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Categories: Uncategorized

Productivity

Seriously.

Seriously.

There’s nothing like your child starting back to school to make you take stock of what you’re doing with your life. Nothing a three-year-old does is pointless. Play is a deadly serious endeavor. Make-believe is as dramatic as any HBO series (except maybe The Leftovers). And when she decides she’s actually going to get upset about something serious, like Pepperidge Farm Goldfish or the flatness of her blanket… look out.

Unlike my wife, I don’t have a job that (always) requires me to work after hours; so I often find myself spending the evenings after Harriet goes to bed in less than productive ways. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. I like to think I watch high-quality TV (most of the time), and I do my fair share of reading. I pay the bills. Sometimes I even sleep.

But I still can’t help but think that, in adulthood, I should be taking my play a little more seriously. Maybe not as seriously as Harriet does, but still with a purpose. The best way I know to do that is through writing. Almost every dollar I’ve ever made and almost every professional joy I’ve ever had have come because of it. And it’s fun. If that’s not productivity, I don’t know what is.

Subject matter is a little more difficult. Fiction has come in fits and starts; I find myself gravitating more toward essays and opinion writing, as much for the economy of the thing as any other reason. The older I get, the more my attention span suffers. This is a byproduct of too much time at computers and too little time spent in actual reflection. Again, I hope to do something about this.

So I’m resurrecting this blog. Again.

The format will be loose, with one caveat: 500 words per post, max. This will hopefully be easy enough to keep me interested and regular (call it the fiber-writing plan), and short enough to keep you interested. There’s value in a 2,500 screed, but who has the time or the energy to put into consuming it, much less actually do the writing? So 500 it is; a goodish length that you don’t feel guilty sharing, you can wedge into the last five minutes of your lunch break, and fits neatly into most overhead compartments.

I’m open to topics. You’ll probably see lots of Lost, baseball and current events, as well as thoughts on parenting and the life and career of a 30-something who is at, for all productive intents and purposes, the halfway point of his career. Where will I wind up? I should probably figure it out in the next dozen years. In the meantime I hope to use all the other non-family time to the fullest.

In other words, start acting more like a three-year-old.

Seriously.

Seriously.

Categories: Fatherhood, Navel Gazing

Ten Things I’m Digging Right Now (Retroactive Edition)

November 16, 2013 Leave a comment

No apologies for the nearly five months that have passed since my last post. Since then I’ve sold a house, bought a house, traveled to Colorado, published a 100-page annual report, run miles after an energetic toddler and watched more baseball games than I care to even talk about. There are busier people than me. There are more stressed-out people than me. But I’ve been occupied enough that pleasure-writing has taken a back seat.

But right now I have some time, some energy and some idle thoughts to share. Here are some thing that have had me thinking, speaking out and geeking out over the last five months:

Matterhorn1. Karl Marlantes’ Matterhorn

It’s the shame of most freshman history classes: All the most relevant history gets taught at the end. For instance, my freshman history teacher (a basketball coach… I know, shocker) spent the first month and a half of the semester on Reconstruction and never made it past Pearl Harbor. I read about the Cold War and Vietnam myself, on the last day of class. It’s really kind of tragic: My father, my father-in-law, my uncle and many men I love and respect fought in Vietnam or in its immediate aftermath, and yet I knew next to nothing about it.

Not so now.

Marlantes’ unbelievable novel is as close as someone like me will ever get to spending time in the bush. Everything, from the horrific leeches to the insane boredom of waiting to the stark terror of imminent death, was so believably related (primarily through the eyes of a young Lieutenant) that it felt like a work of non-fiction. It isn’t, though Marlantes was a Vietnam vet and I have no doubt he based many of the characters–few if any of them completely likable–on real people. I wasn’t in love with the ending, but how can you be when the subject of the book itself is horrifying and, ultimately, pointless? If you’re into historical or wartime fiction, Matterhorn is a must read.

2. Shortstops

The Cardinals need one. I’m not ready to delve too deeply into that World Series just yet, but I’m excited by the search for someone to replace this: (click on the image for animated gif)

Kozma

#NeverForget

The Cardinals may go expensive and trade for a Troy Tulowitzki. They may go for someone less talented but more reliable (and cheaper), like Jed Lowrie (for what it’s worth, this is the move I currently support, provided they find a big outfield bat). At this point, as long as they don’t trade Michael Wacha, which they won’t, I’m not going to be too upset no matter what they do.

Third base and right field are almost as intriguing as SS, but I’ll save that for a Winter Meetings post. Or just follow me on Twitter; I usually unload my baseball-related mental diarrhea over there.

Hobbit3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I was at the opening day of all three Lord of the Rings films in the early ’00s. (Yeah, I know.) I can still sit through an 11-hour, 20-minute marathon and not get bored. But I was hesitant to see The Hobbit. First of all, it’s The Hobbit, which is the Tom Sawyer to LOTR‘s Huck Finn–decidedly simple compared to the master work. You know, for the kids. Second of all, I was bummed Peter Jackson and New Line decided to split it into three movies. How can a single, fluffy book fill almost nine hours of film without slowing down? For these reasons, and the fact that I have a two-year-old and therefore never, ever go to movies, I didn’t watch the first installment until a couple of Saturdays ago.

I was fairly blown away, and very much impressed. The LOTR-film-geek in me loved all the callbacks to the original film, from Howard Shore’s score, to the consistency in title fonts, to the re-appearances of Ian Holm, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee and Elijah Wood and, more significantly, Ian McKellen. But really, it’s a fine work in and of itself. It expands on the book by beefing the story up with lore from Tolkien’s lesser-known Middle-Earth works, and even sets the stage for the events of LOTR. Purists are mad because the next two films apparently out-and-out make up new characters and put old ones in the story where they don’t belong. I’ll reserve judgement until I see the rest of the trilogy, but in the first film didn’t really notice and, more importantly, didn’t care.

Here Thorin Oakenshield is a less brooding, if less interesting, Aragorn. Martin Freeman plays Bilbo with twice the spine of Wood’s Frodo. The orcs are nastier, Elrond surlier, the Sackville-Bagginses… Sack-ier? The rest of this trilogy may be a disappointment (though I don’t know how you can say that when I get to see Evangeline Lilly act again), but you can bet I’ll be there next month for The Desolation of Smaug.

Maybe even on opening night.

4. Nearly Famous Deli & Pasta House

Our new house is less than a mile from this place, and it has turned into our casual-Friday-night-with-Harriet spot. It’s super kid-friendly: The meat and cheese tray ($6) includes lean cuts of turkey and a variety of cheeses, plus more fruit than you could every buy at a store for $6. They have other, more common kid selections but this is by far the best meal we’ve found for H at any local restaurant (Nonna’s does it right, as well). For us, the Friday night specials take the cake; Nichole actually had a dream about the chicken picata once. The specials can be on the pricey side for casual fare, but they come with a large cup of soup or a salad and a delicious dinner roll. A nice beer list and underrated wine menu round things out nicely. And we’re still home in time for bath, stories and bed.

We are such south-siders. Ugh.

5. Cleaning a pool

Oh yeah. Our new house has a pool. We weren’t looking for one. We didn’t particularly even want one. But when you’re willing to pay asking price for a certain house, even if it doesn’t have a pool, but it does… why the hell not? The best part was, the previous owner cleaned it all up prior to us taking over and we were fortunate enough to get enjoy it for much of our unseasonably warm September, which gave me a month to get used to cleaning it and using the equipment and chemicals. My goal by next Memorial Day is to be a cleaning machine.

GoF5. Grave of the Fireflies

For the last three-plus years, I’ve been slogging my way through Roger Ebert’s list of 340-some Great Movies. I watch them at random, whichever one comes out of the hat next. I’ve learned a lot about film. For instance, I love Italian films but hate French. I typically like Japanese movies more than German, yet Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo is the best foreign film of the 164 I’ve watched to this point. Until September the “Saddest Film” race was a close one between Forbidden Games, concerning young children (and a dead dog) in occupied WWII France, and the “old-man-with-a-dog-but-no-home” Italian film Umberto D. Until I watched Grave of the Fireflies.

Holy cow. I’m not sure I can go into much detail here, but I’ll try.

First of all, it’s animated and from Japan, though not anime in the conventional sense; there’s nothing fantastical about Grave of the Fireflies other than the story. Don’t shy away from the dubbed version; it’s high-quality, though subtitle traditionalists may argue.

So anyway, this brother and sister, probably 14 and 6, respectively, live in Japan during the ceaseless bombing by American forces toward the end of WWII (not THE bombing, but bad enough). Their mother is killed, and they become transient, forced to the streets by a cruel aunt. In the end, the bombs and burning and exposure cause… nope. Never mind.

But the POWER of this film. My god. It’s quiet and beautiful and sad and perfect and in its own way extremely joyful, and the fact that it’s a cartoon only accentuates these things. Animated children can be made to act and express in ways that real child actors simply cannot, and the effect–when applied correctly–is beyond description unless you’ve seen it. Do yourself a favor and rent this movie. And buy a few boxes of Puffs, just to be on the safe side.

7. The Springfield Art Museum

Something else local! I’ve had some business dealings with this institution over the last six months, and I’m very impressed. It’s a first-rate facility and a hidden gem of an art collection, though I am woefully uneducated in both architecture and art, and furthermore they’ve brought on some really excellent folks to lead it over the last couple of years. If you haven’t been lately, go. It’s free, and your taxes support it.

8. Mary-Louise Parker

I watched the first four episodes of Weeds. I didn’t like it, and I know enough about the latter seasons to know it’s not worth sticking it through. However, MLP’s bit part in The West Wing (I’m currently watching Season 4), as well as her Google Images page, is enough to make me have a forever-crush. She could go Method to play the title role in a Chris Farley biopic and I would still find her fetching.

one-fish-two-fish9. Dr. Seuss

Harriet is going through an animal phase, so the fantasy creatures and lengthy rhymes of Dr. Seuss are not her favorite at the moment. But there was a phase, and I desperately hope there’s another, when she loved Dr. Seuss books more than anything. And I love reading them. Out loud. It’s always my goal to make it through an entire book without screwing up. I practice my inflection from One Fish, Two Fish in the shower. I get passages from The Sleep Book stuck in my head throughout the day. Nichole and I have an entire theory about Mr. Brown and Mr. Black from Hop on Pop. I’ve already decided H is going to get The Lorax and How the Grinch Stole Christmas for Christmas. And if she doesn’t like them I will read them to myself.

10. Pope Francis

Nuff. Said. Almost enough to make me want to be Catholic. Okay, not almost. But almost-almost.

Until next time.

ML

Categories: General

On the All-Star Game

SteinbachThe very first baseball game I remember watching on television–I mean actually sitting down and WATCHING–was the 1988 All-Star Game, 25 years ago tonight (give or take a week). Sometime during the previous winter, my baseball fandom had shifted from collecting Topps baseball cards and filling my Panini sticker album (Lord, I loved that thing… still have it, in fact) to following the actual goings on of the sport. When my folks resumed taking me to Texas Rangers games that spring (we lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at the time, and even though the Rangers were horrible, it was a fun, cheap way to spend an evening), I shifted to watching the game on the field instead of the nearest cotton candy vendor. I stopped picking my favorite teams based on their mascot–the Tigers and Pirates were early faves for just that reason–and started rooting for my team of birthright, the St. Louis Cardinals. (Full disclosure: I was born in Independence, Mo., and my very early fandom was for the Kansas City Royals, who were still a Major League team in those days. But if I don’t have photos it never happened, right?)

That ’88 game was forgettable, by baseball standards. Held in the wholly unremarkable Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, it wound up being a pretty boring, low-scoring affair. But God, I was excited about that game. I remember we were going to dinner with friends of my parents that night, a farewell dinner, as it turned out (more on that in a minute). It was at one of those authentic-but-cheesy Italian joints where a piano player took requests like “Over the Rainbow” and the booths had shutters for privacy. They served what I remember calling a “spicy-a meatBALL!” At my insistence, my parents recorded the game on our then-state-of-the-art VHS recorder while we were out, but I wasn’t convinced it would work, or that they’d actually let me watch it when we got home. I distinctly remember my dad telling me in the parking lot of the restaurant, in a voice only exasperated fathers can summon to silence a one-track-mind son, that I would, in fact, be able to watch the damn All-Star Game when we got home.

And I did. And how I relished it. I geeked out watching Ozzie Smith on television for the first time ever (televised St. Louis Cardinals games were hard to come by in the Metroplex in the days before ESPN’s contract with MLB). I watched Cal Ripken, Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry–all the guys I’d only seen in images printed on cardboard–parade across the field. All those helmets and caps, all those jerseys and faces that you NEVER see on TV at the same time. It’s still why I love the All-Star Game, and even if I don’t catch every at-bat, I make sure to catch the 15 minutes of player and lineup introductions. After all, it’s not every day you see that rarest of baseball creature known as the “Toronto Blue Jay.”

Terry Steinbach of the A’s was the MVP, and for a short time I was convinced he must be the greatest player in baseball history (he wasn’t). I’ll bet I didn’t go to bed until 1 a.m., and my parents didn’t say a word (probably because they were parents, and were dead asleep).

If my memory seems particularly vivid, there’s probably a pretty good psychological reason for it. My family was in the process of moving from Texas to Missouri. Those times of great transition in our lives–moving, deaths, graduations, falling in love, divorce (I presume)–seem to add a nuclear reactor to the battery in our memories, don’t they? It doesn’t matter how old we are when they happen–in fact, I think childhood only accentuates the power. These memories are never entirely positive or entirely negative either; just so damn vivid. I remember a disproportionate number of details about that summer and the following fall as I went about making Ozark, Missouri my home. Hell, I remember more about those months than I do about last week.

I digress. But while I was outwardly cool with the idea of moving to southwest Missouri–it was, after all, where all of the rest of my family lived and I visited often–it was years before I realized just how big a deal moving had been for an only child in the third grade who had only ever known one school, one church, and had a little kid-crush on the girl across the street. Baseball is the blanket I wrapped myself in, because God knows we all need one at those times in our lives. I’m sure my parents were relieved it was something normal. Imagine trying to make that kind of change with a 16-year-old. *shudders*

I’ve watched 25 more All-Star Games (including the one that is playing in front of me right now, a convenient DVR having repalced the gigantic VHS of my youth). There was the one I watched at the McSalty’s Pizza bar with a friend in high school, acutely aware that I’d rather be at home watching it with my dad, but not nearly secure enough to admit it. There was the surrealistic tie in ’02, which I watched with my soon-to-be-bride in stunned silence into the wee hours of the morning after getting off the graveyard shift at the News-Leader. (To her credit, she stayed awake… it was that bizarre). Last year my brother-in-law scored family tickets to the Home Run Derby in Kansas City, and being in that All-Star atmosphere live is the coolest sporting spectacle I’ve ever been able to attend. There was Bo’s bomb in ’89, Wrigley’s lights in ’90, Carp starting in ’05, and St. Louis hosting in ’09. Most have been more exciting than that first game. I’m sure I missed or had to work though one or two of them along the way, but most All-Star Games I have watched at home or with friends, in various states of distraction or inebriation, one major life event or another swirling around me as I stopped for a few minutes to try and recapture the magic of that night in ’88. Sometimes I can almost do it.

And now, just like that, as I watch Jason Kipnis grab Pedro Alvarez’s popup to end this ’13 All-Star Game, a 3-0 victory for the American League (aka the bad guys), my second quarter-century of baseball fandom officially begins. I can’t wait for the next 25 All-Star Games. I wonder where I’ll watch them? And what will be going on in my life when I do?

Categories: Baseball, Navel Gazing

Don’t Call it a Comeback…

I’ve been here for, literally, years.

Okay, maybe not as long as LL Cool J, but long enough to feel the need to reannounce my presence in the blogosphere. The Lost Re-re-re-watch hit a snag around the holidays, and without my friends on the island to act as my muse, my recreational writing habit stalled as well.

But I’m back, thankfully with pantsloads of ideas and new and interesting things to talk about. Two words: potty training.

I’ll be resurrecting the Lost Re-re-re-watch where I left off (I think someone just died… I mean, odds are good right?) last winter, and hopefully putting some new, regular content up as well. I may not have much for the masses besides sharing Lost minutiae and maybe some obscure knowledge about the Toronto Blue Jays from the late ’80s, but what the hell?

“Knock ’em out.” – Mama

Categories: Navel Gazing Tags: ,

Lost, Season 2, Episode 6: Abandoned

December 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Welcome to the Lost Re-Re-Rewatch Project. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. This is my fourth round-trip to the Island, but my first time attempting to chronicle my thoughts on the show on an episode-by-episode basis. The mission: A post per episode. Nothing so epic and theory-heavy as Doc Jensen’s great stuff at EW.com, which I highly suggest you read (the theory game is a bit moot at this point anyway), but hopefully it will help scratch both my writing itch and my Lost itch at the same time.

ShannonIslandEpisode Title: “Abandoned”

Overall Rating: B

If ever there were a case of an episode being too little, too late, it’s “Abandoned.” For 30 episodes now Shannon Rutherford been, at best, the Island’s token attractive bitch, the leggy counterpoint to Kate’s simmering bad girl or Claire’s new-mom-next-door. At her worst, Shannon has been a sulking, sniveling distraction, first to Boone and now Sayid.

Part of the reason for this is that her only real showing in Season 1 was the Boone-centric non-classic “Hearts and Minds,” where we see Shannon con her step-brother out of $50,000 with her abusive Australian boyfriend, who eventually splits with the cash prompting a drunk Shannon to seduce Boone the night before they board Oceanic 815 (which is what he’d always really wanted). The on-island plot was all about Boone learning to let Shannon go (he hallucinated her death) as she begins her relationship with Sayid. There’s no real arc there for her.

Which brings us to “Abandoned,” in which Lost‘s producers finally give us Shannon’s epitaph: Tragic distraction (but still pretty!).

It’s a disservice to the character that this flashback wasn’t in Season 1, or at least woven into “Hearts and Minds.” In the space of a month we see Shannon go from a pleasant (if spoiled) young ballerina with career ambitions to a bitter husk of a woman who we believe might actually try to con Boone out of his money, and certainly use her looks to get what she wants. The quick version: Shannon’s father (who is married to Boone’s wicked mother… seriously, she might be the worst woman character on the show) is killed in a car wreck (more about this wreck in a second). But somewhere along the line her father changed his will to exclude Shannon, and the wicked one isn’t about to help her out, despite the fact that she’s earned a prestigious internship in New York. Broke and alone, Boone offers her money… which she refuses instead of taking the internship. Now, this isn’t entirely believable; lots of people move to New York without a dime to their name. But we also get the feeling Shannon’s never worked for anything in her life. (Note: As futher evidence that Shannon gets no respect, she’s not even mentioned in the brief episode synopsis on Netflix. In the episode in which she’s killed. Godspeed, my dear.)

The big moment here, which isn’t even presented in this episode: Adam Rutherford, Shannon’s father, is the other driver in the wreck that also paralyzed Jack’s future wife, Sarah. In the season premiere we saw Jack make the call in the ER to save Sarah and not Adam, thus sealing a number of fates. What a tangled web Lost weaves.

Still, this flashback is effective in, for the first time, making the casual Lost fan feel actual sympathy for Shannon Rutherford. Just in time for a swift kick… erm, bullet… in the gut.

On-Island, Shannon is slipping farther into madness… or is she. After rarely appearing in the season’s first five episodes, we find Shannon being  wooed hardcore by Sayid, who has built her (them?) a little romantic hidey hole. After love, Sayid goes for water, and Shannon sees Walt standing in the tent. Walt covers his mouth with a finger. “Shhh.” Shannon doesn’t “shhh.” She screams.

Of course Sayid doesn’t believe her, which begins the episode’s (literally) fatal spiral. Shannon gives chase with Vincent, hoping he can track Walt. The chase takes her past Boone’s grave, where she has a poignant moment of reflection. It feels like a weird episode of “This is Your (Island” Life,” in retrospect. Eventually Sayid catches up to her in a rainstorm, and she has her final breakdown. “I need you to believe in me. No one believes in me… they think I’m some kind of joke. They think I’m worthless.” “I need you to believe me,” she says of the chase for Walt. Almost on cue (okay, entirely on cue) Walt appears and Shannon and Sayid both see him. The whispers begin and Shannon gives chase.

This seems like the appropriate time to talk about the limited action across Island. Sawyer, Jin, Michael and the Tailies are still traipsing across the Island, and Sawyer is in a bad way. They’re dragging him on a stretcher through the jungle, and in the middle of the hike Cindy–originally seen as the stewardess flirting with Jack in the pilot–is taken by the Others, allowing us to see for the first time just how efficient they are at nabbing Tailies. There are whispers, things are getting weird, someone is running through the jungle. At the height of the tension, it begins to rain. Cut back to…

Shannon pounding through the jungle after Walt. Sayid yells for her to stop, to wait for him. A shot rings out…

Sayid catches up to Shannon, who has taken a bullet in her midsection. She collapses. He holds her. She dies. Standing a few yards away is the Tailie group, with Ana Lucia holding the gun. Obviously this was an accident, which means we can only blame creepy-wet-ghost-Walt and the whispers for what happened, a secret we’ll suss out in a few seasons… or maybe never.

Here’s my takeaway of this episode: I wish Lost had made me like Shannon before the episode where they killed her. I know, Maggie Grace wanted to go film The Fog or some show on the CW, so it kinda limited their options, but the girl’s story had… um… legs. What “Abandoned” did accomplish was to, at the last minute, make her an overall positive contributor to the show’s larger lore, something it never manages to do (perhaps appropriately) with the woman who killed her. Did they make her important enough–particularly her relationship with Sayid–to warrant her appearance in the series finale? That’s debatable, though the final, muddy conversation between the two may just be enough to do it, when Sayid says “I’ll never leave you.” Still… c’mon.

SayidShannonJungleEpisode: “Abandoned”

Director: Adam Davidson

What the Title Means: Shannon was “Abandoned” by almost everyone she knew… except Sayid.

Best Scene: Not to take away from the whole “death of a major character” drama going on, but the other on-Island set piece is pretty tense in its own right. Through a conversation with Claire, Locke learns that Charlie has found a statue of the Virgin Mary and is keeping it in his stuff. Locke, along with Sayid, is the only member of the crew who knows about the plane and the only person besides Jack who knows about Charlie’s old heroin habit. There’s a terrific scene between Locke and Charlie, who is accusing Locke of stepping into his role as Aaron’s Island protector. Stay tuned for more here.

Also, Shannon getting shot and dying. That has some shock value, particularly the first time around.

Worst Scene: The scene where her stepmom cuts Shannon off is almost too cruel to believe. I also cringe during Ana Lucia’s overly emoted account of what happened to all the other Tailies (taken by the Others). When a character makes a sob story as annoying as hell, you have a problem with casting.

Best Line: “You’re a shrink? Maybe you should talk to my shoulder.” Sawyer to Libby when she’s asking him how he’s feeling.

Best Throwaway Moment: The flashback scene with a slightly younger Boone. He has his Vampire Diaries hair! Swoon-worthy!

Revelations: Shannon was once a upwardly mobile young woman; the Tailies have had more than a dozen of their members taken by the Others; Locke is on to Charlie’s heroin stash; Shannon (and then Sayid) see Walt; Shannon is accidentally killed by a spooked Ana Lucia.

Next Episode: “The Other 48 Days”

Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV

Lost, Season 2, Episode 5: … And Found

November 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Welcome to the Lost Re-Re-Rewatch Project. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. This is my fourth round-trip to the Island, but my first time attempting to chronicle my thoughts on the show on an episode-by-episode basis. The mission: A post per episode. Nothing so epic and theory-heavy as Doc Jensen’s great stuff at EW.com, which I highly suggest you read (the theory game is a bit moot at this point anyway), but hopefully it will help scratch both my writing itch and my Lost itch at the same time.

Episode Title: “… And Found

Overall Episode Grade: C

This is some Lost fiddling and frippery at its finest. There are a number of episodes during seasons 2 and 3 that offer nothing much more than characters moving from one place to another and an only slightly necessary flashback. That “… And Found” is about Sun and Jin and not, say, Kate or Charlie, saves it from a D grade.

As such, I won’t spend a lot of time on this one. Most of the actual action takes place across the Island, as Sawyer, Jin and Michael get to know their captors, whom they now know are fellow survivors of Oceanic 815. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they like most of them. Early in the episode Ana Lucia informs them that they will be going back to their original camp. She does this in the way that a cop might tell a drunk after-bar patron to head home and sleep it off. (Of course Ana Lucia’s backstory might make her attitudes more palatable… nah.)

As they prepare to leave, we get a scene with Sawyer and Mr. Eko, who will become one of the most intriguing and polarizing characters in the show’s run. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje‘s thick Nigerian accent and dazzling smile (as well as his first cold-eyed stare) make their first appearances. Unlike the rest of the Tailies (hooray Lost jargon!), he’s unforgettable from the start.

The main plot detail here happens when Michael bolts into what Libby terms “their” territory. We know he’s looking for Walt. Jin and Mr. Eko give chase. Do they find him? Yes. Is it anticlimactic? Yes. They rejoin the rest of the group, but not before having to hide from a band of “Others” as they go traipsing through the jungle (it’s a very well-shot scene, see below). Along the way they stumble upon the impaled body of a man Eko calls “Goodwin”. He is an Other.

Also in this group, Sawyer is in trouble. We knew he was shot on the raft, and removed the bullet with his own hands in the season’s most badass scene. But something’s wrong, we can tell, and at the end of the episode he collapses.

If the Tailie plot is fresh, Island-grade ahi tuna, the main-camp plot is a dented can of Dharma Herring. In an early scene, Sun realizes she’s lost her wedding ring, which necessitates a visit with each of the Island’s A-team figures to find where it might have fallen. Most of these are trite (Jack: “Where did you see it last?” ON MY FINGER, EINSTEIN.), blatant comic relief (Hurley and Sun wait to watch Vincent poop) or contrived to build another character (Locke: “You know how I found what I needed? I stopped looking.” OH SHUT UP.). Eventually Sun finds the ring where the last episode ended: In the sand next to the buried bottle of notes that swept in on the tide from the raft.

It’s a ridiculously corny premise. Like all good Sun and Jin episodes, however, it handles the flashbacks in dual fashion. It’s really the only way to handle these two. Here we see their original meet cute, which turns out to be far more random than we could have guessed. Jin is a newly hired doorman at a fine Seoul hotel. His elitist boss tells the poor Jin (he doesn’t remove the tag from his new tie, so he can take it back, which leads to an embarrassing scene) “don’t let in people like you.” Ouch. The wealthy Sun, on the other hand, is being set up with Jae Lee, the young heir of the family who owns the hotel. They seem to hit it off, meeting for multiple dates. Sun is smitten. Until, that is, the Harvard graduate tells her he’s met a woman in America and plans to meet her there. Sun is heartbroken, though Lostophiles know we’ll see young, bald Mr. Jae Lee again under ever less cutesy circumstances.

Anyway, needless to say, Jin eventually does let the wrong sort into the hotel and loses his job. As a brooding Jin and a lovelorn Sun walk along the river, they bump into one another. Their cute has been met.

Episode: “… And Found”

Director: Stephen Williams

What the title means: Like Season 1’s “… In Translation” it’s an antecedent to the word “Lost”. It also refers to Sun’s ring and, possibly, Michael’s mission to find Walt (and Jin and Eko’s hunt for Michael).

Best Scene: There are a number of nice spots here; the conversation between Locke and Sun after she rips apart her garden is top-notch. So, too, the flashback scene where Jin allows a homeless man and his son to use the hotel restroom, is upbraided, and quits. But the best scene is the one that moves the Island mystery forward (visually, at least), as Jin and Eko group from a line of Others in the jungle, with someone dragging a teddy bear at the end of the line.

Worst Scene: Most of Sun’s on-island story is a little exasperating, but the most cringe-worthy moments belong to Ana Lucia. No one I know who loves lost loves the character, or Michelle Rodriguez (it’s a case of chicken and egg, perhaps). And her continued insults to Jin and abrasive behavior are uncomfortable at best, actively enraging at worst. No matter how damaged and mean, who would act like this on a deserted Island where you only have the company of a dozen or so other humans. *smdh*

Best Line: “So, Seoul. Is that like the good Korea or the bad Korea?” Hurley making small talk while he and sun wait for Vincent to deuce to see if he swallowed Sun’s ring.

Honorable mention goes to anything Mr. Eko says or does. I couldn’t find a video so I posted his theme music. Enjoy. We’ll learn how it earns its tragic lilt and African shuffle later in the season.

Best Throwaway Moment: When Jin shuts Ana Lucia up by effortlessly pulling in a net full of fish. It’s like he’s saying “Why don’t you go drink and drive or something?” Oh, wait…

Revelations: How Sun and Jin met; the Others appear to be wild and dirty; Mr. Eko is a handy guy to have in a fight; Sawyer is sick; Jack lost his wedding ring and never told his wife, just had another made (ISSUES ALERT).

Next Episode: “Abandoned”

(All images and ep-title links are courtesy Lostpedia.com)

Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV