Thursday, April 30, 2009

LOST 036: The Brother With An Other Mother

So much to say, so much to say, so much to say, so much to say.

Sorry if I am twitchy like Daniel, but that episode was a whole lot of information to process. Probably not since last season's "The Shape of Things To Come" (aka the Alex Gets Killed and Ben Releases The Smoke episode) have so many of the remaining gaps been filled in.


Daniel was getting better on the island. We'll start with a little one. All that Daniel memory stuff had me worried that Daniel was getting the time sickness. But in fact, he'd already HAD the time sickness and was getting better. When he read in the book that Desmond was his constant . . . well, he'd already run into Des recently when he read that, so it looks like, in fact, he'd probably gotten course-corrected by that meeting, and perhaps also by the island.

Widmore is Daniel's father. That pretty much makes Daniel Other royalty, doesn't it? The guy who funded Dashing Dan's time travel experiments is also his pappa, though Dan didn't seem to know that. Widmore skipped out on El Faraday, leaving Eloise to provide him with his Dharma-issue crippling daddy issues in his place. She did OK, I think. Crippling mommy issues, but still. But the further meaning of this reveal is that 1) Widmore and Eloise were once an item; 2) When Widmore traveled off-island to make Penny with some until-now unknown woman, it probably had some serious ramifications on their relationship (that is, if that "Eloise killing their son" thing hadn't already scotched it; 3) Widmore didn't get busted for his transgressions until years after Eloise shooting Dan, after the purge, even, and since Dan doesn't seem to have any memory of growing up in an Other camp, I'm guessing Eloise left the island not long after the events of this episode, to raise her wee laddy for his eventual slaughter. Note: I'm pretty much going under the assumption that Daniel is going to die from being shot. I do recognize the fact that the island may heal him Ben-style, but I do think he's a goner. It's something in 2007 Eloise's eyes that speaks of tragedy.

Widmore Sank Fakeceanic 815. It was pretty well suspected after Miles' "audition" last week, and then, as Hoy pointed out, it was meta-confirmed by the narrator of the recap . . . but there's nothing like hearing it straight from the Widmore's mouth, is there? SO . . . why? To stop rescuers from searching for the island? What does that gain Widmore? Motivation, please.

Chang Is Going To Evacuate The Island. At least the women and children. Daniel's reveal that he's from the future didn't quite get through, but something will. I'll put my money on Miles, please.

Eloise Always Knew. This is a rocker and a shocker for sure. Imagine this. From the moment you shoot and kill that scrawny dude who was threatening your heavily eyelinered friend, you would suspect that it was your little boy. (If I have my timeline right, Daniel would already have been born in 1977, but barely.) As you watched him grow up, you would watch him become that scrawny dude. Every time you looked at your son, you'd see the man you killed years before. And yet, for some reason, you push him to become that man in that place anyway. You and your ex-husband, the boy's father, conspire either separately or together, to bring him to that end. Why? Daniel must have done something that made this tragedy seem necessary. What would be so important?

Here's a few thoughts:

1) Daniel needs to go back and get killed, because he saves a lot of people by blowing the whistle on "the incident" at the Swan and instigates the Chang-vacuation.

2) Daniel needs to go back and get killed, because he is the one who told the Others to bury the hydrogen bomb back in Fonzie times.

3) Daniel needs to go back and get killed, because that little book of notes (a birthday present from his mother, of course), has some infinitely vital info.

4) Daniel needs to go back and get killed, because he just spent three years doing research at the Dharma home office. By Eloise's own testimony, a "very clever man" figured out how to find the island by designing the Looking Glass pendulum. I think it's pretty likely at this point that that person was Daniel.

5) Daniel needs to go back and get killed, because he did, and what happened happened. Remember that Eloise's role in her very first appearance was to convince Desmond to re-make the biggest mistake of his life, because what happened NEEDS to happen. She seems pretty big on the whole "Guardian of Destiny" thing.

The moral to all this is: If you are going to kill somebody on the Mysterious Time-Traveling Island, get proper ID first.

Daniel Wanted To Erase The Past. Basically, he want to hit "reset." Forget destiny. Forget "what happened, happened." He's going to save his Charlotte, and he has pretty much convinced Jack that if the incident is prevented, then Oceanic 815 will land safely and all of this will be avoided. While this would make an interesting ending in ways, I don't think this will happen, and I really hope it doesn't. First, it will be too close to the "it was all a dream" cop-out. Second, I can't imagine it would be that neat. I mean, if the incident doesn't happen, then Dharma continues to do their thing, Charlotte isn't evacuated, and so she doesn't come back to the island years later and die in the timequakes . . . but she probably does die in the purge. There really is no way of predicting what might happen to all these characters, or what it might mean to alter the web of fate that has been drawing them to the island all their lives. Third, Daniel wants to prevent the incident by setting of the H-bomb. Now, I'm not a quantum physicist, but it does seem to me that setting off a thermonuclear device might be a little more disruptive to an unstable power source than, you know, drilling. In other words, if dying Daniel has conviced Sir Jacksalot to go set off The Jughead, that's just as likely to be the cause of the incident, or even to BE the incident itself, than it is to prevent the incident. The H bomb is not one of your more precise tools, is what I am saying. Try the Phillips-head screwdriver, first.

Jack has a choice before him, as do they all. He's in 1977, and he can decide what to do. As can Kate, and Sawyer, and Hurley, and Miles, and the rest. They all have free will to decide what they are going to do.

And whatever they choose will result in the 2004 - 2007 reality we know.

The only thing that makes this hard to deal with is our perception. We've already seen the result. We don't know yet what the decision was. We usually experience it the other way.

HOWEVER . . . perhaps some things can be changed. Slight things. It strikes me that Daniel wasn't particularly bug eyed or scary when he warned Charlotte, and Charlotte didn't seem particularly scared. Maybe something as simple as Daniel's delivery could be different, and maybe great changes could hinge on whether or not a little girl was scared by a stranger. But I'm probably just off the reservation.

Free will or predestination?

The answer is "yes."

Random Questions and Observations

* The look on Juliet's face when Sawyer said, "Come with us, Freckles," was priceless. I didn't know that a white lady could so clearly convey the sentiment: "Oh no you DI'INT!"

* The more I see of Radzinsky, the more I am comfortable with his eventual fate to go crazy all by himself down in the hatch and become a red stain on the ceiling.

* How does Daniel have such precise knowledge of the incident? How does he know that Eloise is an Other? Why does the Oceanic crash make him so sad? My guess is that, even though Dan is dead, we haven't quite seen the last of him. See, he had the time-sickness before coming to the island. So he may just have been mind-jumping all over the place. When he got better, he may have remembered some stuff he wouldn't otherwise know.

* "You don't belong here at all," Daniel says to Jack. How does he know? And where do they belong?

* "I'm not allowed to eat chocolate before dinner." Charlotte's last words just got a lot more poigniant. Not just some random fiddle-faddle, she was remembering her first meeting of Daniel.

* The gun Daniel was waving in Richard's face looks a lot like the one Locke pulled out of the Dharma pit. Don't know if there is any significance to that or not.

* Why does Daniel have an American accent if his parents are Brits? Is Daniel like the mirror twin of the annoying Midwest girl who spends two months in England and comes back with a fake British accent that she claims not to notice she is using?

* "Welcome to the party, Twitchy!" Sawyer rules.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Haiku 001: Cowboys

Yes, I'm obsessed. I spent last night cooking up the start of some videos, so I think you'll be seeing that snowman tater-legs interview someday soon.

Anyway, until further notice, Wednesday is poker haiku day over at TGS.

I've stared at the Ace
on the board seven minutes now.
I hate cowboys.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

One Hand At A Time 001: Jack Ace (Redux)

OK, the video is back up. I've moved it to YouTube so it shouldn't go down evermore. Feel free to embed and pass this along to your heart's content.

Your Weekly Dose Of Crazy

Well, xtranormal is a nice site to make poker videos, but they've been down for over 24 hours now. That kind of stinks. I guess when they are back up I'll port it over to YouTube and repost.

Anyway, here's some crazy. This is apparently a real movie:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

One Hand At A Time 001: Jack Ace Offsuit

A while ago, a well known poker insider who wishes to remain anonymous approached me with the opportunity to do a regular web-based TV show.

"The idea is you interview poker hands," he seethed through his teeth, which were as brown and yellow as October in Vermont.

I was reticent. Oh yes, reticent. For one thing, I don't really want to have my face go public on the internet. For another, I'm not sure I have the whole TV personality vibe going. And also, I'll be honest: Some poker hands scare me. But finally he talked me into it.

"Come on," he said. "Do it."

What can I say? I'm impressionable.

So here's the first episode, which was a lot of fun to shoot. I'm hoping that we get picked up.

As always, check out Poker From The Rail for this and more great poker content.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Your Weekly Dose Of Awesome

That's right, it's ninja bear:

He also pole-dances!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We Are America

Well, I was kind of contemplating one of my typical 20,000 word screeds on the torture memos that are leaking out. Always fun to read, those are, I'm sure. (Talk like Yoda, I do, mmyesss.)

Then Shep Smith of Fox News (!) had a "THIS! IS! SPARTA!" moment on air, and pretty much boiled it down to a handful of words, and now I don't have much else to say.

Word, Shep.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

100,000 Donkavatar Fans Can't Be Donks

Name: corron10


Classification: Strung-out poker genius donkey.

Instructions: Right click and choose "Save Picture As"

Save to: C:\Program Files\Full Tilt Poker\Graphics\Table\Avatars\Public\7

Image Title: 3.png

Name: ElSnarfoGrande


Classification: He's a Lion-O nursemaid dooonkey, mmmSnarf, Snarf.

Instructions: Right click and choose "Save Picture As"

Save to: C:\Program Files\Full Tilt Poker\Graphics\Table\Avatars\Public\16

Image Title: 3.png

Name: iiatg6296


Classification: Jar chock full o' donkey.

Instructions: Right click and choose "Save Picture As"

Save to: C:\Program Files\Full Tilt Poker\Graphics\Table\Avatars\Public\27

Image Title: 3.png


Name: Pokah Dave


Classification: Rodney Dangerfield hatin' golf donkey.

Instructions: Right click and choose "Save Picture As"

Save to: C:\Program Files\Full Tilt Poker\Graphics\Table\Avatars\Public\19

Image Title: 3.png

Name: Buddy Dank


Classification: Radio Free Donkey. BBmT CHAMP.

Instructions: Right click and choose "Save Picture As"

Save to: C:\Program Files\Full Tilt Poker\Graphics\Table\Avatars\Public\22

Image Title: 2.png

Monday, April 20, 2009

Your Daily Dose Of Crazy

Choose your caption:

a) Terry McAuliffe's "get out the signs" drive has been largely successful.

b) These signs are fed up with the traffic jam and are just walking in to the Phish show.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

LOST 035: Miles Knows What You Did Last Summer

I think I'll be short this time, first because I don't really have much time, but secondly because this was a palette-cleanser of an episode. It had about as light a touch as LOST can manage these days, what with all the time-travel shenanigans and the Egyptian mysticism and the dire prophetic intonations and the conflict and the ow-ow-ow-the-bullets-they-hurt-me, blaven. Said light touch came to us courtesy of Hurley in garlic mayo slathered comic relief mode, as well as the always hilariously acerbic hero, Miles, now officially our first Freighty to get a flashback all his own.


So let's just say that when Miles looked through the window to see his baby self being dandled on the knee of obviously-doting dad Pierre Chang, it was a very touching, emotional moment that reversed expectations in a very Lost-y sort of way. Say what you will about Chang nee Marvin Candle (and I'll say that he's just as acerbic, if not as hilarious, as his ghost-whisperer son), but he clearly cared for his kid very much.

So what happened? We now know that two of the Freighter Folk -- Charlote and Miles -- were on-island as kids, and since Eloise Hawking is Daniel's mom, it isn't much of a stretch to say that it may be three. Both Miles and Charlotte's mothers runoffed the island in a hurry, leaving the goldurned paterfamilias behind. So what happened? The timing is wrong for it to be the purge, which won't happen for another dozen years or so. My theory is that whatever it is, is caused by "the incident" that a one-armed Chang spoke of in the Swan orientation film. The one that caused the numbers to have to be entered from then on. In other words, something is going to happen with the Sawn. Something electromagnetic on a level that can pull your filling right through your brain (oh and good job getting rid of all the head jewelry before coming to the island, Miles).

Something's coming. Something baaad.

My speculation?

Something involving the Jughead. The one that got buried long before Dharma showed up and started digging everywhere.

And why did the sequence involve Hurley's numbers? Well, probably just because that happened to be the seemingly random serial number that went on the Swan's hatch. It might just be that simple. We'll never know if the chicken came before the egg, but maybe the random serial number came before those numbers became fraught with fateful meaning.

What else did we discover last night? I'm glad you asked, imaginary person I just made up! Here we go:

1) I was wrong. Obviously you can be two different ages on the island at the same time. So now I have no idea why Sun isn't in 1977. Maybe she is a tie-die conscientious objector.

2) I was wrong. The Shadow Of The Statue Group did not just get "infected" by the island, French-scientist style. Or, if they did, they were infected long before they arrived. Also, they are the least intimidating, most polite, rolling-van-kidnap group ever.

"Get in the van!"
"Aaaah my fish taco!"
"Don't join the bad guys!"
"Why not?"
"We want you to grow as a person!"
"No, I want money! Let me go!"
"Oh, all right. But we are really disappointed in you!"

Anyway, there is obviously a faction aligned against Widmore out there, and Ilanya and Bram are a part of it. Wonder if they are also aligned with Ben, or if there is a third faction, or if Ben IS the third faction. Ben certainly seemed to have non-island associates this season. This development makes me think that Richarad Alpert and the Others are just the members of this underground Egyptian religious cabal that are high-ranking enough to have been given the honor of living on the island. Wonder what is in their shiny silver box.

3) If you had Charles Widmore in the Who Put The Fake Oceanic 815 Full Of Corpses On The Bottom Of The Ocean? office pool, you've got to be feeling a bit smug now, since Miles' "audition" consisted of reading a dead Widmore lackey's thoughts. The guy's name was Felix, and the cat was basically delivering his boss a receipt for one (1) Submerged Mass Murder (w/Airliner).

4) We now know why Miles asked Ben for 3.2 million. It's precisely twice the 1.6 Widmore is offering. Miles was just trying to double down.

5) Hurley is crazier than we thought. Seriously, dude, you have the idea to get George Lucas to improve one of his movies and you choose Empire? EMPIRE?



Your Daily Dose Of Crazy

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Your (Daily) Weekly Dose Of Crazy

What can I say? There is just too much crazy right now. I need to purge the crazy more quickly, or I'll go crazy-eyed, or even crazy pants.

So, your weekly dose of crazy comes all week long this week.

Here's a very effective guy who took 25 years to design a business card that won't fit in a Rolodex.

Monday, April 13, 2009

This Can't Be Right

Maybe I filled it out wrong. I thought it was supposed to be BIG cats.

You Are A LOL Cat

You have an overwhelming curiosity in, and desire for, a mythic property known only as "TEH CHEEZBURGER".

You live a life of indolence and paranoia, and a fundamental understanding that you will be cared for as long as you do cute little human things with your paws.Your grammar is atrocious. Your spelling is worse. Quoting you is pretty played out by now, and over-quoting you is suitable grounds for a throat-punching.

You receive over 100 billion unique page views every day. You are everywhere. You are starting to become very, very, very, very annoying. In 20 years, you will be a Trivial Pursuit question.

What Big Cat Are You?

Your Weekly Dose of Crazy

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Modest Proposal

Well, the Bad Bankroll Management Tourny was just that for me. A lot of fun, but also a lot of dumb.


Anybody interested in backing me for the Big Game, contact me in the chatty (check my blogger profile) or email me if you have the addy. Any cash I win will pay the $75 buyin + 65% of what's left to the wise (?) investor.

FWIW my Big Game history is one of the brighter spots on a spotty resume. I place second like my name is Buffalobill J. Atlantabrave. Not necessarily good for the BBT seat, but not a bad payoff. So I may not be an awful investment.

If you'd rather make fun of my begging and my donkish effrontery, feel free to do that in the comments or on the podcast or message board of your choosing.


Friday, April 10, 2009


I guess this is my confession. And my apology.

I've hurt a lot of people because of this. Maybe I've hurt you, reading this now. And I'm probably going to do it again.

I thought I had it beat. It had been nearly a year.

I was wrong. When you're hooked on something, you're hooked for good. You can never let your guard down, not even for a second.

And I did.

I'm sorry.

It all came back last night. Just as if I'd never been clean. And never would again.

And now, I must share it with you.

I blame NBC. Ryan was watching it on the latest episode of "The Office." Irresponsible programming.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

LOST 034: Ben, There? Done That.

Where to start? This episode was in classic Lost tradition, for sure -- by which I do not mean a straightforward island story centering around one character, supplemented by a single character's flashback story, which takes place entirely at one point that central character's past.

No, when I say that this episode was in classic Lost tradition, I don't mean that. This one had a central island character (Ben), to be sure, but it sprayed all through his past like shotgun pellets. Not so much a flashback as a series of flashbacklettes. Ben attempting Penny's murder. Ben presiding over Widmore's banishment. Ben kidnapping Alex and pushing Rousseau the rest of the way over the edge. Ben waking up after being indoctrinated (HOW? HOW??) by Richard.

What I mean is that this was a classic Lost episode, in that what it told you, it told you glancingly, in the small moments, in the implications, and while it told you one thing, it told you another thing exactly opposite. It answered some REALLY big questions, but in the process raised deeper ones. It strikes me that this show is a like like Ben Linus; fascinating, but slippery and difficult to parse. By now, I'd expect nothing less.

OK, let's fry this episode up with some a them french fried po-tay-ters.


1) I was wrong. I'll take the classic Season 2 Locke line upon myself. I guess I should say I was probably wrong. First, Ben convinced me, as he took the photo of the 1977 Dharma probie class in his hands, that he had no idea that our crew had been in Dharma back in the day. This complicates matters, and I will admit disappointment, because I think it complicates matters where matters heretofore were uncomplicated. There are three possibilities now:

First, it is possible that the Oceanic Dharmaniacs leave 1977 before young Ben re-infiltrates Dharma, now as a member of the Others. This would explain why he wouldn't remember Jack, Kate, and Hurley. Richard made mention last week that, if he, Richard, took Ben, then Ben wouldn't remember "any of this," so he wouldn't remember Sayid, either. However, post-temple-healing, young Ben remembers Dharma and his dad, so I am not sure how it would wash that he doesn't remember Miles, Sawyer, and Juliet. Now that I think of it, though, he doesn't see those three in the photo and therefore may know full well that MSJ lived in 1977, but have had no inkling about JKH. I don't really like this.

Second, it is possible that the island or Jacob or Smokey "course-corrects" Ben's memory somehow, so that he doesn't remember. I really don't like this.

Third, it is possible that Ben is totally lying this week and knew that Jack and Kate and Hurley and Sayid were back in the past all along. I truly hope this is the case. It's the simplest and most elegant solution, it adds meaning and depth to the show and to Ben's character, and it's just friggin' cool. But Emmerson really sold it that Ben didn't know. I hope I am wrong about being wrong about this.

I was also potentially wrong about Widmore being the force behind Dharma. He's clearly the leader of the Dharma opposition right up until what would appear to be near the time of the purge. I suppose he's aligned with Dharma now (and he clearly is, that freighter had Dharma logos on the sealed instructions) as a way of getting back to the island. Time will tell. If Time doesn't tell, I'll ask Space. If Space won't tell, I'll go back to Time, and MAKE it tell. Somebody's telling, is my point.

2) Ben is still a wounded child at heart. This episode gave us so many seemingly contradictory facets to Ben's personality that I think I'd better separate them out into sympathetic and non-sympathetic categories. Let's start with the sympathetic side. We learn a bit about Widmore — namely, he has no problem getting his murder on as a first resort — in the Kidnapping Alex flashbacklette. We also learn a bit about Ben — namely, that little kids and moms push his sympathy buttons. Off on what felt like his first big Others initiation mission, he went to kill Rousseau, but when he finds the baby there, he spares her and kidnaps the kid, which essentially biffs the mission and makes Ben have to stand up to Charles, and in a horrible hairpiece, to boot. Likewise, doesn't it seem like the whole revenge thing goes off the skids as soon as Ben realizes that killing Penny means leaving another little boy without a mom, alone with his dad?

Let's extrapolate and say that Ben projects his own experience a little bit when it comes to kids. This informs a number of the actions the Others take, specifically the kidnapping of any island children, pregnant women, etc. Think of Walt. A kid, alone with his father. A kid, alone with his father, with whom he has a strained relationship. It fits. They still need to address the "Walt has superpowers" thing, but nevertheless it fits, emotionally.

Bottom line? Ben spared more people than he killed this episode, because of mommy/daddy issues. Ben really is still that little lost kid, looking for his mom.

3) Ben is still a cold-blooded killer at heart. OH, also? Ben shot Caesar RIGHT IN THE THORAX! Shotgun, shotgun, so long, you done. And the only reason he shot Caesar was to regain Locke's trust. And the only reason Caesar caused a problem was that Ben had made Caesar suspicious of Locke. So that's how Ben does it. Oh, also he shot Desmond in the . . . groceries, or something. Maybe they'll explain why Des isn't perforated in a future episode. And also, the final moments made it clear that Ben was already planning to try to kill Locke again. So he's still a total snake.

Bottom line? Ben claims to Widmore that he'll do whatever needs to be done to protect the island. But it's fairly clear that Ben will do whatever he has to to protect his power and influence, and that he's very clever about it. The island is a priority, and his daughter was a priority, but his place in the island power structure is the top priority. And that, he realizes, is why he needs to be judged. And that is why the verdict — to be John Locke's obedient servant — is, to him, a fate worse than death.

I am not sure if Ben wanted to be judged or if that was just a line he fed Locke.

I don't think Ben wanted to die in the judging.

But after the judging, I think Ben was left wishing he were dead.

4) Smokey is an Egyptian God. Well, perhaps. Never before has there been an episode as soaked in island mysticism as this one. What I had though was the temple was merely the protective wall surrounding the temple, and under it lurks . . . something. Our friend Smokey, who lives in the bowels of what looks like nothing so much as an Ancient Egyptian tomb, covered in hieroglyphs and what Lostpedia tells me was a picture of the god Anubis, who is "the god to protect the dead and bring them to the afterlife," who apparently weighs your heart and judges whether you are worthy to enter the afterlife.

Sounds like our smoke monster might just be Anubis.

So . . . IS dead really dead on the island presided over by the god of the dead? What does Ben actually believe? He tells Sun a different story than he tells Locke. Either he killed Locke because (as I believe) he thought the island would restore Locke to life, or he simply killed Locke out of expedience and is (as he told Sun) scared to death to see Locke up and about. I really can't decide, though the fact that Alex/Smokey/Anubis said it knew Ben was going to try to kill Locke AGAIN certainly augers toward the latter. On the other hand, he truly did seem to think that Alex had come back. On the other hand, we now have three hands.

Anybody else starting to think that this temple is the "magic box" Ben once told Locke about? Anybody else starting to suspect that the temple might be a pyramid?

5) We are about to see a different Ben. It's been a season of conversion, brought about by what the various characters have . . . lost (or L O S T, if you prefer). Jack has lost his need to fix everything, and has given himself to the fate of the island. Kate lost her adoptive son, and has discovered accountability and selflessness. Locke lost his life, and is now reborn with confidence and a new mysterious knowledge of the island that surpasses Ben's own. Ben has, in the judgment, suffered a final defeat in the struggle for island supremacy by which he's defined himself.

Locke knows more than him, now. In fact, Locke knows WAY more than him, now. What Ben doesn't know about the monster seems rather profound, and his summoning message is pretty crude. Just holler down the drain? Meanwhile, Locke knows where Smokey lives and is apparently brainstorming some time travel options for Sun.

It is going to be interesting to see what Ben becomes now. Does he, like Jack, surrender and obey what the island told him to do through his daughter's lips? The fact that he accepts responsibility for Alex's death seems to point toward a Ben-version, but will he really change? Can he? Does he have a choice? Or will he keep scheming -- and what happens to him, if he does?

6) The island possesses whomever it will. "What lies in the shadow of the statue?" Illanya asked Lapedis right before whacking him in the headbone. Is it just me, or are she and her little friend acting a lot like Rousseau's crew after being possessed by Smokey/Anubis?

Is this "possession" what happens to the Others? Is it why Ben has lost his innocence? Did Juliet go through this process? Why didn't it happen to Dharma or Oceanic, when it does seem to happen to other random castaways?

In any event, it's safe to say that we have a new and dangerous group on the little island.

7) The hierarchy of the Others is starting to take shape. It's Ben as leader, and then before him, Charles in charge. Richard Alpert seems to be an equal but parallel party, kind of like the Supreme Court to the Executive branch. He doesn't answer to Charles, but neither does Charles seem to exactly answer to him. He seems to be the conduit to Jacob in a way that neither Ben nor Charles was (and I really do think he Jacob-bluffed Charles regarding Li'l Ben's indoctrination). The two positions seem to have some form of checks and balances to their relationship.

Alpert certainly could pass as Egyptian, couldn't he? Maybe he is a high priest. Let's just put Alpert down in the Honorary Rousseau slot as the secondary character from whom I officially am demanding a flashback.

The more we see of the Others, the more we will understand about these mysterious Rules that keep being referenced. One of which is, apparently, don't make trips off the island. Another is, don't have kids with outsiders. Both of these rules were apparently broken by both Ben and Charles. Another rule may have something to do with sending bloodthirsty mercenaries to shoot your rival's daughter in the head, but we'll leave that for now.

We now know something about the Whispers, finally. Ben warns Rousseau away from them, I suspect so that it won't be discovered that he spared her life when ordered otherwise. Given what we've seen, I'd suspect that this means that the whispers accompany the Others in some way.

Other Ruminations

* Where was Eloise? What did she have to say about all this Charles-banishment? What is her position in the power structure? Is she the legislature?

* Who is Penny's mother? My guess, as always, is Mr. Eko.

* Ben got very defensive when Locke asked him why he decided to bring the Others to live in Dharmaton. I am guessing that this was a bone of contention between himself and Alpert. I am also guessing this might have been the nub of the island's displeasure with Ben. Apparently you can take the future Other leader out of Dharma, but you can't take the Dharma out of the future Other leader.

* What's going to get Desmond back to the island, now? He's obviously got to come back. Does he come back to do a little Ben killing, or what?

* What exactly does it mean to be an Other? I was hoping to see Ben's conversion. How does it strip one of their innocence? Does it use innocence-sandpaper? Some kind of innocence-removing chemical compound? Innocence ShamWow? What?

* So how does Ben recruit Dharma-baby Ethan to the Other side? How does he pass between the two lives without being caught? Huh? Huh? Season Six Ben Episode, I'm looking at you!

* What is Christian's story? Ben didn't seem to register the name "Christian" when Sun told him about her experience, but then again, we must remember . . . Ben is a lying little snake. If Ben knows about Christian, then dead isn't really dead. He's corporeal, so I'm assuming he is back from the dead as well, as opposed to ghostly.

* What exactly does Locke know, and how does he know it? WHAT is Locke? He claims to be the same guy. He seems to be the same guy, but now with 300% more inner peace. Another Locke ep. soon, please.

* Everybody who's been worried about Penny for the last seven episodes, you may now breathe again.

* Extra double continuity points -- Sawyer and Hurley's RISK game in Ben's house is still set up.

* OK, "Lost", I understand there is only so much you can do with makeup, but at least TRY to hide the crow's feet on "twenty-two year-old" Ben. Also, I can tell you, if I'd been forced to wear my hair like Ben in flashbacks, I'd have become evil too. He looks like Pee Wee Herman joined Depeche Mode.

* Paging Bernard and Rose to the courtesy phone, Bernard and Rose to the courtesy phone, 12 million television viewers have lost sight of you . . .

Other Ruminants

American Bison
European bison
Water Buffalo

I do like them french fried po-tay-ters. Mmm hmmm.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Your Weekly Dose Of Crazy

Words fail.

But in the proper hands, Mr. T for the epic win:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Liveblogging the BBmT 002

11:52: Please welcome, for the first time, your Miss BBmT, Buddy Dank. Buddy got TT against Pirate Lawyer's hammer bluff.

It's over, y'all. Thank you all for playing!

11:49: PL doubles twice to get back to a playable stack and is now "only" outchipped 5:1. Nice job on old boy for grinding back.

11:47: HA-YUGE Hand as Buddy gets it all in with the flopped straight against PL's lower pair, flush draw and gutty for the chop. PL does not improve and is CRIPPLED! THE RUSSIAN IS CUT! THE RUSSIAN IS CUT!

11:43: PL drops the hammer like a champ. He's managed to chip up to approx. 3:1 chip lead again. We all are envious, of course.

Hoy just got into a race with Buddy! Ace ten vs. presto, and presto is gold. Hoy's crippled and out in the next round.

11:23: Buddy Dank has doubled up through PL again. AQ vs. Ace medium. And the three chips stacks are even.

11:15: Not a lot happening here. Still 3 handed.

11:00: We're in the money. Pirate Lawyer got cmitch to get all his money in against PL's A7 while holding only A9. When the seven hits the river, cmitch is torn apart, still living, by large birds.

GG cmitch.

Here's our money winners:

PirateLawyer: 38,200
hoyazo: 13,920
Buddy Dank: 11,680

10:55: LJ uses the power of KQ but it is no match for PL's AT magic, and LJ is dead, giving Pirate Lawyer 700 XP. And we are on the money bubble. GL GL GL all.

10:36: Hoy uses his Jedi mind powers to cause Pirate Lawyer to fold. And cmitch kills Shabazz Jenkins with a sharpened 33. Execution style.

Shabazz Jenkins is survived by his wife, Shabazz Wilkins, and his two sons, Shabazz Cleveland and Shabazz Filmore.

10:32: Pirate Lawyer continues his reign of terror as he KOs dueyv9 with Aces. Poor dueyv, we hardly knew ye. We'll bury you at sea, laddie boy.

10:21: Bounty is the quicker picker upper, as Hoy's AK knocks twoblackaces out in 9th.


Sweet poop.

10:10: Near death experience. Hoy's 88 gets all in against Dueyv9's TT. Hoy stays alive like Travolta with the obliging eight on the river.

Hoy then doubles up with A7 vs. LJ's T3 before I can hit Publish. New life for Hoy. Fresh.

10:05: Here are our chip counts.

Pirate Lawyer: 20,265
Pvanharibo: 10,560
Shabazz Jenkins: 6,780
Buddy Dank: 6,640
cmitch: 5,965
Joanne1111: 5,920
dueyv9 4,470
twoblackaces: 3,210
hoyazo: 2,000

10:00: At the break and I'm busted by Pirate Lawyer, who raised my blind while I was holding sevens in the pocket. I pushed knowing he'd call, and he did with his A9. I lost the flip to both an Ace AND the four flush on the river, each of which would be enough to kill me. I was cut in quarters and roasted to feed the clan.

AND LJ just busted Heffmike when her A8 spiked the ace on the river to best his tens.

We have a final table! And PirateLawyer is on fire, mainly because I just set him on fire.

9:51: Aaaand Jec is out, falling on a 99x flop to Pirate Lawyer's 95 UTG raise. Jec had Aces and couldn't get away. Thanks for playing, jec. Your body will be cryogenically frozen and sliced into 170 thin pieces, studied for the betterment of mankind.

9:45: BAYNE BUSTED! Bayne pushed the Mook hand into jec's blinds, and jec woke up with AK. Unbelievably, AK won. GG to Bayne, whose lifeless corpse will now be devoured by dingos.

9:41: Bayne just got crippled when Pirate Lawyer's two pair caught a 4 outer to beat the Baynester's set of fours. Brutal.

9:36: I continue to spew chips to jeciimd who plays back at me when I've missed the board. Note to self: Stop sucking.

9:29: Buddy Dank just frushed me with crubs. His flush card was also my straight card.

9:23: Liveblog + radio makes Goat forget he is playing poker. Sorry for all the waits.

9:14: Bayne and Jec got it all-in on KJx flop. Both had KJ. That was almost exciting.

9:07: Cards are in the air. We've got a full table SNG. Good fun.

Oh wait, here comes a party of four to spoil the symmetry!

BuddyDank is a bean-counter for a big firm in the city. You think I'm going to make this about literally counting beans, but no, sadly it isn't that interesting. He is an accountant. A boring accountant. A boring accountant for HULK HOGAN!!! He's drinking milk.

heffmike is a barbarian. He weilds a two-handed axe and a bitchin' beard. He is drinking a tankard of ale, brought to him by a fetching wench.

Joanne1111 hand-knits moist towelettes. She is drinking tequila Jello shots.

Shabazz Jenkins built this city. He built this city on . . . huh, on bluegrass. I did not see that one coming. He's drinking pancake batter.

8:50: Here's a little bit about the people who are playing this tournament. We'll focus on their occupations this time, I think, as well as their chosen beverage. As always, these bios are 100% true.

bayne_s is a calculator stress-tester from Manitoba. While at work, he sits on over 700 calculators every hour. Chances are good he sat on your calculator. This wouldn't disturb you until I told you that he doesn't wear pants at the job, but now that you know, what are you going to do about it? Can't put the genie back in the bottle. Tonight, bayne_s is drinking Mickey's malt liquor out of wide-mouth bottles.

cmitch is a volcano virgin, which means that he wears sheer caftans and jumps into volcanoes to appease the Gods. The Gods, being omnipotent, know that cmitch is no virgin, but they love to watch him sweat. For his part, cmitch enjoys the free meal beforehand, but hates all the skin grafts. Tonight, cmitch is drinking Mad Dog 20/20, Passion Fruit.

dueyv9 is an unemployed dog walker. Don't even talk to him about it. He was the top dog walker in the greater San Jose region for over twenty years, but then he made the mistake of having his picture taken with Michael Vick. You never know which celebrity endorsement will just destroy you. Tonight, dueyv9 is drinking his own tears.

hoyazo is a lawyer. He's drinking the blood of the innocent.

Julius_Goat pickles things for money. He once pickled an entire traveling circus, including the dancing bears and the trapeze. The thinking of the ringmaster, a Czech impressario with halitosis and a closed-head injury, was that they were so great, their greatness needed to be preserved. Julius_Goat didn't argue. Julius_Goat needed the money to pay for his Hummel figurines. Tonight, Julius_Goat is drinking a prison toilet wine known as "pruno."

jeciimd is a scientist, but he does no science. Instead, he gets government grants all day long and then sells them to less successful scientists on eBay. Sometimes his grants get purchased by non-scientists who just don't know any better, like Rod Blagoyovitch, who purchased a $40 million dollar grant to study ear fungus in Appalchian fruit bats. He thought he was doing research on his family tree. Boo him. Tonight, jeciimd is drinking Orville Redenbocker's popcorn butter Schnapps.

PirateLawyer is employed in the world of professional poker. He's part of a pit crew responsible for affixing the patches of online poker sites to, and stripping them from, the shirts, hats, and faces of players who go deep in big tournaments. He's a handy man with a steam gun and a needle. He once shrinky-dinked the Full Tilt logo onto Scott Montgomery's forehead in seven seconds. Tonight, he is drinking a tall cool Guinness with a raw egg mixed in.

pvanharibo is a puppeteer/found art sculptor. She crafts her puppets from trash that she picks from a local landfill. She claims this makes the puppets more "real", though Condom Carl is a distraction to many parents at the public library. Tonight, she is drinking an entire box of white Zinfendel.

twoblackaces is a contractor who specializes in doghouses, though he will build a house for any animal. Porcupine houses are his favorite. In his spare time, he works for Habitat for Inhumanity, a group that constructs low-cost housing for homeless woodland creatures. It gives him a warm feeling inside. He's mental. Tonight, twoblackaces is drinking Chivas Gold.

8:26 PM: Let's get this party started right at eight twenty six with a poker donk dead money mix.

Nine runners running so far with a half hour to go. Looks like fewer runners than January's 23, but still a fine one-table SNG. Let's look at the players:

Pirate Lawyer

Let's cook up some biographies on the Nonsensical Nine . . .

11:00 AM: Normally I wouldn't get started this early, but look at this.

Yep, defending champ TBA is offering to foot your Mookie habit all the way through April. That's a $44 value, and you don't even have to win. All you have to do is knock him out!

Now, I happen to know from first hand experience that offering a knock out bounty on yourself in a blogger tournament is just about the dumbest thing you can do. So a tip of the cap and a raise of the glass to TBA, for making a very bad bankroll management choice there.

Thanks, Fred.

Sign up soon to get your slanderous bio written.

See you at nine eastern (password: busto) with all the other dummies like myself.

Friday, April 3, 2009

PLAY BLOGGER TOURNIES (It's The Right Thing To Do)

Weekend time. Blogger tourny time.

You know what?

I'm dropping all pretense.

I have been acting like I don't think you should play. But that's not right. I mean, I've been giving you non-reasons like your own custom BBmT champion Donkavatar, and BDR Live, and probably having to listen to me blather, and your own libelous fictitious introduction on the Live Blog.

But now it's time to be honest.

I actually want you to play.


No, no, not the Bad Bankroll Management. That thing is still for total bankroll idiots. The only people who will be playing that are players for whom this is a good bankroll decision and me.

You'd best stay away. Yeesh.

No, I'm speaking of the 2-year anniversary of the Donkament. Prizes, BDR, fun, and all-in the first 100 hands. Be there or be sane.

$1 + $1 Rebuy
Friday, April 3, 2009
9:00 PM EST
Full Tilt Poker

Password: donkarama

Bad Bankroll Management Tournament
Sunday, Apr. 5, 2009
21:00 EST
$50 + $5
Full Tilt Poker
password: busto

Thursday, April 2, 2009

LOST 033: Taking The Inevitable By The Horns

Here we go again, another Def Jam. Oh wait, no. Another Kate episode. OK. If we must, I suppose we must. She's pretty at least.

Let's do this.


But wait, this is odd. I actually wanted a Kate episode this time. Why was that? No, it wasn't the third tequila shot and the extra large bag of pork rinds, consumed pre-show, mixing in my stomach to form a large sticky wad with powerful hallucinogenic properties. It was the fact that Lost's near-magical story jiggering has brought back the old on-island present-day action / backstory flashback character flesh-out structure that we all knew and loved in the first three seasons. The magical thing is that now, "present day" means the past, and "flashback" means the present.

Woah, dude. Let's let Hurley and Miles chew on that one in humorous meta-textual fashion.

In any event, there are things that we simply don't know about these very familiar characters, and I love it. In Kate's case, the two large off-island mysteries are (very much in ascending order) what favor Sawyer whisper-requested of Kate before jumping out of the chopper, and where the hilly-O is Aaron anyway, huh, SHOW??

It turned out to be exactly what pretty much everybody expected in both cases. Sawyer wanted Kate to look after his darlin' Clementine, and Kate gave Aaron to Claire's mom. Oh well. This is a Kate ep, after all, and I'll forgive it because it actually provided Kate with a much-needed moment of accountability for her character. What I mean by this is that Kate, even more than Jack, has never really owned up to her junk. She wasn't a misunderstood and innocent fugitive. She was just a plain old fugitive. And she wasn't Aaron's mommy (though to Aaron's perspective she surely is -- more on this later). This episode was about Kate realizing that she had done what she did out of her need, not baby Aaron's need, and delivering him to the person she should have from the beginning: Claire's mom, Aaron's grandmother. The divine Ms. Littleton.

This also gives Kate a coherent motivation for the first time since ever. She's come back to the island to take accountability for her actions, and to try to reunite her "son" with his real mother. The fact that Kate is owning her error and doing her best to make ammends makes her so much more likeable, I'm not sure what to do anymore. However, I wonder if we are going to ever deal with the ramifications here for Aaron? I mean, to him, Kate was his mommy, and she just left him in the hands of some strange woman to go on a mission to go find some other strange woman to be his new mommy? That kid's not really going to understand that. So, admirable intentions, Kate. Questionable execution.

Perhaps we will deal with this someday. After all, it's all perspective, ain't it? That's the theme of Lost, if ever one there was. Perspective changes all.

Which brings me to some of the meat and potatoes of this relatively quiet little episodes. Jack's calm inactivity, so out-of-character for the man he was before, and the comic relief tet-a-tet between Miles and Hurley regarding the details of time travel.

Some of you may have hated this scene, but I really loved it, for a few reasons.

1) A bunch of you chat with me about Lost. Somewhere you got the idea that I am into the show. Not sure how. Anyway, Hurley is asking the exact same questions that you guys are, and I am giving the exact same answers that Miles is, though hopefully I am not being quite such a dick about it. Now, this show was shot before last one aired, so basically this means that the producers were anticipating our confusion and met it. Beauty.

2) Lost is not a show that relies on the shock twist, and this moment really underscores that. In fact, the whole episode does See, most people figured out what Kate had done with Aaron and what Sawyer's request was. But it was brought out at a moment that would be emotionally and thematically relevant. Furthermore, plenty of people have figured out what Miles is saying about (time and how it works in the context of this show if not in reality, though science is coming to the same theoretical conclusions in many ways). It's not shameful if you haven't, but it's not exactly entry into Mensa if you do. This show is much more about revealing information at the exact time that it will be most impactful to the story. It is about answering questions with action that implies the answer if you think about it. Basically, it is the utter mastery of "show, don't tell." I love it.

OK, you know what?

Let's really talk about the time-travel in this show. It actually is the opposite of confusing, and I'm going to prove it to you.

In fact, let me make a couple statements, and then we'll get to the proof.

1) This show has always been about time travel, and in fact has been time-traveling since the very first episodes.

2) If you've been watching, you have been subconsciously understanding all of this time travel / inevitability stuff all along, with zero confusion. I promise.

Let's unpack it.

First of all, consider the notion of time travel. Here you are, puttering about in the present, when suddenly -- whoosh! -- you are transported back 10 years, or 20, or five or three months. OK so far? What had been the present for you is now the future. What was the past is now the present. You check it out, see what you see, then -- whoosh! -- you are back to your old "present" day, and the past is past again. Future just became present. The whole thing lasted eight minutes. You are eight minutes older.

That is what a flashback is.

Consider a standard, Season 1 - 3 Locke-back. You are watching Locke in "present day" island action, he's helping Charlie find his guitar or something, maybe hunting a boar. Then -- whoosh! -- we are back ten years, and he is continuing his drama in the past with his con-artist maybe-dad, his girlfriend, his crap job, and the rest of it. So there are in effect two Lockes. Past Locke and present-day island Locke. Now, you have no problem with this. This happens all the time in movies and TV and books. It's fine.

But here's something else you have no problem understanding. Nothing is going to happen to this past Locke that will change present-day island. Locke. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. Anything that you see happen to past Locke, up to and including a possible life-ending injury, will and can only ever result in who and what present-day Locke is.

So, Locke can NOT die in the flashback. You know this. Why? Perspective. You've seen the future. Locke's alive in the future. Thus, he cannot die in a flashback, even if he seems to be dead even briefly, QED. What's more, I doubt any of you have had any problems understanding this on a very instinctive level.

This is exactly the position of our time traveling heroes. They are living a flashback instead of watching it, and that is the only difference. So, what had been the past for them is now the present. Since they haven't seen it before, these events are new to them. However, nothing is going to happen to change what they know the future was like. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. Anything they do, whether by action (Kate, Sayid, Sawyer) or inaction (Jack), will and can only ever result in the future that they've already seen.

Is it any wonder now that Jack seems resigned to fate? He's grasped this somehow.

The flashback structure that we've seen since the beginning is simply the illustration of the reality that was coming. Shadows on the walls of the cave, so to speak.

Now, let's flip it.

Imagine it is 2014, and Lost has been off the air for a while. Some enterprising young geeks have taken all the footage of the now-wrapped show and re-spliced it in precise chronological order. Now imagine that we are people who've never seen the show, and we watch THAT.

I don't know what is coming over the next 20 something episodes, but basically it would go like this:

We'd see some flashes of time jumping Locke/Sawyer/Juliet throughout island history. They'd be desperate, talking about people and places and situations with which we are unfamiliar. Interspersed with this we'd see whatever we are going to see of the origins of Jacob and Richard and the others. In the 50s, you'd see the U.S. Army come and the time travelers would appear again.

We'd start seeing events from the perspective of a very young John Locke. The first "flashbacks", though we wouldn't think of them as such. We'd see Dharma show up and whatever footage we are going to get of that.

We'd start seeing strange scenes of characters that we didn't know. A young Korean girl. A little Hispanic boy. Others.

Then the main action would get going in the late seventies. Some people would arrive. We'd recognize them from the time flashes. Time travelers. Sawyer. Juliet. Miles. Daniel. Jin. They'd have mysterious knowledge of the island inhabitants, and some strange knowledge of what was going on. They'd be waiting, but we wouldn't be sure what for.

Then, three years later, some more of them would just appear on the island. They'd claim they had been on a plane. They'd seem to think that they had been their before. Their relationships with the other time travelers would seem to be complicated and conflicted but generally friendly. A lot of things would happen (that's the rest of season 5 and perhaps season 6).

Then we would start seeing events from the perspective of these interlopers. Somewhat younger, strangers to each other, living their own lives . . . but in the mid to late nineties and up to and through 2004. Juliet will wind up getting recruited by the island people . . . who we would realize know her, even though they pretend not to, and even though she does not know them. We'd notice strange coincidences that seem to be drawing these people together, until they all wind up in Australia, and get on a plane from Sydney back to LA . . .

. . . at which point they crash on an island. They have never seen this island before. They know nothing about it. But the people that were on the island back in the seventies, they remember. And now, you have the perspective of Richard Alpert and Benjamin Linus. Of Ellie Hawking and Charles Widmore. They are the ones who have been watching this story in chronological order.

And they know that nothing can possibly happen to Jack and Kate and Jin and Sawyer and Locke and Juliet. Because these people haven't gone back in time yet. They will, because they have. They will do the things they are going to do when they get there, because they already did. But until then, it would be impossible for anything to happen to them that would change who they are going to be when they go back to the late seventies. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. Anything the "others" do, whether by action (Ben) or inaction (Richard, at least for a while), will and can only ever result in who and what Jack and Sawyer, etc. will become when they go back to the seventies.

Now, see the first four seasons of Lost through that prism.

I love it.

Random Thoughts

* Kate and Sawyer and Sayid and Jack are directly responsible for Ben becoming who he is. Again, not really surprising that these are the people he kidnapped way back in Season 2, and furthermore it is unsurprising that he didn't invite Sayid to the party.

* I really like the new Jack, even if Kate doesn't. He's a lot like Locke, ain't he?

* That supermarket scene? Terrifying. How many parents have had this happen. Oof. Oh, and I suspect that lady that was "just about to make an announcement" with the crazy eyes was in the employ of Ben Linus.

* Given how this episode left off, I'm guessing we are going to see a Locke N Ben episode next week. Hang on, I'm guessing it is going to be HUGE. If it is a Ben-back, I must imagine we are going to see what it means for him to become an Other, and I can't help but think that that answer will inform most of the remaining island mysteries, such as smoke-monster, island ghosts, Jacob, etc.

* How is LaFleur going to explain his long absence? I doubt he can. I really like that he made it clear that he was helping Kate for Juliet's sake.

* The biggest reveal this episode really was the whispered suggestion to Richard that he first converse with Ellie, and make sure that Charles doesn't find out, followed by Richard's terse assertion that he doesn't report to them. This throws a bunch of my assumptions off-kilter, as it pretty clearly presumes that Charles and Ellie are still part of the "hostiles" while Dharma was on the island. I'm not sure how this jibes up with Charles sending a Dharma-logoed folder on the freighter last season, but I guess we'll wait for it to play out.

* "No, you're free to go. But I'll shoot you in the leg." Miles is awesome.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Stupd System: NOW IN PRINT!

I've waited a long time for this announcement. Thank you, everybody. I owe this to you. And of course the nice agent who contacted me about five months ago. You have NO IDEA how hard it has been keeping this quiet.

I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing.

Paperback from Grand Central Publishing
With an introduction by Michael Craig
(c) 2009
376 pgs.

Over 80% brand new material.

Yes, for the first time, Stupid/System is available in print.

Click here to order a copy from Amazon.