Monday, May 31, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #51, Fascination

For comedy sake, I can't do better than the promotional synopsis on Rotten Tomatoes:

A thriller riddled with paranoia and distrust, Klaus Menzel's FASCINATION is an
acute study of a man stretched to breaking point by an egregious set of
circumstances. Scott Doherty (Adam Garcia) is both stricken and confused when
his mother, Maureen (Jacqueline Bisset), announces the tragic death of his
father, who drowned during a curious boating mishap while the couple was on
vacation. The incident seems highly irregular to Scott due to his father's
considerable athletic prowess. But Scott's eyebrows are raised even further when
his mother returns from the trip with a new beau on her arm in the shape of the
dashing Oliver Vance (Stuart Wilson). As the newly entwined couple make
astonishingly speedy wedding plans, Scott looks on in horror, although this is
tempered somewhat by the eye-catching presence of Oliver's shapely daughter,
Kelly (Alice Evans). Equally suspicious of the impending nuptials, Kelly joins
Scott in an investigation into the foggy circumstances surrounding his father's
demise. While acting on the supposition that Scott's deceased parent may have
been murdered to allow his mother's new relationship to flourish, Kelly falls
for Scott, and they embark on a passionate relationship together. But as Scott
digs deeper, suspicions plague him, and his waning trust in Kelly disintegrates
into a deep suspicion of who she is and what she wants from him. Stylistically
tilting towards the dusky shadows of classic film noir, FASCINATION plays an
exquisite guessing game with its viewers, who should take nothing for granted in
this inventive and stimulating movie.

As described in the clumsily-worded plot summary, the main character falls for the daughter of the man who marries his mother. He falls in love with his sister. If you think I'm being too simple about it, the very last image in the movie is of a CD of a song, written by the main character, called something like "Fascination: The True Story of a Love Between a Brother And Sister".

No, I had never heard of this movie before I watched it. There are plenty of movies that I never heard of before I watched them that turned into some of my favorites. Battle Royale is one that comes to mind. The mere fact that something is unknown does not preclude it from being epic. Sure enough, Fascination, a movie nobody has ever heard of, is the dark horse candidate for the worst movie ever made. The. Worst. Movie. Ever. Made.

In its summary of reviews, Rotten Tomatoes itself says that this film is the epitome of a so-bad-it's-good movie. There were parts where I laughed. There were parts that I had fun yelling at the screen. At one point, the lead female throws something that shatters a lamp and cuts up the lead male's arm. There is blood running down his arm. They immediately start having sex. During the sex scene, you can see the blood running down his arm. I yelled, out loud, at the screen, "Don't you want to bandage that? Isn't it going to get infected?" It gets even worse at the end of the movie when the two characters are in a car accident that is caused by no particular reason. They crawl out, injured and bloody. They immediately start having sex. It's supposed to be an erotic thriller, but Cinemax laughs at this movie.

From top to bottom, this may be the worst-acted movie I've ever seen. The great Coven (as seen in American Movie) was better-acted. Three of the characters have British accents and the fourth is American. He, the American one, is actually from Australia. He does a pretty good job of hiding the accent, but has major problems with the word "secretary." The lead female is from Britain, but tries to work a little South African into her accent. The accent ends up being so funny that I, out loud, did an impersonation of each of her lines by the end of the movie. It gets worse from there, as the supporting actors are so bad that you expect them to look at the camera after delivering lines.

So the plot is ridiculous and the acting is historically bad. What else? This movie may have the worst soundtrack of any film I've ever seen. I watched it on Hulu and someone had commented that they turned the movie off after one minute because the opening song is so unlistenable. It's true. Imagine Savage Garden mixed with Sanjaya mixed with an iPod made out of monkey feces. Now imagine that sounding five hundred times worse. So bad, in fact, that I can't even find the music on YouTube for a link. If something is too bad to make it onto YouTube, we're into conspiracy-for-the-betterment-of-mankind territory.

I am confident that Battlefield Earth is the worst movie ever. Everybody's heard of that one. Some of the awfulness that goes into Travolta's pessimus opus comes from the fact that one would expect better work from something that was so hyped and involves so many big names. There are still surprises in this world, though. You haven't heard of Fascination? Forget I even wrote this and be happy about it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #42, House of the Dead

The Prince of Persia opens tomorrow and one of my friends asked me if I thought it would be any good. Lucky for them, I had done some research into the matter of movies based on video games when I watched a previous movie on this list. That research showed that the video game movie agreed upon by most people as the best is Mortal Kombat, hardly a classic. The realistic high end of hopes on The Prince of Persia is probably somewhere around the level of The Mummy. But what, pray tell, are the odds of a film breaking out of its genre to even that extreme?

So, there's my review of a movie I won't see as preface to my review of the great Uwe Boll's first video game movie, House of the Dead. That game was a first-person zombie shooter with little plot to speak of, so Boll made his movie as a prequel to the game. I'm glad I read the Wikipedia entry on what the game was so that the end of the movie made any kind of dramatic sense to me, but plot doesn't matter in a Boll film; it's all about the violence and the bad acting. There's plenty of both in this one. Various limbs getting chopped off, a bunch of actors we'd never see again, Clint Howard cheesing it up and eventually becoming a zombie, Jurgen Prochnow acting all Jurgen Prochnow-y.

Since this was an early Boll movie, he seems to have actually cared about what he was doing, evidenced by the artistic shooting style. That's not quite right. "Artistic." There you go. Boll's dearth of talent means that his attempt at art falls just a bit short. As in he tries to intersperse scenes from the video game (mind you that this game is not new, so the graphics are not that good) with the movie. He uses clips as cuts between scenes and, in the grand ten-minute long battle sequence, he actually has the people shooting the zombies and the images of exploding zombies melting in and out with similar shots from the game. Flawless editing. He also uses slow-motion excessively, including shots during the big battle sequence where the camera pans around each combatant like in that crappy video that Van Halen shot with Gary Cherone. (Holy crap, that song was awful.) My favorite scene in the movie, the one I watched three times, is when the main character is watching his friend be killed by zombies. As she screams, the camera zooms on his face and he looks pensive and then begins to have memories of their time together. Those memories come in the form of a montage of various shots from earlier in the movie, set to techno music. As the beat speeds up, the images fly by faster and faster. Unfortunately, it didn't give me a seizure and knock me out for the rest of the movie, but I thought and hoped that it might. You can actually see that sequence at the 3:53 mark of this amusing video (with an amusing spelling error in the title) that also features some of the other "artistic techniques" I discussed.

Unlike The Prince of Persia, House of the Dead was made on a low budget. Low budget, like Boll emptied out his pocket and made the movie for $2.17, lint, a button, and a buy-one-get-one-free coupon from Rita's. With a bigger budget, the newest video game movie may be bad on an even grander scale! Maybe someday, someone will make an Oscar-caliber Crash Bandicoot film or Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo will each take home awards when they reprise their famous roles in Super Mario Galaxy: The Movie. Until then, we'll have Mortal Kombat and multiple Street Fighter movies and Uwe Boll. Thank heaven for small favors.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Idol Chatter, Finale Edition (Part II)

DVRBlogging the American Idol season finale, because there is no way I'm watching it live. And I already saw a tweet about the appearance of a certain "comedian" that already has my fast-forward finger twitching. Let's do it:
  • 8:00: With the school outfit, is Lee in Gryffindor or Slytherin? This is very important.
  • 8:02: All of the old Idol winners are there. Begging for spare change from Carrie Underwood.
  • 8:04: Simon just didn't even bother buttoning his shirt tonight. "It's my last night, f*** it."
  • 8:05: The top twelve is performing "School's Out" by Alice Cooper. This is starting out just as bad as I feared. And now Alice Cooper himself is strutting around the Idol stage. I just cried one tear like the fake Indian in that littering commercial. Oy, this is bad.
  • 8:12: Coming out of commercial, someone forgot to turn on Ryan's mic. Then, as that guy I don't remember except for from Ford commercials started to sing some horrible song, they forgot to turn it off. Somehow, Ryan talking was better sounding than Kris singing. Fast-forward.
  • 8:15: Oh, it's funny video time. Nobody does comedy like the Idol team! It's a good idea for them to show us a retrospective on how great Simon was so that we can remember why nobody wants to watch the show next year.
  • 8:18: Siobhan Magnus and Aaron Kelly here to remind us why we hated this season. And they've dragged out the surviving members of the Bee Gees. I've realized that tonight will be train wreck TV and I won't fast-forward nearly as much as I anticipated. This is painful. It's boring and it sounds bad. Ladies and gentlemen, your American Idol season nine.
  • 8:26: Big Mike singing "Taking It To The Streets". Please bring out Michael McDonald for the weirdest duet in recent memory. This is actually making me miss Taylor Hicks. And now C. Everett Koop is singing circles around Mike!
  • 8:29: Here it is! Dane Cook singing a song! My brain just melted out of my nose a little. Kleenex break while I fast-forward.
  • 8:34: I seriously don't remember this girl's name. I know Didi and Katie, but who was the first one? I'm not kidding. I just looked it up: Lacey Brown. Ugh, Crystal was seriously the only good girl this year. So far all of the performances are just as bad as anything from the whole season. I really don't remember half of these people. We're sitting on the couch racking our brains.
  • 8:37: And here is Christina to obliterate the other singers in just two notes. Now, she's doing the single that everyone seems to hate. Including me! Fast-forward.
  • 8:42: Ricky Gervais doing a taped piece to roast Simon. He totally big-timed that, not even trying that hard. Sad.
  • 8:47: Lee sounds pretty good here, especially next to Andrew Garcia. Can we ruminate for one second on how awful Lee was last night? He was really, really bad. As bad as it's about to be awesome when they bring out Darryl Hall and John Oates in a minute.
  • 8:48: Slick dance moves, guys! And here come Hall and Oates! They refuse to do a close-up on John Oates. Tim Urban is getting more screen time. Hall and Oates rock.
  • 8:52: The people of Toledo are excited because they think the camera is stealing their souls and they'll finally get to leave northern Ohio. At least it means that Crystal is about to sing. I think she's my favorite contestant since David Cook and I think she may be better long-term than he is (was?).
  • 8:54: Alanis comes out to sing a duet of "You Oughta Know" that includes the line, "Would she go down with you to the theater?" I don't remember that one from the original. Crystal's holding her own here. She's doing much better than Lee will when he does his duet with Lou Bega.
  • 9:00: It's time for the prerequisite "embarrass the contestants" performance by Carrie Underwood. It's pretty hard to imagine that she actually came from this show in the first place. She can sing a little.
  • 9:04: I like Kris Allen pretending like he's super bad-ass. The bad phony acting was one thing, but Crystal's non-sequitir "I like sunflowers" is the stuff of legends.
  • 9:06: Casey James just came out, singing "Every Rose Has Its Thorn". Oh, no. I know what's coming next and I'm not excited for it. The winner of Celebrity Apprentice is coming out. You could hear him because his strumming was off from Casey's. I don't think we would have ever anticipated that Bret Michaels would sing well enough to blow someone off the stage.
  • 9:13: Commercial for The Good Guys. I was not impressed by the pilot.
  • 9:14: Idol is doing stuff over Myspace. Look, you can't turn the clock back to 2003 so Simon will stay, no matter how hard you try.
  • 9:15: I was wrong. Lee is singing with Chicago. I suppose that fits appropriately, boredom-wise. A reminder that David Cook performed with ZZ Top on his finale and Adam Lambert with KISS on his.
  • 9:18: Another Simon video after we see 45-year-old Matt Rogers. Thanks for the reminder to watch X Factor, guys!
  • 9:21: You knew this was coming. General Larry Platt. "Pants on the Ground". You'd think he could have used all this time to come up with more words. It actually has fewer words than the original version. This is awful. Idol even succeeded in ruining "Pants on the Ground".
  • 9:22: No, William Hung can't even save this. Shameful. At this point, I'm hoping it turns out that they were all dead at the end.
  • 9:28: They're using Paula an awful lot in this episode. Kara's gotten better, but the chemistry between the judges now is nothing like it used to be.
  • 9:30: Paula and the judges kissing each other's asses is pretty bad. How come Brian Dunkleman doesn't get to come out and ramble for five minutes?
  • 9:32: My wife is very amused that I was so excited when Paula mentioned MC Skat Kat. Big smile on my face.
  • 9:33: With this Simon retrospective -- the third of the night, by the way -- you'd think that the show was going off the air. It's not?
  • 9:35: All of the past Idol winners are coming out. And, yes, Carrie Underwood is singing circles around the rest of them. It's so great to see all seven winners together! Seven? David Cook didn't feel like showing up?
  • 9:37: And here come way too many finalists. Guarini alert! Guarini alert! Plus, I vowed never to listen to Blake Lewis do anything again and now that promise has been broken. Dammit.
  • 9:39: Simon comes up for a speech. The way this is going, you'd think he was more important than any actual contestants, right? On an unrelated note: X Factor! Next year!
  • 9:45: This year's top twelve sings together. It's a shock every time that I remember how bad they were. Janet Jackson walks out on stage to easily her worst backup group ever. They can save the season right now. Have Janet do "Rhythm Nation" with the top twelve as her backup dancers. Do it. I triple-dog dare you.
  • 9:49: They missed the chance. Janet is doing "Nasty" with her own dancers. Yes, I called her by her first name, which should tell you how I consider my own nastiness level.
  • 9:51: We're into the last twenty minutes or so of the season and Janet just did six or seven minutes with no Idol people on the stage. I'm not complaining, but that seems a bit much.
  • 9:54: They're doing "With a Little Help from My Friends". Well, Lee, I didn't stand and walk out on you last night, so does that answer that question?
  • 9:55: Oh, my gravy, Joe Cocker looks old. Dude can still sing, though. That was pretty good. Not you, Lee, sit down.
  • 10:01: At least the listings had the show going late this year instead of pretending that it would end at 10 and having everyone's DVRs stop recording. We're moments away from Lee winning and people with taste being disappointed.
  • 10:03: With the bad "Lee Wins!" graphic behind the winner, the most unsurprising moment on the worst season of the most over-the-hill show has come and gone. So I'll leave American Idol with that last bit of hyperbole as Ryan talked so much that the band essentially played him off so that Lee's song could make it in by the end of the show and Lee began singing a really bad cover really horribly. Maybe I'll catch one episode next year to see how bad it gets without Simon, but I'm done. Idol out.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Idol Chatter, Finale Edition (Part I)

Part one of the Idol season finale. Finally, Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox meet in the death match we've been hoping for all year:

  • Lee, singing Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer": When he first sang this song a month ago, I called it clumsy. He had a couple of pitch issues here, but it was decent. The mix was off, though, as the music drowned him out a bit. It was pretty low-key for a finale week performance. I wasn't that jazzed about the finale coming in tonight and this didn't do anything to pump me up.
  • Crystal, singing Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee": As pirate Craig T. Nelson (Crystal's dad) talked her in, Crystal did a redux of a song that I raved about the first time. No reason to really change my mind as she was great here. No big points for difficulty; this song is in her wheel house. She is way better than Lee, but he's going to win because he's the kind of person who wins American Idol, like that guy whose name I can't remember that does those Ford commercials.
  • Lee, singing R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts": Oh, boy, can't wait for this. The last time I was so unexcited for something was when I went to see Robin Hood on Sunday to kill time (I've been trying to find a way to work that in). Robin Hood is awful; I almost walked out after 45 minutes, but I had nothing better to do. That was my second semicolon in two paragraphs. I should have walked out on this performance, too. Pitchy and lame. This is a fitting ending to a pitchy and lame season. And, yes, everybody hurts when they hear Lee sing that song.
  • Crystal, singing Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet": I'm not saying that this is a good song choice to kiss up to my boss like Simon did, I'm saying it because this is the kind of song that Crystal should sing. Really, really nice arrangement. Edgy. She needs to get a little better with her stage movements (she kept looking down before she descended the stairs), but it didn't hurt her singing. This may have been the best single performance of the season. A perfect example of making the song her own. This would be the kind of performance that should win the competition, if she even had a chance against the teenage girls that will be voting for Lee.
  • Lee, singing U2's "Beautiful Day": Who else is excited for Lee to release this cover as a single? I don't see any hands raised besides my own. The kid just really has no passion whatsoever. He mechanically sings the intro and then when the big hook comes in, he just stands there and doesn't change his inflection at all. Plus, he butchered the bridge. I think mechanical is the best word for this. He read a book on how an Idol contestant is supposed to act and painted by the numbers. Fewer pitch problems, more boring problems. He attacked that song with the fervor of a forty-year-old pornstar attacking their fifteenth scene of the day. Yeah, I reached for that one; just can't get the energy up for this. Now I'm just finding reasons to use semicolons. Thanks, Lee.
  • I'd like to note that tonight will not be the last time that Simon judges the show. Next year, he'll turn it on for half an episode and think to himself, "This sucks without me."
  • Crystal, singing Patty Griffin's "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)": I'll take this chance to say that I'm happy, either way, that they didn't have a crappy original song to sing. One would think that it's a better idea for a contestant to release a song that nobody's ever heard of rather than one that was a mega-hit two minutes ago. Crystal is great. She's one of the three positive things that have come out of this season, along with Harry Connick as an awesome judge and my pleasure in ripping the crap out of a mediocre (at best) season of a dying show. Not only was that a great performance, but you had two of the best lines of the season when Ellen said, "If you made a salad, I'd eat it," and Crystal wished Simon luck with his future endeavors. Gotta love Crystal. Too bad she's going to lose. I'm trying to prepare myself so I'm not dissapointed; call it a futile attempt at a reverse-jinx.

Tomorrow, the annual running diary of the season finale from my DVR so I can fast-forward through the inevitable crap. It's almost over; Lee is getting ready for the crown.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Finales, Pt II

I was ready to say a lot, after tonight's final episode, about 24. I could do lists of the best non-Jack/non-Chloe characters, from Ryan Chappelle to George Mason to Habib Marwan. I could do the best plot lines, from Jack's drug addiction to the coup against David Palmer. I could even do joke lists about Kim or various nuclear catastrophes. And then, as the clock ticked down to zero, I realized I just didn't care. 24 was #7 on my list of my favorite shows of the past decade. It and Lost were my top two scripted network shows and I'd say that 24 surpasses Lost as the great network show of the last ten years, considering its cultural impact and how long it lasted. So the great show, one I lost sleep over years ago, ended and I just didn't care. I checked out emotionally years ago. But when? I think I enjoyed last season, but I don't think I was ever really fired up for it. The Graeme Bauer fiasco is the easy culprit, but I'm going to point to when they actually nuked L.A. After that, there was nothing left to worry about because they showed that even a nuclear attack didn't end up mattering that much. All those people, even poor Edgar, died for nothing.

And so we're back to the #6 show on my list; the one that was the more critically-acclaimed of the two and the one that was still pertinent at the end. The emotional difference between tonight's finale and last night's was glaring to me. So, here you go, likely the last time that I'll ever write about a show to which I devoted many a blog post and even more a thought. I like lists.

Top 5 Favorite Pieces of Lost Mythology:

  • 5. The Button: I'm talking about this mythology with the hindsight of what I think it ended up meaning in the long run. There may have been more discussed questions than these five, but these are the ones from which I take the most. We spent a number of episodes wondering if someone really did need to press a button every 108 minutes in order to save the world. Eventually, the button wasn't pressed and Desmond had to turn the fail-safe which destroyed the Swan station, exposed the island to Widmore (both Charles and Penelope), and introduced the flashes of light and potential for time travel and alternate timelines. What did it mean in the long run? I posit that the massive electromagnetic force under the Swan is similar to the light at the heart of the island and the light that I assume used to be in the temple's pool. It's why Widmore, on his return trip to the island, was looking at Jin's maps to find pockets of electromagnetic activity -- he was trying to find and control the light. If this is the case, pressing the button really did save the world. If the light were allowed to escape or it went out? Bad times.
  • 4. The Frozen Donkey Wheel: We learned that the Man in Black was involved in the theory behind the wheel and its manipulation of the water and the light to move the island. Without the wheel, we wouldn't have any of the great time travel stuff in the fifth season and we wouldn't have Locke's story off the island. The idea that the wheel needed water as well as light was the tip-off that Jack didn't finish the job by putting the cork back in the bottle, as it were, before he died, but that he also needed water.
  • 3. The DHARMA Initiative: In the long run, maybe DHARMA amounts to nothing more than the people that Jacob's and the Man in Black's mother killed or any other group of people who came to study the island. They were the representation of these number of people who were drawn to the power for our characters' story, at least. Their science helped the characters to manipulate the island's power, they brought the polar bears to the island, and they ended up having a rockin' security force. It's possible that my favorite part of the whole run of the show was when they lived with DHARMA in season five.
  • 2. Adam and Eve: A mystery that seemed curious but minor when it was first introduced very early on. The answer to who these two skeletons were ended up being the final overt mythological answer we'd get on the show and it brought everything together. Our characters went through so much pain and death and it was all because this mother didn't know how to raise her kids well. Very fitting with the back stories of the Oceanic 815 survivors.
  • 1. The Smoke Monster: Obviously, the biggest running mystery. We were first introduced to the monster early in the pilot and it became the ultimate enigma. Was it the island judging and executing those who had come to grips with their lives? Was it a security system to keep out people who threatened the island? We learned eventually that it was the spirit of a man who had mommy issues, fought with his less curious brother, and was angry about what life had given him. In the pilot, Locke talked about how backgammon is a game between light and dark and we came to learn that the story of the monster and his brother was the most important struggle and the reason that Jack and company were brought to the island.

Top 5 Favorite Lost Characters: 5? I did 15 in my Wire recap, a show that was one season shorter. I could rank characters forever, but I have to stop somewhere.

  • 5. Daniel Faraday: An upset at number five, but I liked that Faraday brought answers and he significantly pushed the story forward with his Jughead theory and all that ensued from the Incident. With everything down to just the characters now (the mythological questions are essentially moot to me after how it all ended thematically), I'm fascinated by the relationship between Daniel and his mother. In the real world, she pushed him to study physics so that he could find a way to change the fact that she would kill him in the past. In the timeless sideways world, she let him play piano and refused to let him move on so that she could finally be with him. The story of Eloise and Daniel ends up being perhaps the most tragically beautiful in the show.
  • 4. Desmond Hume: He absolutely played a part in the end. The only two people who could take out that plug at the heart of the island were Des and Jack. Jack couldn't do it because he needed to be around to kill Locke once the light was out and the monster became mortal. Jacob knew what he was doing in the end. Desmond, the pure man of faith, brought us the most touching moment before the finale when he was reconnected with Penny and he drove everyone towards that church at the very end.
  • 3. Jack Shephard: I don't need to explain other than to say that there's no chance he makes this list before the last three or four episodes. TV critic Alan Sepinwall pointed out astutely that it takes a lot of guts for writers to ultimately base their show around one character and make him so unlikeable for just about everything but the very beginning and very end of the series.
  • 2. Benjamin Linus: Ben was one of the two most complicated and probably the most fun to watch. He was only supposed to be on for three episodes, but his run got extended when the actor who played Mr. Eko decided he didn't want to live in Hawaii. The producers got lucky.
  • 1. John Locke: In the end, Locke gets the edge because of his run as smoke monster and because he is as complicated as Ben in different ways. Jack was what pushed the story forward, but John was the heart of the tale in many ways. This really comes down to almost a tie for #1 for me, though. Ben and Locke played a great scene together, down to their last exchange outside of the church.

My Favorite Theories About The End: I've read just a bit today and here's one theory I buy into and one that I think I can debunk. I'm ignoring the "they were dead all long" theory because it's just not true.

  • The destruction of the island would have meant the end of the sideways world. Jeff Jensen discussed this theory on and I buy in. We know that the smoke monster was only the Man in Black's spirit, yet when Desmond drained the light and the water, Locke was able to be hurt. The theory goes that this is because, without the light, people have no souls. Jack was able to kill Locke and then, when he put the cork back in and the water refilled the pool, everything was right and essentially the possibility of spirituality returned, meaning Jack could eventually see his dead friends again and move on. When Jacob said that, if Locke escaped (which was only going to happen with the light drained), everyone they know would die, it was more on a metaphysical/afterlife level.
  • Everything is centered around Jack, including the sideways world. The main theory is that Lost is the story of Jack, specifically, his redemption and his salvation and that everything is based around only him finding peace. A side theory has it that Hurley, as Jacob, created the sideways world for Jack to thank him for the sacrifice he made. The crux of the theory is that everything in the sideways world is there to remind Jack of the people he loved. He never knew Sun's baby, so Ji Yeon doesn't exist there. Aaron was only really important to him as a baby, so Aaron is only an infant. I'm shooting it down for two reasons. The first is that I'm pretty sure (the episode hasn't been fully transcribed yet for Lostpedia; yeah, someone does that) that Christian tells Jack that "they" are moving on and that the island was the most important time in "their" life. Why would Jack's story involve so much narrative of other characters finding peace like Hurley and Libby or Jin and Sun (or anyone)? Second, I can point to two specific scenes. When Juliet dies after the Incident, she whispers to Sawyer something like, "It worked. Maybe we can grab coffee some time." In the finale, when she shows Sawyer how to rig the vending machine, she says, "It worked," has her flash of remembrance, then says, "Maybe we can grab coffee some time." If everything was focused on Jack, why would Juliet have had that premonition for her own sake?

Moving On

So I was planning on having all this stuff to write about Lost post-mortem (no pun intended), but I'm pretty much speechless. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to do a bit more wrap as arguably the two best network shows of this century, 24 and Lost, will have ended within 24 hours of each other.

So suffice to say this and we can discuss in the comments if people so choose: the ending was perfect. Well, both endings I guess, because the island and the "flash sideways" end up being unconnected from a narrative point of view. Sort of. I couldn't come up with a better ending and I am wholly satisfied. Wholly. It helps that I guessed the last image, but I don't think that was really rocket science when you think about it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I pride myself on being a very calm person. More than just calm, I pride myself on perspective. I don't get too worked up over anything negative because it could always be worse. I believe that a positive outlook brings positive things. I think that the biggest problem with our society is that it is enslaved by fear and I refuse to let that happen to me. I'm not making this stuff up or pulling it from thin air -- I'm introspective and I really believe these things about myself. I say this as background so you'll understand how out of character it was for me when I was racked by anxiety around a year ago.

To call it an anxiety attack would be a drastic overstatement, but I felt deeply worried all the same. Was it over money? Nah, I'd never let money rule my life like that. Health? I almost never get sick and my wife and I hadn't quite decided to start trying to get pregnant yet. So what in the world screwed with head?

It was a white screen with four black letters: "LOST".

Go back to the end of the fifth season finale of the show that ends tomorrow night. Jack decided that he could fix everything if he could, thanks to Daniel Faraday's calculations, detonate a hydrogen bomb inside an electromagnetic field. The bomb didn't go off until Juliet, having been sucked down into a pit by the magnetism, hit it with a rock. The bomb was supposed to make it so that the island never existed so that Oceanic 815 couldn't have crashed on it on September 22, 2004. Juliet hits the bomb and then, boom, silence and the white screen.

What happened? What happened? Did it work? Were they still on the island? Did the plane land safely in LA? And that's where anxiety creeped in: what if I never find out? What if I get in a car crash and I never find out what happened after Jughead exploded? What if there's somebody out there who won't live long enough to know the ultimate answers? I spent Thursday afternoon at a Lost-themed Happy Hour in Adams Morgan, run by There was a costume contest. There were drink specials like the MIB Mixer and the Jack Shephard and Coke. There was a lot of speculation about what already happened and what's to come. It was packed; all people who care deeply about this show that was first pitched as just a dramatic version of Survivor.

And so, tomorrow night, the ultimate answers will come as the show concludes, and I have no idea what is going to happen. I can make arguments for and against the sideways world being an epilogue. We still don't know what the light at the heart of the island is exactly and what it is capable of doing. It's a great credit to producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse that we are this close to the end and nobody has any real sense of what the heck is going on. It's that sense of mystery and, yes, confusion that has kept the die-hards going to the end and lost the show so many viewers as time wore on. Because of that loss of ratings over time, one has to wonder if this type of show can be repeated. Are the networks willing to invest that much money in something that could end up being only for a niche? Beyond that, is there someone out there that could even write as layered a mystery?

There are better TV shows (Mad Men, Treme), but there's nothing that will take Lost's place next year. Nothing that will make me think my brain into a pretzel. Nothing that will make me so hungry for answers that I'll be hit with anxiety over whether or not I'll get them. I'll miss that.

Coming tomorrow: my lists of the great mysteries and characters of Craphole Island, as Shannon called it. And, of course, the end.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I was going to write tonight about an excursion I made to a Lost-themed Happy Hour, but I'm going to save that for this weekend because... Holy f***ing s***, did you see the Grey's Anatomy finale?!?

I wrote earlier this week about how good the House season finale was. I watched the 90210 season finale last night and it was good, ending not a little undisturbingly on a student being raped by a teacher while another teacher drives drunk outside (who the hell do they hire at West Bev?). Tonight's Community finale was pretty good until the last five minutes, when it was great. I'd also like to note that the final gag made fun of a TV show that follows only a certain number of students, much like I did two years ago in one of my favorite blog posts.

The C.S.I.: finale tonight was a nother story, totally underwhelming. You build up this big serial killer all season long and then reveal in the last twenty minutes (SPOILER) that he was just a whiny kid who wanted to get back at his daddy for making him be a chef? And you use a great actor, the guy who played Albie on Big Love, and only let him be in the show for maybe ten total minutes? Argh.

And that brings us back to Grey's. I make fun of ER because their stupid emergency room got held hostage like fifteen times. So you'd think that I wouldn't stand for it in Grey's, but a) they built to this gunman story the last few weeks so it made sense and b) the dude didn't just hold the hospital hostage, they killed a somewhat major character in the first ten minutes. Granted, the second hour wasn't as good as the first and there were some questions about how the story progressed and how they didn't really off anyone that important, but that was some excellent TV. Excellent. The first hour had my leg bouncing and me feeling like I was about to throw up. So tense.

I've thought for the last few years that the best network TV episode I've seen was the C.S.I.: finale made by Tarantino where Nick was buried alive. Tonight's Grey's wasn't as well-made, but it was at least as intense. I can't remember being that on edge during a network show. Please note that The Wire, The Sopranos, and Mad Men are not anywhere close to this discussion.

I continue to think we're in a Golden Age of television and it just keeps ticking away. So Sunday is some show or other's finale. Monday is 24, which will be great because it will be the last episode, finally (please kill off Jack). Wednesday is when Lee DeWyze will finally win Idol and put us out of our misery. And then? I have so much Yo Gabba Gabba to catch up on...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #98, Cheaper By The Dozen 2

There are five sequels on this list of the 100 worst movies of the last decade and I've seen the first movie in three of those cases. Unfortunately, this was one of them. I was dragged to see Cheaper By The Dozen in the theater (not by my wife, to be fair to her) and hated every last second of it. So how excited was I to watch Cheaper By The Dozen 2? I checked back to my brilliant review of Big Momma's House 2 to see how I dealt with a movie I hated so much. Because, yes, I hated Cheaper By The Dozen 2. There are bad movies on this list that I find enjoyable, but this one was just not up my alley. Slapstick, slapstick, and more slapstick. Lots of Super Dave-ish shots of obvious stunt doubles of Steve Martin getting dragged through the water when trying to water ski or falling through weak railings into the water.

There are some good actors in the movie -- Bonnie Hunt has a nice scene, but only one -- but they are all wasted. The family with which Steve Martin's clan has a rival includes Taylor Lautner, who would go on to be a bigger star than anyone else in the film, but has Eugene Levy and Carmen Electra for parents. A weird dichotomy regarding Levy occurred to me while watching. He is great in the Christopher Guest movies, but if you are walking into a random movie and you see his name in the credits, the first thought is that you picked the wrong movie. How is it possible that he could be so good and so bad from picture to picture? As for Electra? I talked about her earlier in regards to the ____ Movie franchise and Jenny McCarthy's awful Dirty Love. Electra is in six of the one hundred movies and I've now seen all of them. Which is great, but I've yet to see any of the three that feature Larry The Cable Guy, who is probably dumber and certainly less pleasing to look at.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Idol Chatter

Three candidates remain. Who shall be the last? Also, what will happen on American Idol?
  • Casey James, singing Eric Hutchinson's "OK, It's Alright with Me": This is the only song tonight that I've never heard of. Inane, but poppy. Best for Casey is that it was quick enough that he didn't have a chance to go into Goat Boy mode. Maybe his best in the last however many weeks, but that's still not saying much. Am I wrong that the judges will bash Casey no matter what tonight because they want Lee and Crystal to be the final two?
  • Crystal Bowersox, singing Melissa Etheridge's "Come to My Window": Great song choice. Totally in her wheel house and she knocked it out of the park. No guarantees, especially since females have not fared well on this show, but she needs to just not screw up tonight and she didn't with this one.
  • Lee DeWyze, singing Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man": I just had a realization that, as much as we knock this season, Blake Lewis did get to the finals one year. So, how's that for a decline in talent over time? I'm not a fan of this song, definitely one of the lamer Skynyrd tunes. Great for a beer commercial, though. But Lee's a great, edgy rocker... like mayonnaise is a great, spicy condiment.
  • Casey, singing John Mayer's "Daughters": So speaking of bland, I need to admit something about pop music. I don't believe in guilty pleasures, so Miley's "Party in the USA" is a self-loathing pleasure. It's too catchy and I hate myself more for enjoying it more than anyone can ever make me feeling bad by mocking me. Anyways, Casey doesn't have as pure a voice as John Mayer. This was pretty bad. Totally not a sexual napalm-caliber performance. I said earlier this season that he was really good on the guitar, but I'm not sure. Bad idea to solo a little in the middle of a song by Mayer, who really is a virtuoso. We're into the part I hate the most each season when the judges gush over their own song choices, even when the performances are not good.
  • Crystal, singing Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed": This song takes a poop on all the other songs tonight. One of the greatest songs ever. I actually thought she didn't do too great a job. Maybe the song was too big, maybe the arrangement was weak, but she was out of control. It was good for this season, but not for her. Tony Kornheiser thinks she is the most talented contestant Idol has ever had. Not sure about that (David Cook? Adam Lambert? Sanjaya?) but my expectations for her week to week are very high.
  • Lee, singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah": No. No. No. No. They do this every week, I think. I'm sick of it, it's played out on Idol. Boycott. Here's kd lang singing the hell out of this song at the Opening Ceremonies a few months ago.


I'm going to hold off for the most part until this weekend. There were a lot of answers in tonight's great episode, but they certainly saved some mystery for the end. I am now totally confused about the flash sideways. Also, if Jack is now "the one," does that mean that the other three remaining survivors are no longer candidates and can be killed by Locke?

Monday, May 17, 2010

All That You Want

  • The Monologue:
    • I've had a cold for a week now and I can only chalk it up to the fact that Delonte West slept with my immune system.
    • Sarah Palin is helping Arizona governor Jan Brewer defend the state's controversial immigration law. To be fair, it is tough when you can see Mexico from your front porch.
    • 1990 just called in this joke: You know the oil spill got out of hand when using it for John Stamos' hair stopped being a possibility.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • It seems to be a generally accepted belief that Lost and House are the two best network TV shows. They are the only two that seriously challenge the cable shows in the Emmys. The season premiere of House was universally lauded, but the season, with the exception of the great Cuddy- and Wilson-centric episodes, was full of episodes typical of the show. Until tonight's finale. It was almost Grey's-esque in its treatment of a big accident with the doctors trying to help trauma victims. It was much darker than a Grey's episode though, as House tried to help one woman who was trapped under rubble. He came clean about his self-image and he amputated the woman's leg. Good times. The camera work was fantastic, using dust and a shaky picture to set the scene. The writers also made the interesting choice of bringing in a usual diagnostic plot and then dropping it before the conclusion with no fanfare as events unfolded for House. Really, really impressive work for a network show.
    • And not so impressive was tonight's How I Met Your Mother. It was funny in spite of itself. The premise was bad. That's not quite right. The premise was one of the worst premises I've ever seen in a sitcom, and that's saying something. The idea of a movie so closely based on someone is unbelievable, the movie itself was beyond awful, the reaction to it was way over the top. It had some moments, but that was embarrassing for a sweeps episode.
    • My dog is farting right now with the frequency of a Mel Brooks scene. That's not pop culture, but it should be.
  • Random Music Video:
    • Trent Reznor turns 45 today. That's kind of scary. Closer may be the most overrated song of all time. This one is better.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Best Survivor Ever?

Here's what's up:

  • Tonight was the finale of most likely the best season of my favorite TV show. Spoiler, blah, blah, blah, but they crowned their first two-time winner and a conversation came up in the reunion show about whether or not that person, Sandra, is the greatest contestant ever. No way. She deserved it this time and was the best remaining contestant back in her first go-round (Survivor: Pearl Islands), but no way. The second- and third-place finishers this year, Russell and Parvati have to be tied as the best. Maybe you give Parvati the nod for having won once, but Russell played two seasons back-to-back, dominated both years, and is easily the most popular contestant ever, having won the fan vote. I'm biased towards him, but it's not Sandra, either way.
  • I watched the Ice Cube 30 for 30 documentary, Straight Outta L.A., today. Really good stuff with Cube, Snoop, and other rappers talking about how the Raiders played into gang life in L.A. and vice-versa. Cube was more balanced about the violence than I thought he would be. The decision to put Al Davis in HD? A lot? I kept waiting for him to say that the Silver and Black had a "Commitment to Axe-ellence."
  • I had Precious (it's based on the novel Push by Sapphire, if you didn't know) sitting in the family room for over a month before I finally watched it Friday night. I felt like I needed to be in the right mood to watch something so depressing. It's not as depressing as I thought. Really good movie. All of the acting is pretty good, especially Mo'Nique, who is as good in that film as Christoph Waltz was in Inglourious Basterds. She is good. So now I've seen all ten of last year's Best Picture nominees. Here's how I'd rank them (any disagreements?):

10. The Blind Side -- It's not a bad movie by any means, but it's not historically accurate and it's sort of cheesy and condescending. If they wanted to give a nod to a box office hit, I'd have been happier with Star Trek here.

9. District 9 -- Loved it and I think it should go down as a classic sci-fi film.

8. Up -- The first twenty minutes or so are among the best twenty minutes of film in years. It gets more Disney towards the end than WALL-E did.

7. A Serious Man -- Very, very inside for Jews, funnier than No Country for Old Men, not as funny as Fargo. It's ballsy to start a movie with a piece in Yiddish with subtitles, but the Coen Brothers have earned the right to be ballsy.

6. Precious -- I don't think I would have enjoyed Gabby Sidibe's performance as much if I hadn't seen her on red carpet stuff or The Soup. Knowing how she is in real life makes her acting job that much more impressive.

5. An Education -- Great writing, weak ending (but only the very, very, very end). If you're looking for something on DVD, don't write this off as just some British romance piece. It's written by Nick Hornby and you can't help but smile pretty much the whole time.

4. Up In The Air -- #4 and #3 are pretty close and this might suffer from the fact that I saw it the less recently of the two. It's pretty much your perfect movie. Everything hits exactly the right tone. Unfortunately, it was in the same year as three all-timers.

3. Avatar -- Written about ad nauseum. An experience.

2. Inglourious Basterds -- I think it is my favorite Tarantino film because it's deeper than his others.

1. The Hurt Locker -- Basterds may very well crack my top 100 list, but that's for favorite movies. It's not as good as this one. I still don't think I can describe this one too well without either shivering or being at a loss for words.

Worst of the Worst: #65, Swept Away

Who's the worst-acting musician? I've had reason to ponder this lately for a couple of reasons. When I went to see The Losers, I knew the movie was going to weak during the previews because there were trailers for one movie that starred Bow Wow and one that starred both T.I. and Chris Brown. Of course, Glitter was on this list of the worst movies of the last decade. I also finally watched Precious the other night and that had Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz (both who did wonderful jobs, but I'll leave that review for later). So who is the worst-acting musician? Off-hand, a few that occur to me are T.I. in American Gangster, Eminem in The Wash (he redeemed himself later in 8 Mile), and I've never seen From Justin to Kelly but that can't be good. It's at this point, for comic relief, that I have to insert Mase's acting job in the "Mo Money Mo Problems" video. I bring this up because I think, when you factor the greater implications of this movie, Madonna deserves more hate than any musician I can remember in the #65 film, Swept Away.

In a good premise, for which this film deserves no praise because it is a remake of a 1974 Italian film, Madonna plays a wealthy woman who goes on a private cruise from Greece to Italy with her husband and two other couples. She berates the boat's crew, particularly the fisherman, calling him names and constantly yelling at him. At some point, in an especially unbelievable turn of events, she and the fisherman end up stranded on a deserted island. Now that she is dependent on him for food, he turns the tables, essentially turning her into a slave. Once her will is broken (hello, disturbing rape fantasy), they fall madly in love and he wonders if she will still love him once they are rescued and back in regular life. Madonna deserves hate in this role because of her bad acting, for one. She starred in this movie after she had already begun to affect her fake British accent. With every "can't" that she turned into "cahn't" in this film, I kept wanting to yell at the screen, "You're from f***ing Michigan!" She plays a character that is supposed to be hated and I hated her, all right, but when she's supposed to be more sympathetic later in the movie, I still hated her. More than the acting, though, Madonna deserves hate because she single-handedly ruined (or, at best, derailed) a promising career.

With this film, Guy Ritchie is the best director to appear on this list. When he made this in 2002, he had only made two feature films, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Both are among the great post-Pulp Fiction/ post-Clerks independent films of the late-'90s/ early-'00s. Ritchie showed a talent for witty scripts and quick-moving plots with plenty of twists. And then he wrote and directed Swept Away which is neither witty, quick-moving, nor very interesting. I'm going to assume that Madonna, then married to Ritchie, led him astray in making a starring vehicle for her. You can see his touch towards the beginning of the movie in some quick-cutting scenes where the boat's crew laughs about the rich Americans, but the second two-thirds of the movie are very, very unlike Ritchie's style. It's hard to imagine that he would have made this film without her influence. Yes, I have no evidence to back up this claim other than a few press videos where he looked hen-pecked, but Lock, Stock and Snatch were so good. And after Swept Away? He's made a couple of inconsequential films and finally got back in the spotlight with last year's Sherlock Holmes.

In Swept Away, dealing with a bad actress (by my count, there are three actors in the movie that are light years ahead of her, as Bruce Greenwood, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Elizabeth Banks, all have smaller roles), Ritchie goes out of his way to put his wife in a good light. She's famous for singing and dancing? Okay, we'll make some scenes where she can either sing or lip-sync and dance in fancy clothes as the fisherman has a fantasy about her. In juggling this whole mess, Ritchie's screenplay entirely misses the political and social points of the original film. In the end, I didn't think or learn one thing about gender or class roles. None of it makes a difference by the closing credits. It ends up as a way to mock rich Americans, throw in the only rape-to-consensual-sex scene since James Bond and Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, and generally confuse the audience as to whether it's supposed to be a comedy or we're just laughing because it's so bad.

There have been musicians who have done well at acting. Meat Loaf in Fight Club, Eminem in 8 Mile, Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls, and more. I don't want everyone to keep their day jobs, but I'll have a certain amount of trepidation whenever someone decides to switch careers. I mean, have you heard
Scarlett Johansson's singing?

Okay, I'll be fair here before we finish. Ritchie uses a snippet of some bad Madonna song during the opening credits, but he has an inspired music choice later in the movie. As the two shipwrecked characters fall in love towards the end, a montage is graced with a much more palatable song that can't help but make you enjoy the moment a little bit. So I'll wrap this up the same way with that song, "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cleveland Rocks

Other than a very lame and predictable Survivor, I only watched the basketball game tonight. So this post is dedicated to the Cleveland Cavaliers who, eh, I quit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Racism Everywhere

  • The Monologue:
    • Arizona has now moved to outlaw classes that promote ethnic solidarity. In other words, white kids will no longer be allowed to learn from textbooks.
    • Larry King and his wife got back together. So the eighth time is the charm!
    • This article talks about how the "blowout preventer" failed in the Gulf. Also true of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Eight seasons and twenty-plus hours into 24, less than four hours away from the end of series, we finally hit the most unbelievable thing ever to happen on the show. Jack's died multiple times, there has been all kind of torture, various places have been nuked, and so on and so on. But never before had Jack cut open someone's stomach to retrieve a phone's SIM card and then use that card in the phone to call someone. Gruesome and so far beyond any possible verisimilitude that it wasn't even worth getting outraged over. Jack pooped in the fridge and ate a wheel of cheese? I'm not even angry.
    • The Grand Canyon State has such a problem with Hispanics right now that, on last week's Grey's Anatomy, Arizona Robbins dumped Callie Torres. I used that joke on my wife and she got angry at me for how bad it is, but I feel the need to share my progeny with the world.
    • The results on Idol tonight were soooooo surprising.
    • Annoyed with the folks over at who blog about Lost. They made a really big deal today about how people need to know who built the statue and the temple and why there are heiroglyphics everywhere. I can answer those questions, easily, based on last night's episode. There is a power on the island. People are drawn there and have been drawn there throughout time. Those people try to unlock the secrets of the island and they build things there as they work. Eventually, they kill each other in their hunger for power and maybe the guardian of the island helps out. The actual details just don't really matter. The show may have been based around the struggle between Jacob and his brother (or brother's spirit) from the get-go, but it is actually about the survivors of Oceanic 815 and how they play into this struggle. So, who built some three-thousand-year-old statue? It doesn't matter.
  • Random Music Video:
    • I'm not about to do a Billy Squier video, so Steve Winwood turns 62 today. I was going to embed a live performance by Traffic of "Dear Mr. Fantasy" but they're all like nine minutes long.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Idol Chatter

Tonight's Lost promises to be so good and enlightening that I'm watching Idol first so that I can pay attention to what promises to be mediocre. Jamie Foxx (with his tattooed head) is a bad mentor, especially compared to Harry Connick last week, who was far and away the best ever. You're going to have to tell me if Foxx handed out any of the "contestant" shirts (I'm assuming he did not), because I'm fast-forwarding through his segments. So:
  • Lee DeWyze, singing Seal's "Kiss from a Rose": I do not have high hopes for such a difficult song. Yep, rough beginning. His voice just isn't strong enough. He's going to win this thing, but this was not good. Not good at all. This performance was totally Batman and Robin.
  • Michael Lynche, singing Michael Jackson's "Will You Be There": This is the theme song for that alleged killer whale in Sea World. I'm going to San Diego next month and trying to decide whether or not to go to the zoo. Sea World was suggested instead. Look, I'm already skipping Tijuana because I don't want to get shot. Fine performance from Big Mike. He's doing well the last few weeks. Too bad that the Idol voters, much like George Bush, don't care about black people.
  • Crystal and Lee, singing Glen Hansard's & Marketa Irglova's "Falling Slowly": Dude, Crystal left Lee in the dust here. She's a much better singer and performer. Much better. He's still winning because he's lame enough, but this was pretty eye-opening. I wonder if they put these two together because they have some weird inkling that they'll be the final two.
  • Casey James, singing Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson": I'm sure it's a coincedence he's singing this after all the cougar jokes earlier in the season. Did I point out at some point last week that Kara said that Casey sounded like a lamb when I've been calling him "Goat Boy" for months? Well, if you ever wanted to hear Goat Boy sing "Mrs. Robinson," you were in luck tonight. Very cool arrangement, not so great performer.
  • Crystal Bowersox, singing Kenny Loggins' "I'm Alright": I thought the audience shot was weird.
  • Casey and Mike, singing Bryan Adams' "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?": If they were going to a Bryan Adams song from a movie, I wish they had done "All For Love" by Bryan Adams, Sting, and Phil Collins, from Three Musketeers. Or, you know, Robin Hood comes out this week and I'm sure we're not still sick of that song, right? This was decent. The duets cover up the singers' individual faults.

I'm hoping Casey is out. I'm guessing it will be Big Mike.


  • As I said earlier, this week's episode promised to be enlightening, so I sat down to watch it and it flew. We got halfway into it and it was interesting, but I couldn't totally tell where it was going. Three-quarters of the way through and I understood a little better. And then they showed Jack open the bag and pull out the stones and I said in a quiet and matter-of-fact tone, "Oh." And so the two biggest remaining questions from Season One are answered and I get it, all of it, except for what's left in the final two episodes. Let's see if I can recount it all.
  • It turns out, as we probably could have guessed, that the identity of "Adam and Eve" was quite a bit more important to the show's narrative than we would have thought when Jack first found them in the caves in the first season. You can throw that info, Locke's backgammon speech from the first season (I pointed it out during my rewatch), and that dumb spin-off book that I never read, Bad Twin, as signs that Lindelof and Cuse really did know what was going on from the very beginning.
  • In the sixth season premiere, Locke informed Ben that he is the smoke monster. So I was excited because I knew what the monster was, it was the Man In Black. So wrong. If "Adam and Eve" was one of the two great remaning mysteries before tonight, the other (whether we still knew it or not) was what the monster is. And now we know. The monster is the power under the island. It's not the Man In Black at all.
  • Jacob's brother (I like how they never gave him a name, especially since that name wasn't Esau) is dead. Sort of. When Jacob threw him into the light, his body died and his spirit became one with the island. He can appear as dead people and, therefore, can appear as Jacob's brother. He's obsessed with "going home," but he doesn't even know where "home" is. It's just off the island.
  • Jacob, protector of the light, isn't protecting it from the monster. He's protecting the world from the monster (essentially the light) getting off the island. Their "mother" said that once people get a taste of the light, they fight over it. The light leaving the island would bring war across the sea.
  • Jacob is dead. Period. He appears to Hurley because Hurley can talk to the dead. Similarly, he appears to Locke as he was as a boy because Locke/ the brother's spirit also has that same power. It's why Richard couldn't see the boy earlier in the season. Much like older Jacob is directing Hurley to have Jack realize his destiny as Jacob's replacement, younger Jacob is directing Locke in the rules of the game.
  • The rules, as we already know, are that the monster can't kill Jacob (thanks to the "mother") and that the light can't leave the island as long as there is someone to protect it. So Jacob found the candidates to be his successor and the final one needs to be established, alone, so that there is nobody left to kill him. Because people are prone to fight over that power. Just like the monster couldn't kill Jacob, he can't kill any of the candidates. Those are the rules that Jacob set up because Jacob was finally able to make rules for his own game.
  • I think that does it for the explanation, but what's left? Two questions remain, both from the sixth season. Every other important question has been answered, if not explicitly. The two questions?
  • One, the most important: Who will be Jacob's successor? It has to be either Jack, Hurley, or Sawyer. My pretty educated guess is that Kate is no longer a candidate because she raised someone else's baby. You'd think Jacob would be pretty sensitive to that.
  • Two: What is the sideways world and how will that be resolved into an answer for Question One? The title of next week's penultimate episode is "What They Died For". The final answers are almost here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The News Today

  • The Monologue:
    • Elena Kagan will become the third sitting Jewish member of the Supreme Court. And you thought we ran Hollywood?
    • According to the US Census, Jews made up 2.2% of the US population in 2008. That would mean there should be 0.198 Jewish justices. Maybe Scalia's grandmother intermarried? Eh, suck it, Affirmative Action!
    • According to this article, BP has tried to stem the "Spill, Baby, Spill" by shooting golf balls and pieces of tire into the leak. Does that seem like a good idea? I mean, it sounds fun, but helpful to the environment?
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • The Amazing Race is generally such a fun show that I struggle with whether or not a season can really be bad. This season seemed weak, thanks to some really stupid teams and the inevitable comparison to one of the best ever Survivor seasons running at the same time. The producers removed all doubt from my mind last night with a super lame final episode. None of the challenges were difficult in any way and the margins between the teams came from a clever travel move and a travel difficulty. So the end results may have been surprising, but they were anti-climactic all the same.
    • The Pacific is great TV, but it (maybe predictably) jumped over to "disturbing" in the sixth of its ten episodes. The first half of the hour turned into a battle scene reminiscent of the beginning of Saving Private Ryan, as Marines ran across an airfield and a bloody mess ensued. The show really is brilliant, but that was very hard to watch.
    • In thinking about The Pacific, I was trying to determine the intensity scale. If The Hurt Locker is one extreme, what's the other? Blue's Clues? Sesame Street? Armageddon?
  • Random Music Video:
    • Today is Sid Vicious' birthday, but the biggest rock star in the world (I think, right?) turns 50 today:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #71, College

In which we wonder whether the bigger tip-off that this movie will not be good is the originality of the title or the fact that Verne Troyer plays himself.

I still watch reruns of Saved by the Bell, but when I was younger I used to watch a lot of the live action kid/teen shows. I watched the crap on "TNBC" like California Dreams, Hang Time, and City Guys. I'd spend some time with "TGIF": Full House, Family Matters. Even earlier, I would come home from school and watch You Can't Do That on Television, Hey Dude, and maybe a little Kids Incorporated, on Nickelodeon. In time, I got older -- I didn't say matured -- and refined my taste as it pertains to tasteless adult comedies. I'm not referring to Curb Your Enthusiasm adult, I'm talking about things like Animal House, Anchorman, There's Something About Mary, and Superbad. I see the shows that the kids watch nowadays on Nickelodeon like Hannah Montana, That's So Raven, and Drake & Josh, and I've wondered how these kids tastes will move towards the profane. If College, starring Drake Bell from Drake & Josh, is any portent, I'm frightened for kids' intelligence.

There's a high school buddy movie. It deals with a trio of high school losers. One is a totally average guy who seems to be the leader. One is an overweight foul-mouthed gentleman who talks a big game but is horribly insecure. One is a skinny nerd who is the butt of the other two guys' jokes. The three buddies decide that they're going to let loose, get drunk or maybe high, meet loose women, and go somewhere where nobody knows them and they can escape their stereotypical mediocrity. Superbad, right? Shoot, maybe it's even Dazed and Confused. No, this is the plot of College, which came out in 2008. And people thought Superbad, which came out in 2007, was derivative.

And the comparisons end there. The totally average guy is played by the aforementioned Nickelodeon star, who was 22 when the movie was made and looks every day of 28. Even dropping the f-bomb, Bell plays the character with as much Jonas Brothers panache as he can muster. The overweight guy, as opposed to the quick-witted Jonas Hill, is so stupid and unlikeable that they may as well had one of the "O'Doyle Rules!" kids from Billy Madison in the role. The skinny nerd is played by Kevin Covais.

Wait. What? Kevin Covais. Yes, that Kevin Covais.

I could stop there, but why? Because the high school students look like they are in their mid-twenties, the college students have to look like they are approximately 42. There have to be multiple poop jokes, even more binge-drinking jokes, and main female characters that are written with no personality. Remember in Animal House when we saw the Delta guys prepare for the parade stunt at the end? Preparation is a waste of important story time! In College, they show the guys putting together a prank that would take days to prepare in no more than ten minutes. And they don't even wake any of the bad guys up! How cool is that?! And so on and so on with the poop and the vomit and the masturbation jokes and the homophobic jokes and the comic male nudity and the straight-out-of-Penthouse-Forum sex scenes.

Having never seen any of the straight-to-DVD American Pie Presents movies, the worst "adult" college movie I've seen of late is Approved, with Justin Long and Jonah Hill. It had its moments, but it was very stupid. I like it more now. College can't hold Approved's beer-soaked, head-worn jock. College tries to be Superbad, but it only succeeds in being super bad.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

May Sweeps Reset

Maybe the best way to catch up on TV is to go show to show for various observations. Spoilers in each, of course.

The Amazing Race:
  • Not much to say. The cowboys have been the most fun team and have to be the favorite to win. It's been a very weak season, all told.
  • Last week was a major copout for the writers. They had this great set-up of Jack vs. Chloe and then they gave Chloe an easy out to work with Jack again. I could see it happening by the end of the season, but they could have waited longer than like 40 minutes to give in. I'm digging the end of the season, though. I'm probably enjoying it more than if I didn't know it was the last few hours. I have no hopes for whatever Bourne-rip-off movie franchise they come up with, so I'm happy to see this great series go out in a blaze of relative glory.
American Idol:
  • I looked up the current odds on and, in order from worst to best, it's Big Mike (16-1), Casey (14-1), Lee (1-1), Crystal (2-3). We can all agree that Mike and Casey have no real shot to win. I'm all over Lee. He and Mike were the best this past week and Lee is just the type of Kris Allen-ish unoffensive soft rocker to get the votes in the end. Crystal is still my favorite. But that's all relative, they're all still not that great. At least we got a great Harry Connick week before the show blessedly goes bye-bye at the end of this season.
  • I can't be the only person who thinks that the most recent eliminated contestant, Aaron Kelly, looks eerily like Rachel Maddow.
  • This whole season has been fun, but this past week's episode was especially so. There were two eliminations and the first was very ho-hum as Candice signed her own death warrant when she inexplicably flipped to boot Amanda. The second tribal council was fantastic and it was all because of the great Russell. He thrives on chaos and, when the right vote was obviously Rupert, Russell decided to shake things up for the hell of it. He invented a lie about Danielle, confronted her about it in front of everybody, and then just stuck with it. He is so block-headed and aggressive that it didn't matter that she fought him with the truth, he just kept lying until she freaked out, cried, and let out more info than she meant to in order to prove her point. In doing so, she got herself kicked out and she lost Parvati (and you could see that Parvati knew it by her body language) the million-dollar prize. I have no idea who the favorite is now. I don't think Russell can win the jury vote unless he goes up against only Jerri. Can Colby get in there and win it? I've been sick of Rupert since the end of his original run on Pearl Islands, but his fake immunity idol move to save himself in favor of Candice was just brilliant.
  • So... Almost all is revealed. I spent the entire season going back and forth over whether or not Locke was truly evil or whether he and Jacob were two sides of the same coin. I eventually landed on the latter. Wrong. So I was surprised when we discovered (maybe a second before Jack did) that Locke was trying to kill everyone, but I wasn't that surprised in the grand scheme. Locke said he needed everybody with him in order to get off the island. I had assumed that that meant that each of the candidates had to deny Jacob and join up with Locke. It was really a long con by Locke, leading to his need for every candidate to be dead in order for him to win. Those scenarios are not so different as far as the mythology is concerned. And as far as the mythology, it looks like all will be revealed next week with what is rumored to be an Oceanic 815 castaway-free episode that focuses only on the history between Jacob and the Man in Black. Three episodes left.
  • By the way, when I say that I was wrong and that Locke is truly evil, I'm not just jumping to that conclusion. Cuse and Lindelof said exactly that in this interview with after last week's episode.
  • So what questions are left? Let's see...
  • Did Widmore wire the plane to explode and, if so, is he really working with Locke and why?
  • Did Desmond reveal the flash-sideways world to Sayid, leading to Sayid sacrificing himself?
  • Will Jacob's replacement (presumably Jack) be the last-remaining candidate because everyone else dies? Or will the rest leave the island (doubtful)?
  • Will each character have to die in one of the two timelines in order for the both to merge?
  • What is the endgame with the flash-sideways?
  • What else?

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I had a very long day with my travel home, so I'll save everything (a sort-of-shocking Lost, a crazy-fun Survivor, and more) for later. By the way, I got lunch today two blocks from the New York Stock Exchange as the Dow burned. What was the mood? Everyone in the restaurants were chilling, laughing, having beers. It was a beautiful day, I suppose.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Harry Connick Jr., Professional Wiseguy

Harry Connick Jr. is this week's American Idol mentor. He also wrote all of the arrangements for this week's covers of Frank Sinatra songs. I never realized what a crackup he is. He picked on the contestants and traded barbs with the judges with an unparalleled smoothness. If they are looking for a new judge when Simon steps down next season, he could be a great substitute to keep the show lively.
  • Aaron Kelly led off with Fly Me to the Moon. When I heard it was Sinatra week, I thought Aaron would have the easiest time, since he has a crooner voice. However, his performance was very underwhelming, almost weak.
  • Casey James sang "Blue Skies". I didn't think this was a Sinatra song but wikipedia proved me wrong. Casey was so bad that even Kara bashed his performance. I hope he has his bags packed.
  • Crystal Bowersox sang Summer Wind. During the intro interview, she mentioned several times that she has a personal connection to this song but never mentioned what that connection was. It was the obvious question for Ryan to ask after the performance. Did he ask it? Nope. This is the 2nd straight week that Crystal was just ok. She is probably safe but I wouldn't be completely shocked if she got voted out. I just don't think she has a following like the two weakest remaining contestants, Aaron or Casey, do.
  • Michael Lynche sang The Way You Look Tonight. This was by far my favorite performance of the evening. He looked the part of the crooner and did an awesome job overall.
  • Lee DeWyze finished with That's Life. The judges ranted and raved about how good he was. I thought he was good, but not nearly as good as Michael.
  • Casey and Aaron should be in the bottom two with Casey heading home.

Other notable headlines today.
  • Baseball announcer Ernie Harwell passed away today. There are very few announcers who could broadcast a game and truly make you feel like you were there. Ernie Harwell was one of those people. Still broadcasting is Vin Scully, 60 years after he started doing Dodger games. If you ever want to hear baseball broadcasting at its finest, try to check out tapes of Vin Scully or older recordings of Ernie Harwell.
  • The Feds caught the New York City car bomber just before his flight was leaving for Dubai. Way to go, Mr. Guy In Charge of the No-Fly List.
  • I know this joke has been recycled several times but Happy Star Wars Day...May the 4th be with you.
Random Link:
The band 'Spose brings an Offspring feel to their new song "I'm Awesome". Definitely my new favorite song and video.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Away Again

Mondays have been my long day recently, so only got a chance to watch one show tonight as I did laundry and it was a pretty good 24, especially compared to recent episodes. And speaking of crazy security in the Big Apple, my crazy travel year continues as I'll be in NYC for the rest of the week. The blog has suffered greatly from my trips, especially because I miss out on all these opportunities to mock an eminently mockable American Idol season. I'll watch it on Thursday, but the fun is gone by that point since everyone will know who gets voted out. This should my last trip until after TV season is over, so I have that at least.

American treasure Pete Seeger's 91st birthday:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Random Pop Culture

It was this kind of day and I mostly just sat around (excepting some magic with the lawnmower), watching various movies and trying to empty out the DVR:
  • I had never seen 48 Hours before and when it popped up as a recommendation on Netflix Watch Instantly, I figured I'd check it out. Not as funny as I expected, but entertaining. You could see flashes of chemistry between Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, but Murphy didn't quite have that charisma that he did in Beverly Hills Cop, which is a much better movie.
  • I have rarely seen a movie as frustrating as Capturing the Friedmans, the Oscar-nominated documentary about a father and son on Long Island that were accused of hundreds of counts of child molestation. There are questions about their guilt or innocence that still linger even twenty years after the fact and the movie presents these questions with no lean to it either way, so you end up being confused as each new piece of the story unfolds. It's really good, though; fascinating that a family would take so many home movies and end up having these videos of them arguing about allegations and plea bargains.
  • I've become quite the Civil War geek and had seen a recommendation somewhere about a PBS documentary about Lincoln's assassination. Not only was that online (it was well done, but didn't offer many new insights), but PBS actually has a huge array of historical shows that can be viewed online. I saw American history titles that varied from Jonestown to World War II to the creation of Earth Day. We'll see how bored I get at some point.
  • The next three Sundays are big TV nights. Next week is the season finale of The Amazing Race. I'm rooting for the cowboys, obviously, and think they have to be the favorites because of how cool they are under pressure. The following week is the season finale of Survivor. Parvati's probably the favorite, but I don't know if she can get the jury since she's won already. Danielle? Can Colby somehow sneak in? The series finale of The Pacific is also that week. Three weeks from tonight is, of course, the series finale of Lost.
  • You can just stop reading here. So Annie's totally better than Naomi, but I just can't see her and Liam together. Liam's the bad boy and Annie's the geek. Not feeling that chemistry, but I get the sense that that's where the season might end up. Weird, since last season ended with the whole thing where Jen told Naomi that Annie and Liam slept together, leading Annie to lose focus and kill Jasper's uncle. Speaking of Jen, you had to know she would come back because she's too evil a character. The Dixon-gambling thing is pretty contrived, but I guess most things are on this show. I feel like it's almost Lost-ish with all the characters; very little Adrianna and Navid this week, but next week is an Ade- and Navid-centric episode. Meanwhile, we finally got to see the fabled Spence Montgomery! Kind of fell short of expectations. There was a story that Rob Estes isn't returning next season to West Beverly, so we'll have to see if it's the divorce thing or the blackmail thing that does him in.