The Universe and Me

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Has it got mayonnaise?

Movie: He Died With a Falafel in his Hand. Australian. Based on book of same name by John Birmingham. Full of extremely quirky characters and farcical situations that in real life wouldn’t be humourous, but were in this film. Protagonist Danny, unemployed and wannabe writer who can’t push his writer’s block past one line, shares many different houses with a variety of offbeat, neurotic, pagan, drug addicted or just plain insane roommates who will make any singleton glad to be living alone. I got a kick out of the oft repeated refrain of “you should call your mother.” And so many people in the one house they have to put the Japanese gal in the closet, but they still can’t come up with the rent money. Goofy enough to recommend, but also a little scary. Is this the norm for Aussies?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

24: 1-2 a.m.

24. 5.19. Audrey appears to be fine. At least Jack with his trusty wire thinks so. Didn’t Henderson hit an artery after all? Did Jack give up the recording for nothing? I’m starting to get tired here. The writers seem overly fond of the “doing what I thought was best for this country” mantra this season/day. Over at Bill’s house, Chloe slips through his subnet to access CTU’s satellite stream, or similar, even though Bill’s computer is kind of pathetic. Not wanting to end up like Walt Cummings, Henderson keeps the recording as protection from Logan. Using Chloe’s magic powers of surveillance, Jack tracks down Henderson who’s out of ammunition. He does, though, have a contingency plan. He has to contact his men every fifteen minutes or Heller will be toast. Heller confirms there’s a chopper with a laser on him. But he’s nobody’s pawn. He drives his car off a cliff, into a lake. More disturbing: Jack said “copy that” three times before the first commercial. He must be tired too.

Okay, so Henderson has the recording. He just doesn’t have it on him. He handed it off to someone seconds before Jack found him. Whoever it is drives back to the airport. Logan’s security guys lock Martha, who's concerned about Aaron's disappearance, in a room and blame a glitch in the scheduling software. We’ve all heard that one before. CTU realizes Chloe has escaped and that Sherry didn’t try to stop her (never underestimate Chloe’s powers of intimidation!) and that Chloe is accessing their system remotely. They trace her to Bill’s and send a team to retrieve her. There are too many loose ends and too many unknown villains. Now there’s a whole room of them, seemingly lead by some bald guy who smells doubt.

While I’m left wondering what doubt smells like, Henderson tries playing mind games with Audrey. Her father may be breathing in an air pocket. She doesn’t buy it, but she can’t shoot him either. Jack sends Curtis to help her while he tries to figure out a way on the chartered diplomatic flight the recording is leaving on. Karen starts to think things through and asks Mike, who must be in the loop. He tells her there’s no loop. She gives Bill the heads up to save Chloe who’s trying to find the plane’s passenger list to explain those union jack flags. Beneath his trusted hoodie, which renders him invisible as a cloaked Harry Potter, Jack sneaks into the luggage hold. Next: Hi-Jack! And Tony Blair may have some ‘splaining to do.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

They can dig it

Movie: The Tunnel. Or in German, Der Tunnel. I watched this 2001 foreign film several months ago and then promptly lost my notes for it but wanted to eventually be sure to mention it because I thought it was well done. Only drawback was its length, clocking in at a whopping 167 minutes. (At least it wasn’t a six hour Italian mini-series.) Based on the true story of East German champion swimmer Harry Melchior who, with cohorts, digs a 430 foot tunnel from East to West Berlin in 1961 so he and said cohorts can live in freedom. Along the way they find themselves beset by logistical problems and betrayals from friends and some comedic relief in the form of a US television news crew filming their efforts. The film’s tension kept building as the time went on until it felt like either the television or my heart was going to explode. The scene with Fritzi on one side of the wall and her boyfriend on the other was especially heartbreaking. Watch it if you can invest the time.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Under Over

Six Feet Under: The fifth and final season in which the Fisher family continues to struggle with their demons, desires, drugs and death. About the episodes, from my sparse notes:

A coat of white primer.
Hello Miss O’Hara: “Slap a veil on her and the biggest slut bag on the planet becomes a fresh faced ingénue.” Rico breaks up on an IM, telling the girl he’s “looking for someone with a more positive attitude.” Very thoughtful. “You could have a friend call and pretend to be a dead person.” “Try not to be blinded by lust if you can.” The bourgeois narcissists are hoping for an obese daughter. “I want to put as many versions of myself on the planet as I can.”

Dancing for me.
The Snuffits at the beginning are unsettlingly younger than me lately. The kitchen is Ruth’s territory. She doesn’t want to take care of George for the rest of her life. She might want to look into a little something called fraud. Worked for Renee. “We’re all human” “No honey, we’re not.” The other intern at the free clinic is kind of a moron. Hello Monti Sharp. Claire doesn’t want to be the mother of her niece. Sharon disappeared but Rico can’t take a hint. “If there’s no strawberry, it’s definitely not Neapolitan.” Billy dumps his meds.

Hold my hand.
“France is tired.” “You are such a mom.” George in bathrobe crashes a funeral. Singles night. I don’t even want to know what Waterless embalming involves. Welcome back mortician Mortitia/Angela from a previous season. “Advanced anatomy for restorative art class” – ooh, sign me up! Claire’s trust was to support her education until she’s 25. “I don’t want you to wear rotting food.” I suspect baby-addicted surrogate Mary is Michelle Duggar’s younger sister.

Time flies.
Nate turns 40 and kills what might have been the Bluebird of Happiness at his party. Billy’s cranky because his clothes are too heavy. The George Report. “We should just live in cake light.”

Eat a peach.
Does he dare? He dares. He snuffs it. The adoption fair is like going to look at puppies. Julio gets into trouble down by the schoolyard. Cold cuts and bacon wrapped ham balls for the viewing. Yum. Relationships change. Mrs Chenowith negotiates – or ambushes Claire. Ruth gets George his own place, but he doesn’t’ know it yet.

The rainbow of her reasons.
“Just me and the fumes from my kiln and that morose NPR.” “The spirit works in mysterious ways.” “Au pair is so bourgie.” Donna from Saskatoon takes in a homeless man so Vanessa boots her out. Durrell is a mess. Enter Claire’s Ode to Pantyhose, sung to the tune of “You light up my life” - “You ride up my thighs, you ruin my day and fill my soul with hate.” Kudos to Lauren. “Kids aren’t slippers you can return if they don’t fit."

The Silence.
“Doing nothing all day can be so tiring.” Nice Girl Time. Gyrotonic Trainer, did she say? – I can’t wait. Silent Centering Time. George thinks he and Ruth should get a Haitian divorce for their psyche’s – or because George is already engaged. Yeah baby. There’s some office staplers that will soon end up encased in jello. “I just wanna be left alone so I can shrivel up in peace.” “Do I look like a crazy person?” “A little.”

Singing for our lives.
Thirsty and on her way to Bible class. “You were like my boyfriend and suddenly you’re gone.” Quaker church service with that sappy little ferret Maggie. “I think I might become conveniently sick.” There’s no money to be made in cremation or green funerals. “You can kill a man with a chopstick.” Russell attacks a lollipop.

Where wilderness and civilization interlap. Or is it overlap? “It’s nice to be quiet with somebody.” Someone please inform the extroverts. Claire has dinner at a Republican nest with vampires and redneck blogger pig, Ted. Nate suffers another AVM. “She could still show up for her own son’s coma.” Ruth finds camping strangely cathartic.

All alone.
Is all we are. “Couple shots of Stoli won’t kill the baby.” Ted reminds me of a grown up Eddie Munster. The boys are in iPod Bliss. Lookout for the scary fruit cake. George’s speech was excellent.

“You were raised to be impaired.” A square watermelon. Well, Brenda’s got the watermelon part down. “As we get older, the number of people that completely get us shrinks.” Yes it does. And that’s the reason why you shouldn’t ditch them just because you can. Claire totals the Clairemobile. Vanessa takes to the funeral home.

Everyone’s waiting.
Sounds suspiciously like Christian music. “It isn’t the 50s anymore, no matter how you dress.” “Motherhood is the loneliest thing in the world.” And the closing montage spanning many decades of Fishers snuffing it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

24: 12-1 a.m.

24. 5.18. We’re given no explanation what Henderson did with Evelyn and child. He’s gathered another or more of his team to intercept CTU’s search for Jack. Instead of following Audrey, they should have followed Bill. Jack orders him to take Wayne somewhere safe while he delivers the recording to Heller. Jack and Audrey greet Heller’s plane but Dad’s not impressed with Jack’s criminal behaviour. In private, Jack plays the tape for him but Heller’s still critical. One wonders how Audrey grew up with any self-esteem. Dad thinks the nation can’t handle this information. It would destroy the presidency and we’d all freak out. (A line used later in the show, “Our government has no integrity” would have fit nicely in here.) He’d rather use the evidence to make Logan step down quietly. As he’s off trying, he has Jack and Audrey restrained.

Chloe’s pouting because she wasn’t involved in a briefing. She doesn’t spot the wire Sherry must be wearing so Miles and Karen can hear the ensuing conversation. They catch her calling a pay phone at Van Nuys airport’s emergency runway. Mike learns General Warren, whoever he may be, never received a call from Logan to capture Jack. Logan claims they’re using a special corporate task force so the Chinese government doesn’t learn of Jack’s faked death and get their chopsticks all bent out of shape. Chloe steals Miles’ key card, with a nice parting shot of “I don’t think you’re as big of a jerk as you pretend to be” and escapes using it. Sherry sees her but Chloe explains the evidence implicates Logan and if Sherry tries to stop her next move, she’ll recommend her for psychiatric evaluation.

Martha arranges to meet Aaron, but only his cell phone shows up. Heller reminds Logan that his “chair is not a throne” but Logan thinks Americans will be lost without heat or fuel. Heller insists Logan drop the charges against Jack and resign. Somehow Chloe knows where Bill lives and drops by to create a work around. Jack and Audrey escape their lame restraints. He forces one of Heller’s men to give him the recording but a chopper starts shooting at them. In the mix, Henderson grabs Audrey. He’ll exchange her for the tape. Not the night for Audrey to wear a white coat. Henderson severs an artery, giving her about three minutes to live, and Jack no time to do anything besides relinquish the tape. Henderson “secures a vehicle,” that is, steals a car, and calls Logan to say all’s well. Logan orders Heller’s resignation since he has no evidence. Surprisingly good line from Miles which he applied to Chloe, but I’d apply to him: “I won’t miss you when you’re gone.” Next: With all due respect returns and Audrey makes an amazing recovery.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Best Living Songwriters

Something called Past Magazine is having a vote for who readers think are the best living songwriters. You can chose 20 from their list and they've kindly provided space to write in anyone they may have forgotten, if you want. The results will be published in their June/July issue.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Just the right sound

Movie: Cherish. Despite having some flaws in the character motivation and plothole departments, this was surprisingly engaging, compelling and entertaining. It starts with a twenty-something gal named Zoe (excellently portrayed by Robin Tunney) crashing a work party she, as the office loser, wasn’t invited to. She ends up framed for a policeman’s death and placed under house arrest. The movie turns into a thriller towards the end as she becomes desperate to find the real murderer and evade being killed by him. The title Cherish refers to the name of the radio station she listens to and calls to request 70s and 80s pop schmaltz, providing a killer soundtrack. The engaging parts were Zoe’s learning to deal with her forced isolation and her growing affection for her bracelet program monitor/policeman named Bill. Those two actors carry the movie. And carry it well.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Lost : S.O.S.

Lost. 2.19. Ruth’s not bothered by the sudden food drop, but Bernard was raised to question. As were more viewers of this show. His idea is to build a huge SOS sign out of lava rocks so the next plane flying overhead will see it. Ruth admonishes him for giving the Lostaways false hope. We learn the couple met only recently, somewhere in New York state, possibly near Niagara Falls since they dined at a restaurant overlooking its tremendous view. Bernard proposed to her there but she had to tell him the illness she’s been in remission with has returned and doctors give her only a year to live. Bernard wants to marry her all the same. They honeymoon in the Australian Outback which seems an odd choice until Bernard takes her to Australian faith healer Isaac Didntcatchlastname. Anyone notice the article on a lottery winner in the magazine Ruth looked at? Isaac spouts some mumbo jumbo about harnessing magnetic energy (anything to do with the island’s experiments in same?) but realizes quickly he can’t help her type of energy. She tells Bernard, though, that Isaac healed her. Talk about giving false hope! Back in the present, Ruth explains the island really healed her. Though there’s no proof, she thinks leaving it would bring back her illness. Bernard doesn’t question this like I do.

Otherwise: Locke is frustrated trying to recreate the hatch map. Or he’s frustrated because creepy Fake Henry’s comments about not pushing the button have tested his faith. Ruth reminds him of the island’s abilities and he regains it. We learn that before boarding the doomed flight, Ruth saw Locke in his wheelchair and he saw her with her medicines. Eko is building a church, with help from Charlie. I like the Frogurt nickname for the Frozen Yogurt guy. Fake Henry’s gone on a hunger strike. Jack takes up his tradeoff idea. They’ll give Fake Henry back to the others in exchange for Walt. Dr Giggles asks Kate (because everyone else turns him down) to accompany him. Kate finally mentions the medical hatch and the costumes, which she hadn’t because she didn’t appreciate being out of the loop. They reach the Do Not Cross Line and after awhile some lunatic runs towards them. Turns out to be Michael. Good lines: “You bunk with a guy for 48 days and now he doesn’t call or write.” “Union trouble down at the sand factory, Norma Rae?” And Ruth’s “We’re lost.” Who isn’t? Next: Michael thinks the Lostaways can take the Others.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

24: 11 p.m. - 12 a.m.

24. 5.17. Evelyn smartly taped a phone call that proves President Weenie’s complicity in Palmer’s assassination and placed it with a toy airplane (no, wrong show) in a safety deposit box. Jack goes off grid to retrieve it. He and Audrey arrange to bring her father into the mix. Logan claims there’s new evidence that Jack was Palmer’s sniper and orders his arrest. They’ll sort out the particulars when Jack is in custody. Karen thinks they can bring him in peacefully. I laughed for a long time over that. Karen also thinks tracking Audrey will lead them to Jack who’s barged into the bank manager’s house with Wayne. It helped that he had some gadget to deal with the house’s magnetic alarm in his handy purse uh shoulder bag uh sack. What is that thing, anyway? Audrey’s Channel 17 picks up the tracker/transponder on her car. My Channel 17 picks up TLC. She does a switcheroo at a gas station.

Logan makes plans for a press conference despite the fact that it’s nearly midnight. Most presidents call press conferences around three o’clock in the afternoon. That way they can interrupt the soaps. Plus the press they’re conferencing is more likely to be awake. Evelyn collapses and Amy dials 911. Good luck with that, kid. Surprise, the operator is not from Detroit and pays attention to her. Subsequently, Henderson and cronies determine Evelyn’s current whereabouts. Bad luck for the EMT’s. Jack gives Aaron the heads up that all is not kosher with Logan. Sherry asks Chloe if she has a minute. Chloe says no. Sherry isn’t daunted. She explains she’s discovered part of the satellite’s vector has been locked out, or something technical like that. Chloe sees Audrey’s being tracked via satellite now.

Jack notices someone outside the banks. The windows are bullet proof but there’s no exit besides the front doors. Aw, c’mon. Crawl through a vent or something. Sleep deprivation must be setting in. Chloe changes the satellite. The signal feed breaks up and blames the server. When Miles confronts her about what she’s been doing as she’s coming out of the ladies room, she says “if you really want the details, I’ll write you a report.” I bet she would, too. And it would likely conclude, “Washed my hands with the disinfectant soap but didn’t feel comfortable about it since I didn’t know who had used it before me and what germs they might have left behind.” There’s a shootout at the bank. For all his help, Manager Carl doesn’t make it. Let’s all hope there are enough hours left to impeach Weenie President. Next: Chloe was set up and DoD Dad gets tough.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Lost : Dave

Lost. 2.18. Hurley’s problem is not a slow metabolism or even a stockpile of food. He’s conjured up a negative imaginary friend who’s a bad influence on his sanity. We learn his mother institutionalized him, most likely due to that rather than his problem with eating too much. He blames himself for a deck built for eight collapsing and killing two people when he was the twenty third person to step on it. He thinks, what with the hatch larder hatch and the recent drop of enough food to open a chain of mini marts, that the island isn’t letting him lose weight. We ultimately learn that Libby was at the Santa Rosa hospital too, but as a patient, not as a clinical psychologist. So is she all better now or not? Is she leading Hurley on? Can Hurley trust her, as she says he can? If the entire show isn’t a hallucination or dream of Hurley’s, is it perhaps a hallucination of Libby’s? Is she in league with the Others?

The backstories: In addition to Sawyer’s never ending habit of throwing nicknames around (Baby Napper, Deep Dish, Jabba, Lardo), he also isn’t a fighter. Maybe in the future the Lostaways can get what they want by threatening to sick Hurley on him. Locke has a hairline fracture and will need crutches for a few weeks. He defends Fake Henry for returning to help him rather than escaping. Fake Henry claims he was part of a search party for Real Henry but found he died when the balloon crashed. No, wait. Know it all Sayid didn’t leave any grave unturned or any pocket unpicked. He found a note Real Henry wrote after he crashed. Fake Henry lies again. Locke wonders if he got himself caught on purpose, as some sort of Others plan. Fake Henry denies it, then once again messes with Locke’s mind by saying he never entered the numbers or pushed the button. He saw the hieroglyphics turn up on the counter, but then it flipped back to 108 and nothing else happened. Still lying?

Otherwise: Eko may or may not be building a Starbucks. The Others Leader is not Zeke but some very dangerous, diabolical sounding “Him.” Ana saved Henry from Sayid’s bullet. Hurley’s imaginary friend strangely echoed Desmond’s line: “See you in another life.” Best lines: “After that we can sing Kumbaya and do trust falls.” “Celery is not a snack.” “You walk off and have yourself a nice long giggle.” Next up: No idea.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

24: 10-11 p.m.

24. 5.16. They don’t prolong the suspense. Jack carries Brit Hostile out to the “staging area” as Curtis honestly called it. The explosions have taken care of the Canisters of Death. Now finding the slippery Henderson is their priority. Aaron sneaks Wayne into the Presidential Compound to talk with his brother’s source, the First Lady’s handmaiden Evelyn. She won’t reveal who’s behind everything until they rescue her daughter Amy who was kidnapped an hour ago. They’ll all meet Jack in some barn located conveniently close to downtown LA. Miles has whipped up a statement distorting the day’s events to blame Bill that he wants Audrey to sign. Never mind that CTU tortured her, Audrey would rather save her dignity than her career. At least until Jack calls. He needs the schematics of Henderson’s next lair. Chloe can triangulate the schematics or whatever she does to get them, except Homeland Security is about to replace her.

Here comes the quote of the episode: “I have a working relationship with Chloe. She is an asset that you cannot afford to lose.” Let’s hope the writers understand that line applies to more than CTU. Homeland agrees to keep Chloe on in exchange for Audrey’s signature. Henderson calls Evelyn and wonders why Wayne is at the Compound. Since the VP saw him, the gang is going with the assumption that he’s in with the bad guys. Henderson gives her an address to meet him and Chloe uploads its schematic to Jack’s PDA. Once there, Jack and Wayne take out four guards. As Amy is being returned to Evelyn, there’s a shootout. Henderson drives off in her car. Evelyn’s been hit but the wound isn’t serious. But wait, it’s not the VP who’s behind this. It’s the P. Yup, President Weenie. Next: Jack tries to make a deposit at the bank but they’d rather he didn’t.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Scratching the surface

Icelandic band of the moment: Hraun. Translated into English, Hraun means Lava, though I wouldn't say their music is characteristic of Lava. It's more acoustic, folksy guitar music. Lead singer and songwriter Svavar Hnútur Kristinsson looks a little like Jack Black's younger brother while the rest of the band may have stepped through a time warp from a sixties hippy commune. Last year I was quite taken with Svavar's haunting solo song "Dansa", whose mp3 you can find in the second left hand column of one of his web pages. Now Radio 2 is playing Hraun's "Clementine," sort of an updated, more melancholy, softer and unique version of the old song "Oh My Darling Clementine." There's a video stream to the band performing the song live on Iceland TV as well. Hraun also has some other mp3s available. And for anyone interested in "Celementine's" new lyrics:

Oh my darling Clementine
How could I leave, while you were sleeping
Oh my darling Clementine
I couldn't bear to hear you weeping
You tried to teach me right from wrong
You tried to burn off all my bad ways
But misery's a stubborn friend
And she persists in spite of good days
So I sailed from your white sands
On a ship of broken plans
And your face is on my mind
Oh my darling Clementine

Oh my lovely Clementine
It's such a hell to be without you
My soul tormented every night
And every day, I think about you
I adored your foolish charm
Never meant to do you harm
And your pain is on my mind
Oh my darling Clementine

Oh my precious Clementine
I never dared to look behind me
All this time I ran and ran
And I ran aground, and I pray you'll find me
And with all the damage done
I realise that you're the one
And I hope you'll still be mine
Oh my darling Clementine
And with all the bad I've done
I realise that you're the one
I'm such a fool, will you be mine
Oh my darling Clementine