29 February 2012

Usage Wednesdays: "Laxadaisical"

Since I've been running perpetually late on posts for the past few weeks, I'm throwing an easy one up for your (mild) usage interest:

Lackadaisical > laxadaisical

"Laxadaisical" = "lax" + "lackadaisical"

"Lax" is an oddball shortcut leading straight back to Latin, and it means exactly what you think it means.

"Lackadaisical" apparently comes from the old interjection "lackaday!," which is short for "alack the day!," which is very similar to the interjection "alas!" Although the internet is failing to explain to me why something that means "alas" would turn into something that means "easygoing," I think I've pieced it together. If you're in a situation where you're pushed to say, "alack the day!," then you've probably got a huge mess on your hands. So you might as well lackadaisically be like, "whatever." Fubar, right? Snafu!

The real takeaway from this common usage error is that you're better off not ever bringing it up. Nobody wants to hear that they just said it wrong. Everybody uses the error, and everyone knows what the error means. This is just for your own personal edification.

And so you don't have to go around wondering if it has to do with lacking a daisy or something?

28 February 2012

Suicide Watch At The Oasis

As Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead ("18 Miles Out") begins, we're thrown into a battle scene somewhere that looks like the old high school where Shane sentenced Otis to die. "Did I miss an episode?" I ask, panicking. Until I remember good old 9th grade English class, that is, and the story structure lessons I learned there. We're starting in medias res, and all will be revealed in like 30, 35 minutes. Phew.

Rick and Shane drive 18 Miles Out from Hershel's farm to dump their sniper kid somewhere where he can't hurt them. On the way, Rick stops the car to have a heart-to-heart with his dearest friend in the world. "I heard what really happened at the school," he says. "Was it to survive?" First of all, nobody heard what really happened at the school. Shane's the only one with the capacity to tell anyone that, and he hasn't. Dale and Lori surmised it on their own, and Lori told Rick that she thought Shane could've killed Otis. But no one told Rick "what really happened." This must be a cop trick from before the fall. "You can't just be a good guy and expect to live. Not anymore," retorts Shane. THEME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah!!!!

Their talk goes even further: Rick reminds Shane that his family is HIS, and Shane tells Rick a little bit about how it all went down at the hospital, when soldiers were shooting live people. He also throws in a lie about not looking at Lori like that until after Rick's accident. Colorful backstory AND strategic lying? TELL ME MORE!! I'm serious, by the way. I think this is great.

Things are happening back at the house throughout all this, but it's so very boring. Lori talking to Maggie about their boyfriends' feelings. Lori talking to Catatonia about why life is worth living. This is certainly a better Lori than before, but only like, how -10 is better than -20. You know?

Rick and Shane get the sniper kid out of the trunk, where he's all trussed up like Tia's boyfriend at the end of Uncle Buck. "I'M SORRR-RYYYYYY!!!! Ok, asshole??" And then U.B. hits golf balls at him until one gets him right in the head. If only I were watching Uncle Buck right now! Soon, Becky. Maybe tonight!

Anyhow, the Best Friends Gang has taken Sniper Kid (what's his name again? Oh yeah, Randall as in Flagg) to a police station with a sturdy fence, where they plan on leaving him (still hog-tied) with a knife so he can carry on by himself. Rick shows Shane how not to waste bullets on fenced-in zombies: lure them to you with your blood (not necessary; they're attracted to you enough as it is) and then stab them in the head while they're distracted (oh, I see, they're distracted by your blood smear).

When they start walking away from Randall, he screams his head off about not being able to survive alone and how he's just a normal guy, one who went to high school with Maggie. The BFFs stop. Do they have to rescue him because he's Maggie's friend? Randall keeps on screaming, admitting that she probably didn't know him, but he was always a big fan of the Greens. The BFFs stop again. They don't have to worry about him for Maggie's sake. But he does know exactly where he is, having grown up in the area. Obviously, Shane wants to kill the kid to quash any danger he might bring. Rick's like, ain't gonna happen, we're not in the business of kid-killin'. And so they end up in a FIGHT TO THE DEATH.

Now that they're fighting, I foresee a lot of zombies coming out of the police station to get us to that first scene. I bet they're inside because my subconscious remembers a similar, much better scene from the comic book. But first, Shane upends a motorcycle onto Rick, I guess just to get them both good and exhausted once the zombies come out. And boy, do they.


Like me, you probably want to go take a look at what's going on at the farm at this point. Well, it's actually a pretty fun scene we've got going on here. Maggie and Catatonia are arguing about killing themselves, and Andrea's yelling at Lori about people's right to die. Then Andrea tells Lori that she's gotten everyone she loved back from the dead, and besides that, everyone knows about her boyfriend Shane. Aren't girl characters cool on this show? Isn't it great that when they argue, only cat noises come out? I love how many zombies the girls get to kill. This is heartening and pleasant.

Back to the boring old police station lol jk this is the most exciting thing that's happened in so long!: Randall's still hogtied and inching toward the knife when Shane throws something heavy into the side window. He admires his reflection in the broken glass, but only for an instant, because a thousand zombies come out of it after that. Rick covers himself with a dead one. Randall squeezes his cuffs to the front so he can use the knife to put down a particularly enterprising dead woman who has sniffed him out. Shane gets trapped on a bus. And we're back to where we started!!!

Looks like Shane has no choice but to use the lure-and-stab trick that Rick taught him earlier. It works like gangbusters until the knife falls out of Shane's hand. Shane looks up just in time to see Rick and Randall scoot away, but we all know Rick's coming back for him. First he just has to see an omen. In this case, it's the two dead sheriffs, lined up side by side like two gay brides. Better go back for your friend, Big Rick.

They drive the lime-green subaru (or whatever) through the horde attacking Shane's bus and manage to rescue him, with Driver Randall's neck duct-taped to the headrest as a restraint. Rick is amazing, by the way. He taped the kid's neck!

Back at Paradise Farms, Andrea gives Catatonia the go-ahead to kill herself. But when the time comes, the girl cuts her wrists with a broken mirror only very shallowly. "Hooray!" thinks Andrea. "She wants to live after all!!!!!!" By the way, Andrea doesn't just think it. She says it to Maggie. And then Lori, con los cojones mas grandes, has the audacity to basically be like "she's right, Maggie."

Things I would do if I were Maggie:
1. Punch Lori in that fat face of hers
2. Slam a cast iron skillet into Andrea's face
3. Get busy with Glenn in the forest all the time
4. Not because I like Glenn, but because Maggie does
5. Ride my horse around, killing more zombies
6. Drink

We cut back to the Best Friend Squad, this time pausing their drive back towards the farm. Rick gives Shane back his gun and reminds him what's whose. They truss up Randall again, even though he just told them he knows how to get to the farm. Shane notices a lone, shambling zombie he'd seen on the drive to the police station. Josh, sitting on the couch next to me, gets it. That's what being a loner will get you.

The spring episodes of Walking Dead have been a definite improvement on the first half of season 2. Clearly Mazzara is getting everything back on track with some serious character work and mild ret-conning. It's getting good. Now I would like to see it get AMAZING!

photos courtesy amctv.com and Uncle Buck, 1989.

26 February 2012

The Many Loves Of Snooki Gillis

Last week's episode of The Jersey Shore ended in chaos. Karma turned into Mos Eisley Cantina, security tossing out guidos right and left. Some dude tugged on Jwoww's scanty dress, enraging her boyfriend Roger. It was a tough week to get through, but folks, we've made it. Get crazy!

Ronnie observes Roger's near-fight (which dissolves immediately btw) and starts getting a huge crush on him. He's thrilled by Roger's authority, and he goes on and on about how you can't mess with Roger. "That's Karma for you. Karma's a bitch!" All this new-crush energy must be going straight to Ronnie's brain and that's why he spouts verbal gold like this. Welcome back from sabbatical, Professor Gurustein!

As the gang comes home, the guidettes (now ready for love) encounter much resistance. Snooki waits outside the bathroom for Jionni to stop puking, and Roger slips away to the patio while Jwoww isn't looking ("My girl had to poop"). Mike feeds him chicken salad sandwich after chicken salad sandwich as Ronnie chats him up. "I'm actually in love," says Roger. "...With your sandwich," finishes Ronnie. He also tells Roger that if Sammi complained that much, he might lose his phone too. Might want to pump those brakes, Professor Gu. Your girlfriends are in earshot. In the end no one gets laid.

In the morning, Snooki pantomimes a brief scene wherein she finds Jionni dead and starts doing chest compressions on him. Why is Snooki obsessed with medical tragedy? First she has a heart attack, plus she's always about to throw up, and now her boyfriend is technically dead. Please also pump those brakes. Deena decides the gang is going crabbing at the dock!

As soon as they're done at the bait shop, somebody catches a guido. As in, their fishing hook catches on the undershirt of an unwitting guido squatting on the dock. Although terrifyingly close to all sorts of miserable outcomes, the event is consequence-free. Much like everything here. Vinny throws a crab on Sitch as Pauly says "Crabs are here!"

The Meatballs get in an inflatable raft because "no one wants to take [Deena's] bait." She said it, not me! They have a grisly maritime adventure, floating precariously underneath the dock and flailing around when someone yells "sharp!" because Deena hears "shark." Eventually they fall off of the boat and stand up only half emerged. You see, the water's only 2 feet deep. 

Somehow Deena's trunks stay on. They leave with no fish and maybe crabs, but not the kind you eat. Chinese food for dinner! Back at home, Ronnie takes the stinkiest dump of all time. I'm not sure why the editors spend so much time on it, but it's indisputable. His poop smells terrible. 

At work, Danny tells Pauly how many times he's seen the stalker hanging out at the store. It's a LOT. I still feel embarrassed for her, since she's obviously just awkward and crushin'. But upon further inspection, I can see why Pauly's so upset. She's a freaking psycho. The next day, Jwoww gets fed up seeing her at the store so much. She takes her outside and conducts a casual interview with questions like "what's your deal" and "here's what you look like when you're staring at us." The girl just stands there beaming. This is the best day of her life. "Enjoy your day," says Jenni. "Go back to watching. OK."


Snooki is enchanting now, by the way. She is irresistible to everyone (except her boyfriend, who would rather puke than smoosh). Mike smokes a cigarette with her on the patio and asserts that he'll be the one objecting at her wedding when it gets to that point in the ceremony. They play a sexually charged game of Throw The Balls, which looks like an awesome game, and Mike resists being a jerk the entire time. It's far too sincere to be engineered by someone with such extensive brain damage. The Situation is in love.

Snooki loses a Throw The Balls bet and has to wear the bunny suit ("Lola") to the club that night. It somehow brings them the best night of their lives. Everyone takes turns wearing the bunny head and dry-humping. A girl named Stephanie walks right up to Sitch and tells him how DTF she and her friends are. It's a LOT. 


The Meatballs sneak over a fence to frolic on the beach like Baywatch. Within seconds, the cops descend upon them. Deena tries flirting with one of them (no true homo can resist a man in uniform), but he isn't biting. Again with the no one taking her bait. What is this, a nunnery?

At home, Mike has perfectly engineered the ins and outs of MVP's sexcapades. Eerily soon after Vinny and Pauly finish their shared-bedroom trysts, Mike tells them that he's gone ahead and ordered cabs for their ladies. Was he listening for his cue? Right outside the door?

Snooki and Ronnie head to the bar very soon the next morning, eager to drink through their hangovers. She buys him a minibike because he said something about it the other day. This is a very sweet afternoon. They're not allowed to turn on the bike while they're on the boardwalk, but they scoot along like best friends for hours. 


There's another awkward cutaway to a patio dinner that's totally removed from the day's events. These little breaks from the jumbo-sized commercial break are just like the ones on Top Chef. You're not tricking me, corporate tv fat cats.

Snooki finds herself drunk and on the duck phone with Jionni, yet again trying to have phone sex in plain sight of her roommates. This time it's Vinny sitting by, pretending that the Throw The Ball balls are his own and resting them upon her face, waiting for her to stop arguing with Jionni about what's decent and what's not. Vinny takes her to the boardwalk, and Snooki's tangled web claims another lovelorn guido.

They go to a pool hall and dance like nonagenarians. They get drunk enough that Vinny starts thinking about smooshing Snooki, so naturally he asks her to stop drinking. He doesn't want to do it when she's drunk, but they don't do it unless they're drunk. It's frustrating enough to make Snooki go back for their abandoned shots. 


And so the episode "Sharp Objects" ends, leaving Snooki on the throne of Aphrodite, inspiring the love of every man who crosses her path. Must be all those crotch shots at da club. Beauty, thy name is Shnickers.

photos courtesy mtv.com

22 February 2012

Usage Wednesdays: "Y'all" v. "Ya'll"

Everyone does it. Politicians do it, moms do it, even the Atlanta airport did it. Sometimes, it really does seem like you can spell it "ya'll." But you can't. It's got to be "y'all," and here's why:

"Y'all" is the Southern contraction of "you all." It's a fun word to reach for when you want to sound really nasal ("yawwwl"), and it's also reasonably shorter and more fun to say than "you all." It's such a fun word, many people have come to think that maybe it's the party animal of words and doesn't have to follow any rules at all. Alas! No word is a party animal.

Contractions work by smushing two words together, deleting some of the middle letters, and replacing those letters with an apostrophe. Here are a few examples of the pattern (replace the [blank] with an apostrophe) :
I'm = I[ a]m
Don't = Do n[o]t
He'll = He[ wi]ll

Knowing that, you have two different potential meanings of "y'all" depending on where you put the apostrophe:
Y'all = Y[ou ]all
Ya'll = Ya [wi]ll

And that's a pretty big longshot. "Ya will?" Come on, guys. Come on. And so, ipso facto, the case is closed: the apostrophe goes right after the Y in "y'all."

Y'all > ya'll

Y'all'll come back now, ya hear?

20 February 2012

Nobody Better Lay A Finger On My "Triggerfinger"

Aaaaaaand here's Lori, dangling upside down in her sedan post-crash, so tempting to the zombie who paws at her cracked windshield. Wouldn't it be great if she turned into a zombie right now? She'd look like this:

But instead of becoming a zombie, she wakes up, starts to sorta yodel, and leads us right into the credits.

After the commercial break, we revisit Rick's bar gunfight from several weird Dutch angles as if to prepare ourselves for another interpretation of the afternoon's events. It's nighttime by now, and Hershel wants to head back. But just then, headlights shine into the bar -- headlights that belong to the scary gang Rene used to be in! We won't be watching another version of the gunfight after all; we'll be watching part two of it.

Back at Lori's car crash, the zombie smushes its face through the windshield with complete disregard for all the painful face-cuts it's probably getting. Zombies, right?? It yanks Lori's hair as she tries to escape, so she whips around and stabs it in the eye! As soon as she's out of the car, another zombie lumbers up behind her. Lo and behold, she kills that one too! Wow, Lori really just crushed it. This is the best Lori there has ever been. I finally have stopped hating Lori, thanks to 2 zombie kills in 3 minutes.

The thugs outside Hershel's bar have already seen and killed 2 "roamers," (!!) so their attention is split betwixt finding their friends and dodging a ton of zombies. Unfortunately, Rick starts a dialogue with them. "They drew on us," he explains through the door. That oughta do it, Rick. He sends Glen to the back room, where somebody keeps making strange noises. Good lord, let it just be a zombie. Eventually the mysterious visitor leaves and I guess jiggles the door handle for good measure. We never see who it is. WAS IT A ZOMBIE, MAZZARA?

At Hershel's place, Carol gets sick of all this civilization and goes out to Daryl Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss for some good old fashioned verbal abuse. She tells him to go ahead and get it all out, so he reads her the riot act for not taking good enough care of her daughter. I think that Carol's history of abuse is making her go looking for punishment. Aw, Carol. How is your hair still so short?

When Shane hears about Lori leaving, he too finds a car and drives off towards town. Everyone finds a car and drives to town. Hershel does it, then Rick and Glen, then Lori, now Shane. But you know what? I'm actually relieved that Shane's going. Rene's gang said very plainly that there were a lot of walkers showing up, and I just started to like Lori. Come on Shane, make it start!

Hershel and Rick have joined Glen at the back room exit, and whoever jiggled that handle is now a mystery for the ages. Hershel takes down a thug, whose fresh corpse attracts a ton of zombies. They say that a feeding zombie is a safe zombie, but Hershel's never heard that and now he's scared. He looks like he's about to do something crazy, but it's hard to tell what that might be. In the meantime, Rick sneaks out of the bar with two guns aimed in different directions, covering himself. Good thing, too, because now there's a SNIPER.

A thug drives up in his pickup to warn the sniper about "all the roamers," urging him to just jump from the roof. Obviously the kid lands on a wrought iron fence post through his leg. His friend abandons him, peeling out like a horde is right behind him. Rick's looking at the kid like-- RICK, DON'T YOU DARE.

Oy oy oy, Rick wants to save the sniper because he's only a teenage sniper, after all. Hershel prepares to amputate, drunk as a skunk and attracting thousands of zombies. Rick and Glen do their best to pick off the ones that get too close, but geez louise, there are trillions of them! They run out of time, and it looks like they'll have to leave the kid there to die. So Rick shoves his leg back up off the spike.

Shane finds Lori and lies to her about Rick being back at the farm so she'll go back quietly. Great idea, Shane, I'm serious. Please lie to Lori to get her to do things that are safe. This is why authority figures lie to you. To keep you safe from zombies.

When they get to the farm and Rick's not there, Shane spills Lori's pregnancy secret to whomever doesn't know yet. Which is Carl. Carl freaks out at first, then gets really excited about becoming "Big Brother Carl." Naturally, that comes off pretty lame. But trust me, it's one of the least lame scenes I've seen Carl do. He's growing on me at the snail's pace of one sir [SNL-aged] Kenan Thompson.

Shane and Lori have a very loud heart-to-heart in Hershel's living room, which I guess they must think is sound-proofed because they're delving into the paternity issue really candidly. Shane's trying to get her to admit that they were in love way before the zombiepocalypse, and Lori falters when she tries to deny it. Shane is quickly becoming The Situation of the Walking Dead. My friend Zach said that.

Somewhere in here, Maggie tells a neverending story about a muddy horse and birth control pills, I suppose to remind us that this catatonic girl is important somehow. WHO CARES, MAGGIE. WHO CARES, CATATONIA.

The next morning, Rick pulls up at the farm with Hershel, Glen, and this kid, who's named Randall. What's his last name, Flagg? Haha just a little joke from The Stand but also please dear Lord don't let his last name actually be Flagg, that would be terrifying!!!!!

Hershel amputates the kid's leg off camera in the barn, and when he comes in to tell Rick and everyone how it went, he says Randall should be on his feet in a week with partial nerve damage. A) Randall has only one foot now. B) One week seems like an insanely short recovery period for a WROUGHT IRON IMPALEMENT. C) Hershel is still drunk. D) Hershel is a fucking miracle worker. Why was he wasting his time in Noonan when he clearly should've been one of the doctors at Princeton Teaching Hospital or whatever, maybe Seattle Grace? Hershel, enigmatic.

Glen and Maggie have a relationship talk yet again but it's manageable. He tells her how scared he was at the bar when usually he's pretty brave in the face of danger. It's because he's in love now, and he has to stay alive. But the convo still ends with two unhappy post-adolescents stomping off to separate rooms.

Meanwhile, Rick and Lori have a similar conversation in their tent as they change shirts next to their chest-level tent windows. The way Lori grimaces when she peels off her shirt, it seems like she's going to be sporting a gnarly zombie bite. But instead she's just herself, totally unscathed and totally honest about everything Shane has said to her. And she even says the line which is quickly becoming the town bicycle - "I think Shane killed Otis!" - all in order to slowly shift Rick's attitude on Shane. Lori wants Shane gone, and she's willing to Lady MacBeth out on Rick to get it done. Judging by Rick's ten-hour camera spike at the end, it just might work.

Photos courtesy amctv.com

18 February 2012

Love, Seasidian Style

This week's Jersey Shore recap, a day too late and a dollar too short, is coming to you live from the Bahamas on this fine Saturday afternoon!!!!!!!!!! J/k, it is coming to you from my couch where I was just watching the Whitney Houston funeral. Nothing will make sense from this point on. Just getting you ready.

Roger and Jenni's phone call rages on, but by now, everyone in the house has swung over to Roger's side. Jenni really is being too dramatic about the fact that Roger hates being with her. She's raking him through the coals, and he really doesn't need these games, so he asks her "where they stand" a bunch of times. This is adult guido behavior, and it is meet and right. Also, it is a subconscious widespread ploy to keep The Guidette down, you know that's true.

The Meatballs make a cake, this time to apologize to Boss Danny for all their misbehavior. After an hour or so, they realize they forgot to put it in the oven. Snooki carries the batter-filled cake pan like a toddler wearing high heels. I am shocked that nothing spills.

The next morning, Ronnie notices that someone has taken a corner piece out of the perfect, saran-wrapped cake. Everyone immediately assumes it was Situation, which is extremely likely based on that trick he pulled in Italy with the fake non-phone call. And when everyone gets mad at him, yet again, he's like "I told you!!" I believe he wishes he had taken a bite out of his own apology cake. Too bad that'll never get baked.


Danny shares the cake with the gang at the Shore Store and shoves cake right into Deena's face. This is why Jersey Shore is different from the various Kardashian shows -- the former comes up laughing with crap all over her face, whereas the latter cries and freaks out at you for doing that. It's not controlledly beautiful, but it's much less ugly.


Sitch "runs the girls over with the bus" when they show up late to their shift. It turns out Jwoww had to drive Snooki to her UTI appointment, and no one could tell Danny as it was none of his business. When they finally get to work, Mike tries to get them in trouble. They counter by accusing him of eating the cake. "I'm sorry, I'm on a diet, so it could not have be me [sic]," he retorts. A classic brain damaged answer.

It turns out Pauly D did it hahaha! Mike sticks with the diet routine, clinging to it like a sailor to his pipe, making it more and more impossible for anyone to ever bake him that apology cake. And he actually deserves one now, sort of.


Snooki's on antibiotics, so she's trying to drink just one drink at Karma. Cut to one millisecond later when she's on her 3rd shot.  Mike runs into Paula, who just may be the love of his life. Obviously that's what all of season 5's Paulas have been hinting at!

Vinny takes Pauly D out on a date. "Yep, Vinny's my dude. We're like the Meatballs, except we're not meatballs." I guess taking a corner bite out of a pristine cake is a rather meatball move. Ronnie, Sammi, and Deena go out too, leaving Sitch and Snooki alone together on the Mattress Flinging balcony. He propositions her by suggesting they each wear a whipped cream bikini. Brain damage with alcohol is one thing, but brain damage with drugs and alcohol is quite another. It looks exactly like this.

Pauly dirty-dishes Deena's bed because he knows she's bringing someone home from the club. She handles it well despite his Who, Meeeeeeee? bit. Isn't Pauly D like 32 years old at this point? Does this age well? Jwoww and Snooki give Deena's new boyfriend a hard time out in the living room. They hand him a condom. I wish this wasn't happening.

There's an insert scene of Sammi throwing a water balloon onto everyone eating dinner on the patio. It's funny, but no one laughs. Huh?

The next night at the club, things get weird. Security's taking people out left and right, and Jwoww's dressed like a Barbie hooker. Some dude pulls on her dress, which enrages Roger. We won't see the thrilling conclusion, which will most likely be a three-second fight, until next week. I guess Roger's a hero now. Even the editing is working overtime to KEEP THE GUIDETTE DOWN.

photos courtesy mtv.com

15 February 2012

Usage WEDNESDAYS?!?!: "Alot"

For the next few weeks, Mondays shall henceforth be devoted to zombies due to the airing of new Walking Deads on Sunday nights at 9pm Eastern on AMC. Until I come up with a zombie-related common usage error, we're moving usage day to Wednesday! Uhh????? That's right. Wednesdays. It's the perfect solution.

Which brings me to something I like "a lot": when people spell it as two words.

"A  LOT" > "alot"

While looking up fancy usage dictionary entries for "alot," I found that everybody's got a rule for it but nobody's got a reason for it. According to The Columbia Guide to Standard American English, it's considered "substandard," and according to various other usage dictionaries, examples of "alot" have only really been culled from emails and tv transcripts. Some modern grammarians (you know, the cool ones) have decided that "alot" could be fine for shorthand, but it's still not standard. So don't put it in your papers.

Those are the rules. The only good reason I can come up with is that "a lot" must refer to a large (metaphorical) space capable of containing very much. Like a parking lot. If you filled up a parking lot with your shit, you'd have a lot of shit. In this way, my reason would be that English as an evolving language simply hasn't yet decided to include "alot" in its variant-spellings pool. It probably will in a few hundred years.

In the end, who cares? We all know what you're talking about. In the grand scheme of grammar, this rates pretty low.


13 February 2012

Nebraska? I Just Met Her!

The Walking Dead is back (again!) with the midseason premiere, "Nebraska." It was to be WD's first Darabontless episode, although by this point, Darabont's been gone for a long time. As slow-moving as ever, the episode eventually pitches the wackiest curveball I've seen in a long time. Great ending, Glen Mazzara. Yowza!

As I mentioned, most of the episode plods along at a snail's pace. First, we remeet everyone as they cry over the dead barn zombies. One of Hershel's daughters tries to hug her mother's corpse, but because it's still undead, it attacks her. What is this, a joke? We just got done waiting for months for the gang to deal with these barn zombies, and now one of them still poses a threat? CAP HER, DUMMIES. I have been waiting for so long, and this is not a rewarding zombie kill. Not to mention the hook Andrea eventually uses is so crazy-sharp, it looks like a blown-up fish hook. What sort of gardening tool is that?

And what do you know, Shane's pissed at Hershel for wasting so much of their time. Well guess what, Shane. I'm pissed at you. You just injected the cold open with so much bitchiness, everyone assumed it was an appropriate time to break the scene. Congrats on achieving PMS for 100% of your life, Shane. This is not good drama -- we already bore the brunt of Shane's angriest moment back before he opened the barn. Now he's like 60% as mad as possible, so I guess...ACT BREAK!

Daryl goes into the trailer where Carol's sitting, and I'm like "No no no please don't have sex please no no no don't don't NOOOOOO." Thankfully, they do not. But they do have a brief conversation that inspires Carol to go out into the wilderness and tear up a rose bush later on. Oh boy.

It's right around here in my notes that I start to question my immediate annoyance with the episode. In this passionate community of fed up fanboys and die-hard comic book readers, my place has solidly been in the "I didn't love that last thing, but let's keep watching because I bet it'll get really good!" camp. I was thrilled for the midseason premiere, although I am well aware of the pacing problems of the show. But I'm also aware that Mazzara could be repacing the entire series right now, as we speak!! And so my simmering anger must be due to not being rewarded for my loyalty soon enough.

But the episode is far from over, and besides, zombies are cool even if they're surrounded by a boring plot.

Cut to Glen and Maggie talking about the future of their relationship in terse half-sentences and reproachful assumptions. AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH. At least let them get busy in the woods and then get attacked by a zombie!!!

Carl and Lori have a heart-to-heart about how he wanted to save Sofia. Although their convo isn't terribly exciting and it doesn't tell us anything about Carl we didn't already know, it's a touching reverie. He wants to have some semblance of power in this terrible, helpless situation, but that's impossible from the start. Not even the adults are in control. Take out the part about the Zombiepocalypse and it's still true.

Lori doles out zombie-disposal responsibilities as Andrea lays down the law: "We bury the ones we love. And we burn the rest."

I'm not sure what to make of this (and frankly, with the way these shows work, it might be a mistake to try to make ANYTHING of anything), but I think it's telling. If all of these corpses were defiled a long time ago, keeping a body burnt or unburnt for the sake of ritual would be immaterial. Maybe burning the corpses is a safety measure, but that means that the survivors are intentionally risking the danger of putting a few corpses in the ground. It would be nice to have a resting place for the loved ones, but everyone's probably going to have to pick up and move on soon anyway. I guess the distinction is just to say, "These zombie corpses were special. Those zombie corpses were disgusting." Which is distinctly different from Rick Grimes's habit of reading every single zombie's old drivers license. What makes Rick hold onto the past humanity of ALL the zombies if Andrea only holds onto some? She must be more pragmatic.

After all of this, Dale gives Shane some hilariously intense side-eye in Hershel's driveway. I guess he put together all this Missing-Otis stuff somehow. What keeps Shane from hauling off and killing Dale every second? It's not like I think it should happen. I'm just surprised it hasn't. Instead, Shane helps Carol clean off her thistle-wounds when she gets back from destroying a single rose bush. It provides a most welcome new dimension to Shane's character. 

Rick takes Glen into town to find the now-missing Hershel. I guess they know to go to the bar because Hershel purposefully leaves his antique flask out on his dresser. Which must mean he wants them to follow him to the bar, which must be quite an interesting place if he's leading them away from the farm to go there. Does this mean Hershel knows what's going to happen there?

Lori gets sick of waiting for Rick to get back from the bar, so she hijacks someone's sedan and immediately flips it into a ditch after running over a zombie. Great one, Lori, thank you for that. Hopefully next week she will wake up hanging upside down in the cab (since she had her seat belt on), barely dodging that same zombie's pawing hands. Hopefully he will bite her anyway.

At the bar, everyone's pretty bored and wondering what's going on at home. Hershel's like, "I was wrong. All hope is most definitely dead," so Rick has to gear up for one of his big human-life homilies -- when suddenly Rene from True Blood shows up!! 

Rene (here, "Dave") and his massive sidekick stomp their way into the bar, just as fake-friendly as they can be. Michael Raymond-James (Rene) is terrifying, both because of his triple first name and because of his just-below-the-surface villainy. This guy is up to no good, plus, he's got guns. On the other hand, he calls walkers "lamebrains," which is awesome. Rene questions Rick about their camp while Chubbs takes a pee on the phone booth (possibly jukebox). Stupid Hershel accidentally answers too many of Rene's questions. Eventually Rick gets tired of repeating himself ("No more room" and "Sorry, keep on lookin'" only go so far), so he SHOOTS THE GUYS DEAD.

This is Rick's first human murder, as far as we know, and he seems to have zero qualms about it. These two men would no doubt have terrorized their entire camp, inevitably killing survivors in the process. They definitely had to go, and they definitely wouldn't have left of their own free will. With two definites like that, your options become very limited. And Rick chooses the best option for my viewing pleasure!

Back at camp, you know everyone's going to be like "Holy shit. Rick is serious. I better not step out of line because holy shit!!!!"

And that's why, after an entire episode of inconsequential scenes that I didn't care about, I care now. 

photos courtesy amctv.com

10 February 2012

And It Goes Round & Round & Round In "The Follow Game"

Wikipedia describes last night's episode of Jersey Shore as such:
"The Situation secretly gathers information to bring down one of his roommates -- and for once it isn't Snooki. JWOWW freaks out when Roger disappears and doesn't return her calls."
As we all know, the Jwoww piece is unfortunately accurate. But the part about Situation gathering secret info on a roommate? What kind of information could this brain-damaged meathead possibly be gathering? How to discern what a wall is made of before crashing one's head into it? Upon further reflection, I realize that Wikipedia is talking about the blossoming relationship between Deena's sister and Mike's brother. That's right, folks, they're going to be in-laws. Wacky, brain damaged, guido in-laws. When you're here, you're family!

We first see Jenni moping on the little balcony where Ronnie and Sammi used to have their famous mattress-throwing fights. They weren't in last night's episode, so I'm assuming they've taken a long weekend at Foxwood's. Jwoww is moping because she hasn't seen her boyfriend, Roger, in a while. You know what that means: it's time to dump him and start dating Pauly D!!!!!!! Right?!!!!

I have been waiting years for Jenni and Pauly D to finish the night of passion they started way back in season 1. They were clearly attracted to each other, and the more I've seen of them, the more I see what a great couple they'd make. She's responsible, he's fun. She's capable of having a crazy night, he's capable of turning his zaniness down to whatever the appropriate level is. She's a guidette, he's a guido. How much math do we have to sit around and do here?

That night, Vinny meets two girls and has Deena keep one warm for him while he walks the other one (a lesbian) home. It's a fine and good thing for Deena to be "definitely the best wing woman ever," but it's another thing entirely to watch Vinny's dark side bleeding its way onto Deena's soul. Don't turn her into a sleaze, Vin. Just 'cause you couldn't save yourself, don't drag her down with you.

Back at home, Vinny and Pauly D have sex with girls in the same room. You'd think they might put music on or something, but they don't. It's just breathy sighs and crumpling blankets, all night, disgustingly close to each other. I am nearing complete disenchantment with Vinny.

Jenni gets a call from Roger, and he immediately accuses her of playing games. He'd taken the day off and didn't tell her, and right about now he doesn't much care for her hesitance to respond. This is game-playing, and it is worse than anything he's ever done. SO KEEP YOURSELF IN LINE, JWOWW. She goes off and cries somewhere.

Snooki half-heartedly goes looking for "a therapist and an AA meeting," but she stops when she finds a hammock on the roof, instead. She then does her patented hammock routine, in which she falls right out and remains sprawled on the ground until someone finds her. This time there's even a little sun-shaming: "It's so bright out. I hate you, sun."

Roger calls the house again to tell Jwoww he's going to be late for their date. He asks if she wants to "reschedule." It's perfectly clear to me that if he's using language like this, he isn't interested in dating anymore. And yet this will drag on, causing our beloved Jenni more grief and grabbing up more screen time for a bloated, sunburnt hedgehog.

Pauly and the Meatballs go to work, but because the air conditioner is out, the girls quickly skip out on their shift. Snooki starts "the Follow Game," which is where one short girl follows another short girl on a winding path through the store until they both end up at a bar with their panties on just one leg each. Eventually their boss finds them underneath a ping pong table in the bar. They evade him again by jumping into a stranger's bachelorette party.


At this point in the episode, I realize that I've spent the last five minutes fantasizing about winning the lottery. Power Ball is over $300 million, and that's all the convincing I need. I can't wait to win the lottery!!!!!!!!!! I'M GONNA HAVE SO MUCH $$$$$!!!!

Mike says something about being "nothing but nice," and I'm confused because I thought that was the name of last week's episode. Also, it's totally untrue -- Mike has never been anything but brain-damaged. I know, I know, the brain damage had a definite start point from that fight in Italy, but come on. It's the perfect explanation for all of his issues. His brain is, quite simply, damaged. At any rate, Snooki and Deena want to hang out with him. They go to a club with him and come home early zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

While Pauly and Vinny do a pool hall double-date, a mysterious girl in yellow stands off to the side, watching them. Vinny singles her out as Pauly's new stalker, although technically, everyone in Seaside Heights is currently stalking the cast. Vinny calls her over and then abandons Pauly with her, laughing all the way to the bar to get another Roy Rogers. Pauly makes weak conversation for a minute before leaving as well. Guys, just because her eyes are sunken and her nose is upturned doesn't mean she's a threat to your personal safety. This is more behavior that explains what I don't like about Pauly and Vinny.

The next morning, Deena calls Bossman Danny to apologize. Does she honestly think she could lose her job at the Shore Store? Their stock value has triple-thousanded since Jersey Shore started. It's cute, though. Meanwhile, Deena's counterpart gets stuck in a box on the roof.

There's way more talk of Deena's sister and Sitch's brother. I guess it's supposed to be interesting, but guys, I DON'T CARE. I don't care about two people I haven't even seen yet. I would only BARELY care if Sitch's SISTER was the one hooking up with Deena's sister, and that's only because I've SEEN her once or twice.

Unfortunately Deena's sister doesn't know any of this, so she calls the house. Blah blah blah, she talks to Situation for a while. He tells her he's not "the devil." What a brain-damaged reference to make.

After all this boring stuff, Pauly and Vinny run into Roger at their gym. He tells them he's not going to "kiss anyone's ass" because he's "not a little kid." The guys agree with Roger's assertions and go home to tell Jenni what they think. It ends with her calling Roger to apologize.

I'd be upset about this chain of events if I weren't pretty sure that what happens next will help Jenni get started on her journey to Pauly D's heart. Roger reams her out for acting like he doesn't "treat her like gold." As everyone knows, a guido earns a certain permanent quality of "goodness" when he does something good once. It is unacceptable to point out something "bad" that they did, when they are clearly so "good." There is no room for complexity in this situation. No sir, no room at the inn.

Next week: Roger gets back into Jenni's good graces by punching out some dude. We'll see, Rog. Until then, you're still a helium-filled Sonic the Hedgehog balloon to me.

all photos courtesy mtv.com

06 February 2012

Usage Mondays: "Expresso"

Boy, would I love some coffee right now. I just had a few cavities filled this morning, and I haven't been able to drink any because I'll just drool it all over my shirt. So instead of drinking it, I've decided to talk about it. Oh coffee, what a treat you are. I like you just like I like my men - full of milk.

The common usage error I'm looking at today is "expresso." This fancy Italian coffee, which serves as the foundation of Starbucks itself, is actually named "espresso," with an s. "Espresso" comes from the Italian "esprimere," which means "to press out." This is a reference to the pressing of finely ground espresso coffee during the brewing process.

I would guess that the x comes in when people think of how quickly they'll be moving once they drink their espresso. They'll be "running express," as they say. But they shouldn't say "expresso" because it isn't a word.

Verdict: ESPRESSO > expresso

But now that that's done with, it might be fun to look at what makes espresso different from regular drip coffee. Fun for me, that is. After my 3 months of summer work at the Barnes & Noble Cafe featuring Starbucks Coffee in 2005, I think I know a little something about this teensy brown bean we call Joe.

Espresso is coffee that has been so finely ground, it resembles powdered sugar. You pack it really tightly so that when the boiling water passes through it, it takes about 30 seconds to brew. Espresso comes out a little thick, and it's served in a tiny mug called a demitasse.

Drip coffee is roughly ground coffee that's brewed by dripping boiling water through the grounds, so it takes longer to brew than espresso. Because the water spends more time in contact with the coffee, it comes out with more caffeine than espresso, to my surprise. It's also totally fine to dress drip coffee with milk and sugar, whereas I feel like it might be a little gauche to do that with espresso. But that's just coffee feelings, not coffee fact.

Lattes are a small amount of espresso mixed with a large amount of steamed milk. That's what most of the drinks at Starbucks are. The only non-espresso coffee drink there (besides a drip coffee) is a Cafe au Lait, which is when you fill half the cup with coffee and half with steamed milk. There's also a Red Eye, which is when you put a shot of espresso into a cup of drip coffee. But everything else, that's espresso.

Hopefully this exploration of coffee was eye-opening, ha-ha, like the way coffee is. And hopefully you stopped reading a long time ago. I still need that coffee, by the way. Could you tell?