Archive for July, 2010

Haiku: District 9 (Movie Review)

July 31, 2010

I give District 9
a film score of District 8
It was that good, Prawn

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Humor: One Is The Funniest Number – More One Liners

July 30, 2010

I once fashioned a weapon out of documents and wet paste. I called it my paper machete

I once interviewed for a position in advertising but didn’t get the job because I didn’t sell myself enough.

What separates us from other animals are our opposable thumbdrives.

Baseball is America’s pastime. 11 PM is America’s usual bedtime.

Junk boats were originally made out of those magazines that come in the mail that you never want.

I love social networking. I am now ignoring more people than I ever thought possible!

When are they going to come up with glass-bottom cars?

I tried to sell my cold on Antique Roadshow, but they told me it was too common.

Any ball can be a stress ball. You just need these instructions: For use as a stress ball, add stress.

I live paycheck to paycheck. By which I mean I forget I am getting paid until I get that check.

A good defense is a great offense. A great offense is going up to someone and insulting their intelligence.

I do crunches every day to help with my abs. Unfortunately, “Crunches” is a chocolate bar and my abs are being helped turning into a belly.

Art Project: 52 Card Write-Up – Ten of Clubs

July 29, 2010

Do not forget that my friends are classy, despite what the last card referenced. In this card, there is a reference to 10 Things I Hate About You, which is a movie based on Billy Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. I can call him Billy because we are tight like that. Do you remember the late 90s to early 2000s when a bunch of classic novels were updated for modern times? Clueless, She’s the Man, O all took the classics and “updated” them (which usually meant throwing a blonde into the lead role). 10 Things I Hate About You starred Julia Stiles as the blonde, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and an actor who epitomizes “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone,” Heath Ledger. This card was actually dedicated to the late Ledger by the friend. I believe 10 Things… was his first American movie, or at least, the first one where he had a major role (Ledger is from Australia and got his acting break there). Ledger goes from being the “cool outsider” of 10 Things I Hate About You to the literal Knight in White Armor of A Knight’s Tale to Ennis, a lovetorn cowboy, in Brokeback Mountain to the maniacal Joker in The Dark Knight, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award. Those are some very varied roles, and that isn’t even counting some of his supporting roles. Heck, he fought for U.S. independece in The Patriot and he isn’t even American! That’s acting!


Analysis: Lost in My Thoughts: A Lost Dissertation – Introduction and Season 1

July 28, 2010

Introduction:

Themes. That is what you should remember about Lost when you reflect on it, and if you ever rewatch, when you view an episode again. While Lost has given many hard answers, a few answers that could easily be extrapolated, and few huhs, Lost has often used themes to both illuminate the current plot and to allow the viewer to fill in some gaps. Each season actually has its own theme, and I will discuss them in the following sections, but there are two big themes rampart in its run: free will vs. fate and faith vs. science.

The first pairing, free will vs. fate is really about choices. Are the choices we make not really ours to make (epitomized in who becomes the Guardian of the Island. Each Guardian really didn’t volunteer as much was thrust into the role due to circumstance) or can we decide when to fold and walk away? And how does that dichotomy determine if we are good or evil? If we are being pushed towards outcome (as Sayid is often pushed into torturing) how can that make us evil, if everything is out of our control? If we choose to do something, does that make us good, or just lucky, as we can never truly know the outcome of our actions?

The second theme, faith vs. science, is tied to the first one. Faith, in this show, means believing in something higher, something that will guide you. Epitomized by John Locke, yes, but also Jack Shephard at the end of the run. But both characters took faith to a dangerous extreme: Locke let himself be conned into becoming the vessel of the Man in Black, while Jack, at the end of Season 5, believed so much that he had been given a purpose, wanted to detonate an atom bomb. Meanwhile, science wants the cold, hard facts and is willing to wait to get them, or actively pursue these “facts” until they are had. This is as bad a position as faith. The Dharma Initiative was science. But they came to the Island and ransacked it, basically. They made the Natives (aka The Others) into The Hostiles. Yet, their ultimate purpose was not dissimilar to Jacob’s, the “god” of faith. It was only at the end, where Jack, who was once a man of both science and faith, reconciled the two and become the sacrifice the Island wanted. At the end, he believed in the Island, but was not going to wait around and let it dictate what to do.

I am going to go through each season now and touch upon some themes and mysteries and hopefully tell you how it all makes sense. I will try to make it clear what the show actually answered, what the show heavily implied, and what I, under my own thoughts, extrapolate.

Season 1:

Plot: Plane crashes, survivors survive, Boone dies, Walt is taken and the Hatch is blown.

Themes
Community – Jack said it best: “Live together, die alone.” Here were flawed people given a new opportunity to present themselves to the world. There was an episode called Tabula Rasa, which means clean slate in Latin. In that episode, Jack even says what happened before doesn’t matter. These survivors (48 in the beginning) needed to work together to survive. But, now, we can see that the needed each other to become better people. “Live together, die alone” should have a bigger impact now that we saw the finale and the church scene. Without each other, these people would never truly find happiness. They would come close, but they would always mess it up. Ironic though that the man who coined the phrase on the Island, Jack, was the last to realize this is the Sideways reality

See also: Sayid and Sawyer’s torturous (pun!) encounters, the discovery of Rousseau (French woman) who never got to have a community on the Island and her subsequent turn to insanity (also, Claire in the future), the arrival of more Others at the end of the season signifying that our ragtag civilization was about to encounter a more organized and possibly more ruthless one.

Fear of the Unknown – From the survivors’ perspective not only what the Island is, what the Monster is, or how they survived but of each other. John Locke was the antagonist in Season 1, mirroring Terry O’Quinn portrayal of the Man in Black as Locke (aka Flocke) in the last season. Locke was this mystic who believed in the Island. He believed it since he was now able to walk on the Island. Yet, he was dogmatic, too dogmatic in his approach. He knocked out Sayid when Sayid was trying to locate Rousseau. He, essentially, led Boone to his death because of a vision, but only after he knocked out Boone and forced him into having a vision of his own. Locke, more than any other character in the first season, represented man’s mistrust of fellow man, even when there is nothing else to lose. The battle of faith vs. science began with faith acting aggressively.

Redemption/Personal Acceptance – Redemption/Acceptance wouldn’t come to the characters in the first season, not all of them at least, but we saw that these characters were flawed and the Island gave them some incentive to grow up, as it were. Charlie battled his heroin addiction and won. Sawyer was the rogue but was still able to tell Jack that he saw his father in a bar and Christian praised Jack.

And then there’s Boone. Boone died not too long after he came to the realization he didn’t need his sister, Shannon. That he could let her go (not sure if that line was actually spoken in that episode, but I will rewatch). So we see here, in a thematic sense, the theme of Season 6 come into play long before Season 6.

Mysteries
Why Did They Survive – Simply put, Jacob selected the survivors as potential candidates and hence, when they came to the Island, they were able to survive the crash. Cruel that the other people had to die, but that was Jacob’s philosophy.

Walt – Perhaps the biggest unanswered question from the first season. Walt was “special” as he could apparently summon animals (polar bears on the Island in Season 1, birds in his flashback in Australia and in a short, online episode between Seasons 3 and 4). In the end, I think Malcolm David Kelly’s growth spurt put a damper on any long term plans for the character. Perhaps he was supposed to be Jacob Jr.

But remember something from the pilot episode: Locke and Walt discuss backgammon. Wherein Locke says this immortal line “Two sides, one white, one black.” Even back then, Lost was setting up Jacob vs. The Man in Black, and what they represented: two sides of an eternal struggle. Black and white is a major visual motif throughout the series. Later in Season 1, Claire has a vision in which Locke has a black and white pair of eyes.

Aaron – Claire was told by a psychic that Aaron was important and shouldn’t be raised by any one other than her. Why? The series finale has a possible answer. The birth of Aaron served to wake up Claire (and Kate) is the Sideways world. Both felt this incredible connection to the birth. Claire felt this way because she was prepared to be the mother of Aaron and not give him away at that time in the real world. The psychic may have saw into this Sideways world (his own daughter died and came back to life in a flashback we saw in an episode in Season 2 concerning Eko) and saw that the only way for Claire’s soul to move on was to feel motherly towards her own son so that his birth in that reality can trigger her. If Claire gave away Aaron and never felt that connection, her soul may have forever slept in the Sideways universe.

The Hatch – Answered in Season 2. Incidentally, Sayid makes reference to weird magnetic properties in Season 1.

The Numbers – 4, 8, 15, 16, 42. What did they mean? In the end, nothing. But that is not to say they didn’t have significance. Jacob assigned these numbers to the final six candidates. It is not unreasonable, in my mind, that the man responsible for Richard’s long life could imbue numbers with some sort of mystic power, even unknowingly. These Numbers were, of course, found in the Hatch, broadcasted by Dharma, and in a game considered part of the story that occurred between Seasons 2 and 3, were part of an equation that could predict the end of the world. They had significance perhaps because the next group of potential candidates, the group that would ultimately have two guardians, were assigned those numbers.

The Monster – Heard but not seen until the season finale, where we see it is made up of smoke. Interestingly enough, it appears first to Locke in his first flashback episode, though we don’t see it. He calls it the eye of the Island. Rousseau later calls it a security system. We now know it is the Man in Black, and he was scouting Locke to be his vessel. Which is why he nearly took Locke in the finale of Season 1.

Christian Shephard’s Empty Casket – No concrete explanation other than Oceanic never put his body into it. The Smoke Monster, while claiming to be Papa Shephard does not need to inhabit an actual body (Locke’s real body was left untouched, Yemi, Eko’s brother who appears to Mr. Eko, is also left in the Beechcraft plane)

The Polar Bears – Refugees from Dharma experiments.

Kidnapping of Claire/Walt – The Others could not have children, so they needed young kids.

The Black Rock – Slaveship that Richard Alpert arrived in, it smashed the statue and landed in the middle of the jungle due to a monsoon.

The Whispers: As seen in Season 6, the Whispers are the dead who can’t leave the Island. One can suppose that they pop up to warn the living of impeding danger and trouble. (They were heard right before Shannon’s death in Season 2. They often accompany The Others’ arrivals).

Art Project: 52 Card Write-Up – Eight of Clubs

July 27, 2010

This one is a bit more humorous than anything I have received so far. You see, as a kid, you are constantly looking for “dirty” things in everyday life. You giggle when a poem has a word that sounds naughty, you try to stay up past your bedtime to see if the world turns into Sodom and Gomorrah at 9:01 PM, and, of course, you type in different numbers into your calculator to spell different things. There is the popular 0.7734 that turns into “Hello” when the calculator is turned upside down. Then there is this: 5138008, or “BOOBIES.” Many a laugh was had over the calculator growing up. And if you had a graphing calculator, look out! They didn’t have the same capacity to be “dirty” like a normal calculator, but you can play Tetris or a version of Space Invaders. Is it any wonder that most of friends became engineers or scientists? You couldn’t tear us away from a calculator, though not because we really loved math…

Short Story: Tuft the Janitor – Cleanliness is Next to Godliness (Conclusion)

July 26, 2010

…To say Tuft is amazed when he is confronted by his plastic doppelganger would be an understatement. To say he is perturbed when the mouth becomes fully formed and functional would also be an understatement. And, finally, to say that he isn’t totally freaked out when that mouth croaks out “Father” would also be an understatement. The fact that his hair didn’t turn totally white and he did not run away in fear is a testament to the fact that his hair was already white and it is hard to run away when he your frozen.

Tuft gulps. “Uh, yes?” The rest of the glass pieces form a glittery display of teeth inside the Tuft Balloon. It seems to smile. “Father, can I go outside and play?” Tuft sighs again. “It is too late for you to be going out.” The Balloon seems to ponder this. It then grows larger. Tuft rolls his eyes. “It’s not a matter of size it is a matter of lateness. I don’t think I threw a time machine into that basket, so I am sorry, it is too late for you to be going out.” The Balloon deflates a bit at that piece of news, clearly disappointed.

“But Father…”

“No ‘buts’! I created you, apparently, and I can dictate whether or not the monstrosity that is you is allowed to see the outside world!”

At this harsh language, the Tuft Balloon inflates to its largest size and pushes Tuft up against a wall. It then launches into a long soliloquy. “You may have created me, but that does not give you lordship over me. I may not be a Dirigible as you define it, but I am certainly a creature with intellect and feelings. I yearn to feel the wind on my polyethylene face. The sun’s rays beat down upon my surface, causing me to experience thermal expansion. I want to live! I’ve been in a Petri dish for too long! I do not like this feeling of being cooped up. Yes, I have rights and desires. I deserve recognition in this world. If your prick me, do I not bleed?”

Tufts responds, “Let’s see!” Tuft grabs his many janitorial keys and stabs Balloon Tuft, puncturing him. From the gash comes gallon after gallon of disinfectant. The Balloon deflates, a look of anguish on what was once its face. “What a world, what a world…that would allow that horrible fluorescent lighting in this hallway.” Finally, the bag resumes its normal position within the wastebasket and Tuft is able to move away from the wall. Tuft peers into the bag. Seeing some movement, he grabs his broom and pushes down the trash with the broomhead. A little cry is heard from the basket, but it fades away.

Tuft looks around. The floor is wet with Balloon Tuft’s “blood.” Tuft puts his hands on his hips. “I am not waxing this floor tonight. All that disinfectant should do the job for now. Too much drama tonight. I am just going to call it and go home before my gum turns into a sentient life species.” Tuft pushes the cart down the hall and out a door. The hallway is quiet for the moment. Then Berkeley rushes in, in his pajamas. “Oh dear, I forgot to properly dispose of my Petri dish. The horrors that may befall society if something happened!” As Berkeley runs down the hall, he slips on the wet floor, falling onto his rear end. He looks around. “Why isn’t there a sign? And what smells like science gone mad?”

Comic: Hollow Oak University – #8 – Doesn’t Matter You Can’t Read It

July 26, 2010

Technology is sometimes hair pulling even for those of us who use it for both pleasure and work. Though my compiler has yet to insult me to my face, I have often be left dumbfounded trying to figure out what the heck is wrong with my code. And it usually is the simplest answer: an errant space, a misplaced comma, a typoed variable name. Which isn’t reassuring. It just makes the user feel dumb and hope for the day where a Star Trekkian type AI knows what you really meant and fixes the error for you. Obviously, that would be a big help to Berkeley here. Of course, the flipside is that is how most AI apocalypses start, with the AI knowing more about humanity than humans. But I’d be willing to take the trade off if only my code can run correctly!

I’ve been abusing the post scheduling function on WordPress lately. I am in Florida right now, but I actually wrote this post last Thursday in Maryland. It is like time travel, except with words and kinda lame. I hope I am enjoying my time in sunny South Florida, though the forecast calls for rain, so maybe it is rainy South Florida. I get to see my father, hang out with one of my best friends, and have a BBQ, so I cannot see why I wouldn’t be having a great time. Unless the temperature is in the triple digits and not being read in Kelvin.

Talking of best friends, Sean introduced a new character in this strip! Can you guess who it is? That’s right, that plush doll on Berkeley’s monitor is going to be a new character. I don’t want to spoil who it is, but I will be writing a short story based on him sometime soon. And with that, I’ll segue into this week’s short story, the conclusion of “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness.” Hope you guys are enjoying it. It is a good mental exercise for me because now am I not only thinking about the HOU universe in comic form, looking for the quick punchline, but now I am thinking about it in a more encompassing manner. It is stretching different creative muscles, in other words.

-Beerman

Art Project: 52 Card Write-Up – Queen of Hearts

July 22, 2010

According to a quick Google search, because my Latin is rusty, “Quid Pro Quo” means “something for something.” Though the phrase has come to be known for meaning an equal and fair trade, I would like to think the original coiner was just mumbling to himself, trying to think of an awesome phrase and was using the “somethings” as a placeholder till he got a better idea. I don’t know if the phrase first popped up in their time, but I can imagine a philosopher trying to compete with Aristotle and Socrates, trying to hit up a goldmine of an idea that would make him as popular as those guys and help him with the toga-wearing ladies. Anyways, thank you to the coworker who wrote this card, though this exchange was more like “Quid Pro Nil,” “something for nothing,” as this project is more about the participation than getting a good in return. Though I think my smiles and hearty thanks is worth more than a million dollars. However, most retail stores don’t see it that way and definitely want “something” in return!

Art Project: 52 Card Write-Up – Four of Diamonds

July 20, 2010

I cajoled another coworker to participate in my little project. This one makes reference to Seinfeld and one of its many popular characters: The Soup Nazi. Once again, by a stroke of luck or fate, a coworker made a reference that I can actually say I get and not only that, is not a minor reference in my view. Seinfeld played a large role in my life. I believe my sister once said anything in life can be related to an episode of Seinfeld (or Friends). I was once told I had Kramer hair and Jerry’s sense of humor. And in high school, my two best friends and I often debated which Seinfeld character we were (there was no Elaine). I still watch five or ten minutes of Seinfeld each day, since it is on in syndication for all eternity and I still find the jokes funny. All this and I really didn’t start watching Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer until their final season. Like I said, syndication has certainly increased my appreciation of Seinfeld (and The Simpsons).

Boy, I really should have yadda, yadda, yadda’d most of that story, shouldn’t have I?

Comic: Hollow Oak University – #7 – Better Than Last Week

July 19, 2010

And Dr. Harvey makes his first appearance. I believe when he writes about his experience with Berkeley and Chester, he will title the book “20,000 Beleaguereds Under the Sea.” But can you blame those two for wanting to talk about Berkeley’s encounter with Bryn? To make a real world analogy, a male scientist’s wish list goes like this: solve the 3-D Navier-Stokes Equations, Fermat’s Last Theorem, and the mystery of the opposite sex. And any good scientist knows that the order in which results arrive does not matter, so that list is not a ranking.

Coming up later this week, in the future as it were, I will be heading down to Florida and giving a progress report of sorts to my dad, or should I say Dr. Dad? I am sure it will be the inverse of the type of progress report Dr. Harvey would want to hear. Flying is a weird experience for me. I used to scared of it, as most people are. I still get scared when we hit a particularly bad patch of tolerance, but now I am fascinated with flying. Most people hate sitting next to the wing/engine, but I try to sit there, especially if the row is open. I like to watch the contrails (streamlines) over the wing during flight and landing. That is my education in use in the real world. Though I must prefer to watch that stuff out of a rocket window, but I am too much of a wimp to be an astronaut. Call me when Virgin Galatic is hyper-successful and going to the moon is like going to the grocery store.

You guys like how the typical 4-panel strip was remodeled as a 3-panel one for this week’s action? I think Sean’s decision to tweak the format for this week works well with the twist at the end, the reveal of Harvey. The expanded third panel is like pulling back the curtain and revealing this whole other space. Interesting enough, I was talking to a coworker last week about how the panels in a comic can add so much to the story just by their shape and use and here Sean is proving that point.

Talking of my coconspirator in all things HOU, he suggested that we write some short stories to flesh out the universe in which these characters dwell. So starting this week, be introduced to Tuft the Janitor and his adventures, starting with Part 1 of Cleanliness is Next to Godliness. Eventually Tuft will make his way into the comic, but for now, enjoy his battles against stains and science.


-Beerman