Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Chiasm of Lost and Somewhere In Time

Stardate 02-29-2008

Last nights episode of lost was about the best hour of TV that I can remember watching in a very long time. It connected with my woman and I on multiple levels. Here is a very cool connection that Allison and I picked up from tonights episode. Tonights episode seemed to be based off of Richard Matheson's sci-fi/romance novel called Bid Time Returns. The book was later turned into the movie Somewhere In Time. Here are the connections:

1. At the start of Somewhere In Time, Richard is approached by a mysterious old woman. She gives him a watch and says, "Come back to me."

2. Richard visits his old physics professor and asks him about time travel. The professor explains to him that time travel is in the mind. That it is possible for oneself to hypnotize the mind. If accomplished, the body stays in the same place, but the consciousness goes somewhere else.

3. It is further explained that this can only work if everything remains constant. Specifically for Richard, his consciousness of 1912 cannot remember anything from 1979 or the hypnosis will break. The professor warned that the breaking of the constant greatly weakens the body.

4. Richard finally does make it back to 1912. He finds Elise McKenna, the mysterious old woman who asked him to come back to her. As you all know, the two eventually fall in love and after a beautiful afternoon of love making and fried chicken, Richard pulls a 1979 PENNY out of his pocket. The constant is broken and Richard's consciousness returns to 1979.

4. Desmond's constant is his girlfriend, PENNY. She exists in both 1996 and 2004. He has made contact with her in both times, therefore anchoring his consciousness to both places.

3. When Eloise, the rat dies, Daniel explains to Desmond that she had no constant. Nothing to anchor herself to. Her jumping from present to future confused her. She could not tell which was which and eventually, her brain exploded.

2. When 1996 Desmond meets 1996 Daniel the physicist at Oxford University, Daniel explains to Desmond that Eloise the rat did not travel into the future, rather it was her consciousness that was sent into the future.

1. At the end of the episode, when Desmond makes his 2004 connection with Penny, the two share a very tender moment together over the phone. One of the last things that Desmond says to Penny is, "I promise, I'll come back to you."

Allison was a bit skeptical when I first pointed out the connection and thought it was a bit of a stretch, but when she heard Desmond promise that he would "come back" to Penny, she was sold. In fact, Allison is who I should thank for making this amazing connection. She was after all the one who introduced me to Somewhere In Time.

Another interesting tidbit is that the author of Somewhere In Time is Richard Matheson. He's the guy who also wrote I Am Legend.

What do you think of the connection? Am I off my rocker? Where do you think Lost goes from here? Are you happy with the strong sci-fi tones of time travel and paradoxes that this season has introduced?

Oscar Wao

Stardate 02-28-2008

A couple of months ago I noticed that the book, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," by Junot Diaz was on numerous "Best of '07" book lists. I checked it out and decided to use my Audible credit for January on this book. I was pretty happy that I did. The book is a blend of Dominican History, Dominican Culture, and Science Fiction. The story centers around Oscar and his family. He is a Dominican, born in New Jersey, who is obsessed, he says, "with the more speculative genres."

As I said above, the book is a blend of Dominican history, Dominican culture, and Science Fiction. It sort of seems like a funny combination but it really works. Here is a breakdown of the three:

1. Dominican History- the book goes into great and vivid detail about Trujillo and his dictatorship. It talks about his government, his high ranking officials, his murderous and sexual exploits and what a crazy psycho he was.

2. Dominican Culture- FUKU. Fuku is the name of a curse put upon anyone who dared defy Trujillo. It passes from generation to generation. Oscar's grandfather was the one who first brought the curse upon their family. Almost half of the book is dedicated to Oscar's mother and her life in the D.R., her exploits and connections to Trujillo. While this is interesting and entertaining, it is also my only complaint about the book. I wish that more of the story had been dedicated to Oscar.

3. Science Fiction. Oscar is posibly the best nerd that has ever existed in the world of literature. Growing up in the 80s, Oscar loves role playing games, anime, comic books, science fiction and fantasy presented through movies and through books. He writes and wants to one day be known as the J.R.R. Tolkien of the Dominican Republic. He is fat, has an afro, and can't score any ladies, though he desperately, desperately wants to. One of my favorite parts of the book is one that greatly demonstrates Oscar's love for women and his nerdiness at the same time. The narrator is speaking of Oscar's obsession with anything post-apocalyptic and shares a high school fantasy of Oscar's. The fantasy involves a post-apocalyptic scenario such as a super virus or a nuclear attack. Only Oscar and a beautiful girl from high school have survived. Oscar has survived because of his incredible knowledge of all things post-apocalyptic and is able to save and protect this beautiful young vixen. She of course falls in love with him. I laughed way hard at this part and thought that only a true nerd would contemplate a scenario like this in his dirty high school fantasies.

My favorite part of the book is all the sci-fi and fantasy references, analogies, and metaphors. The D.R. is often referred to as Mordor and Trujillo is ofter called, The All Seeing Eye or Sauron. I was amazed at how many references I didn't know, but became ecstatic when I did recognize one.

Here is my verdict-
Read this book if: you love sci-fi, are interested in the D.R., love memorable characters, enjoy slang in the Spanish language (there are numerous. My favorite- when someone calls someone else a "come guevo").
Don't read this book if: you are offended by the F-word, N-word, sex and violence. It is full of all of them.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Dark Knight Returns

Stardate 02-22-2008

I love the darkness of Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. I can't wait for his follow up, The Dark Knight. Though Christopher Nolan is am amazing director and story teller, he can't take all the credit. I don't know for a fact, but I'm pretty sure that Nolan was greatly influenced by Frank Miller. Back in the mid-80s, Miller wrote a couple of graphic novels about Batman. The most famous is Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. In fact, along with Alan Moore's Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns is named as the most influential comic book of all time. Both are famous for adding and edge of evil to the genre which made them appeal more to adults than to children.

I've had The Dark Knight Returns on my Amazon Wish List for two years now, waiting for a fellow nerd or loved one to graciously buy it for me. I got sick of waiting and decided to check out the Washington County Library system. Seeing that they actually had it filled me with shock and joy, and I must say that after reading it, I was not dissapointed.

The Dark Knight Returns takes place 10 years after Batman has retired. Rising crime in Gotham and the release of Two-Face from Arkham is finally enough for Bruce Wayne decide its time to come out of retirement. Batman's return is controversial. Part of the reason that Batman retired is that US Government has declared that all superheroes, except Superman, are terrorists. Batman's return to crime fighting is strongly debated throughout the book by news casters, political pundits, and psychologists. The debate focuses on Batman as a vigilante. Some say that what he does is justified. Others say he has no authority and is breaking the law.

Batman faces some great foes throughout the book. Some are original and some are classic villians like Two-Face and the Joker. The best however, is Batmans final showdown against Superman. Because the State is unable to control Batman, President Regan sends Superman in to clean up and take Batman out. The technology that Batman uses as the two go toe to toe is amazing and very innovative. The ending is believable and memorable.

I was very entertained by the writing, darkness, and tone of The Dark Knight Returns. These themes are recreated well in Batman Begins. If you loved Batman Begins, you would also love The Dark Knight Returns.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Fistful of Quarters

Stardate 02-11-2008

My woman and I watched and both really enjoyed the documentary King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. The documentary follows underdog and out of luck Steve Wiebe as he attempts to break the 20 year uncontested Donkey Kong record held by "The Gamer of the Century", Billy Mitchell. Here is what I loved about the movie: Classic Good vs. Evil story, an amazing cast of side characters who are the epitome of nerd, and a deep and insightful look at Donkey Kong.

Enjoy some Youtube about the King of Kong

Here is a group of clips featuring my favorite side character

If you still want to know more, here is a clip explaining why Donkey Kong is the most difficult game of all time

Another thing that I loved about this movie was seeing the underdog try to break into and earn the respect of the existing gaming community. Its amazing to see how terrible they treat him and the lengths they go to discredit him.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

2012: The End of the World

Stardate 02-07-08

I ran over to the mall today to try and buy a new pair of running shoes. On my way out, I overheard a couple of security guards talking politics. One of them said to the other, "Don't you think its wierd that our next President will end their first term in the year 2012; the same year that the Mayans predicted the world would end?" I really wanted to stop and ask her who she thought the next President would be. Instead I decided to blog about 2012.

Here is the low down. The Mayans were a bunch of science nerds who came up with mulitple calandar systems, which are actually more acturate than the calandar that we use today. Two of these calanders were called the "short" and "long" calanders. The amount of time in the "long" calander is was called "The Great Cycle" by the Myans. The amount of time in The Great Cycle converted to our time would equal 5,125 years. It was also calculated that the start of this cycle began in the year 3114 B.C.

The last day of the cycle in on our calandar is December 21, 2012. The crazy thing is that this happens to be the day of the Winter Solstice, but not any ordinary Winter Solstice-The Winter Solstice of all Winter Solticeses. On this day the there will be a conjuction of the Winter Solstice Sun with the crossing point of the Galactic Equator (equator of the Milky Way) and the path of the sun.

What does this mean? No one really knows, but everyone agrees that its probably going to be bad. Similar predictions for 2012 have been made by Merlin, the Chinese Oracle of the I Ching, the Book of Revelations, and The Web-Bot (The Web-Bot is a computer program used to predict the future. Guess what? It also predicted the end of the world would be in 2012. Does the interweb lie?).

Everything that I've said can be summed up much better in this 4 minute YouTube Video. Not even the soothing sounds of Enya will calm you as the end of the world unfolds before your eyes in this video. My favorite part of the video is when it shows the Anti-Christ.

So, who do you think will be the President in 2008? You better think twice about who you vote for. I know I will.