Nerdos iuvat fortuna

Thoughts from the life of a big nerd

The Ultimate Nerd Vacation

Every night brings a new, masterfully-crafted meal with 5-star service. Personal room attendants wait on your every whim. Mountains of food appease your appetite at all times. Now that is the perfect vacation, right?

Well, maybe for some people, but for the true nerds out there, a cruise to the Mediterranean means exciting piles of rocks and the chance to witness history come alive. To tread in the footsteps of Caesar, Cicero, Plato, and Paul. The first time I visited the Mediterranean I toted along my copy of the Iliad and read it there for the first time. Ever since that trip, the ancient world came alive, and this most recent cruise was no exception.

Since this trip was something of a geek-out for me, I thought it appropriate to share my 5 nerdiest moments from our vacation:

Take me to the bridge! Swisssshhhhh

1. Spaceship Equinox: The elevator control panels for all of the elevators on the Celebrity Equinox looked just like a hand-scanner from any number of sci-fi movies. I couldn’t resist the urge to use my hand to call an elevator, with the hope that security would recognize my unique handprint and not lock me out of the system for good. Unfortunately, I still had to press a button to go up or down, and I was left with the hope that on my next cruise there would be true hand scanning control panels.

2. The Narrator: We used our new video camera pretty extensively throughout the trip, and of course I had to add some pithy narration in case we forget 30 years from now where exactly we were. My personal favorite narration was in the Straits of Messina before we disembarked for the day when I gave special honor to the legendary Scylla and Charybdis. The mythical creatures have been linked with the straits because of its narrowness and difficulty for ships’ passage.  Fortunately, all of our crew and passengers survived the dangerous passage, and our video will forever commemorate our success.

It doesn't get any better than this

3. Gelato Heaven: When something makes your mouth water at the mere thought and stimulates your taste buds to the point that nothing will satiate them, you have encountered a taste of heaven on earth. Also known as Italian gelato. Twice a day at minimum was not enough to satisfy my deepest desires, so I had to savor every bite by making exquisite sounds and letting my face relax into extreme happiness. Bliss. Pure, unadulterated bliss.

An ancient library, now offering its own knowledge

4. Radical Ruins: We visited our fair share of ruins on our trip. The Acropolis, Ephesus, Pompeii, and the Roman Forum are just a few of the main events. Ephesus was particularly exciting because it was my first visit (the picture above is from the Library of Celsus in Ephesus). Setting me loose in ruins is like letting a kid loose in a candy shop. Unfortunately, in Ephesus we had to stick with our guide, but in some of the other locations we had sweet, sweet freedom.  Anything that can be explored will, and anything that can’t will merit as close a look as legally (and physically) possible. Something inside me does a dance whenever I’m around ruins, and it’s only with a sad puppy face that I am reluctantly led away by my gracious and understanding family.

Private fountain in Domitian's Palace on the Palatine Hill, Rome

5. Pining over the Palatine: This past semester I took a class on the topography on Ancient Rome, and I knew it would be helpful on our trip, but I never guessed how much I would remember. After a visit to the Colosseum we ascended the Palatine Hill, the home of Rome’s emperors, and walked around the ruins of the various royal residences. Without any knowledge of what to look for, the ruins are rather mysterious, but my stockpiled knowledge bubbled to the surface as I skillfully maneuvered the family around all the important spots and explained all the little details they might be interested in or might never have wanted to know in their lives. If there was any moment on vacation that I felt like a true nerd, it was on top of the Palatine Hill. It didn’t really help either that as I was explaining something about Domitian’s Palace, a small group of tourists was gathering around and listening in. Fortunately no Italian authorities were around to arrest me for illegal tour guiding. That would have been a good story!

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July 4, 2010 Posted by | Travel | Leave a comment

A Few Reasons Why I Loved the LOST Finale (and you should too)

The series finale of LOST has sparked more divisive internet and watercooler debate than any nerd topic since nerds were arguing about some other meaningless minutia hours before Sunday’s final episode.  As a long-time fan of the show, I need to clear the air and get my feelings out there since I am apparently in the minority.  I already inadvertently started a facebook comment war so why not full on blog about my thoughts.

Do not read this if you haven’t watched the finale yet!

First, if you think that what happened in the finale means that all of the characters died in the plain crash and have been dead for the whole series, please stop reading this right now, go back and watch the episode again, and actually listen during Jack’s conversation with his father at the end.  Christian Shephard speaks one crucial line that tells you that everything that happened on the island was real.  He says, “some died before you, and some long after you.”  If they had all died in the plane crash this could not be true.  The only part of the show that was a “purgatory” of sorts was the sideways universe from this season.

Now, into the meat of why I loved the finale.  I personally feel that the episode tied up all of the most important loose ends for our main characters.  First, the remaining castaways (Lapidus, Sawyer, Miles, Richard, Claire, Kate) safely escaped the island.  We know this because Jack sees the plane flying overhead as he is dying.  This is a goal the crash survivors have been working toward since the very first episode of the series. Jack has a poetic end to his character arc and Hurley and Ben take over as the new Jacob and Richard, respectively.  Plus, Desmond will be able to return to his family.  All of these are satisfying and appropriate ends for these characters.  It’s not important what happens next to the survivors on the Ajira plane because that would not add anything to the story told in the show.

Next, the mythological answers about the island that we needed to understand the main story were sufficiently addressed.  This is where most people will probably disagree with me.  I think, however, that we knew enough about the island, the Dharma Initiative, the spiritual mystery of the island, and any other hare-brained theory before the final episode even began.  Also, fans found questions in things that were never even important.  Sure, there are some things that I would like to know more about, but not having an answer to those things in no way ruined the show forever.  In fact, I’m glad that I still have something to think about.  It shows that the writers are intelligent and that they respect our intelligence.  I don’t want answers spoon-fed to me, whether it’s LOST or any other show.  Think about Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, for example.  Did you really feel better about yourself and the saga when you learned that the mysterious Force was merely a bunch of microscopic life-forms called midi-chlorians?  Probably not.  So why hold LOST to a standard that you don’t hold with other things?

Many people are arguing that the ending of the show made everything previous completely meaningless.  I have the hardest time swallowing this argument because it requires you to say that all of the events that happened in the course of 5 seasons had no bearing on how the main characters changed and grew.  Sure, there was a lot of mythology in these seasons that was engaging and intriguing on its own, but the characters’ interaction with that mythology is what made it meaningful.  Locke’s turbulent relationship with the hatch revealed his struggle between faith and cynicism, which ultimately ended in his attempt to hang himself because of his perceived failure.  Jack’s relationship with the other survivors and with the events on the island changed him from a man of science to a man of faith.  So ultimately, I don’t understand how someone can say that all of these character-defining moments, however mysterious and unexplained, become somehow meaningless when the end result shows characters who are changed and defined by their experiences and relationships on the island.

Finally, I like that the LOST finale, as with the series as a whole, mirrored reality in many ways.  There is no human being who has answers to every unexplainable event that happens in life, and many times we are left discussing and honing our thoughts and opinions about important questions for our entire lives.  LOST recognized this fact and didn’t try to give us an ending that wraps everything up in a neat little box for our neat little lives.  Wouldn’t that have felt more fake than the ending we got?  I am glad that the LOST producers and writers addressed unanswerable questions about faith, science, spirituality, death, and the supernatural and then didn’t totally answer them because we can’t answer those questions on our own.

I’ve heard more than a few people say that the finale was emotionally satisfying, but intellectually unsatisfying.  As you can probably tell by now I only half agree with this statement.  If you expected more answers than we had already gotten this season in the finale than go right ahead and be disappointed because that’s never what the show was about, and I think that you may have missed the point (or maybe I missed the point and we’re all just suckers who wasted away 15-23 hours each year for the past 6 years).

With that, feel free to defriend me on facebook, defame my name to your friends, call me unspeakable names, or just argue with me like the nerds we all are.  I welcome the onslaught.

May 25, 2010 Posted by | TV shows | 1 Comment

The Empire Quotes Back

Chewbacca has all the good lines

As we continue our look back at 30 years of The Empire Strikes Back, it’s hard not to recall some really memorable lines.  Sure, we got “May the Force be with you” in the first movie, but movie quote afficionados have to love Empire for its clever and memorable dialogue.  The recent Star Wars status day on Facebook in honor of May the 4th (be with you) saw a considerable amount of lines from Empire, which is a testament to its lasting imprint on the movie quote universe.  So, here are a few of my (and probably other people too) favorites.

“No disintegrations”

This quote is somewhat more obscure than the rest of the lines in this post, but its obscurity reflects the mystery of the character it refers to.  The line is spoken by Darth Vader to the bounty hunter Boba Fett when we first meet him.  This one line conjures a mysterious past and defines the character by his intense methods of dealing with his prey.  In addition, Darth Vader, the big baddie, has to keep another character in check.  If a minor character can inspire a talking-to from the main villain, he must be a tough dude.  These two words are the perfect introduction to the phenomenon that became the Fett.

“I love you…..” “I know”

Don't forget your matching his and hers t-shirts

It’s hard to get a more classic romantic line than the famous interchange between Han and Leia on the platform of the carbon freezing chamber.  The romantic tension between the two had been building the entire film, and the emotionally charged scene in Cloud City called for a touching romantic moment.  Instead, Han responds to Leia’s emotional outburst with his trademark nonchalance, and this brief exchange reminds us that Han Solo is by far the coolest, suavest, and manliest smuggler in the galaxy.  I would not suggest, however, using this line with your significant other as a romantic gesture mostly because you and I will never be as cool as Han Solo.

“Do or do not.  There is no try.”

Yoda speaks many of the classic lines throughout the entire saga, but this particular line has always stuck out to me.  It’s interesting that the line isn’t even typically characteristic of Yoda-speak, but the wisdom imparted in it is all Yoda.  Yoda’s lesson that failure is acceptable because it leads to success is one that rings true across all cultures and beliefs.  When Yoda lifts Luke’s X-Wing out of the swamp just with his mind, you know immediately that his life has never been about trying.  He has always put everything into all of his actions, whether or not they succeeded, and that is why he is ultimately successful.  It’s hard to beat a life lesson like that.

“No. I am your father!”

Yes, this is the actual line.  The next time you hear anyone say “Luke, I’m your father” slap them in the face and immediately confiscate their geek card.  They have no credibility.  The defining moment of Empire is the scene in the reactor shaft where Luke and the audience discover the true identity of his father.  Fittingly, the most memorable quote from the film comes from the most memorable scene.  This line has been parodied in countless movies and TV shows to the point that it has become a part of pop culture even for those who have never watched one scene from The Empire Strikes Back.  No other quote from the entire Star Wars saga is more famous, and any list of quotes would be incomplete without it.

There are countless other lines in Empire that are worth the effort required to type them out, and they will forever live on in the minds and mouths of nerds everywhere.  Happy Quoting!

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Movies, Star Wars | Leave a comment

The Many New Faces of The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars is known for its vast array of colorful denizens. Beyond the main characters, the galaxy is full of various robots, aliens, humans, and everything in between. In A New Hope we were introduced to the main characters and the beginning of their story arcs, but The Empire Strikes Back actually introduces to the galaxy some of the most memorable characters of the entire saga. I’m guessing that if you had to pick a favorite character besides Luke, Leia, Han, or Darth Vader, you would pick a character from Empire. Therefore, it is only fitting to take a look at the best new characters to show their faces (or their helmets) in the Star Wars saga.

Lobot has about two lines in the entire film, but you can’t help but be intrigued by him. I mean, don’t you ask yourself where he got those sweet doodads on the side of his head and if he dreams of electric sheep (kudos if you get that reference). Sure, we know that Lobot is Lando’s chief dude at Cloud City and he’s pretty handy with a blaster, but there is so much mystery about the rest of his character. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any more of a role in the films so we don’t know his backstory or future, but he does have an action figure so that alone makes him intriguing. Maybe there’s a novel out there that tells Lobot’s story, but I don’t want to read it because they mystery makes Lobot interesting (at least a little bit).

Where can I get me some of those poofy sleeves?

On a slightly more serious note, Emperor Palapatine makes his first quasi-appearance in Empire. We never actually see Palpatine in the flesh, but he does appear in the form of an ominous, looming hologram that makes even Darth Vader look insignificant. If you weren’t scared out of your pants when you heard that Darth Vader has a boss, then Palpatine’s ugly mug in 3D holographic hugeness should have done the job nicely. The short scene with a holgogram was an appropriate introduction to the Galactic Empire’s biggest baddy, which easily merits his placement on the best new characters of Empire list even without a physical appearance.

You don't want to mess with him

The last three new characters are difficult to rank or differentiate based on the coolness factor, but they each stand out for their iconic appearances and personalities. Lando Calrissian, friend and gambling buddy of Han Solo and administrator of Cloud City, provides Star Wars with the smoothest cat in the galaxy. Of course, Billy Dee Williams was the only actor worthy of the role, and he brought a suavity and charm that even trumped his treacherous behavior. In addition, who wouldn’t want to wear a cape like Lando’s? Easily a fan favorite, Lando endeared himself to fans everywhere when he showed his true colors by joining Luke and Leia in the attempt to rescue Han.  As for his deserving to be on this list, well, he’s Lando Calrissian.  Need I really say more?

Don't tell me you wouldn't pose like that if you had a cape!

A list of Empire characters without Yoda, a tragedy would be. The Star Wars saga and Yoda must always be unseparable. He provides the wisdom and the undercurrent for so many of the themes throughout the entire series, and he provides a screen presence that is serious and humorous at the same time. When we first meet Yoda in Empire we don’t even know that he is the Yoda that Luke is looking for, and the audience is as surprised as Luke when he discovers the truth about the little green alien. Yoda-speak has become a regular concept in popular culture, and you can’t find anyone, even if they haven’t seen any part of a Star Wars movie, who doesn’t at least recognize Yoda’s distinct look or speech. Out of all the new characters in Empire, Yoda easily takes the cake as the most significant and most recognized.

How can you not want one of these? Isn't it the cutest thing?

Finally, the honor of cult favorite and most mysterious new character goes to the galaxy’s most notorious bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Okay, technically Fett was introduced in the infamous Star Wars TV holiday special, but for most people that is merely a bad dream. Empire is the first place where Boba Fett really shines. What makes Boba Fett stand out among all of the other bounty hunters standing on the deck of the Star Destroyer? Fett gets his bounty (Han Solo), he has the coolest armor, he has a rocket pack, he has the swagger, his ship is oddly awesome, he is totally mysterious…I could go on and on. Boba Fett is independent and confident, and he doesn’t have to say much to convey this, which makes him easily the coolest new character in Empire.

If anyone wants to buy me this, I will not refuse.

Some honorable mentions:  Any of the other bounty hunters (Bossk, Dengar, IG-88, etc.), the space slug, tauntauns, wampas, General Veers, Darth Vader’s unhelmeted head, Ugnaughts.

Did I miss any of your favorite characters from The Empire Strikes Back?

May 5, 2010 Posted by | Movies, Star Wars | Leave a comment

May Strikes Back

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…….

(insert text crawl and music)

The evil forces of the public school corporation, despite recent setbacks, had succeeded in chipping away at the free time of young boys and girls throughout the neighborhood.  The children were forced into a hidden base at the remote edge of the backyard where they could re-enact their favorite scenes from a certain sci-fi trilogy.  Twenty years later some of those kids still fondly remember those days and even write about them on the internet…I will start by saying that I was not born for the opening of either Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back.  I share a birth year with Return of the Jedi, and that movie has subsequently become my personal favorite.  You might ask, “How can you like Jedi more than Empire?  That’s practically blasphemy among Star Wars fans!  Without spending too much time on the topic, since this post is supposed to be the preview for “May Strikes Back,” the young age at which I first watched the trilogy was most conducive to a love for Jedi.

Empire, however, has grown on me over time.  While I didn’t fully understand the darkness and melancholy of the film as a child, the experiences of life have led me to a greater appreciation of the film’s sadness tinged with hope.  In addition, Empire has the best new characters and most iconic moments in the entire saga.

Over the course of the next month, in honor of Empire’s 30th birthday, I will be posting thoughts and observations

This tauntaun will get you where you need to go and keep you warm!

about the Empire Strikes Back.  I’ll look at some of the new characters, the scenes, the dialogue, and much more as a tribute to one of the greatest, if not the greatest, sequels of all time.  So, fix that hyperdrive and saddle up that tauntaun as we take a wild ride straight into the heart of the Empire (Strikes Back).

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Movies, Star Wars | Leave a comment

Trapped!

Today I was trapped in an elevator.

Perhaps you’ve been trapped before in your life.  You probably felt helpless, maybe scared, maybe claustrophobic.  An elevator is a unique place to be trapped in, however, and there are some important things you need to know or be prepared to do when you confront an elevator door that won’t let you out.

First, pray that you are either alone or with very few people.  You don’t want to be stuck with someone smelly or prone to panic attacks.  Any amount of time beyond five seconds is too much time with either one of these people.  Fortunately, I was alone this morning, thus putting myself in the best possible trapped scenario.

Maybe Spongebob can help you root out the smelly one.

Next, check your surroundings.  Is there a suspicious package or a strange timer on the control panel?  If so, you’re probably part of a movie scene, in which the elevator will explode if it stops moving.  Bust out your acting chops and maybe you can win a job with a Hollywood superproducer to star in Elevate 2:  The 40th Floor.

You might also want to be ready to crash through the roof as you gain speed going up the floors.  If this happens, don’t panic, just sit back and enjoy the ride.  This scenario is especially likely if you’re in a glass elevator.  At one point this morning, I thought this might happen.  I was patiently waiting for help on the ground floor, when all of a sudden the elevator started rushing all the way up to the ninth (top) floor.  I braced myself for impact and the subsequent feeling of floating, but it never came.  Oh well, I wouldn’t have been able to see anything or have an entire chocolate factory bequeathed to me anyway.

If you see this guy on the elevator, beware!

If you just can’t take it anymore and have to get out, break out your crowbar.  Hopefully, you remembered to pack one in your purse/murse or bookbag.  If you forgot the crowbar, just get out your Super Crowbar Plus iPhone app.  It should work nearly as well.  Stick said crowbar/faux crowbar in the door and start shoving.  Please remember, however, that this is not a wise strategy if the elevator is moving.  Unfortunately, if the elevator is not moving, you’re probably already dead from the bomb explosion.  Thus, the only natural conclusion….

Get out a lightsaber.  The elevator does not have to be stopped to cut a chunk out of the ceiling and then climb on top and wait to jump out at the next open doorway.  Or you can cut a hole through the door and exit that way.  Nothing beats a lightsaber for getting out of crazy elevators.  Sorry, the lightsaber iPhone app won’t cut it this time.

The perfect getting out of elevators tool

If only I brought my lightsaber along this morning I could have those 15 minutes of my life back…

March 25, 2010 Posted by | Craziness | 1 Comment

The Battle for Your Home TV

When it comes to our home media consumption, we currently have a broad range of choices.  Whether we want to listen to music, watch a movie, or play video games, there is some way of conveniently accessing immediate entertainment.  Video, however, is beginning to take center stage among the various media because of the growing popularity of high-definition content.  In the ever-flowing river of technology, DVDs are going the way of VHS tapes and computers are stepping into the current.  In the swirling media milieu that is the present, three formats have ascended to prominence, and each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Blu-ray discs are the hot, new physical media, much like DVDs trumped VHS in the mid-to-late 1990s.  Blu-rays have superior video and audio quality and a shiny blue underside.  They have a much higher storage capacity than DVDs, but basically look about the same.

Pros: The ability to own something physical and feel its heft in your hand.  HD video that looks fantastic with no lag.  Packaging, Packaging, Packaging, although I have yet to see a Blu-ray with the packaging quality of some of my DVD sets.  I think DVD packaging is an often under-appreciated art form.  The cheesy blue header at the top of Blu-rays kind of ruins the aesthetic appeal (thus a pro and a con).

Cons: Finding a place to store more stuff.  Always wondering if/when they’re going to be replaced by the next best thing.  Buying a new player to replace the DVD player.

Is all that blu really necessary?

Digital Downloads are another popular form of media that have been gaining some ground in recent years. The TV and movie stores on iTunes are probably the best representation of the current state of digitally downloaded media.  Instead of going to the store to buy a DVD or Blu-ray, you can just hop on your computer, click a button, and your movie or TV show starts downloading instantly.

Pros: No need to take up space in your house because everything is on your hard drive.  Your computer can become your personal home media center, especially if you have a wireless network.  You can watch your favorite TV episodes on portable devices (iPods, iPads, and other more inferior products).

Cons: NO PACKAGING and a lack of any feeling of ownership (maybe that’s just me…).  If you want HD video, it takes forever to download even on a decently fast connection.  HD video also takes up a lot of hard drive space and then you end up with mountains of hard drives in place of mountains of discs.

Do we want our family rooms to look like this????

The final format in competition for your attention is a fairly new concept known simply as the Cloud.  With the cloud, as I understand it, you pay a minor subscription fee and can purchase movies, music, tv shows, and other media, which are then stored out there in the vastness of the interwebs.  You can access your media at any time and you can also take all of your media and move it to a different service if you feel so inclined.

Pros: All issues of storage are moot.  You don’t have to deal with shelves for discs or closets full of hard drives.  Various portable and non-portable devices will be able to play your media anywhere and everywhere you want.

Cons: Again, NO PACKAGING.  Current internet speeds and storage are nowhere near the capacity needed to sustain a massive migration to the Cloud.  The possibility of enduring ads with your media to help offset minimal subscription costs.

So, that is the playing field as I currently see it.  I don’t proclaim by any means to be a technological prophet, and I have no idea how the next ten years of media consumption will play out.  I imagine there will always be people like me who like to hold the physical objects in their hands, but my gut tells me that this will eventually become a relic of the past.  When the Indiana Jones of the year 3000 comes back to excavate our civilization, he’ll wonder what these strange circular discs were and write countless academic articles about their use as weaponry or eating utensils.

Am I the only one out there drowning in a media maelstrom?

March 5, 2010 Posted by | Technology | Leave a comment

Video Game Calendar

I’ve recently been playing some old Gamecube games on my Wii, which all started because I got a GameStop gift card and found some old used favorites. While playing these games I had some fond memories of wasting hours upon hours with video games in college. Then I started thinking that I could actually define my entire college experience by the most popular game from each year. As the video game market grew, each year brought a new popular video game. In addition, dorm life was an excellent way to gauge the most recent gaming trends.

So, it’s only fitting that I create a calendar of those care-free four years of my life based purely on video games.
Freshman year: Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64 was easily one of the most popular games ever for the console.  I had started playing it at the end of high school, but it carried over into freshman year.  I remember my across-the-hall neighbors were always playing Goldeneye, and I often joined in the fun.  Bond was soon a distant memory, however, when Grand Theft Auto 3 hit for the Playstation 2.  Everyone up and down the hallway was playing or watching someone play this game.

Everyone wanted the golden gun

Sophomore year: The end of freshman year and all of sophomore year saw the advent of the Gamecube and the Xbox.  My cousin and I roomed together and bought a Gamecube.  Our room quickly became the room to be in.  One reason:  Super Smash Brothers Melee.  I can’t even tell you how many countless hours I spent playing Smash Bros.  Even though this game is under the freshman/sophomore section, Smash Bros. is easily the defining game of my entire college career.  We had our own rules, language, and preferred characters and any deviation might associate you forever with your heinous Smash Bros. conduct.  To sum up, my life would not be the same without Smash Bros.

Junior year:  No self-respecting college junior in 2003 would admit that he never played Halo.  The brand new Xbox console stormed into the gaming world with one of the best first-person shooter/multiplayer games ever.  Everyone who had an Xbox had Halo and everyone who didn’t still knew how to play better than anyone else.  The fun increased even more when you went off campus to someone’s house and hooked up four Xbox’s on four TV’s and played 16-player Capture the Flag matches.  Once again, hours of time spent shooting each other in the face and trying not to be a camper (for the uninitiated, a camper is someone who hides somewhere high up and snipes people).

Senior year:  Senior year was a dark time in my life, devoid of any real video game meaning.  Halo was still popular and continually expanding as sequels started coming out, but when I transferred to a new school and did not find any video game buddies, I had a hard time establishing a video game identity.  I no longer had the Gamecube so I couldn’t play Smash Bros., although I’m sure I dreamed of Hyrule Castle and Falco’s powerful deflector shield.

Just like the Ice Climbers, I was being swallowed in a black hole of video game nothingness

Needless to say, video games are a fond memory of my college years, and they continue to be a fun way to pass the time, although nothing will quite match the experience of “four on the couch” for a a good match of Smash Bros.

February 15, 2010 Posted by | Video games | 2 Comments

Lost?

The Lost Supper

***SPOILER WARNING***

At the end of the last season of LOST we were left with the question of whether the survivors of Oceanic 815 were able to reset the past or they weren’t.  In the words of Rob Bell, pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church, when faced with such a moral dilemma,

“Yep.”

The first episode of season six introduced the idea of alternate, parallel universes, or so it seems at this point.  Apparently there are real physicists who research this sort of thing.  It will be interesting to see where this new storytelling device goes, and if the two universes will ultimately reconcile or remain separate.  In addition to the multiverse concept there are several thing I look forward to some resolution on this season.

1.  Jacob and his Nemesis:

The mythology of the island has been one of the most fascinating elements of this show, although I may be biased toward anything related to ancient Central American temples in the jungle with Egyptian hieroglyphs all over them.  The history of Jacob and his nemesis, however, adds a compelling character focus to the mythology.  Now that we have seen revealing facts about the smoke monster I get the sense that the island’s secrets are going to be slowly revealed early this season.  The questions that still remain:  What are these characters?  Divine spirits?  Demi-gods?  How did they come to the island and how long have they been there?

Good vs. Evil?

2.  Desmond’s Role:

Last season Eloise Hawking told Desmond that he had a key role in the story of the island, and we saw in the premiere that he makes an unexpected appearance on the plane.  Jack’s recognition of him perhaps hints at a connection between the two universes.  It is likely that Jack would never have met Desmond in the alternate universe because he probably would not have been training for the race around the world.  This makes Jack’s recognition of him all the more revealing.  Maybe Desmond becomes something of a constant between the two universes.  It would fit the episode “The Constant” from season four.  Desmond quickly became one of my favorite characters on the show, and I hope to see much more of him this season.

3.  Alternate Relationships:

From the beginning LOST has been about the characters.  Their pasts have direct influence on how they interact with others on the island, and we have watched as complete strangers grew to become friends in the midst of a crisis.  The interesting question now is if the lives of these characters will intersect in a non-crisis reality.  There was some hint at this already in the scene between Jack and Locke in the airport, and I think that this might be the direction the show is heading in order to bring the story of the characters full circle.  Can these various people from various backgrounds recognize their faults and work to overcome them without the catalyst of a disaster?

I became a passionate fan the moment I started watching LOST, and I have never lost interest.  I hope these issues, and many more, are at least addressed in the final season, but I know there will be many things passed over that do not pertain to the broader story arcs.  And actually, I hope the show does not resolve everything because it would not be LOST if we did not have something to think about.  That’s why I love the show so much.

February 6, 2010 Posted by | TV shows | 2 Comments

Top 10 of 2010 (that’s twenty-ten)

In the midst of all the nostalgia for 2009, I felt compelled to look ahead to the new year. I enjoyed 2009, but 2010 holds a lot of exciting events, and it’s 1-10-10 so I thought a top 10 list was appropriate (the only better date to have written this post is 10-10-10). So, as the tension builds, here are my top 10 most anticipated events of 2010, placed in chronological order:

Lots to look forward to

1. The final season of LostI have been a zealous follower of the TV show LOST ever since the second season. I rented the first season a week before the second season premiered and watched all of the episodes to catch up. Since then, I’ve been perhaps overzealous for the show. For those of us who watch the show regularly, however, the final season is one of the most exciting events this year, especially after the previous two seasons have been so good. I know we won’t get answers to all of the big questions, but I am fully expecting to be heartily satisfied no matter what happens.

2. Paper Presentation at the Indiana Classical Conference– Last semester, my graduate advisor suggested that I submit a paper to present at this small conference held at Butler University in Indianapolis. After some hesitation, I decided to submit a paper about Roman sculpture, and it was accepted. The conference should be a good experience because it’s not a high stakes venue, and I will be able to get some good experience to tag onto my resume. My anticipation for this event definitely wavers between nervousness and excitement, but either way it couldn’t avoid making the top 10 list.

3. Movies– Because I love to watch movies, I didn’t want to give separate slots to all of the movies I’m looking forward to this year. I just want to mention a couple that I’m particularly excited about. Two movies are coming out early this year that are about Greek mythology in some way, so of course I am greatly anticipating them. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, based on the first book in a young adult series, and Clash of the Titans, a remake of the old Ray Harryhausen classic, both look to be highly entertaining romps through Greek and Roman mythology. In addition, I admit that I am very excited for the first movie in the 2-part finale of the Harry Potter series. If it’s anything like the last movie, Deathly Hallows should be a great time.

4. My 5-year anniversary– This may sound like a small milestone, but I’m really excited to be able to say that my wife and I have been married for 5 years. I look at it as the first milestone on the road to many more.

5. Kayaking at Turkey Run State Park– Last summer, my wife and I discovered kayaking on a local lake. We had tried canoeing but wanted to try something different so we both rented single-person kayaks and spent an hour kayaking around the lake. It was a great time, and we’re excited to try out a two-person kayak on a body of water with a little more current.

6. Mediterranean Cruise– You can imagine why this would make anyone’s top 10 list. In June we will be heading to the Mediterranean with my parents and my sister and her husband for a 10-day trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. I can’t wait to head back to one of the most beautiful parts of the world with all my loved ones, visit all the cool archaeological sites, and partake of all the excellent Mediterranean cuisine. My mouth is watering already!

7. Student Teaching– After three semesters of class, I’ll finally be able to test my mettle in a real classroom. For twelve weeks I will be teaching in a local high school (location is still unknown) and getting the semi-real experience of having a real teaching job. I’m anxious for the chance to have a practical experience where I can find out if all the theory I’ve learned in class has been worthwhile…

8. Mexico Vacation– From the very first day of graduate school, my wife and I decided that we would reward ourselves at the end with a nice, all-inclusive trip to Mexico. Well, this year the end is coming, and the Mexico vacation comes with it. I’m especially looking forward to briefly being Indiana Jones as we trek through the jungle and Mayan ruins, and of course spending some time on the beach. So, happy graduation and fifth anniversary to us!

9. Graduation– Although this event comes at the end of the year and the end of this list, it is easily my #1 most anticipated event of the year. What makes the event even better is that my wife will also be graduating at the same time. It will be great to share a huge life event with my favorite person. I realized recently that I have been in school for 21 straight years with only one semester off on two different occasions. I am ready to be done with class. Plus, now I can go by “Master Jason.”

10. Moving– The final event of the year worthy of my top 10 list is another move. My wife and I have moved a lot since we got married, but this is the first move where we can truly choose where we want to live. The possibilities are endless, which makes the move a bit daunting, but any negatives are far outweighed by the excitement of setting out for a new chapter of our lives.

Congratulations, if you made it all the way to the end of this list. Clearly, this year is going to be an exciting one, and I hope Twenty-ten brings many exciting events for everyone else too.


January 10, 2010 Posted by | lists | 2 Comments