Friday, January 13

Lost Friday - "The 23rd Psalm."

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Season 2 - Episode 10 - "The 23rd Psalm."

Finally, another Lost Friday is upon us. We have much to discuss. Happy Friday the 13th, by the way.

Table Of Contents:
ACT I - The Skinny, courtesy of Wikipedia.
ACT II - The Numbers, courtesy of the CDP.
ACT III - "The Hunting Party" preview, courtesy of me.

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("Hello, Eko here. When I'm not running deadly drug gangs in Nigeria or conducting sermons on a messed up island, I'm on the CDP!")

ACT I.

Wow. After the 5-week break, I really didn't know what to expect the Lost crew to bring to the table for the much-awaited episode 10. As it turns out, they hit the ground running, with the first of many new episodes leading us into yet another wild new direction.

Wikipedia, give me the skinny; and make sure it's full of grammar errors and poor paragraphs!

Claire introduces herself to Mr. Eko and sees that he is whittling scripture into wood. Upon seeing this, she mentions to him the virgin mary statue that Charlie has been carrying. Mr. Eko becomes panicked and immediately demands to see the virgin mary statue. "It's just a statue" says Claire. Mr. Eko breaks open the statue and shows Claire the heroin inside, responding with "Just a statue?". She begins to lose faith in Charlie when she discovers his secret. Mr. Eko demands that Charlie take him to the place where he found the statue. Charlie takes him to a tree and claims that he found the statue under the tree. Mr. Eko becomes upset and demands that Charlie "Take him to the plane". Charlie notices that Eko has inscribed psalms and scriptures on the stick he carries.

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("Stop building your stupid churches in my village!")

In the flashbacks we see that when Mr. Eko was younger, Nigerian guerillas/drug dealers would come to his village and take the children (to fill up their ranks). They grab Mr. Eko's younger brother and try to force him to shoot an old man. The younger brother hesitates, so Mr. Eko takes the gun from his brother and shoots the man. The guerillas are pleased with this and ask him his name. He replies, "Eko." The leader says that Eko is a "born killer." They take Eko, leaving the brother and the other children (which is what Eko hoped they would do.) Eko's cross is torn from his neck by the leader. "You won't need this anymore." he tells the boy.

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(Eko says a silent prayer to the God of Cornrows.)

In the next flashback, we see that Mr. Eko has become a drug dealer of Nigeria. He visits a man who has heroin and offers the man money for it. The man reluctantly sells him the heroin, and tells Mr. Eko that "It's true what they say about you. You have no soul." Mr. Eko proceeds to slit the throat of the man and his assistant, but lets the man's son live, saying "tell all your friends that I let you live".
In the next flashback we see, Mr. Eko visits the church in the town that he was taken from. His brother has become a priest, and is trying to sell statues of the Virgin Mary to raise money for a polio vaccine for the village. Mr. Eko asks him for a plane, because only foreign and missionary aircraft are allowed to fly out of Nigeria. He claims that he will fly the drugs out of Nigeria (and away from their people) and give his brother the money for the polio vaccine. His brother tells Eko that he loves him still, but refuses to help. His brother now wears the cross that was torn from Eko's neck.


In the next flashback, Eko approaches his brother again, asking simply for his brother to sign papers that make Mr. Eko and two other men priests so that they can fly a plane themselves. His brother refuses at first, but Mr. Eko tells his brother that if he does not obey, Mr. Eko whispers that his two friends will burn the church to the ground. His brother reluctantly signs.

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("Angelina Jolie is pregnant with Brad Pitt's baby? Scandal!")

Charlie takes Mr. Eko further into the jungle, complaining that Mr. Eko ruined his relationship with Claire and that Mr. Eko shouldn't judge him because it was his brother that got him addicted to heroin. Charlie loses his way, and Mr. Eko tells him to climb a tree. Charlie reluctantly obliges. While he is in the tree, there are explosions, and we see the black smoke that formerly appeared in Exodus, Part 2. Mr. Eko faces the black smoke as John Locke did, despite Charlie telling him to run. The black smoke approaches Eko, who stands his ground. Eko stares fearlessly at the cloud for a few moments, and as our camera angle passes through the cloud, we hear what sounds like computer-like chatter.

There also appears to be dark images flashing inside the cloud (some of the flashes can be seen if the show is played in slow motion or paused. The images are from Eko's past: the man he shot, his mother, his brother, a church, a crucifix). Suddenly the cloud pulls back and disappears. Eko and Charlie find a parachute in a tree, which leads to the corpse of the Nigerian man dressed as a priest that Boone and Locke found in Deus Ex Machina. He opens the man's shirt -- we assume looking for the cross. When he realizes its not his brother, he says a prayer, telling Charlie that the man "saved his life".

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(The CDP would like to thank the nerdlinger that captured this frame.)

In the final flashback, we see Mr. Eko and his two friends dressed as priests boarding the plane. Mr. Eko's brother drives up to the plane and tells him not to leave. He is soon followed by the Nigerian Military. Mr. Eko's two friends open fire onto the military, and one dies when the military fire back. Mr. Eko's brother tells them to stop, but they shoot him. Mr. Eko carries his brother into the plane and tells his friend to get in. His friend does, but kicks Mr. Eko away from the plane before he can get in. As Eko watches the plane carrying his wounded brother fly away, the military approach and mistake him for his brother because he is dressed as a priest.

Mr. Eko and Charlie find the plane. Mr. Eko finds another corpse inside. He opens the shirt and finds the cross around the body's neck. Eko tells Charlie that the man inside is his brother. He gives Charlie a Virgin Mary statue "for the one he broke" and burns the plane, reciting psalm 23 from the Old Testament. Charlie asks Eko if he is, in fact, a priest himself. Eko pauses, then smiles softly and puts the cross around his neck. "Yes," he replies, "I am a priest."

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("I was baptizing a baby, and before you know it, my hand went right through his soft spot.")

Meanwhile, at Michael's request, Locke teaches Michael to use a gun. Michael then asks Kate if he can have her shift at the computer. She agrees. Michael talks to Walt, who first asks if Michael is alone, and then claims Michael has to come for him, and "they are coming back", but before he can say anymore, Jack appears and talks to Michael, saying that everyone cares about Walt. Charlie apologizes to Claire, but Claire tells him to leave. The episode ends with Charlie in the jungle, opening a hiding place to reveal that he has five additional Virgin Mary statues. He places the one that Mr. Eko gave him with the other five.

In a pre-closing scene, several survivors are shown progressing with island life, as Kate gives Sawyer a haircut, Jin and Sun introduce themselves to Ana-Lucia and present her with a fish, and Hurley helps Libby set up shelter, both giving flirtatious glances to each other.

Thanks, Wikipedia. You make my job a lot easier. Make with the numbers!

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(One of these things is a bad-ass black mass that menaces all in its path. The other is the smoke monster.)

ACT II.

4. This was obviously a huge episode for a number of reasons. Most importantly, we got a good(?) look at the 'monster,' or 'security system,' or 'messed up black smoke that's blowing up trees and sucking people into the sky and spitting them back out.' When you wait so long to see something like this, it's really easy to be let down once it's finally in front of you. Honestly, my jaw was dropped. Every time you think you'll get a question answered, they hit you with an even bigger question. Just like the revealing of the hatch, you only end up with more questions once it stares you in the face. Brilliant.

So, what is it? Well, it could be a lot of things. Sharp-eyed TiVo nerds noticed that Eko's life seemed to be flashing before his eyes inside of this thing, which leads to a lot of theories. Can this thing read thoughts? Is it all in your head? Is it in control of your fate, including the decisions you've made that got you to this point? Is is made up of things that haunt you from your past? Eko clearly wasn't scared, even though he should have been. My theory? It's a psychic roving tire fire that has become self-aware.

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(The monster sounds electronic. Nothing funny here, just an observation.)

Speaking of which, he had the same reaction that Locke did the second time he came into contact with it. His 'looking into the eye of the island' revealed his destiny to him; he must have liked what he saw. Bear in mind that Locke wasn't so happy the first time he saw the thing, so the idea that there's multiple 'security systems' swirling around the island is still a possibility. Word. Perhaps only 'bad' people should be afraid of it. Maybe those you haven't yet repented or confessed their faults.

Personal note: When the 'monster' appeared on the screen, I was enjoying a wonderful Oktoberfest beer in a lovely glass that I received in a set for Christmas. In that scene where the camera was circling around it, my mouth instinctively fell open, spilling beer down my shirt like I was sky-high on novicane. Some fans feel that this move was a bit too 'sci-fi;' illogical and too far-out. I don't think so yet; at least not until we start to get some decent answers.

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(I'm going to hell for that dead baby joke I told earlier. Sorry about that.)

8. Mr. Eko. What an amazing character. Another victim of the island drawing him in with a seemingly impossible chain of events. Knowing Eko, we shouldn't confuse coincidence with fate, as we now realize that this series of events is much like the one Locke was explaining to him in Episode 9. Remember Locke asking Eko what the odds were of the plane breaking apart in two different sections of the island, only to have the people (as well as the missing piece of the Orientation tape) meet back up? Eko now understands destiny, just like Locke did when he laid eyes on the monster. The relationship between the two of them will only get more interesting, and lead to more of a power struggle between them, Jack and Ana Lucia.

Another cool Locke/Eko thing is that we still have yet to hear the whole story with them. We don't know why Eko was on the Oceanic flight, which was from Australia to L.A., mind you. We also don't know the whole story behind Locke's paralysis. Those stories will have to wait, as I'm pretty sure Jack gets to share more of his flashbacks in next week's episode.

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(This is what happens when George W. Bush tries to make toast.)

One of my favorite movies is Pulp Fiction. Not only is it entertaining, but it tackles the concepts of biblical retribution and redemption. Those who repented were saved, and everyone else got wasted. This is a huge underlying factor on Lost, along with the concepts of fate and free will. How this rakes in 25 million viewers a week is beyond me; especially considering that it's on ABC, which is home to some of the worst shows on television. Eko was a total and complete badass in Nigeria, but I'm assuming that he realized the error of his ways shortly after watching his brother save his life. More to come.

15. Michael and the computer. Hmmm, this is a tough one. The theories are bouncing around the message boards, ranging from the logical to the absurd. Is it Walt? Is it the Others? How can he communicate when the Orientation tape specifically tells him not to? How can he communicate when Locke himself demonstrated that he can't enter anything in until the clock reaches 4 minutes?

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(Age/Sex/Location? Michael/Male/Hatch. You?)

Well, did you ever stop to think that he's not communicating with anyone?

It's probably all in his head. The castaways are starting to see all sorts of things from their past and present on the island (thanks to the fog monster, apparently), and most of them make no sense. More than one person has seen Walt. Check. More than one person has heard the whispering voices. Check. Sawyer and Kate both saw the horse. Good. Nobody else has seen the communication on the computer, and it even disappeared when Jack showed up to talk to Michael. Ruh-roh.

Judging by the previews for next week, Michael will continue this conversation (real or crazy), understand that Walt is in danger, and set out to find him. This will set up Episode 11, "The Hunting Party," giving us an old-school Season One walkabout. I can't wait.

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(Three years, and Desmond didn't touch so much as a dallop of ranch? What a weirdo.)

16. If you're stranded on an island with limited resources and next to no food, why in the name of all that is good and holy would you blast apart an entire gallon of ranch dressing? Come on! Weren't there any coconuts or empties lying around to shoot? As a lover and hopeless addict of ranch dressing, watching this scene was far more upsetting than Boone and Shannon's deaths combined. What has ranch ever done to hurt anyone? Its only crime was being born delicious.

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(Oh, the ranch-manity! So many bland salads will result because of this.)

A lot of people were worried that the black smoke would turn off casual viewers. They should be worried about a full-scale ranch-lover's walkout. If they kill an innocent can of mandarin oranges next week, I'll be writing a sternly-worded letter.

23. Charlie's Higher than a kite, or is he? As much as we'd like to believe Charlie's claim that he's not using drugs, he has been hoarding quite a stash since he discovered the Mary statues. You can't trust an addict on an island full of smack; expect a painful relapse in a couple weeks. Remember when he was singing that Kinks song to Jin on the beach? He seemed a little off there, and you might have your explanation in those statues. When he defiantly destroyed the bag of dope in front of Claire, he knew darn well that he had a bunch more in his stash.

None of this really bothers me, though. During the scene, I looked over to the Missus and remarked, 'Why isn't everyone doing heroin? I mean, why not?'

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(Collect all five! Impress your friends with your smack collection!)

42. Another clip show? Hooray! After 5 weeks off, it made sense (well, advertising sense, mainly) to devote another hour to recycled footage and Special K commercials. I like how they synched up the hatchlings and tailies stories together. It made more sense to do that in recap form, and brought to light a lot of underlying issues that we'll see over the next several weeks.

ACT III.

The previews for next week's episode, 'The Hunting Party,' look really nice. As we dip more into Jack's fading marriage, Michael conks out Locke and sets out to find his boy. Judging by the ultra-creepy preview, they run right smack into the Others camp. The whispered line, 'This is our island' was nuts.

Well, that's enough for me. I need a nap.

If you missed out on any Lost Friday posts this season, here they all are for you, in quick-dissolving capsules:

SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 5
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 4
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 3
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 9 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 8 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 7 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 6 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 2
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 5 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 4 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 3 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 1 REVIEW
SEASON TWO PREVIEW

If you like what you see, sound off in the comments section. Thanks for stopping by. Oh, and you should bookmark this page, too. Seriously, don't be an idiot.

Thursday, January 12

New Pantheon Shortlist Revealed.

If you remember this post, you'll know that the New Pantheon Award nominees (formerly the Shortlist Music Prize) were in the process of being chipped down from about 100 to 10.

Here now, the 10 finalists, stolen directly from Pitchfork:

Amy Phillips reports: Ten bands enter, one band leaves! The organization behind the prestigious New Pantheon Music Prize, which honors the best in under-the-radar music, has unveiled its list of finalists exclusively to Pitchfork, and man, is this going to be a close one. Check out the albums in the running:

Animal Collective - Feels (Fat Cat)
Antony and the Johnsons - I am a Bird Now (Secretly Canadian)
Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine (Sony)
Arcade Fire - Funeral (Merge)
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (Vice)
Death Cab for Cutie - Plans (Atlantic)
The Decemberists - Picaresque (Kill Rock Stars)
Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak (RCA)
M.I.A. - Arular (XL/Beggars)
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (Asthmatic Kitty)

Looks a lot like Pitchfork's year-end list, doesn't it? Picking just one must be like Sophie's Choice for the panel of 27 entertainers, journalists, and industry types charged with determining the winner, which will be announced at a celebratory concert in Los Angeles on February 6. Several finalists are scheduled to perform at the fĂȘte; which ones, we don't know yet.

As previously reported, the New Pantheon Music Prize honors an album released in the United States between July 1, 2004 and October 30, 2005 that has yet to sell 500,000 copies at the time of nomination. The star-studded list of nominators includes Ric Ocasek of the Cars, Elton John, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of the Roots, Elijah Wood, Margaret Cho, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Beck, John Legend, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, country superstar Keith Urban, Adam Brody and Josh Schwartz from "The O.C.", and Pitchfork's own Ryan Schreiber.

Each panelist began the process by nominating up to seven albums, and then the longlist of nominated records was whittled down to those final 10. Check out the highly entertaining New Pantheon website to see which panelists nominated which records-- who knew ?uestlove dug Bright Eyes and Suzanne Vega is a Jamiroquai fan?!

CDP: So, there you go. That's a darn good list, right there. You all know who I'm rooting for (Arcade Fire; although Decemberists, Sufjan, Bloc Party and Death Cab are all amazing).

Who are YOU rooting for?

LOST FRIDAY is back for the attack tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 11

Would You Be Mine? Could You Be Mine?

The following essay has been rated:

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For sexual content and dialogue. It's a CDP first, but this story is too good to pass up. I'll keep it as clean and/or tasteful as possible. Ready? Let's go.

ACT I.

We must have new neighbors.

As you may or may not know, me and the Missus live in an apartment. For my money, it's a pretty nice one at that. The location is beautiful, the maintenance staff and grounds crew are top-notch, and I haven't yet run into a neighbor that really bothered me (except for that stupid kid that pulled the fire alarm that one day; my cats were terrified). We've searched high and low for something better in Dane county, but until we can buy a house, we're quite pleased with our current selection.

On the brochure for our apartments, they go through the list of amenities and special features that they provide. One of the bullet points was 'soundproof walls.' Now, I didn't believe it when I read it, and it turns out I was right. If there's a ringing phone or a loud TV in the adjacent apartment, it floods my ears, regardless of where I am at my place.

I think you know what I'm starting to get at. I think we have new neighbors.

The presumably new neighbors in question share a bedroom wall with us. What I mean is, our bedrooms are separated by nothing more than a 4-inch slab of drywall and insulation. That's the only thing that's keeping our headboards from bumping up against each other, I figure. Well, we had lived here for 13 months without hearing so much as a peep from that side of the wall.

That all changed two weeks ago.

Me and the Missus were in bed; she was sleeping and I was watching some TV. It was 10:48pm, when all at once I heard what sounded like the cat trying to get in. Gabe has a habit of bellowing and rubbing his paws on the door in a feeble effort to gain entrance. I muted the TV for a closer listen.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't Gabe. The sound was coming from behind me through the wall, and it was speaking very clear english. Either that, or Gabe had learned to throw his voice and wail 'Oooh, yeah!' in a female tone at the top of his lungs, while presumably knocking things off of an unseen dresser.

At first, I didn't really accept what was going on. I un-muted the TV and settled back in. Most of us have been in situations like this before (some of you have to put up with it every night), but not me. This was altogether new and frightening to me. I chose to ignore it, but I couldn't, because it wouldn't stop. In fact, it got worse.

Giving in to curiosity, I figured that what the neighbors were doing was far more interesting than what Jay Leno was talking about, so I muted the TV again for only a minute. It's not like I really wanted to be voyeuristic about the matter, but they obviously didn't care about privacy at this point in time. In all honesty, I was pretty uncomfortable and squirmy about the whole thing, but I rubberneck at car accidents, too. From 10:48 to 11:55, I heard the neighbors getting their freak on.

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ACT II.

Now, think of me what you will, but as far as I'm concerned, 67+ minutes of conjugal bliss is a ridonkulously long amount of time. Had I known their names, I would have sent the guy a Commie Award, or at the very least an ice pack. Me? I need a power nap after I pay the bills, for God's sake, and now I have to contend with my standing theory that Sting is my new neighbor.

How this suddenly became my business truly troubled me. I was now a part of my neighbors' sex life, completely against my will. How could they do that to me? How could I escape it? How long would this go on? What did I ever do to them?

That's when it hit me. If I can hear them, then...well, you know.

Crap. This revelation sent me even further into a shame spiral. Not only was I already losing my mind over this matter, I just realized that we had been inviting the neighbors into our bedroom just as much as them, over the past who knows how long. My world was crumbling around me. My sanctuary was destroyed, and the privacy of both households was in jeopardy.

The next day, I didn't want to tell the Missus what had happened, but I had to. For all intents and purposes, this sort of thing happens in hundreds of millions of households the world over, and most people really don't care one way or the other about it. It's not like we know each other or anything. We've never met, and probably never will. For all we care, we can easily ignore the other's bedroom romps until one of us finally decides to move one day. Fair enough. Intimacy is an important, healthy and downright vital part of a relationship, and unless I could hear them killing someone over there, it was nothing I needed to get hung up over. The Missus echoed my sentiments ("I don't care what they hear!"), and I stopped freaking out.

At least, that's what I told her. In reality, I was really bothered by this. A couple of nights later, it was the same thing, only this time, I woke up to it at 1:30 in the morning on a Wednesday. Then, I heard them at 6:30 in the morning over the weekend. Just yesterday, I heard them at 4:30pm when I got home from work. What frightens me is that the Missus is always sleeping or out of the house when this happens. I'm starting to think that it's all in my head, which can't be healthy for my well-being in any regard. For all I know, that apartment over there is empty, and I'm just going crazy.

I stopped telling the Missus about it, for fear that she would think I was some sort of pervert, holding a glass to the wall whenever she fell asleep. Either that, or she would think I was completely off of my nut. In reality, I really did start to go off of my nut.

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I wanted it to stop, so I could get some decent sleep and not have to think about it. If you think it's hard to drift off to sleep when the TV's on, try doing it when your neighbors are slamming a headboard into your retaining wall, and remarking loudly about it. At its core, it was purely annoying. I wish I could tell you that I got some sort of giggling pleasure out of it, but really, I just wanted it over. As I said before, they tend to get it on at every hour of the day, so I'm never truly safe from their lustful clutches. I'd bang on the walls, but disrupting the lovin' isn't a cool and CDP-like thing to do.

ACT III.

As you can tell, this really started to take its toll on me (unhealthily so). I started dreaming about it; altering my already awful sleep schedule around it. It was invading me. I was trying to figure out why this was bothering me so damn much, and things started to make sense after the 4th bleary-eyed night. It had to do with the sweeping concept of pride, privacy and shame.

I have a co-worker friend who protested the Vietnam war in the 70's. He smokes a lot of weed, wears courduroy and doesn't shave. Every so often, he takes a week's vacation and heads out of state. Where does he go? "I'll know when I get there, buddy. I'll know when I get there." Last time, he ended up in New York City, where he conversed with a Tibetan Monk. When I was leaving for Toronto last year, his only word of advice was; "You gotta go downtown, the whores are beautiful there." This guy does whatever the hell he wants, and it drives me absolutely insane.

I'm not that type. When I leave my house, I have a destination in mind and directions in the glove compartment. If I don't shave, I feel like a bum and I'm cranky all day. Drug use and prostitution aren't real high on my priority list. Yet, I respect the guy because he's not a fraud. Even though I would never want to live the way he lives, I can't help but look up to the guy because he's doing something that I can't do. It's brave to hit the world head-on, and refuse to live by anyone's rules. I thought I was doing that as a teenager, but I value structure far too much to be an anarchist. Anarchy is a pipe dream; Communism is where it's at.

Those neighbors didn't care one bit who was listening, because they loved each other and weren't afraid to let go every once in a while. I, on the other hand, realized that my bedroom was no longer private, and shut down faster than a drunk on payday. I was actually envious that these people didn't care, because that was something I could never do. I can assure you, there hasn't been so much as a peep from our side of the wall since this whole business started. I always considered myself an open and honest subject, but at my core I'm a real selfish being. "Give me it, it's mine!" "You can't have it, you'll just break it!"

The Missus thinks it's funny that I'm acting this way. She thinks I should just get over it already and fight fire with fire, but I can't get over it for some reason. It's because I'm hopelessly insecure. These nameless, faceless neighbors have done absolutely nothing wrong, and yet they've made me question my insecurities and inequities, simply because they do what I cannot. They've made me feel bad about myself, even though I really have no reason to.

Why? It doesn't matter why; guys are weird like that. I'll get over it, but until then, I'm wearing earmuffs to bed and taking extra-cold showers.

This might be it. I may have finally lost it. More information as I hear it through the walls.

(Update: This post was written over two weeks ago by yours truly. I'm feeling much better now. I appreciate the prayers and supportive e-mails; we can get through this tragedy together.)

(Update Update: I don't have to tell you that LOST makes its' triumphant return tonight, with a 2-hour event. I'll talk to you again on Lost Friday. Until then, tell me what you think in the comments section.)

Tuesday, January 10

Sucks To Be You. (I Know, I Know.)

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Guess who's back?

After a six-year hiatus following their quadruple-platinum debut, PROZZAK finally returns with their honest-to-goodness sophomore full-length, Cruel Cruel World. I know that somewhere in between, Prozzak released the fantastic 'Ready, Ready, Set, Go/Saturday People,' but that was a mish-mosh of old and new material. The wait is over; the time for animated, lovelorn dance-pop from Canada is now.

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Okay, so Simon and Milo look a little different since we last saw them (necks?). According to Simon, he's been pumping a lot of iron and getting into better shape to find that one true love, so you gotta hand it to the brother for trying. BUY CRUEL CRUEL WORLD NOW!

Speaking of lovelorn Canadian synth-pop...

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The Pettit Project have emerged from the shadows as well to bring us 6 Week Summer Vacation In Hell, their first album since 2004's cheeROCKracy. Video game influenced, nerd influenced, 'why can't you see how it could be?' influenced, the Pettit project is your favorite guilty pleasure, or the most annoying thing you can listen to if you're over 16. For me, it's both. BUY PETTIT STUFF NOW!

I saved the best for last.

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Finally, I turn to POLYSICS, the I-crap-you-not greatest band in the world. The hardest working Japanese-spazz-synth rock band on the planet returns with Now Is The Time! along with their greatest hits compilation, Polysics Or Die!!! With such an incredibly vast and hard-to-find catalog, Polysics Or Die!!! is a great way to catch up on the J-Pop phenomenon. Usually, the imports will run you about $40, but some of their albums get re-released in the states, as is the case with Die!!! I found my copy at Best Buy for $12, and I cried at the cash register.

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Honestly, Polysics will change your life if you let them in. Hayashi can make the most horrific sounds come out of his guitar and mouth that you've never even imagined in your most tripped-out nightmares. The snyth work is neck-breaking and they only know one speed; murder. Their third full-length album, For Young Electric Pop, is the greatest pop record of all time; their debut album, Hey Bob! My Friend! is the loudest and most gratingly raw album I've ever heard. Nuff' said.

Three guilty pleasures in one day? Believe it, baby.

Besides the CDP, what's yours?

Monday, January 9

On Getting My Head Chainsawed Off.

(So, I went 2 for 4 in my playoff predictions. Nonetheless, the AFC is still in my favor, and I like the Redskins anyways. I'm still sticking with my Conference Championship picks, however. The following post is rated TV-PG for violence.)

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"Screaming Like The Littlest Of Girls: The Resident Evil 4 Story."

I'm what the hipsters would call a 'retro-gamer.' Having grown up in the golden age of home gaming, I've devoted a huge chunk of my childhood (along with an embarrassingly large piece of my adulthood) to video games on my television.

Up in the CDP rumpus room, you'll find an Atari 2600, NES, Sega Genesis and (basic) Coleco Vision in perfect working condition with dozens, maybe hundreds of games. It's a beautiful sight, and I'm quite proud of it. Throw that in with my ever-growing collection of Pac-Man memorabilia, and you've got yourself a shrine to a wasted youth. I sometimes go up there to cry when the Missus is sleeping.

I've resisted the urges to hop on the next generation of console games, strictly because I don't like the direction they're heading. From the time I was 6, right up until now, video game manufacturers have been targeting me as their prime demographic. In the 80's, video games were for kids my age. In the 90's, video games started to be marketed towards teens my age. In the 21st century, video games are outselling feature films, and they are marketing them towards male adults just like me.

I'm in the male minority when I say this, but I don't really like the marketing. I think video games should be for kids, first and foremost; regardless of if they educate or entertain. I recall that feeling of magic and amazement when I played Missile Command for the first time on my 2600; it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. These days, kids have to grow up fast enough as is; now they don't even have any decent games to play. Each day of a child's life is spent wanting to be older, and when they lean their heads against the display case at a video game outlet, it's the same story. That sucks. I can't argue with results and cash, it's just sad that my generation has been the only one fortunate enough to be marketed by this billion-dollar conglomerate for the last 24 years.

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I dragged myself into the new millennium when I purchased a GameCube last month. Sure, it's already 3 years old and out of date, besides being the least-popular console of the 'Big Three,' but I chose it for the reasons I stated earlier. The GameCube has more user-friendly and multiplayer-oriented games, and they focus more on less-complicated titles for novices. In a nutshell, it's a great console to play with the Missus when we're bored. If I wanted to sit by myself and play complicated video games, I wouldn't have gotten married and cut my hair in the first place.

So we picked up Mario Kart and Mario Party for the both of us, along with The Sims 2 for her and Madden '06 for me (all awesome games, by the way). I also acquired the Sonic the Hedgehog collection to satisfy my retro-needs. Sure, I have those original Sonic games in the rumpus room, but that's all the way upstairs. I enjoy the way the GameCube handles; and their limited library is not a problem whatsoever for me and the Missus.

Looking for a good game to utilize the components of a last-generation console, along with something scary and engaging, I picked up Resident Evil 4 last week. Most people will tell you that RE4 is one of the best, scariest and jaw-droppingly gory games ever made. I've never had the opportunity to show my ID when buying a game, so this whole experience was altogether new to me. I played the original Resident Evil on a Playstation that I owned for two weeks when I was 17, and it seemed pretty cool then, so I popped the game in and got down to the getting of getting on.

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I'm far from what you would call a 'manly man,' but I can hold my own. I have a soft spot for splatter films and I'm only afraid of like, two things (drowning and Zell Miller). I watch sports constantly and senseless violence bounces off my forehead like a ping-pong ball. Underneath this sensitive indie shell, I guess I'm sort of a club-dragging loser, but within two minutes of playing Resident Evil 4, I pooped in my pants. In fact, I pooped in the Missus' pants, too. If this game is scary and intense to those who play them constantly, imagine what it's like for a guy who's been in a video game time capsule for 7 years.

The first time I screamed like a girl was when I got my head chainsawed off (see top photo). There I was, minding my own business in a filthy, blood-speckled farmhouse. I had just dusted off a few zombie-like townsfolk with a shotgun blast to the noggin (including a few women, which sort of unsettled me), and was admiring a female corpse that had been affixed to a wall via a pitchfork to the head. It was rather nasty, and I can still see it when I close my eyes really hard.

All at once, I heard the door behind me burst open, with the unmistakable sound of a revving Skil saw. I turned around just in time to see this lumbering whale of a man looming over me, wearing bloody overalls and a burlap sack over his head, with cut-out eyeholes.

I screeched like a Yoko Ono record. You should've seen me; I looked like I was being electrocuted. Sparks should have been emitting from my body.

One meaty swipe and a half-second later, I fell to the ground in two pieces. I looked over to the Missus, who was pale-faced and laughing her ass off. It was all over; there wasn't a dry seat on the couch.

The biggest asset to the terror factor is the rumble pack. For those who don't know, your controller vibrates in your hands now, based on the action on the screen. So, when a snake jumps out at you, or say, Burlap Leatherface decides to split you down the middle, your controller jumpstarts you like a difibulator. I'm still not used to it, and I've got a laundry basket full of soiled Dockers that proves I'm not lying.

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You see all those guys? If they catch you, they're going to eat you. In the grand scheme of things, there's no reasoning with someone who plans on digesting you once they get their mitts on your tender brain. No peace treaty. No utopian society. Not even a head start. They're even going to show them eating you, and it's going to be bad, so don't let them eat you. What more explanation do you need?

I'm about 5% of the way through the game, but I fully intend to finish it. To ratchet up the atmosphere, I always make sure the lights are off and the volume is up. I didn't spend $45 so I could play this game at noon with the dishwasher running. I pay top dollar for my scares, which it why I own two Limp Bizkit albums.

That's why video game companies keep following me around. It works.