Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Buffy the Vampire Slayer classic recap: “Halloween” (S2E6)

In honor of the day, here's a BTVS recap. God, how I miss this television show.

We open in Pop’s Pumpkin Patch, two days before Halloween. The Slayer is fighting some nondescript vampire. Her hair up and she looks pretty style-y for a work night. Unbeknownst to her, she’s being videotaped by another vampire. Finally, she stakes her opponent with a signpost and the A/V vampire backs slowly away without confronting her.

Credits – everyone’s young and thin. Nerfherder rocks.

Angel waits for Buffy at the Bronze; Cordelia decides to take advantage of his down time. She looks great and Buffy agrees with my observation when she finally shows up, hay all through her sweaty hair. “Love the hair. It just screams street urchin,” snarks Cordelia. Buffy can’t deal and bails on her date with Angel, over his protests. She wishes she could be a girlie-girl with nail polish. Now, I’ve pretty much never seen Buffy without nail polish in all of seven seasons, so maybe she should pick something else to mope about.

At school the next day, Principal Snyder “volunteers” Buffy, Xander and Willow to escort grade schoolers on their trick-or-treating. Xander is so skinny! Snyder also says costumes are mandatory and the Scoobies slouch away, grumbling. Buffy was hoping for a night off as most evil lurking things think the humans’ Halloween is gauche, not a “big ol’ scare-a-palooza,” as Xander thought. When Xander goes for a soda, bully Larry picks a fight with him until Buffy slams the bigger boy into the soda machine, effectively saving Xander from a beating, but hurting his rep as a macho man. “Poor Xander,” sympathizes Willow, “Boys are so fragile.” The girls go on to discuss Buffy’s failed date: Willow is positive that Cordelia is not Angel’s type, but Buffy wishes she knew what his type was as she really knows next to nothing about him. They decide that stealing the Watcher Diaries from Giles is their best bet at reading up on Angel’s history; Buffy hilariously distracts Giles while Willow sneaks into his office. Buffy looks really pretty in this scene.

In the girls’ bathroom, Buffy and Willow read the Diary and find a sketch of a well-dressed noblewoman circa 1775 (i.e. when Angel was 18 and still human). “Being beautiful was sort of her job,” muses Willow. Buffy fantasizes about dressing up in gowns, and having servants, and horses, and more gowns. Just then, Cordelia comes in to freshen up her lipstick. She wants to know the scoop on Angel. They tell her he’s a vampire, and she scoffs: “The cuddly kind? Like a Care Bear with fangs?” She goes on to say that while Buffy is obviously trying to scare away the competition, it won’t work. “Buffy, you may be hot stuff when it comes to demonology or whatever, but when it comes to dating, I’m the slayer.” Buffy looks glum.

After school, Buffy and Willow shop for Halloween costumes in a new costume shop, Ethan’s. Willow picks out a ghost sheet and Buffy rolls her eyes: Halloween is for “come as you aren’t.” Willow shakes her head, insisting “Wild on me equals spaz.” Xander joins them with his toy gun purchase: he’s going to be a soldier since he’s already got the fatigues at home. When Buffy sees a gorgeous pink ball gown costume (“Too bulky,” says Xander, “I prefer my women in spandex.”), the shop owner helps her try it on. She’s enraptured by the thought of getting to be a frilly girlie-girl for a change.

At the factory, Spike (yay Spike!) and Drusilla watch the videotape of Buffy fighting. Spike notes that the Slayer is resourceful and is not to be underestimated. Dru gets a vision: some dark magic is going to change everything on Halloween, and it’s going to make Buffy weak. Spike is super-psyched even though he’s not that pleased about going out on Halloween. Cut back to the costume shop: the shop owner is in the back room, chanting, offering a sacrifice to a Chaos god. I’m thinking he’s the dark magic that’s going to cause some trouble.

It’s Halloween afternoon at the Summers house. Buffy looks lovely in her ball gown and fancy wig. Willow is dressed in a sexy Goth-ish outfit: leather miniskirt, midriff-baring top, tall boots, plenty of eye makeup. She looks completely hot and Buffy tells her so: “I can’t wait for the boys to go non-verbal when they see you!” Willow looks horrified. The doorbell rings and Buffy goes to answer it; when Xander sees her costume, he “completely renounce[s] spandex.” Willow joins them, under her ghost-sheet and Buffy just shakes her head. At school, the gang picks up their little kids. Cordelia is looking quite sexy in a kitty-cat unitard. She finds Oz (yay Oz!) and asks him where Devon is. Oz: “Cordelia. You look like a great big cat.” Cordelia: “That’s my costume.” As she sashays off, Oz rolls his eyes, muttering, “Why can’t I meet a nice girl like that?” He turns, and immediately runs smack into Willow in her ghost-sheet. They miss the obvious, apologize to each other and move on without a second look.

Everyone is out trick-or-treating just as the costume shop owner hits his stride. The Chaos statue’s eyes glow green, the wind rises and Hell breaks out all over Sunnydale (not the Hellmouth, just a general sort of Hell). Little kids in monster masks change into actual mini-demons. Xander staggers and when he turns around, his bearing is completely different and his gun is real. Willow faints; when she gets up, she phases through her ghost sheet to stand in her sexy outfit. Willow has an impressive six-pack tummy for a ghost! She runs to Soldier Xander, but he doesn’t know her any more and, when he moves to grab her arm, she phases through him as well. Being the smart one, Willow quickly figures out that everyone has turned into his or her costume. “We need to find Buffy!” she insists. Just then, the Slayer wanders up and, like a girlie-girl in a ball gown, faints at the sight of the marauding monsters.

When she comes to, Buffy thinks she’s really a noblewoman from 1775. Shrieking, she hides behind Xander as a car approaches, and he wonders if she’s insane. Willow explains to Xander that Buffy is from the past and has never seen a car. He ponders this, adding “And you’re a ghost. Just want you to know that I’m taking a lot on faith here.” Deciding to seek shelter, Willow takes them back to Buffy’s house – luckily Mrs. Summers is out. When Buffy finds photographs of herself, she gets upset, saying she doesn’t like this place, she doesn’t like Willow and she just wants to go home. Then she bursts into tears. Willow turns away, frustrated: “She couldn’t have dressed up like Xena?” Tell me there hasn’t been fan-fiction written about that!

Xander is guarding the door when he hears a girl screaming. He runs out to help and finds Cordelia being chased by a monster. After he brings her back to the house, Cordelia wants to know what’s going on. Willow explains: “Okay, your name is Cordelia, you’re not a cat, you’re in high school and we’re your friends. Well, sort of.” Cordelia snaps, “That’s nice, Willow, and you went mental when?” She is furious, her cat costume having been shredded, and complains that Party Town won’t give her her deposit back. Willow tells Cordelia that Buffy and Xander have a sort of amnesia and then heads out for more help, phasing through the wall instead of using the door. That would be so very fun. Outside, chaos is rampant. Spike is walking around in full vamp-face, grinning, “Well, this is just … neat!”

At the Summers home, Xander is barricading the windows when he finds a photo of himself with Buffy and Willow. He guesses that Willow must be right – they must have amnesia. Buffy is huffy: “I don’t know what that is but I’m sure I don’t have it. I bathe quite regularly.” Just then Angel walks in, glad to see them. “Who are you?” Buffy and Xander ask in unison. Cordelia brings him up to speed: “They don’t know who they are, everyone’s turned into a monster – it’s a whole big thing.” The lights go out and as the gang splits up to check things out, an invading vampire tries to grab Buffy (ahem - how did that vampire get in without an invitation?). Angel fights the other vampire but in doing so he slips into his own vamp-face. Buffy, not expecting that in the least, screams and runs out the door.

Giles is cross-referencing his card catalog at the school library when Willow phases through the wall, startling him. He’s very British about it. They try to do some research on the situation at hand, although Willow complains, “I don’t even know what I’m looking for. Plus, I can’t turn the page.” They talk it through until Willow realizes that they all got their costumes at the same place (Ethan’s) … except for Cordelia, who didn’t turn into her costume. Giles glowers meaningfully at Willow upon hearing the name “Ethan.”

The gang is searching for Buffy in some back alleys, Angel urging them to hurry since Buffy is unable to defend herself in this state. As they move past, Spike and his gang of demons step out of the shadows. Spike is thrilled at the news about the Slayer’s incapacity. It’s now a race as to who can find her first. Giles and Willow go to Ethan’s shop and discover the back room with its candles and spooky glowing statue. Ethan oozes out to meet them and Giles sends Willow away sternly. “Hello, Ethan,” he says. Ethan grins, “Hello, Ripper.” Ooh – that’s intriguing!

In the alley, a pirate (Larry the high school bully) is menacing Buffy until the gang rescues her. Xander knocks Pirate Larry out and notes, “It’s strange, but beating up that pirate gave me a weird sense of closure.” Willow catches up to the gang. She reports that Spike is on the hunt, and they all run for shelter, Angel swooping a fluttering Buffy into his arms. Back at the costume shop, we learn that Giles and Ethan are acquaintances from a long time ago. Giles chides himself for not recognizing this chaotic spell as something Ethan would orchestrate. Ethan scoffs, saying it’s no big deal, just an “embodiment of ‘be careful what you wish for.’” Giles shakes his head, saying the spell is brutal and is harming innocent people. Ethan insinuates that Giles may not be as much of a white-hat as he appears, noting that the Slayer and her friends must have no idea of Giles’s apparently sinister past. Giles has had about enough and starts to administer a serious beat-down. He’s a tweed-wearing badass - who would have thought it possible?

The Scoobies try to hide in a warehouse but Spike and his demon minions trap them. While the demons hold Angel and Xander back, Spike advances on Buffy who can do nothing but whimper and cry. Leering, he slaps her and, with his hands deep in her hair, bends her head back, his fangs bared. At the costume shop, Ethan can’t take any more pain and tells Giles that breaking the statue will break the spell. Giles throws the statue to the floor, shattering it. At the warehouse, Xander breaks free and lunges for his gun; he aims it at Spike, but it has turned back to a toy - the spell is gone. The little demons are no longer demons, but sobbing children yanking off their masks. Spike looks down: he’s holding a black wig and Buffy pops up, blonde again. “Hi, honey,” she chirps, “I’m home.” Not at all hampered by her ball gown, Buffy starts pounding on Spike, quipping, “It’s good to be me!” Finally, he’s had enough and takes off.

The Scoobies regroup but Willow is missing. She’s been teleported back to her ghost sheet across town. She thinks about putting it back on but changes her mind, and strides off home, head held high. As she crosses the street, Oz, driving his van, sees her. “Who is that girl?” he marvels. Just you wait, my friend. It’s going to be the love story of the century. Back at Buffy’s house, Angel asks Buffy why she thought he’d like her better dressed like that. He tells her that he hated the girls back in the 1700s, “simpering morons, the lot of them.” He likes her just the way she is. Aww. The next morning, Giles stops by Ethan’s shop. He finds it deserted, cleaned out. But Ethan has left a note: be seeing you. Excellent - recurrent evil is always fun!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pumpkin and Coconut "Panna Cotta" - from Pim

I read only a couple of food blogs on a regular basis. The one I visit most often is Chez Pim - this woman has a dream life of cooking, eating, travelling for food and writing about all of it. The photographs on her blog are gorgeous.

I've never attempted any of her recipes before since she seems to do a lot of complex French and Asian stuff and I'm just not that good a cook yet. This recipe was timely, however, and had just a few ingredients, all of which were already in my kitchen. (I tend to gravitate towards short recipes.) I used canned pumpkin puree and so my end result did not turn out as brightly colored as hers, but I still think it's tasty. I poured the pumpkin mixture into little individual pre-cooked tart crusts so now my fridge is full of mini-pumpkin pies - so cute! It's definitely different from traditional Thanksgiving-type pumpkin pies because there's no pumpkin pie spice, but the coconut milk adds a silky richness. I never would have thought to pair pumpkin and coconut together - Pim is so clever!

I'm going to take a bunch of the little tartlets into work tomorrow and let my co-workers be my guinea pigs; Mr. Mouse is uninterested in dessert unless it's ice cream. I even poured one into a crust-free ramekin to accomodate my gluten-allergic friend!

Shamelss self-promotion!

One of my recent posts was picked up by on Saturday, thanks to the good folks over at I'm practically famous! It's all very exciting (for me). I appreciate the phone calls and e-mails I got today from all y'all - thank you.

If you get the chance, take a moment to page through the Blogcritics site. There are bloggers from pretty much everywhere posting about pretty much everything ... and doing it pretty much articulately and with decent punctuation skills. They've got eleven of my posts up there and have been good to me so far: I wouldn't have made it onto without them. Support your local blogger!

P.S. Another Deadwood recap is coming soon, AND I just got my Veronica Mars Season 3 DVD set yesterday, so hopefully I can start on those without much delay.

Heroes recap: “The Line” - airdate 10/29/07 (S2E6)

The dropping: Peter thinks Veronica Mars has crossed the line, murdering his new girlfriend's brother. Claire crosses the line from good girl to kind-of-mean girl. Mohinder approaches the line, then digs his heels in, refusing to compromise his principles - which would be more impressive if he wasn't a total wuss. Hiro crosses the line and gets fresh with Kensei's sweetie. Mr. Bennet's mentor draws a line in the sand ... and then Bennet pretty much just bulldozes right on through.

Peter and Caitlin are at the pub, mourning crispy Ricky. Peter swears revenge on Ricky’s murderer, deciding that heading to Montreal is the way to go, seeing how he has no other leads. Caitlin says she’s coming with, “to kill the bitch.” Back in sunny So Cal, Claire does not make the cheerleading squad due to the evilness of the head cheerleader, Debbie, of whom the rest of the squad is afraid. Monica has gone with Mohinder to the Company’s lab in New York and is acing all the physical tests they give her. Her ability has a name: adoptive muscle memory. Ned Ryerson (OK: “Bob”) tells Mohinder that the next step is to inject Monica with a mutation of the virus (that can kill the Heroes). Mohinder is outraged at the thought of treating Monica like a lab rat, but Bob says they need to test for the greater good, especially when there are some Heroes out there with really dangerous powers who should be put down. When Mohinder calls Mr. Bennet to complain, Mr. B basically says suck it up, you candy ass – we sometimes have to do bad things. He hangs up on the whiner and then he and the Haitian invade the home of a Russian guy named Ivan. That’s original. “We need to talk,” says Mr. Bennet in a scary Russian accent. I mean, he uses a scary voice and speaks in Russian. I don’t know if the accent is scary or not.

As Claire mopes about not making the squad, West suggests that they use their powers and get some sweet revenge. When she says that her dad told her to lay low and doesn’t West have to listen to his parents, he scoffs, “Claire, I can fly. That makes the whole parental guidance thing a non issue.” Claire is unsure but is succumbing to his less than upright wiles. They decide that public humiliation of Debbie is the way to go. Meanwhile, the Mexican road trip crew is approaching the U.S. border; Sylar is totally skeeving on Maya and she too is succumbing to his wiles. Alejandro wants to dump Sylar and hire someone to get them across the border but Maya says that all three of them will cross together. Ando returns to the scroll-doctor and they pick up where they left off. Unfortunately, feudal Japan is no less boring now than it was last week. Seriously, who thought that this would be an interesting storyline? The only time it’s interesting is when David Anders is on screen and this week he gets way less screen time than Hiro does. Hiro, Kensei and Yaeko decide to attack the army to rescue her dad. We know already. I’m bored.

Mr. Bennet asks Ivan where the last series of Isaac’s paintings are. Ivan is, at first, unimpressed, saying he knows all of Bennet’s tricks, seeing how he was the one who trained Mr. B and “[his] invisible partner, Claude.” I miss Claude – he was cranky and Christopher Eccleston is cool. Where was I? Mr. B tells the Haitian to start selectively deleting Ivan’s memories of his wife as a means of motivation. Mmm – an ad for Welch’s grape juice. I have to go get more wine – be right back. Okay: Ivan tries to appeal to Mr. B’s sense of family and says that if he comes back to work for the Company – which has changed since Eric Roberts was killed and is now under new directives – Ivan will make sure Mr. B’s family is protected. Mr. B pauses, considering.

Mohinder brings the evil injection to Monica and suavely convinces her to take it, but at the last minute he can’t go through with it. He storms into Bob’s office and trashes the glass cabinet holding the virus. “I’m taking Molly and I’m leaving!” he over-emotes. Maya, Sylar and Alejandro drive through a terribly convenient hole in the border fence and are immediately surrounded by heavily armed men. Sylar tells Maya to keep driving, purposely working her into a frenzy. He tells her to use her “gift” to get them past the border patrol. Alejandro is horrified as his sister’s eyes turn black – on purpose! The border patrol keels over, dead, and Maya drives through, Sylar gasping next to her. North of the border in Costa Verde, California, Claire takes a meeting with head cheerleader Debbie, who is busy drinking schnapps and humiliating chubby cheerleaders with a Sharpie. Just then, West, disguised in a ski mask, flies in and scoops Claire up, then drops her on the steps, broken and bleeding. Debbie completely wigs, screaming. I get that, I really do. But schnapps? Looks like peppermint. Ugh.

Hey – best part of this episode so far? We haven’t seen Peter and Caitlin since the very beginning! My friend Kevin C. has pointed out that this season has demonstrated that Milo Ventimiglia is not much of an actor vís á vís the whole tormented amnesiac thing. He’s sure pretty though.

When we come back from the break, the cops are interviewing Debbie who is slurring that a flying masked man killed Claire. Claire walks up and totally faces Debbie who then gets busted, in front of the whole cheer squad, for underage drinking. Back in 1671, Kensei, Hiro and Yaeko find and free her father. Who is he? He looks so familiar! He says he can’t leave until he destroys the guns he made for White Beard. Hiro points out that if the guns aren’t destroyed, they’ll change Japan’s history, ruining the way of the samurai. Kensei is on it. In the Company, Bob apologizes to Mohinder. He’s totally playing Suresh, who falls right into it. Bob offers an intermediary of sorts, to work with Mohinder and makes sure that there are no further misunderstandings. Also, there’s mention of a new Hero, Adam Monroe, who Bob says is dangerous. I’m thinking Mohinder will be sent after him next?

Fighting in Japan. To save Yaeko from being shot, Hiro teleports her away. Instead of having the correct response for a 1671 Japanese woman to such an action (i.e. FREAKING OUT), Yaeko immediately figures out that Hiro is the puppet master behind Kensei and she loves him, not the cute blond Englishman. They smooch, although’ Hiro knows it’s a bad idea – he just can’t help himself, being in love with her and all. Unfortunately, Kensei sees them kissing and gets a little cranky about it. In the modern day borderlands, Alejandro is scuffling with Sylar. Maya breaks it up and says they need to stay with [Sylar]; Alejandro is all, fine, but I’m not helping you if your eyes turn black again. As Maya moves out of earshot, Sylar tells Alejandro – who doesn’t speak English – that as soon as he can, he’s going to kill the twins and take their delicious powers. And if he can’t, it’s okay because Maya is proving very malleable, “a shiny little toy.” Creepy.

Debbie gets suspended from the cheer squad as a result of the on-campus drinking so Claire makes the team. West is all smug about it. In the Ukraine, Mr. Bennet figures out that the way to get Ivan to tell them what they want to know is to threaten to delete all the memories of the man’s dead daughter since that’s all he has left of her. Ivan tells them where Isaac’s paintings are and then Bennet reminds us all of what a goddamn badass he is and shoots Ivan in the head. Jack Coleman is stone cold here. Right on!

Kensei confronts Hiro about kissing Yaeko. Hiro backs down and says that fixing the future is more important than his love life, and they set off to do more great deeds … until Kensei whacks him in the back of the head, knocking him out. White Beard (who actually has a black beard with a white streak) walks up, Yaeko and her sword smith dad in chains, and asks Kensei what he wants as his reward. Kensei stares at Yaeko, then her dad, and then just walks off. Bob has returned Monica to her home in New Orleans, promising her support, advice and a brand new iPhone, fully loaded with everything from martial arts to plumbing. “You have an amazing gift,” he tells her, “Look around. Seems this town could use a little amazing.” Monica thinks that he’s not wrong and thanks him.

Did anyone else think that the girl walking out of the dark towards Mohinder was Elle? I was SO hoping she’d just FRY Mohinder – I’d read somewhere that a Hero was going to die soon, although in hindsight I guess he doesn’t really count. But no, it’s Niki who says she is all better and is Mohinder’s new partner. By the way, it’s totally got to be Jessica there and not Niki. I think they “cured” her by getting rid of Niki – which would be fine, because Niki was a big whiner.

The Haitian and Mr. Bennet have found the paintings: a hand holding a wand (or a syringe?); a blonde woman battering at a door (Jessica? Claire? Elle?); an angry, unshaven dark-haired man (Alejandro?) with a gun; Mr. B with the bullet hole in his eye; Kensei and Hiro fighting. What does it mean, muses Mr. B. And then we segue to Montreal, where Peter and Caitlin have found the doorway from the painting Peter did. They go inside – it looks like it’s full of theater props – and Peter finds a note addressed to him from that Adam Monroe. The note says, “We were right about the Company. The World is in danger. It’s up to Us.” Adam needs to work on his capitals. Peter is angry, confused, doesn’t know what is going on. He and Caitlin hug (bleh) and he mutters, “Please tell me who I am, what the future holds.” Suddenly they’re in front of an obvious green screen of NYC, not post-apocalyptic per se, but empty of people for sure. Peter finds a Homeland Security flyer that reads: Mandatory Evacuation Notice, June 14, 2008. “This is next year,” Peter goggles.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Book review: A Good Dog – The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life by Jon Katz

Finally, another book review! This title was on my August vacation reading list but I didn’t get around to it until our October plane ride to Utah.

I don’t usually read non-fiction. I am a fiction-person all the way - the more complicated the plot or unusual the characters’ name, the more I like it. However, I am also a dog-person and a book-person and so when I saw A Good Dog – The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life on the 3 for 2 table, I just couldn’t help myself. Jon Katz has written no less than six books and innumerable columns about dogs. This book is about the dog that broke his heart.

Katz’s dog Orson was a border collie, adopted by Katz at the age of two after flunking out of the obedience competition circuit. Katz had always had dogs – gentle, clunky Labrador retrievers as well as intense border collies – but nothing prepared him for Orson, a complex and needy dog. All border collies are highly instinctive with a fervent drive to work; this makes them less than ideal city dogs, despite their seemingly manageable size. Border collies were bred to work, mostly to drive flocks of sheep and, in lieu of woolly minions, have been known to herd cats, other dogs and small children. When he adopted Orson, Katz knew his new project would need training to do his herding job; after many frustrating failures, he realized that Orson was too tense and excitable to be a good herder. After winning one participant’s ribbon in a beginners herding competition, Katz packed up his dogs and moved to a farm in upstate New York to give himself and Orson the peace they both needed: “…on our own farm Orson could … have all the space even a demented border collie could want.”

Orson was clearly a head-case (soon rocketing from placid to vicious at no provocation) but despite all the dog’s issues, Katz doted on Orson, and believes that Orson loved him back. The dog always stayed within inches of him, riding in the car with his head on Katz’s shoulder, lying on his feet when Katz was writing. Katz was determined to help his dog, regularly visiting a holistic vet for acupuncture treatments and warily establishing a relationship with a shamanic healer. But poor Orson spiraled down and down until he attacked three different people in separate instances, injuring two of them quite badly.

Katz knew he had three choices: give Orson away to someone else who had less contact with people than he did; keep Orson a virtual prisoner, secluded from all other people and dogs; or put the poor boy down. Although none of the victims ever asked him to do so (and, in fact, many of his friends told him not to), a heartbroken Katz made the hardest, most horrible decision a dog owner will have to make, feeling he’d failed his dear, troubled friend. Afterwards, Katz went into a deep depression for months, kept going only by his other two dogs, until he finally decided to write Orson’s story.

Katz’s writing is clear and visual, unsentimental and yet affectionate. It’s a quick read and each chapter starts with lovely black and white photographs of Katz’s dogs and other farm animals. He writes in the afterword, marveling a little bit, that the reading public had strong reactions to this book, not out of concern for the three people Orson bit, but because he put a healthy dog down. Some of the responses were outrage but more often it was sympathy and sad understanding. It must have been an extremely difficult story for Katz to tell, and he says he did the best he could for his dog, feeling “secure, if not happy, with his actions.”

A Good Dog struck very close to home for me. I’ve had to put one dog down, a golden retriever who was suffering with cancer in his foreleg, and while it was terribly sad, we had no other choice since he was in such pain. Currently, we own a dog with her own issues, having been adopted as a stray when she was around three years old. We have to manage her, making certain not to put her in situations where she’ll fail. Becky does not like other dogs, children make her nervous and she is intensely motivated by food – all things that impose restrictions on our life with her - and yet alone at home with us, she is gentle and goofy and loving.

I mentioned that I don’t usually read non-fiction at the start of this review. Well, I definitely don’t read non-fiction that makes me cry and yet there I was, finishing A Good Dog on a recent plane trip to Utah, tears pouring down my face. In fact, as I’ve been writing this review, I started crying again. I very much identify with Katz and hope that the decision he had to make is one I never will.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Baffled, I tell you

Mr. Mouse was working late tonight so, rather than watch My Name Is Earl and The Office without him (I don't like to do that as those two shows are on the very short list of shows we both like to watch), I thought I'd give Smallville a try.

I haven't watched Smallville for years and years ... and all the reasons why came back to me in a rush. What an steaming pile of poo that show is. The acting is bad, the writing is bad and there's no suspense. The only things going for it are a bunch of pretty people and the continuing popularity Superman has as an American icon. I cannot believe this drivel is still on the air - who is watching it? When I think of all the intelligent, well-written, GOOD shows that have gotten the axe ... I'm just bewildered by it all.

Best part of my evening's television-viewing: seeing Ellsworth (actor's name: Jim Beaver) guest-starring on Supernatural. I love Ellsworth.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Deadwood recap – “E.B. Was Left Out” (S2E7)

Recap x Deadwood = lots of bad language ahead. (That's about as math-y as I get.)

The dropping: Charlie drops a load of whup-ass on Wolcott and folks drive themselves crazy trying to figure out why. Bullock and his baby-mama have a quick meeting and everyone's clothes stay on, thank you. Jane is largely missing from this episode and I miss her. Al continues to be smarter than everyone else put together. Oh - and E.B. gets left out.

It’s nighttime in Deadwood. Al discovers that an upstairs passageway connects the Gem and the newspaper office. Like he’s just figured that out – please. Al knows everything, including how to snap Merrick out of the blue study he’s in after the vandalism of his newspaper (and the subsequent departure of the schoolteacher – she didn’t stick around long!). Charlie rides back into town, I’m assuming after delivering the surviving whores to wherever they went. Cy smarmily asks Li if he uses pigs as well for the disposal of bodies, but Li’s not saying. Joanie comes back into the Bella Union, repaying the bartender the $1,400 she borrowed from him last night, plus an extra $100 as thank you, then goes in to talk with Cy. After determining that Wolcott did, in fact, kill the three women, she wants to bury the remains. Cy tells her that there are no remains. Poor Joanie.

E.B. arrives at the Gem per a summons from Al, who instructs him to ask Mrs. Garrett if Al can call on her later today. E.B. asks what about and Al, cranky from exercising his stroke-weakened leg, nearly takes his head off. Alma is only slightly less vicious to E.B. when she gives him her reply that Al may attend her later that afternoon. A distraught Joanie stops by the freight office and tells Charlie what happened at the Chez Ami last night. She asks him not to do anything about it: “It’s a secret, Charlie, it’s only between us. I told you as a friend.” “And that’s how I took it,” he says gently, “Don’t ever walk past me.” Then he awkwardly gives her a hug. Joanie doesn’t know how to respond at first – I suppose a man has never yet touched her without sex factoring into it. Later, while in line for lunch at the hotel, Wolcott is in front of Charlie who picks a fight with him – ostensibly for stomping on his toes. It’s ugly and terribly humiliating for Wolcott as he ends up face down in the muck, getting his ass literally kicked. Observing the altercation, Cy mutters to his lackeys, “I’ll be at Swearengen’s place,” and heads over there. Bullock runs out and drags Charlie off Wolcott.

When E.B. returns to the Gem to apprise Al of the time of his meeting with the widow, Al asks him about the fisticuffs in the street. Surprisingly, E.B. doesn’t know much, mentioning the alleged toe-stomping. “If Utter has corns, that might could set him off,” offers Johnny. That it could, Johnny, for sure. Dan busts in next, announcing Cy’s presence downstairs and Al goes down to meet with him. Cy tells Al that he thinks Wolcott should be more or less above the standards set for the rest of the hoopleheads, seeing how he’s connected to George Hearst and all. Al says he’ll set up a meeting of the camp’s powers that be. I foresee canned peaches in the near future! After dragging Charlie into the hardware store, Bullock tries to get a straight answer to no avail: Charlie won’t talk about it. Doc examines Wolcott and diagnoses some broken ribs; he also updates Wolcott as to the identity of his assailant - the best friend of Wild Bill. Wolcott considers this and then asks Doc to tell Charlie that he has Wild Bill’s last letter and will give it to him. Doc raises an eyebrow: “If I deliver this message, will there be a renewal of the violence?” Wolcott chuckles, wincing in pain: “Oh, I hope not, Doctor. I … I didn’t do well in the original.” Even crazy psychos can make jokes!

Al gets all tidied up and crosses the thoroughfare for his meeting with Alma. This is the first time they’ve met, in a season and a half, and it is super-fun. She is at her icy best and he has an extremely difficult time keeping a civil tongue – she calls him on the carpet for every “fuck” he unwittingly utters. Al comes quickly to the point: Miss Isringhausen works for the Pinkertons and is out to implicate Alma in Brom’s murder. He explains that he really doesn’t like the Pinkertons and thus is likely to side with the widow rather than with Isringhausen. If Alma were to sweeten the deal with $50,000 (to match what the Pinkertons will pay him), then he’d be her man for sure. She says she’d like to think about it. As he takes his leave, she asks him what kind of tea he enjoys (following up on an earlier “I take tea” comment of his). Al turns and enthusiastically says, “I like that fuckin’ black Darjeeling!” and then cutely/flirtily goes “oh” and covers his potty mouth as she shakes her head. Downstairs Al hisses, “She’s a good fuck,” at E.B.’s nosy inquiry.

In attendance at the peach meeting are Al, Cy, Bullock, Sol, Doc, Charlie and Tom Nuttal. Cy maintains that Wolcott, working for whom he does, should not be beaten like any old hooplehead. (I love that word. If anyone can tell me its definition, I would be so grateful – heck, I don’t even know if it’s a real word.) Al wants to know what provoked Charlie, as do the others, but Cy bulldozes right over the issue, disclaiming any interest in what Wolcott may have done. This, of course, raises Al’s and Bullock’s suspicions, but no one – not even the sheriff – seems to want to pursue this further. Doc delivers Wolcott’s message to a perplexed and concerned Charlie. At the hotel, E.B. has a small rant about being excluded from the latest summit. His prying questions get him nowhere with Cy, who strolls in with the sheriff after the meeting ends. Hey – why wasn’t E.B. included? Everyone else was there.

Bullock immediately goes upstairs to see Alma. They are incredibly uncomfortable around each other and she’s a bit defensive, understandably, I guess. They chat about establishing the bank, Bullock finally lending his support, and then he asks if it would be better for her if he (and his family) left Deadwood. She’s annoyed with this question and says she will not make any such decision for him. Then she softens, asking, “Will you stay? Will she be certain to know?” Bullock won’t answer that, instead telling her “it becomes you,” as he leaves. Meanwhile, Cy is trying to ingratiate himself with (or exert some influence over) the wounded Wolcott, with no luck whatsoever. Trixie is in Al’s office when he returns, complaining about the nagging and harping going on during the accounting lessons at the hardware store. “Who’s harping - the Jew?” asks Al. Trixie is not amused, so he sends her back to keep an eye on things, saying, “Mind your decimals.”

Bullock and Sol are at their store, agreeing that they think Charlie’s beating of Wolcott was in retribution for Wolcott’s suspected involvement at the Chez Ami. Bullock also confirms the widow’s pregnancy and Sol’s expression is sympathetic and quizzical. There’s no time to discuss it further, however, since Trixie comes in … and apologizes for her bad behavior! She even offers the figurative peace pipe to Bullock, making some Biblical reference that I don’t get because I’m a damn heathen. Sol asks if she also has guidance for him. Trixie: “Tread lightly who lives in hope of pussy.” Turning away, Bullock raises an eyebrow and smiles.

Now, this is a little strange: Al is giving a soliloquy in his office, but he’s alone, talking to the rotting Indian head from last season – thankfully it’s wrapped in a brown paper package. He picks up the package and heads out to Charlie’s freight bidness, hoping to get more information. Jane has already shown up there, two days late, hung over and bruised. Charlie sends her inside to get cleaned up and she’s in such rough shape that all she says is “thanks.” Al shows up and does his charming best, but Charlie is unmoved, “I’m done fuckin’ talkin’ about it.” So Al heads back home, philosophizing “Every fracas ain’t a victory, Chief.” E.B. walks with him a bit, asking why he wasn’t allowed at the meeting. And Al gives him (and me) the answer (which I should have known, had I thought about it): if E.B. had been at the meeting, the urge to blackmail would have proved irresistible to him. “Am I still the mayor?” whines E.B. “For all of me,” quoth Al, “in perpetuity.”

Back at the Gem, Dan says he’s ready to go to Cheyenne to hire the muscle but Al says there’s no need any longer. He has figured out that Cy is no longer the golden boy of the Hearst machine – Cy just hasn’t figured it out yet. Cy finds Joanie, perhaps a little drunk and definitely trying to pick up tricks at the Bella Union, and tells her that she needs to move on. He’s not very nice about it, but I suppose he has a point: she better get her head on straight or she won’t last long here in this camp. Charlie has steeled himself and has come to Wolcott’s room. I have to watch this whole scene from behind my fingers because I am SURE that Wolcott is going to kill Charlie. He doesn’t, though: he asks enough questions to get Charlie riled up, but Charlie heatedly insists that he’s not going to tell anyone about what Wolcott did. That psycho believes him and hands over Wild Bill’s letter. Charlie leaves, subdued to be holding his friend’s last written words, and I breathe a sigh of relief. The final shot: Joanie sitting alone in the middle of the Chez Ami parlor, looking sad and so lost.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Deadwood recap – “Something Very Expensive” S2E6


The dropping: Al is back and having to make up for lost time. Bullock finds out whose daddy he is. Merrick experiences both love (well, not really) and loss (definitely) all in one day. Joanie has to have a Going Out of Business sale a little sooner than she'd hoped, thanks to Mr. W. (Not Mr. Wu, mind.)

In front of the Bella Union, Wolcott and Cy watch Li, Hearst’s Tong representative, drive into camp with a wagonload of something. Wolcott reassures Cy that this first stage of Hearst’s plan is almost complete. At the hotel, Alma has invited Sol to discuss the establishment of a bank. Sol is hesitant to become involved, and she insinuates that Bullock should put the good of the camp over his personal feelings about her. Then, in front of Sol and Ellsworth, she urps up her breakfast into the washbasin. Secret’s out! Back down on the street, Mr. Wu rips the cover off the wagon: it’s full of the new Celestial whores, whimpering and begging. Wu is infuriated, but powerless.

“You, Al, are an object lesson to the healing powers of obstinacy and hostile disposition,” says Doc, slightly in awe. Swearengen is ready to meet the world, and the world is lined up, waiting for him: E.B., Trixie, Tom Nuttal, Miss Isringhausen and Adams, Wu. E.B. tries to go in first but Trixie claims dibs. When E.B. complains as to her preference, she asks, “Anyone else suck his prick?” No one argues with her there. Commissioner Jarry has had it with the crazed Deadwood hoopleheads and is leaving camp, furious that Cy and Wolcott all but threw him to the mob. Wolcott wonders what report Jarry will make to Yankton. Cy: “That your money spends and I’m a dangerous man with whom to disagree … don’t that make us that very image that Mr. Hearst would want Yankton to make of him?” Wolcott seems to agree. When the stagecoach gets to camp, Jarry pushes his way on board, shoving the new schoolteacher, who is just arriving, out of his way. Merrick gallantly steps up to help poor Miss Stokes with her baggage and give her a tour of the camp.

Al meets with Trixie who tells him of the proposed bank to be established by Mrs. Garrett and run by Sol; E.B. confesses his part in the camp’s unsettlement over the gold claims and also informs him that it’s Hearst behind the scam; Miss Isringhausen reports that she is working for the Garrett family to implicate Alma in her husband’s murder and scoop up her gold claim, offering $50,000 for his assistance; Wu wants the situation with the San Francisco cocksucker dealt with. Downstairs, Ellsworth finds Trixie to tell her that Mrs. Garrett took sick in the meeting with him and Sol. Trixie then proceeds to demonstrate that she has paid close attention to the how-to-pull-strings-and-manipulate-people lessons Al was teaching. She explains to Ellsworth that Alma is pregnant and asks him if he would marry the widow to help her save face (and protect Martha and William Bullock from the humiliation). She has to spell it out for him but he finally gets it. “Would … would she fuckin’ have me?” he wonders. “I’d work on that next,” says Trixie.

At the hardware store, Bullock is furious that Sol met with Alma about the bank. Sol points out that Alma was the one who called the meeting and who proposed the bank, but Bullock won’t hear it and storms off. He goes to Nuttal’s bar where Steve (the mob leader) is pretty much shitfaced. The sheriff warns him off further murderous intent and cuffs him upside the head for good measure. Cy and Wolcott are finishing their business with the transfer of the gold claims and Cy starts in. It’s like he can’t help provoking people. He tells Wolcott that he knows about “Mr. W’s” sexual deviancies and wonders if Hearst would take interest in such knowledge. Wolcott completely insults him, but gets away with it because Hearst already knows all about Wolcott’s proclivities. Cy, having overplayed his hand, has no power over him. Wolcott storms out and Cy, rather than looking angry, looks like a cat that just swallowed a bowl of cream.

Wolcott strides purposefully towards the Chez Ami, talking rather madly to himself. He’s figured out that it was Doris who ratted him out to Cy and, when Maddie tells him Carrie is not currently available, says he’ll take her [Doris] instead. I think Doris’s storyline just ended. Joanie comes in and Maddie tells her that Wolcott is in with Doris. Joanie thinks that’s a bad idea but Maddie is all shaking and crazy-excited. Wolcott suddenly emerges from the back room and asks for Carrie, his right hand hidden behind his back. At the Bella Union, Cy tells Con Stapleton and Leon to go vandalize Merrick’s newspaper as a message for not having been impartial enough with regard to Jarry’s notice.

Joanie is even more upset once Carrie goes in. She should be: Carrie is in tears, staring at Doris who’s had her throat cut. Wolcott is completely calm. Carrie asks him if he knows how to kill her without it hurting. He doesn’t answer but grabs her and slits her throat with his straight razor, slicing right under her lacy choker. In the front room, Joanie can’t stand it anymore and says she’s going in. When she looks for her gun, Maddie pulls it on her, telling her to get out. Joanie runs to the Bella Union, crying. Wolcott comes out of the bedroom and Maddie asks him what he’s done. “Something … very expensive,” he says. She rises, pointing the gun at him, and then starts shouting that she wants $100,000 each year, for the rest of her life in exchange for having provided him with the girls to kill. She’s gone completely nuts. He steps up, grabs her hand and cuts her throat too. Joanie finds Cy and tells him that Wolcott is making trouble at her place. “Don’t you fuckin’ follow me,” growls Cy and heads out. Joanie borrows money from the bartender and sends Lila to Charlie’s for a wagon.

Al is now meeting with a very stoic Li. He tries to bribe him with $20,000 in gold but Li, in perfect English, says he doesn’t want it. “Good meeting you,” says Al, and Li leaves. Mr. Wu comes out from where he was hiding and Al tells him, in so many words, that this man is connected (to Hearst) and that he’ll have to think on how to proceed. He reassures Wu that Wu and “Swidgen” remain allied. Cy gets to the Chez Ami and finds Wolcott staring at dead Maddie. He promises to clean up the mess and now, my friends, Cy has some legitimate power over Wolcott.

Bullock apologizes to Sol for acting so irrationally earlier. Sol tells him that Mrs. Garrett (1) never once mentioned Bullock’s name, (2) wants the bank to better the camp, (3) wants Sol to run the bank and (4) seems to be with child. Dang – way to ease that into the conversation, Sol. Merrick is all but falling over himself showing the new schoolteacher around. When they get to his newspaper office, it’s in a shambles, totally wrecked and reeking of poo. Merrick finds Cy and accuses him of sending the vandals to destroy his newspaper and set a dog to shit all over the place. Cy: “I doubt they had a dog with them.” Eeeuw.

It’s a little tense at the Bullocks’ house for dinner. Martha and William try to fill the silences but all Bullock can think about is the fact that he may actually be a father. Luckily, we soon cut to Al’s room where Doc is checking on Al one more time before he calls it a day. After Doc leaves, Al tells Dan that they need to “muscle up” for whatever’s coming. He asks about Crop-Ear and Dan tightly says “he ain’t available.” Hee hee. Johnny and Dan maneuver Al over to the door to the balcony. He doesn’t want them to appear “as triplets” and sends them away, managing to limp out onto his usual perch under his own power. Joanie loads her remaining fancy whores onto Charlie’s wagon, covered by a blanket so no one can see them. She gives them $1,400 to share among themselves and tells them never to come back. As she walks back to her place, her eyes meet Al’s and he gives her a barely perceptible nod. She continues on and he stays on his balcony, glad to be back in his world.

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Shameless self-congratulations!

And very many thanks to the oodles and oodles of fans of this humble blog! This, my 100th post, is to note for posterity that I have been hit over 2,000 times since FMS's inception, according to the good folks at StatCounter.

I've had visits from folks from across the globe (including Singapore, Australia, the UK, Chile and Greece) which, if true, is just amazing to me. I've been Googled, mostly through Heroes searches, but also Veronica Mars, Cow Island and Bionic Woman searches. I've had 21 folks read here for more than an hour(!!), although most visitors - those who stay for more than 30 seconds - linger for 5-20 minutes.

Anyway, I'm really enjoying writing for this blog and if people get even a little entertainment out of it, then I'm thrilled. Thank you all for coming - please come back again soon and often. And leave me comments: how I'm doing, if you agree/disagree, special requests, etc. (I know, it's a pain to post a comment on blogger because you have to register, but I'd love to hear from you.)

Thanks again - next post is more Deadwood! - FM

Monday, October 22, 2007

Heroes recap: “Fight or Flight” - airdate 10/22/07 (S2E5)

The dropping: Monica adds double-Dutch jump rope to her list of superpowers. Nathan and Parkman start dealing with some of Parkman’s daddy issues and end up having a WAY better fight scene than the Peter vs. Sylar finale from last year. Mohinder has still not grown much of a spine, no matter how much I yell at the television. And Kristin Bell does her best Veronica Mars with a ‘tude impersonation – shocking! (Later, you’ll see just how bad that last attempted joke was.)

Ugh: we start with a Mohinder-voiceover. Luckily, my brain has adapted and I just don’t listen, although I think he gives us the episode title in there somewhere. Anyhow: Molly is still in her coma or whatever and Matt, feeling very guilty, decides to go after his father. He attempts to get more information out of Angela Petrelli before he goes, but instead runs into Nathan who wants to tag along. Matt points out that they could get there faster if Nathan would, you know, fly. Nathan: “I’m not a cargo jet.” Me: hee hee. In New Orleans, the police are asking Monica what happened with the would-be Burger Corral robber but she refuses to ID him, fearing reprisal. Her friend Camille is concerned about her, but Monica just can’t deal, saying she’s going home.

In Ireland, Peter and Caitlin suck face – at least then she’s not talking. (I think she needs her eyebrows waxed a little.) Little do they know that Veronica Mars is poking around down at the docks, looking for Peter, and the guy he almost TK’d to death earlier points her in the right direction. She works for The Company and has been sent to bring him back. And she has electric fingers. That’s not supposed to be dirty. (I apologize for calling her Veronica Mars but I don’t think we’ve been told her name yet.)

Caitlin’s brother Ricky shows up to inform Peter that an American girl is in town looking for him. Ricky then suggests that Peter and Caitlin lay low at Caitlin’s flat for a bit while Ricky handles the little blonde. Dude, you wouldn’t have wanted to tangle with her when she was just a high school PI – now she’s a natural born taser. Good luck with that. Parkman and Nathan bust into Parkman Sr.’s apartment, manhandling him into cuffs. Parkman Sr. insists that he’s in danger too and shows them his piece of the group photo with the red helix drawn over his face. Turns out he can read minds like his son – and more, but he won’t explain what the “more” is.

During the commercial break, I decide that even the trailer for Bionic Woman is lame. Could they have found a lead with less charisma?

Micah is playing the piano when Monica gets home. She sits beside him to enjoy the music and, before you know it, she’s playing too. It’s not just what she sees on television – this is even better! She wigs out until Micah, who really is smart, figures it out and shows her what he can do. He pulls out a St. Joan comic book (?) and says that he thinks his cousin is a “muscle-mimic,” basically a copycat. Monica likes the sound of that and they decide that the best, and most fun, thing to do would be to test out her newfound ability. Mohinder, panicking about Molly’s worsening condition, calls Mr. Bennet (who’s in the Ukraine with the Haitian) to say he’s taking Molly into The Company for help. Mr. Bennet thinks that’s a bad idea, reminding Mohinder that The Company is not to be trusted: “Remember whose side you’re on.” Parkman Sr. says he has some useful historical stuff from the first generation of Heroes. Like a dope, Parkman follows him into the other room, against Nathan’s better judgment. Bang – the door slams shut. The lights come up and Parkman is somehow locked in a jail cell, being roughed up by a burly guard. When Nathan busts down the door, he bursts onto the penthouse balcony in the middle of the apocalypse, NYC ruined and burning. Evil Parkman Sr. closes the door to his apartment, smirking “pleasant dreams” to the boys locked inside.

Oh crap, Ando and his secret scrolls. A couple of them have been damaged so he goes to some scroll-repair guy (like the sword-repair guy from last season that worked out so well) who is able to decipher the faded writing: Hiro and Kensei are getting along; Kensei is doing all the great feats he’s supposed to; and Kensei and Yaeko (that’s what her name is!) are falling in love. Whatever. Mohinder, that dumbass, has brought Molly into The Company and they hook her up to some IVs and a machine. Ned Ryerson then tells Mohinder that he needs to go into the field and collect another new Hero; he gives Mohinder a taser since sometimes the newbies have difficulty controlling their powers. Good thing he has that, because just then Jessica, the poster child for no self control whatsoever, busts down the door. She tosses Mohinder into the wall and starts choking Ned Ryerson until Mohinder drops her with a taser shot to the back. Convenient!

Peter and Caitlin get to her enormous studio flat with giant windows where, also conveniently (as we’ll see shortly), she is an amateur painter in her spare time. Peter decides he’s finally ready to open that box that holds all his past – and it’s a big let down, containing only his passport, some money, a photo of him with Nathan, and an open ticket to Montreal. Frustrated, he starts pacing until his eyes go white-visiony a la Isaac Mendes. He grabs a paintbrush – see, convenient! – and starts in on a canvas. Caitlin is pretty sure she doesn’t like his eyes all white like that. Down at the pub, Veronica Mars shows up, flirts a little with Ricky, and asks after Peter. Ricky is mostly polite but entirely unhelpful and she gets all voltage-y on his ass. Looks bad for old Ricky, methinks. When Niki comes to later, sans Jessica, Mohinder makes to free her from her restraints and bust her out. She stops him, saying she came to The Company of her own volition to be cured of her “sickness.”

This next scene is so very excellent. Nathan meets Alternathan (himself with the burned and scarred face) up on the NYC balcony. In his cell, Parkman’s ex-wife Janice and a baby suddenly appear. Janice says he abandoned the baby just like Parkman’s dad abandoned him, then the burly guard throws him against the wall. Alternathan taunts Nathan and they too start to fight. When Alternathan head butts Nathan, it cuts to the guard head butting Parkman. The shots cut back and forth between the two scenarios – Nathan punching Alternathan and the guard reeling back from the blow Parkman just dealt him, etc. - until we (and Parkman) figure out that Parkman Sr. has Nathan and Parkman actually fighting each other, believing they are fighting separate adversaries. Parkman snaps them out of it somehow and they awaken in the middle of Sr.’s apartment. It’s really cool so I rewind and watch it a third time. They regroup, aware that they don’t know where Sr. went – until Nathan finds Ned Ryerson’s photo with the red helix. “Looks like he’s next,” sighs Nathan.

Yawn: 1671 Japan. Kensei, Hiro and Yaeko get ready to battle some White Beard to rescue Yaeko’s father. Problem is, White Beard has such a hugenormous army that even Kensei can’t come up with something sarcastic to say. And suddenly the scroll ends, too badly damaged for Ando to read how the adventure ends. “But I must know what happens next!” he cries, getting all meta on us. Ando, if you’ve been following along, the other stories are much more interesting than Hiro’s, actually. In New Orleans, Monica and Micah confer again about their specialness and what they may be fated to do with their gifts. Just then, a knock at the door: it’s Mohinder. Apparently Monica is the newbie he’s been assigned to bring in. I hope she ends up kicking his ass for being such a weenie.

In Ireland, Veronica gets a call from the office. When she ‘fesses up to having killed Ricky (“just some guy,” as she puts it), she is ordered to return home. She gets all petulant: “I’m sorry, Daddy, it won’t happen again.” She must be Ned Ryerson’s daughter, poor girl. Peter snaps out of his vision-thing and he and Caitlin guess that the picture he’s painted is of some place in Montreal (since the street signs are in French), just like the plane ticket. Caitlin’s phone rings. Cut to the pub, where Ricky is charred to a cinder. Peter embraces a sobbing, flailing Caitlin, muttering, “I can’t hide anymore” and promising to find out who did this.

Can I just say that all these different storylines are a BITCH to recap. Of course, this seems to be more like comic book storytelling, using short snippets of narrative that are just enough to keep you wanting more when the action suddenly stops. Still, my attention span is pretty long and I find all this jumping around a little frustrating. Although I guess I should be grateful because it means minimal Mohinder. As you can see, I’m torn.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Deadwood recap – “Complications” (S2E5)


The dropping: Al is mending and oh how the camp (and the viewers) have missed him. Mrs. Garrett's hotel room is going to start getting crowded in about nine months. Jane makes a new friend with whom to drink, nurse and fire off really funny lines. George Hearst's crew makes great inroads in acquiring mining claims. We find out a little more about Miss Isringhausen's agenda (and get to see Adams half-nekkid, so that's good, at least in my book).

Uh-oh: Alma Garrett is puking into her washbasin first thing in the morning. It would seem that she and the good sheriff did not practice safe sex. The better news is that, on the other side of the thoroughfare, Al Swearengen is awake and lucid for the first time in ages. Dan is perched at his bedside, gazing fondly at his boss. Al grumps at him: “Did you fuck me while I was out?” “Hell, no!” “Then quit lookin’ at me like that.” Hee hee - I’ve missed Al. Doc and Johnny are also there, looking pleased as punch as well. Doc thinks that Al may have had a small stroke in addition to his other difficulties but he’s definitely mending better than expected. Al, however, mostly hopes that Bullock looks as awful as he does. It doesn’t take long before he is pumping his lackeys for information, to Doc’s consternation – Al needs to rest! The boys go downstairs to tend to business and Al tells Doc that if he doesn’t make a decent recovery, he expects Doc to kill him. Doc gets mad: “Don’t you put a fuckin’ clock on this.”

E.B. is practicing the speech he plans to give to Mrs. Garrett refusing her offer to buy the hotel. When she comes downstairs, however, he chokes and can’t manage to get it out. She borrows Richardson to escort her on some errands and E.B. picks up his recitation right where he left off. Commissioner Jarry drops by Merrick’s newspaper office with a notice to be published. Merrick’s initial jubilation at having something substantive to print soon turns to dismay when he reads the notice that, in sum, says that the presumption of ownership of the gold claims may be arbitrarily overturned. Merrick thinks this will have an “unsettling” effect on the populace; Jarry doesn’t care.

Mrs. Garrett finds Trixie at the hardware store and sends Richardson back to E.B., but not before he tells her she’s purty. Her skin almost visibly crawls with that statement. Trixie is almost glad to be interrupted in her accounting lessons when Mrs. G shows up. (For his part, Bullock’s spine seizes up.) The two women go outside to talk and Trixie, who is no fool, immediately asks if she is knocked up. Alma confirms her suspicion, adding that she’s been told that bringing a child to term may kill her, and Trixie says that she has a tea that will take care of things – has in fact taken care of seven of her own. The whore also asks the widow why she hasn’t gone to the doc. Alma replies that she feels Doc judges her. Get over it, Alma. Trixie sends her home, saying that after she “finishes her Jewish lessons” she’ll get to work on Alma’s problem.

I don’t really like Miss Isringhausen so I’ll just cut to the chase: she’s been hiding out in Adams’s room and, when he stops by in the morning to pick up a clean shirt, she jumps his bones. She is up to something for sure. Ah – a new character: a young black man, dressed in a ragged Union Army uniform. We’ll just call him N.G. for short as I draw the line at writing his actual name here. He has some sort of relationship with Hostetler, the owner of the livery, that I’m guessing will come into play later or possibly it’s just that the very few black residents of Deadwood need to stick together. At the Bella Union, Cy is counting out his cut from the Chez Ami that Doris has dutifully brought to him. As usual, Cy gets angry, this time thinking that Joanie and Maddie are paying him MORE than his agreed-upon cut just to make him think that they’re doing better than they are. Doris says that all the money is from one trick and finally confirms that it’s Wolcott; she also lets on that Wolcott may have some fairly deviant tendencies with regard to sex, which Cy is happy to learn. She is a complete dishrag, although her line readings are slightly better than pretty Lila’s.

Trixie stops by the Doc’s office to yell at him about going to check on Mrs. Garrett. She is ridiculously cranky and he snaps that she has as bad an attitude as Al. “I ain’t exclusive to him no more,” she non-sequiturs. Jane is perched on the bench outside of Charlie’s freight office and N.G. tries to buy her bottle of whiskey from her. She won’t sell it but she will share it with him, not caring whether he’s black or not. Their exchange is friggin’ hilarious and I can’t even try to quote it all. I love Jane. Ugh: Adams and Miss Isringhausen, post-coitally. She is playing him like a violin and he finally figures it out when she tells him she wants to meet with Al. “Why do I feel lucky we didn’t meet across from a poker table?”

Doc pays a call on Mrs. G, ostensibly to give Sophia her yearly exam. After some verbal sparring back and forth, Mrs. G consents to an exam for herself. Afterwards, Doc tells her that taking a pregnancy to term will be difficult (i.e. painful) but not dangerous to her or the child. She is shaken, having been told before that having children was not an option for her. At the Bella Union, Wolcott is paying Cy for all the claims Cy has bought. Commissioner Jarry comes by to update them on his successful dealings with Merrick. Leon then pops in to announce that the dealings were maybe less successful than the Commissioner thought: Merrick did not put the notice in the paper but posted it outside his office instead, and folks are all riled up. The conspirators think that perhaps they went too far and Cy goes to try to manage the situation.

At the Gem, Johnny reports the situation to Al who immediately sends Dan to fetch Bullock. Cy fans the flames of the mob who decide that the commissioner needs to be taught a lesson. Bullock arrives to see Al who is annoyed: “You got gall, comin’ before me prettier than ever.” But he gets to the point, saying that if harm comes to the commissioner, who is currently allied with Cy, Yankton will blame it on Al. Bullock figures the devil you know is better than the devil named Tolliver and heads to the Bella Union. He gets there just in time to save Jarry from the mob. I like it when Bullock uses his deep, gravelly don’t-screw-with-me voice. Once their erstwhile quarry has been whisked away, the mob comes back onto the thoroughfare, looking for a new scapegoat. Jane’s new drinking buddy sees the mob and bolts – why? Bullock takes Jarry to Charlie’s freight office where he’ll be put in the cell for his own safety.

Charlie informs Bullock that the mob has grabbed N.G., and they head out, Jane remaining behind to keep an eye on Jarry. When the commissioner complains that he’s thirsty, Jane tells him to “Lay on [his] back, take aim and piss.” I can’t really figure out why the mob is so angry with N.G. – I think it has something to do with the Union uniform he’s wearing. They strip him and begin the tarring segment of a tar-and-feather session. I can’t believe people did that to other people – it’s so horrible. They’ve tarred one of his shoulders when Bullock and Charlie arrive, guns drawn. Bullock fires into the air, ordering the crowd to disperse. When the ringleader, Steve, says that N.G. has motherfucked him, Bullock roars, in his great big voice, “I will motherfuck you … and I will blow your head off.” He is not kidding and the mob knows it.

Trixie is struggling with her accounting; Sol gives her the answer to speed things along to the carnal portion of the evening. Once again, Alma stops by to see Trixie, and they bond a little. Trixie asks her what she’s going to do and Alma says that her plan, at the moment, is to watch and wait (i.e. she’s going to keep the baby). Trixie tells her that she’s learning to do accounts and Alma says she’s delighted for her. Trixie then says she’s “also fuckin’ one of the owners,” to which Alma also expresses delight. Both these women so badly need a female friend and neither exactly knows how to go about it, but they’re making some progress. Wolcott reads Wild Bill’s last letter to Carrie. Yawn. I think this is trying to establish their relationship (as such) as normal (for Deadwood) so that we’re all the more shocked when he gets his crazy on. Let’s get to the crazy already – we know he’s not normal.

Doc checks in on Al again, impressed with the progress his patient continues to make. Bullock comes by to give his update; as the doc leaves, he admonishes them both to keep it “pithy and civil.” Al and Bullock agree that Yankton is moving against the camp, but Al points out that someone must be behind the politicians to give them such courage. When Bullock asks if it might be Cy Tolliver, Al disagrees, thinking it must be someone with a lot of power, from outside the camp, whom they don’t know about yet. Al promises that once he gets back on his feet, he’ll carry his share. Bullock replies that his money’s on Al. I really like how they dislike each other, yet recognize the need to work together for their own best interests and the interests of the camp. It’s a great relationship and both McShane and Olyphant do a lovely job together.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Deadwood recap – “Requiem for a Gleet” (S2E4)


The dropping: Miss Isringhausen is up to no good whatsoever and she's looking to drag my man Adams into it. Wolcott, also up to no good, keeps getting shadier and shadier. Mrs. Garrett is looking to go into the real estate development business, to E.B.'s dismay. At his wife's urging, Bullock finally consumates his marriage. And Al Swearingen will live to fight another day.

Bullock and Mrs. Bullock wake up in the same bed together, scarcely much more comfortable with each other than they’ve been. But, Mrs. Bullock, that sassy girl, suggests that they have some morning delight (but using an euphemism to indicate my euphemism – she calls it “a discussion”) and Bullock is both surprised and interested. I sure hope they’re able to call each other by their first names after they get nekkid. Out and about early, Wolcott has made his way over to suss out Mrs. Garrett’s mining operation. Ellsworth (yay!) sees him and, recognizing him from the Comstock, kicks him the hell off the widow’s property. This may be the first time I’ve ever seen Ellsworth actually angry, as opposed to just jealous.

In her hotel room, Alma watches, bored, while Sophia reads to her dolls. When there’s a knock at the door, she bribes the girl with candy to keep her quiet – nice parenting there, Alma. It is Miss Isringhausen and Mrs. Garrett, while managing to be more polite than last night, stands by her decision to sack the tutor. She gives Miss I a sizable severance package and sends her off. At the Gem, E.B stops by to get an update on Al. Dan’s got no time for any of his weasely bullshit, however, nor does he have much patience for some disgusting person who stops by to offer a business opportunity for Al. This guy’s nickname is “Crop Ear” – wonder how he got that one. Yuck. Dan is stalling, protecting Al’s incapacity as best he can, but he knows he’s out of his depth.

The stagecoach pulls in, bringing what I assume must be Wolcott’s current obsession since he springs to her side to greet her. She’s pretty, but bitchy from the get-go. Also on the coach is Ned Ryerson, a/k/a Hugo Jarry, Deadwood’s new county commissioner, who takes a room at the hotel and heads to the Bella Union. Cy is holding court there, already in the process of buying panicked prospectors’ claims. Joanie and Maddie are continuing their spat over at the Chez Ami: Maddie is furious that Joanie almost ruined things with Wolcott, but Joanie is more concerned about the ugliness looming on the horizon. “Something terrible is going to happen,” she pleads. Maddie snorts, “You don’t even know the girl he’s going to harm … you stay the fuck out of it.” Suddenly, the new girl, Carrie, flounces in: “This whole place smells like shit!”

Oh dear, another E.B. and Richardson scene. I’m guessing Richardson is just there so E.B. has someone to talk at and not have to give a strange soliloquy all to himself. Whatever – this time E.B. wails on about how he’s such a parasite. I’m moving on. Adams comes up to Dan at the Gem’s bar, again asking to see Al. When Dan puts him off yet again, Adams reports that Commissioner Jarry has arrived in camp and “intends to fuck Al up the ass.” Dan finally relents, needing to talk to someone – even his sworn enemy - and tells Adams that Al is in sore shape, maybe dying. Adams is shaken and apologizes for giving Dan a hard time; Dan nods, and promises to pass along Adams’s news if and when Al can handle it. Ellsworth finds Mrs. Garrett fluttering about in the hotel’s lobby. She’s worried about what she’s been hearing about the mining claims not being valid. Ellsworth reassures her that he believes the rumors are false, and that he thinks Wolcott is the source of the rumors so that his employer can snatch up all the gold. She is relieved and encouraged and, when E.B. approaches her (amazingly obsequiously and yet insulting at the same time) to attempt to buy her gold claim (in his assumption that she’s panicking like the rest of the hooples), she not only crushingly rebuffs him but also offers to buy his hotel. When he demurs, she asks if he is lying about the “peril” the camp is in. No, no! he exclaims, and so she insists on him making a price for her.

Breakfast at the Bullocks’ house: they call each other “Seth” and “Martha” – yay! Apparently the morning “discussion” went well. William wants to start a garden and his step dad sends him down to the hardware store for supplies; he cutely scoops up his oatmeal into his hands so he can eat it on the way. Back to Al’s room where the moment has come to make a decision. Doc tells Al and the assembled flunkies that there are two ways to operate: through the abdomen (which surgery Doc has personally witnessed, but not actually performed it himself) or from below, “cutting through his taint,” as Johnny puts it. He gives the impressive statistic of 4 men out of 10 surviving the topside surgery. Al is clearly past communicating so Dan makes the call: cut from above. Wolcott, Cy and Jarry meet at the Bella Union and Jarry explains that pretty much the mining claims will be handed out to those who pay the most. Cy suggests that in the meantime Jarry avail himself of the various girl-services offered at the saloon. Jarry perks right up at that. Trixie stops by the hardware store to let Sol know that she can’t come to her accounting lesson today, as worried as she is about Al. When Bullock comes in, Sol fills him in on Al’s condition and then they discuss setting up a bank in camp.

Back at the Bella Union, Wolcott explains to Cy the set-up for the new Chinese player in town from San Francisco, here to start a Celestial gambling and whoring operation in an attempt to oust Mr. Wu from his position of power in camp. Cy is fine with it, as long as he gets his cut. Trixie and Dan are drinking and smoking at the Gem, Dan waxing nostalgic that he was just like Crop-Ear, “a creature walking around on two legs,” before he met up with Al. Trixie ignores his soul search and makes him promise to help her burn the Gem down if Al dies and Cy tries to take it over. Wu comes in, wild to talk to “Swidgen.” Dan tries to figure out what Wu wants: “All right, there’s an invisible cocksucker next to you and he’s from San Francisco.” Hee hee. Doc is a wreck, his hands shaking as he tries to sterilize the instruments. “Jesus Christ! I do not need to kill another man!” he shouts before getting himself under control.

In a very strange turn of events, Miss Isringhausen invites herself into Adams’s room. He’s awkward, offering her “whiskey or water … that I just washed my face in.” She takes the whiskey and starts spilling her sad story to him. When she tells him that she thinks Mrs. Garrett may try to kill her, and professing to have evidence that Mrs. G killed her own husband, I decide that she’s not to be trusted and is playing him. What is she up to? Under Doc’s direction, Dan gets ready to tie Al to the bed while Trixie prepares a big dose of laudanum. Al starts groaning, rolling his eyes: he’s afraid of the surgery! They decide to give it one last try and grab onto him, Dan pinning him to the bed and Johnny shoving smelling salts up his nose. , Doc puts that probe back up his urethra and Trixie is told to “milk” the stone down and out of him. It’s awful: screaming, swearing, groaning, tears from everyone. Finally, gruesomely, the gleets come out. Everyone collapses in a big sweaty pile and Doc, sobbing with joy, thanks Al for saving him. Although I’m pretty sure it’s the other way around.

Wolcott is back at the Chez Ami. He rambles on and on about Greek mythology to a less than rapt audience of Maddie, Joanie and Carrie; the other whores stand around the perimeter of the room, facing the wall. Carrie is impatient. They are all impatient with him - “Take her in or get out,” snaps Maddie. He first snits that the paying customer should be indulged, then apologizes and goes into the backroom with Carrie. They talk a little, Wolcott wanting to know where she’s been. Carrie is snippy to the point of rudeness to him, but he takes it from her. “And you mustn’t hit me like you do the others,” she insists. “You’ve never displeased me,” is his reply. She straddles him and he is quickly done, but without even unbuttoning his pants. She rolls her eyes. As they put themselves back together, Wolcott says, “I gather Miss Stubbs has fucked a relative,” and Carrie replies, “It’s a big club.” Eew – I just got the horrific feeling that the two of them are related to each other. I’m sure I’m completely wrong. Because that would just be more than creepy enough.

Things are getting back to normal at the Gem, drinking, whoring, you know. Crop-Ear comes back, insisting on an audience with Al. Dan agrees, leading him up the stairs, and then just cuts his throat. “I don’t have the patience for this bullshit - I have had a tough fucking day!” But you’re handling the stress very well, Dan. The last scene is Al, lying on his back in his bed, obviously exhausted but in better shape than he’s been. He lies there, staring blankly at the ceiling, and then pooches his lips to make a little pfft noise. You said it, brother.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Deadwood recap – “New Money” (S2E3)


The dropping: There's a new kid in town and he is cree-py. Al's gonnorhoea-induced urinary tract issues are fast approaching the break-point. E.B. weasels and sweats over everything in sight. And Joanie gets all dressed up with no place to come. Er, go.

This is a bad start: Al is on the floor in his office, convulsing, sweaty, alone with the door locked - but not in a good way. Downstairs, Dan and Johnny try to convince themselves that everything’s fine. Out in the thoroughfare, E.B. is busy sucking up to the new fella, just arrived in camp: Francis Wolcott. This guy is as clean and tidy as Mrs. Garrett’s dead husband but without the weenie vibe. Things are still awkward at the Bullock household but at least Seth and Mrs. Bullock are talking to each other: he apologizes for his strangeness of behavior the day before, what with the concussion and all.

E.B. pops in at the Gem, wanting to see Al about the new guy in town and also the new Chez Ami whorehouse, but the boys take a message instead. I’m sure that gossip will make Al feel better in a hurry. Speaking of the new whores, Joanie and Maddie make their way through the muck back to the Chez Ami and Maddie fills her partner in on what she knows about Wolcott: he’s a trick with specific tastes (i.e. likes to hurt whores), she’s got the girl he wants, and is poised to make him pay mucho dinero for use of the girl. Joanie’s not sure how she feels about this plan.

As Wolcott tries to settle into his room at the hotel, E.B. drags him into some complicated scheme involving Wild Bill’s last written letter (remember that?). Wolcott agrees to it but I’m fair certain the he sees through the slimy mayor. Bullock arrives at the hardware store (Trixie hightails it out of there in a hurry – no love lost between them). Bullock, using as few words as possible, lets his partner know that he decided to let go of the widow and stay with his wife and child. Sol is approving but doesn’t make a fuss about it. Back at the Gem, first Doc and then Trixie try to get Al to open the door. No luck: we get a peek at him, however, and he looks awful but at least he’s still conscious at this point. Trixie goes back downstairs and tells Dan: “If he doesn’t present himself in a few hours, kick the door down and get the fucking doc in there.”

Wolcott strolls over to the Bella Union and has a meeting with Cy. These two together make my skin crawl, I gotta tell you. Wolcott reveals for whom he works – George Hearst – and that name strikes enough fear into Cy to get him to shut up and straighten up in a hurry. It’s pretty amazing. Wolcott uses his intimidation to enlist Cy to start spreading rumors about Deadwood’s imminent demise so the miners will cut and run, selling their claims on the cheap. At Charlie’s store, which also doubles as a jail apparently, Jane has been put to bed in a spare cell, tucked in under Wild Bill’s buffalo robe. Jane is extremely hung over but manages to show some appreciation for Charlie having taken care of her. At the Chez Ami, after Joanie sends her fancy girls to sit on the porch with “wide knees,” the business partners are having their first disagreement about “Mr. W” and Maddie’s plan. When told that the split will be 50/50, Joanie asks “What’s the girl’s end?” Maddie: “I wouldn’t rule out a wooden box.” Dang – that’s cold.

Jewel and the Doc finally give up on trying to reach Al through the door, and Jewel calls to Dan to break the door down. “If I was you, Doc, I’d get out of the fuckin’ way,” she screeches. Dan charges up the stairs and throws himself at the door, probably breaking his shoulder. One good kick later, they’re in. Doc gives Al some laudanum as Dan and Johnny look on shocked. Charlie swings by the hardware store with a box of sheriff-type inquiries from other jurisdictions; he and Bullock go through them at the hotel’s restaurant, feeling extremely put upon. As Ellsworth drives Mrs. Garrett back to town after a tour of her mining operation, she announces her desire to buy E.B.’s hotel out from under him in order to turn it into a private residence for herself. Noticing that she’s got her dander up, Ellsworth (I love Ellsworth!) offers: “If punching somebody in the nose would help, I volunteer one that’s well broke-in.” She gives him a little smile because he’s so cute. Trixie goes back to the hardware and asks Sol to teach her to do accounts. Apparently whoring isn’t so lucrative as I thought. She says she’ll “pay [him] … or [he] can take it out in c**t.” Sol is slightly offended and says he won’t teach her if she continues to talk like that. Trixie storms out.

Upstairs at the Gem Al is screaming as Wolcott and E.B. enter the saloon. They are discussing the fact that the deal they made together has pretty much screwed over Wolcott. Wolcott then name-drops his employer, Hearst, and E.B. almost swallows his tongue in panic. Wolcott then swoops in and screws E.B. right back, twice as hard, insisting on his part in the scheme against the claim holders. Wolcott’s disgust at dealing with E.B. is palpable. At the Bella Union, Cy pushes all the customers out and stands on the stairs to make a speech to his employees, alluding to the “fact” that the claims are bullshit. Wolcott has wasted no time in getting his claws into Deadwood. The scheme is to get the hoopleheads to dump their claims at a low price, thinking that they’re going to lose them anyway, and then Hearst, via Wolcott, will swoop down and buy up all the gold in the Hills. Sneaky!

Doc and Trixie discuss Al’s prognosis as Doc prepares to stick a metal probe up Al’s penis and into his bladder to try to hear any gleets clinking against the metal, and thus determining that it is stones and not prostate trouble. It’s going to hurt a lot. Trixie is getting distraught so she goes outside and starts drinking in the street with Calamity Jane. Soon enough, Trixie’s rage, which is how she expresses her worry about Al, surpasses even Jane’s general sociopathy – and Jane, while bewildered at her drinking partner’s ranting, is sympathetic to her regardless. “Maybe [Al] has a good side to him too that I entirely fucking missed, it’s always fucking possible being as drunk as I am fucking continuously. [beat] It’s nice to see you,” she says warmly to Trixie, and then stumbles off.

Miss Isringhausen reports to Mrs. Garrett that she returned Bullock’s watch to him and then insinuates that there is something the two ladies should talk about privately and not in front of Sophia (i.e. Bullock’s suggestion that Sophia and his stepson William, being somewhat of the same age, might play together sometime). Mrs. Garrett is apparently still wound up from this afternoon and has an entirely irrational response: she fires the tutor. Miss Isringhausen recovers enough to point out that she came all the way from Chicago and is going to need something for her trouble. Mrs. Garrett gets all up in her face about how Miss Isringhausen has shown no affection towards Sophia, like Alma has been so warm and fuzzy towards her charge thus far. Good grief, I can’t stand Alma Garrett.

Ah, the Chez Ami with all the fancy whores decked out in their finest for Wolcott. He enters and is particularly strange, and annoyed that his favorite whore is not present. Joanie decides to play her own game and flirts strenuously, finally drawing Wolcott into the back room, much to Maddie’s dismay. Joanie also sassily flashes a secreted pistol at her partner as she closes the door. “If she kills that fucking cocksucker I’ll be working the rest of my life,” complains Maddie. The next REALLY LONG scene is between E.B. and his cook, Richardson, and is a very Shakespearean soliloquy by which E.B. lays out the future of the camp. I’m not recapping any more than that – you’ll just have to watch it and marvel at the language. Once behind the closed doors with Joanie, Wolcott is no less strange. They talk; she offers to screw him (declined); and then to masturbate herself while he watches (also declined). I think Wolcott is both fascinated and repulsed by Joanie – she’s not quite like anyone he’s met lately.

Here we go: Doc apologizes to Al for how much pain he’s about to cause him, what with pushing a pole up his penis and into his bladder. Dan holds his boss down but Johnny runs out onto the balcony, helpless. Trixie, in the street below, squawks at him to get back in and help. He does, but leaves the door open so that the entire camp can hear the horrible screams as Al tries to piss out the stones. Everyone is crying: Al, Dan and Johnny, Trixie. Finally, Doc pulls the instrument out but the stones are still inside. Al’s ordeal is not yet over.

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Raining again! Whatever shall I do?

In my last post I ran through the list of fairly recently rented movies I've seen. This post's list is a little more personal: the list of movies owned by the Mouses. As you will see, we have a defininte penchant for specific genres; additionally, there are some genres that will never grace my collection (you hear me, chick-flicks? don't even try!). I'm pretty tight when it comes to spending my hard-earned money and so every movie that has made it into our home collection is one that means something to at least one of us.

  • Ocean's 11 - Clooney/Pitt version. The cast is clearly having such a good time in this film that it makes it more fun for the viewer. Did you notice that Brad is eating something in almost every scene? The filmmakers mess up with the shrimp cocktail bowl, though.
  • Fargo - McDormand, Macy and Buscemi - how can you go wrong? Plus, they chip a guy - brilliant!
  • Shaun of the Dead - This has exactly the right mixture of British funny and zombie scary. I love that you can scarcely tell the zombies from the regular folks just standing on queue.
  • Serenity - I'll admit that you have to be a Firefly fan(atic) to fully appreciate this movie, but even so, Joss Whedon and the Firefly cast serve up a dang good sci-fi flick. I saw this twice in the (mostly empty) theater when it came out.
  • Heathers - Sick, twisted and so damn funny. Hugely quotable.
  • Clerks - see Heathers above. Randall gets all the best lines.
  • Wedding Crashers - I love-love-love Owen Wilson. Also, funny and a little twisted.
  • Office Space - Mr. Mouse identifies closely with the heroes of this movie. I think the first half of the movie is hilarious, but that it starts to drag when they get outside their cubicles.
  • Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - When I saw this in the theater, I'm fairly certain I only understood two out of every five words because of the accents. I'm definitely certain that I thought Guy Ritchie was a genius by the end of it, however.
  • Snatch - Even more fun than LSaTSB. And they solved the accent problem by adding subtitles on the DVD ... for Brad Pitt's lines only.
  • Princess Bride - One of the best movies ever. There's romance, murder, piracy, sword-fighting, a skinny Mandy Patinkin and Rodents Of Unusual Size.
  • Blazing Saddles - Mr. Mouse loves this movie. I haven't watched it for a gajillion years myself but I'm pretty sure it's a classic for good reason. If it keeps raining, I'm guessing I'll get to see it again soon.
  • Caddyshack - Two of my college friends spent their senior year watching some portion - or all, if possible - of Caddyshack every day. That may be a little much, but I think Bill Murray is hysterical (but probably not sober) here. Plus I like to dance like the gopher when I hear that damn song.
  • Best In Show - Pure genius. Anyone who owns a dog or who has ever watched even a smidgen of Westminster Dog Show must see this.
  • This Is Spinal Tap - This was the first mockumentary I'd ever seen and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Little teeny Stonehenge!
  • A Mighty Wind - We bought this right after we bought Best In Show. I don't think it's as good as BIS, but the songs are amazingly good and it just kills me that there's no script for these movies.
  • Dodgeball - Ben Stiller gives me major television-embarrassment here. But the Average Joes are an underdog for the masses.
  • What About Bob? - Another one of Mr. Mouse's favorites. I'm not a huge Richard Dreyfus fan but it's fun to watch him fall apart bit by bit. And again, Bill Murray.
  • Silverado - One of my all-time favorites. A great Western, made in the '80s when no-one was making Westerns, with an incredible cast: Scott Glenn, Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, a babyfaced Kevin Costner, Jeff Goldblum, Linda Hunt, John Cleese and Brian Dennehy (they should have just cut Roseanna Arquette's part entirely). There's no mistaking who's the good guys and who's the bad guys here.
  • West Side Story - Everyone needs to have a musical. Can't go wrong with this one.
  • Reservoir Dogs - Everyone called Tarantino a genius when this movie came out. He's perhaps slipped a little in recent years, but this one's a doozie. Terribly violent (Mr. Mouse doesn't like all the blood) with incredibly paced dialogue.
  • Napolean Dynamite - I didn't really care for this the first time I saw it. Suffice it to say that it's grown on me quite a lot.

What movies are in your own collection? Which ones are your favorites that you watch over and over again? I'd love to hear what the rest of you love watching.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why I spend so much time indoors

As we were eating dinner last night in front of the TV (how gauche, I know), we came across Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. I love that movie. It was one of the first movies Mr. Mouse and I saw together when we were dating (Enemy of the State with Will Smith and Gene Hackman was our official first movie together). Last night, however, as we found LSaTSB two-thirds of the way through, Mr. Mouse thought I needed reminding about the various complicated plot elements. I let him hold forth for a little while, and then pointed out that I didn’t really need the refresher: after all, we do own the DVD and have watched it numerous times.

Apparently I struck a bit of a nerve, as Mr. Mouse replied, “Well, how am I to remember that? You haven’t written about it on your blog, and I thought your blog was the be-all and end-all of all your pop culture knowledge.” (Or something along those lines.) When I said that I couldn’t possibly write about ALL the movies I’ve ever watched, he just rolled his eyes and we settled back into the end of the movie.

Now, if my rate of movie consumption was the same as Mr. Mouse’s then, yes, I probably could write something about every film I’ve ever seen. But then I wouldn’t have this blog because I wouldn’t be watching very many movies, and where’s the fun in that? I got to thinking about all the movies I have watched, and how I could best attempt to recount them. There’s really no way to do it, of course, but I did manage to make some lists. Here’s one: What have I rented from Blockbuster Online since I signed up three years ago. (Note: when I checked my rental history, it only lists back to May 2006, so I’m missing some - rats. This is a fairly good representation/reconstruction, however.)

Movies: Brick, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny, Clerks II, Crank, Layer Cake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Smokey and the Bandit, Touching the Void, Slither, Waiting, Mad Hot Ballroom, You Can Count On Me, Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Titan A.E., Hellboy, Team America: World Police, Aeon Flux (live action), Fantastic Four, March of the Penguins, Blue Crush, Dreamcatcher, Electra, that crossword puzzle documentary, Finding Neverland, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc., Fight Club, Seabiscuit, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, The Station Agent, Underworld, Van Helsing, Donnie Darko, The Wiz, The Italian Job (the original and the remake), Miracle, School of Rock, Murderball, Empire Falls, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, Bend It Like Beckham, Garden State, Kingdom of Heaven, The 40-Year Old Virgin, Open Range, Sky High, Chicago, Elf, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, I Capture the Castle, Shark Tale, Mean Girls, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Super Size Me, Anchorman, Starsky & Hutch, Reefer Madness, The Village, The Ice Harvest, Alexander, I Heart Huckabees, The Life Aquatic, Pretty Persuasion.

Television: The X-Files Seasons 2-5, Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me Seasons 1-2, Arrested Development Seasons 1-3, Rome Season 1, Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 1, Carnivale Seasons 1-2, Weeds Season 1, Lost Season 2, Veronica Mars Seasons 1-2, Entourage Season 1 (did not finish), Alias Seasons 1-3, Deadwood Seasons 1-2, Battlestar Galactica Seasons 1-2.5, Freaks and Geeks Season 1, Aeon Flux (the animated series), Tru Calling Seasons 1-2, Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital.

Next up in my queue: the Grindhouse double feature, Hot Fuzz, The Sopranos Season 6 and the final season of Deadwood.

If there's anything listed that you'd like some commentary on, let me know. I'll be more than happy to root around in my brain and come up with something for you!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Watch Torchwood, I cannot stress this enough

It's 11:53 p.m. my time and I just finished watching the Torchwood episode "Countrycide" (BBC America is currently showing all Season 1). At this risk of hyperbole, that was one of the most exciting hours of television I've ever seen: sexy, bloody, violent and wicked scary. I jumped at least twice in my seat and had to cover my eyes three times. For television.

The Torchwood gang is a group of Men In Black-ish government agents whose normal course of work is to track down aliens over there in Wales. This episode takes them out of their comfort zone, away from the city of Cardiff and into the beautiful green fields and rock cliffs of the country ... to investigate people being abducted, butchered and eaten. By what would be too big a spoiler. It rattles the team and it rattled me. Again, I couldn't believe this was television, even British TV (which seems to have fewer constrictions on language and subject matter).

I was losing my crush on this show a couple of episodes back - the badly-acted one with the robot girl - but the last two episodes, and especially this one, have restored my faith. The production values are a little lower than what U.S. television viewers may be used to, but if they keep the shocks and tension up like this, no one will mind. Moonlight (wasted opportunity that it is) should have taken notes. Watch this show.