Strange Things You Never Noticed About Christmas Movies

I wait all year long to watch classic Christmas movies. And I mean classic. None of that bullshit inside Hallmark jargon. Sorry, I was way forcing that quote and I didn’t pull it off very well. I just can’t help myself, I am THAT in love with real classic Christmas movies that teach us morals about love and togetherness and what really matters. Over and over I watch them to feel the spirit of glorious trees with dazzling lights and turkey and puzzles and wine and family and shopping and wrappings. Something funny happens, though, when you’ve watched them over and over and over, year after year for decades. Weird patterns emerge. And you notice things. Little things that a casual viewer would never catch. Have you noticed any of these before?

Christmas Movies Do Not Include Christmas Day

I’ve come to discover that this is mostly due to an American obsession with the lead-up to Christmas. Most of us get so amped up through December, that by the time December 26 rolls around, we’re spent and ready to hibernate for the winter. A lot of European countries, on the other hand, don’t understand this. Yes, there’s a build-up to Christmas, but Eve and Day are merely a kick-off to Twelve Days of Christmas, which include various festivals and traditions.

So I suppose it’s the enormous Yule frenzy that Americans (including myself) adore that has caused a strange pattern in our most beloved movies: Almost none of them include Christmas Day. I suppose the idea is that by the time we get to the proper holiday, we’ve sorted all of our conflicts and obstacles. We’ve confessed our love. I guess. Still, it’s a little weird when you think on it. Still, a few films do treasure the proper holiday. After all, none of the takes on A Christmas Carol would work without Scrooge on Christmas morning. A Christmas Story and Home Alone also buck the trend.

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Love Actually
  • Die Hard
  • Scrooged
  • The Ref
  • Bad Santa
  • Elf

Christmas Movies Feature a Character Watching It’s a Wonderful Life

My mom once explained to me that IAWL is such a Christmas classic because the rights to it were cheap or free or something in the 70s or 80s. I don’t know. She could’ve been making it up. Or drunk. Just kidding. Kind of. But the point was that the broadcast of this movie was so ubiquitous in the days before streaming and downloading, that it was almost inescapable at holiday time. The networks just hammered people with its saccharine message of faith and community. Hence, if you watch for it, so many of our beloved movies since that time have referenced Jimmy Stewart and Bedford Falls by directly showing us scenes. Movies within movies.

  • The Ref (the police officers watch it and accidentally record over some VHS evidence with a broadcast of it)
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • Home Alone (the family watches a French dubbed version in Paris)
  • Gremlins

Christmas is For Getting Punched in the Face

This one is hard to explain. I guess holiday stress leads to a lot of violent confrontations. And there’s drinking. And family. Actually, the more I think on it, the more it makes sense.

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Todd)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (George Bailey)
  • The Ref (Santa)
  • A Christmas Story (Scutt Farcus)
  • Gremlins (The Gremlins at the bar punch each other)
  • Die Hard (everybody)
  • Scrooged (Frank Cross)
  • Elf (Buddy is attacked by a children’s author)
  • Bad Santa (Santa)
  • Home Alone (if you count a shovel or paint can to the face)

Christmas Movies Involve Gunplay

This is even stranger than the “punched in the face” phenomenon. Granted, in two of the movies below, the guns in question are BB guns. And just because there are guns doesn’t mean there’s bloodshed. Except Die Hard. Lots and lots of guns and blood. I guess that, except for Ralphie’s exploits, all of the other holly jolly heroes have to contend with or commit a crime in order to save Christmas. That’s kind of weird, guys. We have strange taste in holiday adventures.

  • Home Alone (BB gun)
  • A Christmas Story (BB gun)
  • Bad Santa (police)
  • Scrooged (Elliott holding everyone hostage; the promo for The Night the Reindeer Died)
  • Die Hard (all the guns)
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (SWAT team has them)
  • Gremlins (who gave the Gremlins handguns?)

Christmas Movies Have a Lot of Power Outages

The power goes out during key scenes in a lot of Christmas movies. I’m sure this is a metaphor for powerlessness in the face of winter’s cruel wrath and the passing of years marked by the empty seats at the tinseled table before us. Just kidding. It’s mostly a cheap plot device to laugh at how patriarchs can be boobies. Or in other cases, a warning that you don’t have enough FBI guys.

  • Home Alone (power outage causes their alarm clocks to fail)
  • Scrooged (the lights on set are cut when Frank meets the Ghost of Christmas Present)
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (it’s more that the power fails when Clark tries to illuminate his yard)
  • Die Hard (FBI cuts the power to Nakatomi)
  • A Christmas Story (Dad blows a fuse lighting up the Christmas tree)

And as one final bonus, I’ll share with you a secret. The most bizarre thing you will ever notice in a Christmas movie. Next time you watch A Christmas Story, during the scene where Ralphie is waiting to see Santa, turn on the closed captioning–especially when the Wicked Witch is speaking. It’s terrifying.

Merry Christmas to all! Ho-ho-ho!

Why the Novel, “Rebecca”, Cannot Be Made Into a Modern Movie

It was a good try, Netflix. Daphne du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca, seems to scream for a film adaptation and you tried. You even got Armie Hammer, so slick and handsome in spite of his absurd name. And Lily James with her overly statuesque beauty. The sets were gorgeous, the performances rich. But the script? She stunk. Netflix fell into the trap of imagining the novel as something other than it was. Rebecca was never a sweeping romance that was twisted by anger and spite and ghosts. What the 2020 adaptation did was to shape and cram Rebecca’s characters into a mold, pounding and twisting them until they fit into a haunted template that might appeal to test groups. Naturally, the problem is that Du Maurier’s tale can’t sustain such brutality without losing and utterly transforming itself. Oddly enough, much like the heroine of the tale. (Spoilers Ahead)

Rebecca is the richest ghost story I have ever read, since it requires no actual specters or ghasts, but merely a memory that can haunt an entire manor and an entire village. Rebecca left a sturdy web of adoration, deceit, and secrets that a tiny fly like our second Mrs. De Winter, could not help but be paralyzed and helpless in the shadow of the dead woman.

Here lies the first problem with a film adaptation in the modern style–the new Mrs. De Winter is meant to be a tiny fly. A simpering mouse, if you prefer. She is a child with no voice or mind of her own, yet. The original story requires us to root for and appreciate a woman so weak, she is scared of lunch menus and broken cherubs. For only she could appeal to Mr. De Winter (as we would later understand), and only she could be caught up in the web so completely. And it is only through her that we may begin to understand the human mind and condition that caused such a tawdry set of circumstances. She embodies innocence and naivete. Further, she is a handsome girl, but no striking beauty. And this very stark contrast between her and Rebecca is what appeals to Maxim. If she was any stronger, more beautiful, more inquisitive or flirtacious or clever, Maxim would have been repulsed by her.

But in our age of consciousness of feminism, this seems too damning for any heroine. It’s honestly difficult to root for a terrified girl who is as delicate as spun sugar. Our modern sensibilities might pity her, but we have a hard time loving her or imagining that such a timid creature can be admirable. And worst of all, we might be tempted to be angry that our heroine wasn’t given her full due, and consider it an insult to the female gender. It’s true that Du Maurier’s novel is not flattering to the female sex. Every single woman is a horribly flawed animal–some of them wretched and manipulating like Rebecca and Mrs. Danvers and Mrs. Van Hopper, and some of them lost and frightened with no real agency, like the new nameless Mrs. De Winter and Clarice and Granny. The men seem to be helpless idiots bobbing in the wake of these women and not knowing what they want or why. So in this way, Rebecca is an indictment of gender roles in its own time.

This is where screenwriters have a problem–there is no easy, likable way to indict 1930s gender politics and still be gripping and sensual. So they made a few edits.

Enter Lily James, a shocking beauty in her own right, with sensual waves in her hair and a wardrobe of drool-worthy fashions. Lily’s Mrs. De Winter asked probing questions and was very curious. She went for a salacious horse ride with a stranger. She pushed Maxim to host the fancy dress ball, and then actually used her personal preferences and talents to organize the fete. She flirted on the beach and took Maxim on a picnic blanket. These are things Rebecca would have done. These are things that would have repulsed the literary Maxim.

Max, too, is a much altered character in the film. The dapper gentleman I watched was affectionate, even romantic–sending little flirtatious notes, wading into the ocean, and pursuing the new wife with more than a couple hand squeezes and a slice of bitter orange. Dare I say, the new Maxim seemed to even possibly love his second wife, when he isn’t popping into violent outbursts or…sleepwalking? But this widower wasn’t supposed to be emotionally available. Rebecca had thoroughly undone him. She had thoroughly undone them all, everyone on the estate and ancillary characters as well.

And then, to boot, the bride becomes a detective. A new posh Nancy Drew. Except that such assertiveness and curiosity means that Rebecca’s spell isn’t as sweeping as it ought to be. The bride is almost impervious to her spell. All of a sudden, we have a detective/mystery story instead of a ghost story. Maybe that isn’t such a bad premise–a young gorgeous sleuth comes in and discovers a shocking secret and saboteur. Except that it isn’t nearly the psychological thriller and thoughtful study of human character. It’s a completely different story. It isn’t Rebecca.

This has me wondering then, was this a flaw in the interpretation of this particular adaptation? Or is Rebecca a story that can’t be faithfully adapted to modern film? I suppose the title of this piece gives away my conclusion straight off. I’m afraid it can’t be done and be successful with modern audiences.

I have even considered that perhaps the story should be told from a perspective other than the new Mrs. De Winter (who, right about now, I wish had an actual name). Moving the focus off of her perspective might enable a haunting tale without politicizing gender too much.

Perhaps the story could be told from Danny’s perspective, and contain flashbacks of Rebecca’s cruelty and intrigues. Then Danny could stalk the new Mrs. De Winter and try on Rebecca’s nightgowns and cackle and seduce Jack Favell in the marital bed. Of course, that would remove all the suspense of behavioral motives and turn into something really dark, and less moody. A horror film, not a psychological thriller.

I wondered if even Ben might be an interesting narrator. His unique and confused voice would be a fresh twist on the story and characters. Ben could search for seashells and walk the beach, bearing witness to visitors and secret conversations, even if he personally didn’t understand the meaning or context. Granted, he didn’t have sufficient access to all of the information and characters, but his innocence would be in keeping with some of the original themes in the novel.

Actually, I think the best alternative narrator would probably be Frank. He could take on the role of the quiet witness in the vein of Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby. The best friend who was confused by his friend’s dissonant marriages, and trail of conflicts and rumors stemming from the grounds at Manderley. The sad irony is that promoting a male character to primary protagonist unfairly removes the new Mrs. De Winter from her privileged position. So in an attempt to promote a more feminist perspective, this would strip the original protagonist of her voice only further.

No, if we take away the new Mrs. De Winter’s authentic, tiny fly-like experience, we take away everything about the story that is enchanting and sad and haunting. She must be the one to experience it all, but must not light the match. So we will just accept our completely flawed, pathetic heroine for all of her simple ways. And we will love the story and bury any gender objectives deep down, all for the sake of a great story.

…And Lo, the Haunted coconut becomes Katie using Words!

Hey readers, friends, and peekaboo Sallies, I have been inspired to do something incredibly stupid and #REBRAND!

The Haunted Coconut was a writing pseudonym I enjoyed using for a handful of years, but I was never smitten with it. Actually, at first it was just a placeholder name that stuck, and allowed me the anonymity to write without being too personally connected to the site. Of course, I was a big fat dummy for ever trying to disassociate myself from my writing and my name and life, which are inherently a tangled, gnarled cluster of vines.

So it’s time for a change that will make my Google algorithm results cry. This new site title is honest and personal–and was inspired by my husband bumbling about on a Thursday night yelling in a triumphant tone, “Katie USING WORDS!”. I laughed and said that’s what my website should be called. And then we both froze and looked at each other, mouths agape.

While the look and name have changed, the content will continue to meander in the same twisted fashion it always has. I thank you all for your patience and support during this morph.

If you could invite any 5 people From history to a dinner party, who would you choose?

Welcome, friends to a fantastical dinner party of your own making and imagination. Yes, it’s time to play a grand game and intellectual exercise, somewhat akin to the lunchroom game of Stranded On a Deserted Island. However, instead of imagining implements of survival, escape, and spiritual fulfillment, you are being asked to host a grand dinner party with the most intriguing, exciting, or entertaining guests you can cook up. Here is the beautiful scenario: You are to host a dinner party for which you may invite up to FIVE guests–living or dead. Deep in a distant wood is a secluded cabin with comfortable furnishings and a crackling fire that is waiting for your party. The linens and place settings are in place. The food’s piping hot and ready, dessert is chilled, coffee and tea are brewing, and the bar and wine cellars are endlessly stocked. All that’s needed from you is the guest list! Whom shall you invite?

Oh, sorry. Of course there are rules.

  1. Your guests may be living or dead, but must have been a real human at some point (in other words, no Mickey Mouse or Ace Ventura).
  2. Languages will be automatically translated in each person’s mind.
  3. If you like, you may specify which point in your guest’s life from which you will draw them (ie “Young Elvis” vs. “Old Elvis”). Generally, the deceased will be invited from the peak of their popularity or accomplishment, and the living will appear at their current age.
  4. With apologies, friends and family are not permitted unless they lived at least 100 years ago. In other words, you may invite ancestors. This is done for your own sanity and to maintain the integrity and spirit of the dinner party.
  5. Sorry, we can’t pull from the future
  6. The dinner party will commence at 6pm and continue until 6am. During this time, no one may leave the cabin where this party is being hosted. Aside from basic utilities, no electronics are permitted. No cell phones, television, cameras, or outside communication. Further, none may isolate themselves through distractions such as reading, napping, etc.
  7. Each guest will arrive voluntarily for this dinner party. So while they won’t be hostile toward the experience out of hand, they will exhibit their true personalities and expect their typical social treatment. Guests from history will be acclimated to the notion of being out of their own time, but their knowledge of the world’s future will be most minimal.
  8. You can’t change history. You can’t convince someone from the past to do or not do something. You can’t fix anything or save anyone. You can’t kill anyone. You cannot profit from anything material. The minute people from the past leave the party, they forget all, and you have no souvenirs but your memories. It *may* be possible for those guests living currently to remember you. Or not. This is an unknown for you.

(VARIATION #1, THE REALISTIC DINNER PARTY: The guests must all be living, and there could be a language barrier)
(VARIATION #2, THE CRAZY DINNER PARTY: Fictional guests are allowed)
(VARIATION #3, THE EMOTIONAL DINNER PARTY: Sure, you can invite as many family and friends past or present as you like–be ready to cry)
(VARIATION #4, THE ANYTHING-GOES DINNER PARTY: Ignore the rule about changing history. Go nuts. Kill someone. Attempt to seduce and get pregnant by someone. This is going to get messy.)

Continue reading “If you could invite any 5 people From history to a dinner party, who would you choose?”

The Classes of the Indoor Housecat: Felinus Fluffibutticus

I’ve finally cracked it, people–the previously inscrutable code of cat archetypes. Cat-kind has long been deliberately enigmatic. Such a nature is what makes them endearing, yet dangerous companions/overlords. I have spent forty years (yes, I confess this to you in the name of science) observing cats in their natural elements: Blankets, laps, sunny windows, keyboards, food bowls, etc. It has, indeed, taken me this long and the observation of several subjects of varying breed and background in order for me to crack the code and distinguish cat personalities so that one might classify them according to archetypes.

My findings are astounding. First, one must acknowledge that it is universally known and accepted that all cats are females (just as all dogs are males). Genitalia and reproduction do not alter this fact. It is known. Second, I share with you now the discovery that all indoor housecats fall into at least one of five basic archetypes. I have described them below for your better understanding.

1. Mother Hens

The Mother Hen cat is the caretaker of other cats, but not necessarily people. If a cat is sick or dirty, or just young, the Mother Hen will bathe her head and other bits to remove offending odors. The Mother Hen is also likely to cuddle kittens or sick cats. She does not shy from her job, though it can be a burden and very tiresome. A Mother Hen need not actually be a mother for this personality to develop, though such traits will commonly not emerge until the onset of adulthood. Mothering cats may or may not develop a favorable relationship with humans, and do not necessarily need to care for the furless ones.

2. Hidden Cats of Scaredy Pantsington

We have all met one of The Hidden at some point or another, and hopefully we do not have them in our own homes, for while some cats have a greater disposition toward being scaredy pants, such a personality trait is often the result of mistreatment. Sorry, this isn’t to say that a scaredy cat has been abused. Sometimes an environment can be entirely wrong for a cat–perhaps too much noise, an overly tidy spouse, children who are handsy, or humans who try to apply rigid rules to felines. Cats, clearly, are not meant to be managed or taught lessons. When a cat feels consistently threatened or harassed, then even a pre-determined archetype will be eschewed for the Hidden Cats of Scaredy Pantsington model. That said, some cats are wired to embrace the ways of the Hidden Cats more readily than others. And even a very secure and happy cat may have been transformed into one of The Hidden during a previous living circumstance. Worry not, with love and affection, some quiet, and lots of treats, your scaredy cat may develop other facets to her personality.

3. The Generalissimo

This is your basic dictator model. A cat who has amazing physical prowess, aggressive confidence, and the ability to work through puzzles is a member of the Generalissimo brigade. Such a cat may express affection for humans or other cats, but is still likely to pounce, scratch, bite, or chase. Most little Generalissimos exhibit higher levels of intelligence and express behavior similar to the raptors from Jurassic Park. You may also have the uncanny sense that your cat is marshalling the other cats and pets to serve their whims–stealing food, framing the dog for crimes, convincing the guinea pig to weet-weet at feeding time (oh, it’s happened). This basic cognitive superiority is important to not only their confidence, but also to compensate for physical decline later in life. One she has trained her army of minions, she need not tackle them in order to make her will known–a withering glare will suffice.

4. Clingy Cuddle Blobs

This is a fairly uncommon feline class, but exists primarily in those cats who reject the other precepts of cat behavior. The Clingy Cuddle Blobs seek to smother humans with affection and cover them with a sphere of heat, and that is all. Such cats are not interested in caring for other animals, nor are they scared, nor are they inclined to hatch a plot. Playing is overrated, as is walking. Sunshine is a nice diversion when humans won’t settle down, but a good human lap is the best thing for a Cuddle Blob. They are especially fond of strangers who don’t like cats or are allergic to them. A Cuddle Blob can sense this immediately, and once convinced that said visitor will not hassle them, they will immediately move to lay across the person’s lap or arm or head. Due to such a deliberately inactive lifestyle, this cat will often be fairly rotund, or “fluffy”.

5. The Weird

The Weird is a very special class of cats and is the least understood of all–by design. The Weird exhibit behaviors that defy logic, reason, and sometimes even physics. While they may actually hatch plans and be extraordinarily intelligent, the focus of any such plans can never be worked out by our simple human brains. For example, a weird may encircle a bed with socks every night for exactly one month, and then never again. A Weird may seem to be in multiple rooms at once. A Weird may form seemingly unhealthy attachments to people, animals, things, or shadows. I’ve suspected at least one of my Weirds of time travel. Now, a Weird need not be hyper-intelligent, though it is more typical. This class can be very affectionate, and very rarely aggressive. Typically, this is a passive, peaceful class that is more interested in the invisible things in the corner than causing trouble. Unfortunately, people sometimes attempt to train or trick their cats into appearing Weird for the sake of video phones or photos. The ineffable qualities of The Weird cannot be taught. It is an archetype that is established at birth and may never be undone.

Have you yet discovered your kitty’s class? At least one of these should apply to every cat, though I will note that there may certainly be overlap between classes. As noted in our diagram above, there are specialized sub-classes to which any cat may be naturally inclined. This I submit to you for your study and appreciation. Please refer to this chart upon welcoming another cat into your home so that you may respect their machinations and desires. All hail our furry overlords.

The West Wing Drinking Game!

I can’t be the only one who is charging through (yet another) re-watch of The West Wing right now. The TV show’s peppy little theme song and rosy outlook on the political landscape and condition of America is just what we need to deny reality with zeal and vigor. And since we’re all imbibing as another measure to deny reality, why don’t we combine the two sports into one jolly activity? Therefore, I give you THE WEST WING DRINKING GAME!

Remember to drink responsibly, and never ever drive after drinking. If some episodes are just too out-of-hand, don’t forget to sub in some water, or you’ll end up like Josh, wearing fisherman’s waders and showing up at Donna’s apartment at midnight to swear at her roommate’s cats. With any luck, we’ll all be singing The Jackal within just a couple episodes. Cheers!

Percy Shelley and His Insane Love Triangle, Most Scandalous

Percy Shelley. You know him as one of those poetry dudes.

He was a privileged young English poet in the 1810s, who had a progressive, yet romantic voice that attempted to influence religion and politics. But, his very brief life was full of secrets and intrigue that eclipse anything he put down on paper. Percy Shelley was at the heart of one of the most mysterious, scandalous love triangles recorded in history. Many women. Two wives. Pregnancies. Deceit. Money. Extortion. Mysterious Death.

What you are about to read is the account that you won’t find in any classroom textbook. This is the story of Percy Shelley and his insane love triangle, most scandalous.

Before the Ladies: Little Percy Breaks All the Rules

Percy Shelley was the first-born child of seven, whelped into a prosperous family with grand expectations and the means to make them happen. He came into this world in 1792, the sire of a member of British Parliament. He was a lucky child who had the breeding and coin to toil his life as a poet, and man, did he meet that opportunity.

Percy Shelley young.jpg

He was known to be a delicate flower who was oft bullied at Eton College. He was a vegetarian, liberal, proponent of sexual freedom, and probably a pampered brat who wasn’t like the other boys. Though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While most boys were burning toads and playing grab-ass, Percy had published two gothic novels and two volumes of poetry, all before he had come of age.

By 1810, Percy enrolled at University College, Oxford, where he quickly found a disciple in a classmate named Thomas Hogg. The two wrote together (and if we’re honest, probably explored the notions of sexual freedom quite closely), eventually penning a  pamphlet entitled The Necessity of Atheism, which ultimately got Percy expelled from school. His family was fuming with outrage and demanded he tow the line. Percy would do nothing of the sort, and was cut off from his family and their pocketbooks.

This sets the stage for a life of juggling his passionate, artistic nature along with his more practical needs for income and survival. Never able to reconcile these two sets of needs, Percy would embark on a life where he is pulled around by purse strings, emotion, and pleasure.

Continue reading “Percy Shelley and His Insane Love Triangle, Most Scandalous”

LOST: The Island, Smoke Monster, and Everything Else Explained

Most series finales are awful.

Seinfeld was absurd. M*A*S*H was depressing. The Sopranos didn’t have an ending. And [sigh] Game of Thrones didn–GODS, Bran did not have the best story, and that is not why you make someone a King, especially because he was the villain the whole time and they’re all going to suffer and die now and it’s the WORST!

I’m okay, really. But we need to address LOST.

Its series finale lives in infamy for its vague conclusion and lack of payoff. But if we’re telling truths, the problem is that most viewers just did not understand the finale. Which means they probably didn’t understand the whole show. I get that it was easy to miss big chunks of the plot–the seasons were spread over long hiatuses, and a swaths of viewers thought they could just jump into the show in the last season and fairly judge it. But the confusion has led to a lot of backlash and a thick tarnish on the show’s legacy.

So I’ve decided to put on my dot-connector hat and go through the series in chronological order. I want to lay it all out so that we can demystify the writing and pick at the show’s carcass for all of the answer morsels we crave.

First, I have a story to tell–a story that is the backdrop for every single plot-line and mystery on The Island. It’s an ancient story that begins it all.

[Begin storybook voice.]

Once Upon a Time, About 2,000 Years ago…

A lady, named Allison Janney, watched over a mysterious island with a magical light at its core, protecting the light and the island from outside invaders. Some such invaders brought her twin boys (whose mother she murdered). One of these boys, Mib, was clever but also devious and overly curious about the power of the light. The other boy, Jacob, was much more loyal, but simple-minded.

(For the sake of our tale we will refer to the “Man in Black” as “Mib”.)

Lost allison janney

One day, when Allison Janney discovered that grown-up Mib was digging a well and building a wheel to harness the magic light, she destroyed the project and offered some quick blessings on the twins. First, she used magic to prevent them from ever killing each other. Second, she made Jacob her successor as Island Protector and warned him never to go into the cave of light, for it would mean a fate worse than death.

Shortly after this, an irate Mib murdered Allison Janney. This riled simple Jacob, who flung his brother into the magic light cave, turning him into a shape-shifting smoke monster.

Through the millennia Jacob and Mib lived on (in a sense), hating each other. Various ancient invaders on The Island worshiped the Smoke Monster as a deity and sought to summon him, though it is likely that Mib could not simply be summoned.

The pair also had an ongoing tedious philosophical debate about whether man is inherently good or bad. This prompts Jacob to lure people to The Island to test their character. He has also been looking for his replacement. Mib has vowed to find a way to kill Jacob and any of his replacements.

The entire show is this–two brothers fighting, and killing, and searching. Everything else is a byproduct of these two ancient men.

Why is the show so confusing?

It seems numbing to boil such an intense and mysterious show down to two bickering brothers. Truly, had anyone known this at the outset of the show, no one would have watched it. The suspense was the thing that kept us coming back, and in order to achieve such elaborate layers of mysteries and contradictions, the writers employed two basic strategies:

  1. The show is almost entirely told in reverse chronological order. We had to wait 8 seasons to get all the way back to Jacob and Mib. It took 3 seasons to even start to look at the 1970s & 1980s Dharma era. The whole show’s flow more or less goes: 
    2004 > 1990s-2000s > 1970s-1980s > 100 AD. With a sprinkling of 1950s and 1860s thrown in. So when the plane crashes, we’re actually seeing the end of a story (well, nearly).

  2. Sloppy writing. I’ll admit how disheartened I was to discover that the writers never had a clear plan carved out from the start. They were pretty much winging it and stretching out parts of seasons (or chopping them up) depending on network needs. If the show was done by more thoughtful writers as, say, a Netflix series today might be, there would be a lot less ambiguity. Or that’s what I tell myself.

Let’s Put the Show’s Timeline in the Right Order

Pre-Jacob & Mib: Unknown Eqyptians inhabiting The Island build the Statue of Taweret.

c.100 AD: Jacob and Mib are born on The Island. Allison Janney is the current Island Protector. Within 30 years, Allison Janney is killed, Jacob becomes the new Island Protector, and Mib becomes the Smoke Monster.

smoke monster Locke

Continue reading “LOST: The Island, Smoke Monster, and Everything Else Explained”

American Expats in Ireland: Ways in Which Life is Just a Bit Different

Hello, Americans. If you’re thinking of moving to Ireland, or maybe just visiting for a nice long time, there are some cultural and day-to-day differences that may throw you for a loop. Some of them are obvious–like driving on the left and not pulling a gun on people in traffic. But there are more subtle changes you’ll experience, and it’s helpful to know what you’re getting into before you order a sandwich with extra mustard, drive on bald tires, go hunting for Tylenol, or renew your Amazon subscription.

Irish life is just a bit different. Here’s how:

Food

  • AT HOME: Say goodbye to a lot of the frozen and “convenience” foods you’re used to–Cool Whip, pizza rolls, Bisquick, Jell-O, crescent rolls, cinnamon rolls in a tube, cream of mushroom soup. You’ll need to get back to basics for a lot of your home cooking–learning how to make pie crust from scratch, whipping your own cream, and roasting root vegetables in the oven.
  • FAST FOOD: It’s not nearly as common here. Most big cities will have a McDonald’s, Subway, and a Domino’s Pizza. Maybe even a Burger King. The most popular and common fast food restaurant is Ireland’s own Super Macs. That said, fast food just isn’t a regular staple. Prepare to say goodbye to Arby’s, KFC, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell.
  • BREAKFAST: Forget waffles and French toast. Pancakes as you know them are also gone, unless you find someone advertising  “American-style” pancakes, and they’re usually awful. Cereal is still an option, but you’ll have fewer choices–and be warned, regular Cheerios are very sweet here.
  • SNACKS: You can’t go anywhere in Ireland without seeing a bag of Taytos, which are Irish crisps. Oddly enough, the default flavor of crisp is cheese & onion. Plain “chips” are hard to find here. If you don’t go for cheese & onion, then other popular choices are salt & vinegar or prawn cocktail.Tayto
  • MUSTARD: Beware, mustard in Ireland is not the yellow stuff you’re used to. It’s much MUCH hotter. It’s more like raw horseradish. Use at your own risk.
  • THE LINGO: Let’s do this–Irish vs. American
    – Crisps = Potato Chips
    – Chips = Fries
    – Pies = Savory dinner pies
    – Tarts = Can be tarts, but more likely are full dessert pies
    – Pudding = Well, it isn’t dessert pudding. I still don’t know what the hell it is.
    – Courgette = Zucchini
    – Aubergine = Eggplant
    – Chicken goujons = Chicken tenders
    – Cheese toasty = Grilled cheese
    – Pancakes = Crepes
    – Sweets = Candy
    – Biscuits = Cookies

Pubs & Drinks

  • SPIRITS: Remember what I said about getting back to basics? That goes for drinks, too. Most pubs or bars don’t have a wide range of cocktails available–they’ll cringe if you even mention a Bloody Mary (learn to make those at home from scratch). Forget cotton candy-flavored vodka or whatever specialty liqueur you adore. No Moscow Mules. No tropical drinks with umbrellas. And the smaller the pub, the smaller the selection. Expect one or two types of vodka, one type of rum (probably not Captain), and probably no tequila. However, most pubs have a variety of gin, whiskey, and beer! If you aren’t getting beer, whiskey, or wine, here are the most common orders: Cider, gin and tonic, Irish coffee (coffee and whiskey), hot toddy (whiskey, hot water, cloves, lemon juice), or maybe a rum and Coke. There’s nothing wrong with just ordering coffee or tea, of course!

Continue reading “American Expats in Ireland: Ways in Which Life is Just a Bit Different”