The Universe and Me

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pilkingtonisms : Halloween edition

  • When a bee is born, you know what that’s gonna do.
  • She was your bog standard old woman.
  • Ghosts are always gonna have a bad reputation because they look scary ‘cause they’re old.
  • There’s too much fruit about.
  • If we’re all going into that other land or universe old, who’s gonna do the croppin’?
  • You never see insects or anything like that that look old. You don’t go: “Look at the state of that!”
  • If something doesn’t blink, it’s evil.
  • At the end of the day, he’s got a head like an elephant. He’s not gonna have a good life, is he?
  • It’s got lovely big eyes, really big hands and feet. Now that doesn’t sound like a nice baby to me. If felt like saying: “That sounds like a frog.”

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Out on the edge of the prairie

Movie: A Prairie Home Companion. I’ve long been a fan of Garrison Keillor’s, ever since listening to cassettes of the stories he used to tell on his long-running radio program. That led me to read his books, and to watch this movie. One thing I rarely did, though, was listen to his radio show. I remember once tuning in and hearing someone sing a page from Roget’s Thesaurus. Unless that was a dream. The reason I didn’t make the radio show a must-hear was because of the style of music played. It was so not to my tastes. And remains that way. So I didn’t appreciate it in the movie, where it sure wasn’t helped by some actors who can’t sing. Being half Swedish, I did always appreciate Garrison’s style of humour, which seems to be toned down here. He does manage a few funny lines: “Are you tired of your current herring?” “We are a dark people, people who believed it could be worse” (in reference to Scandinavians), “If you’re ever happy, this too shall pass” and when referring to Powdermilk Biscuits, “Heavens, they’re tasty!” I’d have liked a Lake Wobegone story in this film. The absence was disappointing. And I don’t believe the café at the beginning and end was named The Chatterbox Café, either. But I could be wrong. Overall, if you love traditional Americana, you’ll feel more at home in this movie than I did. I’m glad they made it and I’m glad I watched it, but I can’t rave about it like I hoped.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Lost : Every man for himself

Lost. 3.4. Sawyer’s week for a flashback of when he was in prison, put there by Jo from Facts of Life. After learning a fellow inmate stole millions and isn’t telling the money’s whereabouts, Sawyer’s suddenly his best friend. No light bulbs switch on. Pity. Jo visits and shares a baby photograph. Her daughter Clementine who’s also Sawyer’s daughter. He doesn’t want to play Father of the Year. But as he walks away, his eyes tell a different story. The warden may have thought he was just a “dumb hick that knows how to steal” but we think higher of Sawyer. When Inmate Thief confides the money’s location, Sawyer tells the feds so they’ll commute the last six years of his sentence and set up a nice bank account too. He makes sure the account, at an Albuquerque bank where she lives, is in Clementine’s name, and anonymous.

Desmond offers to fix the roof of Claire’s lean-to hut thingie. Charlie takes issue. For a moment I thought they were going to “brother” each other to death. Charlie thinks they need to “get that guy another button to push.” I think they need to start asking Desmond some questions. And more than: what do you want the New Guy’s 5-iron for? Des builds some golfish flux capacitor. Is it art? Naw, it’s just an experiment. How handy then that it diverts a lightning strike from baby Aaron.

Jack’s watching cartoons. Don’t think we didn’t notice the swans, writers. Finally he’s twisting his conversations with Juliet to find some answers. She claims the Others make decisions together and she doesn’t answer to Ben just as he bursts in with news of a Situation. Though they say they have contact with the outside world, I found it interesting they use walkie talkies rather than cell phones. The wounded Colleen is brought via submarine through the cages area where Sawyer and Kate see her. Sawyer knows the Others “ain’t in the business of shooting each other” so one of the Lostaways must have done it. When Juliet falters trying to save Colleen, she asks Jack for help, but there isn’t any working crash cart and she dies. Colleen’s husband, Danny (was he the one Sawyer called “Chinatown”? I had to laugh), rather than hunt down his wife’s actual killer, takes it out on Sawyer. Well, he was closer. Juliet tells Jack she’s a fertility doctor. He didn’t say what I did, which was: there are no children. Doing a great job, isn’t she? Near the makeshift operating room, Jack notices some spinal x-rays. A man who’s about 40 has a spinal tumor. Was Jack brought there to save him? And who’s him? If it’s Ben, he sure gets around good. Perhaps the x-rays belong to Locke’s past.

Ben takes Sawyer into a hatch where he’s jabbed in the sternum with a long needle by a couple Others who don’t seem very proficient at it. He must be near Jack, who hears his cries. Ben explains, using a poor rabbit to do so, that they put a pacemaker in Sawyer’s heart and if it starts beating too fast, he better do some yoga or it will explode. He’s forbidden to tell Kate, and probably PETA, and surprisingly follows orders. Ben says the Others aren’t killers. But they do appear to be bunny killers. Until he takes Sawyer on a hike and shows him the rabbit survived and all he placed in Sawyer was doubt. Same rabbit? Maybe. Maybe not. Ben also shows him they’re on a separate island, apart from the Lostaway island. And then he channels Hemingway. There were many good lines in this episode, one of unintentional ones being: “These people ever make any sense to you?” No, they don’t. Next: the island grows restless.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Desperately trying to...

Huff. Season 1. To Showtime and all other DVD makers out there, please can you put English subtitles on your products? It’s not that all the crazy rock music I’ve listened to all my life has destroyed my hearing. It’s that I live on one of the main streets in town and there’s nonstop traffic going by my house all day long. Even with the windows shut, it’s still a constant background noise. And then someone in the neighbourhood decides their lawn needs mowing or the leaves need clearing. And then my refrigerator starts running and I’m left desperately trying to remember high school Spanish class and decipher the Español subtitles because I can’t hear half of what the actors are saying even with the volume blaring. Enough on that.

As for the show, HBO and Showtime sure know how to create compelling drama and comedy. Something I really liked and thought was superbly done in this one was the lifelike continuity. Characters and situations kept recurring in often coincidental and unexpected ways that happen in real life. All the characters here are flawed and therefore more human. Also, I don’t know if it was a tribute to the writers or the actor portraying Russell or both, but it was amazing how such a messed up, piggish, childish creep of a character could also make you feel bad for him and hope he could get himself straightened out and have something, anything go right. The season ending cliffhanger was enough to give a viewer whiplash. Remarkably well done. That this brilliantly written and acted show has been cancelled after its second season due to poor ratings, is an example of everything that is wrong with television.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Lost : Further Instructions

Lost. 3.3. Locke finds his way back to Lostaway camp. Charlie isn’t impressed that he hasn’t called or written and now can’t talk. He gives no insight as to whether Eko and Desmond are “off being mute and building structures as well.” For LOTR fans, the writers seem to have purposely thrown in a comment about trees being “wonderful conversationalists.” Thanks Merry. Locke decides to take a trip to his local sweat lodge/hut where plenty of hallucinations will help the island tell him what to do. Or something like that. Charlie would rather “get high and watch nature programs on the Beeb.” I’m with him on the last part.

In flashback, we see him pick up a hitchhiker named Eddie who’s heading to Eureka. Whatever’s in Eureka isn’t a match for Locke’s commune and orchard duty or Eddie has a thing for peaches. He pays no attention to Locke’s warning that “bad things happen to people who hang around with me.” Locke should have noted his Geronimo Jackson t-shirt for future reference, but probably didn’t. Eddie suspects fertilizer carried to the greenhouse and Locke’s steering him away from the greenhouse means they’re making bombs there and he wants in. Locke laughs at his naiveté which is ironic because it’s Locke who’s naïve here. One of Eddie’s questions, or the way he asked it, made me think “guy sounds like a cop” several commercial breaks before Mike and Jan found out he was there undercover, gathering evidence to bust their little pot heads. In a very ungracious and uncharacteristic move, Locke takes Eddie out deer hunting as an excuse to shoot him, but can’t follow through, despite being offended by Eddie saying he was “amenable for coercion.” And I’m left wondering why Locke brought guns to a marijuana growing commune anyway.

This past acceptance of drug growing and his current sweat lodge tripping has Charlie (even though he only knows of the present) rightfully calling him a hypocrite for the strict zero tolerance policy on the heroin. But Locke, and the writers, may have devolved into monkeys. The hallucinations, including a weird looking Boone (well, he is dead, after all), convince Locke he must look for Mr Eko. He finds him in a polar bear den/cave and manages to zap the bear with hair spray and drag Eko back to camp. On the way, he thinks he hears the polar bear (the “Einstein of the bear community”) and throws his knife at it. Luck is still on Hurley’s side as the knife jabs his canteen. Dude! Hurley clues them in on the Others kidnapping the Lostaway Trio and that Fake Henry seems to be their leader.

Hurley happens upon Desmond whose clothes have disappeared in the hatch explosion. Or, the writers read The Time Traveller’s Wife and Desmond was sent forward and/or backwards in time. Especially evident when he makes a comment about Locke’s speech to find the Trio when Locke doesn’t make the speech until many commercial breaks later. Hurley loans Des an oversized tie dye t-shirt, giving him a messianic appearance. At the end when Des was skipping stones over the water, I was wondering if he was contemplating walking on it. Hurley, like all us fans, questions the convenience of the fail safe key. Des doesn’t have a good answer but I’ve learned not to expect any. Next up: looks like the Trio is in desperate need of Jack Bauer.

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's not easy being green

At work or in school: I work best by myself. I like to focus on my ideas until my desire for understanding is satisfied. I am easily bored if the subject holds no interest to me. Sometimes, it is hard for me to set priorities because so many things are of interest.
With friends: I may seem reserved. Although my thoughts and feelings run deep, I am uneasy with frequent displays of emotion. I enjoy people who are interesting and of high integrity.
With family: I am probably seen as a loner because I like a lot of private time to think. Sometimes, I find family activities boring and have difficulty following family rules that don't make sense to me. I show love by spending time with my family and sharing ideas and interests.
Take this quiz: What color is your brain?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Lost : The glass ballerina

Lost. 3.2. A Koreans-centric episode and I can’t imagine two more attractive people on that island, or perhaps anywhere. Through the flashbacks we learn that Sun is no stranger to lying. She started as a child and may be keeping on as the boat sails. While she spent time with the bald guy (I can’t remember his name), it’s not clear whether they had an affair because the flashback has her saying a tormented “I can’t.” Bald Guy wants her to skip off to America with him and his pearls. Before she can decide, her father barges in. Nice guy that he is, he tells Jin that Bald Guy is stealing from him and Jin is to put an end to it, or, presumably, Bald Guy. Jin just roughs him up a bit and tells him to leave Korea and never return. In an “I didn’t see that coming” moment, Bald Guy falls from the hotel balcony onto the roof of Jin’s car. That’s pretty good aim for a suicide. I’m thinking, what with the clutched pearls, he may have been pushed.

On the island, the Others find out about the boat and inform Ben who seems genuinely surprised. With his surveillance room it seems unlikely he didn’t know about it, but that’s Lost for you. He wants the boat now, probably to stop anyone from escaping. Sayid and the Koreans find the abandoned dock. Sayid’s plan is to build a fire to lure out the Others. He’ll capture two and kill the rest. Instead, the Others sneak onto the boat. Colleen runs across Sun and her gun first but doesn’t think Sun’ll shoot. Oops. Thar’ she goes. Running away from the rest of the Others, Sun luckily slips and falls into the water. Jin has swum out to the boat and they’re reunited with each other, but not the boat. They have to walk back to Lostaway camp. Thanks for nothing, Sayid.

Sawyer and Kate are taken to chop rocks on the chain gang. Alex sneaks up to Kate but isn’t concerned about much beyond her comrade Carl and her dress that Kate’s now wearing. Juliet (who seems to be everywhere this episode, making us wonder if she’s just really swift or perhaps a clone) offers Sawyer some water with a smile but he dumps it. He kisses Kate which gets everyone’s attention, so it was probably intentional, and gives him a chance to grab a rifle. Unfortunately Kate’s not quick enough and Juliet threatens to shoot her if Sawyer doesn’t give back the gun. Aw, and we thought Juliet was so nice. When they’re returned to their cages, Sawyer tells Kate his plan. Wait for the Others to make a mistake and capitalize on it. Since he’s seen the speakers all around, he must know he’s being watched. I’m sure hoping his con man instincts haven’t deserted him and this is a diversion plan as part of a larger con game.

In her spare time, Juliet has made Jack some soup, something she never did for Ben, poor guy. Ben decides to introduce himself properly to Jack. “You know what’s crazy?” he asks. Yes I do. It’s you! Ben thinks Jack needs to change his perspective about the Others. Ben’s lived on the island his entire life, but has contact with the outside world. If Jack cooperates, he’ll take him home. Jack wonders why the Others would stay on the island if they could leave. We’re all wondering. Best line from Sawyer: “Want half a fish biscuit.” Next up: Desmond loses his clothes. Something to really look forward to!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Someone somewhere revisited

The Icelandic band Dikta's video for their song "Someone Somewhere" has been posted at You Tube. You can also check out more material and learn more about the band at their My Space page or their Airwaves page.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mest spiluðu lög árið 2005

Happened to see on Radio 2's website a listing of the 100 songs they played the most during last year. I'd looked around the beginning of this year, in January or February, but never saw any list. Never mind. It's there now. Rather than list them all and put a star by what I like, I'll just post the ones that I like.

1 Hjálmar - Og Ég Vil Fá Mér Kærustu
3 Sálin Hans Jóns Míns - Þú Færð Bros
4 The Magic Numbers -Love Me Like You
6 Emiliana Torrini - Sunnyroad
8 Coldplay - Speed Of Sound
10 Leaves - The Spell
14 Green Day - Wake Me Up When September Ends
15 Sálin Hans Jóns Míns - Aldrei Liðið Betur
16 Ampop - My Delusions
18 Sálin Hans Jóns Míns - Undir þínum Áhrifum
19 Emiliana Torrini - Heartstopper
25 Sigur Rós - Glósóli
27 Leaves - Good Enough
28 Skítamórall - Hún
30 Stuðmenn - Látum Það Vera
34 Stuðmenn & Hildur Vala - Segðu Já
35 KT Tunstall - Sudenly I See
36 Í Svörtum Fötum - Eitt
38 Maroon 5 - Sunday Morning
44 Keane - Bend and Break
45 Skítamórall - Hvers Vegna
54 Svavar Knútur - Dansa
56 Kaiser Chief - Everyday I Love You Less and Les
60 Joss Stone - Spoiled
61 R.E.M. - Electron Blue
69 The Zutons - Remember Me
70 Franz Ferdinand - Do You Want To
76 The White Stripes - Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)
80 Bermúda - Sætari en ég
83 Von - Ég er hérna
85 Wilco - Hummingbird
90 Írafár - Leyndarmál
91 Skítamórall - Má Ég Sjá
100 Jack Johnson - Good People

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lost : A tale of two cities

Lost 3.1. Pretty sure the two cities were not London and Paris and no one took anyone’s place on the chopping block. At first I thought the woman playing the Pet Clark CD (erroneously housed in a Talking Heads jewel case – is she hiding her musical taste or just unorganized?) was Penny. But Penny probably wouldn’t have burned the muffins and chosen a book that wasn’t written by Stephen King. There’s mention that Ben doesn’t like the book choice and then there’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on. The community residents all head outside and rather than look at the ground, expecting an earthquake, they all looked up. In time to see Flight 815 split like a wish bone on Thanksgiving. Internet consensus seems to be that this proves these Others didn’t know about the crash, but I think it proves they did. Especially when Fake Henry starts rattling off orders so fast and no one has to ask him, “Now what did you want me to do?” For some reason, the plane crash puts Henry out of the Book Club, which he didn’t seem to be a part of anyway. I’m sensing some unspoken tension between him and Juliet.

Flashback to Jack’s messy divorce. He’s sorry for pushing them to it. Sarah seems not the least bit sorry she’s cheating on him. Her giggling on the phone to her new boyfriend in Jack’s presence was downright cruel. I say Jack’s better off without her. He doesn’t think so and allows his obsession to veer towards finding out her boyfriend’s name. When he suspects his father, he bursts into an AA meeting and ends up driving Christian back to the hooch. Later on we see Sarah with a man who appears to be no one we’ve met before. But that could change. Back to the hapless three Lostaway captives. They’ve had drugs injected into their arms. What drugs? We’ll probably never know. Jack is held in an aquarium (former home to sharks and dolphins) at the Hydra Station. His big chance to escape: rejecting Juliet’s grilled cheese sammich (which she didn’t make, she “just put the toothpicks in”) and opening a door that both Juliet and Henry warn him will kill them all. Henry high-tails it, leaving Jack and Juliet to die in an onslaught of water. But Juliet jabs some button and they survive. I don’t have anything against Juliet yet, except for her annoying repetition of Jack’s name. That’s a sign of bad writing, saying a character’s name almost every time you speak to them. Cut it out.

Kate is taken to Henry for an al-fresco breakfast which she won’t eat either. He makes her handcuff herself and promises her the next two weeks will be very unpleasant. Then Gandalf flew in on the back on an eagle and rescued her. No, that was just a commercial. Sawyer’s in a Skinner like cage where he figures out how to get food, but not as quickly as the polar bears who had strength in numbers. Chachi/Carl in the cage across the way tries to help him escape, right into the clutches of Juliet’s taser. Con man, meet obvious plant. Zeke brings Kate to Chachi’s cage and we see her wrists very scraped up. Sawyer shares his fish food with Kate, even though a blow dryer would be nicer. All we learn at the end is Henry’s real name appears to be Ben and Audrey Hepburn wants to dance.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pilkingtonisms continued 3.6

In the 6th and possibly last Gervais podcast, for he and Steve believe they've made their point (although many of us are wondering what that point might be), Karl goes into more detail about his kidney stone problems. What I found more strange was yesterday while I was waiting at the corner for the light to change, a white van sped past with the name Pilkington painted on it. He's everywhere now. Here are some quotes:

  • There’s loads of people in the world and yet you don’t see people with like dangly eyes more often. It amazes me.
  • Your mind or whatever – I don’t know what’s in charge.
  • Don’t give me milk. I don’t need any milk. I’ll have a crumpet.
  • I would have looked like the alien in the Boswell Incident.
  • Got in a taxi. He filled up on the way, which was annoying.
  • That could have been my last “fighting on the beaches” (That is: You look different with a hat on.)
  • She didn’t have a banana till she met my Dad.
  • In Scotland they’ll have fried Mars bars and that.

Monday, October 02, 2006

World domination or death

For all the Sugarcubes fans: the band will be reuniting for a one time concert November 17th in Reykjavik to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of their first single. And someone please videotape this puppy and release it on DVD for me to buy because it’s unlikely I’ll be able to attend, much as I’d give up anything valuable I had, if I had anything valuable, to do so. Icelandair is offering some good special package deals that include flights and concert tickets. If you fly sometime between November 9th and 23rd (on a date that isn’t sold out, as many of them already are), the ticket price is an extremely wonderful rate of $448 from JFK to Reykjavik.

People have asked me why I have this strange interest in all things Icelandic. So here's the story. Way back in probably 1988, at work we used to modify computer records and the computers back then didn't have the zippy processors they do now. To modify one record, the computer had to search through all the records until it found the right one. Sometimes it took 4 minutes for one record. No one wanted to do this job, so they stuck me and a guy named Jason on the project. Rather than just sit there being bored out of our minds, we talked while the computer did its modifying thing. And Jason came up with this idea to collaborate on a book that would encompass all the tired clichés from the world of fiction. But we needed an exotic setting. "Iceland!" he said. And then decided he would research how to write a novel while I researched Iceland. So I did.

I ready Alden's Letters from Iceland and then a wonderful novel which quickly became my favourite book of all time (Men at Axlir by Dominic Cooper.) Delving further, I looked in the handy but heavy Readers Guide to Periodical Literature for any magazine articles on the place. That's where I saw Rolling Stone and People magazines had written about a rock band from Reykjavik. The Sugarcubes they were. A few months later I happened to find their Life's Too Good CD and was astonished on the first note. From there, I kept reading more and subscribed to a couple Icelandic magazines. Ordered a bunch of CD's of other bands from Smekkleysa and here I am today. Still on the lookout for all things Icelandic. Writing about it on a blog whose name is taken from my all time favourite song, the Sugarcubes' "Planet."