Random Ramblings: Good Superbowl Friday edition

I’ve got a bunch of half-formed semi-interesting thoughts in my head, and like everyone else in America, I’ve decided to fill a blog with them. In my defense, I just rewatched Jughead, so my mind is trying to operate whilst blown.

My episodes are always awesome, brotha!

My episodes are always awesome, brotha!

…The White House has a blog, but it’s pretty boring. It would be way cooler if it was actually ‘Bama’s personal blog. Something like:

…Shot hoops with BronBron and Agent Zero this morning. Cavs are taking it this year, gotta talk him into CHI-town in o-ten. …Michelle’s been buggin on the fair pay bill, so I got that signed away. GOP was MIA on the stimulus in the House. LOLz! like I need their votes… oh. wait, I think Rahm just killed a dude. brb

Mount Redoubt is a pretty awesome name for a volcano. Especially one that’s about to rain ash on Sarah Palin. I once called for the destruction of New Orleans in a blog and it happened the next day. Can I get a similar result if I call for a volcanopocalypse on Wasilla, AK?

Bring it

Bring it

…My new theory: Charles Widmore is his own grandfather. Damn. I just blew my mind all over again.

"Quiet, ahm goin incognito, brotha!"

"Quiet, ahm goin incognito, brotha!"

24 is also back, and as stupidly entertaining as in its best seasons. I’m not going to get into a discussion of 24 and Torture here, like everyone else talking about 24 in 2009, because trying to have an intelligent conversation about reality and 24 at the same time is Stupid. Jack Bauer faked killing a hot redhead by shooting her just on the edge of her neck. That was inspired. But despite America’s bromance with soulful, whispering, never-smiling Jack, my heart belongs to Chloe.

America's favorite Asperger's Disorder-afflicted computer nerd.

America's favorite Asperger's Disorder-afflicted computer nerd.

Without her, 24 is just a stupid counter-terror action show. With her, it’s a stupid counter-terror action show with Chloe! This season, Chloe is 1/4th of CTU in its entirety, hacking into the FBI at will, while still being a stay-at-home mom. Bring on more l33t haX0r battles between her and obvious mole Janeane Garofalo.

"That was really unfair what they said about you on TV, Jack. You looked good, though."

"That was really unfair what they said about you on TV, Jack. You looked good, though."

…Now I see what Richard meant when he asked “no no, John, which of these thing belong to you, already?”

This is what all the cool kids will be wearing this spring

This is what all the cool kids will be wearing this spring

…Obama is picking the Steelers on Sunday. I disagree, but I admire a politician who doesn’t BS and equivocate on sports. He’s got his positions and he goes with them.

…I think we always knew Joe Torre was a piece of shit.

…California is the greatest state in the nation and like the 6th largest economy in the world, right? So why is the state government such a complete clusterfuck? And don’t say the Governator, it was shit even before he took over. I think I blame Enron and Prop 13. And years of self-serving careerists controlling the levers of power…

Remember this from back in 2000? Fuck.

Remember this from back in 2000? Fuck.

…This year’s Oscar noms: it’s like the Academy wants to beat us over the head with how pointless and irrelevant the awards are now.It was 10 years ago that Saving Private Ryan lost to fucking Shakespeare in Love. Since then, shite such as Chicago, Crash, Gladiator, Return of the King and A Beautiful Mind have won. Read that sentence again. That’s fucking bleak.

These days, it’s an honor not to be nominated.o_rly

It’s pretty obvious that all the real talent in H’Wood is on television now. Movies can’t get greenlighted unless they’re already a known property these days and the creative bankruptcy is going to kill the whole industry. Ah well, bring on more quality serialized TV. Or, barring that, at least a decent Scottish buddy cop show starring Henry Ian Cusick and Ewan McGregor.

I'd watch it.

I'd watch it.

PS. holy shit, i just discovered that Desmond was in that awful-looking video game movie Hitman. I guess I have to watch that now.

Even dead writers get the blues.

“The first draft of everything is shit.”

-Ernest Hemingway.

“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

-Dorothy Parker.

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human experience.”

-E. E. Cummings.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – it is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

-Mark Twain.

And I love that it’s a real book too.

“I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down.  That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty… you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.”

-J.D. Salinger.

“Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt, use it – don’t cheat with it.”

-Ernest Hemingway.

“If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.”

-George Bernard Shaw.

Krusty: “What’s your name again?”

Man: “John Updike.”

Krusty: “Whoa, whoa! I didn’t ask for your life story!”

Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike passed away yesterday at the age of 76 (which is just a bit selfish), and I wish I could say it had affected me more. But I’ve actually never read a single one of his novels. I may have read a short story or two of his a while back, but not the novels. Not the Rabbit novels, and not even the Eastwick books, though I have watched the film, and was curious to read the book, which I know is quite a bit different. There was a weird bit of synergy there when I discovered after watching the movie that the novel’s sequel, The Widows Of Eastwick was coming out about a month later. I have that, but also, have not read it.

A Relentless Updike Mapped America’s Mysteries” is an interesting appraisal of the author for Michiko Kakutani.

A&P” by John Updike.

Updike was also the subject of Nicholson Baker’s U And I: A True Story, which is basically an examination of the author and contains Baker’s hurt feelings that Updike chose Tim O’Brien as his golf partner and not Baker. I’ve wanted to read this book for some time now, but just haven’t gotten around to it.

And then there’s David Foster Wallace pondering if Updike is (or now was) the last of the great narcissists.

And then, of course, there’s always Vonnegut motivational posters.

Are you prepared, to get into, what your friends, and what you THINK, you might be prepared to get into?

I don’t mean to alarm you but there might be something worth paying attention to in the forlorn world of the hip hop. 20 years since PE and over 15 years since Wu we might be getting into something we might be prepared to get into, another hip hop supergroup.

In the 90s after the Wu Tang there were two other notable hip hop supergroups: The Firm and Hieroglyphics. But we’ll focus on Hiero since it follows today’s supergroup storyline closer.

We’re all familiar their story: In the early 90’s the voltron parts of Hiero (Souls of Mischief, Del the Funkee Homosapien, Casual, The Prose) had their little major label deals and critical acclaim and Ice Cube ghostwriting to attend to. Unfortunately that doesn’t push units so they all got summarily dropped at about the same time, to add insult to injury Saafir called them all gay surfers, or something.

So they regrouped, literally, and formed their own imprint, Hiero Imperium, and put out a record as one supergroup.

Which in a way helped resurrect their careers until they faded into Bolivia sometime around the turn of the century. But not before Tajai could be ahead of the retro curve and grew a high top fade a good 6-7 years before it became retroally cool to grow a high top fade.

Now in 2009 we might be preparing to see what we think we might have been prepared to see, another supergroup of major label castoffs.

Joell Ortiz

Joell Ortiz

Aftermath has had a most impressive stable of artist throughout the years. Unfortunately Dre, Em, 50 or the Game are the only artists loosely associated with the label to have ever dropped a record. Which means such luminaries as the 18th letter and Busta Rhymes had to suffer the idignity of being shelved. So imagine how likely it was that a never was like Joell Ortiz was going to release an album.

Alright I’m gonna just put it out there, Royce ghostwrote Jay-Z’s verse on Renegade. Back at the end of the 90’s this white guy named Eminem gained some popularity, and it would be assumed that he was going to bring some friends up along with him. Those friends ended up being Mekhi Pfifer, Bizarre and Bizarre’s funny hats. Unfortunately for us all this did not include Royce Da 5’9”. Nevertheless he was able to flip his previous collaboration with Eminem into landing him a beat from DJ Premier, which was never officially released. Figures. It seemed like Royce was destined to roam the mixtape circuit and living off of guest appearances sounding like this generations Masta Ace, literally, when he got locked up for getting his Ras Kass on. Jail must’ve really done something to him because since then he has been monster, and recently celebrated Barack Obama’s presidency by teaming up with DJ Premier again, who then sampled Obama’s campaign manager for his new single.

Crooked I signed to Deathrow after 2pac got killed. That one senetence pretty much sums up the sob story that is his career.

P-P-P-P-Pump It Up!

P-P-P-P-Pump It Up!

The tragedy of the one hit wonder is even more tragic when the one hit wonder is quite possibly the most talented artist in his genre. Then even more tragic is how he responds, by beefing with every rapper alive and several that are dead in a desperate attempt to remain relevant. It might’ve worked for Joe Budden, only Jay-Z had better things to do, like rap about money, because he likes money, bitch. Then even worse 50 Cent didn’t even really bother, instead sending The Game to be his attack dog. Alright, that didn’t work Joey, just go back to the studio and work on your sophomore album, The Growth. Ah shit, what’s that? Jay-Z is your record label’s president?

WAYNEFACE!

WAYNEFACE!

Well then, I guess you’re pretty much screwed, because he likes money, bitch. After 2 full years of Joey making diss tracks to his record label, he was finally let go.

This ragtag group of major label misfits have come together to form Slaughterhouse, which might infringe on copyrights of the hair metal band. But who cares, really. They should just move on.

If anything is going to save hip hop it’s going to be more verses like Crooked I on all of the Slaughterhouse tracks that have been released.


I won’t stop recordin’ until I’m making songs harder than ‘Pac’s
If it don’t happen, at least a nigga know he right there
every memory under my Dodgers hat a nightmare
as a kid I had to steal breakfast
and now the best question you have to ask me is this a real necklace?
Where’s your beat from Dre, your feature from Cube?
These things leave the people confused
‘Cause they know I leave speakers abused
I eat the EQs, I eat through the beat
what’s the secret I think it’s the shoes!
Back in
Cali niggas blazin’ stress,
waitin’ on Detox to save the West
Even if the shit is dope, it ain’t giving you niggas hope
unless your signature wrote on a check from Interscope
NOPE! Move on!

But wait, isn’t there another rapping luminary who has spent the last few years being dicked around by the system?

Why yes, Saigon would make a perfect fifth member to Slaughterhouse, then they could call themselves Slaughterhouse V

Slaughterhouse V?

Slaughterhouse V?

Oh, but wait, there goes Joey again, he’s just running off at the yapper. And Saigon’s answering back too. Also, he’s won me over by using the beat to Protect Ya Neck, which coincidently, wait for it, was the debut posse cut of the 90’s hip hop supergroup Wu Tang Clan. Also, Saigon won me over with the line “If I’m the Weapon X, then Joey you’re Jubilee.”

So we’ll have to pass on a Slaughterhouse V super group, despite what Just Blaze (JUUUUUST BLAAAAAAZE) tries to do. Joey is prepared to get into what him and his friends THINK, he might be prepared to get into. And if it’s one thing we know about Joey, is that he could go on forever with this stuff….


There’s first and there’s forget it.

If you know me, then you’ve heard this a million times, but you also know that my favorite author is a woman named Amy Hempel. She’s a Rea award winner from the same minimalist school taught by Gordon Lish, but in the same vein as writers like Raymond Carver rather than minimalism’s more fringe writers, like Lish and Chuck Palahniuk.

It’s funny to mention Palahniuk there, since it was through my (long ago) love of his works that I discovered her work, since she is Palahniuk’s favorite writer as well. Good for him, though I’m glad he doesn’t try to emulate her too much, but he did write a very nice essay about her and how she’s affected his work entitled “She Breaks Your Heart.”

If you know me, and more importantly, if I know you, and think that you have good taste in literature, then an Amy Hempel book is typically a present you’ll get from me at some point. Typically on Christmas (or whatever your big end of the year equivalent holiday is), or maybe your birthday. Or Arbor Day, even. It really all depends on which comes first on the calendar.

But that said, I’ve been reminded of the writings of Amy Hempel a lot lately. Mostly by the people I’ve given her to as a gift, but also in that, well, it’s just that time of the year for her. She’s a winter read, really. She’s the literary equivalent of listening to Stars. You’re usually alone, you’re lost in your own head, in a slightly heightened sensitive state of mind. You’re also probably bundled up, cuddling with yourself or the nearest pet, and it’s raining outside. And you’re by a window, constantly looking out it as you ponder the latest passage or verse you’ve absorbed, letting your mind drift with the downpour.

And I don’t know what’s going on wherever you live, but that’s the weather where I am, both inside and out. So, on his quiet, rainy sunday, I’m going to share with you one of my favorite and most simple of short stories…

Weekend

by Amy Hempel

The game was called on account of dogs – Hunter in the infield, Tucker in the infield, Bosco and Boone at first base. First-grader Donald sat down on second base, and Kirsten grabbed her brother’s arm and wouldn’t let him leave third to make his first run.

“Unfair!” her brother screamed, and the dogs, roving umpires, ran to third.

“Good power!” their uncle yelled, when Joy, in a leg cast, swung the bat and missed. “Now put some wood to it.”

And when she did, Joy’s designated runner, Cousin Zeke, ran to first, the ice cubes in his gin and tonic clacking like dog tags in the glass.

And when Kelly broke free from Kirsten and his time came in to make the run, members of the Kelly team made Tucker in the infield dance on his hind legs.

“It’s not who wins-” their coach began, and was shouted down by one of the boys, “There’s first and there’s forget it.”

Then Hunter retrieved a foul ball and carried it off in the direction of the river.

The other dogs followed – barking, mutinous.

Dinner was a simple picnic on the porch, paper plates in laps, the only conversation a debate as to which was the better grip for throwing shoes.

After dinner, the horseshoes were handed out, the post pounded in, the rules reviewed with a new rule added due to falling-down shorts. The new rule: Have attire.

The women smoked on the porch, the smoke repelling mosquitoes, and the men and children played on even after dusk when it got so dark that a candle was rigged to balance on top of the post, and was knocked off and blown out by ever single almost-ringer.

Then the children went to bed, or at least went upstairs, and the men joined the women for a cigarette on the porch, absently picking ticks engorged like grapes off the sleeping dogs. And when the men kissed the women good night, and their weekend whiskers scratched the women’s cheeks, the women did not think shave, they thought: stay.

The story is just a nice slice of what feels like Americana, from what feels like halcyon days long gone, but it helps to show a lot of what I like about Hempel: Through her minimalism, her writing feels like your thoughts. You’re just not just reading a wonderful well written story with her, but feel like you’re sharing in a reunion with a warmer part of yourself that you didn’t know excited. No matter what her stories about, be it heartbreak (most of her stories are about heartbreak), confusion, lust, or physical invasion, they almost take place after the action, when the characters are reflecting and trying to rebuild. They know that comforting part of themselves exists and is quite possibly gone, and they’re trying to meet up with it again.

I want to especially thank Elvira (who brilliantly combined the picture of Obamas with the story) and Lollipop for inspiring and reminding me here, and… Until we meet again, here’s a few short stories to enjoy on your Sunday:

The Harvest” by Amy Hempel.

In The Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried” by Amy Hempel. This is probably one of the most widely anthologized stories out there by a modern and still living author.

Lust” by Susan Minot.

The Uninvited” by Amy Hempel.

An illustrated version of “On Seeing The 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning” by Haruki Murakami.

A Man In The Kitchen” by Donald Antrim.

FuTube” by Warren Ellis.

Offertory” by Amy Hempel.

Guts” by Chuck Palahniuk.

Another Manhattan” by Donald Antrim.

Today Will Be A Quiet Day” by Amy Hempel.

A thousand words.

For reals. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

“And that energy, once we can harness it correctly, is going to allow us to manipulate time.”

President Barack Obama’s first day and the things we don’t know.

We’ve got work to do.

Obama signs the order to close Guantanamo within a year.

Student decapitated at Virginia Tech.

“That is one of the things that’s very attractive about secrecy – it gives you a lot of control.”

Man murders his estranged wife because she changed her Facebook status to “single.”

Obama: “I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.”

Man and woman have a fight in front of a elementary school. He then hits her over the head with a beer bottle.

Obama keeps his blackberry.

Headmail to the future!

To Hate Like This Is To Be Happy.” Above, the last Get Your War On ever.

Obama to Bush: “I can release your records. Don’t like it? Sue.”

Kanye: “Paparazzi give real photographers a bad name. Pictures are worth a thousand words, theirs are worth a thousand dollars.”

Gitmo apparently made the enemy combatants even more hardcore.

Oscar: “Are you… dead?” Eli: “No. Can’t you tell?”

One thousand novels that everyone should read.

Ms. Hawking is back! (Is she Faraday’s momma?)

Well, I guess Kanye was right. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Top 5 of Lost: #1: Make your own kind of music.

Previously on Lost: Locke and Desmond go to the Pearl station and find answers to their ?s, one leaving with a purpose and one leaving with shattered dreams. Michael is back with a plan from the Others and sends two of the 815ers down the road. Sayid sees through some bullshit (naturally) and forms a plan of his own. And then a sailboat shows up…

And what a long, strange journey it’s been as we get to the #1 episode on our list, “Live Together, Die Alone.”

Watching this episode the other day in preparation for this list, I was just floored by how amazing it is. Like Commander Light said yesterday, “Through A Looking Glass” is an amazing episode, practically on par with this one, both perfect, strong studies of sometimes imperfect characters, but this one spreads around so much good, so many great moments, and in the end, while “Through A Looking Glass” is about a man literally falling apart, “Live Together, Die Alone” is about the opposite, about a man trying to “lift it up, brotha,” to quote Desmond and one of the series’ recurring phrases. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the focal point of this episode is one of my favorite characters?

This episode right here, a shocker at the time, not just for the fact that Desmond returned but that he became the central flashback character of a finale, is where I would strongly make claim to the Desmond/Penny love story becoming one of the strongest core parts of this show.

This is a powerful story of a man who’s good at failing, who feels that he’s lost something, including the woman he loves. He wants her back. She wants him back but he wants to come back to her whole. He wants to be the man who’s good enough for her and he’s willing to travel half way around the world to win his honor back. For her. To be hers. But he gets lost on the way and finds something else entirely.

Editor’s note: At this point, I (Benjamin Light) would like to pipe in with my worst Scottish accent and say “I have to get mah honnuh back!” Thank you, that is all.

Desmond: “What’s all that about then?”

Inman: “Just saving the world.”

What amazes me is that so many people complain about season 2, saying that’s where the show fell apart for them. They’re right in that the show did falter very, very briefly (but it was at the start of season 3, not 2), but this finale was perfect in unifying the second season as a whole. And even working in nicely with season 1.

A full recap would be mind blowing, but too long. Go watch the episode. It will not let you down, not in the slightest. Some highlights:

  • After the castaways find Desmond in his sailboat at the beginning, he asks, “Are you still pushing it?” Jack smiles and says, “Yeah, we’re still pushing it.” So true, Jack.
  • The sailboat! Sayid’s got a plan. “This time they will know that we are coming,” he says.
  • Desmond was apparently in military prison. And waiting for him when he gets out is a copy of Charles Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend. Why? “I’ve read everything Mr. Charles Dickens has written. Every wonderful word. Every book except this one. I’m saving it so it will be the last thing I ever read before I die.”
  • The first ever appearance of Charles Widmore, father of Desmond’s lost love, Penny. Even here, he’s kind of a dick.
  • The “Hurley” bird! (ed. note: the Hurley Bird is also in the Season 1 finale and remains one of the more underrated mysteries of Lost)

  • Desmond met Libby in the past! And she gave him the very sailboat we saw in this episode, The Elizabeth, named for her by her husband, David. Funny, wasn’t that the name of both Hurley’s dad and Hurley’s imaginary buddy?
  • Enacting his plan, Sayid sets sail with Jin and Sun as his crew on a secret badass mission to scout out the Others’ seaside camp for a little badass reconnaissance. I want to say badass once more here. There. I’d be okay if these three had gotten their own show together as well, and you see a little more of their winning dynamic together in “The Glass Ballerina.”
  • Speaking of characters who have excellent chemistry together: Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley on their trek through the jungle, that’s who. Well, also Michael, but he’s a sniveling wreck for part of this journey.

  • Locke and Desmond teaming up to stop Mr. Eko from punching the button!
  • Mr. Eko deciding he doesn’t like that. So much so that he’ll not only enlist Charlie to help him get back to the button, but he’ll do it with motherfucking dynamite.
  • An amazing scene between Penny and Desmond, with her great line of “With enough money and determination, you can find anyone.” And she found him (and will continue to do so). And he tells her that he’s going to get his honor back and then he’ll be back. Oh, and Jack in the background getting ready to run his tour de stade (tying in wonderfully with Jack’s flashback in “Man Of Science, Man Of Faith“).
  • Kelvin! The man who taught Sayid the art of getting information is Kelvin, Desmond’s partner in button pushing until he meets a bad end. And he was a little nuts.

I can’t stress this point nearly enough:

THAT IS A FOUR TOED FUCKING STATUE RIGHT THERE!

  • “I don’t know what is more disquieting,” Sayid says, “the fact that the rest of the statue is missing, or that is has four toes.” Took the words right out of our mouthes there, Sayid. Easily high up there with the Monster on the top 5 Lost mysteries we’re horny for an answer to.
  • SYSTEM FAILURE. “I think I crashed your plane, brotha,” Desmond says upon inspecting the printouts and it looks like he did (but in all fairness, it’s because of him that they were rescued).
  • In flashbacks, we see Desmond at his very lowest. Kelvin has lied and betrayed him and it looks like our Scottish friend is thinking about ending his life. And then he finds Penelope’s letter, tucked away in his book, the last thing he was going to read before he died. In the letter is her declaration of unending love for him and it crushes him because he knows he’ll never see her again…

  • …and then he and Locke become each other’s Deus Ex Machina, letting each other know that there is someone out there, there is hope, there is still a reason to go on.
  • But the numbers run down just like Locke wanted, the hieroglyphs show up, and the electromagnetism starts going wild…
  • Thanks to Michael, our heroes on the other side of the island and we not only see the return of Walt, but meet the Other’s mysterious leader: the man we knew as Henry Gale (and now know more properly as Ben).
  • And as things get worse down in the hatch/Swan, Locke comes to a painful realization, but a powerful one: (ed. note: I love the fear in Terry O’ Quinn’s “I was wrong.”)

  • Being the only one who can, Desmond takes the failsafe key and goes down into the lowest levels of the hatch (which was a brilliant example of Chekhov’s Gun the whole season) to release the build up of energy in the catch, to “make it all go away.”
  • AND THEN THE FUCKING SKY TURNS PURPLE!
  • And Michael and Walt leave the Island, with the blessing of Ben and the rest of the Others, who plan to take Jack, Kate, and Sawyer (but not poor Hurley) home with them. It’s a mega strong mindfuck/cliffhanger (though the following year’s is definitely more powerful just on the level of which it leaves you hanging).

You hear a lot of talk these days about TV shows done right and feeling like multi-part novels playing out in serialized live action (primarily with shows like The Wire and Mad Men), but I would argue that that analogy works just as strong for Lost, especially as book 2 of the series came to close, almost working perfectly as a sole story of it’s own, but it definitely let you know that certain things were over in this show and that there was going to be a whole new focus and a strong one: The Others.

Season 3 was back before they adopted a 24 like schedule and you didn’t have to wait a fucking eternity for answers, but it certainly felt like it. The same for the distance between season 4′s conclusion and tomorrow’s premiere.

(ed. note: I’d also like to give a shout-out to the weird russian dudes at the very end of the episode who caused an avalanche of speculation on the internets about whether or not that was actually Matthew Fox playing Jack’s doppelganger. Remember, Everything Happens For A Reason.)

Matt? Is that you?

Matt? Is that you?

See you tomorrow! Thank you, and namasté.

Pierre ChangLost

Hail To The Chief

I’m too wired to write anything too coherent, but here are some random thoughts on that thing that happened today.

“I’m not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something more substantial…

Hope — Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope!”

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

Like many of my West Coast brethren, I watched the inauguration on my couch in pajamas.

Watching on TV certainly didn’t diminish the almost bottomless pit of sappiness I felt. My favorite was at the end, during Reverend Lowry’s benediction. He says: “Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. Say Amen.”

Reverend Lowry with Martin Luther King, via Cornell University

Reverend Lowry with Martin Luther King, via Cornell University

But okay, we get it with the historical significance, right? We get it. Let’s move on to more superficial matters. Like for one, we have attractive people in the White House once again. Look at this fucking hot Presidential team back when they were on the Campaign trail:

And let’s not forget how adorable Sasha and Malia Obama are:

you know joe biden is the coolest fucking uncle ever, right?

you know joe biden is the coolest fucking uncle ever, right?

Sex is totally happening in the White House tonight, you guys.

The Look.

"You want to know how Barack prepares for a debate?', 'He hangs out with me' -- Michelle Obama

Let’s not forget Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden (she didn’t get her doctorate for you to call her Mrs, okay?) who killed it with the sexy knee high boots today. Fashion forward Michelle wore a custom gown designed by Isabel Toledo, foregoing her usual Narciso Rodriguez (who designed the red and black dress she wore on Election Night). The kind of clothes the first lady wears sends a big message to the fashion industry, rather than go with big name designers like Donna Karan or Oscar De La Renta (although Michelle would look beautiful in an Oscar gown, sigh), Michelle’s choice of going for smaller names is indicative of the message this administration is sending. It’s time for change. Big changes. Look how stodgy and old the Bushes look versus the Obamas:

I am fascinated by what George Bush would say to Obama. The Bush sisters wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal today giving advice to Sasha and Malia, which I thought was pretty cute and interesting. On election night, one of the creepiest thinsg I head was the NBC newscaster getting a little too excited over the fact that there’d be “little girls” in the White House again.

the time has come to set aside childish things

the time has come to set aside childish things

I’ve been watching the coverage on ABC all day (still haven’t changed out of my pajamas and Veronica Mars hoodie. Its my sexy blogger outfit!) and have been fascinated by the traditions that follow the Inauguration. After the ceremony, Obama saw the Bushes and Cheneys off as Bush boarded a plane (no longer called Air Force One since he is no longer President!) and Dick Cheney was wheeled into a limo to take him to his evil lair. He was looking an awful lot like Mr. Lebowski today. Then, he got to sign his first executive orders and continuity of government, which expired when Bush’s term officially ended. I felt a particular chill when Dianne Feinstein called him Mr. President as he signed all the papers.

After that, lunch time! On the menu: seafood stew (paired with a sauvignon blanc), a  brace of american birds (paired with a pinot noir), and an apple cinammon sponge cake (paired with a california sparkling white wine, the web site says champagne but whoever wrote it is obviously philistine who does not know that if it’s not from france it’s not champagne it’s sparkling white wine.) All California wines, which is a nice touch! They’re also presented with gifts, which include a giant framed photo of their ceremony, the flags that were flown over the Capitol and two engraved crystal bowls. If it were me, those bowls would hold candy on my desk in the Oval Office. That’s probably some kind of sacrilege, right?

the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

During the lunch, which was closed to the press, in a you couldn’t make this shit up move, ex KKK member Senator Robert Byrd collapsed. I guess his little racist heart couldn’t take seeing a woman who was directly descended from slaves be seated at the head of the room.  The news people actually felt bad about was that Senator Teddy Kennedy also collapsed and had to be taken away in an ambulance.

After lunch, it’s time for the inagural parade. Many people thought the Obamas wouldn’t walk the route to the White House but they did for some of it. Michelle managing to keep it together in that short dress and Jimmy Choos in 25 degree weather is an inspiration to us all.  No taking off the shoes and walking barefoot on concrete for our First Lady.

If I ever had to run against her for public office, I know that she would beat me without much difficulty.

"If I ever had to run against her for public office, I know that she would beat me without much difficulty. "

What’s on the agenda for President Obama this week? Some of his staff have already gone into the office while the president was having lunch. After partying it up tonight (I just heard he plans on attending 10 inaugural balls), Obama plans on starting his day with some prayer and meeting with some military officials to discuss Iraq. If you’re in DC, you could also sign up to be taken on a special tour of the White House. And to make it all official, the White House website has changed to reflect the new president and guess what? It’s got a blog. I wonder if he’ll add us to his blogroll?

Yes We Can.

"... that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can."

Etc:

Text of Obama’s Inauguration Speech

Text of Obama’s Election Night Speech

Text of Obama’s 2004 DNC Speech

Top 5 of Lost: #2, “Through a Looking Glass”

Lost

Marco and I agreed to put this one at number 2, but in my book it’s 1A. I’ll be honest, I fucking love this episode. I can remember getting off from work, coming home at 3 am and watching this immediately and being so fucking floored I think I just ended up staying awake all night.

After this episode, you will need a drink. And maybe a cigarette.

After this episode, you will need a drink. And maybe a cigarette.

I think that after the series is over, people will look back at “Through a Looking Glass” as the narrative climax. Everything comes to a head and it’s all crashing down on poor, flawed Jack’s shoulders. This is Jack Shephard’s crucible.

Jack and Ben

Previously? on Lost. The castaways have set up and ambush for the Others on the beach.

Nadler, Jarrah and Kwon, Attorneys at Law

Nadler, Jarrah and Kwon, Attorneys at Law

And Charlie has swam down to the Looking Glass underwater Dharma Station to push a button, only to find it filled with feisty OtherBabes.

You all everybody

I’m not even going to bother recapping the whole thing here, just go watch it if you haven’t. And if you have, watch it again.boom

This is the episode that turns the whole show on its head. You think you’re watching a JackBack to a dark time in his life, when you’re actually watching a flash forward. The writers have the balls to say, “yep, they get off the island, and it’s a huge fucking mistake,” and then fold the entire story back in on itself like a crease in space-time.The shortest distance between two points is no line at all

My least favorite character on the show dies, and it turns out to be the most moving death in the series. Charlie warning Des and then signing himself as he drowns is gut-wrenching and uplifting at the same time. I think this is partly due to Charlie somewhat redeeming himself in the prior episode, but he was helped by the fact that “Greatest Hits” remains the only time where we get to see a flashback to when a character is happy.not pennys boat

I think this scene, which starts with Charlie punching out a Beach Boys song on a keypad and getting a surprise call from Penny, and ends with his sacrificial drowning, is the finest 5 minutes in all of Lost.last rites

But I also want to talk about Jack. Even though Charlie steals the best moment, this is the definitive episode for Matthew Fox and Jack. The JackFace is off the charts. I mean, just check these out:jackfaceJackface!JACKFACE!!!!!!

Damn. Jack was at the end of his rope when the episode started, in both timelines. And then things got worse.

These two are totally screwing in Season 5.

These two are totally screwing in Season 5.

Off the island, he misses the chance to kill himself because he’s such a goddamned hero (I think we can assume now that the Island wouldn’t let him die; fate being a fickle bitch).

Forgive me

And on it, his plan just keeps getting worse. The ambush fails and Jin, Sayid and Bernard are captured. Then Ben shows up and pretends to have them executed. And just when things are looking up, John Locke shows up to put a knife if Naomi’s back.Locke still has his fastball

Fox does a great job both with Jack’s stoned distress in the future and his pained determination in the present. His biggest moment of action, beating the shit out of Ben, isn’t his moment of strength, it’s his moment of weakness.Beatdown

Jack is at his absolute breaking point here, and, perversely, we know from the 4th season that things get progressively worse for him every day after until he leaves the Island. It’s not hard to imagine how he came to pill-popping in the future.

doctors store their good shit between the menthol and cherry cough drops

Remember kids: doctors store their good shit between the menthol and cherry cough drops

And there were like 50 other great moments in the episode, too:

WAAALLLLLLLTTTT!!!

  • We finally get to see the Radio Tower that the French Woman was broadcasting from.
  • We see undead Mikhail without his eyepatch.
  • We learn it’s “not Penny’s boat” *sniff*. Russo reunites with Alex.
  • Sawyer kills Mr. Friendly. Jack gives Juliet the weakest “I’m only doing this cause Kate is watching” kiss of all time.
  • Waaaaalllllttt!! reappears.
  • Mikhail: not dead! And then he dies! No, wait, he doesn’t! Well surely he must be dead now? (I fully expect him to return).
  • The writers find a way to redeem that cheesy Hurley episode.
  • Sayid kills a guy with both hands tied behind his back, which we always knew he could if he wanted to.

Oh, and the coffin.The funeral of Jeremy Bentham

Sigh. What a phenomenal 2-hours. And this was just the second best episode of Lost so far. Tomorrow, the best, and also, the Season five premier in just 40+ hours.

We have to go back, Kate.

We have to go BACK!we have to go back

The Raven in the Promised Land.

Tomorrow is the day we’ve all been waiting for. And been waiting such a long time for.

Not just the ousting of the political Beast of the last 8 years, but of a dream and promise of equality for all Americans. One that’s been too long coming in it’s fulfillment.

What an amazing confluence of events. On the eve of such a momentous moment in our history, we’re celebrating the birthday of the man who helped make it possible. You just have to love the way the universe works sometimes. Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jr. (Even if your birthday was actually on January 15).

And welcome to your new home, President Obama. You’re inheriting a lot of bullshit and a lot of burnt bridges. A lot. I’m not going to sugarcoat this for you because I think you can take it, but, the last guy? He fucked up bad. Continuously. Constantly. All over the place. But we’ve got faith in you. Make us proud.

And then there’s everyone’s favorite writer from when they were in junior high…

…but he’s still one of mine. Happy 200th birthday, Edgar Allan Poe. Let’s all be Poe Toasters for the day.

The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, one of my most favorite of his stories.

The Cask Of Amontillado” by Poe, another serious favorite.

The Murders In Rue Morgue” by Poe, in which he creates the detective story. Other works that you could call detective stories predated this one, but this is the one people think of us as the first for a reason.

And, of course, “The Raven.”

U2Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (live) (mp3)

U2 “MLK” (mp3)

Top 5 of Lost, #3: I gotta get back in time!

Previously, on Lost: The mysterious nerdy people from the mysterious and ominous freighter finally show up, promising rescue and seeming to know more than they let on. Seeking some answers, Desmond and Sayid take off on the helicopter with Frank Lapidus (You have no idea how much I would love a spinoff with these three characters)(Oh, and Naomi’s body is in there too)(You wanna throw her in the spinoff? Fine. Weekend At Naomi’s!) to go back to the freighter, but they left a day ago and according to the stuntwoman on the phone, the helicopter never arrived…

Which brings us to our #3 on this list of top episodes of Lost: “The Constant.”

When Benjamin Light and I were first sat down (like two days ago) to discuss what our pick for top five episodes were going to be, the first one I thought of was this one. Time magazine agreed with me. Probably because as complicated and as magical as everything on this show is, the heart of the show as slowly become the love story between Desmond and his lost love, Penelope.

And this episode is one of the first appearances of what would appear to be the theme of the upcoming season 5: Leaving something is easy, but it’s the going back that’s hard.

A quick summary may be difficult (especially knowing me), that’s why I’d definitely point you up to the link up above which gives you a fantastic recap of all the wonderful stuff going on here. But suffice it to say, the main plot deals with Desmond traveling off the island (perhaps on the wrong course, as given to Frank Lapidus by Daniel Faraday) and due to the buildup of electromagnetic radiation in his system (from the implosion of the Swan), he becomes unstuck in time, Billy Pilgrim-style.

Rather than being himself in 2004, when the present day segments of the episode are set, he’s instead his consciousness from 1996, traveling back and forth between 1996 and 2004 in his own body.

Seeking help for this (the shifting back in time will eventually kill Desmond, we realize), we get one of the nerdiest and coolest moments of the entire show: Present day Faraday on the Island (via sat phone) tells 1996 Desmond that when he travels to the past again, he needs to hop on a train and head down to the Oxford college. Go to the Physics department there. “Because I need you to find me,” Daniel tells him.

And find him, he does. The Daniel Faraday of 8 years earlier is a professor at Oxford (the first time we see him in this time period, he’s chewing out a student with “You do understand the concept of original, the opposite of derivative?”) who seems to be in a little more possession of his mental faculties (remember, the first time we ever see Faraday, he has a caretaker watching over him). This younger, angrier Faraday thinks that Desmond’s talk of being from the future is a prank being pulled on him by his fellow faculty members, but thanks to some future knowledge supplied to Desmond by future Faraday, he quickly understands that it’s for reals.

TIME TRAVEL IS FOR REAL!

Faraday of Oxford has been doing these experiments on just that notion, you see, firing his purple radiation laser (that sounds filthy, doesn’t it? Good) at rats and having them run mazes. This particular rat, Eloise, runs the maze perfectly. You know what’s so cool about that? The maze was just built that morning and Faraday isn’t going to teach Eloise how to run it until an hour from now. The rat is shifting back and forth in time just like Billy Pilgrim and Desmond and Fisher Stevens (from Short Circuit)!

From 1996 Faraday, Desmond learns something important (by the way, Eloise the rat died, from an aneurysm, because time and space are no place for stupid rats), something vital: The chronological bouncing back and forth will continue until the point he dies until he makes contact in both time periods with something he really, really cares about. A constant, Faraday surmises, because that’s what every equation needs to balance it. And Desmond asks, “Can this constant be a person?”

Oh, it most certainly can. The reunion of Desmond and Penny via the technology of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison after two years of waiting and building was nothing short of fantastic. If this didn’t take a nice little tug at your heart strings, then… well, go get a fucking heart transplant. Yours is obviously broken, you robot.

There’s four things I really want to bring up from this episode, and the first is the character of Faraday himself, whom I think, even as interesting as he already is, will only become more interesting. He’s easily become one of my favorite characters, which is bizarre considering how much Jeremy Davies bugs the shit out of me in just about every other single thing he’s done.

Keamy! This is the first time we see Keamy, who’ll go on to become this season’s thuggish and seemingly unstoppable (ironically, or maybe not so much, Light tells me that the guy who plays Keamy will be the Blob in the Wolverine movie) big bad character (much like Mikhail was in the previous season). It’s a very interesting dichotomy, the mega-homicidal Keamy from the season finale matched with this episode’s Keamy who’s all like, “Oh, hi there, crazy time hopping Desmond. I’m Keamy and this is my good buddy, Omar. Care for some tea and bear hugs while we wait on the ship’s resident saw bones?”

Sayid! He’s basically just watching out for Desmond in this episode but has a great moment in the communications room at the end, looking at the trashed radio (thanks to the saboteur, Kevin Johnson), and when a dismayed Desmond asks if he can fix it, Sayid just nonchalantly says, “Give me a moment,” and then goes to work.

The Black Rock/Charles Widmore! A great little fuck you of a tease to the fans. Widmore, who has now shaped up to be some kind of grand evil (or so we’re supposed to believe)(if one who opposes Ben could actually be considered evil), willing to do whatever it takes to get the Island back is at an auction in London buying the journal of the first mate of the Black Rock, for sale by Tovard Hanso (of whose family has been the only one privy so far to it’s contents). Speaking of fuck you moments, Widmore has another one with Desmond, not as great as the one in “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” but not bad.

Oh, and how can we forget that killer of an ending?

And then: The Tempest and the birth of Jin and Sun’s baby. Michael returns and Jack and Kate (very briefly, very tragically) enjoy something nice back home. The Monster is summoned, Charles Widmore changes the rules, and, “You can go now, Michael.” Ka-boom! Break out the DHARMA rum and, “Jack… I said all of you. We’re going to have to bring him too.”

See you in another blog post, brotha!