the gang. It’s been a staple of my work life ever since. It’s nothing crazy, just a way to kick back and get to know the people you work with in an entirely different setting. Yeah, it’s still work, but the atmosphere is different. People let their guard down and actually show who they are.

I’ve learned more about people during one veggie session then while working with them for 3 years. That’s not an exaggeration, either. Most people project a very different work persona than they do in a relaxed, social setting.

I’ve discovered I work with some very funny, talented, articulate people who share the same feelings about work life as me. I came a hair short of falling head over heels in love with a much younger, beautiful blonde when she blurted out ‘Oh, shit. I have to get back to work’ before downing a nearly full bottle of Stella in 1.2 seconds. She’s been one of my favorite people ever since.

Alas, the veggie days seem to be coming to an end.

DA left for another job, then moved back to California.

KZ moved to New York City.

MF was laid off a few months ago.

AR also moved back to California. (Damn you, California! Stop stealing my friends!!)

AL was laid off yesterday which prompted one last individual beer o’clock.

There are a few left – EF, CS, JR, ML, MS, AL – but they aren’t the gung ho ‘Hey, let’s booze it up while we’re getting paid’ type of people. In other words, they’re conscientious and hard working. The exact opposite of everything I stand for.

Besides, entrance into the veggie club hinges on trust. We don’t want the entire office knowing the secret of Friday afternoons (or Wednesday afternoon. Or Thursday afternoons), therefore only people that we know will be discreet and secretive and funny are invited. We’ve nearly been burned a few times, but those people were quickly and quietly disposed of (I can say no more).

Beer o’clocks will go on. Make no mistake – this is not a tradition I will give up on easily. I just need to find other recruits with enough free time and the proper piss poor attitude to fit in.

One bright note is the week long return of AR. She will be visiting Boston’s crapapalooza of bad weather next week and promises to make a trip in for a big ass beer o’clock celebration. Hell, maybe two or three!!

After that the search to replace my comrades will continue. I can never replace those who have departed, but I will find new disciples to carry forth the good word.


Today’s distraction: You know that guy from the ‘ShamWow’ commercials? Well check out his full story. Is anyone shocked that Scientology is a breeding ground for assholes? Didn’t think so.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Armageddon It!!

A long time ago - August 3114 B.C. to be exactish - some strange group of people who came to be known as the Mayans created ‘The Long Calendar’. This calendar began on either the 11th or 13th (there is some question as to which day, so let’s go with the 12th) and, like the Energizer Bunny, kept going and going and going….

You get the point.

When this Long Calendar finally petered out one date remained: December 21, 2012. You can imagine what this is spawning. Since this ancient Mayan calendar ends on that date it must be the day the universe implodes or explodes or the world melts in a big pile of molten lava.

Of course, there is a little bit of discrepancy between some historians who think the date is actually December 23rd, 2012. Either way we may be getting screwed out of some Christmas gifts, so plan an early celebration.

The reason December 21st is getting all the whacko publicity is because it’s also the Winter Solstice and the same day the sun lines up with the center of the Milky Way and all it's creamy nougat. Cue birds falling from the sky, forty days and nights of rain (in a row, that is), rivers running with blood (whether this happens before or after the rain storms isn’t clear), talking dogs, raining frogs, dancing cats with top hats (how great would that be?).

We’ve been down this road before, though, haven’t we. With thousands of people sitting on a hill waiting for the year 2000 to strike and Jesus to return. They all left with a shrug and a ‘maybe it was 2001’ question mark hovering over their heads.

What people are overlooking is the most basic of all human behavior: Laziness.

Let’s travel back a few thousand years to the person or persons that put this incredible calendar together. After working their way forward for more than 3000 years on this hobby (and let’s face it, it could only be a hobby and not somebody’s job. The Mayans needed shit to do back then as things like satellite tv and football wouldn’t be invented for a good 5000 years) you hit a saturation point.

This group or some ancient Rainman spent years putting together the Long Calendar. It may have taken an entire lifetime of weekends and late nights after plowing the fields and sacrificing to the moon gods for some of these guys. Figuring in the life expectancy back then (probably 35) this dude (or dudes) finally threw up his hands and said ‘Fuck it, that’s good enough. I want to enjoy the wild boars and hordes of insects while I still have my health’ and the date he ended on just happened to be December 21, 2012.

Or maybe he just died the morning after hitting that date.

Doesn’t that seem more logical than an ancient race that wasn’t even competent enough to survive predicting the end of the world more than 5000 years into the future?

No offense to any Mayan loving historians or archaeologists reading, but they weren’t an all knowing, hyper intelligent, mathematically advanced race of beings from another planet.

They just happened to have had one obsessive compulsive member who was fascinated with dates and spent a good portion of his life tacking on days to his ever expanding collection.


Today’s distraction: Here are 30 other times the world was supposed to end….and didn’t. The proof is that you’re reading this. Of course if angels descend and start weeding out the sinners on December 21, 2012 I’ll meet you all in Hell. Satan won’t know what hit him (or her)!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Funny and Cruel

Thoughts and questions following a Sunday with no football. It was a depressing preview of the coming month. March Madness can’t get here fast enough.

- In desperate need of some sort of sporting event to watch, I bought into the Celtics – Mavericks hype and watched the home town heroes put on a first half clinic. The game was over midway through the second quarter. It’s true what Bill Simmons has been preaching: Jason Kidd can’t guard any quick point guard and the Mavericks should never have traded for him.

- In a very strange cameo, none other than Nomar was sitting courtside during the game. Are the Red Sox thinking of bringing him back? Has anyone signed him yet? Even better, is this a publicity stunt by Nomar himself to get everyone thinking the Sox are in talks with him?

- 68,000 jobs lost in a single day? Of course not. If you’ve ever been around layoffs you know how some of the people wind up coming back before their packages are finished (thus get a nice paid vacation) and others are actually brought back as ‘contractors’ to do the same job they did before being laid off. Still, the over reactionary media love the ‘Bloody Monday’ nickname. Has a nice, panicky vibe to it, don’t you think?

By the way, hidden in this article (way at the bottom) is one man’s prediction that a recovery looks to be sooner rather than later. Of course, this guy probably didn’t think deregulating Wall Street or handing out risky loan after risky loan had any downside. He is an economic ‘expert’, after all.

- Let me get this straight. Andy Pettitte declined a one year, 10 million dollar offer from the Yankees only to turn around and sign a one year 5.5 million dollar offer? Does he have a calculator?

- Why, if the American car companies is such dire financial shape, are they running more advertisements than ever? Is this where the bailout money is going? Not into improving efficiency and quality, but so they can pay to run the same ad 42 times during every sporting event ever televised?

- I woke Saturday morning to the sound of my wife coughing up a lung and my youngest sounding like he had emphysema. After getting everyone settled I said to my wife, ‘You need anything? I was going to hit the gym.’

‘You leaving now?’ It was 10:30 in the morning and I don’t usually go until after lunch.

‘Yeah, might as well….’ I wait out another coughing fit. ‘…..get it out of the way.’

‘Plus,’ I add, ‘It gets me out of this germ factory for a while.’ I need to start sleeping in a surgical mask. Maybe get an oxygen tent. Should it scare me that Michael Jackson looks less crazy by the day?

- I’ll have to cut this short today as our company just found out we’ll be experiencing ‘additional cost cutting measures’ beginning tomorrow. This means more layoffs, of course. If I’m gone for a while, it’s because my cardboard box under the highway doesn’t get a wireless signal. I hate weeks like this. Way too much stress put on everyone.

- Let’s end on an up note. It seems we’re closer to my dream than even I could have hoped. Scientists at the University of Maryland have successfully teleported two atoms. I shit you not! There is lots of fancy talk and complicated diagrams to prove their point, but the bottom line is we are much closer to being able a door in Boston and emerging from another in the Bahamas. Most likely this technology won’t be fully functional for decades. I would pinpoint it about one day after I die, thus depriving me of one last day at Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. Damn you, fates. Damn you straight to hell!!!


Today’s distraction: Interesting art works by Aled Lewis. Really like the Meaning of Life. Funny and cruel at the same time. Kind of like me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Lost Follow Up

With apologies to all the people that don't watch 'Lost', just a quick follow up from yesterday's post.

Last night I spent more time thinking about my theory regarding the time traveling island and it’s origins.

Well, guess what? I was reading my favorite wrap up (here’s the link – there are two different wrap ups for each episode) and he had nearly the exact same theory!! I swear I didn’t read this until last night.

Anyway, he had more good points regarding the Whispers (which we haven’t heard in a while) potentially being their own voices swirling around them from either the past or future.

He also thinks Dr. Orientation’s baby may be Psychic Asian Dude, which makes more sense.

But what really got my mind swirling is his suggestion that Locke’s interaction with Ethan paving the way towards everything. Locke tells Ethan ‘I was appointed your leader by Ben Linus!’ which Ethan scoffs at and attempts to kill Locke before his trips away to a different time. Was him telling Ethan this the kick off for Ben investigating John Locke?

And, (this is from me) if Ben learns way before the plane crashes on the island that John Locke is to replace him as leader and he wants to keep control of the island, would Ben not try to keep Locke off the island, go back in time and try to make Locke’s life miserable so he would never have the self esteem to see himself as the leader of the island? (‘Sorry I made your life so miserable’). We already know Ben was willing to kill Locke (shooting him in the jungle where the remains of the Dharma people were) after Jacob talked to him.

It also explains why Ben sacrificed himself to move the island. He had resigned himself to the fact that Locke would replace him.

But, wait. I have more!

This can also explain why Walt appears in random times and places looking older (other than the 'Oh shit, this kid's gone through a growth spurt!'). Like when he was telling Shannon to keep quiet right before she completely ignored him and got shot by Ana Lucia.

Not done yet!

Consider this: Every major character on the island has had an experience that involves something cherished or important from their lives before they crashed on the island. If – Big IF – the Oceanic survivors are behind the creation of the island wouldn’t they have added something important to themselves to the island. For Kate, it was the black horse. For Jack, it’s his father alive again. For Walt (remember the comic book?) it was the polar bear. For Locke it’s the ability to walk again. For Sawyer it was avenging his parents. For Shannon it was having someone believe in her. For Boone (I’m going way back now) it was breaking the wretched bond with his sister. For Charlie it was becoming responsible and unselfish. For Sayid it was atoning for his violent past.

Every time someone on the island resolves a life crisis they die. For the most part anyway. Sawyer is probably still around because he's the most popular character on the show.

It also makes other things add up. Hurley not having to worry about food because suddenly crates of Dharma food are falling from the sky on a regular basis. He could have suggested this because he knew they would be crash landing on the island at some point and wanted his candy bars and peanut butter.

These things haven’t happened yet, but they will. And if they don’t then the island will cease to exist and everyone still on it will perish.

One more thing and I’ll stop because I’m getting a headache. Anyone else remember Adam and Eve? The couple they found buried on the island. They were nothing but skeletons and were found where Christian’s empty coffin was found. It was during the first few episodes, but it just popped into my head this morning. How much you want to bet those are two of the Oceanic people? Rose and Bernard, perhaps? Jack and Kate?

Chew on that!!

Today's distraction: Some truth or fiction to figure out what's real or not. The internet can be a wonderful, yet terrifying place.

Everyone enjoy their weekends.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lost Parts 1 & 2

New season – new theory.

I’ll get to that at the end.

Leave it to the most unpredictable show in television history to throw a ‘gotcha!’ right out of the gate.

A baby is crying, a woman tells her husband ‘It’s your turn’ and we are spending 15 seconds of the season premiere trying to guess who the unseen man is.

And, of course, we were all wrong. It wasn’t Ben (my guess), it wasn’t Locke or Jack or Sayid. It was the doctor from the Dharma orientation films. We even get to see him casually sit down and launch confidently into one of the film sessions.

Wait, getting ahead of myself. It’s been a while.

If you haven’t seen the episode, read no further.

Ready?

Off we go…

What Happened: Doctor Orientation is interrupted during the filming by a worker who claims to have a serious problem. He brings Dr. O to one of the Dharma stations still under construction (I’m guessing this is back in the 50s). One worker is down with a bloody hole in his head and another is explaining that when they were drilling holes the metal on the bit melted and shot back and hit the worker.

Dr. O explains that there is a huge energy source behind the wall and they are not to drill ‘even a centimeter’ further. ‘We plan on harnessing this energy to manipulate time’, he says (or something). Why Dr. O is sharing this information with a construction worker is beyond me, but we all know that explanation was directed at us.

While the workers clean up, another dude comes strolling in. Why it’s none other than Daniel Faraday from the current island.

Uh, whaaa??

Yup, not even 15 minutes into the new season we have our first WTF moment.

Immediately we are wooshed to the Faraday on the dinghy while the island goes bye bye and learn that he – along with the others in the boat – were ‘within the radius’ and were transported along with the island.

So where did the island go?

According to Faraday, it isn’t where, but WHEN did the island go. As explained to doofus Sawyer (who took exception to the implied label by bitch slapping Faraday), whatever Ben did to the island has caused it to go skipping through time. To make his point they went from day to night in about a second.

But, wait! It isn’t just the island, but specific people who may or may not be traveling the same path. Locke winds up in a different time then the entire crew he was with, gets shot by a suddenly alive and kicking Ethan before zipping back to night and a lovers reunion with Richard (looking as eye lined as ever).

Richard seems to know exactly what is going on, hands Locke a compass and tells him he will have to show it to Richard the next time they meet. ‘I won’t know you’, explains the ageless wonder, which really doesn’t explain anything at all. I would really like Sayid to use his interrogation techniques on Richard so we can learn once and for all what the hell is going on.

Faraday seems to have this time traveling down as he explains that nothing that has happened can be changed. This is in response to Sawyer and Juliette (wifey thinks they’ll be the next to get it on) want to get back to the beach so they can warn Jack, Kate (esp Kate), Sayid and Hurley not to go to the Freighter. No such luck. ‘No matter what you do, you can not change what’s already happened’.

Sawyer, after another skip through time, finds the original hatch back in place (Pre Locke Meltdown condition). He goes to the back door and starts banging away knowing someone is in there. Faraday tells him it’s no use, but thinks maybe it would work with him. He gets none other than Desmond (back when he was still punching in the numbers) to come out with a rifle and tells him to ‘Find my mother at Oxford’.

Let’s stick with the island before we get to the Oceanic 6. Figures my first wrap up involves back to back episodes. They couldn’t ease into this?

After another time trip, Sawyer and Juliette are confronted with an army of folks – one of which speaks in a British accent (or was that Aussie?). Locke catches up to them finally and makes quick work of the soldiers with his handy dandy knife.

Things aren’t looking so good for Charlotte, however, as she is bleeding from the nose, experiencing headaches and forgetting things like her mother’s maiden name. Nice knowing you, Charlotte. Something tells me you’ll dropping dead, face down into a puddle very soon.

Ok, onto the mainlanders:

Jack and Ben have joined forces and are trying to round up the other five to get back to the island. Sure looks like Ben is playing his mind @%&* games with Jack by flushing his pills down the toilet and buying him a new suit. Not sure if Ben told Jack to shave, too, but let’s be glad that was taken care of right off the bat. Part of their conversation I will address in a bit.

Sayid and Hurley are on the run after the police thinks Hurley killed the guy parked outside his mental institution. While going to a safe house, they were ambushed and Sayid was shot with a tranquilizer dart. This makes Hurley carry Sayid around like a sack of potatoes and manages to get pulled over by a long dead Ana Lucia who tells him ‘What would you have done if I were real?’ After giving him some pointers on how to avoid getting caught, she lightly tells him ‘Oh, Libby says hi’ and disappears.

Creepy!

After stopping to get a cute doggie T-shirt, he hides out in with his father only to surrender to the police staking out his father’s house when Ben tries to convince him to come back to the island. Loved Hurley’s smile knowing he had finally outsmarted Ben even if it meant him being arrested.

Before his arrest, however, he finally spilled the beans to his mother about the island and how they got off and what’s really going on. His mother’s response was perfect: ‘I don’t understand you, but I believe you’.

Kind of how I feel about ‘Lost’ itself.

As for the love of my life, Kate is again on the run, only with Aaron in tow after two ‘lawyers’ showed up at her door asking for blood samples. Even in motherhood she has stashes of cash and guns at her disposal. Let’s hope DSS doesn’t find out about that. As she’s running and contemplating calling Jack for help Kate gets a call from none other than Sun who asks her to meet.

They do, but not before Sun has her own run in with Mr. Widmore. She finally comes clean about their ‘common interests’ – killing Benjamin Linus. Widmore is intrigued and probably turned on.

Once Kate and Sun meet, we get a glimpse of the new Sun. She puts it right to Kate suggesting she take out the men going after her and Aaron. ‘What kind of person do you think I am?’ asks Kate which immediately made me think ‘One who would kill her step father and burn him to ashes for looking at you the wrong way’. That kind of person.

Sun, in her directly indirect way says ‘I’ve always admired you for you ability to make the tough decisions. Like how you decided to leave Jin on the boat.’

Ooooo, zing for Sun. For a terrifying moment, I thought Sun was going to off Kate right then and there. Not so….

As for Busy Ben, he meets up with Grey Haired Lady from Desmond’s time travelling adventures. She is writing down complicated equations and tells Ben ‘You have 70 hours’. Ben says it’s not enough time and she replies ‘Then god help us all’.

What We Learned

- Gas stations carry XXXXXXXL T Shirts for dog lovers

- Even though Sayid is working with Ben, he still doesn’t trust him. Telling Hurley, ‘Whatever he tells you, do the exact opposite.’

- Sawyer will be hard pressed to come up with a better off the cuff, heat of the moment nickname than ‘Ginger’.

- Ben doesn’t have all the answers.

- Locke visited with Jack after he had left the island, telling Jack that the others left behind would die if he didn’t return.

- Jack has fallen far; deferring to Ben at every turn. Sad.

- Three years have passed since the 6 have left the island.

- Sawyer has gone a bit flabby since he jumped out of the helicopter.

- Desmond may be one of the ‘special’ people Faraday refers to when describing time traveling rules to the rest. Only a special few can bend the rules. We already know Desmond went back and talked to Penny and young Faraday, so he must be one of the elite.

- Faraday planted a new ‘memory’ into Desmond’s head.

- That any new, annoying character serving no purpose will take a flaming arrow to the chest in a matter of minutes. I’m looking at your smoldering corpse, Frogurt.

- It took Widmore 20 years to find the island.

- PAD’s intimacy with dead things is helpful in finding food.

- What happened to the wife and child of Doctor Orientation? Considering he or she was just a baby at the time….hey, maybe it was Jin or Sun. There is the Asian connection.

- That Hurley was the one dissenting from lying about the island once they got rescued.


New Questions

- Is Grey Haired Lady Faraday’s mother?

- What is her connection to the island?

- How is Ben getting Hurley out of jail? That’s a pickle.

- Is the island skipping through time because Ben turned that wheel or because the 6 left the island? Maybe it started coming unhinged when Jack and company got outside the radius and not because Ben ‘moved it’. This is part of my new theory, by the way.

- When were the Dharma stations built? I’m stuck on the 50s, but the more I think about the workmen’s hair styles and the baby bottles, maybe it’s closer to the 70s. That one guy had long hair and beard which weren’t common in the 50s. Plus they drove a VW bus. Let’s go with the early 70’s or late 60’s.

- What is the energy source Dharma was trying to harness?

- Was the compass Richard handed to Locke the same one he tested little boy Locke with?

- Did Ben regularly travel through time to gather information on the people that came to the island? He certainly got bios on all the people rather quickly. More on this below.

- What is the meaning of Ben’s last line to Locke ‘Sorry I made your life so miserable’? It was mentioned again last night which means there is something significant about it. Did Ben somehow sabotage Locke’s life? If so, how?

- Why is Charlotte the only one suffering from the time trips?

- Does Ben really not know what happened to the survivors left behind on the island? He tells Jack ‘I guess we’ll never know’, but, as usual, he’s full of shit. I just know it.

- Was the conversation between Hurley and his mother subtext for something else? Hurley’s line of ‘We pushed a button every 108 seconds…but I didn’t really understand that part’ was classic.

- Are the ‘ghosts’ Hurley is seeing really time travelers?

Which brings us to….


New Theory: If the island is skipping through time (sort of unbalanced on the turntable to borrow Faraday’s analogy) and it’s actually caused by the 6 leaving the island and not whatever wheel Ben turned.

Then isn’t it possible that all the survivors on the plane are somehow instrumental in CREATING the island? Bear with me for a second.

Let’s say all the people stayed on the island and the island jumps back in time. Are Jack, Kate, Locke, Sawyer (James), Hurley, Sayid and the others actually the people the make the island what it is? Therefore, when they leave it unbalances things because the island can’t be created with them gone. I haven’t worked this all out, yet, but it would also explain how Ben knows everything about them. Maybe they meet when Ben is younger and they spend time together on the island.

It also explains Richard looking the same, Ben being able to go anywhere at any time, and

AND

Christian – Jack and Claire’s father – still is dead. It’s just his earlier self jumping in from the past. It also means that Jacob could be anyone. Maybe it’s Locke still trapped skipping through time on the island; unable to stay with the rest of them. That’s why he looks so old in the rocking chair at one point and groans to Locke ‘Help me!’ It could be that Jacob is Locke while he tumbles back and forth through time.

Like all theories, there are a lot of holes, but you’ll notice that the show is nearly back to square one. Kate is on the run again, Locke is trying to find his place on the island, Jack is a wreck in need of purpose, Sayid is again looking for redemption, Hurley is stumbling through life without a clear plan and Sun is back to her self absorbed mind set. Only Sawyer seems to have progressed as his emotional ‘everyone I cared about was on that boat’ demonstrated. But, he was also the only one that sacrificed for the benefit of others.

Maybe Sawyer, of all people, is the catalyst behind creating the island.

Food for thought people.


Today's Distraction: One other thing I nearly forgot to mention. Did anyone else catch Hurley using ‘Bloop’ to describe the island disappearing? That’s my term, dude!!

Seeing as this is Lost and all, I Googled ‘Bloop’ and lookie what I found!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lost Redux

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’….

C’mon! Sing it with me!

Tonight ‘Lost’ makes it’s triumphant (we hope) return and I couldn’t be more excited even if Kate, herself, first handed me a layoff slip then an invite to her private estate to be her ‘landscaper’ for the next two years. Actually, I would be MUCH more excited for that second scenario.

Anyway, I thought since the show is starting up and anyone wants to jump in I’d offer a primer on the show. Everything you’d need to know so you can catch up with the rest of us. I can also use a refresher as it’s been a long time since the season finale.

Off we go:

Synopsis: Big plane crashes on beautiful island teeming with monsters, polar bears, horses, and previously dead fathers. Then it really gets weird. Passengers that survived the crash (but don’t include the dude that got sucked into the plane’s still running engine) all seem to have been brought to the island for a reason. Hilarity ensues!

MAJOR CHARACTERS

Jack: Kick ass surgeon who becomes unofficial leader of the survivors. Has major daddy issues (Recurring Theme Alert) as he was transporting the body of his father back to the U.S. after turning him in to medical board when he showed up to perform an operation drunk. As you can see, Jack is a stickler for rules and is rational and logical even when faced with incredible events. Well, except for the island going ‘BLOOP’ at the end of last season. That sends him into a drug induced tailspin that somehow makes him glue a fake beard on his face. Ironically, Jack becomes the catalyst to get everyone back to the island after eight of them made it off.

Kate: Was prisoner while on the plane. Love interest for Jack and Sawyer and three quarters of the male population on earth. Winds up taking Aaron as her own when Clair gets killed or something (see below). Killed her own step father and burned his house down because he was abusive towards her mother. Instead of saying ‘Hey, Thanks!’ her mother turns her in and Kate goes on the run. Once on the island, her tracking and believable con skills are a huge help in fighting off the others. Strips to underwear on occasion and can hold her own in a fight which pretty much makes her my soul mate.

Sawyer: While it’s not his real name, we’ve come to know and love him as such. Con man with a hidden heart of gold who witnessed his father kill himself when he was child after his father was swindled out of his money by a con man going by the name of Sawyer. I know, it’s confusing. Anyway, Sawyer makes it his life mission to find the other Sawyer (also not his real name, by the way) and kill him. Possesses a mean streak and delightful nicknaming ability. My favorite character in many ways. Wound up sacrificing himself so the others could make it to the freighter in the helicopter, which didn’t turn out all that well as the freighter blew up into tiny little pieces, but it’s the thought that counts.

Sayid: Former Iraqi Republican Guard who is expert at torturing, fixing radios and looking somber and serious. Briefly fell in love with Shannon before she was gunned down by Ana Lucia. That was a bummer. His army intelligence and training has been invaluable when combating the Others. Has no qualms resorting to torture to get answers. Has a past lover who finds him when he gets off the island. She, of course, is run down by a car months after they were married. Tip for you ladies: don’t get involved with Sayid.

Locke: The former paraplegic who discarded his misery along with his wheelchair. As mystical and believing and Jack is practical and cynical. As many father issues as Jack, Kate and Sawyer have, they’re nothing compared to Locke! His father scammed him out of one of his kidneys, shunned him when Locke wanted a relationship with him (post kidney transplant), then pushed him out a window resulting in his paralysis. Bastard! Seems to have a bond with the island stronger than all the other survivors put together. Willing to do whatever it takes to protect the island and maintain good standing with it. This includes killing Boone in a round about way, killing the girl from the freighter with a hell of a knife throw, having Sawyer kill his own father (who also happened to be the original Sawyer Sawyer was looking for. Stuff like this happens all the time on this wacky island!), blowing up Ben’s sub and refusing to press the numbers which blew everything to hell. Basically, without Locke everyone would have been off the island three days after crashing on it. Anything else? Oh, right. He’s also dead. Was the body in the coffin at the end of last season. Keep in mind, dead in ‘Lost’ville is not nearly the same as dead everywhere else.

Hurley: Big, not so jolly, survivor who happens to be a multimillionaire after playing the mystical numbers in a lottery. Is now convinced he’s cursed since winning which can happen when your grandfather dies at the press conference, a meteor hits your brand new fast food joint killing a famous reporter and crash landing on a moving island loaded with monsters and hidden armies. Still, he’s loaded. Also has daddy issues when Cheech (or is it Chong?) suddenly reappears in his life. He’s also a former and current mental patient who plays chess with dead people.

Ben: The weasel who is in charge of all the people living on the island when the plane crashed (The Others). Manipulative, creepy, occasionally funny, and knows everything about everyone. Spent nearly his entire life on the island, killed everyone involved in the Dharma Initiative by gassing them then presumably moped around wondering why he was so lonely. Yeah, he’s that type. Watched his ‘daughter’ shot down by a mercenary which led to him killing said mercenary and blowing up the freighter. Long story. Displayed an uncharacteristic self sacrificing side by being the one to move the island. Anyone who moves the island is kicked off. Just the opposite of ‘Survivor’ in a way. Still seems to be choreographing things from the mainland as he now has Sayid assassinating a list of people and keeps popping in and out of the survivor’s lives.

Juliette: Fertility specialist who was brought to the island by Ben to figure out why women who were pregnant kept dying. Still hasn’t figured it out, so she kind of sucks in that regard. Ben had a thing for her and so did Jack for a split second before he remembered Kate was scorching hot and liked him, too. There are still some questions as to where her loyalties lie.

Claire: Pregnant survivor who was told by Australian psychic to not let ‘any other’ raise her child. This could have meant ‘Any Others’, but psychics have an annoying tendency to be vague and not at all helpful. She may be dead, too, but that’s up in the air. The only thing we know is she’s kind of bitchy and smug and hanging out with Jack’s dead father which happens to be her father, too. Yeah, nearly forgot that part. All in all she was more likable when she was doing Charlie.

Sun: Beautiful Korean woman who becomes pregnant (we think) on the island. Father (hey, look! More father issues!) is a crime boss who recruits her husband, Jin, to do his dirty work for him. Sun has last word, though, as she buys up majority shares of her father’s company with the Oceanic settlement money and starts running things her way. The most dramatically altered character in the show as she morphs from shy, quiet and meek to vengeance unleashed.

Jin: Sun’s hubby who (again, we think) went BOOM with the freighter. Just when he was learning to speak English, too. Dammit!! Jin was the iron fist of his company which often included killing people or beating them mercilessly with his fists. Shares intense love with Sun even though she was ready to leave him, cheated on him, learned English behind his back, and – quite possibly – was having another man’s child. Man alive, no wonder he beat people for a living.

Michael: Father of Walt – the psychic, rapidly aging boy who was kidnapped by the Others – and murderer of Ana Lucia and Libby. Managed to get Walt off the island by working with Ben and betraying the other survivors. His name is mud. After unsuccessfully trying to kill himself (‘Did the gun jam or did the bullet just bounce off your head?’) he’s recruited onto the freighter and brought back near the island. Michael went boom along with Jin and nameless others on the freighter, but not before seeing Jack’s father who told him ‘It’s time’. Jack’s father is the master of the obvious apparently.

Desmond: Scottish bloke who was sailing around the world before crashing on the island and punching in numbers in an underground bunker for years. Finally discovered by the survivors at which point he leapt onto his boat and sailed in circles for weeks before winding up back on the island. Was the probable cause of the plane crashing when he didn’t enter in the numbers in time. Wound up naked and psychic after Locke blew up the hatch and was instrumental in getting the survivors rescued when he contacted Penny, his long lost love after a time travelling episode. Got off the island, but is not part of the Oceanic Six as he was not on the airplane. Oh, he and Jack had met before, too, but nothing much has come of that coincidence.

Faraday, Charlotte, and PAD (Psychic Asian Dude – aka Miles): People that came to the island under the ruse of rescue. There are hints that Charlotte has been to the island before, Faraday is strange beyond description but seems like a nice guy and was one of the people Desmond visited during his time travelling adventures. Miles is a con artist/real psychic who can talk to recently dead people. The three seem to have a secret that has yet to be revealed.


CRUCIAL FRINGE CHARACTERS

Charles and Penny Widmore: Penny is Desmond’s true love, spends countless years and dollars searching for him and finally comes to rescue him in a really, really nice yacht. Charles – Mr. Widmore to you – is a billionaire who’s been searching for the island. He’s the one that planted the fake Oceanic plane and has a personal grudge against Ben. Also, it’s implied Widmore is responsible for Desmond becoming stranded on the island.

Bernard and Rose: Married couple who both survived the crash. Bernard in the tail section, Rose with the Jack and the rest. Rose had terminal cancer that is in remission while on the island. Bernard is the sage, old guy that can kick some ass when called upon.

Christian: Dead father of Jack and Claire (not same mother) who has more life in him in death than he ever did while alive. Could be the communicator for Jacob, but he’s so obtuse and vague he really isn’t of much use. That could be Jacob’s fault, though.

Jacob: We haven’t actually seen Jacob except for a very brief moment in a dark, spooky, mobile cabin but he seems to be the key to the entire island. Seems to be able to communicate with Locke.

Patch: Can’t remember his real name, but he’s the indestructible guy with an eye patch who appears at the worst possible moments.

Richard Alpert: Ageless wonder who appears in different episodes, in different times (always looking the same) and with different agendas. Recruited Juliette, tested little Locke, and helped Ben gas the Dharma people.


DEAD AND GONE?

Libby: While dead, she seems to play a critical role in a variety of people related to the island. Was the woman who gave Desmond the boat to sail around the world (and crash and become hopelessly lost on the island). Had a connection with Hurley on the island that may have been related to them being in the same mental hospital.

Ana Lucia: Tried hooking up with Jack before boarding the doomed flight. Ex L.A. cop who turned vigilante. Killed Shannon and Juliette’s island lover by accident before being killed by Michael not so accidentally.

Charlie: Drowned when Patch set off a grenade near the underwater hatch. Managed to warn the survivors that the freighter was not part of the good guys. Heroin addict who was famous rock star (Drive Shaft Rules!!) before becoming faux father to Aaron and special someone to Claire.

Mr Ekko: War lord who was taken from his family at a young age and wound up becoming ruthless leader in African nation (unnamed). So tough that when he came face to face with smoke monster, the smoke monster ran away whimpering like a wounded dog. Smoky got his revenge later when he killed Ekko by tossing him around like a rag doll. Scare Smoky, will ya? Take this! And that! And this! Oh, he’s dead. I’m outta here.

OTHER THINGS

Smoky: Since we’re here. This is the monster that can kill you in a heart beat (goodbye Oceanic pilot! We barely knew thee) or can read your thoughts and history for future use. Since Ben seemed to have some control over it you can’t help but wonder if this is how he gets all his inside information on everyone that lands on the island. While it made short work of several mercenaries, there is a hint of something mechanical in it, as well.

Dharma Initiative: Research project developed for some reason. It hardly matters now as it seems to have dissolved after Ben killed all the employees on the island (how’s that for a layoff?). They did, however, have stations all over the world, so whether it’s still active remains to be seen. Specialized in unusual sciences.

The Numbers: These are the numbers that Hurley won the lottery with: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. They show up repeatedly throughout the show and were the numbers etched into the side of the first hatch door as well as the code you need to enter to prevent the hatch from imploding. Tracking the numbers on the show can become an obsession (flight 815, for example), but according to many they relate to the extinction of mankind and the Dharma Initiative was developed to change any one of those numbers. By doing so, they will save the human race.

Or something.

Enjoy the show tonight!

Today's distraction: A word from Alvar Hanso.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Brain Freeze

I’m back. It’s been a few days during which I’ve shoveled my driveway four times during two different snowstorms in one twenty four hour period.

How’s that for a numbers game?

What else happened, you ask?

Took the boys sledding down the dreaded ‘seven bumps’ hill (so named because there are seven bumps that wreak havoc on every single vertebrae) for the first time. Youngest is the daredevil of the two, mainly because he’s 4 years younger and hasn’t realized ‘Hey, when I wipe out going really fast, it could hurt. A LOT!’. He got a feel for this on his second run when he went air born and landed flat on his back. He was fine, just got a face full of snow that trickled down the front of his shirt.

Eight year old is more cautious developed from too many head traumas to count. Coming down he would stick a foot or hand out to slow things down only to throw snow up into his face so he couldn’t see where he was going. As we all know, that’s a horrible strategy to use. He got with the program and put together three kick ass rides that took him further than most of the other kids.

By the way, I totally forgot the enormous entertainment value from watching kids wipe out and get wiped out when they stop paying attention. How kids aren’t injured more often and more severely is a testament to the soft, fluffy, frozen water known as snow. That really should be it’s slogan: Snow: the anti-concussion precipitation.

What else?

Oh, right. We had a couple of football games. I nearly forgot. Let’s break these bad boy’s down.

Philadelphia at Arizona: I will not doubt the Cardinals again. Well, maybe once more. They dominated the first half. Dominated! They were calling great plays, making great stops, showing off their Larry Fitzgerald with a ‘Lookie what we got!’ flair and even reintroduced Edgerrin James back to the league. Go figure.

Then the second half started and they couldn’t do a thing. The Eagles were disrupting the Cardinals timing, getting to Warner, moving right along on offense and looking like the team that destroyed Dallas as opposed to the team that soiled the field against the Bengals.

Wasn’t meant to be, though. Arizona got their shit together for one, killer, time consuming, game winning drive. McNabb’s NFC Championship record now falls to…what? 1-10. Feels that way.

Now Kurt Warner is back in the Super Bowl with an entirely new set of targets and looking to potentially cement his Hall of Fame legacy with one more win. As crazy as it sounds, if Warner were to win his second Super Bowl, would he not be considered a first ballot Hall of Famer?

Baltimore at Pittsburgh: As entertaining as the first game of the afternoon was, this was just as excruciating to watch. The first quarter felt like a half; the first half an entire game. It wasn’t a blow out, just tedious. There were a few moments of excitement and a whole bunch of bone crunching hits, but I was getting antsy before half time and found myself flipping around to see if anything else was on.

Don’t worry, I stuck with it. The second half was a bit better, but I couldn’t shake the feeling Baltimore didn’t belong here. If Tennessee didn’t beat itself last week, this would have been a much better game.

The Steelers won, as you know and they deserved it. They were the better team and it sure helped to have Joe Flacco on the other side. Man, was he atrocious. Figured that would happen sooner or later, but I didn’t think it would be that bad. I think he had 38 yards passing in the first half. Hold on. Going to look that up…..

Yeah, couldn’t find those half time stats. Screw it. I’m going with the 38 yards.

So where does this leave us?

Sadly, with only one game remaining in the season which just happens to be the single most over hyped, over rated (with few exceptions), over analyzed game of every year. I’m jumping the gun and doing mine now.

Pittsburgh vs Arizona: The key – as always – is whether the Steelers can put pressure on Kurt Warner. As Sunday’s game showed, he is deadly when he has time; rattled and erratic when he’s pressured. The Eagles have a decent defense, but they are not in the same league as Pittsburgh. You can be sure that the Steeler coaches will be looking very closely at the third quarter of the Arizona – Philly game and getting pointers on how to slow down the Cardinal receivers.

What’s odd about this game is the Steelers top ranked rush defense going against a team that doesn’t rush the ball that much. If at all. Sure they showed it last weekend, but their bread and butter is Warner getting the ball to either Breaston, Boldin or (especially) Fitzgerald as they run wild up the field. How do you stop a team’s running game if they choose not to use one?

In a lot of ways, this game mirrors last year’s Super Bowl when the high flying Patriots crashed to earth against the Giants. The Cardinals are an offensive force butting heads with the blue collared, defensive minded Steelers.

Here’s what I figure: Arizona will get their points simply by getting the ball to Fitzgerald or Boldin. Troy Polamalu can only cover one of them and they still have Breaston to deal with. Add to that Warner being a far superior quarterback than Flacco and the Steelers are going to have their hands full.

And, while everyone is going to be looking at the Pitt D vs the Cardinals O, what about the other side of that? Arizona can put up 24 points with their eyes closed. Can Big Ben keep up? The Cardinals D has been impressive throughout the playoffs. Take away the third quarter of their last game and they’ve been down right scary.

Let’s not forget that Roethlisberger could be missing his favorite and most potent weapon in Hines Ward and scoring points could be a big issue for Pittsburgh.

Huh. I started this rundown with the intention of picking Pittsburgh, but I think I just talked myself into Arizona. Fuck it. That’s the way I’m going.

Arizona by 3 in a very tight, tense and entertaining contest.

If my past means anything, put your life savings on Pittsburgh.


Today’s distraction: History! Went to a local pub to watch the inauguration. The bar was packed – literally standing room only – and everyone watched in silence as he gave his speech. At the end, a loud, long round of applause overwhelmed everything. Love him or hate him, Obama certainly commands a room, a crowd and now, a nation.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ice Ice Baby

About a month ago, the Boston area was hit with a slush storm (snow followed by sleet followed by rain which created a disgusting mess). To the city it was a crappy day.

About 15 miles to the north and west of the city, the slush was quickly followed by below freezing temperatures which weighed heavily on trees, power lines and the hearts of citizens everywhere. Yes. Power was lost.

But this was no ordinary ice storm. While most areas had power back within a day, there were others that went over a week without power. My brother, who lived in the hardest hit area, had to stand in an hour long line at Home Depot for the privilege of spending $700 on a gas generator so he could heat his house. He needed it for three days straight.

He waited so long for his lame ass electric company to come along and hang wires that had been ripped from the side of his house that he finally just did it himself. He also cut down branches around his house because the town was so far behind.

That’s what he gets for living in North BumFuck.

And, hey, shit happens. These storms occasionally stop in, kick ass, take names, assault the women before moving on and there isn’t much to do but hope for the best. Or live in the city. Which is what I like to do.

Unfortunately this particular electric company, Unitil, was so ill equipped to handle the storm and so far behind schedule, they finally had to call in workers from as far away as Indiana to help out. And they worked for National Grid.

I couldn’t make this shit up.

Anyway, residents were so pissed off about the lack of response and communication from Unitil, they want them fired. I would point out that when you contract out with a power company nobody has heard of before (I never heard of them until this storm and I live in the area) there is a good chance you’ll find out why nobody has heard of them at some point. But I don’t like kicking a town full of powerless residents while they’re down.

Lucky for me they’re back up now and Unitil did apologize and all, so let’s assume all is forgiven.

Besides, I’m not here to accuse. I’m here to help and provide direction.

As proof, I give you Dartmouth University’s Victor Petrenko. Victor and his friends at Ice Engineering (which deals with engineering thing designed to deal with ice and not actually using ice to engineer things. Those would be a waste of time as they would melt eventually) have developed a cheap and effective method to keep power lines from icing. It’s called a variable resistance cable (VRC because we LOVE acronyms) and the process is simple.

By modifying the existing power lines and adding some ‘off the shelf’ electronics, the standard ‘low’ resistance of most power lines is turned to ‘high’. This increases the heat of the lines and melts any accumulating ice and snow.

Fucking brilliant! Or, as Gabriel Martinez, a student of Petrenko, says, ‘The beauty of the VRC system is that it's fully customizable and is an affordable addition to the current manufacturing and installation process. And it works without causing any service interruption whatsoever’.

I’m betting that ‘no service interruption’ is music to the ears of Unitil’s customers.

Testing will begin in Russia – where winter is a way of life – this month. If all goes well, this should be available next winter in our area.

Hey, Unitil, instead of simply apologizing for 10 people freezing to death or worrying about death threats from popsicles that used to be your customers, why not get in touch with Dartmouth and inquire about testing this new technology on your lines.

That is, if you’re still around next winter to try.


Today’s distraction: Some of these are repeats, but here are more ‘FAIL’ pictures as a tribute to Unitil. Worth it for the last one on the list.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Movie Reviews and More

American Gangster: I really don’t know what happened here. It had the talent (Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe both 30 pounds over weight, Ridley Scott directing), it had the story (local thug makes good, peaks, falls, cashes out), it had nudity, violence, drugs. The only thing it didn’t have is any sort of continuity. It was all over the freakin’ place! I’ll over look that this is just a bland rehash of Scarface and focus on the fact this movie (even at over two and a half hours) felt like a much longer movie that had been edited down to fit a specific running time.

The only moments of energy were when Denzel’s character was first establishing himself and when Crowe and he were in the same room working towards convictions of other people. The last part (the only time Washington and Crowe were on screen together) felt rushed and I wish the majority of the movie was spent there, examining the chemistry and camaraderie the two must have shared while spending all that time together. Instead we zip through it in 10 minutes and everything is hastily wrapped up in a tidy package.

If only life were so neat.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull: If you’ve seen this, then you already know this series should never have been revived. Harrison Ford looks downright ancient, but does his typical good job. Some of the action sequences are cool and completely unbelievable (catching up to speeding cars by swinging on vines? Killer ants? Falling down three different waterfalls and not getting a scratch?), but I can live with all of those. This is Indiana Jones, after all. What I can’t live with is the entire plot that involves aliens, Russians, mind control (no, I’m not kidding), and an ending that is too preposterous to describe. Gone is the final, iconic image of Indiana Jones riding into the sunset.

Actually, ‘South Park’ expresses my opinion of this movie better than I ever could.

Ghost Town: Ricky Gervais (the creator of ‘The Office’), Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear star in this often hilarious story of a ‘fucking prick’ who is suddenly seeing dead people. The catch being that dead people can be downright annoying. Kinnear nails the dead, self important, constantly scheming, rich guy perfectly. Never takes itself too seriously and makes an effort not to be predictable. Not great, but I enjoyed myself and there are sections where I was laughing my ass off. See, in particular, the impromptu meeting between Gervais and his doctor where he tries to find out if anything ‘unusual’ happened during his procedure.

Step Brothers: There have been a few times when I’ve nearly lost faith in Will Farrell. That stupid movie with Emma Thomson where he’s a character in a book is one. The other being ‘Semi Pro’ which was barely a movie at all. Then this movie comes along and restores my faith. No, it’s not a work of art and there are some parts that fall flat, but a majority of this movie is raunchy and hilarious. Maybe it’s the chemistry between Farrell and Reilly (they were the best part of ‘Ricky Bobby’, too) and their ability to play off each other. Whatever the case, you’ll never look at a drum set the same way again. Requires more than one viewing.

Untraceable: In the interest of full disclosure, I did not even finish watching this movie. I tried to give it a chance, but the sheer stupidity of all the main characters and the implausibility of the entire concept was too much. I’ll tell you where it lost me.

- I could swallow that this killer somehow sets up a web site that lets you watch him kill people.

- I could take that he impossibly makes the web site IP address change every 2-3 minutes (making it ‘Untraceable’. Get it?).

- I could over look that his victims are so elaborately set up to die (one guy actually dies by heat lamps) that the killer would need an advanced engineering degree.

- I gave the movie a pass that the ‘super smart’ Feds watched ‘helplessly’ as the above victim gets roasted alive (the more people that went to the site, the hotter the lamps got. Don’t ask!) even though they could have just asked the electric company to find a house sucking up a tremendous amount of electricity or have an infrared helicopter in the air looking for heat signatures (it had already been established the killer was in the general city area at this point in the movie).

- I could even over look that this killer was so sophisticated he has voice altering software he uses to trick one of the agents into a huge vat of water that fills with larger and larger amounts of acid the more people log on to the site. I could even forgive the stupidity of that same agent giving morse code using his eyes (left eye was dashes, right was dots).

What put me over the edge with this movie was when we finally see the killer’s lair he has done all this with exactly three laptops. No super servers running constant IP switching software. No high end routers with elaborate firewalls designed to confuse any government tracking programs. Three laptops. And I’m pretty sure one was dedicated to watching porn.

That’s when I realized the filmmakers didn’t care. So why should I?

The Golden Compass: For the record, I never read the books this movie (and presumably more on the way) is based on. Things are left up in the air, so we can assume there will be more. Picture this as a kid’s version of ‘Lord of the Rings’ with every human having an animal ‘demon’ by their side at all times. These aren’t evil demons we’re used to, just an animal representative of the human. I don’t know, I just watch. Anyway, there is some strange doings with kids being kidnapped and Nicole Kidman is somehow involved and James Bond shows up occasionally wearing a beard. I also know my boys loved this movie and have watched it at least 5 times over the last 3 weeks. For adults it may seem meandering and confusing, but kids seem enthralled with it. I should point out that they are both very excited about the release of ‘Mall Cop’, so take their opinions for what they're worth.

Horton Hears A Who: This, on the other hand, didn’t hold much interest for the boys. It was well made – animation is amazing, voice work top notch, some very funny moments – but for whatever reason it never gels. There are some religious zealot over tones to it and a strong message of ‘faith’ (you can believe in something you can’t see), but the boys watched it once and never mentioned it again. If you know kids, that means the movie missed it’s mark. Especially one made FOR kids.

Other notes:

- Congratulations to Jim Rice who (finally!!) was elected into the Hall of Fame after years and years of just missing the cut. Why this took so long is beyond me as he was THE most feared hitter in either league for a solid 5-8 year period in the late 70s and early 80s. He was the first baseball player that made me stop what I was doing and watch his at bats. Just ask any Yankee fan in those days, who cringed in terror whenever Rice came to bat. There were a few times he would go into Yankee Stadium for a three game series and launch 4 or 5 home runs over the weekend and leave with barely a wave.

By the way, Rice was also a Red Sox left fielder who didn’t really get along with the media, didn’t always appreciate the passion of the Boston fans and was questionable on the defensive side. Basically he was Manny before Manny was out of diapers.

- While I can’t let myself get too excited and it will probably never happen, there are rumors circulating about the Red Sox making overtures to the Brewers about trading for Prince Fielder. If this happens, just picture me jumping up and down in my living room while screaming at the top of my lungs. Big Papi and Big Papi, Jr on the same team.

Please….let it be true…..


Today’s distraction: Boston Globe’s tribute to Jim Rice. I actually forgot he hit a home run in his final at bat. Just like Ted Williams and, yes, that’s where the similarity ends.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hi, Jack!

I know Jack

Do you know Jack? His last name is Shit and I know him very well.

Last weekend I had the following four teams pegged to advance:

Carolina
Tennessee
Giants
Steelers

Teams that actually won: Steelers. Oy!

If I had to pick one game for a guaranteed, no way in hell they lose, bet your house on it, absolute lock it would have been the Carolina game. No way the Panthers, who haven’t lost at home all year lose to the Cardinals who haven’t won on the east coast all year. Right?

Man alive! Five Delhomme interceptions (FIVE!!!) later this disaster goes in the books as one of the more bizarro games in NFL history. Everything most people expected to happen happened, only in the exact opposite way. Arizona did what they wanted on both sides of the ball while Carolina, with the leading rushing attack in the league only handed the ball over to Stewart and Williams 15 times.

Not to take credit away from Arizona, but Carolina played right into their hands. Their strength all year has been their power rushing and they went away from that almost immediately. Everyone knows you play to your strengths and the Panthers’ strength was rushing. When you only go to the best part of your game 15 times, you’re doomed. Sure, they were down early, but it was still…you know…early. Don’t abandon what got you there in the first place. It’s not like they were having trouble, either. Williams averaged 5.1 yards a carry and Stewart an equally healthy 4 per carry.

I blame myself. I picked the Panthers as part of my ‘Streak for the Cash’. Sorry, Carolina fans. It’s all my fault.

A look at the other games:

Baltimore at Tennessee: Um, yeah, sorry Hammen. I really thought Tennessee had the better all around team. In my defense, the Titan’s offense moved the ball shockingly well against the Ravens’ defense. If it wasn’t for the 153 turnovers (or there about) Tennessee would be hosting the next round. Just an awful game to watch, by the way. Both Carolina and Tennessee will be sitting at home thinking they beat themselves rather than being beaten by superior teams.

That has to be a worse feeling.

As for Baltimore, yes they took the ball away, yes they played tough defense, but can we please stop anointing Joe Flacco as the next great playoff quarterback. He was 11 of 22 for 161 yards and a touchdown. And nearly half of those yards came on a long pass at the beginning of the game.

Let’s put it this way – If your team gathers three turnovers while not turning it over once yourself, you should be winning by more than 3 points on a last minute field goal.

Congrats, Ravens, but it certainly seems the Titans were more responsible for beating themselves then you. Of course, you should consider the source on that opinion.

Eagles at Giants: I figured this would be a blood bath and it probably would have been if Old Eli didn’t suddenly reappear. It was 2005 all over again complete with the Manning face, Eli throwing his arms up in exasperation as if he shouldn’t be blamed for throwing a ball 10 feet over a receiver’s head. How a quarterback with his body language ever won a Super Bowl is beyond me.

Hey, speaking of which. What does this loss do to the legacy of this particular Giants team? Was last year’s Super Bowl win just the luckiest win in the history of the NFL? Were the Giants really the best team last year? It sure seemed so when they rolled to an 11-1 record only to fall apart at the end.

If they have an average season next year, how will this team be remembered?

The Eagles, meanwhile, seem like the bandwagon pick now. Not even two months ago they slogged it out to a tie with a shitty Bengals team. It could be one of the worst games ever. Unarguably, it’s in the top five.

Now, they’re one win away from the Super Bowl. What the fuck is going on this year?

Chargers at Steelers: Finally! A game that actually went as expected. This game sure looked like last year’s AFC Championship game with Tomlinson sulking on the sidelines, Sproles trying in vain to keep his team’s hopes alive and Rivers showing once again he is a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, for San Diego the Steelers are a better team. They stopped when they needed a stop, they scored when they needed a score and they showed why they are probably the favorite of all the teams remaining.

I should point out that the divisional round of the NFL playoffs is when home field advantage matters most (you can look it up if you don’t believe me. I won’t be offended).

This of course means 3 of the 4 home teams lost.

I would give up, but that’s no fun. Instead let’s take a look at the matchups for next week. This way I can look even more ridiculous when Arizona meets the Ravens for the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh vs Baltimore: Expect another 13-10 barn burner with these two defenses. Although – unlike Tennessee – the Steelers are too well coached to self destruct like the Titans did. All things being equal in a tight game would you want Big Ben deciding your fate or Joe Flacco? I know, I threw that out last week, but I’m still not impressed with him. Have him throw for 200+ yards in a meaningful game when his team really needs him and I’ll reconsider.

Prediction: Pittsburgh by 6

Arizona vs Philadelphia: Here’s the thing. All rational thought points to the Eagles making this Super Bowl a Pennsylvania state fair (assuming the Steelers win, as well). They have a more balanced attack (compared to the Cardinals, any team has a more balanced attack), they have a better defense, and they have one Mr. Brian Westbrook.

However, they also have Donovan McNabb at quarterback and it’s hard for me to shake the image of him dry heaving during the biggest game of his career. There were moments during the Giants game where his stage fright seemed quite apparent, sometimes throwing at the feet of his receivers as he rushed the throw. Add the Eagle’s standard schizophrenic personality and the Reid/McNabb habit of losing NFC Championship games (no matter where they’re played) and I’m having trouble picking this game.

On the other side we have the experienced, God praising and seemingly very hungry Kurt Warner and his usual arsenal of weapons. If you weren’t impressed with Larry Fitzgerald before, these last two playoff games should have changed that. The guy could make Ryan Leaf look good. He just goes after any ball in his area even if it’s underthrown and he’s double covered.

So, which way do I go? Traditionally, home field doesn’t mean much in the Championship round, but tradition has been beaten to death and left in a ditch on the side of the interstate this year. And it’s not as if the Cardinals have the loudest fans in the league.

In the end I have to go with the team that’s been here before (even though it usually means losing). The Eagles. I’m allowing a condition here, though. If this comes down to the final 5 minutes and the game is close, the Cardinals will win. Between Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb, Philly’s clock management is fucking atrocious. And that’s being kind.

If it’s close, the Eagles will choke and give Arizona a chance to pull it out in the end. Don’t be surprised if this ends with Warner throwing a hail mary with Fitzgerald jumping over five Eagle defenders to come down with the ball.

Also, keep in mind I know nothing.

Absolutely nothing at all.

Jack Shit, indeed.


Today’s distraction: 25 most anticipated movies of 2009. Personally, I’m amped for ‘Watchmen’ (Rated R, no less!!), ‘Avatar’, ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ (Spike Jonze rocks!) and ‘Shutter Island’. Those of which I’m dubious: ‘Funny People’, ‘Transformers 2’, ‘Terminator: Salvation’ (it’s directed by the same guy that made those horrid ‘Charlie’s Angels’ movies), and ‘Friday the 13th’. Did they really have to remake that movie?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Teaching By Example

A quick lesson on how not to start you day.

Step 1: Make sure the steps and walkway to your driveway are not covered in black ice. For those reading from warmer climates, black ice is this fabulous invention from Mother Nature designed to sucker you into a false sense of security only to jump you from behind in an attempt to cause permanent brain injury.

In this case, Boston had a snow/sleet/rain storm the previous day then proceeded to warm up so most of the slush combo melted. Then it froze again over night. So when I walked out my door on the way to the gym it simply looked like the steps and walkway were wet. Instead it was covered in a thin layer of ice.

Comedy and many potential traumatic injuries ensued as I slipped, tripped and slid my way to my truck.

Step 2: Be prepared to fight your way into your car. When said walkway and stairs are coated in a layer of ice chances are your vehicle is, too. Any attempts to enter said vehicle will amount to more comedy pratfall routines as you can’t gain any traction while trying to force the door open.

Step 3: Once you do get into your vehicle, do not assume the anti freezing agent in the windshield washer fluid will actually work. Instead it will freeze on top of the ice already covering it. On the plus side, it will be a pretty, blue ice and not the boring, clear kind.

Step 4: Take your time driving to the gym as a truck on ice can quickly turn into a two ton, metal toboggan of death you have absolutely no control over for a few terrifying moments. Trust me on this one.

Step 5: Once at the gym do not – repeat DO NOT – accidentally engage in a conversation with an elderly man who starts things off with ‘Good! I’m not the only crazy person coming to work out this early!’

I replied ‘We’re not crazy, we’re elite!’ which, considering I was barely awake was pretty quick if I do say so. And I do.

Step 6: Always attempt to short circuit a conversation before ‘You ever seen a hernia before?’ is asked by the other person. Oh, I wish I were kidding. Before I could answer he whips his shirt off to show me a disgusting, disfiguring bulge in his stomach. ‘Doc says it should only take 30 minutes to fix, but can’t fit me in until January 26th!’

During the course of this rant, I learned that the bulge actually WAS his stomach which had squeezed between the muscle and attempted to escape his body. ‘Does it hurt?’ I asked as I was quickly walking away. ‘No, not at all.’

‘Good luck with that!’ as I exited the locker room with as much casual swiftness as I could muster. If you can't avoid this encounter try not to think about the fact that his stomach and the gym floor are currently separated by a thin layer of skin.

Step 7: Drive to work. I do not. I take the subway from my town to Boston. If I drove I would not have been subjected to the most poorly managed disruption of service I have ever experienced. I left my house at 8:25, walked to the train station and waited with hundreds of other people while no trains came. And waited. And waited.

Announcements informed the increasingly angry mob that there were ‘delays in service’, which should have had a Baby Huey ‘DUH, REALLY?’ and a Three Stooges ‘Boing!’ sound effect following it.

If you do have to take the train, expect the following to occur in the 20 minutes after you arrive at the already crowded station:

1: No trains at all to arrive in either direction.

2: Grumblings and mumbled obscenities from passengers who are also frantically thumbing away on their BlackBerries.

3: 75-100 more people pushing their way onto the platform and nearly reenacting the battle from ‘300’ where people just keep toppling in slow motion off the edge and onto the third rail below.

4: After another 10 minutes of no trains, an announcement to inform you that buses will take passengers to the next station and where you can board and take the train to Boston from there.

Step 8: Stop! Do not get on those buses! Either hang out at the train station for a bit and enjoy the exhilaration of not being bumped by 42 different bags (Ladies, really! Do you need to take a bag the size of a Prius back and forth to work?) or fight your way through the throng and go home.

If you insist on getting on those shuttle buses as I did (Stupid!! So STUPID!!!) expect another 20 minute wait while everyone piles on in front of you and takes aggression to a level where pitbulls would be envious and afraid.

Once on the bus, expect to stand nose to nose with some dude that forgot to brush his teeth and shower the morning after having 22 full cloves of garlic for dinner while She-Ra’s duffle bag slams you in the sciatic nerve during every slight bump in the road.

Good times!!

Step 9: If possible sprint as soon as you get off the bus. Hopefully, you've positioned yourself by the doors of the bus to get a head start. This way you get in front of the roughly 1,432 other people disembarking from all the other shuttle buses at the same time. Push children and old ladies out of the way if you have to.

I did neither.

Step 10: Do not look down on the tracks while walking from the bus to the station. For you will undoubtedly see a train coming from the same station at which you were just waiting before being cattle prodded onto the inhumane shuttles. Anger will rise in your throat like a bad fish taco and taste ten times worse.

Step 11: Don’t bother rushing to catch this train. Take your time. If there is a coffee shop nearby (there wasn’t) stop and take a load off. See, what happens when you take an entire platform of passengers and bring them to another station that already has it’s own platform full of passengers…well…I don’t really need to tell you now, do I?

Step 12: Watch from a safe distance as four trains come and go in the direction you should have been headed nearly an hour before. If you insist on wading into the crowd things will not be pleasant.

Once the fifth train is in sight, head on down to the platform and position yourself accordingly. The crowd will have thinned to a reasonable number by this point and it will be business as usual.

Step 13: Write me a gracious thank you note for having gone through this ordeal then given pointers so you won’t have to.

Consider this my charity work for 2009.

By the way, I finally arrived at my office at 10. My commute usually take 35 minutes.


Today’s distraction: The inner workings of a man’s mind. Ladies, this is just comedy and not at all a frighteningly accurate of what we’re thinking. Seriously.