Retrofit Special: Jackson Browne Through the Years – "Jackson Browne"

Sad, sweet, smart, sulky, sexy, and full of spelt.

To start this week-long exami-blog on the charms and failures of California’s uber-singer/songwriter of the 1970’s, if not beyond, we’ll do the appropriate thing and start with a confession: It was the fall of 1978, another damp night in Seattle, and I was sulking in the corner of high school party. Kids dancing, kids laughing, kids flirting and having so much fun that none of it made sense to me. So I grabbed my coat, slunk out the door and made for the safety of home, and  “Late for the Sky.”

“How long have I been sleeping?/How long have I been drifting alone through the night?”

I was 15 years old, and every word of this, every cry of the slide guitar, every simple, stately chord on the piano, rang with truth and beauty.

“How long have I been dreaming I could make it right/If I closed my eyes and tried with all my might to be the one you need?”

Could loneliness ever sound more thoughtful? Could melancholy ever sound more romantic?

With the headphones clamped to my ears those elegantly composed confessionals of Jackson Browne (so handsome, dark-eyed and shy on the back of the album cover) filling my head I had access to a whole new world, peopled by the moody, the sensitive, the smart. And sexy chicks, too. Sigh. I wanted to go to there. I still do.

This is crazy talk, I know. But I’ve been listening to all those old Jackson Browne albums again, and wondering again if my affection for them — my love, really — is a matter of nostalgia, aesthetic wrongheadedness or. . .just maybe . . . because they actually deserve it on their own terms.

We’ll work chronologically, starting with “Jackson Browne,” the auteur’s debut album. So dig into your old vinyl collection. Blow the dust off your turntable and consult the optometrist (Doctor, my eyes….)

“Jackson Browne” (a/k/a “Saturate Before Using,” 1972): Check out that funky cover art, in which the cover resembles nothing more (or less) than a burlap sack full of what I’ve always imagined as some hippie-era whole grain. Kashi? Spelt? Definitely something you’d eat with a wooden spoon while sitting on a hillside, watching the sun fall into the ocean. Spin the record and the songs sound exactly the same way: melodic but musically spare, melancholy and yet full of possibility.

For all his youthful yearning and beanpole-in-torn-jeans vibe, JB was already something of an underground superstar: physically annointed by the Velvet Underground’s Nico (who bedded him when he was a teen and covered three of his songs), celebrated loudly by a height-of-his-influence David Crosby (who sings backup on most of the album) and on the ground floor of the Eagles/Rondstadt/CSN reign that would dominate the pop world throughout the ’70s, he arrived fully formed: a living, breathing personaification of the funky-chic-California confessional songwriter.

So spin the disc and feel how beautiful melancholy can sound.

The piano ballad “Jamaica Say You Will” kicks off the first side with memories of a bittersweet, teenaged love affair the singer enjoyed while residing in some kind of seaside orphanage (?) with a lovely named Jamaica, whose father sailed the rolling sea (her mom has GOT to be Brandy, what a fine girl, but apparently not much of a good wife after all). She’s waiting for captain dad to return, rendering herself emotionally absent even as Jackson regards her as a “comfort and a mercy through and through.” Eventually Captain dad returns and JB/we are left to ponder the sea alone, musing on the mysterious death/suicide of an old traveling companion (the somber, guitar ballad “Song for Adam”); mourn lost innocence (“Looking Into You”,) and eventually shake off  the bonds of mortal consciousness with the college boy gospel of “Rock Me On the Water,” a socio-cultural trespass thoroughly saved by Craig Doerge’s straight-up funky piano playing. From which point the words ‘Jackson Browne’ and “funky” would never, ever be uttered in the same sentence.

No matter, “Doctor My Eyes” delivers as the lead-off single (and a mid-sized hit, at that) from the troubador’s troubador: Bouncy, hummable and full of hard-won wisdom. Even at 23, the boy has come so far and seen so much he’s on the verge of some kind of collapse: his empathy is on overload. “I hear their cries,” he wails to the aforementioned health care professional, “Just say if it’s too late for me.”

Are you puzzling over how the cries of the unnamed “they” (I’m guessing some combination of the poor, the hungry, and etc) pales in comparison to the singer’s own angst? It’s easy to skip over that part. . . the melody and the congas and the nicely stripped-down lead guitar are what really carry this tune. . . but still. Remember it. It’s what we call dramatic foreshadowing.

“From Silver Lake,” “Something Fine,” on and on, “JB” is peopled richly with mysterious wanderers, poignant departures (He wanted just to be/On his way across the sea no man will measure/He won’t be back/The sun may find him sleeping in the dust of some ruin far away. . .) and the requisitely beautiful, yet sad ladies who will never truly calm their men’s wanderlust.

It sounds sillier in print than it does set to music. Or maybe it’s set to my own nostalgia for the period in my life when all this romantic yearning described my own melancholic fantasies of the beautiful sorrows that lay ahead.

Either way, “JB” is a kind of masterpiece: an unfiltered portrait of late adolescence/early adulthood, viewed through the eyes of a starry-eyed rogue with one peeper focused on the world and the other locked on the mirror. Or, as he puts it in his fragile, wonderfully melodic finale, “My Opening Farewell,” with its missing lovers, vanished children and departing friends: There’s a world, you know/You’ve got a ways to go/And I’ll soon be leaving, that’s just as well…

Pass the spelt, baby, I feel a new song coming on!

Hello (and goodbye), Dr. Nick! "Lost" – The Final Word

 
By Nick Gorini
 
They say good things come to those who wait. I don’t know who “They” are, and I’ve learned that occasionally, patience isn’t always a virtue.
 
But waiting almost always gives you one thing: perspective.
 
It was never my intent to document my immediate, visceral reaction to the ending of ‘Lost’. Going into Sunday night, I knew whatever my initial feelings may be (“That was PERFECT!” or “How could they have done this to ME?”), I needed time to reflect on the ending in the context of the entire Lost experience.
 
I mean, that’s what it has become for those of us who love this show, right? It was more than TV – it was a journey, a ride that for one hour a week put us somewhere else. Not just on the screen, but in our own noggins’. And if you believe in some of Lost’s theories, it may have been our collective consciousness-noggins, otherwise known as “col-coggins”.
 
Maybe at the end of our lives, we will all meet at some alternate bus depot in the sky (don’t call it Purgatory!) that we created out of our own desire, the desire to figure out every remaining Lost mystery. So, so many…
 
We can spend our oddly-houred days kissing strangers or beating the crap out of them with no repercussions. Heck, in some cases, they may even THANK us, even after running them over with our car. Then we can meet in a balmy, tropical Catholic Church with non-denominational stained glass (we wouldn’t want to exclude any of our viewers), hug it out one last time, and realize that the mysteries aren’t what mattered in the end.
 
What mattered is that we all experienced Lost, for better or worse, with joy or frustration, together.
 
Before I digress into any specifics of the finale, I want to say something that is all too obvious, but needs to be heard, so bear with me:
 
Network television is dying.
 
We all know it. The viewers know it, the advertisers know it, the executives know it, the cable companies and satellite/Direct TV entities know it, the writers and actors know it, too.
 
It may take a few years before the last rites are read, but network television is like Lost’s Michael, wandering around a magical wonderland, unable to move on because of it’s past indiscretions, haunting us with cheap reality shows, tabloid news and crappy copies of “Lost.”
 
“Lost” snuck under the radar. It remains one of the most expensive shows ever produced. Cinematic in quality, epic in scope, complicated in plot, and deep, deeper than most anything found in popular culture today.
 
Apparently, we hate that kind of stuff. That’s why we get endless seasons of Dateline NBC, C.S.I., Two and a Half Men, The Biggest Loser. Dumbed down and cheap. You want intelligent? You want challenging? Watch AMC, HBO or Showtime. Read a book.
 
Network television, still free. For a limited time. And it gave us Lost. How did J.J. Abrams ever convince, coerce or blackmail ABC into putting this show on the air? Is Abrams the modern day Robert Johnson, selling his soul at the crossroads so the devil may gift him with unworldly talents? Or was it that mysterious elixir of talent, luck, timing and connections that got this gift off the ground?
 
If J.J. Abrams was a character on Lost, he’d be asking himself if it was his destiny to bring Lost to the masses, something he was always fated to do, or if it was hard work and sheer determination that put him into that position.
 
Whatever the case may be, Lost is like network television’s supernova, a final, bright hot burst of energy and beauty before the final, slow sputtering of a dead star.
 
Blah, Blah, Blah. What did you think of the finale?
 
The finale was overwhelmingly satisfying on an emotional level. But like Icarus, I think Lost may have flown too close to the Sun.
 
(Yes, just one paragraph ago, I called Lost a sun, more or less. But it’s the internet, and I can mix my metaphors. Writing on the internet is like the Frat Party Jungle Juice. It could be good, but there’s about 18 different flavors in it, and no one’s really sure what all’s in there. Just drink it.)
 
Before I explain what didn’t work for me, let state for the record, that Lost is still my favorite show of all time. Well, okay, top five of all time, for sure. It’s given me so much, and will continue to do so for many, many years.
 
In an effort to mend this dichotomy, and to heal my lost, broken heart, I have suddenly split off into two equally annoying bloggers (me, and me). Each will give his thoughts.
 
The Original Timeline Blogger
 
Oh gee whiz! What’s not to like? Some of my favorite moments:
 
· Naturally, all the enlightenment moments were incredible, especially Juliet/Sawyer’s, and Jin/Sun’s. What these couples went through to get… What? They’re dead? Oh man, that breaks my heart even more. Makes those scenes even more poignant.

· The Island as a real place. A daring move. And keep Locke/Smokey as a villain all the way to the end. No mystical spiritual wake-up call. Just a bad man needin’ some killin’.


· Kate finally having her kick-ass episode. She iced the Smokey Monster, kissed the boy, enlightened her dead boyfriend, saved her friends, and reunited Aaron and Claire. Way to go out on top, lady.

· Setting up a guilt-ridden Sawyer to pull a self-sacrifice, but saving him. Why? Because he has some soul homework to do, man.

· My man Lapidus lounging poolside, waiting for the outrigger pick-up. Waiting to fix and fly some survivors home. And phew! Alpert and Miles made it to the end.

· Thanks for not killing Desmond. He deserves some Penny and Little Charlie time. Good job keeping us guessing about his motives in both timelines right until the end. It was a great island twist for him to uncork the island, expecting some wonderful thing to happen, but nope! Stuff a cork (back) in it, Bruthah!

· Nice re-intro of Rose, Bernard and Vincent. Hope they’re enjoying their remaining island lives. Maybe now they’ll be a little more involved, with Hurley at the helm.

· Hurley, the new number one! That was nice – his heart was always the most loving, and in that regard, he makes the ideal new leader. I also like that Ben told him that Jacob’s didn’t have to be the only way. It could be a kinder, gentler island-nation.

· Speaking of Ben, he had an awesome, awesome episode. His island end was perfect, and I understand why he felt the need to work out his pre-afterlife purgatory-time a little longer. He and Locke exchanged what needed to be said from both people.

· Embracing controversy, you chose to make the suspect sideways timeline the afterlife, knowing millions of fans would likely freak out. You did it because it was what the arc of the characters dictated. And you were telling us that there are bigger issues to consider than The Numbers, Jacob’s Cabin, The Ash, or Who Keeps Dropping Dharma Food And Beer From The Sky.

· Speaking of the sideways world, it’s hard to see how anybody could be shocked. You guys dropped hundreds of hints this past year, if anybody looked hard enough. No one dying, timelines all screwed up, everyone bumping into each other… Yes, these souls are meant to be together. Not necessarily the living bodies, but these souls are the community that needed to learn how to live together, or die alone. And of course, they end up moving onto something greater together.

· Once you made it formal that it was the afterlife, my mind started racing through all the scenarios. Faraday and Charlotte will gain awareness and move on together. Eloise will have to follow. 
Ben may take a little longer. I remembered poor Dogen in the sideways world speaking of the importance of love between parent and child, and remembered that Dogen’s drunk driving caused the death, or near death of son. I thought about him getting to resolve that shame, guilt and pain in this after-death waiting area, and I thought, maybe this sideways world WAS Jacob’s gift in return for island service.

· I still don’t think Jughead ever went off. It was just the act of faith from Jack and community that caused or gave Jacob cause, or whatever powers that be cause this sideways split.

· Nice to watch Jack have such admiration for Locke that he tells Smokey he’s doing a disservice to the man for wearing his face.

· And man, it doesn’t matter who or what Terry O’Quinn portrays: weak or strong, powerless or omnipotent, good or evil… He just does it all so well. Did you know that he was the only guy that was cast without an audition? They knew they had their Locke before they even completed the very first script. That tells you that these guys knew what they were doing.

· Of course it had to be Christian’s coffin that gave Jack the awareness he needed. And of course, the scene between father and son finally putting away old hurts (remember, it was Jack who sabotaged his dad’s redemption path at an AA meeting, so they both got their lashes in) held great power. Man, you guys gotta get me choked up again?

· Jack’s overt Jesus symbolism (being lethally pierced in his side by Smokey) added to the impact of everything you reached for as story-tellers.

· Jack’s final sacrifices and his death, right back where the show began? Now that, that was perfect. And just when you can’t take any more, Vincent has to lie down next to Jack?… Break out the hankies, people.
 
The Sideways Timeline Blogger
 
Man, that was an awesome ending, except for the following:
 
· Dude, it’s totally purgatory. You told us it wasn’t, only it is. And yes, you said everything on the island really happened, but the island still served as a dang living purgatory, for these people to fix themselves before they go to the non-living purgatory, to meet again, to go to the next place.

· So on the island, you kept Smokey as Smokey. Helluva villain. But you spent all season giving us hints that Locke’s consciousness was still alive within his old body. Remember when Smokey started shouting lines that Locke had shouted in seasons past? You were you just pulling my chain? Wasn’t Locke supposed to reawaken in some form on the island?

· So, Michael and Walt weren’t good enough to meet in the sideways world? Walt never hurt anybody, and Michael tried to do a lot of good things. The Others kidnapped his son, for crying out loud.

· So, nearly every sideways character had a special someone to meet n’ greet before heading to the other side. Except for the Boone. Boone, whose enlightenment we didn’t see. Boone, the best looking guy on the Oceanic flight, who was nice to everyone and who’s only fault was crushing on his step-sister, doesn’t get purgatory playmate?

· A literal cork, in a literal drain? The island as a metaphor worked plenty fine, especially as described so excellently by Jacob in Ab Aeterno. A literal cork is keeping Hell at bay?

· What have you guys got against kids, anyway? Aaron stops serving a purpose, so he kind of disappears as a character, and is only used as a plot device? After you spent several seasons hinting at how special he was? Same thing with Walt, too. And man, I understand that David was a manifestation of Jack’s heart-wrenching need to fix things with his father, but to introduce us to this sweet kid and then have him so easily dismissed as not real? That sucked, and I didn’t buy it.

· You know what else I didn’t buy? Sayid hooking up with that brat Shannon. Never did. And to find that, after all those years searching and pining for his soul mate Nadia, and to lose her in tragic ways numerous times, Sayid is going spend his afterlife with a Ditzy McBitchy? What a disservice to an awesome character.

· You were the ones who introduced us to the fact that Eloise Hawking knows all. How? When did she become enlightened? I understand that now she and Ben (who’s going to stay awhile, to work some things out) can run around, enlightening the remaining crew, but c’mon, man.

· Speaking of Ben, who had a totally awesome finale in many ways, could you not have hinted at how he’s going to try and resolve things with his pseudo-only-in-purgatory girlfriend and daughter-figure? When you guys do the DVD extras (which by the way, are apparently going to have a 14-minute Coda, or epilogue that shows us Hurley and Ben running the island – think I’m kidding? I’m not. It’s true), will you include a scene where Rousseau realizes who she’s sleeping with?

· You guys were missing an episode that explained why Claire hung out at Jacob’s cabin and didn’t seem concerned that little baby Aaron was at the beach without her. And why she was so pissed when she found out Kate saved Aaron.

· I can totally forgive most of the unsolved mysteries, because I understand your intent to challenge us to let go, but you spent so much build up with Jacob and Smokey that all of their stuff felt a but like a waste of time when compared to all the other awesomeness that went down.

· And not to over-think it again, but the way it played out, if Jack had ignored everything and stayed on the mainland, he’d be married to Kate, raising his nephew, hanging out with Hurley, visiting home-building Sayid, etc. Locke’s body would’ve never made it back to the island to be possessed by Smokey. Jin would still be alive, Jacob would still be alive, Juliet would still be alive, Sun would still be alive, Desmond would still be with Penny, Ji-Yeon wouldn’t be an orphan, etc. Jin may have eventually found a way off the island and back to his family, etc. Some of the time travel stuff would’ve happened, but Faraday probably would’ve lived, too. I don’t know. Sounds to me like Jack should’ve never come back to island…

· I like that on the island, you actually left some open-endedness. Hurley, Ben, Desmond, Rose and Bernard still kicking it tropical-style, Jack getting his proper sending, and a plane with Kate, Sawyer, Claire, Lapidus, Miles and Alpert making it back home. I like that at least four of those in-flight characters still have a lot of inner turmoil to work through (Sawyer, Kate, Claire and Alpert), but I still thought these six characters deserved a more fitting goodbye. It all felt so rushed and forced.

· Lastly, and this is the softie in me, now that I know Sideways Jin and Sun were also dead Jin and dead Sun, I think they should’ve been on the plane, flying back home to Ji-Yeon, man! How could you do that!? You guys are cold. And I think the airplane scene would’ve had much greater impact if we’d seen those two sharing a seat, bruised, battered but very much alive, ready to head home and be a family. Those characters more than earned it. I know I’m not supposed to tinker with the creation – I myself have been bashing on people who think they have right to tell Cuse and Lindelof how the story should end, but well, here I am doing it. Damn it! I insist, well more like beg and plead, that this is a story-telling error!… Ahem, I’ve regained my composure. Sorry about that.
 
And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make
 
You know what I will always remember about this show? Not the finale. I’ll always remember the mood, the pitch-perfect music, the feeling I ALWAYS got five minutes before an episode began, and that incredible feeling I had when that episode ended. “Oh God! I have to wait a w
hole fricking week?!”
 
I’ll always remember Charlie and his death, polar bears in the premiere, and Eko building a church. I will never forget Benjamin Linus and will think of him every time I try and weasel my way into or out of something (WWBD? What Would Ben Do?).
 
I’ll always remember jaw-dropping backdrops, and how my family put up with me when we went to Oahu last year and I brought a map of Lost shooting locations. By the way, Waimea Falls rarely looks as pristine as it did when Sawyer and Kate went for a dip. Still beautiful, though.
 
I won’t forget the hatch, Hurley’s numbers, funky Faraday and Jeremy Davies’ unique line readings, or how Sawyer started off as my least-favorite character and ended up being one of my favorites.
 
Who can forget Juliet, in my mind the most complex and compelling female character on the show? And I won’t even forget Mr. Friendly (I was looking for you to pop up in the sideways world all season), Patchy or all the other pseudo-villains that strolled through the island.
 
I won’t forget that Michael got a raw deal, or how quickly we all became hooked on the cool sincerity of Desmond. I also won’t forget that after doing a horrible job introducing new characters, they got it right the following year with Miles, Faraday, Charlotte, etc. parachuting in.
 
I won’t forget the guys who portrayed Jacob and Smokey, who either deserved more screen time or maybe shouldn’t have been seen at all. I can’t decide. Oh! And I won’t forget that Richard Alpert was rewarded with one of the finest hours of television this year.
 
I will always remember how awesome Kate could be, but that the writers seemed to struggle with her character at times. I think Evangeline Lilly rose above and beyond the occasion, making the character better than what was sometimes on the page.
 
I won’t forget all the laugh-out-loud humor we got from Sawyer, Miles, Hurley and Ben. Even Lapidus had some good zingers. Remember when Ben told Jack that the secret of the island was an enormous underground hamster wheel? And that wasn’t far from the truth?
 
I will remember all the nights I spent online in the Lost rabbit hole. This show got me to read about things I NEVER would have otherwise, and I think I burned a hole in my Wikipedia.
 
And I will always remember all the arguments, debates and struggles between Jack and Locke. Two characters that represented the warring entities in us all. Such tragic people, with so much of that tragedy by their own design, trying so hard to find themselves. And that ultimately, they needed each other do it.
 
Sigh. So many other things I will always remember and cherish about this flawed, yet kinda perfect show.
 
In the end, it seemed like they wanted to tell us something basic about our lives, something like:

1.   What you do matters.
2.   Everyone makes messes.
3.   Life gives you chances to fix these messes.
4.   There are no easy fixes for messes. You have to put in the work.
5.   No one fixes all of his or her messes before departing this world.
6.   What important is that you try, and you tried.
7.   What survives? Love. Love is the only thing that carries forward.
8.   To move on, you need to let go of those messes and embrace that love.
 
Folks, it has been an enormous pleasure to write about Lost. If you read any of my posts, I just want to take the time to thank you so much. And many, many thanks Peter Carlin for giving me a virtual soapbox and a small plot of his internet stoop to shout out to the world about Lost.
 
Thanks for reading and for watching.
 
Catch you on the Sideways
 

The Blog Identity


Me Tarzan, you need watch?

Lately fate and professional obligation has moved much of my blogging to the Oregonian’s web-borne identity Oregonlive.com. Mostly we’re talking the day-to-day head-scratchy kind of stuff. Such as: What is the deeper meaning of the your spam filter?

Here’s how the first edition went:

Today’s spam report: a critical analysis

[Posted by Peter Ames Carlin, The Oregonian March 12, 2010, 1:34 PM]

My spam filter report arrives just after lunch. Sometimes it’s one of the real highlights of the day, and not just because it’s so difficult to come across mega-doses of free Cialis in the real marketplace. And I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tried.

The thing is: the stuff that gets sold via shadowy mass-mailings, and the ways in which shadowy mass-mailers try to get our attention, tell us something about ourselves. Viewed in the aggregate it’s like seeing a catalog to your own id. You may not like to confess your desire for a mail-order wife, instant riches and a romantic life far too ambitious to describe here. But the spammers know what you want. So does your spam filter.

Okay, the headline of the day comes from Stapletonfo, who comes right out of the box with I want to apologize first. Which puts us in the position of being forgiving/magnanimous enough to do some business with Mr. Stapletonfo.Or so they think.

Next up: several correspondents invite us to Be Tarzan in bed, which brings to mind the smell of jungle rot, banana peels and men who travel in the company of monkeys. Good luck, guys.

More promising: Your happiness is now free, which can’t be bad. Nor can: We give your money back if you’re not happy, which is more than I can say for my therapist, but it’s a process, he keeps saying. A process.

Speaking of happiness, a whole slew of goods and services seemingly designed to do dishes, make meals, pick up kids and tidy up the living room. To wit: This is what she REALLY wants. Also: Never let her down again! Except that’s never going to happen – see also: dishes, meals, child-tending, etc. Which brings us right back to: I want to apologize first.

I really, really, do.

Follow the jump for more Spam-centric observational riffitude!

Social studies: Today’s spam filter

]
March 15, 2010

As we noted last week, spam emails dig deep into the human appetites for sex, drugs and fancy wristwatches. No surprises when it comes to physical gratification and jewelry that says, bling can be utilitarian too, jackson, so just ask me what time it is.

And yet spam producers also consider our deeper needs and feelings. Particularly when it comes to personal validation: You are here. You matter. Your life has not been wasted, no matter how much you paid for that phony Rolex.

PETER IT IS MY HONOR
: Not sure where that one’s headed, but it feels like a journey I’d want to take. Include me in, Matsui32@accurinc.netzero

YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED
!: Sort of generic, but you know you need to know the answer: Selected for what? It’s gotta be good, right? Click!

YOUR LISTING IN WHO’S WHO OF AMERICAN EXECUTIVES: Speaks for itself in that I am not now, nor have I ever been an executive. These guys may have nice wristwatches, they may even know who’s who. But they don’t even know what’s what.

What’s the best Spam you got today?

Hello, Dr. Nick! – Nick Gorini Visits "The LIghthouse," Smashes the Hell Out of It

Ever wonder where Nick gets his insights into “Lost”? And no, he’s not telling you where it is.

By NICK GORINI

Hello, folks! Once again, I have successfully procrastinated in bringing you my recap of this week’s Lost episode, ‘The Lighthouse.’
 
Why the delay? I’ve been spending too much time starting at myself in the mirror with the sound of running water in the background. You know, like all the characters on our show (Jack, in particular, seems to do this an awful lot).
 
Before I begin, two real-life Lost-related incidents to share with you:

1.   Earlier this week I was watching that Michael Bay masterpiece known as ‘Con Air’, or as I call it, Crap. I mean, rarely do you get a pop-culture moment with so many talented people (Cage, Malkovich, Cusack, Rhames, Buscemi, etc.) dumpster-diving for dollars in one dingy flick.
 
Anyhow, there’s a scene where the convict-plane pilot, played by Frederic Lehne, is booted from the cockpit. Frederic Lehne plays Kate’s caustic pursuer, Marshall Mars, on Lost. Well, when he steps out of the driver’s seat, who steps in? A swarthy convict by the name of Swamp Thing, played by the great character actor M.C. Gainey… Who was Mr. Friendly, original face of ‘The Others’ on Lost! One Lost character gets replaced by another Lost character in a movie over ten years old. Whoa!!!
 
2.   If that wasn’t enough, I took my family for a fun weekend hike around Sauvie Island. On the far Eastern tip, away from the farms, corn mazes and bike lanes, there’s a three-mile dirt trail that is the only island path leading to… A lighthouse! Knowing what was coming up on Tuesday night, and (while looking at the map) realizing that in all the times I’d gone to this island I NEVER knew it had a lighthouse, I had to check it out. Maybe it would give me wisdom or insight into this week’s episode and what was to come. Or maybe it was just a beautiful, sunny winter day in the Great Northwest.
 
 
THE ‘SIDE’ TIMELINE AND THE ORIGINAL TIMELINE – SIDE BY SIDE!:
 
(If you’re curious why I’ve now combined the two, it’s because there aren’t two timelines! Ha! Read more about it at the end of the post.)
 
Jack wakes up in his nice, antiseptic apartment (hey, this other Jack doesn’t sit on his dirty apartment floor drinking whiskey and dreaming about frequent flier miles!), and stares all deja-vu-like at his reflection while water runs out the sink (see?). He sees his appendix surgery scar (you know, when he wanted to operate on his damn self until Juliet and Kate tricked him?). He has NO memory of any surgery, even after a quick phone call to his mom (welcome back, Veronica Hamel! Loved you in ‘Hill Street Blues’) reveals that he had it removed when he was a boy. Oh yeah, your dad wanted to do it, but the hospital wouldn’t let him. Just like your old island self, Jack! A chip off the old whiskey barrel..
 
Jack gets ready and we briefly see the same exer-cycle that Desmond had in the hatch. In fact, I believe this cycle has shown up at least three times this season. I believe the cycle officially has a SAG card now.

Follow the jump for a wide array of mind-bending revelations. . .
 
Jack listens to some Stevie Ray Vaughn in his beaten-up brown truck (the Iggy Pop tune Sawyer listened to last week made sense. Not sure what the Stevie Ray connection might be, other than that Stevie Ray is awesome) and pulls up to a school to pick up his pre-teen son, David. Um, did I just say Jack has a son? Whoa!
 
BIG SIDE NOTE: Now, some of the Internet Chatter complained about this twist, but I thought it was PERFECT. What better way for the universe to force Jack to deal with his daddy issues. Damn you, Internet Chatter! You are so wrong, and get so worked up about the dumbest things and don’t put trust in the storyteller. For this, Internet Chatter, you are getting this week’s Stupid Award. For anyone keeping tally, I give a Stupid Award each week, because as much as I love this show, somebody does something stupid in order to propel the story forward. But this week, the storytelling was so awesome, so fitting, that complaining about is was just stupid. This means the winners so far, in order, are: Kate, Claire, Locke and Internet Chatter. At the end of the season, I will give final numbers and perhaps an award, a stupid award, of some kind.
 
Back to our great story: We see Jack looking at his reflection AGAIN in some pond water, rippling his reflection. Calm Dogen comes to speak to him, and lets him know that even it seems to be a hostage situation (Jack: ‘was leaving here even an option?’ Dogen: ‘There are ALWAYS options.’), Jack is in control of his fate. Meanwhile the underutlized Miles, and Hurley are playing Tic-Tac-Toe until Jacob pops up and tells Hurley it’s time to grab pencil, write some junk down, and get to work, okay? Someone’s coming to the island, and it’s your job to help them find it, Hurley!
 
Back in normalville, we get some quick brushstrokes to show that Jack has the same warm relationship with his son that he had with his dad. Jack awkwardly tries to bond with David over ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (yes, another literary reference, but other than some stuff about Though the Looking Glass, don’t worry about it), but David shuts him down with a ‘we see each other once a month. Let’s just.. Get through it.’. Ouch! Jack’s mom calls, frantic about Christian’s missing will, and Jack’s gotta cut his emasculation short because…
 
Island Sayid comes to talk to Jack, and Jack, continuing the trend showing a different leadership style than his first go, tells Sayid everything (‘they wanted you to eat some poison’).
 
We flash to Krazy Klaire as she frees Jin from a bear trap, and before Jin collapses, we learn that she has no idea that she’s been jungle-bound for three years.
 
Back to Hurley, who’s wandering in a dark cave with lots of Bic ink on his inner arm. Dogen confronts Hurley, and we get some great Hurley AND Jacob lines (I like that we’re starting to see Jacob has a sense of humor). Jacob instructs Hurley to brag about being a “Candidate”, and rather than give him a baby to kiss, Dogen just gets all pissed off and leaves. Jacob also gets Hurley to grab Jack who reluctantly goes traipsing along only after getting some bait (“Jacob wanted me to tell you that you have what it takes.”).
 
Jack thinks, “Hey – my dad used to say that, too! Only, he said something like, “You DON’T have what it takes.” I bet this Jacob cat knows where my dad is, and much like five years ago, I am going to go looking for my dad. But before, it was my dad’s ghost I was chasing through the forest. Now it’s Hurley. Whatever.” And they’re off!
 
Back to Jin waking up in Krazy Klaire’s tent, where she’s surrounded by Rousseau’s dynamite and raising a beautiful baby deer skull. She drags back my favorite Red Shirt Other, Justin – hey, he’s alive! Probably not for long…  Justin’s wounded and gets tied up, because Krazy Klaire’s about ready to go all Mel Gibson “GIVE ME BACK MY SON!” on poor Justin. When she leaves to prep for some emergency Jin surgery, Justin lets Jin know that this bloodthirsty blonde mop is going to kill them both if they don’t leave.
 
Jack and Hurley are wandering through the forest and of course, randomly bump into Kate. I mean, it’s a real, fricking small island, I guess. She reiterates she’s looking for Claire, and Jack warns her about Dogen’s cryptic infection message. But Kate’s going one way, and Jack and Hurley are going another.
 
Meanwhile, happier Jack is at his mom’s, refusing
a scotch (good for you, Jack) keeping his mother calm, and looking for a will. In more shadows of ‘Jack-is-his-dad-now’, his mom explains that David’s scared of him. Jack’s mystified as to why, much like Christian probably was mystified about Jack. Before they can get into a real discussion, the will is found, and Jack’s mom quickly finds a new name in there: illegitimate daughter Krazy Klaire, I mean Claire Littleton.
 
Back to Jin, who resists untying Justin, who’s looking legitimately scared to be there. She comes back with a big axe and mentions her dad and her “friend” (who we all know is Smokey) telling her that the temple folk have Aaron. She’s going to get Justin to talk. Or turn him into kindling. Probably kindling.
 
Back to island Jack and Hurley, who have happened upon the old water source – you know, where Adam and Eve are. They step on an old inhaler of Shannon’s and Hurley wonders aloud, on behalf of all viewers, one of the oldest show mysteries: Whose skeletons are these? Are they us from another time travel event? (If you like to bet, bet that ultimately, these skeletons are Bernard and Rose. Everyone online seems to think so). (PAC chimes in, uninvited and to Nick’s obvious annoyance – Oh, yes. Bernard and Rose = white and black, respectively,,,)
 
Hurley also starts questioning Jack about what went wrong in his off-island time. Jack talks about his failures with Kate, his failures trying to raise Aaron, etc. Hurley says he always thought Jack would make a great dad – Jack strongly disagrees. Jack also admits to Hurley that he originally found this water source when he was chasing his dad’s ghost and found his dad’s empty coffin. Which he smashed to pieces (much like the smashing he does to the lighthouse later).
 
Back to happier Jack, who comes back from Mom’s with a pizza for David, only David isn’t there. Jack rushes over to his ex-wife’s house (his old house, because he found the hidden key under the rabbit!) and goes looking for David, who isn’t there, either. What he does find is his son’s room, full of life and things about his son that he realizes he never took the time to see. It dawns on him that he desperately wants to be part of his son’s life. He listens to David’s answering machine and hears his own broken voice calling from Australia when he was there to pick up his dad’s body. The next message is about David’s audition, which he’s currently at. Jack rushes off to catch up with him.
 
Side note, part deux: First off, Matthew Fox is a great actor. With no dialogue, we watched him encounter his failures, his shame and his needs in a few brief moments in one room. Awesome. Second, we all want to know who the mom is, right? I’m basing this on absolutely nothing, and haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere, but in this alternate series of events, couldn’t it turn out to be… Juliet?
 
Back to island Jack, where Hurley reminds how cool all this “Old school” stuff is, just the two them, going somewhere unknown, doing something dangerous. Hurley says he came back because Jacob told him to, while Jack says he came back because, “I was broken, and I was dumb enough to think the island would fix me.” Boom, because of that catharsis, the lighthouse appears. Yeah, yeah, yeah, they found it, right? No. If Jack hadn’t said that, or felt that, they would’ve kept on walking. It only appeared because Jack was finally ready to see it.
 
Back to Krazy Klaire, who’s ready to kill Justin for taking Aaron until Jin tells her the truth: Kate took Aaron off the island. She’s been taking care of him. Let this seemingly nice man Justin go! Well, she ain’t havin’ it, being all infected, see? The axe swings and we say, “TIMBER!” as another red shirt comes crashing down. Expect to see a lot more of these dudes die in the next two weeks.
 
A quick shot of Jack and Hurley busting into the lighthouse, which quickly shoots to…
 
Happier Jack walking past a sign for David’s audition that says “Candidates Welcome.” Jack beams with genuine pride and love for his son while David plays a beautiful piece by Chopin. Did it sound familiar to you? It may have because IT WAS THE SAME PIECE FARADAY PLAYED FOR HIS MOM!!! WHOA!!
 
A young boy asks Jack about his son, and the boy’s father begins speaking to Jack – it’s Dogen!! Double-Whoa!!! Dogen says that children are too young for this kind of pressure (wise), and also tells Jack that his son has a “Gift”. Is this the same “Gift” that Michael was told Walt had? Hmm. Or maybe the gift is that there’s still someone under the age of forty that can read sheet music. Either way, when Dogen asks Jack how long his son has been playing, Jack says, “I don’t know.” On the one hand, we want to say that’s because of the split Jack situation. But the show’s toying with us. Jack said that because he’s been a distant dad.
 
Back at the lighthouse, where Hurley gives Jack some coordinates with which to turn the reflective mirrors. There are numbers and names scrawled along the wheel for each point along its axis, and most of the names are crossed out. Much like the cave last week!
 
As Jack turns the wheel, we see strange reflections in the mirrors (this lighthouse is for looking inward, and not outward, okay?). First image Jack sees, not that he’d know it, is the temple where Jin and Sun got married. It’s where Jacob ‘touched’ them. The next image Jack sees is the church steps where a young Sawyer met Jacob, clutched revenge letter in hand. Jack finds his number, 23, and turns to it, despite Hurley’s objections.
 
Jack sees his childhood home and quickly gets enraged. He demands that Hurley bring Jacob to him this instant – how long has he been watching me? In frustration (for more on why he’s really frustrated, read more below) at himself, not liking this reflection, he smashes the mirrors, just like his dad’s coffin. Anger, with potential future catharsis, ensues.
 
Back to happier Jack, who gently confronts his secretive son. David says he didn’t want to disappoint his intense dad, and Jack, reaching perhaps with his father’s help, goes beyond what he was capable of before, and tells David, “When I was your age, my dad told me I didn’t have what it takes. And I always carried that. You will never fail in my eyes. I will always love you and just want to be part of your life.” Well, what kid doesn’t want to hear that from their dad at some point? Good job, Jack! If you noticed, what was also key here, is that Jack didn’t speak with anger and resentment about his father (like he did in the past). Within his speech to his son, you heard a man who understood his dead dad, forgave him, and loved him.
 
Back to the lighthouse, where Jack sits looking at the sea while a recently arrived Jacob gets chided by Hurley for being so cryptic and obtuse. When Jacob lets Hurley know that the plan was for Jack to smash everything in the first place, Hurley gives Jacob a little what’s what. But Jacob explains two things: one, you can’t reach everyone the same way, and two, I had to get you and Jack out of the temple, because some BAD stuff is about to go down. Hurley wants to go back to help his friends, but Jacob’s having none of it. If your friends at the temple are going to fight Smokey, they’ll be doing without Jack and Hurley. Good luck, guys..
 
One last flash to Krazy Klaire who now looks like she wants to kill Jin for the hell of it. In a pre-emptive bid to save his own ass, he tells Claire that he lied – Aaron’s at the temple, and he can take her. That’s when Smokey pops into the tent and Krazy Klaire corrects Jin. “That’s not John, that’s my friend…”
 
NUMBERS, SCHMUMBERS! OKAY, SO WHO’S COMING? WHAT’S HAPPENING? AND WHY THERE ARE NOT REALLY TWO TIMELINES!
 
· NUMBERS! Hurley told Jack to turn the Lighthouse dial
to the number 108. Yes, we all know that Jacob meant for Jack to turn it to his number (23) and smash the hell out of everything. But here’s some numbers for you to chew on: Hurley’s numbers equal 108 (4 + 8 + 15 + 16 + 23 + 42). And this episode was the 108th episode of Lost. Whoa!!!! Does it mean anything? Probably Nooo!!!! Still cool, though.
 
· NUMBERS? Seriously, though, a couple other notes about the lighthouse numbers: Benjamin Linus was number 117, and yes, he was crossed out. Kate was number 51 – still not crossed out! But why wasn’t Kate one of Hurley’s numbers? Could it be that Kate has a different, even more mysterious role in Jacob’s plans than our other heroes?
 
· MIRROR, MIRROR! What Jack went through this episode is an almost exact mirror of Jack’s first season episode titled ‘White Rabbit’. Is this a gimmick? No way, man! If you want to get a read on what next week’s episode is going to be like, re-watch or read up on Sayid’s first season episode(s). You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll know about next week beforehand. Seriously…
 
· I’M GOING DOWN, DOWN, DOWN! Speaking of next week’s episode, it’s called ‘Sundown’. Should we take it literal, as in Jin’s Sun goes down for the count? I hope not… Show producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof said that this episode, in addition to being about Sayid, is a bit of an homage to ‘High Noon’. The temple serves as the dusty town that evil gunslinger Smokey envelopes, giving everyone there “Until sundown” to get out of damned temple-town before he tears it to pieces. We shall also see Sayid and Dogen finally confront each other.
 
· GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER? So who is coming to the island? Did Jacob simply mean it was Jack coming to the island, and having to get a good cathartic look at himself to do so? Is it our perhaps still powerful Widmore? Is it our good man Faraday? Maybe even another Desmond appearance (“We miss ya. Come back to us, Brotha.”).
 
· DOC’S THE MAN! AND WHY THERE AREN’T TWO TIMELINES!!! Once again, Doc Jensen from Entertainment Weekly had an exhaustive take on the whole thing, but one of his insights I found so piercing was that the lighthouse wasn’t for looking out – it was there specifically for looking in. It made me think that when we are going through our most difficult times, when we aren’t our best selves and we’ve lost our way, like we always do, in that rocky sea inside, being able to look at yourself, LOOK! Don’t look away, no matter what it is you see. Stop and look at yourself honestly and nakedly. It may hurt, and you may want to smash that mirror, but this is the only way to heal, and maybe move forward.
 
Jack wasn’t angry about being spied upon. He was angry because he looked in that mirror and saw his childhood home. He saw that JACOB SAW Jack’s been locked in that space in his life for so long. He was still that stressed little boy scared of the man whose approval he so desperately sought. He smashed those mirrors because he recognized all the fear and anger he’d held onto – all the growth-stunting turned into false bravado. He raged at himself for not letting go. And just as he did that, the other Jack was able to move past viewing himself as a “broken” son and finally begin the journey of being a dad.
 
Jack’s been reborn, folks. And in light of this (pun intended, and not), I can safely say that these timelines aren’t serving as a comparison. The emotional catharsis taking place in one is directly influencing the other. We aren’t watching two Jacks – it’s still one soul, temporarily split apart, for whatever greater purpose is out there. Now, is that not cool storytelling, or what?
 
The other cool fringe benefit to this? I’m telling you, I just don’t believe Locke is all dead yet. Because half of Locke is in a wheelchair, learning to live the life he has, and being in love with Helen, he is influencing Smokey in ways that Smokey doesn’t yet understand.
 
We’ve got rebirth. Now it’s almost time for some resurrection.
 
 
ONE MORE HINT FROM THE WIZARDS OF OUR OZ
 
In another recent interview/torture/tease, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof told us that we would learn specifically what the island truly is in mid-season episode (my take: likely to be the episode centered our ageless Maybelline man Alpert).
 
In a concerted effort to drive me even more nuts, they said that it’s a four-letter word that has no ‘A’ or ‘E’ in it. Well, it may not be Hell, but when I get clues like this, it sure feels like Hell to me.
 
Perusing the net, the dominating names/theories seem to be:
· Ship (oh man, I hope not. I don’t want Aliens to be thrown into the mix).
· Brig – like the brig of a ship. More intriguing, but still kinda lame.
· Gift
· Door (ah, now we’re getting a little more interesting)
· Tomb
· Lost – Yes, it’s possible that the island is what’s lost, and it’s using our players to find its’ way back home. But does that also make it a ship?…
· Cork, or Plug – now this I like. In the 6th Season Promotional Posters, there was all sorts of symbiology thrown at us, some of which has already appeared on the show (i.e. Hurley’s Ankh from the guitar case). One symbol that appeared in the poster that hasn’t (heh heh) ‘POPPED’ up yet is a champagne bottle with a shooting cork. Might the island need a new Jacob because it’s preventing something from leaking out? A Black Hole, another electro-magnetic explosion, demons from hell? Or is it the metaphor of the island, of redemption, hope and inner growth that is holding back the bad things inside of us?
 
Thanks again for reading, and watching.

"Lost" in Translation – Child is the Father to the Man

Mama said knock you out!

Talk about feeling lost: parents never really know what’s going on with, or what they’ve done to, their own kids until it’s too late to do anything about it. I just listened to a song by Okkervil River, “Savannah Smiles,” that captures the feeling. Tune is “Savannah Smiles,” the narrator a divorced dad contemplating what he’d just learned by (accidentally) reading a page of his teenaged daughter’s diary. In that moment he realizes he can’t reconcile the smiling photos he keeps on his wall with the feelings she records by hand.

“Is she someone I don’t know at all? Is she someone I betrayed?”

So back to “Lost,” and another haunting episode describing the emotional discord haunting its characters: the disconnections between parents and children; the terrors of a failed parent; the scars borne by lost and confused children. Particularly when they become parents themselves, and realize how their wounds now define the unhappy relationships they have formed with their own children.

“Just cannot believe, could do that to a child,” the song continues, far beyond the point where feelings trump words. “A child, a child.”

It’s easy to forget how crucial the emotional side of the saga has been; how easy it is to get so caught up in the action we barely notice how we keep coming back to these particular headwaters. It’s the one undertow that never, ever loses its grip.

“Lighthouse” was a Jack-centric episode, toggling between Island Jack in 2007 and alterna-Jack in Los Angeles, 2004. Island Jack, we recall, lives in a jungle of his father’s creation. We’ve always known how fraught/broken the relationship between Christian and Jack Shephard has been. It is Jack’s most primal experience: of loving and fearing his dad; the tangled strands of admiration and resentment; the love and the hatred; the need to be nurtured, and to destroy. Jack was bringing his (alcoholic) dad’s body home from Australia when he stepped onto Oceanic #815, and when the plane crashed the impact seemed to revive Christian’s soul: He kept reappearing, silently, only to lead Jack further into the depths of a literal/figurative jungle that presented far more questions than answers.

As the series continued it seemed that Christian had some connection to Jacob. He appeared in Jacob’s stead. He delivered (or claimed to deliver) Jacob’s instructions. But now that Jacob has stepped in himself, in both real and spectral forms, the connections between the Island’s Good Father and Jack’s bad daddy have grown murkier. Is there a reason why Christian and Jacob have never been seen together? And if the Man in Black has the power to animate the bodies of the dead, doesn’t it make sense that Jacob would, too? Has he been walking in Christian’s burial suit for all these years?

What seems clear now is that Jacob plays the role of Father of Fathers. From his perch on the Island – and in that groovy, previously-unseen lighthouse – he has been keeping track of his charges, monitoring their lives and stepping in when it seems they need a gentle push to keep them moving in the right direction.

Jacob’s vision of a right direction, anyway, which opens up an interesting can of worms: For all his clear-eyed, seemingly warm-hearted affection for the Losties, has Jacob’s presence enriched their lives, or simply made them much, much worse?

Consider that alterna-Jack in L.A. – the Jack who never went to the island and seems untouched by Jacob’s presence – is actively breaking the cycles of dysfunction that “broke” him (as the other Jack tells Hurley on the island). So while his relationship with his own teenaged son (who didn’t even exist until now) bears the marks of his own disconnection from Christian, Jack is growing and changing on his own. He comes to terms with his own feelings for his dad, admits his failings as a father and these revelations lead him to reconnect with his own son.

We’ve seen this again and again in the alterna-Losties in Los Angeles: From Locke to Hurley and now to Jack, the bonds between fathers and sons seem far more functional than it is in their island alter-egos. And now that Jacob presents himself as a kind of father-in-general. . . . God the father. . . what are we to make of how screwed up the Jacob-influenced Losties are? Why are the Jacob-free characters so much more able to control, and find satisfaction, in their lives?

Back on Jacob’s island virtually every paternal/maternal relationship is a disaster. Most vivid case in point: Crazy jungle Claire and her insane pursuit for Aaron, who she saw last when she abandoned him on a log and wandered off into the jungle, presumably in the grip of the Man in Black, or some other wicked force. Now she’s basically Rousseau 2.0, wild-eyed and dangerous, stalking the jungle for a lost child. She has no idea where the kid is, but her free-wheeling desperation to reconnect has turned her psychotic. She’ll kill any and everyone she encounters, always in the name of her lost child, but actually because her maternal instincts have been subsumed, and poisoned, by the island’s darker forces.

So is the dark force the Man in Black, or is Jacob fostering the darkness too? Consider how he manipulates Hurley into leading Jack to the lighthouse, seemingly to help guide someone else to the island. Only, when Jack realizes that the lighthouse is actually Jacob’s monitoring station – that the mirrors are what have given Jacob the power to see into their lives – he smashes the whole works to smithereens. A fact Jacob takes with surprising aplomb. In fact, it was the plan all along:

“It’s the only way for him to understand how important he is,” Jacob tells Hurley. “Jack is here to do something. He can’t be told what it is, he has to find it himself.”

This is Jacob’s version of paternal guidance. Whether his lighthouse is leading him – and everyone else – to a safe harbor or onto the rocks still isn’t clear.