Wednesday, July 29, 2020


A smattering of my random thoughts and phrases--some of which were typed into social media and then deleted. Some of which were actually published.

"All I want to do is cry."


"I've got to . . . something. But . . . As my Pappaw used to say 'Sometimes I think to myself . . . Well?! . . . But then again, I don't know."

I shouldn't be surprised by the delay in school starting. (And to be clear, it's not that school is delayed. It is that going back into the school has been postponed.)

This is not surprising.

Lynda and I spent hours Tuesday night debating whether or not to allow Grace and Hannah to go back into the building for the hybrid model. We considered the 100% digital model (Westerville Virtual Academy.) We thought about the quality of instruction with all options. We weighed the risks. And we finally decided to let them go back into the school.

And then, this morning, the rug was pulled out from under us again.

How many rugs are we standing on these last many months? How many shoes can drop? How many disappointments can we weather?

Hannah will be separated from her friend more. Grace's band season looks even more tenuous than ever--JUST WHEN SHE WAS GETTING INTO IT. Not to mention her challenging AP-heavy course load this year . . .

I just don't have any more energy to think about this today.

I'm so disappointed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

COV132D-19: PARTY MONTH #4--Happy Birthday Sarah!

A few weeks ago I was laying in bed, trying to put another day behind me. And I started thinking about the fact that Sarah is turning twenty-years-old this year--today in fact!

And during those musings, it occurred to me that while she is turning 20, numerically she is starting her THIRD decade. Because every day beyond 20 is adding to a new decade of life. And isn't it odd to think that she is turning 20, but entering her third decade? It sounds so much more impressive than 20--not that her age isn't impressive enough all on its own. I just found it an odd observation.

But . . . I'm not here today to wax oddly about numerology. I'm here to praise my oldest daughter as she leaves her teen youth behind and pushes resolutely into her twenties. I hope many wonderful things come from the years ahead. I won't list any specifics here because a.) I don't want to put pressure on her and because b.) no one is guaranteed anything this day and age. As you know, the 2020 Party Month has been an unusual one. But Sarah grows and ages nonetheless.

She will take on her own challenges in the coming years, finishing some things and starting others. She will make choices--most of them good because she is wise and thoughtful. And some of them bad because she is still young and has the opportunity to take a risk. I hope that she celebrates her wins and learns from her losses. 

I am struggling to say more because I've been praising her on this space, on her birthday, since she was around 4 years old. This blog was created (in part) to capture my children growing up and so by necessity, it has captured so much of Sarah's life. 

But increasingly her life is her own and not a story that I tell about her. Her experience is outside and away from mine. And I get to see it from a remove. I must wonder more and more if she is happy about her life because it is happening away from me. And when I get a chance to share it, it brightens my day and enriches the life that I get to control.

So--happy birthday to you Sarah! I hope you can find time to feel celebrated and loved this week by family and friends.

Sunday, July 19, 2020


I'm frustrated and tired and heartsick of how everything is so topsy-turvy because of this virus. And I am not upset for myself. My life is very set and my job is continuing and while I don't enjoy working from home every day, I realize that many of my problems are of my own design and I have no meaningful complaints.

I am angry for my children, who are trying their best to grow up amidst all of this uncertainty. I am frustrated that they have to hold onto hopes that keep getting dashed. I am disappointed that nothing can be promised and that everything is negotiable. Even though they are privileged and lucky, they are being denied simple things that provide stability to their days. And they are looking forward to big things this year. 

Sarah turns twenty this week and is uncertain about what her classes will be like for the fall semester. It was hard learning art via computer last year and the prospects for fall don't seem much different right now. And Sarah--to her credit--is taking the virus pretty seriously and remains cautious about how she goes about in the world while this is going on.

Grace is preparing for band camp over the next two weeks--despite the challenges of gathering kids together for the activity. But the staff and the parents have worked diligently this summer to make the band experience a good one for everyone, even with all of the unknowns in from of us. I pray that Grace can make her way through this senior year with meaningful memories of this very important part of her high school career.

Hannah is growing into her middle school years. She is becoming herself amongst the restrictions of COVID, somewhat isolated from her friends, and having a diminished summer because of it. No middle schooler wants to stay home with her parents all the time . . . but she has accepted much of it with reasonably good grace.

But I wish that none of it were so.

Friday, July 10, 2020

LOST Rewatch: Live Together Die Alone (COV120D-19)


Can you believe that we have reached the end of Season 2? It has been a very long and interrupted journey. I am excited to examine new plots in season 3. I am excited to remind myself about "The Oceanic Six." (Intrigued? Stay tuned!) And I am excited to swap out the Season 2 logo for another of a different color.

But before we get to those things, we need to examine "Live Together Die Alone." Do you remember those words, spoken by Jack in Season 1 . . . back when he was a bit more admirable . . . a bit more heroic . . . and bit less churlish and quick to anger . . . a bit more humble? That was then. This is now. And now, angry Jack, Hurley, Kate, and Sawyer (a.k.a. The Only Lostaways That Matter*) are headed off with Michael to confront the pitiful--so Michael says--band of primitive Others on the far side of Mystery Island.


Remember that Sayid had identified Michael's odd behavior? And how he warned Jack that Michael had been compromised? Well, he and Jack have a plan to circumvent whatever plan Michael may be following through with the Others and Henry Gale, because Sayid is going to sail around the Island with Jin and Sun to get to the Others camp while the rest of Michael's crew cut through the slower jungle overland route.

Where did they get a boat? Oh--I forgot to tell you about who was on the sailboat that arrived at the end of "Three Minutes." It was Desmond! He came back, against his will, he said because the Island doesn't want to let him leave.

It is in this FLASHBACK that he learn much more of Desmond's backstory. We learn that he used to be a part of the Royal Scots armed forces. That he was in military prison for something and then discharged after serving his sentence. We learn that he is disliked by a gruff, Tywin Lannister lookalike actor who's character name is Charles Widmore. We learn that Desmond is in love with Penelope Widmore--the daughter of Charles, and that Daddy doesn't like it. So much so that Charles is willing and able to try and pay Desmond off to keep him away from Penny forever. We learn that Desmond ended up on the Island because he was trying to win a Widmore-sponsored solo round-the-world sailing race, mostly to spite Charles and also to earn enough money to buy back Penny's love (maybe?). We also randomly learn that Desmond's boat: the one that sailed him around the world and accidentally to the Island, and then back again (currently being used by Sayid) was first owned by the recently departed Libby. And we learn that Desmond is a committed Charles Dickens fan.

We further learn (this is a two-episode length finale, y'all!) that while on the Island, Des was saved by Inman--formerly an American soldier who worked with Sayid in Iraq and now a part of DHARMA. Inman is down in the Swan Hatch alone and desperate for a button-pushing partner. 

Speaking of the Hatch and the button . . . in the non-Flashback B plot, John Locke has teamed up with current Desmond to simulate a Lockdown and trap Mr. Eko outside of the computer station. John and Desmond was to prove once and for all that this button nonsense is just that . . . nonsense. They are going to make the counter go to 000 00 and see what happens. But Eko responds by enlisting Charlie to find the leftover Black Rock dynamite and blast his way back to the computer before the world ends.

While waiting for the timer to count down, Desmond gets second thoughts, remembering his time with Inman. He comes to (re?) believe that the button is actually doing something real. Because one time when he didn't punch the numbers in fast enough* bad stuff actually started happening. Such as:
  1. weird hieroglyphs took the place of the zeros on the counter
  2. the warning speaker kept repeating SYSTEM FAILURE
  3. everything began shaking like an earthquake
  4. all metallic items were drawn to and stuck upon the concrete bunker wall in the most dire-seeming fashion
Thinking back upon this Desmond realizes that this moment of SYSTEM FAILURE was the same day that Oceanic 815 crashed. So, he believes that there IS a purpose to the button and this Incident that is mentioned in the Swan Orientation film is something to be taken seriously.

And by now the timer has hit zero. And all of the above is happening. And John realizes that . . . he made a mistake and famously says (with a worried look) "I was wrong." But shit is happening now and how to fix it?!

They can't!

Only Desmond has the key--literally--to fix the problem. Something else he inherited from Inman in the FLASHBACKS--a DHARMA shaped key that can be inserted into a small lock under the floor of the Hatch. The keyhole is ominously labelled Failsafe and Inman drunkenly told him once that activating this would release the magnetic pressure building up behind the wall. But he also thought that it would destroy the Island and themselves at the same time. But Desmond will sacrifice himself to save others.

But not THOSE Others . . . because while all of this is happening at the Swan, Michael and his suspicious band are still traveling to the Others camp. And by now Jack has told them of his worry that Michael is a liar. And thus trapped, Michael has admitted that he killed Ana and Libby to free Henry--all done to save Walt and get him and his son off the Island. They are captured by the Others and taken to a dock where they are bound and gagged. Then Henry appears with the Season 1 ending boat to give Michael and Walt freedom. As all of this is transpiring, the Failsafe is triggered on the other side of the Island, the sky turns purple, a deafening thrumming noise fills the sky everywhere, and something happens at the Hatch. 

We see that Charlie made it back to Lostaway beach. But we don't know Locke's, Desmond's, or Eko's fate. And we don't know what will happen to Jack, Kate, or Sawyer who are being held by Henry and the Others. Also, Sayid, Jin, and Sun were unsuccessful in sneaking up on the Others, so we don' t know if they survived the Failsafe event.

The final scene? Two scruffy scientists in some Arctic setting get a computerized warning that a magnetic anomaly was detected. They quickly make a phone call to Penny Widmore to tell her that they think they have found him!

Next Season!

* both to the viewing public, as well as to the Others?

* He was chasing Inman--who was stealing away to taken Desmond's sailboat to escape the Island, then accidentally killing Inman in the struggle, then quickly returning to the Hatch because he knew time was running out.

Thursday, July 09, 2020


They say for better and for worse.

They say for richer and for poorer.

They say in sickness and in health.

Two out of three about covers it for this year, I think.

Wednesday was never the way that I imagined my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. How could I imagine such as thing when I was a simple youth of 24? I had never heard of a coronavirus? (Such a thing must have existed somewhere back in 1995, right? Just not in my corner of south Georgia.)

But I knew little of anything in that corner of south Georgia. On that particular day, I only knew that marrying Lynda Thompson was the thing for me. And I did it happily. And I've enjoyed our partnership ever since. Through Ohio, through jobs, through pregnancy, through labor, through three births, through raising children into young adults and burgeoning teens.

It's been stressful and wonderful and life-altering. It's been everything I could imagine and much, much more. It's been the defining crux of my life. It was what I wanted then and what I want still--even through the challenges and the unknowns. Even though the frustrations of parenting young adults in this time. 

I wanted to be doing other things during the summer of our twenty-fifth anniversary. But there will be a twenty-sixth and a twenty-seventh. There will be a thirtieth, a fortieth, and even a fiftieth. We have more time to catch what we don't have now. Because now is just a moment. But our commitment and our love to one another is a lifetime.

Here is to next year. And whatever may come after that!

Sunday, July 05, 2020

LOST Rewatch: Three Minutes (COV115D-19)


"Three Minutes" follows hot on the heels of the events of "?". The Lostaways are still trying to understand the events of "Two For the Road" while the fresh graves of Libby and Ana Lucia remind them of what they don't know.

They don't know who "Henry Gale" actually is. Nor where he has gone. (Though Michael has some ideas about that.)

They don't know the truth of how Ana and Libby died. (Though Michael definitely know the information about that.)

They don't know that Michael has plans to lead a few of them--Jack, Kate, John, Sawyer, and Hurley--into a trap. (Though Sayid has suspicions about that.)

They don't truly know what the Others are up to . . . or what is going on with Walt. (Though the events of this episode clue the viewer a bit closer into THAT.)

We get several mini-FLASHBACKS in this episode, not into anyone's far past. But into the thirteen days prior when Michael ran away from Swan Hatch in search of Walt. We see that he was chased by Jack and co. and how Michael was caught up by Capt. Beardo and his merry band of boat-going others. How he was gagged and in the wings when Beardo confronted Jack and co. about the line in the jungle that the Lostaways were not to cross. We see that Michael was taken back to the primitive-seeming camp that the Others have on some unknown part of the Island--huts alongside an ocean bluff. Michael sees another Dharma-sealed door to what looks to be a fifth Hatch. But there is no entrance.

Michael is held in a hut and not permitted to see anything or talk to anyone but a mysterious woman called Klugh. She is given the name "Miss Klugh" in the credits . . . clue . . . get it? (Don't worry. It won't really add up to anything in the end.) She is the one that tells Michael that only Kate, Jack, Sawyer (here identified at James Ford), John, and Hurley are to return with him. Miss Klugh gives Michael a hand-written list of these names. If he can lure these people to them, the Others will give Michael a boat and he and Walt can go free . . . off the Island? After promising to make that happen, Michael gets to see Walt for three minutes in the hut. It is the first time we've seen Walt since he was on the boat at the end of Season 1--minus a few visions here and there in previous episodes. Their reunion is tearful and it properly motivates Michael to carry out the plan--which will result in the two tragic deaths and the freeing of "Henry."

Other random thoughts while watching this episode:

1. At one point, Sawyer--while insulting Hurley and Kate in order to argue that Sayid should be included on Michael's mission--says the following: "Look if Pippy Longstockings and the Grape Ape get to go, then I vote for the Red Beret." It's the most amazing example so far of Sawyer's particular word salad of pop culture references/insults/nicknames. And my kids were so confused by it that they didn't even know how to respond.

2. One of the Others takes blood from Michael by simply jamming a hypodermic into the meat of his upper shoulder and I just laughed out loud. Of course, that isn't how you draw blood. But it is so stupid its' funny.

3. Charlie is demonstrating that he is no longer beholden to the heroin by throwing the remaining Virgin Mary statues into the ocean waves. Ignoring the fact, naturally, that he is barely getting the statues past the breakwater and that they will wash ashore in the tide within hours. But . . . now that I think on it a bit unless Nigerian souvenier making is very high quality, the seams on the statues won't be enough to protect the heroin from seawater. So . . . I guess Charlie did it right after all.

4. And speaking of the ocean bringing things back to the Island, something does come back at the very end of the episode. A fancy-looking sailboat! I wonder who is inside?

Saturday, July 04, 2020

LOST Rewatch: ? (COV114D-19)


I am still working my way through the end of Season 2 of the LOST Rewatch and there are only a few episodes that remain as we wrap up the season of the Hatch. And that is an appropriate adjective to this episode in particular because the A plot of "?" deals with hatches.

Remember back in "Lockdown" when the blast doors triggered (because the Dharma food pallet drop was taking place) and John got injured by the door crushing his leg? And remember who during that lockdown, blacklights switched on and he saw a hand-drawn image of some sort of hatch-based diagram? And in the center of that diagram was a big question mark?

Well, if you don't happen to remember that--you can read my recap of that episode here. But if you are ready to move on, let's focus on what actually happened in "?".

The beginning of it is mostly the immediate aftermath of what Michael did in Swan hatch when he murdered Ana Lucia and Libby, freed "Henry Gale", and then intentionally wounded himself with a self-inflicted shoulder gunshot to turn the suspicion away from him. He had deniability as Jack and Sawyer and Kate come rushing back to the Swan to find out what happened. And Jack--ever the opportunist--uses this crisis to out-maneuver Sawyer once more. He forces Sawyer's brief humanity to expose where he is keeping his stash of guns and medicine . . . so that Jack can get the Virgin Mary heroin he needs to put a lingering Libby out of her misery. Jack knows that he can't do anything to prevent her death and so he wants to pwn Sawyer again, just like he recently did during their mango-fueled poker game.

But that isn't truly important. Sure, there is sadness with the death of two more characters. And Hurley is devastated when he learns what happened to Libby. And he feels guilty that he forgot the blankets that drove her to the Hatch in the first place. And Sawyer regrets his recent snarky (if sexy) last encounter with Ana that allowed her to palm him revolver that allowed the deaths to occur.

But the true focus of the episode is Eko and John. Because Eko began having Island prophetical dreams of his priest brother Yemi--who told him that he and John needed to find the Question Mark. Eko doesn't know what any of that means. But he has Island-faith that John will understand and that together they will succeed.

Yemi pops up in more than one vision-dream during this episode--first to Eko and then to John when they are hiking out into the jungle in search of the promised Question Mark. It prompted me to consider that Yemi had (briefly) become the new Walt--a visionary individual who only serves to prod along the plot in mysterious ways.

And yes, there is lots of dreaming in this episode and much talk of miracles. Because that is the subject of the FLASHBACK! We learn that Eko spent his time after Yemi flew away from Nigeria in the drug runner's plane serving as a supposed priest. And weirdly enough, no one challenged his doctrinal authority or anything. So much so that he was working within a diocesean structure as a miracle authenticator. Eko had been planning to go to the U.S. and probably lose himself in a new country and ditch this fake priest role. But another priest interrupted his plans and sent him to Sydney to authenticate a story of a young girl who was supposed to have drowned but instead came back to life during the autopsy. (And . . . yes . . . the girl in question, named Charlotte, was the daughter of the psychic that was visited by both Claire and Rose in previous episodes.) But that is not important.

What is important is that there is much talk of miracles in the Flashback B plot and I think it was there to give viewers some slim hope that Libby might recover from her gunshot wounds. Not that any of the characters ever gave that indication. But I think it was there to toy with people's expectations at least a bit. But in the end, no help resulted and Libby died before she could tell anyone that Michael was responsible for the killings and for the freeing of "Henry."

While the Lostaways are preparing for a dual funeral, Michael is frantically trying to convince Jack, Locke, Kate, Sawyer . . . and Hurley? . . . to come with him on a raid of the primitive camp where Michael is sure that "Henry" is escaping back to. Michael semi-demands that no one else may help, no matter how logical it might be. (And that includes Sayid, which raises red flags for some of the observant Lostaways who think that Michael must have been compromised during the time he was missing and searching for Walt.) But more on that to come in the next episode . . .

Back in the now, John and Eko do succeed in tracking down the "?" in question. It is an entrance to a fourth Hatch station built below the precise location where the Nigerian drug plane crashed. This station, the Pearl, is simple compared to the Swan. It has some comfortable swivel chairs and a bank of TV monitors . . . and lots of notebooks. According to another Orientation film that Eko discovered--hosted by Mark Wickmund, who looks identical to Marvin Candle from the Swan film--the Pearl station is an observation post. It seems that the Dharma people in Pearl and supposed to snoop on the people in the Swan. Does this mean that the number punching in Swan station is just a bunch of baloney? John now certainly thinks so and in anger and frustration, he vows to abandon the Numbers and the Swan and put all of that behind him.

But Eko is now even more committed--and he vows to take over the task of number punching. He has taken over the faith of the Hatch in ways that John no longer has--which ties neatly into his Flashback religion sequence.

But bigger questions loom. Will Michael's treachery be verified by Sayid? Will Michael convince the right people to go with him to invade the Others camp? What does the Other's camp actually look like? Why did Michael betray his friends? What is the true nature--if any--of the Pearl Station . . . or the Swan Station for that matter?

Thursday, July 02, 2020

LOST Rewatch: Two For the Road (COV112D-19)


PREVIOUSLY . . . on LOST Rewatch . . .

Well! My last Rewatch post was OVER three years ago. Back in March 2017. I ended with season 2, episode 19: "S.O.S."

You can read it here, if you want to get back into the flow of things. And I ended that post with the tease of we would find out what the returning Michael was up to next time. But I didn't think it would take so loooong!!

But hey--life happens. I'm sure when Michael crashed on the mystery island with his estranged son, he was not prepared to find it a magical island with smoke monsters, weird visions, and marauding Others. He didn't expect to successfully build a raft only to have that raft be attacked by Captain Beardo and his Other pirates. And he didn't expect Walt to be taken. But all of that happened in season 1. And for most of season 2 the mystery of Walt's disappearance was unresolved and Michael was mad. Everyone was focused on the Tailies and how they upset the balance of the Lostaways lifestyle on Jack Beach. And people were trying to figure out what was going on in the Hatch with the Numbers. And everyone was still recovering from Shannon's death. And everyone was doing everything else but solve two significant problems. First, what about Walt? And second, does anyone want to be rescued off of this place?

Michael left to solve the first problem. And in "S.O.S." Bernard tried to solve the second. But he succumbed to the magic pull of the Island to come to terms with what Rose wanted. And now, after being gone for a while Michael has suddenly returned and he has been taken down into the Hatch to recover after wandering through the jungle from wherever he has been. And when he is in the Hatch, he finds Ana Lucia struggling with her own confused feelings. She has a gun that she took from Sawyer--after she tricked him into sex so that she could grab one of his guns when he wasn't paying attention. And now that she has the gun, she is struggling to determine what her plan is and why. 

For you see, in the FLASHBACK . . . we learn that Ana crossed paths with a drunk and despairing Christian Shephard. After Christian lost he job because Jack ratted out his on-job drinking, he was falling apart. Christian convinces Ana to serve as his world-travelling bodyguard companion and they go to Sydney . . . so that Christian can harass a woman on a dark rainy night? The dialogue isn't entirely clear, but we know that he is drunk and is demanding to see his daughter. (Who might THAT be?)

Ana eventually tires of Christian's aimless drinking and whatever and leaves him behind in the bar. As she leaves, she bumps into Sawyer, who is going into the bar after failing to kill his nemesis. He is about to have his own Christian encounter!

But Ana is still struggling to reconcile her hatred over the man who attacked her and caused her to lose her baby. (And whom she then killed in outright anger.) And she quit the police due to this despair. And her time with Christian didn't help. And then she crashlanded on Mystery Island. And then she got mixed up in all sorts of fights with Others.And she let her anger run free. And it caused her to kill. And then she accidentally killed Shannon. And people hate her. And she hates herself. And now she's got a gun. And she is trying to figure out what to do with that gun and with Henry Gale. And she doesn't know how to proceed.

In happier news back on Lostaway Beach . . . Hurley is recovering from his recent antics with "Dave." And he is pleased that Libby was there to help him out and that she seems to dig him. And so they are going to have a picnic! But Hurley forgot the blankets. So Libby headed down to the Hatch to grab some.

But when she got there, she arrived at the worst time. 

For you see--we now learn what Michael is there to do. He sweet-talked Ana as she struggled with the gun. And he got it away from her. And then he SHOT her with it . . . just as Libby turned the corner. And Michael SHOT HER as well! And that is how one of the most dramatic and unexpected moments in LOST history happened.

And here is where I interject a bit about my own personal history with this. When I first began this Rewatch, it was partly to get Grace interested in the show. And she was definitely into it. But this episode broke her. (She was in Middle School at the time.) She was so unexpectedly upset with Michael's turn and with Ana's (and Libby's) death that we stopped watching the show for almost six months.

So, now--as I've started the Rewatch again with Hannah, we got to the same episode. And Grace and I were anticipating how Hannah would react to this plot turn. And she WAS upset. But we only took a week's break this time. And so, as we near the end of season two, I rejoin my Rewatch blog commitment. It will give me something to write about that isn't COVID related, at least.

See you next entry . . . when we deal with the immediate aftermath of What Michael Did.

COV112D-19: PARTY MONTH #2--Happy Birthday Lynda

Party Month is a merciless time. As soon as you settle into one celebration and give it your all, you've got another one looming in the background. If you don't keep your head on a swivel, you'll be blind-sided and unprepared for what and who comes next.

Last weekend, we took some time to cheer Grace and her excellence. And I wish that we could keep that up for days and weeks on end. But if you do that then you run the risk of not giving Lynda her due. So we must also raise our voices to point out how wonderful Lynda is and take a brief and inadequate moment to remember how great she is.

(And yes, I recognize that I didn't post this yesterday--on Lynda's actual birthday. I got caught up in my own merciless march of things.)

But post I will, because Lynda is such an important part of this family: a strong voice of love and commitment. A person who has fierce view of herself, of us, and of our power and potential. Let's face it--the Martins have a tendency to hang back, to be cautious, to move carefully. But Lynda has always been strong and confident in her beliefs and in her role as a creator of change and success. She pushes my hesitation boundaries and helps me be better at the things I know I should do.

But it's not all work and tasks! Lynda is always looking for ways to have fun and bring happiness into life. She is never content to just let things be--she is actively trying to make good things better.

So, happy birthday to you, my friend, my wife, and my partner through so much of the uncertainty of right now. As I said to you a few days ago--we're learning how to parent all over again . . . but this time with teenagers and young adults rather than with children. It's extremely different! That is something that we are coming to realize. But I'm so happy that I am doing it with you.