Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lost Speculations and Observations, April Edition

The press release for "The Variable" promised that Faraday would "come clean" about what he knew about the Island. After watching the episode, I'm still leaning toward him knowing "not a whole lot". At least we know more about how a few things work after watching it.

Widmore is Daniel's father, which isn't really a surprise by this point, seeing as how we've gotten the parenthood "surprise" for Miles and (sort of) Charlotte and (once already) Daniel earlier in this season. Intriguingly, that makes Daniel and Penny half-siblings, with Penny's mother presumably the woman who Widmore fooled around with off the Island, much to Ben's dismay.

But if parentage has gotten to be a bore lately, death never is. And Faraday's looking pretty toast... shockingly, shot to death by his own mother. "Hi Mom," you can almost imagine him saying, "you haven't given birth to me just yet, but you will soon enough, and when I get to be an adult, I'm going to time travel so you can shoot my adult self." It's a wonder Eloise isn't a lot more screwed up than she actually is, knowing that she shot her own son.

Big question here: why is Eloise so insistent that Daniel go back to the Island, knowing well her past self is going to shoot him--and also knowing well that she can't do a thing to stop it?

Like most of the episodes this season, "The Variable" flirted with what's turning into a major theme: can you change the past to affect the future? Time and time again, the answer turns out to be "no". Sayid thought he could by shooting Ben; didn't work. As soon as Daniel starts questioning his own theory and getting notions about detonating Jughead to prevent the Incident, he's shot in the chest for it. Still I maintain that there's no mystery here at all; the only character who can really do these things is Desmond. And at some point, probably because he knows about a calamity that's about to strike the Island, he'll bring himself to go back and set things right.

Let's talk about our favorite Scotsman for a second. Owing to Desmond's "special" nature in being able to change the past, I have no doubt in my mind that he's the "Variable" that the title referred to. Remember Eloise's comment on Desmond's condition? "I have no idea" how he'll turn out. The great Ms. Hawking, temporal policeman and oracle, for once is at a loss. And that scares her. He's the one actor who's not just a cog in the great machine, not just another piece of determinism that Eloise can smugly predict.

In that way, Desmond represents the free will that Daniel was so quick to cite just before his death. I, for one, will be really disappointed if he never exercises it before the story ends.

Yet again, I'm reminded that I really can care about relationships and love stories on this show. Every time I see Desmond and Penny, I'm touched. Theirs is the most sincere, genuine relationship on the show--by far--and I still maintain that their reunion at the end of Season 4 was one of the best moments of the entire show. They still love each other and care for each other, three years later in real time, and a season later in show time. It's almost like the Desmond-Penny relationship is a "constant" of its own, one thing that we can always count on even when everything else is going to hell.

Of course, "The Variable" is the episode most on my mind, because it's the only Lost I've gotten in the past two weeks. It's almost tough to remember "Dead is Dead", which I think is the most mythology-saturated episode the series has thrown at us so far. More Monster and Temple that you can shake a stick at, and even more in the accumulation of clues that Monster and Temple and Island are all bound, somehow, to the underworld. Recall the engraving of Anubis kneeling before the Monster and tell me you don't want to know what that means.

The Dharma people really have gotten to be my favorite slew of supporting characters we've seen so far. Radzinsky in particular is excellent. Yeah, he's a douche, and yeah, he's directly opposed to our people's interests, but his personality is spot-on and Eric Lange is doing a wonderful job. I was excited that we'd get to hear more about Radzinsky mostly because of his tie to the Blast Door Map. Turns out he's awesome even without the mythology tie-in, and I'd put money on us getting to see how Radzinsky ends up exiled to the Swan for fifteen years by the end of the season.

What else are you looking forward to for the finale? I still won't spoil the title, though I think Faraday made it perfectly clear where this storyline is headed when he described what was going to happen "in a few hours". Do you think we'll get to see the Sun and Jin reunion? (I think yes.) Jughead exploding? (Probably not, but what an awesome cliffhanger that would be!) Find out "what lies in the shadow of the statue"? (Again, probably not, but I assume we'll at least find out what Bram and Ilana are up to.) Better understand resurrection on the Island? (Possibly we'll head in that direction, but I think the exact mechanics are a season 6 issue.)

Currently listening: Paste Magazine sampler, Volume 52

Cool Toys and Crappy Music

Review: T-Mobile G1

The best thing about the G1 is that it doesn't have a queer name. "Rant". "Chocolate". "Instinct". Come on, are we naming phones, or are we listing off verbs and nouns that we know? Back in my day, phones had good old robot names like "SGH-T309".

And let's not even discuss the perplexing and ambiguous "wireless" that mobile phone service has come to be known as. Lots of things are wireless. My mouse, for instance. My laptop, with respect to the internet. The commercials for various multimedia companies (I'm looking at you, AT&T) are proud to proclaim that they feature "television" (noun, no ambiguity), "internet" (noun, still no ambiguity), "home phone" (noun, even less ambiguity), and "wireless". This is an adjective, not the name of a service.

(It's like how the oil industry won't stop using "caustic" to describe sodium hydroxide, even though they know as well as the media companies that using an adjective by itself to describe a product is stupid.)

The second best thing about the G1 is that it's neither an iPhone nor a Blackberry. I can therefore have a device that's very useful and very entertaining but not figure on the douchebag scale either at the "hipster" end or the "senior vice president who thinks he's more important than he actually is" end. (Okay, okay, not everyone who uses an iPhone is a hipster. You'd best start checking your scarf habits though.)

The third best is that it tells me, depending on the season, the Braves, Tech football, or Tech basketball scores--as they happen, or as often as I'd like. And the location of the nearest Starbucks. And I can play Pac-Man. And stream

The general consensus is that the G1 has several unique advantages over its "smart phone" competitors: the keyboard is good, the trackball is useful, and built-in Google functionality is handy. It carries a few disadvantages, too: the software library is smaller than, say, the iPhone's, it's sort of big and heavy, and the battery life ranges from tepid to abysmal depending on how you're using the phone.

But this is the best toy I've gotten in a long, long time.

I have a new "least favorite musical artist", and her name is Lady Gaga. Remember when the worst thing we had to contend with on the radio was Fergie, or Katy Perry? "I Kissed a Girl" sounds like musical genius now. I promise, if I hear this "Poker Face" business one more time, I am going to turn off the radio no matter where I am. "But sir, you can't turn off the radio to the entire Target." Watch me.

Currently listening: "Shambala", Three Dog Night

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quick Lesson In Driving

If a traffic light is not working at a 4-way intersection, you treat it as a 4-way stop. You do not have an excuse to blow through the intersection. You still must use your turn signal. Take turns, and do not pull out in front of another driver. If there happens to be a pedestrian in the crosswalk, he has the right of way, just as if he had a "white man walking" sign. Therefore, please be kind and do not honk at him as if he were jaywalking.

It'll make 10th and State a much happier intersection, I promise.

Currently listening: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", the Beatles