Friday, May 29, 2009

WEB: Cryptic Canvas

Empire Online has posted a fun little movie quiz on their website this week. It's not the greatest or most clever interactive quiz you'll see, but it's a perfectly acceptable time waster. It's a big painting with 50 cryptic clues to some great movies from the 20 years of Empire Magazine's existence (well, most of them are great. Eagle Eye!?!? REALLY?!?!). I gave up after an hour of working on it. See if you can best my tally. I got 32/50 right. Good luck.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

REVIEW: Eye of the Tiger--Pens Songs

It's Thursday night. You can't think of anything better than Diet Mountain Dew and Slim Jims to keep up the energy for Saturday night. Your loser workplace is having a "Penguins Support Day" tomorrow, but that's within dress code: i.e. no T-shirts, no jerseys. You can stand at the water cooler and speculate with a bunch of jobbers who are still talking about Ovechkin leaving his skates. You can dream of all the ways you'd go Sayid on Marian Hossa. Or you can just get down.

1. Malkin -- "Feel Good (Feel Great)"
Yeah, Mom and Dad are my good luck, too. Admittedly tamer than Bale's bombastic bitchfest, Malkin clips come together nicely to some icy beats. Since Natalia and Vladimir started popping up at more games than Natalie and Mario (and in pleb seats I've probably sat in), Geno's got more energy and charisma than this Euro-inspired technotron that reaffirms the Malkins, their faith in hockey, and the way we all feel two days before the Finals riding high from a sweep.

2. Crosby -- "Slow Motion"
He's on fire right now-- take him down a peg or two and make fun of his girly laugh or the fact that he knows more Friends quotes than [staff writer] Dave! Then watch the YouTube video (again) of him stick handling the crap out of Lemieux's kid. What's reassuring to me, at these two days before finals, is that our C is a dork, and he's focused on jobbin' and hockey, nothing else. Except maybe "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry."

3. "Filet O' Pens"
There are lots of reasons you can attribute to the painful loss last year. (Do a YouTube search for "Pittsburgh Penguins 2008 Stanley Cup Song!!" and you'll see a plausible one, I won't dare embed.)

Yes, it's pretty lame among others (even "Hey There Malone" is disputably more entertaining), "Filet" has got less pomp and fuss than the above-mentioned, but could it be epic on another angle? Okay, it's not gonna be the "Polamalu" song of the 2009 Stanley Cup run that ignites Steel Town and brings fame to a Holy Trinity Catholic alum, but it's too excellent that someone combined the Pittsburgh Penguins with the TV commercial campaign that should have kept Jesus in the tomb this past Lent so it never had to end. I don't know about you guys, but I know no team has ever lost in the Stanley Cup Finals twice. Makes me feel like singin'.

TV: Conan's Premiere

After the Penguins go up 2-0 on Detroit, Monday will be spent watching two things: the highlights of those games on ESPN, and the premiere of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. Most of us at this blog have been loyal fans since before we went off to college. While older age typically left me asleep long before Late Night came on, I'll still catch a show every now and then. Good guests or bad guests, Conan always brought the funny, and for his premiere he brings in a great one-two punch: Will Ferrell and Pearl Jam.

The feelings here are mixed about Will Ferrell, who is out on a promotional blitzkrieg for Land of the Lost. Pretty much every one but Herb thinks the guy's hysterical, even if his movies have gotten tiresome. If I just made an argument below for Harrison Ford being awesome despite horseshit films, then the same applies to Will Ferrell. Blades of Glory, Semi-Pro, and Talladega Nights were about as funny as childhood cancer, but he's still a funny actor, right? And a nice long interview with Conan? Sign me up.

And as far as musical guests go, it doesn't get any better than Eddie Vedder & Co. More than a few contributor's to this website rank Pearl Jam as their favorite (even Bret 'the Hitman' Hart has them at #1; you think you know better than him?!?), and the fact that they'll be treating us to a few songs from their upcoming studio album (!), that easily makes the appearance a must see. Suck balls, Leno. Have fun courting grandma's at 10:00.

FILM: Morning Glory Starts Filming

The cameras are busy rolling on Harrison Ford's latest movie, Morning Glory. While his recent movies are getting dragged through the mud, the reviews for Ford have remained solid. You can laugh at Crystal Skulls aliens, nukes, fridges, monkeys, fake jungles, and Mutts, but Indy was rock solid as usual. While Crossing Over's release was limited, the negative reviews were not. However, most critics seemed to go out of their way to praise Ford's acting. The old man can't quite pick scripts that are keepers anymore, but he still delivers the goods.

Perhaps I'm being a tad overcritical, because his latest effort has all the potential to be an enjoyable comedy, and not just for my grandma. The cast isn't perfect, but Jeff Goldblum and Rachel McAdams are definitely funny enough to make me forget how much I hate Diane Keaton. The plot, which originally sounded too much like a geriatric Anchorman, has been fleshed out a bit. What was originally described as two feuding anchors thrown together by a new, young, female producer has now been expanded. Ford plays some grumpy old guy (pictured above on set) who has anchored the news desk for a long, long time. Ratings keep falling on his morning newscast, so his new producer puts him into a Today Show-like program with Diane Keaton. Presumably, Ford hates her almost as much as I do. He gets even crankier when the show steers from legimiate journalism towards celeb/tabloid gossip for the sake of ratings.

While the plot gets me interested, you can easily see this movie turning into a disaster. I mean come on, Diane Keaton KILLS movies. She's the worst part in all three Godfather films, plays the same flustered hag in everything, and her last movie, Mad Money, was SO terrible it got branded with Hollywood's worst award nomination: the CARNY.

However, there are redeeming qualities in this movie: Ford's comedic chops. They don't appear often, but objective people like myself saw gold in his performance as Quinn Harris in Six Days, Seven Nights. Yes, the rest of the movie sucked, but he knows how to play cranky. We know he's gonna go off on Diane Keaton in this movie, and I can't wait to see what kind of rants he's got tucked away.

What's even more exciting is the producer on this film. Hollywood's current golden boy, the flavor of the month, Mr. J.J. Abrams. The man behind the curtain of L O S T's best season (and most of the best episodes). He's got his hands in this, even if he's not the director. The only thing that will kill this movie is if Ford ends up with Diane Keaton. Let's hope the writers can find a more original way to end it. Even so, I'll see you at the multiplex.


(EDITOR'S NOTE: I found this article on the Penguins website written by Dan Rosen from, would've preferred to put it into my own words, but didn't feel like it. It's a great article all by itself, the only things I added were the pictures and the final entry.)

The Pittsburgh Penguins' road back to the Stanley Cup Final was long, winding and included key pit stops for sweeping changes. Along the way there were numerous defining moments, both good and bad. These are the moments that shaped your Eastern Conference champions:

Oct. 2, 2008: European road show --
The Penguins cl
ose out the preseason in Helsinki, Finland with a 4-1 win over Jokerit of the Finnish Elite League. Sidney Crosby has three assists and Evgeni Malkin scores a goal. The Penguins are now off to Stockholm to start the regular season with two games against the Ottawa Senators in the NHL Premiere Stockholm. It turned out to be a good team bonding experience and the Penguins earned a split in Sweden.

Nov. 20, 2008: Things looking up -- After closing October with three-straight losses (0-2-1), the Penguins win for the sixth time in a row, beating the Buffalo Sabres, 5-2, thanks to four goals in the third period. Things are looking up for Pittsburgh, but would it last?

Dec. 30, 2008: Closing out a dismal month -- A 5-2 loss at home against the streaking Boston Bruins caps a 5-8-1 month and a 7-10-1 stretch since Nov. 22. The Penguins fall to seventh in the Eastern Conference after losing their fourth-straight game at home. The players decide to hold a team meeting after the game and coach Michel Therrien said, "If I were a player, I would have called a meeting. I'm interested to see what comes of this."

Jan. 31, 2009: A forgettable January mercifully ends -- Turns out, not much came of that team meeting. The Penguins lose, 5-4, at Toronto to close out another dismal month with a 5-8-1 record, again. They drop to 22-24-5 overall and enter February outside of the Eastern Conference's top eight.

Feb. 15, 2009: Enter Bylsma -- After losing, 6-2, at
the Air Canada Centre against the Maple Leafs the night before, Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero makes the first of what would be a series of shrewd moves. He fires Michel Therrien and replaces him with Dan Bylsma, a head coach for all of 54 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League. Bylsma, who retired after nine seasons in 2004, was an assistant for the Baby Penguins from 2006-08 after serving as an assistant for the New York Islanders in 2005-06.

Feb. 16, 2009: Seeing change --
Bylsma coaches his first game, ironically on Long Island at Nassau Coliseum, where he got his start in coaching as an assistant for Ted Nolan in 2005-06. The Penguins lose in a shootout, 3-2, but show signs of what was to come. Bylsma unleashes the offense and the Penguins snap off a season-high 37 shots on goal. They c
reate havoc in front of the net using Bylsma's aggressive style.

Feb. 26, 2009: From the left coast comes No. 14 --
Shero continues to remake the team by acquiring winger Chris Kunitz from the Anaheim Ducks as well as junior prospect Alex Tangradi in exchange for defenseman Ryan Whitney. Kunitz would s
core a goal and dish out an assist in his Penguins debut the next night, helping his new team to a 5-4 overtime victory in Chicago.

March 4, 2009: A grizzled veteran hops on board --
Shero completes his remodeling of the Penguins by acquiring veteran winger Bill Guerin from the New York Islanders in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick. He also picks up Craig Adams off waivers from the Blackhawks and assigns Miroslav Satan to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Satan would eventually come back for the playoffs when the salary cap is not a factor.

March 5, 2009: The game where it all clicked --
In the middle of a 12 game stretch without a regulation loss (10-0-2) and a seven-game winning streak, the Penguins play what Bylsma considers their defining game. They win at Florida, 4-1, by scoring three goals in the third period. Sidney Crosby scores a goal in his return to the lineup after missing four games. Guerin caps his Penguins' debut with an assist on Crosby's goal. It's the first time Bylsma plays Crosby with Guerin and Kunitz. The line is still together today.

April 7, 2009: Back in the playoffs --
The Penguins win at Tampa Bay to clinch a playoff berth that was very much in doubt when Shero decided to replace Therrien with Bylsma. The Penguins were 10th at the time of the coaching change, but sixth and climbing after defeating the Lightning thanks to a 16-3-4 run under Bylsma. They would close the season with two more wins in a row and finish fourth, earning home-ice advantage in the opening round against Philadelphia.

April 17, 2009: Rally to go up 2-0 -- Trailing 2-1 to Philadelphia in the third period of Game 2 in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round series, the Penguins get a power-play goal from Evgeni Malkin with 3:37 remaining in regulation to force overtime. Pittsburgh earns a rare two-man advantage in overtime and Guerin scores his second of the game 18:29 into the extra session to lift the Penguins to a 3-2 win and a 2-0 lead in the series.

April 25, 2009: Comeback for the ages --
comes out flying in Game 6 at Wachovia Center and stakes itself a 3-0 lead, but the Penguins rally to win the series with five unanswered goals after Maxime Talbot fights with Daniel Carcillo just 4:21 into the second period. Fourteen seconds after the Talbot-Carcillo scrap, Ruslan Fedotenko gets the Penguins on the board. Mark Eaton and Crosby also score before the second intermission to make it 3-3. Sergei Gonchar scores the winner 2:19 into the third period and Crosby adds an empty net goal.

May 6, 2009: Solving Varlamov --
Two nights
after Crosby and Alex Ovechkin tallied hat tricks in Washington, the Penguins return to Pittsburgh and get the best of the Capitals to slice their series deficit to 2-1. Kris Letang, who was questionable for the game with an apparent shoulder injury, scores the overtime-winning goal 11:23 into the extra session off an in-zone faceoff win by Crosby. Pittsburgh sends 42 shots on Capitals' rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov and the last one gives the Penguins life.

May 13, 2009: An unexpected blowout -- The Penguins turn Game 7 of their seminal series against the Capitals into a laugher. Crosby and Adams scored eight seconds apart in the first period and the Penguins extend their lead to 5-0 just 11:37 into the second period before Ovechkin finally gets the Caps on the board. Crosby finishes the series with 13 points. Gonchar, who went out after a knee-on-knee hit with Ovechkin in the first period of Game 4, returns to the lineup and has an assist on Crosby's goal 12:36 into the game.

May 18, 2009: Braving the storm --
Pittsburgh grabs an early two-goal lead and holds on as Carolina keeps charging in Game 1 of the Eastern
Conference Final. The Penguins win, 3-2, thanks to Philippe Boucher's goal with 8:27 to play in the game. Joe Corvo scores for Carolina with 1:26 to play, but that was the closest the Hurricanes would get to winning a game in the series.

May 26, 2009: Another crack at the Cup --
The Penguins complete the four-game sweep of Carolina with a 4-1 victory at RBC Center in Raleigh. The Penguins outscored the Hurricanes, 20-9, in the series and held Eric Staal, the Canes 40-goal scorer, to just one goal.

May 30, 2009: 8:00 pm EST, The Puck Drops -- Penguins vs. Red Wings. If Lemieux decides to suit up, it's Pens in four. If he watches from his suite with Big Ben there, Pens in three.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Top 50 All-Time Steelers

Even with all of this Penguin fever (sorry to bury your post Dave), it's never too early to start looking at the Steelers, or for that matter, look back at their history.

50. Jeff Reed
49. Gary Anderson - include kickers, but bury them at the bottom of the list
48. Justin Strzelczyk - RIP
47. Tunch Ilkin - good player? don't really know, but is a sweet analyst
46. Yancey Thigpen
45. Santonio Holmes - Super Bowl MVP, gets the nod over Burress
44. Willie Williams
43. Mark Malone - whatever happened to him on ESPN?
42. Joel Steed
41. Jeff Hartings
40. Bubby Brister
39. Heath Miller
38. Casey Hampton - best jersey
37. Ike Taylor
36. Merill Hoge - dominates "stink" Schlereth
35. Aaron Smith
34. Barry Foster
33. Kevin Greene
32. Dick Hoak
31. Rocky Bleier
30. Willie Parker
29. Joey Porter
28. Kordell Stewart
27. Neil O'Donnell - a tad above "slash" due to the SB appearance
26. Jason Gildon - never got as much credit as he should have

25. James Farrior - an underrated star
24. Louis Lipps
23. James Harrison - silverback
22. Ernie Stautner - pre 70s player in the HOF
21. John Henry Johnson - same as above
20. Andy Russell
19. Donnie Shell
18. LC Greenwood
17. Troy Polamalu
16. Alan Faneca - best guard in Steeler history?
15. Greg Lloyd - *beep*
14. Dermontti Dawson - definite Hall of Famer?
13. Rod Woodson
12. Jerome Bettis - canned by NBC
11. Lynn Swann - had all the acrobatic catches, not as productive as some others

10. John Stallworth - speaking of productive

9. Mike Webster

8. Hines Ward - how many more years?

7. Mel Blount - changed the pass interference rules because of him, Santonio Holmes' favorite player

6. Ben Roethlisberger - it's scary how good and accomplished he is already

5. Jack Ham - Penn State

4. Franco Harris - Penn State

3. Jack Lambert - probably a little more recognizable than Ham, is he better?

2. Terry Bradshaw - the most important position on the field, that's why he's ahead of Franco and the wide-outs

1. Joe Greene - The draft pick that started the 70s dynasty. Is Bradshaw considered the best qb of all-time? probably not. Is Franco Harris the best rb? probably not. But every all-time list has Joe Greene as the starting defensive end. The best player on the Steel Curtain defense that mentored every future hall of famer that was about to come to Pittsburgh in the 1970s is an easy choice for the best Pittsburgh Steeler of all-time.


Wow, this is the kind of series you hope for, but never expect. After a pair of brutal slugfests against bitter rivals, you had to wonder if the Pens would go for the kill or let the Canes linger one game longer. They couldn't close out the Flyers in Game 5, nor the Washigton Crapitals in Game 6. All those recovering from your Prince of Wales soaked hangovers can bet your asses that no one writing for this blog expected anything but an overwhelming win in Carolina last night. All the signs pointed to it, we simply sat back and waited for everything to come up Milhouse.

The first nail in the coffin for Carolina: Bill Cowher. The Eastern Conference Finals is a long, drawn out equivalent to football's AFC Championship Game, and you want to let Cowher, known just as much for CHOKING in the playoffs (especially in the AFC title game) as he is for ONE super bowl win in 15 years, rally the Carolina troops by cranking that weird siren? Tomlin (genius), by comparison, has one ring in two years. Cowher's journey towards the dark side is now complete. He can rot down there for all we care. The morons in the Canes organization put a big fat jinx on this game before the puck even dropped. You think Cam Ward should've caught Talbot's floater at the end of the first? He sure as shit was about to until Chargers linebacker Denny Gibson appeared from '94 to deflect the puck just beyond his glove's reach. That made it 2-1 Pens and they never looked back. Thanks again, Cowher.

Second nail? FATE, or as the producers of L O S T would say, DESTINY CALLS. The comparisons of this team to that of the flashy Oilers in the 80's has been going on longer than I care to remember. Both loaded not just with young talent, but with the best players in the league in Gretzky and Crosby. (If you are still arguing that Ovechkin is the best, go and suck Bruce Boudreau's nuts. You can find 'em on some golf course's nearest food cart.) Even their playing styles are very similar. Both teams went to the Stanley Cup as relative newcomers, and both got beaten by the perceived juggernaut of their time. The following season, both the Oilers and the Pens returned with their swords in their hands, battling the same team that beat them the year before. There was a happy ending for the Oilers, capturing the Stanley Cup in that second attempt and starting their dynasty of 5 Cups in 7 years. For the Penguins, we will see...

Lastly: HISTORY. For any Pittsburgh loyalist, a return trip to Lord Stanley's Throne Room was always gonna happen. It didn't seem likely sitting 10th place in February, but Sid and Geno knew all along that a dramatic comeback would look far better on the post playoff DVD, and set out to make it happen. Steamrolling the competition, the Pens nailed the 4th seed in the East. First up on their list of children to eat? The Flyers. (aka one big joke of a team from Sillydelphia). We all remember those series from the 90's and the steel cage matches that came with it (not to mention multi Overtimes). And before these playoffs what do we remember best? Oh yea, kicking their ass in the Conference Finals last year. As the playoffs progressed, it seemed every round carried that sweet smell of playoffs past. The Craps were next, and while the recent feud has been all about Sid vs. Ovechkin, the bouts between the two clubs in the 90's were always awesome, mainly because the Penguins were always winning. I could give a shit about Carolina; The Whalers were a far superior club. However, we did get to see the Penguins old war horse Ronnie Francis behind the bench as an Associate Coach. To top it off, "the Great Eye is ever watchful" above the Penguins heads, and I'm talking about Mario LeMagnifique and his playoff beard.

What more could you ask for? Well, look at the two teams left to challenge the Pens for the Cup. More than likely, we'll get the idiot Red Wings, the same damn team who beat us in six games in the Finals last year. I won't plug the revenge motive, because only retarded teams like the Baltimore Ravens show up at a Pittsburgh bout with revenge on their mind (see: pick 6 Polamalu, ray lewis golfing).

Speaking of revenge, nice to see you again Hossa. It's all common knowledge now, but let's recap. Marian Hossa, a steal at the trade deadline, helped get the Pens to the Cup Finals last year. After the loss, the Penguins offered him a long term juicy contract. Pens Nation goes wild. Hossa's response? Noooooo thanks. It wasn't just a simple rejection, because he then signed a one year deal (for less money) with the Red Wings. His reasoning? The Pens were a fluke and the Red Wings are more likely to win another Cup. Ouch. Time to slam those words down his throat with a side of halushki. Rest assured, a rem
atch from last year cements rivalry status, and we'll be ready. Oh, and if we aren't lucky enough to get that rematch, we settle for...another rematch! It'll be Pens vs. Blackhawks, a rematch of the 1992 Cup Finals that saw Super Mario & Co. punish them into a four game submission, similar to the whipping you just witnessed last night. Can't wait. Go Pens.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

REVIEW: Star Trek

Let's be clear: I'm not a Trekkie. I've never watched the TV show, and the only film I remember is Star Trek Generations (stinker). I was watching this with an open mind and no knowledge of in-jokes or easter eggs. When I think of Star Trek stereotypes, I think of cheesy dialogue, goofy alien prosthetics, a "sterile" look to the series.

Imagine my surprise when Star Trek exceeded all of my expectations. It combined the grand story of A New Hope with the gritty, dirty, character-driven world of Serenity. The film is built around a conflict with a miner from the future (yep, there's a time travel plot) who has a grudge against Spock. His name is Nero and he's played by Eric Bana. If you were expecting an awesome, powerhouse performance from him like in Troy or Munich, you shouldn't. He's merely just the baddie who scowls and sneers when called upon.

The film is much more about the crew of the Enterprise. Chris Pine is the new Kirk, and if you like cocky, rebellious swashbucklers like Han Solo and Mal Reynolds, you'll like new Kirk. He doesn't feel like a rip-off. Zachary Quinto plays Spock, and even though Heroes is dumb and his character sucked on 24, I enjoyed the logical Spock. The rest of the crew has their individual moments to shine. Eomer as Doc McCoy talks with a cool accent. Chekov humorously can't say his V's (what the hell?), and Scotty (Simon Pegg) yuks it up for the camera. Not only did I enjoy all of the main characters, but I loved constantly noticing the "wait, I know that guy!" moments. Cameron from House! JFK from Thirteen Days! There's Malagant from King Arthur! That guy was in 24! Wasn't he the linebacker in Playmakers? There's the creepy doc from Scrubs!

Now, to the plot. It moves at a breakneck pace throughout the film. The story is constantly moving and escalating, and there's never a dull moment. It's interesting that LOST genius producer Damon Lindelof oversaw a Star Trek plot that believes in "the future can be changed" version of time travel, while also writing the "Whatever happens, happened" school of thought for LOST. Old Spock shows up to help explain matters, and I'll admit that, as a non-Trekkie, I was in awe of Leonard Nimoy.

Does the altered timeline screw up previous Trek canon? I really don't care. Like new Hulk or Batman Begins, this new franchise is a reboot and a retelling like Casino Royale. Perhaps a universal story isn't in place like Star Wars, but this is definitely a franchise ready to continue with many more adventures.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

REVIEW: Angels and Demons

For the two dozen people who never read/watched The Da Vinci Code, why do you think it was so popular? Well, the formula for success was to take a subject everyone thought they knew (the Holy Grail), inject a mindblowing conspiracy (Jesus was married with kids!) and wrap it in a suspenseful murder mystery plot. After you leave the theater/finish the book, you don't really care about the murder mystery because you're still puzzling over the well-developed and well-reasoned Jesus twist. Seriously, when the Magdalene bomb was dropped on me, I had to put the book down for a few minutes to think about the blindside. It was like every LOST twist molded into one.

Angels and Demons has a lot of the same pieces as Da Vinci (secret societies, a murder mystery, Robert Langdon, a brunette sidekick, the Catholic Church), but it does not have the OH MY GOD REVELATION moment (then again, it's a tough act to follow). A&D is set after the events of Da Vinci (it's safe to say that Jesus' heir didn't go public), and centered on the election of the new Pope. The old Pope just died and the frontrunners to succeed him are kidnapped. Hanks is brought in to solve puzzles and track down the Cardinals and the killers, with help from Stellan Skarsgaard (a shady Vatican cop) and Ewan McGregor (a shady Vatican priest). Along the way we get to see beautiful Roman art and architecture and some disturbing dead bodies. Until the end, everything is pretty much a paint-by-numbers "find the bomb before it explodes" thriller.
Yep, there's a twist before the baddie is revealed, but it's not unexpected. It's a satisfying story, but there is one thing that sticks out for me after watching it.


Okay, so Obi-Wan utilizes his military training to fly a helicopter above Rome to prevent the bomb from leveling Vatican City and everyone who's waiting for the new Pope to be named. He takes the chopper up high in the sky and then jumps out with a parachute. The bomb blows (some of the best and coolest special effects I've ever seen), and a battered McGregor floats down to the crowd, his white parachute shining brightly in the night. The metaphor could only be more obvious if he had sprouted wings. The crowd loves him, and so do the Cardinals, but we find out that the whole murder plot was his design to rally the Catholics and land the throne. Eventually he is discovered and lights himself on fire (A DEMON, TOO!!! METAPHOR!!!!!). My problem is that if Hanks missteps at any point throughout the movie, if he is accidentally gunned down, if Obi Wan dies in the blast, if the brunette scientist doesn't notice the bomb battery, if any number of critical plot points don't happen, the plan fails. I hate that kind of stuff. In the end, A&D gets points for a thought-provoking who-done-it mystery, but it provides nothing memorable except for some nifty camera tricks courtesy of Ron Howard. It certainly is NOT better than the Da Vinci Code.


Happy Anniversary, Episode I

I'll make any excuse to talk Star Wars, which has soured into a vehicle used to make bad movies and sell toys. Over at Empire Magazine's Blog, they are celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Episode I, the Phantom Menace (opened May 19, 1999). To my delighted surprise, the writer doesn't want people to bash the movie, but rather believes, like I do, that it is an underrated gem in the Star Wars saga. Like Indy 4, Phantom Menace did a lot of things right, but the glaring mistakes (Jar Jar = Nuke the Fridge) continue to leave a bad taste in people's mouths.

So, 10 years later, let's be objective and look at the best and worst of the Phantom Menace.


Jar Jar Binks - Yeah, let's get that out of the way. For some reason, Lucas thought that this bumbling buffoon could be the next Chewbacca. Too bad for him that Jar Jar was a moronic, annoying, over-the-top, coward whereas Chewbacca was a cool, reserved, loyal, badass wookie. It's pretty pathetic when you think of George Lucas, the great storyteller, sitting in his den writing "Mesa day startin pretty okee-day with a brisky morning munchy, then BOOM! Gettin very scared and grabbin that Jedi and POW! Mesa here! Mesa gettin' very very scared!"

Ambitious Plot - I get the feeling Georgey was trying to please everyone when he wrote Phantom Menace. The fanboys from the 70s are now old men, so they would appreciate a plot about trade embargos and political squabbling. But the new generation of kids might appreciate the pod race, Jar Jar, and little Ani on his grand adventure. I saw Episode I in high school, and the taxation plot was over my head while the cheesy aspects were roll-your-eyes stinkable. 10 years later, I appreciate the sophisticated subplot a lot more and I think it's one of the things they did right.

Midichlorians - What? Being a Jedi has to do with the microscopic bacteria in your blood? Thanks for ruining the mystique...

Pod Racing - I'll concede that the special effects and especially the sound effects used during the race were incredible, but every time I re-watch Ep. I, I skip this chapter. It's too damn long and I hate Ani to begin with. Plus they made a sucky N64 game out of this scene.


Liam Neeson - In the original trilogies, our knowledge of Jedis was a whiny little brat and a deranged muppet. For the prequel, we needed someone who could handle the patience, wisdom, and awesomeness of the Jedi Order. You have to agree Neeson nailed it. It's a shame his death kinda sucked and he didn't return as a ghost like Old Obi Wan.

Lightsaber Duel - Again, we expected a lot of Jedis in their prime, and they delivered. Remember that moment after Neeson was gutted, and the red laser barrier peals back and Obi Wan is unleashed on Darth Maul!?!?!?!?! Brilliant. That fighting sequence either had the nerds holding their breath or creaming in their pants.

Darth Maul - 2nd greatest baddie of all the Star Wars movies!!! Double Light Saber!!!! War Paint and Horns!!! Again, it's a shame they killed him off so soon. Christopher Lee was a CGI joke compared to the acrobatics of Darth Maul.

The Score - Johnny Williams brought his A-game to Episode I. Listen to "Duel of the Fates" and then try to disagree with me.

Closing Thoughts - This movie was wayyyyy better than "Attack of the Clones," and mostly because of Jar Jar Binks, it still gets bashed. Like Indy 4, the expectations were huge for Phantom Menace (btw, the title is really cool). And even though it's easy to nitpick all of the film's shortcomings (you had 20 years to work on puppet technology, why does the Yoda puppet look so much worse than in Return of the Jedi?), if you just sit back and enjoy the show, it is definitely a fun ride.

Empire Strikes Back - A+
A New Hope - A
Revenge of the Sith - B+
Return of the Jedi - B
Phantom Menace - B-
Attack of the Clones - D+

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ranking the 7 Seasons of 24

The latest season finale of 24 aired last night, and now it's time to put Day 7 into perspective alongside past days. I'll judge in 7 categories to determine the winners. Before I do this, let the record show that this season kicked ass. Moving the action to Washington D.C. was a much needed breath of fresh air, which makes their decision to shift things to New York next season very interesting. But enough chit-chat; Bauer would be yelling "Dammit, Herb! We're running out of time!!!" You got it Jack, I'm sending the information to your Sprint mobile phone right now!

Every season has had virtually the same version of JB. He is a government agent willing to do absolutely everything to save the hundreds of thousands of lives that are at risk. He finds creative ways to torture suspects, he yells a lot at co-workers, and his daughter is fucking annoying. Still, each day has brought a little wrinkle of character into Jack. He started as a family man trying to do his job while protecting his wife and daughter, but with each awful thing that has happened to those around him (Teri's death, Kim's cougar attack, countless co-workers dying, the assassination of President Palmer), Jack has become more and more closed-off. Yeah, he tried to have girlfriends (Kate Warner, Audrey Raines, the redhead in the trailer park), but make no mistake, Bauer is married to the job. His greatest day? I honestly believe it was this season. Kiefer has always been a powerhouse (especially in Day 5), but this year was the first time we saw a lot of inner conflict. He was dragged before Congress to answer for his use of torture techniques, argued with Renee about them, and eventually tried to make peace with it. Bauer breaking down and crying his eyes out at the end of season 3 was kind of laughable, but his introspective and emotional talks with Renee and the Imam were spot on this year.

Rank: 7 (Dying Bauer), 5 (Frank Flynn), 1 (Papa Bear Bauer), 2 (Classic Bauer), 3 (Junkie Bauer), 4 (Boyfriend Bauer), 6 (I'll torture my brother, Graham, Bauer)

For this, we'll try to simplify as much as possible. For most seasons the weapon is consistent for that season (bomb, virus, whatever), but the villains and intentions often change a lot. I just want to look at how cool and effective the method of attack is. I like the virus outbreak in Season 3 because drawn-out collateral damage always makes for good drama. Similarly, the nerve gas in 5 and the pathogen in 7 were also awesome. We knew the nuke wouldn't blow in Season 2 or 4 (Although one went off in Season 6).

Rank: 3 (Virus), 5 (Nerve Gas), 7 (Pathogen), 4 (Nuke), 2 (Nuke), 1 (Assassination), 6 (Nuke/Circuit Board)

PRESIDENT: This conversation begins and ends with President David Palmer. No one else on the show has shown that kind of courage and wisdom in the face of danger. Hell, they even bring him in in Season 4 to council Charles Logan because he COULDN'T handle the threat. However, I also loved President Logan because he acted like a meek puppy but was really evil mad genius leading the conspiracy. Wayne Palmer was easily the most absurdly terrible Prez.

Rank: 2 (D. Palmer), 3 (D. Palmer), 1 (Sen. D. Palmer), 5 (Logan), 7 (Taylor), 4 (Keeler/Logan), 6 (W. Palmer/Daniels)

VILLAIN: For this, we won't just look at masterminds because a lot of them aren't revealed until the last few episodes. We have to look at the entire collection of baddies to see which Day had the strongest cast. I like how Season 4 was always about Habib Marwan and they weren't constantly shuffling bad guys, but the best villains were in Season 3. We had the awesome Salazar Brothers, evil Nina Meyers, and the 007-esque Steven Saunders. The worst season was easily season 1 (Dennis Hopper with a lousy accent) and season 6 (Jack's Dad and Brother)

Rank: 3 (Salazars, Saunders), 7 (Tony, Jonas Hodges), 4 (Marwan), 5 (Bierko/Logan), 2 (Sherry Palmer/Kingsley), 6 (Fayed, Bauers), 1 (the Drazens)

Each season has their fair share of heartbreakers. Teri Bauer was killed off in a twist finale of season 1. Beloved Bill Buchanan and Larry Moss died this year. Loyal Curtis Manning was blown away by Jack in a silly manner in Season 6. I actually hate ranking this category because all of these deaths (George Mason in 2, Ryan Chapelle in 3) tug on the heart strings. In Season 4, Yusef wasn't a big character, but the fact that he was a Muslim agent trying to help CTU and was eventually beaten to death by hick rednecks stupidly thinking he was the enemy breaks my heart. Still, nothing will ever match the 1-2-3-4-5 punch of David Palmer, Michelle Dessler, Fat Edgar Stiles, Lynn McGill, and Tony Almeida (later revealed to be not dead).

Rank: 5, 7, 3, 4, 2, 1, 6

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: Since we already covered the great villains, it's time to look at the good guys in the White House and at CTU. These people are usually responsible for 24's annnual "Who is the Mole?" Contest. When you break it down, there are 3 dream teams in 24: [Tony, Michelle, and Chloe with the Palmers in the White House (Season 3)], followed by [Renee, Boss Moss, Janice, and Tony with Taylor and Warden Norton (Season 7)], and [Bill, Chloe, and Curtis with the Logans in the White House (Season 5)]. All the other squads can't compare.

Rank: 3, 7, 5, 2, 4, 1, 6

Doesn't reflect the "best" seasons, but these are the ones I enjoyed the most.

Rank: 3, 5, 7, 2, 4, 1, 6


DAY 3 - 42
DAY 7 - 38
DAY 5 - 38
DAY 2 - 28
DAY 4 - 23

DAY 1 - 18

DAY 6 - 8

Monday, May 18, 2009

Jacob & Esau, Part 2

Adding to Urban's interesting post, let me further dissect the relationship between Jacob and Esau, and perhaps their motives too. Urban already wrote about Esau inhabiting those who've already died in order to influence the events on the island. Christian Shephard, the first dead body to arrive from flight 815, was used to lead Jack to fresh water and the caves. The reason behind it might be as simple as keeping the Lostie's alive after the crash so that they may be manipulated later. Christian later showed up in the Cabin, Donkey Wheel room, and briefly on the freighter. If we still believe that Christian has always been Esau, then the freighter appearance is a no brainer. Not wanting more people to come to the island and fight/corrupt/destroy, he tricked Michael into blowing it all to hell. It seemed every other appearance of Christian was used solely to trick Locke (EXCEPT one other appearance, which will be covered later).

The next obvious link comes in the form of Ben's hot but dead daughter, Alex. Appearing as Smokey, Alex scares Ben into doing everything John Locke orders him to do. Why? Because Newly Reanimated Locke (or Esau being another dead body from the island) would order Ben to kill Jacob. You can then theorize that Smokey has always been Esau. What is Smokey? It's always been described as a security system, something that is used to keep people out, which is a concept Esau strongly supports. Smokey has also appeared in the form of Yemi, right before Eko gets the Soul-Glo beaten out of him. What could explain that? Eko, after a lifetime of war, murder, pillaging, shows up on the island a changed person who shows repentance for what he's done. At first he's spared by Esau. Maybe Eko is a good one after all? Wrong. Their next meeting, Eko says he doesn't regret anything and did what he had to do. Verdict? A stone cold stunner via Esau.

You now have to
question every "ghost" sighting in L O S T, both on the island and off the island. Ben saw his Mom on the island, which Urban already pointed out, leading to the Purge of Dharma Initiative. The ghosts off of the Island (Christian at Jack's hospital, Ana Lucia, Libby, and Charlie visiting Hurley) all had the purpose of telling the Losties to get back to the island, whereas the on-island ghosts had manipulation up their sleeve, usually leading to the deaths of the island's inhabitants. What can made of it? Well, it seems that Jacob can inhabit bodies of the dead just like Esau, but they both hold this talent in different places. Jacob has been the ghosts off the island, trying to get the Losties to return. Esau, the ghosts on the island. You get the sense that this is one great game between the two.

Jacob has the power to bring people to the island, to select those who are worthy. He wants people to live there in harmony, and believes that the right people can live on the island without resorting to war, corruption, etc. (Rose and Gandalf are proof of this. Jacob cured her cancer because she was a chosen one who could live in harmony with the island). Esau is a dick who thinks people are going to wreck everything, so it's best not to have any of them. So...their epic game, far greater than Ben vs. Widmore and their "rules" over the fight for the island, goes something like this. Jacob selects who he wants to come to the island, but once they get on the island, he cannot interfere with what they do. He must take his naps underneath the Egyptian foot and let the chips fall where they may. Esau's role, it seems, is to let Jacob try and bring his best to the island. He cannot travel abroad. He can't bring people to the island, but for those who come, he can interfere all he likes. Sound a bit like God and Satan??? Through Smokey and Ghosties, he manipulates the events to prove that everyone resorts to corruption and then he kills them. And now a few puzzlers to leave you with:

What about Walt? Can his appearance to Locke after his gutshot be explained by Esau/Jacob? Walt's not dead, so it wasn't a ghost. But then again Walt is very special, and perhaps has some biblical powers of his own? Who knows.

The Loophole: Esau couldn't kill Jacob, so what was the loophole to do him in? Did someone else have to do it, or was Ben "special" all along. If Esau is Smokey, and Smokey's lair is the bowels of the temple, don't you find it interesting that the one place Richard could take Baby Ben to save him from his gunshot wound, the place that would change him forever, was the temple? Did Esau save Ben? Did he give him some gift that allowed Ben to stab Jacob? Though Ben blindly followed Jacob, it seems he's been linked more often than not to Esau. It was Ben who killed Locke and told Jack to take Locke's body from the funeral parlor, the body that would eventually come back to the island, allowing Esau to take over in ghost form.

Any other dead characters who have reappeared? Tom, aka Mr. Friendly, encountered Michael in New York, urging him to get on board the freighter in order to sabotage it. Was Tom really just a ghost, having already been killed by Sawyer? Everyone explained his appearance as a timeline fit after Michael left in 2 but before Tom died in season 3. New York Tom mentioned some strange things, saying that island wouldn't let Michael kill himself, that it wasn't finished with him. Is this the kind of info he was usually briefed on, or was he just dumb muscle? Maybe Esau can leave the island when he wants, but he hates leaving because he loves the island so much. Perhaps the biggest question from this line of thought: Is Esau gay?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Jacob and Esau

The opening of “The Incident,” the recent Season 5 finale of Lost, may go down as the best as well as the most important scene in Lost history. A show that has had struggles that have included losties against the others, the others against the freighter, and Ben against Widmore, it may be the battle between Jacob and his unnamed nemesis, we will call him Esau, that is central to the Lost universe.

In the bible, the twins Esau and Jacob were born to Isaac and Rebecca. Isaac was the son of Abraham who is considered to be the patriarch of the Israelites. Esau came out of Rebecca’s womb first, like webmaster Herb, and Jacob followed holding onto Esau’s heel. I cannot confirm whether Dave held Herb’s heel twenty odd years ago. Doesn’t the four-toed statue look like a great big heel? Fellow contributor Jay contends that Jughead being detonated caused the statue to breakdown to a foot. But did Jughead detonate? Does the statue/heel have a greater significance? As the biblical Jacob and Esau grew up, God began to favor Jacob over his “older” brother. Esau eventually sold his birthright to his brother, and Jacob was recognized as Isaac’s firstborn son. Not much else is known about the biblical Esau other than that he was rebellious while the family’s of Jacob’s twelve sons would eventually form into the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob’s youngest son was named Benjamin.

In Lost, Jacob wears white and is very kind to everybody like the biblical Jacob or Jesus. His nemesis is depicted in black and is hairy and can be compared to the biblical Esau or Satan himself. In the opening scene, Esau is angry that Jacob has presumably brought the black rock to the island. In flashbacks, Jacob visits pre-island losties and either has a hand in getting them to the island or back to the island. Esau does not want individuals coming to the island claiming it will only lead to fighting and war. Since it seems that Jacob’s wants human progress on the island, why does Ben tell Locke that Jacob does not like technology when they visit the cabin is Season 3? Perhaps it is Esau that doesn’t like technology, as it is a form of progress. Does Jacob order the purge of the Dharma Initiative? Or does Esau trick Ben to do it, perhaps in the form of his mother. It seems safe to assume that Jacob lives/lived in the statue. What about the cabin? Jacob’s? Is Esau trapped inside? Jacob and Esau are so different that they are almost similar. Lines seem clear, but they could be blurred. What are Jacob’s motives? Good? Or Bad? Satan in fact was a fallen angel. In the Bible, Jacob wrestled with an angel.

What do we know? It seems clear that Esau can inhabit dead people. Locke is dead and Esau inhabited his body, hence finding the “loophole” to kill his nemesis. It also may be likely that he inhabited Christian Shepard’s body as well. It could be a long orchestrated plan to trick Locke through Christian. Move the island, you must die, etc. Jacob’s last words of “they’re coming,” referring to the losties, brought Esau over the edge kicking Jacob into the fire. Why was Esau outraged? Will Jacob be resurrected, a la Jesus, in the form of one of the losties? Jack? Will he have to die first? Lost must obviously angle for the Locke Jack death match. We may get it through the ghosts of Esau and Jacob. Buckle up for Season 6.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

TOP 10 Bands You Wouldn't Expect Us To Like

As you should know, Andy and I prefer rock music with a special spot for grunge. His favorite band is Soundgarden; mine is Pearl Jam. But we are all guilty of branching out into unexpected/embarassing genres. The ten bands below are bands that are either are far cry from grunge, or just flat out awful. But it's not our fault; love finds you, you don't find love...

Dave has ranked the bands we picked. His list is designed to reveal more the embarassing picks as we approach number one.

10. Michael Jackson (Andy's Pick) - Yeah he's pretty much a pedophole and an overall insane individual, but simply put, arguably one of the better musicians of all time in any genre and an absolute top-notch performer. "Billie Jean" is a top 100 all-time song. It's ok to like Michael Jackon, well, his music, I'm still trying to tell myself that.

9. Simon and Garfunkle (Herb's Pick) - Before I listened to "real" music (that didn't happen to college), my tastes were swayed by what I heard in movies. My playlists were made of film scores and soundtracks, and the soundtrack to The Graduate was phenomenal. It's hard to explain what's great about the soft tunes and melodies of S&G because it's the polar opposite of the screeching and hollering in rock music. Still, they have some sort of magical quality to their sound, and it's really quite beautiful. "Sound of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson," "April Come She Will," etc. etc. All great tunes. Below is my favorite, "Scarborough Fair."

8. Robert Palmer (Herb's Pick) - I came across a lot of his stuff while endlessly searching for GOOD songs for my wedding reception. He had a handful of hits in the 80's, and after listening to "Simply Irrestible," "Addicted to Love," "Some Like it Hot," and "Bad Case of Loving You," I downloaded his Best Of compilation album. Not only is the music a lot of fun, but his cheesy 80's music videos are hilarious. Check out Simply Irresitible below. As one internet commenter put it, "It's like porn for CEOs."

Robert Palmer - Simply Irresistible

7. Bob Marley and the Wailers (Andy's Pick) - I guess it's fairly in vogue to be a fan of Bob Marley. All of the "music experts" in high school and college wore the Marley shirt, smoked a little weed, and listened to some of his tunes. Me, being firmly entrenched in the 90s grunge movement, and often ridiculing other bands and genres that don't fit my specific needs, it wasn't my thing to listen to a lot of reggae. That being said, I am kind of a pocket Bob Marley fan. A lot of the Rastafarian's tunes have been covered including some pretty big hits by Johnny Cash and Eric Clapton, but it's tough to beat the original versions. Whenever "No Woman No Cry" is on the radio, the volume is turned up and the channel does not change.

6. the Beach Boys (Herb's Pick) - No great story behind this pick. I was going to VA Beach in 2005 and needed some beach tunes to get in the mood. Being the lazy person that I am, I figured the Beach Boys would do the trick, and they did. "Kokomo," "I Get Around," "Sloop John B," their hit list is practically endless. When they were on my master playlist, there was something pretty awesome about chuckin' grenades and shooting guys in the head on Call of Duty while singing along to the Beach Boys.

5. Creed (Andy's Pick) - This probably doesn't come as too big of a surprise as I have exclaimed my liking for Alter Bridge, Creed minus Scott Stapp, on this very website. The problem with Creed is that they became too big. It's a problem when a rock band starts having their songs played on pop stations. Right now Mark Tremonti is one of the better guitarists in rock with AB but was a little hindered with Creed. A little too popular and a little too preachy spelled doom for the cool crowd following, but I still sometimes listen to their greatest hits, and it's still enjoyable.

4. Brooks and Dunn (Herb's Pick) - The only pick I regret. And I mean realllllly regret. If you have to pick one country artist to like, it might as well be Brooks and Dunn. They don't have that twang, twang, twang redneck sound to their music, and they aren't tweeny-bopper pop country like Rascal Flatts and Kenny Chesney. Still, I am disappointed that, for a brief period in late 2005 (my World of Warcraft phase), I downloaded 5 or 6 songs from Napster and held on to them for about a month. For that I am sorry.

3. Hall and Oates (Herb's Pick) - Another band that I got into when looking for fun wedding reception music, Hall and Oates are awesome. I secretly enjoy dancing by myself to their hit songs. A couple weeks back when we had our 1 year anniversary, I posted the SNL Weekend Update clip where they parody "You Make My Dreams Come True" for the election. But seriously, "I Can't Go For That," "Out of Touch" (from the awesome GTA: Vice City soundtrack), "Rich Girl," "Maneater," "Private Eyes," these are all great songs, and leagues ahead of the filth you'll see in the next two entries

2. Jon Bon Jovi (Andy's Pick)
- The grunge movement was a response to the crappy rock that characterized the 1980s, and it's now ironic that I am listening to more 80s stuff after experiencing all the grunge for so many years. Yeah chicks and homos like Jon Bon, but the hit songs are pretty good. Rock band players know "Wanted Dead or Alive" and pretty much everyone else recognizes "Livin on a Prayer" and "You Give Love a Bad Name." Even some of their newer stuff is good, I always thought "It's My Life" was a solid song.

1. Nickelback (Andy's Pick) - Chad Kroeger and crew falls into the same trap as Creed. They got way too popular. Silver Side Up is by far their best album, released in 2001, it contains and plethora of their best hits, "How You Remind Me" and "Too Bad." Since that album, they starting singing slower songs and mainly just chicks went to their concerts. Over the past five years or so their hard-rock, fast songs have still been pretty good, but their slow, pedestrain songs, which attracted all the chicks and gays, made them sort of an embarrassing band to like. Even with that said, if they came out with a greatest hits, I'd still probably buy it.

Nickelback - Rockstar

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

L O S T Finale - Running Diary

The Pens victory is pretty much guaranteed at this moment (they are dominating 5-0 right now), so let's start thinking about LOST. Thanks to the Pens, nothing could put me in a bad mood. I'm more excited than ever for a LOST finale. They have promised and delivered with big twists in the past, so I know tonight is going to be mindblowing.

Pens update: 6-2 with 3 minutes left. Crosby picking Ovie's pocket and taking the puck the length of the ice on a breakaway and undressing Theodore is the defining moment of the series. Crosby is way better than everyone else in the world. Case closed.

I'm watching with fellow site writers Andy and Jay. Here is a quick list of things we want to see tonight:

Herb: The resolution of the Juliet-LaFleur-Whore Kate love triangle. We can't have them dragging this plot throughout next season. Also, I want many gunfights, fistfights, and explosions. Prediction: A+
Jay: wants Christian Shephard to be awesome and talk with Jack. Prediction: A
Urban: wants to see something definitive with Jacob. Will we see him? Hear from him? Is he in fact real!?!?!? Prediction: A

Find out the answers to these questions and more TONIGHT... on L O S T.

9:40 - And. Here. We. Go.
9:41 - Opens with someone at a spindle. Is it Jacob? Briar Rose? If it's Jacob, they are jumping straight into the deep end. I love it.
9:42 - Pirate ship off in the distance (obviously the Black Rock). These actors are a couple of nobodies, which is disappointing. My bet is that Alpert is on that ship.
9:42 - "Always nice talking to you, Jacob." Ooooo--The STATUE!!!!! OoooooOOOOO. I'm geeking out right now. Was any of that even relevant?

First commercial break - Well, we've seen Jacob and the statue, and probably the Black Rock. Who was the other guy, and why were they talking about loopholes and people trying to kill him, muses Jay. Doc Jensen might be seizing right now with all this information.

9:45 - Great. What must be a young Kate is lifting lunchboxes from a mom and pop store.
9:46 - "Always getting caught," says Jay. I couldn't agree more.
9:47 - "I'll pay for it," says..... JACOB!!!! OFF-ISLAND!!!!
9:48 - Kate and Sawyer argue. No one cares.
9:50 - I fucking hate Radzinsky. He is never in a good mood, probably because his bald head is sunburnt. "I came to this Island to change the world, Pierre, and that's exactly what I intend to do." Nobody messes with Dr. Chang, and yet the workers resume drilling at the Swan site.
9:51 - 30 years later. Ben confirms Locke's suspicions. He never met Jacob. I'm thinking that Jacob wants to die, like how the Grail Knight wants Indy to relieve him of his post.
9:53 - "I've never seen anyone come back to life," says Alpert.
"I've never seen anyone who never ages," replies Locke. He is on his game tonight, like the Island version of Sid the Kid.
9:54 - Lapidus is back! Andy loves his chest hair, and really, we all wish we could have that. Ilena claims that her and Meathead are friends of Lapidus. "What's in the box?" Guesses? Jay thinks it's a person.

Commercial Break 2: WHAT IS IN THE BOX? It certainly has Lapidus spooked, so it's something that he can make sense of. I wonder if they are similiarly trying to blow up the Island like Action Jack. The three of us are still stumped as to what it could be. Jay thinks a weapon, but who knows.

9:58 - We are back with another kiddie flashback, most likely Jimmy Ford at his parent's funeral. He's righting his famous note, and who gives him a pen...... JACOB!!!! He is instrumental in the pasts of our heroes. Did he also orchestrate the murder suicide of Mr. and Mrs. Ford?
10:00 - Kate was made to promise not to steal again, and Jimmy was made to promise not to finish the letter. Both eventually break their promises. Hmm.....
10:01 - "You want out? You wanna stay here and whine about it?" Juliet just dominated the fat guard physically and LaFleur mentally. Soooooo hot. Kate, as usual, is a worthless bystander.
10:02 - The sub surfaces courtesy of more Warcraft III graphics.
10:04 - "Yeah, I know him....and if I were you, I wouldn't give up on him." Jack is awesome. Locke is awesome. Alpert is awesome. The only thing that can ruin this night is more lines for Sun.
10:05 - "I'm not gonna kill Jacob, Ben, you are." Wow!!! Great line after great line after great line. The first half hour is supposed to be the setup for the big finish, and this setup is fantastic.

Commercial Break 3:
Andy: "The stuff with Jacob is awesome. Jacob, Alpert, Ben, Locke is far superior than the Dharma crap."
We've seen Sawyer and Kate as kiddies. Next up in the flashback is Juliet, but what will see in her past? Andy easily predicts that Jacob will pop up. Jay thinks an older Juliet will be in the flashback, not a kiddie.

10:08 - Flashback to a happy Sayid and Nadia. Probably her death!!!! JACOB!!!!! He orchestrates the death of Nadia. Is it wrong that the three of us erupted in laughter when she was hit by the SUV? Her last words..."Take me home." Andy is almost in tears over here. I still have no idea what the intentions of Jacob are. He's now influenced present events in the present time as well as in the 70s.
10:10 - Oooo Alpert just knocked out Eloise so that Jack and Sayid could storm the Barracks. Any chance that Hurley and Miles and Jin get caught in the crossfire. Jack looks like he's itching for a gunfight.
10:12 - Aww there's Phil. I like Phil. He's just doing what he think is right.
10:13 - BANG!!! First big surprise of the night, Roger Workman just put a slug in Sayid's belly; payback for shotting his kid. Jack's aim has dropped off in the 3 years he's been off-Island. Hurley comes to the rescue in the van much like he did in Season 3.

Commercial Break 4: Will Sayid be saved? Does this make their mission to alter the timeline even more imperative?!?
Jay loves the new Terminator trailer. What a loser. Andy and Jay thinks that Sayid was unceremoniously done in. I guess walking through town in plain clothes was pretty stupid after all. I think Sayid is a goner, but the future will be changed soon, so I'm not too upset about it.

10:17 - Juliet just sadly said goodbye to the sub as it submerges. Jay gets the feeling that she's the next to go. We all agree that would suck.
10:18 - VINCENTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!! 3 Years later!!!! NOOOOOOOO Rose is alive. YESSSSS Bernard is back and everyone is rejoicing. He looks like Harrison Ford in the fugitive, rocking the great beard and shaggy hair. "Sonuvabitch." We miss you too, Bernard.
10:20 - Looks like they aren't Adam and Eve. But even better, Rose and Bernard made a happy life in the jungle with a nice little hut. I'm happy for them.
Kate: Jack's got a bomb.
Rose: Who cares?
We can all agree that everyone hates Kate, right? I'm loving Rose and Bernard right now. Juliet and LaFleur are obviously jealous.
10:22 - "We are the good guys," says Meathead. I doubt it. Whoaaaaa, looks like they are first to Jacob's cabin. How did they know where to find it? Is Jacob's body in the crate?
10:23 - Flashback time again. Looks like Ilana covered in burns and what not. Jacob is here to visit, maybe to tell her what is in the shadow of the statue. Ilana recognizes him. Hmmmm..... I still don't know what to make of his intentions, which is great.

Commercial break 5: Looks like we are going to learn a lot about Jacob and the Statue. New theory on what is in the box. Smokey the monster, maybe? Is Christian really the voice of Jacob, like we've been lead to believe. Jay believes that, like Ilana, Meathead, and Lapidus, Locke is also heading towards the statue to see Jacob. Jay also believes that the detonation of jughead is what rips apart the statue. Both are excellent thoughts....

10:29 - Jacob is reading a book. JENSEN!!! The building looks like the same one where Locke falls. HAHAHAH!!! I was right. Locke just crashed to the ground behind a calm Jacob. Andy and I feel that Locke died on impact, but Jacob's touch brought Locke back to life. This is getting better and better. He has had an impact on virtually everything. Is Jacob's will in line with the will of the Island?
10:31 - Locke and Ben are having another fantastic scene together. My question from last week has been answered. Ben was just faking it when he took Locke to the cabin, and was shocked to actually see results. Locke is dominating, saying that Ben was pretty much given the shit end of the stick as a reward for all his efforts in service of the Island. "The question is, Ben, why the hell wouldn't you want to kill Jacob?" What a role reversal for the two.
10:34 - DriveShaft ring? More like Suck Shaft...
10:35 - Jin and Sun's wedding. Will Jacob be the priest? Best man? DJ at the reception? And there he is, like Waldo. Jacob knows fluent Korean, just like whatever language he spoke with Ilana. We get the picture, Lindelof, Jacob has been everywhere.
10:37 - Team Jack vs. Team LaFleur. Round 1. FIGHT!

Commercial Break 6: Jay wants a sad ending for Sun and Jin, but now thinks they will be happily reunited. We are now all making fun of Nadia. Jay (in a girly voice): "Hey Sayid, I'm going to stand in the middle of the road and----" thump. She has dropped in the power rankings.

10:41 - Jay has correctly predicted that Alpert has taken them to the statue, but what lies in its shadow.... perhaps we will see?
10:42 - Showdown time. Jack vs. James. "5 minutes," says Jack in a goofy manner.
10:42 - Flashback time!!! Jack is operating, and Jay guesses it's the angelhair pasta girl. He's right. One of my predictions for the episode is correct. Jack is given a pep talk by the greatest dad in the history of dads, Christian Shephard. Jack is now ready to fix the girl. But where is Jacob? Give it time....
10:44 - More Jack and Christian bonding in the hallway. Ooooo Jack just stuck it to the old man. Hahahaha Jacob helps the doc with his candy problems. I'm not sure how that influences Jack at all.
10:45 - LaFleur is telling Jack about his dead parents. Will he tell them it was Locke's dad? Sawyer is of the opinion that "What's done is done." I'm kind of siding with Sawyer on this one.
10:47 - "I had her. I had her, and I lost her." Jack talking about Kate (or hopefully Juliet?). Words didn't work with Jack
10:48 - BAM! A real Showdown!!! Come on, doc!!! Sawyer just gave him a cheapshot, like Ovechkin's knee-on-knee hit. Jack limps off in disgrace. Juliet sides with her real man. Does this mean Sawyer will help them now?

Commercial Break 7: Jay thinks this is the first time that Jack and Sawyer have fist fought, and I can't prove him wrong. Maybe when Sayid tortured him in season 1? Andy also can't think of another time they had a dust-up. So, where do we stand? No one wants Kate. Jack is still set to blow up the outside world.

10:53 - Flashback time to probably Juliet as a kiddie. Her parents are splitting up. Bigggggg deal. Hmmm... no Jacob during that scene.
10:54 - Juliet thinks Sawyer is batting his eyes at Kate. So here's the connection between her parents divorce and the current situation. Sometimes you just know when it's not meant to be. She wants the Island to blow up so that she never has to lose Sawyer to tramp Kate.
10:56 - Big shocker, Radzinski is yelling again. He thinks Jack and co. are heading for the Swan, which is right. Jack is looking over the situation from a distance, much like Han Solo before they storm the shield generator at Endor.
10:57 - Kate blows.

Commercial Break: Another flipflop from a woman. Kate now wants to blow up the Island. About a half is left, and they really need to deliver. It's been a lot of set up. Question: Who does Jacob visit next?
Andy: Juliet
Jay: Walt
Me: Ben, but Ben doesn't know that it's Jacob.

11:01 - Flashback time. Looks like Hurley gets the visit. He's being released from prison after the events from the beginning of this season. Cab driver Jacob? False. He is a passenger. Andy notes the guitar in the cab. I love how Jacob has the same level of stubble for every era that he has been in. Jacob delivers a pretty comforting speech to Hurley where he assures him that he is not crazy. This explains why Hurley makes it on the plane.
11:05 - Time for Jack's destiny. Why isn't anyone helping him storm the Hatch? This is great action music for the doc. "See you in Los Angeles," he tells a bummed out Sawyer.
11:06 - Meanwhile, Locke is ready to meet the man of the last 2 hours. Richard has pretty much been a doormat this episode, probably something he's not used to in his many years of existence. "Tell him I said hello." HERE WE GO!!!!
11:09 - Into the foot of the statue they go, I'm almost certain that Jacob will turn the tables on Linus and kill him.

Commercial Break 9: Question: Will history be changed??!?!
Jay: NOOOO (sorry Jack)
Andy: I don't know
Me: You better believe it.

Next Question: Will Jacob die this episode?
Jay: NOOOOO, unless he is already dead.
Andy: Some form of Jacob will survive.
Me: You better believe it.

For the record, well all have no idea what to make of this episode. Our collective heads are spinning.

11:12 - Miles alerts the group that maybe "Whatever Happens, Happened" and the nuke IS the incident. Reinforcements (if you call 4 guys in a jeep, one of them being inept Phil, reinforcents) are on their way and the LOSTies must spring into action.
11:14 - Jay thinks Pierre's arm is coming off soon.
11:15 - Juliet continues to be hot and shoots a guy. Kate, for the first time in the history of LOST, has killed someone on the Island. Sawyer catches Phil and is ready to make good on his promise. Time to drop the bomb.....
11:16 - .......
11:17 - .......
11:18 - Uh oh. Will anything happen?
11:18 - Anyone else thinking shades of season 2 and Locke saying "I was wrong."
11:18 - The magnets are going nuts!!! Chang's arm!!! Miles saves him!!! Stupid Phil is killed!! Juliet is grabbed like Quint in Jaws (notes Jay)!!!!! No no no no no!!! Bye bye, Juliet.
Jay: "ELSA!!!!!" (from Indy 3).
11:21 - to break the tension, The local news guy says "Next at 11, a local boy is mauled by a dog." We can't help but laugh. We are all going to Hell.

Commercial Break 10: We are stunned, like Caps fans. Juliet is dead and the world is less hot as a result of this. IT SHOULD'VE BEEN KATE!!!! Jay wisely notes that Jacob never visited with Juliet off-Island. Jay thinks she deserves dying for her loser affair with Goodwin.

Question: What we just witnessed: Was it the Incident? Does it alter the future?
Jay: That was how it always happened.
Andy: Nope, because Pierre arms gets mangled like it should
Me: I agree.

11:27 - Buzzkill. We just saw Sun. "Do you have any alcohol?" You suck.
11:28 - Ilana, Meathead, and Lapidus meet up with the Others at the statue. What's in the box?!?!?!? "What lies in the shadow of the statue?" Richard answers in some crazy language! According to the boards: "
"Ille qui nos omnes servabit" "He who will save us all."
11:30 - Box time. Sounds like a body. Looks like a body! Andy was right! HIM!?!? JOHN FUCKING LOCKE!!!! LOCKE!!!! LOCKE!!!!! WOW WOW WOW!!!!
11:31 - "I don't understand," says Sun. Retard.
11:32 - Jay thinks new Locke is the other guy that was pals with Jacob in the beginning. We never got his name, though.
11:32 - "Well you've found your loophole." - Jacob
"Indeed I did." - New Locke. Jay is right. Unbelievable.
11:33 - "Do what I've asked of you Ben." YIKES!!!!
11:33 - "So now, after all this time, you've decided to stop ignoring me." Ben is pouring his heart out now. The shit is about to hit the fan. Ben Linus is the man.
11:34 - "What was it that was so wrong with me? What about me!?!?" - Ben
"What about you?" - Jacob. Basterd
11:35 - STAB! You just got served, Jacob, Linus-style. For good measure, new Locke kicks him in the fire. Jacob is dead!!!!!! His last words? "They're coming." LOSTIES!!!!!
11:36 - JULIET IS ALIVE!!!! NO WAY!!!! She's going to blow the bomb!!!!
11:37 - KABOOM!!! New Lost colors is black text on white!!!
11:38 - LOST.

Ending thoughts: We all knew that the bomb would blow this episode, but we've learned nothing else. What is the result? We won't find out for many many months. Consensus? A disappointing ending. Other than that?

Jay: Grade - C - No answers tonight. Just more questions about Jacob and his buddy.
Andy: Is dead Locke the real Locke? Who is the live Locke? Grade - B+
Me: We still don't know what lies in the shadow of the statue. I'll check the boards soon and update the blog. There was a lot of buildup and we still don't know the repercussions of Jughead blowing up. Grade - B

The signifigance of the different Logo at the end (Black text on white background)? Much like Mario using 66 to answer 99: The world is about turn upside down. Altered timeline here we come.

Was the guy who eventually inhabited new Locke the same spirit who inhabited new Christian? Too many questions. What a great season of LOST, people.