Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sine Qua Non

After a week off with no Battlestar Galactica, and a compelling cliffhanger at the end of the last new episode, I was very eager this week to see what had become of the vanished basestar, and Roslin, Baltar, and Helo.

Of course, this week we didn't get to see them on screen for a single second. Which on the one hand was a bit frustrating. On the other, it played just perfectly into the major theme of this episode: Adama's anxiety over losing Roslin. The structure of this episode, keeping the viewers as in the dark as the characters, helped bring us as close as we could be to their predicament, safely on our couches.

On the plus side, it was a great episode for Colonel Tigh. The revelation that the imprisoned Caprica Six is pregnant with his child?! Holy frak, did not expect that. And the confrontation he had with Adama over this was pretty incredible.

The earlier confrontation between Adama and Athena was even more powerful. You knew when she shot the "Natalie" Six last episode that this was going to throw a grenade right in the center of their relationship, and this scene didn't disappoint.

But there were some areas that ranged from "I'm not sure" to "I didn't like that" as well. I was thrilled to see the return of the Romo Lampkin character, having so thoroughly enjoyed him in the last season's final three episodes. (Mark Sheppard is one of those great working actors who is outstanding on nearly every television show he guest stars on.) And yet the sudden turn to writing his character as having gone over the edge was disappointing.

The thing is, last time he appeared, we didn't get a sense that he was anywhere near the edge. And this time, we didn't really get any picture of what might have happened between then and now to explain his decline. The man we saw last time was not someone who'd be seeing visions of a dead cat and threatening people with guns. This was like a completely different character. One the actor turned in a great performance for again, but a different character all the same.

And then there was the subplot for Lee. Anyone who didn't know from the moment "we've got to find a new interrim president" was uttered that Lee would end up being that guy doesn't watch much television drama. I was hoping the Battlestar Galactica writers would either buck the expectation (as they so often do), or do something neat to earn that eventual twist in the story, but neither really happened. I suppose this could go somewhere compelling for the Lee character, and if so, I'm willing to forgive the conceit. Still, I'm always disappointed a bit when a show that so rarely resorts to cliche stoops to using one.

The resignation of Admiral Adama to stay alone in a Raptor and wait for the return of the missing baseship made up for the stumbles, though. It's a pretty major turn for the character to admit to himself and others that he really does care that much for Roslin. And even if Tigh is "not the man he was" last time he took command of the fleet, a fleet not led by Adama could well be a scary proposition for the lot of them.

Until next week...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Kneel Before Him

Another Friday, another Battlestar Galactica episode. Which, due to a fun but long game night, I won't be reviewing until tomorrow.

Instead, for everyone already growing tired of this year's presidential election process, I present to you a most luminous alternative candidate: General Zod.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

There's No Place Like Home, Part 2

And just like that, there you have it -- no more Lost until 2009. But it went out on a very high note, worthy of the spectacular season they've had this year.

I'll start by mentioning the great character gems within the episode. With so much plot to tell, there wasn't room for many of them, but what was there landed solidly. Sun's anguish at losing Jin was painful and terrifying. On the other end of the spectrum, Desmond's reunion with Penny was beautiful -- a truly rare happy ending for a character on this show. And a quiet, but also tender moment was Hurley's chess game with the unseen ghost of Mr. Eko. Plus the callback between Jack and Desmond of their "see you in another life, brother" moment.

New connections were made in the overall story. We learned "who was in the coffin" we saw at the end of last season. (Actually, it was quite neat to pick up tonight's installment exactly where that third season finale ended.) Many had suspected it would be either Ben or Locke, and it was fun the way the writers revealed it by actually having Ben arrive at the funeral parlor to talk to Jack.

Speaking of Ben, we got a fun connection to his flash-forward earlier in the season; we know that he arrived mysteriously in the desert, transported a year into the future, immediately after having moved the Island as we saw tonight.

But answers always come with more questions on this show, and tonight the questions were very intriguing.

First, I find myself wondering about the nature of the show overall. We've now covered everything up to the rescue of the "Oceanic Six," and learned that the flash-forwards we've been seeing take place three years in the future. We know that Ben is trying to gather them all up and get them back to the Island. We know terrible things have happened on the Island in the intervening time.

Given the way the narrative of the show has always jumped around, it seems to me quite likely that the time we find ourselves in now, "three years later," will be the "present" for the show in the coming season. I think the "missing three years" on the Island will very likely be told in flashbacks of coming stories, just as events before the Island used to be told in flashbacks of the first three seasons.

There will be a lot to fill in, too.

Start with Locke. He's assumed his mantle as leader of the Others. And we've seen that will end decidedly not well for him in a few years time. But how? Especially when the Island was moved "to be safe?" What compelled him to even leave in the first place?

What about Claire? Her appearance in Kate's dream, like her appearance with her/Jack's father in the cabin, implies once again that she has died. But how did that just happen? And is there anything more going to be made about the Australian psychic's original prophesy that bad things would happen if anyone other than Claire raised Aaron? (Because that's exactly what ended up happening.)

What about Farraday, last seen stuck on a raft somewhere between the Island and the frieghter? Did they make it back to the Island? Were they lost at sea? It seems unlikely the lot of them would survive, as that would result in another Oceanic Six or Eight or So to have to explain. Yet I also find it hard to believe that so much pipe would be laid on the character of Farraday only to have him end without explanation like this.

What about Michael? Christian's proclamation "you can go now," feels pretty unambiguous to me, given how much Michael had been wanting to kill himself. And yet all that ado about getting the character back on the show, only to have him appear in three episodes and then die? It seems to me they could have had him do some recurring guest spots for that rather than make him a regular again.

And if you even for a moment entertain the notion that Michael not be dead -- proposterous though that seems -- you then have to wonder about Jin as well. Like I said, preposterous. And yet you kind of can't help but wonder...

What about Desmond? He got a "happy ending," but it seems unlikely that it will end just like that. He's now with the daughter of the man trying to find the Island at all costs. It seems all too probable for him to be pulled back into the story once more.

Even the more minor "regulars" got built up some tonight, with the revelation that Charlotte had been on the Island before, and may have been born there. There will be more to tell with her character in the next season.

Is Sun trying to play Widmore in some way, or is she betraying the Island to its enemy?

All this and more, plenty to keep your brain spinning until Lost returns for its fifth season in 2009.

Unless of course that possible actor's strike happens. Dammit.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stop and Think for a Second

Okay, Best Buy -- I understand. The Barenaked Ladies' new album is a "children's album." You have to put some kind of identifying sticker on it so that store employees shelve it it in the right section. But did no one think twice about this?

Or... if you're not seeing my point in the above picture:

I mean, come on. Just take a second to stop and think about this NAMBLA official sticker you're slapping on these CDs.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Myeah, It's a Game, See?

Another game I recently got to try courtesy of my friend FKL is a fairly light one called Gangster.

Each player controls a mob in Chicago. The board is divided into different districts of the city, each one worth a certain number of points (at every score interval) for the player with the most gangsters in the district, second most, third most, etc. You use a limited number of cards to drive your car around from district to district, each card allowing only a very specific number of spaces to your move (meaning you can't always get to exactly the place you might most want to go). In a district, you can drop off your own gangsters to build your control, pick up a rival gangster (one at a time) and throw him in your trunk to cart off to another district or dump for dead in the river, or use special modifications to your car to take advantage of extra functions in the game.

The game does a pretty excellent job of evoking its theme. The idea of shooting or aducting rivals, spreading your gangs throughout the districts of Chicago, and driving around in your vintage car really sell the idea of "Gangster" every bit as much as the title promises.

The trick is, outside of the theme, I'm a little less sure who the game is for exactly. I did have fun playing it, but at the same time, I suspect I might have a lot less fun if I played it regularly. It doesn't seem to suggest a wide variety of stategies, or much complexity for an "advanced" gamer. Its arguably bizarre special modifications for cars and its definitely bizarre scoring system (where second place is sometimes best) make me think it's not the easiest fit for a "casual" gamer. I mean sure, these are easy concepts for a regular players of German board games, but there are several other games I could think of that would serve as better bridges up from the world of Sorry! and Monopoly.

I think in all, the game probably fits best in a regular group of gamers who would keep in on call, not to be played every week, and not to be played as the "main game" of the night. After your more "thinky" round of your-deep-strategy-game-of-choice, pull out Gangster for a lighter round of fun before your brains all totally degenerate to the level of an uber-light game like Geschenkt (aka "No Thanks") or TransAmerica.

Or put another way, I think I'd be willing to play again. And yet I don't plan on getting my own copy, and given that the closest person I know who has one just took it back to Canada, I'm not sure when the next that might happen could be.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Welcome to Denver

When my friend visited last weekend, picking him up and dropping him off were the first trips I'd made to the airport in several months -- I think since some time during the summer last year. Generally, things don't change too much at the Denver International Airport.

This time was a major exception. As you turn around the last big bend in the road before heading into the terminal, this monstrosity had now appeared:

I hope this photo can do justice to how unbelievably creepy this thing is. The street lamps in the background might at least convey that this thing has got to be 20 to 30 feet tall. And I do not get it at all.

You might think maybe it's a sort of Denver Broncos themed something-or-other, but the "Bronco" is white. Always has been. This thing is midnight blue, and looks like some fantasy artist's depiction of a "Nightmare" Horse. It looks like it could breathe fire at you, or trample you, or both.

And it's a frakking strange way to welcome travelers to Denver.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Unlocked is the New Locked

I've been in my new place for over a month now, but one thing I'm still getting used to is the lock on the front door. Both the main lock and the dead bolt are mounted in such a way that the "locked" position puts the... I don't know what you call it -- the part on the inside of the house that you grasp and turn... in the horizontal position.

To the best of my memory, every place I have lived -- home, apartment, condo, you name it -- have all had door locks where the locked position is vertical. As a result, I've too often found myself going to head out the door only to find it locked. Or double- and even triple-checking the door when I want to lock up.

This isn't my first encounter with door oddities, though. There's this friend of mine who (I suppose) had lived in places all his life where the teeth on the key were always inserted upward into the lock. I remember when he moved into a place with a few roommates where suddenly the reverse was true, we were always coming up to that door and having to say "mountains down" for his benefit. Well, not even for his benefit, really. We soon got so used to saying it that it was "mountains down" almost any time someone came to the door, whether it was actually locked or not.

I don't have anything quite as catchy as "mountains down" for "turny thingy sideways," though. I'll have to work on that.

Anyway, I suppose my point is: you know the little things you never think about? Well, when you suddenly do have to think about them, it's a bit jarring.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bloody Vikings

As I mentioned, when my friend visited last weekend (that friend would be "FKL," for those keeping score at home), we played a lot of board games. One of the ones he brought to introduce to me was Eketorp. In fact, he gave me the game to keep -- and I played it again this weekend with a new group.

In Eketorp, each player represents a group of Vikings trying to amass the raw materials to build the walls of a castle. You can go out to the fields and scavenge the materials available there, or assault the castles-in-progress of your opponents to pillage their materials. But not only the latter will lead to conflict with enemy Vikings. There are only so many resources available in the fields each turn, and if there aren't enough to satisfy the Vikings players have deployed to each section of the fields, they must fight back opponents until there are few enough survivors to divide the resources.

This game is quite a lot about trying to get into the minds of your opponents, as you do in Adel Verplichtet (or "By Hook or By Crook," or "Hoity Toity," whichever name you might know that game by) or Doge, or as in Puerto Rico on a different level. You plan your turns simultaneously, and reveal your plans all at once. You want to try to do the things none of your opponents will do. But trying to outthink them, you might overthink it, and find several players all rushing toward the same tactic they thought they'd get away with for free.

The game has gone over pretty well with everyone I've played it with so far -- including some friends that I wasn't sure would like it. It's been deemed to have "just the right amount of plotting" without getting overwrought, some interesting mechanics that aren't easily relatable to other games, and a pretty brisk play time. After just two plays, I'm not yet ready to pronounce it a stellar game, but I've certainly liked it both times, and it's the best new game I've tried in a while. And as you would expect in a game this dependent on judging your opponents' plans, the game plays quite differently depending on who you play with.

If you're a fan of any of the games I stretched to compare this to, you probably won't be disappointed if you check it out.

Oh, and for FKL's benefit -- "Purple Power" has fallen. Though the player who won our game last weekend did play again tonight, she failed to win. Tonight was a victory for my Vikings.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I'm feeling exhausted tonight, so while I had plans to talk about some of the board games I've played recently for the first time, or a couple of new video games I've picked up that actually have me playing Rock Band slightly less than I have been, I'm going to instead show you the most horrifying picture on the internet.

Well, I'm not going to show it to you here. I don't want this damn thing on my blog.

Really, you shouldn't click on that link. But you can't help yourself now, can you? The curiosity is killing you.

That's how tired I am. Why the hell else would I post something like this?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back Home Again with Indiana

I may have just got done saying I don't do midnight premieres, but that doesn't mean I don't do opening nights. I just got back from the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. (Be sure you get a deep breath before you start saying that title.)

DO NOT go to this movie in anticipation of a movie "you've waited 19 years to see." I think you couldn't possibly avoid being disappointed. But go in expectation of a fun adventure, and I think you couldn't help but have a good time. It's no Raiders of the Lost Ark, nor a Last Crusade, but it's a very enjoyable movie, and a long mile better than Temple of Doom.

The movie bounces with energy from one edge-of-your-seat action sequence to the next, losing almost no momentum over its two hours. It has just the right touch of nostalgia, calling up connections to the earlier films in just the right amounts. It plays around with the fact that this is an older main character than before, just enough to be humorous, not too much to belabor the point.

Harrison Ford hasn't been this good in a movie since probably The Fugitive. You sense that Cate Blanchett is having the time of her life playing a villain, and that enthusiasm makes her performance very fun to watch. Shia LaBeouf, who has proven to be a good enough actor before, finally ends up in a movie that doesn't suck. And Karen Allen breathes life into the movie; I almost felt that it only started to get really good when she first appeared on screen.

Crystal Skull is not without a few flaws, though. First, I got the distinct impression that the opening act didn't receive the same writing polish as the rest of the film. Not in the big moments most people would say "matter," because the opening sequence itself is certainly a whirlwind. But the early exposition drags a bit. And on more than a few occasions, characters are shown knowing some bit of information in one scene only to somehow forget it and have to be retold it a few scenes later. You'd think on a movie of this magnitude, they'd buff out these rough spots before rolling the cameras. But hey, at least someone other than George Lucas wrote the screenplay itself, so the dialogue actually doesn't come a pair of Dutch shoes.

The impersonal hand of special effects made itself a bit more known in this movie than in the previous films. This may seem odd to say, given that technology has had two decades to progress. But there were many shots in this film that just looked and felt fake -- more in this movie alone than the other three Indys combined, if you ask me.

I also felt the final act didn't quite work, like it was some raving George Lucas brain child he forced on everyone else involved. I'll try to be as spoiler-free and circumspect here as I can: thematically, it's absolutely in line with the message of the earlier movies. Some things, man just isn't meant to know. And yet, even though I didn't have a hard time accepting melting Nazis or booby-trapped cups aging you centuries in mere seconds, I couldn't get on board with the wacky finale of this tale. It was just way out in left field.

Still, that at least got saved by what was actually the final scene. The movie ends on a great note, and the last "gag," if you will, is absolutely perfect. And as the credits start to roll and that famous fanfare plays one more time, I couldn't help but smile and think "I had a fun time." I rate it a B+, which puts it on top of the heap as my favorite new movie of the year to date.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Old Fogie

I write tonight's post as I often do, around midnight. Right now, many people are waiting in line to see the new Indiana Jones movie. In time zones farther east, some are already getting out of midnight shows.

I'm trying very hard not to get my hopes up for the film. I'm trying not to even start thinking things like "please don't suck pleasedontsuck," as I've heard a friend or two say, because to me, that's just a particular form of getting hopes up. Of course, it would seem to run counter to that notion that I'm talking about the movie tonight when I'm not even reviewing it now.

But really, my subject is not the Indy movie itself. It's the fact that people are waiting in line to see it at midnight. Even if I was majorly eager to see the film, I just wouldn't be there at midnight for it.

Oh, there was a time that was different. I've attended many midnight premieres in my life. It wasn't George Lucas completely screwing up the Star Wars prequels that changed that, either. It was age. And actually, The Fellowship of the Ring.

I did like The Fellowship of the Ring. Not as much as many. (Certainly not as much as a former co-worker of mine, whose review of the film the day after seeing it was, "I never want to not be watching that movie.") But I did like it. Yet I saw it at a midnight premiere. Remember, this was a three-hour movie. Plus 15-20 minutes of previews and ads and crap. Plus, I saw it at a movie theater that was 45 minutes from the place I was living at the time.

I got home from that movie past 4:00 in the morning.

And I had to be at work a few hours later.

I was miserable that whole following day. I wasn't that old in a grander scheme of things, but I was old enough that my days of all-nighters like that were behind me. I was exhausted, bleary-eyed, frayed, frazzled, pick your adjective. It didn't matter that I'd liked the movie, I just could barely make it through that day. And that was pretty much the day I vowed "never again."

I've gone to a couple movies at midnight since then. But they were always on weekend nights. Always at various "flashback movie" presentations, where midnight was the one and only opportunity to see the film.

Tonight's premiere of Indiana Jones fails on both those counts. And I don't think there's a movie that could get me to change the "policy."

Serenity 2?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The friend who recently visited me is an enthusiastic board game player. Even more than I am. So while he was here, I got to play a number of games -- some new, some old; some I had here, and some he brought with him.

One of those many games was Caylus Magna Carta, the "simplified," card game version of Caylus. I'm a big fan of Caylus -- it's one of my favorite new games released in the past couple years. I wasn't sure what to expect from this Magna Carta version, though. On the one hand, I was eager to try out a cousin of a game I like. On the other, Puerto Rico (another game I love) spawned a card game version, San Juan, that was a pretty pale shadow of the original.

In my opinion, there's not really any appreciable difference between Caylus Magna Carta and the original. And this is both a compliment and a criticism. It uses a lot of the great mechanics from the original game. But if it really was supposed to be simpler, more quickly paced, and just generally "lighter" than Caylus, I sure didn't see it in the game I played. Our three player game took around 90 minutes.

I certainly had fun playing it, but in about the same 90 minutes, I could have played Caylus itself instead. That would have offered a little more strategic depth and a little more smoothness to the game mechanics. It's not that I wouldn't play Caylus Magna Carta again... I just can't see myself playing it any place or time that the original was available instead.

Caylus Magna Carta is a fine enough game, but if you have it, there's no need to get Caylus -- and vice versa. And if you have neither, I'd recommend the original.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Guess What's Coming to Dinner

Well, the down side is that my visiting friend returned home today. We had a great time, but his trip is now over. But I now did get to watch this past Friday's episode of Battlestar Galactica. And it was mostly a good one.

I was pleased to finally see us getting back around to the matter of the vision shared by Roslin, Six, and Athena -- it was really bugging me that this big deal from last season's finale had been shoved under the rug for this many episodes. How Roslin could be so down on Starbuck as a possible Cylon when she herself was sharing daydreams with them was a bit of a sore thumb in my mind.

This revisited plot thread led to a number of great moments. Hera's creepy creepy drawings of "6" were a credit to the show's art department. Athena's confrontation with the "Natalie" incarnation of Six had some nice "is she actually going to go through with it?" tension -- and she did! This will be big trouble for the fragile alliance, and possible trouble for her position on the ship too. (Though Cally got off easy for killing a Cylon "prisoner," so we'll see...)

The scene in which Roslin confronted Tory about her relationship with Baltar was great. Watching Tory wither under the president's stone cold accusation was great, and showed that Tory hasn't quite slipped totally away to "the dark side" yet.

Watching Tigh quake in his boots at the possibility of D'Anna returning to unmask him as a Cylon was kind of a one-note beat, but the note was fun anyway. Tigh has always been a character that has really made for good drama when he finds himself "tortured," and it's good to see that's no different now that we know he's a Cylon.

The thread of Gaeta losing his leg was also a strong one, but I have to say I thought they used the singing a bit overmuch. The first time we heard it, is was very powerful. The second time, when Roslin commented on it, was also effective. But the next several iterations of it lost a bit of dramatic power each time, in my opinion.

But to me, the weakest moment was in the teaser, with the blatant dramatic conceit of the Demetrius' jump engines failing just to create the false tension of the Cylon Baseship arriving in the fleet unescorted. Have jump engines ever failed to work before in the history of the show? Did anyone think for a second that the Baseship would actually be destroyed, or even fired on? It wasn't tense, it was pretense.

Still, the episode was far more good than not, and left off on the tantalizing note that the Baseship has separated from the fleet, taking Roslin and Baltar (and others) along with it. I look forward to seeing that thread continued next week.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Back Ho

A huge cultural gap has just been bridged, now that someone has found a way to combine stripping and construction equipment. And you thought it was only those Japanese game shows that were totally strange.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Home Sweet Home

When you have a friend or family member come to visit the place you live, you really get the chance to actually look at the place you live. I suppose if you don't like your city/neighborhood/area, this could be a pretty miserable experience for you, but for me, it's been great.

For example, my friend and I went to Red Rocks Amphitheater yesterday, the place where a number of big bands have recorded concert albums. I hadn't been there in a couple years... actually, since the last time an out of town friend came to visit me here in Denver. But it made me appreciate how cool a place this is all over again.

I mean seriously, how neat is this?

The downtown skyline is even visible there in the background above the left side of the stage. Man, I love being back in Colorado.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Brain Damage

As I mentioned briefly last night, I have a friend visiting from out of town. We were seeing the sights (sites?) and having some fun tonight, so the Battlestar Galactica review is going to have to wait... maybe even until Monday. In fact, we're getting back so late and tired, I'm afraid all eloquence has escaped me. And since a picture's supposed to be worth a thousand words, here's one:

What the hell is the deal with the guy on the left? He has a helmet. It's right there, hanging off the side of his damn motorcycle. He can't be bothered to wear it.

There's No Place Like Home

If you check my blog in the morning, then this post comes late. Sorry 'bout that... I'm fortunate to be having a good friend visit from out of town right now that I haven't seen in a few years. So it's only now that I'm getting around the getting down my thoughts on this week's new episode.

I very much enjoyed the episode, but by the same token, it was actually the first hour of what has ultimately been conceived of as a three-hour finale (with the final two coming back to back in two weeks). And so it very much came across like an incomplete thought.

Still, despite the fact that it felt like leaving off in the middle of a book chapter rather than at the end of one, there was a lot to like. I believe aside from Claire, every cast member had some role in the episode, and most of them were good. There were lots of outstanding little character moments.

Kate getting off the plane in the future, watching all the others receive love from their family, and her with no one.

Hurley's parents "not getting it."

Jin saying to Sun, "I told you I'd get you off this island." (Man, it makes you cringe when you start to speculate what might go wrong for them/him in the near future.)

Sayid's reunion with Nadia. (Made bittersweet, because we know it doesn't end well for them.)

Ben's most truthful line ever: "I wasn't being entirely truthful."

Jack learning at last that Claire is his half-sister.

And much more. And running through all the fun character stuff, a major narrative mystery. We know who the Oceanic Six are -- and we also know that Ben survives. And yet, right now, these people are all scattered all over the place, and each of them with people we know don't leave the Island. Sun's on the freighter with Aaron, but also with Jin. Hurley's outside the Orchid, but with Locke. Jack's tromping through the jungle with Sawyer. Kate and Sayid have been captured by The Others. And Ben's been captured by the freighter commandos.

So how in the hell is all this going to reconcile into the future we're seeing portrayed in the flash-forwards in this very same episode?!

Very entertaining, mind-tingling stuff. I look forward to the finale in two weeks.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Following in My Footsteps

My old apartment was close to a fairly major street in the suburbs of Denver. That street is no longer one I travel on daily, but I do have occasion to drive it a few times in the average week.

Tonight, I was driving by, and noticed a light on in the bedroom window of my old apartment. Now, I'd seen empty apartments in the complex before with lights on in the kitchen and dining areas -- they just always leave the lights on in case of a showing, energy conservation be damned. But, as is so often the way with apartments, there's no built-in lights in the other living areas of the place. Definitely not in that master bedroom.

Someone has moved in to my old apartment.

I took note of it not because I'm remotely curious about the kind of person who might have moved in. Certainly not because I miss the old place -- I've hardly thought about it, in fact. No, I noticed it because I realized in that moment that I really hoped those bastards that ran my old apartment complex would twist in the wind for a while and not find anybody new to take the place for months on end.

Maybe there's some consolation on that front in knowing there's no way they would have found someone to move in at the rate they were increasing my rent to. They probably had to offer some crazy "move-in special" like the one that suckered me into going there in the first place.

What a dumb thing to hold even a tiny grudge over. I need to let this one go.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Last Call for Rinks

If you're a fan of roller skating, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. A few weeks ago, I talked about a local place that's had a skating rink in it for around 20 years. I mentioned that it had recently undergone another change of ownership, but looked basically untouched on the outside.

I've now learned that's not the case on the inside.

Spurred by my friend FKL to investigate whether the rink was actually still there, I made a few phone calls and learned that it has now been replaced by Go Karts. And so now, officially, I don't know of any skating rinks still around my neck of the woods.

Of course, I stand by what I said in my last post -- I'm not sure I see the appeal. And yet despite that, I still have just this tiny twinge of nostalgic sadness over the "passing of the skating rink." Maybe it's because I actually did go there a few times way back and the day, and it's some kind of weird "loss of something from my youth" feeling. Maybe not.

Anyway, in the interests of bringing my loyal readers the truth, I thought I should issue this sort of retraction about the state of the local skating rink.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gaaaaarrbage Bag

Another new episode of How I Met Your Mother, another internet extension of the humor. (Following on the heels of Robin Sparkles and Ted Mosby is a

If you saw the episode, you might think I'm referring to Lily and Marshall Sell Their, the charity auction of set memorabilia mentioned at the end of the half hour, but no. (In fact, the site wasn't even working, last I checked. Perhaps they weren't ready to meet demand?)

No, I'm referring to Guy Forces His Wife to Dress in a Garbage Bag for the Next Three Bring your speakers/headphones. And your French/English Dictionary.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


This right here is the creepiest damn cover I've ever seen on a DVD:

I'm not buying it, but if you want to, it comes out in mid-July. And you can be glad you can only see the spine when it's sitting on your shelf.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Less Than the Best

In my recent post about great but cancelled one-season TV shows, Snarky Smurf asked me of Freaks and Geeks if it got better later on in the season.

It's funny, because just the day before, in a conversation at work, one person had sampled her first episode of a particular television show, and was expressing quiet interest, though not unbridled enthusiasm. In response, someone else piped in quick with, "well, you watched those episodes? Yeah, those weren't really very good."

And it suddenly occured to me that you hear this sort of thing with recommendations all the time. And not just with television, either.

"Of, you read that Stephen King book? You should have read this other book. That one really does kind of suck."

"You went to see that movie? Geez, that actor is so much better in this other movie."

And sure, it's possible that any given example could be true. Writers with long careers inevitably have some great books and some terrible ones. Many TV series go through dry spells, or take a while to find their feet. Many brilliant actors have sucked out loud in certain parts.

But it kind of seems to me that to hear this sort of excuse as often as I know I do, it has to be just that... an excuse. Sometimes, sadly, people just don't see the same things in a creative work that you do.

Oh, and to Snarky -- I think those first few Freaks and Geeks episodes are as representative of the show as any others.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Overall, I'd have to say I didn't really like this week's Battlestar Galactica. But there was one element seeded throughout the hour that I really did like -- the stark and harsh depiction of death.

Again and again in this episode, death was shown without glamour. There was death without dignity, death without purpose, slow and painful death, sudden and jarring death... every color of a very dark rainbow. Unplugging the hybrid, a Six taking revenge on a human, another Six executing the first, a "Sharon" getting caught in the crossfire, and the wasting death of a cancer patient (with Roslin sitting by to see a glimpse of her future).

All these elements played like some sort of poem, a narrative concept that gave a lot of heft to the proceedings. By no means would I call it entertaining to watch, but it was very effective and affective.

The story itself wasn't very compelling, however. Things in the fleet were on total pause this week, as most characters remained off screen, waiting for Starbuck's story to "catch up." (And allowing Roslin time off for her treatments.) The Cylon plot was considerably more engaging, but still didn't end up anywhere other than exactly where you knew it would by the end of the episode.

There was the revelation that apparently, the final five Cylons have actually been to Earth, and have the knowledge of its location buried in their subconscious somewhere. Important in the grand scheme of things, I suppose.

Yet I would much rather have seen what would have happened if Anders really had put his hand in that Cylon goo computer terminal thingie.

Perhaps in a future episode.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cabin Fever

I think I enjoyed tonight's episode of Lost. I say "think," because I'm still sort of trying to take it all in.

You could argue that tonight's episode was actually the weakest of the season in terms of character. There wasn't really a heart-touching story at the center of the "present" story or the Locke flashbacks. Instead, the whole episode was about tweaking things you thought you knew, and connecting threads you may or may not have known were connected before.

This was the kind of episode that might make you want to go back and watch whole chunks of the series again, really. Because it drew on bits and pieces from more episodes than I think I'll be able to accurately tally here.

We had the return of the mysterious ageless Richard Alpert. Just as in Ben's flashback from season three, he appeared to be a sort of "Panchen Lama" for The Island, seeking out the next leader to control its powers. Now we learn that he appears to have wanted Locke all along in the first place, but that Locke wasn't "ready" to assume the role until he lost the use of his legs. It appears Ben was actually the "backup choice" for the role of "Leader of the Others."

We learn that the same associate of Widmore's that harassed Hurley in his flash-forward also went after Locke in his past, sending Locke on the walkabout that would never happen, causing him to be on Oceanic 815. How much does Widmore know of Locke's importance? And is there any chance that he knew the plane crash would follow, sending him to The Island? Claire's psychic from season one knew, after all.

And speaking of Claire... what the hell? She's "with Christian" now. Meaning what, that she's dead? Or simply walking with the spirits?

When did Christian become a servant/spokesman/tool of Jacob's? In any case, it kind of now seems as though way back in season one, when Jack saw his father on the Island, ultimately leading him to find "the cave" they used for shelter, it may well have been because Jacob sent Christian there to help.

The death of the freighter doctor, foretold in an early episode on the beach, now came to pass, in a major illustration of how time is passing differently on The Island than it is in the outside world.

Michael gets beaten (yay!), but not nearly enough.

Sayid and Desmond have now separated, putting another major piece into place insofar as bringing about the future we've now glimpsed. (Sayid's escapes the Island. Desmond, not necessarily.)

And the concluding moment... we're going to move the Island??!!

So, like I said, not a lot of tender moments to tug at your emotions, but plenty of stuff to send your head spinning.

Oh, and some truly funny scenes involving the unlikely trio of Locke, Ben, and Hurley.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Brilliant But Cancelled

Shocho recently offered a link to a somewhat questionable list of the 50 Greatest TV Shows. While I haven't quite got the energy to muster building a list of my own right now, I did decide on a halfway measure I could offer up:

The Top 10 Shows That Only Lasted One Season
or 10 Most Brilliant-But-Cancelled

I wish I could claim to have spent a lot of time on this, but the truth is, I got this mostly looking through my DVD collection. Nevertheless, I think it's a pretty worthy batch of entries.

#10 - Undeclared

Before everything Judd Apatow touched turned to gold, everything he touched turned to cancelled. This half-hour comedy about a group of college students had a great mix of humor and heart, and starred several of the actors who to this day remain part of the Apatow Acting Company. There were some missteps here and there in the stunt casting of some comedians I'm not particularly fond of (Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler), but hey, a struggling show does what it can to survive.

#9 - Miracles

Many TV fans think of Jericho and the infamous "nuts campaign" when they think of Skeet Ulrich. But many years earlier, he was the star of this very strange, very cool, often unsettling little show that should have been the heir to The X-Files throne. It had a similar format of a believer and a skeptic paired together to investigate unexplained occurences. The significant difference was a major one: while The X-Files dealt with the supernatural, Miracles revolved around religious... well... miracles. This difference permeated every detail of the series, leading to provocative discussions of faith and God. The show kept getting better as it produced more episodes, but it was sadly cut down after just one year.

#8 - Action

This show starred Jay Mohr as a scumbag Hollywood producer, screwing people over to further his own career. The show was crass and funny and brilliant. It aired on FOX, making extensive use of bleeping. It should have run on HBO in all its glory. And if it had, I'm quite positive it would have enjoyed a five or six season run.

#7 - American Gothic

This show was almost too cool for words. It's set in a small North Carolina town where the sheriff is the Devil himself. Well, perhaps not quite literally -- the show remains slightly vague on this -- but certainly an embodiment of pure evil, and vested with supernatural powers to further his agenda. Gary Cole played this character, and made every single second of screen time an absolute joy to watch. The cast also included Sarah Paulson (long before Studio 60) and Jake Weber (long before his largely thankless role on Medium). The show had a compelling, serialized story. And best of all, this one season wonder has an ending! The producers saw the writing on the wall, and rather than roll the dice on "maybe we'll get renewed," they decided to roll the dice on "we'll figure out what to do with a season two if we get one."

#6 - Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Speaking of Studio 60, here it is. There's no question that this show wasn't as great as The West Wing or Sports Night (which ran two seasons, so it can't make this list). Still, it was a little slice of near-perfection. The show had some kinks to work out early, but it finally did, finding the right balance of comedy and drama, the right level of focus on the "show within the show," and how much Hollywood-ese to portray. But, by the time it had figured all this out, no one was watching. It's still a great place to see Matthew Perry do something other than Chandler Bing, and other great work by Steven Weber, Amanda Peet, Timothy Busfield, Sarah Paulson and more. (And perhaps the biggest shock, Nate Corddry, formerly from The Daily Show, shows some decent acting chops too!)

#5 - Police Squad!

Before The Naked Gun, Leslie Nielsen played Frank Drebin in this half-hour series. Truth be told, it might be a good thing that this show didn't actually make it, because I think it likely the schtick would have worn out pretty quickly. But since it only ran six episodes, each one of them is loaded with more rapid fire jokes than even the spin-off movies deliver per minute. Very funny stuff.

#4 - Wonderfalls

Before Bryan Fuller made Pushing Daisies, he created the equally quirky Wonderfalls, the tale of a misanthrope souvenir-shop employee who sees knick knacks all around her come to life, prodding her into doing good deeds. Actually, on many levels, you could call this Pushing Daisies "season zero," the sensibilities are so similar. But the show also had this sort-of Quantum Leap vibe, especially funny because the "heroine" was so reluctant (to put it mildly).

#3 - Profit

Adrian Pasdar (now known for Heroes) lights up the screen as the most rat bastard central character ever to appear on television. Today, after Swearingen on Deadwood, or House (on House... duh), it doesn't seem unusual to have a character ranging anywhere from mean to evil as the protagonist of a television show. But in the 90s, it was so revolutionary, it only lasted 9 episodes. There's a lot of computer-related material in this show that looks laughably dated today, but in every other respect, this show is phenomenal, and could probably find success if launched today. This show is just dark, disturbed, and demented, and I love every minute of it.

#2 - Freaks and Geeks

Before Judd Apatow failed with Undeclared, he failed with Freaks and Geeks. Starring more members of the Apatow Acting Company, this show focused on high school students coping with the pressures of teenage life. It had lots of humor and heart. It's hard to describe this show in any way that doesn't come off sounding like Undeclared, and on paper, about the only major difference is that this show was an hour long instead of 30 minutes. But all the parts just clicked better in this show. The sentiment is more genuine, the laughs funnier, and perhaps the setting more relatable (for those who grew up in the 80s, anyway). It's a perfect season of television.

#1 - Firefly

If you didn't know this was going to be #1, then you A) have never watched this show, and B) haven't really been reading my blog very long. To date, this is Joss Whedon's master work. Brilliant as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were (and they were!), this show transcends them. It's simply unbelievable that a show could fire so perfectly on all cylinders so quickly. The cast was phenomenal, the writing matched, and in general this feels as polished and natural as many shows in their third or fourth seasons (traditionally, the golden years). I think I could watch this series from beginning to end, one episode every night, for the rest of my days and never get tired of it.

So, there you have it. Challenges? Alternate suggestions? I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Different Perspective

I have a friend who is legally blind. She in turn has a friend who is completely blind. The lot of us were gathered at her house for games on Sunday, when they started to talk about plans to see Prince Caspian when it opens in a couple weeks. Typical stuff, mostly... do you want to try to go opening night? Do you want to do a midnight show? Let's buy the tickets online. And then we'll have to show up early to wait in the line, of course.

"What for?" asks my friend's friend. "We're buying tickets ahead of time."

My friend's husband pipes right in. "Well, so we don't get stuck sitting..." (a smile dawns on his face, but he finishes the thought unflustered) "...too close to the screen."

"Ah, you Sighties."

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Qwest Concludes

I'm not sure if my DirecTV/Qwest woes have been the most compelling tale I've told here, but it does seem a few people have taken an interest. (Thanks for your long distance attempts at a diagnosis, Kindralas!) So here is the final (probably) chapter in the tale.

I wasn't feeling too great Friday night. In fact, as of today, I'm full-blown sick and feeling miserable. So I figured I'd try to sleep in Saturday morning, despite the 9:00-1:00 window of my TV appointment. I had the Apologetic Supervisor's assurance that I'd get a call 30 minutes before the technician arrived, so I figured that would give me the time to wake up and get ready.

Still, I decided to attach a note to my door before I went to bed. It read simply: "You were supposed to call me before you arrived."

I woke up on my own around 10:00, and went out to run some errands that needed doing, leaving that note attached to my door. Around 10:30, I did indeed get a phone call. It was the technician, but he was calling to inform me he was running behind schedule, not that he was on his way. Ignoring the likelihood that he probably wouldn't have called me at all if he'd been on time, I asked if he'd please call again once he was on the way. I completed my errands, got another call about 11:15, then headed home.

Then, at 11:30, he showed up, and the stupidity began.

Here was another guy who didn't think to bring a step ladder or anything. Another need for me to offer my chair for him to stand on. He looks in the box outside my building and says, "wow, there's nothing in here! Nobody in your building has HD yet."

I know, I tell him. There's a satellite on the roof for it, but I'm missing the SWM module (and the splitter for the building, should anyone want to follow later on the trail I've painfully blazed these past few weeks). "You have that with you, though, right?"

"Sure. We'll get you hooked up, no problem."

It took about 45 minutes, which seemed maybe a little long to me, but whatever. Then he brings the HD box into my place, we plug it in, and start it doing the automatic software update.


He restarts the box. Nothing.

He checks the signal readout from the satellite transponders. Three satellites in range. Every one of them, only the even numbered transponders providing any kind of signal. All the odd numbers are dead. Two of the satellites are thus showing up "Failed" in the settings, and the third isn't providing enough of a signal to really do anything.

He goes back out to the box for a half an hour. I get a phone call from my friend. "Are we still on for that movie at 2:30?"

Well, it's about 1:30 now. I'm getting a bad feeling here... but let's say, probably, okay? I'll call you back.

The guy returns. No change.

Back out to the box, and back into my house, another three or four times, during which he tells me he's replaced every part he's just installed. He's tested the dish, too. This should all be working. "I'm going to call this other guy. He's in the area, and might be able to come by."

Now, Apologetic Supervisor on the phone told me she was sending what sounded like the Lord of the Technicians. So I'm not exactly sure who this guy is going to call for help. But I let him make the call without comment.

I'm told this "other guy" has to finish up his current job, but he'll probably be here within 45 minutes, is that okay? "Did you have plans?"

I tell him I did, as a matter of fact. But faced with the choice of scheduling a fourth appointment and losing a third Saturday to this crap, let's get the guy over here.

So I call my friends and cancel the movie, and then we sit down and wait.

The second man arrives about 2:30, and it's the same guy from a week earlier. He's at least the one that told me exactly what parts I needed to make sure were brought for my install, so maybe he'll know what he's doing. (Of course, he's also the same guy who apparently isn't trusted by the company to actually just have those parts on his truck, so maybe I shouldn't get my hopes up.)

The two of them go back outside together and go through the box, the new guy apparently double-checking all the first guy's work. They come back in to my television three or four times, restarting the box, and looking for the magic to happen.

Still nothing but even-numbered transponders.

It's past 3:00 now. Other friends call, friends who come by weekly for game night. Do I want to grill burgers tonight? They'll bring them, I just need to get buns and such.

Sure, I say. I'll make a grocery run as soon as these people leave.

3:30 rolls around. Still no progress.

3:45, my friends call back. They're in the area, actually. They'd thought they'd be running all these errands, but it didn't take long. Can they come over early?

Sure, I say, but I haven't gone to the grocery yet. The Tweedles are still here not hooking up my TV.

Said Tweedles return not long after. They've gone over everything, and they don't understand what it could be. So they're going to schedule another guy who knows more to come out and take a look at it. In the meantime, they can leave me hooked up with "MFH1" instead of "MFH2."


"Well, you'll get about 9 or 10 HD channels."

Ah.... this would be that "ain't it special you get ESPN" package you tried to sell me on last week?

Perhaps because I was too busy thinking of the rant I'd scream at Apologetic Woman when I called her on Monday, I didn't tell them not to bother. So they set about screwing these two giant boxes on the back of the DVR. Then they fire the sucker up.

And still have only even transponder numbers, and a non-functioning TV box.

15 more minutes of messing with that, and then my friends arrive. Now they get to sit there in my kitchen waiting and watching along with me, all of us held captive and unable to just leave and go about our lives.

It's just past 4:00, and now they tell me they're just going to put everything back how it was, and get this higher power to come in. They're going to call him up right now.

I'm thinking I'm going to just tell them all to shove it, but maybe now having my friends sitting there keeps me from launching into the full-fledged rant I'm really feeling inside. So, the workers call this guy, and start chatting with him on the phone. They go back out to the box.

Five minutes later, they come back inside and try the HD box. Voila! No half-assed MFH1 signals, no missing transponders, it's all working.

In short, these two idiots farted around for five hours before calling this guy who took five minutes on the phone to tell them they probably had a damn wire crossed or something.

They left shortly before 4:30. I had my HD, at last. But another Saturday was blown, this one more completely than the last.

Not having Apolgetic Woman's direct phone number, I called the Man Below Her today and told him what idiots the techs were, and how they'd wasted five hours screwing everything up. He assured me he'd let his supervisor know.

But naturally, I never got a call from her.

Man, do I miss Comcast.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Summer Begins

Judging by the $100 million opening weekend, many of you have already seen Iron Man by now. For those of you who haven't yet, my advice is this: adjust your expectations down a bit. It's not a bad movie; in fact, it's certainly an "above average" movie. But the overwhelmingly positive reviews it seems to have been getting might set you up for something more fantastic than I think it delivers.

In the plus column, Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic, as is the writing of his character. He's dark, sarcastic, and witty, but also charming and endearing at the same time. He's not a hero in any conventional sense of the word, but he really makes the movie fun to watch.

Gwyneth Paltrow is also really compelling, I think. Again, the writing does her a great service. Her character is neither the dumb airhead the hero of such films often has to to rescue, nor the "look how independent a woman I am!" overcompensating stereotype-unto-itself that many others of these films inject instead. Her scenes with Robert Downey are the best in the movie. They have a great and believable relationship.

The film moves along at a good pace, not dragging, but not throwing in too much action for action's sake. It has just the right dash of social commentary, while doing its proper duty as a "summer blockbuster."

However, in the minus column, there's Jeff Bridges' character. And this is no fault of the actor, who delivers an enjoyably over-the-top performance. But it feels like it's been spliced in from another movie. With the other two leads being such fully dimensional characters, his character looks all the more flat and one-note. And he really is. We're never given any motivations for his behavior -- not even a thin, implausible one. He looks the part, he mugs for the camera, but ultimately it all feels incredibly false for how human and real the rest of the movie feels.

And then there's the finale. Without spoiling anything, I think, let me just say that it's a CG-fest. It's a big brawl between two fighters that exist only on a series of hard drives somewhere. There's no heart in it. And to me, it once again feels dragged in from some other movie, given the more realistic build-up that led to it.

In short, major points for a more character-driven and emotional tale than either superhero or summer blockbuster movies tend to have. But points off for not staying true to that model all the way through the film. I rate it a B- overall.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Road Less Traveled

I'm sorry to say that this week's Battlestar Galactica wasn't really worth the extra day's wait it took me to get around to watching it. I simply had too many problems "believing" in this episode.

I had a hard time believing that all those people aboard the Demetrius would have gone along with Starbuck enough in the first place not to have mutinied long before the events of this episode. Sixty days all but lost in space following the orders of a captain many of them might very reasonably think is a Cylon? No way!

I had a hard time believing in the Starbuck-Leoben relationship. As Helo pointed out, he locked her up and tortured her (psychologically, if not physically) for months on New Caprica. In the absence of any context for what really happened to Starbuck during her missing time, we're just left to wonder what could possibly have happened to make her suddenly want to listen to Leoben now. I can't imagine what could have changed her that much, so I didn't believe her behavior now.

I had a hard time believing that Tyrol would come around to "take Baltar's hand" in such a short span of time. James Callis has been showing some incredible acting prowess these last few weeks, but I think even he couldn't inject that last speech in Tyrol's quarters with enough persuasion for me to understand how it turned Tyrol around to acceptance.

Faith-vs-hard-fact was the crux of tonight's episode. But this is a topic Galactica has dealt with on many occasions before, and usually in much stronger ways. Even during this season, really; I found the scene from the two-part opener in which Adama pleads with Roslin to trust Starbuck on faith to be a far more compelling scene than anything we saw tonight.

Still, at least it seemed that plot pieces were moving forward. If anything, that's part of why tonight's individual moments fell rather flat for me. Plot-wise, this episode had several very specific places it had to get to by hour's end. That's what this season's overall story demanded, even though it meant this one episode had to move unnaturally far and fast to get there.

Perhaps things will bounce back once again next week.

Friday, May 02, 2008


I was out and about tonight, so I'm afraid that once again, my weekly Battlestar Galactica review is going to be delayed a day. To hold you over, I'll leave you a warning and a thought.

The warning. If you go see Iron Man (my review will be coming in the next couple days), you must stay past the end credits to see the tacked-on scene. Well... unless you completely hate the movie and can't wait to leave, anyway. If you're a comic book fan, you'll be especially sorry if you miss it.

The thought. I'm hearing ads on the radio talking about all these big bashes for Cinco de Mayo on Monday. There seems to be a lot of kerfuffle in the U.S. right now about massive hordes of illegal Mexican immigrants pouring into the country. But hey, no problem hijacking their holiday as an excuse to drink alcohol! Come to think of it, there was quite the anti-Irish sentiment in our country some years ago, but St. Patrick's Day? Same thing.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Something Nice Back Home

Another week, another episode of Lost. Another great episode of Lost.

This episode could be considered a big "answer" episode, I think. Though it certainly didn't spell out the truth behind any mysteries, it did confirm many of the suspicions that fans have developed, some going back years.

First of all, it delivered a lot of the connective tissue that was implied between the season three finale and season four premiere. It seemed as though Future Jack was going down the same road to madness as Future Hurley, and we saw the first major steps onto that road tonight. It did indeed have to do with Jack seeing visions of his dead father.

An even bigger connection in the past was finally confirmed, as it was shown to us at last that indeed, Claire and Jack are half-brother and sister. Since we still aren't quite sure what it meant that Jack saw his dead father on the island, I don't care to conjecture what it means that Claire now saw him too. But still, an interesting development.

Finally, in the present, there was evidence strongly implying that Jin doesn't actually die -- that he instead manages to get Sun off the island, while staying behind himself. Some readers here floated that theory to me when the Sun/Jin episode ran a short while back, and I dismissed it. I think I still do. But hey, here's new strength for your case!

Amidst all this, some interesting new threads. As Rose so pointedly asked, why did Jack suddenly get so sick on an island that actually heals people? I'd assume this is because he's very close now to actually leaving the island (and taking several people with him), and this is a warning to him not to do so. But is the island really capable of such things on its own, or is an actual consciousness driving that? The mysterious Jacob?

And then there was Future Hurley, who introduced the tempting "theory" that the Oceanic Six are actually the ones who didn't survive, and that those who "died / stayed behind" are the real survivors. I think you can bet that any time the writers serve you up a theory point blank like that, it's not true. But a fun little mind-screw nevertheless.

Best of all, in this swirling brew of fun "mythology" and new puzzles, there were lots of great character moments. For a change, I actually felt some interest in the Jack-Kate relationship. I certainly felt sorry for Juliet as she confessed to Kate. I loved seeing Sawyer in a sort of "older brother" role, protecting Claire from Miles. It was great seeing "Scary Jin" again.

Great, great stuff.