Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lost - Part 14

Anyone ever see ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. There is a song in that movie called ‘Time Warp’. As in ‘Let’s do the time warp, again’. That song was going through my head during last night’s show.

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out if I liked last night’s show or not. I liked it, of course, but don’t know if I ‘liked liked’ it. I had the ‘Wow’ at the end, but it wasn’t the typical Lost-like Wow I usually get. If that makes sense. Not that Lost and ‘making sense’ go together very often.

Lost tends to do this to me sometimes. It presents a situation that makes you wonder if the show has ‘lost’ it’s way (get it? Multiple meanings for the title? Right. Moving on).

I do have faith as the show hasn’t let me down. Yet.

Still, last night’s ending has me contemplating one HUGE question which will be addressed in due time.

Let’s hope it gets answered soon.

We all know the drill by now.

What Happened

We see Superman Desmond being rushed into the ER after his fight with Ben. He’s apparently crashing (medically speaking; not like from a sugar high) even though he beat the living crap out of Ben after being shot. Desmond’s my hero.

While Penny is fretting in the waiting room with second generation Charlie, Mother Faraday (looking fresh off a face life) approaches and introduces herself. She apologizes to Penny since Desmond appears to be a ‘casualty’ of her son’s work. Penny thinks she’s talking about Ben, but Mother Faraday tells her ‘No, Daniel Faraday’ as if that was some big revelation. Not so much.

You know what? Let’s take this in sections.

Young Faraday: Dan the Man has had mother issues from a young age. He enjoyed playing the piano, but Mother Faraday says it’s time to put that all away and focus on his true ‘destiny’ which is math, whispering everything he says and effing with people’s minds. Oh, he needs to turn some girl into a vegetable, too. Let’s not forget that part.

So Mother Faraday spends a majority of her life pressuring Dan to become a genius, get his doctorate at an obscenely young age, not develop his own mother’s accent despite growing up and going to school in England, and not getting attached to her own son’s girlfriends since one of them will have their minds melted anyway. She’s a treasure.

After Dan fries his lover’s brain, he’s sent to live overseas in a town where dozens of teenage girls make a pact to become pregnant (That would be Gloucester, MA). We see him watching the footage of the fake Oceanic flight discovery, get weepy for reasons he can’t explain, then get a visit from none other than Charles Widmore. Widmore explains he wants Faraday to go on a cruise to a place that will heal his own broken brain. He even confesses that the plane he’s seeing on the news is a fake because he planted it there himself.

Later MF comes to visit and tells Faraday he should really take the job Widmore offered. When Faraday asks ‘Will it make you proud of me?’, she answers ‘Yes…yes it will’, which was both sad and strange as there was no guarantee Faraday would remember her saying that 10 minutes later. Whatever. It got Faraday on the freighter as we all knew it would.

On The Island (1977): Faraday gets right to work mucking up the works for our Oceanic people. He goes directly to Jack after getting off the sub and asks how he got back to 1977. Jack tells him Eloise Hawking told them to get on a plane and they white flashied off it (not his exact phrasing). Faraday asks ‘Let me guess, she said it was your destiny.’ Jack sheepishly confirms that and Faraday brings back the doubting Thomas in Jack by saying ‘She was wrong. You don’t belong here.’

Instead of clarifying he runs off with Miles to the Orchid and confronts Dr Chang about time travel. As in ‘Hey, I’m from the future and this is your son Miles’. Chang doesn’t believe him and drives off. Miles asks what in holy hell Faraday is doing and he answers ‘Making sure he does what he’s supposed to’, but again doesn’t elaborate. In the long run his lack of informational disclosure will become problematic.

Meanwhile, Sawyer’s little house of lies is coming down around his head. His security weasel, Phil, is still tied up in his closet (although he politely introduces him to Jack) and Sawyer realizes his time is nearly up. He wants to start over back at their beach, but Faraday (‘Twitchy’ to Sawyer which needs to be in any conversation regarding his best nicknames) wants to go meet with The Others. You see, one of them is Mother Faraday and only she can get them back to where they belong.

Sawyer ain’t buying it and wants to know what Faraday’s up to. He tries to convince Kate to go with them back to their beach and Juliette – in a not very subtle attempt to put Kate in her place and serve notice to Sawyer – gives her the code to the sonic fence. Jack agrees to go with Faraday because he ‘can get us back to where we belong’. Kate goes with Jack because she looks good carrying a gun.

On the way to grab a Dharma Mobile, Faraday sees young Charlotte and sure enough, goes over to tell her to make sure she’s on the next sub out of dodge. Or Dharma, as it were. He then meets Kate and Jack and gets into a gun fight with that psycho Radzinsky who I’m pretty sure has no friends. They manage to escape but Faraday is wounded slightly. As Jack patches up Faraday he reminds both of them that this is their present. ‘Any one of us could die,’ which is foreshadowing in it’s most glaring form.

He also plants the seeds of rebellion in Jack when he confesses that he was so focused on the constants in his calculations he lost sight of the variables – People. ‘We are the variables. We have free will and can make choices.’ While Jack hasn’t had much acting to do this season, he did a great job conveying the illumination that he could change something. The lights are going on and Take Charge Jack is starting to re-emerge. About friggin’ time.

When Kate asks what Faraday’s talking about, he explains that soon the Dharma crew will drill into a power source and cause a cataclysmic accident. They’ll have to contain it by burying it in cement and inventing a button that will need to be pushed every 108 seconds to counter act the enormous power. Sound familiar? Eventually that button will not be pushed because Desmond was drunk or something and a plane with the flight label Oceanic 815 will crash on the island and the entire thing will start all over again.

Faraday thinks he knows a way to stop the energy from leaking out, but it involves a detonating a hydrogen bomb named Jughead. As Hurley would say: ‘Whoa’.

So, off they go to Camp Other and Faraday come charging in waving a gun at Richard Alpert (which never ends well). He demands to see Eloise Hawking and to know where the bomb has been buried (in the Shadow of the Statue, by any chance?). He tells Alpert that he has until the count of three, gets to two before a shot rings out.

Faraday looks down and sees blood coming out of himself. He falls down while none other than his own (much younger) mother emerges holding the gun that shot him. He says to her ‘You knew this would happen all along..’

She asks who he is and in his dying breath (assuming he actually dies) says ‘I’m….your…son…’

Then LOST comes on the screen in big letters. Damn those letters.


What We Learned

- Widmore is Faraday’s father.

- Which of course means Widmore and Mother Faraday are much more than ‘old friends’. Unless he meant ‘old friends with major benefits’. He really should have winked at Faraday when he said ‘old friends’. Not like Faraday would have remembered anyway.

- Faraday fried his own brain, too. His memory problems indicate he attempted time travel on himself as well as his girlfriend.

- Little Charlie has Desmond’s hair.

- Mother Faraday is a cold blooded lizard woman!

- Sawyer and Juliette are in big trouble. Both were taken prisoner after Radzinsky and his motley crew discovered Phil the Weasel in Sawyer’s closet.

- Faraday could have been a musical prodigy.

- He also had father AND mother issues. In more ways than he ever realized.

- Penny would just leave her son with any random nurse.

- Desmond might be indestructible.

- Juliette and Sawyer may need counseling. Maybe Rose can help.

- Just to be clear on this: Mother Faraday knew that back in 1977 she shoots someone who claims to be her son. She then has a son who grows up to look just like the guy she shoots. She must then realize that that dude really was her son, figures out that he discovers time travel, cultivates and pushes him towards discovering time travel so he can then go back in time so she can shoot him. Have I got that right?

- Richard Alpert’s memory wasn’t always so great. He didn’t recognize Faraday right away even though he once took Faraday prisoner and had him check out the hydrogen bomb to see if it could be disabled.

- That journal Faraday jots everything down in was a present from his mother. That same mother that shoots him later on in his life, but earlier on in her life. I’m thinking those nosebleeds everyone on the island got from skipping through time were a metaphor for what was going to happen to viewer’s brains while trying to figure out this season.

- The contractor installing my countertops doesn’t wash his hands after peeing. It’s not Lost related, but I find it disturbing.

- Chang may in fact begin to believe Faraday at some point. Apparently he will order at least a partial evacuation of the island soon.

- Faraday couldn’t resist playing the creepy old man to Charlotte’s nightmares. Idiot. Didn’t he just tell Jack about making choices and free will?

- Faraday is dead.


New Questions

- Or is he?

- Were Mother Faraday and Widmore married at some point?

- Was Faraday already born and living on the island when his future self comes back to be shot by his own mother?

- Is there more awkward sentence than the one above?

- If Faraday was born (estimating his age to be mid to late 30s means he was already born) does he witness his own death? Like Bruce Willis in ’13 Monkeys’ (sorry for spoiling that if you haven’t seen it).

- Did Faraday play a mean version of chopsticks?

- Did it strike Faraday that entering a hostile camp waving a gun around was bad idea? For a genius he didn’t have much common sense.

- Will Jack, Kate and Hurley (who I think will be the catalyst judging by the way he was eyeing the serial numbers being added to the hatch lid) attempt to destroy the hatch?

- To phrase it another way: If they think they can prevent Oceanic 815 from crashing (and Faraday has planted that idea in Jack’s head), thus never getting to know each other but also saving hundreds of lives would they do so? Would they attempt to destroy the hatch before it’s built therefore preventing their plane from crashing on the island?

This means Kate will stay in custody and probably spend the rest of her life in jail. Hurley will enjoy his lottery winnings but still think he’s cursed. Sawyer will continue on his life of conning women out of money. Locke will stay in the wheelchair. Jack will still be a dysfunctional, yet productive workaholic. Durnst won’t explode all over Jack. Sayid may never reunite with his tortured lost love. Seems to me they’re all better people having spent time on the island, no? Well, except Charlie who while still being a junky would at least be alive.

- If they do prevent the hatch from causing a power leak, would we remember this entire show or would it get wiped from our memories? And would that be a good thing or a bad thing?

- Can the past be changed? Faraday has preached both sides of the argument.

- Will Sawyer be able to smooth talk his way out of Radzinski’s jail? I doubt it, but I’ll bet he comes up with some funny nicknames trying.

- And let’s get to the elephant in the room, shall we? Oh, we shall:

What purpose does Mother Faraday shooting her own son serve?

In other words, the shooting of grown up Daniel in 1977 must either spur some course of action that needs to take place or prevent something awful from happening. It’s important enough for MF to knowingly groom her son to invent time travel so he can go back to 1977 and be shot. By herself, no less.

The exchange between MF and Widmore at the end is very telling. He says to her that his relationship with Penny is one of the sacrifices he has needed to make for the sake of the island. Mother Faraday says to him ‘Don’t you dare talk to me about sacrifices’ which implies she is making the ultimate sacrifice in her own son.

This in turn sparks more questions:

- Could she prevent Faraday from going back in time or would fate intervene and ‘course correct’ her actions?

- If she could prevent him from going back, would she? It seems she wouldn’t as she not only didn’t attempt to stop him but encouraged and pushed him in that direction.

- This can only mean that she (or the island?) NEEDED him to go back to 1977 and be shot for a reason.

What is that reason?

And what the hell lies in the shadow of the statue?

A random prediction: Jack and crew’s attack on the hatch is what actually causes the problems with the Orchid station and not the Dharma crew drilling into it. So, in a round about way, they’ll be responsible for their own plane crashing. As I’ve preached my entire life, sometimes it’s best to do just sit back and do nothing. And, yes, that was in my goals and objectives last year.

Until next week. Only two episodes left, by the way. Not to spoil anything, but the season finale is titled ‘The Incident’. Can’t wait!!!

Today's distraction: A detailed map of the Lost island.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Q & A

A few questions I would like answered.

- How can Mel Kiper grade teams on their drafts when not one player drafted has played a second of NFL football? Isn’t he basically grading his own scouting skills and who he believes will be a good player?

- If a guy comes into the men’s room to take a piss, disgustingly sniffs and roughly clears his throat multiple times like he’s trying to get something up, but never spits anything out, do I just assume he swallowed?

- How can I consistently make terrible choices in ‘ESPN’s Streak for the Cash’ for three solid months, then go 23-8 in April?

- Why was everyone in Boston upset over the Celtics’ double overtime loss to the Bulls when they have no realistic chance of winning a championship without Kevin Garnett?

- While on the subject, is it wrong that I find myself liking this Bulls team? They’re scrappy, their big men can all pass, shoot, defend and hustle. If Rose would crack a smile I might start rooting for them to upset my own team. Ok, not really, be seriously, man; you just won Rookie of the Year. At least attempt a smile. I promise it won't hurt.

- While Ellsbury’s steal of home was very exciting and unexpected, was it the correct thing to do?

- Is it wrong that I’m enjoying Bill Simmons’ podcasts more than his articles?

- Why can’t the Patriots get Boldin?

- Why – despite the attempts of the media to create panic – am I not worried at all about the Swine Flu?

- In a related note, why do people still go to Mexico for vacation?

- Even though I know better, why do I feel like a rock star when I kick ass playing ‘Guitar Hero’?

- Why is this season’s ‘American Idol’ so boring?

- Would it have been that difficult to call the mayor of New York and let them know there would be some low flyovers over a still scarred city for filming purposes? I assume these people have email accounts and BlackBerries, right?

- Did you know Obama just finished his first 100 days in office? Did you? Huh? Huh?

- Did anyone else catch that all too brief story about how the Federal Government discovered some banks requesting bailout money weren’t nearly in as bad shape as originally thought? Could that mean we’re over reacting again? Or were these banks trying to get some free cash flow from the taxpayer’s pockets?

- Banks can get stressed tested? How does that work? Does the entire executive board get on a treadmill until one drops dead? That’s how it should work.

- Did you know Citigroup is asking special permission to give bonuses to ‘key employees’? If any of these employees are making above 100K, that request shouldn’t just be denied, but bitch slapped, kneed in the groin, and swirlied in a public toilet.

- What kind of world do we live in that Billy Mays, ShamWow, and the Snuggie are all house hold names?

- Why am I always so sleepy? Is there a gas leak?

- Is it wrong that I love my new Maui Jim sunglasses more than my dog?

- Why is this game so much fun?

- Why do some people need to press an already lit elevator button?

- Are these the same people that double and triple check that their letter actually went into the mailbox and wasn’t defying gravity and hovering in mid air just inside that little door? I mean, honestly, where do they think the letters are going?

- Why does work keep interrupting my fun? Why? WHHHYYYYYYY????!!!!

- Anyone else think Kyle Orton will have a better year than Jay Cutler?

- Why, oh why did I not remember the slushes? See below.

- How can one day be 90 degrees and the next be 50?

- Who is this Rajon Rondo and where did he come from?

- If we really wanted to cut down on gas and oil consumption, why don’t we get rid of NASCAR?

- And finally, why do I get such perverse pleasure watching everything go wrong with the Yankees? $2800 seats? Yeah, I’ll bet that’s why.


Today’s distraction: Feeling homicidal towards your boss? Well then take him out! Virtually speaking, of course.

Spending update: Kaput! It wasn't gas for the truck or a forgotten lunch. It was slushes for the boys that I get them after my oldest boy's games. Devil is in the details.

iPod update: Song 290 of 1953. Best surprise: Rediscovering Gorillaz. Worst Listen: Cold War Kids' 'God, Make Up Your Mind'.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fatherly Pride

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a fuck up.

By my sophomore year in high school, I was smoking weed in the parking lot behind the school because it made Spanish class much more entertaining.

College was spent drinking, partying and…um…socializing with members of the opposite sex. Much of what I learned in college has less to do with academics than discovering the intricacies of the fairer sex. There are still many girls I smile about when I think of college. Even if I can’t for the life of me remember their names. I wasn’t a slut by any means (sex lives in the dawn of AIDS has a severely limiting effect), just having fun.

I majored in Sociology not because it was something I was interested in. I didn’t even know what it was. I signed up because there was no line and I wasn’t required to take a foreign language as a requirement.

I showed up to my college graduation so thoroughly and obnoxiously hung over that the picture of me accepting my degree never made it onto my family’s living room wall. That I was in the middle of a bet on who could go longer without getting their hair cut and that I didn’t shave or shower that morning contributed to that very wise decision.

My career path has been decided by fate. Having a clear cut vision of what I wanted to do with my professional life never even struck me as something I should have thought about. Certainly not when I stumbled my way out of school and miraculously landed a job at a video production company. A job was a job, as far as I was concerned. If it allowed me to go out and party more, than all the better.

I have never been driven to become wildly successful or famous. I’m happy enough with a decent job as long as it leaves me time for family and friends and, indeed, all the drinking and fun that go along with both. This doesn’t mean I’m not a hard worker. I can be when the situation calls for it. It’s also why my bosses have enjoyed having me around. I get shit done in time with little oversight. I just could never be a Type A+++, workaholic personality. It just isn’t me.

While I have always enjoyed playing sports, I never tried out for any organized team. Let’s just say I have always had problems with authority figures - coaches included.

I have had two serious relationships in my lifetime and, inadvertently or not, attempted to destroy both of them. One is ancient ruins while the other is still a recovery in progress.

There were others who attempted to be close who I shunned or simply dismissed because I couldn’t be bothered.

Halfway through the year 2000, everything changed. That was when son number one entered my life. A mild mannered, pudgy, delightful sack of human that just so happened to share my DNA. That same DNA that’s at least partly responsible for all of the behavior listed above.

You can see my concern.

While I have always been a useful, helpful, somewhat clumsy father, it wasn’t until a specific incident when I thought ‘Oh shit’.

I was sitting on the couch on a Saturday afternoon, watching a Red Sox game, a beer on the side table. Eldest was starting to enjoy the games himself now that he knew to cheer for the ‘Red Team’. He came up with his sippy cup, put it on the coaster next to my beer (hey, I’m not a savage!) and said ‘That’s my beer!’ while pointing to his milk.

I laughed at the time, but it was an eye opening moment. This blonde haired, blue eyed, adorably innocent little boy looked up to me.

TO ME! I was his major role model.

Again, you can see my concern.

That was it. The light went off. The wheels started turning. Whatever makes that clunking sound in my head clunked into place. I may have fucked things up before, I may have lazily wandered my way through life, but when it comes to him that all stops. I would not fuck up the one good thing I managed to help bring into this world.

I started watching what was said in his presence, which was much harder than I ever thought and would ultimately result in a stream of random expletives directed at nobody in particular once I was sure he was sound asleep upstairs. Needed to get it out of my system.

Being of limited mental capacity, I figured I should keep things simple. Teaching him that hitting people is not the proper thing to do (unless they’re really asking for it - which came later), saying please and thank you, and making sure you always say hi.

Next came the new idea of not interrupting people. This is possibly the most difficult part of training kids, who feel as though nobody else matters in this entire world. When they have something to say or need to ask a question, they’ll ask whether you’re on the phone, talking to your spouse, on the toilet or watching the flight of a final shot during a championship game. It just doesn’t matter to them.

Once the base is in place, then I found you could start working on the social nuances that still baffle most adults. Telling him that if he needs to hit another kid to protect himself, he should. That not everyone is ‘a good kid’ and he should stay away from anyone that he doesn’t feel comfortable with. Sadly, there are many in his grade that fall into that category.

It is an excruciatingly laborious process; the results of which will take years to display.

Since he’s been three, I’ve been drilling into his head that if you want something you need to speak up and ask for it. Or ask how to go about getting it. He often has used me as his agent. ‘Dad, can you ask if I could try that?’ and I’ve relented more than I should have.

Well, he’ll be nine in a few months and it’s time for him to take that next step. We have been discussing baseball a lot because he’s still learning the basics of the game. Where to throw the cutoff, how he should put his entire body into his swing, how balance and footwork are crucial.

I’ve been telling him this for years. I want him to have fun (and he does), but I want him to be good, too. Let’s face it, you have more fun when you’re good at something. It ain’t much fun when you suck. Besides, being involved in a team sport builds self esteem, confidence and friendships. He knew half the kids in his class before he even started school because they were all in instructional league together.

But this is all off point. Sort of.

There are moments when all of the lessons, all of the practice, all of the etiquette and behavior lessons come together and display themselves in one surprising run of events.

Last week eldest boy decided it was time for him to try out pitching. He mentioned it to me and asked if I would talk to his coach about it. I told him if he wanted to try it he needed to ask the coach himself and work out what needed to be done. That was the last I heard about it.

I honestly expected nothing to come of it. I figured if he were required to speak up about it, he would just quietly do his thing and let it go. I still thought this until Friday night, when his team’s starting pitcher walked (that’s right walked! Little League isn’t exactly a spectator sport) 5 runs in.

His coach goes out, calls over to my son who runs over and starts warming up. Wifey and I look at each other in disbelief while I quietly start flipping out. His first time pitching while his team is falling apart. Fucking great. Talk about being set up for failure.

Surprisingly, he looks completely in control. Simply gets up there, winds up and lets fly. He walks his first batter (forcing in yet another run) and I’m groaning to myself, 'Man alive, if he bombs here he’ll never want to pitch again'.

He gets the next kid to ground out. Another run comes in but at least there’s an out now. The next kid fucking strikes out. Again, Wifey and I look at each other and wonder why we didn’t pack hard liquor. He gets the next one to ground to first and the inning is over.

He pitches the next two innings, walks a couple in a row, the coach comes out and asks if he wants to stop. His response: ‘Not really’ then laughs as the coach shrugs and walks away. A few runs come across, but he doesn’t hit anybody (which is a considered effective in this case).

As a bonus he also ropes a double down the left field line for his first hit of the season. Considering we had to wait until the very last game of his first minor league season to witness his first hit, this is a pleasant surprise.

I know what you’re thinking. Typical male focusing on the athletic success of his son and you’re right.

And wrong.

I am proud of him for doing well, but more proud of the way he handled himself. How calm he appeared. How he waited for his second baseman to run in so he could slap gloves after a good play. How he was having fun on the field. How he was disappointed but not devastated that his team lost. How he kept deflecting his parents accolades by mentioning the good plays his team mates made behind him.

It’s more than the sports. It’s who the boy is becoming. Like the player who is suddenly ‘getting’ the game, the boy is suddenly ‘getting’ who he wants to be.

Besides, the game isn’t even what prompted this blubbering excuse of an entry.

Yesterday a note came home from school. Eldest didn’t say a word about it. I found it this morning when I was looking for his lunchbox. I will simply quote from his teacher.

‘Just wanted to let you know [your son] went out of his way to help out one of his class mates today. [student’s name] was very upset that he had forgotten his homework. [Your son] asked if he could go sit with him for a bit and managed to get him to calm down.

This is just the latest example of what a joy (joy underlined twice) [your son] is to have in my class. He is always thoughtful and kind to the other children.

Just wanted to let you know’

On our walk to school this morning I asked him about it. He told me that if you forget your homework you miss 10 minutes of recess which is why the boy was upset.

Me: ‘You friendly with this kid?’

Him: ‘No, not really. I don’t play with him as much.’

Me: ‘Why not?’

Him: ‘He’s only in my class for part of the day’

Me: ‘Part of the day? Where does he go the other part?’

Him: ‘He’s in another classroom on the bottom floor.’

Me: ‘What do you mean? Does he only come to your class for certain times?’

Him: ‘Yeah, for math and writing. He’s got something wrong with him. Begins with an A, but I can’t remember the word.’

A long pause from me.

Me: 'Autistic?’

Him: ‘YEAH! That’s it! He has that!’

Another long pause while I mull this over.

Me: ‘How did you get him to calm down?’

Him: ‘I just told him not to freak out over 10 minutes. Then we started talking about Star Wars. He knows a lot about Star Wars.’

Me: ‘So do you’

Him, laughing: ‘I know, but he knows WAY more than me’

Me: ‘What made you go over to talk to him?’

He shrugs, ‘He was crying and nobody was doing anything. I figured I could try. It wasn’t hard. And his crying was giving me a headache.’

I tell him I was very proud of him and not everyone would have done that. He says ‘if they were getting a headache they would have’, which is hard to argue.

I can’t predict how he will turn out in the long run. He may not stay this optimistic and caring; I’m sure people will attempt to take advantage of his good natured personality and some will succeed; peer pressure will probably prevent him from doing the right thing at some point.

What I do know is he’s off to a good start. As a father I just need to build on that. Everything strong begins with a solid foundation, right?

Now I just need to not fuck up the youngest one. It never ends.


Today’s distraction: Take a break and play some virtual piano. It soothes the nerves.

Money saving update: Still haven't spent a dime, however there is a major roadblock ahead. My truck's gas light is on. Stay tuned.

iPod update: On song 203 of 1953. Best surprise: Discovering Alabama 3's 'Woke Up This Morning' (theme from The Sopranos'). Love that song.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Let's Do This!

Let’s light this candle.

After an emotionally and physically exhausting weekend, it’s time to get some projects underway. I’m not referring to work, by the way. Although I do have several things to finish up this week, as well.

Oh, no. I’m talking about two fruitless, mindless and most likely doomed to fail projects that I came up with last week.

First, is simple.

I plan to spend no money this week. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I’ll bring lunch, make coffee at home, and eliminate any sort of snacks/drinks/miscellaneous afternoon treats. Already I see a problem with the end of the month coming.

That problem being my monthly subway/bus pass. I’ll need to renew it before Friday. I should make an exception for transportation costs, but I may have an trick or two up my sleeve that may or may not include simply not coming to work on Friday. Shhhhhhhh. I’ll keep track of things and update all my loyal readers on my progress. You’ll be anxiously awaiting each and every one, I just know it.

Also, I should note my refrigerator is fully stocked with beer, my gin supply is full and I can always send wifey out with her money in case we need anything else (like limes or tonic water). I think I can do this. It’s only 5 days.

Project number two is a bit more ambitious and will take much more time to complete. I want to listen to every single song on my iPod. I spent last night importing some long missing CDs into iTunes while watching the Sox trample the Yankees again.

Currently my iPod has 1.953 songs on it. I cleaned things up last night; removing albums I don’t like or listen to any more, adding some oldies from my over flowing CD collection and making sure it was fully charged. The biggest problem I can expect is the thing running out of juice, which would be very bad.

Here is where we stand so far. I missed the gym this morning (waaaayyyy too tired to get up this morning), so I’m only on song 28 of 1953.

Worst song listened to so far: ‘Kiss The Rain’ by Billy Myers. Not even sure where this song came from as I’ve never heard it before nor do I have a full album of Billy Myers listed. Good thing as if there were more songs like this I would seriously reconsider this entire idea.

Damn, I just had my first temptation to spend money. A guy in the office has season tickets to the Red Sox and just sent out an email offering them at face value for a May game. I immediately replied before remembering the ‘no spending money’ thing and decided against it.

See? I’m dedicated.

I’ll post updates throughout the duration of each project below the daily distraction.

And since I have nothing else to add, here are a few responses to some recent comments.

Hammen: I never take Remy for granted. He is worth 2-3 laugh out loud moments a game. For everyone else who has never heard Jerry Remy do color just know that he does three things all great color men should do: 1 – makes things more interesting by pointing out the intricacies of the game, 2 – makes everything more entertaining, 3 – brings out the best in his play by play partner. How Remy is passed over year after year for national jobs is beyond me. Maybe he declines, them, but he was on a Fox game last season and was just as good.

Besides, all it takes is one ESPN game like last night's for me to fully appreciate Remy again. Whoever is in charge of baseball coverage needs to get rid of Joe Morgan. He is atrocious and gets worse every time I hear him. Last night Wifey was watching with me. She doesn’t know much about baseball (‘You can steal home?’), but after listening for a while finally shouted ‘What the hell is this guy talking about?’ I had no idea as Morgan was on one of his random, rambling, rants of obviousness. What really pissed me off was he kept talking over Steve Phillips who had some insightful comments to make.

It’s time, ESPN. Get rid of Morgan. Or just move him to the studio with the Baseball Tonight crew. Maybe they can get him to shorten his points up to less than 15 minutes. And it won’t be during a game.

ChuckW: Thanks for bringing the summer up north with you. However, you’ll be the first one I blame when things cool off again. Double edged sword, I’m afraid.

Anon: Very glad to hear that and hope things are going well. Or to summarize - YES!! (Insert image of me fist pumping here).

Tribute: You’ll enjoy Swoon. It’s quickly growing on me.

10, I noticed in iTunes that it will estimate the time your entire music library will take to play. Mine was over 5 days. Yours must be over a month.

Bigsby, interesting take on the Craigslist Killer entry. Everyone stupid enough to meet up with strangers via the internet will be killed off first. Who knew technology would be the new age ‘Survival of the Fittest’ theory.

That’s it. Need to do some real work.


Today’s distraction: A bizarre, haunting photo essay on the town of Muynak. Formerly a fishing village, the Aral Sea has receded leaving nothing but desert where a thriving community used to live.

Friday, April 24, 2009

TGI MFin' F!

A few random thoughts before I head out of work early and enjoy the fantastic weekend. Eighty degrees tomorrow and Sunday according to the incompetent New England weather people. We’ll see.

- I’m embarking on a two new projects that begins on Monday. I plan to see if I can spend NO MONEY the entire work week. Literally, not one red cent (anyone know where that saying comes from? One red cent?). I may even leave my wallet empty to discourage temptation. I’ll let you know how things go.

The second project is seeing how long it takes me to listen to every single song on my iPod. I just checked and there are over 1700 songs. One problem I’ve discovered is if I sync things up to iTunes, it erases where I was on a particular play list. So I’ll get things ready over the weekend and not sync until the project is complete.

I’ve already set some preliminary rules:

1: No skipping songs. I must listen to all the songs all the way through.

2: The only exception to this are those annoying songs that somehow have silence at the end of them. Like the last song on Blink 182’s ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ which has over 10 minutes of silence attached to it for the sole purpose of annoying the shit out of people. Nice work, fellas.

3: I will listen to it as I always do: At work (in my docking station), on my commute and at the gym. I won’t listen to it just to push up my time table.

Feel free to leave your estimates on how long this should take me. I may even add some older CDs to it over the weekend. I’ll get you the total song count on Monday.

- Rumors are circulating that my company may be doing even more layoffs and other cost cutting measures. Those measures may include me taking a pay cut. No confirmation on this, yet, but if that happens you can expect more entries. Because if I take a 5% pay cut, I’m sure as hell doing 5% less work even if that decrease brings me into negative territory. A distinct possibility.

- If you’re wondering, I would have to take 3 extra minutes at lunch per day to make up the 5% cut. And, yes, I figured that out as soon as I heard the rumors. I’d like to think that makes me forward thinking.

- Yesterday morning Fox-25 (local Fox channel in Boston) hit an all time low. Using it as a lame excuse to get some sort of psychological profile on the fiancĂ©e of the ‘Craigslist Killer’, they went online to her wedding registry and basically ridiculed everything she had on the list. It’s bad enough this girl is coming to the realization that the love of her life may be a sociopath and she had no idea, but now what she wants for wedding gifts is being mocked on television. Besides, what could you possibly learn about a person from their choice of cookware? Does the fact that I persuaded Wifey to add a three foot tall beer stein to our list mean I have a drinking problem?

Wow, that was a horrible example.

- I feel as though summer has finally begun. Sox – Yankees kick off a weekend series, it’s beautiful out, and work is absolutely dead. There is nobody here.

- A song just came on my iPod that made me think of my friend DA. DA, you still read this? The nice weather is bringing to mind our lunches by the harbor. Those were fun. Although I’m saving a TON of money. The song was ‘I Hate Everyone’, if you’re wondering.

- While we’re here, some new music thoughts to pass your way.

Living Things - Habeas Corpus: A bluesy, rocking goodbye to President Bush (known as Snake Oil Man here). Angry, political, yet highly enjoyable from a musical standpoint.

Silversun Pickups – Swoon: A stripped down, grittier, darker take on Smashing Pumpkins. Need to give this a few more listens before I make up my mind. Quite a few good (maybe great) songs, but there is a vibe that they’re holding back they’re grungier inclinations to make themselves more marketable. I will say I like it more than when I first listened to it, so this may be one of those albums that grows on me.

Metric – Fantasies: This one I liked from the get go.

Riverboat Gamblers - Underneath the Owl: Already on my list of year end favorites. There are so many sub genres out there (post punk, art metal, emo, etc) that it’s refreshing to listen to a band that simply gets two guitars, a bass and some drums and pumps out some foot stomping rock and roll. Besides having one of the better names I can remember they have also recorded my new anthem: ‘Keep Me From Drinking Tonight’ which rattles off various reasons that would NOT keep them from drinking. Boo yeah!!

Check out ‘Victory Lap’, too, which will get you pumped enough to run a marathon.

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead – Century of Self: An epically named band who puts epic albums together (their last is one I still listen to) stumbles a bit on this one. A few good songs, but the act is getting old. Time to mix it up, guys.

Black Gold – Rush: Interesting and somewhat likable debut that feels like they’re basically ripping off every band that influenced them. Shades of Fleetwood Mac, Beatles, Steely Dan. There’s even a song that reminds me of ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’. I suppose if you’re going to steal you might as well steal from the best. I just hope they develop their own identity because there are glimmers of tremendous potential when they release their musicianship and simply play.

Bloc Party – Intimacy: Wow, what the hell is going on here? One of the more exhilarating new rock bands takes a major step into dance rock with seriously mixed results. Some of these songs are unlistenable ('Mercury', for one) while others are brilliant. All are completely over produced and electronically enhanced (one simple piano intro is looped to stress the stutter rather than played outright), but often to the detriment of the song. If you’re a fan of them, you’ll enjoy this release, too, just not as much as the others. I, for one, hope they get back to their funk rock and rid themselves of all the excess. Their song writing is strong enough on it’s own.

Doves – Kingdom of Rust: Love the album title. Perfect description of returning to work every Monday morning. Love the album, too. As they get right back to what they do best: Elegant, atmospheric and complex pop rock. If you enjoy Radiohead or Coldplay, give these guys a listen.

That’s it for today. My eight year old has decided, rather spur of the moment, that he wants to pitch in Little League this year. I’ll let you know how that works out.


Today’s distraction: I found an absolutely hilarious blog written by ‘crabbyoldfart’. Enjoy and keep off his lawn.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Instant Offense

Yesterday, Boston – and the nation’s news outlets – barraged us with stories of Philip Markoff, the Boston University pre med student who has been charged with the murder of a 26 year old masseuse in the swanky Copley Marriot Hotel. Markoff hooked up with his victim using Craigslist and will most likely be known as ‘The Craigslist Killer’ for the rest of his life.

Catchy, no?

Markoff is your typical, smart, handsome, all American kid that 'may have' a jones for meeting strange women in random hotels, tying them up, robbing them and disappearing into the night. In the case of Julissa Brisman, he 'allegedly' tied her up and shot her multiple times in the chest because she had the audacity to resist. Guess he didn’t get the happy ending he was expecting.

I won’t bother with the details of the case as you can find them anywhere. Nor will I get into the entire debate on why meeting strangers you find online in random hotel rooms – by yourself – is a bad idea. Just ask around to find how many times things work out well. It may take you some time.

What is bothering me about this story isn’t that, by all accounts, Markoff seemed to be a well adjusted, well liked, about to be married, intelligent, white male who 'may have' been on the verge of becoming a serial killer if not for diligent police work.

What bothers me is that these news stories aren’t even questioning that this is the guy that killed Brisman. I’m not saying he is or isn’t, but it concerns me that this guy’s name, personal history, home town, student enrollment are suddenly all over the news. For fuck sake we even know when he was supposed to get married!

What bothers me (A LOT, if you couldn’t tell) is we are now living in an era of instant judgment. This guy was arrested for the crime, he looks like the guy that was seen on sub par, grainy surveillance cameras in the hotels, so he must have done it. Never mind that he looks like a lot of other dudes here in Boston. 'Here, American public! We caught the Craigslist Killer!'

Yes, the news stories all use the proper, legally protected phrases to cover their asses: ‘police say’, ‘allegedly’, and ‘may have’ are peppered throughout (as I did above), but the gist of the story is crystal clear. This guy killed that girl! Case closed.

Again, maybe this is the guy, but shouldn’t we all take a step back and ask ‘What if he isn’t?’

What if he didn’t kill this girl? Will Boston University allow him back to his classes? Will his friends talk to him again? Will his neighbors still shy away from him when they pass him in the hallway? Will people whisper about him as he walks down the street? Allow me to answer: Not with out legal action, maybe, hell yes, and absolutely. Just look what happened to Steve Bartman and that was over a fucking baseball game! And he didn't even do anything!

There is no such thing as innocent until proven guilty any longer unless you manage to keep your crime out of the grasp of over eager, nearly rabid news producers. Everything – and I do mean everything – needs to be instantly analyzed, instantly opined (ad nauseam), and (oh, reporters can only wish) instantly debated and settled in a neat, three minute segment.

This doesn’t just apply to murder stories, either.

- Our super hyper information gathering society needs to figure out what’s wrong with the Red Sox and Yankees when the season isn’t even a week old. Barely 10 games in and it’s obvious to everyone that the Pirates and Orioles are going to the World Series, but only if they can get through the Reds and Blue Jays first.

- According to King Dipshit, Dan Shaughnessy, the Celtics season was over because they lost Game 1 of the Bulls series. And, no, I won’t link to it out of principle. Google it if you want to read his intelligent, rational thoughts (that was sarcasm).

NOTE: The series is over now, but only because Leon Powe is now out for the rest of the season with torn knee ligaments. Keeps getting better and better. Maybe Ray Allen’s wrist tendons will come flying out like party ribbons on New Year’s Eve during Game 3.

- Editorials and political analysts were criticizing Obama for how he’s handling the Presidency when he wasn’t even in office for a full month. CNN.COM has an entire section on Obama’s first 100 days that was posted on day 1. During his inauguration.

- ESPN has such a hard on for a Cavaliers – Lakers finals they are breaking down both team’s performances in their first games of the playoffs AT THE SAME TIME! One thing I can tell you is if a network wants something to happen in sports and all the experts are absolutely, positively, one hundred and ten percent sure it will happen; it won’t happen. Look for the Lakers and/or Cavaliers to not make the Finals this year for the sole reason that everyone thinks it will happen.

- Every weeknight we can get mind numbingly detailed accounts of where Britney Spears went for dinner, who she was with and what she was (or wasn’t) wearing. Entertainment Tonight got two week’s worth of stories regarding the death of John Travolta’s son which included reading viewer’s emails of condolences on air.

- Soldiers now don’t just come home from war. News stations rig ‘surprises’ for the kids of these soldiers, tape them for the ‘awwww’ factor, then run them every half hour. If I came home from being at war for 11 months and was told ‘You know what we’ll do? We’ll keep you from your family for just a few hours more and surprise them instead. It will be great! Let’s just wait for the camera crew to arrive.’ My response would include two words and my fist hitting something with great force.

- We are in the midst of the worst economic disaster EVER!

- That captain who saved the crew from those Somalian pirates is the best captain EVER!

- Except for the captain of the US Airways flight that landed safely in the Hudson. He’s the best airline captain EVER. The other guy is the best boat captain ever. Just so we’re clear.

- This past Super Bowl was the best EVER!

- The 2007 Tampa Bay Rays are the best under dog story EVER!

- The Iraq War is a disaster!

- No, wait! It’s a success now!

There was a time, not so long ago, when the news would simply give us the news. They would tell us what happened and that would be it. There would be no wink to the viewers while the anchors muttered ‘allegedly’ that said ‘But we all know he did it, don’t we? We’re no dummies’.

Only we are. We really are. People at work are talking like there is no doubt this guy did it. None at all. We can discuss Markoff using phrases like ‘Did you see what this psycho did?’ or ‘He seemed so normal, too’ because the news convinces us he IS the guy. We can dispense with the formality of ‘allegedly’ because we’re just shooting the shit at the office water cooler.

It doesn’t matter to us if he really did it or not, just that it’s something to talk about.

It should matter. Consider yourself in the same scenario only you really didn’t do any thing. You are the wrong guy who looks like some generic police sketch. Consider the husband of a missing wife who was tagged ‘a person of interest’ by police to the media. The media than scrounged up whatever dirt they could for two days on this guy; asking friends about the status of the marriage or if he had a girl friend.

They found his wife in her car, still alive. She had lost control on the highway, crashed through a guard rail and was trapped, out of sight from passing cars, until police finally decided to track where her cell phone was. In a way it was a happy ending. Husband and wife are reunited, she survives and recovers.

But was it? No apology from any of the local news channels was issued to the vilified husband. The police offered no apology. The national news sites just shrugged and said ‘we were getting our information from the local outlets’ and moved onto the next story. Meanwhile, friendships were broken, relationships between family members will probably never be the same and the reporters will just ‘report’ on their next assignment. Just doing our jobs and we put ‘police say’ in front of everything, so don’t blame us.

Indictments and arrests are front page news; especially for public figures or high interest stories like Markoff. Acquittals from juries years after the arrest are not. Markoff may sit in jail for nearly a year before his trial comes around. By that point we’ll be on to some other murder story or terrorist plot or young starlet panty scandal and half of us won’t know what the verdict was. We’ll just know that Markoff was the ‘Craigslist Killer’.

Again, I’m not saying he did or didn’t commit this crime. He probably did.

But what if he didn’t?


Today’s distraction: Quotes from one of the most respected television journalists of all time. There are several relevant ones, but none more so than ‘To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.’

Sadly, I don’t think this is true any longer.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Crush of the Month

It’s that time of month again. No, my wife isn’t breathing fire, emotionally irrational and throwing my things on to the front lawn. That was last week.

Today it’s time for BeachBum’s Crush of the Month. Granted today’s highly honored recipient (who will undoubtedly be upgrading her home security system this weekend) is the beneficiary of baseball’s triumphant return to my life, but that’s the way things fall sometimes. Life isn’t fair. All you other ladies will have to wait until next month.

Ladies and Gents, allow me to introduce April’s Crush of the Month.

Who?: She is the love of many Red Sox fans around the country or basically anyone that subscribes to NESN, the cable channel that broadcasts 99% of all Red Sox games. She graduated from the University of San Diego (probably last year) and immediately took her love of sports (I know, she LOVES SPORTS!!!) to radio and television.

Having competed and been a finalist in the Miss California pageants, made extra cash modeling, she caught on with the Red Sox as their on field broadcaster/interviewer and has been in the hearts of male viewers ages 4-400 ever since.

I’m talking, of course, about Ms. Heidi Watney, a stunning reason to watch every bit of every Red Sox game on NESN this season. I would watch the Yankees pounding the Sox 42-0 if I knew she was coming on for a piece in the next inning. Seriously.





You would, too!!!



What Else?: Oh, I'm sorry, former California beauty pageant winner and model who loves sports isn’t enough? Fine. Surprisingly, she’s really good at her job. Sure she asks cream puff questions at times (nature of the job), but she has a certain fan like enthusiasm during her interviews that comes across as ‘Holy shit, am I really talking to Josh Beckett?’








Best. Job. EVER!





She also has fun interacting with the fans at Fenway between her on field spots. She certainly seems aware of her popularity, but rather than shy away from it she seems to enjoy and play off it.


And knows her demographic.


That All?: Actually, no. There is RAMPANT speculation that she may have something to do with Jason Varitek’s marriage breaking up. By ‘something’ I mean she’s practicing her interviewing techniques while naked and horizontal. Or so I fantasize.

I need to stress that there is no confirmation of this, but you could imagine why her willingness to get it on with an over the hill, married man is a major plus in my book.

Unbeknownst to Heidi, is she is also responsible for a disastrous conversation between me and Wifey. My neighbor was over watching one of last season’s afternoon games and he passed on the rumor about Watney and Varitek. I said (without thinking obviously) ‘Wow, good for Varitek!’ Wifey glares at me and says ‘Good for him??!! He’s got a wife and kids!’ To which I stuttered ‘Oh….well yeah…there’s that complication’ while my neighbor nodded his approval of my initial statement behind Wifey’s back.

Oh, and there’s the fact she looks fantastic in a bikini.


Told ya

Congratulations, Heidi Watney. You are my Crush of the Month*. Keep up the great work!

* Due to the current economic climate there will be no monetary compensation or trophy or plaque accompanying this award. You can print out this entry though and frame it at your own expense.

Today's distraction: A semi official rundown of how to determine the hottest sideline reporter. I have a huge problem with Jeanne Zolasko even being included in this contest. She drives me nuts!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Movie Reviews

It’s been a while and I have much to get to. So let’s plunge right in.

Quantum of Solace: Not nearly as good as the first one, but still one of the better Bond movies. First of all, it cuts out a lot of the clutter and clocks in at an hour and forty minutes. Usually Bond movies are bloated to over two hours with lots of nonsense thrown in for no good reason. Second, the relentless, merciless Bond is still fully in play only this time he’s out for vengeance. God help the bad guys. Lastly, Bond is not only still recovering from Vespa’s death from ‘Casino Royale’, but may be emotionally damaged by the entire incident. An interesting take regarding Bonds’ womanizing isn’t that he’s suave and smooth (although he is), but that it’s a defense mechanism. Witness one of the final scenes when a female suggests he needs to ‘forgive himself’ and he replies by making a pass at her. I also enjoyed the new age technology used to identify certain people and M, of all people, beginning to doubt her own judgment. Not just of Bond but of the people surrounding her. That this is all done in one of the more action packed Bond movies ever is just a bonus. Good times!

Redbelt: Let me first say that I’m a fan of David Mamet. ‘Homicide’ still has one of the best opening scenes in movie history, ‘Spartan’ is one of the most under rated movies ever, and ‘House of Games’ ushered in a new generation of con movies. This was typical Mamet. Seemingly heading in one direction before veering before coming to a halt before peeling off in a completely new direction. It involves a mixed martial arts instruction who is floundering financially while still trying to impart honor, strength and nobility into his students and friends. Through a complex set of circumstances he’s decided to re-enter the competitive world of fighting and…

…that’s when things fall apart. Seemingly on the verge of becoming one of the best sports movies of all time, Mamet shifts gears again. The surprise isn’t out of tone with the movie, but I was really hoping to see what the main character would do when faced with true competition. Instead we’re left with an ending so abrupt I can’t help but wonder if the movie ran out of money. I would recommend this for the first three quarters, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

Be Kind Rewind: Not bad. Some very funny moments and I liked the theme of local businesses being the glue that holds a community together. Remaking the movies into 20 minutes shorts was hilarious, but that can only take you so far. An easy going, good natured and amusing way to spend a rainy Saturday.

By the way, between this movie and his guest turn on ‘House’, Mos Def is becoming a very good actor. Thought he was good in ’12 Blocks’ with Bruce Willis, too.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist: Just ok. Nothing super hilarious or ground breaking, but a cute, great sound track movie that you forget nearly as soon as the movie is over. Could have been so much better if they did an adult version of this instead of a teen friendly, PG-13 version.

Changeling: A warning that I will be spoiling some things so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, read no further. I need to discuss them, though, to explain what my problem with this movie is. And it is a big problem.

Angelina Jolie stars as a woman who comes home to find her son missing. She calls the police and they search but nothing. Having supposedly found her son, they bring him back on a train, get press together to show how great they are (the LAPD needed all the help it could get in those days) and she proceeds to tell them ‘That’s not my son’. You’ve all seen the ads, so you know what I’m talking about.

The police react in a typical police way by hiring a psychologist to tell Jolie that her son may seem different because of his trauma. By different they are referring to the fact that he’s lost 3 inches in height, is missing birthmarks and is now circumcised. After that doesn’t work they have her committed to a rather nasty insane asylum. She fights on, though and winds up becoming the driving force for reform and firings through the city.

Meanwhile, a rather gruesome parallel story involving an axe wielding child killer deflates any sort of campy fun that could be had by drinking every time Jolie utters ‘my son’ throughout the movie. This includes highly graphic and disturbing images of the dude chopping little boys to pieces. Not pleasant at all.

But my big problem with this movie is that after all this depressing rhetoric and shower inducing scenes of the killer (including his execution), Eastwood (who directed) ends things on a false positive. After learning that her son actually escaped the axe maniac, Jolie has ‘one thing I never had before.’

Me sitting on my couch: ‘Oh, shit. Don’t say hope, don’t say hope…’

Jolie in movie: ‘Hope!’. She then smiles and walks away. On screen comes the caption: ‘She never stopped looking for her son’ as the music swells and the credits start rolling.

Well, fuck. If she never stopped searching for her son doesn’t that mean she never found him? And if she never found him doesn’t that mean he was chopped up by a murderer and buried in a mass grave in a desert? How can you possibly create a happy ending out of that scenario? You can’t.

Given the subject matter and how things turned out it would be forgivable for the movie to be a downer. In fact, it’s to be expected. But to tack on a ridiculously inaccurate happy ending is insulting. Eastwood should have stuck to his guns and kept things grim. I would bet money the ending was changed because the original one was too depressing for test audiences.

Stupid test audiences.

Role Models: Just what I needed on this particular night. Politically incorrect, crass humor with F-bombs and boobs popping out everywhere. I would like to take a minute and thank ‘Wedding Crashers’ for reintroducing film makers to the seemingly lost art of gratuitous nudity. I’m quite enjoying this renaissance. Anyway, Paul Rudd is quickly becoming a king of comedy with ’40 Year Old Virgin’, ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’, ‘Anchorman’ and now this. I can’t remember an actor more at ease with his own unease. Kudos to the woman playing the counselor for the boys, too. A recovering drug addict who throws her own demons into nearly every conversation she has with anybody. The ending is a bit schmaltzy for my taste, especially after everything that led up to it, but I still had a good time. Isn’t that what you want out of your movies?

Quarantine: Nothing terribly original here, but any wanna be film maker should watch this as a great example of how to make an unnerving, creepy, at times very scary movie on a low budget. Sort of a ‘Dawn of the Dead’ meets ‘Cloverfield’. The only thing that pissed me off was they give away the ending in the fucking previews. I shit you not. The final scene would have been much more disturbing if I hadn’t seen it 40 times during football season and pay per view ads. Fuckers!


Today’s distraction: 11 Predictions ‘Back to the Future Part II’ got correct. Pretty impressive!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Wrapup

Going to jot down a few, quick random thoughts while I burn CDs for my long lost friend currently living on the West Coast. You still owe me a beer o’clock. Don’t think I’ve forgotten.

- Quite a day for the Celtics. First, Doc Rivers drops the bombshell that Kevin Garnett will probably miss the playoffs then Danny Ainge has a heart attack and needs emergency surgery. Playoffs here we come!

- The odds those two above incidents are related are approximately 99%.

- After all this hoopla surrounding Texas Hold ‘Em, I decided to give it a try myself. Since I’m nearly destitute I needed to find a free way to learn and not lose my shirt. Enter my iPod. Browsing through their games I found Texas Hold ‘Em for $5, downloaded it to my iPod and I’ve been playing on my commute to and from work for the past week.

The beauty of the game comes from the players you play against. They all have specific personalities that you have to learn as you play. One guy is a bluffer, another plays conservative, another girl will smile and try to charm her way into you going in with her. It’s fun as hell and, yes, I’m completely addicted. Also, the more you win, the more games open up to you. Right now I’m playing in Aruba.

- Any other cigar smokers out there thoroughly excited about the potential for free flowing Cuban cigars making their way (legally this time) into the states? I know I am.

- When you have time read this confusing and often unintentionally hilarious torture memo from Bush’s time in office. Basically his administration stated that unless you have the intent to cause ‘severe pain or suffering’ than it’s not really torture. For example, slapping someone or depriving them of sleep isn’t really severe pain. Although I would argue being kept awake for days on end certainly is suffering. I have two kids, I should know.

Wait, it gets even better. ‘Because specific intent is an element of the offense, the absence of specific intent negates the charge of torture. ... We have further found that if a defendant acts with the good faith belief that his actions will not cause such suffering, he has not acted with specific intent’.

This means that if the person doing the torturing did not intend to cause ‘severe pain or suffering’ then it’s not torturing. What? ‘Dude, I didn’t realize ripping his fingernails out one by one would cause severe pain. I thought it would sort of tickle or at the least cause minor pain. My bad!’

They even include that old standby, waterboarding, as part of this.

‘although the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death, prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result’ in order for it to be considered torture and not just ‘we’re fucking with him’. Nice that they acknowledge the threat of imminent death. Although, wouldn’t any threat of imminent death result in some sort of prolonged mental harm? I’m guessing that anyone subjected to waterboarding would probably

Well once again, I’ve been waylaid (which, next to laid off, is the worst kind of laid you can get) by work so I’m cutting this short.

Enjoy your weekends!


Today’s distraction: Some kid actors who actually made it as adults. Let’s be honest, though, it hasn’t exactly been an easy road for Drew Barrymore and citing Christian Bale as ‘doing well’ in light of his recent meltdowns is a bit of a stretch.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lost - Part 13

So Miles has a heart after all.

I’ll admit I was getting a bit bored with last night’s episode even with Hurley’s hilarious and oddly touching contributions. Until the very last scene. Give Lost credit, they know how to grab your interest for the next episode.

Still, does everyone in this show need to have daddy issues? Every single one? There can’t be any deviation from this plan? Are the writers of Lost trying to work out some personal issues?

We all know how this works, right?

Ready?

What Happened

We are introduced to a very young PAD (Miles as he’s called in the show) as he begs his mother for money. Mother PAD seems hard up, promises the scummy looking landlord that PAD is very quiet, then has things blow up when PAD barges in on some guy in another apartment that has just died. How rude.

On the island, Sawyer calls PAD and asks him to erase the security tape for the sonic fence camera. As he’s helping Sawyer out, Horace comes in and asks PAD to join the ‘Circle of Trust’ by bringing a package to that prick Radzinski (who’s been asking for a good beating). He’ll also need to bring something back without ‘asking questions’.

PAD brings out the package which turns out to be a body bag. Radzinski and crew bring a body out of the jungle, put it in the bag and tell PAD to bring it back to Camp Dharma. Before he does, however, PAD asks the dead guy what happened. Apparently the ‘Don’t ask any questions’ part of the deal doesn’t apply to corpses. There’s always a loophole.

Flashback…

Wait, sidenote here. I’m using ‘Flashback’ in relation to PAD’s life not in relation to actual time. Since PAD is in 1977, technically we would be flashing forward in time. But as far as PAD is concerned we’re flashing back on his life since it’s already happened in his past. Even though it’s in the future and hasn’t happened in real time, yet. Still with me?

OK, flashback to a hilarious looking PAD in some ‘cry for help’, punk rocking stage of his life. He’s come to visit his dying mother, confront her about his father and probably ask for her earrings when she dies. His mother claims ‘your father never cared about us’. PAD wants to know where his body is since there doesn’t seem to be a time limit on decomposing bodies PAD can communicate with. He wants to hear it straight from the corpses mouth. His mother says his father’s body is ‘someplace you can never go’. Yeah, don’t think so, Ma!

Back on the island, PAD brings the dead dude to Horace who tells him that the body needs to be taken to the new Orchid station instead. Dr Chang wants it delivered to him there. So, PAD trudges back to the Dharma Mobile only to find Hurley packing up his sandwiches to bring to that same Orchid station. PAD reluctantly takes Hurley with him and on the way Hurley smells the decomposing body in the back. Thinking his sandwiches have gone bad, he tells PAD to pull over, discovers the body, discovers that PAD can talk to dead people and casually drops ‘It’s cool. I can, too!’

Back to the future we join PAD in his con man stage, faking talking to some father’s dead son and lying that his son knew he loved him. After taking his cash he’s met by none other than Naomi who will soon take a Locke knife to the back. Bet she can’t wait for that! She takes PAD for an ‘audition’ to join Widmore’s freighter team and he passes by interviewing the world’s worst restaurant health code violation; a dead body in the kitchen. At first PAD declines the invite to Lostville, but he’s given 1.2 million reasons to change his mind. ‘When do we leave?’

Back in 1977, the you know what is beginning to hit the fan regarding Little Ben. His father comes by to visit and, in a stunning bit of observance, notices his boy is missing. He flips out, goes to tell security and Juliette simply says ‘Well, here we go’. Later Kate sees Ben’s father drinking himself silly on a swingset (which is where I always go to drink, too!), shifts into mother mode and accidentally tips off that she may have had something to do with Little Ben no longer being there. ‘Want to help, Kate? Mind your own business!’ Now, if a smoking hot chick like Kate starts showing interest in your well being and you look like Ben’s father, perhaps you should just go along with things. Just a thought.

Later, Jack and Ben’s dad have a heart to heart about Kate’s involvement with Missing Ben. Jack basically tells Ben’s Dad off and throws his drunkenness in his face, which is like the old Jack we grew to love. Still later, that weasel working for Sawyer shows up with the videotape PAD never had a chance to erase. He obviously knows Sawyer and Kate were behind Missing Ben, so Sawyer does the only thing he can: Punches him out and ties him up. Brilliant!

Meanwhile, new buddies Hurley and PAD compare ways to communicate with dead people. Hurley plays chess and PAD just ‘gets feelings’ intermingled in their stench of death. They arrive at the Orchid and Dr. Chang is not at all pleased that PAD brought Hurley along. Hurley promises not to say anything and Chang vows to have him cleaning up polar bear poop if he says anything. Chang has two workers bring the body inside the Orchid (still under construction), stops to chew out another worker. Hurley comments on the douchiness factor of Chang which prompts PAD to admit ‘He’s my father’.

Zing!

Hurly pounces all over that, trying to get PAD to talk to the past version of his father and get to know him. Communication is key, says Hurley. Just look at Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker; Luke even lost a hand because he wouldn’t sit down and hash things out with his father.

They drop Chang off at the new Swan station and Hurley gets to witness the hatch numbers being imprinted on the door. ‘They’re building our hatch’, which is going to crash the Oceanic 815 flight. I’m getting dizzy.

Flashback again to PAD walking along when a van pulls up, some dude that looks familiar says to him ‘Hey, Miles’ while two other guys get out and pull him into the van. ‘What lies in the shadow of the statue?’ this guy asks. PAD doesn’t know what he’s talking about and the dude tells him that he should not take Widmore’s offer. He tries to recruit him to work for his group, but since they can’t ante up 3.2 million dollars, PAD takes a pass.

Later that night on the island (in 1977), PAD witnesses his father catering to his newborn (which just happens to be PAD – I know, it’s confusing as hell). Turns out Chang wasn’t such a bad father after all. The phone rings and Chang must head out for something. PAD tries to get away, but Chang sees him and calls him over. ‘We have some scientists coming in from Ann Arbor’.

PAD drives Chang over to greet the new arrivals and lo and behold out pops Daniel Faraday.

‘Hello, Miles. Long time no see.’


What We Learned

- PAD has been able to hear dead people since he was a kid and doesn’t enjoy it.

- Faraday isn’t dead or insane. Well, not dead, anyway.

- Chang is PAD’s father.

- Hurley is trying to improve ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and seems to be the only one trying to take advantage of his trip back in time.

- PAD’s mother is a lying…um…female dog…

- There is no ceremony to join the Circle of Trust.

- Radzinski is in a perpetual bad mood. No wonder he kills himself.

- Sawyer’s plan is beginning to come apart at the seams.

- Still love Naomi’s accent.

- You don’t have to register Dharma Mobiles.

- The electro magnetic force on the island is so strong it can rip fillings out of your head.

- Kate’s maternal instinct towards Aaron is looking for a replacement.

- Ben’s father is not the best choice for that replacement.

- PAD enjoys fish tacos.

- Ewoks suck.

- The bounty hunter chick is not working for Widmore.

- On a related note, this means there is a third, wild card group now in play for control of the island.

- I like PAD better when he was heartless and logical. Seeing him cry was downright uncomfortable. That said, the actor playing him is much better than I would have ever thought. He excelled in last night’s show.


New Questions

- Where has Faraday been this entire time? How long did he stay on the island before going to Ann Arbor?

- Why Ann Arbor? Is that the one place where people living would actually want to come to an island that contains hostiles and an unstoppable smoke monster?

- Will PAD ever come clean to his father?

- Why isn’t somebody other than Hurley trying to cash in on this going back in time thing? I would be finding the local bookie and placing all sorts of bets. Ironically, Hurley is the only one that doesn’t need the money.

- Why did PAD’s mother take him off the island?

- If Hurley somehow prevents the building of the Swan station, would Oceanic 815 not crash on the island? Or can you really not change the past? Which, when you think about it, is still the future in 1977 Dharmaville.

- Anyone else get headaches thinking about this stuff?

- Did Hurley inadvertently coin the term ‘douche’ as an insult? Imagine one of the Dharma people hearing it from him. They find it funny, bring it back to the mainland after their Dharma time is over and it spreads like wild fire throughout the 80s. Seems reasonable to me.

- Are we witnessing a shift in power again? Anyone notice the old, take charge Jack briefly reemerge when he confronted Ben’s father? I also found it interesting that Sawyer seemed relieved that Jack paid a visit to tell him about Ben’s father. Almost like he wanted Jack to take over or, at least help out. Is Sawyer feeling a bit overwhelmed?

- Did Juliette know Sawyer went to help Kate with Little Ben? Kate thanked Juliette for sending Sawyer to help, but there was a hesitation from Juliette before she said ‘Sure’. Could Sawyer have gone to help Kate against Juliette’s wishes?

- Did Dharma invent the non removable pull tabs on cans? You’ll notice when Ben’s father hands Kate a beer on the swing set that the tab doesn’t come off in Kate’s hand like the old days. It was the newer safety tabs that don’t come off. I don’t believe they had those in 1977. A Lost mistake? If so, it’s the first one I can remember.

- Why has Faraday come back to the island?

- Where has Sayid been this whole time?

- When is everyone finally going to get back together? And will it happen in 1977 or 2008? I just want the gang back together again.

- Why would PAD’s mother lie to him about his father caring about him? Is she protecting him from something? Or just vindictive?

- Who are these new ‘Shadow of the Statue’ people? How did they know about the island and that Sayid would bring them there?

- More importantly, what is the correct answer to ‘What lies in the shadow of the statue?’ Corn? Moss? Darkness? Smokey The Monster? Christian? Richard Alpert’s beauty salon?

No new episode next week, so let’s hope Lost gets it’s mojo back when it returns in two weeks. I think that ‘Shadow of the Statue’ group is going to lead to some kick ass shows.


Today's distraction: As a tribute to all the motorcycles reemerging on the roads this spring, here are some cool helmets. My favorites are the skull (like Ghost Rider) and Pee Wee Herman.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Eternal Boogie

One of my blogging BFFs recently posted his feelings on his Catholic upbringing. You can read all about it here. Although, now that I think about it the five people that read this have probably already read that. Whatever, it’s good stuff, so read it if you haven’t already.

That entry, along with my advanced age, have kicked off some thoughts on what my afterlife would be like.

For the record, I don’t believe there is anything after this life. Before you feel sorry for me or consider that a depressing thought, keep in mind that while I think this is our only life it’s also spurred me into making the most of it. Not money wise (don’t really care about that as long as I’m comfortable and my family doesn’t starve), but experience wise. I like meeting new people, trying new things, being outdoors, and generally having a good time. I treat people as well as they should expect (so many disclaimers here that I don’t have time to get into all of them right now) and try to eke out as much enjoyment per day as I can (please refer to Beer O'Clock).

In fact, my average day is what I hope any actual afterlife is like. Minus the work and aggravation.

For now, let’s check out possible options as dictated by common beliefs.

HEAVEN AND HELL

Summary: By far the most common belief system. Even Muslim terrorists are convinced they’ll spend eternity with their own assigned virgins after they kill thousands of people in cold blood. The terminology may be different, but it means the same thing.

If you meet a certain (and often arbitrary) set of criteria, you go to Heaven where all your dead loved ones are awaiting your arrival. There are clouds and angels and lovely people who would probably bore you to death if you weren’t already dead. I have no idea what people do in Heaven, but I strongly suspect there is no sex and a never ending game of badminton.

If you meet another (and more entertaining) set of criteria or offend one of the main ‘Free Pass Into Heaven’ rules you wind up in Hell. The general assumption is fire, brimstone, a horny dude with a bad disposition and penchant for making your worst nightmares your eternal reality.

Depending on some religions, there may even be a middle level here: Purgatory. Here people on some waiting list hang out while God and Satan argue about who should have you.

Problems:

- The set of rules on how to get to Heaven vary and are so strict in some cultures it seems fairly evident that if this were true there would be a total of 5 people in Heaven. Two of those would be God and Jesus. By Catholicism’s set of rules, not even Mary Magdalene would make it in unless Jesus pulled some strings. According to the Ten Commandments, just uttering Jesus after you accidentally cut off three of your fingers with a circular saw would bar you from entering.

Unless you begged forgiveness from a guy that probably molested your brother when you were kids, of course. But that aspect may have to wait for another post or my next 1000 page thesis on how fucked up the Catholic church is.

- For shits and giggles, let’s assume all dead people go to either Heaven or Hell. Consider the amount of people that have died over the course of human history. Where would they all go? There are over six billion people on the planet this very minute. God and Satan must be sweating (pun intended for Satan) the fire codes for their particular room capacity. Do they expand? Is the space unlimited? Is there a huge line forming by the Pearly Gates? Is there some sort of project manager over seeing everything?

- Consider the list of offenses that would merit you going to Hell. Now take stock of all the people you enjoy spending time with. Would they go to Heaven or Hell? Now then, once you’ve figured out where those people would go after they died, where would you rather spend the rest of eternity? Exactly! The entire baseline for people going to Heaven is skewed so drastically, I really think Hell would be much more fun! Hendrix is probably jamming with Keith Moon and Bon Scott right now while Charlie Parker is bringing them to an entirely new level of music never heard before.

Now consider where most of the smoking hot chicks you know are going. Natalie Wood, Marilyn Munroe and Grace Kelly are probably there already!

- Technically, Satan opened Hell because he was cast out of Heaven. He used to be an angel, you know. He and God had a falling out (as can happen with brothers), God kicked his ass out so Lucifer started his own company. Now, since God created Satan and everything God created is inherently good, how could Satan really be as bad as everyone thinks? Maybe he’s just misunderstood.

Bottom Line: If you consider the never ending list of Dos and Don’ts, the loopholes to get out of obeying those same rules (repent on your deathbed and it's all good), and the staggering amount of space needed to accommodate all those dead souls I just don’t see how this is logistically possible.


WORLD TO COME

Summary: Based on Judaism’s Talmud (book of rules rabbis made up, I think), all souls to the same place to be judged. If you’ve been a good boy or girl you go directly into ‘The World to Come’. If not, you spend a year or so being judged, criticized for all of your life’s mistakes, shown the error of your ways, punished (if necessary) then allowed into the ‘World to Come’. Some scholars view this as a re-education center for the dead, others as a punishment for past wrongs zone. Either way it doesn’t sound pleasant.

The difference here is there is no place like Hell. If you are truly evil – generally defined as leading others to do evil things or being a major douchebag like Jeffrey Dahmer – you simply cease to exist.

Problems:

- This basically sums up the afterlife as a brain washing center for anyone who did anything questionable during their lives. Isn’t that everyone? We were all teenagers, no?

- Leave it to rabbis to invent an eternity that involves a year’s worth of nagging about all the things you did wrong when you were actually alive.

- Who’s in charge of this ‘re-education’? Are Jewish mothers everywhere automatically enlisted upon death?

Bottom Line: Way too close to real life for this to be legit. I would guess the rabbis came up with this because they figured things have been this way their entire lives. Why should dying change anything?


REINCARNATION

Summary: Depending on which type of believer you ask, this can take on several options.

Option 1: Depending on how you live your life, you can pass on to other higher or lower forms of life. There is a judgment phase immediately after death during which it’s decided if you move up or down the food chain. Humans can reincarnate as animals in this option. I sort of like the idea of being a house cat in my next life. No kids, please.

Option 2: You live lives over and over to become a more altruistic and empathetic human being. When you’ve reached the apex of your human capacity for caring and understanding, you move on to a higher spiritual plane of existence. Sort of where Paula Abdul is right now.

Option 3: After you die you hang out in SummerLand (Oh BOY!!!) to recover from your recent life. This is a peaceful, sunny, hopefully bikini and beer laden land where experiences are shared, souls are rested and naked volleyball games are the norm. Again, hopefully. For reasons I don’t need to state, this is by far my favorite afterlife idea. Anyway, after you rest for a while you’re reincarnated with no memory of your previous life.

Problems: Not as many as other view points, but there are a few.

- Who’s in charge of what souls go where? Is there a huge factory that processes and returns the souls? Is this where Netflix got their business plan?

- Who judges you during the judgment phase of the afterlife? What if they’re a sucky judge? Is there an appeals process if you’re sentenced to start over at the cockroach level?

- Population explosion. Here’s my biggest problem. If everyone is a reincarnation of people who have already lived, then how do they explain all the new people in this world. Let’s say the world started with 100,000 people. They die and are reincarnated as new people. Wouldn’t there always be 100,000 people in the world? And if new souls can be created, then how does that work? Are they reincarnated from the monkeys that didn’t throw poop?

Bottom Line: Of all the after life scenarios, I would subscribe to this one. I really REALLY like the SummerLand idea. Take a few years off to recharge the batteries before going through the entire birth, life, death thing all over again. I just decided that I’m dubbing my house SummerLand. I’m getting a sign for the front door and everything!


MORMONISM

Summary: Claims the afterlife is one big missionary service where ‘holy’ spirits counsel those spirits still in darkness. The intent is to reform those ‘dark’ spirits so they can enter Paradise.

Problems: See Heaven and Hell section. Only here it’s called Spirit Prison and Paradise. And you’re encouraged to talk away your sins for all eternity.

Bottom Line: Just send me straight to the fire pit. I’d rather endure never ending pain than to have to listen to holier than thou preachings from pompous dead people. I deal with enough of them on the subways. I don’t need them when I’m dead.


JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES

Summary: Interestingly, there is no official afterlife with these door knockers. They think dead is dead and there is no consciousness after life has ended. That said, they also believe that Judgment Day will arrive (no date, sorry) and all dead people will be resurrected. All people! Regardless of how you lived you life. Sinners and saints. Go figure.

Problems:

- You still won’t be allowed to celebrate birthdays once you’ve been resurrected, which blows.

- There is also the little tidbit about all this resurrection occurring after Armageddon. So basically everyone will be dead. But then resurrected! So….yeah, not sure why that entire ‘world gets wiped out’ thing needs to take place.

- Not everyone will be resurrected. That’s right, even the Witnesses have loopholes. See you can be the biggest dick in the history of the world, but if you regret that you’ve been the biggest dick in the history of the world you’ll be brought back to life in a newly created Earth Paradise (currently accepting contracting bids) . If you actually enjoyed being a dick and all the money and pussy it got you then you’ll be dead forever. See, JW’s believe that death itself is your punishment for sinning (which, yes, means everyone but Dracula and Highlander are sinners). Therefore, if you have died, then you have already served your punishment.

Bottom Line: The major flaw in this argument is that death is not always a punishment. What if you’ve suffered through 5 years of horrible cancer? What if you’ve been trapped in a nightmarish mine shaft for the past three days? What if you’ve been married for 20 years? Yeah, see? Death can be a relief in some cases.

Still, at the very least this will make one hell of a zombie war if it comes true. Let’s hope someone’s got a video camera.

So where does this leave us?

The Heaven and Hell thing doesn’t make sense on a number of levels.

Reincarnation makes the most sense, but that’s probably because I’m hoping SummerLand is real. Plus it could explain a number of bizarre things that happen to nearly everyone. Ever click with someone you just met and become instant friends? You probably met in a previous life. One of you friends is a really good artist even though he’s had no formal training? He was probably an artist in one of his past lives. The chick you want to have sex with but can’t because you’re married? No worries, just look her up in your next lives.

Wow, I really like the idea of reincarnation.

Here's my personal fantasy about the afterlife: Everyone you've ever had fun with is hanging out in the same place (preferably a beach setting) and you spend eternity just hanging out, doing what you love to do, doing who you love to do, drinking and eating as much as you want and generally having the time of your life...er...death.

If not, then let's go with reincarnation. Always good to have a backup plan.


Today’s distraction: Some ghost stories about people that couldn’t find their way to SummerLand. Don’t be scared of them. Pity them. Then try to show them the way. Hey, maybe that’s what that bright light is! The beach!