This Week in Pop Culture


Who’s Your Favourite Mad Man?: Breaking Bad and Dexter are two dramas about some heavy subjects and dark leading characters (a meth cook and a serial killer) that I can’t help comparing. I’ve been a long-time fan of Dexter, but I only just started watching Breaking Bad this summer (I’m caught up now). This weekend, we got the second-last episode of Breaking Bad‘s second-last season and Dexter‘s latest season premiere. My verdict? Dexter has become Breaking Bad lite.

Exhibit A: In terms of lead characters, Breaking Bad pushes the boundaries of how far you can send your protagonist over the edge, morally-speaking, a lot further. With Dexter, the show puts a lot of effort (through Dexter’s voiceover, mainly) to make him more sympathetic and palatable for the audience. We like him, and that makes the things he does easier to digest. With Breaking Bad, they don’t hold back. And it’s not just with their respective criminal tendencies. As a person, Walter is just a dick. His main, tragic flaw is his pride and it colours all of his decisions, most of which are selfish and often cruel and short-sighted. (And if my suspicions for the season finale are right, he’s an even more awful person than we’ve seen so far.) Dexter, meanwhile, is always the good guy – or, at most, he stumbles every so often just to see the errors of his ways and right himself again – which wasn’t such a bad thing until I started watching Breaking Bad and discovered the intoxicating flavour of real moral complexity.

Exhibit B: Speaking of Dexter‘s voiceovers… I can’t stand them anymore. I feel like they’re dumbing the show down and explaining every plot development and thought that Dexter has just in case we’re not following along, starting as far back as the final episodes of last season. And it’s not just unnecessary; it’s annoying and breaks the ole “show, don’t tell” rule a dozen times per episode. Breaking Bad, meanwhile, is so subtle and nuanced that you can miss things just by not paying attention, making it much more interesting according to my standards. In a single scene, Breaking Bad can turn everything you thought was happening on its head with single line or look, and every episode is like watching the characters build up to a big reveal where the players finally show their hands in a very lethal game of poker. Happy sigh. I could go on forever…

Guilty and guiltier pleasures: I’ve decided to upgrade The Vampire Diaries from a guilty pleasure to a perfectly justifiable pleasure – no guilt. When I first started watching, I’ll admit, it was mostly because everyone was just so gosh-darned hot. But I have to give them credit. The writing – albeit a bit melodramatic at times – is strong, and the plot twists are some of the best of any show on television. That being said, I think Elena could stand to be less of a wet towel, though I’m happy to see Stefan explore his darker side. Meanwhile… I’m downgrading VD‘s older and more popular sister, True Blood, down to a guilty pleasure. I know I touched on this before, and I did say that the season finale was better than usual, but on the whole, the show has gotten campier and more goofy – sloppy, even – of late. It’s struggling to juggle its giant roster of characters (something that Glee is starting to excel at, based on its second episode of season three, by the way) and Sookie’s character – inextricably tied to her love triangle, er, love square with Alcide, Bill and Eric – is getting worn out, plus I only have so much patience for annoying lead characters. It’s even gotten to the point where I’ll be watching and thinking, “This doesn’t look that hard. I could totally write for this show.”

Meanwhile, at the movies: I saw Drive last night and, despite my very high expectations, it was better than I thought it would be. I was thinking it would be, at best, a very good action movie, but it was definitely more than that. It reminded me a bit of A History of Violence in a few ways. On the whole, the directing right from the get-go was wonderfully bare bones and well-timed, and the story itself was interesting and even unpredictable, but it was Ryan Gosling’s character, with his quiet pacifism, seemingly inherent violent nature and merely hinted-at past that was the most interesting. More questions were raised than answers given, which is a good thing. I was looking at the credits for the movie on IMDB, trying to source where it went right, but I’m not actually sure. Based on director Nicolas Winding Refn’s credits, I’d say he’s a fan of violent films, and then there’s screenwriter Hossein Amini and James Sallis, who wrote the book it was based on. Best guess? A perfect storm of talent. One complaint: what’s up with the pink, 90’s font?

This Week in Pop Culture


Yay: Despite getting cheesier, more over-the-top and ridiculous this season, this past Sunday’s season finale of True Blood was actually really good. Interesting character development, good intersecting drama between the characters and lots of sadness. Keep it up next season!

Nay: The premiere of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s long-awaited (sort of) comeback to television, Ringer, was terribly disappointing. [SPOILERS] There was too much insane drama (Being hunted by a murderer! Love triangles! A fake baby! Thrice-hidden guns! Hit men! Angsty teens!) Plus, Bridget spent too much time explicitly voicing her feelings every step of the way. (Was this for the younger CW audience? Maybe.) And they had SMG looking into mirrors way too much (we get it, already!) and the pacing/directing/writing was just generally sub-par. I might watch another episode or two to see if it gets better, and to see if SMG pulls a Glee by pretending to be pregnant – ’cause that might be fun.

Yay: I saw Morgun Spurlock’s Comic-Con documentary at TIFF this week, exhaustingly but aptly titled Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, and it was fantastic. It didn’t really approach the subject as an attempt to document the history, overall cultural influence of the con, its role in San Diego, controversies or anything like that – though there were elements of these things – instead, it was more of a love letter from convention goers to the con itself. By following a handful of fans who attended as part of their dreams to become comic book artists or costume designers, as well as a comic book retailer and a whole slew of famous, regular con-goers like Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon (!), it told the story of what the convention means to real fans/geeks/lovers-of-things. A lot of people have been talking about how it’s a charming look at the kind of people who love things intensely, especially the kinds of fans who are moved to emulation as artists. I definitely agree, and I’d have to say it accurately and wonderfully reflected my feelings and experiences as a fan. Even if you don’t consider yourself a part of “that world,” go see it. It’ll explain a lot about why conventions mean something to those who go, and what that whole culture means to them (us).

Nay: Contagion was pretty disappointing. Long story short: it was interesting (and horrifying – gonna’ spend the weekend stocking up on face masks, hand sanitizer and canned goods), but really lacked story structure. Good cast. Poor story. The end.

Yay: I gotta’ say, I’m about 220 pages into The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and it’s honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read. I was trying to explain why it’s so good to my sister, and I couldn’t seem to do it justice. The way it blends together the history of comic books with World War II, and manages to create these amazingly rich, likeable and sympathetic characters in a seamless, easy-to-read, engaging way with lots of effortless historical detail is, quite frankly, infuriatingly impressive. Can’t wait to keep reading.

Highlights and Lowlights of Comic-Con 2011

Entertainment, Travel

Day 1: Wednesday, July 20 (preview night/registration)

Lowlight: After a long train ride from L.A., checking into the hostel and walking down to the convention centre, we get a text from the SDCC official Twitter feed saying that registration is closed for the day. It was only around 6:30 p.m. and registration was supposed to go until 8:30 p.m. We asked some convention personnel about it, and I guess the line was so ridiculously long that by the time they finished with everyone currently in line, it would be well after 9 p.m. So they supposedly closed down the line. So. Lame. So, feeling strongly that they should keep accepting people into the line until the advertised time of 8:30 p.m., we took the shuttle bus over to the Town and Country Centre (the location of badge pick-up for Wednesday night) and got in line anyway. At this point, I was super pissed and worried that my Thursday morning was going to be wasted trying to register.

Highlight: And lo! Despite what they said – and what convention personnel were telling people – we got in the line, waited for a couple of hours and we got to register! Go figure. Presumably, they were just telling people that registration was closed to discourage people from joining the line because it was getting so long. Which is terrible, frankly. But it was okay! And finally getting our badges that night was extra exciting because of all the worrying.

Day 2: Thursday, July 21

Lowlight: Exhaustion. On our first real day at the con, we got up a bit before 3 a.m. and managed to join the line outside the building around 4 a.m. (it’s the line you join just to get in the building in the morning, whether you want to get into the exhibition hall or into one of the panel rooms, except for the massive 6,500-seat Hall H which has a separate line). By the time we got into the building and joined the line for Ballroom 20 (7 a.m.), and got into the ballroom (9 a.m.), I was already tired. The first panels of the day started around 10 a.m. and we were there until around 8 p.m., I think. (The order went: Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, Psych, Ringer, Game of Thrones, TV Guide’s Fan Favourites Panel w/ a variety of actors, Shameless, Homeland, Dexter.) It’s unfortunate that if you’re waiting for a panel later in the day, you have to sit through a bunch of panels that you’re not interested in so you can have a good seat (they don’t clear the rooms between panels, so you have to secure a seat early on and stay there), which means the whole morning was kind of wasted. That being said, you may end up being introduced to something cool and, in this case, seeing Bruce Campbell for the Burn Notice panel was a cool surprise. (He’s very charismatic, even in a white blazer, bright pink shirt and green pants.) AND! A lot of shows will prepare neat skits/videos just to show at Comic-Con, which is really appreciated and very cool. Even if you’re not a fan, it’s pretty entertaining.

Highlights: First, the swag. We got great swag on this first day, including t-shirts, a freakin’ STOOL for Ringer and a Game of Thrones bag with the first book, t-shirt and mousepad/screen wipe. Second, seeing Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy!) and Nestor Carbonell (Richard, from Lost!) at the Ringer panel was great. I would rank SMG below Joss Whedon on my Buffy-Must-See List, but it was still neat. And I loved the Lost love for Nestor. Then, the Game of Thrones panel was really exciting because I’m really loving the show and George R. R. Martin was moderating the panel. Sadly, no footage from the next season, though. After that, TV Guide held a “fan favourites” panel with actors from a bunch of popular shows, like True Blood, The Big Bang Theory, Lost (Nestor Carbonell and Jorge Garcia were doing double-duty for Lost and their new shows, Ringer and Alcatraz, respectively) and Doctor Who (Matt Smith is ADORABLE and it was cute that he was such a big True Blood fan.). By the time Dexter got on stage, I was pretty tired, but Michael C. Hall is very handsome, so I got over it. I think this was also the night I saw George R. R. Martin waiting at an intersection, which was cool.

Day 3: Friday, July 22

Lowlight: Sleeping in. My stupid alarm didn’t go off so I slept in until 8:45 a.m. and therefore didn’t get in line early enough to see the Star Trek Captains panel with William Shatner, moderated by Kevin Smith. So, instead, I wandered the exhibition floor, which was fun in itself.

Highlight: Later in the day, I went to the EW: Lost, One Year Later panel, which featured producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse showing up in Star Wars costumes and showing a “lost” clip from the show. Having only just watched the series this past year (meaning I wasn’t a fan the first time I went to SDCC in 2009), it was great to have a chance to be a Lost fan with this panel. This was also the day I bought this polar bear bobblehead, which was supposed to be a con exclusive…

Day 4: Saturday, July 23

Lowlights: Underestimating the popularity of the off-site Hilton Indigo Ballroom. I showed up around 7 a.m. or so, and there were so many people waiting for Attack of the Show and/or Being Human (U.S. version) and/or Community, which is what I was there for. I thought that, since it was an off-site location and the shows aren’t THAT popular, it’d be okay. Unfortunately, I ended up about halfway back. 😦 Second lowlight: Later that night, I tried to go to the new “Hall H/Ballroom Playback” where they show video footage from some of the bigger panels of the day, and the room gets to vote on what they want to see. I voted for Fringe, but Chuck, Futurama and others were more popular. Lame. (I later, of course, just watched it on YouTube…)

Highlight: Community! Seriously, more people should watch this show. It’s hilarious, and creator/showrunner Dan Harmon hates Glee so much and so unapologetically, it’s amazing. All the panels this year encouraged the audience to tweet about the panel with a particular hashtag, and Community had the best one: #anniesboobs (which you’ll understand if you’ve seen the show). On that note, the pen-stealing monkey, Annie’s Boobs, was also there! They also handed out a special SDCC slip cover for the season 2 DVD w/ the claymation characters from the Christmas episode, which was cool and a very not-subtle way to get all of us to buy the season 2 DVD.

Day 5: Sunday, July 24

Lowlight: Sleeping on concrete. Okay, back in 2009, I lined up for Ballroom 20 to see Joss Whedon at 5 a.m. and managed to get a second row seat. This year, I showed up to the Hall H line at midnight (MIDNIGHT!) and I was behind at least 100 people waiting for Glee, Supernatural and Doctor Who (mostly Doctor Who; some have reported that people were camping out for Glee, but it was mostly Doctor Who based on the amount of costumes I saw and eavesdropping). Plus, it was cold and my fleece blanket was terribly insufficient. And some people walking by during the night were lame and yelled stuff occasionally (ex. one guy yelled “wake up!” over and over again). Then, in the morning, the 100 people in front of me ballooned to 150 or maybe 200 or so when people who had slept in soft, comfy beds showed up to join their friends and family who’d waited in line. Sigh.

Highlights: Again, I wasn’t a Supernatural or Doctor Who fan when I went to SDCC in 2009, so getting to see them both this year was awesome. Even just waiting in line (after daybreak) was fun ’cause everyone was really excited and there was SO MANY Doctor Who costumes (of the Doctor, River Song, Daleks, Tardises, Weeping Angels…). Both the casts for Supernatural and Doctor Who were great, seemed grateful for the fan love and were happy to be there. The Supernatural panel showed bloopers (a fan favourite) and Doctor Who showed clips from the past season, and a trailer for the upcoming conclusion to the sixth season. No swag, though. 😦 Best part: Matt Smith and Karen Gillan ran off and signed a kid’s Dalek that he made. Cute.

The Glee panel was a bit disappointing because they were late, spent a bunch of time showing stuff for the 3D movie before the panelists even showed up on stage and only 4 actors were there (Jenna Ushkowitz, Harry Shum Jr., Dot Marie Jones and Darren Criss – though I was pretty happy to see Criss!). Producers/writers Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuck were also there, and it was a bit off-putting when Brennan, on being asked about Ryan Murphy telling The Hollywood Reporter that cast leads Colfer, Michele and Monteith would be leaving/graduating at the end of season 3, said he didn’t know where the reporter got her information and that he never said that. It was a whole controversial thing. Blah, whatever. But! I should note that I saw the Mini Warbler with his family waiting in line, which was a random and hilarious surprise. And he actually made an appearance in the trailer for the Glee 3D concert movie, and the crowd screamed pretty loud for him. Amazing.

In Summation: SDCC is getting crazier. Lines are getting longer (people were in the Sunday Hall H line since 7 p.m. or so the previous day, plus the stupid registration business), you have to waste a chunk of your time at the current con to register for next year’s con if you want to secure your badge, and it’s too hard to get an autograph ticket (it’s a lottery system most of the time, the timing of which conflicts with its accompanying panel!). And it’s getting more expensive (jumping from $107 to $175 for a four-day pass in just one year, plus hostels/hotels are literally doubling their rates).

Plus, the convention seems ignorant of the fact that fans don’t necessarily care about “big” movies with “big” stars, and would rather see TV shows in the larger rooms. Case in point: On the day True Blood was in Ballroom 20, there were apparently 6,000 people in line while Hall H was half full. So not cool. AND, since True Blood was so late in the day, if you wanted to see a panel in that room earlier in the day, you had to deal with people camping out/saving seats for True Blood. Basically, the whole panel system needs an overhaul.

Lastly, I think the shopping section of the exhibition floor could be put to better use. All the stalls seem to be selling the same stuff: comics, action figures/toys, and t-shirts. This year, you could buy the same Angry Birds toys at least a dozen different places. You know what I would rather see? “In-universe” props. That means I don’t want a t-shirt that says “Supernatural” on it. I want a t-shirt that says “Ghost Facers.” And I could barely find anything Lost-related.

I love SDCC, but I’ll have to decide if the lowlights are worth the highlights before I delve into the madness again next year. With so many other conventions out there, I have to wonder if the monster-sized SDCC is worth the trouble, especially when its growing size is what’s causing a lot of that trouble.

(Stay tuned for another post on the rest of my trip!)

A Reluctantly Negative Review of Super 8


I never really know exactly how I feel about a movie immediately after seeing it, unless I absolutely loved it or hated it. The rest of the time, if the movie has underwhelmed in some way, I only have a vague sense of what I’m feeling, a restlessness that I’ll ponder over for days until I suss out exactly what didn’t work. This has never been more true than with Super 8, the new J.J. Abrams movie that I saw a couple of days ago, which is way I feel it warrants a blog post.


For the first hour, I was actually really taken with it. And by “it”, I mean the ensemble of kid actors who were funny and natural, and the spectacular action sequences, especially the big train wreck at the beginning that was tense and showed the kids reacting realistically, which kept me in the moment. J.J.’s timing is great in these cases. As a jaded movie-goer, I generally know when the monster is going to grab the guy, or when what’s-his-name is going to punch the cop, but J.J. really steps around that, and it’s incredibly refreshing. Aside from that, the general look and feel of “small town America” in the 70s was warm and inviting, and the intrigue surrounding the alienmonsterguy and his crazy metal cubes was piquing my interest. All good so far.

But there was a certain point where I couldn’t help but want more. I got the sense that this movie was pieced together from other great movies – Stand By Me, E.T. – and though the pieces fit really well together, and I enjoyed the ride… I was disappointed that it didn’t try to offer anything new. It’s like serving me the perfect apple pie, when you promised me a new recipe, or at least a new take on the classic apple pie. J.J. succeeds in creating a beautiful, exciting “Spielbergian” movie, but based on his history – Lost, Star Trek – I think he’s capable of being a little more inventive.

By the time the movie neared its end, I had given up hope that it would break out of his archetype and offer something a little different, a little daring, and I’d settled into the pre-fabricated rhythms of so many movies that have come before like slipping into a warm bath. Nice, but not exciting.

And the ending itself? Overly sentimental. Definitely. Don’t even get me started on the locket (although maybe I’m just jaded). And Joe spontaneously spouting a beautifully poignant life lesson while in mortal danger, one that applies to both his story and the alien, was expected – not necessarily in a bad way, I admit it’s a good device for connecting those two parallel stories – but it just felt really forced coming out of his mouth in that moment, especially when, as I’ll explain next, it didn’t feel earned.

In the case of both our young protagonist, Joe, and his father, I also didn’t feel that their grand character arcs were earned. Joe managed to let go of his mother’s locket and believe that “bad things happen, but you can keep living” but we don’t see him learn this. His father’s storyline has the same problem. I heard someone argue that he learns to fight back against authority, but I argue he was like that from the beginning. Not much changed on that front. By the end, he did seem to open up to Joe but, again, he more or less stumbled into that resolution out of the necessity of realizing his son was in danger and running after him, relieved to find him alive. Does he actually come to terms with understanding Joe or letting go of his grief – his main obstacles set up from the beginning of the film – no, he doesn’t.

Meanwhile, behind all this family drama, we have an alien story. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t there supposed to be a big secret? Some kind of surprise, or suspense? I actively avoided spoilers, trailers and special clips so that I could go into this movie as ignorant as possible, but I didn’t find anything surprising about the alien aspect of the movie. Yes, the metal cubes were cool and how they worked was interesting – not pivotally interesting, just neat. Yes, the back story with the teacher was a good way for the kids to investigate and learn about the alien – but the actual details about how the government captured the alien and wouldn’t let him go home, thus turning him into an enemy was a bit easy. I think the problem was that as soon as I realized it was an alien, and not some other kind of monster, the rest of the plot fell into place. Maybe another problem was that part of the marketing strategy for the movie was to encourage people to talk about it on Twitter with the hashtag #Super8Secret. After the movie, even if I had wanted to spoil the ending for other people, I wasn’t even sure there was anything to spoil.

The worst part about all this? I really, really wanted to love Super 8. And to an extent, I did. I loved all the pre-fabricated parts to this movie (yay Spielberg!) just as much as I loved the young cast and awesome action sequences. The timing was great, the jokes were great, the life-and-death situations were gripping! But, in the end, it was a movie I’d seen before. And it could have been so much more. I hate to say it, but, we don’t need more Spielbergian movies. I, for one, want to see a truly original Abramsian movie. And I hope I do.

And found.


One year ago, Lost aired its final episode. And though I had never seen a single episode before (that’s a lie, I saw the last five minutes of the season 1 finale when it was on TV for some reason), I live-blogged the whole thing. Since then I’ve gone back and watched all six seasons of the series because, as a friend of my mine said to me, it just seems like the kind of show I would watch.

And it was! It was pretty epic. Though I shed a tear or two for having missed out on the experience of watching it as it aired so I could commiserate and squeal and ponder with other fans, one upside was that I didn’t have to wait in agony between cliffhangers and I got to miss out on that whole gap in the third season that seems to have scarred some people. (By the way, I tweeted while I was watching the episodes, which you can find here if you go back, I suppose.)

It wasn’t all perfect, of course. I kind of shot myself in the foot by watching the series finale first. There were some *ahem* missing gaps. Some disappointments. And I really missed Locke’s character in the sixth season (the Man in Black does not count). But there were also fantastic, compelling, epic parts. And, because they’re worth mentioning, here they are (streamlined down to the top 11*):

#11 When that couple got buried alive.

Dark humour at its (near) best, I have to say, I loved this departure from the season’s regular plot lines, especially the way they poked fun at the extra-ness of the random non-characters on the Island. And who doesn’t love a good twist? It reminded me of those old Tales from the Crypt episodes (the bloody live-action series, not the cartoon).

#10 When the timer in the bunker flashed to those crazy red-and-black hieroglyphics for the first time.

A lot of the things that made the show so cool were the random clues and teases that made you wonder. Wasn’t it exciting trying to figure out what they meant? In equal measure, that circular map thing that showed up on the wall when they didn’t punch in the Numbers made me hit pause and stare for a while. Whether or not they were satisfactorily explained later on is a mute point for me.

#9 When we discovered the little piece of suburbia where the Others lived:

One of the best WTF moments of the series. When I used to hear other people talk about this show, I used to think “how much could possibly happen on a deserted island?” I was so wrong.

#8 When everyone is ignoring Hurley and then he just drives the bus onto the beach and saves Bernard, Jin and Sayid:

Character arcs are important. And who doesn’t love seeing the underdog kick some ass? Hurley was one of my favourite characters (right after Locke, I would say) and I like that they can undercut heavy-handed drama with his character. Seeing him come barging in to save the day after being ignored  (this was when they tried to lure the Others to the beach and blow them up while everyone went to the radio tower to get rescued). Honorable mention: when Hurley’s walkman batteries die while he’s sitting on the beach early in season one. Fantastic.

#7 When those two nerds at the end of season 2 call Penelope to say they’ve found something.

I really like how the show resuses phrases and embues them with meaning in a way that’s very neat. This is a great example. In a flashback, we see Penelope tell Desmond “with enough money and determination, you can find anyone” and the sentiment takes on a whole new meaning with this awesome season finale surprise.

#6 When Jin whispers “Others” and we see Mr. Eko, Ana and Libby walk towards them.

At least, I think it was those three. In any case, there was so much mystery surrounding the Others at that point, and the shot was really well filmed. Very creepy and exciting. Excellent final shot.

#5 When Miles and Hurley argued about time travel:

It’s never not funny when people argue about the rules of time travel, especially when one gets all his information from pop culture. This is especially true because Hurley was just so stubborn about it, and ended up confusing Miles. Honorable mention: when Miles finally voiced my belief that they were actually CAUSING the Incident and not preventing it.

#4 When Sawyer tells Jack about meeting his father.

Though I still have mixed feelings about the finale – it just could’ve been MORE, you know? – I still agree that the real driving force behind the series were the characters and their relationships. So when Sawyer, thinking he’s never going to see Jack again, chooses to tell him about meeting his father in Australia and giving him that bit of consolation, it was a great moment both for Jack and for Sawyer’s character development. I’m not ashamed to say I cried.

#3 Locke yelling ‘Don’t tell me what I can’t do!’ in Australia.

John Locke was my favourite character, by quite a bit, which was why I was disappointed he didn’t play a larger part in the series’ final few episodes. Yes, his death was beautifully tragic, but I would have liked to have seen him have more of a role in the epic finale. In any case,  he continues to be one of my favourite characters from any TV show, movie or book and it’s mostly because of the insane amount of pathos they created for him, and how it interacted with some of his less flattering qualities and poor choices. And, as another example of a phrase that became his mantra, “don’t tell me what I can’t do” came to epitomize his major struggles, character flaws and why I loved him so much.

#2 Charlie’s death scene.

Tragic. Beautifully heroic. And the perfect ending for his character arc. I almost couldn’t believe he was really gone, and – again – I’m not ashamed to say I cried. A lot.

#1 Jack yelling ‘Why do you find it so easy?’

One of the major underlying currents of the show, for me at least, was this dichotomy between Jack and Locke with the whole faith vs. lack of faith. So when they’re arguing about entering the Numbers and Locke says, “why do you find it so hard to believe?” and Jacks yells, “why do you find it so easy?” I have to tip my hat to two simple lines that perfectly encapsulated that struggle. I wish they had extended that dichotomy through to the end of the series – more than they did, at least. When I saw this scene, I understood that there was more going on here than I thought, and I found myself much more invested in the characters. It was the theme that defined for the show for me. Truly epic.

And now here is a tribute video that uses a scene from The Lord of the Rings (the Two Towers, I believe) to frame Lost as one of the Great Stories that it is. Kudos. And thanks.

*And if you’d like to know why there are 11 top moments here and not an even 10, well, I guess you’ll just have to mull that mystery over for a while and then wait for an explanation that I will NEVER GIVE YOU.

A re-hashed tribute to the final Harry Potter installment


In honour of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 opening tonight, I’m re-posting a recap of the final HP book, which I wrote on my old LJ when it came out in 2007. Enjoy! [Please note: as this is basically a summary for the entire final book, it has spoilers for both parts 1 AND 2 of the Deathly Hallows movies. You’ve been warned.]

Win a copy of ‘Inside Joss’ Dollhouse’!

Entertainment, Writing

Joss Whedon doesn’t have the best luck with television shows (or with Fox *shakes fist*), but he does have an amazing track record with fans. Even though Dollhouse only lasted two seasons, there was enough leftover fanatic fervour to inspire an anthology of fan-written essays.

Smart Pop Books gave fans (like me!) a chance to submit essays on the series as part of a contest and then published the result in Inside Joss’ Dollhouse.

Enticed by the thought of Whedonverse alum and prolific TV writer Jane Espenson reading and editing my work, I wrote an essay titled “Goliath is People! How Dollhouse Took Distrust to a Whole New Level” and – huzzah! – it got chosen.

The book is available to buy here, but if you’d like to win a copy, just answer this question and email it to me (zalina @ by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 10, then I’ll randomly choose a winner from the pool:

What is the name of the (evil) corporation that turns people into dolls in Dollhouse? AND what play does the name come from? (There’s actually a whole essay on the subject of the company’s name in the book!)

Please include your full name and mailing address. Oh, and partial answers will NOT be accepted.

Thanks, and good luck!

A potpourri post for Friday the 13th

Culture, Entertainment, Politics and Current Events, Travel

Random movie association: 8 reasons why the Twilight series is like Pretty Woman

I know it’s a stretch, but listen!

  1. Edward (in Pretty Woman) never eats or sleeps (almost never sleeps). Neither does Edward (in Twilight). In fact, Edward watches Bella eat in that restaurant, and Edward watches Vivian eat breakfast after their first night together.
  2. Bella has little to no confidence and is dazzled by Edward’s world. Ditto for Vivian.
  3. Bella gives up her “horrible” life to live in his. So does Vivian, for a little while, and we can assume that she continues to do so after the end of the movie.
  4. Edward (Twilight) sparkles. Edward (Pretty Woman) sparkles with money.
  5. Both Edwards are well-off with fancy things. Both Edwards “save” their respective ladies in a fancy, silver car.
  6. Bella and Vivian have friends who they think they’re better than.
  7. Bella and Vivian are both forcefully kissed by a guy – Jacob and Stuckey.
  8. Bella and Edward wait until they’re married to have sex. So do- wait, never mind.

Genius that was never meant to be read

In July, news surfaced that despite Franz Kafka’s desire to have his manuscripts burned after his death, a crazy legal battle is underway to open ’em up and take a look see. Meanwhile, people can’t wait to get their grubby little hands on Salinger’s mysterious unreleased manuscripts.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think if a writer didn’t want their work read, we should leave it that way. As much as it would be exciting to read them, and as much as it might bring a little more artistic beauty into the world – I still think it’s disrespectful.

On that note, I really like what Mark Twain did: leaving instructions not to publish his autobiography until 100 years after his death. That’s badass. Plus, we have his permission to read it.

I hope it’s as awesome as it sounds

A bunch of millionaires and billionaires have pledged to give giant chunks, or in some cases “the vast majority,” of their fortunes to charitable causes. It’s all part of The Giving Pledge, apparently started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and there are 38 rich folks who are participating.

Questions! I assume the money will be donated after they die, but what if they get wrapped up in legal limbo? Also, what do they mean by “charity”? It would be horrible to see all that money go to waste by going to foundations or organizations that don’t know (or don’t care about) using the money properly, or it just recirculates in wealthy circles, or it ends up in the hands of corrupt dictators and dirty politicians in the developing world. Just saying you’re giving your money “to charity” is hardly enough. Also, how much are these people actually giving? I don’t see any specific numbers; we’re taking a lot on faith, here.

BUT, I think it’s a great gesture and I hope their promises pay off one day. Go George Lucas!

I can’t tell if this place is really cool, or really lame

It’s called Hicksville, and it’s a trailer park-themed artist retreat in and around Joshua Tree, California. I want to go to there.