Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two Quick Book Reviews



I'm not sure if I've ever read Jeffery Deaver before, so officially, let's count "The Burning Wire" as my introduction to the author. I wasn't blown away, especially by a silly comic book plot masked by a ton of research material, but it was enjoyable for a summer beach read.


Frankly, a large problem I had with the book was the main character of Lincoln Rhyme. I know he's a genius, I know he's a quadriplegic, I know he's beloved by readers. I also know the guy seems like an insufferable ass, and just about every scene where he held center stage was one I regretted. I don't think I'll return to this series.

Still, to be fair, it was a good read and I won't let my personality clash with the lead character influence my rating: B.


Columbine by Dave Cullen is the non-fiction account of the horrific school shooting in April 1999. The book dispels many of the media-driven myths that arose from the carnage (the idea that they were unpopular, bullied outcasts for one) and devotes much of the text to trying to understand the minds of the killers.

I thought this was a great book, start to finish. If there is one flaw it's a misplaced empathy for the second killer (D.K.)*. Yes, he was a depressive and overly sensitive. Yes, he was a follower and easily influenced. He was certainly not the mastermind of the attack. Cullen, like so many others, seems to think that buys him a small shred of sympathy. To me, the opposite is true; unlike E.H, who seemed programmed to kill, D.K. chose his own path.

At any point he could have stopped the attack, simply by speaking out. He could have told E.H. 'no', he could have . . . he could have done everything differently. He didn't. He made a conscious decision to join the plan, unburdened by the madness that was boiling in E.H's head. For me, he may be more liable, morally, than his partner.

A+

* I've always said that tossing the names of killers around gives them the immortality they so often seek. Screw that; the initials will do here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Goodbye Billy, We Love You 1994? - 2010

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For a cat that brought so much joy into our household, Billy's arrival was marked by anger and tears.

I'd only owned one cat before in my life, an old stray named Lucky, and when we put him down we were eager to replace him. As we toured the Humane Society I came across Billy, asleep in a cage. I was furious. Nevermind that even as it ran through my mind I knew the idea was insane; I was convinced this was Lucky, that we'd been lied to and tricked by the vet.

When I calmed down it was easy to see it wasn't the same cat. Oh, they resembled one another, but Billy was younger (only two or three)and his face rounder - he had, in those early days, features that had an oddly Asian appearance. We spoke to a clerk, filled out the paperwork, and were told we could take him home.

And then, as we were getting ready to leave, we were told we were unsuitable to adopt. Some higher up caught wind of the fact we were moving in a weeks time and denied our application. By the time we were 'suitable' Billy would be long gone. I launched an epic fit, as did Lisa, and for no other reason than to shut us up, they rubber stamped the purchase.

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Over the years Billy would move with us many times. From 31st Street to 26th; from there to 56th, then on to 23rd, back to 31st and finally to the home we now occupy. If it 'stressed' him out or lessened the quality of his life, it did so without changing his personality or appearance. Start to finish we was a huge, calm, loving cat.

He was never *the* biggest cat in town (at his heaviest he was 22 pounds) but he carried himself lightly, with a spring in his step that was disconcerting to someone who was confronted with his size for the first time. Petite he was not. For all his size, he wasn't much of a fighter; he killed a mouse once on 23rd St, which forever cemented his place in my heart, but he got along fine with animals and humans alike. He resembled a lion, but his idea of a hunt was a search for a warm lap. This was a cat that would come running when you called his name ("BillyBillyBillyBilly, Billllly!", that would knead your belly until you ached, that purred with a loud, deep rumble that left no doubt when he was pleased.

In all the years we shared together he gave me trouble on only two occasions. The second, when he fled in a snowstorm, was documented here. The first was only months into our time together, when he snuck out the window of our second floor flat and jumped to the neighbor's roof. Two, three in the morning, in the middle of a shady neighborhood (26th and Orchard) and I go and knock on a stranger's door and ask them to shoo my cat back towards home.

Oh, I was ticked.

If I'd known then how patient Billy would be with my children in the years to come, I'd have given him a pass for that night. He was with us four years before YaYa was born, but he never once gave in to jealousy when we became parents. William Sonoma would find his way into the cribs of all of my children, and do nothing more than curl up at their feet and keep them company. As they grew into toddlers he was tolerant of their curiosity, putting up with far more than the old man deserved, but never snapping or growing angry. He was so ingrained in their lives that at one point YaYa's Kindergarten teacher approached us about her 'imaginary brother' - they knew she had no brother at that time, but noted she'd often talk about her 'brother Billy'.

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In his final years he had a set routine. He would spend the morning and early afternoon on the 2nd floor, napping with our cat Angelcakes. As the kids came home from school he would vanish into the basement, and after bedtime, when the house was quiet, he would emerge to prowl the first floor - and find a kind lap to explore.

About a month ago we noticed he was missing a patch of fur. We assumed one of the kids had tried giving him a haircut, but it was only the beginning. He would continue to lose hair, weight and energy. By a week ago his routine was gone, and his existence confined to the first floor. Last night he soiled himself, and we could deny it no longer; it was time to put him to rest. He himself seemed to know; before I went to bed he walked up to me, meowed once, weakly, then retired to sleep.

This morning, with tears in my eyes, the family (minus Ginger) took him to the Pahle Clinic. All three kids had cried when we told them of our decision. An hour later YaYa was still weeping, and could not stop; Smiley was too young to grasp the situation; Lulu was sad but controlled.

We were given time alone with him, and we all cried openly. When the vet came back to finish the deed she too was upset, with tears flowing down her cheeks. She'd never met Billy, but said it was obvious how great he was by how much he was loved. She injected him as we held and petted him, and a moment later, his eyes still open, he was gone.

They let us take him home, and we placed him in a pillowcase and buried him in the backyard, laying a concrete stone over his resting place. I wouldn't allow the burial to become a 'production', and turned down the kids' requests to include notes or toys, but I let each kid toss a clump of dirt over his body and say goodbye.

We aren't going to replace him. Someday, yes, of course, but we have Angelcakes, and that's enough for now. Billy was with us for fully a third of my life; friends who returned to our lives after a decade's absence were greeted by his familiar purr. Right now, any replacement would feel like a poor substitute, and that's not fair to Billy, to us, and most importantly to the new cat.

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Rest in peace Billy. You are, and always will be, The. Best. Cat. Ever.

We love you.

FB March 17th - 20th

March 17th:

TV quote of the day: I'm jumpier than a virgin at a prison rodeo - Blanche (Golden Girls)

* A good day so far (knock on wood), but w/ an unexplainable current of anxiety right below the surface. As good as it's been, I think I'll be glad when today is done.

* And the day(light) ends crappy, w/ YaYa having an epic fit outside. One so ghastly I threw her over my shoulder and carried her inside, where her theatrics continued. God Bless my Mom for teaching me to reign in my temper, because I was dang close to losing it tonight w/ YaYa.

March 18th:

* In the dead of night I heard someone mucking around the house and got up to investigate. I found our 2 year old calmly watching TV. "Hi Daddy," she said. I said something less friendly in reply. Hours later YaYa repeated yesterday's tantrum, this time because I wouldn't give her YoGo's for breakfast. Not a good first third of the day.

* California's lame 'happy cows' couldn't even produce the 2nd best cheese in the US; they finished behind WI and Idaho.

* 2nd third of the day: so-so. Smiley & I stood on an overpass and watched a train. Then my friend Tre came over, and we took his boy & Smiley/Ginger for a walk & to the playground. While there news came that LuLu had yet to be found a full *half hour* after school let out; not in extended care, or play practice, or on theplayground. She was found - safe & sound - at a Daisy meeting, but oh man the scenarios in my head!

* Actor Fess Parker passes away. RIP. I had a vinyl single of the Davy Crockett theme song back in the day but, sadly, no coonskin cap.

My 36th Birthday:


We started off the day by taking Smiley to have his cast removed. He'd walk with a noticeable limp for a week or two, but in the end all was well. We did forget to bring a second shoe with us (!) and so had to stop and buy a new pair before we continued our errands. Eventually we wound up at Wal-Mart, where I purchased some socks and shoes for myself. Then, a nap at home. Later, in the evening, we had a cake and the family went out to Vila Roma for dinner. It was a nice, quiet day w/ plenty of birthday wishes on Facebook.

March 20th:

RIP - LBJ aide Liz Carpenter, and JFK Cabinet Member Stewart Udall.

* Sure, I'm 110% worthy of your adoration, but that doesn't mean I'm ungrateful when you express it publicly. So to everyone who took the time to wish me a Happy Birthday Friday - Thank you!

* "Turn the Beat Around' In modern day LA an aspiring young dancer convinces a developer to open a retro disco. Drama ensues w/ her boyfriend, a rival choreographer, etc. An MTV production, the film's look is very Hills-ish, and the lead could easily pass for a Latin Lauren Conrad. Not enough dancing, plot, or skin, but a passable waste of 90 minutes. C.

* Congratulations to Badger wrestler Andrew Howe. NCAA Champion at 165 lbs. Which is roughly the weight of my ego alone.

* [regarding the racial announcement incident at an East Coast Wal-Mart] I can see arresting him for hijacking the store's PA system, I can see hanging him out to dry in the press or suing his Mommy. All well deserved. But cuffing him for "bias intimidation and harassment charges" seems like moronic PC double-talk, and frankly steps on the 1st amendment (remember, this wasn't Wal-Mart or a corporate entity, just some idiotic teenager that grabbed the PA).

* This made me ill, & not for the reasons u think. Michael Brown, who was convicted of murder during a OK robbery in 1975, served 10 years in prison, then escaped & lived on the run for 14 years. He held down jobs, opened his own business, stayed true to a wife he loved, and was a pillar of the community. In the end he turned himself in so he could get proper medical care for his wife's heart. The $ the FBI spent hunting him with MY tax dollars (inc. 'teams' across the country, TV shows, etc) is revolting. There were no more immediate threats to our nations harm to worry about? Or was a guy who turned over a new leaf 'it'?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rambles

Monday and Tuesday we had contractors in the house. On Monday Lisa minded the store, but Tuesday was my day off, and so I was stuck at home with the kids keeping an eye on the work (aka reading a book cover to cover). The sucky part for the wee ones was that, for safety reasons, they were prevented from going in the back yard or upstairs, and I wasn't leaving the house unattended so they were confined to the first floor all day. But they actually took it in stride, and somewhere along the line Ginger fell asleep on the couch. Even in dreamland, she refused to release her hold on her yellow balloon.

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She talks like a champ by the way, and the way she says "OK" is the cutest thing ever.

Later that day LuLu wanted to impress (disgust?) the family by showing us how she could scratch her ear with her toes.

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Smiley tried to repeat the trick but failed. Meanwhile YaYa, who is seemingly always in an over dramatic, sour mood lately, was actually happy and smiled for the camera.

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I should mention that last week Thursday we grilled out for the first time EVER at our house. Keep in mind we moved in in the early months of 2007, so it was a full FOUR years since we pulled out the grill. I'm not sure why that is; we grilled out constantly at our old flat. I think we were too busy in '07 with the remodel and move to fire it up, and by 2008 it was buried in the shed. Pathetic.

Anyhow, I won't lie and say it went smoothly. It was rather chaotic, with kids running around trying to toss paper into the fire and Lisa claiming that I tried to set her hair ablaze.

That last bit is, of course, categorically mostly untrue.

Oh, speaking of firsts the day before the contractors arrived I finally got around to installing the handle on Smiley's sunlight, which meant he was able to open it and get some air at night!

* * *

Weird how the kids are a mix of their parents. Take the following:

YaYa: my complexion, Lisa's nose and hair. My passion for reading, her Mom's flair for the performing arts. My dramatics, her Mom's temper. A bit of a hoarder. Naturally outgoing but held back by a desire not to look the fool; as most adults know, that's just about a guarantee you'll wind up playing the part. A good sense of humor but sometimes unable to translate that into a joke or prank that 'works'.

LuLu: My gorgeous hair, Lisa's pale, quick to burn complexion. (Lack of) height that seems a throwback to an earlier generation. Sadly, my asthma, but no great love of books, although she's become a heck of a reader. "Not my thing," she told me last week. Very kind, if quick tempered.

Smiley: size from both of us; my complexion, Lisa's hair. Super sweet. Very concerned with eating healthy ("it heal-ty?" he'll ask about *everything*, even though he has a weakness for hot fries). Super diligent about following rules and maintaing social order; at present, on pace to be a cop. Loves being read to and helping cook.

LuLu: my eyes but with Lisa's great blue color; Lisa's hair and nose with a complexion that's a cross between us both. Easily the closest to Lisa in appearance. A known hoarder who often falls asleep with a dozen stuffed animals and as many books; a great love of stories and books like her Dad. VERY very independent and a quick learner; possibly the greatest natural intelligence of the lot.

All of them have my dimpled chin.

* * *

Last week I finished a drainage ditch I was working on and the 70ish neighbor across the alley stopped and asked me if that was to correct for my (downed) gutter, which he bluntly said "looked like shit." I told him truthfully that I'd had trouble getting someone reliable out to do a job with so little income potential. (I don't have a ladder tall enough, nor the interest in learning the job while 20 feet in the air).

He volunteered to do it, having worked construction all his life, and for the rest of the afternoon we rehung the fallen gutter and braced two more. He wouldn't take payment but I did buy him a pack of cigarettes, and he seemed genuinely pleased by how ecstatic I was with the results of his efforts.

Anywho, as we made small talk I asked him how long he'd lived in his house. The answer? Since 1941, when he was two years old. Nineteen forty-one, while the USS Arizona was still afloat and well in Pearl Harbor and Hitler owned half of Europe. Wow.

He went on to say that the neighbor beside him was moving in part because the garage on that house was built to accommodate a Model T and was unable to house anything larger than a compact. Fascinating stuff. Can you imagine how much change he's seen in the neighborhood? And he pays attention, because he remembered the very day my current gutters were hung (before I bought the place) and judged the workmanship poor at the time.

* * *

I'm still stuck with the vivid dreams. As a for instance I dreamnt that I was in Mexico City as a hurricane brewed, and yet the population wouldn't heed my warnings. Fearing it was a language problem I hired a young man as an intepreter, but he simply spouted a poetic version of my words that did little to arouse attention. When the storm hit the city was pulverised.

A moment later I was in a dark hallway with two Skittles vending machines against the wall. A quarter was in both machines, and I remember thinking how grand a gesture that was; how I should pay it forward in the future and brighten someone's day for the cost of mere pocket change.

Then a man appeared out of the blue, and announced he'd released the tiger. Sure enough, behind them a fierce wild tiger appeared.

In another dream I was in a grocery store trying to find/buy some Nutty Bars, and for some reaosn it was a very elaborate process, as if they were illegal to own. Soon I was in a prison that was more like an elaborate dormitory, and there was a crooked and sadistic guard who made sport of some of the prisoners. I tried to avoid him but got into it over - you guessed it - the Nutty Bars.

Sweet stuff huh?

Now I don't read anything into this stuff, and I sure don't believe it to be any reflection of my mental state, so please spare me the psycho-babble.

The bad part of this is my sleep is interrupted quite often; the good part is instead of having six blank hours a night, I now have a mini-movie to look forward to while I sleep. It feels, honestly, like I've gained extra hours in my life.

OK, way too long of a post. Have a good one!

FB March 15th - 17th

March 15th:

* Oscar winning actress Kate Winslet announced her marriage was ending, and I posted that I 'still had a shot'. This was promptly and good naturedly shot down by some Facebook friends. I responded:

Bob (I), here's the plan. Eventually, her career will flounder. By then I'll have had a book or two published, and sold the rights to one to Hollywood. That screenplay will have a part that could ressurect a great actresses career. Sadly, she'll be far down the producers list of options - but maybe I could be convinced to tip it in her favor. Wink wink nudge nudge. ;)

To which he replied: Ah I worship the ground that you walk on Sir. I like your plan and wish you all the best.

and my grade-school friend Tom wrote: A well thought out plan indeed. Good luck on your mission. I myself am still holding out for Kate Beckinsale.

* I received & completed the census form today. We were already subjected to the 'long' form earlier in the yr. Assuming u don't mind answering questions about your race, bills, income, transportation, etc. the long form isn't invasive at all ;) Today's form was easy-peezy, and I'll admit I felt proud listing the whole family. In a weird way, I feel we now 'exist' in history.

* [on word that the museum was thinking of dropping the weekly free day for County residents] Utter crap. As much as I love museums, MPM is dull. Very little of substance has changed in decades, except to remove the wonderful arms/armour exhibit for the PC rain forest area, & that was 20 years ago already. Take away the free day & I'll never take the family; it simply wouldn't be worth the cost. I'll draw the kids a map from memory & call it a day.

* [RE: reports that babies may be banned from airline flights because of noise complaints] My youngest flier was 3, but I've been on flights that included crying tots. Here's what I think of the people who complain about them: Nut up. You're an adult, she/he's an infant whose ears are hurting. You don't like listening to it, buy a f*ing Ipod as-hole.

* NASA found a shrimp like creature swimming 600 feet below the Antartic ice. It's a great discovery, but this line from an article about it "[the shrimp] could challenge the idea of where and how forms of life can survive" seems old hat. Haven't we already agreed that life pretty much exists wherever the hell it wants to?

* The kids are in bed & I'm waiting for Lisa to return before cranking up AI on the DVR. Meanwhile I'm watching "Alone in the Wilderness" on PBS. When he retired in 1968 Iowan Dick Proenneke moved to Alaska, where he lived on his own in the wilderness, crafting everything by hand & filming ala Survivorman. A very cool if mellow film.

March 17th:

* Gawd, American Idol was boring. I'm not a huge Stones fan to begin w/, but most of the 12 seemed bound & determined to make each song xtra slow and shi--y. Siobahn was the glaring and inspired exception, & the night belongs to her. Tim Urban should be voted off the show this wk.

* Tapes of 1954-1962 "General Electric Theater", hosted by [Ronald] Reagan, were believed to be damaged or lost. But they were recently uncovered in the General Electric/NBC Universal archives and will be delivered to Nancy as part of the celebration for what would have been the late Prez's 100th birthday.

* Another backroom deal?? Rep. Kucinich called the bill "little more than a boondoggle" for private insurers, and yet now, after several closed door meetings with Obama, he's changed his mind. A sincere and selfless decision it ain't.

* Detroit is closing 44 of its public schools. However, I should mention this is due to declining enrollement and a lack of students, and so (from a surface reading) it's more of an indictment of the city's overall decline than that of the school system.

* Despite it being a lovely spring day, Ginger is obsessed with wearing her pink snow boots around town, and Lisa's drawn a line in the sand.. "I'm serious, you're not going anywhere unless you put shoes on. There is NO SNOW. You look like a goof. You're making US look like goofs. Take them off. Now!" Good luck w/ that. I caved after 5 min yest.

* Riots errupted and two people were shot in the aftermath of the [Ugandan] royal tomb's destruction. The tombs were a UNESCO World Heritage site of historical and spiritual significance to Uganda.

* On the same day Rangers manager Ron Washington admits to failing a drug test, Nationals' player Elijah Dukes is cut. It's a shame. Dukes was/is a bad-ass w/ a dozen different marks against him, but he sucked it up & held it in check long enough to give himself a chance in TB/Washington. In the end, his #'s just weren't there.

* 12 Christians were attacked and had their tongues cut out in Nigeria, only a week after more than 200 Christians were butchered in their homes. The country is split nearly evenly between Christians in the south and Muslims to the North. If you haven't heard about this, don't sweat it - the media buries violence against Christians in the back pages (when they report it at all).

March 13th thru the Ides of March

March 13th:

* I'm waiting to pick something up off of Craigslist. The last email? "You can come at 11 and pick it up". Yeah, uh, howsabout at some point you give me a phone # or say, an *address* so I can do that.[this was a sewing machine for Lisa. It worked great for nearly a month, then went kaput]

* My intense common sense/demands u stop right there/hearin' bout your missionary style/does not make me smile/no no/I get sweaty as a sauna/when I think of you up on'a/uh-uh/I don't mean to hate/but you ugly folk should masturbate - Danielle Fischel on The Dish

* Finished 'Gone for Good', the first novel I've read by Harlan Coben. It's a good read and a solid page turner. Still, while one twist or turn is great, an endless parade of them (all more extreme than the last) gnaws away at the all important suspension of disbelief. Unless you're watching The Sting. Then it's cool.

March 14th:

* Actor Peter Graves passes away. RIP.

* [re: a hypothetical Pujos-Howard trade] The logic in the article is persuasive, but I don't see it happening. Howard's #'s will fall off a cliff in a few years, and assuming a) you can afford Pujols and b) he's not outed for steroids (hint hint nudge nudge) Albert's the better option.

The Ides of March:

* "I want to be remembered when I'm dead. I want books written about me. I want songs sung about me. And then, hundreds of years from now, I want episodes of my life to be played out weekly at half past nine by some great heroic actor of the age." - Happy International Blackadder Status Day!

* Archaeologists Find 40,000-Year-Old Tools at Tasmanian Construction Site

* TV quote of the morning: "I *do* have oily skin. I'm 30 years old and I still look F---ing 22. 'Cuz I have oily f---ing skin." - Raven on Rupaul's Drag Race

* [on the 25th anniversary of the dot-com] Happy annivesary, you beautiful user-friendly web addy you!

* If word gets out that I'm missing, 500 girls will kill themselves and I wouldn't want them on my conscience - not when they ought to be on my face! - Happy International Blackadder Status Day!

* Good news: Smiley's cast will come off at 9 a.m. on my birthday. Bad news: one of LuLu's fish was obviously dying, and so I fed him to our turtle (circle of life and all). I had Smiley and Ginger say a prayer over him as they were a bit too gleeful over the feeding bit. He was a good fish, nothing more than a 30 cent feeder that's lasted since last May. RIP noble swimmer.

* The Bucks' Andrew Bogut was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

* Woman aims to become world's fattest

"In order to pay for the enormous amounts of food she is eating — her weekly grocery bill is $815 — Ms Simpson makes money by running a website where men pay to watch her consume fast food." As Lisa said - that's just sad.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lost's finale: A more detailed exploration



I intentionally avoided any details/spoilers about the Lost finale yesterday, but by now you've either seen it, or have no interest in ever taking the plunge. So I'd like to put some of my thoughts down, in part to refute some of the wilder (aka dumber) notions out there. Not that I blame the fans; for once we were treated to a more-or-less straightforward story, with clearly defined cause and effects, and I think some Lost fans just can't change gears at the last moment.

Let's start out simple. I think Desmond was put on the island by Jacob as a weapon, just as Jack said. Destroying the island was a temptation MIB couldn't pass up, and he was too busy relishing the idea to realize disconnecting the source once again made him mortal and vulnerable. It was, to paraphrase Sawyer, a long con.

What was the source? Who/what put it there? We'll never know. Neither did any of the characters, and if they're not complaining, why should we?

Was Jack destined to die? It was his choice to take the job, but there's that gray area of fate/free will again. Knowing Jack, was there any real question who would accept the duty? Was he steered towards the position because he was a better candidate (no pun intended) to physically defeat MIB? Was he sacrificed in order to preserve Hurley's eventual reign?

You tell me. None of it matters. Come to think of it, did anything?

I don't know if letting MIB free would have destroyed our world. Still, I can't imagine it's a good thing to have a cunning, ruthless and violent immortal walk the streets of Topeka. I can empathize with him, to a degree; keep me trapped for two millenia and I'd get miffed too. But oh well. Whatever his motives, whatever Mommy issues he had, he'd grown into a murdering thug. The last thing the world needed was him walking free.

Now, as to the 'flash-sideways'. Yes, it's purgatory, and if that word bothers you because of some 'Papist' connotations, deal with it. They are dead but not in heaven or hell, but rather in a 'holding cell' where they explore and move past the issues that plagued them in our world. In other words, a sort of purgatory.

It is NOT solely Jack's afterlife, where each character could be nothing more than the sum of his memory. Each character is clearly independent of the others; connected by their shared past, but dealing with a full life of their own.

No, this is a communal afterlife. Now I don't know if it's an L.A. created and occupied only by the Lost cast, or if it a larger, general 'world' that the characters borrow as their stage. My money is on the latter. When Christian talks of the cast making a world to find each other, I think he means that the force of their bonds drew each of them into proximity with one another. Their experiences - their 'world' - is fashioned by their need to reconnect.

So what about David, Jack's son? Who pops out a kid in purgatory? I go back to some references this season about how much the boy resembled Jack when he was young. I view him as a surrogate for Jack himself. I think Jack imagined/was given David to work out his issues with Christian and break the Shepard's dysfunctional father/son relationship.

Was the island (and all the events of the series) real? Yes, dangit, didn't you listen to Christian? It was real, so real that the relationships forged on the island transcended death. It was real, there were no do-overs, what happened happened.

Finally, Jack's death scene: I teared up. It was the ONLY suitable ending for the show, and I like how, thanks to Vincent, he didn't 'die alone'. Well done.

Well done indeed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost: The End


You want another insight into my chaotic head? For years now I've made the series finale of Lost a benchmark in my life, a goal that I had to reach. I was always a little worried that God, with His sense of humour, would have me drop dead a week before the finale just so I'd never know how it ended. Along the same lines I've decided, well in advance, to avoid becoming interested in anything after the age of 70, just so He can't screw me out of the answers to that too :)

Now . . . it's over. I made it.

And you know what? The word that comes to mind when I think of the finale, more than any other, is 'satisfied'.

As always Lost stayed devoted to the 'story', a true rarity on TV. The characters moved us and spoke to our hearts, but they existed to move the story along, not to bump it to the side. I love that, just as I love characters like Jack and Desmond.
What also impressed me is that through all the confusion and all the theories, Lost stayed true to its own canonical beliefs. There was an unapologetic belief in the spiritual, and the unflinching rule that 'what happened, happened'. There was no reset button, no 'it was all a dream'. For the characters, free will is real and powerful, even in the face of fate, but what is done is done; no amount of wishing will absolve them from facing the consequences of their actions. They may come to terms with the past, but they can never outrun it.

As to the finale in particular: I think Jack's fate on the island was what it needed to be, a necessary (and freely chosen) sacrifice as part of Jacob's long con; that the means of Smokey's defeat was surprising and emphatic; that the role of the Protector went to the person who was always destined to carry the burden. I also think the duct-taped jet using a dirt runway was a stretch, but who am I to argue with a majic island?

For the record, I think the resolution to the 'flash-sideways' was poignant, sweet, and most importantly, absolute. We know their fate was was exactly what we saw on the island - what happened happened, no takebacks. We also know that in the end it all mattered immensely - and didn't matter at all.

I think back on the last shot of the series, that perfect bookend to the pilot, and I'm torn between a smile and a tear.

Lost, I'll miss you. It's been a hell of a ride.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

FB March 11th - 13th

March 11th:

I'm a wee bit peeved. I was called and asked to pick up a shift at work and said yeah, sure, just let me ck the wife's schedule and I'll call you back. I called and, naturally, it had been handed over to someone else - because that 15 min delay obviously meant the diff. between the comp going bankrupt or staying solvent. $%^#@

* [on the death of NFL player/actor Merlin Olsen] I was born too late to remember him from the NFL. My memories are limited to seeing him on Little House on the Prairie (wupping some punks that beat on Michael Landon in town) and the FTD commericals. RIP.

* Kansas City (MO) is planning to close 28 of its 61 public schools.

* I've finished the historical novel "The Burning Land" by Bernard Cornwell. As the 10th century ends the Saxon warrior Uhtred, oath-bound to Alfred the Great, forsakes his vows. But soon a Danish army under Haesten threatens Mercia - & Alfred's daughter, its Queen, so Uhtred's blade must sing again. It's fast moving, ...blood-drenched, (more or less) historically accurate adventure from a proven master. Well done.

* I dig the first line: "Sometimes multitasking has its limits." LOL Police: Woman Crashes Car While Shaving Bikini Area

* What a lousy night of AI. Andrew freakin' Garcia, Didi and Lacey Brown go forward while Lilly Scott is cut? F that. Good for her for not rolling over and mouthing the standard issue PC crap after she was robbed. Alex Lambert was screwed too; forget the mullet and listen to that voice. WTH was America thinking?

* I'm not a big 30 Rock fan, but "Hard Cheeses and Your Root Canal, Liz" had me LOL for so long I dang near wizzed my pants.

March 12th:

The kids are watching the ICarly special where they train for a space flight, and the exterior shot of the futuristic 'space training facility' is . . . the Milwaukee Art Museum.

* Exciting news. Viking remains have been found in England. All of the men were beheaded, presumably by the very Saxons they were trying to conquer. Not the greatest article. The concept of a "Dark Ages" has been largely discredited (and rightly so), and the term 'Viking' here is used as if it was a nationality, not (for lack of a better word) an occupation. Still, exciting.

* A beautiful, very foggy night out there. I just got back from running errands with YaYa for the last few hours, including burning the last of her Xmas GC at Barnes & Noble (where she picked up 2 Club Penguin books).

March 13th:

Paranoid is what people who are trying to take advantage call you in an effort to get you to drop your guard

* This is old news (Oct 2009) but new to me. This is the only known film image of Anne Frank, taken as she leaned out her window to watch a bride and groom next door. Here at home we continue to read 'The Diary of Anne Frank' to the girls before bed, usually only an entry or two a night.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Facebook March 7th - 11th

March 7th - my Smiley's 5th Birthday!!

* Smiley's name appeared on Sprout's Birthday Wishes at ~9:32 this morning, but (so far) not his card.

* 3 words to describe Smiley's bday party (in progress): pretty dang lousy. [only one of six invited guests from his class showed up, despite folks RSVP'ing]

* [3:18 pm] The kid party is done. 1 hr 55 minutes until the family party for Smiley starts. I think I'm going to try and nap. Or watch the Magic-Lakers game. Either/or.

March 8th:

I'll say it again: as early as the 2000 election I witnessed, first hand, voter fraud at the polls here in Milwaukee. A few hundred fraudulent ballots may not sound like a lot, but in a battleground state like we were in '00 and '04, it matters.

* I finished *One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich*. The blase acceptance of the gulag as normal and "just something to bear" is as much an indictment of the Soviets as the injustice of the camp itself.

* [from my sister K] Danny - Congrat's dear man . Your wish has come true . People .com is reporting that Betty White will be hosting Saturday night live !!!!! Your fantasy lady is fullfilling your dreams :)

* [on the death of Natalie Wood in the '80's] I was seven at the time, and I think it's the first high-profile celebrity death I remember. Ah, memories.

* [re: a serial killer who won on 'The Dating Game'] By the time of the show he'd already raped a little girl, and by the end of that year he would abduct and kill the first of his victims. Even at the time the other contestants on the game felt he was 'creepy' and despite winning, the woman refused to go out with him.

March 9th:

* On Sunday I caught YaYa using "BRB" (as in 'be right back') in actual, human to human conversation. Our culture's decline is all but complete.

* [Rep Eric Massa (D - NY) on White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel] Quote: : "I am showering, naked as a jaybird, and here comes Rahm Emanuel, not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me." Icky-ick. At least it was just a finger he was poking with . . .

* Internet quote of the day, from a commenter on a Baseball Think Factory article about Obemann's over-the-top (surprise!) & rude attack on sportswriter Bill Simmons: "It may take months. It may take years. It may take decades. But as God is my witness, before I die, I will see Science get that stick out of Olbermann's ass"

* AI: A srong night for the women, and I much prefer the terse one hr format to the dragged out 2hr crap. Lacey saved herself this wk, and I think it's obvious Paige has to go. 2nd elimination is harder to pick this week - maybe Katelyn for her good vocal/no personality performance?

* Lost: After last weeks yawner, it was good to see Lost back on track. I'm happy Ben is a good man in the flash-sideways. Note also that on-island he rejected neoLocke/devil?'s offer & been accepted into the (good) group simply by confessing his sins. Jack's transformation has begun as well; on the Black Rock it became ...clear he is now a man of faith, and a believer in destiny. The lines have been drawn. It's showtime.

March 10th:

* Actor Corey Haim dies (RIP) and Einstein's theory of relativity is allegedly proven

* Happy birthday Chuck Norris!. One of my favorite Norris facts: He destroyed the Periodic Table of Elements because he only recognizes the element of surprise.

* [on the retirement of the great but oft-injured Nomar Garciaparra] There's no sport that likes to dwell more on 'what coulda been', but baseball mythology aside, injuries rarely derail what was sure to be a Hall of Fame, history making career. Not so with Nomar. He could be the poster boy for great talent rendered useless. I tip my cap to you sir. Enjoy your retirement.

March 11th:

I think the men did quite well tonight on AI. Michael Lynche won the night, although not my vote, but I was also quite impressed with Alex Lambert's voice. My picks to go home: the one-note Andrew Garcia and Todrick Hall.

* Just finished watching the Spanish language film "Before the Fall" (Tres Dias). The world has 3 days before a meterorite destroys the earth. So its a disaster movie right? Nope. Prison riots break out, & a serial killer escapes to kill the family of the man who caught him. Only the man's loser brother is left to defen...d the children. Think High Noon meets Armageddon meets Party of Five. Very good flick.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Facebook March 4th (cont.) - March 6th

March 4th:

* Whodathunk I could make a cake from scratch? Having mastered all the Manly Arts, it seems I'm destined to conquer the kitchen as well. :) The apple cake is out of the oven & looks and smells wonderful. I made it for Friday's dessert so I can't judge the taste yet, but I'm gonna go on a limb & type out the recipie on S...lapinions. I can always delete the draft if the cake is hurl-worthy.

* [on the brutal slaying of Rachel Thompson and her children here in Milwaukee] Ah, man. They killed the 4 yr old first - a child that greeted them by name - & then took turns stabbing a toddler in the neck. Then, and only then, did they kill the woman who'd seen her own mom, and now her own children, murdered. Monsters like this walk the streets, freed by our legal system, while people piss & moan about due process for terrorists. What a f*ed up world.

* two links, neither of which I can get to work today: a lock of Napoleon's hair was found in an Australian vault, and coins from the time of Alexander the Great were unearthed in Syria

March 5th:

* My parents just left. I'd invited them over for a Lenten meal of cajun style salmon cakes, rice, salad, and that homemade apple cake I made yest. Personally, I think the cake was a litte dry, but everyone seemed to like it.

* Luda's "How Low Can You Go?" came on when I was driving w/ Smiley. When the chipmunk voice chimed in he got very excited & asked me to turn it down so he could tell me something. "Daddy, t'ose Zhu-Zhu [Pet] sounds!" he said, a typical grin plastered on his face.



* From the comfort of a chair in WI, the 'race' seems like no big deal, if silly, but I'm sure it's a big no-no. Here's an interesting bit: I didn't know the USN had female Capt's on warships - or that this one (Holly Graff) has been relieved of duty for unprofessional and cruel behavior towards her crew. That behavior ...incl.'s assault, verbal abuse, & allegedly using her rank for personal gain. Way to be a pioneer for your gender there, Capt'n. Navy Captain Demoted After Warship Drag Race Surfaced

* [on news that Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is alleged to have committed a sexual assualt] Here we go again. No idea if he's guilty or just an easy, easy mark, but enough already. Get your ass out of bars Ben, and hit up Craigslist personals and the local liquor store. The results certainly couldn't be any worse.

March 6th, my niece's birthday and the anniversary of the fall of the Alamo:

* Screw a dislike button. What FB needs is a spelling and grammar check.

* I woke up at 6 am, got dressed, scraped the frost off the windshield and drove to work, ready to start at 7 . . . only to discover my shift didn't start until 10.

* *93.6%* of Iceland's pop. votes 'no' to a bank bailout that would have cost them the equiv of $5.3 billion in payments to Britain & the Netherlands. Now International Moneary Fund may block a financial rescue package, the gov't might be destablized, and folks are p.o'd. Welcome to the messy, squabling Europe. Same as the old Europe, really, but w/out trench warfare. So far.

* After a busy day at work I came home, chilled for a bit, then noticed we were down to only 2 kids (after my niece's bday party YaYa stayed over, Smiley is at Gma). So I packed up & burned part of my paycheck on dinner at Villa Roma. Click on that link for a review of our experience. Lu and Ginger were dolls. A nice end to the day.

* My family ate at Villa Roma Saturday night. It was a nice atmosphere, relaxed and adult but more than accomodating to the kids - to the point they were given Princess and Hannah Montana plates! The pizza was typical Milwaukee style - thin cracker crust, a sweet tomato sauce, sausage and cheese. Very good, and quite affordable: $15.50 for a 12x18 pizza. The garlic bread was great but a little pricey for the amount that we were given. Service was quite friendly. We'll be back!

* [on an article debating whether or not civility and politeness in a crisis is directly related to the time you have to react] Interesting. I agree w/ the idea, but also w/ several of the rebuttals. The Lusitania, cited as an ex. of panic induced selfishness, did sink quickly, leaving no time to re-exert sociatal norms. But passengers had just been attacked & sunk during wartime, & they had full knowledge of the Titanic disaster. Put those conditions on the Titanic & a similar panic may have emerged, regardless of the time it took to sink.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Facebook March 1st - 4th

March 1st:

This is a hearbreaking story. I hope, in between tragedies, she had a good life.
Deaths make 4 generations of homicides, heartbreak

* The author of 'Gertie the Duck', Milwaukee native Nick Geoprgiady, has passed away. RIP.

* I pointed this out on their FB page & was labeled a troll, but it's the truth: the Milwaukee Public Library FB's nothing more than 'inpirational' quotes & links to Wikipedia entries - Dinah Shore (!) today. Isn't posting a daily Wikipedia entry just admitting "hey, we're irrelevant! Even we use the web to get our info!...". All those English majors and not one can write a FB status update?

* MPS, Ald. Willie Wade butt heads over hat-removal policy Aside from city official using the "Don't you know who I am?!" bit to try & get out of a jam, causing a ruckus at a high school, being escorted out by cops, etc there's this: it's rude to wear a hat indoors. It just is. Why don't you hold your fork like a shovel and chew with your mouth open while you're at it?

March 2nd:

Postal Service Seeks Permission to End Saturday Delivery

* Interesting. "The change is negligible, but permanent: Each day should be 1.26 microseconds shorter, according to preliminary calculations." Chile quake may have tipped Earth's axis

* [RE replacing Simon on AI next year] A dark horse will probably be the winner to take his seat, but I do think Neil Patrick Harris would be great in the role. But you know, I'm not sure Ellen should stay tho', as she often seems . . . overwhelmed on the live shows. Time will tell.

* Widely irrelevant, outside of a vague water/space connection: In retrospect, I think the Dr. Who episode "The Waters of Mars" was very derivative of the episode "42", save with water in place of sun.
Tons and Tons of Ice Found on the Moon

* Long day already. Came home from wrk last night and had to fix something in the basement: Result: 3.5 hrs of sleep. Followed by an argument w/ YaYa on the way to school, Mass, grocery store, home to cranky Ginger, now waiting on an appt. Full afternoon/evening planned, followed (~ 10) with hitting the DVR and watchi...ng AI, Lost, Dirty Jobs, 19 Kids, etc. Tuesday's. Yikes.

* I replaced the coffee pot Ginger shattered. The problem is I didn't measure it & its too tall for my coffee maker. You can fit it in, but you 1st have to remove the filter/coffee part, then lift the lid of the pot and slide both in @ the same time, giving it a little jiggle-wiggle there @ the end. You also have to keep... the lid up the whole time its brewing. In short, it's a ridiculous jerry-rigged contraption.

* Smiley just Shake 'n Bake'd the chicken I'm prepping for dinner. He was dancing around the kitchen shaking the bag like maracas. Did a pretty good job of it too.

* Not too sound all girly, but when a man makes his family a dinner and says be home at 5:30, it'll be on the table then, the clock should *not* read 5:49 w/out so much as a phone call. I [pretend to] slave all day, and for what? I feel like putting down my frilly apron and going home to Mother. ;)

* The women will *not* perform as expected today on AI, due to an unspecified illness by Crystal Bowersox. The men will sing instead. Bumping up the boys a day might just sink a few of them.

March 3rd:

Happy Birthday to my sister Katie!

* AI (men): much better than last week, & Ellen finally looked comfortable. Kara: please stop the neck motion and get out of Simon's shot. Ugh. On the hot seat: John Park, Jermaine, and Todrick, *maybe* Garcia (can't ride the 'Straight Up' train 4ever). Casey will stay, but vocals were weak. Alex was much improved.

* I finished "Shutter Island" today. I was right - I'd guessed the ending after only a few chapters. It was still a good bk, but w/ all due respect to those who rave about 'the twist', I don't think you had to be Hank Aaron to see that particular curveball coming.

* Yeah, one of the worst afternoons with the kids in months. Ginger is screaming at me and pulling at my arm right now, Smiley is banished to his room after a crybaby fit that lasted the length of a city block, LuLu is arrogant and short-tempered, YaYa is just plain lazy and jerky - and they've destroyed my house. Good times, good f*ing times.

* This is my niece and nephew 'round about 2001 or so, pre-Grace or just after. Lisa and I took them to a rec class at South Division to learn how to rollerskate. Lisa did Caitlin's hair that morning.



* Things have improved and everyone is smiling. The reason? It's pretty disgusting. YaYa ran into the house screaming "I have to poop!", then a moment later bragged about her handiwork and is *still* trying to convince people to go check it out. Hard to be angry at people when they show such pride in their work.

* The brother of an undecided House Dem has been named to the Appeals Court. Maybe it's coincidental, but it looks like biz as usual, esp. since House Dem Joe Sestak claims that he was offered a federal job (allegedly Sec. of the Navy) not to run against Arlen Specter in Penn.

* [on an alleged photo of Jon Gosselin's penis] Tsk tsk. If you have a girlfriend who nicknames you 'stubby' because of your, ahem, shortcomings, make damn sure she erases any pics of said stubbyness before you break up. I always did. :)

March 4th:

* The kids accidentally erased this weeks Lost from the DVR, and in retrospect I'm almost grateful. Now that I'vewatched it on ABC.com I thought it did little to move the plot and next to nothing to develop the characters. C-

* AI (women): an up & down night. I liked Bowersox but don't understand the mad love the judges have for her; no way she'll adapt to the weekly themes to come. Lily was good, on par or better than Bsox, but Shiobahn was spectacular. Plus she's a short -haired kooky brunette? Hell yeah. Adios to Haley, Lacey or Didi.

* The Gov.has signed a bill banning the growth & sale of Salvia, an herbal intoxicant. 1 - No one had heard of this until the media started salivating over it (pun intended). I heard a radio show where a caller THANKED anchor Brad Hicks for his report, saying it inspired her to seek some out. 2. It's none of the gov'ts d...amn business. It's a herb, and one who's first side effect is listed as "uncontrollable laughter". A waste of gov't - and now police and DA's - time.

* When you're making a cake from scratch for the first time in your life, it's probably not a good idea to do it while you're watching a 2 and a 4 year old. My kitchen looks like Lucy Ricardo just filled in at a flour factory. It's an apple cake, btw. If it tastes OK I'll post the recipie on my blog.

* [on news Supervisor Toni Clark was admitting to a felony and leaving office] No snark intended, none whatsof*ingever, but when the hell did Milwaukee start to be Little Chicago? Enough with the crooked politics.

* Extra small condoms for boys as young as 12 are going on sale in Switzerland. According to the article, a quarter of German youth (age 13 to 20) said standard condoms were too large. For the record, I am not German. Joking aside, this program is yet another example of how Europe is morally bankrupt. Those who look to it as a modern 'city on a hill' are blind.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lost - Across the Sea

It's been a long, long time since I did a weekly post about Lost. Frankly, I often have to DVR the show and watch it later, which ruins the relevancy of the writing. And now, with only 3.5 hours left in the series, what's the point of posting at all? All the mysteries will be answered, right?

Maybe. But even if the answers are around the bend, the fact is I sit here feeling very confused after watching "Across the Sea". That's unusual. After an episode what I 'know' may turn out to be wrong, but I always walk away with a grasp of the plot and a plausible theory in my head. Not this week.

I'm not going to waste time typing out a synopsis. If you saw the episode, you'll know what I'm talking about, and if you didn't, well, you should have 'x'd out this post by now.

Here are my three primary concerns about this episode:

1. Does this episode reinforce or refute or notion of Jacob as 'good' and Esau/Locke/Man In Black as 'bad'?

2. Regardless of who is good or bad, is there validity to the current status-quo of the island? If Locke leaves will disaster befall humanity? Is it necessary for someone (Jacob/candidate) to assume the role of 'protector' of the island and foe of Locke?

3. To what degree are the events of 2000 years ago (this episode) a manipulation to acheive a desired effect? Do they mirror events of 2004-2007?


POINT 1:

Well, damn, this episode screwed with the show as a whole, didn't it? Nowhere in the course of the hour was anything presented that labeled Jacob as 'bad', but it knocked away the idea that he was a benign, all-wise entity.

He is human, not a god [although many religions feature a god born of a woman]. Throughout his childhood he is clearly a follower, not quite content living in the shadow of his brother but unwilling to alter the situation. He is clearly devoted to his 'Mother', and believes her words with the conviction of a priest. Yet he is all too aware that his brother is the 'favorite', the leader, the boy who possesses both the spark of curiosity and the favor of his Mother's heart. This blossoms in violence and anger twice on screen.

On the other hand we are presented a portrait of MIB as a gifted, curious child with an adventurous heart, one who is clearly the favorite of his 'mother'. There is no clear, discernible 'evil' act to hold against him save matricide, and one could argue that the mass murder in the village momentarily pushed his sanity aside.

But . . .

If the words of warning about the Source were true, and MIB willingly and with full knowledge sought to breach that line in the sand - and remember, he somehow came to possess specific knowledge about it - then he is acting immorally. Immorally, and to such a scale he could be called 'evil'.

In the end of course, their childhood is nothing but irrelevant baggage. Who you are at 12 is not who you are guaranteed to be at 30, 40, 60 - or 2000. In his 30 years with the colony MIB had already grown bitter and distrustful of man, while Jacob seems to have picked up a fascination and affection for the same. Extrapolate that down 20 centuries, and 2004 MIB may be 100% evil, and Jacob may have evolved into the benefactor he appears to be.

POINT 2

Well shoot, how do I know? I'd say yes, and not just because it's necessary for the show to function. The show could amount to nothing more than leftovers from the imagination of a single crazy woman, but that's ignoring some facts. If she's such a complete loon, what about the source and the disappearing cave? The presence of a freakin' Smoke Monster, folks that live for millenia, and the simple fact that MIB physically can't seem to maneuver a way off into the wild blue yonder.

Something is keeping MIB in place, and whether you label MIB good or evil may be irrelevant. Perhaps, like a communicable disease, it must be contained before it spreads to the general population. It doesn't mean the infected person is any less good or moral than the next; there is not value judgment, simply a necessary precaution.

So yes, there's some point to this whole mess.


POINT 3:

We open with a mother giving birth to a child (in this case, two boys) who are taken from her by force or circumstance, ala Danielle and Claire.

Years pass. The smoke monster can take the shape of any person who is both dead AND whose body is somewhere on the island. Was it the smoke monster who appeared as MIB's true mother and introduced him to the colony? Was it his intention to set forth the chain of events we see?

Follow my train of thought. The role of Jacob/mother/candidate seems less a matter of defending the island/source than of protecting it by acting as the jailer of the smoke monster. Therefore, the smoke monster is stuck on the island 2000 years ago, presumably prisoned by the Source or the mother. Seeing an opportunity, it exploits the young MIB by posing as his birth mother, separating him from the Protector (the 'mother').

30 years pass, and the monster continues to whisper in MIB's ear, giving him information about the light and how to escape. Yet 'mother' intervenes. What's next is up for debate, but I doubt a lone woman could orchestrate the murder of a village and the destruction of a well. I suppose she could have summoned Smokey to do the deed, but I think it more likely that the monster exploited yet another opening. It wiped out the village and destroyed the well, not to hinder MIB but to push him into killing the island's protector, believing she was to blame for the village. Presumably, Smokey could then escape the island.

Farfetched? Why? It's been done before. Think about how complex Smokey's machinations were in maneuvering Locke and Ben into killing Jacob. That was a decades long process, no less or more an effort than what I've spelled out.

Except that the mother had thought ahead, and designated Jacob as her heir. When she was killed Smokey had no 'release'; it was just as much a prisoner as ever. Oopsie.

We're told Jacob can't kill MIB and vice versa. Yet MIB's physical body obviously perishes in the Source, and we see the Smoke Monster flee the cave. What happened?

Two choices. A, MIB died, period, and Smokey later took his shape. Or B, his physical form died but his soul was transformed into the Smoke Monster, which could later imitate his old form as the body was still on the island. Which doesn't explain who/what destroyed the village the day before, but there ya go.

Yes, I know neither boy was 'allowed' to kill the other. But I think that rule expires once a new protector is chosen. Only a candidate is unable to be killed by the other's hand. Once someone is chosen the other is left as 'normal' as you and me.

I think B is the more likely plot point, but I kind of lean towards A.

Jacob and MIB never refer to themselves as brothers in the future (granted, proof of nothing). Morevoer, the death of MIB not only sets up all the points I've listed it makes this truly an eternal battle between good (the protector's) and evil (the smoke monster), not just the remnants of a petty family feud.

So. One more episdode, and then the 2.5 hour finale. God I'll miss this show.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire



Recently I read and reviewed the first novel in the Millennium Trilogy, the hugely popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. My verdict was mixed; it was solid overall but slow and distracted for long stretches, with a subplot that hindered rather than complement the story.

The sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, is a remarkable improvement.

Lisbeth Salander, the titular character of the first book, is a stunningly intelligent but socially inept woman with a history of mental illness. She has severed ties with Mikael Blomkvist, the reporter who served as the protagonist of the first novel, but continues to monitor his life by hacking into his computer. When she discovers he has agreed to publish a book on Sweden's sex trade her complicated and dark past threatens to be exposed. Soon three people are dead, and newspapers across Sweden proclaim Salander the killer. As she goes underground it's up to Blomkvist and other unlikely allies to ferret out the truth before the law catches up to Salander.

Slow? No, not at all. Start to finish it has a tight, well-developed structure that keeps the reader turning pages. There is action - actual action, not the Miss Marple heroics of the first book - and a fight worthy of a Robert B. Parker novel. I wouldn't label the mystery itself as first rate (in that regard, Tattoo is superior) but it's certainly enough to keep you interested. And no, you don't need to read the books in order; they stand alone.

Well done. B+

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Congrats and a book plug too!


Grim Reaper by Steve Alten will be released 10-10-10 *AND* will feature Bridgett, a friend of mine, as a character (two characters, actually) Leigh Nelson and Bridgett Deem. Her family Doug, Parker, and Autumn will be characters as well.

Congrats to the whole family!

You can pre-order copies now from Barnes and Noble!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Two more dreams, and a poltergeist moment

For no reason other than "Cuz", I present another dream I had.

I was in the 2nd building at Job Prior, and Simon Cowell was working with me at the desk. News came of a near drowning in the pool, only the victim wasn't in the water but laying on the tile at our feet, and I think she actually was drowning then and there.

I called for help while Simon stayed with her, but no one came. I ran south down 27th St (but in a direction that, in the real world, is north). I found myself in the home of a Hispanic family that claimed the man of the house was the Sheriff (?) but that he wasn't home. I did not believe the wife, and I began to suspect her of delaying because she wanted the woman dead.

Then, as if it was a completely different day, I was seated w/ Lisa at a table near the door of a New York restaurant. Spike Lee came in wearing a silver Yankees cap, and I remarked to her how disrespectful it was to wear a cap indoors, even though I appreciated the nod to my Yanks. Then I noticed Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who stood and waved in acknowledgement as the restaurant cheered him; and finally Carol O'Connor entered with his wife.

I remember constantly dropping my bread during dinner, and being frustrated that the waiter wouldn't bring the proper place setting.

Then it was back to Job Prior. Simon was giving a music lesson to someone. After studying a song in depth, he told the student that he'd just been taught a comprehensive guitar theory, which I thought was odd because it was a song that featured no guitar at all.

At that point I grew very depressed. I took a weeding tool that I use every day, licked the end to make it wet, and shoved it in a live electrical wire to kill myself.

At which point I woke up to the alarm, literally the first time a dream/alarm have merged in that melodramatic Hollywood fashion.

It should be noted that three hours earlier I'd had what seemed like a dream, but turned out to be 100% real. At 3:15 my girls woke me up saying one of their bedroom windows had 'fallen down'. I remember thinking "Just open the damn thing. Why are you waking me?" but I didn't even have the energy to say that. Without putting on my glasses I went to their room.

Then things got weird. Their window had indeed fallen - OFF. As in, off the track and now laying on the floor. While no light was on the room was strangely well lit, and the sky seemed a dark gray. A fierce, cold wind was pouring in the open window and paper was swirling in the air. There was a strange howl that bothered the girls more than the cold. It was a Wizard of Oz/Poltergeist moment, depending on your point of view. Without my glasses, and fighting the wind, I got the window in, shook off a "WTF?" moment, and returned to bed.

When I woke up I assumed it was a dream, but the girls remarked upon it before school. Yikes.

BTW - I had another elaborate dream last week. Most of the details are lost now, but I remember riding a bike all the way to a gas station on 76th and Coldspring, where I bought some Hostess Cupcakes. The bike was a 10 speed, but oddly resembled the old blue bike my sister Katie once owned. I think I remarked upon that in the dream, and explained (to myself?) that it had been modified to the 10 speed and I'd borrowed it for the ride.

Weeiiiiirrrd.

Monday, May 3, 2010

See what I put up with? - Quote of the Day

Lisa and I enjoy watching shows on Discovery ID like Dateline, 48 Hours - basically any of the well-done network true crime shows. The cable reruns also come with the added benefit of being old enough for a nice postscript to be tacked on, letting you know where the case stands.

This weekend, Lisa missed the first ten minutes of an episode and asked me to fill her in on the details.

"Well, it's about a murder in Anytown. There's this guy, he looks like me, you'll see when it comes back on, he's leaving a gym when he's stopped and shot - "

"Wait, wait," Lisa said, interrupting me. "You said he looked like you?"

"Yeah." I said.

"Let me get this straight," she said. "He looked like you and he was coming out of a gym?"

She was grinning and I smelled trouble.

"Why was he there?" she said, "To deliver the mail?"

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Some Quick Movie Reviews

I was surprised when Lisa suggested we rent Sherlock Holmes, as it didn't sound like her cup of tea at all: Victorian England, murder and mayhem, two handsome men, one of them a Doctor, running around shirtless and sweaty - wait a minute!


In the end she didn't care for it, because it turned out to be a somewhat generic action flick. A well acted movie, but an action flick all the same. I enjoyed it, but I didn't care for a Holmes that was more about blood and guts than brains. He's Sherlock Holmes. I expected a few more examples of his trademark skill before we were treated to the 'here's where I explain it all" monologue.


To me, the late Jeremy Brett remains the perfect screen Holmes.


B

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I rented this, as I said on Facebook, largely to pay homage to my late List of Five great, Brittany Murphy. It has very little in the way of plot, although I've seen far worse, and it's largely a bore. But she does look hot in her trademark crack-ish style. RIP.



C-

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The Descent was a pretty good horror flick about a group of female spelunkers who meet their doom at the hands of cannibalistic mutants inhabiting an Appalachian cave. I know - it's better than it sounds, trust me.

Part 2 is, as you can guess, all but a rerun of the first installment. Assemble diverse rescue party, put them in the identical situation, watch them die one by one. There is a decent development 3/4ths of the way through, and there are some wicked scenes, but that makes it worth a rental price and nothing more. You're much better off with the first movie. P.S. what's with the dude at the end?

C

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I may have talked about Triangle before, but if I did, so what? It was dang good.

I rented this solely based on a review on The Billiionty-oneth Geek blog. It concerns a young, single mother of an autistic child who takes an acquaintance up on his offer to go sailing one fine afternoon. Soon a strange storm swamps the boat, and the group is 'rescued' by a passing - and abandoned - cruise ship. And from there, things get crazy.

I can't think of a decent way to explain the plot without giving the crux of it away, but I found it enjoyable, and the twist at the end, while believable, came right out of left field.

Rent it and see for yourself.

A -