Friday, January 23Lost Friday - "Because You Left/The Lie."
The first Lost Friday of Season 5 is finally upon us. Make with the ha-ha, Joke Monkey!
Before we jump into this week's episode, two quick thoughts. First off, like most of you, I was worried that this new storytelling element of 'shattering the laws of logic to pieces and no longer making any sense' was going to...you know...instantly ruin the show in a hundred different ways at once. But you know what? Screw logic, because Lost is just as good as it's ever been, only now, the writers have stepped into an even more brilliant gear, actually overlapping old storylines with this cocksure attitude of, "See? See? We knew what we were doing the whole time, you pessimistic, faithless pantloads." I loved every second of the season premiere, completely understand where they are and where they are headed, love the simultaneous on and off-island plotlines, and absolutely cannot wait for next week, and the next week after that. After years of nervously waiting for the shark-jumping shoe to drop on Lost, I think it's due time that we just sit back and purely enjoy the greatest Television drama of all-time.
Secondly, I am officially boycotting the Academy Awards due to their Best Picture snub of The Dark Knight. When you make that much money, exceed every one of the already-astronomical expectations, break such new ground and essentially be the sole savior of a faltering Hollywood for 2008, you'd think that you'd receive a Best Picture nod on general principle. Nope. Apart from Heath Ledger's near-automatic Supporting Actor nomination, The Dark Knight is up for nothing but technical Oscars (deservedly so); not even a Best Director nod for the incomparable Christopher Nolan. This is ridiculous, unacceptable, and indicative of the Academy's tradition of voting for films that they feel good voting for, in lieu of films that were actually good. Frost/Nixon, Milk and Slumdog Millionaire may have been good films to say the least, but to deny The Dark Knight their due with at least a nomination is unnecessary, elitist bull-rip that flies in the face of anything resembling taste and logic.
Handing an Oscar to Slumdog Millionaire is like putting a ribbon around the neck of a Special Olympics participant. It's a feel-good moment for the organization, it rewards the tireless efforts and uplifting spirit of the athlete and looks good on the front page of the paper, but we all remember that the poor kid was left in the dust seconds after the gun went off. Remember in 1998 when Shakespeare In Love inexplicably won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan and Life Is Beautiful, two of the most breathtaking war films ever created? Yeah, and they wonder why fewer and fewer people tune into the Oscars each year. I'm through talking about this nonsense.
("Okay John, let me bring you up to speed. When Ben went into the Orchid Station, he blew apart the vault that the Dharma Initiative used for time-traveling experiments, and descended into the core of the Island where he found this frozen donkey wheel that pretty much navigates this place through time and space. So anyway, he spun the wheel, warp-whistled himself to the Sahara Desert, and left this place stuttering across the Universe, with us along for the ride. At this point, you're going to be thrust fairly violently from one date to the next while Ben tries to round up all of your Oceanic 6 buddies for an Island reunion, including your future corpse. Still with me? Good, because Ethan, a guy that Charlie shot to death four months ago, just shot you in the leg and you're bleeding to death. The next time I see you, I won't have any idea who you are, so give me this compass and pray that I'm not in a killing mood. Tally-Ho!")
("Christ, I didn't get a word of that. Did he say something about a donkey? Why does my leg hurt?")
(While Sawyer survived the moving of the Island with relatively minor discomfort, his shirt and pants were tragically blown clear.)
("Sit tight, you little bastard.")
("Hello, I'm Neil. I'm annoying, overbearing and have never been featured on the show until this very moment, which means that I should have a flaming arrow piercing my chest cavity right...about...")
(Oceanic Six? More like Oceanic Sex if you ask me. Am I right, fellas? High five. Touchdown.)
("I'm telling you, some day I'll get everybody in Canned Heat back together and we're going to tour the World!")
(After Ben threw Jack's pills away, Shephard resorted to sucking the embalming fluid out of Locke for a cheap fix.)
('Hoffs/Drawlar' is an anagram for 'Batcrap Crazy.')
("Um, Sun? I don't really know how to explain this Ultrasound, so I'm just going to show it to you. You haven't been making love with any pirate ships recently, have you?")
(The number of times I took solace in the fact that Claire wasn't in this episode.)
("I'll take a coffinload of your best salami.")
(In a rather unexpected move, Naveen Andrews submitted this episode to the Emmy Nomination Committee.)
(Knowing Shih-Tzu owners, I get the feeling that this was one of the smaller shirts sold that day.)
("You're right, you're totally right; at this point, the fact that I'm still wearing a tie is smug and cocky at best.")
("Do you have any idea how drunk you were going back there?")
("So that's it. We're going to have to lie about everything. The Island, the Dharma Initiative, the survivors, Penelope's fantastic complimentary continental breakfast, the time I accidentally shot Aaron in the face, that episode where the Harlem Globetrotters showed up and took all the Virgin Mary statues, when we just let Vincent eat Charlie instead of taking the five minutes to bury him, that time I watched Mr. Eko dancing when he didn't think anyone was around, and the fact that I'm completely nude from the waist-down right now. Everything.")
Sound off in the comments section, start the discussion and enjoy your day.
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Monday, January 19The Leukemia Nickel.
Like most of you, I get letters in the mail every week from various organizations asking for donations of some sort. As someone who’s previously sent checks to Planned Parenthood, the ASPCA, HospiceCare, Anheuser Busch, Burrachos Mexican Restaurant, Wolf from American Gladiators and that guy who has photos of me drunkenly making out with a Torrid Clothing mannequin, I tend to get bothered around this time every year from folks that want me to once again pay up.
Their methods to entice (ie: guilt) you into making a donation are typically similar in substance. Usually it’s personalized return address labels, which I absolutely adore and appreciate. Mailing out somewhere in the neighborhood of eleventy dozen bills a month (rough estimate), I never thought I’d grow to appreciate return address labels as much as I do now. When I run out of them, the pedestrian nature of printing my name and address on an envelope becomes sheer torture for whatever reason. Never mind that it takes approximately 10 seconds or so longer than applying a sticker, but hey, time is money, and I have books of puppy and kitten-themed address labels to last me a lifetime and help speed the devolution of my own handwriting.
This week, I got something a little different in the mail. It was from the American Leukemia Association, or Foundation, or Hospital, or whatever they happen to call themselves. They’re the same place that uses Ziggy, unquestionably the unfunniest and most depressing cartoon character in the history of Mankind, as a whimsical mascot, and also has the cardboard quarter slots you see at every greasy spoon and long-forgotten gas station in the United States. They're usually right by the Lion's Club mints, or the gumball machine that hasn't been refilled since 1984.
I had never donated to these Leukemia folks before, which said to me that they were doing some sort of blast mail to thousands of random people in the nation, hoping for some sort of a bite. What got me was that, in addition to the Ziggy-themed return address labels (which I will never use, not even to pay bills-- way too embarrassing and tacky, even for a guy that used Halloween-themed labels for his Christmas 'Thank You' cards), they also included a shiny new nickel in which to use as a sort of 'free postage.' The idea here is to guilt people into sending back any type of donation with the nickel, as no self-respecting human being would be able to sleep at night knowing that they bilked five free cents from a place that treats sick kids.
Right off the bat, I knew I wasn’t donating. I was very charitable this Christmas, donated to a lot of different causes, and was trying to be a little tighter with my millions of dollars in 2009. Furthermore, I didn’t like the idea of being guilted into making a donation. As someone who was raised Catholic, Guilt was an emotion I understood well, and I abhor it when people try to use it as a weapon. The starving and emaciated dogs and cats on the ASPCA commercials, however, is a completely different story. To this day, I still wouldn’t mind smooching Sarah McLachlan a little bit if given the alternate-dimension opportunity. Shill those animals! Empty those cages!
This all left me with a weird little dilemma: What should I do with this nickel?
I mean, I couldn’t just throw it into my change pile and treat it like the rest of the money I’ve earned through hard work and late-night panhandling. I couldn’t just throw it in the garbage like a cold pizza or unwanted newborn on prom night. This was a dirty nickel. This was a cursed nickel. This was a Leukemia nickel, and I had no idea how to handle it.
Conjuring up the best compromise I could, I threw the 2009 nickel into a decorative tobacco box in my foyer that was full of pennies. There, the Leukemia nickel could rule the roost, feeling confident that they were the only piece of silver within at least a six-inch radius. Furthermore, safely within the confines of the penny pile, I knew that I’d never spend it by accident, and would probably forget about it entirely. 50 years from now at my Estate Sale, some antique collector on a jetpack will discover it and never fully understand why a single nickel was surrounded by thousands of copper lowlifes. This, however, was the only way that this was going to work for me.
Fast-forward to Friday afternoon, at work, in the Break Room. The half-pint carton of skim milk was staring back at me from behind the Plexiglass confines of the Wheel of Deliciousness. It looked so good in there, so beautiful, seeming to genuinely enjoy every second of its 360-degree ride back into my field of vision. I was meant to have that milk; to tear it open and savor every drop of goodness. To give it the attention and respect that it deserved. By this point, my breath was fogging up the Plexiglass; we couldn't stand to be apart for another second. I needed 50 cents, and now.
I galavanted back to my cubicle, shaking every last piece of currency from my messenger bag.
45 cents. This wasn't happening.
I checked my wallet. No bills at all, which is entirely too commonplace for me to be comfortable with. I stopped carrying cash on me almost nine years ago.
"Keep it together," I reassured myself. "Check the car."
I spent the next five minutes on my hands and knees, tearing apart the interior of the Wild Stallion amongst the -50 Wind Chill that has schools closed for three straight days. Shivering, shaking and defeated, I goose-stepped back into the office knowing that I was somehow being punished.
I knew I couldn't ask someone for a nickel. I just couldn't bring myself to do something so pathetic. As a means to save face, I instead embarked on one of the saddest, most downtrodden journeys of my adult life: wandering the hallways of my office building, looking for change on the floor. It was my own personal Trail of Tears; I did this for almost 10 minutes, before slumping back into my chair, a defeated, sad and thirsty man. By the time I got back to the break room, the milk was gone anyway.
I don't know how it happened. I don't know why it happened, and I'm pretty sure I don't know what happened, but I think that the Leukemia Nickel had the last laugh. I, on the other hand, had to drink out of the water fountain that afternoon.
Was it fate? Karma? Coincidence? Sound off in the comments section, explain to me what just happened, and enjoy your day.
FRIDAY: LOST FRIDAY.