Down for the Count

Perhaps my first lasting Internet connection in days should be spent on something important. ["Ha! Too late!" say the gods of cyberspace.] Maybe this is close enough. ["Maybe not!"] While I reload open pages in the browser to catch up on various blogs during the next inevitable connection fail ["Psyche!"], I also want to publish at least a brief post here because I know that folks can get pretty sick of looking at Santa Claus once Christmas has come and gone.

So here are my contributions to this week's online Late Show with David Letterman Top Ten contest [dead link], complete with nods as usual to the show's own running jokes, in the category...

Top Nine Things Overheard During New Year's Eve in Times Square

9. "Excuse me... You're stepping on Mayor Bloomberg."

8. "It's really more of an irregular polygon with poorly defined borders."

7. "You think this is a lot of drunk people with time to kill? I was in the audience for Letterman last week."

6. "My balls drop every year too."

Nick of Time

I met Santa Claus last night.

Norman Rockwell painting of jolly Santa Claus holding a letter from Tommy, big sack, and small toy drum

Really, I did; I'll tell you about it. And the timing was perfect, since the lights have
not been in my favor this season.

Oh, I Sleigh Me

Last week's Top Ten contest [dead link] at the Late Show with David Letterman website was even more inspiring than usual. If you don't know the drill you can check out the first post in this category, so without further ado here are...

My Top Ten Little-Known Facts about Santa Claus

10. Born Seymour Klausmann, Brooklyn, 1926

9. Will get you on the "nice" list for twenty bucks and/or a bottle of Jim Beam

8. Goes down more than just the chimney, ladies

7. Eleven months out of the year, crash diets and works as Dumbledore at the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando

6. Holly Jolly Christmas: To you, it's the name of a Burl Ives classic; to Santa, it's the name of the gal who takes care of him in the VIP suite at North Pole Dancers

Braids of Glory

Cover to 'Hereville' with a girl, sword in hand, dancing on air right above a giant ball of yarn

My niece E and her cousin L, both 8 years old, each received a copy of Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword for Chanukah — but not before Uncle Brian read it... twice.

The graphic novel — about, to quote the cover copy, "Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl" — is a fun, touching yarn no matter your age, gender, or heritage. Author Barry Deutsch, who produced Hereville as a webcomic (and self-published a paper version as well) before Abrams released a hardcover edition through its Amulet Books imprint [$15.95 US; ISBN 978-0-8109-8422-6], is after all no more writing about or exclusively for himself than most authors of children's and young-
adult fiction, nor is the best of such fiction restricted to that nominal target audience.

Sing-Off, &c.

The Sing-Off logo in purple

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A Body Eclectic

I'm always excited by additions to Mike Mignola's body of work. And while that honestly wasn't meant as a pun, this post exists to sing the praises of a delightful fugue composed by the creator of Hellboy known as The Amazing Screw-On Head. It began life several years ago as a one-shot comic book; now, its titular story has finally been reissued with like material by Dark Horse in a $17.99 hardcover [ISBN 978-1-59582-501-8].

Front of the 'Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects' hardcover, with title character standing amongst a variety of items esoteric and mundane

For a long time, I despaired of ever seeing such a collection or, indeed, much "like material" at all despite the (very) occasional Mignola efforts along similar lines in terms of tone if not detail.


'Bill strolling against gray background, then in crowd scene
the Following poster

Exploring Inception's twists and inspirations online after viewing, I was quickly disabused of the notion that it was Christopher Nolan's sixth feature. His career, early shorts aside, did not begin with Memento. It launched with a 70-minute, "no-budget" film called Following released in 1999.

While the movie doesn't, to me, provide any of the clues to Inception's potential interpretation that certain sly comments about it suggested, it's definitely worth a look if you're a Nolan admirer or merely curious. You can place it in the context of his oeuvre's ruminations on the nature of identity, unreliable narrators/narratives, and often idiosyncratic approaches to storytelling. Or you can just watch it as the work of a talented new filmmaker making the most of his limited resources, a decade before The Dark Knight would become an international, critically acclaimed franchise smash (despite not being very good; I await your letters). Either way, the thing itself is compelling enough that it's hardly time wasted.

Holiday Meaning

Wreath adorned with various items

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On a Boat

I'm sure that everyone and their furry blue brother have successfully viralized it by
now, but just to do my part here's Grover with a preposition for you.

Grover wrapped in a towel standing in front of a bathtub

Sesame Street keeps up with pop culture admirably in spots like this one (riffing on
the instant-classic Old Spice ad starring Isaiah Mustafa) as well as through of-the-moment goofs and guest spots on the show itself — even if once in a great big while they go awry. [Update: I should have warned folks that my last link is to the infamous spot with Elmo and Katy Perry yanked by Sesame Workshop after outcry that her outfit was inappropriate.]

Related: G Love Swift Kicks  Muppet Monday

Gluttony for Punnishment

In honor of Thanksgiving, I'm sharing leftovers — namely, by way of submissions to a Top Ten contest run on the Late Show with David Letterman website from more than
a year ago now, my...

Top Nine Signs Americans Are Becoming Overweight

9. Our bodies are still more than 60% water, but also 15% high-fructose corn syrup and 3% fudge

8. Supermarkets now offer double-wide shopping carts

7. We're being hunted for our blubber

6. Fastest-growing sectors of the economy: belt-hole punchers, deep-frying, and statins

5. Realtors increasingly hear, "I'd like two-and-a-half baths... But can you smush them all together?"

4. Our treadmills have TV-dinner trays

3. Three words: Elevator for one

2. "Big-and-tall clothing stores" now simply known as "clothing stores"

And the Number One Sign Americans Are Becoming Overweight...

Veni, Vidi, Vacay

It's time for the blog to really and truly go on hiatus. As I've been trying to get a post up here for a couple of days now, with the usual technical roadblocks preventing me from doing so, I'd rather just stay away until everything's worked out well enough for it all to run more smoothly.

Making Waves

I haven't entered The Late Show with David Letterman's online Top Ten contest
[dead link] for a while. And it's been longer still since I've posted any such entries here. Once upon a time, however, the former activity was a regular thing; I'd hoped it would lead to the latter becoming a regular thing as well, but, y'know, if wishes were horses then... Robin Williams could've voiced the Genie in Seabiscuit?

The point is that I'm again sharing my latest efforts. You can submit your own, as many you'd like, one at a time; I rarely come up with more than a few really good entries, plus a ringer that plays off Dave and his staff's recurring jokes. So here are...

My Top Ten Things You Don't Want to Hear on Your Cruise Ship

10. "All aboard for Somalia!"

9. "The ship can never lose power — as long as we all take turns running on that giant hamster wheel."

8. "I don't care how romantic the movie was; Titanic is not an appropriate theme for the lido deck."

7. "Okey-doke now... You mama grizzlies come right this way!"

6. "I hope you know how to make a fire. Turns out the buffet is 'all you can heat'."

40 Favorites: #4

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall sitting on a desk
Still from The Big Sleep © 1946 Warner Bros. Pictures.

Raymond Chandler. William Faulkner. Leigh Brackett. Max Steiner. Howard Hawks. Lauren Bacall. Humphrey Bogart.

Some films with such a pedigree end up as perceived if not actual failures. On The
Big Sleep
, released by Warner Bros. in 1946, everything went right — at least judging by the end result, never mind this oft-circulated anecdote: Hawks, past and future director of classics from His Girl Friday to Rio Bravo, discovered that he didn't know the answer to one of the movie's minor mysteries. So he asked Faulker, the soon-to-be Nobel laureate who wrote The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, moonlighting in Hollywood at Hawks' invitation. When Faulker realized that he didn't know the production reached out to Chandler, author of the Phillip Marlowe novel on which the film was based, and Chandler said he was stumped too. (Brackett was a science-fiction writer for prose and film whose credits later included The Empire Strikes Back; she worked on the script for The Big Sleep with Faulkner and Jules Furthman. Steiner was the frequently Oscar-nominated composer behind King Kong, Gone with the Wind,
and scores of other scores. Bogart and Bacall... well, they're Bogart and Bacall.)

I didn't see The Big Sleep on a big screen until college, during a half-term class
on film noir, and fell in love. While it has an infamous surfeit of plot it's even better known for the steamy, stylish dialogue crossing hardboiled crime fiction with screwball romantic comedy — perhaps as unorthodox a marriage as its stars, playing the superficially mismatched duo of hangdog gumshoe and high-cheekboned society gal, had themselves. Bogart and Bacall first shot off fireworks in Hawks' To Have and Have Not, he'd already played Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, and Bogart's turn in Casablanca is to many his quintessential performance, but I'll take The Big Sleep over any of them — although, quite happily, I don't have to.

51 Favorites: #1-3 | #4 | #5 ...
Related: Deception Huston, We Have Amalgam Lauren Bacall 1924-2014

Mad Mix

screenshot of band in video

I'm a sucker for mash-ups, inventive arrangements, and the Mad Men theme. So
yay for the self-proclaimed "bunch of film/music nerds" behind Live Music Videos who've performed said theme (actually just an excerpt of the RJD2 track "A Beautiful Mine") "with a twist" — namely, by using it as instrumental backing for the pop standard "Nature Boy". I don't know if it ranks up there with Eminem's appropriation of Dido's "Thank You" for "Stan" or David Bowie and Bing Crosby's legendary "Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth" medley; at the very least, though, it's a thrill to hear the theme performed acoustically, and I look forward to more from this ensemble.

Related: Mup' Beat Sisters Go Bangles Emerald Sit-In

40 Favorites: #1-3

Cover to X-Men #137 [digital] © 1980 Marvel Comics. Pencils: John
Byrne. Inks: Terry Austin. Letters: Jim Novak. Colors: Unknown.

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a self-portrait of the artist
approaching middle age

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Mean Time

You're reading this because no other posts have gone up in several days despite my
best efforts and profound desires to the contrary. I haven't done much commenting on other folks' blogs lately, either, so the following pretty well exhausts my supply of word-verification witticism for the nonce. Those of you unfamiliar with this exercise are directed to the master list of definitions, which explains the idea and collects the contents of all such posts to date.

arrater — [ahr ay tur] n. Someone who decides that movies have too much sex, violence, or profanity for G, PG, or PG-13.

bousnext — [booz nekst] phr. The way the maitre d' at a tacky Halloween-themed restaurant greets folks in line.

boyawk — [boy awk] n. A young male bird of prey.

cathopi — [kath oh pye] n. A flexible tube 3.14159 mm. in diameter inserted for bladder relief.

conessespl. n. 1. [kah neh siz] Lady tricksters. 2. [koh ness iz] Men sharing the lead role in The Untouchables.

dreeabl — [dree ah bul] n. Southern dribble.

Filetro — [fih leh troh] Arch-criminal known for boning his victims. (You know what I mean.)

gewse — [gyoos] n. A very British goose.

Grank — [grank] The 2035 installment of Jason Statham's Chev Chelios franchise.

What the F---?

I spent long enough playing with yesterday's Google logo when it came up — just screwing around, initially; then attempting to see, like, how much you could mess up one letter without moving the balls in the other letters — that I forgot what I had opened the page to search for, and in my head I let loose a silent "F---!"

And that reminded me of a couple of recent items I've been meaning to share:

Cee-Lo Green's "F--- You"

The official video for the song has come out since I first bookmarked it, so that's for that, although the original placeholder has its own charm.

Rachel Bloom's "F--- Me, Ray Bradbury"

Her object of affection is described rhymingly as "the greatest sci-fi writer in history" and he celebrated his 90th birthday a couple of weeks ago. While the lyrics are crude, in the sense of not particularly inventive as well as scatological, the song definitely has its moments.

I'm not big on swearing. But I curse a whole heck of a lot more today than I did as a young man, for a variety of reasons. And as I've said before, I see the appeal and I'm perfectly willing to laugh at filthy dialogue or comedy routines if they're funny.

A Dotty Matrix

Google's logo of the day is a weird one. And I wish you luck clicking on it to find out what it represents...

'Google' spelled out in letters comprised of discrete circles of varying sizes that get slightly darker and lighter with a kind of watercolor look

There have been a few articles surmising what this so-called Google Doodle might mean since I first posted on it in the wee hours, but I suspect we won't hear anything from official sources for a while yet.

Knives, Chow

I spent a throwback night at the movies on Saturday. A friend in need of distraction opted for Machete, and things got even more indulgent when times didn't add up. We'd each already had a snack in anticipation of going to dinner after the movie, and were talked out from the night before, so we splurged for a double feature kicked off by Piranha 3D. The last time I’d been to the multiplex for a dose of retro was just a couple of weeks ago to see The Expendables, which didn't even have the courtesy to meet my low expectations. Saturday night was all right for fighting, though, and not that bad for screaming or biting either.

Woman floating oblivious to swarm of razor-toothed fish beneath her

Piranha 3D is no classic, let's be clear.

Invasion of the Body Switchers

Avatar is back in theaters with extra footage, exclusively in 3D. I saw it a couple of weeks into its original release and have been waiting for just such an opportunity to re-publish my thoughts here.

Human and Na'vi faces, both shaded blue, in the sky above Pandora landscape

Most of the talk when the lights went up at my screening, positive and negative, was about the technology behind the film. And one has to wonder if that fact alone doesn't make the movie something of a failure by James Cameron's standards.

Red Letter

The bloody good news is that I was house-sitting this past week and caught up with
the current season of True Blood via HBO On Demand.

Young vampire Jessica looking offscreen as she records video diary

I'd just recently finished Season Two on DVD, and I was really bummed about having
to wait for a whole year to see where things went in Season Three (dodging spoilers all the while). As I've mentioned here before, True Blood is a pulpy kick.

Hero Subs

Composite shot of Captain America from 1940s serial with stand-ins for Thor and Iron Man from other period films

I praised the inventive "premake" trailers of Ivan Guerrero six months ago, but have neglected to keep up with his work. My friend Stefan Blitz, proprietor of Forces of Geek, luckily keeps up with dad-gum near everything — so when I'm able to peruse that site I find gems like Guererro's trailer for The Avengers (1952).

I Want to Punch Blogger in the Face

So I've been trying to finish laying out a post from Tuesday for hours now. When Comcast deigns to let me get online, Blogger does its best to screw up my text and fail to load my graphics, either crashing Safari or simply not responding in Chrome. You would think that Picasa, Blogger, and Chrome would communicate well, all being part of the Google empire, and you would be wrong.

Betty's Here; Veronica, Too

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Great Scott

Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim graphic novels started up during my unfortunate disconnect from the comics world. I still have yet to read even the first volume, despite strong recommendations, and so was part of the vast majority of the audience coming to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as just a movie.

Scott Pilgrim, with arms folded in front of Ramona Flowers, images of her seven exes fanned out behind them

It's a hell of a movie.

Scott Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera of Juno and Superbad, is a hipster slacker in
his early 20s — or maybe an anti-hipster slacker, if that better evokes the attitude of being cool by rejecting what's cool — who must do combat with his new object of affection's "seven evil exes". There's plenty of inertial ennui in Scott's life as he plays with a band that he doesn't want to get big, shares a one-bedroom flat in Toronto with his gay best friend, and deals poorly with having been dumped a year ago by a now successful rocker known as Envy. But the title of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World isn't simply philosophical: Fight scenes abound. Our hero doesn't have a colorful costumed identity, merely an insanely awesome dimension to his quirkily banal existence; his everyday life is adorned with visible sound effects and other graphics even before things kick into high gear. SPVTW is one of those films that, to crib a phrase I've often heard from Roger Ebert, isn't notable so much for what it's about as for how it's about it.

A Wing and a Prayer

I may have scared off most readers, understandably ignorant of and disinterested in
the intricacies of DC Universe continuity, with yesterday’s post on Batman’s status quo. Which I'm loathe to do when recommending accessible graphic novels to civilians — but I wanted to properly set the backdrop for my review of Neil Gaiman and friends’ Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?. Since I don’t really consider the tales contained therein accessible, though, I suppose it’s all good.

Batman, apparently dead, lying in an open coffin with his arms crossed over his chest and cape swaddled around his feet

The book’s title story isn’t nearly as dependent on knowledge of recent comics as the likes of Final Crisis or Blackest Night, and in fact requires no familiarity with Grant Morrison's ambitious tapestry of the past few years. I just don't think the material reprinted in the collection, published by DC as a $14.99 trade paperback [ISBN 978-1-4012-2724-1] last month in the wake of a $24.99 hardcover [ISBN 978-1-4012-2303-8] last year, will be rewarding to newcomers to the Dark Knight mythos.

Dead Bat Dad

Batman rising up, cape swirling, with only his mask/head, cloak, and insignia visible
Alex Ross cover to Batman #676 [digital] © 2008 DC Comics.

Last May brought the 70th anniversary of Batman's debut in Detective Comics #27,
as I wrote around the time of the actual event. DC marked the occasion by killing him, during a storyline called RIP, not terribly long after introducing his son.

Or did it?

The 70th anniversary wasn't really marked. I'm a far more casual reader of comics these days, true, as opposed to the die-hard fan turned would-be scholar and journalist that I was for a good 15-20 of my almost 40 years of life. So it's possible that at conventions and via industry magazines DC was promoting writer Grant Morrison's run, which has included the latest passing of the mantle from Bruce Wayne to Dick Grayson, as explicitly celebrating the character's seven decades of existence — Morrison has been referencing Batman history right and left, as did Neil Gaiman in his coda to RIP. One could argue too that 70 isn't as ballyhooed a birthday as golden or diamond jubilees when it comes to pop-culture properties. Yet DC failed to capitalize on the 50th anniversary of its marquee band of superheroes, the Justice League of America, earlier this year. It also let several months lapse after the 75th anniversary of the very first proto-DC publication before addressing the issue (no pun intended) with a designer icon and merchandise.

Plus, Bruce Wayne didn’t die during RIP — the storyline that ran in DC's primary Batman series and had its logo branded upon affiliated monthlies (Robin, Detective, Nightwing) — but instead in the pages of Final Crisis, a line-wide DC Universe crossover also written by Morrison.

More Meaning

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Meaning Full

I'd originally used this post as a collection of my word-verification definitions, but now it's just a placeholder and pointer to a stand-alone page doing the same.

Mini-Slog with Meaning

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Lightning Round

'Shazam!' logo over screencap of Jackson Bostwick as Captain Marvel in 1975

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Osteo la Vista

A fun episode of Bones repeated last week. Fox seems to have otherwise benched
the show for the summer, although past seasons can be found in syndication and on cable. You can find the episode in question — "The X in the File"on Hulu or at
the Fox website
[bad link].

Emily Deschanel and, holding a colorful toy ray-gun, David Boreanaz in 'Bones'
Image from Bones 5.11 "The X in the File" © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Hart Hanson's loose adaptation of Kathy Reichs' popular crime novels has always
owed as much to The X-Files as to CSI, despite its dearth of otherworldly phenomena. That's due to the pairing of Temperance "Bones" Brennan, the strictly rational forensic anthropologist played by Emily Deschanel, with FBI special agent Seeley Booth, the gut-following, Catholic former Army Rangers sniper played by David Boreanaz.

Like many series, Bones' episode titles have a theme; Smallville's are just one word, Friends' always began "The One with / where ...", and Bones' follow the pattern of "The __ in the __" (such as "The Woman in the Sand" or "The Killer in the Concrete"). "The X in the File" is an explicit X-Files homage that brings Booth and Brennan to Roswell, New Mexico, and is as good a jumping-on point as you're apt to get in the fifth season of a procedural with progressively complex subplots and character arcs. Among the winks in the episode, which is more tongue-in-cheek than usual, are the casting of Dean Haglund and usage of a still from the children's show Rocketship 7. Haglund was one of The X-Files' Lone Gunmen, while Rocketship 7 was a local children's show in Buffalo, New York, hosted by Boreanaz's father under the stage name Dave Thomas in the 1960s before he moved to Philadelphia and became the beloved morning-show host and weatherman Dave Roberts at WPVI Channel 6; the elder David retired late last year, shortly before "The X in the File" first aired.

Related: Chuck Not Up Woman on the Verge Eyes Captured by Castle


Photo of stop sign with addition under it so it all reads 'Stop in the naaaaame of love

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Nuts and Bolts

Do you feel bad for isolated thunderstorms?

Fierce lightning strike against a dark sky
Photo: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Photo Library — Sean Waugh

When that line popped into my head, I couldn't help but think of my favorite character on Glee: Heather Morris's Brittany.

Morris was brought in to teach the cast the choreography for "Single Ladies (Put a
Ring on It)" and ended up being offered the part of one of the cheerleaders who joined the glee club. There was no real hook to the character until the producers realized her pitch-perfect dim-bulb delivery of such lines as...

"I'm pretty sure my cat has been reading my diary."

"Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks?"

"Sometimes I forget my middle name."

My Buffy Summer

A few weeks gone by, Nikki Stafford declared June to be Vampire Month on her blog, Nik at Nite. The primary topic of conversation — a TV show which I'm observing a moratorium on speaking about — had begun to eat itself, and Nikki had fangdom on the brain for at least two good reasons: (1) ECW Press, where she's an editor and which publishes her Finding [censored] books, has a True Blood companion coming out. (2) She was preparing to attend Slayage — an academic conference devoted to the work of Joss Whedon in general and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in particular. I think there was also something to do with The Vampire Diaries in there.

Group shot of actors portraying Buffy, Xander, Willow, Cordelia, and Giles from Season One, with the show's logo

I was surprisingly late getting into the adventures of Buffy Summers.

While I didn't see the movie when it came out in 1992, a dear friend of mine and her roommate were devoted to it as a cult-classic guilty pleasure, so one night they rented
it on videotape (a reference that is now the purview of the cultural anthropologist)
and made me watch it. I got a kick out of it, especially Paul Reubens during his exile from Pee-Wee Herman; Rutger Hauer could probably menace in his sleep, Kristy Swanson played a good borderline bimbo with breakout potential, and I might even have appreciated the irony of Donald Sutherland as Buffy's mentor — his son Kiefer, see, had starred in The Lost Boys, perhaps the best teen-vampire flick of all time.

... in Translation

You may notice the "Lost" is missing.

That’s partly an inside joke, as I’m so over thinking about Lost for now. I’ve been
absent from blogging too — due to illness, my hinky laptop, hinky Blogger, and my hinky Internet connection. Just the past few days, though, I've resumed writing posts for this blog, some of them timely. And I'll seize opportunities to publish them as WiFi allows, but they may be short or serialized and lack much in the way of graphics.

Glass ashtray with familiar 'No Smoking' icon on the base

The exact title of this post was also the title of a Lost episode, but that's entirely coincidental to my purposes in choosing it. Last night on The Late Show with David Letterman, Harry Connick Jr. discussed a recent trip to Istanbul (not Constantinople) and showed off a No Smoking ashtray like the one above.

All Together Now

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The End

Lost 6.17-6.018 The End

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Don't Let Me Down

Well, I guess my episode analyses are going to mirror one another to a degree, the
way this season of Lost is at times mirroring itself, and the first season, and the series to date.

Hurley, Kate, Jack, and Sawyer looking serious around a campfire with shadowed figure of Jacob

I'll have no individual writeup here of last week's episode, "What They Died For", in advance of tonight's two-part series finale, "The End" — just as there was no writeup of the first individual hour of the season, "What Kate Does", following the one for the two-part season premiere, "LA X". My laptop has started acting hinky again, the Internet connection has been at a crawl, and I've come down with a cold.

Season 6 ends tonight and thus so does Lost as a whole. Its finale begins at 9 p.m.
EST on ABC, following a two-hour series retrospective at 7, and runs until 11:30; then, after the local news, the one-hour Jimmy Kimmel Live: Aloha to 'Lost' comes on at 12:05 a.m. with cast members and creative staff. That's all true for the USA, at least. What reminds me of viewers outside our borders is that also immediately following the finale will be a live online chat at the CTV website [bad link] featuring my friend and Finding 'Lost' author / Nik at Nite blogmistress Nikki Stafford. My plan is to kick back and enjoy the last Lost as much as possible as television, ideally after catching up with comments from my clique at Nik at Nite and Jeff Jensen's Totally 'Lost' insights for Entertainment Weekly [bad link].

The post title, however, a Beatles song that I can't get out of my head, does not refer
to my own recent lack of bloggitude. No, I had the title slotted for my episode analysis of "Across the Sea" in reference to Island Momma's desperate pleas to Jacob and Esau — until I realized that it perfectly summed up my and so many other viewers' feelings about what to expect in "The End".

After the wildly uneven previous episode, overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time, I truly feared for Lost's final few hours. The campfire scene in "What They Died For" went a long way towards assuaging those fears; as I put it at Nik at Nite, I can see given this episode how the next episode would be the finale. Jacob's conversation with the Candidates and Jack's assumption of Jacob's role was a nice, straightforward propulsion of the primary plot that followed well from last week's mega-flashback episode and the Candidates' recent Island adventures. Yet I still have the sinking feeling based on what we've seen (or haven't seen) so far this season, on how little screen time is left, and on recent comments from the showrunners that the finale will leave unaddressed things that I feel should be addressed.

Here are eleven of the subjects that to my mind need to be covered for the narrative
to wrap up in satisfying fashion. Not all of them require long-winded explanations; a few might, but in other cases a simple acknowledgement that Lost's world just works this way or even an indication that yes, that is a mystery, would suffice. Some are obviously related and others might be more related than we realize, although we have little beyond our own suppositions to go on.


Lost 6.15 Across the Sea

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Mean Business

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Fixing a Hole

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Carry That Weight

Lost 6.14 The Candidate

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N Is for...

Unpublished draft cover to Finding 'Lost' book with black and white kings on chessboard against forest background

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Cold Beans

iced coffee in McDonald's cup with straw on folded gold napkin with coffee beans in small white dish and more strewn artfully about the table

I went to McDonald's for an iced coffee the other day and had the following exchange at the register.

Me: "Could I get a large hazelnut iced coffee, please?"

Cashier: "Iced coffee?"

Me: "Yes."

Cashier: "What size?"

Me: "Uh... Large."

Cashier: "Would you like a flavor with that?"

Me: "... Hazelnut?"

The cashier may have been hard of hearing — or just distracted. I've learned to give folks a pretty generous heaping of the proverbial benefit of the doubt whatever the circumstance; at my age and, especially, in my less-than-ideal state of health, a little bit of Zen goes a long way. This was really more funny than frustrating, especially when compared to my blog problems or recent dealings with so-called "customer service" at
a couple of different companies or, well, lots of aspects of daily life.

Shelf Obsession

I’m still not writing enough about my lifelong passion for comics.

Convenience stores, newsagents, and 5-&-10s in South Jersey fed my early habit,
as I shared last year. Only so much history could be gleaned from comic-book reprints and editorial pages, however. Luckily, a bevy of books on comics awaited at the Cape May County Library, where surveys of my favorite four-color fantasies and their forebears could be found in (mostly) cold, hard black and white.

Cover to 'The Comic-Book Book' with sound effects and word balloons reading 'Aargh!', 'Hmmmm', and 'Zowie!'

The one I checked out most often was a 1973 tome aptly titled The Comic-Book Book, edited by Dick Lupoff and Don Thompson. I read it with such fervor and frequency
that my dad finally just bought it for me — the actual library copy. Whether he felt bad that its sturdy hardcover spine was breaking or the staff figured that mine was the only name ever on the circulation card so we might as well skip the formalities, I don't know. But it remains a prized possession and is even more of a collector's item now than it would otherwise be for reasons I'll reveal later. Not too long into my quest for similar material, I got my hands on a paperback of 1970's All in Color for a Dime, the collection of essays from Lupoff's fanzine Xero to which TCCB was a sequel; I sucked in its tales of the primordial days of superheroes and the industry that spawned them until the book was left a brittle, coverless husk.

Chuck Not Up

Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah, facing Zachary Levi as Chuck, her back to us but head turned our way in steely-eyed gaze

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Give Me Hellboy

I'm looking to get rid of most of my thousands of comic books, but Hellboy ranks among the keepers. The series is pretty much my all-time favorite, certainly when you discount nostalgia; Mike Mignola long ago proved that he's as accomplished and unique a writer as he is an artist. While I think the absolute best Hellboy stories are short, self-contained tales, the mythology woven by Mignola and his collaborators in the family of Dark Horse's Hellboy, BPRD, Abe Sapien, Lobster Johnson, and Witchfinder one-shots and miniseries rivals any other from graphic novels, television, film, or prose in recent decades.

Hellboy carrying a desiccated corpse on his back

Yet I come here not to praise Hellboy, but to barter him.

Words to the Wise

My grandfather always had a dictionary on his night table. I have one on my Apple laptop. His was a so-called "pocket" paperback almost as thick as it was wide; mine is virtual, an application represented by the icon below in the dock of programs and folders at the right of my computer screen.

Icon of thick dictionary with large capital and lowercase A on cover

The lure of Dictionary is strong. Enter a word, and it not only returns a definition
and usage from The New Oxford American Dictionary but synonyms from The Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus and, if you're connected to the Internet, a Wikipedia entry (or disambiguation page) as well. It's a ridiculously quick and comprehensive research tool — as well as a microcosm of the paragon of potential procrastination that is the Web itself, since hyperlinks abound and the results list for any given word is often fascinating. I'm pretty disciplined about not following flights of fancy too far, although I admit to indulging spontaneous bouts of "Hey, I wonder..." entirely unrelated to what I'm working on, because suddenly the answer seems gravely important and if I don't at least type the relevant word or phrase into Dictionary's search field to read up on later then I might forget. Other people for whom frivolous research is considered fun will be able to relate. For the rest of you, well, I can't really explain it if you don't already understand.


Meaner Still

can of Campbell's Bean with Bacon soup against starry void of space

The can of Campbell's soup is still in effect, due to connection problems as well as projects that aren't being dealt with as efficiently as I'd like. For those who've not seen it before, I should point out that the can is a mysterious "ancient Internet tradition" begun by Mark Evanier, as explained and in fact recently invoked by Evanier on his blog, News from ME, which if your interests are anything like mine offers a variety of fine, funny, and fascinating material by the bushel.

I hope to have a volley of posts up soon (yeah, When don't I?), but meantime here's another batch of Blogger word-verification definitions.

abendsl — n. #2 graphite stick, when you're congested.

betoofsr — Father of Betoof Jr.

boophala — n. A shout-out from Ms. Betty.

The Fab-Four Score

I chanced upon "Hey Jude" in the car last night, reminding me again to write about The Beatles.

Far lesser musical lights have labels on this blog, and it's been bugging me that the greatest band in the history of pop music doesn't. Many folks consider The Rolling Stones the greatest rock band ever, and they might be right — I'm not a huge Stones fan, to be honest, although they are indubitably iconic. The Beatles, however, during
a relatively brief period spanning the era in which classic rock-&-roll ("She Loves You") gave way to flat-out hard rock, hold the roll ("Helter Skelter"), also proved masters of old-fashioned balladry, psychedelic experimentation, and so much more ("Strawberry Fields Forever"). They wrote anthems, they wrote grooves, they wrote ditties, for Pete's sake. Has any other group of musicians been so talented at turning out so many different styles of infectious, accomplished, influential music? And I include in that group not only John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, but producer George Martin as an indispensable enabler of most of the Beatles' joint

So here's my First Beatles Story.

Got to Get You into My Life

Lost 6.11 Happily Ever After

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Cube Reporting

small mound of artfully arranged foil-wrapped chocolate 'Ice Cubes'
Photo: Albert's online product gallery.

Mom gave me another batch of Ice Cubes after her recent trip to San Francisco.

You don't see Ice Cubes around here anymore, but when I was a kid they were the awesomest point-of-purchase items ever at 7-Eleven. For literal pennies, you could have weird but yummy chocolate melt in your mouth — or, if you weren't careful, in your hands, since in the warm weather they got pretty mushy in those foil wrappers pretty darned fast.

Made in Germany by Moritz and distributed in America by Albert's, per the wrappers, Ice Cubes were out of my life for decades; until recently, I'd assumed they were gone for good. They're still not available in my neck of the woods anywhere I can find, but certain specialty candy shops as well as online vendors carry them, and (something that just does not compute because I associate them with my life of 25-30 years ago) they have their own Facebook page.