Friday, May 14, 2010

Gillette Fusion Power Proglide!

Shaving sucks. I feel like it's such a waste of time. There's no fun in it at all plus it adds at least an additional five minutes onto the morning. So I try to do it as sparingly as possible without looking like a caveman.

But for the last several years, my razor of choice has been the Gillette Mach 3. A few years ago, I tried the Schick Quattro and hated it. I immediately returned to the Mach 3. Not only because it was a better razor, but also because it's got such an awesome name. I mean, really. Mach 3 sounds pretty sweet. I feel like I'm using an Air Force Jet to remove the hair from my face.

A few weeks ago, I found a link online that allowed me to get a free next generation razor from Gillette. The Fusion Proglide. So, not wanting to miss an opportunity for a free razor, I absolutely jumped at the chance. I had little hopes for it, since a four blade razor didn't work out for me, so a five bladed razor with battery power sounded even less exciting. arrived. And before I knew it, I was experiencing the cleanest, most impressive shave of my life. They weren't kidding. It was gliding. It was like someone dropped a penguin on my face and he slip slided around until it was smoother than it's ever been. In fact, even the next day I had to thank that penguin for keeping things pretty smooth. Actually, I wish they'd change the name to the Fusion Penguin. I think that would not only be cooler, but would provide for more exciting mascot opportunities.

For some reason, as if they knew how much I was going to love it, they sent me another one a week later. So now I have two. Saving me several dollars as now I won't have to buy a new razor anytime soon. Sometimes free stuff works. And this has absolutely changed my opinion. I know the Mach 3 will always be there for me, but I think now I'm a Fusion Penguin man. Or Proglide. Whatever. Either way, it's awesome.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lost Thoughts on "Dr. Linus" for 3/9

For most episodes so far this season, I have been rather conflicted between my attempt to manage expectations and the reality of the show. Yet this episode required me to do none of that. Finally there seems to be some solid forward progression with real momentum beginning to build. Arguably the best episode of the season thus far, all of the pieces came together to not only make a solid episode, but a fantastic piece of the greater whole.

What needs to be mentioned first is the way in which Jack is finally beginning to come into his own as a leader. This is closer to season one Jack, the Jack who makes decisions and lives with them, as opposed to the Jack of the last few seasons who has just been floundering around hoping he's making the right decision. Now guided more by faith than any sort of rational deduction, his decisions border on crazy, but crazy with a purpose. The scene in which he sits with Richard trusting that the dynamite will not go off spoke volumes of his character, even though the audience knew there was no actual danger whatsoever. My fear was right after Jack sat Richard down that we would be treated to more non-answers via a commercial break. But instead while we didn't get detailed information, we received hints of what is to come and some very interesting facts.

But the focal point of the episode resulted in yet another excellent Ben episode. What's interesting is how big a role redemption is playing for not only the 815 cast, but for characters such as Ben. Ben has always been a man who lusts for power and control. Even when locked up posing as Henry Gale back in season two, his ability to maintain some order of control is what made his character so fascinating to watch. His manipulation knew no bounds and very little of what he said could be taken at face value. He knew he would get out of his situation alive, and be better for it.

Yet, on the island, his control is all but gone, and he is still attempting to manipulate and lie to people into doing what he wants. The problem is that no longer does he have any clout, since everyone now sees through his facade. Attempting to convince Miles to free him was not only futile, but slightly pathetic. Except when Miles told him that Jacob was hoping he was wrong about Ben, you could see this disappointment in Ben's eyes, as if Ben had disappointed the absent father who was never there for him. And again the show explores father issues through a different prism than they normally might.

So when Illana finally confronts Ben after his escape, he is believable when he expresses such regret over holding the island in higher esteem than his daughter and that he is now, truly, a broken man with nowhere to go. Illana's decision to let him stay may have more to do with the fact that one more person on Jacob's side is better than a new recruit to Locke's, but Ben's decision shows how he has now resigned himself to accepting his role on the island as a part of a team instead of their leader. Locke's empty promise of allowing Ben to control the island after he leaves no longer holds any weight for Ben.

This redemption is echoed through the sideways story, as Ben proves himself to be just as cunning and manipulative in that timeline as well. There was little more entertaining than watching him maneuver into a position where he could usurp power from Principal Donald "This Man Has No Dick" Reynolds. (Sorry, Ghostbusters reference.) And it's also a lot of fun to see Arzt hilariously continue to pop up in episodes. But in furthering the seemingly redemptive nature of these sideways stories, Ben chooses his prized student/island daughter Alex over the control he desperately wants and feels he deserves. The main thing that makes this Ben different than his counterpart is the fact that not only is his father alive, but he seems to have a loving relationship with him. Roger Linus feels that he is the one who disappointed Ben by leaving the island, an interesting revelation to be sure. The fact they were on the island at one point is a starting point to clue us in as to what happened to make this world so different.

Elevating this episode even more is the classic reunion scene set to nothing by Michael Giacchino's excellent score. Beach scenes like this one really stand out in that there is nothing better than watching characters who have been separated for so long come together after all this time. There was an early season vibe that I felt in this reunion and it reminded me of a time when occasionally fun and happy things happened to the characters. Only to have that reunion punctuated by the brilliant revelation of Widmore arriving via sub, bringing that dynamic back into the fold after such a long absence.

On a slightly unrelated note, I'm rather disappointed that Mira Furlan, who played Danielle Rousseau, isn't coming back this season, because while I'm making the assumption that she's still Alex's mother, I would have loved to see her as a stressed out mom trying to make ends meet after knowing her as this crazy jungle woman for so long. Of course, this also raises the question as to how this French woman ended up in Los Angeles, but I'm hoping it's one that will be addressed in time.

Between Jack's solid decision making, Ben's decision to stay with the beach team, Richard getting ready to explain himself, and Widmore's imminent arrival, there seems to be a lot to chew on over the next several days and the excitement seems to be ramping up. While we still don't know what's at stake, at least we know that Jack is ready to take some action and make the leaps of faith he was so incapable of making at the start of the series. Episodes like this one allow me to forget about all the questions that I have about the series and enjoy it outright. But I do feel like a lot of questions we've held for a long time are beginning to be primed for answers. Personally, I'm really starting to get excited about the rest of this season. How about you?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lost Thoughts

Coming into the final season of Lost, it's clear to me that I have spent not nearly as much time in thought and anticipation than in any other show. Something about this show has taken me in and clearly I am not alone.

Yet, throughout these last six years, as the onion has been peeled back more and more, the concern mounts that what we find in the middle isn't going to be something that will be nearly as satisfying as it could. What seems to be most interesting is the subculture that has spawned in the wake of "Lost." People constantly analyzing every little movement, every character action, every story point, and attempting to cross reference that with probably hundreds of different sources throughout literature, film, mythology, and philosophy.

Speculation is most certainly fun, but the major drawback is that we're working from limited information. The fact is, even four episodes into the final season, we still have nowhere near the amount of information necessary to make a truly informed decision. Things that still lay shrouded in secrecy are vital to our understanding of the show and therefore any speculation people have is clearly speculation and lends itself to ultimately weak arguments.

The third season finale is a perfect example. When the concept of the flash forward was introduced, it blew my mind. I was confused, and my thoughts were most assuredly provoked. In fact, I spent hours that evening trying to understand the ramifications of the ending. Was this an alternate timeline? Was this the end point of the show? Those were honestly the only two ideas I could come up with that night, and both were completely wrong. After several months of waiting, I realized that the third option that I didn't think of, that this was yet another part of these characters' journeys, was something that was ultimately incredibly simple. At this point, I made the decision to do no more speculating to that degree. Since clearly I couldn't predict what was going to happen anyway. The only thing I could do is make minor inferences based on that which I could actually see, while realizing that my chances of accuracy were rather low. Of course, it was also after that premiere that I had decided this show wouldn't do anything crazy as alternate realities, yet, here we are. Experiencing alternate realities.

For the last several years, I've held out hope that the end was going to be satisfying. Following the show with as much detail as I do, specifically listening to the weekly podcast from the creators, has imbibed me with a sense of confidence that the show does have a direction that it's following. Obviously that plan was not in place early in the first season, since despite their best efforts, there are things that just do not seem thematically consistent with later episodes. Yet, what does seem to be the case is a sense of knowledge that "all will be revealed" before it's over, and this was incredibly evident to me once the end date was finalized.

But here we are, once again, three episodes into the final season, and the mad dash to the finish line I was expecting has yet to arrive. There was a nice sprint out of the gate, but I feel that while the wheels aren't exactly spinning, the pace is much more leisurely than I otherwise would have expected.

The premiere was excellent, weaving between two realities relatively seamlessly while simultaneously hinting at detailed answers that were to come. While we can now say unequivocally that The Man in Black from the season 5 finale is not only taking the form of John Locke, but is also the Smoke Monster, we still don't exactly know WHAT he is. Nor do we understand what changed things so dramatically in the alternate timeline to make things so different, yet so similar. The ABC promos have been saying that "The Time For Questions Is Over" but frankly, it appears that I'm left with more questions than I had before the season began.

The second episode "What Kate Does" was seemingly panned by a majority of the Lost community as a poor episode. Yet, surprisingly, I rather enjoyed it. Especially most of the flash-sideways. Seeing things happen that are eerily similar to what happened on island did give clues to the fact that this universe appears to be course correcting itself. That the situations that happened on island are going to be very similar in this alternate reality. And I thought there were some rather touching scenes in the smaller character moments, which is ultimately the biggest reason that this show is so successful. People want to know who these characters are. The problem was that with a premiere that had such forward momentum, only to be stopped in its tracks, the effect can be rather jarring. Although I suspect that when viewed as part of a whole, it won't be remembered as poorly.

And this brings us to tonight's episode "The Substitute". The episode that inspired me to write all this tonight. Because with the exception of the flash sideways, all that really happened was Locke and Sawyer walked through the jungle and into a cave. Granted, there were interesting things, especially about the numbers, within the cave, but I felt slightly like we were stuck in a traffic jam, waiting for the roads to clear up. Movement is being made, albeit slowly, and that's not what I'm wanting at this point. In addition to the fact that I wanted to see what was happening with the people at The Temple, and being denied that was rather frustrating, especially given what happened with Sayid last week. To leave us hanging after that only to provide us with completely separate information this week probably lessens my enjoyment somewhat. Since my desire to see more Temple is overwhelming my desire to see Locke and Sawyer trekking through the jungle. And the more things like that happen, the more I become worried that despite my blank expectations for answers, the ending will just not be satisfying.

The flash sideways again presented some really interesting questions, but none that were remotely answered. How did Ben become a teacher? (A hilarious scene by the way.) Who's Locke's dad that's going to come to the wedding? And if it's Anthony Cooper, then how did Locke get into the wheelchair this time? Although I must say it's rather awesome watching Terry O'Quinn play the juxtaposition of both confused, frustrated Locke, and completely certain, unwavering Locke and the fact that elements of both characters seem to be sliding between the two of them. Specifically sideways-Locke's acceptance of the reality of his situation and fake Locke's yelling about people telling him what he can't do. There seems to be more to that.

Keeping everyone separated is also a mistake. Jin and Sun have been trying to reunite for over a season and a half now. For far too many episodes, Sun, Lapidus, Locke, Ben, and Richard have been hanging out by that four toed statue, essentially waiting for something to happen. Tonight they finally made the decision to head toward the temple, and hopefully the group will all reunite very soon. Since this show seems to work best when all the characters are functioning as one large unit and not incessantly separated.

I suppose that when all is said and done, it's the journey, and not the destination that makes it all worthwhile. The characters are interesting, and the plot is just a vehicle through which the characters can make decisions and change. Yet, this does not mean that I am not interested in a solid resolution to the plot. On the contrary, I am very interested. And that is ultimately what I hope, and to a degree, expect to see.

Also, where's Desmond? My favorite character needs to come back. Now. Come on man, where are you?

Anyway, this ends this current article, for all of you who actually took the time to read it. I actually have a lot more to say, but I'll save it for another time. Feel free to comment if you want to start a discussion about the show, and I'm thinking about doing this every week now.