Saturday, June 04, 2005

Guys (Dramatic Pause) Where are We?

Lost 1.x

So what happens when an orphan, a drug dealer, an evil lawyer, a hobbit, the F.B.I. Assistant Director, an inmate in a wheelchair, a gay-basher turned gay homosexual, a surfer chick and Jay Leno get on a plane. Well if you sprinkle in some token hot chicks, you'll have one of the most talked about shows in recent memory. (Bonus points to anyone who guesses who's who. Leave your guesses in the comment section with the character and the show/movie.)

The first episode of Lost rivaled that of a big budget, a plane crash, an enormous monster, an exotic location and of course, the hottest token hot chick on TV today. It was compelling enough to become an instant water cooler topic. We all debated what the monster was, who would be the first to die, and where exactly where were they.

Then the show moved into its "Back-story of the Week" format where we learned that Kate was a wanted woman and that of course raised more questions. What exactly did she do? From there, we saw flashback from each of the main characters, so more than others. We saw some that were absolutely shocking (Locke was in a wheelchair). We saw some that were easy to predict (Boone and Shannon are siblings by marriage and have hooked up). We saw some that were funny (Hurley's bad luck).

By the time the finale rolls around, everyone is more confused than Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton in the celebrity spelling bee. But since the producers are so nice, we get a glimpse of the monster. Umm, it’s just black smoke. We are supposed to be scared of that? Well at least we get to see who the Others are. But that turned out to another let down as they looked like extras from Deliverance. If they force Hurley to squeal like a pig in his underwear next season, I will never watch the show again. So after the Other signaled that they have selected a new pope, they hop on their boat to pick up Walt. But I thought they were supposed to use white smoke for that, but anyway.

There were a lot of flaws that could be found in the writing. During Sayid's second flashback, it's been well documented that terrorist that are strapped with explosives do not detonate the bombs, they are led to believe they do but are followed and some one else does it just in case the suicide bomber gets second thoughts. Also how could the explosives expert, Artz, explode after picking up one stick but the people that don't know anything about it can carry six sticks threw the jungle without incident? Not to mention, why has no one mentioned that Locke is no in a wheelchair. I’m sure some one noticed he was in a wheelchair before the flight then being carried onto the plane by the flight attendants. These little details bug me a little everyone and a while and takes me out of the story.

The bigger problem though is the amount of unanswered questions that each episode leaves such as (my theories are in parentheses):

  • What did Kate do that was so bad that her mom is scared of her? (Eco-terrorist blamed for the death of an oil tycoon.)
  • How did Locke get in the wheelchair? (Complications to surgery.)
  • What is the monster? (A specter.)
  • What is the hatch to? (A submarine.)
  • What happened to Rose? (She went looking for her husband around the island.)
  • Why did the fortune teller change his mind about Claire keeping her baby? (The fortune teller didn't change his mind. There is no couple in LA. He saw another castaway's future and made Claire get on that flight.)
  • Who was Ethan Rom and why did he want Claire? (One of the others looking for the chosen one.)
  • How did Claire escape someone who could capture two people at one time? (She didn't escape, she was let go after it was realized that her child wasn't the chosen one.)
  • How did Jack single handedly beat up Ethan Rom after be beaten like a red headed step child days earlier? (Ethan let him win.)
  • Why would Sayid hook up with Shannon after being so close to finding his true love? (I, personally forget about any past loves if I had a chance with Shannon.)
  • What's with the number? (Just a way to connect everyone and everything.)
  • What did the French chick say to Hurley to calm him down? (Haven't a clue.)
  • Why did Claire name here kid Aaron? If she lost all her memory, what could the significance of this be? (I think the writers screwed up.)
  • What do the Others want with Walt? (He can control the monster.)
  • What will happen to Michael, Sawyer & Jin? (They will float back to the island and will discover the other survivors like Rose's husband and Michelle Rodriguez.)
  • What will Jack and company find down the hatch? (Boone, Ethan Rom, the marshal, Scott and anyone else who died.)
  • Why is a flight from Australia carrying so many non-Australians? By my count there is only one Australian that we have met, Claire. (It's an American show. Added 6/7)
  • What was the secret Locke told Walt in the pilot? (I'm not sure I really want to know. Added 6/9)

  • I’m sure I’ll think up of more questions so check back later. Also leave any of you theories or questions in the comment section.

    Lost 1.x gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my
    Terror Alert Scale. It also won two STA's.

    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    I Carry the Madness Everywhere I Go

    Don't Believe the Truth - Oasis

    Let me take you back to the mid-nineties, a time when Rock and Roll bands rules the radiowaves (including the recently reviewed Better Than Ezra) and there was no bigger band at the time as the Gallagher brothers of Oasis. It didn't hurt them that sibling rivalry was as entertaining (or sometimes more entertaining) than the music. But around the third album, the luster of the band wore off and they started to put out mediocre album one after another with the song Stop Crying Your Heart Out being the one bright spot in recent memory.

    Mediocrity continues with the release of Don't Believe the Truth. But for a band that who unapologetically rip-off the Beatles as on this album they steal from other English bands. A Bell Will Ring sounds like a Rolling Stones song. Lyla sounds like something The Kinks might have done. The Stone Roses get the Oasis makeover on Turn Up the Sun.

    Oasis even borrows from a newer band as Mucky Fingers takes from the signature Coldplay crushing guitars. They even get some influences from across the pond with the 60's garage rock of The Meaning of Soul. Part of the Queue percussion sound particularly reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Breaking the Girl.

    But Oasis shines when they stick to what they do best, and of course that lifting Beatles music. Love Like a Bomb and Guess God Thinks I'm Abel both fit the bill. The Noel takes over sing duties on The Importance Of Being Idle also fits in that category. But the highlight of the album is the closer, Let There Be Love, the first time I'm aware of where the Gallagher brother actually share vocal duties on the same song.

    The album starts off with the lyrics, "I carry the madness everywhere I go." Too bad its not the same kind of madness that put a single of the brother on the English charts so many years ago. That is the Oasis I wish would come back.

    Song to Download - Let There Be Love

    Don't Believe the Truth gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.


    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    She Don't Like Cocaine

    Back in the early nineties, I listened to nothing but hardcore gangsta rap. For me, the more offensive the better, N.W.A., Ice-T, I listened to it all. I had a few buddies that I would trade tapes with, as one of them had a cousin that worked at a record store and would hook us up with the new releases. Then one day in 1991, one of those friends handed me a tape with a guitar on the cover. Since I trusted the guy (coincidently, he's the same guy I talked about during Dave Matthews Band Week), I gave it a listen.

    What I heard on that album changed my life. The album, Eric Clapton's Slowhand, starts off with the rock staple Cocaine. I'm sure there is nothing more endearing then hearing a kid repeat, "She don't like, she don't, she don't like... cocaine" over and over again as I did back then. And this song has even kept me off drugs because if she don't like cocaine, then I don't. Granted, it wasn't until a few years later that I found that Eric Clapton was quite found of the white powder back in the day.

    Following Cocaine is the school dance, wedding, girl's dorm staple, Wonderful Tonight. It is, still, to this day the best song to play if you need to a little help with the ladies. I have yet to meet a female that doesn't swoon the moment the first guitar lick comes on. And the SCB commercial with playing Wonderful Tonight and the dude repeating the line, "she's wondering what cloths to wear" is just pure humor.

    The rest of the album is filled with equally great songs. All the songs were great lyrically and sonically with some classic guitar riffs and solos. The album also covers the musical spectrum from strait ahead rock to blues to power ballad and even throws in the danceable Lay Down Sally to boot. We also get some female lead vocals on a couple tracks leaving Clapton to focus on what he does best, play the guitar.

    Back in my youth, I didn't even realize that they made any good music before I was born and Slowhand changed all that. But Slowhand change all that. After Clapton, I quickly discover other "classics" such as Marley, Petty, Steve Miller, and Hendrix, among others and constitute a majority of what I listen to today. So for its life changing moment, Eric Clapton's Slowhand is June's induction into the
    Scooter Hall of Fame.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2005

    3 1/2 Minutes, Felt Like a Lifetime

    Before the Robots - Better Than Ezra

    One of the very few bands that I own all their albums (of artist that have released three or more) with new material is Better Than Ezra. All their pervious albums still get heavy rotation in my CD player and on my iPod. Today marks the release of their fifth studio album, Before the Robots.

    The album starts off with three sing-alongs that BTE is best known for, Burned, Daylight, and A Lifetime. A Lifetime is actually a holdover from their 2001 album, the sadly overlooked Closer. The version on BTR speeds things up a little, and rocks a little more than the original. It also includes the line that has bugged me for a while, "And that R.E.M. song was playing in my mind. Three and half minutes, felt like a lifetime." Looking through my somewhat extensive
    R.E.M. library, found that Let Me In off of Monster clocks in at 3:28 and At My Most Beautiful off of Up finishes at the 3:35 mark. Monty Got a Raw Deal, The One I Love, and Find the River are all close also and might fit the song. (Keep in mind that A Lifetime ends at 3:26.)

    Another BTE trademark is that they take some chances and that is found in Its Only Natural, Special, and Juicy. Juicy is the best, a danceable song that is accompanied by a falsetto voice and a driving bass line that make you realize what a modern Bee-Gee's song might sound like is they listen to
    Devo or Violent Femmes.

    American Dream is the best written song on the album telling the story of a few people that haven't achieved the American Dream yet. In this Red State/Blue State time, the lines, "I'm a little bit rebel, I'm a bit patriot. I can see both sides of the coin" probably describes most of America while our government is littered with fanatics on both side of the fence. A Southern Thang lives up to the bill as a southern rock song being that the band is from New Orleans. The song also takes a little of the melody of the David Essex classic, Rock On, during the chorus. They even namedrop the King of Delta Blues himself,
    Robert Johnson in the song.

    Song to Download - Daylight

    Before the Robots gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

    Monday, May 30, 2005

    Memorial Day Salute

    Why Courage Matters - John McCain

    I have been a huge John McCain supporter for a while now and last year he wrote a book, Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life, that I have recently finished reading. McCain, with help from Mark Salter, never exactly answer the question directly, instead they explain by example, profiling different people from all part of life that have exhibited courage. This also helps McCain avoid writing a self help book listing how you can live a braver life.

    McCain most obviously starts with a type of courage he has the most experience, those of which he saw first hand in Vietnam. But since this is not an autobiography, Special Forces master sergeant Roy Benavidez is the first person of courage that McCain talks about. His helicopter was shot down after a mistake, many of his comrades were wounded. Benavidez then helped everyone onto the helicopter meant to rescue them to the point where he collapses and presumed dead.

    But this book is not a book about war stories as the story of Angela Dawson is next. Dawson was a mom in East Baltimore who tried to keep drugs and other bad elements out of her neighborhood. McCain also touches on people who fought in the Civil War, Civil Rights activists, athletes, and political prisoners among others.

    For anyone who has heard John McCain speak knows that isn't the best orator out there and that translates into his writing style. There were many passages in the book that had to read a couple times to fully comprehend what McCain was getting at. But overall, the message is there and is worth reading, even if you have to read it more than once. One passage that struck me:

    People lie because, more often than not, it works. More often than not, lying doesn't attract unwanted public attention, it lets us escape it. For every public figure caught in a lie, many more have avoided public disgrace by lying.

    Apparently Tom DeLay and Barry Bonds have taken this to heart and makes you wonder how many Congressmen and baseball players that haven't been caught in their lies.

    The book, thought up by McCain's editor post-9/11 when people were afraid to ride elevators of tall building or to get on airplanes, is a good read for profiles of courage on this Memorial Day. Also, make sure you check out the movie based on his other, Faith of My Fathers tonight on A&E.

    Why Courage Matters gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

    Sunday, May 29, 2005

    A Long Time Ago, We Used to Be Friends

    Veronica Mars 1.x

    Veronica Mars is a student at Neptune High School who's best friend, Lilly Kane, was murdered, her mom has jumped town, she has been raped, her boyfriend has abruptly broke up with her, and she's an outcast because her father wrongly (maybe) accused her dead best friend’s dad with being the murderer. And that's just what we learn from the first episode. The next twenty-one episode revolve around Veronica trying to find out why her mom left and where she went to, who raped her, and who killed Lilly. The later of which could have been almost anyone who came into contact with the youngest Kane, and Veronica just happen to have a file on every one of them.

    When Veronica's not looking for her mom or Lilly's killer, Veronica works for her dad who is a private investigator. This leads to the mystery of the week, this is what gave the show its comparisons to The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer except all the monsters in Neptune are real people. Some of the better side stories include Veronica thwarting a group of computer nerd who extort money through the internet (The Wrath of Con), she hunts down the person who is posting fake purity tests of other students including herself (Live a Virgin), she tries to catch the students who set her up for making fake ID's (Clash of the Tritons), she find a student accused of making bomb threats (Weapons of Class Destruction), and she tries to keep a student from posting an explicit video of his ex-girlfriend on the internet (M.A.D.).

    Along with the great storylines, the show is also has a great cast. Kristen Bell shines as Veronica, who can hit each smart-alic line with ease but can also nail all the emotional scenes that Sarah Michelle Gellar couldn't quite hit as Buffy. And where Jennifer Garner always comes off as slutty in her many undercover costumes, Bell pulls off all her costumes with a cute as button touch to them (which is why Bell is the leading candidate to replace Portman in my top 5). Supporting Bell are Enrico Colantoni, best known as the balding photographer on Just Shoot Me, as papa Mars and a bunch of young actors in the first major roles. Percy Daggs III as Wallace and Francis Capra as Weevil do the best with their roles but I don't think Teddy Dunn pulled off the complexity of Duncan Kane as the season wore on.

    The show was sprinkled with the multitude of familiar faces with Alyson Hannigan (Buffy), Joey Lauren Adams (Mallrats), Anthony Anderson (Barbershop), Lisa Rinna (Melrose Place), Paula Marshall (Cupid), Paris Hilton (One Night in Paris), and a double shot of the Home Improvement Boys Zachary Ty Bryan and Jonathan Taylor Tomas all making a cameo or two. Other stars making recurring appearances included Harry Hamlin (L.A. Law) as a movie star/abusive father, Amanda Seyfried (Mean Girls) as the most popular girl in school turned murder victim Lilly Kane, and being rescued from the crap that was Napoleon Dynamite was Tina Majorino who played Mac, the computer whiz who helped Veronica on all her digital cases.

    Unlike other big shows of this season (*couch* Lost *cough*), Veronica Mars answered all the big questions posed this season: who raped Veronica, where did Veronica mom go, and most importantly, not to mention most shocking, who killed Lilly Kane. Although there are some important questions that will be answered next season like who was Veronica glad to see (my guess - Wallace) and what did Weevil and his boys do to Logan (my guess - he ends up next to his dad). And a question that may not be answered quickly, is Lynn Echolls really dead.

    If you happened to miss Veronica Mars, be sure to catch it this summer from the beginning starting Tuesday, June 14 at 9 PM, and then move to its new timeslot the next day on Wednesday, June 15 at 9 PM. Or you can pick up the DVD which is supposed to come out around the start of season two.

    Veronica Mars 1x gets a Terror Alert Level: Severe [RED] on my
    Terror Alert Scale. It also won three STA's.