12 December 2009
Christmas time, and I'm dirt poor. I have a job, which is more than a lot of other folks, but I make a pittance. Not even a livable pittance is it. Christmas presents for the family, or eat? We haven't even turned on the heat yet because nobody wants to pay for it. So what's good?
05 November 2009
I understand now that John Locke is, and always has been, "amenable to coercion." He was conned by his father, he was conned by Eddie, and he has now been conned by the Nemesis. Who put the idea in Richard's head that Locke would have to die when he left the Island? The Nemesis. Who did Locke hear it from? Christian, the same Christian who inhabited the cabin that we now know belonged to The Nemesis. (Speaking of the cabin, if Locke's vision of Horace is to be believed, Horace himself built the cabin. Maybe Dharma was one of the Nemesis's plans to kill Jacob and destroy his people.) We thought that Locke had been taken advantage of and put upon his whole life, until he came to the Island, but what if he was still being conned? The Nemesis played on Locke's fears and hopes, making him believe he had a destiny, all the while just using Locke to get inside the statue with Ben so he could see Jacob die. The Mule in this scenario is Locke himself: he's done just enough good, just enough to help Jacob and Jacob's people, to maybe thwart or at least delay the the ultimate plan of the Nemesis. Only time will tell.
29 September 2009
21 September 2009
Working at the neighborhood video store this summer, I decided to take in a new TV series. I considered Weeds, Dexter, Deadwood, and Rome, but I settled on the Wire, which had, as far as I'd heard, 100% positive feedback, from critics and friends alike. I'd heard that each season took a look from a different angle at the drug trade in Baltimore: one season about the streets, one about the port where the drugs come in, one about City Hall, the schools, and, finally, the newspaper, that famous enabler of a city's neurotic behavior. I'd heard that it was one of the most gritty, realistic, and one of the smartest series out there. I'd heard that I would see a lot of familiar faces, faces I'd seen on Oz, Lost, various cop shows, and even two faces from The Office. (Charles Miner, the new DM, and Michael's girlfriend Holly.)
All that I'd heard was true, and more. While each season has a different focus, most characters stick around the whole time, except those whose story comes to an end, one way or the other. (In Baltimore, that means dead or in prison.)
I'm having a hard time writing about this one, because it's so dense, and there are so many characters, each with their own arc, their own journey from A to B, I don't know where to start. My two favorites, I think, are Bubbles and Omar, each of whom makes it to the final season. (I won't reveal anyone's ultimate fate.)
Bubbles is a dopefiend, a hustler, a C.I. (confidential informant) for the police unit investigating the dealers. We see him steal, lie, try to buy drugs with fake money, and yet Bubbles is arguably the most morally centered character in the entire series, probably because he is not beholden to a bureaucracy like the police department or the school system. Bubbles is his own man, skillfully played by Andre Royo, who conveys the sadness, guilt, hope and hopelessness of a man at the bottom of everything.
Omar is a thief and a killer. He wears a kevlar vest and a trenchcoat; he carries a sawed-off shotgun, and every time he walks down the street, all the men and boys call out, "Omar comin' " and scatter out of the way. He makes a living by robbing drug dealers, and he's got a lot of blood on his hands: not only the people he's killed, but those who were with him, those who could be gotten to while Omar couldn't. For all that, Omar is a total badass, but he doesn't curse, doesn't drink or use drugs, and he would never turn his gun on "anyone who wasn't in The Game." He lives by a code; there is honor among thieves. Also, and totally incidentally, Omar is gay.
Nearly every other character is, in some way, enslaved by a system. The police are hamstrung by the need to report good numbers to City Hall, and we often see justice sacrificed in the name of protecting the department or one of its higher-ups. Officer McNulty, who is a lovable rogue of an Irish cop, gets the ball rolling in season 1 by telling a judge about a drug lord by the name of Avon Barksdale who has taken over the projects on the West side and is responsible for at least a dozen murders in the last year. The judge orders the creation of a detail to investigate and shut down the Barksdale operation, pulling officers from homicide and narcotics off their regular rotations. McNulty's superiors are none too pleased with him for talking out of school, and they miss no opportunity to berate, threaten, and otherwise interfere with the members of the detail, honest cops who are doing what cops are supposed to do, going after the bad guys. McNulty's dogged pursuit of Barksdale and his crew, which by season's end sees most of them dead or in prison, results in his demotion and assignment to the marine unit, the one place he did not want to go.
We see it over and over again: the union boss on the docks, driven by the slow death of business at the port, into bed with traffickers of drugs and sex slaves, the mayor who can't make a move without considering how the ministers and city council will respond politically, the teachers who can't do anything except teach to the test and babysit their charges. A modern American city has all these institutions, built up over the years, which are supposed to function for the people, but instead function for themselves, and the people, the good, honest people who got into public service to do good, end up compromising themselves and their work in order to protect the institution. As much as The Wire is a cop show, it is also a comment on urban America in the 21st century, a testament to how we have let our government and our businesses run rampant and grind everyone under the wheels.
There are so many other good reasons to watch, so many great characters, each with their own arc. Briefly in the first season, we hear about a city councilman named Clay Davis, then we see a bit of him again on season 3, but his story comes full circle in season 5, when he becomes the target of the investigation. The series rewards the attentive viewer; how many times do we hear about Fat Face Rick before we actually see him? The writers and creators are actually from Baltimore, and infuse the show with dialogue straight from the streets, so distinct it's almost a different dialect.
So there you have it: 60 episodes, 51 days, and I loved it, I wanted more. It's entertainment, yes, but I really feel like I learned something; it had the ring of truth, the feeling of reality, and I could think of no higher compliment. If you have seen The Wire, I ask, do you agree? What did you like, or not like? If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for?
12 September 2009
09 September 2009
I just found out some totally geek-tastic news: Katee Sackhoff, aka Starbuck, will be joining the cast of 24 for its eighth season. There are so many ways this could be awesome: catfights with Chloe, chasing bad guys with Jack, laying the smackdown on dudes trying to kill innocent Americans. I wasn't sure I would enjoy another go-round with 24, but this pretty much guarantees that I'll be there, every Monday night, for the whole season.
20 July 2009
10 July 2009
Hang in there, loyal readers, I'll be back with a vengeance...
Love, the T.
07 June 2009
16 May 2009
13 May 2009
First things first: let me plug a couple of my fellow bloggers. Jorge Garcia, aka Hurley, keeps a blog; it's called Dispatches From The Island, and it's good fun. Jorge seems like a regular guy, despite his international fame. Next up is Linda's Lost Blog, which is exactly what it sounds like. Linda is like me: she just wants to write down her ideas and hopes to start people thinking. Last, but not least, is themisfitishere. This guy, in his own words, is the world's greatest living or dead Lostigator and spoilergator. It's pretty indescribable, and pretty awesome; here's a sample: "J.A.C.O.B. = Just Another Chair Of Bens!!"
05 May 2009
Apparently this new film contains some time-travel device which sort of resets the clock at the early years of the Enterprise, enabling JJ Abrams to make a whole slew of new films without having to adhere to established canon. There are a lot of fans upset about this one, as if the whole Trek universe will come crashing down on Friday. I disagree. I remember when TNG was announced. It was spring, 1987, and I had fallen in love with Trek the Christmas before after seeing the 4th film, "The Voyage Home," which enjoyed probably the most crossover success of any of the films, and is known to non-Trekkies as "The One With The Whales." I watched as many episodes as I could of TOS, I read books, fan magazines, and comics. I covered my walls with pictures of the USS Enterprise, and started the long process of accumulating an encyclopedic knowledge of every trivial detail of the show: episode names, character histories, timelines, alien races and cultures, etc. There were rumors of a new series being announced, set to take place nearly 100 years after the adventures of Kirk and Spock. It was to feature a boy genius, an android, a Klingon, and a blind pilot. I was so upset, I actually cried. No joke. That summer, I went to a convention and saw Majel Barrett Roddenberry give a presentation on the new show, complete with cast photos and images of the new ship. It looked pretty cool, but I wasn't really convinced. Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for anything, because it was still Trek, and I wanted to give it a chance. It premiered on 4 October 1987, 2 days after my 12th birthday. "Encounter At Farpoint" was cheesy, the costumes were terrible and the situations improbable, but the characters were fascinating, the ship looked awesome, and the story hit right to the heart of the hope and optimism that has been at the heart of Trek for over 40 years now. In a very real way, those TNG characters were my best childhood friends, and made me realize that the Universe is big enough to tell a lot of stories, and it's the stories and the people in them that matter, not the details. Trek is, at its core, about discovery, about the journey. When we turn away from what is new because it's different and might not fit into our understanding of the world, that's the opposite of discovery, the opposite of what the Great Bird Of The Galaxy intended when he gave us this gift all those years ago.
I'm ready for this new film, can't wait to see what Trek and Bad Robot can do...
P.S. I won a contest! The Grand Prize! I get a Trek t-shirt, a COMMUNICATOR!!, the graphic novel of the movie, and tickets to the sneak preview on Thursday night, so I'll see it a day before you. Don't worry, I won't post anything with plot details until Friday night, at which point it is fair game for discussion according to my strict Coletta Factor/spoiler guidelines.
26 April 2009
17 April 2009
16 April 2009
It's been a while since I wrote about the happenings on that mysterious Island. This season seems not to lend itself to much speculation. With all the jumping around in time, theorizing seems so pointless; better to just enjoy the ride. Until now, that is. Now that our people, the few who are still alive, are stuck in 1977, they have joined the Dharma Initiative. We've heard 2 different explanations for why you can't change the future. Mrs. Hawking told Desmond way back in "Flashes Before Your Eyes" that he could not change the future he saw, that despite his foreknowledge of Charlie's death, and no matter how many times he would try to save Charlie, Charlie would die. Desmond saw the future and was unable to change it, so we know that the timeline is mostly fixed in terms of what will happen; everyone will fulfill their destiny regardless of their attempts or those of others to change it.
The past is a different story, right? If you could go back in time and kill Hitler, you would, wouldn't you, and so doing save the world a lot of unnecessary grief and pain? Problem is, what if you go back in time and kill your grandfather? Then he can't have kids, and you will cease to exist, in which case you will not go back in time and kill him, in which case he will exist and you will be born and go back in time and kill him, in which case you will never be born, and so on to infinity. This is called the Grandfather Paradox, and it makes a basic assumption: that when one travels backwards in time, they somehow step out of the natural flow of time and show up somewhen they have no right to be, where it is possible to alter the past and have an effect on the future to which one will eventually return. Enter Daniel Faraday. I told you last year that you had to listen to Daniel, and I hope you took my advice, because he was right when he said that you cannot change the past. It is not like Desmond, who kept saving Charlie, only to see his life in danger again. When you are in the past, you are not some interloper who has to be careful not to step on a bug lest you doom the entire earth; you are a person who is playing the role you have always played. Sayid always shot little Ben; if the 815 survivors had seen the 1977 Dharma photo on their first day on the Island, they would have recognized themselves, and still would have ended up there, doing exactly what we are seeing them do now. It's hard to conceptualize, but so much easier than dealing with all the paradoxes we've seen on multiple episodes of Star Trek. Our people are in the past; to an outsider, Sayid shot little Ben 30 years before he crashed on the Island, but for Sayid, in the linear timeline of his life and perceptions, he shot little Ben after spending 108 days on the Island, then 3 years off it as one of the Oceanic 6. Get it? They cannot change the past, because their involvement in the Island's history was written before they even arrived. Those are the rules.
However, rules were made to be broken. Desmond, who spent 3 years sitting on top of an electromagnetic anomaly, and was at ground zero when it imploded, seems to be an exception to the rule. Daniel, realizing that Desmond was special, knocked on the Hatch door during one of the time flashes; the date was sometime between 2001 and 2004. He told Desmond to seek out his, Daniel's, mother at Oxford University. The rules as I have outlined them above say that Desmond should have recognized Daniel when Daniel came to the Island on the freighter, but that's not what happened. Desmond woke up sometime in 2007 or 2008 and remembered the conversation outside the Hatch door. I'm not certain, but I think it has something to do with the fact that Desmond never travelled physically through time; his consciousness jumped back and forth throughout different periods in his life. Physical time travel keeps one anchored to the unchanging timeline, unable to effect any changes, but when your consciousness moves and inhabits your body from 5 or 10 years ago, you float above or outside of the timeline. This is all very confusing, and I hope it will be explained more thoroughly.
The important thing for us to remember, though, is that our people who are back in 1977 are witnessing the building of the Swan, the Orchid, and some of the events that will lead Ben Linus to Purge the Island of the Dharma interlopers. We know, or we've been told, that the Swan was built to study the unique electromagnetic properties of that sector of the Island, but at some point, there was an "incident." After the incident, a protocol was put in place whereby 2 men would stay in the Swan for 540 days at a time, entering the code and pushing the button every 108 minutes. Knowing that there are a new group of people on the Island now, people who seems to be unaffiliated with Ben, Widmore, or the "Others," knowing that both Widmore and Ben wanted Locke and the Oceanic 6 to get back to the Island, presumably because a war is coming, we can assume that our people will somehow travel forward in time, go back to the future. I am pretty sure that the Incident is nothing less than the event which will send our people back to where they will belong. How exactly this will happen I will not pretend to know, but I have some questions:
1: Whither Radzinsky? We know now that he designed the Swan, and that he was down there pushing the button as late as 1991, when Kelvin joined him after the 1st gulf war. We know that Radzinsky killed himself sometime after that. Was he locked down in the Swan when the Purge happened? Did he kill himself when he found out about the Purge? Why did he edit the Orientation film? Why the fiction of a disease and the shots every 9 days, when it didn't keep Kelvin, Desmond, or even Radzinsky, inside? ( I keep thinking that one of our people will end up taking Radzinsky's identity somehow and ending up as that brownish-red spot on the ceiling)
2: What about the Others? We know nothing about them. Why did they kidnap all those 815 survivors? Why were they interested in Walt? We've seen them as hillbillies, we've seen them using the Dharma medical station, the Hydra Station, the US Army camp, we know they operate a company called Mittelos Bioscience off-island. Now we are getting hints that they are related somehow to Ancient Egypt: the statue, the hieroglyphics, the appearance of the monster with the God Anubis on the walls of Smoky's lair under the Temple. I have the feeling that the Egyptian thing is just the latest layer of costume hiding the true nature and origins of the Others.
3: Did Ben Linus know about 815 before it crashed?
4: Was the runway on Hydra Island constructed with foreknowledge of the arrival of Ajira flight 316?
5: Have the core values of the Valenzetti equation been changed? This, supposedly was the core mission of the Dharma Initiative. Hurley's lottery numbers have been overtaken this year by 3s, 6s ,and 9s in prominence as background details to the action.
6: Where the frak are Rose and Bernard? Are they Adam and Eve?
7: The love quadrangle. Will there be any end to it, why should we care, and why did the producers see fit to make an already overcomplicated, not very interesting plotline, more complicated by putting Juliet and Sawyer together? (But I totally called it. Right here. )
08 April 2009
Can I just tell you how excited I am that Zachary Quinto is playing Spock in the new Trek movie? The answer is very frakkin excited. The Toaster is psyched for this one! First he was Adam, the selfish, bratty foil for rookie agent Kim Bauer in the excellent 3rd season of 24; now he plays Gabriel Gray, aka Sylar, in NBC's (mostly) disappointing "Heroes."
In fact, Sylar is the only reason I have not given up on Heroes altogether. The rest of the show is crap, mostly. Sylar's story has always been the story of a bad man getting badder by the minute, except for the brief time this season when he found out that he didn't have to kill to take someone's powers. He usually just sliced off the top of his victim's head, fiddled around inside the brain, and presto: he had taken someone's superpower. This year he found out he could take someone's power by finding empathy somewhere in his dark heart for one whose power he covets. That lasted long enough for him to find true love, until the Hunger found him again and he killed her. More recently he took an apprentice and hit the road in search of his real father; he first found a diner. It was boarded up, abandoned. Sylar had a flashback to his childhood: His father had brought him to the diner in order to sell him for a little extra cash. Once the transaction concluded, his father got up and left. The little boy obviously didn't understand; he went running after his father. He got to the parking lot just in time to see his father kill his mother in the car and push the body out the passenger side door. The juke box was playing "The Chain," by Fleetwood Mac. It was a brilliant, chilling scene, alone worth the price of admission to an hour of my Monday night. I could go on, but I don't want to ruin it for you. Check Sylar out.
And the man who makes it happen is Zach Quinto; it's so easy to picture him as our favorite Vulcan. The studied, quiet intensity Nimoy brought to the character of Spock, the calm center, is the same thing that makes Quinto's Sylar so scary. And the eyebrows! They won't need to do much makeup for that one, I tell you. (Also, have you heard Heather Nova's cover of "We Can Work It Out?" It's wonderful.)
Anyway. Star Trek opens soon, with SHAUN OF THE DEAD as SCOTTY! JJ Abrams directs; you know him, the guy who created Lost, and Alias, who gave us Cloverfield, the best shaky-cam monster-destroys-New-York movie ever. Run, don't frakkin walk, to your internets and lock down a ticket for this flick, I tell you, it's gonna be the runaway hit of the summer. This one has the potential to be as widely popular as The Voyage Home was at Christmastime in '86. That is all.
02 April 2009
24 March 2009
One night he left a disgusting mess, didn't clean it up until the next morning. He didn't wash the pots he used, just got rid of all the noodles and veggies and pizza he left out. That night, I stacked up the pots and pans on the stove and did the rest of the dishes, mine and hers. He came home, left a nasty note about how many of our dishes he washes and how amazing it is that we couldn't help him out, and stormed out. When I got him on the phone, I confronted him about his drinking, told him that the unsafe behavior was not acceptable and that he needed to be more considerate of us. He apologized and agreed, then he got drunk. Then he came home, put water on to boil, and went to bed. Lucky I fancy a late-night snack every now and again; I turned it off before it could burn down the house. Next day, I get him on the phone again, and I yell. Talking didn't work, so I rubbed his nose in it. He muttered something about not cooking after 11. (Alcoholics make rules for themselves; it's a way to maintain an illusion of control.) He promised it wouldn't happen again.
Next day I get a text from him: Call me, I have important news. I called him, he told me he got laid off and has to move out. Curious coincidence, no? The only conversation we've had since then is about what he needs to do to get his deposit back, when he's going to pay the house bills, you know, business. He continues to drink and act inconsiderately. A few days ago, he was passed out in the sitting room when Lady Toaster got up to have breakfast and watch the morning news. He got up, went to the bathroom, which, if you haven't seen my house, is right next to the TV room, and just started whizzing without even closing the door.
I know he is in distress, that he needs help, that he has a disease, but: he has a lot of friends, he has a mom and dad who bring him food every week, and we are just the roommates he won't even show the most basic respect. If he had ever shown the faintest glimmer of understanding that that we exist, if he hadn't acted like a dick from Day 1, maybe I would be a little more sympathetic.
But here's the thing: he continues to get up and leave at 10 to 9 every day, and every time I've asked him for the money he owes, it's always Wednesday when the check will clear. I am 95% sure that he lied about getting laid off, and concocted the story as a way to get out of a tough situation without taking any responsibility for his actions, or god forbid, changing his behavior. And now the week until he moves out seems like a very long week indeed. I have no idea how unstable he is, or if he is waiting until the last day to give me a piece of his mind, or if he will turn his self-loathing into anger at Lady Toaster or Toaster-Cat. I am taking the 31st and 1st off from work so I can be there when he is moving out, and he can put his key directly into my hand. I'm also thinking about asking the landlord to change the locks.
But here's the thing: the 1st is a Wednesday, and that's his payday, his band practice-open mic night, and the night, historically, when he gets the most twisted. I wonder if he will forget, on the Wednesday night, that he doesn't live here anymore. I'll make sure I stay up pretty late that night, and I'm not above punching him in the face, thereby knocking him out, and dragging his drunk ass outside and calling the cops. I hope that doesn't happen, but I will definitely rise to the challenge if it does.
New roommate is a good guy; he is also a musician, but he is a BSG fan, and he works for Harmonix, the creators of Rock Band and Guitar Hero. (I've already asked about the Beatles game; he's not telling.) His girlfriend works with me, and she is also a delight. Can't wait 'til April 1...
23 March 2009
Wow. This is a great telling of a great story. French dude Phillipe spent 45 minutes on a wire strung up between the World Trade Center. (Yes, THAT World Trade Center.) The film is a story told by its principals: the Man himself, his girlfriend at the time, the 4 or 5 guys who helped him pull it off. It's easy to see that people would over-dramatize events from their pasts, but it's pretty hard to over-dramatize walking on a wire 110 stories above the Big Apple; I get dizzy just thinking about it. Must have been pretty amazing to just be there, see him cross the wire, taunting the cops on the other side.
The best thing about Man On Wire is what is left out: there is no mention of anything that may have happened at the World Trade Center after 1974. I imagine that if I were old enough to have been there in '74 and remember it fondly, it may be bittersweet, but I'm just hearing of it now, and there are no towers where they were, so it just feels like a triumphant moment, an instance of joy, nostalgia for a safer time I never knew.
21 March 2009
07 March 2009
August 8, 1974: Nixon resigns
September 22, 2004: Oceanic Flight 815 disappears enroute to Los Angeles
November 22, 1963: JFk is killed in Dallas
June 11, 2001: Timothy McVeigh is executed
December 25, 1983: little Frakkin Toaster gets an Ewok coloring book for Xmas
July 2, 1937: Amelia Earhart disappears
July 2, 1979: Charlotte Staples Lewis is born. (This is significant for 2 reasons. The first is the obvious tip of the hat to Earhart, but it also means that the little redhead girl Daniel saw was not in fact Charlotte.
October 28, 1984: suspected shutdown date
Decmber 19, 1992: The Purge
September 23, 2004: Monster eats the pilot
Here endeth the lesson.
24 February 2009
16 February 2009
Thinking about changing the name of the blog. Second Exodus is a good name, meaningful to me. Humanity freed itself from its oppressors and got Back On The Road. This is my second blog. The first was not so good. Don't use Blogstream. It's still there, but I won't link you to it 'cause anything good over there has been reprinted here. I probably would not have started this blog if it weren't for a certain pixie. Not the second time I've been in love, but the second time someone's been in love with me. Words cannot explain how awesome the last year with her has been, despite growing anxiety about my work situation and my education situation.
Anyway, a new name for the blog. Right. I have some ideas. I want to put it to a vote. I want you to vote. If I put up a poll, would you vote for a new title? It would be a shame if you really liked "I love M&Ms" as the new title, then "I love M&Ms" lost by one vote. Because you didn't vote. Just like Bush in '04. Suggestions:
I Love M&Ms
Baltar Is My Homeboy
Allergic to Formalydehyde
Cliff Clavin Is My Homie
Nighthawks at the Diner
Greedo Shoots First
Bite My Shiny Metal A$$
Manny Being Manny
These are just rough ideas. I may post a poll soon. Watch for it. Keep your feet on the ground, but keep reachin' for the stars.
15 February 2009
05 February 2009
03 February 2009
20 January 2009
Earth, January 2009, or Coletta Factor: new BSG, or why didn't anyone throw shoes 5 years ago when it mattered?
19 January 2009
Next part of the dream, I was in my house. This is my dream house, the one I dream about all the time. It looks nothing like where I actually live. There are 3 floors in my dream house: the sunny attic, the maze-like, many-roomed living space, and the empty, solitary rooms in the basement. I was on the middle floor, and this time, I lived there with my mother and my girlfriend, both of whom were my actual mother and girlfriend, respectively. I was in the room I shared with my girlfriend, and decided to take a walk around the house, maybe hit up the kitchen. As I got there, I realized that I never use it because it is all cluttered with junk. 2 kitchen tables stacked on top of each other, with a giant bag of saltines perched on top of those; I grabbed a handful and continued to wander. I suddenly became aware of a group of girls in my house, 3 or 4 of them, about college age. I think they were my mother's friends. I saw one of them turn a corner into another room and thought it was my girlfriend; same style of dress, hair, etc. I called to her, and when she turned around, I saw she was a stranger. The group of girls continued on and I went a different way. I ran into my girlfriend and we walked around all the rooms, most of them filled with unused furniture, dusty, hardly lived in. I started to think of all the ways we could make the whole house habitable, instead of just the room or 2 we use now.
Then I woke up. What the frak??
07 January 2009
Also, my hands are acting up again, but this time I have an appointment with a dermatologist and I fully intend to get some documentation squarely placing the blame for my condition on the toxic chemical used in my place of employment as "sanitizer." I wonder how much of my job I can do once it is determined officially that I can absolutely not touch the stuff; we use it all the time for everything. Will they have to provide me with an alternative, limit my duties, or just pay me not to come in? We'll see.
Ok, the schedule. 24 starts Sunday, BSG Friday, Bush's last day the following Tuesday, then Lost returns, 2 weeks from tonight. Watch this space...