Friday, February 19

Lost Friday - "The Substitute."

Season 6 - Episode 4: "The Substitute."

Another Lost Friday is upon us. Unlike last week, we have much to discuss.

Like most of you, I've been spending the better part of seven days watching the Winter Olympics on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, NBC2, the Nashville Network and the Spice Channel. An admitted Olympics junkie, I had my TV schedules printed and my DVR scheduled weeks before the torch was awkwardly lit by a hypothermia-riddled Wayne Gretzky, and it has delivered in leaps and bounds, despite Vancouver having little-to-no snow and temperatures reaching the mid-50's. In 2014, I hope they have the foresight to crown a more Winter-friendly host city, like Tampa or Houston.

More so than any Olympic event, I've been enthralled by Curling the most. I'm the kind of guy that randomly memorizes topics on Wikipedia (an admitted risky venture; I thought Sinbad had been dead since 2005), and long ago tried to wrap my head around the mechanics, strategy and terminology of Canada's greatest export since Peter Jennings (who has been dead since 2005). However, I hadn't the chance to actually see it played live until this week. Like a kid on Christmas, I've been running through the door after work to turn on the television and sift through the six hours of hardcore Curling action I had DVR'd throughout the day.

I'm totally hooked, and I've got to get out there and try my hand at this thing. I like the pace, the cerebral nature of it, and the fact that I could do it drunk without killing myself. And just to prove that I'm not whistling Dixie, I will be attending the finals of the 2010 USA Curling Club National Championships on February 27.

I'm not kidding. If I see you there, the first pitcher is on me. Now let's KNOCK IT OUT!


Even in an Alternate Dimension, John Locke cannot catch a break. He's still paralyzed, he's still working for that douchebag Randy at the box company, he wasn't allowed to go on his walkabout (he lied to Boone on the plane), and just minutes ago, he haphazardly flung himself onto the lawn after his van's 'Cripple Catapult' malfunctioned. Add some peppy music and he's Stan Freaking Laurel.

But hey, it's not all bad. He's engaged to his darling Helen, they're in the midst of planning a wedding, and he's even on good terms with his father! No word on how that happened, or how he managed to get himself paralyzed, but there's no time now for questions; John's taking a bath. Nakedly.

Back at the box company, Randy outs Locke for lying about the walkabout (he was on the company dime in Sydney, after all) and promptly fires him. On his way out, Locke runs into Hurley (the new owner of the company), who throws him a bone and gets him in touch with his temp agency. Why Hurley found it necessary to become a mogul in three of the saddest and most mundane professions on Earth (Box Company, Temp Agency, Chicken Shack) is beyond me. Be bold; buy an Arena Football team or something.

On a semi-related note, it's really cool to see Hurley rich and happy at the same time. Also, not wearing a giant t-shirt that's ravaged with deep sweat stains.

At the temp agency, things are starting to frustrate Locke, who is demanding jobs that are a little too big for his crippled, flimsy britches. The supervisor comes out, who turns out to be Rose (who doesn't recognize Locke from the flight). They talk about denying their individual ailments (she still has that pesky cancer), which calms John down, and Rose sets him up with a sweet substitute teacher gig.

On a personal note, there's a deeply black humor in hiring a paralyzed guy to teach kids about sex and exercise. It's like hiring a Creationist to teach you Astronomy.

At the still-unnamed high school (I'm going to guess it's Widmore Tech), Locke is flourishing as a substitute, and strikes up a conversation with the European History teacher, Benjamin Linus. To anyone who went to my high school, this is a perfect fit, as my European History teacher was also the embodiment of all that was wrong and evil, and I'm pretty sure he strangled a guy with his bare hands once.

Finally, we see Locke and Helen at home, where John admits why he got fired. Helen urges Locke to call Jack based on the business card he gave him at the airport, but Locke doesn't believe in miracles (or irony, I guess) and wants Helen to love him for who he is. They rip up the business card and presumably engage in violent, awkward intercourse.


In the foot of the Statue, Ilana is looking at the remains of her team and questioning Ben as to what happened. He claims a monster did it (he's only partially lying), which prompts Ilana to place Jacob's ashes into an Ash Bag (patent pending). She tells Ben that the Man In Black is now 'recruiting,' which sounds scarier than the Armed Forces, but not nearly as much as the Jehovah's Witnesses. Ilana tells everyone to get to the Temple before Lockelganger brings the ruckus and the copies of Watchtower, but not before they finally bury an extremely ripe John Locke.

When Ben asks Ilana why Locke's body needs to be brought, she responds that the Others need to know what they are up against. When asked why the Man In Black wouldn't just change again, she claims that it is stuck in Locke's body. This is a rare sexual condition I've only heard about on message boards. Ben tries to ask another question and is shot in the mouth by Ilana.

They bury Locke. Ben apologizes for murdering him. This is the least-weird part of the episode.

We then get a (awesome) Monster's Eye View of the Dharma remnants, and I'd like to personally thank Smokey for strapping on a helmet cam for this particular scene (you can even see its reflection in the window of Sawyer's house!). If the Man In Black is truly stuck in Locke's body, then it's sort of proportionate to how much a chicken can fly. He can escape for brief traipses and murder spasms, but that's it. Lockelganer dumps Richard out of a trap suspended in a tree, and demands that he start talking.

Pay attention, because this is interesting.

Fake Locke wants Richard to come with him; join the winning team. Richard says no, and asks why he has assumed the form of Locke. Man In Black states that he took Locke's form because Jacob trusted Locke enough to allow him to get close to him, as he was a 'candidate' (it's a key word this week). Richard doesn't know what 'candidate' means, to which Fake Locke finds it funny that Richard had been taking orders from Jacob all this time without even knowing what the task at hand was. Things start to get tense, but Fake Locke suddenly sees a weird, blonde-haired kid (me?) and gets sidetracked.

Richard doesn't see the boy because he had eyeliner in his cornea.

Recruiting Richard is slow-going, so Fake Locke pays Sawyer a visit instead. He arrives to find Sawyer embarrassingly trashed and listening to Stooges records in his underwear, pinpointing the only moment in the entire run of Lost where Sawyer did something that I have also done on several occasions. Not only does Sawyer not care that he's talking to a zombie, but he also is well-aware that he's not even talking to the real Locke. Whiskey will do this to a man; I once had an entire conversation with a pool cue. We talked about The Avalanches; it had great taste in music. Sawyer agrees to accompany Fake Locke to an undisclosed location where he will tell him sweet secrets.

The weird-looking boy appears again, this time both Fake Locke and Sawyer can see him. Locke gives chase, where the boy reminds him "You know the rules; you can't kill him." This is similar to when Keamy, one of Widmore's jackbooted thugs, killed Ben Linus' daughter Alex, prompting Ben to exclaim, "He broke the rules!" Weirder still, this statement prompts Fake Locke to scream, "Don't tell me what I can't do!" which is something that the real Locke would say every eight seconds.

Richard tries to lure Sawyer away from Locke, but gets scared shitless and bounds away like a skittish rabbit. It's funny to see this guy so powerless all of a sudden.

Sawyer pulls a gun on Locke, who's not having any of it. Locke reminds Sawyer that he was "once a man," and is "trapped." These sound like the words of either a Smoke Monster or a pre-op transsexual.

Once Sawyer and the Man In Black make it to the Super Secret Cave of Etchings and Stones on Scales, Fake Locke drops a bombshell on Sawyer and everyone watching the show. He says, "This is why you're here," and points to the ceiling of the cave, where familiar names have been written down and scratched out, presumably by Jacob. Apparently, he's narrowing down the list of potential candidates to protect the Island. These people have all, at one point or another, been visited by Jacob in their lives, essentially wrecking their free will and inadvertently steering them to the Island.


We'll get back to the names, numbers, and that pee stain you just made in a second.

Of course, The Man In Black thinks this Protector nonsense is bunk, and the Island doesn't need to be protected. He tells Sawyer that he can either wait things out and see what happens- he then crosses out Locke's name as a reminder of what could happen-, he could take the role of protector and live a seemingly meaningless existence, or him and Fake Locke could jump ship and get the hell out of there.

Sawyer wants to leave. So they do. Smash cut; episode over.

The scene in the cave was on par with the Dharma Orientation film in Season 2; a huge plot point that explains so much, yet leaves so much more to be theorized. Who's really in charge here? What's so special about this place, anyway? What has everyone been eating since the barracks were destroyed?

Let's get into it, and BREAK IT DOWN!

4. In the six-year, vast expanses of the Lost Universe, things rarely kick more ass and take more names than a John Locke-centric episode. His story the deepest and most emotional, his character the most developed and beloved, and let's face it, he's played by the best actor on a show chock-full of geniuses.

In the Alternate Timeline, we see that Locke seems to be on good terms with his father, even displaying a photo of him in his cubicle at work. This suggests that Locke became paralyzed in a completely different way, but how?

8. It is revealed that several of the main survivors of Oceanic 815 correspond to one of the numbers, and they are all candidates to become the next Jacob:

4- Locke (John)
8- Reyes (Hurley)
15- Ford (Sawyer)
16-Jarrah (Sayid)
23-Shephard (Jack)
42-Kwon (presumably Jin)

During Fake Locke's monologue, he crosses out Locke's name, as he's dead. This raises a few questions about why Jacob had kept certain names crossed and un-crossed. For example, why are the names 'Littleton' and 'Straume' crossed out? Pertaining to Claire (Aaron too!) and Miles, neither of which are dead. Perhaps they failed some rite of passage at some point.

Perhaps Jacob is only keeping track of those that he 'touched' prior to the crash. If so, why are Kate and Ilana's names crossed out? Is Jacob looking specifically for a man?

Any theories? I'm sick of thinking about this.

15. In Locke's Flash-Sideways, we see that the temp agency worker was Hurley's tarot card reader in the Original Timeline. Those crazy writers with their totally insignificant Easter Eggs!

16. After Locke gets fired, he cannot enter his van's wheelchair ramp because Hurley had parked too close to it. However, the ramp shorts out and doesn't hit Hurley's Hummer when deployed. Maybe because Hurley is 'lucky' in the Alternate Timeline?

23. If Rose works for Hurley's temp agency, did they recognize each other on the flight? If I saw a co-worker on a flight back from Sydney, I'd have to at least say something.

42. If Hurley pulled his Hummer that close to Locke's van, how in the hell did Hurley exit his vehicle?

Enough for this week; thanks for reading. Sound off in the comments section, enjoy your weekend, and kill some time by reading up on other Lost Fridays this year:

Season 6 - Episode 1/2.
Season 6 - Episode 3.
I'm On Twitter.
I'm On Facebook.

Wednesday, February 17

CDP Wayback Machine - Juvenile Detention Edition.

("1989 CDP Evaluation," originally published 02-27-08.)

I found this First Grade Evaluation amongst a pile of papers my mother sent me late last year. You're going to want to click on the images to make them larger. It's worth it.

1989 Evaluation.

The handwriting on the bottom reads: "The boys think he's really smart, but they're getting tired of his cockiness." She also takes the time to underline 'impulsive' and mention that I have an authority problem (I do), with the multiple X's painting a picture of me that's nothing short of unstoppable evil. On the bright side, I'm hardly ever sad, frustrated or sullen.

There's so much more. Keep reading.

1989 Evaluation.

Again, she takes the time to mention that I'm 'passively' uncooperative, and circles some of the most life-scarring and potentially damaging adjectives a person can say about a child. 'Tics?' 'Bizarre?' Goddamn. I'm quite certain that they no longer use this evaluation form at Winneconne Elementary School. On the bright side, I don't get pushed around and I'm comfortable with the opposite sex (two blatantly untrue statements).

Notice that she never had anything bad to say about my academic achievements. This was all due in part to my being extremely bored with the coursework presented. She didn't stimulate me whatsoever, and I had nothing better to do than to entertain myself. I was never 'impulsive;' if anything, I was frighteningly calculated in my wierdness.

The grand finale is the final comment, which reads: "Ryan is way above First Grade level work. I must always keep him busy, because if I don't, he's distracting others. He has no sympathy for anyone and laughs at other childrens' mistakes. He also makes up stories and lies."

The 'has no sympathy for anyone and laughs at other childrens' mistakes' line is, without question, one of the funniest things anyone has ever written about me. I laugh my ass off every time I read it. 'Influences others to misbehave' comes in at a close second.

Almost 20 years later, I haven't changed a bit, and that's a damn shame. After all, who would want to be a overachieving, defiant, anti-authority storyteller with no time or tolerance for stupidity? What a terrible fate that would have been.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Tuesday, February 16

6 Years Of The CDP.

(2004-2005 CDP Template.)

(2005-2006 CDP Template.)

(2006-2007 CDP Template.)

(2007-2009 CDP Template.)

(2009-2010 CDP Template.)

Today is the unofficial Sixth Anniversary of the Communist Dance Party. I started the CDP after my 22nd birthday, and here we still are, just two weeks after my 28th. We've survived over a thousand essays, tens of thousands of comments, nearly a half-million visitors, millions of Pop Culture references, billions of jokes, and one published book that's soon to be joined by another.

Our remarkable community has sprawled rapidly outside of this site, laying claim to all aspects of Social Media. The book is available everywhere. We have a Wikipedia page. A (woefully out-of-date) Facebook Fan Group. Twitter has allowed us to virtually meet up whenever we want. CDP shirts are fading in the wash as we speak. However, no matter where we communicate, I'm honored to know that the CDP is responsible in bringing so many people together. Every now and again I'll see two people talking online, and I'll think to myself, "How do these people know each other? Oh yeah, the CDP!" That sort of realization is worth more to me than any silly essay I'm capable of writing. I've met some of you. Gotten drunk with some of you. Hugged you and slobbered into your ear (sorry about that, by the way).

No question about it, things are different now. Allow me to give you a visual representation of how much I've changed over the last six years. The following photo was published to the CDP in late February of 2004:

Clearly, this is something I found funny at the age of 22. Fake mustache. Bachelor. Tiny apartment. Underweight. Jet black hair. It's almost embarrassing to look at now that I'm older.

It's 2010 now. I'm a longtime husband and white-collar employee. Homeowner. Published author. Mature.

See? I have a real mustache now. The man I was wouldn't even recognize the man I am.

Sound off in the comments section, give the CDP some props on SIX YEARS and enjoy your day. Lost Friday closes out the week.