Lost in Thought: Tomorrow Never Knows

Yes, I think I'm gonna continue the trend of Beatles songs as titles if these Lost posts become a regular thing. An insane number of them feel tantalizingly applicable. The hard part will be deciding what to use and what to hold in reserve in case of an even more spot-on association down the line.

Season 6 will hit just about 24 hours from now, and I have lots of nuggets accumulated that should have been shared long ago, so let's take a little — no, wait, I decided not to use that one yet. I'll be adding to this olio over the next day, so check back for updates or sign up for the blog's RSS feed.

Here's one of the many snazzy E-cards that ABC released late last year. You can theoretically have them sent to yourself or a friend, but mine never arrived.

Image © 2010 ABC Studios.

I had the rare opportunity to sit down with my laptop in a coffee shop today. No sooner did I begin to jot down some thoughts on you-know-what than one barista, a fella, broached that very subject with another barista, a gal. And I couldn't not overhear their conversation.

What became pretty clear pretty quickly is that Fella was indeed a fairly die-hard fan, but while admitting his deep love he was hesitant to contradict Gal. As you will see, Gal was not as well-informed on the topic and, it seemed, played up her interest in the show in the name of flirting.

I didn't get everything, as evidenced by the ellipses, because I was typing furiously as they were talking and this wasn't a conversation that I could rewind. The coffee shop was also rather small and I began to get self-conscious about my transcription becoming obvious.

Fella: I was wondering if you could take my shift tomorrow night.
Gal: Do you have plans?
Fella: You know that show Lost? I really love it.
Gal: I love that show! I didn't know they were going to make another season. [!!!]
Fella: Oh, yeah.
Gal: What is it, Season 7?
Fella: Yeah, I think so.
Gal: Didn't it end with a nuclear explosion? ...
Fella: I was thinking of bringing a TV in here and inviting my friends to come here. I could even have Lost Tuesdays, but I just want to geek out with it. I need to pay attention.
Gal: Like the last season, I was like, What?
Fella: I don't even know where they're going to go with it. How are they going to wrap it all up?
Gal: The one moment in Lost where I was really, like, I hate the writers, was when they shot that blond chick, Shannon. I guess they got sick of writing for her.
Fella: Yeah, Sayid still had that other girl in his flashbacks but he, like, hooked up with Shannon.
Gal: Then they killed that other chick.
Fella: She got hit by a car. ...
Gal: Jack and Sawyer are just, like, pretty boys.
Fella: They're like Luke and Han. You can't make it up, just steal from the best.
Gal: You can't not rip off Star Wars, though.
Fella: Oh, totally. I think it's funny that they even made Sawyer look like Han Solo. They even gave him, like, Hurley as a Chewbacca, and they're like best friends.

I missed the very end without realizing that it was the end.

Bob D'Amico photo of Michael Emerson as Ben Linus © 2010 ABC Studios.

Whatever you think of Ben — he's good, he's bad, he's amoral, he's misguided, he's misunderstood — there's no denying that Michael Emerson and Lost's writers have made him perhaps the most compulsively quotable character on television.

I've joked over at Nik at Nite that I would snap up a book titled "I'm a Pisces": The Wit & Wisdom of Benjamin Linus in a heartbeat. Matter of fact, I should be pitching it right now. But unlike so many of the other great lines on the show, even those that are inextricably tied to the personalities of the characters speaking them (dude, I'm looking at you, Hurley), Ben's remarks are more often than not as much about context as content and delivery.

For every stand-alone classic like "Destiny, John, is a fickle bitch," there's the above title to my would-be bestseller. The preceding line of dialogue is from the Man in Locke: "Can I ask you a question?" Ben's reply isn't just witheringly dry, it's quintessentially him because it's a lie. Same thing with his half of an exchange aboard the back-to-the-Island express known as Ajira Flight 316: Ben appears to be buried in James Joyce's Ulysses and Jack asks "How can you read?" Says Mr. Linus, "My mother taught me." We know from a flashback that Ben's mother died in childbirth, and based on the mention of his birthday in the same episode we know he's not a Pisces, either; he's just a compulsive liar, or at least a control freak so dependent upon manipulation of those around him that speaking the truth is a tactic reserved for special occasions.

Some viewers have been confused and even touched by a comment that Ben makes as he looks at John Locke's suspended, lifeless body in "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham". Ben has found Locke on the verge of hanging himself, talked him down, extracted crucial intelligence, strangled Locke himself, arranged the body to resemble a suicide, and wiped his prints from the room; standing in the doorway, Ben says in his familiar quiver, "I'm going to miss you, John."

Maybe he's covering his ass because he believes that the Island can hear him somehow, maybe he truly respected John as an adversary, and maybe he even saw Locke as a kindred spirit. What amazes me about the delivery is that you just can't tell, but it's not because Emerson doesn't have range; it's because Emerson can convey so much enigmatic nuance within the limited range that Ben has learned to confine himself to — apparently even when he's alone — if he's going to be effective at what he does.

Ben has two basic inflections, to my ears. The one used when he says, "I'm going to miss you, John," rises slightly at the end of a sentence, like an unresolved chord. It reminds me both of the line "He'll rip your lungs out, Jim," in Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" and of Super Chicken's immortal phrase, "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred." If you're unfamiliar with Super Chicken — which ran as a segment on the classic cartoon series George of the Jungle, produced by Jay Ward and Bill Scott of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame — you can hear the line as a WAV file via the sounds archive at Dave's Un-Official Super Chicken Homepage (whose front I haven't linked to directly due to the ambush clucking); that line reading doesn't quite have the usual ending, but thankfully another WAV file of a similar line does.

The other inflection, used for "I'm a Pisces" and "My mother taught me," is more deadpan. Emerson manages to employ it in such a way that it can convey disinterest, resolve, or disdain with the merest tweak. When the apparently resurrected Locke (now known to be the Man in Black in Locke's body) confronts Ben over his homicide, Ben's five-star retort is "Well, I just didn't have time to talk you back into killing yourself." This may be a rare instance of Ben telling the truth, which makes it all the more blackly humorous; it's consummate Ben to say something so morbid with such exasperation, and we suspect that he could have talked Locke into getting the noose back around his neck given a slightly longer deadline.

Even that, however, is not the funniest piece of dialogue relating to what transpired in Locke's apartment. No, I direct you instead to a comment from Ben to Sayid: "John Locke is dead. I think he was murdered."

Photos © 2010 ABC Studios. Logo TM and
cover design © 2010 Entertainment Weekly.

Entertainment Weekly's coverage of Lost is almost always good stuff, but the cover of the latest issue feels surprisingly sexist. The captions read like so:

Jack Did his scheme work?
Locke Is he really dead?
Kate Does she pick Jack or Sawyer?
Sawyer Who survived the bomb?
Boone Why the heck is he back?
Sun Will she find her husband?

Aside from the fact that the Boone photo and caption are hilariously random (unless, out of all the past characters touted as making at least brief returns to the show, he ends up being particularly crucial to the plot), this is just not well thought-out. Sawyer's caption is vastly less specific to him than the others are to their subjects. One could ask, Can he reunite with Juliet? or Does he end up with Kate?

Sun's caption is legitimate, and I'm not saying that relationships haven't been important to the show; in fact, they're at its heart, but family bonds have meant as much as or more than any love polygon. I'd rather ask of Kate, Will she bring Claire back to Aaron?

EW has plenty of female staffers and has of course championed plenty of female authors, actors, and recording artists for their talent without any regard to gender. I have no problem with the mag devoting style pages to ladies' red-carpet fashion or referring to "chick lit" either — especially since the writers/editors doing so are usually ladies themselves. These captions just struck me as weird, especially for a show that not only has tough women but men who are as wrapped up in bad romance as anyone.


Joan Crawford said...

Yeah, the Sawyer one is stupid. As is the Kate one - way to reduce her picking a boyfriend being her greatest addition to the show. What about Aaron - you know, her adopted baby? Or her criminal past?


Verification Word: Ganzoodu!
My Circus Freak stage name! The Mystifying and Repulsive - Ganzoodu!

El Qué said...

Richard Just how old is he?
Ben Is he really one of the good guys?
Juliet How does she keep so trim?

El Qué said...

I don't know if it's cuz you've been adding stuff, Blam, or if Blogger's messing with our minds again, but this post has been vanishing all day and I just now got to read all about the Benjamin! +_+

SonshineMusic i.e. Rebecca T. said...

Love the description of Ben. He's just so marvelous.

And I saw that magazine cover, but didn't read even the front because I was trying to stay away from any Lost lit except for those I knew to be 100% spoiler free. Sheesh, those captions are ridiculous.

verification: dingleti - a small ding in your car

AchingHope said...

Haha... I laughed so hard at the transcription of the conversation of the barista and the fella. Ahahahahaha...

Jenea said...

Hi Blam! How are you there??? ;)
I am so happy what finily appied new season of Lost!!! Look please on my last post!!!

Joan Crawford said...

"Jay Leno, who for me hits the trifecta of having an annoying voice, being a lousy interviewer, and not being particularly funny, three points that you would think utterly disqualifies someone from hosting a talk/variety show"

I was lurking around your blog and found this gem.

I, for one, applaud you, sir. I feel something close to hatred for Jay Leno.

P.S. Blogger suggest I spell "trifecta" as "trifocals".

Blam said...

Lurk away!
I feel something close to hatred for Jay Leno.
As do I, and whenever I question why something happens to remind me.
P.S. Blogger suggest I spell "trifecta" as "trifocals".
Objects on the screen may be closer than they appear.