Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Entertainment Weekly solves LOST . . .

You might call the show over (already). You might have stopped watching (Jack and Cordelia). You might simply be frustrated and wished that things had moved along more quickly this season (everyone?).

But LOST is still on and it is still a topic of conversation and discussion.

Here is Entertainment Weekly's current General Theory of LOSTativity.

(Copied from the March 3, 2006 issue.)


1. The Island (It's Alive)
: Our theory of LOST begins with the question posed in the pilot by smack-addled rocker Charlie: "Guys . . . where are we?" Some have argued that the island could be a hallucination--"A Psychological Shipwreck," to use the title of an 1879 short story by LOST-linked author Ambrose Bierce. Or an alien twilight zone. It's tempting to go with "limbo"--an elastic enough idea to corral the show's incredible coincidences and odd details, like a smoke monster and a band of child-swiping Others. But we believe the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 aren't stuck in a mass delusion or a satanic mousetrap. They're alive on the island. A haunted island. And it was made that way by the Dharma Initiative.

2. The Dharma Initiative (Head Games): What we know about Dharma is incomplete at worst. According to a choppy "orientation firm" found in the hatch, Dharma founders Gerald and Karen DeGroot established a research facility on the island in the 1970s to conduct experiments in meteorology, zoology, electromagnetism, psychology, and parapsychology--a dubious science that believes the brain houses mind-over-matter powers. (Think X Men, Jedi Knights, and sci-fi author Robert Heinlein, whose 1941 short story Lost Legacy is about kids realizing their psychic potential under the tutelage of--COINCIDENCE ALERT!--Ambrose Bierce.) Our theory is that intentionally or not, the Dharma team pulled loose psychic powers from one of its test subjects--skip to No. 5 for the answer about who that might be--with disastrous results. How? With fear. Where? Where else, down in . . .

3. The Hatch (Human Testing): The orientation film claims the hatch was originally used to study the island's "unique" electromagnetic energy. And indeed, there is a curious wall that seems to be humming with the stuff. But the filmstrip also states that the DeGroots were following B.F. Skinner, a psychologist famous for his Skinner boxes: controlled environments used to study animal behavior. Folks, the hatch is a human Skinner box.
Why wasn't this mentioned in the orientation film? Because the orientation film is part of the experiment! The film was fiction, designed to induce paranoia and fear and observe the test subject's reaction. What Dharma was studying was the behavior every LOST fanatic engages in: the human imperative to organize seemingly random details into some kind of order. The problem is that someone--someone we haven't seen or met yet--was put in the hatch and had a psychic break of world-altering proportions.

4. The Numbers (Those Damn Yankees): It has been LOST's most baffling conundrum: the seemingly inexplicable connection between Hurley's havoc-causing Lotto picks--4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42--and the hatch's computer code. This is a two-part riddle. First, the original purpose of the numbers: Skinner box experiments require test subjects to execute empty tasks, like pulling levers or, say, inputting digits into a computer. The Dharma-ites chose the sequence because . . . they were big Yankee fans, and each number correlates to a retired Yankee jersey. But the second question is far more important: What purpose do the numbers serve now? There are lots of out-there (and fun) ways to go with this, but the truth is that the numbers don't do anything. The "cursed" digits are just one more sinister detail in Dharma's elaborate sleight of hand intended to freak out test subjects. The problem was that extreme stress on the subject in the hatch combined with the electromagnetic energy down there in the hatch to jar loose some suppressed psychic powers. And it jarred them loose in the wrong individual. In that explosive moment, the once meaningless digits were encoded with devilish life. Hence, Hurley's bad luck, and a virus that is rewriting reality on the island.

5. The Answer to LOST . . . (The Island is Haunted by a Powerful Psychic): The Dharma experiments resulted in the creation of a potent disembodied being. A being deeply steeped in pop culture--think about all the novels, comic books, and random flotsam that make up the DNA of LOST--and powerful enough to bring those bits of pop culture to life. Someone who imprinted his consciousness on the island. Someone whose radioactive corpse was walled up in the hatch. Someone named Aaron.
So how did the Oceanic crew end up on the island? Aaron summoned them, because he has as-yet-undetermined uses for each of them . . . and he needed a new body. The body of a then-unborn baby. Claire's baby. Which is why the Others (Aaron's followers) have tried to kidnap her child. And why they had to snatch poor, psychic Walt--remember that dead bird from season 1?--who was the only one with the ability to see through their plan.
Of course, the castaways could all be dead. It could be a mass hallucination. The Others could be trying to secure franchise rights to the Twilight Zone Dairy Queen. But this is our story, and we're sticking to it. At least until the start of the next episode.

(Log onto ew.com to chat about this theory and see what other people have said.)


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Saturday, February 25, 2006

The black (?) suit

This picture has been all over the internets on Friday. Flipper was the first to alert me to it and I forgot to check it out until last night. Several websites are claiming that this is NOT a black and white image but is actual confirmation that Spidey will be wearing a different colored costume in S3.

As DG and I explained in exhaustive detail at lunch on Friday, if Spidey puts on a black suit it indicates that Sam Raimi (S3 director) is proceeding with the Venom storyline. I say if, however, because this is NOT at all the black Venom suit.

(If you don't know the Venom/Spiderman story, come by my cube sometime and I'll fill you in. If you don't have that kind of time and are interested in more thorough information, you can always read this.

As you can see, when Spiderman utilized a black costume (that eventually became Venom) he didn't just wear a darker version of Spidey's red & blue costume. The black suit is completely different in design.

So, what does this mean?

Personally, I'm hoping that this is just internet manipulation, intentional misinformation put out by Sam Raimi and Sony Pictures. (Yes, the original photo--just like the one I am using to illustrate this post--came from Sony Pictures, the company in charge of the movie.)

So, what are we to make of all this? Here are some thoughts.

1. If Raimi and company are planning to get Venom into the movie, I am very concerned that it is becoming too bloated. Already we've got Thomas Hayden Church as The Sandman and Topher Grace (will he be Venom?). And then there is Mary Jane and also Gwen Stacey. So, the plots are piling up faster than you can say Batman Forever. And what about the Hobgoblin (Harry Osborne)? And what about Dr. Conner's (The Lizard)? I know that all of these characters have flitted in and out of the first two movies, but there has to be some winnowing of plots and ideas or it just becomes a bloated mess.

2. I should explain that I am under the assumption that the movies end after this one. I don't think Tobey Maguire is committed to a fourth movie. I have heard rumors that Kirsten Dunst and James Franco are not interested in doing more than three movies. I don't even know if Sam Raimi wants to do more than three. I know the Sony can continue after this group of actors/crew breaks up, but I don't have much faith in the quality of these potential films--see, for instance, Batman & Robin as well as the aforementioned Batman Forever. I am so in love with S1 and S2 that I shudder to think how things might fall apart if the people that did such a great job with the first ones aren't there to keep it going.

Back to the photo itself:

3. One argument in favor of the photo indicating the Venom connection--the shape of the visible left eye on the Spiderman mask seems to me to be more angular (more pointed) than it has been in the previous two movies. If it is a sharper angle that would lend credence to Venom, who features a more angular, "sinister," eye shape.

4. Some have argued that extreme closeups of the reflection in Spidey's eye shows that Venom is outside the field of the "photo" being reflected back. This means that Peter Parker isn't wearing a black symbiote costume but Venom (Topher Grace?) is somewhere else? Personally I don't see it, but desperate people will see anything . . .

5. Basically, I think Sony and Sam Raimi are playing with us. Blockbuster movies do this sort of thing. They release "information" and "leaks" to keep people at bay and to throw the real internet scavenger hunters off the real scent.

Here's hoping that whatever this means, the final result with be an excellent continuation to the best series of superhero movies that I have ever seen.

Sam Raimi, I'm counting on your common sense and your sincere love of the character. Please don't let me down. You haven't yet.


Blogger David said...

Since the point of this post is to maintain comic consistency, I am forced to note an error of my own.

DG pointed out to me that in the comic books, Harry Osborne eventually takes on his father's villainous identity (the Green Goblin) NOT the Hobgoblin.

My bad.

10:50 AM  

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lost Highway

(Some of) The Cast: Bill Pullman (Fred), Patricia Arquette (Renee), Balthazar Getty (Andy), Robert Blake--looking like a vampire.

The Plot (sort of): It's a strange case of dual identities, focusing on Pullman's Fred and Getty's Andy, but also between Patricia Arquette's two character's Renee and Alice. The pace of the movie is (as usual) slow like molasses and the dialogue is sparse beyond belief; there are long, great moments of silence . . . intended to instill dread, I guess, but it's also just the way that Lynch does things.

There is a lot of blackness on the screen--not all attributed to my laptop screen angle. Pullman's character comes in and out of darkness a lot. (It's thematic, you see). I wonder if they use Getty's character sometimes when Pullman's back is turned, to enhance the body switching effect?

Someone (Renee?) is murdered and Fred is jailed for it. But, during the incarceration, he transforms? into Getty and is set free. But does he really transform or is it some sort of fantasy?

There is one classic "Lynchian" moment about halfway through the movie. A mobster played by Robert Loggia is driving on a windy mountain road and lets a car behind him pass. Then he guns the engine, drives the man off the road, jumps out of the car with his goons, guns drawn, and proceeds to scream for ten minutes about the dangers of tailgating while administering a pretty severe beating. Out of place, completely over the top and emotionally unhinged. David Lynch, ladies and gentlemen.

Overall the movie has an interesting mystery quality to it, but even so, I was checking the time as I watched, preparing for it to be over.

Oh well.


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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fountains of Wayne

I am, admittedly, way behind the times on this album. But since I'm putting it on Omnimedia, which is itself decrepit, then I feel that everything has balanced out.

I always liked FoW, and by that I mean I've always liked "Stacey's Mom." I mean, who doesn't like the song that inspired the idea of MILF? (That's a joke, people!)

ANYWAY . . . I downloaded "Stacey's Mom" back when I first bought an iPod and iTunes. Since then I've sometimes thought about purchasing the rest of the album, but I didn't. Then Tuesday's episode of Scrubs occurred.

While enjoying another wonderful episode, I heard a song that I liked, but I didn't know what it was. (This often happens on Scrubs, and much like Garden State the experience of the acting is improved by the quality of the music.) Anyway, I decided to see if anyone on the internets had gone to the trouble of identifying the music on Scrubs. Sure enough, someone had. So I discovered that the song I liked ("Hey Julie") was a FoW song from Welcome Interstate Managers. This was my tipping point and I committed to purchasing the rest of the album. I haven't been sorry yet.

As I listen to it, I think two things:

1. It feels like an album that Jim/Tim would write about his experiences working at Wernham Hogg/Dunder-Mifflin while pining about Pam/Dawn. I think that perfectly captures the experience of listening to the story of these songs.

2. It's a surprising well-done "thematic" album. If FoW could team up with Sufjan Stevens, they just might be able to complete state-themed albums. Stevens could plow through the Midwest while FoW handles the Northeast. This could really work!


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LOST Mad Libs

We open with Charlie on the beach, staring at the waves.

Charlie begins to flashback to some horrible memory in his/her sordid past, but is interrupted by Hurley.

"Dude . . . [goofy saying]? Don't you know that Locke has found [strange item or book with secret meaning] and is coming back to camp to show it to all of us?"

Charlie [sarcastic comment about music] and then gets up to see [strange item or book with secret meaning]. Along the way he blames [another LOSTaway] for his problems.

Up at the beachfront camp Locke, Kate, Ana Lucia, [pick one: Steve/Scott], and Jack are standing beside a pile of [number between 100 and 2,000] tarps. Jack asks Locke what [strange item or book with secret meaning] is? Locke [cryptic adjective] looks at Jack and answers [mysterious adjective]. Jack [describe angry reaction to Locke's lack of information]. He then storms off, but not before staring intently at Kate and Ana Lucia.

Just then [pick one: rain begins and Others attack/invisible Lostzilla rips up treeline then disappears/Smokezilla lifts up ______].

Ana Lucia yells "You see! I told you [sarcastic, belittling remark]! She gets ready to shoot someone.

Sayid [pick one: fixes the radio to call for help/gets ready to torture someone].

Sawyer ambles up and observes to [pick one: Freckles/Mr. Clean/Pillsbury/Marcus Welby] [useless sarcastic comment]. He [pick one: "borrows"/steals] [choose an important item] and leaves to sit around and be useless.

See how easy it is kids? Just make sure that you fill episodes with lots of "useful" flashback information and avoid any clarifying dialogue.

Get yourself to Hollywood and become a cog in the entertainment machine!

Kate screws up the plan but looks good doing so.


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