Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Not Everything is Broken

Eh, what can I say? I know I've been lax in my commenting on my favorite HBO summer fare, but, it's summer! The good times just keep rolling for me as they do in Bon Temps. What's new? Jason's dating a panther -- bestiality is the one last taboo, huh? Check that off the list for True Blood. In the span of one and a half episodes, Sam became an entirely different character. I know we're all entitled to a bad night, but Godric on stake, people, that was fuckin' weird -- and since weird is a relative term on this show, you know it's hinky. But we've learned he's a killer and now it's haunting him since his little brother who is at this exact moment robbing Sam has stirred up all this aggression and so Sam flips out and calls poor Terry a shellshocked fucker. Boo, hiss! But YAY for the female viewers because Sam is looking mighty fine these days, and he's rarely wearing clothes, so I'll let it all pass.

What else? Lafayette is dating a shaman named Jesus, who may or may not be evil. Or maybe Jesus is dating Lafayette who's a shaman and maybe Laf is just having a bad trip. I don't have a clue how this will tie into the finale, but it might be good. Meanwhile his cousin Tara had a polar reversal with Sam. She found out that Jason scrambled Eggs and though she wanted to go all bloodthirsty on Andy about it, Andy was so pathetically repentant that Tara softened and then decided that nasty Sam was sexy again, so they're doing it. And the best news is that Hoyt and Jessica got back together! YAY! And we got to see Maxine miffed about it! So basically everyone who's not embroiled in the whole King Russell fiasco is getting laid, and I guess that's how Bon Temps got its name.

It's really only Sookie who hasn't gotten some for, oh, I think it's been a day now. But she was making out with Eric! YAY! But then Eric shackled her (YAY!) and professed his maker-love for Pam ("You know I love you more when you're cold and heartless") and set out to set a trap for Russell by telling him that Sookie's fairy blood will allow him to walk in the daylight. Oh yeah! We're allowed to say it now! WHAT IS SOOKIE? FAIRY! She's part fairy, people. And I did love Sook's reaction to that news: "That's so lame!" No, baby girl, it's not lame, it's just that the land of fairies is lame on not-TV HBO. But we'll take the unintentional laughs from that, too.

But, about the King -- I absolutely MUST comment on his madness. It's wonderful! I really wish he'd survive this season, because he's by far the most entertaining bad guy this show has ever had, and that's saying a lot! Plus, I just adore the candy dish/decanter that he's carrying poor gooey Talbot around in. That is such a wonderful touch. And his manifesto-like ramblings about world-domination are just so twistedly funny and nonsensical. I just...I just love him!

And I also still love Alexander Skarsgard. But, much like he and Pam, I love him best when he's cold and heartless. He's been great this year with his flirting with Talbot and machination-face he puts on while thinking about his Viking crown.

I love him so much I've taken to using his name as a profanity, which I'd previously reserved only for George Clooney, Al Pacino, Ray Liotta, and Keanu Reeves. For example, when I stub a toe, I tend to shout " OH, George Clooney!" I don't recall how this started, but it did a while ago. If I drop something on the floor, I give a vehement "Keanu REEVES!" Well, the other day, while in the midst of trying to change a lightbulb, I managed to shatter the new bulb, and it just popped right out: "Alexander Skarsgard!" It shocked even me. But there you go, that's true love, and Alex oughta be mighty flattered to be in current lineup of my made-up, luminary swear words. I'm sure he'll cherish the moment he heard about this just as he will his trip to the Emmy awards this week. I know, it's neck-and-neck for which one is the bigger thrill.

Also, Bill has been around. Pam sprayed silver in his eyes! And then he waxed eloquently about he and Sookie living boring soccer mom lives. And then, I don't know, he did some other stuff. Go Alexander Skarsgard yourself, Bill.

In other show news, Entourage is hurtling to the end of the season, and it feels like a really quick one to me. Vince is on drugs and in love with Sasha Grey and basically fucking everything up. Turtle is in shape and selling tequila that the owner of the company doesn't want sold. Ari is experiencing marital problems due to his ongoing assholery. (Boo, hiss, hate that storyline even though I guess we knew it was coming as soon as the season started off with Eric saying that Ari is the "picture of wedded bliss.") And Drama, as usual, saves the day by becoming a cartoon gorilla! And the very best part of it all is that Rhys Coiro has finally been back around as Billy Walsh! I have been waiting on this bastard's return, and it's been worth it. This time around, he's juxtaposed with Vince. Billy is all cleaned up and calm and he came up with the whole gorilla "Johnny's Bananas" idea for Drama while he keeps one eye on Vince as he derails. And the most recent episode ended with a fabulously hilarious shot. Lloyd finds Vince's stash of coke, and everyone stands around drop-jawed and the camera zooms out and there's Billy, fresh out of the pool, also gathered around and he's got that sick Medellin tattoo across his whole back! And he's the most sane one there now! Alexander Skarsgard, was that a beautiful moment.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Night on Oz

What the fuck? Is this True Blood or a supernatural rehash of Oz? The homoeroticism was flowing more freely than Bill's bloody tears this week. Not that I have a problem with that, believe me. Lafayette should get some from Jesus!

And, of course, if it gets Eric shirtless, I'm all on board!

But then we've got Sookie and Bill, rapidly becoming Beecher and Keller and hurtling toward my most despised couple on TV. God! I am so sick of them! Cry and make-up, bite and make-up, drain and make-up. And I'm so sick of their fucking theme music that's supposed to make me feel all sweet on them. I'm going to have a Pavlovian response to it and just start gagging as soon as I hear those strings start to swell anymore. I just hate them now!

Overall, it was an okay episode, I guess. It was by Raelle Tucker, and she's good at the dark and feely type of things, but I don't generally get a lot of laughs from her episodes. And, frankly, at this point, with the werewolves and soapy situations and ultra-violence, when this show doesn't acknowledge its camp appeal and takes itself really seriously, it doesn't get "heavy" so much as "dumb" to me. But, maybe I'm just jaded and miffed about the whole Sookie-Bill thing. I did enjoy muchly Sookie's scrapbook dedicated to them with its one picture. That was a little funny.

Also funny again was Talbot and the King. Talbot having his weekly hissy when Queen Sophie-Anne moved in was great: "I can't get Franklin's brains out of the guest linens, I had to bury werewolves under the gazebo, and that Sookie bitch staked Lorena!"

And things looked up when he and Eric got all naked, because let's face it -- they're both fine! And who knew it was so easy to seduce someone? "I'm bored. Take off your clothes." We go through all sorts of shenanigans for three seasons to get Eric undressed and it's just that easy. Love Talbot! But we all knew it would end badly, and though I enjoy Eric being all Ericy and staking him, I'm sad to see Talbot and his chafing diamond slippers exit already. Such a damn shame.

On the upside, Jesus returned and so did Alfre Woodard! Alfre was pretty funny, wielding that knife and greeting Jesus so sunnily. And now the door is opened and soon Lafayette will have supernatural abilities and Jesus will be his magic man in many ways. And no, none of that is a spoiler from the books, cause Lafayette died long ago in the books. They've just telegraphed this shit nicely. But it's all good.

Jason? He gets more reckless and more shirtless and sees some zombie-ass shit and just blows it off and worries about Crystal and I don't care about any of it. Though doesn't Hotshot fill the Aryan brotherhood void left by the closing of Oz? I tell you, all we need now is Cyril O'Reilly to run through with his sock puppet and it'd be like old times with a better setting.

Tara is in full-frothing snappy Tara mode, nastily warning Sookie away from Bill and then having disturbingly sexy dreams about Franklin. For real, his eyelashes alone in that shower scene were gorgeous. Poor Tara.

But Jessica was back!

She's still pining for Hoyt but she did some vampire-ninja training with Bill to fight off werewolves and then she ate Patrick Swayze's brother! YAY Jessica!! That was a heartwarming moment.

Also heartwarming was the return of Rene, cher! I know, he ended up being a psycho murderer, but he and that cajun accent are still way cute.

And then all of that wonderfulness was totally sullied by the awfulness of the Sookie-Bill reconcilement. I don't even know why I suddenly hate them, but I just do. This is worse than Ross and Rachel. Maybe they'll come up with their own little break-up tag line. Instead of "We were on a break" it could be "I will use this stake!" If only, right? Pfft.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Friday, August 06, 2010

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Hitting the Ground

It's a damn shame. It's a shame that this was the best episode of the season so far, and yet I'm conflicted about it. I'm not generally one of those "the book is better" people. Sometimes, adaptations are better, and when people want to dispute that, I shut them up with two words: The Godfather. So far, for me, True Blood has been both faithful to the Charlaine Harris books and also a refreshing departure. The added storylines work well and even changes (Lafayette alive!) have been great ones. But this week -- ugh.

But first, let's talk about the awesomeness! The king of Mississippi unleashes his ancient speed to save Pam! And then he goes off on a half-batshit crazy tirade! And then Eric shushes him down! And then he decapitates the Magister! Huge laughs. HUGE! By this point, after seeing him smarm his evil all over HBO shows, who doesn't enjoy seeing Zeljko-Magister's head go splat! Especially after he threatened Pam. Pam! And she took it like the vampire she is, totally cool under pressure. And amidst all his plotting and preening and posturing and pensive brooding, Eric takes the time worry for his baby girl. Awww! But then in comes the king with a flourish!

Denis O'Hare is chewing scenery like it was granola and he's oh-so-grand and glibly brilliant at it. Hail to the King, for he and his court have truly entertained this year. His best line? "Maybe you didn't understand the subtext of our conversation earlier, but THERE IS A NEW FUCKING AUTHORITY IN TOWN!" He said subtext! And he challenged the mysterious, enigmatic "authority!" He was like Cartman, all "you will respect my authori-tay!" And then SPLAT with the head! Scandalous, even for vampires!

But as awesome as that moment was, it's still not the top joyous "oh shit!" moment of the week. Sam, finally, was pretty interesting. Dog fights are a fairly safe way to make you instantly hate someone, and Sam infiltrating the fights was great. Him telling off Joe Lee was pretty funny, calling him out about his baggy underwear, having "no discernable life skills," but that was topped by him telling his mom that he'd always thought Tara had the worst mother ever, but that she had her beat. And yet, even that wasn't his best moment. His best was backing down the frothing, manic, attacking rottweiler, warning it, "Don't you snarl at me!" And the dog runs off! Sam's the alpha dog -- yay!

But as great as that was, he still got upstaged by a girl. Seriously. Seriously, how awesome was Tara? Tara's back in full raging Tara-mode, and she's super-juiced on V. So she kicked Bill out of a van into the sunlight!

Best moment of the show so far this season, I swear. That was some hilarious shit. I can almost imagine how that moment came to pass, too. I imagine Rutina Wesley reading the script from the previous week and her saying, "Aw hell no! I ain't being chased by no damn wolf!" (<--because I'm going to go ahead and imagine Rutina speaking like Tara, mmkay?) And so the producers or director or someone calmed her down and said, "Listen. 'Tina. Yes, you have to run across a field and get chased by this wolf, and it's even going to jump on you and take you down from behind. But listen, if you do that scene, the next week, we'll let you actually physically KICK Bill and send him out into the sunlight." And, as any sane person would reply, she said, "Fuck yeah, I'll get knocked down by a giant wild animal if I get to abuse Bill! That's fair 'nuff! And thank you for the opportunity!"

That was just enormously entertaining.

Also good?
Queen Sophie-Anne in a birdcage.
Eric's delightful blue sweater should finally bite the dust thanks to his diurnal dalliances that caused him to get the bleeds all over it.
Also having the bleeds? Lorena, Sophie-Anne, and presumably Bill. The bleeds crack me up every time.
Jason saying, "I never thought I was smart enough to be depressed."
Hoyt's new girlfriend insisting that he eat her biscuits. Last year it was banana pudding, this year, biscuits. Food double-entendre is always welcome.
Also funny, though probably not intentionally, was Sookie's vision of...

Oh. Okay. Let's get this out there now. Is there anyone reading this post who still hasn't figured out what Sookie is yet? If you didn't get it figured out from this episode, I'm done playing, cuz that was some obvious shit. So, if you don't know, and you don't want to be spoiled, stop reading.

Sookie's vision of fairy world. Godric on a goat, that was some trite-ass shit there! Whoo-whee, now that was twee! I will say this, though, I like the actress they picked for Claudine, and Sookie has never looked prettier than in that fairy dress with the fairy lighting and floaty fairy air all around.

And I do also love me some Anna Paquin. I don't talk much about her because I'm always bitching about Bill or squeeing over Eric or the dude who plays Alcide. But I do love Anna as Sookie. I love that Kiwi's American accent and I love her trilling screams and I love her crying jags and I love her tart sass and her sweet innocence. I know Jason's the stupid one of the Stackhouse siblings, but there have been numerous occasions where Sookie has done things that'd make Talbot's quip about being as dumb as a box of rocks being insulting to boxes and rocks ring about right.

But, and here we go, people, and I do apologize, in the books, Sookie's just not all that fucking ricockulous! And, in the book, Sookie staked Lorena. By herself, dammit! That just pisses me off that they just haaaad to change it and have Bill help her. Fucking, "rescue me" complex from the girls this week. Sheesh. Why, why, WHY did they feel it was necessary to change that detail? That was a big part of Sookie's street cred -- she managed to stake Lorena on her own! She (again) had saved Bill!

Way back in season one, I'd said that if it wasn't for the graphic details, Sookie would be a great role model for teenage girls. (And, by the way, when I say "graphic details" I'm not talking about sex, I'm talking about the violence.) Sookie started the series by saving Bill. Last night, she was supposed to do that again. But oh no, someone has a hard-on for noble Bill and he somehow managed to rouse himself from manacles while being nearly drained to get a chain around Lorena's neck and subdue her for Sookie to sink the stake. Fuck that shit. My Sookie didn't need his damn help.

And another thing? Book Sookie loved her some Bill. But she wasn't stupid enough to climb into a locked space with him while he was nearly drained and then offer up her blood to him. Book Sookie, though often brazen and generous and bordering on deranged with her helpful streak is not actually an insult to boxes and rocks, and she knew better than to do that. It was deranged Debbie Pelt who locked her in the trunk with Bill. But oh no, not here. Here, Sookie climbs in and hacks up her arm and offers herself to Bill in a haze of worry and love -- and stupidity. I can't stand it. I just can't stand it.

Then again, I guess maybe that just made it a little bit funnier when Tara booted his ass out and he hit the ground! Even if he didn't splat like the magister's head, he probably learned to respect Tara's authority. Or at least her bend-it-like-Beckham right foot!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Sue Nami -- The Pegasus Interview

Sue Nami's As the Pegasus Flies is a fast-paced and funny collection of short stories set at Reader's Digest in the 1950s. Part "Mad Men" and part "The Office," it's got everything a light-hearted read should have: scandals, sex, surprises, and, by today's standards, perhaps the most shocking of all: plentiful smoking! In short, I loved it! Lucky me, I was able to track down Ms. Nami for an interview to get inside the head that got inside the lives of Reader's Digest workers.

Let's start at the start. What was the inspiration for this collection of wacky characters and their stories, Sue?

It all started with a photo. On my company's intranet homepage, everything is there--company news, important links, etc. One day there was a new feature called Oh Snap!, which is an old b&w photo from the company's archives. People are supposed to write a funny caption for it.

I wrote a 300 word story (instead of just a caption), using the photo as a prompt. It was fun, so I wrote part 2, 3, etc. until the end of the week, when the new photo was posted. I did it again the next week. It started to catch on. Every Monday I'd put up part 1, and finish the story with part 5 on Friday. I began to reuse characters, and refer back to previous stories. All really silly soap opera stuff--people running off to have sex and smoke post-coital cigarettes during work. Things like that. Money hidden in walls, secret passageways. Plus, I got to slyly make fun of the company.

So even though the pictures were inspired by your workplace intranet, I should assume that you did all the writing on your lunch hours or other assigned breaks, or even after hours, never interfering with your schedule, correct?

Correct. Off hours, mostly in the morning before work. Then I would post at some point during the day, usually right before I left for lunch. Sue Nami would never do anything besides work at work. In fact, she is NOT answering these questions right now while at work.

You're a fearless writer. By that I mean that you don't pull punches with crazy antics or surprises, which is great for the reader. (There's also an ample body count.) I have to ask, do you find it easy to go the extra yard with these stories, or did you have a struggle sometimes, deciding whether or not to "go there?"

I go wherever I want. In fact, the more outrageous, the easy (and more fun) it is to write. This style of writing, and the whole lack of pressure to be "literary" is very liberating. I hope it carries over to my regular writing. Plus, that's the way I live my life--fearlessly--so it's natural to put that in the stories.

You live fearlessly like Jessica and take rides in helicopters? Or do you have a dash of Bernadette and live dangerous by eating Taco Bell for lunch without taking Gas-X and living with the repercussions?

Somewhere in-between. I haven't ridden in a helicopter yet, because no one has built one for me, like Stu did for Jessica. But I would, if someone did! Bernadette eating Taco Bell without having Gas-X handy is just inviting trouble, not to mention serious gastric pain. Fearlessness has to have an element of fun to it. That doesn't sound like fun. What about eating tacos, then going on a bumpy helicopter ride? Anyway, my bio states that I live a quiet, enigmatic life. My bark is worse than my bite.

I personally loved Boom-Boom Bernadette, and of course, Lorenzo. And I'd love to hear more about Joey the Pinhead Shark Bait. Who were some of your favorite characters?

Lorenzo is probably my favorite. He is the most used because he's so versatile, and likable. A jack of all trades, a sweet-talker. I think he's actually the most complex character, with a history that has been explored some, too. He came here from Italy to join his first love. He loves the ladies, loves food, helps out his paesans. He knows his way around the kitchen and the bedroom. Plus, he wears cologne that smells like money! What woman can resist that?

So tell me, Sue, was your main motive in publishing this book because, as is so often claimed by your characters, "publishing is so lucrative"?

Publishing WAS so lucrative. Not so much anymore. I published the book mostly so it existed in a physical form. I wanted all the stories together in one volume; it was a moment in time that I knew would never last. And I was right. Maybe the movie rights will be lucrative.

I am jealous of you. Insanely jealous. You've already managed to garner the 3 big C's that I've always chased after: a Cult following, Controversy, and you've been Censored. Does that make you feel like a bigshot? I'd feel like a bigshot.

For a second there, I thought you were gong to throw an acronym at me. The corporate world loves acronyms. But I guess three Cs don't really sound like anything except a clearing of the throat. As far as feeling like a bigshot--I'm thinking of entering some sort of rehab. That'll bring me back down to Earth. Isn't that what a bigshots do? Maybe I can plead exhaustion, find a nice place upstate to relax. I hear the old RD headquarters is empty, maybe I can rehab there. I can also kick this smoking habit I've had since writing As the Pegasus Flies. I've been smoking like a mad man! Mad Men, get it? They smoke a lot on that show. Is this thing on? And by the way, you ARE a bigshot. Don't be modest.

Why do you think, after you built a cult following, you suddenly started getting censored?

Coincidence? Or not? It's funny, because I got censored during what was probably the tamest story I had ever posted—it was just a simple love story. Either RD didn't like the fact that I was going to publish a book (I don't know why they'd care, though), or some tight ass complained about the length of my stories. Everybody was having fun on Oh, Snap!, and some brat had to take his/her ball and go home.

Are they still posting "Oh, Snap!" features on the intranet?

Yes, but it seems to be losing steam. But I am still using the photos as prompts for my stories, which are now only posted on the ATPF blog. Occasionally I'll still post a regular old caption on Oh, Snap!

Can we expect a Volume 2 of "As the Pegasus Flies"?

Well, there have been three new stories since the banishment. I'm going to keep it going a little longer. I want to end it when I want to end it, not when RD wanted it to end. There is a good chance there will be a second book, if for no other reason than to annoy people.

Is there a Pegasus at the new Reader's Digest building?

No sighting of a pegasus yet, either living or in statue form. Or any form, for that matter. No pegasus scat around. RD forsook the pegasus. The magic is gone. The dream is over. Samson's hair has been cut off.

Girl to girl here, did you ever visit the storage room at the top of the spiral staircase in the old Reader's Digest library with a Lorenzo-like co-worker?

Well, how do you think I know so much about that little room? You either know about it, or you don't. But all in the name of research, of course. Actually the spiral staircase has now been removed, and the opening in the ceiling has been closed. I hope no one (Lorenzo, I'm talking about you) was up there when they did this.

Are you on drugs?
Depends. Do you consider peyote "drugs?" I use it religiously.