Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bacon al fresco

It's been far too long since my last bacon post, I realize.  I don't have any new products or links or restaurant encounters for you, but what I do have is my recent epiphany.

This is how you cook bacon when it's 94 degrees out:

I don't know why I didn't do this before (well, mostly because I never had a grill with a side burner before, but still) because it's genius.  The house doesn't smell like bacon for the next three days; the dog licks up any stray bacon grease splatters on the deck; and I get to be outside with a cocktail.  Brilliant.

The whole reason I was needing to fry bacon - other than, duh, wanting some - was that I was trying out a new recipe for a homemade, non-processed energy bar to take with us on all the hikes we've been doing.  Store-bought granola bars and energy bars can be too sweet and I had seen something on television during the Tour de France where the Radio Shack team's nutritionist whipped this up.  It's cooked sushi rice, a couple of scrambled eggs and bacon mixed together with a little soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and grated Parmesan cheese.  Pack it down into a pan, sprinkle a little brown sugar on top.  Let cool then cut into bar sizes and wrap in foil paper. 

Mr. Mouse and I tried them on our hike today.  Pretty good, although I might go with less soy sauce and more brown sugar next time.  Still, if it's good enough for the RS boys to eat, it's good enough for us.  Plus, bacon!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hold yer horses

I'm working on - new stuff, that is.  I just watched the last two S2 True Blood episodes, so the recaps should be up soon.  I've read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (by Steig Larsson) and Stealing Buddha's Dinner (by Bich Minh Nguyen) but haven't bothered with reviews because on the first book, I'm hoping to eventually incorporate it into that ragingly successful FMS blog series (that has had exactly one entry to date), "Read It Watch It Watch It Again" - sidebar: I wasn't going to because I'm annoyed that Hollywood seems compelled to yet AGAIN remake a successful Swedish film like a year after the original came out, but yum, Daniel Craig plus Kristen Stewart will not be playing Salander - and on the second book, it's a memoir and I didn't really care about it one way or another.  Currently reading: Fables: Volume 10, The Good Prince, by Bill Willingham.

I don't know what I'm going to watch once the TBS2 recaps are done.  I had Big Love S1 lined up, which I feel compelled to watch what with living in SLC and all, but I kind of want to see some movies - Thirst, original Tron, Men Who Stare at Goats and Hot Tub Time Machine (the last is a Mr. Mouse request). 

I'm superexcited for Rubicon to start, have Memphis Beat clogging up the DVR, and am gamely plugging away at Persons Unknown and The Gates.  Mr. Mouse came in and sat down during the last Gates episode and watched for a while.  He shook his head and told me, "This is so bad - worse than your True Blood because at least that has boobs from time to time."  He's not wrong.  Boobs definitely make trashy supernatural television better. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mini book review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Anyone who has even glanced at more than one of my book reviews knows that (a) I like fantasy and (b) I am unafraid to read YA novels in the genre.  There's just so much out there right now that's so good.  Shiver, first in the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater, is not one of them.  To quote the WoMF microsite, Stiefvater writes "about werewolves and kissing."  Don't get me wrong: I am a big fan of both werewolves AND kissing.  But this book just fell short for me.  The two protagonists, schoolgirl Grace and Sam, the werewolf who loves her, are pretty flat despite daring to be a love story to end all love stories (meh); other characters fade in and out without any insight into their characters at all.  The pacing is slow ... until it rushes to a climax at the end of this first book, and in doing so it feels like there are whole scenes that were dropped.  And the writing is just too simplistic to be compelling, and saying that well, it's for young adults is not valid.  I've read several YA fantasy novels recently that had fantastic writing (here, and here, and here, and here, and here (altho' that one is maybe more adult than some of the others), and here ... you get the point, I guess.).  It can be done.  Stiefvater has a nice idea here with her werewolves in love - it would be wonderful if she could execute a little better.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

True Blood episode recap “New World in My View ” (S2E10)

After Godric’s self-immolation, Sookie walks down the hotel corridor to Eric’s room. He’s been crying, bloody streaks all down his face and chest. I think this must be another dream because she kisses him and, blood-induced attraction or not, she still doesn’t like him. But he lays her down and his fangs pop out and she offers him her neck.

Yup, it’s a dream. Sookie is actually sitting next to Jason in a limo with Bill in his travel coffin in back, driving back to Bon Temps. As they drive into town, they are horrified to see that it’s a disaster: stores wrecked, crazy sexed-up zombie-eyed people running rampant looking for Sam. Oh, btw, the sign just outside of town now reads “Welcome to Boner Temps.” Heh – those crazy black-eyed Maryann zombies.

At Sookie’s house, Maryann, Eggs and Carl have constructed a giant wicker man, festooned with flowers, feathers and lots of rotting meat. You can hear the buzzing of the flies. It’s disgusting. Maryann thinks it looks pretty good but could use more offal.

Andy comes back to the motel room, having picked up Sam’s clothes from the sheriff’s office. He grumbles about the whole town going down the crapper as he opens another bottle and Sam agrees, wondering how they’re going to deal with a gawddamn maenad. Andy: “A what?” Apparently Sam explained it all to him last night, but Andy was too drunk and forgot it all. Sam lays it out again: Maryann is supernatural, immortal, has superpowers and she’s not leaving until she gets what she wants – which seems to be “to kill me for her god while a bunch of naked people watch.” Andy: “If what you say is true, we need to kill that bitch.” Sam sighs: “I just said we can’t kill her.” Then Sam gets call from the bar: it’s a panicked Arlene, begging him to come rescue her from the “mob” that’s cornered her at Merlotte’s. Sam knows it’s a trap and goes anyway because he’s a good man. And sort of a dumb one.

Meanwhile, Sookie and Jason have gotten to Bill’s house. Jason tries to call the sheriff’s office to find out WTF is going on in town (he gets an answering machine) while Sookie helps Bill out of his coffin. Jessica and Hoyt are relieved to see them as Maxine is in full Maryann-zombie mode and (hilariously) horny as hell for Jason, “you dirty little monkey!” Bill is APPALLED. They manage to distract Maxine with a zombie-killing video game on the Wii (she’s pretty good at it – heh) and Hoyt brings the Dallas gang up to speed, including Maryann taking over Sookie’s house, all the zombie eyes, people getting slashed with claws … “like Daphne, the new waitress at Merlotte’s.” Jason perks right up at that: “There’s a new waitress at Merlotte’s?” only to lose interest again when Hoyt explains that she’s dead. Then Jason decides that he’s going to go to Merlotte’s and see what going on: this is the war he’s been training for. After he heads out, Sookie asks Hoyt where Tara is and he tells her that she’s been partying pretty hard with Maryann of late. Sookie and Bill head out to Maryann’s/Sookie’s house to see what’s going on.

Sam and Andy sneak into a seemingly empty Merlotte’s, but all the zombie-folks can’t contain their giggles for very long and come out of their hiding places, chanting that Greek chant and waving knives. Sam and Andy break free of them long enough to barricade themselves in the walk-in cooler. Now what, fellas?

Lafayette and Tara’s mom (why can’t I remember her name?) have taken Tara to Lafayette’s apartment and tied her to a chair. No matter what they try, they can’t get through to her – she squirms and swears and headbutts her mom and chants that chant, rapturously saying that the god is coming to kill them all. Tara’s mom starts a prayer and Lafayette finishes it for her. At his aunt’s querying look, he tells her: “Jesus and I agreed to see other people – that don’t mean we don’t still talk from time to time.” Aw. I love Lafayette.

Bill and Sookie pull up to her house, disgusted and horrified at the meat tree in the front yard … and the way a jungle is now apparently growing through the house. Sookie’s cell phone rings – and there’s a lingering shot of that Minoan-type stone statue, the woman with arms raised, and who else thinks that the way to get rid of Maryann is to destroy that statue? – it’s Lafayette on the other end. He tells her that he’s got Tara with him but more importantly, Sookie needs to get up out of that house right now – run! Sookie grabs Bill and turns to go, but Maryann is standing there, looking extra scary and sexy. Things escalate quickly and Bill bites Maryann: her blood is black or dark green and it chokes him. He staggers back, foaming at the mouth. Maryann advances on Sookie, looking her up and down with great interest: “What are you?” Sookie plants her palm over Maryann’s face to shove her away, and her (Sookie’s) hand starts glowing with a bright light and the light washes over Maryann, momentarily stunning her. Sookie grabs Bill and this time they make it back to the car. Maryann watches them go from the porch, stroking her face, laughing and repeating, “What are you?”

Andy and Sam are starting to get cold, trapped there in the walk-in; they trade Andy’s bottle back and forth trying to stay warm. Jason pulls up to the bar in his pickup truck. Like the protagonist in any good (or not so good) zombie survival film, he arms himself with what he’s got: nail gun, flares, and a goddamn chainsaw - right effing on! He sneaks into Merlotte’s and witnesses himself a full-on orgy – people drinking beer straight from the taps, snorting coke off the tables, and engaging in all kinds of deviant-ish sex. He shouts to get their attention and even fires up his chainsaw but no one pays him any mind whatsoever until he clobbers Terry and then holds the nail gun to Arlene’s head. For some reason, Terry the zombie is way more lucid than regular Terry and he starts to negotiate with Jason. Jason wants them all to leave the bar and then he’ll give Arlene back. Terry thinks about it, then orders a retreat. Jason locks the bar doors behind them.

Sookie drives while Bill vomits repeatedly out the car window. They wonder what Maryann is, and what Sookie did to her, and hope that maybe Tara – if they can get through to her – can help them figure things out. Sookie gives Bill her wrist to suck from so he can heal.

Once Jason gives the all clear, Sam and Andy come out of the cooler. However, the zombies have organized under Terry’s leadership and soon come crashing through the windows. The boys are surrounded and Terry tells them that the God Who Comes always gets what he wants. Sam realizes that the situation is inescapable and gives himself up to the zombies. Andy shouts in protest but Jason grabs his shoulder – perhaps he has a plan?

Lafayette is losing hope: “This has got to be the worst motherfuckin’ intervention in history.” When Bill and Sookie show up – chasing off a coed who wants to buy some V from Lafayette; and at Bill’s reproach, Lafayette tells him that Eric’s got him pushing it now – they are shocked at Tara’s appearance. Sookie tries to read her friend’s mind but there’s something blocking her. So Bill works his glamour on Tara, encouraging her to let Sookie in.

The zombies begin to tie Sam to a car roof but are distracted by flares suddenly arcing out of the woods towards them. They turn and look as a fabulously bare-chested, flare-holding, masked figure rises up (i.e., Jason, sans shirt, wearing a gas mask and standing on top of a car) and addresses them in a booming voice: “It is me, the Guy Who Comes, mwah ha ha ha! I have come and now I am here!” OMG this is fucking awesome. Sam, forgotten by the zombies, rolls over to get a better look. The zombies are not entirely sure of this apparition until Andy remembers the god should be horned and pokes a couple of tree branches up behind Jason’s head. “Oooh! Aah!” say the zombies. He continues: “Sam Merlotte, you are the best offering ever! All the rest of you can go home now.”

They’re still not convinced so Sam approaches the “god” and begs him to “smite me.” Jason doesn’t get it at first and Sam hisses, “Smite me, motherfucker!” So Jason shouts: “I smite thee, Sam Merlotte!” and Sam flails about and then disappears, his clothes crumpling to the ground. Andy: “What the fuck just happened?” The zombies are convinced now and disperse, pleased with their success. After they’ve gone, Sam shows up, bare-assed under an apron (yay!) and putting out the flares with a fire extinguisher. He tells the boys, “I’ll explain later.” Andy takes one last swig and hands his bottle to Jason: “That’s the last drink I’ll ever take.”

It’s not going very well at Lafayette’s for a few unsuspenseful moments (seriously – there’s no tension here at all) until Sookie manages to snap Tara out of it somehow. There are tears and hugs all around. Then Tara wants to go after Eggs. Lafayette grabs her and holds her and tells her firmly: no.

Outside, Sookie relates to Bill what she gleaned from Tara’s head. As she repeats that Greek (or whatever) chant, Bill recognizes the words from something he read long, long ago (convenient, that) and says that he knows one vampire who might know how to defeat Maryann. He promises that he’ll be back by morning and speeds off.

Things are getting out of hand at Bill’s house with Hoyt’s momma, Zombie Maxine. She verbally abuses her son and his undead girlfriend, going on and on until Jessica can’t stand it any more. Her fangs come out and she knocks Maxine to the floor, biting into the older woman’s neck. “Fuck! No!” shouts poor Hoyt.

Bill walks up to an extremely swanky house, which is swarming with Secret Service types. They let him in, saying that the Queen is expecting him. He approaches, eyes lowered, and says, “Your Majesty …”. All we see is a shapely leg, dripping with blood.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Thursday, July 22, 2010

True Blood episode recap “I Will Rise Up ” (S2E9)

Remember last episode? Well, the Luke-suicide bomb went off in a big way. When the smoke clears, there are bodies and body parts everywhere, and Luke is splashed across the walls. Bill checks to make sure Sookie is okay – she is; Eric shielded her with his own body – then takes off after the two Church men who drove Luke here. He yanks one out of their van and buries his face in the screaming human’s neck. Blood spurts. Bill is drinking more human blood this season, isn’t he?

Godric stands in the middle of his destroyed house, silent, unhappy, unharmed. Sookie pushes Eric off her – “You weigh a ton!” – and calls for Jason. He’s fine. Eric, however, is not: he is riddled with silver shrapnel. In a weak voice, he tells Sookie that he can’t heal himself from this and she must suck the silver bits out of his body. Sookie: “I can’t – it’s … gross, and it’s you.” But her soft heart prevails and she bends over him, sucking the silver out like snake venom. Eric, of course, is really fine and gives the camera a shit-eating grin.

Bill comes back in: “What are you doin’?” She explains that she’s helping … and then Bill tells her that Eric lied to her, forcing her to drink his blood and draw a connection between them: “He will now be able to sense your emotions.” Sookie is furious: “You big lying a-hole!” Eric: “Bill, you’re right – I believe I can sense her emotions.” Heh. Bill is upset but tries to rein it in for Sookie’s sake, because she’s beside herself. Eric is smug, of course.

Back at the hotel, Sookie showers and tells Bill that she feels like an idiot. He reminds her that Eric has had 1,000 years of practice in deception – there wasn’t anything she could do. Also, an additional side effect to Sookie having drunk Eric’s blood is that she may become sexually attracted to him. Sookie’s all, “Eric? Eeuuuw – I can’t stand him!” Bill is just resigned.

Jessica is also resigned to always being a virgin. Hoyt is very sweet to her, saying that they can have sex lots of other ways (once they figure them out), plus he doesn’t care because he just really loves her. In fact, he wants Jessica to meet his momma. She squeals, pleased and surprised. He warns her that his mother hates vampires and may say some nasty things – or if Jessica is lucky, Maxine won’t say anything to her at all. Then it’s almost morning and Jessica has to go to her cubbyhole under the stairs, so dear Hoyt sits outside the door and sings her to sleep.

In this morning after, Tara and Eggs are a mess: bruised and scratched and embarrassed at their lack of control. Maryann, of course, tells them that a lack of control can be a good thing – the blackouts could be ecstatic trances: “A few bumps and bruises are a small price to pay for bliss.” Tara’s not buying it entirely.

At the hotel, Sookie can’t sleep so she goes to see if Jason is still awake. They hang out, watching television, and he tells her about his Church experience, how it made him feel important. Then they talk about how much they miss their Gran, and their parents. Blah blah blah - boring.

Merlotte’s is hopping and Arlene is way stressed out, snapping at customers and wigging out about Daphne, so Lafayette pours her a calming shot of tequila. Arlene, about the recent killing: “Gosh, I mean, Daphne was stupid, clumsy and mean, but I wouldn’t wish that kind of death on a possum.” Shortly thereafter, Tara and Eggs come into the bar and Lafayette is all over them immediately, examining the bruises and swellings on Tara’s face. They try to claim it was an accident but Lafayette isn’t having any of that bullshit. He turns on Eggs: “Keep your hands off my cousin, you bitchass muthafucker!” The restaurant quiets and watches. Lafayette tells Tara that Eggs is poison and he’s going to end up killing her. Enraged, Eggs lunges at him, hitting Tara in the jaw as he does. Oops. Tara pushes the two men apart and drags Eggs out of the bar. The restaurant patrons hoot and holler, much to Lafayette’s disgust.

Over at the Fortenberrys’ house, Maxine is making Hoyt a grilled cheese sandwich and railing about his new girlfriend. She is full of nastiness and hate; her son points out that she hates Methodists, Catholics, nuns, African Americans, people who park their trucks on the lawn, people who don’t take care of their gardens, ladies who wear red shoes (“It looks cheap!”), people who have too many kids, cats, dogs and checkered curtains. The list goes on. Finally, Hoyt tells Maxine that he wants Jessica to meet her and if she can’t be nice, he will leave this house and never come back – “I’m a grown-ass man!” And with that, the grown-ass man takes the sandwich his momma made for him and leaves.

Sookie tosses and turns, unable to sleep. And when she rolls over, she’s naked in bed with Eric. They talk and canoodle, displaying more chemistry than she and Bill do. And this is obviously a dream because Lorena is also there, commenting on how quickly Sookie has tossed Bill aside. Sookie and Eric start to go at it, Lorena just chuckling at them, and as Sookie starts to moan in earnest, she wakes up. In bed next to Bill.

Maryann saunters into the busy sheriff’s office, calling for Bud. The Maryann-groupies packed in the cell next to Sam’s start to clamor for her. Sam gets a little agitated at he finding him here, but then notices a fly buzzing around a vent in his cell. Out in the lobby, Bud offers Maryann some coffee. He is exhausted, having been up all night arresting people for doing weird stuff. Maryann quickly puts her whammy on him – “Oh, you went fast!” – then takes the sheriff’s keys and heads back to the cells, declaring, “I want Sam Merlotte!” She looks in his cell but there’s nothing there but clothes – guess he buzzed off. Now she’s really angry, but she opens the other cells and lets her followers out.

Yawn: Hoyt, Jessica and Maxine have gotten together at Merlotte’s and it’s not going that well, despite Jessica being on her best behavior. For a while. Finally, Maxine and Jessica start snarling at each other, and then Maxine makes the younger woman cry, and Jessica and Hoyt storm out. Maxine finishes Hoyt’s beer and immediately orders another one.

Tara, Eggs and Maryann are drinking tequila and playing poker at Sookie’s house when Lafayette and Tara’s mom show up. They ask Tara to come with them but she refuses. The shouting starts and soon enough Tara and Eggs switch over into zombie mode. It’s very ugly: Lafayette easily gets the better of Eggs, but Tara starts hitting and choking her mother. Lafayette kicks Eggs to the floor, then hoists his cousin up over his shoulder and carries her to the car. Tara is screaming for Eggs like a banshee. Her mom jumps into the driver’s seat and they tear on out of there. Maryann stops Zombie Eggs from chasing after them: “Let them go. She’ll come back and she’ll bring them with her.” Maryann does not notice the fly on the porch railing.

At the Dallas hotel, Whatsername Flanagan the slick blonde lawyer vampire is tearing Godric a new one. He sits there, looking like a little boy, and takes it calmly, pretty much throwing himself on the sword while Eric and Isabel watch unhappily. Bill and Sookie are there too and Sookie can’t keep herself from sneaking looks at Eric; Bill catches her doing it. Finally, Godric says that he voluntarily removes himself from all positions of authority. “Fine,” says Flanagan, “There are some papers you have to sign.” You all see where this is going, right? Godric’s a martyr, a Christ figure. “I will make amends, I swear,” he says. Eric wants to talk to him so Godric says he’ll meet him up on the roof.

Maryann storms into Merlotte’s bar, voice ringing out: “The god who comes demands his sacrifice – where is Sam Merlotte?” Everyone’s eyes go zombie-black and she shrieks, “Bring him to me!”

Meanwhile, a fly lands on the doorknob of Andy’s motel room door. Andy is inside, drinking hard and watching Dirty Jobs (ostrich wrangling episode) on television. There’s a knock and he answers the door: it’s naked Sam, of course. Andy lets him in without a word.

Bill intercepts Eric as the meeting breaks up and punches him in the mouth, hard. Eric: “It’s done – I’m part of her now.” Bill has nothing to say to that. Once Eric leaves, Sookie tells her man that she’s going to find Godric: he’s in pain and she feels like she needs to do something. “Don’t you think we done enough for Dallas?” says Bill dryly. But he understands that she needs to do this, that she feels obligated since Godric saved her from Gabe the rapist.

Up on the roof, Sookie finds Godric saying goodbye to Eric, simply stating that 2.000 years is enough. Eric is nearly wild with grief, threatening to keep Godric alive by force. Godric, gently: “Even if you could, why would you be so cruel?” Then they speak, I don’t know, Norse or Viking or something, and Eric falls to his knees, sobbing. Godric places his hand on Eric’s head and whispers, “Father, brother, son – let me go.” He is tired and has had enough of this world that he should have changed but didn’t, and now believes he cannot. He sends Eric away; Sookie catches his hand as he passes by her and promises to stay as long as it takes.

“It won’t take long, not at my age,” observes Godric. He turns to Sookie and asks her if she believes in God. When she says yes, he asks how he’ll be punished. “God doesn’t punish,” says Sookie, “He forgives.” “I hope for that,” says Godric. He asks her if she’ll care for Eric after he’s gone. Sookie: “I don’t know, you know how he is!” Godric: “I can take the blame for that too.” Sookie: “Maybe not – Eric’s pretty much himself.”

They look towards the east and the rising sun. Sookie starts to cry and tells Godric that she’s afraid for him, for the pain he’s about to feel. He is amazed: “A human is with me in the end, and in tears. After 2,000 years I can still be surprised. In this I see God.” Then Godric steps towards the edge of the roof and takes off his tunic.  He stands, arms outstretched and as the sunlight hits him, he burns. He was right: it doesn’t take long.

I sort of have mixed emotions about Godric. I ended up really liking him a lot, and wishing that he would have been around longer … and so I don’t really see the point of all the build-up, only to kill him off after three episodes.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Monday, July 19, 2010

True Blood episode recap “Timebomb” S2E8

Godric wastes no time snapping Gabe’s neck, then looks over at Sookie, telling her that she should not have come to this place. Then Eric shows up, late to the party but thrilled and cowed in the presence of his maker. Suddenly, lights start flashing and a siren blares: Godric tells Eric to take Sookie and get out of the church. Eric doesn’t want to leave without him but Godric snarls that he can take care of himself and instructs Eric to shed no blood on his way out. Eric grabs Sookie’s hand and drags her upstairs.

Out in the woods, Jason picks himself up off the ground: Sarah shot him with a paintball gun. She starts screaming him, saying that she gave him everything for a lie: “You’re worse than Judas?” “Why?” asks Jason, “What did he do to you?” Oh dear lord, he’s serious. Frustrated with the lack of higher brain function, Sarah shoots him in the crotch with a paintball. Heh. Finally she tells him that the Church has captured his sister: “You Stackhouses are nothin’ but a bunch of lying, two-faced vampire-fuckers.” Jason, as we know, does not take kindly to people talking smack about his sister. He grabs the gun out of Sarah’s hand, knocking her to the ground in the process, then drives off in the truck, calling out, “If any of you people have hurt [Sookie] I’m comin’ back and it won’t be with no fuckin’ paint gun!”

Back at the Church, the congregation is being evacuated from the building while the Soldiers of the Sun hand out stakes and silver chains. Sookie notes that Eric is following Godric’s orders and realizes that Godric must be Eric’s maker. Eric: “Don’t use words you don’t understand.” Sookie: “You have a lot of love for him.” Eric: “Don’t use words I don’t understand.” Aw. When the Church doors are closed, Eric decides to try some subterfuge, walking boldly out to a group of churchgoers. He uses a silly accent to try to gain their trust, and then tries to glamour them into letting him out of the building. It doesn’t quite work, so after he knocks them all unconscious, he and Sookie try to get out through the sanctuary. That’s no good, however, because Reverend Steve and a whole bunch of soldiers soon surround them. Trying to keep the bloodshed to a minimum, Eric gives himself up to them.

At the hotel, Lorena has Barry the psychic bellhop pinned up against the door. He begs to be let go – Bill grumps that she should let him go, but doesn’t lift a finger to actually help him – but Lorena wants a bite first. After a couple of sucks, she pulls back, wondering, “What are you? I’ve never tasted anything like you!” And then Bill hits her on the head with a giant plasma TV. Awesome. She goes down hard and Bill grabs Barry. They burst into Jessica’s bedroom, interrupting Jessica and Hoyt’s coitus just as the I’m-a-virgin pain is subsiding for the girl. She shrieks and Hoyt jumps out of bed; Bill can’t look either of them in the face. He growls that if Hoyt really cares for Jessica, he’ll drive her back to Bon Temps right now. Hoyt: “Now?”

Speaking of Bon Temps, Lafayette is doing a Tarot reading for Tara after they’ve closed the bar. He tells her that “in matters of the heart, [she’ll] have to make a choice, a sacrifice.” The next card is Justice – and just then Eggs bursts in, all freaked out after having lost the last few hours – you know, when he was killing Daphne for Maryann. Tara takes him home. Lafayette watches them go with a concerned look on his face.

Jason pulls up to the Church where some parishioners are standing guard. They offer him some guff until he says that he’s a cadet with the Light of Day Sun Soldiers and points to his honesty ring. Burly silver-chain wearing parishioner: “Dude! Honesty!” and they bump rings. Heh. Once inside the church, Jason knocks the other guy on the head with his paintball pistol and sneaks into the sanctuary.

On-the-lam Sam, sleeping in his truck, is wakened by his ringing cell phone: it’s a hang-up from Merlotte’s. So, Sam, being cute but not all that bright, drives over to his bar which is dark and closed. Except for the walk-in cooler: the door is open, the light is on, and Daphne is in there, dead and with her heart ripped out. Sam starts to wrap her in some big black garbage bags but he’s interrupted by Sheriff Bud knocking on his door before he can ditch the body.

Where’s Daphne’s heart, you ask? Maryann is flambéing it with vegetables. The heart is exceedingly bloody as she chops it up. Ick.

Now Reverend Steve has Eric down on a table, smoking and burning from the slver chains draped over him. Steve is just considering perhaps tying Sookie to Eric for the sun ceremony - so they’ll both burn together - when Bill bursts in, fangs blazing. Steve aims a gun at Sookie’s head, warning Bill to keep back; Bill tells him that if anything happens to her, everyone in this church will die. Steve rolls his eyes, looking at Sookie: “Honestly, what do they see in you?” Heh. Things are starting to get tense and then it’s Jason to the rescue: he nails Steve with paintballs, first in the hand so he drops the pistol and then in the forehead. Steve squeals and falls to the floor. Hee hee hee!

Sookie takes the chains off Eric. The church folk grab Jason. Eric grabs Steve. Bill grabs Sookie. And then – oh dear – Stan and a bunch of leather-wearing vampires stride on in, Stan grandstanding about how he’s had enough of Steve’s bullshit and now it’s time to kill him just like he killed his family. Steve starts raving and the vampires spread out, muckling onto whatever human they can find. Bill tries to get Sookie to come away before the bloodbath starts, but a quiet voice rings out from the balcony: it’s Godric – wearing white and backlit so as to look like a Christ-figure - and he tells the Texas vampires to stand down. He does not wish any bloodshed and asks Steve if he will agree to a truce if they walk out now.

Steve is not interested in truces and pulls open his collar, telling Eric to kill him now, as Jesus will save him. In a dry voice, Godric says, “I’m actually older than your Jesus. I wish I could have known him, but I missed it.” Heh. Godric comes down and grabs Steve by the neck. There is a lot of neck-grabbing in this episode. He asks the parishioners if any of them is willing to die for “this man’s madness.” None are and they disperse. Stan thinks that letting them go is a bad idea but Godric shuts him up with one look.

As Bill, Sookie and Jason make to leave, Steve can’t resist shouting out that come the day of reckoning, they’ll learn who’s going to heaven and who gets hell. With an adorable grin, Jason gets in his face and says, “I reckon I already been to Heaven. It was inside your wife.” Steve thinks for a minute, and then gets it, and then Jason punches him right in the nose.

At the bar, Bud and Kenya are interrogating Sam about Daphne’s body – an anonymous tip told them about it. They’re not willing to cut him any slack, seeing how he doesn’t have any records or history, and he never really explained the rampant nudity last season. Then Andy comes in and tells the law that Sam didn’t kill Daphne: that a bull with claws almost killed Sam at an orgy last night, and the “vic” was one of the people who were helping the bull. Everyone looks at Andy and he realizes how completely crazy he sounds.

Tara and Eggs resolve to not party so much anymore what with all the blacking out these days. Maryann acts supportive, but then invites them to the table for snacks: “hunter’s soufflé,” she calls it. When Tara slices into it, blood oozes out. Apparently it is quite delicious, Daphne’s heart in puff pastry, because Tara and Eggs snarf it down with soup spoons, groaning with pleasure. Maryann just sits there and watches, smirking.

Sometime later, Godric holds court at his home. He tells Jason that he is appreciative of his help tonight; but later, Eric tells Jason that he knows that he used to buy and use V and despite the recent heroics, he won’t be doing that again, now will he? Um, no, quavers Jason. On the other side of the party, Sookie wants to know WTF was going on that Bill didn’t come immediately to her rescue (apparently two days passed with her stuck in the church basement with Hugo). He stalls, saying he was detained, but won’t tell her by whom.

Jessica and Hoyt have made it back to Bill’s house and she is so revved up that she insists on them doing it right there on the living room couch. Only it hurts her when he enters her and she pushes him away, upset. And then she realizes that because of her vampire healing abilities, her hymen has healed – as it will every time. In tears, she tells him, “I’m going to be a virgin forever.”

Bill takes Eric to one side and tells him to back off Sookie – calling in Lorena was a low trick, even for him. Eric smirks, asking if Bill is daring to pick a fight. Bill smiles back coolly and tells him that he will never have Sookie. Meanwhile, Isabel has brought the traitor Hugo to Godric. As everyone watches, amazed, Godric shows mercy and tells Hugo to get out of Dallas, and never come back as it is no longer safe for him here. Hugo skedaddles. Sookie wants to continue her conversation with Bill, but this time Jason wants to have a word with “Mr. Compton.” They go out back and Jason apologizes for not being nice to Bill before – he knows now how good Bill is for Sookie. Then – hilariously – he hugs Bill. The words “uncomfortable” and “awkward” do not come close to describing Bill’s expression. Awesome.

Sheriff Bud has locked Sam in the jail. The next cell is full of townsfolk, all of whom have been arrested for things like losing their pants or sodomizing a pine tree. “What would you want to do that for?” marvels Sam.

Eric sits down with Godric and asks him why he refused to leave when he found him at the church. Godric tells him that he was not being treated badly. He is troubled by the fact that in thousands of years, vampires have not evolved at all: they remain terrifying, brutal and predatory. Even though Godric could have killed all the church folks when they took him, he didn’t see the point of it. It is because of the frightening nature of vampires that the church arose in the first place. Nonplused, Eric just stares at his maker.

Tara and Eggs have managed to eat the whole damn soufflé and are totally high off it. Maryann sips a glass of red wine and watches things escalate. They start to make out, then, giggling, Tara slaps Eggs across the face. He laughs and asks for more, so she slaps him again, then punches him, then kicks him in the nuts. Still laughing, his eyes are zombie-black when he regains his feet and backhands her across the room. Now she is giggling hysterically, eyes zombified, and he hits her a couple more times before she advances on him: “Fucker, I want you so bad right now!” They fall to the floor, tearing at each other’s clothes, and Maryann just grins and sips her wine. Twisted.

Outside At Godric’s house, a man gets out of a car and walks towards the front door.

Inside, Lorena, dressed in a red cocktail gown and a ridiculous 1980s updo, slinks in and finds Sookie at the buffet. She does all she can to push Sookie’s buttons about her connection with Bill and her insinuations about their recent nights together, but Sookie actually holds her own pretty well. She gets right in the vampire’s face: “Bill chose me, and yet you still won’t give up. Don’t you have any shame? … [G]o find someone else, you fucking bitch, you’ve lost this one!” Wild, Lorena grabs Sookie and is about to tear her throat out when suddenly Godric is there, grabbing her by the neck. He doesn’t know who she is and, more importantly, doesn’t care. He kicks her out of his house, telling her to be out of his area before dawn.

The unknown man has entered Godric’s home. It’s Luke, wearing a bulky jacket. Jason goes up to talk to him and Luke pushes him away, telling him to get out of here. Then Luke calls for the crowd’s attention. As all the vampires and humans turn to him, he opens his coat to reveal a bunch of plastic explosive strapped there, with silver chains interwoven through the explosives. Everyone stares. Luke hits the detonator.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mini book reviews: Finch by Jeff Vandermeer; and Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

Now, Finch by Jeff Vandermeer?  This is one of the weirder books I've read in a looooooong time.  The book jacket is alive with glowing phrases and newly coined genres as folks try to define this novel:  "Fungal noir.  Steampunk delirium.  Paranoid spy thriller, quite literally, on 'shrooms." (Richard K. Morgan)  "[Noir] ... with flashes of Raymond Chandler and The Thing."  (Meg Gardiner)  "... Farewell, My Lovely if Philip Marlowe worked for the pod people while snacking on Alice's Wonderland mushrooms." (Tad Williams)  To all that, I would add that if Dashiell Hammett wrote a Brazil/Blade Runner/Terminator novel with giant, mobile, sentient fungi as the bad guys, he might have come up with something like Finch.

Finch is an unwilling detective, forced into the job in the post-apocalypse after his city (country? world?) has been overrun with and overtaken by giant, mobile, sentient fungi, the graycaps.  In this time and place, the city's human rebels are scattered and ineffective, citizens are being put into detention camps and forced to build two looming towers, horrific half human/half fungus beings known as "Partials" roam the city, reporting back to their graycap masters.  Finch's partner and old friend, Wyte, has been infected by spores and is transforming into ... something else, right in front of Finch's eyes.  There is no power, no food, no money, no hope.

In the middle of all of this, Finch is assigned to a mysterious double murder in which a dead man and half of a dead graycap have been discovered in an abandoned apartment.  The graycaps don't expect Finch to solve this case - hell, he isn't interested in solving it, he just wants to write his reports and keep his head down.  But Finch is inexorably drawn into a sea of espionage, extortion, torture and rebellion and it's all he can do to keep his head above water.

I told you it was weird.  Walking, talking, oppressing mushrooms, ferchrissakes?  And yet Vandermeer pulls it off.  It took me a long time to get into this novel.  The language Vandermeer uses is foreshortened, clipped, uber-hardboiled and terse - and yet the images he crafts are fantastic (in all senses of that word) and the dialogue rings absolutely true to the genre.  Whatever genre this science fiction/fantasy/hardboiled detective fiction/horror story might call its own.  Finch is not for everyone - it's challenging and somewhat tiring - but I'm awfully glad I stuck with it as I've never read anything quite like it before.

In Summer Knight: Book Four of The Dresden Files, author Jim Butcher brings us back to the world of Harry Dresden.  It's sort of a rough place right now: Harry is ignoring his friends and his clients, hiding away in his basement laboratory to try to discover a cure for near-vampirism so he can save his girlfriend Susan.  Susan was bitten and infected by vampires at the end of the last Dresden Files book, and Harry is guilt-ridden, his overwrought sense of chivalry insisting that Susan's attack was all his fault.  He hasn't showered or changed his clothes in over a week; he can't pay rent on either his office or his apartment.  Plus the Red Court vampires are still trying to assassinate him whenever he does poke his head above ground.  And there was a downpour of toads earlier that means seismic magical shifts are imminent.  If ever straits were dire, these would be them.

Luckily, Harry is about to get a new client: Mab, the Queen of the Winter Faerie.  Mab has been framed for killing the Summer Knight (ooh! title!), the Queen of the Summer Faerie's go-to guy, and she wants Harry to find out who really did it.  He is loathe to get any more involved than he has to with faeries but since he's also in serious trouble with the White Council of Wizards - as in, they're thinking about executing him trouble - he finagles a deal: if he helps Mab, her people have to help the wizards in the upcoming battle against the vampires. 

And so it begins, with Harry getting support from the regular cast - his cop pal, Karrin Murphy, who is still physically and emotionally scarred from the last book; Billy and his pack of werewolves; Bob the Skull; Toot-Toot the pixie - and meeting about a million new characters, changelings, trolls, winter and summer faeries, centaurs, ghouls, evil ents on acid ... Butcher has a LOT going on here and while I confess to turning some of the pages pretty quickly once we got to the big Sidhe battle in the Never-Never, the fact that he manages to keep everything straight and moving is impressive.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

True Blood episode recap “Release Me” (S2E7)

The gods bless his stubborn heart: Andy Bellefleur is STILL chasing after his nemesis, “that pig.” He runs through the woods, falling face down in pig poo, but keeps after it. It’s a good thing too, because things are getting out of hand at Maryann’s sex zombie orgy: Sam is pinned down on a rock, arms behind his back; Zombie Tara comes up and licks his face, crooning to him to give into it because it “feels soooooo gooooood!” Sam cringes and pleads with her but she just turns and faces Maryann, who in addition to wearing the minotaur mask and flickering in and out has now grown those talons instead of hands. As Andy staggers into the clearing – “What the fuck is this?” – he inadvertently squeezes off a round (from his revolver, you perverts), which distracts everyone just long enough for Sam to break free and make a run for it. All the zombies start to howl, horribly, as Maryann chases her prey. As he runs for his life, he catches sight of an owl watching him from a tree top; shedding his clothes, Sam shifts into an owl and flies away to safety, leaving Maryann to pant and growl after him in impotent rage.

Back at the orgy, which now is all just mostly naked zombies wandering around vacantly, Andy is trying to figure things out. He catches hold of Terry’s arm but Zombie Terry just turns and snaps his cousin’s wrist, sending him screaming to the ground. Zombie Arlene just laughs and laughs.

In the basement of the Light of Day Church, Hugo is freaking out what with his not-so mild case of claustrophobia. Sookie starts sifting through the facts: the Newlins knew who she was before she got here [the mind-reading capability part, not the Jason Stackhouse’s sister part], just like they knew when she was arriving at the airport, so clearly there’s a spy in the Dallas vampires’ nest. Loyal to Isabelle, Hugo wonders if Stan might be behind it. Sookie is also concerned that Bill will have felt her fear by now and is worried that he’ll come to save her – since the Light of Day Church is on the verge of barbecuing a 2,000 vampire, they’re pretty tough.

Bill, for his part, is completely unable to get past Lorena and out of the hotel room. She’s stronger than he is. He growls at her, wondering why she’s even here and that sends us into another flashback, this time to the 1940s (I think - I missed the title card). Lorena has brought Bill another treat, this time a dancer from a musical’s chorus line, but he just sets the girl free. You see, Bill Compton is no longer a fun vampire: he doesn’t want to bathe in blood anymore or be cruel just for sport – he doesn’t like Lorena’s games and loathes her. She spits: “You are a vampire and they are food!” but Bill is back on his self-righteous horse, reveling in his conscience. He snarls that he will never again be what she wants him to be.

Back in the present, Bill promises that if any harm comes to Sookie, he’ll absolutely stake Lorena right through her shriveled heart. “It’s true,” she breathes, “You really are in love with a human … that’s so tragic, it’s funny.” She laughs and laughs while Bill just glowers.

Eric and Isabelle, gorgeously decked out in black leather, are surveilling the Fellowship of the Sun’s compound. Eric is concerned that Sookie and Hugo have been in there too long but Isabelle says – and pay attention to this – “There is no sign of alarm and if Hugo were in danger, I would know it.” So, despite his claustrophobia, Hugo is not really afraid. That bastard – he’s the traitor! To pass the time, Eric asks Isabelle what is so attractive about having a relationship with a human. She replies she likes that humans feel everything so passionately and fervently, perhaps because their lives are so “temporary.” Eric: “Yes, they certainly don’t keep well.” Heh. They wonder how it is possible that these Church folks have managed to overpower Godric and keep him locked up for so long. Eric thinks that it reeks of something other than human.

In the afterglow of their God-sanctioned, adulterous sex, Jason wonders why Sarah is crying again. This time it’s because she’s so happy! Now she knows what love is! “Wow,” says Jason, fear in his eyes, “That’s intense, huh?” Sarah, totally manic, jumps up and starts pulling on her clothes, insisting that they have to go tell Steve right now - vow of honesty, remember? Jason thinks this is a Really Bad Idea as Steve has lots and lots of guns. He convinces her to wait until after the Meet the Sun ceremony and she rushes off, fluttery and giddy. Jason leans back, not knowing what the hell to do now that the girl of his dreams is a nutjob.

Jessica and Hoyt, meanwhile, are making out on her bed. They delightedly discover that they are both virgins and decide that they want to be each other’s firsts. But not tonight: it’s nearly morning and Jessica gets sick if she doesn’t rest during the day. She asks if they could just cuddle: “Just don’t get upset if I look a little … dead.” Aw!

Eric and Isabelle have returned to the hotel where Stan scoffs at their refusal to attack the Light of Day church. Eric doesn’t want to hear about it and accuses Stan of having murdered Godric and wanting to start a war with the humans to distract the vampires from what he has done. He throws up his hands, saying that he doesn’t even care if they start a war because if Godric is really gone, he will never be able to replace what he has lost. As he lets himself into his room, a single bloody tear tracks down his cheek.

Tara and Eggs wake up on the couch in Sookie’s living room, not remembering how they got there. They think maybe they’ve been smoking too much of Maryann’s weed – it’s “serious shit,” according to Eggs.

Sam sneaks into his restaurant and pulls a handgun out of a hiding place in the fireplace.

In the morning, a chipper Steve and Gabe visit their captives. Sookie warns them that they’re gonna get themselves killed, plus they’re not very good Christians: “Jesus would be ashamed of you!” Steve has some questions for them and Hugo is ready to answer because he’s panicking. In fact, before Steve can even ask anything, Hugo has given him their real names and that they were sent here by the vampires to search for Godric. Steve is rather surprised and upset to learn that this telepathic spy is the sister of his star recruit. He immediately stands and leaves the basement, Gabe trailing behind him. Sookie concentrates and reaches out to Barry the Telepathic Bellhop, asking him to get in touch with Bill and let him know the 4-1-1.

Bored now: Bill and Lorena are struggling to stay awake in the encroaching dawn, but she refuses to sleep on the chance that he’ll try to escape. It’s icky when vampires stay up too late: they start to bleed from their ears and noses. He begs her to let him call Eric to marshal a rescue effort. Lorena just laughs: “Eric is the reason I’m here. He wants the girl, Bill, let him have her.” Bill reels.

At Church camp, Jason has decided to get the hell out and away from that crazy Sarah. Steve and Gabe catch him with his duffel bags and throw him into the back of Steve’s SUV.

Back in Bon Temps, Andy is telling Sheriff Bud about the sex zombie orgy. For his part, Bud is not exactly buying it seeing how Andy has spent his recent days more drunk than not. And over at the Stackhouse property, Maryann staggers into the house, feet bloody, a dead rabbit dangling from her hand. She says she spent the night communing with nature and when this little guy hopped by, she thought yummy - rabbit stew! She wanders off, calling for Carl to give him the bunny. Tara mutters, “She’s so fuckin’ weird.” Eggs: “Yeah, isn’t it great?”

Now Gabe has a knife to Jason’s throat. Jason thinks it’s because of the thing with Sarah but Steve is WILD about the Sookie connection. Take care of him, he snarls to Gabe.

Sam finds Daphne at the dock by that pond. He’s figured out that the scars on her back are how Maryann got Daphne to whore for her, and he’s furious that he opened up to her. Sam: “How can you do this to your own kind?” She tells him that Maryann saved her and gave her a whole new life with no fear, nothing but love. Now comes the exposition where Daphne answers all the Maryann questions Sam has/we have.

Q: Why Maryann is after Sam? A: Because he got away from her once and she can’t control him. Q: What’s with the black zombie eyes? A: That’s Maryann’s energy inside the regular humans but she can’t get inside “supernaturals” (i.e. shapeshifters, vamps, etc.) that way.  Q: What is Maryann? A: She’s been called Holly, Lilith, Gaia, Isis but she’s really a maenad*, a handmaiden of Dionysus who, according to Daphne, is also referred to as “the horned god” – Satan. Lust, anger, excess – Maryann brings it out in people and nurtures it.  Q: If Sam gives himself up, will Maryann go away and leave the townsfolk alone? A: Not likely – she’s having too much fun.

Hugo is now REALLY starting to panic and as he lets his guard down, Sookie picks up on the thought that he is the spy. He explains that he used to be like Sookie, “an emancipated thinker” which he says using his sarcastic voice, nearly addicted to the fabulous vampire sex. When Isabelle refused to turn him, he decided that he was being used and that’s when he turned to the Church. Sookie rolls her eyes: “If you’re so important to them, why are you stuck here with me? You’re nothing but a fang-bangin’ traitor to them.” Hugo shouts for Gabe to let him out and Sookie just laughs at him.

Upstairs, the Newlins are welcoming their flock to the Church, ready for the sleepover/lock-in that will precede the Meet the Sun ceremony. Steve says he needs to talk to Sarah in private about Jason. On the other side of the compound, Gabe is getting ready to kill Jason when he mentions that he’ll do the same to his “whore of a sister.” Being a good Southern boy, Jason immediately takes offense – “Don’t you ever talk about my sister!” – and pummels the crap out of Gabe. He grabs the knife and runs off.

Ooh – it’s Lafayette, on the phone, selling V and crimping his eyelashes. Looks like our boy is back.

Arlene comes running into Merlotte’s all in a tizzy. She grabs Tara, who is canoodling with Eggs, and says she needs to talk her NOW. She thinks she may have done something bad: she blacked out when she was with Terry last night [at Maryann’s orgy], and she thinks she might have date-raped him. Tara is beginning to slowly connect the dots. Then Andy stomps into the bar, bellowing for Terry, cast on his arm. When Tara asks what happened, he snaps that he’s “not talkin’ to you, devil-worshipper!” Sam pokes his head out as Andy continues, that he saw everyone, all those devil zombies “turnin’ this town into an orgy from hell.” He leaves, everyone laughing at him. Everyone except a glowering Sam who knows exactly what he’s talking about.

When Jessica wakes up, Hoyt has filled the room with candles and rose petals. She smiles and says it’s perfect, which pleases him since he thinks she’s perfect and wants their first time to be as perfect as she is. She shushes him: “Hoyt, just take off your pants.”

It’s dark now and Jason is still running down a dirt road. Sarah catches up to him on an ATV and he turns to her, gasping, saying that Steve and Gabe have gone completely off their nuts. She walks up to him, crying (ooh, big surprise there) and raises a gun. Apparently Steve told her about who Jason’s sister is. He raises his hands and backs up a few steps. She fires and his face contorts as he falls.

Daphne is still at the dock when Maryann walks up. Maryann thanks her for her service and kisses her. Then Zombie Eggs steps up and stabs Daphne in the gut. ‘Bye, Daphne!

A bruised Gabe comes into Sookie and Hugo’s cage and immediately starts beating the shit out of Hugo. Sookie jumps on Gabe’s back, trying to stop him so he turns his attention to her, choking her and ranting that she and her dumbshit brother are trying to make an asshole out of him. Now that he’s got her attention, he throws her to the floor, fumbling at his pants and tearing at her clothes. Sookie screams.

In the hotel, Bill hears her screaming but when he makes a move for the door, Lorena nudges a stake up to his back, saying that if he opens that door, she will end him. And then there’s another flashback with them screaming at each other: she thinks he should love her because she made him; he says he cannot and never will. My god her accent is SO effing bad. Finally, crying blood, she says that she releases him, as his maker.

Back in the present, Lorena and Bill’s struggle is interrupted when Barry the Telepathic Bellhop stops by to deliver his message. Eric overhears him and, like a flash (or The Flash), is out of the hotel and off to the church. Barry starts to grumbles telepathically to Sookie that this the last time he’s doing her any favors but he can’t complete the thought when someone reaches out of a hotel room and drags him inside.

Things are getting nasty in the Church basement what with the imminent rape and all, until WHOOSH someone hauls Gabe off Sookie. She scrambles up and gawks at the very pale, very young looking vampire holding her attacker by one ear. She gasps, “Godric?”

*  I'm a Classics major (from about a million years ago when I was in college) and before that I was a voracious reader of world myths, so here, finally, I get to put my brain into play just a little bit with respect to the show playing fast and loose with the mythology here.  First, I can't find any references to "Holly" as a deity. Lilith was a Mesopotamia/Sumerian/Hebrew figure, originally a storm demon (later Adam's first wife) and a child-killing seductress.  Gaia was the Greek Titan representing the earth, the fertile mother of us all.  Neither of those figures really sync up with what we've seen of Maryann. 

Calling her a maenad works pretty well - as a wine-frenzied, violent madwoman who worships Dionysus - except that the maenads were just human, mortal women, not gods.  Isis was originally considered a wise and kind Egyptian goddess, patron of motherhood, nature and magic, but when the Romans later assimilated aspects of her into their own myths, she took on aspects of Cybele whose followers took part in orgiastic ceremonies with wild music, drumming, dancing, and drinking - which is clearly what the True Blood producers are focusing on here.  I couldn't find any references connecting Dionysus with Satan, however, and he is actually more often identified with Christ as a resurrection god: since Dionysus is the god of the vine, he dies out every year when winter comes on, only to be reborn again each spring. He is connected with Cybele as well, having been taught her religious rites as a young god, and as the god of wine, he brings both good (ecstatic joy and freedom) and evil (drunkeness and savage brutality) to the world of men.  Don't know why the name "Cybele" wasn't added to Daphne's list as that goddess is the best fit by my analysis.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Thursday, July 8, 2010

True Blood episode recap “Hard Hearted Hannah” (S2E6)

Downstairs in the hotel lobby, Eric is feeding off a human-for-hire to pass the time. He is turned off by the fact that she is eager to be used as food, plus she calls him “baby,” which is incongruous seeing how he’s 1,000 years old. He sees that slinky lady vampire who was skulking around outside Bill and Sookie’s room and sends the human on her way. “I was beginning to think you wouldn’t make it, Lorena,” he says. Lorena smirks: “For a vampire you’re a terrible liar.” Right off the bat I decide I don’t much care for Lorena – probably because her accent is appalling.

Sookie and Bill are interrupted post-coitally by Isabelle, the Dallas vampire, with Hugo, her human, in tow. Isabelle has come by to offer Hugo’s assistance in Sookie’s infiltration into the Church: he will go in with her, watch her back, assist with her alibi.

Back downstairs, Eric tells Lorena that he wants Bill distracted so he can get closer to Sookie, who interests him. She’s all, “Why do you think I want him back? I haven’t seen him in seventy years.” Eric leans in and intensely says that he hasn’t seen his maker in much longer than that and yet he is still very, very loyal. Lorena chuckles that she wishes she’d made him instead even though Eric isn’t really her type.

Oh dear - another flashback, this time without Vikings so: meh. It’s Prohibition Era. Bill is singing and playing the piano (oof) and Lorena is lining up their next victims – a flapper and her rich fella. By the way, Lorena’s French accent isn’t much better than her Southern one. After his song, Bill saunters over to meet the marks: he walks in slo-mo, in an attempt to make him seem scary, I guess. Doesn’t work.

It’s more post-coital chat, this time between Sam and Daphne who are still draped over the pool table. He asks her about the vicious scars on her back and she tells him that she never got a look at what jumped her. She was super-sick for weeks afterwards but somehow managed to pull through. Honey, that was a big ol’ minotaur with claws what gotcha. They talk about why Sam keeps his shifting a secret (because it’s dangerous out there); Daphne insists that he should share what he is with those he cares about (because it’s dangerous not to). Sam is so smitten with her and so they do it again – that poor pool table!

Over at Sookie’s house, the hot water heater is broken and Maryann is Extremely Cranky about not having a hot shower. Tara manages to locate a pump for the ancient heater – at some hardware store two hours away – and she and Eggs take off in Maryann’s Jaguar to fetch the part.

Steve and Sarah Newlin have summoned Jason and Luke away from their training to build a platform and scaffolding. Jason is worried that he’s being punished for his interlude with Sarah last night in the bathtub but no, it’s just that Steve wants to have his best guys in charge of the construction. It’s for a procedure called “Meet the Sun” in which a vampire is tied to the crossbars on the platform before sun-up and then the whole church congregation gets to watch him burn to death. “Jesus Christ!” exclaims Jason, horrified. And Steve is like well, yes, right, but also the sun.

Hugo tries to lay some ground rules with Sookie for their infiltration: their cover is that they’re engaged and looking for a church to get married in. She promises to keep her mouth shut and let him do all the talking: it’s easier for her to concentrate on reading others’ thoughts that way. She can’t help herself and asks what it’s like for him to be in a relationship with a vampire since he’s the only other human she’s met who is. He says that he and Isabelle have been fighting a lot lately because Isabelle refuses to turn him. Sookie’s like, is that an issue? And Hugo replies that well, it’s okay for now, but what happens when the humans age and get decrepit while their vampire lovers stay exactly the same? Sookie hadn’t considered that before but puts a good spin on it: if she dies today, she doesn’t have to worry about aging.

On their road trip, Eggs starts to get déjà vu, recognizing the countryside they’re driving through although he’s sure he’s never been there before. He makes Tara pull over and gets out of the car, walking into the woods. Tara trails after him, whining.

During the lunchtime crowd, Andy Bellefleur shows up at Merlotte’s to interrogate Lafayette, what with having disappeared for nearly three weeks and then coming back different. Lafayette tries to tell him that he was on a gay cruise but Andy’s not having any of it and starts yelling at him, threatening to lock him up. Lafayette starts to hallucinate that it’s Eric yelling at him and cowers in the corner, crying. Terry comes rushing into the kitchen and pulls Andy away, chastising him and reminding him that he’s not even a cop right now. After Andy leaves, Terry kneels down and pulls Lafayette into his arms, telling him to close his eyes and imagine a bright, warm light. Aw – bonding over PTSD.

Meanwhile, Hoyt comes bursting into the restaurant to ask his mother, who is dining there with a crony, why she turned off his cell phone. She says she’s trying to keep him away from Jessica who she thinks is a tramp. Hoyt tells her that she darn well better turn his phone back on … pluswhich the reason Jessica only calls him late at night is because she’s a vampire. He exits on that line and his mother just gasps and gapes like a fish out of water.

Back in the kitchen, Sam comes up to Daphne and suggests that they go out back and shift, so they can run and do it during the daytime. Sam: “If you don’t go out back and take off all your clothes, I will fire you.” “Well,” grins Daphne, “we wouldn’t want that.”

Jason is having a crisis of conscience, what with the thing in the bathtub with Sarah. When he brings up the subject with Luke (in an extremely vague sort of way) Luke reiterates that the reason he’s been abstinent for three years is because sex outside of marriage is a sin. Of course, he goes on, there are bigger sins than others: like adultery, incest and bestiality … but none of those are as bad as “if you do it with a vampire, or a dude, or a vampire dude – that’s the cream de la cream right there, baby.” Jason thinks about it and considers it: Jason Stackhouse: abstinent.

When Sookie and Hugo pull into the church parking lot, Sarah Newlin is right there, waiting for them. Of course, Sookie immediately starts babbling while Hugo looks on helplessly, unable to stem the flow. The babbling continues as they sit down with Steve. As the spies pour on the anti-vampire sentiment, Sookie manages to catch a stray thought of Steve’s, thinking about how he’ll enjoy dragging that vampire out of the cellar and watching him burn out on that platform. Hmm, thinks Sookie, we’re onto something.

So, time for another Bill and Lorena flashback: they’ve got the flapper couple in the bedroom and make short work of them. Then they have non-naked sex in the midst of all the blood. Come on – how can so bloody be so boring?

Back in the middle of nowhere, Eggs and Tara have made their way to a clearing in the woods. There’s a fire ring, and shredded clothes, and trampled grass – and a big rock with a big bloodstain on it, like it was used as a chopping block. Eggs freaks out, not understanding how he knows this place; Tara is freaking out too, understandably.

The Newlins give Sookie and Hugo a tour of the church, showing them the main hall that is just flooded with sunshine. The spies blink at the brightness and imagine their lovers burning to crispy bits. Then big ol’ nasty Gabe strolls up and Sookie hears his and Steve’s thoughts about how they know she can read their thoughts. Uh-oh.

Andy is driving out on a country road when his headlights catch Sam the dog and that giant pig in the road. Andy cries, “I know that pig!” and jumps out of his car to give chase, but can’t catch them. Later, after they shift back to their human forms, Sam asks why Daphne chose a pig this time and not the doe. Daphne replies that a pig is her “go-to shift.” Yikes. I think Sam is about to get his heart broken, if not worse.

Pam makes a trip to Bon Temps, surprising (and terrifying) Lafayette in Merlotte’s walk-in cooler. Why? Because Eric wants him to start dealing V again. Lafayette doesn’t want to – at all – but Pam is insistent. She hands him a vial and leaves. What is Eric up to?

Near the end of the church tour, the pretenses drop and Steve and Gabe drag Sookie and Hugo down-cellar into a cage. Sarah is terribly upset about this and protests vehemently, but Steve isn’t interested in listening to her – he’s got his own agenda now.

As Sookie screams in the church cellar, Bill (in the Dallas hotel room) hears her and awakens. He wants to go to her, despite it being full-daytime … but Lorena is there and she won’t let him leave. Because she is his maker, he is unable to use his strength against her.

When Tara and Eggs return home, Sookie’s house has been trashed. They follow the trail of shed clothes and wine bottles to find that Maryann’s got another orgy going on out back. This time, neither of them is under her glamour (at first) and their WTF faces are priceless. Everyone else is having crazy black-eyed sex around a bonfire while Maryann flickers in and out in the center of the group. A minotaur mask is on the ground beside her.

Since it’s nighttime now, Jessica wakes up. There are no messages from Hoyt so she’s petulant – hilariously grabbing two bottles of Tru Blood from the minibar and spitefully pouring them down the sink - until there’s a knock on the door and it’s Hoyt, come all the way to Dallas to see her. He apologizes for not being able to call her but she’s just so happy to see him and jumps into his embrace. They really are the least messed up couple on this show.

Jason wanders into the church, looking for a Newlin to let them know the construction job is done. He finds Sarah there, up in the apse (?), crying. She’s crying because Steve has changed: he wants to start a war against the vampires, and he lies to her, and he “uses the C-word” … and she basically uses her discontent to rationalize that she and Jason should have sex right then and there (because God wants it – she’s so twisted), Jason’s newfound vow of abstinence be damned. He puts up a token resistance but is really helpless in front of her.

Daphne leads Sam through the woods towards the bonfire – but he doesn’t want to go because he associates such things with “hippies and cults.” “Not this time, Sam,” she says, deadly serious, and two of Maryann’s zombies run out and grab him. They drag Sam into the circle where Tara and Eggs have now joined the black-eyed sexcapades and he’s doing her from behind. Daphne walks over to Maryann and places the minotaur helmet on her mistress’s head. Maryann starts to chant and flicker; and Sam starts to scream because he’s just seen a big ol’ knife that’s intended for him.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Monday, July 5, 2010

True Blood episode recap “Never Let Me Go” (S2E5)

As I mentioned, this episode is a little slow with not much gore and no explicit sex, plus there's a lot of pillow talk between Sookie and Bill which, while is supposed to be demonstrating how close they are becoming, I just find boring.  I prefer to spend my True Blood time with Eric and Jessica and Lafayette and Sam.

Daphne leads Sam out into the woods, away from the party, shedding clothes as she does. He follows, picking up her clothes and as he comes around a tree, he surprises a doe. “Well, hey,” says Sam. The doe transforms into Daphne. “Hey your own self,” she grins. Sam starts to hyperventilate. After the credits, all he can say is: “Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ!” Daphne just smiles and tells him, “You’re not alone anymore.” “Well, yeah!” says Sam. They start to make out but are interrupted by Terry and Arlene, who are themselves looking for a place to get busy. Daphne gives Sam a quick smooch and runs off.

In Dallas, Sookie chases Barry the mind-reading bellhop down the hall, begging him to stop. She introduces herself as a fellow telepath and starts peppering him with questions but he is very, very nervous, not wanting to talk about their “gifts.” Barry begs her not to tell anyone about him and runs away.

Back in the room, Bill is reading Jessica the riot act for ordering that boy off the menu: it’s only True Blood for her from now on. Jessica stomps off to her room, muttering that he’s going to be SO sorry when she gets an eating disorder. Heh. Next, Bill tries to lecture Sookie about being more careful since the Dallas vampires are very, very dangerous. She sort of promises to be good then pushes him down onto the couch and climbs on top of him.

Meanwhile, in her own room Jessica has called Hoyt and he’s just as sweet on the phone to her as he was in person, telling her he can’t stop thinking about her. His momma barges into Hoyt’s bedroom, ranting that any girl that calls so late isn’t ladylike … Hoyt shuts the door in her face and then he asks Jessica if she would like him to read his comic book to her over the phone. Jessica would like that very much. Awww.

Over at church camp, the recruits are rousted out of bed early and put through their paces by a mean drill sergeant: calisthenics, running for miles and miles, obstacle courses. Luke and Jason get competitive with each other, of course. Some time later, however, Luke has overdone it and can’t make it over a chain link fence. The drill sergeant (soon to be known as “Gabe”) gets in his face, humiliating him. Jason’s good heart takes over and he scales the fence, then leans back over and gives Luke a helping hand so he can climb over too. Sarah’s panties just about dissolve at that.

Back in Bon Temps, Tara wakes up in her bed at Sookie’s house, snuggled up to Eggs. She tells him that this was the first birthday she can remember that she enjoyed, all because of him. “First of many, Tara Mae,” Eggs says.

Sookie slips out of bed without waking Bill and sneaks downstairs to find Barry. He’s setting up the hotel’s continental breakfast and is annoyed that she won’t leave him alone. Barry is frazzled, saying that the reason he has to work with vampires is to keep the noise in his head down. Sookie offers to teach him control it but he brushes her off, saying there’s enough people in his brain already.

Back up in her room, she inadvertently wakes Bill up when she gets back into bed. She tells Bill about Barry: he’s not very nice and he’s not very good at it, but it’s good to meet another telepath. Bill is cranky about her slipping off the leash and blah blah blah, there’s lots of talk and I’m bored. Bill is also concerned that Eric is so tense about this Godric business. Whatever, Bill, I’m sure he has his reasons.

Things are a little snippy between Arlene and Daphne at Merlotte’s until Lafayette walks in, to Arlene and Terry’s delight. Lafayette asks Sam if they can talk in private, but then he refuses to answer any of Sam’s questions about where he’s been, just asking for his job back. Sam: “Of course you can have your job back – place ain’t the same without you.” Sam gently asks him what happened but Lafayette just backs away, a shadow of his former self.

When Tara goes down to the kitchen, Maryann has made herself right at home in Sookie’s house, informing Tara that she, Karl and Eggs need a new place to stay: she was just house-sitting at the gorgeous home she’d been in. Tara stutters, saying that Maryann can’t move in here – it’s not her house and Sookie doesn’t know them from Adam. Maryann gets upset and runs out. When Tara confronts Eggs about their being homeless nomads, he’s defensive and says a house doesn’t matter – it’s caring about people that makes a family.

Back in Dallas, Eric, Bill and Sookie are meeting with the current vampire powers-that-be, Isabelle and Stan. Stan is a big ol’ redneck who believes that the Church has kidnapped Godric (when someone asks how it could be the humans captured Godric, Stan grumps, “2,000 years don’t make you smart.”) and thinks that their only course is to raid the Church, rescue their Sheriff and slaughter all the vampire-hating humans. Isabelle thinks that’s rash, Eric is quickly losing patience, and Sookie is amazed that a vampire could be 2,000 years old.

At the Newlins’ house, Gabe waits off to one side while Steve and Sarah argue. She feels like she’s being shut out – “Why does Gabe always know more than I do? And you two are going too far!” – but Steve doesn’t listen to her, telling Gabe that he’s doing good work. Jason shows up and Steve is pleased to see him, saying that he wants to show him something. They go down-cellar, leaving a pouting Sarah behind, to “the Light of Day Institute of Research and Development” which is a huge weapons cache. Steve says that they don’t quite know all the ways to kill vampires yet, but they’re getting close: a wooden arrow is like a “little bitty stake;” a wooden bullet is more effective than a silver one if shot through the heart; there are huge flame throwers and silver throwing stars; and there’s even a guillotine on order. Of course Steve has to explain what a guillotine is to Jason.

That evening, Karl drives Maryann up to Merlotte’s. She sits there in the car, glaring at the restaurant, and then does some of her magical flickering. Inside Merlotte’s, all of a sudden things get very cranky. Everyone starts picking on each other, and messing up orders. But mostly everyone picks on Tara, yelling at her and dogging her relentlessly. Miserable, Tara tells all of them to fuck off and then leans against the bar, frustrated and angry. Outside, Maryann smiles at Karl and says her work is done. They drive away.

Jason is soaking in the bathtub when Sarah lets herself in and locks the door behind her. He is nervous, eyes wide, and when she sits next to the tub and says she wants to help, he doesn’t know what to do. She rolls up her sleeve and starts washing his chest. Then, unable to restrain herself, she plunges her hand beneath the soapy water. “No!” he protests. “You don’t mean it,” she replies, “After all your trials, heartache and pain, God wants you to have a reward. Let me reward you, Jason.” And then she brings him off, right there in the tub.

Stan and Isabelle are still arguing and the Louisiana contingent is getting fed up. Sookie suggests that she could infiltrate the Church, read some minds and find out if Godric is being held there. Stan thinks it’s a waste of time; Isabelle doesn’t think there’s any other way; Eric says that’s it, we’re doing this. But Bill would like a word with him, privately: It’s too dangerous for Sookie – and just why is Eric so worried about the Sheriff of Area 9?

Flashback to 1,000 years ago: Eric’s a goddamn Viking! Awesome! He’s been badly wounded and a couple of his men are trying to help him, refusing to leave him to die. When they camp at night, a feral-looking earth sprite of a vampire (an earth sprite with wicked big teeth) makes short work of the other two men before deciding that Eric is both pretty enough and an impressive enough fighter to make into his companion. This is of course Godric and he is Eric’s maker.

After the bar closes, Daphne stays to help Sam clean up. Sam is really falling for this girl, thrilled and amazed to finally have met someone like him. Soon enough, they’re naked and having sex on the pool table.

When Tara gets home, Maryann is waiting up for her, dressed like June Cleaver in a housedress and apron, reading a cookbook. She tells Tara that while they haven’t found a place yet, they’ll still leave in the morning; in the meantime, she’s made dinner for Tara and filled the fridge for her. Tara takes her hand and asks her to stay – she’ll talk to Sookie. Master manipulator Maryann just smiles.

Back at the hotel, Bill tries to talk Sookie out of going to the Church but she says that she gave Eric her word. Then they do it. Sookie really likes sex with Bill.  However, out in the hallway, a fetching, slinky vampire sashays down the corridor. She pauses in front of their door and as Sookie sighs coitally, “Oh, Bill!” the girl vamp’s fangs pop right out. She looks like trouble.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Friday, July 2, 2010

Press Pause

There will be a slight break in the True Blood recap action as I decided to not live-blog it this time.  I think I miss a lot of what goes on when I'm typing as I watch for the first time.  Not like there's anything deep or profound happening on True Blood, but the episodes are more enjoyable if I can watch them the first time and just watch them.  That being said, I've watched the next three episodes and am letting them percolate a bit.  While E5 is kind of slow and talky and not much happens, the good news is that the pace absolutely picks back up for E6 and E7 with lots of sex, things moving forward and may I just gloat right now for having pretty much called it on WTF Maryann is.  I friggin' knew that Classics degree was going to come in handy.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, it's the Fourth of July weekend - why don't you all go outside and watch a parade, have a beer, take a walk.  Or, if that sort of thing is anathema to you, and you've noticed a marked dearth of restaurant reviews over here at FMS, you could check out my other, "I'm exploring Utah and loving it" blog: We Went West.  There's posts about beer, breakfast (including bacon, of course) and non-breakfast eating.  There's also other stuff but it's kind of outdoorsy and not so much with the pop culture.

Have a good weekend, don't forget to wear sunscreen and the next True Blood installment will be up soon!