It's been one year since Lost aired its finale, and signed off. I liked how the producers tied the knots together, and how they explained many things but left others clouded in ambiguity. I loved the score; I loved certain shots, like the one above, which is about as poignant a perspective as television can provide (and which probably means nothing if you didn't see the show).
Martha and I bought the boxed set last year, as our Christmas present to each other. She got hooked late, on the final season. We didn't get around to starting to watch the episodes until fairly recently, and I've been continually astonished while watching the first season how many details are introduced that are a) key to the overarching themes and b) threads that will be used again later. Even though the writers clearly made some things up as they went along, there really was a plan from the start.
This past weekend, the missus packed a picnic lunch, the kid picked out some road tunes and I filled up the tank with gas. We didn’t’ actually use that much, mind you. Cupids, after all, is barely an hour outside St. John’s.
That said, it was a pretty transporting daytrip, in part because of the fete that Cupids is putting on to celebrate its 400th anniversary. We’re planning at least one more trip before the summer is out – there were things still on our list, and we saw plenty that we wanted to explore.
Cupids 400 With some solid government support and private sponsors, Cupids 400 has a website worthy of the significance of the event – the first planned English settlement in what is now Canada. This is your anchor, whether or not you can make the trip.
At the very least, learn about John Guy, the Cupers Cove colony founded in 1610, and remarkable stories involving the archeology and scholarship that have flourished in recent years.
If you can make the trip, this site is the best place to start. You’ll get a sense of what you can see, including the brand-new Legacy Centre, which is a terrific community museum. (The online component isn’t quite there yet, but I’m hoping that can be beefed up.) You can also read some of the background of the digs that have put Cupids on the archeological map lately.
Cupids Cove Chatter Chatter uses a blog format for quick updates on what’s happening around the community, which has been decked out for the summer. Cupids and its neighbours are hosting numerous activities – concerts, plays, get-togethers, you name it – well beyond the standard tourism centre. I’ve been kept abreast of Chatter postings thanks to the diligent work of Twitter friend Margaret Ayad, who has helped keep Cupids top of mind for a whole online community. Meanwhile, look for lots of links, including a Flickr group to see what’s been going on so far.
New World Theatre Project Rabbittown Theatre of St. John’s has branched out to Cupids for this season, with a program that’s kind of ambitious: it’s staging two Shakespearean plays, plus three originals (including a dinner theatre). We caught three of the productions in a single day, including the effervescent Chris Driedzic’s brief one-man show on the fire that destroyed the legendary Globe theatre. You can find out about productions and times here.
Elsewhere this week
Twitter of the Day Earlier this winter, the people who count such things announced that 50 million tweets were moving into the ether every single day. Woof. Even if you follow a moderate number of people or organizations, it’s impossible (and, to be blunt, just not a good idea) to keep up with everything they say. The appeal of Twitter of the Day is that particularly clever or insightful or colourful things get picked for you.
15 Things You Should Know About Breasts Sounds dirty, but boy, is it not. This infographic is packed with information that everyone should know, but given that it’s published by OnlineSchools.org, I suspect it’s meant mainly for older students, and particularly boys at that. Some inaccurate assumptions about smoking, cosmetic surgery and breastfeeding get the fact-checking they’ve had coming. This is a great public health tool, but it may not please all parents or grown-ups, nor is it appropriate for young kids. [UPDATE: This link is no longer active.]
Lost map It didn’t have a name, but the Island on Lost sure saw a lot of action, from a plane crash to a temple to a freighter exploding into bits just offshore. Fans of the recently concluded TV show will be intrigued to see what a Virginian mapmaker named Jonah M. Adkins came up with after (apparently) following the show quite closely – a map with many of the key settings, from Jacob’s cave to Jughead to the various Dharma stations. Look for links to buy a copy, plus notes from the mapmaker himself.
This coming Sunday, I and millions of other people will be planted on our couches and chairs, our eyes fixed on our television screens as we watch the final minutes of a television that has captivated us for almost six years.
Lost was something special in television storytelling: a show that grew many times more complex as it wore on, that widened its scope in successive seasons, drawing in influences from arcane corners of knowledge but (as we’ve been finding) boiling down its references to key legends and myths that have been part of human storytelling for millennia.
It’s how Lost told those stories, though, that made it remarkable … and part of that has been its up-to-the-minute use of the web to entertain, illuminate and tease its audiences.
It’s a pity, though, that many of the web components created for the show have already vanished, like a puff of smoke, to use a Lost phrase. Indeed, I’m wondering what will be left online as the months pass.
Lostpedia Lostpedia, a site created and maintained by fans, has emerged as not only the best repository of countless number of facts about the show and its Dickensian list of characters and situations, but also a guide to how the show has used the web.
Lost’s producers did more than just baffle their viewers from the start with one mystery after another, peeling the plots back like onion layers. They also used the self-directed aspects of the web to make the experience of following the show that much richer, if not addictive.
One of the most engaging of the official sites was called oceanic-air.com, named of course for the fictional airline that crashed into The Island. As with others, it looked like something else, leaving the user to figure out what was happening. For instance, there was a seating plan, not to mention a seemingly endless number of clues you were meant to stumble across.
Unfortunately, the site is currently down. You can read about it on Lostpedia, but clicking on the link leads to ABC’s official site. Speaking of which …
Lost As official show sites go, Lost’s is pretty darn good. There’s lots to read (less to watch, unless you can jerry-rig your IP number so you can see the U.S-restricted episodes), and you have the benefit of knowing that the recaps are official descriptions of what actually just happened. (In the Lost universe, that can be mighty important.)
The sad thing is that a number of Lost-related web enterprises have been transported, like a polar bear in the middle of a tropical island. Sites for the Hanso Foundation and game-within-a-game sites like Let Your Compass Guide You are no longer active. Granted, a good few of them were created as diversions between the long months between seasons, while the show was on hiatus. Nonetheless, it’s a shame there isn’t a more apt legacy still online about Lost, which was so brilliant in its approach to interactive media.
Elsewhere this week
Times Skimmer I’ve been talking this site up lately with my media colleagues: a concise, visually attractive way to scan what’s on the New York Times site. In fact, this is how I prefer to start with the NYT each day. It’s also customizable, and breaking-news junkies will appreciate the “most recent” tab on the bottom right.
75 Things You Can Compost The full title of this feature, on the Planet Green site, includes the words “but thought you couldn’t.” It includes one of the items that was a revelation to me when I started composting: dryer lint. You’ll find 74 other things here that you can pick up around the entire house and not have to put in a garbage bag.
Sad Trombone Having one of those deflated, depressing days, when nothing seems to be going your way? Celebrate it, friend, with this sound effect … ready to be hit at a moment’s notice. (On the plus side, it’ll cheer you up. I guarantee it.)
Lost signs off tonight, with pretty much our whole evening blocked out for the finale. I'll miss the show. which I admired for not just its clever storytelling, but feeding so much into the culture ... and inspiring a godawful number of parody moments.
For instance, check out these T-shirts for kids, which show that Lost really can be for the whole family. One:
I like this one even better:
Earlier this week, David Cochrane, who's CBC's provincial affairs reporter but also a major Lost fan, sent me this link to an Onion article from last year, about ABC launching a spinoff series featuring the smoke monster.
A spot-on graf:
ABC sources reported that the series will transplant the evil black
cloud from the island of Lost to the suburbs of Chicago, where it
works as a sports radio host, surrounded by "a whole new group of crazy
characters." Actress Lea Thompson has signed on to play the monster's
long-suffering wife, who must put up with her husband's screwball antics
while raising the couple's two rambunctious children, Tanner and Smoky,
How about this video, featuring Michael Emerson proving that the key to Benjamin Linus's utter creepiness comes down to one thing: line delivery.
Last night, we watched the two-hour pilot of the series, which was a good refresher on character points and common themes. I had forgotten details about the poor old pilot, who got sucked out of the cockpit and dumped in the jungle ... although it made me remember the song Charlie would write. Which is why this makes me laugh:
I've seen many Lost-themed T-shirts over time, including a good few on Tee Fury, which (as regulars know) only offers each design for 24 hours. The polar bear at Desmond's position in the hatch was one of the ones I wish I had bought. This, though, comes close: '
Here is one of those TeeFury shirts, incidentally, which images Gilligan and the Captain on the island ... with Smoke Monster and the temple:
Earlier this week, I saw this: a montage that makes fun of not only a twist about flash-sideways Desmond running over Locke, but works in a long-running CSI: Miami meme, making fun of David Caruso's pithy pre-Daltrey one-liners:
Coincidental to the Easter season, but I came across the promo shot above that the producers of Lost released leading up to the current (and last) season. A Last Supper riff? Battlestar Galactica got there first, I thought ... at the time.
Looking at the image again, though, I see a lot more, largely because I've had the benefit of seeing more than half of the episodes now. The first thing that became clear was who was seated on which side of Locke, which has become increasingly meaningful with each episode. (I'm assuming that a couple of the "good" folks are seated to the far left, to balance out the Da Vinci parody.) So, too, has the religious threads running through most episodes (especially last week's terrific backstory of the ageless Richard Alpert).
I'm wondering if more clues will become apparent as the show pushes toward its conclusion in May. I can't think of too many television programs that spark as much critical thinking - not to mention web searches while the show is underway.
This past Wednesday night, my wife and I sat down to watch the season premiere of Lost. What was different was that Martha had never done that before ... which meant that every minute or so, I was explaining what was going on. This was particularly so as Jack and the other passengers flew through turbulence, and nothing happened. (Or ... did it?)
This video has been making rounds online, with simultaneous views of the pilot and the so-called flash-sideways re-do. All the more interesting to see the minor but no doubt significant changes. (Who knew a change in mini-bottles would spark so much debate?)
In case people hadn't noticed that Lost falls well outside the scope of most shows, last night's episode added at least two more books for followers to consider, if they haven't read it already. One is Salman Rushdie's delightful Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which the character Desmond is seen carrying. A book about storytelling, and which celebrates the value of making stuff up? Yep, that's not a random choice.
A second book, Søren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, shows up much later in the show, inside the vaunted temple. Not a coincidence at all. In fact, executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof appeared last night on Jimmy Kimmel to evaluate whether specific things in the two-hour series premiere were significant or not.
As Lindelof put it, perhaps a little sarcastically, "We want the kids to be reading as much Kiekegaard as possible." (Or at least thinking about the ideas in Kierkegaard's book, such faith and belief and the irrational.) Here's the first part:
Here's the second part, in which Kimmel reveals he's a bit obsessed with the many, many details in the program:
With tonight's Lost season premiere looming, here's a funny video by Benny and Rafi Fine that counts up a good many of the questions that five seasons of the show have raised. (Thanks to Julia for the link.)
Meanwhile, here's an appropriate excerpt from a weekend piece in the New York Times, in which the creators promise answers - but not all of them.
Finally, one last tidbit: here's today's offering from TeeFury, which famously offers each design for one day only (the bait: they're dirt cheap, at just nine bucks). What Would John Locke Do? Actually, my question is, who is in John Locke's body, or, who is Jacob's nemesis, exactly?
Eric Tan is a California artist who does incredible posters, and often just for his own purposes. (He works for Disney, though.) Above is a poster he did for Lost, the TV show; many of the items on his blog relate to movies. He doesn't post often, but much of what you'll see are gems.
If you watch Lost closely, you'll know that not a whole lot goes into the show by accident, and that includes seemingly throwaway lines of dialogue, props and things seen in the background. The T-shirt above was worn by the character Miles, the guy who talks with dead people. (Or interviews them, depending.) The terrific Doc Jenson column on Entertainment Weekly's site picked over what the shirt may mean. Or not.
[Surf's Up, as publishedin the St. John's Telegram on Thursday, May 8, 2008. Click here to read more columns.]
The most popular band in the land overhauls its website, the dean of evolution gets the full-on literary tribute, and an easy tip to help your deck plants flourish this summer … all that, and more, in this week’s hop, skip and jump around the web.
Great Big Sea A sign of a healthy website is that it reinvents itself every now and again. The GBS site unveiled its makeover last Friday, to herald the upcoming album Fortune's Favour. The album is now out for more than a month, but you can amuse yourself aplenty on the site, which has a new player (stream a half-dozen songs while you surf), some new social-media functions and various other features. Old favourites are still in place, including the forums, where hardcore fans meet up.
Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online Next year will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, one of the scientists who truly changed how we look at the world, and ourselves. Get a jump on the festivities with a site that pulls together everything Darwin wrote, which is no mean feat.
Pop Bottle Irrigation If you have outdoor plants and a plastic Pepsi bottle kicking around, you can solve two problems at once. Instead of dropping the bottle into recycling (or, worse, the garbage can), making a few snips can give you a tool to keep your plants moist during the summer days to come.
Lost Spoilers In our house, I'm alone in following the TV show Lost, but I’m certainly not alone out there in cyberspace, where there are, I don’t know, a billion sites picking apart the show that raises two questions for every one it resolves. While I like to being surprised, I’ll cop to getting a buzz from this well-informed blog that tracks where the next dozen or two plot turns might lead.
Sandwiches A couple of months ago, Esquire magazine ran a feature on great sandwiches, and asked readers for their ideas. Apparently, every reader had a different idea on the ultimate sandwich. Here’s the central page, which is sliced, buttered and stuffed with an endless variety of sandwiches. I bet you can’t scroll through the list without wanting to head to the kitchen for a snack. If you’re planning on a road trip, take notes; the suggestions here are fixed to particular restaurants, diners, etc., that serve up wonders on a plate.
Animated gifs Ah, the animated gif. The Graphics Interchange Format has been a staple on the web for years; who, after all, can forget the burning fires that dotted many a personal web page around 1995? The animated gif is still a favourite; you don’t need any plug-ins or special software to make them work on even the most basic of web pages. This particular page consists of nothing but animated gifs: row upon upon row of them, all fit into tiny squares, each endlessly repeating.
Hansard When the House of Assembly is in session, Hansard makes for some of the best reading in town. Well, for some people! Get your political fix here, and keep up with legislative business, too.
Type the Alphabet Not all games involve zapping aliens, bouncing balls or cute animals. This is a twist on hand-eye co-ordination, and rewards those who can actually do one important function of daily life: type. See how long it takes to type the alphabet in sequence; I was humbled, and I can touch-type. (Allowing for a few boo-boos, that is.)
If you'll indulge me, a few notes about shows I follow.
I was relieved to hear 30 Rock has been given at least another year to earn an audience; minute for minute, it's the new(ish) show I enjoy most. Meanwhile ... although I liked Studio 60 in the fall, I've lost interest, if not patience, with the show; I don't care much about the characters, a few of whom I find odious - and they're supposed to be the engaging leads. I appear to be far, far from alone.
(Which gives me an excuse to trot out this wickedly funny line, attributed to Tina Fey during an appearance at the Writers' Guild Awards: "I hear Aaron Sorkin is in Los Angeles wearing the same dress - but longer, and not funny." Ouch.
I watch Lost - well, when it's on. This year's hiatus was foolish, and the season itself has been a bit of finger-tapper. I know from water-cooler chatter that I'm not the only one waiting for the show to reveal something truly substantial. The cartoon at right comes close to the frustration. You can see more here. A confession: I watch Lost (like 24) on advanced speed through my PVR; watching it real time would be even more frustrating. (You also notice, this way, just how little dialogue is used to pad scenes.)
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.