Monday, April 26, 2010

Pens and Steelers Talk

The Penguins continue on by beating the Senators in what was a very evenly-matched, tough series. Pittsburgh was the superior hockey team, but Ottawa was a lot better than people here realized. I felt really good for Pascal Dupuis who had a solid, underrated season after being sort of the last man out in the playoffs last year. On Saturday, he was the best Penguin on the ice in my opinion, flying around, getting numerous scoring chances, and winning the game in overtime.

The Penguins really have to thank the Philadelphia Flyers for dispatching the Devils and allowing the Pens to avoid the Capitals for at least one more round. I don’t know how good the Penguins are, I don’t think they are as good as they were last year or even the year before, but I definitely like a second round match-up presumably with either Buffalo or Boston, and beyond that, it’s tough to bet against a team with Crosby, Malkin, and Fleury.

Yeah, all the Fleury hate after game one was ridiculous. Anybody that cried and complained should be ashamed of themselves and realize that this is one of the better goalies in the NHL and will probably soon pass Tom Barrasso as the greatest net-minder in franchise history. All the criticism was typical low-class low-brow Pittsburgh that is all-too common from a large pool of uneducated sports "fans."

Even with another Pens playoff run, the Steelers and mainly Ben Roethlisberger have dominated the Pittsburgh sports airwaves. Like Fleury, I think the backlash within Pittsburgh surrounding Ben has been way too harsh. He might be stupid and an arrogant asshole, but he’s paid to win football games and he accomplishes that task very well. For all of those idiot fans who say they won’t root for the Steelers if Ben stays, give me a break. For all of those idiots who say they have hated Ben for years, you are all just hypocrites. I wasn’t as high as most were on Roethlisberger when he came into the league and even during the 2005 Super Bowl run, but during the Tomlin-era he has easily been a top-5 NFL quarterback and was solely responsible for a Super Bowl victory in 2008. And you want to trade him? If you have a quarterback of this caliber you keep that player at all costs, period.

The suspension is an absolute joke from a joke of a commissioner. 6 games for zero charges, Dictator Goodell could have easily sent a message with a one or two game suspension. I do think there are some racial politics being played in which the commissioner can put an all-pro white quarterback up against all the black criminals who have been suspended in the past. There are some questions about whether Ben can re-claim the fans within Pittsburgh and around the league. Just look at Ray Lewis and Kobe Bryant, if he wins, he’ll be back.

Draft wise, I liked the Thursday-Saturday format. I have always been a draft fan and putting more focus on the first round and stretching out the entire weekend was enjoyable to me. But, I’m starting to get really sick of Goodell. All the chest bumps, hugs, high fives, and all the former players, coaches, and handicapped kids announcing draft picks was laughable. All of these business marketing devices combined with these over-reaching suspensions for mainly acquittals makes me miss Paul Tagliabue.

Instead of looking at each pick, I want to analyze each position on the Steelers and how the draft came into play moving forward toward the 2010 Regular Season.

QB - Including Ben, the Steelers will enter training camp with four quarterbacks. I assume it will be a competition between Leftwich and Dixon for the first four games. They won’t start the season with 4 quaterbacks, so probably either Batch or Leftwich gets cut. A lot of people are saying an 0-4 or 1-3 start without Roethlisberger, don’t be surprised at all if the Steelers are 3-1 when he comes back.

RB/FB - Drafting Jonathan Dwyer kind of solidifies the position. Mendenhall the starter, Dwyer the short yardage/goal-line back and the backup, and Melwelde Moore is still the solid 3rd-down back.

WR/TE - Even with losing Holmes, there is a lot of depth at this position. Behind Hines Ward and Mike Wallace you have Antwaan Randle-el, Arnaz Battle, Limas Sweed, Joey Galloway and you drafted a solid Emmanuel Sanders in the 3rd round. Can Mike Wallace be a good starter? Is the 3rd receiver’s spot Randle-el’s to loose? Tight end wise, is Matt Spaeth a bust? A third-round pick for 8-10 catches and a touchdown per year, he's probably best known as Jeff Reed’s pee buddy.

OL - The offensive-line should improve. Maurkice Pouncey will battle with Trai Essex for the starting guard spot and is the heir apparent to Justin Hartwig at center. Chris Scott this year and Kraig Urbik last provides further depth to the interior of the offensive line. If Max Starks and Willie Colon have solid years, look for great improvement from this unit.

DL - Health is always a key as Hampton, Keisel, and Aaron Smith are getting older. The Steelers probably reached a little in signing Hampton to a multi-year deal, but they also probably had to do. The development of Ziggy Hood is very important.

LB - A lot of depth was added in the draft bettering the corps. I thought James Farrior was a weak spot last year, and with the addition or re-addition of Larry Foote, plus the improvement of Keyaron Fox, and the influx or young draft picks, Farrior should at least be fresher.

CB/S - I love re-acquiring Bryant McFadden. He can immediately start and William Gay can return to nickel where he was very solid two years ago. McFadden was essentially acquired with the pick sent to the Steelers from the New York Jets for Santonio Holmes. Through this year’s and last year’s draft, there is a lot of young depth at both the cornerback and safety positions. With Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, it all comes down to health.

ST - Jeff Reed is back and Daniel Sepulveda is ok, even though I think he is a little overrated. By drafting all of these hybrid 3-4 linebackers, most can make their mark on special teams like James Harrison did a few years ago. Smart and solid drafting by the Steelers.

Overview - Expect to the Steelers to come into 2010 a little underrated and undervalued because of last year and the Ben Roethlisberger situation. With a good draft, Pittsburgh should be more balanced on offense with an improved offensive line and running game. The tough breaks injury-wise hopefully won’t occur this year, and the Steelers’ defense can revert more to a 2008 form than last year. By drafting a lot of good defensive athletes, the special teams unit can only get better. Baltimore will most likely be the pre-season AFC North favorite, but the Steelers should be in the divisional race until the end, and I anticipate a return to the playoffs.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

LOST Roundtable

We are now less than one month away from the LOST finale. This coming Tuesday is a repeat showing of Ab Aeterno (only the best episode of the season thus far), and then we only have 3 new episodes left until the finale. Because we cannot contain our excitement, I've gathered together most of the LOST braintrust to exchange theories, predictions, and maybe a gripe or two with some humorous help from If you think you've got us beat with a better answer, then sound off below.

1. Herb: Is the Island a real, physical, tangible place that our castaways can actually leave, or will it end up being something crazy like Hell, Purgatory, a dream, and other various crazy shit?

Jay: It's not a geographical place on a map, but think about how everyone got there. There was a flash.... and then boom, they landed there. Ajira 316, Oceanic 815, all the boats, they just suddenly appear. Consider Sawyer's explanation that the Dharma have only ever used a sub to transport to and from the Island.
Herb: Stemming from Jay's last point, could it be that the only way to travel to the Island physically is by traveling underwater? In the flashsideways world, the Island is sunken. Perhaps you need a sub to get there because you have to travel underwater through some crazy wormhole to get there. WHOA!!!!!!!!!!
Dave: And think about the Oceanic 815 wreckage being found at the bottom of the ocean. Was it really a hoax?
Jay: This is poppycock. But if Ajira 316 and Oceanic 815 "flashed" to the Island together, then it helps explain why everyone must be together in order to get off.
FINAL ANSWER: The Island world is on a completely different plane of existence from the sideways-world and the normal "flashback/flashforward" world.

2. Herb: What is the single-biggest blunder from the show's six seasons? This could be a dropped storyline, a botched-storyline, or whatever you want.

Dave: Easy... the sheriff from season 3. That's the single biggest waste of a new character, and Jay will agree to that (Jay says no... he hates Zoe). How about Room 23?
Jay: Sawyer having a kid... but, by extension, all the children on the show (Aaron, Walt, Ji Yeon, the stupid kid with a teddy bear). David Shephard is gayyyyyyyyyyy. Also, anything they do with the magic goo (the stuff that Locke gave to Boone is season 1). How do you make magic goo?!?!?!!
Herb: Okay... any other characters?
Jay: Mr. Eko. Pointless. Any of the tailies: Pointless. Charlotte... POINTLESS!!! And frankly, Big Ben Linus was supposed to be a major character, but he's just gotten dumber and dumber as the series has gone on.

3. Herb: Finale question: You know a major character is going to die. Who should it be and who will it be?

Jay: I want it to be Kate, but it will probably be Jack.
Dave: It should and will be Sawyer, because all the idiots out there love Sawyer, and the writers will want to provoke backlash.
Herb: I'm betting Sawyer has some stupid self-sacrificing moment. "Argghhh Kate, I can't live without Juliet. You need to get back and take care of my daughter...." (he says this after facing the wrath of Smokey).

4. Herb: The much talked about Episode 15 is rumored to be a crazy episode with none of the original characters. What will it be about?

Jay: It's going to be about Hanso, the origin of Dharma, and ultimately the Island. They're going to be researching the Island at Ann Arbor, and we're going to find out all sorts of secrets and answers about whether or not the Island is a place or some weird pocket of energy.
Dave: It's gonna be about Smokey. The whole episode will be his backstory with Jacob.... how he got the Island, how he was duped. The two kids that he's seen this season will turn out to be his kids. We'll see how they died (and how Smokey lost him), kinda like we saw Isabella die with Richard.
Herb: Maybe we'll learn Smokey's true name. Any ideas?
Dave: I like your theory about candidate #108 being Smokey. His name, according to Jacob's sundial, was WALLACE.
Herb: I agree with Dave. Season 5 was all about the Dharma Initiative. They told us everything they needed to about that group. This season is all about Smokey and Jacob. It would seem so out of place to suddenly switch back to that storyline.

5. Jay: Who is the mother of gay David Shepard? Does it matter? I think it does since they've mentioned her in two different episodes without hinting at who she might be?

Dave: Who are the upcoming cameos? Ana-Lucia? It could be here, but that would be dumb...
Herb: It'll be a letdown when we find out that Sarah is the mother, but it makes logistical sense. She was recently filming an episode of Modern Family in Hawaii, and I'm betting she stopped by the set to shoot some scenes with Jack and Davey.

6. Herb: If you could have one mystery answered, what would it be?

Jay: Why was Jack's neck bleeding on the airplane during the premiere?
Dave: As far as this season goes, I want to find out the significance of people's scars and when they look in the mirrors during the flashsideways.
Jay: That's what I just said...
Dave: Uhhhh... Then I want to know why Eloise knows everything about everything in every different universe.
Herb: Why this specific group of people? Why were they brought together? That's what I want to know.

7. Herb: Okay, last question, and it has to do with the last scene of the show. Will the ending be abrupt like the Sopranos, a slow, happy goodbye like Friends, or maybe a sad, evil ending?

Jay: It'll be crazy and confusing like the end of the Matrix... and I have no idea what that means.
Dave: It'll be a satisfying ending, but it'll still leave a lot in the air. It should end on the Island and on the beach...
Herb: ...And some other group of people are arriving on the Island to play the game that our castaways have played these past 6 years. Or maybe the series ends like it started... with Jack lying in the bamboo forest, and his eye opens up like the end of Avatar. Actually... it better not end like Avatar.
Jay: Smokey is Black Henry Gale!
Dave: What?!?!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

L O S T Pic of the Week (small spoilers within)

Lindelof and Cuse, the main creative forces behind LOST, shown here in their writer's room.
There are several small SPOILERS in this picture, things that have more to do with plot developments in the next episode rather than mindblowing mythological stuff. It's all worth looking at, and a very strategic "flash" on the left side of the photo tries to conceal the meat of the final episodes...


1. The last couple of episodes are listed on the whiteboard. Also listed are the next two. The flash obscures both the titles and the characters that the episodes focus on...or does it? Everyone thought last night's episode was a Jack/Locke episode, but the flash sideways reveals hit on all the characters---Claire, Jin/Sun, Kate, Sawyer, rather than just Jack and Locke. Well, a closer look at next week's episode on the whiteboard tells us that next week is the Jack/Locke episode we've been waiting for. Fuck yea. The name of the episode is "The Ca______". Hmm, what could it be? The Candidates?

2. After that, we see an episode with a title that seems to be "Across the Sea". The focus is on a character ending in the letters "ey". At first, I barfed a little bit, thinking they might actually force a Zoey episode on us. Thank god a closer look shows that it's gotta be S M O K E Y (Hurley fits too, but he had his shot a couple weeks back). Again, fuck yea.

3. Some of the text between Lindelof and Cuse summarizes a few scenes from last night. Other parts of it, however, reveal the opening scenes of the next episode. Annoyingly Small Spoiler Alert: It seems Sawyer gets the drop on one of Widmore's men right away, pulls a gun on one. But the others point a gun on Kate, saying something like "we need you, but she's not a candidate so screw her. Drop it or she's pwned." Afterwards, Camp Widmore puts their new prisoners, Sawyer and Kate included, back in the, wait for it, CAGES. All together now: ugggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh.

4. In Sidewaysworld, it seems Jack runs into Bernard at his dentist office (Bernard, if you remember, is also a doctor). The only line we're given "I want to ask you about a patient's accident." Oooooooh.

5. Other cool non spoilery things in this picture include the timeline for the show, some dharma things lying around, and the production schedule for episode 14 ("Bender - 1st Unit" written on it. We all know Jack Bender directs the best damn episodes.)

I generally steer clear of spoilers, but this picture came up in an article about Cuse and Lindelof wrapping up the show. I looked around for cool easter eggs and found these juicy bits instead. Had to pass it on. Can't wait for LOST to come back in two weeks

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

LOST Review: The Last Recruit

"John, did you fart?"

"Uhhh..... no??"

The 13th episode of Season 6 kinda felt like a mini-finale to me, or at least part one of the big finale. Like other great LOST episodes, the Last Recruit had big answers, jungle treks, explosions, and a tear-jerker reunion. It certainly wasn't a blow-your-fucking-mind tour de force like some episodes this season, but for just being a "setup" episode, it definitely served its purpose.

This is one of the big enduring mysteries that we all kinda thought, but now we have confirmation on the matter. Even though he never found the corpse, Jack was told by both Smokey Locke and Claire that his dad was really just the Smoke Monster. But why would he do that? According to Locke, he just wanted to help Jack find some water back in the 5th episode of season 1 (lame). It makes more sense when Claire abandoned her child to hide in the shack with Christian since we later find out from Ilana that Smokey corrupted Jacob's shack. There were 2 big things I loved about this scene. Number one: Jack finally talking with Locke. In season 1, they feuded often on the castaway war council. In season 2, they argued like an old married couple living in the hatch. In season 3, I think they had two conversations. In season 4, they had one conversation. In season 5, they had ZERO. And finally, in episode 13 of season 6, the two heavyweight actors do battle once more. It was a treat to watch. Secondly, I instantly believed Smokey when he confirmed that he was Christian Shephard. I actually paused the show to shout at the Mrs, "OOOoOOooo Smokey is Christian!!!" Her response: "Um... he's lying." I wanted to laugh at her, but she makes a great point. We are so desperate for answers on this show that we cling to anything that Jacob and Smokey say because they appear to be the keymaster/gatekeeper of all the Island's secrets.... and yet, they never really tell us the whole truth!!! So I won't be convinced of Christian's true identity until Jack has a conversation with him in the finale (you know it's coming).

Newly reformed Doc is a Man of Thinking

Lending further proof to last week's theory that Desmond is the reincarnated vessel of Jacob (like Locke is Smokey), Sayid probably did not kill him while he lingered in that well. As soon as Sayid answered Desmond's question, I thought, "If you let him speak, it's already too late." Much like how Jacob not only talked down Richard, but also recruited him, Desmond was able to convince Sayid not to kill him in order to get back to Nadia. Is Sayid finally on a path of redemption? We'll see...

Dave correctly predicted that Det. James Ford would collar the fugitive Sayid, and he also predicted that Sun and Locke would be meeting up at Jack's hospital, but no one else showed signs of cross-universal mind-melding this week. Sun recognized Locke, but it could've been from Oceanic 815 and not the real world. I like how Sawyer and Jack control their two separate worlds in the alternate universe just like the regular one. Sawyer is running the show at the precinct with Miles, Kate, and Sayid while Jack is handling Claire, Ilana, Desmond, Locke, Ben, and the Kwons. Oh, and Ilana as a lawyer?!?! Gimme a break. Of all the stretches this universe is trying to make (and there have been many), there's nothing more laughable than Ilana going from a bounty hunter/protector to a freakin lawyer. STUPID!

Okay, my faith in Smokey's competence is dropping with each week. Last week, he made the point to Sawyer that he's not carving a spear, he's waiting for the Island to tell him what the tool would be (turns out it was meant to smash walkie-talkies). In this week's edition of stupidity, Zoe confronts him and says "You stole someone from us. Give him back," to which Locke replies "Uhhhh...."

Any time...

Why not throw it back her in face since Widmore attacked their camp and kidnapped Jin first? I guess Locke forgot about that. Or maybe he wants to be provoked into a fight. I can never really tell when he's being duped or when he's allowing himself to be duped. Example: He must've known that Sawyer was going to double-cross him with that boat, right?

Big Discussion: Widmore reigns missile drops down on Smokey's people, resulting in a sweet stunt where Jack is launched through the air like he was trying to storm Omaha beach. Locke pulls him to safety and says "You're with me now." Is there any chance that Jack will side with Locke?!?!? Is there any chance that Locke really wants Jack to side with him?!?! I just wish these characters were more trustworthy...

Does Widmore have any reason to think that explosions work on Smokey?

Before we get to the lovey dovey stuff, did any one of you suspect that Jin was going to run through the sonic fence and collapse with busted eardrums? Cause I sure did. But once they safely embraced and exchanged romantic Engrish cliches, I must admit that it got to me. In the history of LOST, we only got 3 happy endings. Bernard and Rose lived happily ever after, and had the greatest reunion scene back in season 2. Desmond and Penny had a satisfying reunion at the end of season 4, but now she's in LA and he's at the bottom of a well. The Jin/Sun reunion is the third and final happy ending... for now.


  • Jack jumping off the boat should've reminded you of Sawyer jumping off the chopper, but Sawyer selfishly did it because he wasn't ready to face the real world. Jack did it because he's ready to face the Island. Point goes to the Doc.
  • Where is the B team?!? I was almost positive that Ben, Miles, and Richard would ambush Zoe and co. on the beach, but maybe they have other plans for getting past the sonic fence.
  • Sawyer joking about Frank Lapidus' chest hair was hilarious, and I even liked the Burt Reynolds dig.
  • If Desmond was spared by Sayid, then presumably he was released, too. So where did he go? I'm betting that he travels to next big place that Widmore is using Jin to find.
  • These last few episodes have had a classic Season 1 feeling to them since almost the entire cast is involved. That's always a good thing, even if it means more lines for Sun.
I'd give this episode a B-. It was a solid transitional story, but the payoff will most likely come next week when the war begins.

1. Ab Aeterno
2. the Substitute
3. Lighthouse
4. Everybody Loves Hugo
5. Happily Ever After
6. The Last Recruit
7. LAX
8. Dr. Linus
9. Sundown
10. the Package
11. Recon
12. What Kate Does

Clip of the Week: Return of Wikus

Monday, April 19, 2010

The 50 Most Exciting Pittsburgh Wins Since 1990

As storied as Pittsburgh is when it comes to sports history, I was still surprised to think that you could tally up 50 big wins in the last 20 years. A third of this list may be filled with Pitt Panthers lameness, but the rest is solid black and gold moments. I remember jumping (and reinjuring) my broken ankle when Mario scored in his comeback game (#38). I remember leaping on the couch and dropping burning hot pizza on my leg when Straka undressed Olie the Goalie in Game 6 OT against the Caps (#46). I remember not being able to stay awake back in 1995, but my Dad told me the next morning how Petr Nedved won the game after 4 OTs (#15). Of course, the counter-memory to that is not being able to stay awake in 2000 and watching Keith Primeau break our spirits after 5 OTs. And finally, all of the awesome Steeler victories in recent memory make me think of being lazy at Penn State.

Read through the list to see what entries are overrated (#17 and #32) and which ones are underrated (#23). Below is a quick breakdown of how many times each team makes an appearance on the list (yes... I know they add up to 49), and then an in-depth look at the Top 10.

Steelers - 12
Pens - 18
Pirates - 3
Pitt football - 8
Pitt basketball - 8

1. 2/1/09 - Super Bowl 43 - Steelers 27, Cardinals 23 – No surprise here. On sports' biggest stage, the Steelers 6th championship provided big plays, last-second heroics, and some sweet HD visuals. I watched this game at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Appleton, WI amidst a sea of Steeler haters. It was a w e s o m e .

2. 6/12/09 - Stanley Cup Game 7 - Penguins 2, Red Wings 1 – After the Steelers SB43 victory, I jumped and danced in the B-Dubs parking lot, but that feeling cannot compare to jumping up and down in my present-day apartment here in SW Ohio. The long grind of the Stanley Cup playoffs.... coming back and taking the wings to 7... just the general underdog feeling against the Big Red Machine... it all combines for a moment far sweeter than any Super Bowl.

3. 5/26/92 - Stanley Cup Finals Game 1 - Penguins 5, Blackhawks 4 -I have no problem with this game being listed at number 3, but I definitely do not remember watching it. I was just finishing up kindergarten when this was played, so in all likelihood I was napping.

4. 5/25/91 - Stanley Cup Finals Game 6 - Penguins 8, North Stars 0 – Ditto to this. Jay could probably be the only one to write about this, but I doubt he watched it, either.

5. 1/15/06 - AFC Divisional Game – Steelers 21, Colts 18 – Before 2009, this probably would've been my number victory of all time. After all, I had never experienced a championship season before this. I was used to getting kicked around by the Broncos, Patriots, and a number of other teams that always seemed to be better than the Steelers come January. But it was this game that had me convinced we were Super Bowl bound. Betting on the Steelers to win when they were huge underdogs sure didn't hurt, either. I watched this game in my dorm room with Dave and Andy, and I remember collapsing to the ground after Buttis' fumble, only to jump up and run down the hall shouting after Vanderjagt hooked his field goal, which is still probably sailing wide right.

6. 12/1/07 - Pitt 13, West Virginia 9 – Who cares? Not me.

7. 6/2/08 Stanley Cup Game 5 Penguins 4, Red Wings 3 (3 OT) – The 2008 Pens Playoff run often hinted at greatness and comparisons to Star Wars, but in the end it wasn't meant to be. Once such glimmer of hope was Petr Sykora, not long after calling his shot to Pierre McGuire, drilling the game-winner in OT. I was watching this at my mom's house to take a break from my Elder Scrolls marathon, which was much more fun than watching the Pens blow it in Game 6.

8. 1/14/96 - AFC Championship - Steelers 20, Colts 16 – One of my oldest memories as a Steelers fan is 3 more yards back in 1995. I watched that heartbreaking championship defeat (the first of many under Cowher's regime) at my Pap's house, and I remember storming out onto the porch after it happened, but probably only because my older brother did it first. Anyway, the next year went much better, as I again got to sing "Here We Go" all the way to my Pap's house to watch the Steelers prevent a desperate Hail Mary from the Comeback Kid.

9. 5/10/01 -Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 7 - Penguins 3, Sabres 2 (OT) – The year of Lemieux's comeback, the Pens memorable playoff push involved OT clinchers against both Washington and Buffalo, but the Game 7 victory deserves it's spot in the Top Ten. Probably the unlikeliest of heroes on this entire list, Darius Kasparaitis threw a weak shot at the net that my dad could probably kick save, and yet it found it's way past the Dominator. I also watched this game at my Pap's house, and like the Game 6 clincher against the Caps, it ended with me jumping up and down on the couch.

10. 6/9/09 Stanley Cup Game 6 Penguins 2, Red Wings 1 - I'm not sure this one really deserves to be in the Top Ten. It was more tense and nerve-racking than exciting, and I'd put the Game 7 annihilation of Ovechkin's crew (#14) ahead of this snoozefest. To reinforce how boring it was, I watched this game alone in my apartment, and probably even forget to wear my Crosby jersey.

Watch the Guild

Remember wayyyyyyyyyy back in our very first issue when I talked up the Guild? Probably not, but nevertheless, Microsoft just announced that they are picking up the show for a fourth season!!!! For those cool people like me that have Netflix, you can instant queue the first 2 seasons and they'll merge the webisodes together into two seamless episodes.

For a tasty sampling, watch the season 3 premiere below as the Knights of Good camp outside GameStop waiting for the expansion pack... and a rival guild....

Then, once you're hooked, watch the bottom video, which is where it all began. Bear in mind, neither of these episodes contain my favorite quote, which is somewhere in Season 2:

Vork: Women... can't live with them... they will not go out with me.

<a href="" target="_new" title="Season 3 - Episode 1: Expansion Time">Video: Season 3 - Episode 1: Expansion Time</a>

Team 4 Wins Hockey Gold!

The Kettering Ice Arena's Beginner/Intermediate Hockey League came to an end this past weekend. Your beloved Team 4, searching for an elusive undefeated season, fell victim to Patriots hubrus and choked in the final game, 4-1. The good news is that there is no postseason, so our 6-1 record was good enough for first place. Your fearless webmaster finished the season with 7 goals, 9 assists, and a faceoff win percentage that very well could've been over 50%. The above picture is from our final game... my breakaway tally that was our only goal of the game. Congrats on an awesome season...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday

This month (April 7th, to be exact), the Top Man entertainment repository (don't call it a blog) celebrates its 2nd birthday. Count me among those surprised that we continue to update this thing (this is post #663), but where else are you going to find cutting edge LOST material and the latest musings on Pittsburgh sports? Exactly. So what have we been writing about since our last birthday? Here are the top 3 topics of the 2009-10 season, plus the big year end award.

3. FILM REVIEWS (17 articles)

I was kinda hoping this number would be a little bit bigger. Just from cramming in new releases for the FLOBY season, the 5 writers on this staff have probably combined for nearly 200 films, but since reviews are normally done for movies seen in the theater and not Netflix or the internet, that's where the low tally comes in. The best reviewed movie of the year was District 9, which earned the only A rating. A number of movies garnered A- distinction, including How to Train Your Dragon, Star Trek, and the Hangover. Interestingly enough, my year-end favorite, Up, was given a B+. The worst reviewed movies were Clash of the Titans and the Goods, as both received a D+. Though, to be fair, if I bothered writing up a review after being forced to see Valentines Day, it would've received an F.

2. PITTSBURGH SPORTS (a combined 42 articles)

The Pens and Steelers have received equal treatment over the last 2 years, but thanks to the Pens Stanley Cup run in June of 2009, they got a slight edge in coverage this year. The sad thing is that a lot of Steeler writing was about off the field issues with Santonio Holmes and Fat Ben Roethlisberger. But with the draft fast approaching, we'll be back to standard Steeler blogging in no time.

1. L O S T (42 articles)

This behemoth was unstoppable this past year. The craziest thing about us writing 42 articles about LOST (other than the fact that 42 is a cursed number linked to one of the Kwons) is that the show was in hibernation until winter 2010. We got to write about the amazing season 5 finale way back in May, and that's it. Despite the occasional casting rumor, there was nothing until our 10 Days of LOST push in January. Because of our badass and aggressive nature when it comes to this show, we've been reviewing and analyzing every goddamn episode this season for your viewing pleasure.


Bill O'Reilly left behind some big shoes from last year, and who better to fill them then a 6'4", 240 lb hockey owner? Mario Lemieux combines a sports legend's aura with Christian Troy's sharp fashion sense and a glorious playoff beard. His motivational text messages to the team through the Stanley Cup Finals will go down in history alongside the very best of Pittsburgh sports lore.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

TV Recap: Modern Family

Since Modern Family first aired on ABC last September, the focus has always remained on character relationships. While each family is no stranger to a wacky situation or two, the true comedy of the series has always come from the personalities of each character playing off one another. It's a credit to the shows writing that many of these family members can be interchangeable each week. We do not always have to see Phil and Claire riffing off one another for their characters to be funny or even poignant. It can just as easily be Claire and Gloria, or Phil with pretty much anyone. Cam and Mitchell might be the most consistently hilarious couple on television right now, but that doesn't stop the writers from sending Cam to a spicy restaurant with Gloria, or butting heads with Jay over college football. Each interaction seems to work almost flawlessly, and none of it feels like a stretch.

Last night's episode, "Benched", continued the trend of developing several amusing situations and inserting the right characters to take care of the rest. Phil and Jay may have been progressing in their relationship (a model airplane to the schnoz has that effect), but it was clear from the onset that they still had some work to do. Jay, too used to controlling the situation, seemed to override Phil's decision at every turn. Dealing with Manny and Luke's basketball coach, whom Lost fans would know as Radzinsky, nice-guy Phil wanted to use reason to curb the coach's jackass methods. Jay opted for threats (throwing a shoe is such an effective old man threat, and maybe provided the best imagery of the night). When the coach quit, Phil stepped in to help the team "turn five fingers into a fist." Would that fist have been Captain or Tennille? Jay gave us no time to find out, swooping in to take the reins. His justification? A perfectly deadpanned "Phil, I coach football." Did it matter that Phil coached basketball? Nope.

It didn't take long for Jay to become frustrated with the team's complete lack of anything resembling coordination, and when he looked to hand the job off to Phil, of course it had to come with a little groveling, too. "Believe it or not Jay, there are some things that I'm better at than you are--bam, it's out there." Bangarang, P. Dunphy! Jay apologized for constantly taking charge, and a satisfied Phil resumed his coaching duties. He even managed to get a decent pick-and-roll out of the team until Manny's shot, all the more hilarious in slow-mo, came up a couple feet short.

Elsewhere, Claire and Gloria found themselves benched for a different reason: just being there. Manny, embarrassed from his mom's cries of support from the bleachers, told her it would be better if she didn't come to the next game. Gloria tried to convince Manny that she'd be quiet from now on. Manny, always wise beyond his years, knew "that her Latin blood makes that impossible," and so off she went. Finding solace in shopping with baby Lily, she runs into Claire, who was supposed to be out with Alex buying clothes. Once her friends were in sight, however, Alex gave the same treatment to Claire. It was a harsh look at the inevitable embarrassment kids find with their parents, which made the payoff even sweeter when Claire and Gloria turned the tables later on.

Both Manny and Alex tried to make amends with their mothers. A sincere Manny got the guilt treatment from Gloria, and Jay did little to help him smooth it over. His advice? "I usually go with earrings." Alex, as if reading from a psychology textbook, expertly crafted an apology to Claire, who gladly accepted....only to have Alex immediately ask for $20 to grab dinner and a movie with her friends. Claire gave her $40. Her reaction, on the other hand, was priceless. Waiting for her youngest daughter to get out of the car and stand next to her friends, she yelled, "Alex, honey, when you’re out shopping, you might want to pick yourself up a training bra! I know you don’t need one now but your little boobies are going to come in soon. Mommy loves you, kitten!" Ouch, that Dunphy parental unit sure knows how to sling it.

With Cam and Mitchell, it was less about getting benched and more about already being on the bench. An unemployed Mitchell was starting to get a little crazy from staying home all the time with Lily (when you start plotting the death of Dora the Explorer, it's a warning sign), whereas Cam, working part-time at a greeting card store, turns into a blubbering mess when he thinks about all the time missed with his baby. "Grilled cheese sandwich" was the only audible words from one of his brilliant meltdowns in front of the camera. Neither Cam nor Mitchell wants the other to know their real feelings about it, so when both go and meet with a friend of Jay's at a party to discuss an opportunity for Mitchell, things turn a little awkward when he's offered the job. They go through uncomfortable dialogue, a few spilled platters, and a heavily dented Ferrari before things are resolved and Mitchell takes the job.

In the end, it was another well-balanced episode that handed plenty of zingers out to all the characters. Claire's showdown with Alex, and the behavior of Mitchell and Cam at the party did give off more of an awkward vibe than I'm used to from this show. That sort of tone would've fit better in Extras or The Office, but it's a minor complaint with a show that continually leaves me wanting more. The season finale is right around the corner, too. What relationship dynamic to you hope to see more of before the end? Pairing Phil with Mitchell or Cam for an episode would have to be must-see. What about more from Claire and Jay? Or Cam and Mitchell babysitting all the kids? That's the beauty of Modern Family; every combo works. Have we finally found a show that will dethrone 30 Rock at the Emmy's?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

L O S T Pics of the Week

The goodies just keep on coming. Before Herb gets to his recap, I'm gonna post these 2 comics in honor of maybe the last Jack episode ever. (Although it's supposed to be a Locke-Jack tandem episode). It's no secret that Jack's my favorite character, but I know a lot of the readers out there hate him, and since I'm all about giving people what they want, here's two separate cartoony perspectives on Jack's intense island presence.

Also, don't forget to check out my L O S T Reaction below...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

L O S T Reaction

Looking back at tonight's episode, entitled "Everybody Loves Hugo", I kept looking for reasons to slam it. Historically, Hurley's episodes always seem to carry a vibe of mediocrity with it. I'm not saying the episodes have been mediocre, just that you never expect a whole lot when you see Hugo-centric story on deck, and maybe that's why I've usually been satisfied with what he has to offer. I don't expect bold story-telling like I do from episodes about Jack, Locke, Ben, and Desmond. Hurley's episodes pretty much come equipped with the usuals: A bucket a chicken with a side of mental hospital, some biggie-sized humor, and small mythology on the side. You could easily say that Hurley episodes are just like fast food. You know exactly what you're getting and it rarely disappoints. So why was I looking to shoot it down from scene one?

I guess it comes down to those increasingly annoying flash-sideways. Keep in mind, I'm not one of the haters who have been against the plot device since the season premiere. It's served it's purpose so far, and even became sorta validated last week when Desmond made that long overdue connection. But the closer we get to the finale, I find myself having less patience for what the sideways world is offering. I'm sick of the show dividing time between Camp Widmore, Team Jack, and Team Locke. A whole hour of positioning and advancing each group towards each other would be infinitely better than seeing how much of a Philanthropist fake Hurley has become, no matter how well it services the alternate universe. Maybe the worst part of it all is that they gave us yet another throwaway cameo, this time taking an awesome character (Dr. Chang) and giving him a meaningless part. So that's why I was looking to slam this episode. But damn it all if they didn't give me reason after reason to love what I was seeing (most of it, anyways).

Granted, as a whole the flash sideways was still boring and predictable. Did any of us actually think that Hurley was gonna get to have his blind date with whats-her-face? You don't have to read E Weekly to know that LIbby was coming in hard, and that they'd fast-track another unlikely romance with her and Hurley that ends the same way it did on the island (except with much less double homicide). Almost perfectly mirroring the season 2 episode "Everybody Hates Hugo", we again find Libby and Hurley on a beach hamming up an exchange that, when stripped down, goes like this:

Hurley: Why are you here? I'm fat.
Libby: I'm here because I like you.
Hurley: Dude.

Of course this triggers his memories and you know the rest. Based on the f-sideways, this was a subpar episode. So what turned the whole thing around? Why am I caring about this episode? Well, if things started off slow, the wake-up call we all got came in the form of...

1. ...Ilana getting BLOWN. THA. FUCK. UP. Man, how many times do people need to hear "that dynamites unstable!" before they listen? I loved this for a number of reasons. Ilana, along with Cesar, was one of the worst new characters brought into LOST. She has sucked in just about every scene, and to see her blown to bits gave me a satisfaction I haven't felt since Ana Lulu took one in the tits (Sun getting shot was a great feeling too, but it was Sideways Sun, and therefore I hardly cared). And the writers perfectly set it up, too. They gave her an out-of-place "woe is me" speech about how she trained for all this. It was so out of place that it got me annoyed with how much screen time she was getting and I looked away in disgust when the big moment happened. I didn't even see her die! I just saw her bits flying around. Awesome. Of course, I doubt this is the end of Ilana on the show. Whether she appears in flashbacks, sideways, or as a ghostie, she'll be back.

"But, as my plastic surgeon always said, 'If you gotta go...Go with a smile!'"

2. How annoying is it that the castaways seem to have dynamite on tap any time they want? They always seem just a commercial break away from arriving at the Black Rock, commenting on how little they need to take (which always leaves room for more dynamite missions any time the show calls for it), and tip toeing away en route to blow something up. That's reason #2 for why I loved this episode: Hurley blows it all to hell. Finally the end of the Black Rock and dynamite. But LOST's annoyances do seem pervasive, because minutes after it happens, Richard and Ben talk about a strike force mission to track down a grenade stash at the Barracks. ugh.

3. Poor Locke. Doesn't matter what world he's in, he always gets bullied. He's been hit by a car before (season 1 while he was running down Mama Locke, no injuries though), had his leg crushed by a metal door in the Hatch, been pushed out an eight story window, broke his leg getting down to the depths of the Orchid, been shot where his kidney used to be, fell on his face out of his wheel chair, strangled to death, etc, etc. Terry O'Quinn sure can take a beating. This one may have been the sweetest though. Compare this sideways scene to Sun getting shot during the battle of Jin & Mikhail. While both awesome, Locke's is far better because Desmond carried out this action all while having knowledge of the Island world. What made him do it? What does he know about Island Locke? Did he do it for a good cause (see below)? Will it change things? But what made this episode great came from an unexpected source. My fiancée, not usually known for her mind blowing theories, offered up this little diddy at the beginning of the episode:


You're laughing, I get it. At some point, we've probably hypothesized that every character could be Jacob, but considering the events that played out last night in both worlds, this is starting to make a hell of lot of sense.

I know, I can't believe it either, brotha.

First, Desmond's behavior after emerging from his electromagnetic daydream was clearly different. He was content, aloof, and cooperative with everyone he came across, almost like he knew this was part of the plan. We believe that old Desmond may have died when that blast went off. It could be even more likely that his consciousness permanently transferred to the sideways world. Either way, present Desmond isn't acting like Desmond, and that's because he's not!!!!

Second, Locke started to pick up on this, and that's why he threw him down the well. We can all agree that Smokey is a character that absolutely has his shit together; very little can surprise him. He's always ten steps ahead of every conversation and every encounter with regular castaways like Sawyer, Kate, and even Richard. But with Desmond, he couldn't quite figure him out. Why aren't you scared? Smokey looked genuinely bewildered when he asked this of Desmond. When Desmond replied "What's the point of being scared?" I almost got a sense of deja vu (or maybe a flashsideways twitch) that reminded me of when Jacob responded to Ben by saying "What about you?" You're starting to come around, aren't you?

Finally, the role that Desmond is playing in sidewaysland is EXACTLY the role that Jacob played in the real world. In the season 5 finale, Jacob was responsible for influencing the castaways off-Island at some of the most important moments in their life. His goal was to steer them down a path that led them to the Island. Desmond's job in sidewaysland is to influence the castaways by reintroducing them to some of the most important moments that happened on the Island. His goal is steer them down a path that ends with them rebooting these memories of the Island. Perhaps the end game is to get them to go back there. Sometimes this is done through friendly conversation (Jacob's chat with Hurely in the taxi equals Desmond's chat with Hurley at Mr. Clucks), and sometimes this is done through tragedy (Jacob distracting Sayid while Nadia is drilled by a car equals Desmond drilling Locke with a car). By hitting Locke, Desmond did something that Locke could not do on his own..... go to the hospital and visit with the doc. I bet you that Locke will be examined by Jack, and that's when both of them will have their memory-downloading experience. Wouldn't it be great if Locke's paralysis was cured after that moment!?!?!?

This still raises a lot of questions that I'm too tired to rebut. Is Desmond temporarily Jacob until a candidate can take over? Dunno. Why did this happen now and not when the Hatch imploded? Dunno (maybe cause Jacob was alive then). What were my thoughts on the rest of the episode? I'll present a more detailed look tomorrow on why this episode rocked, but for now, good luck trying to fall asleep with this stuff churning in your brain.

Final Verdict: A solid B+

Monday, April 12, 2010

I was right about Clash of the Titans

A movie that earned a D+ from me really doesn't deserve further analysis, but I am so pleased that I nailed my review that I must share the good news. CHUD recently spilled the details on the original script that was filmed and then altered after principal photography had finished. I love reading about how any number of outside influences (studio, media, audience, expectations, etc.) can threaten the finished product of the film (like Indy IV and Frank Darabont's script). Remember in Elf when James Caan wanted to ship the children's book with pages missing because kids won't notice the difference? That's essentially what is playing out here, and Caan was right. Though people like me were bothered by the results, the movie opened at number 1 and remained there through two weeks.

Here's a quick recap of my faults with the movie:

1. It diverged from the myth in key areas (change is okay, but these changes sucked)
2. Most of the gods were useless
3. Both Zeus and Perseus' motivations were at odds with their actions.
3a. Zeus loves mankind and needs their worship, but pushes them towards fear and independence instead.
3b. Perseus is all about proving that mankind doesn't need the help of the goods... but then uses gifts from the gods in order to win.

Here's how the original film not only addressed these faults, but greatly improved upon them. THE FILM WOULD'VE BEEN MUCH COOLER AS A RESULT OF THIS!

1. In the original myth, Perseus goes on his adventure to save the princess Andromeda from sacrifice, and it serves two purposes. One, Perseus gets a dopey romance story with the princess. And two, it symbolizes his rebellion against the gods because no man or woman should be sacrificed to please the gods. After the rewrites and reshoots (all done after the film originally wrapped), Perseus goes on his adventure because he wants revenge against Hades for the murder of his family. His love interest is not the princess Andromeda, who is still almost sacrificed, but instead the warrior/demigod Io. This makes little sense for lots and lots of reasons, but I won't go into it because there are bigger problems.

END RESULT: The director said that the decision to move from a love to vengeance storyline was for a bigger connection with the audience. We are more likely to identify with family tragedy than a sweeping love story (translation: aimed at children...)

2. Poseidon, Apollo, and Athena all had much bigger roles in the original version, and the Olympian dynamic as a whole was drastically changed. Zeus should've been a bad guy with a bent and warped view of the human race. That's why Argos is lashing out against the big guy in the beginning of the story. The other gods are afraid this could lead to their doom, so they secretly aid Perseus in his quest to stop Hades (because they are also aware of Hades' powerplay against Zeus). A lot more screen time would've been spent on the quibbling politics on Olympus, and eventually the redemption of Zeus. Instead, only Zeus and Hades get to talk and Zeus is always a "good" guy (despite that whole rape thing).

END RESULT: We can only assume that again, a broader, younger audience wouldn't care about gods at court. They only care about CGI scorpion fights, right?

3a. This was one of my biggest beefs with the film, and it could've been sooooo much better. In the first draft of the movie, Zeus is a corrupt god and the cause of the human's suffering and discontent. That's why they turn against him, and that's why he turns to Hades for help. That's also why Zeus is at odds against his outcast son Perseus, who arrogantly believes that man can manage their own affairs. In the final draft, Zeus is a good guy clinging to his love for the humans that insist on rebelling. Out of desperation, he turns to Hades for help. And even though he's against Perseus' independence at first, he's just lucks into a happy alliance at the end. Barf.

3b. Here is where the movie falls apart. What should've happened is this: Perseus refuses the aid of the gods at first, but later recants for the good of the group. At the end of the movie, once evil is defeated, there's a cool scene where Perseus ascends to Olympus. Zeus thinks the bastard son has risen to join the ranks of the immortals, but instead, Perseus casts down the objects that helped him in his quest. He tells Zeus that his real father was the murdered fisherman, and he throws his lot in with the mortals. However, after the director-approved changes, Perseus just has a lame resolution scene with Zeus where it looks like their rocky relationship is all patched up because Perseus threw Hades back to... well, Hades.

END RESULT: Their fundamental motivations are compromised!!! In the final movie, Zeus' actions would never have been made by a sane, "good" Zeus because his beef with mankind is predicated on nothing. They only make sense if Zeus is a corrupt, mad god that is angry with mankind and wants to punish them!!! And Perseus is supposed to reject the gods at the end and hook up with the human princess, not buddy up with them and fall for a fellow demigod that's been brought back to life!!!!

A potentially great movie was brought down because a studio and it's director decided to water down the plot for mainstream audiences. If they added the extra 30-35 minutes to the movie, it would be another epic story like LOTR or Avatar, but that would mean fewer screenings and less money. Instead, they chose a route that meant shitty 3D, a diminished role for all of its supporting characters, and a plot that makes no sense to intelligent people. I stand by my D+ rating, though it definitely deserves worse.

One Down... One to Go...

uhhh... don't have sex with girls in the public bathrooms?

Another reason for the Steeler faithful to cheer!!! First, Genius Colbert ships out Santonio (Ed Buchette: "I bet there are players already cheering in the locker room"). And now, Big Ben just won the first of his 2 rape cases when the Ocmulgee GA DA decided they didn't have sufficient evidence to charge the TWO TIME SUPER BOWL WINNING QUARTERBACK. That said, he will most likely still face punishment from the NFL and/or the Steelers organization, but nonetheless, it's a good day in Pittsburgh, and a win/win for everyone involved.... wait... even the girl who was maybe raped? Please read on.

Worth goin to prison over? Yeah... didn't think so, and neither did Ben.

Consider the still-pending allegations from Andrea McNulty. This one was a slam dunk for Dumb Ben's legal team. She waited a year before releasing accusations. She pursued him on civil charges, not criminal charges. She's had a history of mental problems when she made up a dead, military boyfriend who was KIA'ed overseas. She also accused her former employer, so Ben's interest coincided with that of a large corporation with a ton of resources to discredit the girl. And finally, she bragged about sleeping with Roethlisberger to her co-workers, so it seems the sexual contact was consensual. There was no reason for Ben to fastplay this one and offer a settlement to keep her quiet. He's innocent, plain and simple.

Now think about the more recent allegation. This new girl reported the crime right away, but there was still little evidence. Both parties were hammer drunk, and there was no DNA found at the scene. The plaintiff probably saw the writing on the wall and realized she could not win in court, so what could she do? Big Ben already had the smear of one rape allegation on him, he couldn't afford another one, and he REALLY couldn't afford to be found guilty in this one (unlikely, but possible). It makes sense that he reached out to her and offered a settlement. It was revealed today that she chose not to prosecute the matter any further, but she made that decision 2 weeks ago!!! Her understandable reason was not wanting to be paraded through an embarrassing public trial... but we can all safely assume Ben paid her off. Don't be surprised if she decides not to take the matter to civil court.

I only rape defenses.

After all that, why do I say win/win? Ben wins for beating a rape charge (though he wasn't charged). The girl wins for getting at least six figures AND drops out of college. So... she gets a ton of money to chill at home for the next year or so? BIG WIN. And finally, Steelers fans win for getting an elite QB come playoff time this year.


Santonio Holmes Traded: Good Move?

The news broke on ESPN late last night about the apparent trade of former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets for a measly fifth round draft pick. I was a little shocked at first, but I’m beginning to understand the move and starting to kind of like it. Holmes would have entered the final year of his contract with the Steelers, and if Plaxico Burress was any indication after the 2004 season, the Rooney’s would not have retained Holmes. Amidst this trade, ESPN also reported the Holmes will have to serve a four game suspension this upcoming regular season for failing a league drug test. And, on top of that, the Steelers rid themselves of a continual trouble-maker and a constant headache for the franchise.

That being said, Santonio Holmes is a premier receiver in the NFL who has big play capability on offense as well as special teams. Everyone in Pittsburgh knows he’s a proven producer in the playoffs. Why was he traded? Contract expiration, off-field issues (including twitter), and the fact that wide receiver might be the easiest position to replace in football. Even after Holmes was drafted in the first round in 2006, Limas Sweed and Mike Wallace were drafted in high rounds in ‘07 and ‘08, and Antwaan Randle-El and Arnaz Battle were brought in this off-season. Although one of the Steelers’ top-flight playmakers is gone, depth is still there at the position. This is not like losing Roethlisberger, Polamalu, or even Aaron Smith. If the Steelers were to go 11-5 this year with Holmes, they will probably still go 11-5 without him, maybe 10-6 at the worst.

A lot of reaction surrounds the return of only a fifth round pick. If he were to be gone anyway next year via free agency, it’s better than nothing . Remember that Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth round and James Harrison went completely undrafted. A diamond in the rough can be found with any draft selection. On top of that fifth round pick, there are some rumors that Leon Washington might be sent to the Steelers as part of the deal. If that’s the case, Pittsburgh would be getting a back-up running back as well as a solid kickoff and punt returner. If that happens, it’s just a rumor, the trade does look a lot better.

So for all those Steeler fans out there crying and complaining, remember that Kevin Colbert and the Rooney’s are a lot smarter than you, that wide receivers can be easily replaced and are not the most vital position in the NFL, and that with or without Santonio Holmes the make-up of the Pittsburgh Steelers does not change that drastically. You rid yourself of an off-field problem that will be suspended, you get a small piece in return, and you can replace him in-house with an up-and-coming Mike Wallace, welcome to the NFL.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

L O S T Reaction

That poster above has nothing to do with my theory, it's just a really weird, trippy take on LOST from an ABC affiliate in Brazil. Click on it to see it all it's glory.

Before I get into the meat of my analysis, I should quickly sum up my thoughts on the episode as a whole. Thi
s season has given us some headaches (What Kate Does, The Package) and a "best ever?" episode (Ab Aeterno). To suggest that Happily Ever After will be included in the latter is a bit of a stretch. Most reviews are going nuts over this episode, but I'd put it only in the top 3 or 4 of the season. A quality episode, sure, and probably better than the B grade that Herb gave it (B+ in my book, but whatever). It surely wasn't the best of the season, and surely wasn't the best Desmond episode. Still, it gave us a new twist on the requisite Desmond/Penny love moment, finally bridged the gap between both worlds, and threw in some scene-chewing domination from Charlie (Widmore, not that goblin Pace). Like I said, a solid episode, and it provides plenty of fodder for throwing around new theories.

I'll throw this out at you first. Is there any coincidence that Desmond was told about these "love flashes" from two people who are already dead? Two people who already made "sacrifices" for the people they saw in those love flashes. Charlie accepted his death sentence because he figured he would be able to press the button to call for help and save everyone on the island (but mostly, save Claire). Faraday came back in time to alter the future, to have a chance at preventing Charlotte's freaky death. They both had a choice, as Desmond puts it, and they both ended up being sacrificed, and since Widmore is telling Desmond pretty much the same thing on the island, do we see a Desmond death coming up soon? Will he have to sacrifice himself on the island in order to save Penny, baby boy Charlie, and whoever else? More on that later.

This episode provided us with a look at what/who a few important characters cherish the most.
While it was important to know who Desmond, Charlie, and Daniel saw in their flashes, ultimately, I think it'll come down to what the candidates (not the supporting players) see in their flashes and what choice the they make regarding their flash-sideways.

Desmond is now on a mission to track down fellow 815ers and show them a glimpse of what their lives should be like. The question is, will what they see be enough to get them to agree with Charlie; that nothing matters in sidewaysland? Since the big picture and end game of LOST deals with the candidates right now, we'll deal only with them. But "sacrifice" is a word that popped up more than a few times last night, and I think it's important to view these different flashes with that in mind.

The curtain will finally drop on the Jack, Kate, and Sawyer Show. No way will Sawyer see Kate, no matter how much we're led to believe that's a possibility. We're at the end of the series, time to flip over the cards and see where everyone stands. Therefore, I think Sawyer will see all the years he played house with Juliet, and of course her Swan song next to Jughead. I don't think that Charlie or Faraday saw their deaths (or sacrifices) in the brief flashes about Claire and Charlotte. With that in mind, I think Sideways Sawyer will see what happened to Juliet, and wished he had died in place of her. He missed that chance to bite the bullet for her and chose instead to do what he has always done: Survivin'. It should've been him in Juliet's place and his realization of that is gonna make him do something stupidly drastic. Small prediction: When we see Desmond catch up with Sawyer in the F-Sideways, we'll also see Miles, and see that none other than Pierre Chang is alive and well playing papa to Miles. On to Jack, now.

Jack will see Sarah? Of course not, but Modern Family rules so I just wanted to mention her. He'll see his life with idiot Kate and Aaron. Similar to Sawyer, he will ALSO see the misery it caused him. Jack already made the decision once (in the season 5 finale) that given the opportunity to wipe the slate clean of Kate, he would do it (so wo
uld all of us). I don't think he'll ignore the flash he'll see in sidewaysland, but he'll use that knowledge to reach a different conclusion. He definitely won't opt for the love that Charlie, Desmond, and Faraday see. Since Desmond already ran into Jack at the hospital, he'll have no trouble catching up with the Doc....right around the time he's giving Locke a consultation.

Locke will also see a flash (Helen of course, which won't surprise him, but her tombstone too, which will.) Notice a pattern? Jack, Locke, and Sawyer all see what they had...and subsequently LOST. Not a very convincing vision to embrace when each of them is leading a relatively more pleasant life in the sideways 'verse.

Any of the Kwon's will see what Herb already predicted. The family unit with Ji Yeon in the middle. They'll opt for love too, same as the Brits and Faraday. Sun will succumb to her womb's wounds in Sidewaysland and Jin will see just how much Sun really means to him when he sees a glimpse of the family. How will Desmond find them????? Well, Jin takes Sun to the hospital to treat the gunshot wound and you know the rest. Jack's gonna have a busy day soon in surgery. BUT, if Sun dies on the island, all bets are off. It could send him down Sawyer's and Jack's path.

Hurley is obvious. Libby will make her long-confirmed reappearance in his flash, and he'll opt for love. Will we see Starla as Hugo's sideways-squeeze? File under: who cares.
(BTW, next week is a Hurley episode. Hooray.)

Sayid, well, he's screwed. You just don't kill Dogen. Ever. If Sayid gets picked up by the law for the murder of Keamy, you might see a showdown between him and Officer Ford. Throw in a little Desmond and he gets to take care of both of them at the same time. Again, when Sayid sees the death of Nadia (maybe a sprinkle of Shannon's death too), he'll fall right in line with Jack & Co.

I don't care what Kate and Claire see because this is ultimately about what the candidates see, and thems ain't candidates.

So that leaves two distinct camps. Those that see the love that's worth fighting/dying/leaving the island for: Desmond, Jin/Sun, Hurley, Charlie, Faraday...

...and those that see the love that they had and LOST (whether to death or whatever) and now have nothing to go back for: Jack, Sawyer, Locke, Sayid.

But the notion of "free will" and "choices" keep popping up. The candidates in sidewaysland will get to choose. Will they believe Desmond, trying somehow to reach a life they've only seen in flashes? Or will they take what they see as a sign that they're better off in this matrix-like land of ignorance. I mentioned early the notion of "sacrifice" for those that gave their lives for those they loved. Well we already kinda know who each of the candidates love, so consider this: what if it's not about the choice that's made in sidewaysland, but a choice thats made in the other life that brings you TO sidewaysland, granting you the things you wish most.

Charlie sacrificed himself to get Claire and her baby off the island (in reality Aaron was able to leave but without Claire, who stays behinds and goes crazy/gets smacked around). Before he even got to the island, all he wanted was to reunite DriveShaft and have a shot at touring again. His selfless death brings him to a place where Claire is alive and well, along with Aaron, never setting foot on that island. His band is also intact, still getting plenty of airtime on the radio. Faraday's heroics got him what he wanted to, a life where Charlotte isn't in danger, where he gets to play the piano for a living, never becoming a scientist that results in turning his college crush into a vegetable. The translation isn't perfect, because ideally Charlie and Faraday would want to be with their loves, but sometimes what's best for the person you love the most is that they never got involved with you in the first place, something better exemplified...

...with Sayid. We have a guy who loves Nadia so much, all he wants is for her to be as far from harm as possible. The flash-sideways world granted him that, though to do so she cannot be with him, but I've digressed enough. Because the point of all this is to pick out from amongst the remaining candidates a successor. Will it come from the camp that believes all you need is love? Or will it come from the camp that has nothing to lose, and therefore nothing to leave the island for?

I believe there will be two successor's and they both will come from that second camp. One for Jacob (not a surprise) and one for MiB (oooooooooo). We keep thinking that being a candidate is a good thing. That's not necessarily the case. Rather than picking someone who is the embodiment of good or purity or whatever, I think the task of living forever as the island's caretaker is given to someone else entirely; someone who has given up their mortal attachments (like the people they love the most). Maybe it was that very reason why Richard was allowed to stay on the island forever, and the same reason why Jacob wouldn't bring his wife back. Richard needed to be free of his attachments if he were to live on the island forever as an advisor. Recall that MiB was once a man, until he was "stripped of his humanity." I believe his humanity might have been the love he had for someone (could be a wife, brother, sister, son, daughter, etc). When that person or people were taken from him (killed, probably) and he was brought to the island, he got tricked into being Jacob's sparring partner because he was the perfect candidate for the job: someone who lost his humanity. Doob has already mentioned that MiB "was once a candidate." He
rb elaborated: "Maybe #108, Wallace?" I believe they're right, but he wasn't a candidate for Jacob's job, he was a candidate for the job he eventually got chosen for: the role of the Man In Black. Similarly, the 6 candidates we know of now aren't just candidates for Jacob's job, but Jacob's AND MiB's. Hmmm...

If you look at the candidates, we already disqualified Jin/Sun because they wouldn't give up each other to have Jacob's spot. With Hurley, I think it will be less about Libby and more about the fact that he's a family man who loves his mother and father that will keep him from wanting to be there forever. Also, it's Hurley, he never had a shot, really. Sawyer wants nothing more than to leave the island, as he's said time and time again. I don't think it would interest him to be Jacob or MiB anyway. Sayid is the one casualty of war I think we all see coming because his lifetime of killing is finally gonna bite him in the ass. Plus, I think he'll be happy to die if it means being with Nadia somehow. But assuming two successors will be chosen hinges on MiB actually doing what he's set out to do.

I think MiB will reach his goal and get off the island, but in order for him to leave without bringing all this evil, malevolence, darkness with him, he'll need to choose someone to give his gift too. But is he even evil?

1. all about free will
2. doesn't want people to come to the island because they corrupt it and use the island's unique properties for their own gains.
3. turns to smoke to protect the island from unwanted and dangerous intruders.
4. can take form of dead people because....well because he has superpowers. who knows.
5. wants to leave the island because he's been there too long, and there is someone he loves somewhere that he has to get too (maybe in afterlife) i. e. he wants to die.

(we'll see a MiB backstory in the finale similar to alpert's. rooted in lots of love, sadness that he can't be with someone because of immortality, etc).

1. claims to be about free will but when he constantly "brings" people to the island, there's really no free will in that at all.
2. can grant immortality, but Richard himself compares it more to a curse than a gift.
3. doesn't care about proving MiB wrong, he knows people come to corrupt and he likes it that way.
4. you all know it's the twist that's coming.

Jacob = BAD (or is he?)

The showdown has always been about two people in L O S T. Two different ideologies that constantly clash. Nevermind if they've swayed from the path a little bit in the show's later seasons, it all comes back to this. Did you see Jack's face when he was told Locke is back? RIVALRY STATUS CEMENTED. As I've said, Sawyer wants off the island more than anybody, he's not sticking around forever, and Sayid is gonna straight up get punished for the murdering he's been doing. But now that we know the players, what role do they assume?

How it plays out will be interesting because it could go either way. But I think it will go like this: MiB cur
rently has Locke's body, so if he "leaves" the island it could be metaphorical, a way for his spirit to finally to be free of the island's chains, a way for him to finally be dead, and when his spirit is gone, Locke is left with his body back, and some smokey upgrades too. Locke = MiB, the good guy, constant protector of the island, which is what Locke always wanted to be. Locke was never afraid of the smoke monster because he saw himself in it. And loved it.

With Jack, I think they'll come to it a little differently. He'll be chosen as Jacob's successor, which seems like something Jack might not be entirely thrilled about. But it will be presented to him different than it is t
o Locke. Locke will embrace the idea of living on the island forever, acting as it's guardian. However, I have a feeling Jack will be picked as successor #1 first. He'll be told that when he becomes New Jacob, he (and only he) we'll have the power to defeat MiB once and for all. That's more Jack's style. He likes to be the hero. If he can defeat MiB once and for all, then maybe he won't even need to stay with the island. He can be the hero without all the drawbacks of immortal guard duty. But just like Jacob wanting Ben to stab him, MiB will want to be killed also, allowing his spirit to be free. He could never die before because Jacob never wanted to kill him. When Jack finally does the deed, Locke will remain as new MiB's successor, because the island's setup only works with these two opposing forces at work. Jack will think he's gotten rid of the problem, when it turns out Locke is now the new MiB. Joke's on Jack, something the writer's have been fond of for a while. Jack (the healer), will fit perfectly into Jacob's shoes. He won't need a scalpel to save lives anymore, he can do it with his magic hands.

And the show ends with Locke and Jack left with each other, similar to when we first see Jacob and MiB on the beach. Even their roles remain intact. Jack will want to bring people to the island hoping to find a candidate for his eventual replacement, Locke will get mad when they fuck with his baby, and try to stop him. It doesn't matter who is good and who is evil. With MiB and Jacob, it might never have been about good vs. evil, just about two guys who hate each other's guts, who each believe that THEY are right and the other's wrong. Two sides of the same coin. In that sense, Jack vs. Locke makes perfect sense.

Somewhere, maybe in a flash sideways, Doc Jensen just got a boner.