Zombie Politics

I drank your milkshake.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Twinning ("Lost" Recap)

Episode: "Every Man for Himself"
Flashback: Sawyer
Original Airdate: 10.25.06

Week after week I loudly (and blog-ly) proclaim my love for “Lost.” Then season, I’d reckon (if I was from the South… which I am…) that this is the best “Lost” has been since it’s season one heyday, when everything was so mysterious and you couldn’t help but be swept up in the magical, mystical world of Jack, Locke, Boone, Hurley and the rest of the Impossibly Attractive Plane Crash Victims. But still, week after week, critics and naysayers around me give it the see-saw hand, the sigh/huff brush-off and generally dismiss it. Part of this is because I’m talking to some idiots and the other part is that they desperately want to know what’s going on. I’m simply happy taking the voyage and try to tell them, it doesn’t matter. Still, they persist. Well, last night’s episode gave us an answer.

THERE’S ANOTHER FUCKING ISLAND.

Happy?

Good.

This was another great episode, a pulse quickening shell game with Other overlord Ben Linus fucking with our collective heads (and Sawyer’s singular heart). I was glad to see the Others act more evil this time (Ben, the revenge-minded Pickett) – they’ve been established as the badguys early on and no matter how many fantasyland communities they inhabit, they still hung Charlie and made a general nuisance of things. Since almost everything on (and, now, off) Mystery Island has the tinge of a giant psychological experiment, it’s no surprise that it was this tactic that ultimately domesticated the rambunctious Sawyer.

The whole “Escape from New York” ploy – that a tiny bomb was placed inside Sawyer’s heart – and the entertainment that followed (like the hilarious results of watching Kate get nekkid) was great, riveting drama – ratcheting things up a notch in the already dark and claustrophobic conditions. The things that unfolded AROUND this ploy (Jack being led, blind, in front of their cages and the death of Other Colleen) was just as riveting. As things are coming into focus – Jack is there to fix someone (Ben’s) spine and Sawyer and Kate are there to be fucked-with – the insidiousness isn’t diluted, but intensified. They can wear khakis and proclaim peace all they want, but video surveillance cameras and giant cages and underwater labs and making Jack stay with a corpse speak volumes about their true nature.

The Other’s are bad.

Happy?

Good.

On the other side of the island, there’s no sign of Locke or Eko (maybe because this episode was actually supposed to air last week, and last week’s vice versa) but there is Desmond, boldly displaying his newfound psychic abilities with his awesome lightening rod (Hurley’s “Is that… art?” was priceless). And then there’s New Castmember Paulo, who displayed the writers’ penchant for creating truly annoying Latin-American characters (the sting of Ana-Lucia has yet to wear off).

The flashbacks this week didn’t do a whole lot for me, except to show that Sawyer isn’t a complete retard (as we were shown previously he’s a pretty good conman but none too bright). So at some point, between conning lonely women out of their money and mistakenly murdering the wrong man (with a chat with Jack’s father thrown in for good measure) he was in prison. For a while. His sentence was commuted for revealing the location of some stolen governmental funds and in the process learned something shocking – he’s got a daughter! Or does he? Could this woman have conned him? Just like Linus did later in the episode with The Big Reveal? Who fucking knows. It’ll take some more flashbacks to truly tease that one out.

On the super-nerd side of things the only real mythological connection I garnered was Jack’s cartoon featured swans - The Hatch that so much of Season 2 revolved around was a Dharma station known as The Swan. So, there’s that. I guess.

The reveal of Dharma Alcatraz was slow going but became progressively apparent, as Ben mentioned something about “the sub” being back. Still, it was pretty shocking. It was the death blow to Sawyer’s blind hope of escaping, or at the very least escaping alive. It may also explain why Ben Linus was so hell-bent on getting Desmond’s sailboat. How they shuttle between the two islands (sub, a possible series of interconnected tunnels, which is where I believe The Hydra station is located) remains to be seen. There’s been talk that an upcoming episode of “Battlestar Galactica” will take place within the Cylon community. I expect, eventually, that “Lost” will show us what’s been going on solely from the Others side. And when that happens, I believe our minds will be blown. The matter-of-factness with which Linus revealed the island, and the just-as-casual way he closed the conversation (“Let’s get you back to your cage”) was equally creepy. It’s Desmond’s eerie serenity that makes him even scarier than the brawny Pickett; positively skin-crawling.

Which brings me to the fact that only two episodes remain until “Lost” goes on its extended, winter-long hiatus. That’s going to be really depressing. This season has really rocked the motherfucking house; it’s going to be a looooooooong few months. But the good news: the last episode of this batch will feature none other than Captain Tightpants himself, Nation Fillion (of “Serenity”/”Firefly” “fame” and the recent “movie” “Slither”). It’s a silver lining, at least.

Until next week…

Drew

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

WTF?

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Really?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Multiple Monsters ("Lost" Recap)




Episode: "Further Instructions"
Flashback: Locke
Original Air Date: 10.18.06

Since I’m feeling a bit under the weather (and just choked down some foul-tasting cough suppressant – yummy) I’m going to make this “Lost” recap short and sweet (or, at the very least, shorter and sweeter). Going to try and condense it down to five awesome things to talk about.

1.) The Freak-Out
Locke, blasted away from the Hatch in Season 2’s blinding season finale blow-up, started the episode mute. What’s good about this is that we know now that the ‘medical miracle’ element of the hatch’s electromagnetic craziness didn’t dissipate like the heavenly white light. So, that means: Locke’s legs won’t give out, Rose won’t suddenly drop dead of cancer, and Sun won’t lose her lovechild. After coaxing Charlie, who started off the episode at his most annoying but ended up being pretty charming and funny, to help him with his sweat tent, things got totally freaky. This is the weirdest the show has been, visuals-wise, since Charlie’s Godly visions last year (which led to baby Aaron’s baptism). It was also totally fucking brilliant: The characters being reassigned as people in the airport, Boone as blood-spattered spirit guide (“I was the sacrifice the island demanded”), and the assessment of who needed to be saved, when. It was really weird in and of itself but also creepy for it’s implications, like Boone looking towards Charlie & Claire & Aaron and going “they’re good… for now.” It was totally bizarre in the best possible way and a good way to amp up the weird quotient.

2.) Multiple Monsters
One of my favorite things about this episode was the acknowledgement that Smokey the Cloud Monster isn’t the only thing menacing the islanders. The exchange between Charlie and Locke when Locke says “Sawyer shot a polar bear” leads to all kinds of speculation. Was the beast that Locke faced down in Season 1 this giant polar bear and not Smokey? (I do believe this polar bear was way more huge and monstrous than the one Sawyer took out in the pilot – and that it will be back.) Some of the best moments of the episode came from the polar bear, from Charlie’s assessment that “Polar bears are like the Einsteins of the bear community” to the skeletons littering the bear’s cave. It was great and scary and enriching, but it makes me hungry for EVEN MORE MONSTERS. I just can’t get enough.

3.) Locke the Hunter…
… or Locke the Sucker? He talked about the sweat lodge (this in his rustic flashbacks) being the place where you go to decide if you’re a hunter or a farmer. For most of the episode, as he befriended a new Padawan (to mirror Boone or Charlie), it appeared he had decided he was a farmer. He was in a place with a “real family,” seemed relatively happy with things, and was optimistic about himself and his place in a greater whole. Then his hitchhiking friend turns on him (a pattern emerging here, John?) and he reveals what the sweat lodge really said: he’s a hunter. This illuminates some things in the show – up until now we thought that his ‘tracking’ and ‘knifing’ and all that from season 1 came up since he had prepared so long and hard for his ‘walkabout.’ Turns out it happened much earlier (way before his crippling accident that left him wheelchair bound).

4.) Mythos (or What’s in a T-Shirt?)
Quickly: most of the Easter eggs in this episode came in the form of what was printed on people’s T-shirts. First off, there was the Geronimo Jackson T-shirt the narc was wearing (which was questioned by that creppy guy from “Twin Peaks” in Locke’s hippie commune). This isn’t the first time that Geronimo Jackson has been inserted into the show (it was in an episode called – what else? – “The Hunting Party” from last season) but its meaning has yet to be revealed (or even really hinted at). Only time will tell on this one. Also, one of the skeletons was wearing a Dharma T-shirt. Could this have been one of the Hatch-dwellers pre-Kelvin? Or was it just a Dharma person who was patrolling the area? Lastly, it should be noted that the tie-dyed shirt that Hurley gives Desmond seemed to relate to the hippie, earth-changing mentality of the Dharma Initiative. Make your own kind of music, indeed. [ALSO, the numbers appeared twice: once in the narc’s badge number and on Hurley’s computer during the freak-out hallucination.]

AND…

5.) The Former Hatch-Dwellers
Locke went mute and then went on a new vision quest, Desmond was naked (Hurley’s question: “So the hatch blew off your underwear?”), Eko was taken by a giant mutant polar bear (and left for dead – he’ll presumably gain consciousness in a future episode) and none of them have any real clue as to what happened when Desmond turned the magic key. Desmond suggested that something “imploded” but we really don’t know. All that we know is that Desmond has been left with certain abilities… Abilities that make him an even more exciting and interesting character in the canon. It doesn’t feel forced or silly, but new and unnerving. And the final moments between Hurley and Desmond were shockingly good.


The last thing I want to talk about is how slyly they introduced new characters. Locke shouted orders to two of the previous ‘red shirts’ (that’s a “Star Trek” reference, I’m going to fess up), addressing them as “Nikki” and “Paulo.” Two new cast members! Hurrah! Very slick, guys. Overall I thought this was a great episode, heavy on the action and scariness, with some very nice character moments and humor (you have to love naked Desmond). Not too big on enriching the mythology, but when it’s this much fun, who cares?

That’s it for me (for now).

Tah

D

Beck @ Theater @ MSG




Last night Beck rocked ‘The Theatre at Madison Square Garden.’ I didn’t really know what this even meant before showing up to the event; turns out there’s a smaller theatre adjacent to the main terrordome (where a Rangers game was being held same night, which caused security guards to call out “Rangers to the right, Beck to the left…”) This being Madison Square Garden, it was still Really Fucking Huge (bigger than Nokia probably). Our seats, as it turned out, were downright HORRIBLE. And cost almost $200.

[Zombie Politics’ professional photographer didn’t bring their telephoto lens, so there’ll be no awful pictures today. Apologies to my one reader.]

The show itself was a mixed bag. The jaded hipster audience, down on the floor, was barely conscious throughout the whole show. When Baltimore booty bass rappers Spankrock opened with a wonderfully energetic set people just kind of swayed. There was NO REACTION from the floor. NONE. This was a band that Conspiracy Carl usually does STRETCHES for in preparation for all the dancing. As the Rapture song goes: “People don’t dance no more, they just stand there like this, they cross their arms and stare you down and drink and moan and diss.” TRUE DAT. Spankrock sang a hilariously filthy song called “Shake It Till My Dick Turns Racist.” No reaction whatsoever.

Who were these people?

When Beck took the stage things didn’t get much livelier. Backed by a talented band (and then that band backed by miniature puppet replicas of the band), Beck whizzed through the hits, focusing mostly on last year’s “Guero” and this month’s “The Information” but pausing momentarily for the odd “Sea Change” or “Odelay” track. Beck is a consummate performer, one of wit and unbridled talent. This is the third time I’ve seen him, the second time in two years, and he never ceases to impress. That said, this was my most disappointing experience with him to date, for the following reasons:

1.) He didn’t dance. What the fuck? He’s such a good dancer. And I distinctly remember last year’s show being heavy with the dance. Just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating I called Jordan right after and asked if he had. “Yeah, I remember him dancing,” was all Jordan would give me. Still, he’s got the moves. It was sad we didn’t see any (that said MC Spankrock got down like a motherfucker).

2.) The puppets. Yes, this is clever and funny and weird in an ‘Only Beck could get away with it’ kind of way, but it also kind of sucked. The main screen behind the band was broadcasting the puppets movements so those us in the ASS section of the theater (it actually says that on my ticket – section ASS, Row FU), who desperately needed a blown-up version of what was going on on stage, got puppets instead. Also, it was kind of a one note joke. But pretty meta.

3.) The crowd uniformly sucked. Drunk, stupid people everywhere. As we were leaving I saw these two guys get into a fight – one guy was a talker (he was bald, bespeckled and walked like a circus clown) and the other guy was a fighter (big, fat, belligerently intoxicated). The fighter grabbed the talker by the neck and while he was turning purple, another, completely unrelated drunk guy picked up the talker and tried to throw him over the banister. It was insanely stupid. UGH.

So, that’s it. This review is probably tempered by my soul-draining depression about the location and cost of our seats. He’s playing a charity acoustic thing on Sunday. Maybe I can go to that. Or not. One by one I’ll knock you out…

Friday, October 13, 2006

Basement Jaxx @ Webster Hall (Part II: The Legend Continues)

So the Basement Jaxx played on Wednesday night. I’m still recovering. It’s Friday. They rocked the house so fucking hard that I’m fairly certain something caught on fire, and a baby or two was probably produced in my immediate vicinity (which is going to be a miracle considering how many mighty queers there were). I wish that I could bring those non-believers to one of these shows because I really do think seeing them live will unequivocally convert you to the House of Jaxx.

This is the third time I’ve seen them live (previously: Roseland in 2001 and at the Carling Brixton Academy in London in 2003) and each time the experience was equally different and thrilling.

The first time I saw them was (obviously) a revelation: I had no idea how they were going to convert sophomore album “Rooty’s” mixture of female vocals and hip-hop-ish beats. I expected, at the very least, a guest vocalist or two but most of the work done by the boys on synthesizers and whatnot. Well, my answer came to me when they started the show with “Romeo” and a large black woman with skin-tight acid wash jeans came out singing, the word ‘Jaxx’ written up her pant-leg in bleach. They then proceeded to wow me with each and every song, and each and every crazy-ass (itch?) guest performer. This is the show that featured feathered, flamenco showgirls and a female vocalist in a paten leather cat suit who came out and whipped Felix during “Get Me Off” (he beat her up back – don’t worry). The headline in Rolling Stone when they reviewed the show was ‘Basement Jaxx Kicks Ass.’

The second time, in England, was a whole ‘nother ballgame. I saw them in the big, beautiful Carling Brixton Academy (watch that awful sex movie “9 Songs” if you want to see it in full effect, y’all). I was surrounded by literally THOUSAND of my British peers and the show was fucking huge: giant screens that played choreographed images of tanks and crazy jungle animals, an even greater parade of guest vocalists and perfomers, and a DJ interlude where they combined 50 Cent’s “In Da Club,” The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” and Justin Timberlake into one brilliant package. It was quite amazing, as well. A track from my show even ended up on the second disc of their jaw-dropping “Singles” package (not released in the US – naturally).

Wednesday’s show continued on their path to excellence, even though it was done with half the Jaxx missing. Simon was no where to be found, leaving hyperactive Felix in control of the big, gay, neon-rimmed spaceship. Oh well. Even though his presence was missed (at the very least it explains the absence of the cool, acoustic-guitar version of “Rendezvous”), the show was, quite simply, the Greatest Thing Ever. It made me appreciate “Crazy Itch Radio,” their fourth album, that much more (it’s been growing on me since it leaked online in late summer), especially when you see a crowd react so positively to new songs like “Hey U” and “Take Me Back to Your House” (highlights, both of them). Through their madcap assortment of singers, dancers, rappers, and (at one point) monkey-men (or women), they brought their vision of musical insanity to life. It was irrepressible; a colorful explosion of slyly sexual, overwrought joy - laser beams and rainbows from here to eternity (and back). There’s nothing more wonderful than that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ain’t no party like a Basement Jaxx party.

More, random pictures follow (thanks to the actual Zombie Politics photographer Kina!)

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Captives ("Lost" Recap)



Episode: "The Glass Ballerina"
Flashback character(s): Sun & Jin
Original Airdate: 10.11.06

LAST TIME ON ‘LOST’: Okay, here’s the rub: last week’s episode was fucking great but it could have been fucking greater. Pictures on the official “Lost” website (which were then duplicated across the internet before being unceremoniously taken down by ABC) showed a little girl in Jack’s holding cell. It was very creepy and unsettling and would have added a nice bonus punch of 'fucking crazy' to the episode. Supposedly this girl figured into an entire subplot of the episode that had to be exorcized (the show ran 20 minutes long and the network opted not to air it as a 90 minute special because it would interfere with their high profile “Nine” premiere). This has become another “Lost” mystery within the fan community; I for one have no idea how she would have factored in, but I’m damn curious (my only idea is that she was the one patient who Jack let down - and died). Here’s hoping she’ll pop up soon (check out the Flight 815 blog for the picture).

“The Glass Ballerina” was the name of this week’s episode, and I’d argue that it was just as compelling (if not more so) than last week’s stunning season premiere. Again, it was the combination of the emotional undercurrents and weird-ass over-currents that had me enthralled. Let’s get down to the analysis, shall we?

The episode was all about lies. Sun lies to Jin, Sun’s father lies to Jin, Jin lies to Sun, Sayid lies to Sun… There was a whole bunch of lyin’ going on. And untangling those lies, and the motivations behind them, was pretty damn captivating. All the mythological mumbo jumbo kind of gets in the way of acknowledging how complex and interesting these characters are – they are tortured, conflicted souls that wound up in a place where they could start anew, if only they could escape the demons that hounded them in their everyday lives.

Re: The Flashbacks: I loved the flashbacks this week because they really answered some questions. Well, one huge question, really. Who is the father of Sun’s child? Answer: Not Jin. And it’s not Dharma Island’s magical healing magnetism, either. It’s a seductive bald guy who may be a key figure in the show’s central mystery (more on that in a minute). The only problem with tonight’s flashbacks is (I’ll admit it), I’m getting slightly confused on the whole timeline. In the very first ‘Sun & Jin’ episode, we saw Jin up to his elbows in blood. In a later episode they explained it (although I can’t remember it now). Certainly in this episode he got bloody but not THAT bloody, which caused me to remark (on my notes): “Did Jin become comfortable with ‘taking care of business’ after this happened?” It’s a good question, too. Was this horrible event what set him on the path to becoming Jin’s father’s number one muscle man? The flashbacks were short, packed a punch and gave us information. The two flashbacks so far haven’t been caught up in the increasingly frustrating interconnectivity of the characters, instead letting a truer tale be told. We are more invested in the characters because we aren’t looking at who’s going to traipse by the window like a cartoon character (it's Locke's cousin's nephew in law!). It’s nice. Really, really nice.

Let me gush momentarily about two new members to the “Lost” family: writer “Ultimate” Drew Goddard, who penned some of “Buffy” and “Angel’s” most ingenious episodes on their respective final seasons and Michael Bowen, character actor extraordinaire (he played two great characters in the Tarantinoverse, most notably Buck, who came here to fuck, from “Kill Bill Vol. 1”), who played the guy who shocked the shit out of Sawyer and uttered the episode’s best line (“Hey! Shut up!”)

So, what did we learn about the Others this week? Well, they were doing some kind of agricultural such-and-such but it seemed so rudimentary (and asinine) that one cannot begin to understand what the fuck they’re trying to accomplish. (Moving rocks? Huh?) Juliet seems to be a power player in the Others community, tending to captive Jack and overseeing the Bizarro Rock Removal Campaign. (There was that great moment at the start of the show between Juliet and Ben when Ben said “You never brought me soup.” Is that to imply that he was once a captive, or that he was once in a relationship with Juliet? I’m going with the latter.) The whole chaingang enterprise did give a few choice nuggets: Sawyer checking out Kate’s ass, the possibly-“Arrested Development” inspired exchange between Bowen & Sawyer (“Shot?” “Shocked!”) and of course the appearance of Juliet, Rousseu’s daughter (last seen in the creepy Claire episode last season).

Alex asks about Carl, the guy across the zoo from Sawyer in last week’s episode. She says something like “not even supposed to be in that cage,” which was pretty baffling. Then she comments on Kate’s dress and scuttles off into the underbrush. Mmmkay.

So the digging and whatnot led to The Kiss, which was spoiled for me by none other than the AOL homepage. (Not dwelling.) This was a really great moment, and fell so very right (that look he gave her, her all hot & dirty) – I’d compare it to that other long gestating JJ Abrams lip-lock – the Vaughn/Sidney kiss during SD-6’s takedown in the “Alias” episode “Phase One.” And the kiss led to such interesting things, too: Sawyer tried to shock one of the guards but it didn’t work. I’d be inclined to think this was another psychological experiment-type thing, but Sawyer asserted (later on) that there must be a ‘safety.’ Right. Must be. It also led to Juliet taking Kate hostage, which showed us her more cold-blooded side, and Juliet calling Sawyer “James,” which led to that interesting convo between the survivors later on.

Elsewhere, Sayid continues recklessly down the path of vengeance. At this point, I’m not even sure who Sayid is mad at. But he’s mad enough to make a stupid plan and go through with it, which not only put a PREGNANT WOMAN in danger but also made them lose their boat. Whatever. I’m sure this will end well. Since characters on this show never spiral into darkness… No, never…

Sayid’s bungling did give us some good moments, however. The siege of the boat was brilliantly, tensely executed, and the exchange between Sun and Bowen’s wife was excellent. First of all, she says that stealing the boat was “Not her decision.” No, it wasn’t. It was Ben’s. But the order could have just as easily come down from the mysterious “Him” spoken about in Season 2. She then calls her Sun and says “I know you’re not a killer.” Damn. Whoever puts those manila folders together is GOOD. But the best part was when she was saying that they’re not the enemy, but if Sun shoots, they will be. Sun shot.

Unofficial tabulation of murderers on Dharma Island (or those responsible for other’s deaths): Locke, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Jin, Sayid, Ana-Lucia (and now Sun).

CRACKPOT MYTHOLOGY HYPOTHESIS OF THE WEEK: In the flashback to Sun’s lover’s funeral, her father shows up. She asks him how he knew the deceased. He answered that he “Did business with the boy’s father.” Now, the first time I watched the episode this didn’t make me blink. But then I was thinking about how there has been lots of speculation that Sun is connected to the Hanso Corporation, who created all this ish. So, here’s my outlandish and undoubtedly incorrect theory: Sun was having an affair with Hanso Jr. Right? Wrong? You tell me!

Whew, this is a long one… FINALLY, the last few moments of the show that were so compelling… Ben watching Kate and Sawyer’s adorable exchange (“You taste like fish biscuits”) in a room that has many monitors. I went back and tried to identify what was in each one, I got this far: 2 were the cages Kate and Sawyer were in, 1 was Jack’s cell, 2 were other unoccupied hatches/cells and 1 was obscured or disrupted, which could possibly be of The Swan, since it’s gone all crazy. This was very scary and voyeuristic but I’m not sure if I know what it MEANS, exactly.

Ben showed us that he can be charming and manipulative, but also warm – he seemed genuinely upset that Jack didn’t shake his hand during their introduction. He says his name is “Benjamin Linus,” and that he’s lived here his whole life. He then offers Jack a deal: if he cooperates, sometime down the line, he will be sent home (like Michael and Walt, he assures). But why would he still be here if he could leave. “Why indeed” was Ben’s response (or something like that). He then fills Jack in: they’ve been on the island 69 days, George W Bush has been reelected (boo) and the Red Sox won the World Series. The exchange between them was wonderfully written, and it ended in an even greater way: Jack staring into a television that was replaying the Red Sox win, trying to process everything (watch the way in which Jack’s lips tremble). Ben’s last line (and the last line of the night): “When the time comes I will take you home.”

*BOOOOONG*

LOST

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Basement Jaxx @ Webster Hall 10.11.06 (Part I)

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lily Allen @ Hiro Ballroom 10.10.06

Our professional photographer was at her first (!) US show. Sorry for the lack of red eye reduction. A full-write up coming from our staff writer soon.










Sunday, October 08, 2006

R.I.P. "Kidnapped" and "Smith"

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Sigh.

This is part of the fall season that I hate. It’s already happened: a “Serenity” moment (that one still stings), a “Wonderfalls” moment or (to a much lesser degree) a “The Inside” or “Invasion” moment. It’s when you hear that a television series which you really, really, obsessively love has fallen short in the ratings department and has, unceremoniously, been put out to pasture. This week we got word of two great shows getting the axe: CBS’ “Smith” and NBC’s “Kidnapped.”

“Kidnapped” was the most gripping new non-“Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” show of the season. It was like a thousand ace paperback crime thrillers rolled into one delicious, Delroy Lindo-infused package. It had a stellar cast (Timothy Hutton, Dana Delany, the guy who played Bruce Wayne’s father in “Batman Begins,” Jeremy Sisto aka the Artist Formerly Known as Elton), and in telling the tale of a rich boy’s abduction at the hands of very serious kidnappers has twists and turns galore (the guy from “Rent” as Sisto’s mysterious prison informant) and an immaculate character development to plot development ratio. It just doesn’t get much better (or more entertaining) than this. It was created by Jason Smilovic, who wrote the similarly excellent and short-lived “Karen Sisco” and “Lucky Number Slevin,” which I haven’t seen but has a stupid name. NBC has put the kibosh on the remaining episodes, moving the show into the dreaded purgatory of Saturday night in late October and shuttering plans for it to finish out the season. (The storyline will be wrapped up in 13 episodes; it’s unknown how the abbreviated schedule will influence the plotline.) There have been numerous articles written about the move this season into the territory of kinetic, serialized shows, and the demise of “Kidnapped” doesn’t bode well for other shows of its ilk. “Kidnapped” is the best show of it’s kind this season, and it was the quickest to go.

“Smith,” on the other hand, wasn’t as instantly likeable. This was mostly because all of the main characters were murderous thieves and scumbags. But that was also its main asset. On “Prison Break” this season, the convicts have become cartoony caricatures of their former selves – we’ve forgotten all about why they ended up in prison in the first place (except for T-Bag, he’s still pretty gross). In “Smith,” a gang of horrible people (led by Ray Liotta and featuring Amy Smart, Simon Baker, Johnny Lee Miller, Frankie G and Shohreh Aghdashloo from “House of Sand and Fog” and “24”) escape police detainment and the detection of their loved ones (Virginia Madsen is cast as Liotta’s suspecting wife). Created by John Wells, who made a little show called “ER” with Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg, the show is nasty and intricate – the jaw-dropping pilot (in which several people are left for dead) setting the tone for the kind of grim, off-kilter plotlines to follow. This is the first show of the fall to be out and out fired. It will be missed terribly.

This is just depressing. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is still on the air, as is “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and (I’m sorry to admit this) “The Simpsons.” Yet quality shows like these two, ones that take daring creative risks with emotional and entertaining payoffs, get the boot so soon.

At least we can hope for a DVD.

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She's Back

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M.I.A., creator of 2005's best album, is back with a brand new single. It's called "Bird Flu" because, according to her, it has a beat that's "gon kill everyone." In fact, they have already made a video for the song, "in a fishing village in South Coast of India." (See the above picture. She's holding a goat. Yeah, that goat. The white one.) Stay tuned for it's debut on her MySpace page, which is just as crazy as she is.

www.myspace.com/mia

Patiently awaiting...

Drew

Something Nice to Hold On To

Episode: "Tale of Two Cities"
Flashback Character: Jack
Original Airdate: October 4th, 2006



So, it’s back. It’s bad-ass. And it’s just as confounding as ever.

Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we? This season started, like last season, with a moment that kept us out of sorts and off balance: just like last season’s Average Day in the Hatch moment we were treated to things from the Others perspective. They get up, they put in a CD, they cry about something (that “something” could be very huge, potentially) and they have a book club where some asshole (filling in for literary critic Harold Bloom) complains about the validity and quality of Stephen King. (The book in question was “Carrie,” although it was hard to spot because there were several versions/covers of the book in the scene. Walt had special psychic powers, just like Carrie. Remember him?)

The Book Club Harold Bloom complained about Ben not being there; a few moments later as we see them reacting to the crash of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815, Ben is revealed to be Fake Henry Gale, The Big Bad from Season 2. In my notes I have the words ‘four toes’ written down (and double underlined), so someone from the book club must have had four toes, like the statue Sayid spotted in the season finale. Could the Others be another race altogether, highly developed and literarily snobby?

When the Others camp was revealed (in comparison to the ginormosity of the island) I immediately thought of “The Prisoner,” the short lived British television series. I’m sure many viewers did too. In a few minutes we’ve already been bombarding with allusions (not to mention that the episode is called “Tale of Two Cities”) that are supposed to inform us while also placing “Lost” in cultural context. It’s kind of magical, actually.

This new point of view showcases what I like to call The JJ Abrams Paradigm Shift. This is when he gets itchy with whatever he’s working on and decides to radically redesign things. The most obvious example of this is the post-Super Bowl episode of “Alias,” “Phase One,” wherein the whole year and a half of the series was rendered null and void and an entirely new (and exciting) path was chosen. Same thing here. My head’s still spinning.

OTHER THINGS (Not Necessarily About The Others):
Henry Gale’s rendezvous with Kate was pretty chilling stuff. He was nice to her as a warning for what’s going to happen to them. What do they want with these three anyway? And why did they see it fit to kidnap the most romantic triangle-y of all the castaways? Interesting choice, Others, very interesting indeed.

While Jack was in his holding cell he pushed the intercom button and I could have sworn it was his father’s voice that answered back. Now, this obviously fit into the theme of the episode (the first really fucking good Jack flashback in a while) but also harkened back to the Best Unexplored Plot Thread of Season One. The plot thread I speak of is the one in which Jack, who has finally found his father’s coffin, busts it open to reveal… nothing. We know that the island has magical healing properties (Locke, Rose, et cetera) so is it really hard to believe that Papa Shepard has come back from the grave, and could be working in collusion with the dark forces of Mystery Island? Probably. But it was such a nice, mysterious note that was never capitalized on properly (in my estimation). This could be due to the fact that (supposedly) ABC/Disney issued a mandate from on high to Damon Lindelof and JJ to tone down the sci-fi elements of the show. They’ve denied this, but the proof is in the pudding: last season was less mystical, more grounded in maddeningly complex conspiracy theories and halfcocked scientific explanations.

Speaking of halfcocked scientific explanations: Sawyer’s cage was the only thing I really didn’t like. One: because it was so obvious that it was some kind of psychological experiment (intended for man or animal, who knows?) and two: it was kind of boring. It’s nice to see Sawyer thinking instead of assigning nicknames to people (one of his chief duties last season and one he took very, very seriously) but other than that, the tension just wasn’t there. The nerdy kid who escaped and helped free Sawyer was kind of interesting, but gave us little to go on (besides him being brutalized, which reinforces the earlier sentiment that The Others are, in fact, VERY BAD). When Mr. Friendly said “Only took the bear two hours” it kind of disappointed me because I was always a firm believer in Walt conjuring the bear out of Hurley’s comic book. That seems to not be the case. Maybe it was already on the island and he teleported it like the nerdy Japanese guy on “Heroes?” Maybe not. Still…

Far more interesting: The Underwater Hatch, The Hydra. So far we’ve seen or heard about at least four other Dharma ‘stations’ – The Pearl, The Swan (the Hatch), The Arrow, The Caduceus and the Icey Hatch from the end of Season 2. If the Others have an undersea community (as I’m guessing The Hydra is part of a much larger structure) what’s to rule out them having an aerial station? Or one deep inside the island’s earth? The possibilities, as always, are endless.

As important as the opening scene was (FUCKING IMPORTANT) even more resonant was the final scene, with Jack talking to his captor (the sweetly menacing Juliet). Throughout the episode Jack had been trying to find out who is wife’s new lover was, without a definitive explanation. With Juliet playing This Is Your Life with our dashing surgeon, he could have found out (0ne suspects the identity of this suitor will largely impact the course of Season 3)… but he didn’t. His wife’s sentiment of “Now you have something to fix” resonated all around Mystery Island. It was such a powerful, simple statement that explained Jack’s frame of mind both pre- and post-crash. And Jack’s equally powerful question to his super-knowledgeable captor: “Is she happy?” made me well up. It’s that perfect balance that was largely missing from season 2: the mixture of the trippy, crazy, scary freak-out stuff and the emotional stuff that makes you want to curl into the fetal position and weep until the next episode airs. It had me.

And as I was pushing the tears back into my manly skull they go and throw us for another loop: Herny Gale saying “good work.” This was clearly some kind of con. We know that the Others are actors (insomuch as they appear to be ragged when are pretty advanced, have fake beards, et cetera) and so the validity of her Super-Folder-of-Truth is immediately called into question. And I thought they had it all; that that folder contained the interconnectivity of every castwaway and how they fit together both pre- and post-crash. After all, they did know Sawyer’s real name. But now I don’t know what to think. Are they good? Bad? Indifferent? I think everyone can be on agreement about one thing: Henry Gale is still creepy as fuck.


Drew