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What Doesn’t Kill You

Some people may wonder why “What Doesn’t Kill You” didn’t receive a proper theatrical release, and to be completely honest, it all comes down to luck. Over the last few years, there have been a number of gritty crime dramas released in the same vein as Brian Goodman’s directorial debut, and though a majority of them weren’t any better or worse, they had the good fortune of being made first. That’s really the only thing standing in the way of the film, a based-on-a-true-story tale about two lifelong friends (Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke) making a living as soldiers for the local crime boss in Boston. When a job gone wrong lands the pair in prison, however, one struggles to make the most of his second chance under the haze of drugs and money.

If there’s one thing going for “What Doesn’t Kill You” that some of the other likeminded films didn’t have, it’s a strong performance from its lead actor. Mark Ruffalo has been on the brink of breaking out for what seems like a decade now, and yet he continues to hammer away with quality roles where he really gets to flex his dramatic muscle. Ethan Hawke isn’t quite as memorable in what could easily be viewed as a copycat of his character in 2007’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” but he still does his best work in films destined for the festival circuit. Unfortunately, though “What Doesn’t Kill You” may claim to be based on a true story, it’s simply too far-fetched to be believed. Goodman should have had the good sense to ignore that aspect of the tale and just focus on crafting a movie that we haven’t already seen countless times before. Maybe then it would have never gotten lost in the shuffle.

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American Idol: Simon can stick it

Last night on FOX’s “American Idol” results show, we learned that Simon Cowell may truly be on crack, as I wrote yesterday, or he may just not know what he’s talking about. Or as he said last night, he had an off night. Either way, he was wrong, and America was right, and I couldn’t feel better about that.

The show began with Ryan Seacrest asking Simon what he thought about Tuesday night’s performances, and Simon said that he watched it back at home and everyone was good, and that it was an open competition. Funny, Simon thought Kris and Allison were pretty awful and he feared that one of them would be going home.

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Lost 5.14 – The Variable

It’s not very often that we welcome back a character the same night we say farewell, but if the end of tonight’s episode is to be believed, Daniel Faraday is no more. To which I say, fuck you Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. Killing Charlie was bad enough, but if this death sticks, I’m going to be pretty pissed. Okay, maybe not. It’s kind of hard to stay mad at you when you continue to deliver top-notch episodes like this, but that doesn’t mean I’m not upset. Nevertheless, just like Charlie’s last few episodes at the end of Season Three, Faraday’s last hurrah was one for the ages.

First, we find out that Eloise is Faraday’s mother, and then we find out that Widmore is his father, but honestly, anyone that didn’t see that one coming hasn’t been paying attention these last few years. Still, Faraday’s connection to the island certainly has to be the most interesting of all the characters, and the fact that Eloise willingly sent her son back knowing exactly what was going to happen takes serious guts. Of course, if the Others were able to save Ben Linus from a gunshot wound, what’s to say they won’t be able to do the same for Faraday? It seems plausible, and wouldn’t it explain Faraday’s memory loss in the future/present?

Speaking of which, Faraday’s flashbacks weren’t quite as revelatory as some might have hoped, but it was fun to revisit key moments (like his reaction to the Oceanic 815 recovery footage) knowing more about his journey after those events. The same goes for the opening scene from the season premiere, where we saw Faraday passing Marvin Candle/Dr. Chang in the Swan station, but nothing more. Now we know that Faraday not only spoke with Candle about evacuating the island, but also broke several of his own time travel rules by telling Candle that he’s from the future and that Miles is his son. Candle didn’t seem to buy into either claim, but how could he not? The only Chinese guy on the island with the name Miles? Yeah, it seems like a pretty airtight argument to me too.

Whatever Faraday was expecting Candle to do, he seemed to believe that he was going to do it after their little talk, and let’s hope that he does, because Faraday’s ultimate plan is explosive to say the least. Some of the commenters on this blog were insistent that ‘ol Jughead would rear its head again in the future and, well, they were right. Personally, I completely forgot about the hydrogen bomb between all the time jumping during the middle of the season, but once Faraday mentioned blowing up the Swan’s mysterious power source using the bomb, it suddenly made a lot of sense. Of course, Faraday’s plan doesn’t exactly work under his initial theory that “whatever happens, happens,” but since the Losties currently are experiencing their present, they still have the power to change their future. It’s a pretty cool theory for sure, and it’s really the only way the writers could have gotten out of the hole they conceivably dug themselves into.

Now that Faraday’s dead, though, who will carry out the plan? Jack and Kate are probably stuck in Others territory, Sawyer and Juliet have been outed by Radzinsky, and Hurley and Miles are stuck in the middle of it all. Plus, with three more hours left to go, there’s still more than enough time for a couple of wild cards to be thrown into the mix – namely Locke, Sun and Ben, who will no doubt play a role in all of this before the season is over. Oh yeah, and there’s no way the Losties erase the past by blowing up the Swan. At least, not with an entire season still to go. Can this show really get any better? God I hope so.

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How TiVo revolutionized the way we watch TV

The idea was pure genius. Provide customers with a set-top box that could record analog video from any source onto a hard drive for easy access and instant viewing. Prior to DVRs, the main way to record television was a little thing called the Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) which used VHS tapes. (I’m mentioning this for any of the tweens out there who may not know life without TiVo.) Recording to tape was nice in the mid-80′s, but once huge hard drives came down in price, it became feasible to turn a computer into a recording device. No more hunting around for that certain show, no more (usually, anyway) missing episodes when the network changes the schedule, and no more fast-forwarding through the commercials and being faced with the decision of whether or not to rewind back to the end of the commercial break so as not to miss first 30 seconds or a minute of the show.

I bought my first TiVo sometime in 2000 or 2001, but the company had been in existence since 1998. My first box worked with my cable box. It wasn’t the most elegant option, but it got the job done. Changing channels was a bitch, but I never did much channel surfing anyway. I would miss the occasional episode because my TiVo’s infrared commander didn’t properly change the channel on the cable box, but with TiVo’s “season pass” feature, I caught a lot of episodes that I might have otherwise missed. I loved it so much, I even bought a second TiVo so that I could record two things at once.

With the advent of HD, TiVo ran into something of a roadblock. Once I went HD, I pretty much had to go with the cable company’s version of the DVR, nicknamed the “MOXI.” The TiVo HD was just too pricey at the time. The MOXI had an okay setup, but I loathed cable company’s advertisements that made it seemed like they invented the DVR. (Give me a break.) Anyway, with the MOXI, I could record two HD shows at once, but I still kept a TiVo so that I could record a third show at the same time if need be.

Once the TiVo HD became affordable — again, we’re talking about huge capacity hard drives falling in price — I got rid of Time Warner’s DVR (no longer the MOXI, I was forced to switch), which had a ridiculously poor interface. I had a couple of cable cards installed by Time Warner, and bang — I had a box that could record two HD programs at once.

As time continues to wear on, TiVo has added more and more features to its software. I can now use my TiVo to listen to the music library on my computer (granted, not in a very elegant way), watch video that I downloaded from the internet, stream (older or indie) movies from my Netflix queue and rent new release movies (in HD!) from Amazon Video.

By zipping through the commercials and being able to easily and instantly queue up the show I want to watch, I’m able to watch more television in less time. And, ultimately, that’s what TiVo is all about.

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The Biggest Loser: An “Evil Empire” final four

One thing is for sure with this season of “The Biggest Loser” on NBC….every time I decide to pull for someone, they wind up below the yellow line and get voted off. Every time! So we went from five down to four last night, and next week will be extremely interesting….but more on that in a few paragraphs.

At the start, they showed the remaining five after Kristin was eliminated, with Filipe clearly keeping his mouth shut but clearly pissed at Ron’s “Godfather” gameplay. Mikey correctly said his dad was “playing chess while everyone else was playing checkers.” Then trainer Bob Harper asked Ron point blank if he talked Mikey into voting Kristin off, and Ron flat-out lied to Bob’s face the way he lied to Alison’s face after Kristin was sent packing. Bob was pissed.

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