The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

Archive for January 2009

LOST: I’m lukewarm

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One thing about LOST that is really impressive for me is that it is an incredibly resilient show. Just when you think it’s lost focus or run out of plot lines, bam! They hit you with an episode that has you on the edge of your seat for an entire hour.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I still haven’t conferred with the other LOST-philes around my office so I wonder what their reaction will be. The girl who sits next to me felt like last night was an improvement on the season premiere. I was a bit more underwhelmed.

They did answer a question or two. And they did completely focus on the folks on the island which was a nice break for me. I’m sort of sick of the whole Oceanic 6 story and how they’re struggling back in the real world. It was a relief that they’ve eased up on the time warp thing. But it looms continually over each episode like a roiling, black cloud.

Richard’s story becomes more provocative, as he never ages.

The most interesting relevation was about Charles Widmore and his presence on the island as a young man and as one of The Others. Actually, he comes across more like a young punk. That part and his remaining story definitely have me intrigued. We’ll see if that’s enough.

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Written by the bee dub

January 29, 2009 at 9:38 am

Posted in TV Thoughts

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Hermit Cinema: Gonzo

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There wasn’t a whole lot of new stuff here. If you’re at all familiar with the story, myth or biography of Hunter S. Thompson, there isn’t really anything groundbreaking here.

It is however, a nicely done documentary that like many good documentaries, leaves you wanting to immerse yourself in the subject’s material when you’re done watching. The real find here, for me, was the Jiimmy Carter speech that Hunter gets on a tape recorder. In it, Carter is giving a speech to the Georgia Bar Association, or something similar, and blasts them for being part of the status quo machine that resists changes for good.

Other than that, this is an easily absorbed story about the man, the myth and the legend. Sadly, the footage of Thompson at the end of his life is a real revelation. He hardly looks like the same person. He seems to go from an aging Hunter S. Thompson to some sort of character wearing a bad, inaccurate, poorly reproduced Hunter S. Thompson costume overnight. A sad end to a man who left a lasting car-crash of an imprint on the American psyche.

I’d give this documentary a B minus. It’s easy to watch but doesn’t really open your eyes to much you didn’t already know.

Written by the bee dub

January 26, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Posted in DVD Reviews

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The 2008 NFL Season – All good things must end

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This is the first weekend of the season without any football and it flat out sucks.

Next weekend is the big finale and it’s really rarely much of one to be honest. I’d say one out of every four Super Bowls is a competitive game at all. The rest are blowouts. Plus you end up having to talk about football with a bunch of one-game fans. People who will not have watched any games but the Super Bowl and then make comments like, “I just don’t think the (fill in the team here) are a very good team.” Yeah, thanks buddy. Go back home and listen to some Coldplay.

Anyway at least there’s football next weekend, even in its over-hyped, likely-to-disappoint form. This weekend was a weekend without purpose, like a compass without a true North.

After the Super Bowl, the draft cannot come soon enough…

Written by the bee dub

January 25, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Posted in Daily Happenings

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Burn Notice: a 21st Century A-Team, in a good way

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As a kid, I grew up watching the A-Team. Today, I’m a fan of Burn Notice, which began airing new episodes last night. If you’re not familiar, it’s about a covert operations agent, Michael Westen, (Jeffrey Donovan) who loses his standing with the government. That means he’s got no identity, money, ability to travel or make money. They don’t want him dead. If they did, he would be. And it’s all because he’s being blamed for something he didn’t do.

It’s a dark comedy (but very lightly so) about the spy trade and his place in it. The best parts are the voiceovers where he gives what feels like little ‘insider’ tips on being an operative. For example (not verbatim):

“There’s a huge aftermarket for car parts, that’s why their locks and alarms are generally very good. But there isn’t much demand for motorcycle parts. So if you need to make a quick getaway, it’s pretty easy to steal a motorcycle.”

Stuff like that. I’m usually a sucker for anything involving covert stuff so I’m probably fairly biased. He spends his time trying to get to the bottom of who ‘burned’ him – their term for being cast out of the covert ops society – as well as spending his time helping average joes and joannes who are stuck in tough situations.

He’s helped by his ex girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar, playing a former bank robber and operative for the Irish Republican Army) and buddy Sam (Bruce Campbell, playing an boozing ex-Navy SEAL who used to inform on him to the FBI). I think Bruce Campbell is a totally underrated TV actor. There’s also his mother (a very good Sharon Gless) who is never without a cigarette.

This is by no means a very deep show. It’s not think-piece kind of material. In fact, it very much follows the template and predictability of the old A-Team from the 80’s but does it in an entertaining way. First, he’s a fugitive. Second, he only helps ‘little people’ who are in way over their heads with the mob, major crime figures or the like. Third, he has very little regard for getting payment for his services. And fourth, there’s usually a sequence where they have to build an impromptu technological device or explosive to aid in their quest/mission.

Again (not verbatim):

“If you need to quickly improvise a listening device, get yourself a disposable cellphone. The microphone works well but the battery will drain very quickly. As long as you can hook it up to a reliable power source, you’ll have an effective way to listen in.”

This will be read while he/they solder wires and circuit boards to various parts of a dissembled cellphone. Intriguing stuff.

One of my favorite things about this show are his buddy Sam and ex-girl Fiona, who is a total trigger-happy badass. I think my favorite moment in the show was when Michael was pretending to be a street tough who needed to ‘rob’ Fiona of her purse. Well Fiona, at first, starts punching him in the face several times while he pleads with her to just sell the fact that he’s actually robbing her. Maybe it’s just me but I found it hilarious. Actually, my wife thought it was hilarious too so maybe it’s just the two of us.

Last night’s episode picked up right where they left off but also right into the same old pattern. It was exactly what I was hoping it would be and sometimes, that’s all you need from a TV show.

Written by the bee dub

January 23, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Has LOST jumped the shark?

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I’m a huge fan of LOST.

Actually, let me correct that. I used to be a huge fan of LOST and now I’m a regularly committed fan. The first two seasons are some of the best TV ever created, especially season 1.

Wednesday night’s season premier left me a little…underwhelmed. I mean time warp? That’s bad enough but then to have had it happen over and over. Why don’t they just introduce some identical twins for a few characters. I’m also kind of over the Oceanic 6 who made it off the island. It’s obvious they’re all going to go back eventually so I’m over watching them struggle…and struggle…and struggle to life back in the real world.

I will say that this is one show that can totally pick itself up from the depths when you think they’ve totally lost it. I’ll keep watching. If nothing else, I just want to know how the whole story resolves itself. But I’m certainly skeptical.

Written by the bee dub

January 23, 2009 at 9:07 am

Posted in TV Thoughts

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An era ends. Another begins.

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Eight years ago, I was:

-living in San Diego, barely into my thirties and full of optimism.

-an avid reader of foreign policy-related books and mildly familiar with a terrorist leader named Osama bin Laden

-mocking the terrorists who tried to blow up the World Trade Center using a van packed with explosives

-confident in my career choice

-confident in the infrastructure/foundation of our financial markets, if not our economy

-completely ignorant of the fact that I would be paying $4 a gallon for gas in my lifetime

-just a couple years into my marriage with my lovely wife

-still embarrassing my wife on the dance floor at weddings

-unaware that having a dog could make life so much more worth living

-ignorant of the wonderful, warm feeling of dog poo felt through the thin barrier of a plastic bag

-very, very mildly hopeful that one day I could be a millionaire, or at least considered wealthy

-not very confident that America was open minded enough to elect an African-American President

-hopeful that Al Gore would become a giant within the Democratic Party

-totally unfamiliar with the fact that an election and inauguration could actually dominate the country’s collective conscious

-completely unaware that steroids had soiled our national pastime to such a ridiculous degree

-confident that the Yankees would have won at least three more World Series

-pessimistic that the Giants would ever win another Super Bowl

-still able to¬† run a mile in a time that began with the number ‘6’ without feeling the onset symptoms of a heart attack

-completely unfamiliar with shin splints or plantar faciitis

-not very selective when it came to my running shoes

-smoking way too much pot

-still confident I could lose weight fairly quickly and easily

-not yet a member of iPod nation

-the owner of a digital music library that probably had twenty songs or fewer

-still watching movies on VHS

-not yet hopelessly addicted to the internet

-not yet a person who had made an online purchase

I hope that in eight years I’m again marvelling at how much things have changed. Of course, I do hope it will be for the better instead of the worse.

Written by the bee dub

January 20, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Posted in Daily Happenings

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NFL Championship Round Menu: Away Game

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I’m going to my friend Moe’s place again to take in the conference Championship games.

His wife made two-meat chili; beef and chunks of pork with beans et al. It was awesome. I’d rate it very highly and in fact, I’m going to steal some of the recipe and incorporate it into our own Thirty Dollar Chili recipe. Basically, I’m going to substitute chunks of pork for the chunks of beef that I usually use.

That’s what cooking is all about. Seeing things out in the world and then incorporating it into your own cooking. Personally, I think their chili would have been better without any beans. I’ve found that beans are a hot-button issue in the world of chili. There’s either bean recipes or no-bean recipes. But basically, the thought of incorporating pieces of pork doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all.

As for the playoffs, I’m all about the red birds (Cardinals) and it’s amazing that their now in the Super Bowl. The Pittsbugh – Baltimore game is a total backroom brawl just as the pundits and myself anticipated. Right now we’re in the 3rd quarter and it’s 13-7, Pittsburgh leading.

I’m pulling for the Ravens. I don’t know why. Normally in this situation I’d be pulling for a team like the Steelers but the Ravens are hitting a lot harder tonight in my opinion. As a football fan, I’d have to admit that Troy Palamalau is one of the best players in the league. He’s just all over the field, making plays. His combination of instincts and aggresiveness are simply unmatched at the safety position.

Alright, I’m going to stop blogging to watch the rest of the game. Hope you’re all enjoying it all as much as I am.

Written by the bee dub

January 18, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Posted in Daily Happenings

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