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I love being LOST

I just received the LOST Season 3 Set on Blu-Ray, and I’m watching the last three episodes right now: Greatest Hits, and Through the Looking Glass Parts 1 and 2. LOST looks great in high definition, and it sounds great. The thing that gets me about this show, is that the production values in the show are better than a lot of hollywood films made today. I also kind of like the idea that it is such a cult show, in that the LOST faithful are fanatical and examine every detail. Those that don’t watch it, hate it. My personal opinion is that the people who don’t watch it hate the show because they want to watch it, but just can’t get caught up. I feel about this show the same way that scarcrest feels about The Wire. If you can get caught up, get caught up. It’s the best thing on network television. I mean, come on, how many retreads of Law and Order or CSI can one person watch?

Do tastes really change?

I'm very concerned.  It would appear that as you grow older, your taste in pop culture entertainment changes.  Please don't misunderstand me.  I know that everyone is as sick of the "Paris/Britney/Jamie Lynn/Lindsey/Nicole/Olsen Twin" Armageddon as I am.  I am mostly concerned about my choice in movies, music and books.  Rather than get into the two latter entertainment categories, I would like to address the movie category.  Two recent movies have really put my patience to the test.  I would like to examine the two sides to the spectrum:  the chick flick versus the guy flick.  I know that adgy might chime in on this, but I absolutely expect  scarcrest to.
The Chick Flick in Question: P.S. I Love You
I saw it with my wife on Saturday.  Caveat:  I am a sucker for a good chick flick.  I cried during The Notebook.  I admit it.  The story is simple:  Hot young couple in love.  Hot 35 year old irish singing husband dies.  He send her letters after his death to teach her to get on with her life.  It's basically a Nicholas Sparks novel with a sense of humor.  Aside:  I loathe Nicholas Sparks.  He's not fit to carry Danielle Steele's purse.  The only thing that I took away from this movie was how absolutely cruel Hillary Swank's husband was for haunting her for a year via the US postal service.  Why?  Because I take my marriage and relationship very seriously, and I find it exceptionally cruel that this young girl (30) was kept from moving on with her life for a year.  It didn't make it easier to let him go.  It made it harder.
The Guy Flick In Question:  Shoot 'Em Up
I rented it, and turned it off after 15 minutes.  I have always been a fan of action flicks and over the top movies.  I love Big Trouble In Little China, The Crow, and Enter the Dragon.  I also loved Sin City.
In the first fifteen minutes there were so many offensive things I had to count them:
1.  Man chases pregnant woman with car.
2.  Man threatens pregnant woman with gun, puts gun away, pulls knife, and tells woman she's about to get her c-section.
3.  Clive Owen impales man's head with Carrot.
4.  Owen delivers baby in a shootout, and cuts the umbilical cord by shooting through it.
5.  Owen gets woman and baby to safety, rips open her shirt, shoves her breast in baby's mouth.
6.  Owen commences shooting all 20+ men chasing the pregnant woman, and she is shot in the forehead by a stray bullet while her baby is in mid-feeding.
7.  Owen grabs baby and commences shootout again, jumping through plate glass window with the baby into another building.
8.  Paul Giammati to mother's corpse as he runs by while chasing Owen:  "Nice knockers."
9.  Owen attempts to leave the baby on a merry-go-round on a public playground for a good samaritan to find.
10.  Good samaritan female is shot in the belly by Giamatti with a sniper rifle.
11.  Giamatti puts baby in his scope sights, and baby is only saved by Owen who shoots the merry-go-round to make it spin so Giamatti would at least have a "moving target"
12.  Owen snatches baby by the feet off the merry go round just in time to be missed by Giamatti's infanticide bullet.
13.  Owen takes the baby to a whorehouse, where a lactating Monica Bellucci is "servicing" a customer with a lactation fetish.   Yes, it's as graphic as it sounds.  It appears its her specialty.  Her response when he shows her the baby?  "Kinky."
14.  Giamatti buries his men, but not before he drives around town with mother's corpse in the car with her breast hanging out, and reaches over for a necrophiliac feel up and moan.

I turned it off.
So why did I turn it off?  The same reason I don't watch pornography.  I have a daughter.  That's the only explanation I can give.  Maybe I'm just getting old.  Sigh.

Wisdom from years ago...

A guy that I consider a really good friend wrote me a note once, based upon a teacher's suggestion as part of an exercise in journal writing, and lo and behold...  I still have it.  Without further adieu, I give you the wisdom of a 1993 scarcrest:

Writer's Block: Ringing in 2008

What are your New Year's Eve plans?
Let's see.  Staying at a hotel in nashville with the wife.  Kid is being babysat by my mom.  Eating dinner at Bricktop's with friends, and then ringing in the new year with Guilty Pleasures at the Cannery.

Bad Religion may be my favorite band ever.

I just picked up this great DVD.  It's awesome.  It splices interview snippets in between the songs of their amazing performance at the Palladium in 2004.
It's also loaded with songs, 34 in all, from throughout their career.

This time, "Let Them Eat War" struck a huge chord with me, with a guest appearance by the lead vocalist of Rise Against
In honor of that great performance, here's some excerted lyrics for you to chew on:

There's a prophet on a mountain and he's making up dinner
With long division and writing crop
Anybody can feel like a winner
When it's served up piping hot

But the people aren't looking for a handout
They're America's working corps
Can this be what they voted for?

Let them eat war
That's how to ration the poor
Let them eat war

There's an urgent need to feed
Declining pride


From the force to the union shops
The war economy is making new jobs
But the people who benefit most
Are breaking bread with their benevolent hosts

Who never stole from the rich to give to the poor
All they ever gave to them was a war
And a foreign enemy to deplore

Let them eat war
That's how to ration the poor
Let them eat war

There's an urgent need to feed
Declining pride


We've got to kill 'em and eat 'em
Before they reach for their checks
Squeeze some blue collars
Let them bleed from their necks
Seize a few dollars from the people who sweat
Cause it's freedom or death and they won't question it
At a job site the boss is god like
Conditioned workhorses park at a stoplight
Seasoned vets with their feet in nets
A stones throw away from a rock fight
But not tonight, feed ‘em death

Here comes another ration (feed them death)
Cause they're the finest in the nation (feed them death)
When there's nothing left to feed them
When it's freedom or it's death

Let them eat war
That's how to ration the poor
Let them eat war

There's an urgent need to feed
declining pride.


Superdrag

You guys have probably never heard me talk about one of my favorite bands, Superdrag. Although I first heard them on 120minutes back in the early 90’s, I quickly personalized them when I discovered they were from Knoxville. If you have never heard their music, I would encourage you to check out any of their albums. My personal favorite to start with would be “In the Valley of Dying Stars”, and then go to their debut, “Regretfully Yours”, followed by one of their best loved but most challenging records “A Head Trip In Every Key”. Then you can finish up with “Last Call for Vitriol” before diving into lead singer John Davis’ great new solo album, “Arigato!”
Here’s a taste of what I saw at the October 5, 2007 reunion show:


Here’s a link to some great audio files and a wonderful write-up/interview!

Blade Runner: Final Cut

I love Blade Runner. I love everything about that movie. I am really eager to see the “Final Cut” version of the movie that everyone is talking about. It’s being re-released on the big screen, and is playing in Nashville at the Belcourt on January 4, 2008. Anyone interested in going with me?

Random Quotes

These are just some random quotes that I picked up over the last couple of weeks by some of the great thinkers of our time, especially the last one.

Inspiration:
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” - Confucius
“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.” - Tommy Lasorda
“Winning is not everything, but making the effort to win is.” - Vince Lombardi
“If a man hasn’t discovered something that he would die for, he isn’t fit to live.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” - Michael Jordan
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” - M. K. Ghandi
“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” - Tom Brokaw
Insight:
“The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them.” - Stephen King
“It is not fair to ask others what you are not willing to do yourself.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
“The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.” - Winston Churchill
“The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.” - Fred Astaire
“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” - Robert Frost
“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” - George S. Patton, Jr.
“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” - Harper Lee
“You know you’re the shit when people that you don’t know hate you.” - Paris Hilton

Seen, Read and Heard Update

First of all, a musical number in the middle of Spider-man 3 was not only a bad idea, it was painfully campy in a series that seemed to get its feet under it in the second movie. Venom was very disappointing, and not nearly the imposing, creepy menace that Todd McFarlane intended him to be. I almost want to sell the dvd that I spent $20.00 on.

I’m currently listening to the unabridged audiobook of Dune during my commute. It’s all I can do not to go and rent the Sci-Fi Channel’s mini-series during the reading of it, because I would love to see how it compares to the book, which, unfortunately, I had not read prior to seeing David Lynch’s film version. I find the books philosophies the most interesting part of it, and the parallels to the religion of this world are noteworthy. The ideas of self control, as evidenced by the Bene Gesserit teachings, are very buddhist in nature. Their motivations and involvement in politics and manipulation mirror the conservative right. Very interesting book.

I’ve been listening to a lot of different music this week:

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand“ - I didn’t think I would like this record, but T-Bone Burnett’s unlikely pairing of the angelic Krauss and the aging Plant is inspired. They’ve taken songs that have been overlooked or forgotten, including Tom Waits and Mel Tillis, and given them a reworking. I expected something weak and uninspired, yet another Nashville bastardization of two great artists. I was so wrong. It’s creepy, moody, atmospheric, and at times unsettling. This is one of my favorite albums of the year.
Dead Kennedys - ”Milking the Sacred Cow“ - A nice retrospective, and provides the new DK listener the ability to hear some classic punk songs that aren’t available anymore as the discs are out of print.
The Cult - Born Into This“ - Boring. Boring. Boring. My favorite college band has reached a new low. This doesn’t reinvent the band, it buries it.
Radiohead - ”In Rainbows” - Their best album since OK Computer. It engages you at the very first song, “15 Steps”, and it has no filler. It comes in at a lean 10, well chosen, songs. Radiohead should be very proud of what they’ve accomplished, despite the fact that this artistic masterpiece is likely to be overlooked by the RIAA issues of their self-marketing of the album outside of the record industry.
It would appear that I have been hornswaggled. I say this with great humor, because I do not feel decieved. Rather, I feel cheated. It would appear that much to the delight of the extreme left, and much to the dismay of longtime piner Minerva McGonagall, that the beloved headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, was in fact, gay.

Now, Dumbledore being light in the loafers really doesn’t really bother me. I could truly care less as to whether the mentor, sometime father figure, and inspiration of Harry Potter was a homosexual, or that his love for another man may have influenced his decision making. The problem that I have with this is, “why reveal it now?”

I’ve never been a big fan of the retread, or the addendum, to existing works. This isn’t the first time that our soft spoken, yet rumored to be bitchy, Englishwoman Ms. Rowling, has changed the work after she was written it. In her interview on NBC regarding the Deathly Hallows, she gives an “update” to the Epilogue that she wrote, which had only come out a week earlier. She told us about the further adventures of our heroes and heroines in the books, and specifically what they are doing in their careers. Why? If it was so important for us to know, then why tell us about it rather than write it in your book? Is it because you didn’t like the original draft that included all that drivel, so it was better to leave it out? That’s what you said, so stick to your guns. Don’t add to the mythology. Which brings me to Sir George...

I didn’t appreciate it when George Lucas decided to “revisit” the original Star Wars trilogy. So, George, you want to update the old films to fix the weird black discolored boxes that float around the spaceships when flying against the backdrop of space? Fine. Bigger explosions? Fine. The strange eraser smear under the landspeeder fixed? Fine. Make it so that Greedo shoots first, and Han defends himself? WHAT?!

What George Lucas did by changing the Han Solo/Greedo fight redefined the character. It made Han Solo much more noble and endearing. He was defending himself, you see. I, however, saw Star Wars in 1977, and I liked the scoundrel. I never wanted to be Luke Skywalker. I wanted to be the badass Han Solo that shot people who threatened him. In 1997, however, George Lucas changed the way that an entire generation felt about that character, and it was criminal.

Now, J.K. Rowling has done the same to Dumbledore. No child or adult will ever reread the Harry Potter series, or look at the Harry Potter movies the same way again. She has brought us along for seven books over the last ten years. We have grown to love Dumbledore, and mourned his passing in Book 6. At the end of Book 7, we feel as if we, and Harry, finally have an understanding of what Dumbledore was, and what he stood for. The fact that he is gay does not change any of these facts. It merely changing how we perceive the character. Whether she intended to or not, she has redefined him. I don’t like Dumbledore any less as a character. I just have to look at him a different way now, as his motivations for his relationship with Grindelwald, the dark wizard, were not out of respect for his skill, but out of his love for the man. Perhaps that means when he spoke of genocide and cleansing, he was doing so because he fell in love and it corrupted him. That’s a serious, serious character shift. If you didn’t include it in the book, Ms. Rowling, why bring it up now?

When speaking about the epilogue, J.K. Rowling said “... it didn’t work very well as a piece of writing. It felt very much that I had crowbarred in every bit of information I could … In a novel you have to resist the urge to tell everything.” You should also stick to your guns, and remember what you said.