26 January 2008

Lost -- Season Three Finale

Tell Winston Lost commentary is back! With the new season on Thursdays at 9:00, and me not having a brand new baby in the house, I plan on getting back to my musings on this wonderful show. Somehow Sarah and I missed last season's finale. I also then managed to avoid significant spoilers since then. Not sure how I managed that feat, but all I really knew about was the "flash forward" sequences that showed Jack as a man who clearly could not keep it together. So in preparation for the season four premiere, we Netflixed the last three episodes of season three and watched them last night. Whoah!

Of course, there are more questions than answers, so we will start with some lingering questions that will, perhaps, get answered in Season 4:

1. Who are the people in the freighter? Ben is obviously scared of them. They seem to be looking for the island and they are not connected with Penny's people searching for Desmond. We have gotten a glimpse of some of them in the trailers for next season -- that guy who says to Jack "getting your people off is not our primary objective".
2.What is up with Jacob -- the "voice of the island"? That was a creepy bit from the next to last episode, with Jacob talking to Locke and then Locke getting shot and dumped in a pit. Is Jacob and actual person, some supernatural force, some odd bit of technological trickery, or some odd manifestation of Ben? I was leaning toward the later, given all the Wizard of Oz references in the show thus far (remember that the name Ben gave Jack et all was Henry Gale and he came in a balloon).
3. Are there two forces on the island, some sort of spiritual yen and yang? One could be represented by Jacob who speaks to Ben. The other is represented by Walt (very cool to see Walt) and mostly speaks to Locke. Come to think of it, the castaways and the Others have mirrors of each other: Ben/Jack, Kate/Juliet, Locke/Mikael (neither one of whom can die, apparently), Sawyer/Tom. That may not have in-story significance and just be the writer's way of better structuring the narrative, but I do find the paralels interesting, especially the fact that Locke and Mikael both got brought back from the dead by the island (apparently) in the finale.
4. Is Charlie really dead? As bummed as that makes me, I think so. He filled his purpose and redeemed himself in a number of ways, much like Shannon or Boone. I will say that bit did strain my suspension of disbelief. Why didn't Charlie just run out and shut the door? Then the only thing that would have happened was the communication room would have flooded. Of course, if we believe Desmond, Charlie was destined to die. Now he gets to die a hero and, somewhat of his own choosing. He accepts his fate. Nice bit about needing a musician to type in the code, by the way.
5. All the stuff from the flash forward. Who was in the coffin? Who got off the island? Who was the "he" that Kate had to get back to? Is Jack's dad really alive? All I think right now is those people on the beach (Sawyer, Sayid, Jin, Hurley, Juliet, Bernard) get left on the island. Others make it off, but it apparently does not go well. Maybe Jack was being delusional about his father being alive. Maybe is was Rose in the coffin (African-American neighborhood, she was sick before being on the island and so dies after leaving it of her disease).

I am happy the show is back! I don't know how many episodes we will get with the strike, but I will take whatever I can.

24 January 2008

My little piece of internet fandom rage

I thought about just letting it go, but I think I would have to turn in my geek card if I didn't make some comment on the whole Spider-Man thing.

The digest version is: Aunt May gets shot, Peter Parker makes a deal with the devil so that she lives, but the world changes into a version where he and Mary Jane don't get married.

My take -- this sucks. It's lame retconning. It take a character I enjoyed growing up with and could relate to and turns him into a complete loser. It seems like a money grab and a movie tie-in, just like when Spidey had to wear the black costume again just when the third movie came out. Oh, and now instead of three Spider Man titles, we just get one that comes out three times per month. Know what that does? It makes it where those people (like me) who only really bought Amazing Spider Man now buy three books per month and makes it harder for other folks to tell interesting Spider Man stories.

Now, there's this rumor that the whole thing isn't actually happening, that it's all in Peter's head, so the devil can revel in his anguish. I don't know if that's better or worse. Worse, I think.

I could rant some more, but I have done enough to keep my comics cred, such as it is. For much better ranting, try websnark.

20 January 2008

Heathen Bowling

Sarah and Eleanor are making their way back from Pittsburgh today, so I took advantage of my last morning of pseudo-bachelorhood to sleep late. This means I missed church. That wasn't very good of me, but did allow me to participate in a new tradition our friends Jeannie and Jason have started -- Heathen Bowling. They go bowling on Sunday mornings. Games are cheap and their is usually no wait for a lane (the bowling alley here is always packed!). I met them this morning and bowled two games. I rolled a 190 on my second game, which is the best I have bowled in a long time. Now I have that odd arm ache that comes from bowling and it's hard to write.

19 January 2008

Home Alone Pt2 -- Snow Daze

Sarah and Eleanor were supposed to make it back today, but were getting snow here so they decided to wait until tomorrow to return and let this front move on to the east. I am really missing them; I have all week. But it was a rough week at work, so perhaps it was best they missed out on my grumpyness.

I watched a lot of TV and movies this week. Here's a quick recap:
The Sarah Connor Chronicles -- Good stuff. I think this show has lots of promise. I have this wild theory about the Oedipal nature of John Connor, his mom, and an attractive cyborg, but that piece of literary genius will have to wait.

Comanche Moon -- This prequel to Lonesome Dove featured great acting -- Val Kilmer was very good, while Karl Urban and Steve Zahn performed admirably in roles made famous by Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall. Too bad the story was a meandering mess. Six hours of mini-series and they couldn't find some narrative thread to hold it all together?

25th Hour -- This was really good. It's nice to see Spike Lee branching out a bit with this and Inside Man.

We Jam Econo - It was really neat to learn about and hear The Minutemen. iTunes has all their stuff. Go get it.

Shoot 'Em Up -- This was NOT GOOD. I know, it tried to be purposefully over the top and extreme, but it just ended up being silly. Still, it had Monica Belluci.

Cloverfield -- Tried to see this at the theatre last night with some friends. Notice I said "tried". Stupid shaky-cam. I had to leave about 35 minutes in or I would have thrown up all over the teenagers in front of me. Too bad, because it looked cool.

Unfortunately, I am now out of movies and am dangerously close to finishing my book. What will happen if I am stuck at home with no entertainment and no family? Ahhhhhh!!

14 January 2008

Home Alone Part 1: Sunday Chili and Movies

Sarah and Eleanor left Saturday for Pittsburgh, where Sarah's father is recuperating after some major surgery. The stopped in Charlottesville, spending the night with Rich and Laura, before making it to Pittsburgh last night. They should be back next weekend sometime.

This means I am by myself this week. I am using the opportunity to watch a bunch of movies that Sarah has no interest in watching.

Yesterday I watched The Kingdom and Hot Fuzz. The Kingdom was decent if not extraordinary, entertaining and well done if a bit predictable. It was directed by Peter Berg, who tends to use a lot of hand held camera, even just for what would normally be still camera shots. That annoys me. He is also the guy that directed Friday Night Lights; some FNL elements made it into The Kingdom, which was kinda surreal. Tim McGraw was a distraught father, the coach from the FNL TV show was a minor FBI agent who gets blown up at the beginning, and it sounded like Explosions in the Sky did the orchestration.

Hot Fuzz was hysterical (and a pretty good action movie). Clever, quirky, and really funny with it's British humor that toed the fine line between absurdly silly and really, really dry (sort of like Monty Python). Plus the movie looked really nice. I actually think I liked it better than Shaun of the Dead. I wonder if Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg will take a stab at a straight up (non-comedy/satire) film, because I think they could pull it off, given the nice horror and action elements in both of the films they have made so far. Of course, they could be one-trick ponies a la Guy Richie.

I also made chili yesterday, which turned out really well. I wanted to make a pure Texas chili (which has no tomatoes), but added some tomato paste at the last minute. I am glad I did, because otherwise I think it would have been too dry.

A pretty good Sunday, considering my family was far away. I don't know how many other movies I will get to this week, given that classes started today, but I do have a couple of punk rock documentaries waiting in the Nexflix queue.

12 January 2008

Eleanor Update

Eleanor turned nine months old on Thursday. I think our immediate reaction was "Nine months already?!" It seems like just last week we were bringing her home from the hospital. Now, she is really developing a personality of her own. She's very social, like her mom, but plays very well by herself for pretty long periods of time. She occasionally gets this face where her lips purse, her eyes get a bit distant, and her brow knits together a bit. Sarah calls that her "thinking like Daddy" face. She crawls around a lot, but hasn't quite figured out how to get her knees working in time with her arms, so it's more like an army crawl. She's into everything when she scoots around like that. She just figured out how to go from being on her belly to siting up, by backing up on her knees and then keeps on going until she's on her butt. She is still small, comparatively speaking: 16lbs 7 oz and 26.5 in tall, but she's healthy and happy. And she couldn't make her parents any more joyous.

She and Sarah leave this afternoon for Pittsburgh. Sarah's father had surgery there and will be there for a couple of weeks. I am glad they are going to keep Grandma and Grandpa Gette company, but I will miss them terribly.

For nine month photos, visit Eleanor's own blog.

10 January 2008

An art show inspired by Stan Lee

I just discovered (probably because it just started) io9 a blog devoted to all things science fiction. This post details an art show in LA that was inspired by Stan Lee and Marvel Comics characters. The show has cool stuff, precisely because it's not "comic art". I think my favorites are the more "serious" portraits; there are good ones of Wolverine, Angel, and the Scarlett Witch.

Man, I really want to have a shop that sells books and art stuff like this.

09 January 2008

Chainmail Bikini

Rich just told me that our friend David has his own website. I remember hanging out in David's living room in Charlottesville, talking about D&D while he incessantly wrapped wire and hooked them together with needle-nosed pliers. I am glad to know that hobby has turned into at least some form of minor industry for David. Rich also said David is headed back east after living in Oregon for a few years, so hopefully I will get to see David soon.

And it's a very cool name, too -- Iron Loom. Come on, you know you need some chainmail!

07 January 2008

Caching the Anniversary (Apologies to Winston)

This past weekend, Sarah and I went to visit my brother and other family in Myrtle Beach and Conway. They were the only set of family I hadn't seen over the holidays, so we wanted to check in with them before the semester started again.

Saturday was also our 6th wedding anniversary and it proved to be a very fun one. My brother and his wife have gotten into Geocaching; he wanted to take us out Saturday morning to show us how it all worked. Saturday was warm and beautiful; a perfect day to try out something new.

I had heard of Geocaching before, but hadn't been to interested. Winston and I had a conversation about the hobby last time we saw each other back in May. I was skeptical of the whole thing. The trespassing and generally tromping all over someone else's property that I had heard about didn't sit well, but fundamentally I thought the whole "find a little hidden box" thing was a little silly. It actually distracted from the general activity of hiking or walking around and looking at stuff.

After our brief morning of geocaching, I will freely admit that I was wrong, wrong, wrong. We had a ton of fun, especially once I realized that the point of geocaching wasn't finding the cache at all. For some people, it clearly is. They keep score by finding lots and lots of caches. They take pride in being the FTF (First to Find) a new cache. I certainly don't want to disparage anyone's reasons for participating in a hobby, but for me, the attraction of caching has less to to with the finding than the looking.

Originally, I was skeptical because I thought looking for the little box was just a poor excise to get people out and about. The truth was, I was overestimating my own motivation. People (me) NEED an excuse to get out and about. There is no way I would just wander around looking at new stuff on my own. Geocaching gives some direction and motivation to the wandering. It gives one a reason to meander. Personally, I need that reason, because it's too easy to just sit around otherwise. Would I have ever ventured onto the back paths of the old air force base and found those bunkers? Not in a million years.

Another cool element was those caches had been placed by an old friend of mine, who my brother discovered was into caching. I haven't spoken to this guy in a while, but tracking down these little boxes made me feel like we were taking part in a shared activity.

In addition to the caching, Sarah and I also left Eleanor with my mom and brother to have a less focused meander along the marsh walk in Murrell's Inlet, which led us to the Divine Fish House for a nice dinner. The six years Sarah and I have been married have been wonderful. Sure, we've had fights and down times, but those pale in comparison to the good ones. I cannot imagine life without my partner.

03 January 2008

New Year. Same stuff?

New Year's has come and gone in the Pope household without much fanfare. Given that everyone still felt under the weather (except me. It looks like I've completely dodged this bug that laid out Sarah and Eleanor, knock on wood), it was very low key. Sarah's parents gave us an Outback gift certificate that had to be used by the 31st, so we did venture out for an early dinner on New Year's Eve. It was very busy, but thanks to call ahead seating and Sarah's foresight, we only had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. Dinner was good, then we came home and put Eleanor to bed. Sarah and I flipped through various New Year's Eve shows to keep us occupied until midnight, then went to bed about 12:15.

I didn't really make any resolutions, but I did list some goals for 2008. These are concrete things I want to accomplish that further general ideals. For example, fitness/health is a general ideal, so one of my goals for 2008 is to run a 5K. Given that I generally avoid running in any form, this is a big goal. There are some others, which I am sure I will touch on later.

Now I am trying to get back into the swing of things with work. I went into the office yesterday for about 5 hours, answering emails and trying to finish up a paper which I'd like to send to a journal before the semester starts. I'll be back there later today, doing the same with an different paper. Now I am at home, waiting for John Harper to drop by so we can all go eat breakfast. He and Amelia flew back into Charlotte last night from their holiday and he's on his way back to Columbia this morning, but is stopping here to eat breakfast with us and his goddaughter. We're looking forward to it.