Sunday, May 31, 2009

Exercise DVD review: Yoga for Everyone

Yoga for Everyone, by yoga and Indian dance instructor Hemalayaa, offers a more lighthearted and open approach to yoga, an opportunity to “practice joyfully.” The DVD has two workouts of only twenty minutes each, since Hemalayaa believes that practicing yoga every day for twenty minutes is more beneficial in the long run than taking a ninety-minute class once or twice a week.

The first workout is designed to get participants out of their heads and into their bodies, moving through lunges and basic poses (cobra, down dog, child’s pose, cat/cow). The second session focuses on strengthening the core and grounding oneself: utilizing the same basic poses plus tree and modified warrior, and some deeper stretching. You can choose to have both music and Hemalayaa’s instruction playing during the workouts or select music only.

I didn’t think either workout was particularly rigorous at first. I’m middling fit, running 3-3.5 miles three or four times a week, and I didn’t break a sweat even though I did both sessions back to back. But I did feel de-stressed for the rest of the day, plus two days later I noticed that my quadriceps were sore. Clearly something was working!

Hemalayaa is a good instructor, warm and relaxed. Several times she returns to her point that yoga can (and should) be fun, making goofy faces as a method to release tension. She is gorgeous, of course, but has a realistically fit body – unlike so many other overwhelmingly stringy exercise instructors.

The bonus features include a fun five minute excerpt of the “Playful Dance” routine from Hemalayaa’s The Bollywood Dance Workout DVD; a thirteen minute “Backbend Flow” from Shiva Rea Flow Yoga (not Hemalayaa); and short bios for the instructor and the music composers.

Yoga for Everyone is a great introduction to yoga for folks who might otherwise be too intimidated to try a class. Practicing the short workouts will give novices a sense of what to expect and a comfort in moving through basic poses, although more advanced yoga practitioners may not get much out of the DVD. I thought the workouts were excellent targeted sessions, a way to stretch, strengthen and de-stress without taking up too much time.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Recipes for the weekend: Bee's Potato Salad

My old h.s. buddy (we used to ride around in the winter in her bright yellow original VW Bug with no heat and an aerosol can of de-icer for the windshield) and now new Friend of the Blog Kristin has requested More Recipes!!! here at the little blog.

Since I live to please, I offer you this easy one from my Grandma's recipe collection, in honor of my midwestern aunt and uncle who are here visiting the foggy, gloomy, cold, rainy state of Maine. It's an excellent summer-timey dish - too friggin' bad summertime is taking its own sweet friggin' time to get here.

Bee's Potato Salad

4-6 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubed
2-3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and chopped
1 white onion, diced
celery, diced
mayonnaise to bind it all together
small amount of whipping cream (unwhipped) or half & half
salt and pepper to taste

It's the little bit of half & half that makes this so rich and delectable. Srsly, I can consume this by the BUSHEL, it's so good.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lost without Lost?

It's a dire time for us Lost fans, with months and months and months of no new episodes ahead of us (and not much in the way of good summertime replacement television either, it looks like). So, you're probably needing a fix right about now.

Unfortunately, I don't have any secret new episodes hidden up my sleeve, but what I can offer you are links to all the sites that I read on a regular basis, after I've watched the show and recapped it. Some are recaps, some are dissections, some are damn funny. Hopefully you'll see something you haven't seen before and, if nothing else, just feed the obsession a little more.

Television Without Pity - of course, although I don't much care for the recapper they've currently assigned to the show, and they're a LOT less snarky now that Bravo owns 'em.

Televisionary - Smart guy, good writer, fan of the show; does discussions/dissections of each episode rather than straight recaps. Excellent resource for U.S./British television in general.

The Lost Diary - live-blogger recapping the show every couple of minutes as it happens. I would KILL for the site visits/comments this guy gets!

Ack-Attack - Absolutely the best of the bunch! Hilarious, snarky and spot-on recap via screencaps. She doesn't do every episode (because it must take forever to do these) but they are pure gold.

The House Next Door - Erudite and extremely well-written recaps/dissections. I always finish reading a post and say, "Huh. Wish I'd thought of that."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mini-movie review: Star Trek (the new one)

Finally saw this on a regular screen matinee (I think seeing it on IMAX might have made me throw up) and I have to give it two thumbs up for a waaaaaaaaaaaaay better origin story than ol' Wolverine there. I'm not a huge Trek fan - although I did get into TNG in college - but I did get a little misty at the end with the entire crew poised on the bridge, ready to start their adventures aboard the Enterprise.

I thought Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto were spot-on as McCoy and Spock; Anton Yelchin was kind of squeaky and annoying - until I remembered that Chekov was my least favorite character in the original series; Leonard Nimoy is Really Old; and I couldn't help give a little cheer when Scotty was "givin' it all she's got, Capt'n!" (There should have been more Scotty. I wanted more Scotty.) Chris Pine was fine as Kirk: cute, cocky and arrogant enough, and he got the captain's chair slouch just right. There will only ever be one Shatner, but Pine figured it out.

Other random thoughts: I found the score to be rather overwrought and intrusive at times. Also, did anyone get flashbacks of the Reavers vs. the Operative's ships when Nero's Romulan monstrosity of a ship loomed over any teeny Federation vessel? Yeah, me too.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I don't know what it's called, but I like it

It has been unseasonably hot here these last couple of days - like 88+ degrees Fahrenheit (friggin' Maine: 50 one day and 90 the next) - so I have busted out a brand new summertime drink recipe, just in time for the long holiday weekend. As you may have guessed from this post's title, I don't know what to call it, but it's tasty and was discovered by my gorgeous friend LyndaLove way out there in Arizona; either she had one herself or it's a signature drink made by the Iron Chef she recently met ... I disremember which. (How cool to meet an Iron Chef, btw?)

Tear up a basil leaf and muddle with lemongrass simple syrup* in a highball (or pint, I like my drinks in pints) glass. Add ice, then vodka and grapefruit juice. Stir and enjoy.

It's like a Greyhound, only the basil/lemongrass mixture takes the bitter edge of the grapefruit juice and adds a whole 'nother dimension to the drink. Very, very nice.

* Simple syrup = 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water; boiled 'til sugar dissolves. Nice to use for mixed drinks or iced coffee/tea because the sugar is dissolved already. To add the lemongrass component, I just dropped a bunch of chopped up lemongrass into the sugar and water when I put it on to boil. Easy-peasy.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mini-movie review: Wanted

I really wanted to like this one which was directed by my favorite Russian action/vampire director, Timur Bekmambetov. But for an R-rated movie reputed to be action-packed to the gills, it just seemed more busy than action-y. Problem is, I think, is that I've already seen Night Watch and Day Watch (not to mention the Matrixes which spawned all this ilk) so Wanted just wasn't breaking any new ground with its speed 'em up/slow 'em down bullet-cam POVs. It may still work in graphic novels (which is the movie's source material) but it's starting to get tired here in live action cinema land.

I do like to see Bekmambetov getting some major U.S. work - good for him. And I loved that he brought his NW/DW star, Konstantin Khabenskiy, along for the ride as the crazy Exterminator.

I liked James McAvoy as the non-action hero type action hero although he did make some very silly slo-mo faces. (I kept calling him "Mr. Tumnus" in my head, tho'.) Thomas Kretschmann ("Cross") is quite pretty and not nearly old enough to be James McAvoy's dad. Angelina - well, I thought she looked like she should be eating some pasta on a regular basis: getting a little haggard there, girlie.

Finally, I adore Morgan Freeman but would somebody PLEASE give him a role where he gets to do something? Isn't he getting tired of avuncular? Even throwing him the line with that "m-----f---er" didn't make him any less cuddly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Book review: Piercing the Veil by Jacqueline Fullerton

Piercing the Veil is a first murder mystery with a flair for the occult by new author, Jacqueline Fullerton, a former attorney. Ms. Fullerton should perhaps have stuck to her earlier career path.

Set in a small midwestern college town, the story focuses on one Anne Marshall, court reporter and law student, who gets caught up in one of the courthouse cases she is covering - a bitterly contested divorce. One night Anne is visited by the ghost of her lawyer father, dead two years now, who encourages her to take a closer interest: the husband may be hiding large amounts of money in an offshore account. As Anne starts her amateur sleuthing, she involves members of her law school study group –including a police detective, an accountant and a computer consultant – and her assistant district attorney fiancĂ©. When a key witness in the divorce case winds up on the wrong end of a meat tenderizer, Anne realizes that she may be in over head but she’s too obsessed, both with the case and with spending time with her dearly departed dad, to stop now.

I had a tough time finishing this book even though it is only a 208-page large-print paperback. The writing is amateurish with scarcely a compound sentence in the entire novel; the dialogue is stilted and trite; and the characters are largely undeveloped, even the heroine. Since the ghost of her father plays an actual role in this novel, it would have been nice to delve a little more deeply into Anne’s presumed feelings of loss, confusion and love other than feeling “the pain [of his loss] deep in her soul.”

I feel as though there were some missed opportunities in Piercing the Veil. The central mystery itself was decent, with a nice mislead in the murder, although Fullerton wraps it all up pretty quickly. In addition, for a story with a ghost as a main character, Anne’s dad should have been around a little more: he almost could have been edited out of the book entirely and would scarcely have affected the story.

I understand that Piercing the Veil is intended to be the first in a series of Anne Marshall mysteries. Hopefully later volumes will flesh out the characters a little better and smooth out the unsophisticated prose. Otherwise, John Grisham has nothing to fear from this latest lawyer-turned-novelist.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mini-movie review: Resident Evil: Extinction

Last night, after Mr. Mouse had dozed off, I watched Resident Evil: Extinction because, well, I thought that "zombies in the desert" sounded like a pretty cool concept. And now, after having watched it, I can tell you that "zombies in the desert" is, in fact, a pretty cool concept.

I was totally on board with a genetically/bionically-enhanced (I'm not a long time RE fan, having only watched the first two installments in bits and pieces, so I'm not really sure why the satellite was controlling her or how what was up with those mind-powers - but boy don't I loooooove zombie dogs!) Milla Jovovich kick ass on desert-dwelling zombies ... all the way up until the Mad Scientist OD'd on zombie-juice and sprouted CGI-tentacle fingers. That was dumb. Well, the whole movie was pretty dumb (in a fun, violent and gory sort of way) but CGI-tentacle fingers are just stupid.

Random thoughts: Milla Jovovich/"Alice" = superhot in her desert boots/thigh-high chaps ensemble whilst riding a motorcycle and kicking ass.

I'm not a gamer so please correct me if I'm wrong, but the structure of the movie seemed to be moving through levels of an RE game, each level upping the intensity: first Alice battling alone in a small deserted town; then the convoy under seige; then Vegas with the revved-up zombies; and finally Alice(s) in the Umbrella corporation's underground lair.

Why did no one in the convoy complain about the fact that their numbers were decimated by the Vegas zombies only because the Vegas zombies were sent after Alice? If it hadn't been for her, those uberzombies wouldn't have even been there.

Plot-hole: did the convoy ever get to Alaska? I guess that wasn't really the point - the point was watching Alice kick ass - but still.

Finally, while I can't imagine anyone ever putting Ali Larter in charge of anything more crucial than shoe shopping, much less a Road Warrior-esque convoy of survivors, she did wear the hell out of those aviator sunglasses.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A little more Lost

As you can see, I rewatched the Lost season finale and made some edits to the recaps that I amazingly got up for you on the same night on which it aired. I've got a couple of other random thoughts that didn't really fit into the recap per se, so here they are:

When Titus (which is what I'm going to keep calling him until someone gives the character a name - like Esau or something) joins Jacob on the beach, Jacob offers him a chunk of freshly roasted fish. Titus replies, "I just ate." The thought that immediately popped into my head is that Titus was the Smoke Monster made flesh, some sort of death god who requires sacrifices/feedings.

This might go along with the fact that Jacob lives under the statue of what could be the Egyptian god Sobek: usually shown carrying an anhk (the sign of life), Sobek was believed to be able to restore sight to the dead, reviving their senses and protecting them from Set (a god of chaos, confusion and violence) who preyed on souls who were traveling through the land of the dead. If so, that lends credence to those theories that everyone on the Oceanic flight died and the Island is the Land of the Dead.

Jacob appears in all the flashbacks in this episode - except for Juliet's - and I think he has physical contact with each of Kate, Sawyer, Jack, Alana, Sun and Jin, Locke and Hurley. I'm not sure about Sayid, but he may have touched his elbow when looking at the map. If he didn't touch Sayid in the flashback, I don't think Sayid will recover from his gunshot wound. (And I think Juliet is definitely a goner too.)

The spinning mythology I mentioned was the Moirae from Greek myth, three sisters who control the lives of humans: Clotho, who spins out lives like thread; Lachesis, who measures the thread; and Atropos who ends a life every time she cuts a thread. There's no weaving in this myth, however. Interestingly, that font of absolute true information, Wikipedia, says that in ancient Egypt men did the weaving, which was done by women in most other cultures.

Finally, it looks like we won't be seeing much of Penny next season if her new show is a hit.

Saturday, 5/16/09 - Two more things and then I really have to get a life:

I am such a dumbass for not noticing that poor Juliet had been wearing a RED SHIRT since "Follow the Leader" - of course she was dooooooooooomed.

And this is hilarious, timed perfectly:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lost episode recap – “ The Incident” (S5E16) airdate 5/13/09

Note: edits, done after I rewatched the episode on Friday 5/15, are in red.

Dexter’s girlfriend’s abusive ex-husband Paul is using a spinning wheel and a loom in a heavy-handed metaphor for fate (remember mythology? Spinning and weaving the threads of human lives?) Later, on the beach, he observes a schooner – probably the Black Rock - coming over the horizon towards the Island. Titus Welliver joins him and they discuss how the arrival of the ship - which they have somehow summoned - will mean change and death and etc. By the way, I loooooove Titus Welliver (plus he’s from Maine). Judging from the men’s clothing and the look of the ship, I think we’re in the 1800s or some such.

There seems to be some ancient animosity between the two men: Paul is “Jacob” and dressed in white, while Titus is wearing black; Jacob seems to believe in the inherent goodness of humanity while Titus very much does not. Before he leaves, Titus reminds Jacob of how very much he'd like to kill him, and will, once he finds the loophole that allows him to do so. Behind them, the four-toed statute is complete and appears to be a crocodile-headed Egyptian figure holding an ankh. I’d look the exact reference up but it’s already midnight and I have a long way to go. The things I do for you people.

Flash to Iowa: cornfields, pickup trucks. A boy and a girl go into a general store and the girl – Katie Austin – gets caught shoplifting a lunchbox. “Jacob” is there, however, and pays for the lunchbox, asking her if she’s going to steal anymore. Katie says no (yeah, right) and he taps her on the nose.

On the sub in 1977, sedatives are being handed out. Katie Kate says they have to get out of here so Sawyer points out that they’re currently under water. Kate tells him and Juliet how Jack wants to detonate the bomb to reset things. Sawyer says too bad, he’s not helping, and if Jack wants to blow up the Island, good for Jack.

At the bomb, Sayid is reading Daniel’s journal on how to remove the plutonium core from the bomb and detonate it. Richard thinks this, um, might be dangerous. Eloise want to know what else they have to do. Sayid says that after they remove the core, Daniel’s journal says they have exactly two hours to take it to the Swan station.

At the Swan construction site, Radzinsky is pissed that the drilling has been halted. Chang ordered it because the temperature got too high and he’s worried about Daniel’s foretold explosion. Radzinsky bulls on ahead, insistent that his experiment continue: “I came to this Island to change the world, that’s exactly what I intend to do.” Over Chang’s protestations, Radzinsky restarts the drill.

Locke leads his lemmings along the coastline in 2007. As they walk, Sun asks Ben who Jacob is; Ben says Jacob is in charge of the Island, as opposed to the “leader,” who is Locke, who ultimately answers to Jacob. He is snotty about it and I don’t blame him. Locke is being insufferable. Richard questions Locke about his resurrection; Locke thinks that given Richard’s own long experience, perhaps he might have the answer as to why it happened. Richard says he has never seen anyone come back from the dead so Locke retorts that he’s never seen anyone who’s ageless. Heh. Richard says that he is the way he is because of Jacob – which is sort of a non-answer. Locke says he thinks that what happened to him is the same – because of Jacob. Also, he adds, later they’ll need to “deal with” the folk who passengers on the flight that brought Locke back. It’s not clear whether he means the Losties who’ve returned or Alana’s sinister crew.

Speaking of Alana’s sinister crew, they have paddled the big metal crate and an unconscious Frank Lapidus over to the big Island. When he wakes up, Frank wants to know why he’s been brought along – apparently he’s a “candidate” but what for? Alana doesn’t answer and her goons pick up the big metal box and head into the jungle. When Frank asks what’s in the box, they show him (but not us): “Terrific,” says Frank, looking dismayed.

Flashback, funeral, untold time ago. The camera focuses on a young boy – it’s young Sawyer at his parents’ funeral – but Jacob is there too, offering a pen when the little boy needs one to write his letter to “Mr. Sawyer.” After Jacob takes off, an older male relative tries to comfort the boy. James promises that he won’t finish the letter. Yeah, right.

Submarine, 1977. Kate is still trying to convince Sawyer to help her stop Jack. He says that he’s sticking to his choice and he’s leaving with Juliet. But then when the lackey comes with their sedatives, Juliet knocks him out by crashing the tray into his face! She announces that they’re not going to allow those people back there to die: is Sawyer in or is he going to whine about it. So they commandeer the sub and order the captain to surface, instructing him to continue on after they’re gone and not return to the Island. The fake CGI sub surfaces.

In the tunnels, Sayid has dismantled the bomb – lucky he decided to come along since I don’t think ol’ Jack could have figured this out his own self. Richard and Eloise look on nervously. Richard asks Jack what’s so special about Locke that he gets to be the Island’s leader these days. Jack smirks and tells Richard not to give up on him [Locke].

Locke’s Long Walk, 2007. Locke asks Ben why he hasn’t informed on him to Richard, and Ben admits that his dead daughter told him to obey Locke and so he is. Locke is like, um, really? Ben, grudgingly: yes. Locke: Okay, that’s awesome – so you have to kill Jacob then because I’m not going to do it myself.

Flashback to Sayid’s life in Los Angeles with Nadia before she was killed. They wait for the light to change to cross a street (I didn’t think anybody walked in L.A.?) and Jacob is there. He asks for directions and Sayid turns back, and poor Nadia is squished by a car in a very bad CGI accident. Sayid watches his wife die. Jacob disappears.

Bomb, 1977. They’ve got the core out and Richard leads them through the caves. He uses a sledgehammer to bust through a wall that leads into one of the Dharma cottages. Eloise tries to lead the way because she thinks she’s in charge, but Richard knocks her out (to save her from herself) and makes Sayid and Jack go on alone. I love Richard, all sexy with the self-preservation.

Luckily, so far there’s really been no interesting dialogue – just ACTION – so I haven’t had to pause the DVR much.

Upstairs in the cottage Jack and Sayid and their guns ponder their options: they don new Dharma jumpsuits and brazenly walk through the compound, hoping to hide in plain sight. They almost make it but Roger (Ben’s dad) sees them and shoots Sayid! NOOOO – not Sayid! Jack embraces his inner Rambo – since when does a city-boy surgeon know how to shoot so well? – before grabbing Sayid and making a run for it. A Dharma van pulls up in the nick of time: Hurley driving, Jin and Miles are in the back. They throw the injured Sayid into the van and take off. Jack helpfully shouts: “Drive!” No shit, Jack.

The fake CGI sub takes off for the mainland and Sawyer, Juliet and Kate paddle their little zodiac to shore, Juliet looking as though she’s already regretting signing on with Kate’s plan. When they land, they don’t know where they are but OMG VINCENT FINDS THEM!!!! Sawyer rubs the dog’s ears, marveling that he hasn’t seen him since the flaming arrows three years ago. Then: Bernard and Rose are there. And not that happy at being discovered: “Son of a bitch” says a shaggy, gray Bernard.

Bernard and Rose have been enjoying their “retirement” on their own in the jungle ever since the flaming arrows. Their hut is actually quite swank and they seem very happy. Sawyer is incredulous; Kate brings up Jack’s bomb. Rose: “It’s always something with you people.” Again, they seem completely happy and are not interested in the bullshit the Dharmites and the Losties and the Others are perpetrating. Both Sawyer and Juliet acknowledge that such a life would be nice, but ask for directions to the Dharma compound to continue their folly. And that I think is the last we’ll see of Bernard and Rose, and probably ol’ Vincent.

Frank and Alana, et al. Frank is still unhappily muttering about having seen whatever is in the big metal box. After trudging for ages, they stop at a clearing: they’ve found Jacob’s cabin.

Flashback. Alana is burned and bandaged in an a Russian hospital. Jacob is there. He speaks to her in what is probably not Russian but I don't know what it is (she doesn’t look very Russian) then switches to English, asking for her help. She says yes, she will help him.

Jacob’s cabin, 2007. Alana goes inside, alone. It’s empty, derelict. She pulls a knife and a piece of cloth from the wall and looks distressed. When she comes out of the cabin, she says that “he” isn’t there and “someone else has been using it.” They burn the cabin. She looks at the piece of cloth: it’s got a picture of the crocodile-headed statue on it. “Guess we know where’s we’re going.”

Flashback. Jacob is reading Flannery O’Connor’s Everything that Rises Must Converge on a park bench. Suddenly, behind him, Locke hits the lawn after having been tossed out the window by his dad. As passersby call for 911, Jacob goes up to Locke and touches him on the shoulder. Locke opens his eyes immediately – and Jacob apologizes for what has happened to Locke.

Locke’s trek. They take a break at the Losties’ old beach camp. Locke asks Ben what happened that day back at the cabin when Ben took him to meet Jacob. Ben admits that he had been pretending about Jacob - which made the things flying around the room all the more surprising. Ben says that he was embarrassed to admit that he had never seen Jacob: “Yes, I lied. That’s what I do.” Ben then asks why Locke wants him to kill Jacob. Locke replies that despite Ben’s loyalty to the Island, he’s a contracted cancer on it, he performed all sorts of horrible acts, including was forced to watch his own daughter get gunned down, and got banished as repayment. Locke: Why wouldn’t you want to kill him?

Wandering around the destroyed beach camp, Sun finds the cradle Locke built for Aaron. She also finds the Driveshaft ring that Charlie tucked in there for the little guy. This prompts a flashback to her wedding to Jin. Jacob is there and offers his blessing (in Korean, no less). They do sort of wonder who the blond guy with the excellent Korean is.

Dharma van, 1977, en route to the Swan construction site. If the writers kill off Sayid I will be PISSED. In between the gushes of blood, Sayid says that he needs to modify the bomb a bit with regard to the detonation: it needs to be there at the Incident (ooh – episode title!) or it won’t go off. But Hurley then has to stop the van because Sawyer, Juliet and Kate are standing there, well armed, in the middle of the road. Jack gets out to plead his case but Sawyer wants to speak to him in private first.

Locke’s Long Walk. Richard, who sweats no more than he ages apparently, pauses at the four-toed foot statue. Locke: WTF, why here? Richard: This is where Jacob lives.

Flashback to an operating room. Jack seems to be in control, except that he just cut something he shouldn’t have and starts to freak out. Christian steps up and tells him to chill out. Jack calms down (counts to five out loud) and fixes things. Later, he is cranky when his candy bar gets stuck in the vending machine. Hah. Jack bitches his father out for embarrassing him in the surgery. You know what: grow up, Jack. Meanwhile, Jacob hands Jack a candy bar since two came out when he put his money in.

Jack and Sawyer walk a little ways away from the group. Blah blah blah Sawyer’s life story blah blah blah … except for the fact that Sawyer’s parents were killed in 1978. Which is one year from their current place in time 1976, which was one year ago from their current place in time and, if he'd been so inclined, Sawyer could have taken the sub back to the mainland and (as an adult) stopped their murders. “What’s done is done,” Sawyer says, “ …What did you screw up so bad the first time around that you’re willing to blow up a damn nuke to get a second go-round? … What do you want, Jack?” It’s a girl, of course: effing Kate, whom Jack had and then lost. Sawyer’s like, um, she’s right over there, dumbshit, go get her.

Since he can’t change Jack’s mind, Sawyer starts whaling on him – yay! – screaming that he had a life here and Jack has ruined it. Unfortunately Jack seems to have learned to fight as well as shoot and gets some good licks in, until Sawyer kicks him in the nuts and lays him out. It’s an ugly beat down. This massive display of testosterone (in the making since S1, no?) is interrupted by Juliet who orders “James” to stop. Why? Because Jack’s right, she says, she’s changed her mind. Effing women.

Flashback. Two little girls, one blonde, one dark, are getting the news from their folks that they’re divorcing. The blonde girl is Juliet and she runs out of the room, not wanting to hear it. So Juliet doesn't like it when relationships end, we get it. I have a problem with this, however, because the clothing and furnishings in the house are ALL WRONG for when Juliet’s childhood should be. Even on a second viewing, the household looks like one from the 1990s, not the 1970s which is about when Juliet would have been that age. That's a screw-up by the props folks.

Island, 1977. Sawyer chases after Juliet, all WTF? He needs to understand what is going on with her. She changed her mind when she saw him look at stupid Kate and she's just positive that he's going to leave her now. Juliet thinks that if Jack can make it so that none of the Losties ever come to the Island, then he should do it, because she can’t bear to lose Sawyer to Kate. Juliet clearly does not believe in “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I repeat: effing women.

Swan station. Chang is concerned about the readings coming off the drill. From the compound Phil radios Radzinsky to report that Sayid etc. took off in a van with a bomb; Radzinsky puts his goons on alert. Meanwhile, Kate finds Jack lurking in the bushes, watching the activity at the Swan. He asks why she made him promise not to ask about Aaron. She says it’s because she was pissed at Jack making her come back to the Island. What is this, the writers trying to answer as many questions as possible as fast as they can? This tender moment is interrupted when an alarm sounds at the Swan site: the incident is imminent. “Are you with me on this?” asks Jack. Kate: “Yes.” Despite the fact that ONLY TWO MINUTES AGO SHE WAS READY TO PUT A CAP IN HIS ASS TO STOP HIM. COME ON! Kate sucks.

Flashback: Hurley getting out of jail. He complains to the officer that he killed a bunch of people and he’d really rather stay in jail. The cop says there’s a cabstand right out front. Jacob is already in the cab Hurley picks. He asks Hurley why he won’t go back to the Island. “Because I’m cursed,” says Hurley. “What if you weren’t cursed? What if you were blessed, able to talk to the people you lost?” Jacob assures him that he’s not crazy and tells him about the Ajira flight. So, in the interest of answering as many questions as possible, that’s why Hurley was on the flight - because some stranger told him to be. And the guitar he keeps carrying around? Jacob gave it to him.

Outside the Swan site, 1977. Hurley tells Sayid he’ll be fine (and not bleeding to death) just as soon as Jack fixes the future. Jack and Kate gets back to the van: Jack grabs the bomb as Sayid reminds him that it explodes on impact and thus Jack must get as close as possible. Did I mention that I do NOT want Sayid to die? Jack takes off into the jungle where he walks by Sawyer and Juliet without incident. The music swells dramatically.

2007, foot statue, nighttime. Locke stares at the foot while Richard sets up torches. Richard asks if he’s sure he wants to go after Jacob, because if he was patient Jacob would eventually come to him. Locke is done waiting. He, Richard and Ben climb up to the statue but then Richard gets upset that Ben's been invited along: only one leader allowed in at a time. Locke accuses Richard of making up the rules as he goes and insists that Ben is coming with him. At the pediment (?) under the foot, Richard opens a secret door then hands a torch to Locke, saying, “Tell [Jacob] I said hello.” Locke and Ben go inside. Ben is looking totally wigged out, but he calms a little after Locke hands him a really big knife.

Back at the bus, Jin tries to staunch Sayid’s bleeding while everyone else sulks. Miles asks if it’s occurred to anyone that the explosion Jack is about to cause may actually be the “incident” he’s hoping to stop. Everyone stares blankly. “Glad you thought this all through,” says my boy Miles. They watch Phil and thugs drive up in a jeep and Kate worries that Jack will get caught. Sawyer and Juliet decide to cowboy up: “Live together, die alone.”

Jack stealthily (not) creeps up to the site but Phil sees him and everyone starts shooting at everyone else. Jack gets pinned down but then the van drives in, guns blazing out the windows. Guess they all just dismissed Miles's point out of hand. Sawyer clobbers Radzinsky in the head with a rifle butt and then grabs Phil at gunpoint. “Hurry up and do your business, Doc,” he shouts. Chang tries to shut the drill down but they’ve hit the energy pocket and the drill won’t stop. Jack poises the bomb over the drill hole – Sawyer and Juliet trade very sweet glances with each other – and everyone gets teary as Jack drops the bomb.

And then nothing happens. “This don’t look like LAX,” grumbles Sawyer. Instead, the drill machinery collapses under the magnetic force, which starts pulling all metal in the vicinity down into the hole. Chang’s arm gets crushed and pinned; Jack gets whacked on the head; Phil gets impaled by rebar (yay). Horribly, Juliet gets chains wrapped around her legs and is pulled into the drill hole. Sawyer grabs her hand but they can’t reach to get the chains off. It’s awful - I actually have tears in my eyes as he screams at Juliet not to let go, not to leave him, he’s got her. But they can’t hold on against the force pulling on her and she plummets down, down, down, screaming. That totally sucked.

Foot statue beach. Richard offers Sun some water but she asks if he’s got any booze. “Wish I did,” he grins. They are interrupted when Alana and her crew walk up, asking for “Ricardus.” “It’s ‘Richard’ actually.” She asks him “what lies in the shadow of the statue?” and he answers something in Italian or Latin, "Ille qui nos omnis servabit," which apparently translates to: "He who will save us all." Thrilled, she introduces herself and says she has something to show him. They open the metal crate and tip it over: there’s a body inside and it’s frakking John Locke. They found him in the cargo hold of the Ajira flight. Sun asks, if that’s Locke, who’s in there [with Ben]? Good goddamn question!

In the rooms under the statue, "Locke" and Ben wander around until Jacob, lurking in a corner, speaks up. He notes that Locke found his loophole. Locke: “And you have no idea what I’ve gone through to get here.” Is Locke a reincarnation of Titus Welliver? Because I’d rather see more Titus Welliver, frankly. Locke tells Ben to get on with his assignment. As Ben steps up to Jacob, Jacob tells him that he has a choice: to do what Locke asks, or to go and leave the other two to discuss their issues. Ben has had enough: So after thirty-five years now you’ve decided to stop ignoring me? He’s pissed that Locke gets attention right away, not knowing that Locke isn’t really Locke: “Why him? What was it that was so wrong with me? What about me?” It’s sad. But Jacob is unmoved so Ben stabs him several times in the heart. Jacob collapses, muttering, “They’re coming,” and then Locke kicks him into the fire! Yeesh.

Back at the Swan, Jack regains consciousness and helps Kate drag a bereft Sawyer away from the drill hole, which is still sucking everything into itself. But at the bottom of the hole, Juliet wakes up. She’s not dead (yet) but she’s bleeding pretty badly and is unable to get up. She looks over and sees Jack’s unexploded bomb lying next to her . Grabbing a rock, screaming and crying, she bashes at that “sonofabitch” until it finally explodes into white.

2010: final season of Lost!

P.S. 12:46 a.m. I am a superstar, btw.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lost track of time

So, tomorrow's the big Lost season finale which, okay, yeah, I knew that. What I didn't realize is (1) it's a supersized two-hour dealio (not counting the hour-long preshow) and (2) tomorrow night is when my boss takes the whole office out to dinner. The reason why you should care about (2) is that I don't know when I'm going to get home to start recapping.

OMFG WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?

Be calm, be calm: I hereby promise to do my absolute best to get something up here - mini-recap, recap of the first hour, screencap of shirtless Sawyer - but I cannot promise to have the whole shebang up as I normally do. I'm just not going to stay up until 3:00 a.m. to recap this television show for you people. Unless you start sending me money in which case I AM ALL YOURS.

Anyway, it's all very exciting, this season finale thing, so stay tuned. The full recap will be up Friday mid-morning at the very latest (I have to let Mr. Mouse watch the t.v. at some point). Keep your fingers crossed and maybe someone unexpected *coughKatecough* will get killed off. (A mouse can dream, can't she?)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Book review: Callisto: a Novel by Torsten Krol

Callisto is a satirical black comedy of an American novel written, ironically, by a New Zealander, pseudonymed Torsten Krol. Perhaps it takes an outsider to see the forest for the trees where the trees are patriotism in the wake of 9/11 and the forest is Bush’s War on Terror. Krol has an acute eye and shares his vision with humor.

The narrator, protagonist and anti-hero of Callisto is one Odell Deefus, a twenty-two year old lost soul from Wyoming. Estranged from his nasty father and bored with his job at a grain silo, Odell decides to join the Army to go fight against the “Muslimites.” As the author notes in the book’s afterward, his “hero is someone who actually thinks the Iraq conflict is something a true patriot should take part in …” – not to mention that serving in the war against Iraq may help Odell in his quest to meet his one true love, Condoleezza Rice.

Unfortunately for Odell, his beater of a car breaks down in Callisto, Kansas, before he reaches the recruiting office. He wanders down a driveway, looking for help, and into the life of Dean Lowry, lawn-mowing impresario. Dean is suspicious and paranoid at first, but after some beers and most of a bottle of Captain Morgan spiced rum, the two seem to get along just fine. Until Dean startles a drunken Odell out of a sound sleep and ends up with a baseball bat upside the head for his trouble.

Things start to spiral for Odell: there is already a dead body in the freezer in Dean’s basement; Dean and his florid sister Lorraine, a corrections officer at the local penitentiary, are drug-runners; plus there’s all those lawns that need mowing. Some nosy televangelists, mistakenly thinking Odell to be a Koran-reading Dean, are out to save his soul. The local cops start sniffing around and between the body in the basement and the Koran, Homeland Security, the FBI and, finally, the CIA gets called in. It’s all Odell can do to keep track of which lies he’s told to what agencies, and which truths are the ones he believes in.

To top it off, poor Odell is a little slow. He’s not impaired or even Forrest Gump-level innocent, but “[he has] to think awhile before [he talks,] but in the meantime the conversation has moved on, as they say, so forget that.” He’s well intentioned but simply can’t keep up with the maelstrom of events swirling around him. Odell is not a particularly attractive or likeable character but the author writes him funny and startlingly astute in his own placid observations.

There’s not a lot that Krol doesn’t skewer in this snapshot of the American Heartland in 2007: sleazy televangelism, the interminable Presidential campaigning, the media’s short-lived obsessive feeding frenzy over news items, Homeland Security’s determined pursuit of evil doers. With its large cast of characters, the twisty-turny plot holds together impressively well, although I was turning the pages pretty quickly to get through the side trip to Guantanamo Bay at the end of the book.

Genre-wise, Callisto will remind readers of Catch-22 and Catcher In the Rye; historically it will serve as a well-written, darkly comic marker against the Bush administration’s war on terror. Quite frankly, I look forward to reading what Torsten Krol has to say about America next.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

NIbbles and links

Hi, all - sorry for the posting slackage but for the last couple of days the sun has been OUT and it's been WARM and actually NICE outside, so I thought I'd see what that was like. (It was excellent.) But fear not, there are book reviews and the Lost season finale coming up, and I hear there's like a Star Truck movie or something out that I might go see, so I'll be indoors again soon enough.

In the meantime, there's these for your linking pleasure: Humans vs. Zombies tag (coming soon to a college campus near you!); it's National B.L.T. Month, according to; and the PBR - whose fans are keeping Ty Murray in Dancing with the Stars - is in Des Moines this weekend. Yeehaw!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lost episode recap – “Follow the Leader” (S5E15) airdate 5/6/09

In the aftermath of Daniel’s shooting, Kate insists that they get the frak out of there but they are immediately accosted by Others on horseback, one of whom is Charles Widmore. Widmore viciously hits Jack across the face with the butt of his rifle; once Jack is writhing on the ground, blood everywhere, Widmore snarls, “Who the hell are you?”

Down in the Others’ camp, Eloise pages through Daniel’s journal. She is shaken to recognize her handwriting in the inside cover. Widmore marches his two prisoners into camp and Eloise and Richard bring him up to speed. Widmore is upset, wanting to know why the Dharma Initiative has suddenly declared war on them, but Eloise sniffs that clearly these folks aren’t Dharmites. Richard watches this exchange, beautiful eyes wide.

Flash to “Thirty Years Later.” Richard is assembling a ship-in-a-bottle when Locke arrives at the Others’ beach camp, toting a dead pig, as he does. Richard: “John?” Locke: “Richard! It’s been a while!” Locke immediately tells him that the two of them have an errand to run and they’d best get to it. Richard looks at him consideringly, noting that something’s different about him. Locke doesn’t go the obvious “I was dead and now I’m not” route, instead saying that he’s found his purpose. But the sight of Sun and Ben making their way up the beach then distracts Richard. He wants to know WTF Ben is doing here. Locke’s all, oh, he’s with me.

Ben is looking awfully bruised. Sun asks him why Locke said that the Others were his people now, when she thought they were Ben’s. Ben admits that when he left the Island, Locke stepped in. When she inquires as to Richard’s identity, Ben pauses, and then says that Richard is an “advisor. He’s done his job for a very, very long time.” Heh. Sun pulls her 1977 photo out and shows it to Richard, asking if he was on the Island in 1977 when Jin, Jack et al. were there. Richard tells her that yes, he was here then and he clearly remembers meeting all of the Losties – because he remembers watching them all die. Locke looks like he wasn’t quite expecting that response.

A short time later, still on the beach, Locke tells Sun that he doesn’t think that they have gone through all they did just for the Losties to be dead. Richard is ready to for their errand – he still has the compass Locke gave him three years and multiple flash-arounds ago – so then Locke asks Ben to join them as well. Ben snits that Locke is afraid that he might stage a coup if left here on the beach with his former people. Locke says that he’s not afraid of anything Ben might do anymore. Ouch. Ben: “In that case, I’d love to come.” Locke promises Sun that if there’s a way to get the 1977 Losties back, he’ll find it.

1977, Others’ camp. Jack gets some more beatings as he and Kate wait in Eloise’s tent. When the Other leaves, Jack starts raving about finishing Daniel Faraday’s work and putting things back the way they were supposed to be. Kate, because she’s decided to like Jack this week, notes that would mean she and he never met. Jack is more focused on the fact that the whole eight-tons-of-misery they’ve experienced over the last few years would be wiped out. She pouts that it wasn’t ALL misery; hilariously he replies that most of it was.

Eloise interrupts and immediately asks what Daniel wanted the bomb for. Jack deduces a way to get what he wants, playing on Eloise being shaken by having just killed her own son from the future: he tells her that if they do what Daniel has outlined in the journal, they may be able to change events enough that what she’s just done won’t matter. (Or something like that – frakking around with time confuses me.) Eloise stands and says okay, she’ll take them to the bomb. One problem: the Dharma Initiative has built a village over top of where the bomb is buried. She says that shouldn’t be an issue since the two of them have been playing Dharmites for a while now but Jack leans back and sighs, saying that it may be more difficult than she thinks.

Meanwhile, back at the Dharma compound, Sawyer and Juliet’s interrogation has begun. Unfortunately, Radzinsky is involved and likes to use his fists two times for every one question he asks. Horace tries to step in, horrified by the violence, but Radzinsky runs right over him. He grabs Sawyer by the hair and shoves his face up to one of the video screens where a shot of Kate by the pylon fence has been paused. Radzinsky wants to know where “this woman” is now, or he’ll kill Sawyer.

After the commercial, Sawyer is even more bloodied but still refuses to answer Radzinsky’s questions. Finally, Juliet screams for him to stop, begging for mercy. Sawyer, choking on his own blood, tells her not to say anything – because the Dharmites will never believe them and will only hurt more people. Then Phil steps up, saying that he can make Sawyer talk … and then punches Juliet in the face. Sawyer rages against his restraints, snarling that he will kill Phil for that. This charming scene is interrupted by a nameless Dharmite who reports that although he has been unable to locate Miles or Jin and he’s learned from the sub manifest that Jack, Kate, etc., were last minute add-ons. Oh, and they haven’t found Hurley yet either.

Because Hurley is busy stuffing a backpack full of Dharma foodstuffs and slinking off into the jungle. Chang sees him go. Hurley meets up with Miles and Jin and they all argue – do we go to the beach or stay and help Sawyer and Juliet – until Chang catches up to them. He wants to know if what Daniel said was true: are they from the future? Hurley tries to bluff but gets tripped up with “when were you born?” and “who’s the president?” questions. So Chang steps close to Miles and asks if he is really his son. Miles says yes. Chang then asks if Faraday was right about the impending catastrophic accident at the Swan. Miles says that Daniel has been right about everything else thus far, so if he said to get people off the Island, they’d better do it.

Speaking of Daniel, Widmore is crouched over his body back at the Others’ camp. He asks Richard why the body looks familiar to him but before Richard can answer, Eloise bustles out, saying that Richard is coming with her, and could he please untie Jack and Kate. Widmore is not all that keen on Eloise taking the Losties to the bomb but she prevails and the little group heads out.

Flash to 2007, Locke leading Ben and Richard on his “errand.” Richard would like to know where Locke has been for the last three years and Locke is surprised that Richard doesn’t know. Locke says that where they’re going should explain where he’s been and then, after that, he would like Richard to take him to Jacob. Richard looks uncomfortable and Ben interrupts to say that sort of thing just isn’t done. Locke turns and steps up to Richard, asking, really? Richard: “You just got back, John, there’s no reason to rush into …” But Locke pulls rank and Richard backs down, saying sure, of course we can go see Jacob. Great, says Locke, let’s get to the plane. Ben: “What plane?” Heh.

It’s Mr. Eko’s brother’s drug-running plane, of course. I can’t believe Ben didn’t know about it. But wait, this is going to be awesome, I know what’s coming. Locke tells Richard to get ready, because in about three minutes a man is going to walk out of the jungle. He’ll have a bullet wound in his leg. Locke hands Richard a firs aid kit, saying he’ll need it to get the bullet out. Richard is totally WTF is going on here? Locke: “You’re going to need to tell him that he’s going to need to bring everyone who left back to the Island and to do that, he’s going to have to die.” They fall quiet, hearing “the man” approach, and Ben begins to figure it out. “Who is that man, John?” he asks. Locke grins: “It’s me.”

Which, okay, this is cool and I like that 2007 Locke told Richard how to save Wounded Locke, but isn’t this sort of circular? Because our 2007 Locke doesn’t really know that much more about the end game. I don’t know. Anyway.

Wounded Locke staggers out of the jungle; Richard comes out and takes care of his leg; Ben and 2007 Locke watch. Ben marvels that Locke’s timing was impeccable – how did he know when to be here? Locke says that the Island told him; didn’t the Island tell Ben things before? Ben gets his panties in a twist and snots that no, the Island didn’t tell him squat, and it’s not telling Locke that much anyway if he needs Richard to get to Jacob. Locke smiles again as he realizes that Ben has never actually seen Jacob.

There’s a swooshing noise and Richard looks startled. And he’s alone. Ben yelps, “Where did you go, John?” Locke asks Richard how it went and Richard reports that the now-disappeared Locke seemed pretty convinced, particularly when Richard told him that he would have to die. Richard: “I’m glad that didn’t have to happen.” Locke gives Ben a sidelong look and tells Richard that it did, actually. Ben guiltily stares at the ground. Pretty Richard watches them both.

1977, Dharma compound. Chang storms into the surveillance station, shouting that they need to evacuate the Island immediately, but is stopped cold by the scene (Radzinsky, Horace, Sawyer, Juliet, etc.) in front of him. Radzinsky says no way, the drilling goes on as scheduled and no evacuations. Sawyer mumbles from bloodied, swollen lips that Chang is right: women and children need to get on the submarine, as it’s not safe on the Island right now. Juliet looks at him sadly and sweetly. Plus, he says that if the Dharmites will put him and Juliet on the sub, he’ll tell Radzinsky everything he wants to know. Okay, says Radzinsky: draw me a map of exactly where the Hostiles are. Ooh: I sense a wholesale slaughter of Dharmites coming on!

Out in the jungle, Eloise et al. pause at a pond: she says they can get to some tunnels by swimming to the bottom of the pond. Kate has had enough, however, and says she’s not going to help Jack do this. (Of course she doesn’t want everything reset: she was headed to prison when she got on that Oceanic flight.) Eloise and a nameless Other aren’t inclined to let her leave and the Other guy raises his rifle. It’s all very tense – like the show runners are going to kill off effing Kate – and a couple of shots ring out. The Other falls down dead and Eloise and Richard raise their hands. It’s Sayid to the rescue, you see. Hi, Sayid! How’s the jungle life been treating you?

After the commercial, Richard wants to know WTF Eloise is doing. Up on the riverbank, Sayid is getting brought up to speed too: he didn’t actually kill young Ben; Kate actually took him to the Others to be saved; they’re off to see the wizard now and reset events. Jack is convinced that this is their destiny. Kate accuses him of sounding like Locke – all crazy too. She says she’s going back to find the rest of their people “because if I can’t stop you, maybe they can.” Jack watches her go sadly.

At the submarine dock, a hidden Miles, Jin and Hurley watch as Chang orders the evacuation. Little Charlotte and her mom get on the sub. Miles watches as his father yells at his mother – because that was the only way he could get his wife and baby son off the Island. Then they see Juliet and Sawyer, handcuffed, being led to the sub as well. The three amigos are confused, but Hurley is sure that Sawyer has a plan.

Sawyer, to Juliet: “Buy Microsoft.” Hey, it’s as good a plan as any. He apologizes for not listening when she wanted to get on the sub three years ago. “I’m glad you talked me out of it,” she says. Aw. Juliet climbs down into the sub. Sawyer turns back for one last look – “good riddance” – then climbs in himself.

At the jungle pond, Richard, Jack, Sayid and Eloise swim through the secret underwater tunnel, emerging in a chamber carved with those hieroglyphic-y symbols. Jack wants to know how they’re going to get the bomb out, surely not through the pool. Richard scoffs gently: it’s a 12-foot long/40,000 pound hydrogen bomb, so no, not through the pool. Jack says that he is surprised that Sayid has come with him, to which Sayid says that what Jack’s planning will either work or it will put them all out of their misery, so it’s a win/win situation. Torches are handed and around and Richard leads them off.

Back on the beach, 2007. The Others gather around as Locke, Richard and Ben return. Locke introduces himself and says that he’s going to meet Jacob and he’d like everyone to come with them. Sun, one-track mind that she is, asks if Jacob can help get Jin (and the others) back; Locke says yes, absolutely. The gang of Others murmurs and then follows after Locke. Richard looks at Ben and says that he’s starting to think that Locke is going to be trouble. Ben: “Why do you think I tried to kill him?”

1977, submarine dock. Two minutes to departure. Juliet and Sawyer are handcuffed to a table. She asks him what will happen to them once they get to Ann Arbor. He tells her that the Dharmites aren’t cops and once they get to land, they are free and can go anywhere they want. Juliet smiles, saying that she can’t remember what being free was like, and tells him that she loves him. He says he loves her back. Aw. And then effing Kate gets brought onto the sub since she got caught sneaking back into the compound. Kate ruins everything. And the expression on Juliet’s face says she is in complete agreement with me. The sub’s engines fire up and they’re off.

1977. Down in the tunnels Sayid points out that Eloise’s motivation in detonating the bomb is to rid the Island of the Dharma Initiative. Jack’s like yeah, but in thirty years she’ll tell us how to get back to the Island and that makes me trust her. They find the bomb. Now what? Eloise wants to know. Jack just stands there, muttering to himself.

2007, Island. Locke leads his people down the beach. Ben tells him that Richard is uncomfortable about this pilgrimage to see Jacob. Locke says he appreciates Ben’s input. Ben goes on to say that he’s on Locke’s side here and will do anything he can to help Locke reunite with the 1977 Losties. Locke replies that’s not why he’s going to see Jacob, despite what he told Sun: “I’m going to kill Jacob.” Ben: OMFGWTF???!!

Previously on Lost / next time on Lost

Monday, May 4, 2009

What's Shakin' Bacon

Before I went to see Wolverine last Friday I was in need of some sustenance, so I dropped in at Silly's up on Washington Ave. in Portland. I love Silly's: the atmosphere is friendly and funky; the portions are huge; they have The Best French Fries in the city, and also an impressive beer and wine list for such a little place. Usually I get a felafel wrap but this time I had one thing in mind: milkshakes. Specifically their "What's Shakin' Bacon" milkshake. (I also had a salad so shush.)

The milkshake menu is epic - avocado, coconut, key lime pie, cinnamon, molasses, Tang, Guinness - but I'd been thinking about just this one: peanut butter milkshake with a huge tangle of hot, crispy bacon on top. Pure genius. The shake isn't huge, but it is delicious, and the amount of bacon easily outstrips (haha) any side order you will find at any of the local diners. It's a little expensive ($5) but did I mention how much bacon you get?

I felt a little foolish, eating a milkshake topped with bacon, until I saw another one come out of the kitchen, heading for some other lucky patron, and I remembered that when it comes to bacon, nothing's foolish. Plus, as the restaurant's tagline goes, "As far as we can discern, the universe is a very silly place - A. Einstein."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Movie review: ... Wolverine

Yes, I went to see the testosterone fest that is X-Men Origins: Wolverine on opening day, but I went for a matinee so that decreases my fangrrl status a little. Plus I'm really only a fan of the pretty actors, not the comics characters themselves. There is plenty of muscle-bound eye candy in Wolverine, which is good, because the movie itself is sort of eh.

I'm not going to rehash the plot. Blah blah origin story blah blah how little James Howlett became Logan got his adamantium skeleton blah blah fought with his half-brother Sabertooth blah blah lost his memory blah blah nice cameo by Professor Xavier to set up the continuity. Like I said, I don't read the comics so I don't know how well the movie adheres to the canon. The stunts are impressive - the helicopter and the Great Escape-esque motorcycle chase, especially - but I've started to experience a CGI-backlash, and there's a lot of CGI in this flick.

One of the best sequences of the movie is during the credits showing Wolverine and Sabertooth fighting side by side in war after war - American Civil War, WWI, WWII, Viet Nam; each scene feels authentic to its time period and, without any dialogue, you see Sabertooth regress further and further into his feral state.

The cast is another strong point. Hugh Jackman is all jacked up and ferocious and sweaty; Liev Schreiber is quite good as Logan's brother/enemy, Sabertooth, and I really enjoyed their scenes together - when they were speaking to each other, not just trying to tear each other apart. Lynn Collins (recently strangled as Dawn on True Blood) plays Kayla Silverfox, Logan's love interest, and is one of the most gorgeous women anywhere. The kid they found to play young Scott Summers (Cyclops) is pretty much a dead ringer for a teenage James Marsden.

And then there's Taylor Kitsch. Holy moly. You know, I think Taylor Kitsch might actually be a real mutant himself, and his power is charisma. I mean, that boy is just sex on a stick - it's not just his Tim Riggins character. I suspect that every woman, man, animal, vegetable and mineral who walks by him does a double take and goes, yeah, let's just do it right now. He wasn't onscreen very much (I may need a whole movie just about Gambit's origin) but when he was ... he and Hugh Jackman had great chemistry together, whether it was post-fight or bickering in Gambit's tiny single prop plane. And thank goodness he didn't attempt a Cajun accent, just toned down his Riggins drawl a bit.

An issue I have with so many of these superhero movies is that there are so many characters involved that most of them get short-shrift - the Blob was pointless; Ryan Reynolds was completely wasted in the three seconds he was on-screen as Wade Wilson (I want a whole movie just with him too!). It feels as though opportunities have been missed, and yet if the filmmakers had explored all of the characters/situations to my satisfaction, the movie would have been eight hours long. Which, if 6.5 of those hours were devoted to Wade Wilson and Remy Lebeau, would be just fine.

Wolverine, like Iron Man and The Dark Knight, walks a fine PG-13 line. There is a lot of violence - the different war scenes are short but quite intense; brother trying to kill brother; innocent old people getting killed; Logan shot point-blank in the head - not explicit and gory (like Watchmen) but definitely brutal. This PG-13 ain't your Spiderman PG-13. However, please don't misunderstand me, this first installment of the X-Men Origins franchise is not the same caliber of movie as IM and TDK. It's big and loud and noisy and cluttered and action-packed and mostly exciting, but it's not going to make anyone's best lists.