Friday, November 18

Lost Friday - "The Other 48 Days."

Season 2 - Episode 7 - "The Other 48 Days."

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Another Lost Friday is upon us. We have much to discuss.

This week, ABC treated us to an "extended episode" of Lost, adding a whopping 4 minutes to the finished product. Instead of using this precious network time to better fill in the struggle of the tail-section survivors in the 7 weeks following the crash, we were treated to an extra-long Invasion commercial. Thanks ABC, you know just how to spend your money. After all, why waste time on a massive hit drama that spawned a dozen knock-offs, when you can spend time on the knock-off itself? This must be why I'm not a producer.

So, in honor of getting screwed over this week, the CDP is offering Lost fans a special "extended" version of LOST FRIDAY. This week's post is three times as long as the previous weeks, including interview snippets with Lost producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (duplicated without permission; come and get me). Don't believe me? Look how far into this post we are without any new information! Man, I should be working for ABC.

As always, let's all inhale deeply and recap the week that was, courtesy of our friends at Wikipedia:

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After the tail section of the plane crashes into the water off the beach, the survivors swim ashore. A little boy with a teddy bear points out his sister floating in the water. A large man (Mr. Eko, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) drags her out and Ana Lucia performs CPR on her. The little girl asks about her mother, who is supposed to meet her in Los Angeles; Ana Lucia promises the girl will see her.

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A man runs out of the woods asking for help, saying there's someone alive in the jungle. The man, later identified as Goodwin, brings Ana to Bernard, who is still in his seat, up in a tree. Goodwin says they have to climb up to rescue him, but Ana disagrees. Ana coaxes him to grab the tree branch, anticipating that the seat will fall. Just as Bernard grabs the tree branch, the seat crashes to the ground. Back on the beach, Goodwin, who claims to be in the Peace Corps, builds a signal fire. Bernard asks Eko if he found any African-Americans among the bodies, as his wife Rose is African-American and he can't find her. Eko tells him no, but he will pray for her and for their rescue. That night, three of the adults are taken and Eko kills two of the Others with a rock when they try to take him. From that night on, he refuses to speak.

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Nathan suggests staying on the beach, and the group does so. On the fifth day, a man dies from a leg injury and is buried. On the twelth day, the Others take nine more, including the two children, and Ana kills another one of their opponents. Unlike the previous Others, who possessed nothing but the clothes on their backs, this one is carrying an antique U.S. army knife and a list of the nine to be taken, along with their descriptions.

The survivors opt to head into the jungle. They make a camp near a source of fresh water and fruit trees. Ana digs a pit-cage. She knocks Nathan unconscious and throws him into the pit, having become suspicious of his unexplained absences and how nobody remembered seeing him on the plane. She begins starving him, demanding to know the location of the children, but another member of the group is feeding him when she's not looking. Ana tells Goodwin she intends to start torturing Nathan the next day. That night, Goodwin frees Nathan, warning him of Ana's plan. When Nathan turns to leave, Goodwin grabs him and breaks his neck.

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The survivors, convinced the Others have found them, move again and find the latest hatch with the Dharma Initiative logo. In a box they find a glass eye, a Bible and a radio. Goodwin and Ana go to high ground to try to get a signal. While there, Ana reveals that she knows Goodwin is one of the Others, because on the first day, he ran out of the jungle with his clothes completely dry, ten minutes after they landed in the ocean. Goodwin admits he killed Nathan, saying that if Ana had cut off Nathan's finger and he still kept his story about being on Flight 815, she would have been suspicious and assumed someone else was the infliltrator. He confirms that the children are still alive, also saying that the people who were taken were taken because they were "good people." The two try stabbing each other with the army knife; they roll down a hill, and Ana impales him with a sharp stick.

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Ana returns to the survivors but doesn't tell them she killed Goodwin. On the forty-first day, Bernard picks up Boone on the radio, but Ana dismisses it as another trick by the Others. "This is our life," she tells them. She goes off by herself to cry, and Eko, speaking for the first time since the crash, tells her everything will be all right. She asks him why it took him forty days to speak; he asks her why it took her forty days to cry.

Soon after, Cindy and Libby find Jin washed up on the shore. The events shown in previous episodes are replayed from the tail section survivors' point of view. In the final seconds, it is confirmed that Ana shot Shannon. In previews for next week's episode, it is also confirmed that Shannon has died.

Okay, let's back up and take that all in for a bit. Make with the numbers!

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1. The beginning of this episode was fantastic. Watching the tail of Oceanic 815 come screaming into frame and exploding into the ocean was pretty damn cool. I just wanted to get that out of the way before we went further.

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2. A lot of people online were wondering why Bernard was buckled into a seat. After all, Bernard was out of his seat when the plane began to crash. The answer for that is he took a seat as the plane started to go down. We saw Charlie do the same thing. Obviously, the corpse in the tree with Bernard wasn't Rose, so it should be implied that he took the nearest open seat when things got crazy. By the way, I think that picture up there is awesome, because he really looks terrified. That's good acting, right there.

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3. Watching Libby snap that dude's leg into place was great. Although "The Other 48 Days" really did nothing in terms of answering many questions, it was exciting to see everything from the beginning again. Most of us have seen the crash and post-crash footage about a hundred times, so seeing it from a different light was interesting, familiar and original at the same time.

4. Let's talk about Mr. Eko. Rumors are flying around online as to what this guy is all about. Here are just a couple of the more decent (or horrible) theories:

a) Eko wasn't on the plane. He was one of the ministers in the Nigerian drug plane, and he's been on the island ever since, either on his own or as an Other.

b) Eko was on the plane, but has a connection to people in the Nigerian drug plane.

c) Eko is actually Walt. He was given a growth hormone that caused rapid aging (yeah, a lot of people actually believe this).

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Looks like he was on the plane to me, but I've been wrong before.

Eko is instantly one of my favorite characters, for a number of reasons. First off, he's a black version of Locke. Clearly a "man of faith," it won't be surprising to find out that Mister Eko was Minister Eko back on the mainland. They way they stressed that he would pray for Rose and the survivors, and the way they hung onto the reaction shot of locating that bible in the hatch, it all seems like it's being slathered pretty thick who he really is.

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Another reason I like Eko is because he bashed in the heads of two Others with a damn rock. Anyone who carries around a whoop-ass stick with scripture carved into it is not to be messed with in my book. I can see why the early rumors were that Sam Jackson was going to play his role.

If you must know, we're going to find out a lot more about Eko in the next 3 weeks. He and Locke are going to make fast friends. Speaking of our hatchlings, did you see the previews for next week's episode? Jack was straight chillin' in the brightly-lit hatch, sporting a clean shirt and everything. They have it pretty good over there now; it's like an apartment where you don't have to pay rent.

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5. Moving on with the episode, these Others are crafty. In the first season, Ethan infiltrated the hatchlings, only to be capped by Charlie at the worst possible time. This time, Goodwin showed up as soon as the tail section hit the water, and started taking inventory of who to swipe.

By the way, the cutoffs, bare feet and soaking wet thing is creepy, because it's becoming clear that some of these Others are coming out from the ocean. Speaking of which, Walt is now sporting the same "kidnapped by the others" look, just like those little kids that got swiped as well.

Goodwin claims that everyone who got kidnapped is okay, and they were taken because they were good people. This may explain why Claire was the only one taken from the hatchlings camp, and they just left Charlie to die. It seems like they take who's good and kill everyone else. This points towards a utopian society, or at least the shambles of one.

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And the list, my God, the list! Descriptions of the castaways? What they looked like? Really? Obviously, the Others are part of a big reason why the island is so messed up. The Hanso Foundation and Dharma Initiative are up to something big, and the Others need fresh meat that's pure of heart.

6. Hearing Boone over the radio was creepy as hell. You knew it was coming, but it's still depressing to think that he was dead just hours later.

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7. The Arrow hatch. For most of us nerds in the know, we knew this was the second discovered hatch months ago. The standing theory is that there are 6 Dharma Initiative hatches on the island, all designed to monitor and experiment on the 6 programs funded by the Hanso Foundation. The six hatches seem to be named after the 6 star systems in the constellation Apollo (remember the candy bar?), so if this is true, here are all six hatch names:

Swan
Arrow
Crow
Goblet
Serpent Handler
Hunter


We'll find out more about that really soon. There's a lot of hatch drama set to unfold in the next 3-4 weeks.

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8. Shannon, Shannon, Shannon. If you remember, I claimed last week that I was convinced that Ana Lucia did NOT kill Shannon. Rumors were flying abound, and I stood my ground. Now, thanks to what we saw last night, along with what we saw for next week and what we hear in this upcoming interview, it seems that Ana really did kill Shannon.

For your reading pleasure, here's an extremely recent (and funny) interview with Lost producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. It's lengthy, so I highlighted the really important stuff in bold. Enjoy!

First off, I have a bone to pick with you, Damon. Last July, I asked you if a female character was getting killed this season on Lost, and you said — and I quote: "I think it would be fairly silly for us to kill a woman — there are only three or four of them on the show. And they're all really hot." So, I guess my question is, how can I ever trust you again?

Damon Lindelof: I never said we weren't going to kill a woman. I said it would be silly. And you know, Carlton and I are pretty silly guys. You should see the hat that he's wearing right now.

Carlton Cuse: That's all I'm wearing.

Damon: And also a sock, but that's another story.

Did it bug you that Maggie Grace's people leaked that tidbit about her possibly joining the cast of X-Men 3 over the summer? It was a pretty major tip-off that she might be leaving the show.

Carlton: There's no incentive for them to preserve the creative sanctity of Lost. You have an agency full of people whose job it is to get Maggie Grace other work. And how could we begrudge her that? We can't prevent her from going out and earning a livelihood, you know? There's the perception that Maggie had to turn down X-Men 3 because of Lost.

Carlton: I don't think that was the circumstance. We would have been accommodating had she been offered that job.

Damon: Carlton and I would have bent over backwards to see if there was a way to make it work.

Why was Shannon marked for death?

Damon: It was by no means a result of Maggie's abilities as an actress, which, we felt were gaining ground every time we saw her on the screen. But Shannon is a 22- or 23-year-old character, and the flashback stories and limitations in terms of her life experience… The younger the character is on the show, the more limited you are in terms of stories you can tell. So, before we started running Shannon into the ground and doing the same stories over and over again, it felt like it was a very natural time to kill [her] off. And the idea that was appealing to us, and certainly to Maggie, was that we would finally show Shannon in this different light. Make her incredibly sympathetic and then she would die.

Will Shannon be back, like, say, in one of Jack's flashbacks?

Carlton: It's always possible she could pop up in someone's backstory. But she is definitely dead. When a character dies on the island, they stay dead.

Are you concerned that Ana-Lucia is beyond redemption? I can't tell you how many e-mails I got from AA readers asking, "When is that bitch going to die?!"

Carlton: At the beginning of last season, people didn't like Josh Holloway's character either. And by the end of the season, he was one of the most-liked characters on the show. It'll be really interesting to see, as we tell more about Ana-Lucia, whether that changes the audience's perception of her. We think it will.

Damon: In the same moment that we decided Shannon would die, [we also decided that] Ana-Lucia would be responsible for that death. It would be the first time one castaway was responsible for killing another, and it would give so much inherent conflict and trauma [heading to] the merge. We're walking a very tenuous tightrope with her, but we feel that over the course of the next two episodes the audience will hopefully get a better understanding for that character and what she's been through.

Can you confirm that Shannon was, in fact, shot? Fans have been speculating that she looked like she had a stab wound.

Carlton: She was shot.

Damon: People are getting a little too…

They're reaching a little too much?

Carlton: They totally are. And she did not have a Dharma Initiative stamp on her.

Let's talk about Malcolm David Kelley and Walt. Why was his role reduced this season? Were you concerned about him aging faster than the time line on the show?

Carlton: That's a legitimate issue. We've only gone 50 days on the island, and he's a kid in puberty. But Walt's disappearance and, ultimately, Michael's efforts to reunite with him were part of a grander plan. There are also financial considerations. Since Walt wasn't going to be around for a lot of episodes, we had to make an arrangement to have his role be a more reduced role.

Whether you use him once or twice a year or every week, the aging thing will still be an issue, no? Might you recast?

Damon: To answer that question is sort of to reveal what the plan is for Walt, and there is a plan. I always feel like recasting is the nuclear option. You do not do it unless it is absolutely, 100 percent necessary. But obviously, we have a story that we want to tell about Walt and about Michael and Walt.

Last week Shannon and Sayid gave us our first big Lost sex scene

Carlton: It was the second big sex scene. Boone and Shannon had sex together [last season]. So, if you have sex on the show, you're pretty much going to end up dead.

So, who's having sex next?

Carlton: (Laughs) As we move into the middle run of episodes, we're definitely emphasizing the Jack-Kate-Sawyer romantic triangle. The level of sexual tension between those three characters is definitely being ramped up.

How will Ana-Lucia figure into it?

Damon: As the respective leaders of their respective units, Ana-Lucia and Jack have a great deal in common with each other, and that's definitely something we're going to be exploring. But [the fact that] Ana-Lucia inadvertently murdered one of the members of the tribe doesn't exactly [lend itself] to candlelight dinners and walks on the beach. She is a woman; she will have romantic entanglements. But I think the one that will begin to emerge over the season will be the one that you least expect.

What about Charlie and Claire?

Carlton: We're definitely going to be paying attention to their relationship, but it's not going to turn in ways the audience expects.

Will we get any clarification about the numbers this season?

Damon: Carlton might want to punch me for actually going on record and saying this, but I think that that question will never, ever be answered. I couldn't possibly imagine [how we would answer that question]. We will see more ramifications of the numbers and more usage of the numbers, but it boggles my mind when people ask me, "What do the numbers mean?"

Will we find out why Ethan abducted Claire?

Damon: Yes.

Carlton: You'll learn more about it this season.

Will Claire get some of her memory back?

Damon: The loss of her memory happened so long ago that it requires a sort of deft touch in order to reintroduce the concept. Once we start assuming that everybody is intimately familiar with everything that has ever happened on the island, I think the show risks becoming slightly confused. But all of that stuff is in play. It's just a matter of when and how we reactivate it.

Are you still planning to reveal why the plane crashed this season?

Carlton: Yes.


Are you saving that little doozy for the finale?

Carlton: We're saving it until later. We consider that on the ground of fairly major revelations.

Damon: We don't want to stick that one in the middle of March.

ABC billed last week's episode as the one "everyone will be talking about." What'll be the next one "everyone will be talking about"?

Carlton: Ironically, it's the next episode [airing tonight]. We think for us, it's even more of a water-cooler episode than the death episode. This is really a very special episode in that it's kind of a concept episode. It deviates from the form and style of our other episodes.

On Nov. 30 we'll finally learn what Kate's precrash crime was that landed her in so much hot water. Any other big flashback revelations this season?

Damon: In the next string of episodes, one of the really compelling backstory elements is what happened to Jack's marriage. We think Julie Bowen is amazing and she and Matthew Fox are so great in scenes together, and I think the audience is really curious as to what went wrong there.

Carlton: And you should pay attention to Mr. Eko's stick.

Seriously?

Carlton: Yeah.

Damon: Keep your eyes on Mr. Eko's stick.


Carlton: That stick is an important ongoing clue.

Will we learn more about Monster this season?

Carlton: Definitely.

Damon: Absolutely.

Has Disney approached you about doing a Lost feature film?

Carlton: No.

And if they did, what would your response be?

Damon: I would punch them as hard as I could. We couldn't even begin to wrap our brains around how we would produce a feature film. Obviously, the production team in Hawaii is amazing, but the amount of time [it would require] to do a TV show and a feature on top of each other… I think it's safe to say it would be impossible.

Last question: Will there be another death this season?

Carlton: (Laughs) You're very good, but we can't say.


Well, there you go. That's a lot to chew on, and it wrapped up more loose ends than this week's episode. Speaking of which, let's look ahead to the future, shall we?

Episode 8 - "Collision."
(Flashback: Ana Lucia)

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In this Ana Lucia-centric episode, we'll look into her past. If you check out my previous posts, I'm convinced that she's a cop, perhaps on the plane to assist the Marshall with Kate. Also, tempers, conflict and ass-kicking will ensue once everyone meets up with each other. If you saw the previews, Sayid is pretty close to taking Ana Lucia out, as you would assume.

Also, we see Kate tending to Sawyer and the relationship getting a bit more serious.

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Looking at the press release, I noticed that Dr. Marvin Candle will be in this episode. I know that in the future, the hatchlings will find the missing pieces of the orientation tape, but not this week. My guess is that they are just watching the tape again with the tailies.

If anything, this will be an episode to get us all up to speed with everyone, put all of our eggs in one basket and start anew. This is a good thing, because business is about to get even more out of control.

Episode 9 - "What Kate Did."
(Flashback: Kate)

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"Kate's crime is revealed in an episode in which she watches over a very ill Sawyer. Meanwhile, the tailies bury one of their own; Mr. Eko has a hatch-related surprise for Locke; and Michael has a surprise encounter with the hatch computer."

Hmmm, this sounds very interesting and creepy. That's all I'll say for now. Expect to see the return of Rousseau and Desmond, along with the missing pieces of the orientation tape in either this episode or episode 10.

Episode 10 is the big mystery. All we know for sure is that it takes place on the island before the crash. Depending on what theories you believe, this could be any number of people. Personally, I think it's going to be Desmond. He will show up in episode 9 to cure Sawyer with his wonder injections, we'll learn a HUGE plot point about the hatch, and that will set up perfectly into episode 10. We'll meet Kelvin and see what happened to Desmond to have him end up here. Keep an eye out for that.

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Get it? "Eye?" Hey, screw you! I've got nothing to work with, here.

Whew, I'm beat. Another LOST FRIDAY in the books, and an extended one at that. Please sound off in the comments section, and let your incorrect opinions and half-baked theories be heard. If you're interested in LOST FRIDAY, check out all of my previous posts on the matter:

SEASON TWO - EPISODE 6 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 2
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 5 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 4 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 3 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 1 REVIEW
SEASON TWO PREVIEW

Wednesday, November 16

Men Are Stupid: Example #180,986.

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This is Steven Avery.

Steven Avery lives in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. He runs an auto salvage yard there, which has been the family business for quite some time. Steven is a regular guy with regular problems.

For example, in 1980 he was convicted of burglary. Steven didn't learn his lesson though, and got convicted again for stealing stuff in 1981. That time, it was a felony.

In 1982, Steven dipped a cat in gasoline and threw it into a bonfire to die. Some people in the vicinity took offense to that, and he was charged with animal cruelty. Surely, this would be the turning point in his life.

Nope. In 1985, he was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to 32 years in jail. He pleaded his innocence, but the jury wouldn't have any of it. They threw his ass in the clink, and he sat there for 18 years.

In 2003, DNA evidence came along and actually proved that Steven Avery didn't commit the rape that he was serving time for. After 18 years behind bars, Steven was released from jail concerning a crime that he didn't commit.

Wow. Not cool. I mean, this guy wasn't a very good dude, but to go to jail for 18 years for no reason? That can't be good on your psyche. When a guy like him gets out of jail, he's either going to be really good or really bad. I feel for the guy.

Until Halloween 2005. That was the day that 25 year old Teresa Halbach showed up to Avery's Salvage Yard to take some freelance photographs for Auto Trader, a local paper that showcases used cars for sale. Teresa showed up and never left.

People started to wonder where she went, obviously. The media couldn't help but make the connection that she went missing on the property of a guy that goes to jail a lot. Avery was cooperative, however. He even went on the local news to plead his case.

"I don't know what's going on," Avery said. "I think someone's trying to set me up again."

Well, that doesn't sound suspicious at all.

Me and the Missus argued about this for days, while police searched Avery's property for evidence. I was following the "innocent until proven guilty" assumption, and I also felt that no man in the world was dumb enough to kill someone after an 18 year false imprisonment. I had to believe that; people aren't that crazy, are they? Avery had to know that the media would swarm all over his salvage yard, and unless he did a damn good job of hiding the evidence, he would be in a heap of trouble.

The Missus was following the "he's a serial killer that got really messed up after being in jail for 18 years for no reason" assumption. Her theory was that even though he may not have actually committed the sexual assault in 1985, he had something to do with it. People don't just get snatched from their houses for a crime that had absolutely nothing to do with them. He's obviously not a good guy, he was punished for a reason, and the jail time only allowed him to marinate in his creepy juices. Besides, when you to jail for no reason, you may feel like you have a free crime to commit.

So, on November 5, they found Teresa Halbach's car in Avery's salvage yard, stripped of its license plates and obscured by trees. The blood of Halbach AND Avery were found in the ride. That's strike one.

On November 9, the police found that Avery was in possession of a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle and a .50 caliber powder muzzleloader. Being a felon, you can't own guns. Avery was arrested on these charges while they continued to search his property. That's strike two.

A few days later, investigators found the mother lode. Scattered throughout the property were bone fragments, teeth and hair matching that of Halbach. Halbach's blood was also located all over the property, along with the keys to her vehicle hidden in Avery's bedroom. Investigators also found handcuffs and leg irons in Avery's possession.

The forensic anthropologist states, "almost every bone in the body is present and has been recovered from the scene." She goes on to say, "bone fragments are the obvious result of mutilation of a corpse." Investigators believe that Avery burned and tried to conceal and mutilate the corpse over the course of five days following her disappearance.

That's strike three, Steven. You're out.

Back on the homefront, the Missus is raising her arms in triumph over yet another victorious argument. I am flabbergasted at the sheer amount of brashness and utter stupidity of Steven Avery. I can't wait for the confession, because I simply need to understand what he was thinking, if anything.

If you want a quick theory, I believe that he wasn't equipped to adjust himself outside of prison and wanted, needed to go back. Therefore, what better way to do so than by committing a crime that you already served time for? Does the state share any of the blame for messing this guy up, or was he plenty messed up before all of this happened?

I wonder if the state will subtract 18 years off of his life-without-parole sentence.

This has been the talk of Wisconsin for the last few weeks, and everyone has a say in the matter. What's your say?

NEXT: LOST FRIDAY.

Tuesday, November 15

Game, Set & Munch.

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(Polysics. Still the greatest band in the world, in case you forgot.)

1. Hey, what are you watching on TV tonight?

6:00 - 7:00 - The Simpsons - FOX (Local)
7:00 - 8:00 - SNL In The 80's - NBC (TiVo'ed)
8:00 - 9:00 - House - FOX
9:00 - 9:30 - My Name Is Earl - NBC (TiVo'ed)
9:30 - 10:00 - The Office - NBC (TiVo'ed)

2. Hey, what are you listening to right now?

Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Supersystem - Always Never Again
Less Than Jake - Hello Rockview
James Brown - Greatest Hits
Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary
My Morning Jacket - Z

3. Hey, did ants eat a woman's eye out in India?

Yup, CLICK HERE for the most nauseating story you will hear all week.

4. Hey, what's this I hear about China getting rid of their Engrish?

Check it out. They want to clean up their image by the Olympics. It's a damn shame.

5. Hey, what's new in the CDP Network?

Well, The Girl From Mars breaks down the logic behind medicating a cat, and I Think This Is My Exit invites us to a martini party. Sweet.

6. Hey, how's Sweeps Month coming along?

Pretty good. Our hits have certainly improved, thanks mostly to Lost Fridays. I've been linked on several LOST locations, including the OFFICIAL ABC LOST MESSAGE BOARD. That tends to rake in a bit of traffic, and for that I'm thankful.

Apart from that, I still have all the big year-end things planned for the next 2.5 weeks (stick around, they rule). Then I shall go on a long vacation, and watch the December slump slowly destroy the CDP.

7. Hey, is that it for today?

Yup. Sound off in the comments section. What are you up to today?

Sunday, November 13

Let's Go To The Mall.

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We're all probably several weeks away from starting our Christmas shopping this year, but I'm fairly certain that I'm already sick of the mall.

This happens to me every year, without fail. I've never been a huge fan of the mall; not when I was a kid, not even when I was a teenager. To me, the mall is like High School with cash registers. Everyone is better looking than you, everyone has more money than you, everyone is more in tune to what's popular at the moment, and everyone's in your way.

This weekend, me and the Missus went to the mall in Madison so she could pick up some new clothes. I was in the mood for a bit of a buying frenzy myself, as I've had an awful week and spending hard-earned money always seems to cheer me up.

When we go shopping together, I can circumnavigate an entire store in about 15 seconds. It doesn't take me long to see that they have nothing that I want. This is due to the fact that women shop and men buy. This doesn't sit too well with the Missus, who now has to entertain me while I peer over her shoulder, bored and ready to go home. The remedy for this was simple; we split up and meet at a neutral location at a set time. I'm not allowed to bother her until this set time, no exceptions. This gives her plenty of time to look for important things that she needs, and it gives me plenty of time to drink an Orange Julius and fall asleep on a bench.

We gave each other a couple hours, entered the mall and went our separate ways. You should know that it's not wise to have me go shopping alone. I always end up buying things that I don't need, purely out of boredom. It's the equivalent of grocery shopping on an empty stomach. You get home, and you start to question why you purchased a metric ton of Gummi Worms and an entire bag of Carnation Instant Breakfast. Had you eaten before you shopped, you would have bought only what you needed, and if you hadn't gone to the mall in a bad mood, you might still have money in your checking account once you got home. It's a bad recipe.

So, the Missus ran off to get her clothes, and I stood in the main corridor of the bustling mall, already wanting to kill anyone within a foot of me. Allow me to break down a few specific things that put me in thy murderous mood:

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1. The Christmas Season Starts On November 1.

The very second that the last shopper leaves the mall on Halloween night, they lock the doors and transform the place into Christmas Towne. Every song over the PA becomes a carol, Santa poses for pictures in front of non-denominational slogans (Happy Holidays! Merry Winter!), and fake snow covers the isles, although we won't get snow until late December. The Mall Christmas Season is almost 60 days long now, which is almost the length of an actual season. Weather I like it or not, the mall has violently thrust me into a holiday buying frenzy. Apparently, Thanksgiving isn't much of a spending holiday, so malls are in the habit of pretending that it doesn't exist.

2. When I Walk Into The Arcade, I'm The Only Person Who Speaks English.

Now, I know for a fact that Caucasians like video games. I'm absolutely sure of it. However, every single time I step into a local arcade, I'm instantly surrounded by men of all ethnicities but mine, sporting shaved heads, impossibly baggy clothing and 8 year old girlfriends. Even though I know for a fact that I won't play anything at the arcade, I always seem to find myself in one every time I go to the mall.

I consider it a carry-over from my childhood. Something always tells me that I'll find something fun to do in there, even though I never, EVER do. It always ends with me playing a game of Tekken with some Hmong kid that destroys me in a 4 second barrage of button mashing. Well, that was a blast. I specifically don't carry change on me anymore just so I don't feel tempted to enter arcades at the age of 23. Especially after I found out that I enjoy Dance Dance Revolution.

3. XXXL or XXXXL?

Women complain because there's nothing at the mall that's big enough for them. Most men complain that there's nothing at the mall small enough for them. Who gets the shorter end of the stick? Men do. In a mall that has 89% of their apparel geared towards women, they can always find at least something they'll be happy with. Me, I've seen 3 stores that carry small shirts for men. If you're not a 7 foot 9 male that weighs 1400 pounds, you won't find a shirt that fits unless you ask someone to dig around in the back for you.

When it comes to men's shirts, I'm a size small. On a bet, go looking for a shirt in a size small that's not the gayest thing you've ever seen. I dare you. People wonder why I wear nothing but black t-shirts and goofy sweaters. It's all I can find! Believe me, if I could put on 80 pounds, I would. Until then, please put some small-sized shirts on the rack. Small-chested American boys thank you.

The only places I can get small shirts that don't outright suck are Target, Express and the Gap, and even that's a stretch. Sure, there are other stores that carry small shirts for men, but I'd prefer not to wear a shirt that advertises the store's logo in GIANT LETTERS ON THE FRONT OF MY SHIRT. If I wanted to be a billboard, I would have sold space on my forehead to Golden Palace.com long ago. Keep your logos off of my clothes, and I'll stop messing up your carefully folded garments.

4. Kiosks Ahoy!

Don't buy stuff from kiosks. They are of poor quality and they are being sold by pushy foreigners who are on the run from the law. They stand in your way when you try to walk into actual stores, and they spray you with horrid fragrances and splort body lotion into your palms. 'Nuff said.

Kiosks are much like those little shops that you see in airports. Like Jerry Seinfeld says, "Do these people have any idea what the prices are everywhere else in the world? Tuna sandwich? Eighteen dollars. Tuna is very rare here." I once saw a board game for sale at a kiosk that was twice as expensive as the same game in the store right across from it. That's stunningly arrogant, and just bad business.

5. Don't Buy Books Or Music From Barnes & Noble.

Barnes & Noble is a cool place, seriously. They have a huge selection of books, a decent CD collection that rivals most chain stores, and a Starbucks in the lobby. The atmosphere makes you feel smarter and more sophisticated almost instantly. Problem is, you shouldn't ever buy anything there.

First off, the books are overpriced. Chances are, if you can find a book at Barnes & Noble, you can find it at Waldenbooks for cheaper. Remember Waldenbooks? That's the smaller book store at the other end of the mall that's going out of business because of Barnes & Noble. Give them a try someday, their employees are very friendly and lonely. They could use the company.

The music is INSANELY overpriced. They're one of the few stores on the planet that still sells albums for $19.99. I was looking at the new Fischerspooner album there, and it was $17.99 for 10 tracks. No, thank you. If shopping for albums at chain stores is in your wheelhouse, you'd be much better suited looking at Best Buy. There's always a Best Buy within 5 minutes of a Barnes & Noble, the prices are cheaper and they have a better selection. Besides, you should be supporting your local independent record store anyways.

Starbucks? Are you serious? What year is this? When at the mall, go to Gloria Jeans. They're the coffee shoppe on the other side of the mall that's going out of business because of Starbucks. They have a better selection, they are cheaper and the store smells really good. Besides, caffeine is no longer hip. Meth is making a huge comeback, so hop on that train while you still can.

6. Wing Stores Suck.

JC Penney, Macys, Bloomingdales, Boston Store, Younkers, Sears. For all the floor space they gobble up, you'd think they'd have something there you'd want. I could count up all the things I've purchased at wing stores on a one-fingered guy's hand. Too much variety is a bad thing, because then you miss out on the specialty stuff that sets you apart from other stores. When you lose variety, you become stale and people go elsewhere. If you think I'm full of it, there's plenty of unemployed Sam Goody salespeople who would like to have a word with you.

7. The Food Court Is The Most Depressing Place On Earth.

My God. If you've ever felt suicidal, but needed that one last push to justify your actions, look no further than your local food court. There, you will find society in various stages of mental, physical and social decay. Allow me to flashback you to a line from my last rant about the mall:

I don't like the crowds of kids that congregate at the Food Court and never buy anything. I'm just trying to get my Julius Smoothie and hit the road, and some kid who's barely visible through his massive sea of giant, baggy clothes is in my way and not moving. Hey kid, 1997 called and they want their raver pants back.

Whenever I find myself watching people at the food court, I get quite philosophical. I start to wonder if I'll be sitting in this same uncomfortable chair when I'm 80, sucking on the same hot chocolate and becoming part of the sorry mob I see before me. I begin to wonder if this is all there is to life. Showing up at the mall, spending money on things that don't matter and listening to Christmas carols in early November. It's usually at this time that the Missus shows up with a bag of clothes and a big smile, and things start to make sense again.

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We can't leave fast enough, but you can bet we'll be there again next weekend. Merry Holidays.