Category: skepticism

Lost Season 6 Episode 16 - What They Died For

Lost - The candidates before Jacob

NOTE: The following should be spoiler-free. It may not be recommended for devout followers who haven’t yet seen the episode, but I really have taken measures to avoid giving anything away.

I am going to be uncharacteristically emotive and offer little insight for the typical Culturepin post, but I really needed to capture and share the amazing feeling of buoyancy after watching tonight’s episode of Lost – “What They Died For.”

It is not only for the relief in having bold answers at last, or for the myriad connections and subtexts provided. I have debated, opined and otherwise pontificated at length on some of the social media platforms I frequent, only with friends, and never at any great length publicly, so I will not go into my take on what the mythology, story arcs or implications of ABC’s hugely successful epic series ultimately means. There are so many sites that have squeezed every last drop of possibility out of the material.

I just really wanted to take a moment, as the series comes to a close, to commend the people who made the show on what they have accomplished; to engage us in a fascinating, captivating, thrilling, mesmerizing story often quite literally around a campfire (albeit one we see on the television screen, an electronic campfire in itself) in a way that at least I haven’t felt since my grandfather used to put me to sleep with bedside tales culled from Greek mythology.

Tonight’s episode was beautifully acted (Terry O’Quinn was simply incredible, as were Mark Pellegrino, Michael Emerson, Henry Ian Cusick and even Evangeline Lilly – all completely adept at harlequin-type vacillations in motive and emotional structure) beautifully lit (Ben Linus’ hellfire orange glow in the secret room while talking with Flocke, or the ethereal tonality of the prisoners in the paddy wagon as Desmond makes his offer) and brilliantly scored by Michael Giacchino. The makeup was excellent, and the sound design as meticulous as ever.

I had the rare opportunity to work with a bunch of the crew from Lost last summer 2009 while acting in an independent film called One Kine Day in Kailua. The crew was on hiatus and so many of them took on the job and I was able to get to know the people who work diligently behind the scenes on those details that we might often overlook – the grips, the costumers, the makeup team.

Many shows take time, even seasons, to catch their stride, but Lost seemed to be quite well formed right out of the gate. Most of the characters already felt well rounded, and though admittedly the actors were getting to know the characters even as they were getting to know one another within the world of the play, it felt unusually present. But now, six years later, and on the eve of its death, the whole is reaching new heights.

Now don’t be fooled into thinking that I am uncritical or not skeptical about many points concerning the series let alone this last season. There have been stronger and weaker episodes, certainly. But every so often I would take a step back and simply marvel at the scope of what was being accomplished and presented within 47 minutes of television entertainment on a weekly basis. And then, there were times, like at the end of tonight’s show in particular, where I realized I hadn’t taken a breath in minutes. As the show ended I was completely in awe. I felt my body tingling, my heart thumping, and this strange sort of euphoria at the end of an incredible tale.

I am certain my buzz will dull considerably with time, and so again, I wanted simply to catalog this amazing feeling of excitement for posterity, because what I just witnessed was nothing short of a wonder, a gift.

Thanks guys.

Post your reaction to this episode or the ideas above in the comments section.

Ray Kurzweil

Shortly after the Wachowski Brothers released a film called The Matrix in 1999, I got a job on a film shooting in Hendersonville, North Carolina about summer camp and spent a beautiful month and a half in a small cottage reading Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence. It was a potent combination – the movie and the book; what the Matrix was doing for me spiritually, Kurzweil’s book seemed to be prepared to manifest on Earth.

Cut to a decade later, where I will be attending my fifth consecutive NAB Show – the largest tech and entertainment media show of its kind in the world – and have the opportunity to see Kurzweil actually speak in person for a power session entitled “The Acceleration of Technology in the 21st Century: the Impact on Media, Communications, and Society.”

Kurzweil will begin the session with a presentation on how information technology is transforming traditional industries, including media and entertainment, into infotech businesses. He will explore how the exponential growth of technology and the influx of new chip-driven tools is upending free enterprise as we know it and paving the way for an unparalleled change in human history. After his presentation, Kurzweil will be joined on the stage by Professor Donald Marinelli for a special discussion highlighting topics that directly impact Hollywood and the entertainment technology arena.

This is precisely what I have been asked to speak about throughout most of my career – the confluence of technology and the arts – so you can imagine how excited I am to hear these two go on about it.

To give you a better idea about Kurzweil’s relevance (besides the fact that he invented speech recognition technology) he has been described as “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes and ranked 8th among entrepreneurs in the United States by Inc. magazine. PBS included Kurzweil as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America,” along with other inventors of the past two centuries. He is a six-time national bestselling author whose works include “The Age of Spiritual Machines” and “The Singularity is Near.” Which reminds me, Kurzweil also recently spearheaded the opening of The Singularity University where he invites the world’s foremost thinkers, doctors and technicians to figure out how to live forever, in harmony, probably with robots. And he is totally serious. And he might even pull it off.

Donald Marinelli is a tenured professor of drama and arts management at Carnegie Mellon University and is also the executive producer of that institution’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). The ETC is recognized internationally as Carnegie Mellon’s “Dream Fulfillment Factory.” Its emphasis is on bringing artists and technologists together to work on substantive, real-world projects combining the latest digital media technologies with myriad artistic, educational, and entertainment efforts. Marinelli’s book “The Comet & the Tornado” will be released on April 6th.

This event joins an impressive line-up of previously announced keynote conversations, including Dana Walden and Gary Newman, Chairmen of Twentieth Century Fox Television (TCFTV); and Stan Lee, the iconic comic book visionary who co-created Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four.

“A key theme of this year’s NAB Show is transmedia: developing, integrating and monetizing content for multiplatform distribution,” said Chris Brown, executive vice president, conventions & business operations for NAB Show. “Stan Lee has epitomized the concept of transmedia with his amazing creations, which have been turned into smash hit feature films, television series and innovative digital content.”

Did I already mention how excited I am?   This is like Christmas for prognosticators like me, never mind robotics fans. And manifesting dreams.  And wanting to live forever.  And SEO types.  And comic books.

The NAB Show will take place 10-15 April, 2010 in Las Vegas (exhibits open 12 April). It is the world’s largest electronic media show covering filmed entertainment and the development, management and delivery of content across all mediums. Complete details are available at