Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Monday, May 31, 2010

Mets Monday, Vol. 6

As I said a few weeks ago, baseball is a funny game, and thing scan turn around quickly. For example, after playing just abysmally for the first half or so of this month, the Mets took two out of three from the Yankees last weekend, and since my last blog entry, have gone 4-2. Those four wins include a three-game sweep of the Phillies, a series in which the Phils didn't score a run in any of the three games. Granted, those two losses came after that Phillies series, to the lowly Brewers, but no one can be perfect. Let's look at some upsides.

R.A. Dickey has had three starts now, and has been fantastic, going six innings or more in each of his starts while he fills in for the injured John Maine. Likewise, Takahashi, taking the place of the continually useless Ollie Perez, is making his third start tonight and has been so fantastic so far that his place in the rotation should be secured. Big Mike Pelfrey has elevated his game to ace level, and you can be just as confidant when he starts as you are when Santana starts.

Other upsides? The offense seems to be coming around now, especially Reyes, who has just been lighting it up with multi-hit games left and right. Wright is still struggling with the Ks, but he's also getting the walks and RBIs, so he continues to be an enigma. Francoeur just had a 4-for-5 day, so hopefully he's coming around as well.

What the Mets really need to do now is figure out how to win on the road. While they're ten games over .500 at Citi, they're nine games under .500 away. Which is where they are, right now, wearing ugly white hats that don't actually match the gray road uniforms they're wearing.

Oh well. If they start fixing that road record tonight, it doesn't matter at all what they're wearing, right?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Week's Best, for the week of 5-24-10 to 5-30-10

We're going to do things a little differently this week, at least on the television side of things. Since only three of the shows I watch were still airing new episodes this week (and much like Lost last week, 24 is disqualified since it'll be getting it's own entry some time this week), it would be silly to write about two of them. So, with that in mind...

The Week's Best TV Show Winner - Glee Ep 1x20, "Theatricality"
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I really do hate Glee for not only making Mike O'Malley relevant for more than just bad commercials again, but for also making him one of the key parts of the show. The truth is, watching him as Burt Hummel try to navigate a difficult relationship with his queer-as-folk son Kurt who he obviously does love and support with all his heart usually steals the show anytime it's featured, and this week was no exception. Between that and the featured story line about Rachel and her mother and the Gaga songs that were really entertaining, this was a solid episode.

The Week's Best Comic Book Runner-Up - The Thanos Imperative: Ignition
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For the last few years, the Cosmic side of the Marvel Universe has been firing on all cylinders. It began with the "Annihilation" story, written by Keith Giffen, and since then has been shepherded by the writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. First they wrote "Annihilation: Conquest," which led to the returns of the Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy series, as well as Adam Warlock. They followed that up with "War of Kings" and Reign of Kings." Now, they bring us the return of one of Marvel's deadliest threats, Thanos, but this time, he seems to be the only hope to save everyone from an encroachment from another universe where death doesn't exist and people live like cancers. Aside from strong storytelling, this issue features a fantastic recap of just who Thanos is, and a surprise about who is leading the charge from that alternate universe that hits long-time readers like a punch to the gut. This book, and the "Thanos Imperative" series it leads into, is not to be missed.

The Week's Best Comic Book Winner - Secret Avengers #1

This is the second book in Marvel's "Heroic Age" of Avengers books, behind the adjectiveless "Avengers" that came out last week (the third, New Avengers, will be re-launching soon as well), and it is certainly a strange assemblage. Led by Steve Rogers, the original Captain America and now America's top cop, it features the newer Ant-Man, Valkyrie, War Machine, Nova, Black Widow, Beast, and Moon Knight. As the title implies, it's a team whose existence is known to no one but it's members. Ed Brubaker, who's writing the current "Captain America" series, handles the writing here as well, and the art is done by Mike Deodato, who has previously handled art chores on books like "Amazing Spider-Man," "Thunderbolts," and, most recently, "Dark Avengers." His art style is a perfect fit for the mood Brubaker sets for this book: dark, edgy, mysterious, and, similarly to how the team members handle their individual missions, totally competent. The book is fast-paced, action-packed yet filled with great character beats, and has an ending that certainly ups the intrigue level. Absolutely can't wait til the next issue.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tales from the Tube: Lost No More

It took me some time to process my thoughts before I could write a blog about the finale of Lost, because, let's face it, that was a hell of a finale. Initially I had just planned to give my overall thoughts, but after scouring the internet, it seems like there are a lot of people out there who flat-out misunderstood everything, so I'm going to address that first. To that end, I've transcribed the last conversation that took place on the show, which quite honestly explains it all of you pay attention. Obviously, there are spoilers ahead, so stop reading if you haven't seen it yet.

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Too late to turn back now. I've bolded the parts of the conversation that are particularly important.

Jack: Dad? I don't understand. You died.

Christian: Yes, I did.

Jack: Then how are you here right now?

Christian: How are YOU here?

Jack: I died too.

Christian: It's okay. It's okay. It's okay, son.

Jack: I love you.

Christian: I love you too, son.

Jack: Are you real?

Christian: I sure hope so. Yeah, I'm real. You're real. Everything that has ever happened to you is real. All those people in the church, they're all real too.

Jack: They're all... they're all dead?

Christian: Everyone dies some time, kiddo. Some of them before you, some of them long after you.

Jack: But why are they all here now?

Christian: Well there is no "now" here.

Jack: Where are we, Dad?

Christian: Well this is the place you all made together so you could find one another. The most important part of your life is the time you spent with these people. That's why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them, and they needed you.

Jack: For what?

Christian: To remember. And let go.

Jack: Kate. She said we were leaving.

Christian: Not leaving, no. Moving on.

Jack: Where are we going?

Christian: Let's go find out.

Okay, so let's start out with the big thing that so many people seem to believe that is obviously wrong:

THEY DID NOT DIE IN THE FIRST PLANE CRASH. THEY HAVE NOT BEEN DEAD THE WHOLE TIME. YOU HAVE NOT SPENT SIX YEARS WATCHING A SHOW ABOUT A BUNCH OF DEAD PEOPLE.

Now, how do we know this? Well, Christian Shephard flat out says, "Everything that has ever happened to you is real." Seems pretty clear to me. If, however you require further proof, he also says, "Some of them before you, some of them long after you," regarding death. Pretty much rules out them all dying in the same plane crash, doesn't it? If you're particularly dense and need further proof, Hugo and Ben have a conversation outside the church where they talk about being great number ones and number twos. That makes it seem pretty obvious that life on the island happened, and the agreement they made towards the end held for some years, otherwise that conversation makes absolutely no sense at all. So yes, everything on the island happened. They all died, but not at the same time. Charlie died when he drowned. Libby died when Michael shot her. Boone died when he fell. And so on. Hugo, Kate, Desmond, Sawyer, Claire, Lapidus, Miles, Ben, and even Alpert (I'm assuming the gray hair they focused on meant his immortality ended after Desmond uncorked the island) died sometime after they got off the island.

The alternate timeline or flash sideways in this final season was explained pretty clearly as well, I thought. It was purgatory or limbo or whatever you want to call it, a place they all stayed until they remembered their lives, came to grips with their deaths, and let go. That's why they needed to have certain experiences or meet certain people there before they were able to remember. For the most part, love is what did it, although there were other factors as well. To me, the reason they all needed to be together was, as Christian said, the most important parts of their lives were together, and that's why they needed each other. For them, the idea of moving on, whether it was to heaven or whatever else might come next, could only happen if they were together. It's a really beautiful take on death and the afterlife, and I think it was a perfect fit for these characters.

And if for some reason you need to know where the alternate timeline fits into things chronologically (although I don't know why you would), the first flash sideways in the first episode started with Jack opening his eye and looking into the bathroom mirror on the plane at the cut on his neck. Seems to me you could say that followed Jack closing his eye for the last time on the island before it went to black at the end. Feels like a nice fit to me, especially since we finally found out the cut on his neck is from the place Smokey tried to slit his throat. And yes, I think Jack died at the end. Is that definite? No, and it doesn't need to be. Sure, Vincent was with him at the end, and maybe Rose and Bernard followed Vincent to him and saved Jack's life. Doesn't matter. He either died then or he died years later. Either way, the last time he closed his eyes on Earth led to him opening them on the plane in that first flash sideways.

I know a lot of people are upset that there was no detailed explanation of what the island is, but really, there was enough there that you could piece it together. Have you ever seen a movie or television show where they talked about the power of man, how it was unquantifiable and how it led man to be able to win under the most difficult of circumstances? Sure you have, they're everywhere. The island was the source of that light. Literally. That's what Jacob was there to protect. That's why it would have been so horrible if Smokey succeeded in destroying the island. That light would have gone out forever. That's my interpretation, anyway, and it seems logical to me based on the clues they gave, especially in the last few episodes.

The final season was never going to explain everything. We were never going to learn, for example, why Walt was so special early on (although puberty ruined that more than anything else) or why the Others on the island either couldn't conceive or deliver babies or whatever that deal was, or so many of the other little things that happened on the island that were never quite explained. And here's the thing.

It doesn't matter.

Lost was never a show about the mysteries. Sure, there were a lot of them, but Lost was always about the characters first. That's why half of every episode was devoted to flashbacks that had nothing to do with what was happening on the island in most cases, but were huge in terms of getting to the heart of the characters. The answers were never important, except when they needed to be.

Everyone goes on a journey through life; multiple journeys, in fact. There's the journey you take inside yourself, going from who you are to who you're going to be, as Jack did over six seasons as he went from a man of science to a man of faith. There's the journey you take through life, and, like everyone else in the world, that journey has just one destination: death. As Jack said very early on in Lost, "we either live together or we die alone." Since we're all going to the same place on our journeys eventually, the destination isn't what matters; the journey itself, and who we choose to make the journey with, is what matters.

That's the message behind Lost, folks. That's why we didn't need all the answers. We just needed to love the people in it and enjoy the ride. And if our final destination is anything like the church in those last ten minutes was, I can't think of a better ending to get.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mets Monday, Vol. 5

I'm going to keep this short because I've had a fairly craptacular day; as it turns out, having a needle jabbed right into a nerve in your mouth hurts like a bitch, and I'm tired. So I'm going to be all kinds of concise today.

The Mets beat the Yankees, 2 games to 1. This is good. I realize it's not important in the grand scheme of things, and that the next three games with those asshat Phillies are more important than the last three games with the douchehole Yankees, but still, it's good. Bay hit homers. Wright still struck out a lot, but he got some hits and RBI's out of the deal. Santana and Pelfrey pitched like 1A and 1B instead of 1 and 2. Yes, the pen is getting sloppier, but they need rest, dammit... if they get rest, they'll be fine.

And John Maine is a whiny bitch who is almost as useless as Ollie.

There. I said it.

There's still plenty of time and plenty of chances to turn this thing around.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Week's Best, for the week of 5-17-10 to 5-23-10

Yes, I know the finale of Lost is later tonight. No, I'm not waiting until 11:30 tonight to write this column (mostly because, at that time, I'll be writing tomorrow's column for Heckling from the Balcony). Plus, Lost already had an episode on Tuesday that went into consideration for this, and I'll also probably be writing a special blog for Lost later this week, so it'll be covered. Get off my case, you obsessed Losties...

The Week's Best TV Show Runner-Up - Castle Ep 2x24, "A Deadly Game"
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So many shows disappointed me this week (I'm looking at you, Fringe and Glee), and I was really afraid, as the end of the episode neared, this one would as well. Don't get me wrong, it was a fantastic episode, and, as usual, the background and twists in the murder case of the week were new and interesting. Going into the final scene, though, it looked like Castle and Beckett were finally going to get together... which, if Moonlighting as taught us anything, would have been the biggest mistake this show ever could have made. However, it resisted that urge and threw another monkey-wrench into their relationship: not only did they not get together, they also won't see each other for the next three months, as Castle will be spending the summer in the Hamptons with his publisher/ex-wife. Sexual tension ratcheted up in season three? Check.

The Week's Best TV Show Winner - House Ep 6x21, "Help Me"
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I honestly think this was probably the best episode of television I watched all season. The tension was so high throughout, from the claustrophobic feeling to the fight with Cuddy that was six years in the making to the amputation... which quite literally had me cringing while I watched... it was pretty perfect all the way around. And the heartbreak that House suffered was perfect because, despite his attitude, what we all know is that he does care, especially this season. The most perfect part of the episode was the ending, something else six years in the making, which can be best summed up by the final lines of the episode: "How do I know I'm not hallucinating again?" "Did you take the pills?" "No." The only downside to the whole thing is that it probably means the end is drawing near.

The Week's Best Comic Book Runner-Up - Broken Trinity: Pandora's Box #2
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I've been a fan of the Top Cow/Witchblade universe since Ron Marz took over some five or six years ago. This mini-series, written by Rob Levin and illustrated by Bryan Edward Hill, spins out of the Broken Trinity Witchblade events. It features Finn and Glori, bearers of the Glacier Stone and Ember Stone, respectively, two characters who are destined to be mortal enemies because of those artifacts. However, a common enemy has forced the two of them together. Not an original idea by any stretch, but the characterization really makes this issue sing. Finn is reluctant, to say the least, while Glori is driven and manipulative. There's an intense action sequence thrown in, but it's Finn and Glori that really drive the whole affair, and it's a damn compelling ride.

The Week's Best Comic Book Winner - War of the Supermen #3
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I'm actually about to praise a Superman book. Yes, I'm just as surprised as you. The reason is that this is a rare case where Superman is fighting people just as powerful as him, his fellow Kryptonians. This four-part event is the culmination of the last few year's worth of Superman stories, which has seen the return of the Kryptonians from the bottled city of Kandor, including General Zod, and the war with Earth that has slowly been building. Everyone has been involved, from Brainiac to Lex Luthor to Supergirl and Superboy, Steel, and Krypto. Thousands of the few remaining Kryptonians have died, including both of Supergirl's parents and her best friend Thara, also known as Flamebird. As the rampaging Kryptonians basically lay waste to Earth and it's heroes in this issue, the stage is set for the final battle in next week's conclusion: Superman vs. Zod. We know who will win, but it's been a great ride so far.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Retroblog: Marc & Chris - A Two Act Love Story

So here's another blog from my Myspace days. This one details two conversations that took place at Kaplan back in 2007 that really illustrate the illicit love my friend Marc has for my friend Chris... a love, I must mention under penalty of death, that is not returned. Best of all, they're in the form of scenes!

Scene 1 - Jim, Ray, and Marc by Marc's desk.

R: So Marc, see any leaves change colors lately?

J: Huh?

M: No no no!

J: What now?

R: Want me to blow your spot, Marc?

M: Shut up, shut up!

J: What the fuck is going on?

M: Shut up! No!

R: Marc made a proposal to one of our friends; I can't tell you who because he doesn't want you to write a blog about it.

J: Did Marc ask Chris out?

R: He invited him to Maine to eat lobster and watch the leaves change with him.

Jimmy's face does something wholly unnatural. Marc starts groaning. Ray literally runs away cackling.

And, scene!

Scene 2 - The following night. Jimmy walks to Chris' desk and finds Marc there sitting with him.

J (to C): He asking you out again?

C: Actually, he did just ask me to go to Cancun with him.

J: Ah, so the wedding is in Maine and the honeymoon is in Cancun, Marc?

M: Can I come to the Halloween party guys?

C: Nice segue, Marc.

J: Yeah, way to change the subject. What would you come as?

M: I could be Muy Thai.

J: You're going to be a martial art?

C: You know, if you could pull off being the embodiment of an abstract, I'd be impressed.

M: No, I mean like from Street Fighter, I could be Sagat.

J: Please, you'd need three of you to be Sagat. You're more of a Dhalsim.

M: What? I'm mad diesel, yo.

Jimmy palmfaces, Jabba laughs maniacally and calls Ray to leave a voicemail about what Marc just said. Then they proceed to try and talk for awhile without Marc about unrelated subjects, until...

M (leaning over to C): So, when are we getting laid.?

J: Oh, look. Time to get back to work. Have fun lovebirds.

C: Fuck you, Jim.

And scene again.