Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

The African Safari. For many it’s the pinnacle of a lifetime’s worth of wanderlust, wrought in the childhood dreams of far away places and exotic animals. Like a magnet, the pervasive pull of the cradle of life draws people from around the world to its savannahs teaming with life and its breathtakingly endless African skies.

While each of our dreams about African varies from person to person, I would guess that the spirit of all our dreams remains the same: the opportunity to encounter some the rarest, most beautiful and dangerous animals in the world, the Big 5. But the safari promises not just an encounter, for any of us could get that at our local zoo, but an encounter with the Big 5 on the animals’ terms, in their habitat, in their home.

But as I travelled across that mighty continent, I realized that there was a catch, one that put a damper on my entire experience: Safaris can’t always deliver on their promises.



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For those perhaps seeking an ardent defence for your right to put up inflatable Christmas decorations (can we even call them decorations?) on your lawn, or festooning thousands of gaudy icicle lights from your roof, or otherwise uglying up the holidays with your over-the-top ornaments, I’m sorry to say, you won’t find it here.

That being said, nor will you find here an impassioned case for the traditional religious definition of Christmas, one that decries the consumer driven focus on Santa Claus instead of remembering the birth of Jesus Christ, mourning the fact that the  true meaning of Christmas may very well be lost forever.

Instead this post is a simple counterpoint to a holiday themed issue I raised last year, the issue of the changing language of Christmas; where it’s taking us, and whether or not we should be worried about it.

While I concluded last year that Christmas was, for better or worse, no longer a religious holiday, but instead a generic cultural holiday, as many diverse minorities choose to celebrate it in their own unique ways, I do believe that our culture has taken its rejection of the original roots of Christmas just a little too far.

In fact, one might go as far as to say that the language in both the public and private spheres this holiday is an example of cultural and religious tolerance run amuck, a veritable mine field of talking points that one should avoid lest they have some sort of holiday faux pas blow up in their faces.


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Over the past week I’ve taken some time to decompress and reflect on the epic tale of Lost that many of us have enjoyed over the past six years, and what I’ve come to realize is that while Lost may have left some dissatisfied, a point I’m sure won’t disappear anytime soon, it has attempted to do something that few shows have tried before, and clearly it has left the public wanting more.

One needs to look no further than the amazing amount of speculation and controversy surrounding the final credits of the finale, a sweeping shot of the airplane wreckage on the beach, a scene that sparked off an avalanche of speculation that the wreckage was really meant to tell us that the passengers of Oceanic flight 815 were dead all along.

However, with an ABC spokesperson crushing any and all speculation over the credits, we are now left with the question, what do we do now? Certainly some other show will come along that will attempt to fill our voracious appetite for conspiracy theories and our underlying quest to find the deeper meaning of our existence, but I doubt it’ll ever see the same success that Lost achieved.

The impression of Lost that I’m left with is not that I watched a show that entertained millions around the world for the past half-dozen years, but I was able to witness a show that got more people talking about religion, the afterlife, philosophy, and the meaning of existence than any religious institution, philosophy class, or new age yoga seminar ever could.

But this got me thinking.  Is that a good thing?


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The eye, what has become a powerful metaphor symbolizing not only fear and confusion but also redemption and enlightenment, slowly closes, the life ebbs from our reluctant hero Jack Shephard, and the screen fades to black. Despite the strong bittersweet taste left in my mouth at the closing of the show, few can deny that this was a fitting—if not somewhat predictable—end to the epically brilliant six year saga known as Lost.

While I don’t normally write about movies or TV shows, when a show with the breadth and depth of Lost offers a tantalizing embodiment of the name Passport for the Soul, I just have to write about it.

The brilliance of the show, for me, lay not only in the strong character development, which through its analysis of these disparate individuals gave all viewers an unexpectedly deep look into the human condition as a whole, but also in its laudable attempt at incorporating deeper religious, philosophical, and metaphysical themes into its weekly plot lines. While one of my observations has always been that Lost handles these deep philosophical truths in the same way a baby handles a rattle, unskilled and imprecise, the fact that it ventures into that sort of territory at all sets it far above its competition.

That being said, if you were waiting for some of the deeper mysteries of the Island to be revealed in the show’s series finale, you were no doubt left wanting, as the creators of the show chose to take a strong character driven approach to the finale instead of one focused on wrapping up loose ends.

What I find the most disappointing of all is not that Lost left us with so many unanswered questions, but the fact that the show seemed to shy away from answering or explaining any of the vital why conundrums. Sure, throughout the final season many of the what questions were explained—What is the smoke monster? What is Jacob? What are these particular people doing on this island? But rarely did I see the show attempt to explain its own mythology.

Sure we know that the Island can travel through time, but I wouldn’t have minded if the show would have taken a second or two to explain to me why the Island travels through time. How does that connect to its role as the paradisiacal battleground between good and evil? Why did the Man in Black become the smoke monster? That sort of thing.

The particularly bittersweet part, for me at least, is that I think I know the answer to my own questions. The producers of Lost left these sorts of why questions unanswered because they didn’t want to ruin the enduring mythology by pinpointing it with concrete answers. Lost, to be sure, has clearly become something different for almost all of its loyal viewers, and to give decisive answers would be to only ruin that sort of engaging ambiguity that always kept us coming back week after week.

In the end, the finale clearly had it moments. It was certainly a surprise to learn that despite our ongoing assumptions that the utopian sideways timeline was some alternate reality, that really all the characters were reliving the most important days of their lives in some sort of purgative spiritual Matrix-like state, having died presumably years earlier, and, the revelation that Hurley, not Jack, took over as the caretaker of the Island.

But despite all that, there simply wasn’t enough there for me to feel satisfied, evidenced by the fact that I’m sitting awake in the middle of the night with an enduring feeling of disappointment gnawing at my brain, and much like the characters of the show I find myself in Limbo, caught in the in-between. The only difference, however, is that the characters got to walk into the light, whereas I’m doomed to the eternal darkness of confusion and ignorance over the real answers to the deeper questions of Lost.

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