Sunday, July 31, 2011

Searching For Signal: “True Blood” - Season 4, Episode 5

We start out at that trashy trailer park place, where Tommy is being dragged around on a chain by Nasty Joe Lee while Nasty Momma screams and clutches at her bad perm. Joe Lee has some serious issues, which he’s apparently trying to work out by using Tommy as a human tether ball. Then again, Tommy has his own issues, and so does Momma, so nobody’s really happy at the moment and there will be no awards handed out for Positive Family Relationships.

Joe Lee finally half-strangles Tommy so he’ll take a nice nap instead of being so rude and trying to get un-chained and all. Then Joe Lee and Momma stupidly turn away from supposedly-sleeping Tommy, chatting about their plan to use Tommy in yet another one of those dogfights people around here are always having, so it’s no surprise when Tommy leaps up and the hootin and hollerin starts all over again, with everyone using everything they can find to pound away on one another in an example of what happens when you don’t force people to get a proper education.

We end up with Tommy purposely killing Joe Lee (hurray!), accidentally killing Momma (oh?), and then dropping to the ground in a fetal position and questioning his choices in life. Which all sounds very sad, but really, we don’t like any of these people anyway, and their deaths mean more screen time for the prettier people on the show, so it’s all good.

Roll opening credits. Spanish moss, fetid swamps and tacky choices when it comes to house-paint colors.

We check in with Marnie and the gang over in that field or cemetery or whatever it is, where Marnie is swooning on the ground after having caused Pam some serious cosmetic complications before Pam hightailed it into the woods, unpleased. (Perhaps she’s headed to the hardware store for some spackling mud and a good sander.)

Laff and Tara are graphically expressing their discontent with Marnie, and Jesus is trying to calm everybody down, because the episode has just started and we need to pace ourselves. But when Marnie basically fesses up to being possessed from time to time, coming out of her trances to find vampires jacked up and people staring at her, even Jesus gets wigged out and they leave Marnie all alone in the field.

Poor Marnie. She seems like a really nice woman who just happens to spend too much time in the wrong section of the library.

Cut to Arlene and Terry’s house, where they are studying the “Baby Not Yours!” scribbling on the wall, with Arlene being typically frantic and Terry being typically unwashed. Arlene thinks the spirit of Renee is behind this and Terry thinks they should turn to Jesus. (And I’m thinking maybe they should just find that damn spooky doll thing and run over it with a tractor that somebody around there has got to have.) In the end, they decide maybe they should have them a nice full-on exorcism, despite Arlene not wanting to “look like one of them Christians that only turn to God when they need him”.

Gotta hand it to this show, they slip in digs at all the right people even while vampires are running about and people are constantly finding excuses to rip off their clothes all the time.

Zip over to Sookie’s house, late at night, with Eric, still in his Little Boy phase, opening Sookie’s bedroom door and spying on her as she slumbers seductively, tawny thigh exposed and all. Then, lo and behold, Godric shows up, the super-old vamp that chose to walk into the sun at the end of one of the seasons, despite the fact that the series had clearly been renewed for another year by that point. Of course, since he did walk into the sun, there’s no real explanation for how he can be here years later, but let’s just ride with it.

Godric babbles for a bit in that other language he and Eric shared back in the day, Eric has no clue who he really is, and Sookie manages to remain asleep despite so many dead people making a racket above her head. Godric wants him some Sookie snack, but Eric isn’t really keen on that at the moment. Until Godric reminds Eric that he is a damned creature who will never find happiness or a comedy series that doesn’t feature a flamboyant gay best friend. Then Godric and Eric bite into the apparently delicious-smelling Sookie.

She promptly wakes up screaming, which causes Eric to wake up screaming, back in his cubby that looks like an Ikea-designed prison cell. All in his head. Or was it? Eric wanders back to Sookie’s room and opens the door, only this time she is tucked chastely away beneath a crocheted blanket while he is unchastely wearing some low-rider trunks that are apparently only being held up by two strategic pubic hairs. Sookie wakes, and is understandably concerned when she finds Eric, fangs-a-ready, at the foot of her bed. He explains himself. “I had a bad dream.”

Over to Jason’s house, where Jessica and Hoyt are hoisting Jason into his own bed without bothering to wipe any of the blood off of him. (You’d think vampires would understand that you can’t get that kind of a stain out of white sheets unless you pre-treat them immediately.) They make sure he’s comfortable (despite being unconscious), then they chat a bit. Hoyt: “You saved my best friend’s life!” It’s very sweet, and we hope they can resolve their issues because they really work together well. But this is True Blood, so something is going to happen to jack things up again shortly.

This takes place roughly two seconds later, so they aren’t wasting any time with the jacking. Hoyt tries to get frisky, Jess gently rebuffs him, several times, until Hoyt gets fed up. “Is there something you’re not telling me?” (Hoo boy, is there ever!) Jess: I’m just tired, what with feeding my blood to your buddy and all. Hoyt doesn’t completely buy it, and decides to stay with Jason for the night, keep an eye on him, while Jessica heads for home. (Sure hope she doesn’t pass any public restrooms along the way. She gets in trouble with those things.)

Now we’re at Bill’s house, where he’s receiving that Portia Bellefleur woman, at her apparent request. As soon as he closes the office door, Portia tries to shove her tongue where it doesn’t belong. I guess she didn’t get the message about no more bang-bang. Bill tries to school her. She doesn’t care, apparently having great needs that can only be satisfied by Bill. Bill: “We are of the same blood line!” Portia: Vampires and humans can’t make babies! And incest is best! (Just like they sang about in that Rocky Horror Picture Show!)

Bill is on a schedule, probably late for a meeting where he has to sign more proclamations about vamps not killing so many people all the time, so he decides to glamour Portia, instilling in her mind that she must start screaming and running every time she sees him. She snaps out of his spell, and then does just that, high-heels clicking as she flees. Good. Didn’t really care for her character anyway.

Back to Sookie’s sleepover, where she’s comforting Eric, who is crying blood tears and really sad. (“Godric said I was evil!”) Sookie gently explains that, well, he has done some really terrible things and all, lots of death and pain, but ever since Marnie did that rewiring business with his head, Sookie thinks Eric is now just an extremely tall but cute kitten. Then they cuddle innocently while a melancholy violin plays on the soundtrack and thousands of fans wonder how long this is going to last.

Return to Bill’s office, where Reconfigured Pam marches in, demanding that something be done about the fact that she’s rotting in an unpleasant manner. Bill: “You went to see the witch and you were told not to.” (I have heard that so many times in my life.) Pam requests permission to bring about the death of Marnie. (Much stronger words are used, as you can imagine. It’s Pam we’re talking about.) Bill: Sorry, no killing right now, or you will get the True Death. Just hang tight. And try to keep up with all the pieces falling off your body.

Cut to Jesus and Laff packing up for a trip, while Tara smokes a cigarette on the sidelines. It seem the men are headed off to Mexico, to see Jesus’ grandfather, an apparently bad-ass witch with a penchant for really strong powers as well as child abuse involving livestock. Laff doesn’t really want to go, partly because he knows there are fewer fashion choices in rural, foreign lands with lots of blowing dirt, but also because Jesus hates his grandfather, not having even seen him since the livestock business.

Jesus: Well, even though he made me kill a goat and get blood all over my cute little outfit, when he forced me to taste the blood of that goat, I felt a power stronger than anything I’ve ever felt in this world. Seems we could use some of that power right now, what with two very unsatisfied vampires intent on making us into grease spots on the linoleum.

Fine. They get into the car and drive off, leaving Tara/Toni to call her girlfriend Naomi in Nawlins. Tara/Toni is all excited about heading home, flirting with Naomi, until Girlfriend demands to know who “Tara Thornton” is, clutching some found mail at “Toni’s” apartment while her facial expression indicates somebody‘s gonna get their ass kicked. Whoopsie. (Side note, Miss Naomi, don’t go snoopin’ if you don’t wanna learn things.)

Next up is Tommy barreling up to Sam’s place, driving a van with some very special cargo, namely the bodies of his parents. He rouses Sam from bed for a review session, then Tommy desperately asks “What are we gonna do?” (My response? I’m going back to bed. Bye.) But Sam and his pecs just stand there in their underwear while flies buzz over Ma and Pa Nasty.

Merlotte’s, where Sookie is trying to get some information out of Holly, one of the coven members, by pretending to be interested in becoming a Wiccan. But Sookie sooks it a little too strong, and Holly gets suspicious, politely ending the conversation. So Sookie just reads Holly’s mind instead, which she should have just done to begin with (why waste time with small talk, seriously) and manages to snag Marnie’s name.

Hoyt and Jason are at a table, eating and commiserating over the troubles in their lives. Jason: “Maybe God’s punishing me for having too much sex,” making me end up in a shack where I get raped repeatedly by unclean women who want to make panther babies. Hoyt: It’s bad with me, too! Jessica has been distant lately! Jason: Dude, I think I win this one.

Pivot camera to Holly snapping at Sookie over a misunderstanding about eggs, then Holly apologizes, blaming the full-moon that’s coming tomorrow night. Jason hears the moon reference and semi-flips out, racing from the restaurant, leaving behind a confused Sookie and a saddened Hoyt, who realizes that his problems just aren’t as exciting as everyone else’s this episode.

Speaking of problems and possible resolutions, we cut to Arlene and Terry’s house, where Team Exorcism has just arrived in the form of Reverend Daniels and his new bride, which happens to be Tara’s mom, May. (Oh, yeah, remember that mess?) We then proceed with the funniest bit of the whole episode, seriously, with the Reverend and Lady May performing a rousing Exorcism Show Tune (complete with tambourine!), the waving around of smoldering something or other (gotta get the smoke up in the corners, that’s where they hide!) and Arlene being accused of inadvertent racism once again. Poor thing.

Cut to Sookie arriving at the Moon Goddess Emporium, looking cute in yet another summery frock and pouring on the charm, pretending to want a psychic reading but really searching for more intel on what happened to Eric. A reluctant Marnie finally agrees to do the reading, and of course things spin out of control, what with Sookie reading Marnie’s mind and getting all the details before Marnie even says them. First, Sookie must not fall in love with the new one (we’ll assume Eric). But more importantly, and Gran’s actual voice comes through for this bit, Sookie must stay away from Marnie. She’s dangerous!

Sookie skedaddles it out of there like she’s late for the hog-calling contest over to Mayberry. (“When my Gran tells me to run, I run!”) Marnie goes back to puttering around her shop and not really understanding anything.

Next up is Sam and Tommy rolling along in the death van (the pizza box on the dashboard is so believably Southern, nice touch), with Tommy over-emoting and not bothering to wipe the blood off his face. Wouldn’t you know it, here comes Sheriff Andy, pulling the van over and taking a hit of V before he saunters up to Sam in the vehicle. (Tommy hopes in the back to hide.) Their exchange heats up until Andy insists that Sam open the back of the van, where they find a ginormous alligator (Tommy) snapping his teeth and showing general displeasure. Andy cusses and wets himself while Sam drives away.

Back to the Moon Goddess, where Marnie is bumbling around and encounters Katie, the double agent witch/Bill minion. Marnie tells Katie not to worry about the vampires, that “someone is watching over us”. Cue Katie to smirk and signal about 400 security people to swoop in and snatch Marnie. (This is why you lock your doors, people.)

Cut to Tara and Sookie sitting on the couch while drinking beer and eating ice cream (another fine Southern tradition). Tara is telling her coming-out story, how she didn’t know she liked girls until Naomi came along, prompting Tara to broaden her horizons and tell lies about her past. Sookie is trying to listen and be supportive, but she’s a little skittish, smoothing her skirt too much and glancing around furtively. (Gee, is it the fact that Eric, a person that Tara does not particularly care for, is about to wake up right below their feet?)

Zip over to a rather extensive and expensive cellblock, where Katie has switched clothes and is now marching around like she never got over not getting that guest spot on “Oz”. The camera zooms up on Marnie in one of the cells, as she sits on a cot and mutters incantations. (Girl, hasn’t that kind of mess gotten you into enough trouble as it is?) But before she can listen to me, Marnie’s eyes roll back in her head and she is transported to another holding cell.

And this cell is from back in the day, the time period of Burning Witch Girl, the one who is taking possession of Marnie in modern times. BWG is sitting on the floor of the cell, trying to rally the spirits of other dirty little women in filthy clothes grouped around her. BWG is leading them in a spell (hopefully one that will produce a washing machine and some fresh panties), when BWG looks directly at Marnie, and they subtly smile at one another .

Suddenly, a trio of priests enters the cell, which should be a comforting entrance but instead makes all the dirty wrenches wail and run into a corner of the cell, a corner that is conveniently right near Marnie so we don’t have to jump-cut between two cameras. The priests select one of the women, drag her into the middle of the room, and then their fangs pop as they get down to some decidedly unholy sucking. Oh? Marnie time-warps back to her newer, torch-free cell, panting heavily and looking all distraught.

Back to Sookie and now-rainbow-waving Tara, with Sookie trying to convince Tara to run save her troubled relationship in Nawlins right now. (Translation: You really need to split before Eric wakes up, because if you’re still here when he does, it will be unpleasant and there will be screaming and you’ll probably lose that nice beer buzz you’ve got going, and that would be a terrible thing.)

Cue Eric to come strolling in right then, and naturally Tara completely loses her cool, snatching up fire-pokers and showing us her impressive vocabulary of profanity. When Sookie tries to explain that Eric’s different now, Tara urgently runs down the list of terrible and rude things that Eric has done in the past, including, you know, try to kill all of Sookie’s friends, meaning that Tara might never have gotten to experience lesbianism in the Big Easy. Tara vehemently suggests that they both violate themselves graphically, then she runs into the night.

Fancy holding cell again, with Marnie on that cot but at least not incanting for the moment. Bill comes over an intercom, asking questions of Marnie while Veiled Pam stands behind Bill and gets increasingly agitated. When it becomes clear that Marnie really may not know what is going on, Bill announces that “I will glamour her”.

Bill seems really found of glamouring this season. Is this the hip thing that all the cool people are doing? Is Lady Gaga going to release a song about it?

Anyway, Bill goes to the cell, handing off his suit jacket to Charlie’s Angel Katie at the door. He enters and glamours, and it’s confirmed that Marnie is clueless. Pam, watching on the monitor, curses. And loses another part of an ear.

Cut to Jesus and Laff rolling up to Jesus’ grandfather’s farm in Mexico, even though they only left Bon Temps about 20 minutes ago. They climb out of the car and are nearly jumped by Grandpa from behind. “I’ve been expecting you.” Then the three of them go inside, while chickens cackle and pregnant woman hang laundry outside.

We head to Alcide’s house, probably just because we haven’t gotten to see him yet this episode, and this makes certain fans unsettled and grumpy. He answers the door to find some skanky dude wanting to know why Alcide hasn’t registered with him, since he’s the pack-master of Shreveport. (I went so many places with that phrase in my mind.) Alcide is not really interested in joining any clubs right now. They bicker and glare, then the pack-master finally leaves.

Next we have Tommy and Sam dragging the tarp-wrapped bodies of Ma and Pa Worthless to a boat landing on a swamp. They toss the two into the water, then Tommy has his version of a religious-guilt breakdown (“It’s in them Commandments. Don’t steal sh** and don’t eff with your parents!”) Mainly to shut him up, Sam fesses up to killing two people himself. Ain’t all bad. Then Sam throws some marshmallows into the swamp, because this will bring the alligators to chew up the bodies. It‘s a real sunshine moment.

Cut to Arlene and Terry making serious whoopee in their bed, despite the fact that Baby Damien is in his crib right there, the evil doll is around somewhere, and the room probably still smells like burnt sage and tambourines. (And they’re doing this on those super-slippery satin sheets that make you skitter around all over place.) But I guess it was good for them, because they finish up and dismount.

They have a tender moment where they fess up to feeling really special and happy about coming together as a couple, that things finally seem to be working out, and that the bad times are now behind them. Awww. Then the camera pulls back so we can see that a matchbook on the dresser has just lit itself. Well, hell.

Next we’re in bed with Jason (yay!) but, dang it, he’s not alone. Some floozy is under the sheet, tending to his manly section. Then out pops Jessica. Oh? Jason protests. (“Hoyt’s my best friend!”) Then he asks if this is just a dream. When Jess confirms such, he gives in and they go at it. Trouble is, Jessica keeps talking about Hoyt the whole time. Then Hoyt appears beside them, offering running commentary as Jess rides the ponies with Jason. Then we suddenly have Hoyt in Jessica’s place. Mmm hmmm. They went there.

Naturally, Jason wakes up right at that point.

Cut to Eric and Sookie, with Eric wanting to know if he really did all those bad things that Tara claimed he did before she ran out of the house and into the completely-safe woods of Bon Temps. (At night, no less.) When Sook confirms that Eric sucked as a decent person just a few days ago, Eric rambles on about how he can’t deal with having hurt her or her goodness, can’t understand why she even allows him to stay. “There’s a light in you. It’s beautiful. I couldn’t bear it if I snuffed it out.”

Then he gets up and walks out the front door.

Sookie, because she can’t ever leave well enough alone, rushes after him, calling him back. He looks surprised, but he and his starting-to-get-on-my nerves same pair of trunks return. They embrace tenderly, then kiss, then start with the tongue action as the soundtrack gets louder so we’ll realize this is a pivotal moment.

Bill is having a meeting with the remaining sheriffs in his vague vampire jurisdiction. When one of the sheriffs scoffs at Eric or them being in danger from mere witches, Bill half-chokes his insubordinate ass, then hands things over to another sheriff, Luis, who then fills us in. A long time ago in Spain, there was a sorceress named Antonia who was burned at the stake. During the cookout, she used the powers of necromancy to pull all vampires in a 20-mile radius into the sunlight, killing them and radically altering the census figures for that year.

Understand now, Scoffing Sheriff? Witch who knows necromancy = bad.

There ensues more discussion, mostly about how everyone is wanting to annihilate Marnie but Bill will not let them do so because of the edicts issued by the Vampire League of America. This makes people disgruntled, and a little sloppy, and Pam, in vehemently stating her case to fillet Marnie, lets slip that Marnie wiped Eric’s mind, leaving him a shell and-

Bill shoves Pam against the wall instantly. “How do you know this about Eric?”


Bill gets Pam to confess that Eric is at Sookie’s house. Bill does the nifty vampire flash exit. And the sheriffs all look tragic and stricken, probably because this is the only scene they will ever get to appear in.

Pam and her oozing face, the realization sinking in: “I’m sorry, Eric.”

Roll end credits.

Friday, July 29, 2011

10 Types Of People You Should Be Allowed To Slap Whenever You Want

1. The people who turn left from the far-right lane.

Without using a turn signal. Or slowing down. Or even understanding what a turn is. There you are in your car, secretly listening to Milli Vanilli and singing all the words, when there they go, hurtling across 5 lanes of traffic, tires screeching in pain, and using the median to catapult them into the parking lot of Piggly Wiggly. Dude, there ain’t nothin’ up in there that you gotta have that bad. Relax.

2. Hyper people who insist on drinking gallons of coffee.

Look, you have got to put that cup down before somebody gets hurt. You are already so wired that your nipples are vibrating. There is no reason on this planet for you to continue sucking down the caffeine like a newborn calf that just figured out where the milk comes from. And you’re talking so fast and so high that I don’t even think they‘ve given that decibel level a number yet. Can you not hear the dogs barking and running this way?

3. Complete strangers who think the mere fact that you are standing next to them in line at the burger joint makes you instant best friends.

“Isn’t that the cutest little blouse! I’d sure like to have me one of those. Where’d you get it? Do you think they still have more? Of course, I was talkin’ to Delilah Jean over at the Snip And Flip (she is the only one who can do a perm right in this town, you should go see her, really should) and she was sayin’ that stripes ain’t quite right for my figure, but I don’t know if I should listen to her cuz she does drink a little. And she married that man from Shreveport, and we all know how that’s gonna turn out, don’t we, sweetie?”

4. Otherwise-normal people who take one swig of alcohol and completely lose their minds.

One second, all demure and proper, being very pleasant and conversational. Half a beer and a transitional non-discreet belch later, they’re knocking things over, bellowing at people across the room, laughing at nothing, and trying to show cleavage. Two beers later they’re under the table, insisting on pinching everyone’s toes and singing a ribald song about a leprechaun and two pints of apple butter. Wait until you hear snoring and then leave.

5. People who should really just go ahead and marry their smart phone.

I just don’t understand these folks that can no longer function in society unless they are fingering their device every two seconds. I haven’t seen that much personal affection for an inanimate object since a certain blue movie back in the day involving lusty farmhands, a variety of gardening implements, and some very limber positioning choices.

6. People in neighboring cars who have their thumping radio turned up to meltdown levels.

Death is too good for you. End trans.

7. Tea-baggers.

I’m assuming no explanation is necessary.

8. Self-pity posting in social media.

I’m so sorry that you’ve had a bad day. Really. Hope it gets better. But now that we’re talking, I thought I should point out something. Every single day seems to suck for you. You know what this means? You’re doing something wrong in your life. Uh huh. So stop doing whatever that is. And then you won’t be so blue. Yay!

P.S. But let’s not post again until you’ve managed to make the mean people go away, mmmkay? That will make everyone smile. If you’re not sure what “smiling” is, I can provide a link. Thank you.

9. The clueless parents who don’t understand that their poorly-supervised child could possibly destroy civilization as we know it.

Dear Mom and Dad. At the next table in this fine restaurant. Your offspring is currently terrorizing the rest of us with his screaming, throwing of utensils, and general ability to help folks comprehend why some animals eat their young. All of which you are ignoring as if Damian was not dining with you. Perhaps you should know that I’m not from that Hillary village where everyone joyously assists in the platonic upraising of a child. I’m from the village down the road, where we firmly believe that people who did not participate in the conception of a child should not have to suffer in any way. Would you like a brochure?

10. The eye-witness idiots they always manage to interview on the nightly news.

“I seen everything! Sure did. I was up in the car with all of my nine babies and I was tryin’ to remember they daddy names, ’cause I got bills, sure do, and the tire fell off the car, almos’ broke my other tooth, and here come some man, runnin’. Why he runnin’ ain’t my mess, he just runnin’, all I know, and here come another man and… Joe Dean Three, quit hittin’ on your sister, she tender-headed!… and that other man had him a crowbar. Well, that don’t look good, no sir, don’t never wanna man with a crowbar behind ya, learned that when I was knee-high. And then BAM, runnin’ man ain’t runnin’ no more. Said a prayer to Jesus, I did…. Can I say happy birthday to my momma? She in prison, but they get the TV up in there.”


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: Lady Antebellum - “Just A Kiss”

We start off with a young woman finding a seat on what is probably a bus, but could be anything that has rows of seats and lots of windows, like the bedrooms of certain tramps I know. We get a brief glimpse of what might be Hillary sitting a few rows back, watching the woman, the possibility of a knowing smile on her lips. Oh? Is this going to be a stalker thing?

I guess we’ll learn more about that bit later. First, the young woman (let’s call her Katie, she looks like one) has to discover a device that is apparently not hers, tucked into her little backpack. She takes the object out of it’s case, and we realize it’s one of those iPad things. There’s a sticky note with a French phrase scribbled on it, which Katie doesn’t bother to translate for us (rude!) but it does make her smile, so hopefully it has something to do with cooking and not terrorist activities.

Another brief glimpse of Hillary, still staring. Does she need something? Medication?

Katie tears off the note, probably throwing it on the floor because she just has that carefree attitude about her. She activates a video queued up on the device, and we see a cute guy who just wants to show her a sign reading “ne moubliez pas”, which he translates for her, “don’t forget about me”. (Is Katie taking a very intimate online course to learn French? Do they both enjoy Simple Minds?) Then he calls her Julie (so we can drop the Katie angle for now) and the snippet ends.

Cut to what looks like a train-station platform. There’s Charles, sitting on a bench and doing his best to keep his seven-foot legs out of everybody’s way. Quick shot of Dave, sitting at the top of a flight of stairs and staring at his own legs, probably wishing his legs were a little longer or that he at least got to sing more on the newest album. And finally, there’s Hillary, starting off the lyrics of the song while soft lighting confirms that she has indeed changed her hair color once again.

Back to Julie staring at her large mobile device (I’m surprised they aren’t flashing monthly data rates and a phone number), watching images of she and… let’s call him Jean-Luc… cavorting about in some city that might be Paris. They’re smiling at us from a boat, and fiddling with giant menu boards outside restaurants, and Julie is making cute in front of merchandise stalls at open markets. All of the overly-fake things people do when somebody whips out a camera and nobody has to be at work any time soon.

The vocal baton is passed to Charles, all stretched out on that bench and singing in that way he has of looking at everything except us. Meanwhile, on the video, Julie and Jean-Luc are clearly falling in love, because he picks out a flower for her and she shoves her nose in it, inhaling deeply and sighing even though the flower in question doesn’t have a smell in real life.

Yep, they really must be in Paris, because now they’re on the banks of the Seine, gazing at one another deeply while the thousands of tourists that are normally there have been shunted off to alternate streets. Quick shot of the band members on a train or some such (why is it so hard to identify transportation in this video?), sharing vocals and harmonizing because they’re artists and have to sing songs about coffee and books right when the moment hits them.

Confusing shot of Julie being silly on what looks like Abbey Road, trying to recreate the famous Beatles scene all by herself and despite the probable fact that someone had to tell her what “Beatles” means. Back to the train, with Charles using his hands in a special form of sign language, then back to the lovers traversing about Paris and managing to look completely adorable in every scene.

Yet another shot of Hillary sitting a few seats behind Julie, keeping tabs. Far more tabs than a supposedly innocent stranger should keep.

Montage of the band singing and playing while Julie and Jean-Luc do all those Paris things you really wish you could do but things like money and responsibility keep getting in the way. (Well, I think I could pass on Julie screwing around with a giant soap bubble on that one street, but sign me up for the rest of it.) And, of course, the happy couple always manage to sit in the exact spot that allows famous landmarks to appear in the background while they make goo-goo eyes at one another. These things happen in Paris. It’s some sort of law.

I do have to say that I’m ready for one of those two to quit smiling so much. You can’t possibly be that happy all the time, even when the sex is really good and there’s a constant alcohol-flow.

Oh, wait, it looks like we might have some tragic sadness after all. It seems Julie has to leave town (is she running from the po-po?), so she and Jean-Luc share a really long goodbye hug at a train station, the kind where the hundreds of other people in the station magically avoid them so the camera can get a really good shot. In real life, J and J would be flattened by a thundering herd of croissant-waving Francophiles hell-bent on getting a good seat at their favorite bistro.

Shot of Julie now crying on the train, presumably sad about her departure, but maybe just really distraught that Jean-Luc has two first names and she doesn’t. Another montage of the band bursting into song in train depots and not getting arrested, then we suddenly see Julie sitting in a completely different train car, with a curious lack of nearby riders. (Has she been placed in time-out for the improper transport of bleu cheese?)

Guess it doesn’t matter why, because her isolation is interrupted by the appearance of Jean-Luc, trotting in and still being cute. They hug and fondle one another while the band continues to give the free concert at the Escargot Station. Hillary seems especially thrilled for the couple, so we can drop the creepy stalker angle that has been troubling us from the start of the video.

Cut to a final scene on the train, with Julie waking up from a dream. Oh? The Paris passion was all in her head? And there’s Jean-Luc, snagging the empty seat beside her and apologizing for waking her up. They’re apparently complete strangers, although Julie does seem to be blushing a bit. (She may not know the man, but she’s definitely slept with him, a sensation felt by anyone who has attended college frat parties.)

They make introductory small talk, then Jean-Luc pulls out an iPad, with the exact same cover that Julie found in her dream. She smiles and sits up straighter in her seat, knowing full well where this is going…

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

30 Suggested Titles for Your Google+ Circles

Note: So, Google+ has these nifty things called “circles”, where you can clump your connections together in categories, thus allowing you to control who sees what. Good idea, but the initial setup can be daunting. Since I have a checkered past full of bad decisions and spur-of-the-moment eventual wrongness, I thought I’d help you out with some creative ways of filtering your contacts…

1. “Hated Them In High School”

2. “Stupidly Slept With Years Ago”

3. “Great Drinking Buddy, Keeps Mouth Shut”

4. “Still Friends with My Ex-Boyfriends. Careful.”

5. “Doesn’t Know What Year It Is”

6. “Potential For Excessive Bible-Quoting”

7. “Complete Idiots”

8. “Says Films Instead of Movies

9. “Relatives Who Want Money”

10. “Hot Profile Pic, No Other Connection”

11. “Politically Bitter”

12. “Mute Feed, Knows Too Much About College Days”

13. “Mute Feed, Knows All Childhood Nicknames”

14. “Blows Sunshine Out Ass”

15. “Aggressive Emoticon Fetish”

16. “Possibly Has Incriminating Photos, Be Nice”

17. “Unable to Be Quietly Vegan”

18. “Yet Another Cousin From Hazy Branch of Family Tree”

19. “Seen Me Seriously Drunk, Not Offended”

20. “Seen Me Seriously Drunk, Greatly Offended”

21. “Will Post a Picture of Anything”

22. “Links Never Work.”

23. “Deletes Comments That Are Funnier Than His Posts”

24. “Apparently Thinks All Song Lyrics Are About Them Personally”

25. “Adding Just to Jack the Numbers”

26. “Smells Like Stalker”

27. “Clicks Plus-One Even If Someone Belches”

28. “Fascination with Self Is Mind-Boggling”

29. “Didn’t Like Them on Facebook, Still Not Liking Them on Here”

30. “Too Tired To Figure Out Right Circle”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Denigration of Decency

Note: This post is not crammed with statistics and detailed analysis. Other people are much better at that sort of thing. This is just my gut reaction to another round of partisan hypocrisy, thoughts that others have probably shared far more eloquently…

Just finished watching the President’s speech and the opposing response. It’s that second bit that had me running for my laptop, disgusted. I typically don’t create strongly-political posts, just some pointed jabbing from time to time. My blog is usually about finding the humor in things, aiming for laughs and a temporary break from the world. Today, it’s not.

Let’s get right to the point, shall we?

John Boehner is an atrociously arrogant little man who should have no place in American politics, or hold any type of position where his delusional mind is allowed to make decisions that affect any other human being on the planet. It doesn’t matter that he is just spewing forth what some Karl Rove-wannabe has fed to him. He’s chosen to say the words, knowing full well that his lies are damaging to this country, yet he does so with an annoying bravado that is mind-boggling.

It doesn’t matter that he is the elected representative for his constituents. It doesn’t matter that he was selected Speaker of the House (it pains me to even give that phrase capitalization in this context, but I do so out of honor to the position, not the man who currently holds it). He got to this point based on deception and a willingness to sacrifice all morals (assuming he ever had any, I‘m just being polite) with one sole purpose in mind: Prevent Obama from being re-elected.

Really, John? (And Eric and Mitch.) That’s your game plan? What about the needs of our country? The one that you are supposed to represent? There’s no clause in your oath of office that says “I get to screw people over if things don’t go my way!” (Well, there isn’t a clause right now, but let’s not forget that the right-leaning Supreme Court has apparently been watching too much Rupert Fox Murdoch “News” lately.)

Republicans are such incredibly sore losers, it’s almost beyond comprehension. They spent how many years of the Clinton Administration focused on the fact that Bill used his penis in an unfortunate manner? Who cares! That penis didn’t do anything that affected my ability to make a living or pursue the opportunities available to me.

And, oh yeah, the Republicans then took steps to jack with the voting results to make sure that George Shrub would win two terms even though he didn’t actually get the popular vote. Steps to make sure that someone with an actual penis didn’t get elected, just some castrated Stepford Husband who could utter scripted catchphrases like “Mission Accomplished!” at the appropriate staged and televised moment.

(Side note to the female-identifying folks, I’m not trying to imply at all that the possession or non-possession of a penis is particularly important. It was just fun to run with that analogy. At the end of the day, I want someone who can get things done, possible appendages are irrelevant.)

Which brings us full circle to tonight, when President (not pained at all typing that title) Obama addressed the nation. (You know, the nation that is being deeply affected by the political games of the equivalent of conscience-devoid, school-yard bullies who don’t understand right and wrong. Or truth.) Obama was just fine with his speech, conciliatory at first but then bringing it home with describing the voters (do you remember those people, Boehner?) as being sick of the “three-ring circus” in our nation’s capital.

It is a circus. And I’ll fairly admit that part of the surrealistic carnival is the fact that the Democrats, my people, still haven’t fully thrown off their restrictive costumes where they try to play nice despite the fallacies and violent greed from their counterparts. This, for me, is the troublesome Achilles’ heel in our party. Stop playing nice for once. Get down to the basics, point your finger strongly at the Republicans, and kick some ass. “YOU are the reason that this country is suffering.” SAY IT!

But this didn’t happen tonight, not quite. Obama was strong, yes, but I was hoping for the final push, that indictment of what is really going on. At the same time, I understand the fine line that our leader has to walk. He represents all of us, I get it. Do your best to make everyone happy. But really, what is there to lose when you consider Boehner’s rebuttal?

Cry-Baby Fake-Tan comes out there and immediately heads into delusional territory, accepting no blame and distorting every fact that his greasy hands can clutch. (I’m sure that Rupert Murdoch clinked glasses with the Koch Brothers in celebration, and somebody ordered pizza from an all-white, upper-crust, trust-fund delivery service. And another tax credit was included in the pizza box.)

There was no olive branch, no indication that he would budge an inch on any of the Elitist directives that he had been given, and a constant repetition that Obama was to blame for everything from scoliosis to global warming. (Even though his party refuses to believe that anything has been warmed.)

Really? Really? Our country is on the precipice of fiscal disaster and you’re refusing to do anything unless it’s what you want, even though the demands you seek will do nothing but further enhance the prosperity of the already super-rich, and shove the middle and lower classes into even deeper despair, a place they don’t deserve at all because they are the backbone of this country, the actual foundation of your tax-immune wealth.

I won’t even get into the facts and figures, because the Republicans aren’t interested in numbers unless they can be spun. If they can’t manipulate the truth, they ignore it completely. One of the mantras they keep repeating to themselves (they change daily) is that if it was okay for Bush to do it, it’s completely NOT okay for Obama to do the same exact thing.

Okay, I will get specific with one fact. The polls have been showing for some time that the majority of ALL Americans believe that making the rich pay their full share of taxes is just fine and dandy. Which means the Republican leaders are ignoring some of their own constituents in their zealous quest to unseat the President, country be damned.

Bottom line (a phrase the Republicans didn’t even care about until they’d spent all the money): We are in this financial predicament because the Bush Administration went insane with unchecked corporate greed, deregulation, donor-rewarding legislation, and fabricated wars. The GOP Frat Party needs to stop with the finger-pointing and start helping to clean up their own mess.

To my Republican friends, and I do have them (although I may not after this post), because I try to engage in healthy dialogue: How can you be comfortable with this? How do you think this is right? What happened when that made you okay with supporting an obvious oppression effort to disenfranchise the middle and lower classes? I really don’t get it, and I’d appreciate some insight.

To my Democratic friends: Enough is enough. I realize that some of you are fighting the good fight, hats off to you, your activism is admirable. But to the others, who may not have vocalized your thoughts in an effective manner, now is the time to start emailing and texting and calling your representatives. Don’t just sit at home and whine to your partner or friends about how sucky things are. Don’t choose to be a helpless victim.

Take back our country. Stop complaining and start reacting. (And quit arguing with each other over the minor details of who’s more progressive, we’ve got a big-ass problem across the aisle. We can worry about team names later.) Don’t let privileged extremists govern the opportunities that you have in your life. One human, one vote. If you don’t exercise your rights, you may wake up one day and find yourself with fewer of them. Just ask the union workers in Wisconsin.

And by all means, throw that damn olive branch in the trash. It clearly isn’t working.

OWN your destiny.

Hope, strength, and a good night to all.

(Except John Boehner.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

10 Social Distortions Caused by the Consumption of Cheese

We had several rounds of cheese-tasting during a social gathering wherein we were supposed to be cleaning up the clutter on our blog layouts and making them pretty. Suffice it to say that some fool introduced alcohol, and original intentions fell by the wayside.

Let’s break this down by individual cheeses. In order to protect the guilty, all names have been changed to something less GPS-conducive. (Although some of you may recognize the appellations from my prior “Live Blogs” at Tierney’s…)

1. Mediterranean Herb Gouda

This was the initial proffering. To be fair, we were all still getting into our comfort zones, a process that is necessary when you meet at someone else’s house. No matter how good of friends you might think you are, there’s still an interim period where everyone stands around uncomfortably and makes desperate small talk about fridge magnets and wicker baskets.

So this cheese selection didn’t really have a chance. It was satisfyingly tasty, a lovely amalgam of non-threatening spices, but everyone was more concerned with inspecting the rest of the food spread and making preliminary assessments of the arriving guests and thusly determining the potential level of alcoholic freedom. This gouda was tossed aside rather quickly and left to sweat, alone and bereft.

2. Rosemary and Olive Oil Asiago

There was a bit more excitement over this one, mainly because the wine was flowing and we were already heading toward the point where we would be undying best friends at least for the next few hours. People were actually stepping up to the cutting board and anxiously awaiting a sliver of goodness which they could then throw in their mouths, chew a bit, and then exclaim something notable about the dairy.

Me: “Hey, this is pretty good, the combo of olive oil and rosemary reminds me of-”

I was unceremoniously shoved to the side. Something extraordinary had just developed with another wedge of cheese that an unnamed, over-anxious individual had rudely opened at the same time, ripping the spotlight from poor little Rosemary and Olive. They never had a chance.

3. Murray’s Black River Blue

This one was the immediate front-runner, like those unknown people who sometimes win the Iowa caucus, becoming instantly famous until the rest of the voting starts. “Oh my GOD, I swear I just had an orgasm that redefines all orgasms,” hollered one participant, Miss Apiphany, with her chic-trashy t-shirt and interesting application of hair gel. Another worshipper, Lolo, tasted a tiny nibble, glanced at us furtively, then hacked off a large whack and raced to another room, locking the door behind her. It’s not really our business what happened after that.

4. Smoked Mozzarella

Admittedly, some cheese fascists looked down upon something that is simply smoked, and not bathed in or infused with the latest trendy but random ingredient. This one was just fine, as smoked mozzarella goes, but perhaps the fascists have it right on this one. It totally needed something. Like an Italian dish that it could be grated and sprinkled over.

Luckily, we had some entertainment to get us through this slow bit. Wild Jenno and Freeland had a slight altercation concerning… I don’t know what it was, something about unsatisfactory recognition of each other’s abilities and talents. They made up very shortly, because they’re still young and don’t understand the importance of holding personal grudges for decades at a time.

5. Cotswald

Risky cheese, risky reactions. And the demographics played out just as they should, with some folks offering up psalms of praise and other folks complaining about aromas one might encounter near outdoor trash receptacles on hot summer days. Whatever the vote, it was at this point that things began to slide slightly off-kilter, with a non-biased review of the cheese becoming a faded focal point.

Freeland and Wild Jenno, toasting their creativity with wineglasses, suddenly decided that the world would end unless they began experimenting immediately with the “Hangout” function on Google +. This function is basically a live cam with chat, a concept that I’m not overly fond of, since I’m not interested in people seeing me sitting there in my jammies and bed-head.

So they kick this thing off, and it turns out that two people can’t satisfactorily “Hang” if their laptops are within kissing distance. The resulting feedback created something akin to over-heated cats screaming at one another over the last bit of tuna. Eventually (and with our complete blessing), Wild Jenno had to go sit in the backyard for the distortion to stop strumming our pain with its fingers. We actually forgot about her for hours, but she had access to a pet water bowl by the back door, so I’m sure she was fine.

6. Murray’s Ancho Cacciotta

We had no idea how to actually say that last word. Next.

7. Havarti with Caraway

I only mention this one as a time-stamp. I don’t think anyone actually sampled the slices, but this was the exact moment when the two non-blogging people in the house reached a point in the movie they were watching where a barrage of gunfire and explosions made all conversation in the house a pointless effort. Whatever they were trying to kill in that movie, it took a very long time. He must have been a really bad guy. Like John Boehner.

  On the flip side, I'm sure it's difficult for nearby movie-viewers to appreciate the story-telling when nearby supposedly-blogging people are screaming like something just got stuck where it shouldn't instead of calmly composing prose and sipping chamomile tea.

8. Apple-Smoked Gouda

It’s admittedly a faux pas to introduce a second variation of gouda into a proper social environment, but it’s justly fair to say that no one gave a damn at this point. Screw the cheese. Most of us were glued to Freeland’s laptop, where he was showing us a commercial for a certain candy company that would never appear on the airwaves of this country. (Let’s just say that said candy was being used to… express satisfaction after conjugal relations.) Europeans have so much more fun than we do.

9. Cream Cheese

If this doesn’t say “inebriation”…

10. Cheez Whiz

Then this does.

Film at 11.

Friday, July 22, 2011

25 Mostly Pointless But Snappy Comebacks When Debating A Crazed Right-Winger

1. “I’m sorry, was that you trying to form a complete sentence? My bad. At first I thought someone had run over another armadillo out on Route 9.”

2. “So when the Jesus visions come to you, are they live-action or animated? I’ve always wondered. We don’t get that channel where I live.”

3. “Exactly how many times have you fallen down a flight of stairs?”

4. “Would it help if I used hand puppets?”

5. “Let me guess. You’ve clicked LIKE on the Fox News fan page.”

6. “I’d try to explain it to you, but there are only so many months in a year.”

7. “So when your eyes go blank like that, are you just confused again or are you receiving further orders from the mother ship?”

8. “Good job, Brownie!”

9. “That’s a very interesting talent you have, the ability to selectively forget how things really played out. I bet you can watch the same movie hundreds of times. That will come in handy when they finally commit you.”

10. “You do understand that John Wayne was an actor, right? Wait, so was Ronnie. And Arnold. I think I get it now. So does this mean that Kirk Cameron is next in line?”

11. “Change the textbooks all you want. It won’t change the truth. Dick and Jane really did see Spot run, no matter what you say.”

12. “Now I know where all those misspelled, illogical comment posts come from on YouTube.”

13. “How can you be offended by the phrase tea bagger? It has three syllables, and that’s clearly outside your comprehensible skill set.”

14. “Do you understand that the Pilgrims came here to get away from people like you? You’re in the wrong country. Just like Rupert Murdoch.”

15. “At this point, an original thought probably would kill you.”

16. “You’re not a woman or her doctor, so your relevance in this conversation has just expired.”

17. “Do they really let you operate heavy machinery? Well, I know they let you fiddle with voting machines, because that’s part of your basic training, but how about cars and lawnmowers and remote controls?”

18. “When Nancy said ‘Just Say No’, she wasn’t talking about every piece of legislation that did not come from your own party. She was talking about drugs. I’m sure you know what those are. Because that can be the only explanation for what’s coming out of your mouth right now.”

19. “Guess you should have done your homework, huh? Oh, who am I kidding. Facts mean nothing to you. Just like decency and ownership of your own failures. And proper dental work.”

20. “Despite what you think, assuming that you even do, ‘willful ignorance’ is not a trait to be admired. But thumbs up on your halter-top and flip-flops ensemble.”

21. “You are the reason why first-cousins shouldn’t marry.”

22. “Let’s make a deal. You don’t tell me who I can love and I won’t tell you that you are the most delusional person on the face of the planet. I think most sane people already agree with both points anyway.”

23. “I started to ask how you can even live with yourself after making that statement, but then I remembered that you’re just quoting from the party rulebook and have no idea what you are actually saying. Good puppy, good dog. Run over there so Mr. Koch can give you a treat.”

24. “It’s all fun and games right now, running around and being defiant, but sooner or later you’re going to trip over something that will hurt you. It’s called the next election day.”

25. “Really? You’re willing to risk the destruction of this country because you’re a sore loser over your puppet not getting elected? What is this, third grade? Guess momma should have gotten you that tricycle you wanted for Christmas and maybe you wouldn’t be so bitter. Although I doubt it. The bitterness and self-centeredness that you’ve perfected takes a lot more than not getting to ride the things you want to ride. (Hi there, Mr. Hypocrite, preaching from the pulpit and then tapping his shoe in a public restroom.)

It takes years of your buddies making sure you don’t pay your fair share of taxes, then someone coming along and pointing out that you really should pay those taxes. That would make anyone bitter. Well, anyone who still believes that Bonzo, George the First, and Shrub aren’t responsible for ramming this country into the ground.

We’ve got work to do, folks. Let’s do it.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sagacity Redux #1

So here’s the deal: A friend of mine, Daniel, was musing online, wondering if there are any “real” blogs out there anymore. I was perplexed. I have several. Why did he not consider them real? No offense, begged his commentary, but what about the original blogging days, when the intention was to capture your daily thoughts, online, in journal form?

Oh. Well, to excuse myself a wee bit, I wasn’t around in those original days. I was slow to the plate, probably off playing XBOX or watching obscure Japanese films where people didn’t say much but a lot of them died. Such was my thing. I was a late-bloomer in regards to the whole blogging thing. Mainly because I had been scorned in my earlier attempts at writing, back when you actually had to engage a publisher before the masses could see your words in print.

So I didn’t do anything for a couple of decades. Or so. Burn me enough, I’ll go do something else for a while. Human nature. Or at least gay-boy raised in Oklahoma nature. Some such. Whatever the case, eons passed.

Then, a few years ago, my friend Tiffany convinced me to blog, because that’s what the cool people were doing. Well, had been doing, cool people are always running off to do something else before you can really figure out what they were doing before they ran. It’s the nature of cool people. They want to touch it first and then they don’t care anymore.

Anyway, when Last-Call Me finally got around to blogging, I encountered something of a flux. Randomly clicking on various blogs, I found a whole mess of stuff going on out there. Geeky tech things, recipes for people who apparently had only two dollars in their food budget, political ranting based on circumstance and nothing, pretty pictures of fruit, you name it.

I didn’t know what to make of this. What was I supposed to do?

Well, I decided to tell stories. Some real, some not, but stories. I like stories. When I go to a blog, I want depth. I want to spend some time with the writer, let him or her take me somewhere, and at least stay for a little bit. I’m not good with the sound bites. Some are fun, yes, but let’s be real. Nearly anybody can throw out a good one-liner from time to time. It’s often a matter of luck and timing. Happenstance.

Side note: This explains why I’m not so good with the Twitter thing. I’m not built for working with compact, limited characters, slapping on a hash tag that will hopefully propel my brevity to one and all. Tiffany thinks I can do so. (Typical conversation wherein I send a rogue comment via IM at work: Tiffany - “OMG, you have got to tweet that!” Me - “But why? Will people get it? Are you sure?” Tiffany - “Just do it.”)

I don’t know. It just bugs me, that character-limitation thing. If I have to edit my words just to conform to a protocol, it can change the meaning, completely. I’m really not down with that. I like the whole arc of writing… introduction, development, conclusion. And most importantly, follow-through. Regardless of how whimsical or off-the-wall the journey may be, make it real and make it work.

Honest writing is not necessarily about truth. Honest writing is about making the reader believe that where you are taking them is worth it.

So with my various blogs, birthed as they were as I discovered certain niches that felt pretty good and tempted me back, I tried to remain true to my conviction. Tell a story, make it flow realistically, beginning, middle, end, with no sense that you’re just trying to amass a certain amount of words and then stop. Even the tawdry music video reviews that I post on my Backup Dancers From Hell blog have a story to them. Admittedly, they are often wee anecdotes, two pages or less, but the construction is there.

Which brings us to an analysis of how this method has worked for me, the telling of stories in an age where people click, want two words, and then want to move on. Well, it’s been a very mixed bag, and sadly, to me, it’s an uneven mix.

Yes, I have a few faithful readers who will persevere through anything I throw their way. (And this can be a challenge. The Paris Chronicles series runs a hefty 250+ pages, when you add up all the posts.) I love these people, really do, because they get it. They want a story, well-thought and plotted, and understand that reading the missives might take some time. Make a pot of coffee and settle in.

But most folks who visit my blogs (and I do appreciate the act, not saying I don’t) fall into two categories. First, we have the folks who think the posts are too long. Really? You can’t spare ten minutes of your day? Then why are you even looking for something to read? Sounds like all you need is the back of a cereal box. (Harsh, I know, but that argument grates with me. You can spend two hours playing a Facebook game or watching Golden Girls reruns, but you can’t stay on a blog post longer than two seconds? This explains a lot about the current state of American society.)

The second batch of nay-sayers involves people who can’t relate to the subject matter. Which would be fine if I was talking about my pro-choice views on abortion. I get that. But you don’t want to read about a crazed family trip to Charleston because you weren’t there? What’s the deal? Just because you didn’t participate doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate. There’s a story I’d like to tell, folks. A story. That’s what you’re here for, right?

Or maybe not. Perhaps people don’t like to read anymore. They just want flashing colors and two unrelated words that should somehow define life. But I’m just not in that camp.

So now I fumble my way back to Daniel’s original query. Does anybody really blog anymore in the original intent, wherein you share your direct thoughts of the day? Couple this with my muse, Tiffany, always trying to keep me on my literary path, and reminding me that some of the blog followers actually enjoy it when I’m totally real, talking about just me and what I think.

Well, this is what I thought about today. This is where my mind went.

I kind of like it. Free-flow dialogue, albeit one-sided. It’s a bit slippery and uneasy for me, just typing what comes to mind, no careful construct or plotline. But I thought I should try it. Just to see. I’ll never give up my stories, those will always be spewing forth, and that’s my focus. But maybe I can also do these posts where I just talk, from time to time. Me, capturing me.

So, Daniel, my brother, you are younger than me, but I still feel the pain. Of the scars you hint at, and my own scars that make me carefully choose my words, each and every day. But I think I can pry the filters off, in tiny, hesitant layers. Thanks for the gentle shove, even if you didn’t realize you were doing that. We’ll see if this actually achieves lift off.

And Tiffany, did I make Momma proud? Hope so.


07/20/11 1:38am

Monday, July 18, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: Kristin Chenoweth - “I Want Somebody (Bitch About)”

We start out with Kristin, in a tight black getup and looking effortlessly cute, marching into what we’ll assume is a hair salon, since people are sitting around getting their hair done and all. She’s a bit noisy and rambunctious, but that’s fine, because we know she’s going to charm us, and the other ladies agree, smiling and waiting for the cuteness.

Kristin and her tiny self take a seat, then she begins to warble the song to her neighbor, a pleasant enough woman with pearl necklaces and a lapdog and the exact same brand of hair color as Kristin. I guess Kristin is offended by the matching, so she turns to her other neighbor, a brunette and therefore less capable of stealing the spotlight. Then Kristin just gives up and sings to everybody, because that’s all she was ever meant to do.

At this point, the back row of girls start doing choreography with their magazines and such, which is really fun, but they keep it low-key to avoid any animosity from their sisters. Turns out Kristin has her own choreography, where she gets to whip her legs around and we get flashes of the sexy red color on the bottom of her shoes.

As we break into the first sample of the chorus, the whole place is bopping and having the best time of their lives. The camera pulls back so we can see that the salon is even larger than we expected, with a whole cadre of women in the throes of a modified Lilith Fair Estrogen Fest. When the folks in that back row do a Busby Berkley bit of mess with their legs, the show instantly goes SRO for the rest of the run.

We finish up this set piece with Kristin petting the lapdog (always a good PR move, any competent actress knows this), Kristin waving those bottom-colored shoes again (when something’s a hit, use it again until they stop buying tickets), and Kristin waving her index finger to the beat (minimalist dancing is the new black, especially when you are already wearing black and you look flawless). End scene.

Next up is Kristin reclining on a couch in a fabulous, modified art-deco hotel lobby, where the other guests have been conveniently whisked away and it’s just she and her trio of devoted gay chorus boys. (Kristin loves her gay-gay’s, yes she does!) While she’s warbling, the boys pretend to want her and she pretends to not want them, and it’s all in good fun because we know the sexual mathematics are so not right in this room.

We have some more choreography, designed to highlight Kristin’s gorgeous gown, along with some polite nods to the peeping chest hair on one of the go-go boys. We get a little carried away with some risky business concerning the boys carrying Kristin along like a gold lamé cigar, but everyone quickly recovers by resorting to the standard “blonde bombshell knocks all the mens off their feet” routine.

With the next segment, we get another nod to Busby, with Kristin cavorting about in front of bodiless hands waving puffy pillows. There’s a quick shot of Kristin being uncertain if her breasts are her own, then we zip back to that faboo couch in the lobby, with Kristin milking it because you can never get enough of classically-sheathed women sprawling on complimentary furniture.

Back to Kristin in the center of all those dancers waving around silicon breast implants, only now the cast is much bigger and leg choreography has been added, creating the image of a morphing, intergalactic plant species. Hopefully somebody got paid some big bucks for this, because it looks mighty fine, in a “tribute to the fertilization of pistils and stamens” kind of way.

Cut to the final act, with Kristin in a modified gold jumper and the entire cast doing something with office chairs and top hats. We have wind fans going, which is always questionable, but Kristen pulls it off, because there’s nothing she can’t pull. (There’s an odd moment when an army of Robert Plant dancers invade, but Kristin calms our nerves by reenacting a Charlie’s Angels hair flip.)

We wind things down with the Robert Plants and Kristin doing a swell drill-team routine. (I’m personally going to take this as a nod to Kristin’s developing days at shared alma mater Broken Arrow High School and the Tigettes, although it’s most likely not. It‘s just important for the Little People to make a connection with their fave stars, even if that link is imaginary and possibly hallucinogenic.)

As the curtain lowers, we get another glimpse of Kristin and the boys polishing the floor of that hotel, check in on Kristin and her bestest buddies at the Hair Salon Where Nobody Frowns, and finally check out with Kristin doing something eyebrow-raising with a hair dryer.

Love. Her.

And killing Pushing Daisies was an absolute crime. Word.

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

Searching For Signal: “True Blood” - Season 4, Episode 4

We start out right after Eric has made a snack out of Sookie’s fairy godmother. He smacks his lips, then falls flat on his face. Sookie is alarmed at first, then Eric raises his head, eyes all woozy, mouth all grinning. Apparently home boy is drunk on fairy liqueur. Sookie is not impressed. “You drank the whole fairy! You’re going to your room.!”

No, Eric declares, he is not. He’s schnockered and wants to get rowdy, as any decent person should want after knocking back some Tinkerbell tequila. First he tries to sample some Sookie, but instantly stops when she hollers at him. Then he decides that he wants to run free and wild like the gazelles before they get shot on The Nature Channel. Sookie ixnays that. “It’ll be dawn soon!” Eric doesn’t care, doing the vampire dash and zipping off into the forest.

Leaving another mess for Sookie to agonize over while not wearing a bra. Poor thing. Guess she won’t be taking one of her beloved showers any time soon.

Roll opening credits. Abusive police, snakes, and tiny children receiving Klan training.

Scene with Bill and Pam. Bill: I’m looking for Eric. Pam: No clue. Bill: It would be treason if you knew and didn’t tell, since I’m the sheriff and all. Pam: I wouldn’t take the chance. But since we’re chatting, I think you purposely sent Eric to that coven just so his mind would get jacked. Bill: None of your business, since I’m the sheriff and all. Pam: “You like the feel of that crown, don’t you?”

Jason wakes up on that nasty cot, and discovers one of the older Panther Women astraddle his manly bits, workin’ hard for the money. Jason is not pleased. “Get off of me!” Woman is devastated by the unexpected dismount, shedding tears, then hollers out “Next!”, indicating we apparently have a line of unwashed hillbillies queued up at the door.

Said door flies open, and Ugly Old Luther leans in to yell “Breed, Ghost Daddy, breed!” (a vision I never want to see again, ever) before sending in the next ticket holder, Little Becky, who looks to be maybe 12-years old. (Um, better not be going there, producer people.) Becky is defiant at first, whipping out a knife and promising “I’ll cut off your thing if you put up a fight!”. But Jason realizes this is her first time at the rodeo, and she’s only doing what she’s been told to do.

He’s very sweet. “This ain’t the way it should be.” Then he comforts her with visions of nice boys who buy presents before things get tawdry and messy. Then he gets real. “Cut me loose. I’m scared I’ll die here.” Becky: “So am I.” Then she uses the knife to slash the ropes that surely smell like week-old Jason by now.

Jason rushes out the door, wallops Nasty Luther (yay!), and heads for the hills.

Cut to Nan (she of the murky position with the Vampire League of America), still wearing that severe hairstyle and chewing out Bill for sending Eric to the coven. He whines that they are potentially powerful witches who can control the dead. Nan is not impressed. “They don’t make necromancers the way they used to!” She orders him to clean this mess up because she can’t go to The Authority. (Just who are they again?) She and her hair utter one final warning. “No dead humans!”

On this show? Has she been watching the episodes?

Next we have Marnie, tossing in her sleep and dreaming about a witch-burning back in the day. She’s in the scene, listening to two religiously-dressed men getting far to excited about the proper sequence of burning the body parts of a witch. Dream Marnie tries to stop the barbeque, hollering and such, but the program has already been printed and there ain’t no stoppin’ it now. Probably some type of union issue. Flames crackle.

We see that the witch on the menu is the same ghostly person who was wearing nite-nite clothes and sitting in a nearby chair while Marnie tried to slice-and-dice her wrist with a little too much exuberance in the last episode. Marnie, bad hairstyle blowing in the wind, communicates with the Rotisserie Woman in some guttural foreign language, exchanging words that are probably not recipes.

Alcide arrives at Sookie’s house, apparently responding to her phone call that she needed help finding Eric. This means that Alcide needs to do that nifty thing where he turns into a wolf, but it also means that he has to do the irritating thing they do on this show where people start to drop their pants in the midst of shifting but before we get to see the crotch goods. In this particular instance, Alcide torments the viewing audience by fiddling with his unzipped jeans for a very long time before he finally races off, wolf-form, the scent of Eric in his nostrils courtesy of Eric’s blanket that Sookie shoved in his face while Alcide played with his zipper.

Maxine shows up at Merlotte’s and stomps toward Sam, all in a huff and demanding to know what he has done with “her boy”. Sam plays ignorant at first, babbling about Hoyt (Maxine’s real son) when she’s really talking about Tommy (Maxine’s surrogate son after Hoyt discovered a certain thing called free will). Sam finally tells Maxine that Tommy’s a big boy and he’ll be fine. Maxine: You better not be messin’ with me, because “I’m a lioness!”

That’s not the word I would use, Maxine.

Cut to the Panther People camp grounds, where Felton walks inbredly up to Little Becky, all hot for her now that she’s done grated the cheese with Jason. When she tries to avoid his advances, he gets a good look at her and somehow is able to discern that she ain’t bumped nothin’. He starts a shoutin’ and he and Crystal rush into Jason’s former suite and find Nasty Luther tied up in Jason’s place. Time for Plan B. Dirty folk start turning into Panthers left and right.

Next we have Marnie, with Jesus, Lafayette and Tara trying to convince her that she needs to reverse the spell she put on Eric. Marnie: It wasn’t me, it was her, I just don’t know who she is. Laff: Get her on the Goddess Line. Otherwise, we all gonna be very unhappy and dead. Marnie tries contacting her little spiritual friend, but nothing happens. Tara remains unsatisfied with her decision to leave New Orleans and come back to this dump.

Now we have Alcide (wolf form) and Sookie (perky-ponytail form) wandering through the woods, with Sookie babbling away about nothing. Just to shut her up, Alcide manages to find Eric, who is currently swimming naked in a convenient pond. And Eric is doing so in full daylight. Oh? Alcide transitions back, which causes Eric to instinctively go on alert (werewolf!), and they begin to bicker and snarl, both of them naked and dripping wet, with Sookie enjoying the view.

Sadly, the sun finally starts to burn Eric, so Sookie and Alcide have to cover him up in the blanket that Sookie has been dragging along, and the three of them head back to Sookie’s house, because nothing bad ever happens there.

Cue Jason running through the woods, with panther cries filling the air. He takes off his shirt and throws it far in one direction, grabs a stick, rubs dirt all over himself to disguise the smell, and then heads in the opposite direction of the shirt-throwing. Which means that Jason has somehow grown smarter in the last few days. Interesting. Making a note in my journal that perhaps stupid people should be tied to cots more often.

Tommy comes wandering up to some crappy trailer in the middle of nowhere, hollering for his momma, Melinda (who is also Sam’s mom). She comes running up lugging pails of water, because indoor-plumbing is apparently not one of the offerings at this fine establishment. It seems that Melinda tracked Tommy down and called him, so’s he’d stop by and sit a spell.

And she’s got great news! She done ditched Joe Lee, her trashy beau that walked around in underwear at inappropriate times and made Melinda participate in dogfights. Hurray! Tommy has terrific news himself. He can read! Oh, and Sam shot me in the leg. He never cared about me.

Speaking of, Sam arrives at Luna’s house. He’s being spontaneous and all with the dropping by, just like she’s been encouraging him to do. Except she’s acting all jittery, looking about and such and proclaiming that “now’s not a good time”. Cue a little urchin to run to the door. “Mommy!” Can your friend come in and play Barbies with us? Please? Because I’m a demonstrative child and demand satisfaction. Luna reluctantly invites Sam in, glancing up and down the street as she does so.

Something is a bit wrong about this development. We’ll see.

Another scene with Jason running and panthers crying. We learn nothing new.

Eric and Sookie are in his cubby at Sookie’s house. She’s telling him he needs to get to bed, if he stays awake he’ll bleed all over the place and she’s not in the mood to clean the mess up. (What is that all about, the bleeding if a vamp stays awake? Did I miss a memo?) Eric wants her to stay with him. Sookie declines. The lighting down here just doesn’t accent my golden locks in the manner I see fit.

She climbs back upstairs, where Alcide has been listening to the entire conversation, because when you have a secret life as a wolf, you need to be aware of what people are talking about. He tells Sookie that it’s nuts that Eric is here, totally dangerous. Sookie counters with the fact that Eric is hooked up again with Nasty Debbie, the skank who has poor people skills and tried to kill Sookie. Game even.

Eric hears all of this in his cubby, his ears cocked in the boyishly-charming manner he has had since Marnie and the Minions did the redecorating with his mind. (To be honest, a bit of me really misses the former Eric. Something about that Nordic dominance thing, sayin’.)

Above ground, Sookie and Alcide hug it out, bordering on the line of sudden French-kissing but not quite getting there. Sookie: “Friends?” Alcide: “Keep in touch.” (He SO wants her.)

Cut to Jason in a tree, carving that stick into a stake. One of the Panther People pads up, and Jason leaps on it, jamming the stake in an I-mean-business way. The panther transitions to a dying Felton (the crowd roars), then another panther moseys up and becomes a breast-swinging Crystal. She kicks the corpse of Felton and utters “I’m the Big Momma Kitty now!” We can be together!

Oh my.

But Jason is having none of their former relationship. “We ain’t nothin’ but a disaster!” I hope to never see you again. Crystal is not perturbed, convinced he will be wantin’ some panther lovin’ soon. “I’ll be waitin!” Next full moon!

Next up is Bill and Portia, with Bill about to meet Portia’s grandmamma, Caroline. (What’s up with that? I thought their relationship was purely physical. People just lie in this town all the time.) But then I’m no longer troubled when we see that Grandmama Caroline is being played by Katherine Helmond. All is forgiven, love her.

As Caroline takes a seat, Sheriff Andy comes tromping down the stairs and tries to head out for the night. (He lives with his grandmother? Explains a lot.) Grandmama Bellefleur is not putting up with that, ordering Andy to sit and visit. Then she proceeds to berate him, in a manner that indicates the berating is a family tradition when it comes to Andy. Surprisingly, Bill defends Andy, with Andy being an officer of the law and all. What’s his angle?

Back over to Luna’s house, where Little Emma is being rambunctious but finally forced to go brush her teeth. Luna and Sam chat about raising “shifter kids”, and we learn that Emma’s daddy was a werewolf. Luna has to be careful because Baby Daddy watches her all the time, he’s extremely jealous. Sam assures her that he ain’t skerred. But we all know that within two episodes something unsatisfactory is going to develop and people will have to run from things very fast.

Cut to the Moon Goddess Emporium, which now looks amazingly like The Magic Shop in the “Buffy” series, with Marnie flipping through ancient texts, finding nothing helpful, and Laff, Tara and Jesus standing around and being unimpressed. Jesus convinces Marnie that she just needs to try harder with the mind-meld thing. Marnie scrunches her face and utters incantations. Lo and behold, a book falls off a shelf, splaying open right at a spell to erase the erasing of memory. See? Listen to Jesus.

Alcide arrives home, and he is greeted by Debbie, and they sit on the couch and make nice. Things get a bit awkward when she sniffs his shirt and is able to tell that he “shifted” today (you can ascertain this by sniffing?), and he has to spill that he helped Sookie find a vampire. But Debbie is fine with that. “I’m not mad. You’re a good man. I ain’t worried about no Sookie.”

Something tells me she actually is. In an I’ll-kill-me-a-bitch sort of way.

Back over to Grandmama Caroline Bellefleur’s house, where she is babbling to Bill about the genealogy of her family. Apparently this is something she does far too often, because Andy gets fed up and leaves, which is fine, don’t care. Then Caroline has a senior moment and forgets a branch in the family tree, so she says to Portia “Get the family bible. And a little whiskey.”

Love her.

Bill offers to read the faded penmanship in the bible, which Caroline happily agrees to since she can’t see it anyway and there’s an alcoholic beverage to be consumed. Bill proceeds with the family linkage, and is startled to discover that one of those links is a certain “Elizabeth Harris”. Both Caroline and Bill react to this news as if they’ve just received unexpected enemas. Caroline: “You cannot do this.” Bill: “Forgive me. I didn’t know.” Then Caroline races upstairs to bed, her whiskey shockingly unfinished.

Bill tries to scurry forth out of the house (“I must go. We cannot see each other.”), but Portia is not so complacent about the matter. “I will not let this go.” Bill pauses dramatically, then pronounces “You are my great-great-great-granddaughter!”

So? This is Bon Temps. Ain’t nobody up in this grill that ain’t done nothin’ a wee bit twisted. Just settle down.

Zip over to Terry holding that little Damien Baby that Arlene shot out, despite attempts to stop such by drinking nasty concoctions in a chalk circle. Terry is talking about what a lovely family the baby has, pointing out the family members snoozing on the living room couch. Then Terry stupidly sets the baby down in his play area, all alone, and goes off to figure out why the dryer is buzzing. (Um, maybe the clothes are dry?)

When Terry returns, he discovers that apparently the demon child has snatched up a crayon and scribbled “Baby Not Yours!” on the wall. Well, then. That’s a bit unsettling. Of course, Arlene chooses this exact moment to terminate her slumber session on the couch, review the proffered graffiti, and begin screaming.

Sookie and Eric, once again in his cubby. Sookie: “You’re too quiet,” (What’s wrong with quiet? Quiet is good.) Eric: “I’m just being me.” Discussion ensues wherein Sookie points out that Eric is not acting like, well, the other Eric. Eric: “You want the Eric that doesn’t feel. Kiss me.” Sookie actually looks like she’s about to do so, when Eric mucks it up with a sudden vampiric realization. “There’s someone at your door.” Sookie, because by now she knows to always have a plan if the doorbell should ring, tells Eric to stay put.

It’s Bill.

Sookie: Whaddya want? Bill: Eric. Sookie: He gone. I thought you’d come through for me and took care of it. Bill: The one place he owns we didn’t search was here. Sookie: Well, my house is all clean and all, don’t need dirty people touching things. Bill: Sookie, I gotta do this. Sookie: When have I ever lied to you?

Um, right about now, that’s when.

Bill shoves the door open, with Sookie and her form-fitting top being shoved to the side, then Bill pauses. “You’re right.” You’ve never lied to me. Then he leaves.


Jason, still running from the panthers even though you’d think Crystal Meth would have pulled back on the hunting down of her one true medicated love, stumbles along the side of a road, wretches up something in a graphic fashion, and then collapses on the ground with his head sticking out into the pavement of the roadway. (Dude, really?) A beat-up truck comes tooling along, because they always do in Louisiana, and it just happens to be Jessica and Hoyt, driving home from their latest misunderstanding of one another.

They screech to a halt, hop out of the pickup, realize they know the person lying in the road (which shouldn’t be surprising, since it’s Bon Temps, with its population of 25) and proceed to aid Jason in his dilemma. Which means that Jessica rips open a wrist and proffers her dripping arm to Ghost Daddy.

Tommy and mom Melinda again, with Tommy boasting about how he can read actual words now. Melinda is overjoyed. “I’m fixin’ to bust I’m so proud.” (Really? Did you even try to put that child in school? Hello?) Tommy then moves on to how wretched of a human being Joe Lee was, forcing his wife to be in dogfights and such, even when she was way too old for canine shenanigans. Hell, in dog years, she must be older than Noah.

Lo and behold, but not really surprisingly, here comes Joe Lee hisself, stomping up and throwing a wicked chain around Tommy. You mine now, bitch. (Melinda: “Honey, we missed you!” This is so Jerry Springer material.) Joe Lee: You will learn obedience. This is your last free breath. Then Joe Lee and his unchanged underwear drag Tommy off somewhere.

Sort of thinking that Tommy getting shot by Sam was the least of his problems.

Final scene with Marnie, Laff, Jesus, Tara and Pam standing around in a field at night. (They couldn’t meet at Starbucks?) Pam is being super bitchy, despite Tara holding a gun on her, which is not surprising. Laff tries to get Pam to understand that she needs to hold off on the attitude. Pam refuses to understand anything, other than she wants these people to fix the issue with Eric pronto.

Marnie starts in with some more of the creepy mumbling and summoning of the spirits. Pam gives this about two seconds and then goes postal. “This is BS!” And then she spits out that Marnie is retarded. (Oh, girl, you shouldn’t do that, I don’t care what TV show you star in.) But the remark apparently jump starts Marnie, who vogues into that foreign-speaking whatever that knows all the nifty spells. Marnie directs her flow of unintelligible invective at Pam.

Pam’s face begins to rot. Stupidly, Pam starts fingering at the abscesses on her face, and is soon pulling away layers of skin, an action that probably excites people who revel in such things, but does nothing for me except force me to rethink eating at a Chinese buffet.

Marnie to Pam: “Corrupt, unsanctified corpse that walks!”

(I am SO stealing that for my next conference call at work.)

Pam, half her face gone, realizes that it’s time for another course of action. She vampire-zips off into the woods.

Marnie (or whoever she is channeling) breaks into peals of laughter. Then she collapses to the ground, show over. Jesus rushes to tend to her, while Laff and Tara stand there despondently, reflecting back on simpler, by-gone days, when all they had to worry about was Tara’s mom’s raging alcoholism and whether or not Laff could find enough accessories for his latest outfit.

Roll end credits.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Idiot Fondue: Case Study #26

Note: I dug this one out of the archives, per a request. I have updated the links, should you choose to pursue them. Enjoy.

Dear Dr. Brian:

Mike Rowe (that guy on the truck commercials and on “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel) somehow reminds me of you. Are you guys related?

Curious in Kendrick

Dear Curious,

What an astonishingly interesting query, although I daresay I shouldn’t be surprised, based on our previous correspondence, wherein you’ve proven quite insightful. As I’ve noted in the past, you have an amazing ability to toss aside most of the overwhelming chuff on the Internet, focus on the few things of actual discourse value, and then demand detailed explanations that will satisfy you both scholastically and emotionally.

And yes, I do indeed have a relationship with Mr. Rowe, albeit our association is not one you could deem traditional, and is certainly not based on us sharing relatives who may have procreated in the distant past. And although we were quite close at one time, we have since drifted, and we no longer communicate with any regularity. We have different interests. In addition, there are certain legal restraints which may have led to the dissolution of our once-tight bond.

You see, Mr. Rowe was a critical witness in the lengthy Parisian trial wherein I was accused of certain crimes involving nudity, cooking ingredients, and livestock. (For the more important details of this clearly politically-motivated misuse of power, you can read my original account by clicking Here.) Of course, Dearest Curious, I’m sure that YOU personally will not need to utilize this link. I’m only including it for the newer patients who have not yet surmised how essential it is that every comma I type be emblazoned in their memories.

In any case, Mr. Rowe’s involvement came about thusly:

We were in the first few days of the trial, the bit where it’s still boring while humorless people go over all of the tedious matters. My lawyer, Olivier de Quelque-Chose-Francais, was fiddling with his storyboards, mapping out the spacing of dramatic moments in his upcoming oral presentations. Suddenly, just as I was finishing an exquisite pomegranate tart, I had an inspiration.

I turned to my lawyer. “Olivier, we MUST find the goat.”

He paused in his shuffling, removed his spectacles, folded them, placed them to the side, and adjusted both of his shirt sleeves so that exactly one-quarter inch of material was displayed at the end of his jacket. Then he turned to me. “What is this with the goat?”

I sighed. “The GOAT, Olivier. The one I was chasing? It is imperative that we find it. I feel it would make an excellent character witness.”

He made a small noise signifying that perhaps he should have gone to medical school after all. “We talk of a goat, Dr. Brian, an animal that does not speak. How will it witness for your character?”

“It won’t have to SPEAK. It just has to BE. Once the jury sees what a vicious, filthy little animal it is, they surely can’t blame me for wanting to get it off the streets and away from the children.”

Olivier put his spectacles back on, apparently no longer interested in my proposal. “You led the goat TO the children, are you forgetting this?”

I snorted in frustration. “I most certainly did nothing of the kind. I was trying to CATCH the goat, not prompt it to invade the nursery school. Really, Olivier, how much am I paying you anyway?”

I suddenly had his full attention again. Subtle financial threats can be quite useful at times. “Very well. We will find the goat.”

At the next recess, when cell phone usage was once again temporarily allowed, Olivier whipped out his designer unit and began making calls. The ensuing conversations mostly consisted of him saying “oui” an irritating number of times, interspersed with bursts of that rapid-fire French where you can’t catch a word of it. Eventually, he snapped the phone shut a final time.

“The goat is no longer in the correctional facility.”

This startles me. “They goat was in JAIL? Why on earth would they do that?”

“It’s France, mon ami. These things happen.”

Perplexed, I try to learn more. “Then where is the goat now?”

“I do not know, Dr. Brian. I am not intimate with the goat. Perhaps it is with its owner?”

Ah. That would be my friend Henri, he of the Cucumber Lady whose vegetable gift led to my current misery. I must speak with him immediately. “May I borrow your phone, Olivier?”

He appeared to take offense at this request. “Have you not one of your own? It is my understanding that Americans are born with them.”

Very amusing. “There was a recent incident involving a nice Merlot and some exuberance. Please speak of it no further. Your phone, Olivier?”

He slid it toward me with measured exasperation. “I will charge you double for the minutes.”

“I expect nothing less.” I punched in Henri’s number.


“Henri, my friend! How are things?”

“Ah, the good doctor is calling. Have they convicted you yet?” Then he cackled in a boisterous way that indicated there had been copious beverages at lunch.

“You’re such a clever fellow, Henri. Have any of your clients paid you with actual money lately?”

The laughter stopped, followed by the sounds of a wine bottle being re-corked and some brie being re-covered. “I am deserving of that. You know that I would do anything in this world for you.”

“Music to my ears, as I have a favor to ask. Can you loan me the goat?”

“That I cannot do.”

These French people, they turn on you in an instant. First they have a king, then they don’t, then they have a king again. It’s preposterous. “Really, Henri? Why would that be, pray tell?”

“There was a misunderstanding, and the goat has been reclaimed.” A pause. “It seems my client did not own the goat he gave to me.”

“So your client used a stolen goat to pay for services rendered. The shame, Henri. The utter shame.”

He sighed. “I die the little death when I think of it.”

“How unfortunate, Henri, very troubling. Now, I’m sure you need time to heal, but I must press a bit further. Where is the goat now?”

“He is with his rightful owner, the American who does the dirty jobs.”

I am completely mystified. Who could this person be? “Henri, I don’t understand. Are you drinking the wine again?”

“Non, mon ami. The man on the American TV show. He travels and does dirty things. Michel… something.”

I am stunned. “Mike Rowe has my goat?”

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