Thursday, May 24, 2007

Through the Looking Glass

*** WARNING: If you didn’t see this week’s episode of Lost, STOP READING NOW (and go watch it) ***

Oh, Lost. Now that was one hell of a season finale. After having several hours to think it over, I’ve got a pretty good theory on what happened and where the story will go from here.

Flash-forward – whaaaat?

We’re not seeing the “present” in Jack’s flashes. We’re seeing a possible future, the one that will occur if events on the island continue down their current path.

In the Lost universe, we know that life has a tendency to “course-correct” – the survivors are supposed to be on the island for whatever reason, and if they’re rescued, fate/destiny/whatever will cause their lives to fall apart. Jack becomes a suicidal drug addict. Kate and Sawyer become fugitives (or worse?). Sun loses her baby. Rose’s cancer comes back. Locke is paralyzed again. Someone even dies.

Who’s in the casket?

Locke. After getting off the island, he became paralyzed again. Depression set in, his life went to crap, and he either became suicidal or succumbed to the gunshot wound he sustained at the DHARMA grave. Jack became obsessed when he read the newspaper obituary, because Locke would have been the only other survivor who wanted to get back to the island.

However, I’ve seen it pointed out that the funeral parlor was in a black neighborhood. This certainly doesn’t prove that it isn’t Locke, but it gives us a clue that it could be Michael. He betrayed the survivors, and none of them would have any reason to attend his funeral. Then again, Walt would have been there, unless something happened to him. I’m going to stick to my Locke theory, but I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

Who really sent Naomi?

I’ve seen a lot of speculation about this, and I’m surprised because I thought it was one of the more obvious answers. Penelope’s father, Charles Widmore, sent Naomi’s search party. He’s the only person we’ve met so far who would have access to the picture of Desmond and Penny. Widmore Industries definitely has some kind of ties to DHARMA, as evidenced in the Lost alternate reality game last year, so Mr. Widmore would definitely have knowledge of the island and a possible motivation to search for it (aside from hating Desmond).

Is Jack’s father alive in the present/future?

No. Jack mentioned his father twice: The first was when he was drunk and/or stoned out of his mind, and the reference to his father got a very surprised look from the head of surgery. The other time was when Jack was trying to scam drugs at the pharmacy, and he quickly changed his mind when the pharmacist wanted to call his father’s office and verify the prescription.

Why didn’t Charlie step outside the control room door, or swim out the (big) porthole?

He figured he had to die to save Claire, Aaron, and everyone else.

So what happens next?

I believe that season four will begin precisely where we left off – Jack has just made the phone call, the rescuers are coming, and Desmond is down in the Looking Glass. I have a feeling that the flash-forwards will be a recurring theme next season (or at least in the first few episodes). We’ll see what happens to the survivors if they make it off the island, and it’s not going to be pretty.

Because of Desmond’s unique relationship with time-space, he’ll probably be the catalyst for changing events so the survivors don’t get rescued. Maybe he starts seeing flashes of terrible events to come. Just the fact that Penelope didn’t send the rescue party (maybe he’ll see a flash of himself murdered by one of the “rescuers”?) could be enough to cause him to try to change things.

Of course, events are already set into motion. The phone call has been made, and the rescue boat knows their position. Unless something happens to the rescuers, I’m not sure how this is going to be resolved. We know the remaining Others are going to “the temple”; maybe they’ll intervene somehow. And certainly Ben and Locke still have roles to play.

I think next season will show us the origins of DHARMA, the Others, and possibly Jacob. We’ll also find out more about the Widmore Corporation and how it ties into what’s happening.

Do we really have to wait until January to find out? I don't think I'm going to make it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Welcome to the United States of Smile and Act Nice

So, once again... A couple of radio shock jocks got in trouble for being (*gasp*) shocking.

One of the key reasons I subscribed to XM was because I enjoyed the Opie & Anthony show when I was evaluating the free online trial. Now they're suspended for an entire month (and I think we all know by now how most radio "suspensions" end) because of something crude a homeless man said on their show about a few prominent public figures.


The entire point of XM is that it offers uncensored content. Not only is it a pay service, but disclaimers run regularly throughout the O&A show, saying that the channel was uncensored and that one could call customer service to have it blocked if desired. The consumer was left with the ultimate power: the ability to not listen to anything he or she doesn't want to. Apparently, that's not enough anymore.

Just minutes after the suspension announcement yesterday, I called and cancelled both of my XM receiver subscriptions. It's not even because I'm a die-hard Opie & Anthony fan -- I'm not. I actually prefer Ron & Fez (which happens to be on the same channel), and I rarely listen to O&A's show in its entirety anymore. It's because I'm tired of spineless companies getting on their knees and fellating any tiny special-interest group that claims "outrage" over some stupid radio bit.

Aside from the whole "crusading for free speech" thing, there's a more practical reason for being upset. Let's say Opie & Anthony screwed up. Let's say their bosses decided to punish them, as they have a right to do in a corporate atmosphere. So they're taken off the air for a month -- who really suffers? O&A have said several times that they have "walking away money", and that they do the show because they still enjoy it. A 30-day vacation, even without pay, isn't really going to hurt them much, especially in an environment where ratings mean absolutely nothing. Who's being punished, then? Oh, that's right: the paying customers, many of whom explicitly signed up for XM because that's the service O&A are on.

When CBS killed Imus and JV & Elvis, there wasn't much I could do other than write a letter. I don't have an Arbitron book, and I don't even live in one of their radio markets. With XM, it's different. Fans of free speech and uncensored content have a voice, and it starts and ends with the wallet. The company's poor decision has directly cost them money, and by all accounts, it's costing them a LOT of money.

Since the suspension, thousands of people have called to cancel their subscriptions. As of this afternoon, over a day since the announcement, hold times on XM's customer service lines are well over an hour. Their phone system has crashed several times, their computer system went down last night, and CSR's are now being instructed to offer up to five months of free service to keep people from cancelling.

The backlash is being felt. Let's hope it sets a precedent.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Major spoiler

According to the latest podcast from the "Lost" producers, the official name of the DHARMA shark (as seen in the underwater sequences in early season 2) is...


Ezra James Sharkington.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Good thing we didn't call them "The Happy Fun-Time Rainbow Fuzzlebunnies"

Following a tip from the SA forums, I picked up Earth Defense Force 2017 for the Xbox 360. It's a Japanese "budget" title, but don't let that fool you. Behind the mediocre graphics, horrible dialog, and laughable translation work, there's a damned solid game under it all.

The premise isn't anything new: Aliens have arrived. They're not nice. Their advance army consists of swarms upon swarms of giant insects. Then they break out the giant robots, hunter-killer drones, and fucking mecha-godzilla. You're a commando in the Earth Defense Force (how original!), and it's up to you to save the world.

Cheesy, yup. In fact, one of the first lines of dialog in the game is from a news update: "Alien UFO's have appeared all over the world. The government is referring to the aliens as 'The Ravagers'. We do not yet know their intent, and we hope that we can form a peaceful and mutually beneficial relationship with them." Hmm...

The gameplay is simple. You fight a mind-boggling number of aliens with an absolutely stupid variety of weapons. The range of weapons is insane: assault rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers, guided missiles, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, flamethrowers, acid cannons, autonomous turrets, land mines. It already sounds like a lot, but consider that each category has up to three dozen variants. Do you want the huge, slow-firing rocket launcher? The rocket launcher that fires a spread of three rockets that each split into four more rockets? The rocket launcher that fires a stream of smaller rocket launchers that fire swarms of bees? Okay, I made the last one up, but you get the idea.

Did I mention that there's split-screen co-op play? The only thing better than splattering countless thousands of giant bugs with huge explosives is doing it with a friend. The last co-op game I enjoyed this much was the original Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance on the PS2.

I apologize if I sound like an unapologetic fanboy, but I am absolutely in love with this game. It's flawed, but in an absolutely perfect way. Back when Serious Sam first came out, it captured the essence of the shooter. The graphics and sound effects were passable, the levels were uninspired, and the main character was a direct rip-off of Duke Nukem (or Bruce Campbell, if you'd prefer). There weren't any keycards, jumping puzzles, escort missions, or any of that garbage. It was you, a bunch of guns, and a flood of enemies. EDF2017 captures that adrenaline-rushed feel perfectly, and I can't recommend it highly enough -- especially for those of you who enjoy local co-op games.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I'm fluent in JavaScript as well as Klingon

Hey, friends with Netflix... Add me to your Netflix friends list.

I've found some pretty good indie films by browsing other peoples' ratings, so I'd love to see what you guys are watching.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Oh... Canada.

Hockey Canada officials to appear before parliament to explain team captaincy choice.

For a moment, this article caused me to lament the fact that Canada's got it all over us in their devotion to ice hockey, until I realized that all the fuss was caused by whether the player in question may or may not have uttered an ethnic slur about a French-Canadian referee.

This, of course, prompted me to search Google for some good French-Canadian ethnic slurs. I honestly wasn't aware that any existed. The best I could find after my grueling fifteen seconds of searching was "dirty French-Canadians", which seems a little impotent against all but the most emotionally fragile of our Francophonic neighbors. I was hoping for something with a little more vitriol.

C'est la vie.