Friday, April 30, 2010

Searching For Signal: #126 - “Survivor” - Heroes vs. Villains - Episode 11

So everybody’s marching into camp after the amazing double-idol extravaganza that Parvati pulled, with the end result being a stunned JT walking out the door and into the Land of Humiliation. Rupert whispers to Colby, “I tried.” At first I think he might be talking about combing his hair, then I realize he was the only one who believed Sandra about Russell’s lies. Colby, in his cowboy hat, because you really need those at night, just says “Yep.” (Does he think he’s Gary Cooper?)

Candice to the former Villains: “Well, it was a good one you guys. It really was.” Everybody laughs like they’re all best friends, but you can tell that even the Villains can’t believe what happened.

Especially Russell. He’s parked in a tent, pouting because he’s obviously not completely in control anymore. He grills Sandra. Did you know she had the idols? Sandra: Hell, I didn’t know she even had ONE, let alone TWO. Did you know? Nope, Russell says he didn’t know a thing. (Dude, you GAVE her one of those two. Have you ever told the truth in your life? You should try it some time. Just to see what it feels like.)

Russell can’t let it go. Next we have him on the beach with Parv, Jerri and Danielle. He accuses Parvati of lying, and stealing the second idol from him, and blah blah blah. He mean. Cut to Parvati in a sidebar: I think Russell’s a little scared. And that’s fine by me. (You got that right, sister. Toy with that little troll until he snaps.)

Off to the side, Amanda tells Rupert that he was right all along (ya think?) and now they need to scramble and get one of the Villains to jump to their side. Rupert is going to work on Sandra, while Amanda will work on “the others”. (Aside from this being a vague assignment for Amanda, I’m not sure you want Amanda talking to anybody. It was her bad acting skills that clued Parvati in to the fact that the Heroes weren’t writing her name down. Maybe Amanda should just be on coconut duty.)

Then there’s a long montage where Rupert does uninteresting things with the campfire while he whines about people not listening to him. We get it, Rupert. Thanks for repeating it so many times. Now you and your toe need to get Sandra to flip.

Roll opening credits.

Scene with Russell and Candice on the beach, where he’s babbling about “somebody’s gonna jump” and he sure would like to pull Candice in as reinforcements. (In a sidebar, Russell thinks the jumper is Sandra. Of course she’s going to jump, Rustle. You and the Pixie Chicks haven‘t done her any favors.) Russell promises that Candice can be in the top six, and hints at possibly making the top three. (Note to Russ: How can you promise that? Didn’t Parvati just prove that you aren’t running the game? Note to Candy: Run in the other direction like there’s free cheese at Wal-Mart.)

Russell runs to tell the Pixies that Candice is IN, ready to burn her old house down. Now it doesn’t matter what Sandra does.

Then bam, we’re suddenly at the Reward Challenge. No tree mail, nothing. (Did some staffer forget to do something somewhere along the line?) This one’s called “Survivor Shuffle”, a shuffleboard thing where you have to slide discs and try to get them closest to the target. They’re splitting into three teams, and the winners get to visit the Robert Louis Stevenson museum and watch “Treasure Island”.

Sort of a sucky prize, right? And where’s the food? Is this even worth getting dirty and sweaty?

We get going, and once again Sandra proves that she can’t win a damn thing. On her second shot, Jeff can’t help but say “That was a wasted shot right there.” On the very last shot, Colby hits the mark perfectly, so he, Danielle and Amanda are going on reward. (Sandra as she marches away empty-handed: “We’re going to eat all the rice, so don’t go looking for it when you come back.”)

So the three of them show up at Robert L’s house, where a floral-printed woman is telling us things we don’t care about. (“Bob sat in this very chair!”) Everyone looks bored, and Amanda is picking up and examining everything in the museum. (If I were the guide, I would have slapped her, who cares if the cameras are rolling.)

In a sidebar, Amanda says her focus was finding the hidden immunity idol clue. Whatev, girl, you don’t pick up old things that don’t belong to you. Leave that to Tiger Woods.

Then we see the trio lounging on a bed, watching the movie and eating popcorn. (Everyone agrees that the popcorn is deelish. The movie, not so much.) Amanda is paying no attention, with her darting eyes searching the room for the clue. But it’s Danielle that finds the clue in one of the bowls of popcorn. She discreetly throws it under the bed while Amanda is checking the toilet paper roll.

Amanda gets suspicious, goes to Danielle’s side of the bed, and finds the clue. She snatches it up and runs. She and Danielle actually get into a catfight, stomping all over the place. (Colby just lays on the bed, uninterested.) This fight goes on for a while, with Danielle calling Amanda “psychotic” at least 47 times and clawing to get the clue back. All we need is some hot oil and we’ve got Showtime After Dark.

Danielle finally tries to get Colby involved. He actually says “I didn’t see what happened. I was watching ‘Treasure Island.’” (Are you kidding me? They’ve been pulling each other’s hair for twenty minutes.) Colby then says it’s understandable that Amanda took it, we’re desperate. “But it’s YOUR clue, Danielle. You found it.” Amanda finally gives it to her. Danielle: “I need a glass of wine” after that.

Amanda in a sidebar: “Colby wasn’t backing me up.” Honey, it doesn’t matter. If that clue was in MY hands, I’d have ripped it open, read it aloud, and THEN given it back. Do you want the money or not? (And Colby? Shut up.)

So the three get back to camp, and Danielle goes running up to Russ and the Pixies, and tells a totally different story about getting the clue back from Amanda. In her version, she beat Amanda to death with a copy of “Treasure Island” and snatched the clue. (Uh huh.) But yeah, they sort of know I have the clue. Jerri: “So let’s go find it.”

Off they go, scrambling through the undergrowth and shoving rocks around. (At one point, we are treated to a full-screen shot of Danielle’s butt. With THAT being in high-def, I was scared.) And of course, Russell finds it and doesn’t tell the others.

Russell runs to Candice, says he found the idol, and that him showing it to her should be proof that he’s not lying about her coming into the alliance. Candice, no dummy: “Can I see it now?” Russell glances over at the tent where the rest of the folks are lying around, lethargic but still able to keep their eyes open. Umm. Candice: “I want to see it NOW.”

Russell drags her off to wherever he’s got the idol, waves it at her briefly, then says “This is what is going to get us to the final three.” (Oh, now she’s final three?) Candice in a sidebar: “I don’t know if I trust Russell.” How many hundreds of times have we heard people say that, just before they DO trust him and get sent home? Geez.

Now we have Sandra and Colby traipsing through the forest, with Sandra spilling all about how Russell and the Pixies eliminated her alliance. (In a sidebar, Sandra confirms that she is SO ready to jump.) Trouble is, Colby is convinced that Danielle has the Idol, based on her having the clue. (Fair enough.) So this skews their plotting. Bottom line, Colby asks “Do we take out Russell or Parvati?”

Cut to Russell and Sandra. He lets slip that there are 6 people on his side, so even if you flip it doesn’t matter. “But anyway, I trust you.” Sandra kind of giggles as he walks away. (Note to Sandra: Don’t ever floss your teeth in front of us like you just did. Not pretty.)

Sandra goes to Rupert. I’m ready, let’s get Russell. Oh, by the way, Russell says one of your guys flipped. I hope they’re just lying to him. Can you check that out?

Colby goes to Amanda. Sandra’s on our side. We can do this. Russell or Parvati.

Time for the Immunity Challenge.

This one involves them using tiles to build a 10-foot “house of cards”. First to do so, Immunity. Most everyone is horrible at this, so it comes down to a race between Jerri and Russell. Jerri pulls it off just seconds ahead of Russell. (Which I’m sure sends him into a tizzy, because he won’t be able to do a showy “double idol” thing at Tribal, and therefore Parvati still owns the best move this season. More pouting.)

Back at camp, Russell gets with Candice. Write Amanda’s name down. Whether you do it or not, she’s going home. Hmm. At this point, I don’t see the math behind that statement, but you never know. And really, it’s all about the playing of the hidden idol. Which Russell owns, so the little chihuahua will probably squeak by again.

Candice in a sidebar: At this point, people are going to be mad, either way I go. True. But are you really going to side with Russell? He will throw you under the bus. And when you’re old and gray, wouldn’t it be nice to have a merit badge on your cardigan sweater that says “I tricked Russell”?

Quick scene with most of the Heroes (not sure if Sandra was there, we saw lots of body parts so I can‘t be certain). Rupert: “Everyone has to make sure to write Russell’s name down.” Interestingly enough, there’s an odd expression on Amanda’s face. What’s up with that? Then again, there’s some low wattage with that bulb. Who knows.

Very revealing scene with Russell, Candice and Parvati. Candy tells Russell that the Heroes are voting for him. Parvati: “I’ve never seen Amanda lay down and die like this.” Candice: “She thinks she’s safe.” Parvati: “That makes more sense to me.” Then a weird thing that I don’t understand. Russell: “Who told you she was good? Did Sandra say she was good?” Candice nods.

Wait. So what IS Candice doing? Which side is she on?

Russell runs as fast as he can to find Sandra, with Candice trailing along behind him. Russell tells Sandra that Candice said Sandra was going to vote for him. Sandra denies this. Candice catches up with them. Russell basically threatens both of them, because that’s the only way he knows to operate. Then they all glare at each other for a bit. (Candice and Sandra have to bend down to do this, but still.)

Russell in a sidebar: All I need is one vote from either one of them, and Amanda goes home. Unless they have a genius plan where both of them are going to flip. Then it might be ME going home.

I immediately run and light a votive candle and begin chanting prayers.

Scene with Sandra, Rupert, Colby and Candice. Sandra is understandably freaking a little bit. Colby: “Candice is on our side. Calm down. We’re voting Parvati.”

Really? Not Russell?

Then Rupert explains. Either Danielle has the idol, or she’s going to give it to Russell. Total blindside if we vote for Parvati. Another scene with Candice swearing that she will not leave Sandra swinging in the wind. And Colby flat out says: If this doesn’t work, then we know that Candice flipped. And Candice is sitting right there. She makes a face that will not put her on the cover of “Glamour”.

I have no idea what’s going to happen at this point.

Then we have ANOTHER confusing scene, with Sandra and Candice on the beach. Russell and Danielle try to run up and get in the middle of things, but Sandra sends them away. “Can you JUST give us a minute? Every time I try to talk to someone other people are in my face.” (True.) Sandra to Candice: “Just vote Parvati.” Candice wants to vote Amanda, which clearly says she’s siding with Russell. Sandra: I am putting myself on the line for YOU. Who do you really want out?”

The camera cuts away before Candice responds. Of course.


And Jeff makes the focus all about Sandra. How do the Heroes win her over? How do the Villains convince her to stay? Russell makes it clear that he thinks Sandra is worthless, but at the same time, you have a better chance of winning at the end with a worthless person. Nice. How’s that for a warm fuzzy, Sandra?

Jeff: Who has the immunity idol? Colby: Danielle has it. (Nope.) Jeff: “Parvati, you worried?” Parv: Of course. I’ve given away my protection. Jeff: “Russell, you could be a target.” Russ: “Unless I find an idol, I’m gone.” Oh please. What’s that bulge in your pocket? The “Survivor” producers?

Time to vote.

Jeff “tallies” the votes. “Anyone have the idol?”

Russell plays his, giving a boring, self-congratulating speech.

End result, 3 votes for Parvati, 6 for Amanda, which means that both Sandra and Candice went to the dark side. What the hell? I. Just. Don’t. Get. These. People.

Parvati to Russell: “Dude, you wasted that idol.” (Déjà vu.)

Doesn’t really matter. He’ll find another one on his way home from Tribal.

By the way, anybody keeping an eye on the growing jury pool? Does Russell really think he can get a vote out of that mess? Just wondering…

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Searching For Signal: #125 - “Nurse Jackie” - Season 2, Episode 6

We start out with Jackie fiddling with a snow globe, probably because it somehow reminds her of pills. Then the camera pulls back and we see that she is lounging in bed with Eddie, presumably at his place. (Well, for all we know, it could be a Crate & Barrel display, but we’ll go with it being Eddie’s pad.)

They have a conversation wherein we learn that Eddie thinks vinyl is better than digital, Jackie hasn’t listened to music since Teletubbies invaded her house (no further details are given), and that Eddie really wants to know a lot more about her life. Jackie thinks this is rude, blurts out “I like YOU, and not just because you have drugs”, then she stomps out. But not before adding, “stay away from my family.”

Jackie arrives back home, where Kevin is making popcorn. Jackie pretends to be interested in this boring activity and tries to not look like she just had sex with someone she supposedly can‘t stand and is not her husband. Then there’s a cattle herd noise, and here come Gracie, Fiona and that obnoxious hellion Caitlin running in from the other room. Caitlin clearly trips Fiona on purpose, sending her sprawling, but Jackie and Kevin don’t notice this because they’re busy denying that their relationship is in trouble.

We’re not sure if it’s just the trauma from the fall, but little Fiona races up to Jackie explaining that she would really like to have a broken arm for her birthday so she can wear a cast. Jackie is not particularly supportive of this request. Then we have several instances of devil-child Caitlin verbally tormenting little Fiona until Jackie finally snaps, grabbing the heathen and telling her to “Shut the f*** up!” Caitlin gets a satisfyingly frightened look on her face.

This altercation sends Jackie to the basement, where she digs around in her trusty Easter Decorations pill box, only to find that all the eggs are empty. Uh oh. So she has to traipse back upstairs, non-medicated, and sit on the couch with Kevin while the three girls watch something animated and uninteresting on TV. Jackie to Kevin: “Do you know where my Joni Mitchell albums are?” (No idea.)

Cut to the hospital, where Zoey is being cranky and odd. No one cares, so she stops this after a bit. Then we have some squabbling between Dr. Cooper, Jackie, Zoey and Sam as they fight over who has to help a patient clean himself after he goes number two. Not sure what that’s all about, and fairly certain that we didn’t need to see that.

Then another victim is rushed in, this one being a woman who, we eventually learn, tried to kill herself by driving her motorcycle into something that wasn’t soft. She’s a mess, ruptured spleen and such. Her husband/boyfriend/something paces anxiously in the waiting room, thinking it was just an accident.

During all this mess, some pharmaceutical salesman wanders in, trying to interest Jackie in his wares. She gets all militant, telling him to get back over “the yellow line”, this is not the time. He mentions something about free samples, and suddenly she’s all ears, snatching up everything he proffers. Then she heads to the nearest restroom and has a nice snack.

Next we have Zoey and Jackie, where Zoey is still acting crazed and weird. Jackie: “Is it the hormones or what? And did you ever take a pregnancy test?” Zoey: Nope, I just KNOW. (Test or not, Zoey, you’re really getting on my nerves with this. Go talk to the writers and have them whip up some more interesting scenes for you.)

Mrs. Akalitus comes marching through, dragging a life-size paper doll of Dr. Cooper. She pulls Jackie off to one side: Whether you like this concept of Coop being a pin-up for the hospital or not, you need to deal with it. Then she waves the paper doll around. “These things cost $280 dollars. DON’T vandalize.” (Of course, we know right away that Jackie is going to do just that.)

Akalitus wanders back to her bat cave, and Dr. O’Hara waltzes up because she’s tired of sitting in the Green Room and wants to do some acting. She and Jackie are studying the paper doll thing, thinking of clever put-downs, when Coop himself struts up. They chase him away with insults. Then O’Hara’s phone rings. It’s the mysterious Sarah, TV reporter and apparent bed-mate, and she’s standing right behind them.

O’Hara races into Sarah’s arms, and there’s some tender but discreet re-awakening of dormant lust. To make up for this noisy display of growing passion, they insist that Jackie go to lunch with them. Cut to the handy restaurant next door, where Sarah gets hopped-up on wine and shares a baffling story about she and O’Hara getting horny on an army base and lying to people so they can play slap and tickle. Jackie squirms appropriately.

Back at the hospital, we have another patient wheeled in. This man has an arrow through one of his lungs. (“Some rich guy got drunk and shot it into the air.”) Dr. O’Hara is actually the attending physician, but Coop also wanders in, looking for attention. The two of them snap at each other, so Jackie is the only one paying attention to the patient, and we discover that he’s just had a lung transplant. And guess where the arrow landed?

Quick scene in Mrs. Akalitus’ office, where Coop is whining about being disrespected. He’s sitting next to the giant paper doll that he dragged in. Someone has scribbled “I grab boobs” on it. Wonder who that might have been? Akalitus just looks at Coop like she really needs to change her shoes.

Zoey, praying in the hospital chapel, where Sam and O’Hara began and ended their relationship. (Better watch where you sit, honey.) Zoey gazes in supplication at a statue of Mary. “I’m not ready for this.” I assume she’s talking about her pregnancy. Then again, it’s Zoey. She could easily be referring to a new choice of bagel.

Kevin calls Jackie. “Eddie and I are going out tonight. He got us a table at Susan Sarandon’s really cool ping-pong bar. Isn’t that great?” Jackie quietly snaps the neck of a small, furry animal that happened to hop by.

Zoey comes running up to Jackie: “The rich man who shot the arrow? He sent his driver.” Jackie is SO not impressed with this. She marches up to the driver, and tries to tear him a new one. Turns out, the driver can’t stand his employer, so that takes some of the fun out of it. The driver explains that the criminal charges were dropped because his evil boss has connections. And get this, he sent me on a mission: “I’m here to pick up his arrow.”

Jackie’s eyeballs explode.

She snatches up the arrow and races outside to the fancy car the driver has parked outside. It’s a very plush Mercedes-Benz. (“Only 15 of them were made!” explains the driver.) Trouble is, the owner is not inside. No problem. Jackie takes the arrow and scratches up the paint job around the entire car. The driver just smiles.

Cut to Eddie and Kevin playing ping-pong at the fancy celebrity bar. Jackie walks in, popping a pill as she does so, and then joins them. When Kevin wanders off for more beer, Jackie confronts her crazed lover. “WHY Eddie?” Eddie: “You lie to me, I tell him everything.” And I guess I’m supposed to feel sorry for Jackie at this point, but seriously, she’s the one who initiated the recent round of squat tag. With a crazy man. And she didn’t even get any nice drugs out of the encounter.

Final scene, with Jackie sitting in her kitchen, applying a fake cast to little Fiona’s arm. Jackie: “Are you sure you want this for your birthday?” Fiona: “I know it’s not broken. Nothing’s really broken.”

From the mouths of babes, right? If only we would listen.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Searching For Signal: #124 - “Survivor” - Heroes vs. Villains - Episode 10

We start out in the Heroes camp, where everybody is babbling about the upcoming merge. They are all very psyched about the illusion that as soon as the merge happens, Russell is going to come running to them with open arms and the game will be theirs. It’s sad that logic has left them behind. Maybe it’s a vitamin deficiency.

JT in a sidebar: “Give us a merge, give us anything, we’re bored!” (Speaking of giving, JT, you’ve already given Russell the gift that’s going to keep on giving, just not in the way you think. This whole episode might just be centered around your surprised facial expressions as things develop.)

Then we have Amanda and Rupert wandering over to the little tree mail spot, and lo and behold there’s a big ole chest sitting there. The attached note indicates there’s no key, but “company” might just be coming along to help them out with that. Merge!

Cut to the Villains camp, where they find a key attached to a giant walking stick with a piece of paper wrapped around it. This paper turns out to be a map to the other camp. A joyous celebration erupts as everyone jumps and cheers. (Including Sandra, although I’m sure her bouncing is for an entirely different reason.)

Russell gathers his minions around (minus Sandra, natch) and they concoct a little story about “double idols” so that the Heroes will THINK Russell tried to do as JT expected by attempting to vote Parvati out, but things just got wacky. On the surface, there are 500 holes in this story, but based on the gullibility of the Heroes so far, it just might fly.

Russell in a sidebar: “I’m the only one with a hidden idol.” Interesting, since that means Parvarti has held her tongue about her own little jewel. Then Russell runs back to join the rest of the dancing Villains, as they all convinced that the Heroes are “doing down in flames.”

Roll opening credits.

And here come the Villains, traipsing down the Hero beach while lugging gear and cussing about the fact that they have to carry things. (Did you expect valet service? I’m sure Jeff has a few servants he can spare, ask him.)

A camera zooms in the catch JT’s reaction to the fact that Parvati is at the head of the line, as I’m sure they’ve been instructed to do. He’s a little surprised. (JT in a sidebar: I couldn’t believe Parvati was still there. Then I saw Russell’s little legs sticking out from under the Sear’s crate, and I knew what had happened. They both played an idol. Now there aren’t any left! Woo hoo!

Poor, poor delusional thing.

Everybody finally gets to camp, and there’s lots of fake hugging and pretense that they all don’t want to stab each other in the back. They bust open the trunk, where they find new buffs, of course, and a nice spread of food. While they chow down on this, they try to think of a new tribe name. Most of the suggestions are boring, but then Jerri, because she’s bitter, spits out “All Villains”. Because we all are.

Rupert, because he’s all about truth, honesty and idealized visions that have no basis in reality, races off to find a camera for a sidebar. He’s terribly offended about being compared to a villain, and he wants to whine about that for quite some time. Um, Rupert, weren’t you all gung-ho about the dumb-ass decision to sneak an idol to Russell? That’s not villainous? Hmm.

Then we have some rather tired scenes with people working around camp, lying on the beach and not working (you always have those people), and folks talking strategy. One thread does become clear, they want Parvati to go home, and Parvati overhears some of this. (Then quit snooping, girl.)

Parvati, overcome with emotion that people might not like her, races off to some part of the beach and (I think) starts to cry. (She may have just gotten sand in her eye.) “They HATE me… I’m offended at how they’re treating me.”

First, ya whiner, you have done under-handed things since you first sent in your audition tape years ago. You should not be surprised. Second, you won the game by being under-handed. Did you really expect a pride parade and marriage proposals?

Danielle wanders up and tries to boost her morale. We’re in a good spot, don’t sweat it, blah, blah. This seems to work, as Parvati suddenly brightens at the prospect of destroying the other tribe. “They’re about to be picked off one by one.” Realizing how much fun this is going to be, they hug and break.

Now, I should point out that, despite Parvati being supposedly emotionally devastated during this bit, she never once assumes a pose that would be unflattering to the camera. Apparently personal grief causes her to glisten and stretch while the tape rolls. And of course the camera person laps it all up, zooming in on the dewy angles. Hey CBS, nothing says “family show” like the close-up of a tiny-bikini crotch, right?

Russell wanders up to JT and Rupert, and spills his lie about the non-existent double-idol vote that stopped him from sending Parvati home. Rupert actually acts a few probing questions, instead of just lying there and taking it, which seems to be his usual position this season, but Russell deftly throws out more lies. None of his story makes sense if people think about it, but it sure sounds good. Russell tops of his tale by swearing on those kids of his, like he’s been doing for two seasons. (Do these kids even exist? Has anybody ever seen them?)

JT in a sidebar: “He might be lying, but I don’t believe it.” Idiot.

Russell in a sidebar: “This is going to be way easier than I thought.”

Sandra and Rupert meet briefly on the beach, and she spills. “Whatever Russell says, agree but don’t believe it. Parvarti did NOT play the idol. Now, they can’t see me talking to you or I’m gone, so I gotta go.” Then she races off, clutching a piece of driftwood because props are always nice in any given scene.

Rupert in a sidebar: “Is Russell playing us?” Gee, I don’t know, Rup. He’s played everybody else. You watched last season, right?

Scene with everybody eating breakfast, where Parvati and Danielle decide that they’d rather have bananas instead of eggs, and off they go to get some from the stock. For some reason, this really sets off the Heroes. (Rupert in a sidebar: “This makes me MAD. We ration around here.) Hmm. Doesn’t look like Rupert’s been going without, just sayin.

Then we have Rupert, Amanda, JT and Candice, finally trying to talk strategy instead of whine about fruit. Rupert: “What if Russell is playing us?” JT (of course): “No way!” Amanda: “I don’t think so.” Candice, to her credit, doesn’t enter the Russell Love Shack. Rupert: In case he is lying, “we need a voting plan. Tell him we’re gonna do one thing and then vote another way.” Amanda, finally getting the hint of a clue: “That would be a good test.” Clap and break.

While JT has a sidebar where he proves that he’s still in denial about Russell, Rupert tracks down Candice, who seems to share his suspicions: “Don’t. Trust. Russell.” Candice nods knowingly, but also looks startled to learn that the existence of Bigfoot has just been confirmed. She glances around for the quickest route to safety.

Amanda and Parvati meet up on the beach. They both babble a bit about really wanting to work together, but it’s tough. And Amanda warns: “They want you gone. I’m working to get rid of Sandra to keep you here.” Parvati, debating on whether or not there is any trust here: “Will you at least tell me how they’re going to vote” when it comes down to it? Amanda agrees. Parvati: “Then there’s this. I have an idol.”

So both are sharing details. Are they back together again? Can they bust the alliances? Apparently not.

Amanda in a sidebar: “If Parvati makes it to the end, she’ll win.”

Parvati in a sidebar: “I’m going to make sure no Villains go home tonight.”

Time for the Immunity Challenge.

This one basically involves standing on tall totem pole things that have very narrow indented rings where you MIGHT be able to stick in a toe or two. Whoever lasts the longest gets individual immunity. Amazingly, Colby is the first down. (“Not my forte.”)

Sandra goes seconds later. Russell follows. Then Rupert gives up, followed by Amanda, then JT, of all people. (Why are the Heroes dropping like this? Only Candice remains. Are the Heroes THAT confident that Russell is in their pocket? Or are they just afraid of heights?)

Jerri manages to last an hour and a half, which surprises me. Girl usually whips out some physical ailment as an excuse whenever stamina is involved. Then Candice, who hasn’t even broken a sweat, suddenly says “Good luck” to the remaining two pole-clutchers and prepares to jump down. Jeff tries to stop her: “Before you go, why?” Candice: “They look like they can go for a while.” And she’s down.

What is UP with the Heroes? Candice could have taken that.

Danielle and Parvati, the last two, have a whispered conversation. Danielle: “I’ll win this one. You have the idol.” Parvati: “I’m out.” She drops, Danielle gains immunity, and Jeff scurries back to his yacht parked in a nearby lagoon.

Rupert in a sidebar: “Parvati must have the idol, or she wouldn’t have quit.” This is more proof that Russell lied, and Sandra was telling the truth. “I want Russell out!”

Colby to JT: “We need to tell Russell that we’re voting for Jerri or Sandra, and then vote the other way.”

Russell in a sidebar: “I’ve got to get the idol to Parvarti, so we can vote JT out.” Then he runs to hand her such. Parvati totally plays it up. “Oh, you. Thanks, honey!” Then she lets him briefly touch her to ensure that he stays on her side.

Parvati in a sidebar: “I’ve got two little green men protecting me.” Um, I count three, when you pull Russell into the picture.

Again with Amanda and Parvati on the beach, sort-of pretending to be in a mini-alliance and sort of not. Amanda: “You better play the idol.” Parvati questions this. Why? Amanda: “Just play it.” Then they both scamper off to a sidebar to say what they really feel.

Amanda: “She’s dangerous.”

Parvati: “She’s lying about playing the idol.” They’re doing something else, and it’s too risky for me to play the idol and lose it for no reason. (Great insight, really. Now, could you stop fiddling with your bikini top? We are fully aware that you are proud of the twins.)

Time for Tribal.

Rupert immediately goes off on the banana thing. Danielle: “Really, what’s a banana or two?” Rupert continues to rant, boring us all, until Russell finally says: “So what, let’s play.” Jeff to Russell: “Is this an important vote?” Russell: “It will change the rest of the game.”

Parvati, apparently having a flashback to her sob-fest on the beach: “I feel like everyone’s avoiding me.” Jeff: “Is that because you’re used to constant attention in real life?” Parv: “No, Jeff. You’re right, but no.”

Time to vote.

Interestingly enough, instead of the usual voting montage where we only see how one or two people vote, the producers lets us glimpse almost all of the Hero votes, and they’re all voting for Jerri. That tells me right there that something wild is about to happen, and it’s not going to be Jerri going home.

Jeff scoops up the vote bucket and then pauses at his little stand. Idol, anyone?

And here’s the wild part: Parvati, claiming that she’s just looking out for her tribe, pulls out an idol and hands it to Sandra. Then, for a “little extra security”, she pulls out the other idol and hands it to Jerri.


Everybody in the hut freaks. (And yes, we get the reaction shot from JT that we’ve been waiting for. Plus a bonus shot from a totally flummoxed Russell. He had no idea.)

Jeff does his thing, all five votes for Jerri are thrown out, and JT is going home. JT actually shakes Russell’s hand before leaving.

Russell turns to Parvati: “You have some explaining to do.” She just grins and continues to squirm around and

Probably the most interesting surprise move I’ve ever seen on the show. Down side? Parvati no longer has an idol. She will have to completely trust Russell and the other Fly Girls to stay in the game…

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Searching For Signal: #123 - “Nurse Jackie” - Season 2, Episode 5

So Jackie wanders into her bedroom, apparently late at night. (Kevin is asleep in the bed) Jackie decides to do some housekeeping RIGHT THEN and grabs a shirt off the floor. In the pocket of this rude article of clothing she finds some movie ticket stubs. Interestingly enough, the ratio of child/adult stubs does not match the known population spread in Jackie’s house. Something’s up.

(On a side note, Jackie, don’t dig in pockets if you don’t want to learn stuff.)

Anyway, Jackie gets that look, flips on a bedside lamp so that her interrogation skills can be clearly seen by all, and she wakes Kevin. Spill, now. Turns out that Kevin and the girls went to dinner and the movies with evil Jenny Flynn and her satanic offspring, Caitlin. Jackie expresses her dissatisfaction with this arrangement, Kevin gets to act frustrated while shirtless, and then suddenly Jackie gets horny. (Perhaps heated discourse just does something for her.)

But the lustiness is short-lived. Jackie quickly changes her mind and decides to sleep on the couch in the living room instead. Well then.

Next morning, Jackie wakes to discover crazy Gracie and little Fiona standing beside the couch, both of them clutching boxes of high-sugar cereal and shoving handfuls of such into their mouths. (Um, Jacks, maybe THAT right there is one contributing factor to Gracie’s obsession with the end of the world. Nobody needs that much artificial energy. Bad things can happen.)

She has a brief conversation with them, where we learn that “Alice in Wonderland” is a really great movie (Fiona) and that it was directed by Tim Burton (Gracie, and of course she would know this because she’s drawn to darkness and men with unkempt hair.) Then Gracie says something flippant and stomps off. To make up for this brashness, Fiona proffers some Fruit Loops for Jackie to eat. And of course Jackie does, because her mouth automatically pops open whenever she spies little, round, colorful things.

Cut to Jackie and Dr. O’Hara having breakfast in that restaurant near the hospital. Jackie’s whining about Jenny, O’Hara is advising on how best to keep secrets from husbands, and Jackie’s back hurts from the couch. This somewhat boring conversation is interrupted when some reporter has breaking news on a TV that is conveniently located nearby.

What the reporter is actually saying is not important. What we’re supposed to learn here is that, first, Jackie really likes this reporter, Sarah Something. Second, O’Hara seems to know way more personal detail about this Sarah than your average rich doctor should. Jackie, about how much she enjoys Sarah’s reporting: “I could NOT love her more.” O’Hara, somewhat muttering: “Well, get in line.”


Then we have Jackie and O’Hara strolling through the hospital, where they run into Sam. (Remember that he and O’Hara just “passed the offering plate” in the last episode.) Sam would like a word with O’Hara, but she quickly dismisses him and they move on. O’Hara to Jackie: See, that’s how it’s done. Quick and painless.

Then we have a close-up of Zoey shoving a giant donut in her mouth, while diabetic Thor is sitting in the background. Then there’s a nice conversation about how unglamorous diabetes can be, wherein we learn that Halle Berry gives birth to beautiful children and Mary Tyler Moore is an alcoholic.

Suddenly, Mrs. Akalitus comes stomping up and interrupts all the fun, because that’s what she does best. She announces that “Miguel from Admitting” will now be stationed at the Pill-O-Matics until they can figure out why controlled narcotics are going AWOL all the time. Jackie, looking quite mortified, argues with her for a bit. “You’re making things worse.” Mrs. Akalitus does not care, and she and her 50’s hairstyle march away.

Next we have everybody racing to assist with a patient that sleazy Lenny just rolled in. Seems this guy fell off a building or some such. They get him in one of the rooms, people start doing their thing, and then Zoey grabs a pair of serious scissors and starts to cut the man’s pants off. (I guess this is something that happens all the time.) Zoey lets out a squeal when she discovers a gun in the man’s pocket.

While everybody else screams and panics (including Dr. Cooper), Jackie steps up to finish the scissor action by just cutting the whole pocket out of the man’s jeans. She then marches off to where “Miguel from Admitting” is soundly sleeping next to the Pill-O-Magic machine. She kicks him and hands the weapon over. “Make yourself useful.”

Quick scene with Jackie leaving a message for Kevin. My bad about sleeping on the couch, missed waking up next to you. Call me. Which is sweet and all, but this is Jackie, right? What’s the real motivation?

Another quick scene with Akalitus storming into the room where Coop, Zoey and Jackie are still working on the guy who no longer has a matched set of pockets on his pants. “I understand there was a gun. I want him handcuffed to the bed.” The other three: “But he’s unconscious.” Akalitus: “Don’t care.”

Cut to Akalitus’ office, where Cooper is once again whining about Jackie. She cuts him off, bigger fish to fry. Seems the hospital board has decided they want to do a splashy ad campaign, and they have decided (Akalitus grimaces here but manages to keep going) that they want Dr. Cooper to be their spokes model. Because he’s cute. Not because he’s a good doctor. Surprise!

Cooper, totally pleased with the offer and himself: “hob-knobbing is my gift. That and really tiny stitches.” But first he wants his “team” to look at the contract. He has a team? Please.

Short scene where Jackie manages to steal drugs from the Pill-O-Rama while Miguel is obliviously working on a crossword puzzle. Nice.

Extended scene where there’s some mess about Mrs. Akalitus approving the purchase of cheaper “death kits”, with the little plastic sheet not even beginning to cover a dead body. More importantly, we learn that Sam is knowledgeable about Reflexology, and he grabs Zoey’s hand to demonstrate his skill with a diagnosis. “Something’s up with your uterus.” Whoopsie. Then Zoey slaps him and runs away because… I don’t know. It’s Zoey.

Another patient is wheeled into admitting, this time an elderly woman. I don’t really get all of the details (something about her being abandoned in her own home) because I’m distracted by two things. One is that the woman is waving around hands with freakishly long and nasty fingernails. The other is that the actress doing the waving is none other than Marion Ross, aka Mrs. Cunningham from “Happy Days”. Is Fonzie responsible for this woman‘s condition? Maybe Pinky Tuscadero? Are there going to be more cameos?

While this is going on, O’Hara clatters up and drags Jackie off to the side. She demands that Jackie order Sam to stop looking at her. Jackie: Are you kidding me with this? You made your own bed. O’Hara: “It’s not a bed, it was a one-night stand. Barely that. Just a bump in the chapel!” Jackie just gives her a look and heads back to work.

Scene with Jackie and the clumsy guy who tripped and fell off a building. The whole conversation is in Spanish, but the helpful subtitles inform us that he was carrying an unlicensed gun because people keep stealing his tools and he can’t report this to the police because he’s not legal. Oh boy. In the midst of this, Jackie gets a text from Crazy Eddie. “Still sweeping up vitamins, love you anyway.”

Jackie wanders into the room where they are keeping the neglected Mrs. Cunningham. Zoey is warmly chatting with her, and it becomes clear that Mrs. C is just not all there. (Perhaps she never got over the cancellation of her show.) Zoey shares some surprising news with Jackie: “She has a a 24-hour caregiver, paid for by the state.” Really? Jackie gets that look which means heads are about to roll.

She stomps off to get the woman’s file, then comes back and gently digs for more detail on this supposed care-giver. Turns out this person only shows up once a week or so. As Jackie’s blood continues to boil, Thor comes up and would like to chat with “Renata”. He recognizes her from back in the day, when she used to by a stylist for major Broadway productions.

While Thor and Renata chat, Jackie and Zoey are off to one side, discussing getting old and babies and such. During this, Jackie fesses to Zoey that she has two girls. Pause while Zoey grins. Then Jackie: “That’s all you’re getting.”

A bit later, while Jackie is trying to call someone (not clear), O’Hara totters up again in some really cute boots, and makes Jackie go outside to talk. Cut to them on a bench, where O’Hara has just spilled about having been in a relationship with Sarah the Reporter. Jackie: “Really? You don’t do ANYthing half-ass, do you?” O’Hara thought she was over it, but she’s meeting Sarah in a few days.

Sam comes walking up, and Jackie quickly scurries away so that O’Hara will have to deal with him. He gets right to the point, breaking off the relationship that they really don’t have. Sam: “My girlfriend’s back.” O’Hara: “So’s mine.”

Scene with Zoey talking to sleazy Lenny, and they seem to know a lot more about each other than we first thought, getting slightly intimate with their conversational flow. Zoey: “I think I might be pregnant.” (Oh my, is this Baby Daddy?) Turns out, no he’s not.

Zoey: “It’s not with the guy I like. It’s his brother. One less Jaegermeister and I might have ended up with the one I wanted.”

Lenny: “If no one steps up to the plate, I can be there.”

Cut back inside the hospital, where some woman marches up to Thor. “I’m looking for Renata Thurber.” Thor: “Family?” Woman: “Caregiver.” As soon as she says that, I can’t help but squeal. Jackie gonna get her some of THAT. And here she comes, being all sly. “Why don’t you have a seat, we’ll get you the release forms.”

Suddenly Jackie gets very busy. Zoey tell her that the police are here for the gun, they need a signature. Jackie gets an extra set of scrubs, marches to the room with the illegal, and explains how to escape the hospital and how to care for his wound. Then she uncuffs him. Go! Jackie then intercepts the police officer and asks him to follow her.

They approach the care-giver while Jackie explains that the officer will need to take the woman in for “aggravated neglect and endangerment.”

Care-giver: “Who the hell are you?”

“I’m Jackie Peyton. Nice to meet you.”

The officer takes the woman away.

Later, after work, Jackie calls someone. “I’m sorry about all this. Wanna talk?”

Cut to Jackie meeting Eddie (yes, Eddie) outside a movie theater. “You gotta toughen up.” Then they go inside to watch “Alice in Wonderland” while a jazzy little number plays on the soundtrack…


Friday, April 16, 2010

Searching For Signal: #122 - “Survivor” - Heroes vs. Villains - Episode 9

We start out in the Villains camp right after Coach has been sent home.

The camera zooms in on a rat running across the ground. (Is it Russell? Is he carrying a tiny machete that he’s going to hide from the rest of the tribe?)

Jerri in a sidebar: She totally didn’t see the Coach thing coming. (Really, Jerri? Let’s see. You decided, over Coach’s objections, to make an alliance with Russell and the dancing bathing suit models. You didn’t think there would be fallout?)

Jerri races off to find Danielle. What’s going on? Am I safe? Danielle: “I’m not writing your name down. You’re not next.” (Let me translate that for ya, Jerri. Satan’s Trio is not aiming for you right now. But you’re ON the list.)

Jerri, because she’s still in denial, runs off to find Russell. What’s going on? Am I safe? (Sweetie, why are you even asking this man? He’s going to tell you exactly what you want to hear.) And he does. “I promise you ain’t next.” (Can you tell that Russell went to a really gud skool? And dude, if you really are a self-made millionaire, why the hell haven’t you paid anybody to fix your teeth?)

Opening credits roll.

It’s the next day at the Villains camp. They get tree mail about the next Reward Challenge, and the note spells it out that they need to rank their tribe from the strongest to the weakest in preparation for the competition. Hmm. We have Russell and five rail-thin women who having trouble standing in a slight breeze. This won’t take long.

Zip over to the Heroes camp, where they are perusing the same tree mail. At least these folks are trying to figure out the best strategy for this “strongest” thing. It depends on the competition. If strong can be offset by being too heavy, we might want to mix this up. JT: “The bigger you are, the harder it is.”

Rupert stomps off to a sidebar, really irritated with JT. Rupert thinks he’s the strongest person on the island. I see. Okay, then explain to me why you haven’t personally done a single thing that lead to a tribe victory? Care to field that question, Yoda?

Time for the Reward Challenge.

Rupert shows his butt again by hooting and hollering when he sees that Coach went home on the Villains tribe. Yep, there’s for sure an all-girl alliance going on over there. JT backs him up. Them girls be runnin’ things. (Okay, Rhubarb and Cletus, try to focus for a second. If the women folk are laying down the law over there, don’t you think they would have sent Russell home before Coach?)

Jeff explains that this Challenge involves standing in booths with little ledges for your feet, and then progressing down to even tinier ledges until you can’t stand it anymore and you crash to the ground. Members from the opposing tribes are paired up based on the rankings they did after the tree mail. If someone in any matched set tumbles, the other tribe gets the point.

Because the tribes took different approaches to the ranking thing, we have some really odd pairs, and this could be anyone’s game. Jeff: And by the way, Amanda is now the first person in Survivor history to tough it out for 100 days.

Wow, that’s actually pretty impressive from one angle. On the flip side, the poor thing has never won despite making it to Final Tribal twice. Which means, Amanda, that when the tribes merge, and they will, you need to stay far away from Parvati. She skanked your butt once before. Do you really want to set another Survivor record by being the only person to make it to Final Tribal THREE times and still lose? I rest my case.

Anyway, Jeff tells all that the prize for this Reward Challenge is a meal from Outback Steakhouse. (Can you say “product placement”?) Upon hearing the news, several members on both tribes drop to their knees in prayer. (Russell tries to do this, but once he realizes that he would be praying to himself, it’s really a moot point.)

And here we go. Colby drops first, which means Jerri wins a point for the Villains. Rupert drops next (so much for his delusional strength, right?), meaning Sandra gets a point for the Villains. Finally, Amanda grunts and hits the ground, letting Courtney (COURTNEY!) score the final point for the Villains.

As the Villains celebrate their win, Jerri bursts into tears. (I guess the girl really loves her some Outback entrees. J-Low, if you really understood how long red meat stays in your digestive tract, wreaking havoc, you’d probably shut off the waterworks.)

Cut to the Villains wandering up to a cute little Outback shack on the beach, complete with a fully-stocked bar. Sandra sucks down what looks like a raspberry margarita in less than three seconds. (I don’t know about the rest of you, but I suddenly want to party with her.)

They settle in to eat, and we see that as Parvati snatches up her napkin, a rolled-up clue tumbles out. She quickly shoves it into her panties, and it appears that no one sees this maneuver. While the rest of the gang digs in, Parv can’t stand the suspense and suddenly announces that she has to pee. “Be right back!”

Danielle, latching on to the fact that Parvati does not turn down meat of any kind and therefore something must be up, decides to follow her. “Me too!”

The two of them confab on the beach, where Parv shares the clue with Danielle. There’s another hidden Immunity Idol, if you can just figure out the producer’s weird nursery rhyme about where it might be. They do a happy dance.

Parvati in a sidebar: I only shared the clue with Danielle as a strategy move.

Zip over to the Heroes camp, where we initially have JT bellowing that he doesn’t care about any damn steak. Fine, don’t really believe it, but okay. Then JT takes his first moronic steps into Insanity Land. He spells it out like this to the rest of the tribe: We are just about to merge, I just know it. Russell’s on the outs over there with the Villains, he’s going next. If we win the next Immunity Challenge, I’m going to give our Idol to Russell so he can save himself and then immediately join us after the merge. Genius, right?

Crickets chirp.

Amanda in a sidebar: “This is CRAZY. We don’t really know what’s going on over there.” Surely she’s not the only one who sees the madness in JT’s plan.

But apparently she is. There’s a sidebar with Rupert, and his broken toe, where he’s practically salivating at this brilliant move. Even Candice, who generally has a level head, spews this to Amanda: “It could give us the numbers, and it gets the Idol away from JT.” Wait, you’re going to give an Immunity Idol to someone on the OTHER tribe?

Oh my God these people are stupid. Why isn’t somebody stopping this?

Back over to the Villains camp, where first we have Russell sitting on the beach, watching a rainbow develop off in the distance. I have no idea what that’s all about, because Russell doesn’t understand natural beauty. He only understands things he can buy or steal. I’m fairly certain of what political party is stamped on his voter card.

Cut to Parvati and Danielle, racing around the island and trying to figure out where the hidden Immunity Idol might be. Amazingly, they find it. (I guess they didn’t read the script where it clearly explains that only Russell is allowed to find these things.) Parvati is jumping with joy. “I’m the queen. And usually the king does what the queen says anyway.”

Quick shot of Russell, realizing that something is up and racing around the island to find out what his marionettes are doing. He doesn’t find them. Good.

Transition to the Heroes camp, where JT is writing a love letter to Russell, using a lined page in a spiral notebook that nobody has seen up to this point. I didn’t see anybody bring that notebook on the island. Where did it come from? I’m going to guess that Jeff wandered through the camp and handed it to JT, saying something like “we’ve already run the promos showing that you did something dumb-ass, so here’s some paper. Pay it forward.”

JT in a sidebar: I’m really nervous but I’m gonna do it.

Stupid man. Exactly how did you win on your season? Oh, that’s right, you chipped a tooth and everybody thought that was money-worthy instead of just bad coordination.

Time for the Immunity Challenge.

Jeff explains that this event involves the tribes competing against each other to work bags of puzzle pieces (natch) along a rope over an obstacle course. Once a tribe gets five bags to the endpoint, they then have to build a totem pole out of the pieces. (Perhaps this is not the time to ask what totem poles have to do with an island south of the equator.)

So off they go, and it becomes clear early on that the Heroes are going to win this thing. What’s more important is that Russell and Colby end up being the last players on both of their tribes, standing around at the starting gate while the various players flail away on the obstacle course. Colby gets Russell’s attention, and tells him that he needs to meet up with JT right after the race. I think Colby even mutters “I love you, man”, but it’s not clear because there’s a lot of splashing around in the riptide as the race progresses.

Russell is stunned, but recovers quickly, telling lies to Colby that Parvarti is running the show over at the Villains camp. Russell agrees to vote Parvati out at the impending Tribal Council that will be the result of the Villains falling on their ass in this competition.

Two seconds later, Jeff declares the Heroes the winner. A Villain is going home.

Four seconds later, JT discreetly hands the Idol to Russell during the Hero celebration. (I am clawing my face at this point. WHY are you people doing this? It’s madness.) Russell is so psyched about this turn of events that his head almost explodes. Sadly, it doesn’t.

Sidebar with Russell: “People are actually giving ME the Idols!” What the hell?

We arrive at the Heroes camp, where JT is very proud of himself. “We did it! We just made Survivor history.” And you probably did, but not for the reason that you think. Rupert, also overly joyful that they’ve done something spectacular, is convinced that “Russell is having a hard time containing himself.”

Cut to the Villains camp, where Russell is clearly NOT having a hard time containing himself. He’s already handed JT’s letter to Parvati, and she’s reading passages aloud in between bouts of hysterical laughter. “(What, is he in fifth grade, passing notes?”)

Parvati in a sidebar: Why would JT even do this? He’s just handed his heart to Russell, who’s going to stab it into a million pieces and then I’m going to eat them up. Yum!

Sandra in a sidebar, musing on the upcoming eviction possibilities: “Me without Courtney is like rice without beans.” (I have no idea.)

Courtney and Parvati get together, and Courtney tries to increase her value. Hey, if you keep me past the merge, Amanda trusts me and that’s a bonus, right?) Parvati DOES seem to be interested. So you’d stay with me after the merge? Courtney nods vigorously, but then the wind shifts a blade of grass and we can no longer see Courtney.

Parvati in a sidebar, where she’s actually showing some intelligence instead of just skin: Keeping Courtney might just be the right thing. I’m going to need somebody when I finally ditch Russell. But I gotta work this plan just right.

Cut to Russell and Parvati sharing the stunning JT development with Danielle and Jerri. (Danielle: “Oh shut UP!”) Everyone has a nice chuckle over it, then Parvati slyly starts trying to turn the vote away from Courtney and toward Sandra. And it seems to be working. But you never know on this show.

Time for Tribal.

Jeff brings in The Jury, which at this point is just Coach. He’s wearing some lame kimono thing. Seriously, when is someone going to sit down with this man and explain to him that he is NOT a Ginsu Warrior just because he bought the knife set 20 years ago? Geez.

Jeff’s first question is directed toward Sanda. How important is trust? Sandra, a little rattled, comes back with, “Great, Jeff. We all know that the person who gets the trust question is the one who’s in trouble.” Good point.

Danielle jumps in, saying that she doesn’t care for Sandra because Sandra runs around telling people things. (Jeff: Uh, Danielle, the question was about trust, not about who has a big mouth.) Then Danielle and Sandra get into a medium-level catfight, where Sandra competently holds her own, basically telling it like it is, and Danielle increasingly shoves her foot further in her mouth. Interesting.

Russell jumps in, because the camera has been on someone else for longer than 15 seconds and he can’t stand that. “Look at me, Parvati and Danielle. We’re still here and THAT’S what trust will do for you.” I think you’ve got that a little bit backwards, Russ. The three of you are still here because the people in the other alliance DIDN’T trust themselves. And that’s a little different.

Then Courtney and Jerri get into it, mainly because Jerri lies that she was never in an alliance until she joined with Russell. Courtney: Really? Go back and look at how you voted, Hair Club for Women. “You flipped just in time to save your butt. I didn’t”

And she’s right. Final results: one vote for Jerri (that would be Courtney), and everybody else, including Sandra, votes for Courtney. The Flagpole, on her way out: “Good luck, bitches.”

Jeff makes a final announcement. As of tomorrow, Parvati will also hit the 100-day mark in Survivor. The camera shows a grinning Parvati as she wiggles around in self-satisfaction.

But hey, Parv, what happened to keeping Courtney? The merge has got to be just seconds away. You might regret sending Courtney home.

Then again, the real wildcard if the merge happens soon?


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Searching For Signal: #121 - “United States of Tara” - Season 2, Episode 4

We start out with Max at the Hubbard House, where he is clearly riled up and sledge-hammering away at an innocent wall that is just standing there and minding it’s own business. Tara wanders in, and they have a nice shouting match as they review the surprising events at the ice-skating rink, where the family learned that Tara has been transitioning again and managed to pick up a clingy girlfriend during all the festivities. Max is not pleased with Tara’s lame excuses. “You LIED to me!”

Amazingly, all this yelling and bitterness has somehow triggered their libidos, because they suddenly both get very horny. They race out to the backyard and go at it right there on the grass. Well, then. Can’t really say that discovering falsehoods and infidelity in my partner would cause me to desire beasty sex, but I don’t get out much these days, maybe it’s the new thing.

A bit later, Tara strolls into her kitchen, where we find Kate also in a foul mood, though she’s taking her anger out by killing ants rather than walls. She is not impressed with Tara at all, and makes this very clear as she yells at her mother. Kate finally stomps off, but not before letting fly with “You have grass all over your back.” Oops.

This line is apparently Charmaine’s cue to come wandering in, which she does, and then she proceeds to babble nothingness about her upcoming wedding that I already don’t care about. This goes on for a bit, until Charmaine informs Tara of an interesting thing she discovered about her bedroom window. It gives her a perfect view of the Hubbard backyard.

Poor Tara. One quick round of makeup sex and the entire neighborhood knows about it before she’s even caught her breath.

Next we have Tara visiting The Gays at their house, where she fesses up that “she and Max” are having a rough spot and she’d like to find a good therapist. (No real mention of things like alternate personalities, perpetually waking up in the beds of strangers, and desperate women proclaiming their love for you during skating matinees at the local rink.) Do you have any suggestions?

Of course they do, they’re gay and have this social networking thing down. Seems the two of them required counseling during a certain period of “erectile dysfunction” (how nice of you to share, that’s very sweet) and they met a fabulous doctor in New York. You need to call her immediately. Until you can get to a phone, here’s one of her famous books to help you pass the time. “And don’t crack the spine!”

Back over to the Hubbard House, with Max still tearing stuff up, but this time only because it needs to be done for the remodeling and not because of burning anger at Tara or spontaneous horniness. Marsh strolls in and wants to talk, but first Max tells him he needs to do the “Billy Jack” thing. This apparently means quoting the movie and then kicking down a divider wall.

I don’t know why that bit of mess was even necessary. I think it was supposed to be some kind of quirky male bonding, but it just looked destructive and pointless. I don’t really remember the scene from the movie, so maybe I’m just missing something. Then again, I was roughly six years old when I watched the movie. I’m pretty sure my interests at the time involved Big Wheels and G.I. Joe’s, not world cinema.

Anyway, Marshall is a little sad about Mom. “I guess Buck’s out.” Yep, Buck’s out. (And so, apparently, is Pammy, but we’ll save the pride stories for later.) But hey, Dad, ponders Marshall, what happened with that Sully guy? Max proudly explains that he beat the crap out of him. Marshall: “Does Mom know?” Max’s beaming smile fades. Of course not. If she knows I have anger management issues, then I can’t pretend to be saintly and noble like in my character description.

Now we’re at Stoner Lynda’s house, where she’s pretending to paint a portrait of Kate, who’s dressed up as a Supergirl character. They have another meaningless discussion where the only thing we learn is that “Barbie doesn’t have any holes.”

Hubbard House again, this time it’s just Tara, looking for Max. He’s not around. But that creepy office room that fascinates Tara is still there. So she goes in there, piddles around a bit, then touches the old-timey phone on the desk. The music swells a little, so we know that the phone is evil.

Zip over to Marshall’s room, where he and Courtney are standing at the foot of his bed. They’ve both wrangled a pass from school (his excuse is an orthodontist appointment, her excuse is explosive diarrhea, in case you’re keeping notes). They’ve decided to consummate their pathetic relationship. Courtney upends her purse and we see that it contained hundreds of condoms. Great. Not only is she boring and overly clinical, but she’s a hoarder as well. Nice catch, Marshall.

Back to Stoner Central, where Lynda is rattling on about the philosophy of the character that Kate is pretending to be for the painting. (“She’s a SUBject, not an OBject.” Whatever.) Then Lynda has an inspiration. Let’s make a MOVIE about the character!

Um, exactly WHAT is this subplot all about? Are we actually building to some type of reveal, or are the writers just including scenes with stoners so they can ensure the food services table is cleared by the end of the shooting day?

Tara is still in the creepy Hubbard office, poised on a dusty couch and reading aloud from the self-help book and trying to not crack the spine. I’m sure the words were very deep, but I was too busy scribbling notes to catch the detail. Then Tara gets up and starts playing with the evil phone. Suddenly, she has a flashback. We’re in a foyer of some kind, it’s raining outside, and little Tara and little Charmaine are being scolded by some woman that we can’t really see, but sure looks like “Alice” from the waist down.

Suddenly a phone rings in the foyer, and it looks just like the one on the Hubbard desk. OMG! (See, I TOLD you that phone had Satan written all over it.) This is just like “The Ring” except it’s totally different. Then the flashback is over and we’re back in the present. Tara reaches down and starts dialing the old phone, but doesn’t bother to pick up the receiver. Uh oh.

We’re back in Marshall’s room, post-coital. Apparently things were a disaster, because this couple looks like the saddest two people on the planet. Maybe this straight thing isn’t working out for Marshall? (Then again, if he was really serious about the experiment, perhaps he should have chosen to sleep with someone other than Jane Hathaway.)

Max rolls up in his truck at home, and Tara comes racing out of the house. She’s really excited because she finally got help, she found somebody. Then she goes on about the self-help book she is waving around. Max is not impressed. “A BOOK is not help.” But there’s more. Tara called the author in New York, they hit it off, and they are going to start phone therapy right away. Hurray!

Right then, Max gets a call from Kate. Car won’t start. Okay, be right there.

So Max and Tara make the trek to Lynda’s House of Wafting Smoke. They pull up outside and clamor out of the truck, with Tara making a comment about how bad it stinks around here so that we can remember it’s a bad part of town. The garage door rolls up a bit, and Kate rolls out, still in her Supergirl outfit and feeling mighty fine.

While Kate and Max pretend to fiddle with the malfunctioning car, Tara ducks under the garage door and enters Cannabis Central. While she’s staring at the interesting surroundings, especially a giant, old neon sign spelling out “Electroless Copper” (the camera lingers for a LONG time, so we’re really supposed to notice this), Lynda floats out and starts chatting with Tara.

It’s an odd chat, with Lynda asking things like “What do you REALLY wanna know?”, as if she’s got the secrets of the universe in her hash pipe. Then they just stare at each other for a while. Are they making a cosmic connection? Or is it just that one of them is stoned and the other one is distracted by people who wear dresses with no discernable seams?

Max sticks his head under the door. “Ready to go?”

Back at the Hubbard House (do these people ever bother going to their own home anymore?), where Max is TRYING to ground Kate or something for making friends and taking drugs. Kate is not interested and doesn’t care, although it’s kind of hard to take her seriously, standing there in her Supergirl Underoos and all.

Then Charmaine clatters in, dragging her boyfriend with the big teeth (Nick? Rick? Crest?). She has an announcement. She’s in the midst of taking a deep breath when Nick blurts out “We’re pregnant!” (Okay, never cared for that line, there is no WE in pregnancy after the first ten minutes. The remaining 9 months only have one name on the call sheet, ya dig?) Anyway, Big Teeth has ruined everything for Charmaine. “The moment’s gone.”

Nick: “So sorry. Hey, Max, can we buy this place from you?” All Charmaine talks about is raising a child right next door to her sister’s family. Is that Hallmark cool or what?

A bit later, while Charmaine and Tara are wandering around the Hubbard house as Char picks out the baby’s room, Tara tries to get the scoop on the pregnancy angle. “I thought you were re-virginating?” Charmaine blows that off and tries to figure out where the changing table can go. Suddenly, Tara has another flash, back to that same distant foyer, but this time she and Charmaine are prancing around and laughing. Then Tara snaps back and turns to Charmaine. “You’re gonna be a great mother.”

Because she knows how to skip?

Elsewhere, Max and Marshall are doing something or other in the Hubbard House, and bantering back and forth. Max: I’m gonna run get us something to eat. Oh hey, how’s that Courtney thing going? Marshall: I’m gay. Max: Good. So you want anything? Marshall: Sure. I’ll come with. And I think you should tell Mom about the guy you beat up.

Later that night, Max crawls into bed with Tara.

Max: “Marshall came out to me tonight.”

Tara: “How’d that make you feel.”

Max: “It gave me hope.”

What a remarkable answer.

Max flips off the light. Oh, there’s something else. “I did a bad, bad thing.”

Next day, Max is entering the Hubbard House, lugging even more construction supplies, when he realizes he can hear a strange voice coming from the office. He throws open the door.

Tara is sitting on the desk, possibly talking on the phone, not sure. And she’s decked out in some kind of hippie, New York, Jewish, something combo. She turns toward Max. Only it’s not Tara. And she doesn’t know who Max is.

“Can I help you?”

We have a new alter.

Searching For Signal: #120 - “Nurse Jackie” - Season 2, Episode 4

So we start out with Jackie marching down the sidewalk on a busy street. She looks none too happy. (To be fair, she never really looks happy, but she’s sporting a Defcon-4 sour expression at the moment, so somebody’s going to get hurt.) I’m assuming that she’s still steaming from encountering former-lover, now-psycho Eddie in her own home and apparently best friends with her hubby Kevin.

Sure enough, she stomps into the pharmacy where Eddie works, hijacks his conversation with a elderly woman who just wants her government pills, and then sends the addled woman on her confused way. Then she focuses on Whack Job. “You cannot come into my house, Eddie!”

Eddie, because he’s not exactly firmly grasping the concepts of reality and a woman with a mission, professes his love for her and really doesn’t want to hear anything else. When Jackie reiterates that “do not come into my house” really means “do not come into my house”, Eddie gets a wee bit bitter, even though he manages to hit the nail on the head with his retort. “You’re just greedy.” You want everything. Your way.

Jackie, who obviously has some anger management issues and a considerable inability to properly handle the truth, does not care for this remark. She yells some more threats (even though we know instantly that Eddie is not listening), and then she destroys a very nice display of vitamins that somebody spent a lot of time constructing. Like that’s going to help in any way.

Once she’s back outside, Jackie calls Kevin. Hey, why don’t you send our unbalanced children to your sisters for the evening so we can have a date night? Translation, I’m going to keep you busy so that you won’t have an opportunity to pal around with your new bestie that is really my old bestie that I slept with until that damn automatic pill-dispenser came onto the scene.

Cut to Zoey and Sam at the hospital. Sam is babbling away, possibly trying to be philosophical, but it’s so boring that it comes across as white noise. Zoey puts a stop to this. “I don’t do chatty.” Interesting expression, Zoey. Isn’t that the same phrase Jackie threw your direction when you burst through the doors last season, with your Hello Kitty accessories and your inability to shut up?

Suddenly none of this matters, as right then a woman races into the Emergency Room. Her young child has stopped breathing. Not good. Zoey races over, grabs the child, and starts screaming for a doctor as she hustles to an examining room.

There’s not a doctor immediately available, so it’s up to Zoey and Thor to do what they can. Then we have an amazingly-directed scene where Zoey just takes charge. All background noise drops, and we only hear the conversation between the two. Zoey gets the child breathing again with intubation (Thor: “You’re not legally allowed to…”), and then calmly stays in control when the child’s heartbeat flatlines. In the end, she saves the day. A few minutes later, Dr. O’Hara arrives and Zoey quietly slips away.

Thor to O’Hara: “She saved his life. Twice. But she might have done something that she…”

O’Hara: “Then why are we still talking about it?”

Now we’re at the Nurses’ station, where some nasty EMT guy (Lenny) is irritating everyone as he slurps Mountain Dew, crunches on chips, and is generally a pig. Zoey and Thor make disparaging remarks about his unwanted presence, but he doesn’t get it. Pigs usually don’t. That’s why they’re pigs.

Jackie wanders up, pulls Zoey to the side, and actually reprimands her for what she just did while saving the child. Zoey is stunned. “You are the last person I expected that from. I was only doing what needed to be done.” (Seriously, Jacks, what’s up with you?)

Then Mrs. Akalitus strolls up, spies the piggy EMT, and barks out an amazing line of dialogue: “Don’t eat by the urine!” (Must have been a fun meeting when the script-writers came up with THAT mess.)

Cut to Jackie and Dr. Cooper attending to a chemo patient who is really having a hard time with the side-effects. Can’t keep anything down, nothing is helping his pain, and he’s just not doing well. Jackie: “Have you tried smoking pot?” Coop nearly implodes.

A few minutes later, he corners her outside the examining room. He’s livid that she would dare to suggest an illegal activity to a patient. (Go look in the mirror, Coop. There are so many kinds of wrong going on with you right now. You have a PUBLICIST, for cryin out loud.) Jackie: “I’m gonna make a suggestion if it helps a patient.”

In another examining room, we have Dr. O’Hara and Sam reviewing a patient. Initially, there’s lots of boring medical talk, then we realize that the banter has turned to actual flirting. Next thing you know, both of them are racing off to the hospital chapel (the CHAPEL!) where they go at it like rabbits. In the midst of the lusty frenzy, Sam fesses up that he has a girlfriend. O’Hara: “So do I.”


Scene with Jackie in Mrs. Akalitus’ office. Aka first asks about how things are going with Jackie’s creepy little child that worships death. It’s going okay, hard to get an appointment with the fancy psychiatrist that Aka recommended, but anyway. Then Akalitus gets to the real point. Seems Dr. Cooper has already complained about Jackie and her Janis Joplin world-view concerning illicit drugs. Jackie is not impressed. Akalitus: “I’m not a prude, Jackie. I was at Woodstock.” Jackie: “No you weren’t.”

Back at the Nurses’ station, Jackie and sleazy Lenny are engaged in some mindless chatter about a caricature. O’Hara waltzes into the scene, and Jackie’s radar starts beeping. She marches up to O’Hara: “Lunch. Now.”

Cut to a nearby restaurant, where Jackie digs for gold. O’Hara: “I shagged a nurse.” When Jackie appears to be appalled at the sordid details, O’Hara changes the subject. (Always a good move when people are not impressed with your lust for life.) “Tell me about Eddie. Do you think he’ll go to Kevin and spill the beans?” Jackie: Nope. (Said with hesitation, make a note.) O’Hara: “Do you love him?” Jackie takes the Fifth.

Now we’re at Kevin’s bar, where psycho Eddie wanders in, waving some primo tickets to the Mets game that night. Wanna go? Kevin sadly admits that it’s date night with the Missus. Eddie: Well then, don’t wanna upset Jackie. Then his eyes sparkle with madness as he accepts a proffered beer from Kevin.

Quick scene with O’Hara buying a bouquet of flowers. Who knows.

Next up is Sam and Thor at an elevator or some such, not sure where they are. Sam’s all twitchy, clearly unnerved about something. (Perhaps the carnal activities in the House of God?) Thor tries to be supportive, remembering that Sam is struggling to stay on the wagon with his drug issues. Thor: “Consider me your work-place sponsor. You can tell me anything.” Sam: “I slept with a doctor.” Thor, immediately changing his tune: “I’m not talking to you.” Then he races away.

Jackie stops by to visit the cancer patient, who has been checked out and is ready to leave. Jackie offers to push him to the exit in a wheelchair (protocol, natch). As they roll through the ward, they pass Coop explaining to Zoey that he now has over 1,000 followers on Twitter. Zoey doesn’t care. We don’t care. Nobody cares except for Coop. He pauses to tweet about the situation.

Just before Jackie wheels the cancer patient out the doors, she grabs an apple off a passing meal cart, meaning that somebody is going to be really disappointed in a few minutes. Once outside, Jackie rolls her patient up to nasty Lenny’s ambulance. They clamor inside, wherein Jackie proceeds to make a bong out of the apple and then crams it full of some Lenny weed. She then instructs the patient on the art of apple-bonging. He instantly feels better than he has in months.

Nasty Lenny: Dude, how did you know I had weed?

Jackie: Mountain Dew and Doritos? Done.

Nasty Lenny: But the apple thing?

Jackie: Jones Beach. Toto concert. Back in the day.

Me: I really led a sheltered life.

Patient, feeling the effects of the special apple juice: “I’m actually hungry. Can we turn on the siren?”

Back in the hospital, Zoey is fiddling with something, when Dr. O’Hara slinks in the door. O’Hara places the mysterious bouquet of flowers on the counter, then pretends to study some charts. As Zoey looks at her questioningly, O’Hara explains: “They’re for you. Good work.”

LUV me some Dr. O’Hara. Despite the questionable dalliance among the pews.

Zoey doesn’t even know how to respond, so she acts instead, wandering off to call an elevator. The doors are just about to close when Jackie races up and jumps on the elevator with her. But they don’t say anything to each other. Gee, Jackie, feeling a little guilty about being a black kettle?

They exit the elevator on the pediatric floor, where Zoey gazes at the sleeping child she rescued. They stand there for a bit, then Zoey surprises us. “I think I’m pregnant.” Another pause. Then Jackie reaches out and briefly smoothes Zoey’s hair before pulling her hand back. Nice moment.

Later, as Jackie is preparing to leave the hospital for the night, she gets a call from Kevin. Can we push Date Night back a few hours? Tickets to the Mets game and all. Then Jackie hears Eddie in the background. “Put him on!” Eddie takes the phone from Kevin. Jackie: “Do NOT do this!” Eddie ignores her, because he’s in full-tilt psycho mode. Great. The fun never ends.

Cut to Jackie in her empty house, making cookies, with one of the ingredients being wacky weed. She then traipses off to the cancer guy’s apartment and hands him the goodies. Just “one of these a day” should do it. Here’s a half-cookie to get you through the evening. Then Jackie proceeds to clean out the guy’s refrigerator while he relaxes and watches the Mets game….

Monday, April 12, 2010

10 Reasons Why the Implosion of Texas Stadium is Just Like Real Life

Note: Texas Stadium, the former home of the Dallas Cowboys for nearly 40 years, was demolished yesterday. I really don’t care for football. Never have. But with this being Dallas, where there are local ordinances requiring that even the tiniest bit of self-importance be elevated to behemoth proportions, this was a Big Thing. All of the media outlets in the metroplex had people stationed at the demolition site, with reporters salivating at the chance to turn this into something more than it was. After nearly 24 hours of non-stop coverage, I’ve had time to reflect…

1. Some people will get up at ungodly hours in order to do questionable things.

  Most of the parking lots in the area (and there are tons of them, I know this well because I have to drive through the massive acreage on my way to work) were closed to the public for the Big Bang.  But they did keep one lot open, allowing people to park there, beginning at 2am for the 7am explosion.

  Two o’clock in the morning. On a Sunday. Seriously, who would do that? Yet we have video footage showing carloads of people lined up at 2:01am, with the vehicles crammed full of people doing “the wave” as they motor past. Do these people not understand that they have 5 hours until the button is pushed? Save your strength.

2. Some people will stay awake at ungodly hours in order to do questionable things.

  At 2:02am in the coverage, it became clear that some of the cars were stuffed with people who had never been to bed, and had probably driven directly from the bars after last call. These red-eyed enthusiasts were unable to perform “the wave” with any degree of coordination, but they could certainly lean out the car windows and grunt at the cameras as they feebly tried to keep their go-cups from spilling.

3. There are some really skilled news reporters out there who can put an interesting spin on anything.

  During the inevitable lag time between the opening of the sacred single parking lot and the actual destruction of the stadium, the mass of reporters had a chance to prove their worth. Some failed miserably. (Reporter: “So, are you a fan of the Cowboys?” Oh, come on, girl. Of course they’re a fan. Are you sure you made the right career choice?) But others struggled valiantly to score a scoop.

  Reporter: “So what does this moment mean to you?”

  Van driver: “Moment? Is this a moment?”

  Reporter: “The whole explosion thing? What are your memories of this beloved stadium?”

  Van driver: “Are we at the stadium? This isn’t Whataburger?”

  Reporter, grimacing: “Can you tell me about the good times your family has had watching the Cowboys play?”

  Van driver: “Cowboys? Wait, is this Fort Worth? I thought we were in Dallas.”

  Reporter, trying not to claw her face: “Okay. Well, do you have any kind of connection whatsoever with this parking lot and that stadium right over there that is about to blow up?”

  Van driver: “Do you take coupons? I’ve got one for a free order of fries.”

4. Climate change is affecting our entire world.

  Weeks before the planned hitting-of-the-button, the city of Irving sent out a warning to all of the residents within a one-mile radius of the stadium that they should probably shut off their air-conditioning during the time of the implosion. You know, so your unit won’t suck dust into your home and make everybody sound like Darth Vader.

  This brings up two points of discussion. First, the Dallas Cowboys were playing in a stadium that wasn’t located in Dallas. (For forty years.) By default, this would make them the Irving Cowboys, not the Dallas Cowboys. Am I the only one who thinks there’s been a miscarriage of justice?

  Second, I see a lawsuit coming. Yes, the City of Irving did the right thing. They tried to warn everybody about the dust cloud. But there’s going to be some bitter wretch who files a lawsuit anyway. It’s going to be in the vein of that stupid woman who sued McDonald’s because she didn’t understand that coffee is HOT. And she WON. Right there, in that moment when stupidity was rewarded, the world shifted on its axis. Now you can sue anybody for anything, logic be damned.

5. Bored people will cheer for no good reason.

  Okay, up to the point of pushing the button, the on-site reporters were doing their best to present human-interest stories of people totally devastated by the implosion of the sporting venue they have loved since childhood. Yet, as soon as the carefully-placed bombs started going off and the stadium began to devolve into dust, deranged fans were jumping in the air and celebrating the destruction. What happened to the trauma? Why are you clapping?

6. Okay, not everybody was clapping.

  We did have a nice segment where a reporter was interviewing former Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders as they prepared to watch the destruction. To be fair, one of them was truly moved, weeping copiously as the clock ticked down. She was the only one. The rest of her counterparts were scouring the vicinity for any agent that might sign them for a tell-all book tour.

7. TV cameras apparently emit a homing signal to lure idiots with no concept of reality.

  Do you really need any examples? Didn’t think so.

8. Repetition is soothing in a medicated society.

  We watched the stadium fall at least 100 times on three different channels. As if something different would happen if we just kept watching. Meanwhile, tax forms remain incomplete, there’s not a single clean dish in the house, and my crops have withered in Farmville.

9. People watching the same exact scene will have differing interpretations.

  Despite careful planning by the implosion crew, three of the stadium support towers did not completely fall. Each TV station had their own explanation. One reporter informed us that unexpected piles of debris caused blockage of some kind. Another assured us that this non-falling was intentional, with plans to sell the tower pieces on eBay or some such. And yet another anchor babbled incoherently that the remaining towers symbolized God’s wrath over the Mississippi lesbian who wanted to wear a tuxedo to her high school prom. I’ll let you guess which channel THAT was.

10. When anything at all happens that concerns the Dallas Cowboys, everything else on the local newscasts becomes secondary.

  Even the most progressive and inclusive news programs will have 29 minutes of Cowboys-mania, with all other events shoved into the final 60 seconds. This wrap-up is usually presented by a disgruntled, lesser-known anchor who has an attitude because he didn‘t get to work on the lead story: “Um, okay, there was a gas leak in Forth Worth, the Dallas City Council voted on something, the high tomorrow will be 84 degrees, and some guy died in Poland. Have a great night!”

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Beer Busted: The Return, Part II

(Click HERE to read the first part of this story, if needed.)

  Smudge just continued to stand there, smiling cryptically and waiting for me to make a move. “Don’t you need to go outside?”

  Of course I needed to go. My car is out there. And I don’t live here. “Is she serious with this? Mrs. Kim?” Or is this one of those things that only exists in my head?’

  Smudge kept grinning. “Oh, it’s real alright. Now get out there and do what you need to do. I’m bored, and I can see everything from this window right here. Go!”

  Hated her a little bit. Then I sighed. This was ridiculous that I was just standing here, not wanting to leave a decrepit little beer shack because there was an apparently horny woman waiting outside to proffer herself wantonly. Seriously, nothing was going to happen other than a second or two of awkwardness, and me and Awkward go way back. I can handle it.

  I marched toward the front doors, still clutching the 12-pack, the evil object of desire that had gotten me into this mess in the first place. As I clattered through the little foyer, I heard Smudge mutter, from her place at the window, “Wish I could smoke in here.” She was enjoying this far too much. Hated her a little bit more.

  I cautiously pushed one of the front doors open, and furtively glanced about. By some odd alignment of the stars, there were no cars in the small parking lot that fronted the building. There’s always at least two or three hoopties, belching smoke while one of the many occupants is inside the store, foraging for cheap wine and beef jerky. My car was hiding around the corner, in the little strip of parking slots that provide the best chance of not becoming road kill around this dangerous place.

  Twilight was deepening, but the heat of the day was still lingering, creating that humid transitional mix of fading vision and budding passions as the innocence of the day yields to the sultry temptations of the night. I half expected a young Elizabeth Taylor to come waltzing up, wearing a stunning, low-cut dress and handing me a mint julep dripping with heat sweat.

  I turned to my left and there she was. Not Elizabeth. Mrs. Kim, standing in the middle of the wooden porch/walkway thing that led to that side of the property. She had her arms wrapped around the bag of ice, which was roughly half her size, so I could only see arms, legs, and a tiny head sticking out from the four sides of the moist plastic.

  She strained to shift the bag to one side, then reached up to rub one wet hand on her cheek. Ah yes, the international symbol for “you have a smooth face and I want you”. Why was she so invested in this clean-shaven thing? Mr. Kim was smooth as well. In fact, from what I could tell, he never even had to shave, so she already had a hairless lover to frolic with as she pleased. Especially when you threw in that “already married to him” business.

  Was it the fact that I was only temporarily clean-shaven? I have a heavy beard. I get five o’clock shadow at 10am. Maybe that was the appeal, the delicious possibility that at any given second, stubble could appear and slightly roughen our forbidden romance in a way that Mr. Kim could never-

  Okay, hold up. Why am I standing here thinking about this, filling my mind with the possible motivations behind the lascivious needs of the heated wife of the proprietor of an alcoholic venue where you get free ice with a 12-pack? Why do I think so much? Why can’t I just grunt and crawl through life like most people? It’s madness. Dude, just go to your car and get out of here.

  I took a step forward.

  She strains under the weight of the ice so that she can also take a step forward.

  At this rate we are going to be here until next Thursday.

  I start to head to my right, with the intention of just leaving the walkway and going around her through the parking lot. She suddenly shifts into Plan B, heaving the bag of ice up against the front of the store with a crunchy splat, and racing to cut me off. She’s now right in front of me, gazing up at me with the fading daylight making little glints in her dark eyes. Considering her height, there must be considerable neck strain, her chin thrust into the air as she tries to maintain her balance.

  Suddenly, a string of Korean words shatter the humid silence of the night, and a man steps around the corner of the building and onto the walkway. There’s a dim glow in one of his hands, and a wispy cloud of something evaporating above his head. He was apparently in the side lot taking a quick smoke.

  It’s Mr. Kim.

  Mrs. Kim lets out a startled squawk and leaps backwards an amazing three feet or so. It’s such an astonishing and agile move that if this had been the Olympics, judges would now be on their feet, waving placards sporting double-digit scores while tears stream down their faces.

  Mrs. Kim quickly finds her voice. “Ice to the car!” Like this will fully and completely explain everything.

  Mr. Kim studies her for a second, studies me for a second, then spends decades studying the half-melted bag of ice now collapsed against the wood siding, with a growing river of wetness gushing forth and spilling across the porch. He takes another drag of his cigarette, then looks back at Mrs. Kim. This time his expression changes to one that clearly asks “then why is the ice over here, and you were, before the astonishing Olga Korbut move, way over there, lustily gazing at the white man like he was a pogo stick”?

  And then all hell breaks lose. Both of them both launch into surprisingly loud streams of Korean, accessorized by waving hands and making gestures. This goes on for a bit. Then there’s a brief pause where they mentally regroup for round two, during which Mr. Kim flicks the remaining stub of his cigarette toward the ice bag, without even looking, and the butt lands expertly in the pool of water surrounding the base of the bag, sizzling to death immediately. (Wow, these two have incredible athletic skills, not to mention an admirable respect for fire safety.) Then they both launch again, even louder.

  A slight bit of movement on the left catches my eye, and I can see Smudge in the window, her face practically mashed against the glass while she drinks this all in. She sees me looking, gives me a thumbs up (“This is SO fun!”) and then completely loses interest in me as she turns back to the Kims. They are standing toe-to-toe, letting out what must be years of frustration and bitterness. Suddenly, another voice rings out. This one in English.

  “But I’m GAY!”

  The duo stops yelling and turns toward me. Smudge, face still mashed in excitement, flicks her eyes toward me, her mouth in a perfect “O” of realization. (“So that’s NOT his brother that comes in here with him some times.”) Out on the road, one car slams on their brakes and someone in another car honks their horn, which instantly plays a brief medley of Judy Garland hits.

  Oh wow. I guess that voice was mine. In all the excitement and frenzy, I apparently felt the need to out myself here at the Cool Breeze United Nations.

  The Kims stand there silently for a bit. I think I see Mrs. Kim’s face fall slightly, but I’m not sure. It’s hard to tell. It’s most likely that she had been  in the midst of formulating another vicious vindictive to hurl at her husband. Then Mr. Kim takes a step backwards while still staring at me.

  Okay, wait, what does that mean? Is he concerned that HE is now the object of my unbridled lust for members of his family. Come on. What is wrong with these people that they think I want anything carnal to do with anybody in this building? I just want beer.

  Then Mr. Kim reaches over to a pack sitting on one of the window sills. He was only going for another cigarette, which he quickly lights before turning back to his wife. For some reason, he starts off in English before quickly changing over to Korean. But I catch enough to realize he’s mad that she was carrying the ice. Something about her back.

  Oh my GOD I’m an idiot. This isn’t “The Long, Hot Summer” after all. It’s a bad episode of “The Love Boat” where Gopher gets confused. This is what happens when you think too much. And this is why I need to get out of here right now.

  I glance at Smudge, who mouths “they didn’t understand you”, and then waves me to my car. Ever polite, even when embarrassed or misinterpreting a situation, I wish the Kims a good night as I slip past them and run to my car. I don’t think they even noticed me leave.

  It takes me a few days before I go back to Cool Breeze, but eventually I do. The lure is always there, being the closest beer store. So I suck it up, get over my shame, and pull into the parking lot. As I approach the door, I once again berate myself for letting my imagination run wild, then grab the wooden handle.

  Smudge is inside at the counter.

  She motions me over immediately. “You are not going to believe this.”

  Really? “What?”

  Smudge: “Mrs Kim’s mother is here. And they’ve been talking about you since you pulled in.”

  What? I glance over at the Kim corner, and there they both stand, Mrs. Kim and a more seasoned version of the same face. Both of them are the same height, both are watching me look at them, and both raise a hand in a professionally-synchronized manner and proceed to rub their smooth cheeks. Then they burst into giggles.

  I look back at Smudge, confused. I don’t get this. What is going on? Wait. Are YOU behind this? Did you… are they… but…

  Smudge just smiles. Again.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Idiot Fondue: Case Study #5

(Note: This is a re-post, per request, from the Idiot Fondue/Dr. Brian blog.)

My slutty but hard-working secretary just handed me my mail, and we have this question to peruse:

Can a hangover result in death?

And Dr. Brian responds:

What an odd question. Of course it can, this happens all the time with rock stars, bored rich kids, and bitter politicians. Especially after mid-term elections.

So you clearly have much deeper issues, and think that you are cleverly hiding your real delusions behind this innocuous query. Amateur. Surely you must be aware of my powers. I can easily and competently diagnose anyone in a 5-mile radius without even breaking a sweat. You have offended me with this childish act. I will now rip you to shreds.

First, there are the grains of sand that irritatingly fell out of the envelope when I opened your letter. You reside near a beach, or at least perform your postal activities near a beach, same thing. There are two types of people who frequent beaches: weak people with no direction in their lives, and strong people who thrive on giving direction to those weak people.

The weak go to the beach in the hopes of finding a tiny bit of fulfillment in their miserable lives, even though they are doomed and they sub-conciously know it. At first, everything is pretty and the sun is nice. But soon they see all the more-beautiful people around them, hopes fade, and their thoughts turn to the ocean. The powerful ocean where perhaps they could fling themselves to a salty death.

But because the weak ARE weak, of course they don't do it. In their minds, they race to the water a hundred times, leaping over crabs and empty beer bottles in a stunning ballet of impending demise, finally catching the attention of the beautiful people as they gurgle and sink. Instead, the weak people give up their dreams and drag their sun-burnt bodies back home, and iron their clothes for another soul-crushing day in their part-time job at Sunglass Hut.

The strong people go to the beach because they mistakenly assume that God created the beach in honor of their glory. The strong don't simply walk onto the beach, they ARRIVE, wearing designer thong-wear and stomping around like Godzilla attacking the city, shooing away the weak people from the prime real estate. They carry harpoon guns to shoot any idiot servant that does not immediately provide them with requested beverages or snacky things.

And as you would expect, the strong people are there to torment the weak people. This is how life works in any environment, but especially in natural settings involving water. They laugh at the attire and hairstyles of the weak. ("I think you might have sailed right past the look you were going for, Chlamidya.") They are terrible to the children of the weak. ("Mommy drinks because you're ugly.") And they do their best to get the weak to follow through with the suicidal thoughts. ("Do you see that island over there? Cuba? I bet you can make it!")

You, dear patient, are obviously one of the strong. This is clear from the sand that poured out of your envelope, as I can see that you have personally autographed each grain. Do you have to purchase an extra airline ticket for your ego when you travel?

Now, let's move on to the stamp on your envelope. On the back of said stamp, we have the driest saliva I have ever seen. Are you SO anal that you cannot even produce adequate body fluids for postage? Do you even HAVE bowel movements, or do you just pay someone to take care of that for you?

And the stamp itself? I was unaware that you could actually purchase stamps trimmed in 24-karat gold. Amazing. Or did you just apply the goldleaf yourself? Most likely. I'm sure you've never been satisfied with anything produced by anyone else, and you always have to embellish and upgrade. Who knows what you've done with that vagina of yours. Is it wi-fi capable now?

Yes, I know you are a woman. This is not a sexist statement, although I am sure you will attempt to take it that way, and you are already alerting your fleet of lawyers. No, it is based on the fact that you indicated your return address as "Ultimate Diva Supreme, 123 Goddess Way, Nirvana, FL." So you're either a woman or a drag queen. Oh wait, with the available surgical procedures these days, is it possible that you-

Well, drat. There's the bell, time for my next patient.

Could you possibly return for another session? Have your people get with my people. (I know you have people, anyone with your level of maintenance has GOT to have people.) My pulse is pounding at the thought of further dissection. I'm all aquiver...

Dr. Brian