This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The much-anticipated LOST internet nerd-session/clue-fest is up at The Lost Experience. Actually, that site is an unofficial "respository of all the scraps from the Lost Experience Alternate Reality Game." Examples of super-LOST-obsessive stuff they have so far:

-- Interviews with Gary Troup, author of Bad Twin, the manuscript of which Sawyer was reading again this week.

-- A phone number you can call and hear the voicemail message of Hugh Mcintyre of the Hanso Foundation Public Relations (plus archived mp3's of previous messages).

-- numerous other pictures, puzzles, characters, and strange goings-on.

The main "official" site of The Lost Experience (sounds like a bad '70s band, doesn't it?) is here, FYI. The site I told you about first is better because it gleans all the important stuff from the puzzles on the main site and leaves out most of the frustration. Plus, my work blocks the official site. Looks like they're achieving their productivity goals, eh?

LOST: Michael Kills Some People

All I can say is, those writers better have a handle on things. I'll be pissed if the question of why Michael murdered Ana-Lucia gets pushed to the back burner. Is he now an Other? Does he hate cops? Is he trying to frame Henry, for no apparent reason? Is he craaaaaazy now? To say the mind boggles, like I usually do, would be a gross understatement. The mind crawls with anticipatory befuddlement.

This murder leads right into my Top 5 Unanswered Questions on Lost, which I will put up for debate right now:

(we're leaving out the really big questions, like "Was there really a plane crash?" and "Is this all some big experiment?" These are just questions on plot points and individual characters)

5) What the heck happened to Cindy?
4) How did Locke lose the use of his legs? How did he get it back? No, for real, how?
3) Who is the brilliant yet unforgiving leader of the Others, if in fact he exists?
2) Who drew Locke's blast door map and what does it mean?
1) Why did Michael become murderous?

I'm sure there are many other questions, but these are the ones I want answers for, and soon.

Henry Gale: Best. Character. Ever.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart: A Review.
by Michael Pape

Picture the scene in Blue Velvet where Dennis Hopper takes Kyle MacLachlan on that insane nighttime ride with the 50's apartment and the kidnapping and the pale guy singing and the “You're like me.” Ok, now picture that scene taking two hours, and you'll have an approximation of the extended brutality of Wild at Heart. If you've never seen Blue Velvet, picture Romeo and Juliet taking place in Motel Hell. The evil is overwhelming from the very first scene, in which the main protagonist beats a man to death, and it doesn't let up until the very end, when Glenda the Good Witch shows up. Yes, you heard me. Glenda the Good Witch.

As always with a David Lynch film, the plot takes a back seat to the luscious audiovisual feast. Lynch can't let any scene take place without something eye-poppingly macabre happening. Example: Instead of a standard hitwoman, you get a mentally unhinged hitwoman with a unibrow and a curly blonde wig who walks with a walker and has a gang that includes Brad Dourif and a black guy she can't go 5 seconds without brutally french-kissing. If that weren't weird enough, she kills people in elaborately staged sacrifices where she counts up to 10, and her sister (who is also a hitwoman) also has a unibrow and a curly blonde wig. This isn't just a hitwoman, its an abstract expressionist hitwoman. If you interpret things that way, it gets a little easier to take.

However, Wild at Heart's plot is actually linear, and it goes like this: Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern play tragic and fiery lovers Sailor and Lula. Cage has just gotten out of jail for manslaughter after killing a man who pulled a knife on him at the behest of Lula's mother (played by Laura Dern's real-life mother, Diane Ladd) . Sailor and Lula jump bail and head across the country as Lula's mother (and a host of others she puts into motion) give chase. Finally, they end up in a small Texas town that could double for expressionist hell, and the full weight of the forces in motion against them is laid bare. It's kind of refreshing, actually, to find such an easy-to-follow plot in a Lynch movie. Unfortunately, the characters are not up to the story.

It's not hard to see why Lynch fell in love with the idea of Sailor and Lula – two superpassionate lovers against the world, against all odds, with all hell's angels trying to break them apart. Here's the problem: we don't like them. We don't identify with either of them, because he's a criminal who makes an unbelievably bad choice, and she's that stupid girl in college who was going out with total jackasses because she was attracted to their bad-boyness. It's not like Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern in Blue Velvet or Laura Palmer and Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks, or even Bill Pullman in Lost Highway. We could see ourselves in those characters, and were affected by their dread/anger/dark urges/etc. Sailor and Lula are a cartoon, and that robs the film of the usual David Lynch power, which is to bring our nightmares to life. These nightmares never leave the screen.

It's not that Wild at Heart isn't visually striking and terribly gross and filled to the brim with dread, just like Lynch's better movies; It's just that ( along with the Sailor/Lula problems) there are not one but multiple “devil” characters here, and the film suffers from a lack of consistent evil focus. Aside from the hitwomen I mentioned before, there's of course Lula's Sailor-hating mom (who at one point paints her entire face with red lipstick), an evil guy named Santos who has designs on Lula's mom and will stop at nothing to have her, a man named Mr. Reindeer (further evidence of Tarantino's constant theft of Lynchian ideas) who orders hits based upon an system of silver dollars and who keeps a standing army of beautiful women at his creepy beck-and-call at all times, and finally Willem Dafoe as Bobby Peru, a slick-talking creep with bad teeth who might be the devil himself, but seems almost understated in the cavalcade of darkness that comes before him.

But those are just the blatantly evil characters – Lynch also fills every scene with other peripheral problematic people, like the three fat naked ladies or the black guy who sit in a chair and points or the guy who says weird stuff and barks like a dog or the dying girl who wants to find her personal belongings at the site of her horrific car crash. And that doesn't even really scratch the surface of the random strangeness that permeates every scene. This is supposed to be a nightmare-world, and in that way the Lynch film it most resembles is Eraserhead (although that movie had the bonus of not really having a followable plot.)

Wild at Heart features many actors and actresses that show up in other Lynch productions, most notably Jack Nance (as barking man) and Sherilyn Fenn (as the girl who dies). Hell, there's like 20 Lynch regulars in here, and it's fun to guess when the next one will turn up as a whore wrangler or a witch. All the actors give themselves up for their roles in pure Lynch fashion, and its good to see them having fun even when the audience isn't.

This movie will always be known as the film that killed Twin Peaks, since Lynch left that show's production duties to lesser men as he helmed this project. Was Wild at Heart worth the death of Twin Peaks? Sadly, it wasn't. This film is what Lynch films become when they reach their logical expressionist conclusion, and it jut proves that logic and Lynch don't mix all that well.

Two-and-a-half out of five overpriced popcorns because while it is a visually stunning project from a singularly awesome director, the protagonists are unsympathetic, the evil overwhelming, and the only character in the film I could relate to gets killed by a screaming hitwoman in a goofy-looking wig an hour in.

I'm Just Going to Sit Here and Ashlee Simpson Plastic Surgery a While

Yesterday came bearing jury duty. Don't tell anyone, but I was not among the lucky 18 chosen to judge one of my unfortunate peers. I just sat in the courtroom for a while, got sworn in, and sat there as the Prosecutor told us to be honest with him so he could properly choose which old people he wanted on his hand-picked "hang-em!" jury. Seriously -- he just skipped over the under-30 crowd altogether, and only took a couple of 30 to 45-year-olds. I don't know if he thought we were dumb or sympathetic to the defense or what. Anyway, his green suit was ugly and I'm glad I didn't have to stare at it all day.

Observation: People who appeal to "trial by jury" in traffic cases are insane. There's got to be a theoretical reason for it, but in practice the deck is stacked against you. That 6-person "jury" is instructed that extenuating circumstances are to be ignored, and they don't have the leeway to find you not guilty of something a cop says you did. Therefore, you might as well go before the judge and take your lumps. Who knows? You may get "Judge Softie," who will let you off because he's a self-loathing crime-enabler.

After I picked up my 6 bucks at the window, I walked outside to this scene: A scowling black guy who looked about 20 years old in a black camaro, being yelled at by an older hispanic lady in a business suit. Next to the car was a hispanic girl of about 14, wearing the shortest skirt I have ever seen in public. The lady turned to yell at the girl, "Yes, I'm going to tell him! He's going to find out! Don't you think he won't find out!" At that point, the guy in the car sped off, squealing the tires like a ticked-off person. I had walked past them and didn't want to stare, but I looked back a couple of seconds later and the woman and the girl were gone. They must have rushed into the courthouse. I'm thinking skirt girl should have been in school, since it was 9:40am on a Wednesday. I'm also thinking she's in big trouble when dad finds out she's been cavorting around with a 20-year-old, especially since he has a camaro. But why did this all happen in front of everytone at the courthouse?

ENTERTAINMENT CRUD: If you go to the Entertainment Tonight front page right now, you'll see a bunch of disturbing stuff: Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafucco get married (not to each other), which is bad because we shouldn't know who they are. Kobe and his creepy yet beautiful "money wife" had a baby girl, which is bad because they're destined for divorce. And finally, the remaining Pointer Sisters are fighting over the now-dead June Pointer's remains. One sister, Bonnie, wanted her buried. The rest have already cremated her, a process Bonnie claims is like "Burning in Hell." This is just speculation, but I'm betting they did it just to punish Bonnie for pursuing a solo career in the 80's.

June was unavailable for comment.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Great Blog Alert: The Hater

I'm sure 90% of my audience has seen this (seeing as how you're made up of 20-somethings that seemingly grew up on the internet -- not that that's a bad thing), but the long-outstanding fake newspaper The Onion has a new blog in its "AV Club" feature. It's called The Hater, and it's written by a combination of a cute French movie and a 5-blade razor. This combo is a keeper, and it provides us with much funny.

(This is Epth Nation does not endorse nor condone the reading of blogs that are not subsidiaries of This is Epth Nation, nor does it make any claims re: the greatnes and/or non-greatness of the material within, whether meaning words, photo-images, non-photo images, motion pictures, illegal acts, sarcasm, or any other thing in existence, either expressed or implied, or even hinted at. In short, you didn't hear this from me.)

Apple ITunes Stays at 99 Cents a Song

In a victory over Big Music and their suicidal tendencies, Apple has secured contracts that keep their download price at 99 cents a song. Check out this playlist article I'll now quote:
Executives at Warner, EMI and Sony have expressed their dissatisfaction with iTunes’ pricing structure in recent months, and have suggested that consumers would be willing to pay more for high-demand music. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has responded by calling them “greedy.” Universal, for its part seems content to let the market evolve for the moment.

You go, Universal. This almost makes up for The Last Temptation of Christ. I like the part where the music companies think that 99 cents is too little to pay for "High Demand" music. What exactly would that be, I ask? If music is really that "High Demand," it'll be traded from free sources. I also like Apple calling them greedy, which is technically true -- but Apple's also greedy. Apple makes more money if it gets more sales, and nobody's going to pay more than 99 cents a song. Steve Jobs knows this. Doesn't Big Music think that he knows this?

I really like Big Music's assertion that customers would pay's economics in action. Too bad they don't even know their market. If they realized that more and more people expect their music to be cheap and free, they would plan accordingly. As it is, the dinosaur is trying to squeeze a few more drops of juice from the life-giving carcass we call the Rock Star/Big Music model. Out with the old, and in with the Indie Model with the Long Tail, I say.

My personal opinion on this issue was formed by my purchase of a couple Sony/EMI cd's with DRM technology, which rendered them completely worthless to me. And that's not even counting the ones that put a virus on my wife's poor computer (a virus that was persistent and near-impossible to destroy, I might add).

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the way of the future in the USA, and the only way we can compete, is in small business. There comes a point where a business grows so big they can't make money legitimately anymore -- we see it not only with Wal-mart, but also with merging banks, merging power companies, Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Music, Big this-and-that. We need to pass laws that enable smaller, better, more flexible and less powerful businesses to succeed. Then our children might live in a world where they can only work one job because oil is plentiful, music is cheap, and wealth is distributed nicely to those that work hard. Also, Paris Hilton is in jail for inappropriate use of fame.

We can make this happen, people. Frequent a small business today. Put Paris in jail.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I am Dumb

I just spent 20 minutes thinking someone from my work was spying on my blog...until I realized that it was me.

Notes on Ordering Pizza

Here's a new rule, so listen carefully: When you see a pizza delivery person out on a delivery, NEVER




talk to him about his pizzas. There's never a good reason to do it, and those pizzas are never going to be for you. I'm not sure what 3rd world country you came from, but no pizza delivery person is able to sell pizzas out of his car, even ones that the customer refused -- if he doesn't come back with the pizza, he can't claim the order was refused. Plus, you're ugly. So just refrain from talking to the pizza guy about pizza.

In fact, just don't talk to the pizza guy, period. Unless you're offering money, but that goes without saying.

Last night I delivered to a human named Dakota Black Hawke. There's nothing wrong with that name, but there is something wrong with her. First of all, she tipped me 59 cents. That's wrong, but not the unheard-of kind of wrong that would warrant a blog posting. It was the reason why she only tipped 59 cents that makes her evil. On the check, in the memo section, she wrote "Sorry the tip is so small," and "Because of the $3.00 delivery charge." I don't know if she ordered online and just can't read properly or what, but not even Papa John's charges $3.00 for delivery. Our delivery charge is actually $1.30. Which means that at the very least Ms. Black Hawke owes me a $1.70 dumbness fee. But if I collected those, I'd be a buhzillionaire by now.

Putting aside her stupidity about the delivery charge amount, let me ask her: What the heck? You consciously tip badly in a world of $3-a-gallon gas just to make a point about delivery charges? What you've just done is reward the people who are charging you the extra 3 (sic) dollars (by continuing to order pizza), and hurt the person who is driving the food to your house so that you don't have to use your gas and time to get it. You think that I personally am charging you a delivery fee? Me, the driver?


Not tipping the driver is no longer acceptable. It's bad enough I have to deliver to underwear guy ($1 tip, underwear, smell) and the front desk clerk at the Grand Hotel ($1 tip, far away, free pizza, complaining about there being only one pepperocini pepper in the box) and ghetto guy with no furniture in his apartment (takes 2 minutes to hide the crack pipes and get to the door, tips me 50 cents). I don't need this from you. You're just looking for an excuse to be a horrible person and not tip -- that's all there is to it. If your taxes go up, do you just not pay them? Do you write a note on your tax check that says, "Sorry the money's not all here," and "Tax rate went up"?

Dakota Black Hawke, why would you make an enemy out of the people who are serving your food? Does that seem like a good idea? Well, I guess you got out of tipping that way -- you certainly tricked your conscience into letting you be an a__ clown.

If you can't tip, don't order pizza. Lots of people are failing to order pizza -- just look at our sales numbers.

I'm tired and grumpy today, icyct.