Thoughts on Lost Series Finale

If I had to describe the series finale of Lost in two words, they would be "Hollywood Ending." It seemed like a big, sappy way to round out the six seasons of suffering. But before I start ranting, I think it's a good idea to see what other people are saying. Here are some good quotes I've gathered:

"Someone took a rock out of a hole. Someone put a rock in a hole."
"Learning that the sideways existed on a higher plane, that gives me true closure for the characters that I've watched for the past six seasons. Here, our Losties were given an opportunity to share experiences that their real lives didn't give them. It was also a place where they had to let go of certain character flaws. This is why Locke's story was changed. In his mind, Locke couldn't let go that his dad was a prick, and apparently Locke somehow though he was partly to blame. The same goes for Sawyer who couldn't let go of the evil Locke's father had done. All the best cowboys have daddy issues."
"My criticism here is that they've successfully removed all of the stakes and tension from every situation in the entirety of the series, because regardless of the conflict's outcome, the foregone conclusion would have always been the same.
And for me, a story that has an ending that is divorced of the rising action, conflict, and climax of events is poor writing."
"The purgatory angle stinks. It would have been better if they all woke up in a VR laboratory full of Japanese programmers and they realize that they had been beta-testing the first "total immersion" VR game. The final scene should have had them being each handed a check for their participation as they walked out of the lab and back to the mundane world."
"...Being an atheist, shows where everybody ends up in heaven or something to that effect are a real problem for me, particularly if they're mixed with some sort of preachy or spiritual message. Not here, though. Afterlife has been set up in advance, so I know there is this fictional life after death in this fictional universe. That, in turn, means that I care about what happens to people after they die. Resolution after death becomes a valid thing...I don't care about Michael Corleone going to hell, but I do care that Darth Vader gets to be one with the force in the end. Because in Star Wars, people keep on living after they die, so that is important, even if I don't think that happens to real people in real life...So on that level the flashpurgatory sequences worked. It mattered. Sure, it was cheating all the way through. We were seeing everybody circa 2004 just for the sake of being confusing (who knows what other things in Lost followed the same principle when they were introduced), even though it's pretty clear that all the ghosts are plucked from different points in time. Not the most elegant solution, but a valid one."
"The alternate timeline involving everyone (even though they may have died at different times) works because I believe that the idea of time is a factor only affecting those that are living and think, because of my religious background, perhaps I can more easily accept this idea that when you die there is no longer the concept of time (people having died in the past or future being able to experience this alternate life in the same time appearing to us, the viewers, as if it were an alternate reality like one in which we live today.)"
"Most of all I viewed the ending as tragic. It was not mainly about any particular account of the metaphysics of the island. It was about how few couples had the chance to actually live together, love together, and stay together. The perfect reunions of the couples in the "we're all dead" scenario only drove this point home. I found this contrast moving...At the end, the door is left open for Jack (the body of Jack?) to become the next smoke monster on the island and you can spot some clues to this effect, such as Jack's body being strewn on the stones in the same manner as it was for The Man in Black."
"Could it be that in resisting the geekiest, nitpickingest, most Aspergerian demands of their audience they swung too far in the opposite direction, dismissing as trivial everything but the cosmic (the tedious and largely unnecessary Jacob-Smokey background) and the sentimental (making sure that every character receives his or her designated soul mate or therapeutic closure of the most banal Dr. Phil variety)?"
"There were three reasons to watch 'Lost' — or to stick with it, more aptly, across six immensely engrossing and immensely frustrating seasons. You could watch for the characters, who were two-dimensional and archetypal in a way, but rich and relatable and even lovable in the way that great pulp casts can sometimes be. You could watch for the thrill of it — the endless cliffhangers, the constant narrative whiplash, the mobius-strip plotting, and the way the show could blithely disassemble and reassemble its narrative architecture (flashbacks followed by flashforwards! flashforwards followed by time travel!) and somehow have the whole thing work. And of course, you could watch for the macro-plot — the mythology of a mysterious island, which layered puzzle atop riddle atop intrigue like no show since “The X-Files,” promising all the while (or seeming to promise, at least) to be building up to a revelatory denouement...Last night’s series finale was a great success if you watched the show for the first reason, intermittently interesting if you watched it for the second, and a great crescendo of failure if you watched it for the third."

io9.com, Marginal Revolution, Salon, New York Times


Vibram update 1

After a few hours in the five finger shoes, my little toes hurt.
Apparently they did not like being separated from the other toes, at
least that was my best guess. In any case my pinky toes throbbed -

Testing out the Vibram Five Fingers

Today I'm trying out my fantabulous Vibram Five Finger Shoes in the office, primarily to see if they are helpful walking about on concrete floor. So far I've tried them running, and that's been great. Today is the indoor test.

Already I've gotten quite a few comments from folks on my footwear - are they socks? shoes?

I will report when I've done a full day of wearing them.


The next evolution of augmented reality

Who doesn't love TED? It's full of inspiration, ideas, and entrepreneurial spirit that hopefully moves us forward as a global civilization. The latest augmented reality mapping technology showcase by Blaise Aguera y Arcas is particularly fun and exciting. I love where technology is going where we can really make use of all the data and mapping them in a way that helps us navigate the world. Literally. Granted it has a tinge of Big Brother/stalker to this technology (which could warrant an entire philosophical debate) but for now let's just think about how potentially useful and fun this could be. Just watch the video:


Fun TV Bosses

I am a fan of TV comedies set in the workplace - mainly because it's a great opportunity for writers to poke fun at Corporate America and allow all of us to laugh off our daily stress with reminders of how goofy and silly it can all be. And often, these workplace comedies allow us to appreciate our real jobs.
It's all about perspective right?

Guyism.com has a fun post on "7 TV Bosses Who Would Be Fun to Work For," with reasons why, and the list is quite good. My favorites from the list are Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock and Jimmy James from News Radio. They're both quirky and power figures - you understand they have the qualities that made them powerful and wealthy and worked hard to reach their accomplishments, but they're so good at it they often make it look easy. They may test you in ways you never expect and at the same time support you in ways you never realize. And don't you just love some of the crazy things they come up with.

I do have a few other bosses I'd like to add to the list:

Veronica Palmer, Veridian Dynamics, Better Off Ted
OK, the truth is working at Veridian Dynamics would be hell, and Veronica would be one of the intimidating bosses anywhere, not to mention manipulative and unrelenting. But look, she always has a smile on her face and she has such excellent power outfits, and if you can earn her respect like Ted has, then that crazy ultra-corporate life MAY be manageable. If I had to work at a big, faceless, money-driven, ethics-lacking corporation, at least let me work for a kooky, intimidating yet oddly appealing boss who will bat for you when her conscience does kick in, even if that's only once a year. At least she doles out crazy funny sayings on a regular basis to keep you entertained, or scared. Besides, better her be on your side than have her be the head of a competing department. Not to mention she at least is someone who values intelligence and strength, so you know where you stand. [image via abc.go.com]

Jack Gallo, Blush Magazin, Just Shoot Me! 
Blush Magazine just seems like one of the greatest places to work - this is of course in the pre- Great Repression era where corporate perks in the fashion/publishing industry were rampant for all to enjoy. Add on top of that, a boss in Jack Gallo who may seem like your regular business mogul who only cares about a good game of golf, besting Donald Trump, and having a young sexy trophy wife, but deep down he is a man who truly sees and develops the talents of each person he employs, and in fact builds real friendships with them. So much so that his personal assistant dreams of having Jack as his own father. And I sure would love to play with all the crazy gadgets he's always testing out. [image via tveo]

Murphy Brown, FYI, Murphy Brown
OK, Murphy Brown is known for not being able to keep a secretary or nanny, but, if you're Eldin Bernecky, she would prove to be the best boss ever. So secretaries and nannies need not apply, but if you're an artist, she's the boss goldmine. After all, Eldin went from a house painter to her artist-in-residence who got to execute his artistic visions just as he wished. And he basically got to live at her expensive townhouse for free. Granted he had to deal with her PMS and other personality quirks, but I think he got a pretty good deal out of the bargain. If I were an artist, I could only dream of finding a patron who would enable me to fulfill my artistic dreams, and get free lodging out of the deal. And if you love kids, you have the option to pick up the nanny gig on the side. [image via babble]


3D IMAX Movie Experience

IMG_0264, originally uploaded by szueechen.
It took us FOREVER, but E and I finally went and saw Avatar, of course in 3D IMAX. We knew the movie would be a visual spectacle, so we wanted to maximize that experience, be as immersed in Pandora as possible. I was a bit skeptical about the 3D but it really did add levels of dimension to the visuals. The odd angle and huge size of the glasses were hard to get used to though, and with my lack of bridge I kep thinking they were going to slide off my face.

E was SO very entertained by how I looked in the humongo 3D glasses we had to take some pics to commemorate. The frames were beyond Martin Scorsese large - they made me feel like a miniature person. And well, I looked it too.

Asides from the goofy glasses, Avatar was truly a gorgeous and deeply engaging visual feast. I was bored by all the stereotyped, undeveloped characters and frankly disappointed in the uninventiveness of the storyline, and this despite my already low low expectations about the plot given what I've already heard. Really, Mr. Cameron, I can't help but feel you just got lazy and cheaped out on writing a story worthy of the visual and imaginative world you've created. It is literally a rip-off of Pocahontas/Dance with Wolves. As a filmmaker, how would you be ok with that?

But I must thank James Cameron for the rich, lush, and wonderfully detailed Pandora - although I suspect much of the credit belongs to the animators. I loved being in Pandora and watching the wonderful na'vi, the creatures, and landscape that I didn't want the movie to end. I was even okay enduring through the cheesy and oh-so-expected storyline and blatant rip-offs of Native American cultures. To me, Cameron has redeemed himself from the sappy dopey storyline of Titanic with the visual feast that is Avatar.

Oh and by the way, there are a couple even goofier pics of us in the glasses...E LOVES them...so here's the links if you're curious:



I stumbled upon Judy Olausen's work the other day and fell instantly in love with her photography. This one particularly titled "Sheriff" of a stern, meticulous, weathered, old lawman outside a jail cell juxtaposed with his antithesis - a soft, furry, innocent little kitten being held in his hand. It is a lovely image that speaks volumes. Apparently it is part of a book called "Rescued" that unfortunately is yet unpublished.

Thank you Judy Olausen for sharing your work online. Your work is inspiring and so memorable.

[via Judy Olausen Photography]


Climbing the Diamond

Fifty Classic Climbs of North America from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.

Here's a great video on a 1,000' climb on the Diamond on Longs Peak, Rock Mountain National Park in Colorado. The climb starts at 14,000 feet above sea level, adding another level of physical challenge to the very vertical climb. It's also one of the 50 top classic climbs in North America - I love that the Smileys are planning on climbing all of them as a team.


climbing in your undies

I don't even know what to say about these ad images. They are pretty darn silly. But they do catch your attention. They are for PACT underwear, a line of organic and sustainable underwear that's also socially conscientious. And these ads sure made me do a double take. What I noticed first was the amazing rock and their lines. They really caught my eye. (What can I say, I've climbed enough rocks to have an appreciation for great rock and their features.) Then lines of the rock led me to the nearly naked guy in his PACT undies. And I laughed. So I just had to go and look for more pics of people climbing in their undies. And here's one more:

[Images via fuseproject and PACT]

Oh, and a funny video:


New Year's Resolution

I am not a resolutions person. For me, setting and keeping resolutions is as painful and unrealistic as going on a diet. When I was younger and idealistic I tried, and quickly realized how foolish the effort was. So never again. I chalked it up to part of learning about myself with nothing to show for it.

Strangely enough, I found myself wanting to and actually setting a resolution for 2010. Maybe as I'm aging I'm reverting back to my former self. (Well, as I think this thought, the image of Benjamin Button as a 70-year-old infant jumped into my mind, so I sure hope that's not the case.) Regardless of the reason, I made a resolution, actually said it out loud to Elijah so he can keep me accountable, and am finding myself following it. Not only that, it's been fun! And I'm going to use the blog to track the progress.

The resolution is simple: eat more vegetables. By this I mean trying new vegetables, cooking them in new ways, and having vegetables be the primary part of a meal versus just sides. I want vegetables to be the heroes in my life. Now this is really part of a natural progression for me, as I am finding that I have less and less interest in meat, especially not large quantities of it at any given time. Yet I was still finding myself thinking of vegetables as an afterthought to what I eat, and therefore was just not having enough of it. So making it a resolution makes me more proactive about planning and engaged in thinking about what I eat.

In any case, so far so good. And I've really been enjoying it too. So far I've had some fantastic meals with these vegetables as the main ingredients: brussels sprouts, tofu (ok, not a vegetable, but vegetarian), cauliflowers, carrots, and celery. And coming up I have winter melons, sweet potatoes, kabocha, mushrooms, and potatoes. And I have plans to try cooking with endive.

I will try to document these things as best as I can and share them. It's hard for me to remember to take pictures while I cook but I'll be more mindful. With the Internet as my source for recipes, there are just so many exciting possibilities.

Cheers and bravo to vegetables!


Snuggie's Highs and Lows

Oh the Snuggie...

I will always remember my first encounter with the Snuggie - on cable late one night channel surfing. Between the ads of chat phone lines with very friendly ladies and offers from competing mattress kings, I caught the Snuggie commercial - the new indispensable product for anyone who's economical yet desires a warm, comforting companion that doubles as a blanket while lounging around the house. From that moment on, oh Snuggie, you've captured my attention and I've experienced so many highs and lows with you.

So it was, I thought of the Snuggie as one of those silly unncessary products that somehow get made and marketed. Really was it better than a regular blanket? So every time I saw the commercial on TV I would make fun of it and shake my head.

And then the Snuggie was spotted at the Inauguration and broadcast on the news, in blogs, everywhere. It was so cold in DC at that time the use of Snuggie looked like a smart idea. At that point America, myself included, changed its mind about the Snuggie. It is useful and maybe even classy enough for the presidential inauguration!

Then the Snuggie really caught on. It became a part of pop culture: Snuggie pub crawls, worn by celebrities on morning shows...it was everywhere! And I was amused by it all. Even Matt Lauer, who swore he would never wear one, succumbed to the great soft, warm Snuggie. So what if it made you look like a giant smurf monk.

The Snuggie, silly and dorky as it was, had earned a place in my heart. I was bombarded by its presence and it was dumb but funny enough for conversation, and therefore, memorable.

So much so that at our office Christmas party's white elephant gift exchange, when a Snuggie appeared I laughed and found that I wanted it! I wanted it so much I almost started salivating. And when a second Snuggie got unwrapped that evening I became doubly excited. I really really wanted that Snuggie. And I came close. I stole one of the Snuggies from a person but alas it was not meant to be. It got stolen back. Everyone, well maybe not everyone in the room, but many people wanted the Snuggies. It was a hot item. Almost as hot as the case of beer. Oh just imagine chilling on your couch with a Snuggie and drinking a case of beer...

In any case, that was as close as I ever got to owning a Snuggie. I reasoned with myself that if I really wanted one I can buy one online easily enough, and felt better that I didn't go home that night with one. And of course I never did buy one for myself. I have a perfectly comfortable down blanket that I use for lounging on my couch since it is so frigidly cold in my living room. Regardless I had found Snuggie had crept its way into my heart as an object of desire. A fleece blanket with arms that comes with a book light! And inexpensive! How useful.

And today I was happy to read a FastCompany piece on the Snuggie. I've come a full circle - proof from a third party that the Snuggie is, after all, not so useful and magical. Its performance and durability appears to be lacking. Thank you FastCompany, you've brought me back around to sanity.


Dusty and His Beer

Animals do the darnedest things. For example, I found out on New Years Day that Dusty is fond of Coors Light.

Here he is, guarding his beer. His look says, "I'm watching you. Don't try anything funny cuz I'm ready to pounce."

After he sensed there was no threat to someone taking his beverage, he relaxed and snuggled with his Coors. Looks like they had a heart-to-heart exchange.