Saturday, May 31, 2008

When a Body Meets a Body...

This afternoon, CM and I ventured to the California Science Center in Los Angeles to wander through the exhibits of Dr. Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds 3. (WARNING: The link includes some images which may disturb a few readers.) I missed the exhibit when it last visited Southern California in 2005 and was thrilled when we read in the Sunday papers a few months ago that it was returning. So we purchased tickets, and all this week, I felt both giddily excited and wary about what we were going to see.

The exhibit consits of real human bodies that have been plastinated -- a type of mummification process developed by von Hagens which replaces the water and oils of the human body with a plastic compound. What remains still displays the original properties of the tissues, minus the decayed smell. These specimens make for better anatomical teaching tools and give the viewing public a glimpse at how the human body is put together.

Though I am a long-time fan of horror novels and stories, the idea of being a mere few feet from a dead human body both thrilled and repulsed me. CM assured me that the exhibit he saw was amazing.

We arrived earlier than expected and were able to jump in line well ahead of our 2PM time slot. In fact, very few people were at the Science Center so the line moved quickly and within a few minutes, we passed through the doors into a black curtained room with dull whitish lights shining from directly overhead onto a glass dispay case various leg and foot bones inside. Another, smaller case off to the left housed a red outline of the human heart, but on looking closer, the red outline turned out to be the actual arterial pathway surrounding the heart, completely intact. Walking around the case, I could see each branching tuft of arteries and how they encased the large muscle that keeps our bodies going. My mouth hung open almost as wide as my eyes, but opened even wider as we rounded the corner.

A full-sized man stood tall on a small metal platform, arms outstretched, most of the skin completely removed, muscles and tendons flayed to show where and how the various organs fit into the body and how the muscles flexed and contracted. Some guests gasped as they rounded the corner, much like I did, and together we inched closer to the man. From all sides, we could see through the sinews and muscles, through the lungs and stomach, all the way to the skeleton no longer hidden beneath. Up close, nothing looked real -- the bones seemed like something molded from silicon, the muscles carved from wax. The effect was to diminish the repulsion of being that close to a dead body. We all ogled the man before us, parents tried to explain what they were seeing to their children, a teacher or two instructed small groups of students on the layout of bones and musculature, most of us staring in awe at the creation before us. The entire exhibit created the same reactions, from the blackened smokers lung lying beside a healthy lung to the intact nervous system splayed in a glass case to a trisected human set in such a way as to show how all our organs fit into such a compact package. I pulled CM over to look at a titanium hip replacment still in the hip, very similar to what my Dad has in his own hip. CM pointed out a uterus with fibroid tumors -- our friend MM suffered those during her pregnancy.

An hour and a half later, my eyes were still wide open as we left the Science Center, my brain still processing everything we had seen.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Final-e
With my new responsibilities at work, my Myst addiction and my new little electronic toy, I feel as though I've been neglecting the blog, posting maybe once or twice a week instead of four or five like I used to. With that in mind, I'm setting a goal to write something everyday, even if it's a post about nothing in particular, just to keep the blog up-to-date. As for this post, well, what could be more important than last night's season finale of Lost?! And what a finale it was! The addition of Brian K. Vaughan to both the producing and writing teams has definitely made season four one of the best yet. Full of action and suspense, CM and I were glued to the set. How did the survivors get off the island? What happened to those left behind? Who was in the coffin at the end of the third season?? (I certainly was surprised at that revelation.) Who is the other person at whom Sun is pissed regarding her husband's "death"? Tons of surprises and shocking turns. Many questions answered. Many new questions thrown into the fray. The finale really whet our appetites for the next season!!

I hope I can last the summer....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Prince Caspian Walks Hard

Saturday we were supposed to be heading to Pomona for a birthday party. The weather, however, thwarted those plans so the hostess called us to switch the party to Sunday instead. So rather than head to Pomona, we drove to Los Cerritos Mall in Cerritos to finally buy the birthday give for the above-mentioned party, to find yet another game for my Nintendo, and to watch a movie.
>The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian surprised both of us by being a good sequel. A bit on the violent side as compared to the first film, but despite all the kililng, we saw very little bloodshed. The special effects wove nicely into the story of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie being called back to Narnia -- what was a year to them spans almost 1,300 years in Narnia -- to assist Prince Caspian and the Narnians. Good acting by everyone involved, but my favorite was the albeit brief return of Tilda Swinton as the White Witch. Such a great segment, and for me it helped to tie the two films together. The film offered a good story, too, though I'm sure much was cut from the book in order to get the film in at 2h15m.
We ate lunch back in Long Beach, then relaxed in the apartment, watching some TV or reading,, washing a load or two of laundry, then finally CM asked if I wanted to watch one of the DVDs we'd rented from Blockbuster. So I grabbed one, dripped it into the tray, and soon we were laughing ourselves silly at Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. John C. Reilly starred in this send-up of biopics, telling the story of legendary rocker Dewey cox and his rise and fall from grace. This was one of those stupid-funny movies that you can't help but like, and we enjoyed everything about the film. Spot on acting. Spot on singing. Spot on spoofing. Reilly even co-wrote many of the songs -- such as "Let's Duet", a song with so many innuendos that I found it unbelievable that the actors were able to make it through the scene without laughing -- which were equally hysterical. But what really made the film was a cameo by "the real Dewey Cox" after the credits. We both lost it when he popped onto the screen.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ending and a New Beginning

Over the past few months, I've written about one of my addictions: the computer game series Myst. I played the original game years ago, loved it, bought the second and played it almost immediately. Yet when it came time for the third installment of the series, I loaded the game onto my computer back in 2005, vainly attempted the first puzzle, then let the program sit on my computer for a long time until March of this year. Since that time, I've turned into a non-stop Myst junkie, zipping through the third and fourth installments.
>And now, I'm struggling my way through the fifth game, End of Ages. In the game, the Ages are falling apart, and it's up to my character to figure out how to control a mystical tablet. Two other characters have tried before, and one of them, named Esher (voiced by David Ogden Stiers, I think), pops up every once-in-a-while as a CGI character to explain some of the back story of the different ages and to give clues as to what to do next. The game play is much the same as the previous installments: solving puzzles using logic and the surrounding environment. However, this version comes with a twist: interacting with characters by writing on a slate. True, it's a cool feature, but my character can't climb ladders while holding it, and if he sets the slate down for longer than 15 seconds, it jumps back to the starting point of that particular age so I make him traipse all the way back to get it.

Each of these new ages looks quite nice, albeit not as lushly 3-D as its predecessors. The environments look almost cartoonish, and when moving around, the 3-D turns 2-D (flat), losing much quality and realism. In fact, the worlds offer a distinctly sharp-edged view of things, where rocks and cliffs sometimes appear as Tron-like triangles and rectangles. And then interacting with a CGI character who gives hints takes away from the exploration and discovery entrenched in the first games. I find that to be a letdown, and even CM has remarked that I'm not as into this game as I was with the others. But I will forge ahead and finish, and that will end my journeys into the new worlds of Myst. A sixth game is on the market, called Uru, but because I don't own a PC or a machine with a windows environment, I can't play it.
Not to worry, because as I mentioned before, I just purchased a Nintendo DS. And the first game: the original Myst. So I've been able to stave off the inevitable DTs for a while longer. This version on DS plays almost as well as the very first game. The picture can sometimes be a little grainy and I've slowly acclimated myself to the stylus and the new tools (a camera, a notepad, a map of each Age), but the puzzles, the storyline and the brief videos are just as I remember them. I turn into a little geeky kid, moving quickly through the environments, tapping the stylus against everything within sight, zooming in on pages to read and to re-read every sentence, heart racing when I find the doorway to another Age and the means to unlock it, CM rolling his eyes as I show him each new puzzle. And like with the other versions, I will look up from playing only to realize that an hour or two has passed. My only gripe is that the camera doesn't work as it should. But I played the game years ago without a camera so I should be fine without it this time around, too.

For now, my character is stuck in the Stoneship Age (see picture), and I am trying to remember how to switch on the electricity. I know it has something to do with a telescope at the top of the island, a compass hidden in a passage way under the water and a hand crank generator in a lighthouse. So tonight after the gym, after dinner with CM, after finishing the last 10 pages of a book, I will immerse myself in my addiction.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bookwhore Chronicles: The Ungodly
One of the more interesting moments in California history, dates back to the 1846 when a large group of pioneers set off from the Mid West for he sunny shores of Oregon and California. Through the unbearably hot weather, they traveled across the prairies and past the Great Salt Lake before finally separating into smaller groups. As they neared the Sierra Nevadas with the threat of winter just around the corner, many groups sought the longer, safer passage around the mountains through Oregon to the north, while a small group, fueled by the unsubstantiated claims of one Col. Hastings, opted for a supposed shortcut directly through the mountains. This group, which became known in history as the Donner Party, set course along the Truckee River, eventually becoming snowbound after realizing that Col. Hastings had lied about the shortcut and camped along the frozen shores of the river. As food dwindled, a few members of the group left the encampment, hoping to reach Sutter's Fort in California and to send back relief for their families and friends.

When that group didn't return, another took its place, also hoping to reach California and leaving starving families behind them. I think most people know what happened, that the people left in the encampment, with nothing left to eat but the hides of buffalo and bear, with some of those left behind already dead, reverted to "the ungodly" in order to survive. Richard Rhodes' book presents a stark and grim picture of what may have happened during that long winter. His novel gives a day by day account, with some excerpts from the diary of one member of the party, and at first, I found it a bit dull. How often did he need to write only "hot and cloudless"? But as the story progressed, that sparsity of detail and the daily repetition of events enhanced the despair that the Donner Party must have felt, and when the act of eating the dead happened, I could understand why they finally did what they did, placing survival over societal morality.

A very compelling book for anyone who wants to learn more about California history.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Weekend, All Wrapped Up
Finally! When I checked my bank account on Friday, the money was there! My stimulus check, or -- as I sometimes refer to it -- Bush's bribe to America. (But is it really a bribe since the money was mine to begin with?) The first word of the stimulus checks all those months ago set my mind to racing about what I could buy with the money. Why not spend it on something frivolous, something that I want instead of need. So I checked out personal game systems at Best Buy and GameStop, debating the pros and cons of the Wii, the PSP, an xBox 360 and the Nintendo DS. I homed in on the Nintendo DS, searching through the games, talking myself out of buying it, then back into buying it, and back and forth again and again, until Friday. Now I am the proud owner of a cobalt blue Nintendo DS Lite (which CM has christened "Nini") and two games: Myst and Crosswords. It took a bit of effort to accustom myself to the touch screen and to maneuver around the Myst environment, but after the marathon playing sessions this weekend, I think I've got the hang of it.

Early Saturday afternoon, we braved the unnatural heat and Los Angeles freeways to reach the Freud Playhouse at UCLA and their production of Flora, the Red Menace. This charming musical from Kander and Ebb tells the tale of Flora, an artist in Depression Era New York trying to find work along with the hundreds of others who are down on their luck. With her pluck and ability to look at the good side of things carrying her through the hard times, she meets and falls in love with a young Communist named Harry while in a waiting room applying for a job. As luck would have it, she gets the job, but complications arise when Harry is persuaded by one of the party leaders to convince Flora to help form a union at her new work. Flora finds herself choosing between her love for Harry, the will of the Party, and the potential cost in jobs for her co-workers. In it's original Broadway run, the part of Flora was played by Liza Minelli, her first starring role which also earned a Tony Award.
In Saturday's production, we were treated to a fantastic performance by Eden Espinosa (most recently seen as Elphaba in Wicked at the Pantages). She belted out Sing Happy and held her voice quietly in reserve during A Quiet Thing. And she displayed all the exuberance and enthusiasm that Flora offered to her fellow New Yorkers much to the delight of everyone in the audience. Megan Lawrence stole every one of her scenes as Charlotte, a manipulative Party member with designs of her own for Harry. She was hysterical! Perfect physical comedy and timing, and an incredible voice. Reprise also staged the show as if it were a play within a play -- a theater group based on FDR's Federal Theatre Project of the 1930's. Not that the idea of a play within a play is something new, but this way of staging fit with the Depression Era setting of the musical. A nice touch, in my opinion.

From the theater, we rushed to West Hollywood for a late lunch/early dinner at the French Quarter before heading back to wait for our friend RG whom we invited to spend the night so we could all see the Pride parade the next morning. 9And because trying to find a parking place the next morning would have been impossible for RG.)

Sunday morning and we were already melting from the heat. We walked to RG's car for some folding chairs then toted them to Ocean Blvd., crossing the street to set up camp in what little shade was still available. In the hour before the parade was to start, we chatted about RG's new beau and watched the varied assortment of people cruising along the sidewalks -- from the 50+ year old man in black leather vest, hat and speedos to the drag queen in a pink baby doll dress and a bouffant high enough to require those red blinking lights to warn passing aircraft. Around 10:30am, the Dykes on Bikes roared down the boulevard, honking waving revving their engines. Followed by a lull of 10-15 minutes before the second unit of the parade -- the horse and L.A. Rodeo group. We baked in the sunlight while double-decker busses of scantily clad men and women rolled down the street, cheerleaders tumbled along and formed pyramids, a marching band strutted to the music, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence blessed the onlookers, and dozens of unknown people in cars waved to passersby. We clapped even if we didn't know them. People hooted and hollered at the many cars dragging tin cans and shoes tied to the bumpers with "Just Married" signs proudly displayed. And two and a half hours later, we slowly trudged back to the apartment, my forearms burnt a crispy red.
After a brief rest, CM and I headed south to the Irvine Spectrum and a showing of Speed Racer. Not a great movie, but it brought back all the fun of the original 1970s animated show. Bright colors, lots of racing action, some good special effects, and the overall cartoony aspect of the show. Emile Hirsch did a nice job as Speed, as did Matthew Fox as Racer X. Good casting choices as they seemed to get into the roles. I liked John Goodman as Pops, too. My only qualms were that it was too long -- the movie could have (should have) ended after the Road Rally and was set up perfectly to do so -- and the summations that occurred throughout the movie were annoying and overly long, losing the audience's attention. It was a fun movie, and I found myself getting caught up in the racing aspect of the film. But would I recommend it? I guess so, but see it in the theater because I don't think it will transfer well to the small screen.

After that, we visited my parent's house before the trek back north to Long Beach.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mixtape MeMe

Christian posted a list of songs he would put on a mixtape. Yes, you heard me. Remember those small plastic rectangles with spools of tape in between that you used to copy your favorite songs to give to that special someone as an "I like you" gift? Or for yourself, to listen to on your walkman while out jogging or walking? I decided to take him up on the challenge to list 15 songs that I would put on a mixtape. So here goes....

Candyman Christina Aguilera -- such a fun, playful throwback to the WWII-era songs of the Andrews Sisters, with a definite sexual twist. It doesn't hurt that Christina has an incredible voice, either.

Wanderlust Björk -- something about the combination of her voice, the lyrics, the traditional Icelandic sound mixed to Timbaland's beat that strikes a nerve in me, for some reason. I've always liked Björk, but this is one of her best songs to date.

Jump Madonna -- a moving dance song that always makes me want to get on the dance floor. When I play the complete CD in the car, I always hit the replay button once this song ends just to get my groove on again. And I'm a pretty mean chair dancer, if I do say so myself.

Cherry Tree 10,000 Maniacs -- a folk alternative rock song about illiteracy. I wore down the original cassette tape listening to it over and over in my dorm room at Humboldt.

Just For Now Imogen Heap -- a tale about the surviving the holidays. It's darkly comic but has a subtle, driving beat, and I love the refrain.

1983 The Incredible Moses Leroy -- this is just another fun song with a great, driving beat. I bought the CD on a whim from a seller on eBay (it was only $.25!).

Detour Through Your Mind the B-52s -- Fred Schneider talk/singing to an eclectic and headtrippy beat. It's a continuous, non-sensical hallucination that is both bizarre and funny, but I love listening to it. "$16,000 and all he wanted to do was to dip us in plaster."

Manha Manha The Muppets -- so I have very eclectic tastes.

Love Today Mika -- I don't like Mika. I think he's whiney, but this song has a catchy chorus, and I find myself bopping along in my chair whenever it plays on my iTunes music list. Call it a guilty pleasure, like The Captain and Tennille.

Would I Lie To You? Eurythmics -- for me, this solidified Annie Lennox as one of the best voices in music. She rocks this song. My high school marching band used to play a version of this during football games, and it never failed to rally the crowd.

Sin Wagon The Dixie Chicks -- fast-paced bluegrass about having fun no matter what others think.

Newborn Friend Seal -- I like many of his songs, but if I had to choose one for a mixtape, this would be it.

Twist [Dimitri Tikovoi Remix] Goldfrapp -- I can thank him for turning me on to this one. I love dance music -- though I can't dance well, if at all -- and this is a great remix that should be played in every club!!! It would make even me head for the dance floor.

Rock DJ Robbie Williams -- great song from a sexy singer

Clocks Coldplay -- I like the ethereal beat of this one. The repetitive piano notes. Kind of trance-inducing.

That's my 15...for now. This could change at a moment's notice because I enjoy listening to music. Anyone else up for listing there 15 songs?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Panorex

"Alright, Mr. C-, let me put this on. It might be a little heavy....okay, now stand over here. Move to the front. That's good. You can set your glasses on the counter....now, move forward a bit. Good, grab hold of these handles so you're leaning slightly forward. Okay. Now, I want you to bite down gently until your teeth fit into the grove...good. Now, your shoulders are a bit broad so you may need to bend a little when it comes around. Just keep your head still. Ready?"

The full-view x-ray of my jaw was over in less than 20 seconds.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Chado Tea Guy

Saturday we headed for Los Angeles to meet one of CM's co-workers for high tea at the Chado Tea Room in Beverly Hills. I drink quite a bit of tea, mostly of the Nestea-Lipton-Celestial Seasonings varieties, but the thought of tea at an actual specialty house where tea is taken very serioiusly I found to be a bit daunting. But we threw caution to the wind and made our way down Sunset, past a tranny hooker who was out way too early, circled the tea house area for parking and eventually opted for valet. Yet we only arrived 5 minutes late for our 3:30 PM reservation, but that didn't stop the host from giving away our table to someone else. So we lingered in the lobby while waiting for another table to clear, admiring the variety of wacky tea pots and the over 200 canisters of teas lining the lavender walls. My stomach began grumbling loudly while we waited, and I continually checked my watch, the frustration mounting as each minute passed. "Do you want to go somewhere else?" CM whispered. Let's give them until 4:15.

Finally, after a 40-minute wait, we were seated and given two menus: one with a few food items, the other with a brief overview of tea followed by a thick listing of their 200 varieties. I spent too much time poring over the descriptions of the white teas, the oolongs, the darjeelings, dark, fruity, first flush, second flush, my mind spinning out of control, that when it came time order the food, I quickly chose the combo plate with two sandwiches and a salad. We each chose that, as a matter of fact, and then chose our own teas. As for the tea, I selected Margaret's Hope - a second flush darjeeling tea. I had no idea what it would taste like, but after the first cup, I couldn't stop drinking it. Margaret's Hope is a black tea, but not too strong, with an aftertaste of wine grapes. Not too sweet and not too bitter so I didn't need any sugar to tone it down. And it was delicious!! CM ordered a cranberry-orange blend which was equally good (though I though it could use a little sugar). As for the food, well, the tea was much better.

I hate to say it, but by the time we were ready to leave, I was waterlogged from all that tea and could not finish the last cup. But CM's co-worker needed to get ready for poker night at her house so she and her new boyfriend left us at 6 PM with about two hours to spare before we needed to be across town at the Ahmanson. After debating about what to do, we headed to Wacko in Los Feliz and wandered through the aisles of strange bobbleheads, kitschy collectibles, tiki accoutrements, bizarre (yet fascinating) art work, and just plain odd knick-knacks. I resisted the temptation to buy the Oscar Wilde action figure but, CM walked out of the store with a string of colorful banners for his upcoming birthday festivities.

From Wacko, we hurried to the theater, picked up our tickets from Will Call, then wandered around the re-modeling of the Mark Taper Forum before heading inside to find our seats.

CM read in the newspaper a few months ago that Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein would be bringing their Carnegie Hall concert -- Freakin' Sweet -- to the Ahmanson as a fundraiser for the Center Theater Group. It took all of 5 minutes for us to decide to buy tickets, and here we sat on Saturday evening, in mezzanine seats offering a decent view of the stage. The lights dimmed as Stewie Griffin gave the pre-show spiel about unwrapping candies, turning off cell phones (and the terrible reception from AT&T) then the host for the evening, Janeane Garafolo, livened the crowd with some spot-on political humor. After her thunderous applause, the curtain rose to the Family Guy Orchestra, and a very wealthy Seth MacFarlane and a pregnant Alex Borstein took to the stage to wow the audience with a night of singing and comedy. (For those who are not familiar with Seth and Alex, he is the creative genius behind the animated TV series Family Guy, and both he and Alex are the voices of Peter and Lois Griffin.) They promised an evening of interesting songs from A to Z, sung in ways they weren't meant to be heard, and to kick things off, they selected Animal House as the opening number. And from then on, it was pure, hysterical chaos, from Miss Swan's rendition of Call Me, to Peter Griffin's rousing Shipoopi to Marlee Matlin's classic cover of Upside Down by Diana Ross (which was just so wrong, but so funny!) to a sick and twisted version of You Don't Bring Me Flowers that had the sing language interpreters laughing and trying to keep up with the anatomical renderings. We never laughed so hard! They received a standing ovation and encored with Prom Night Dumpster Baby which sounds bad (and is) but oh my God! it was so damned funny!!! Seth and Alex were both incredible, and I'm in awe of Seth's voice, jumping from character to character. Fantastic show and well worth the price!

By the time we made it to the car, we were both starving and stopped by a Carl's Jr. on the way home. Yes, we were bad and strayed from our diets, but what else is open at 11:30 on a Saturday night?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Twenty-five Books: A to Z

Because I said that I would, I snagged this meme from Matt: Make an alphabetical list of some favorite books and authors, listed by author. Not as easy as it sounds as I enjoy so many books and authors. Narrowing it down to 25? Here it goes:

A - Arenas, Reinaldo, Before Night Falls
B - Bradbury, Ray The Martian Chronicles
C - Clark, Walter van Tilburg The Ox-Bow Incident
D - Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
E - Eco, Umberto The Name of the Rose
F - Faulkner, William As I Lay Dying
G - Graves, Robert I, Claudius
H - Hall, Radclyffe The Well of Loneliness
I - Isherwood, Christopher The Berlin Stories
J - Jackson, Shirley The Haunting of Hill House
K - Kushner, Tony Angels in America Part I: Millennium Approaches
L - Lasron, Erik The Devil in the White City
M - Mishima, Yukio The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
N - Nafisi, Azar Reading Lolita in Tehran
O - Orwell, George 1984
P - Picano, Felice Like People in History
Q - Quin, Jay Back Where He Started
R - Rand, Ayn The Fountainhead
S - Saramago, José Blindness
T - Tolstoy, Leo Anna Karenina
U -
V - Vidal, Gore Myra Breckenridge
W - Warren, Patricia Nell The Front Runner
X -
Y - Yourcenar, Marguerite Les Mémoires d'Hadrien
Z - Zola, Emile Thérèse Raquin

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Revealing
I can't believe how this game has sucked the life out of me the past few days. And that CM isn't lamenting about being a "MYST Widower". After chores and dinner Sunday evening, I spent roughly 5 hours sitting in front of my computer trying to give a bubble as a gift to a water spirit who then lead me on a journey to the Dream World. Only to realize that the voice of my spirit guide was none other than Peter Gabriel. (I probably should have thought of that after the 4-minute Peter Gabriel song played upon completing a very difficult puzzle.) And last night, I played for another 2-3 hours with CM checking on me from time to time, monitoring my progress, falling asleep as I attempted to figure out the color key to open a door beneath a pool of water.

CM deserves a medal for putting up with this. Or perhaps tickets to Donna Summer at the Hollywood Bowl....

Monday, May 05, 2008

L'Homme de Fer
We joined the throngs of people over the weekend to see Iron Man. I will admit to some hesitation on my part when I learned that Robert Downey, Jr. would play Tony Stark. Definitely not a typical role for him, and with his past antics, I found it difficult to think of him in a superheroic way. But seeing the movie changed that. He was funny, charismatic, very likeable and seemed very suited to the role of arrogant-a**hole-turns-goodguy. In fact, I liked everyone in the film, from Gwyneth Paltrow's girl-Friday Pepper Potts to Jeff Bridges' wonderful turn as the sleazy-greedy Obadiah Stone to Shaun Toub as the imprisoned doctor Yinsen who saves Stark's life after being kidnapped. Great special effects that updated the character to today's technology. I think we were both very impressed with what we saw. And we did as told and stayed for the tag ending after the credits....

Friday, May 02, 2008

Not as Lost
We've watched Lost since day one, getting sucked into the freakiness of the island, the mysterious black smoke creature, the devious Ben, the polar bear and the confusing connections among all the survivors. After a bizarre and slow-moving season three which answered almost no questions and only layered on more, we seriously considered giving up on the passengers of Oceanic 815, but sat through the season premier of season four, eyes glued to the set. The show hasn't disappointed.

In fact, this season ranks as one of the best. So much action in both the present and future. Answers to many of the questions hanging around since the first season. Glimpses into the futures of many important characters. And even with the break due to the writers' strike and the late start of the season (January instead of September), the show has been a non-stop runaway train heading toward what I can only hope will be a satisfying conclusion next season.

Now, if they only offered more Matthew Fox shower scenes....