Saturday, July 31, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 5

  Sharon glanced from the buzzing phone to Hexom, wondering what she should do. He had an odd smile, somewhere between smirk and…jealousy? “Why are you looking at me like that?”

  The smile vanished, replaced by concern. “I understand where you’re at right now. This is all a big surprise, it doesn’t seem real, and you mostly want to just get up and walk away like none of this ever happened. But I know there’s a certain part of you that find’s this rather intriguing. Because it’s different, yes? Something new.”

  Sharon offered her own strange smile. “You’ve got me there. Of course, there’s this business with you dying that I really don’t relish.”

  Hexom sighed. “That’s really not important. Well, it IS, but not at the moment. You need to focus on your own honest reactions to everything that happens. The whole game depends on you doing that, especially the outcome of the game. Understand?”

  Sharon nodded. “I think so.”

  Hexom nodded back. “Then answer the phone.”

  Sharon paused, then snatched up the phone, flipped it open, briefly studied the unfamiliar keyboard, hit a button, then held the phone to her ear. “Yes?”

  The disturbing voice was instantly there. “I don’t like to be kept waiting.”

  “Really?” asked Sharon, an eyebrow arching. “Then try THIS.” She slammed the phone shut and set it on the table.

  Hexom chuckled. “Oh my. You’re a feisty little tooter, aren’t you.”

  Sharon’s eyebrow remained arched. “I’m just getting started.”

  The phone rang again.

  Sharon let it ring exactly ten times, then picked it up again. “Did you like that?”

  At first there was no response, then “Perhaps you fail to understand how imperative it is that we communicate in a timely manner.”

  Sharon made an exasperated noise. “I don’t understand ANY of this, but I do know that there’s no reason for your rudeness and arrogance. I’m not sure if you aren’t getting laid enough or you’re just an asshole. But until I do something that is really worth getting upset about, and I assure you that’s coming, pull whatever it is out of your butt and BE NICE!”

  There was a pause.

  Hexom’s eyes were wide enough that ships at sea could navigate by the whiteness.

  Then a sound came from the phone, hearty laughter, strong enough that it temporarily overrode whatever voice-disguising thing he was using. Throaty and rich. And slightly chilling. Then the program took control again, and the genderless monotone was back. “Well, then, Miss Horizons, it appears that we’ll get along just fine. Are you ready for the first stone?”

  Sharon actually felt a small thrill to hear this, excitement budding. “Certainly, Mr. Roboto, ready and waiting.”

  “Get your hair cut. Select Salon. Call for an appointment. Ask for April.”

  Sharon, expecting something much more mysterious and thrilling, was a bit disappointed. “That’s it? Get my hair cut.”

  “Oh, it’s much more. But we’ll pretend that’s all it is at the moment. Now, Miss Horizons, I would normally abruptly terminate the call at this point, in order to establish my dominance and ensure anxiety-based cooperation. But as you felt compelled to introduce a new rule concerning phone etiquette, and I don’t see why we shan’t be cordial, I will instead depart by wishing you a pleasant afternoon.”

  Sharon laughed. “Why, thank you, Mr. Roboto. And I hope that the removal procedure at your posterior wasn’t too painful. Good day.”

  Sharon set the phone on the table once again. “He’s on my nerves already. I’ll need to be drinking the next time he calls.”

  Hexom was surprised. “Are you sure it’s a man. I’ve never been able to figure it out.”

  “Of course it’s a man. Women are never that rude.” Then Sharon turned and screamed across the room. “Potter! Get your ass over here right now or I’m going to cut you!”

  There was a yelp from the foyer of the restaurant, and then the rumpled man who was finally off the floor, clutching his wrinkled papers and battered briefcase, staggered his way to the booth, knocking over three innocent chairs and sending a small child sailing through the air. (A husky fellow at one of the tables leaped to his feet and caught the child, hollering “Two Points!” while doing so. His girlfriend immediately broke up with him out of embarrassment and left the building.)

  The accountant stood before Sharon, quivering.

  Sharon, grimacing slightly, said “Dewey, this is Hexom Breen, Hexom, this is Dewey Potter. Dewey works for me when he can remember exactly what it is that he does. Something with numbers, it’s not clear to either one of us. I only keep paying him out of sympathy.”

  Dewey looked at Sharon, crestfallen. “But we’re family!” he whined, in a voice that reminded one of miniature dogs that crave Mexican fast food.

  Sharon sighed, lighting yet another cigarette. “Dewey, we are not family. Just because your parents and my parents made some type of foolish satanic pact when they were youngsters at Camp Whateverthehell in the drug-addled 60’s, it does NOT make us blood. I keep trying to tell you this. I am NOT your sister, physically or socially.”

  Dewey pouted.

  Sharon ignored this. “Now, what do you need? Why did you want to meet? And who bought you that tie? You should no longer speak to them.”

  Dewey glanced down at the apparently offending material around his neck, decided that the reference was just too much to comprehend, and looked back at Sharon. “There’s something going on with your Papyrus stock.”

  This finally got Sharon’s real attention. “Papyrus? And what is that?”

  Dewey looked confused. “It’s your art supply company. The people with the paint and the pencils?”

  Sharon stubbed out her cigarette. “Dewey, thick boy, I know what Papyrus is. I bought the damn thing. Can we focus? What did you find with the stock?”

  Dewey glanced at Hexom and then back. “Can I sit down?”

  “No, you cannot. Stay there. That way you can leave more quickly when I’m done with you. Now speak.”

  Dewey cleared his throat and shifted about uncomfortably. “Some of the filing papers are missing.”

  Sharon sighed. “That doesn’t surprise me, what with your typical ass-over-head entrance a bit ago. Did you check under the slutty hostess that’s standing there, on the verge of getting pregnant at any second?”

  Dewey shook his head. “Not missing here, missing at the office. The paperwork from when we took the company public is not there, and it should be. I called you immediately.” He smiled sheepishly, perhaps expecting a gift for his expedient reportage.

  Sharon did not offer one. “Did you check with anybody in the office. Those other boring people who are always sitting around in their horrid outfits, reading Sylvia Plath and waiting to die? They might know something.”

  Dewey frowned. “Oh. Well, I didn’t think to ask. I just thought you should know. You know, because I didn’t tell you right away that time I accidentally ordered 3,000 cases of kumquats and we had to rent the Cotton Bowl.”

  Sharon nodded her head. “I see, yes, that was a very trying time for me. And there’s a slim possibility that you might be on to something. But why don’t you go back to the office, assist one of the glum people with her suicide, and make sure you know what is really going on before you call me again.”

  Dewey nodded his head. “Yes. I will do that. Right now.”

  “Then leave. Right now.”

  Dewey turned and made his uncoordinated way to the front door. The hostess and two nearby servers, immediately turned in their notices and ran screaming from the building.

  “Well, then,” said Sharon, gathering her things and throwing them into her bottomless purse. “Let’s get out of here as well. We’ve been sitting in the same restaurant for five chapters now and my ass is numb.”

  Hexom stopped her, placing his manicured hand on hers. “Not to excite you unduly, it may be nothing, but you really should take the stock thing seriously. After you fire Dewey.”

  Sharon looked at him quizzically. “Can’t fire Dewey, long story, my cross to bear. But the stock? What do you mean?”

  Hexom looked into her eyes intently. “The host really does know a tremendous amount of people. People who know things. And can get access to things. And change things. Like your life.”

  Sharon shook her head. “He can’t have that much power.” Then she studied Hexom. “Can he?”

  In the foyer, Dewey trips over the same pocket of air and tumbles once again, taking two nuns and three members of the St. Patty Hearst Reform School Girls’ Choir with him…

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 4

  Sharon sighed. “I’m not so sure that I like this game. Especially if dead people are going to send me party favors.”

  Hexom signaled to Bambi that his raspberry tea was getting a bit low, and she immediately raced to retrieve another glass, knocking aside co-workers like there was a prize of some kind. Two seconds later, she presented the fresh offering, managing to lightly caress one of her breasts during the delivery. Hexom winked at her, resulting in sudden hi-beams and a small moan as Bambi’s libido raged untamed, then he turned to Sharon. “You have no idea. It just gets more twisted as it goes along.”

  Sharon pointed at her own parched glass, indicating that Bambi should share the love. Bambi reluctantly headed for another round, most likely intending to desecrate it in some way, possibly in a poisonous manner that would narrow the competition for Hexom’s affections. Poor, empty-headed thing. The disappointments she must face on a daily basis.

  Sharon sighed again, mainly because it was sometimes fun to do so. “But why did it take three years from your getting the clue until you found me? Do you work for the government?”

  Hexom took a surprisingly large gulp of the tea, and then subconsciously smacked his lips, proving he was one of those people who feel it necessary to advertise their level of consumption satisfaction, much to the growing chagrin of nearby non-smackers. “Well, I didn’t initially take any of this seriously, just as I’m sure you’re not quite buying it at the moment. And it seems that I was the first…. invited player, if you will… and most of the rules had not been defined. I seem to be some type of guinea pig-”

  A cell phone went off, warbling something operatic, so it obviously had to be Hexom’s device. He reached into a cleverly tailored and concealed pocket, removing something sleek and futuristic that would be outdated in three days. He glanced at the incoming number and flipped it open. “Yes?”

  Whoever it was immediately launched into a diatribe of some kind, a stream of words that were indecipherable to Sharon, even though she did try to listen, because that was also fun to do. Hexom caught her eye, held a finger to his lips, then gently removed the phone from his ear and tenderly pressed a button.

  Instantly, an eerie, sexless voice came through a tiny opening at the bottom of the unit. “… because you KNOW the rules, Hex, you CAN’T say anything you’re not allowed to say, because I WILL find out and you will be disqualified, and you KNOW that if that happens you’ll-…. Hexom, take me off speaker phone immediately!” Hexom lunged for the button but before he could quite press it, the genderless voice shared a few more words. “Hello, Sharon. Nice to finally meet you.”

  Sharon felt a chill start somewhere between her shoulder blades and the plunge downward. Things had just gone from amusing diversion to creepy unease.

  The voice decided it had other things to do. “I’ll talk to you later, Hexom. You’ve been a very naughty boy.”


  Sharon stared at Hex in amazement. “He calls you? Can’t you trace the call and have him arrested? This is ridiculous. Why are you putting up with ANY of this?”

  Hexom held up his hand. “First, we don’t know that if it’s a male or a female. The voice is slightly different every single time. But the tone, the inflections, are the same. And of course I tried involving the authorities, back in the day, but trust me when I say that THAT will get you nowhere, and it makes this person mad. Our host has an amazing amount of friends. And they are everywhere.”

  Sharon scoffed. “Host? As if this were a dinner party.” She grabbed her bottomless purse and began to rummage about once more, setting aside a hair dryer and a jar of mayonnaise before locating her cigarettes and lighting one, doing so with the practiced ease of someone who probably did this twenty-six times before getting out of bed in the morning.

  Instantly, the insipid manager was back at the table. “M’am, we don’t allow you to bring your own condiments into the bar.”

  Sharon glanced at the mayo, thought briefly, then reached for it with determination. The manager turned and fled, as if what was about to come happened all the time in here. Sharon hurled the jar with great skill, narrowly missing the manager as he dodged at precisely the right time. The jar then connected with the head of a pretty Indonesian woman who was enjoying spinach and bacon fajitas, knocking her to the ground where she lay motionless, a tortilla still clutched in one hand like a doughy handkerchief.

  One of the servers, a hefty manboy who didn’t seem to ever speak despite taking food orders from patrons, strolled up, grabbed Indiana, and dragged her into a small room on the left. Interesting. Was there a stack of missing citizens in there? Why would they need an entire room for such a thing?

  Back to Hexom. “Actually, the dinner-party analogy is somewhat apt. Something is always being served. You just never know what it’s going to be. You just keep eating until you figure it all out, or you stop getting invitations.”

  “Stop getting invitations,” repeated Sharon, flicking ashes everywhere but into the ashtray. “What does THAT mean?”

  Hexom pursed his lips. “It means you disappear. And someone takes your place. As you might surmise, there was a change to the guest list just last evening. It was in the papers this morning, you know.”

  Sharon paused with the cigarette halfway between the empty ashtray and her mystified lips. “This is in the papers? Newspapers?”

  “Yes. In the personals section, naturally. Can’t attract too much attention with a banner headline and all. Wouldn’t do.”

  Sharon snapped her fingers at Bambi as she stood in the shadows, scribbling “Mrs. Hexom Breen” on a napkin. “Urchin girl, come here.“ Bambi scurried over, a look of absolute terror in her dimly-lit eyes. “Is there something I could-”

  “Does this wretched place have newspapers?”

  This was apparently a new and confusing word for Bambi. “Newspapers?”

  Sharon flicked an ash with extreme frustration. “Those things that boys on bikes throw at your house when it’s still dark.”

  A brief image of airborne condoms flittered through Bambi’s head, but it was quickly gone because both of her brain cells were working overtime just trying to keep her alive. Releasing a small squeak, she ran to find the manager, who was scraping lasagna off a wall. They consulted quietly, with fingers pointed back at Sharon, until the manager’s head finally began to nod.

  Bambi scurried back to the table. “He says there’s a newspaper box outside.”

  Sharon leaned over to peer out the front window. Indeed there was. She reached into her cornucopia bag and then chunked some coins in Bambi’s direction. “Go get me one.”

  Bambi hesitated. “We’re not allowed to go outside when-”

  “GO!” bellowed Sharon, then lit another cigarette.

  Bambi squeaked again and then rushed out the door, operating on pure survival instinct and wishing she had listened to her mother about taking that typing class. Unable to understand how the coins could make the paper box open, she picked up a brick left over from the gang fight last Saturday and began to beat at the box until the door fell open. Bambi grabbed the entire contents, ran into the restaurant, leaped over the accountant, landed on his carefully stacked pile of papers, sending them slithering, nearly lost her balance, managed to stay upright by clutching an anonymous breast, and then arrived at the table.

  Breathless, she set the pile of newspapers in between Sharon and Hexom, then mooned at Hexom. (Perhaps he would marry her for being so nimble and efficient.)

  Sharon lifted the top paper, then shoved the rest of them onto the floor. Flipping to the personals section, she queried Hexom: “What am I looking for?”

  He took a breath. “This particular one is from ‘Peggy Lee,’ but the name always changes. Another part of the game.”

  Sharon ran a finger down the smeary newsprint until she found “Peggy’s” notice, reading it aloud. “Rest in peace, Sara. You won’t be missed. You grow cold, but your chair will not.” Sharon looked up at Hexom. “What the hell?”

  “Changing of the guard. The new chair is for you.”

  “But how would I even know that this message-”

  Hexom smiled. “You’ll learn. And you’ll check the personals every day.”

  Sharon made a petulant noise, refolded the paper, and then tossed it on the floor with its friends. A corner of the paper slapped against a cowboy boot. A very large cowboy boot, parked next to an equally large twin. Sharon and Hexom’s eyes traveled up the boots, up the legs and over the torso of an extremely tall, stunning man, who was holding a box.

  “Hi, Miss Horizons” said this man, revealing gleaming white teeth that any sane person would want to lick and worship. “I brought the package you wanted.”

  Hexom was stunned. “Wow. They can keep my burger. I’ll take that to go.”

  Sharon laughed, taking the proffered box. “Thank you, Alejandro. You may go wait in the car.” The wall of man turned and walked away, stepping over the accountant.

  Hexom was still drooling. “Where did you find him?”

  Sharon waved a hand. “A friend of mine specializes in such things. He cleans the pool every morning. Naked. It’s better than caffeine. And let me assure you that the drapes match the carpet. You could fish with it. And I make sure someone throws leaves in the pool every night. Now, let’s see what’s in the box.”

  She tore into the parcel, tossing bits of cardboard into the wind. Eventually, she came across a phone, one that exactly matched the style of Hexom’s instrument.

  “You’ll need that in a minute,” explained Hexom. “Keep going.”

  At first there didn’t appear to be anything else. Sharon sighed. “There’s just this packing slip.”

  “Look closer,” Hexom instructed.

  Sharon studied the sheet. “Oh. Well, it’s got little checkboxes with lines to the side. But everything is blank. And there’s a big blank box at the bottom.”

  Hexom: “How many checkboxes? Twenty?”

  Sharon counted quickly and confirmed. “Twenty.”

  “Those are the twenty stones.”

  Sharon looked up. “Stones?”

  Hexom smiled. “Think of them as clues. And the box at the bottom?”


  “That’s where you’ll write the name of the person who is trying to kill me.”

  Sharon’s new phone suddenly started to ring.

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Searching For Signal: #145 - “Big Brother” - Season 12, Episode 10

Okay, so there’s the review of the last episode, which mainly deals with Andrew going off the rails at the Veto Ceremony. Other than that, same old.

Then Julie appears, wearing an odd dress with some ill-advised zipper placement. She babbles about Matty for a while, and mentions that two floaters are on the block. Which begs the question. Who in this house isn’t? Sigh. I miss Janelle.

More shots of Andrew being weird, which leads to another series of Taxi Cab confessions in the Diary Room as people ponder Andrew and his twistedness.

Britney: “I’m so confused!” This doesn’t surprise me, Britney. It certainly shouldn’t surprise YOU. Then again, by some random fluctuation in the world, you will probably end up in the final four. Just sayin.

Rachel: “This house is full of haters!” Whatev. You really need to calm down.

Kathy: “I have no idea what that speech was about!” Agreed. But the same thing could be said about your cosmetic skills.

Andrew: He still thinks he did a really smooth thing. I’m thinking the short shorts from the surfboard competition have caused permanent damage. Just a guess.

Cut to Brendon and Rachel in one of the 412 rooms. She’s all mad at Andrew, snarling and crying and gazing with hatred upon inanimate objects. Speaking of, Brendon tries to calm her down by telling Rachel that Andrew’s speech was all planned. Wrong move. This makes Rachel twist off even more, thinking she’s being kept in the dark. Brendon proceeds to kiss her to make her shut up. They have the sex.

Britney, Lane and Ragan (there’s a combination), sitting around and discussing the exciting Veto Ceremony. They think that Rachel was faking her reaction, which is interesting, since she really wasn’t in on the staged drama. Then something shiny catches Lane’s attention and the conversation is over.

Matt calls Andrew up to the HOH Room. Dude, people are very suspicious about your little performance. Andrew appears shocked, thinking his delivery was sterling and worthy of awards. Not. Matt: You need to talk to people and try to get their votes.

Rachel and Brendon on the patio, snuggling yet bickering. She’s still mad about not being informed of Andrew’s plan. He tries to be appeasing and repentant, but she doesn’t understand either of those words, so he gets frustrated. In desperation, he utters “I love you!” and then buries his head among the twins. She completely ignores this and keeps harping. Um, Brendon, there’s your sign. Run.

Brendon in the Diary Room: “I might have just lost the best thing I ever had.”

You’ve known her three weeks. And she didn’t even care when you said the L word. Why are people so stupid?

Scene with Kathy and Ragan, where she reveals that she has had cancer, and the treatments led to leukemia. “My son needs a chance at a better life.” Okay, no idea if this is a true story, but if it is, Matt is more of a dog than ever.

Ragan in the Diary Room: He was originally going to vote for Kathy to leave, because he really likes Andrew (go figure), but now he’s reconsidering. Then he recreates Liza Minnelli’s showstopper from “Cabaret”. One of the grips filming the scene cries.

Next we have Kathy talking to Kristen, sharing the details of being pregnant at 18 and how the people in high school treated her for such. Kristen appears sympathetic. Andrew, across the courtyard, glares at the two as if Satan just arose and spit in his face.

Andrew in the Diary Room: “I resent not getting emotional support from these people.” Really? Then perhaps you should actually try talking to them instead of beating on non-responsible objects in the swamp room and bellowing animal noises.

Cut to Andrew crying in the swamp room, then digging for gold in his nose. Nice.

Kathy is about to step into the communal shower, with Kristen nearby, gazing into a mirror and trying out various movie-star hairstyles, when Andrew suddenly marches up. “You two are playing me like a fiddle. Don’t do it anymore!” Then he turns to scamper away, because he’s SO manly.

(You can almost hear the BB producers going “Where did THAT come from?”)

Kristen is not impressed. “I don’t appreciate that at ALL. We’re gonna have a nice little chat.” As Kathy finally escapes into the shower, hoping to wash away the slime of the Big Brother craziness, Kristen marches off to find Andrew.

And they get into it, big time. To be fair, Kristen tries to remain rational and fair-minded. But Andrew has gone off the deep end, completely delusional and spewing paranoid crap. Kristen finally has enough. “You’re gonna dig your own grave!” Andrew counters with the unoriginal “YOU are gonna dig YOUR own grave!”

The entire house hears the yelling. Oh boy.

Matt, Enzo and Hayden in the HOH Room, once again trying very hard to not at all hide their alliance. The general consensus is that they need to keep Andrew in the house as a distraction, because he’s so messed up. On the flip side, Kathy will target them for having nominated her. (But Kathy can’t win squat. How can she target you?)

Back to Julie: “Matt told a lie, and created a controversy outside the house.” Ya think?

Boring commercials. I already have a Swiffer, thanks.

Jules again, and she chats with the houseguests. There’s a boring Rachel segment where we learn nothing new. Then Julie queries Lane about what he misses from the real world outside, and he surprises no one by saying he misses spot-lighting and fishing. (Another debit for Texas.) Julie ends the roundtable by making fun of Britney teaching Enzo how to speak proper English. Julie appears to be really invested in this, cackling gleefully as Enzo is made out as an idiot. (Not a big leap.) Then Julie announces that there will be a one-week break from anybody being on slop. Everyone in the house appears to be on the verge of having sex with her out of gratitude.

We get to meet Matty’s wife, to hear her thoughts on being portrayed as a helpless woman with a bone disfiguration. “He lacks all common sense. I don’t agree with what he did. But I did try to help Matt with his letter.” The one where she basically supported his lie. Nice. I guess everyone has a soul mate.

Quick sound bite from Julie: “Is the Saboteur twist really over?”

Commercials. Did you know that perfume is really cheap at TJ Maxx? Wow.

Back to Julie, talking to just Matt in the HOH Room? Any qualms with the lying about the bone disease? Nope. Don’t feel bad? Nope. Do you have any chance of not going to Hell? Nope.

Eviction Ceremony and the “Save Me” speeches.

Kathy: Very nice, very to the point. I’m going to be myself in this house, do what I think is right, and if that gets me evicted, so be it. (Actually really starting to like her, despite the frightening mascara.)

Andrew: Goes immediately into full rant mode. He trashes Kristen and Hayden, revealing their love fest, and then proceeds to inform every one of the houseguests how the two, especially Kristen, have privately belittled all of them. (Some of this is true, most of it reeks of full-tilt delusional madness.) And he goes on and on. And on. Everybody is stunned. Kristen, furious, tries to get a word in, but Julie cuts her off (“You don’t have the floor”) and then she cuts Andrew off. (Commercials are coming up, people, don’t jack with that.) It is one of the most vindictive Eviction Ceremonies we’ve seen. I’m slack-jawed. (Granted, this often happens.)

Time to vote.

Kristen (fuming), Rachel (laughing), and Britney (totally flummoxed) vote to evict Andrew.

Back to Julie. She informs us that we’re heading into the sacred commercials, but my eyes are glued to the monitor over her shoulder where we can see Andrew and Kristen still yelling at each other in the couch room. To be a fly on the wall…

Commercials. Did you know that you can rent-to-own a waterbed?

Julie again, grinning from ear to ear. Twisted houseguest reactions always result in stellar ratings. Yay team! We see the rest of the house vote, and it’s unanimous. (Ragan, the last to enter the Diary Room: “I vote to institutionalize and evict Andrew.”)

He gone.

So then we have the exit interview between Andrew and Julie, and it’s really kind of pointless. He’s obviously lost his mind and can’t really justify his behavior. The only thing of any worth is gleaned from the “goodbye” videos from the houseguests, where Rachel, because she’s SO grounded in reality, accuses Andrew of trying to come between her and Brendon. And men liking other is men is so WRONG. (“Eeeewwww!”)

Really? You are dead to me now, Rachel. Word.

Time for the live HOH competition.

Two people at a time try to buzz first and answer questions about past competitions. Winner stays alive and picks the next two houseguests. Loser is out of the game. Rinse and repeat. It actually gets very intense, and people keep picking Rachel to try to get her out. Surprisingly, she does very well, and she eventually wins HOH. And immediately bursts into teats. I mean tears.

Cut to Julie. Next week we’ll be opening Pandora’s Box. (I didn’t know she had closed it.) We could possibly see a new saboteur introduced, with America picking who will get the offer to go two weeks as The Saboteur and win $20,000 if they make it. Vote now! Okay, “let’s eavesdrop on the houseguests”.

Back to the courtyard, where Rachel and Kristen are screaming and threatening each other.

Roll end credits.

What the hell?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 3

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  Sharon’s confusion and Hexom’s obtuseness were interrupted by a commotion at the front door of the restaurant. They glanced asunder and spied a man writhing on the lobby floor, with bits of paperwork splashed about. He clearly needed some type of assistance, but the nearby hostess and two servers couldn’t be bothered because they were discussing something Snoop Dogg had advised them to do on his latest album.

  “Oh, God,” muttered Sharon, instinctively reaching for another lukewarm mini-taco. She proceeded to smack and lick her fingers.

  Hexom, uncertain if it was wise to simply ignore the fallen man, reluctantly turned to Sharon for further information concerning her brief outburst. Had she just spied the Lord at the salad bar? Had she climaxed? “Pray tell of thee utterance,” he queried, thinking himself rather clever for doing so in such a manner.

  Sharon spit a bit of taco detritus into a napkin and then hurled the wadded object at the nearest server. “Go ask the wretched cook what the hell THAT is!” Then Sharon snatched up her purse and began fumbling within for something of apparent importance. “I know that man,” she stated, brow furrowed in concentration.

  Hexom was perplexed. “You know the cook?”

  Sharon sighed, as if dealing with ignorance was simply beyond her strength at this time. “No,” she said, finally locating the holy grail and pulling out a tube of lip gloss. “The man at the door. He’s the accountant I was supposed to meet.” Then she began to apply vigorously.

  Hexom glanced at the front door sprawler again. Still down, still writhing, still being ignored by Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod as they feebly attempted to have a conversation with any redeeming value whatsoever. The man nearly got to his feet, but then tripped over a pocket of air and went down again, one foot destabilizing a previously-unnoticed coat rack and sending it crashing toward the wannabe rappers. They simply moved out of the way and continued grunting.

  Hexom turned back to Sharon. “Shouldn’t you go help him? Or perhaps I could, if you’d like.”

  Sharon, still applying, “No, leave him be. For two reasons. One, he’s always doing that, with the clumsiness. It’s his thing. Completely annoys me, but I let him live because it might just be a genetic condition. I’ve been to his house and there were people tumbling about like walruses on crack.”

  “And second,” she paused, slipping the lip gloss tube back in her satchel and giving it a little pat. “He was late for our meeting. At the moment, I’m talking to you and I don’t need him. It’s going to take him time to recover, it always does, and by the time he gets to that point, I just might allow him to speak with me.”

  She gazed with curiosity at Hexom. “Now, tell me all about my involvement with Sunset High and people trying to kill you.”

  Hexom stared in wonderment. “How are you able to talk THAT much and put on lipstick at the same time?”

  “Lip gloss, sweetie, and I can successfully apply during animalistic sex and not miss a thing. I’ve won awards. Now. Sunset? Let’s start there. Why me? Why Sunset?”

  Hexom fiddled with his notebook again. “Well, as I mentioned, this all started some time ago.”

  Sharon nodded. “Yes, strange man in park, three years ago. Go on.”

  “And that I can’t tell you certain things.”

  Sharon sighed again. “I don’t really understand that, but got it. I’m starting to get bored with the repetition. Entice me.”

  Hexom smiled. “Everything that happens from this point forward entirely depends on your emotional reaction to carefully-planned stimuli.”

  Sharon studied him for a moment, then “Are you serious with this?”

  “Completely. The path you choose to follow can save my life.”

  Sharon briefly tapped one lacquered fingernail on the table, then suddenly lunged for her purse again, rummaging instantly. She pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, tossing the purse away. She lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply.

  Two seconds later the restaurant manager, unseen by anyone for the past two weeks, suddenly appeared at the table. He glared at Sharon. “M’am, you can’t smoke in here.”

  Sharon blew her smoke at him. “Yes, you can. I’ve done it before.”

  “Only in the bar.”

  “Then make this the bar.”

  This startled the manager. “I’m sorry?”

  Sharon took another drag. “Make this the bar. Get some coasters and some peanuts and make people leave if they don’t like it.”

  The manager rolled his eyes, because he was once again dealing with a psychotic customer with focus issues. “It’s not a simple as that.”

  Sharon grabbed her purse, which apparently contained any possible need she might ever have, and then threw a wad of bills at the irritating man, who proved quite agile when it came to professionally capturing thrown currency. “Everything is simple when you have money. Make it happen.”

  The manager quickly counted the bills, his eyes brightened, he raced into the bar, raced back to the table, plunked down a shiny ashtray, and smiled. “Enjoy.” Then he strolled away. When an elderly woman tried to stop him and complain about the smoke, he slapped her.

  Sharon plinked her ash into the glass receptacle, then grinned at Hexom. “I must say, you’re really starting to get my interest with this. I don’t quite believe everything just yet, especially the business about my actions changing how things-”

  A phone started ringing.

  Sharon turned to her purse with exasperation. “Can’t people just leave me alone and let me live my life? GOD!” She whipped out some kind of bejeweled flip phone and got right to the point. “What is it?”

  She listened to someone babble, her expression slowly changing from bitter annoyance to confusion and then surprise. She suddenly barked an order. “Have someone bring it to me right now…. Applebee’s…. yes.” She slammed the phone shut, pondering.

  Then she looked at Hexom. “A package was delivered to the house.”


  She hesitated. “The return name on the package….” Her eyes briefly gazed off into the distance.

  Hexom leaned forward. “The person who sent the package. This person is no longer alive, are they?”

  Sharon leaned back in her seat. “No. No, they are not. Not for a long time.”

  Hexom smiled. “Then it’s started. Welcome to the game.”

Click Here to Read the Next Chapter.

Searching For Signal: #144 - “Big Brother” - Season 12, Episode 9

We have the typical review of the last episode (nothing new) and then a round of Diary Room appearances:

Rachel: Totally thrilled about she and Brendon not getting nominated. Oh wait, there’s that backdoor thing, isn’t there? Hmmm. Her enthusiasm dwindles and her hair goes flat.

Andrew: Whines about being a pawn. Still does not achieve any level of charisma or awareness about the fact that people don’t necessarily care for him.

Hayden: “Matty nominated two floaters! What the hell?” Then one of the production assistants politely asks him to shove the hair out of his eyes and actually face the camera.

Kathy: “Matty’s nominations don’t make sense!” Neither do your creepy spider eyelashes. I think that makes it a draw.

Matt: I’m playing to win! Crickets chirp.

Scene with Andrew in the swamp room, wandering around aimlessly and talking to himself. He says the word “stupid” at least 30 times. Did somebody turn on “Rain Man” while I went to the bathroom?

Rachel and Brendon in one of the bedrooms, smooching away, celebrating their temporary safety, and figuring out who is going to be on top this time. Andrew, because he has some twisted radar going on, bursts through the door and interrupts them.

Kathy goes to Matt. “Can we chat?” They wander up to the HOH Room. Kathy: “I’m not gunning for you at all.” (Um, what about that vote to send him home?) Matt: “Then win Power of Veto. I don’t care.” Kathy: Seriously, I’m not gunning for you. Then she blinks, and the amount of mascara flakes dropping downward causes foundation issues for the house.

Matt in the Diary Room: “I don’t believe her at all.”

Hayden finds Andrew in one of the rooms, with Kristen trailing along because she can’t let her boyfriend out of her sight even though they are supposedly on the down-low. Both of them to Andrew: “We had no idea” that Matt was going to nominate you. “We are shocked!” Andrew pouts and mutters words of suffering. Hayden: “If I win POV, I will pull you off.”

Hayden in the Diary Room: “I want to backdoor Brendon.” Production assistant: Hayden, seriously dude, look at the camera. Do you even know what that is?

Weird sequence of scenes where Andrew completely loses it because Rachel put peaches in the iced tea, meaning that the “Have-nots” can’t drink it. (Okay, I don’t really know the rules here with the Slop People, nor do I see the appeal of peaches in my iced tea, but can’t Andrew just brew another batch and put a “No Fruit!” warning label on it?) Andrew goes off into the swamp room and starts making loud, primal noises. Kathy, probably because she recognizes the guttural noises from her childhood in Texarkana when the Bogey Creek monster was running amok, runs to the swamp room to check on him. He whines, she comforts, I worry about their mutual sanity.

Andrew in the Diary Room: He’s all for an alliance with Brendon, but he’s very much against the tag-along Rachel with her annoying laugh, fondness for Clairol and peaches, and whip-lash hair that can cut you to ribbons.

The Brigade is sitting on the patio, once again being very obvious about their secret alliance. The three non-Mensa members are quizzing Matty. Are you going to backdoor Rachel or Brendon or what? Matty has this mystifying thing to say: “It’s obvious what’s going on.” No, it’s not. If you want both of them gone, you should have put one up on the block initially and then backdoor the other, if needed. Do I need to call Mensa and have them review your file?

Matt in the Diary Room: “Now the plan is to backdoor Rachel or Brendon.” Then he congratulates himself once again, for being smarter than anybody, ever.

Scenes of Andrew vacuuming every square inch of the house, followed by scenes of the houseguests making fun of Andrew wanting to be neat and tidy. (Enzo: “He’s cleaning stuff that’s already clean!”) Yes, Andrew seems overly obsessed. On the flip side, based on the piles of debris and nastiness stacked about the house, the rest of the people in here are total pigs.

Time to pick players for the Veto Competition. Matt draws Brendon, Kathy draws Lane, and Andrew draws Rachel. I bust out laughing as the Brigade members squirm and cry over the strong possibility that Brendon or Rachel could win and keep the nominations the same, thus saving their butts.

Scene with Matt in the Diary Room, whining about this development.

Scene with Matt and Lane in the HOH Room, whining about this development. Lane, blue about the roadblocks the Brigade has faced: “We can’t get jack crap done.” (There’s a Texas phrase for you.”) Lane: “Gimme some pop rocks.” Then we get to hear him crunching on this candy for an amazingly long period of time. And that right there, folks, explains a lot.

Quick scene with Matt and Andrew in the pantry, with Andrew really worried about how things are shaping up. Luckily, Matt does not fondle any random fruit in a suggestive manner.

HOH Room with the Brigade members. (What the hell is that thing on Enzo’s head?) They are all bummed that the POV competition might be something scientific, since Rachel and Brendon are both scientists, or at least that’s what they’ve told us. The pity party is interrupted when Enzo spies Andrew on the HOH monitors that survey the house. “Hey, it’s Kosher Cable!” Lane: “I didn’t know the Jews wore Ninja outfits when they pray.”

We’re such a tolerant society, right?

Then we have a montage of Lane talking about guns. As he explains in various scenes, Texans need guns on hand at any moment. “We might be bored that day and wanna go shoot a turtle.” Oh, and he talks about Texans getting drunk, piling in a truck, turning on the hi-beams, and then driving through random fields, shooting anything that looks at them. It’s a shining moment for the Lone Star State. Not.

Time for the Veto Competition.

Enzo waltzes out in a genie outfit with billowing pantaloons. (“Enzo Hammer!” screams an exuberant, and probably drunk, houseguest.) They pile out to the courtyard, where there are various items placed about in an odd county-fair type of theme. (Lane: “It looked like a smarter version of a redneck carnival in Texas.” Lane, are you trying to destroy the reputation of your state in a single episode?)

As the six contestants circle about the yard, trying to determine what’s important and what’s not, Britney hollers at Matt: “Count the candles!”, referring to one of the displays. Okay, wait. If you’re not playing the game, you’re supposed to keep your mouth shut, and just sit there, hoping the camera catches you at an appealing angle and you can get a modeling contract. Why isn’t Julie Chenbot or one of the producers rushing out and putting a muzzle on Britney? Even if she’s NOT doing anything.

Anyway, Enzo is going to ask questions about the various displays. The answer is always going to be an amount, and you can decide to stay or fold once everyone has bid. If you stay, and your bid is the most shockingly wrong, you are eliminated. In the first round, Matt wins but Lane goes down. In the second, Andrew wins but Matt goes down.

Brendon in the Diary Room: So what you have at this point is “the two people who don’t wanna go home against the two people who don’t wanna go home.” True dat.

The third round goes to Brendon, with Kathy booted. (She never had a chance, poor thing can’t count even though you know she has ticket quotas being a police officer and all.) The fourth round goes to Andrew by default, with no booting. The fifth round goes to Brendon by default. Andrew and Brendon have two points each, and you need three to win.

And we cut to commercial. Really not caring for this bogus extending of the drama. Don’t jack with the pacing, people. If I wasn’t blogging this damn thing, I don’t know that I would come back after the shilling for feminine hygiene products. Are you listening, CBS? Probably not.

Boring commercial run, with two of the adverts being for “Big Brother”, and both of them including shots of Kathy slipping off the big wiener. I think we can put that to rest now.

We come back, and Brendon takes the next round, giving him POV. In the Diary Room, he expounds that “Brenchel” is taking over. Okay, here’s the deal. I was totally in your corner until you came up with that stupid team name. Now, not so much.

Then we have Brendon and Rachel in yet another abandoned room, with Rachel doing her trademark “jump and straddle” maneuver on Brendon. Again. I’m trying to pull for you two, but you’ve got to stop with this aerobic sex thing. Not really grooving on it.

Brendon to Rachel, as they frolic and flip: “We have to make sure that Andrew stays.”

Cut to Andrew in the swamp room, banging on something and muttering to himself. Really, you want to save THIS?

The Brigade in the HOH Room. (Side note: Why is the rest of the house not noticing that these same four guys keep piling into said HOH Room every five minutes? And that they all sit side-by-side on the couches when meetings and such are taking place? You people have tremendous amounts of downtime every day. Pay attention.)

Anyway, the Brigade members are fussing about the sorry state of affairs, since it’s fairly clear that they can’t get Rachel and Brendon out this week. During the whole discussion, Matty has one hand shoved into his shorts, massaging his ego. Enzo is wearing some dumb-ass turquoise feather boa jacket thing. It’s time for this group to implode.

Brendon and Andrew in the swamp room, with the night-vision cameras going on. Andrew is all pumped, wanting “to do something to shake up the house.” But don’t let Rachel know. And tomorrow, stay away from me.

Sigh. It’s Andrew. This could go anywhere.

Time for the Veto Ceremony, and the “Save Me” speeches.

Kathy: Brendon, I’m not even going to ask you to use the Veto on me. That would mean risking Rachel. (Wow, somebody telling the truth for once. I’m sure the producers wet themselves.)

Andrew: He goes off on some weird-ass tangent about Rachel and Brendon, and Matty, being in a twisted game of power plays, and that threats somehow get you further in the game. Then he starts bellowinn. “Brendon and Rachel, I’m coming after you!”, followed by “Brendon, give me the Power of Veto!” This mixed message is totally off the wall.

THIS is shaking up the house? Good God.

Brendon, of course, does not use the Power.

And then we end with another round of Diary Room blathering.

Andrew: The house will like me better for appearing to be against Rachel and Brendon. (No, they will think you are off your meds.)

Kathy: This just might save me. (And you just might be right.)

Britney: WHAT was that? (For once, I’m back in your corner.)

Rachel: He’s such a hater! (Oh grow up.)

Brendon: It was risky, but I think we pulled it off. (I don’t know about that. Your special boy is kinda crazy.)

Matt: No one’s gonna believe Andrew. (He congratulates himself for his ability to breathe, then he strokes his ego.)

Roll end credits.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 2

  Click Here to start this story from the beginning.

  Sharon’s smile dimmed, but only a wee bit. “That sounds somewhat mysterious, Mr. Breen. Waiting a long time to meet me. Define long.”

  Hexom’s own smile altered as well, in an odd way that could signify either sexy intelligence or mental instability. “Years,” he said. “But hopefully we can eventually get to all those details. May I join you?”

  Sharon glanced at her watch. “Well, I should have been in the midst of a business meeting as we speak. One of my accountants should be sitting here now, ready to review yet another something or other where I have to sign things. You seem to present a much more interesting way to spend my time.”

  Hexom raised an eyebrow. “One of your accountants? How many do you need?”

  Sharon waved a hand of disinterest. “Too many. When you have exorbitant amounts of money just lying about, it’s rather extraordinary how many people it can take to keep things in order. Please sit.”

  He smoothly slid into the opposite booth in a controlled manner, rather than cloddishly heaving his bulk downward in the graceless plunk that seemed to be the rage with the uncoordinated masses. Sharon updated her mental review sheet of Hexom, although it was beginning to prove pointless. She had already decided that, if the opportunity arose, she would gladly have sex with him right here on the table without the least bit of shame or modesty. Not that she had ever experienced either.

  Her reverie was interrupted by the sudden appearance of the short waitress, she of the high-fiving and the lackadaisical attitude toward bettering her life. The despicable urchin practically shoved a plate of wonton chicken tacos at Sharon without even glancing her direction, then descended on Hexom with claws extended. “Good afternoon, sir, is there anything at all that I can possibly get you?” Then the little harlot, apparently considering herself on the menu, batted her eyelashes in what she assumed was a sultry manner, but rather gave the impression that she had a nervous condition.

  Sharon sighed inwardly. Wasn’t this always how things worked? If you’re a pretty man with a penis, the entire world will drop at your feet, proffering endless subservience. If you’re a gal with curves, you had to beg people for a glass of water. Sharon pondered the pros and cons of paying someone to stab the serving wench when she stepped outside for a smoke or a shot of heroin or whatever she did on her personal breaks.

  Hexom flipped through the menu half-heartedly, obviously not really looking at anything, then cast his eyes upon the wench, who immediately lit up and had a small orgasm. “I’m not quite sure what I’ll be having. Let’s start with some raspberry tea, shall we?”

  The wench turned and ran before he uttered the last word, knocking over a woman and her walker in her lunge toward the drink dispenser. The trampled woman laid there for a minute, then decided to just take a nap since she was already horizontal.

  Sharon slid the tacos to the center of the table. “Hexom, please have some, I ordered far too many.” (She had only requested one order, but this detail was unimportant in the bigger scope of things.)

  Hexom smiled regretfully. “They smell delicious, but I’m afraid I’ll have to pass. I’m trying desperately to watch the cholesterol.”

  Sharon paused, a grease-dripping taco just inches from her perfectly-lined lips. “What did you just say?”

  Hexom was uncertain where he had erred. “Are you troubled that I’m avoiding fried foods?”

  Sharon lowered the taco. “Oh my God! You’re gay!” she exclaimed.

  Hexom frowned. “I don’t think I follow…”

  “You ordered raspberry tea and you are aware of cholesterol. You can’t possibly be straight. Damn it.” Sharon hurled the taco to the floor in a pique of disappointment and rue.

  Hexom glanced at the sodden mass of fried grease. “You certainly have a very carefree spirit.”

  Sharon sighed. “I’m not any more carefree than anyone else. I just don’t hold things in. If you don’t speak your mind, it just gets internalized and your digestive system backs up. Watch this.”

  Sharon turned to the couple in the booth behind her, tapping the nearest woman on the shoulder. “Sweetie? That blouse? With that skirt? No. Go home and change.” Then Sharon flipped back around and faced Hexom. “See? Now I won’t need any fiber today.”

  Hexom cleared his throat. “So, it’s true. You DON’T have any boundaries. Just as they said.”

  Sharon’s eyes narrowed. “They? Who the hell is running around saying I don’t have any boundaries? The nerve.”

  Just then, Brandi the lackluster food bearer, arrived with the raspberry tea, a bowl of peanuts, the remote control for the TV, a coupon for a hot rock massage, and her phone number. She panted in Hexom’s direction. “Is there anything else you need?”

  Sharon grabbed her tiny hand. “Have you been talking about me? You and your trashy little friends?”

  Bambi’s eyes widened and she snatched her hand back. “Of course not! I’m afraid of you and I don’t want to die!” Lips quivering, she turned to Hexom for moral support and possible dating opportunities. “Please tell this lady that I didn’t do it!” Then she licked said lips. “I’ll do anything you say. I can play the piano with my tongue!”

  Sharon: “You’re on the wrong team, sister. Now go make nachos, I’m sure somebody around here will eventually want some.” Bambi turned and ran through the forest, not hearing the hunter’s gunfire in the distance.

  Sharon faced Hexom again. “Okay, now that the slut is otherwise occupied, do you mind telling me what this is all about?”

  Hexom took out a notebook from somewhere, which was really interesting since he hadn’t been carrying anything when he entered the restaurant. He flipped a few pages, seemed to ponder exactly how much to reveal, and then said “It all started three years ago, almost to the day, when I was having lunch in Kiest Park. Probably something involving asiago cheese, because I really invested in it at the time.”

  There was a small crash in the kitchen, followed by the sounds of someone either being fired or giving birth, both of which can result in separation anxiety.

  “Anway,” continued Hexom, “I was sitting at one end of that long memorial garden, wondering if they were ever going to clean that thing up, when a complete stranger walked my way and handed me this.” Hexom touched a small slip of paper in one of the notebook pockets, but did not remove it. He traced one edge of the rectangle, again seeming to consider his words.

  “Go on,” barked Sharon, because, as we’ve established, she is not a fan of waiting.

  Hexom smiled. “First, you must understand that I am in a very vexing position. There are certain rules, only some of which I can tell you, because the communication between you and I must be carefully controlled, or things could go terribly awry. You see, someone is trying to kill me, Miss Horizons, and I’d rather that not happen.”

  “Fair enough,” agreed Sharon. “But how am I involved in all of this?”

  Hexom tapped the slip of paper. “Because you were the first clue.”


  “And you know who the killer is going to be, even though that person doesn’t yet know they want to take my life.”

  Sharon just stared at Hexom. “You have completely lost me.”

  Hexom slid the piece of paper across the table. “Please read this, handed to me by the stranger at Kiest Park.”

  Sharon turned the slip over. “Sunset without bounds can set you free.”

  Hexom nodded at the writing. “That’s you.”

  “And how did you possibly come to that conclusion?”

  He smiled. “Where did you go to high school?”

  Sharon paused, then glanced back at the paper. “Sunset High School. On Jefferson Boulevard. But how does that mean that I‘m….”

Click Here to Read the Next Chapter.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 1

  Sharon Horizons, our heroine if you should choose to call her that, was sitting in a booth at Applebee’s near the corner of Illinois Avenue and Westmoreland Road, waiting on a man. After forty-three years of such activity, she had learned two things. Men were always late. And waiting was boring, whether for men or for food.

  She turned in the direction of the gaggle of servers standing off to one side, whispering and giggling among themselves, probably about drugs or unexpected pregnancies. She cleared her throat with gusto and force, intending for the noise to signify that she needed serving, them being servers and all.

  No response, other than the shortest girl gushing forth a bray of laughter at something that had just been uttered, then slapping the palm of the ugliest girl in that insipid manner that so many of the street folk had. Why, Sharon wondered briefly, did these people think that striking one another should be considered a form of approval? No wonder the apes were catching up. But anyway, there were more important things to ponder right at the moment. Like nourishment.

  Sharon took a deep breath, then bellowed “Excuse me!”

  The gaggle turned as one, looks of confusion on their unwrinkled faces, which shouldn’t have surprised anyone who had been observing this squadron of adolescence and dimness for any length of time. Other than that, not a muscle moved.

  Well, mused Sharon, there will be no tip for these people. She drew another breath. “Where are my wonton chicken tacos?”

  Still with the silence. Still with the dimness.

  Sharon sighed, then pointed at the short girl. “I informed THAT one that I required said tacos at least five minutes ago. Has she made it to the kitchen yet? Does she even recall where the kitchen might be?”

  Short One let out a small squeak, then stepped forward. She briefly touched her nametag, a reflex action of some kind. “Hi, I’m Brandi!” proclaimed the tag, along with both a heart and a smiley face scribbled in as accent pieces. Figures. “Um, yes, I placed the order. Let me go check on it now,” said Brandi, then turned with great relief to escape the confrontation. She clattered down some hallway and vanished, probably slipping out the back door, never to return, her life forever a meaningless wreck of disappointment and questionable relationships.

  Sharon dismissed the rest of the gaggle with a wave of her hand, then pretended to study something out the window while they scattered to the far corners of the restaurant, a few of them weeping and experiencing the first formative twinges of failure that would eventually lead to alcoholism. Then a structure outside that window caught Sharon’s eye, and her mild displeasure ticked up a notch toward outright anger.

  The taqueria restaurant next door. She hated it.

  Well, to be fair, Sharon didn’t actually hate the taqueria per se, or even the concept of tacos. After all, she had just ordered some miniature tacos as an appetizer, albeit with an Asian infusion, a variety which had probably not crossed the mind of the inventor of the taco, most likely some distant woman who had been pounding her corn on a flat rock one day and decided to throw the whole mess into a bubbling cauldron of animal fat, just to see what would happen.

  Yes, Sharon was fine with the neighboring taqueria. But she didn’t care for what the taqueria represented, and what it represented was that the original occupant of the building was no longer there, due to a horrifying corporate management decision that had forever changed her life.

  And that original occupant had been a Starbucks.

  Now, Sharon had always enjoyed her coffee, going all the way back to her wee days in the nursery when she would wait until Mamie, the governess, turned her back, and then Sharon would swill whatever remained in Mamie’s steaming, unattended cup. (This covert ingestion was probably one of the factors involved in Sharon being able to read and write by the age of two.)

  But what troubled Sharon, initially, about the Starbucks craze was the mere concept of paying large amounts of money for what was, essentially, water that had been filtered through coffee beans and then christened with a dollop of stiffened dairy product. And it wasn’t even a lack of finances that was the issue. (She had never had to worry about money, especially after assuming control of the trust fund.) No, what irked Sharon was simply the principle of the matter.

  Then one of Sharon’s less-imaginative friends graced her with a Starbucks gift card.

  At first, Sharon was simply going to throw it away, she would never have any use for it. But then she just chunked it in the glove box of her car, on the off chance that the rectangle of thin plastic might prove useful if she decided to become a cat burglar. Then one day, while Sharon was out shopping for crinoline, because one of the fashion magazines had indicated that you MUST have some, Sharon spotted the Starbucks on Camp Wisdom Road. In a rare moment of balanced insight, she realized that she couldn’t complain about Starbucks if she had never been.

  So she steered her car into the drive-through lane.

  There were technical difficulties at first, starting with the oddity of the cup sizes being in Italian, followed by none of the workers being able to speak Italian and thereby butchering the words. (Sharon had nearly married an Italian count at one point, and knew of which she spoke.) Then there was the overwhelming number of ways in which coffee could be served. Who knew?

  But all good things come to those who have the money to afford it, and eventually Sharon was presented with her toasty purchase, snuggled in a protective and environmentally-responsible sleeve. (Frankly, Sharon felt, that woman who sued McDonald’s because she didn’t understand that coffee was hot should have been shot, not rewarded.) Taking her first sip of the brew, Sharon’s taste buds awoke and sang praises. She was hooked.

  Thus a relationship began, and the once-a-day love affair went on for some time. It was a beautiful thing, with satisfaction all around, and Sharon placed a small fortune on her now beloved gift card, so that she would always be prepared to accept her lover’s embrace. But as with all good things, an end appeared on the horizon. The home office closed the local outlet, and her lover was ripped from her jittery arms.

  Sharon did not leave her home for a week, sitting in the dark and drinking Kahlua. Eventually, her closest friends intervened, and convinced her to walk in the sunshine once again. She even got to the point where she could hold the gift card in her hand without sobbing. There was still a small amount left to spend, and one day she would do so, but not now. It was too soon.

  Wiping away a tear of remembrance and high pollen count, Sharon turned away from the taqueria and the lingering ghost of passion. As her eyes swept the Applebee’s parking lot, she spied a man getting out of a car. A very nice car, from what she could see. (She didn’t know much of car makes and models, only that this one was shiny and had a nice line to it.) When the man stood, she caught her breath.

  He was gorgeous.

  The epitome of the tall, dark and handsome standard of attraction, he moved with a powerful grace that had her enraptured and slightly drooling. She stared, knowing it was rude but not caring, as he walked to the entrance. She squirmed around in her booth to continue her surveillance, common courtesy be damned.

  Much to her surprise, the man did not wait for the vapid hostess to figure out where he could be seated. Instead, he walked directly to her table, a look of introspection on his bronzed and chiseled face. “Sharon Horizons, I presume?”

  At the sound of his gravelly voice, Sharon knew that she would be purchasing batteries on the way home. Blushing slightly, she vacantly nodded her head until her vocal cords caught up. “Yes. Yes, I’m Sharon. And you are?”

  The man extended his perfectly-manicured hand. “My name is Hexom Breen. I’ve been waiting to meet your for a very long time…”

Click Here to Read the Next Chapter.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Searching For Signal: #143 - “True Blood” - Season 3, Episode 6

We start off really fast, with Russell and his minions dragging Sookie and Bill into his plantation house. (Something tells me there won’t be any mint juleps served.) Amid the commotion, Lorena comes running down the curving staircase, because people are doing things and she wants to be a part of it. Likewise, Eric races in from another room, where he was probably playing “Viking Death Match” on the XBOX.

Russell throws Bill on the Italian-marbled floor, making it clear that this is not a social event with pleasantries and dancing.

Bill, not enjoying having his face slide on the floor, fancy marble or whatever, leaps to his feet and kills one of the extras. He then jumps on Russell’s back, either intent on a rambunctious parlor game or bloody vengeance. Regardless, Russell merely belches, and Bill is slammed into the ceiling. (Russell: “I’m 3,000 years old! What were you thinking?)

Bill, spitting out plaster, screams to Eric. “Get Sookie out of here!”

Eric does not. Instead, after watching Sookie suddenly do some freaky dance move of unknown power, turns to Russell and says: “I don’t know what it is, but it’s quite valuable.”

Roll opening credits. Toothless. Skanky. Gospel. Happy dancing for Jesus.

Sookie screams at Eric: “I will never, ever forgive you for this!” Then she tussles with strange men in black.

Talbot, very unhappy about the damaged ceiling thing, makes disparaging comments about Russell, and then flees upstairs to find some soothing chiffon. Russell, excusing himself to go “save his marriage”, starts after him, but not before turning to Lorena. “Take Bill out to the stables and kill him.” Then he goes in search of queens with misplaced priorities.

Sookie to Lorena: “You kill him, I will kill YOU.”

Lorena to Sookie: “Bring it.” Or something like that. The baring of fangs is involved.

Cut to Merlotte’s, where some whiny diner is making life miserable for Arlene. The diner has just placed a meticulous food order two seconds before the restaurant closes. Sighing, and hating, Arlene marches up to Lafayette and Jesus at the pool table. “You have to cook. Chicken-fried steak. With extra gravy on the side.” Laff and Jesus scurry into the kitchen to do just that.

Meanwhile, Arlene is cutting fresh lemons for the bitchy dining patron with needs. The sight of blood causes Jessica’s fangs to pop. Arlene is not pleased.

Cut to Jason and Crystal still making whoopee by the lake. Crystal: “I ain’t no virgin.” Then she flips him over and straddles his nether region. Jason: “Don’t hurt me. Or not.” Crystal: “I ain’t into any pervert stuff.” (Then honey, you might be in the wrong town.) Jason: “I meant, don’t break my heart.” Awww. But this only causes Crystal to get all sad. Then she sniffs something in the air, and proclaims “Gotta go. This can’t happen, it’s too dangerous.”


Sookie and Eric, some random room at the plantation. Sookie: So this business about you caring for me was all crap. Eric: “You mean NOTHING to me. Do NOT get in my way.” Then Russell wanders in, buckling his pants. (I guess Talbot was treated to something better than chiffon.) Russell orders Eric out, then “Tell me what you are.” Sookie: “I’m a waitress.” Russell: “Don’t try my patience.”

Back to Merlotte’s, where the cranky diner is still eating and complaining. Arlene just wants to go, concerned that her kids have been left with Terry too long. (I would be, too.) But uh oh, Jessica informs her that Laff is already gone, off to play with Jesus. Meaning Arlene is ALONE with Jessica. Arlene clutches the cross around her neck. “This cross is GOLD!”

Jessica rolls her eyes, marches over to Hateful Helen still munching in her booth, glamors her to leave all her money on the table, and then proceed to the Ladies’ Room. The diner does just that, and then Jessica slips into said bathroom and finally gets her own dinner. Arlene, clueless, is nonetheless very pleased with her tip.

Lafayette and Jesus, parked on some Lover’s Lane and making googly eyes, learning a bit about each other. Eventually, Jesus asks for just a kiss. (“No sex on the first date. Gives us something to look forward to.” How sweet.)

Russell and Sookie, with Russell fiddling with a fire poker in a menacing way. Russell: “Are you going to answer my questions?” Sookie: “I’ll answer one, then you answer one.” They discuss the telepath thing, which basically gets nowhere, then Sookie wants to know if Lorena is going to kill Bill. (Quentin Tarantino suddenly starts paying attention, off in some bunker, plotting his next movie.) Russell: She’ll take her time, but yes. Sookie: Please stop her. (I’m thinking Sookie doesn’t fully comprehend her place in the chain of command.)

Russell pulls out the supposed file that Bill was keeping on her bloodline. She doesn’t care. Russell: What’s up with the electrical discharge flying out of your hands? Sookie: No clue. Russell: “You really don’t know anything, do you?”

Lorena in the stable, with Bill shirtless and chained to the floor. Lorena: “I do miss the 1930’s.” Bill makes disparaging remarks to indicate that Lorena is a bitch. Perhaps not his best move. She takes a scalpel thing and slices down his chest, then cuts her own skanky self, mixing the blood. “I will be inside you now.” Bill, finally realizing that bitterness might not be the best option, says “I wish I could have known you before you were turned. I would have liked to seen you smile with light in your eyes, not darkness.” Which is pretty romantic, really. Lorena, crying, slashes his face with the scalpel.

Guess that didn’t work.

Cut to Franklin and Tara, with her still tied to whatever bed they are in. She’s still playing her “pretend that I love him” card, straining against her bonds to kiss him with mediocre passion. Franklin stupidly mentions that Sookie is in da house. This just lights more of a fire under Tara, and not in the way he envisions. She asks him to untie her, so they can make beasty love. He does, and they transgress, with him proclaiming “Bite me. Open me up!”

Tara: “You don’t have to ask me twice.” Then she rips half his neck off with her teeth. This is not the Disney Channel.

Talbot and Eric are playing cards, with Talbot revealing that he and Russell have been together for 700 years. (Good God. Can you imagine how much they must be on each other’s nerves by now?) Russell comes marching up, tossing Sookie to some more men in black standing around. “Lock her up and get the car ready.” He turns to Eric. “Come with me.”

Talbot, left out of the party once again, wails and rushes off somewhere to commiserate with something pretty. Russell tells Eric: “We’re going to go see an old friend of yours.” (Cleopatra?)

The men in black toss Sookie into the room that once held Bill. (I guess they got that bed fixed, eh?) Sookie bursts into tears, because that seems to be her go-to reaction lately. Then she gets a mind-read of Tara. “I will find you. We leave in the morning.”

Shot of messy Tara on a bed, belching a bit of blood while Franklin slumbers behind her. That girl is going to have issues from now on.

Russell and Eric in the car. Russell: “What is your relationship to Miss Stackhouse?” Eric: “I do not get attached to humans.” (Yeah, right.) Russ: “Lorena says you killed one of my werewolves.” (Oops.) Eric: “In self-defense.” Then Russell goes off on a history lesson, babbling about the wolves protecting him forever, how he gives them blood and all. Wasn’t it nice when humans didn’t smell like car exhaust? Eric: “I remember EVERYTHING. Wait, wasn’t that our exit back there?”

Laff and Jesus are at Laff’s subdued (not) house, with Jesus explaining that the little figurines he has decorated with are actually very powerful beings, and that he must make sacrifices and such. This revelation makes Laff horny and they start kissing again.

Suddenly, sounds of destruction from outside. Jesus and Mary race to investigate, and find drunken rednecks getting all Carrie Underwood on Laff’s fancy car. During the brawling and the yelling, which the rednecks lose, Jesus learns about Laff’s part-time business. Jesus: “You’re a drug dealer? You sell V? Take me back to my car.”

Well, then. Their relationship lasted less then twenty-fours hours. Just like that weird Julia Roberts-Lyle Lovett thing from back in the day.

We’re at the Louisiana Queen’s house (Sophie Anne? Something like that.), with her playing with lotto tickets and reminding us that she has red hair. Russell waltzes in with a flower and proposes marriage. Apparently not for the first time. Sophie: “I’ve turned you down countless times.” Discussion ensues, harsh words are exchanged, and Russell finally yells “You are NO queen.” And Russell should know, right?

To make things more exciting, Eric storms in and tackles Sophie, slamming her to the ground. (Her jewelry is still pretty, though.) Eric renounces his allegiance to the Queen. The Queen refuses to release him. (Was there an issue with the paperwork?) Eric, who is apparently much older than Sophie and therefore can do this, decides to just kill her. Russell stops him. Not sure why.

Eric sidles up to Russell and basically caresses him, (which is odd, what‘s going on with THAT?), then he goes to “restrain the queen”. Russell wanders off to find somebody else to marry him.

Cut to the horse stable, where it appears that Lorena has used every surgical cutting device known to man on Bill. He’s still alive, though, and feisty. They continue to argue while Lorena occasionally licks her some Bill off of one of the implements. Bill thinks she’s too wicked and mean. She begs to differ, adding some oregano to her snack. Bill: “I welcome death. I will finally be free of the disease that is YOU.”

Just then, Cooter and some tramp bust through the door, thinking that Lorena should be done playing death doctor by now and wanting the left-overs. Lorena: “Suck whatever’s left.” And they do, in an extended scene which shows that these two actors have spent far too much time imagining what they would do if they could just eat a vampire.

Now we’re at Sam’s house, with he and Tommy watching some crap on TV. (The left-wingers just want equal rights. The right-wingers don’t because then they can‘t feel superior. Blah. Blah.) Sam: What’s the deal with Joe Lee? Tommy: I just hate him. Sam: There’s something messed up going on here and we’re gonna talk about it.

Sam and Tommy’s mom shows up with a big pan of fritters, because that’s just what you do in small towns. Mommy Beeriest would like to speak with her youngest alone, so Sam runs off to put the fritters on the lunch menu, because you also do THAT in small towns. Then Mommy slaps Tommy. Oh?

She mad. Joe Lee has stayed by her side all these years, while she did something mysterious to make ends meet. Now her back is out of whack, so it’s Tommy’s turn to bring home the bacon. Or the fritters, whatever they are using for currency in this place. “Sam won’t help us once he knows the truth!”

Why do I have the feeling that the truth involves either questionable sexual activities and/or a surplus of toothless people handling snakes?

Back to the plantation, where we see Bloody Tara slip out of Franklin’s bed, grab a mace thing off the wall (how convenient!) and wallop the hell out of Franklin. Blood everywhere while Tara wears a white gown. (Just like that movie “Carrie!” Only without Sissy Spacek. Or Piper Laurie, Or, I don’t know, anybody we actually know.) Tara, satisfied that Franklin will not be making the wedding, or anything, tomorrow night, grabs her clothes and skedaddles.

Jason drives up to some shack, then goes to the door whilst lugging a bouquet of flowers. Some ugly yokel answers. Jason inquires if Miss Crystal is taking gentleman callers at the moment. She ain’t. She glares at Jason. “Who are you? Leave me and my fiance alone!” She mean. Jason, totally confused, scampers away. Why is nobody allowed to have healthy relationships on this show?

Tara again, approaching the guard outside Sookie’s door, bellowing some story about feeding Sookie almonds so she’ll taste better because Talbot said so. The guard lets her in, so she and Sookie beat him to death with a handy vase. Then they run. These people are getting a lot of exercise this episode.

Over to Merlotte’s, where Lafayetta is mean to Arlene because Jesus has forsaken him, Sam is looking for Tommy, and Arlene wants to know why his family gets to have pets and she doesn’t. Something about seeing a pit bull over at Nasty Daddy and Trashy Momma’s rent house. This bit of news causes Sam to run out the door, and he finds that Tommy is missing from Sam’s house. Uh oh. We knew that boy was trouble.

Quick scene with Sookie and Tara, running for freedom. Sookie wants to save Bill, of course, but Tara doesn’t think he’s all that anymore, especially since he was fine with Franklin tying her up and making her wear dowdy nightwear. They part ways.

Merlotte’s again, where Sam is quizzing Acting Chief Andy about any dog fights that might be going on. Seems Andy did hear something about that going on over to the Humpandrun Parish. Sam jumps in his car, ensures his trusty gun is in the glove box, blows a kiss at himself in the mirror, and then tears down the road, nearly running Jason and his vehicle into a tree.

Jason, because he’s distracted very easily, forgets where he was going and instead decides to harass some couple he sees playing slap and tickle in another car. Turns out the couple is that cocky high-school quarterback and some floozy with a squeaky voice. Jason pretends that he’s issuing the boy a citation for “lewd behavior”, which in Jason’s book means slam the perp onto the hood of the car. (The floozy screams a lot, because she understands succeeding in the acting world is all about upstaging.) We don’t like the quarterback, so we’re fine with the senseless brutality in principle, but what is UP with Jason?

Sookie is approachins the Stable of Blood and Knives, when the door suddenly flies open. Cooter and Snatchetta race out, all high and stuff from their Bill binge. They trippin’, acting all ate up with the dumbass and having visions. Sookie mutters “Trash!” and then heads inside.

Tara is still running like the wind when she suddenly spies a wolf. This could turn ugly. Luckily, it doesn’t, because this time it’s really Alcide. He transitions back, meaning he’s all naked as he approaches Tara. Alcide: “I’m lookin’ for Sookie.” Tara: “You got a car?” Notice she doesn’t ask “you got some pants?”. He fine.

Final scene, Sookie’s in the stable, hovering over Bloody Bill on the floor. “Say something. Don’t be dead! Not after everything we’ve been through!” She wrinkles her face and stuff, pleading and showing her torment by wringing her hands and lovingly touching his manly chest. Bill’s eyes pop open. He’s alive! Yay!

Then Lorena appears, throws Sookie against the wall in a very rude manner, snarls “This is all your fault!”, and then proceeds to go all Donner Party on Sookie’s neck. Sookie, never one to let anyone else have the last word in a scene, starts screaming and emoting unkind thoughts about Lorena’s antisocial behavior. But at least Sookie’s hair looks pretty in the firelight.

Roll end credits.

Searching For Signal: #142 - “Big Brother” - Season 12 - Episode 8

Okay, we tune in to find the HOH competition still going on, where people are being all Gidget on a surfboard and trying not to plummet the two feet to the little pond. There’s only so much excitement to be gained from watching people stand, so we have a round of Diary Room confessions.

Brendon: “I gotta win this thing.” Um, probably a good idea.

Enzo: “The Brigade has gotta drop grenades.” Really don’t care for it when people come up with a boring catchphrase and then proceed to repeat it until you want to claw your face.

Andrew: “I can’t go on slop because it’s not kosher!” See what I mean?

Britney: “I gotta win this thing.” Heard that already. Next.

Lane: Something about a clown at a rodeo. I drifted off.

Kathy: “I might have sealed my fate,” voting for Matt and all. “But I’m gonna vote the way I want.”

Matt: “Kathy sucks.”

Back to the courtyard, where people are starting to drop and we finally have some excitement. Kathy goes down first, which is no surprise because she’s already proven with the wiener thing that if there’s wind beneath her wings, she’s gonna plunge. Then Lane goes down, possibly due to memories of the rodeo clown. Kristen drops, followed by Hayden. (I’m assuming they immediately ran behind a bush and turned off the lights.) Finally, Britney and her glaring nail polish hit the water. This makes them the five “Haves” for the week.

Just as I’m realizing that Andrew has some really long, skinny legs, we have Enzo in the Diary Room, talking about the same thing: “Those short shorts don’t look kosher.”

Matty starts talking smack, trying to psych out the remaining players. Enzo, not the sharpest, forgets he’s in an alliance with Matty, and tumbles. Then Ragan has a nice gay pride moment, telling all those people from his traumatizing high school years that they can go suck it, cause he’s on Big Brother AND doing really good in this competition. Rachel suddenly screams “Brendon, don’t fall!” and we cut to commercial.

Oh, come ON, people. That was NOT necessary. We endure ads for motorized wheelchairs (Never miss another game of Bingo! Run down people at the mall!) and motorized beds that can apparently cure every known physical condition.

And we’re back. Despite Rachel’s tremendous lung power, Brendon does not survive and gets all wet. This leaves just Andrew, Ragan and Matt. Ragan turns to Andrew and offers: “If I win HOH, I will not nominate you, and I will not use you as a replacement.” That’s a pretty sweet deal. Perhaps Ragan should spend some time learning better negotiating skills. You don’t use everything in your first offer. (Andrew yells to everybody in a five-block vicinity: “Did y’all hear that?”) Two seconds later, Andrew and his short shorts are in the water.

Matty gets a little pissy because he wasn’t invited to the U.N. subcommittee, so Ragan asks the rest of the crowd “Can Matt and I talk?” They all thunder inside the house like there are margaritas in the blender. Ragan: “What are your thoughts?” (Quick shot of Ragan in the Diary Room: “I trust Matt.” Poor thing.) Matt is actually all cocky, and doesn’t seriously try to make a deal. The rest of the house finally comes back outside, fully expecting to find that one of them “accidentally fell,” but this is not the case. They look disappointed.

But they get their wish a bit later, when Ragan takes a nosedive. Matty wins HOH.

Brendon goes to find Rachel. She’s off in one of the rooms, bawling. “He’s going to send me home!” Brendon: “You can’t treat him any differently.” Chin up and all that. Then they rub noses and paw at each other, whispering words of support. Um, folks, “can’t treat him any differently” means “get you asses out there and quit hiding in the bedroom”.

Rachel, finally drying her tears (or maybe they were just soaked up by her hair) goes to Matt in the HOH room, pleading her case. Matt: “You broke the deal by telling our secret. I have no allegiances.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you tell the truth and yet lie at the same time.

Britney and Enzo, with her making fun of his Jersey accent. Yes, Britney, with that country twang that could trip up a herd of wild buffalo, making fun of another dialect. (Enzo in the Diary Room: “What’s wrong with the way I talk? I think SHE’S speakin’ wrong.” Okay, maybe Britney does win this round.)

Matt shows off his new HOH Room, and reads a letter from his wife, which is magically worded so that it DOES sounds like she has some serious medical condition even though she doesn’t. The girls get all misty-eyed, and the guys get quiet, because they don’t know how to express emotion. (Andrew in the Diary Room: “I’m sorry I doubted him.) Puh-leeze. I can’t WAIT for the truth to come out about THAT mess. Sadly, this might not happen until the final show, when Matt wins the big money while his wife is off to the side in a Lucy Ricardo outfit, stomping grapes with no issue.

Matty in the Diary Room (“My reign of terror is working perfectly!”), followed by the Brigade in the HOH Room. The talk is all about feeding Rachel and Brendon to the wolves. (Matt again in the Diary Room: “But really, Kathy’s kinda on my radar.”) Then Hayden inexplicably leaves the room in mid-sentence.

He rushes off to a room bathed in the sexy green night-vision for some Kristen lovin’. He tells her “We have to be VERY careful.” Can’t have anybody finding out about this. Then Kristen screams in orgasm, so I’m not sure if their secret is safe.

Back to the HOH Room with the three remaining Brigade members. Now they’re thinking that Hayden and Kristen might be the couple in the house that knew each other before. “They look just alike!” (Totally don’t get that.) Lane: “They have the same birthmark!” Which is true, but I’m more impressed to learn that Lane can actually remember things from day to day. They talk about getting rid of Kristen so she won’t prove troublesome in the end. Quick shot of some Hayden and Kristen monkey love.

Cut to Rachel sitting on Brendon’s lap, with her and her breasts giving him a haircut. Snuggles and snipping. Suddenly, Andrew marches in with a vacuum and goes after the droppings. (What, is HAIR not kosher now?) Dude, seriously, they’re kind of busy. Then we have the love birds in an actual bed, playing slap and tickle in the dark, and Andrew bursts in again, intent on organizing his sock drawer. Does he just not understand something? This probably explains why he’s divorced.

Britney and Lane standing in the kitchen, gazing out the window as Brendon and Rachel show they’s in love out in the courtyard. Brit and Lane start acting like they are Brendon and Rachel, with on-target one liners and such, and it’s really pretty funny. Then we have Lane in the Diary Room. “I’ve role-played a couple of times back in Texas. Mainly with horses and cows. Wondering what they’re thinking.”

What the HELL?

People are sitting on the patio, wondering what the “Have-not” food might be this week. Then they wander inside and discover that it’s baby food and bok choy. Andrew is beside himself with joy, because the baby food is kosher. The rest of the Have-not’s aren’t so impressed with goo in jars.

Oh, come on, people. Haven’t you ever been feeding your highchair-encased little niece, and taken a sample bite just to show the tyke how it’s done? Some of that stuff is GOOD. Wait, did I just reveal too much? Seriously, it’s not like I seek it out, sneaking into Wal-Mart and buying cases. I just… well… oh, never mind.

Matt, Brendon and Rachel in the HOH Room. Matt wants to make a deal. (Rachel digs in her purse for a bobby pin and a dry-cleaning receipt, ready to hand it over to Monty Hall, then remembers where she is.) Matt makes it simple: I don’t put you guys up, you don’t put me up next week.

Rachel in the Diary Room: I totally don’t believe him.

Matt and Andrew in the HOH Room (that place is busy, sayin). Matt: I might nominate you, but you aren’t the target. Just wanted to let you know. Andrew: Why not “those two”? Matt: “Because there’s a huge backdoor opportunity.” See, I don’t like it when people I can’t stand (Matty) actually seem to be using some logic. Makes me nervous.

Nomination Ceremony.

We do the key-drawing thing, and I’m stunned when Rachel’s key comes out next to last. Even more stunned when Brendon’s key is last. This leaves Kathy and Andrew without a key, and puts them on the block. Wow.

Matt tells Kathy: “I have no idea where you are in this game, and you voted for me.” Fair.

Matt tells Andrew: “You were gunnin’ for me, maybe you still are, and I’m all by myself. I gotta protect myself.” Not fair. Matt has the Brigade.

But the other members of the Brigade look totally stunned. So he didn’t run this by them? Interesting.

Shots of Kathy and Andrew being all cranky in the Diary Room. They mad.

Enzo in the Diary Room: “Matty better have a backdoor plan.”

Matt in the Diary Room: “No plan. I’m just gonna see how it goes.”

Then he just grins….

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Backup Dancers From Hell: Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars - “Billionaire”

Well, then. It took me a bit to figure out this video, because I don’t know who either of these people are. But “Billboard Hot 100” says they be number 7 with a bullet, so somebody must know them. Anyway, not much of substance going on here, but I’ll try my best.

We start out with Bruno (I think) sitting by the seashore, playing his cute little guitar and wailing about wanting to have lots of money. (Um, who doesn’t?) Seagulls are wheeling about in the sky. I don’t know if this means Bruno loves nature and wildlife, or if there is a landfill nearby.

Quick shot of Travie hangin’ at one of those skateboard parks, then a shot of some hitchhiker holding the typical cardboard sign. The street he’s on is deserted, so I’m thinking he’s not a smart hitchhiker. (Am I being stereotypical? My bad.) Then we have some guy, wearing headphones in a crowded outdoor market. This seems anti-social to me.

As Bruno continues to emote the words of the song, we see Travie raise his hand to the sky like he just found the Lord. More shots of the untalented hitchhiker being unsuccessful. Then we have a graffiti artist on the beach, fiddling with his cans of spray paint. He seems upset that most of his cans are empty. (Symbolism for the Bush-legacy economy?) He turns and throws one of the cans in the ocean, because THAT’S a green thing to do and all.

Then Travie and Bruno are in a very nice sports car, one that none of the poor people could ever afford, driving along in the sun. Travie starts rapping about wanting to have lots of money that he can give to people, adoption, and other social causes. But he’s wearing a stupid stocking cap and I really can’t take him seriously. Bruno just nods his head to the beat and waits for his turn to sing.

More shots of the skateboard park, where some unseen person destroys a skateboard (symbolism for the Republican party?) while people ride skateboards through the concrete jungle and our boys sit on the lip of one of the curves, rapping and high-fiving each other because they don’t have to work in an office.

Back to the outdoor market, with the headphone guy offering his equipment to Travie. Travie seems to enjoy whatever is playing on the phones, but we can’t hear it, so the whole scene is kind of pointless. But Travie gives the guy some money, so I guess we’re supposed to learn “if strangers offer music, give them cash.” Okay, got it.

Then the boys are suddenly riding some Vespa-like scooters, which even with my gay sensibilities I know this is something that straight guys shouldn’t ride. But they happy and all, cruising the streets, laughing, and slapping at each other’s helmets. Travie starts rapping again, and he’s all over the place. In the fancy car, on the beach, walking on a nameless sidewalk, skateboard park, and some place where he’s inspired to shove his face in the camera repeatedly. (I’m still not a fan of those giant discs inserted into your ear lobe. Doesn’t that jack with your sense of balance?)

Back to the feeble hitchhiker. He’s just sitting down, not even bothering to wave his sign or motion with his thumb. Travie drives up in the fancy car, and tosses the keys to the hitchhiker before wandering off on the beach. That’s nice and all. But Travie dude. The guy has no money. How’s he going to put gas in that car?

Then we have some editing issues, with more shots of the skateboard park and our boys driving the fancy car that they no longer own. Oopsie. To distract us from this illogical mess, we cut to the beach at night, where a crowd of partiers is despondent because their keg has run dry. No worries. Travie and Bruno show up with an endless supply of bottled brewskis. The crowd instantly worships them, so our boys decide to give a concert, with drunken people waving their hands in the air and considering random sex among the dunes.

Brief shot of Travie leaning into the camera again, screaming “What up, Oprah!” and making a barnyard noise. What is it with that subset of cocky young men who think being obnoxious is somehow appealing to anybody? Really, I’d like to know.

More drunken dancing on the sand.

Cut to Travie the next morning, walking up to the angry, spray-can-depleted graffiti person on the beach. Travie hands over a bag full of fresh cans ready to go. They do the bro hand-clench thing and the graffiti dude gets back to work. Hold up, Travie. One of your goals for social betterment is to provide endless supplies to people who deface public property? John Lennon is cursing your name as I type. (Note to Travie: John Lennon was way before your time. Look him up on Google. And learn.)

Oh look, we’re back at the beach party that happened the night BEFORE. (Who edited this? Sarah Palin?) People are still dancing and waving their hands, and we see that the guy from the outdoor market is now playing keyboards. So THAT’S how you get in a band? Wear headphones in public places until someone offers you a J-O-B?

We wind things down on the same beach, with people still gyrating like they just discovered the solution for Universal Health Care, but since they’re all still young and un-decayed, they don’t really care. We end with Travie laughing smugly, and then wandering off…

THIS is why scores on achievement tests are plummeting in this country.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Backup Dancers From Hell: Katrina and the Waves - “Walking on Sunshine”

We start out with some shots of crappy abandoned housing in an unnamed, probably European, city. We zoom in on Katrina doing aerobics in some place where the window is missing. She’s very happy and energetic, doing hand motions that probably mean something to people involved with aircraft landings.

Brief shot of the Beatles in another missing window.

Katrina does the high splits as the lyrics start. She really loves this song.

Close-up on Katrina (the singer, not a vindictive weather pattern) as she belts away. She can’t seem to stand still, bouncing about and exuberantly showing us her red Converse hi-tops. Brief shot of the Beatles looking sad, then a revelatory scene where we learn that everyone in the band is wearing hi-tops. Well, except for some loser with low-riders. Did he not get the memo?

Katrina bounces some more, and then we see her marching away from a huge manor. (I guess she didn’t know the password. Brief glimpse of the Beatles being sad about her predicament while sitting on what might be a very big tombstone, but there aren’t any other graves around, so who knows.) Katrina keeps skipping along, because she’s basically happy, despite the constant rejection.

Now Katrina is prancing alongside some industrial riverbank, where things look gloomy and sad, despite the upbeat lyrics. (Ain’t no sunshine when she’s in a fog.) Her red shoes really pop, so that’s good. Kudos to somebody in the wardrobe department.

Then Katrina and the band are on stage, with some decidedly 80’s lighting going on. (You really expect Hall and Oates to join them at any moment.) They jiggle around for a while, with Katrina sporting a jacket so busy that small children burst into tears.

Oh, here’s Katrina back outside, marching along with her perky determination and slightly-butch attire. Brief shot of the Beatles mysteriously adhered to some pilings on the waterfront. Then we’re back on stage, and we learn that Katrina has some stunningly large teeth. (The thick lipstick doesn’t help, honey.)

And we’re back at the river, with Katrina trudging along with pep and vigor amidst the fog, completely oblivious to the fact that we haven’t seen any sunshine yet in this video. We see the Beatles lounging on posts along the river, appearing to be enjoying the position far more than they should. Luckily, Katrina gives them some type of signal, and they begin to follow her.

Short interlude with the band bouncing on stage yet again, then back outside, with the quartet headed toward Notre Dame or some such. I assume it’s closed, because we see them back at the river again. One of the Beatles slips and falls in the mud, so I’m guessing this is Ringo Starr, and the plunge is symbolic of his appearance in “Caveman”.

Shot of a duck drowning itself in the river to escape the horrid reminder.

Shot of Katrina and the Beatles feeding bread to the surviving members of the duck family, hoping they can get past Ringo’s brief acting career and start ordering the reissues of the Beatles catalog.

Now we have Katrina and the band arriving in the makeup room before a concert. Everybody changes outfits, puts on new tennis shoes, slathers on more makeup, and bandages their fingers. (Not sure about that last part.)

And we’re back onstage, with Katrina proving that caffeine is intrinsic to her performance art. The rest of the band boings around in comradeship. We get tight shots of one band member who is trying to channel Loverboy, but it’s really not working for me. Lots of hair shaking.

We wind down with Katrina showing her support for Tourette Syndrome sufferers, whipping her head around like she could mince a glove of garlic in three seconds. In fact, the whole band is flailing like somebody ordered a Cobb Salad. Music fades, and another one-hit wonder drops off the face of the earth…

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.