30 March 2012

NY Times's "Cool Dude" Genzlinger At It Again

Neil Genzlinger, you da man. You are easily the most hep television-box journalist this turn of the century. Remember when you hated all new tv because "we've reached the End of Comedy?" That was the cat's meow of sitcom critiques!!!

It's so cool that you wrote "what “Game of Thrones” needs if it is to expand its fan base beyond Dungeons & Dragons types is what most of the United States didn’t get this year: a hard winter." I forgot that Dungeons & Dragons still existed past every 1970s nerd stereotype. Where have I been living, under a television set? How silly of me to forget that whenever I watch Game of Thrones, I am actually rolling the 20-sided die onto my purple velvety cone hat, spread out on the floor and adorned with silver moons and stars. And how silly of all of us Americans to endure such a non winter. So undignified!

It's such a smart idea to suggest that the show's second season should have a hard winter. It's like, if you're talking about winter coming all through season one, you should definitely have a hard winter in season two!!!!!! But there should be more orcs and trolls too. You don't want to upset the main fans.

I'm just saying, we're right there with you, Neil. Please lead us to your higher vision of what television should be and what its viewers should be like. And please keep using moldy terminology as liberally as possible. So groovy.

Usage Fridays: "He and I" vs. "Him and me"

Suburban Atlanta's Star 94 radio station used to have a show called "Steve & Vikki." The afternoon djs hung out with a monkey named Doctor something and played "Can't Get Enough of You Baby" by Smash Mouth all day. But guess what! One day Vikki's radio banter set me straight on one particularly tricky grammatical issue: the old "I/me" debate.

Steve had said something along the lines of "Tom went to the game with my wife and I," and Vikki corrected him. "Did you know that should be 'my wife and me'?" she asked, and Steve did not know. Vikki went on to explain that when you're dealing with "I/me," you should take out any extra pieces to help yourself figure out what's right. So if you took out Steve's wife (God knows Steve never does), what he said would be "Tom went to the game with I," which is obviously wrong. Because you would say "Tom went to the game with me," you should say "Tom went to the game with my wife and me."

This whole "I/me" issue stems from two largely unacknowledged pronoun cases in the English language. "I" is nominative ("I went to the game" or "It is I!") and "me" is objective ("Don't thank me" or "Your clothes -- give them to me."), but your average, everyday American radio host isn't going to think about pronoun cases. They don't care if the first person did the action or had action done upon it. They just want $$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

So if you're in a jam and you don't feel like delving into pronoun theory, just do what Vikki does and take out whatever extra words might be muddling the issue. Cases don't change just because you have a friend with you:
"Harry and me went to jail" --> "Me went to jail" --> definitely not; so it must be "Harry and I went to jail"
"Get Felix and I a hot dog" --> "Get I a hot dog" --> no way dummy; so it must be "Get Felix and me a hot dog"
"Jane's mad because of Barack and me" --> "Jane's mad because of me" --> that actually is right, but nobody's mad because of Barack on this blog, so deal with it; there is no right answer.

and so
"With him and me" > "with him and I"

And as a rule of thumb, "I/me" errors only make you sound like an an arrogant toolbag if you're already an arrogant toolbag. Otherwise you're just trying to live, man. Pronouns is whack.

I notice that all my usage posts now end with my precise opinion of how un/forgivable each error is and how much of a jerk you are if you accidentally phrase something the wrong way. Please allow a a humble addition: if you keep a blog that posts regularly about usage errors, you are clearly writing all of this from the toilet and living a stinky, fart-filled life. That's I!

28 March 2012

Celebrity Couples I'd Like To See

According to US Magazine, Jason Segel and Michelle Williams might be dating. This is a wonderful pairing, and it has sent me on a spectacular fantasy-journey of other celebrity couples I'd like to see:

Celebrity Couples I'd Like To See

James Franco and Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is hilarious. And although she'd only admit it jokingly, I bet she has a mad crush on James Franco. If I were a betting man, I'd say Franco is about to have a crush on her too, as soon as he reads this blog post. James, she's great, read her book, trust me. The boy loves books and learning.

Chris O'Dowd and Kristen Wiig
I just read that Bridesmaids star Chris O'Dowd is currently engaged. Congratulations in this reality, dude, but also congratulations in THIS reality, where you just married your co-star, Kristen Wiig! You two are truly a match made in my fantasy world!

Mila Kunis and Seth Rogen
Mila just ended a very long relationship with Macaulay Culkin, and it seems like she could use some cheering up. Seeing as her Forgetting Sarah Marshall costar Jason Segel is ostensibly taken, it may as well fall to Seth. I assume Mila Kunis harbors some sort of teddy bear romantic fetish, and Seth's beard looks very warm.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
Just get it over with, already. It should have happened by now. I need to see just how opulent and luxurious this wedding can get. Just get it over with!!! JUST DO IT!!!!!!!!!

Jake Gyllenhaal and Zooey Deschanel
Apparently these two have already been in a movie together (Jennifer Aniston classic, The Good Girl). Ah yes, I recall watching ten minutes of it on Oxygen one fine Saturday morning. Doesn't it seem like these two would make one of those pairs that are like, "Ohhh, duhhhh!" Obviously. Jake + Zooey = ohhhh, duhhhhh! 

 Scarlett Johansson and Lindsay Lohan
Ladies, stop pretending. Just go for it.

To all the potential celebrity couples out there, it's time to do this. Organize a mixer, start an email chain, whatever it takes. And when you're ready, I will happily officiate your sextuple wedding!

Images linked to sources.

26 March 2012

Unraveling All That Happened On Mad Men Last Night

"A Little Kiss" was a long episode, and I don't want to start doing Mad Men recaps, but I do want to talk about last night's season 5 premiere. I'm still upset with Mad Men for making me wait so long, and even though everyone else in the world seems healthy enough to say "I forgive you; you're back now!," I can't leave it at that. "You're back," I acknowledge. "Why did you make me suffer for this long? Do you have plans to be outrageously good tonight? Why come back at all? You must hate me, so I hate you." At least I'm already seeing someone about this. I can't even remember anything that happened last night from the 60s.

It's Memorial Day, 1966, and Don Draper's turning 40:
  • He married Megan just like he promised last season (all those years ago), and somehow their marriage isn't total garbage yet...ON THE OUTSIDE.
  • Sally only shows up in the first few minutes of the 2-hour episode, so NOT ENOUGH SALLY.
  • Joan seems more flappable than usual with this baby on board, except when Roger's around. Kevin, you old Sterling, you.
  • Pete Campbell, Who Cares?
  • No Betty At All, Well Done!
  • Peggy's mostly the same as she was, but right now nobody likes her stupid bean ballet idea. That's an early 90s commercial if I ever saw one. I bet Peggy ends up inventing the California Raisins. 
  • For some reason, AMC hasn't put up a still of the "Zoobee Zoo" performance by Megan.
  • It was tremendous.
  • Is that all that happened? Oh no, gross, there was all that weird stuff from the second hour, like Harry Crane saying raunchy stuff about Megan as Megan comes up behind him, and also like when Megan cleans the apartment in her underwear and taunts Don about how he can't touch her until she makes him pull her hair. YOU ARE ALL WEIRDOS.
  • Also, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce thinks it's making a huge burn on the Y&R guys by putting out an ad that says they DO like black people. But then a bunch of black people show up in the lobby and are like "We're glad you like us. Hire one of us." Yooopsies, SCDP!
  • And as a fun British adventure, Lane finds and returns a wallet.
That was what we waited for for almost 2 full years. Was it worth it? Yeah, about as much as Mad Men has ever been worth it. It's a full-color love letter to the 60s and to humanity never changing, ever. I don't think anyone could pass that up.

photos from amctv.com

21 March 2012

Usage Wednesday: Mano E Mano

Sometimes it's only right to fight. Sometimes, you gotta throw down those nerd books you're holding, put up your dukes, and start punching wildly. A little "mano e mano," if you will.

"Mano e mano," which refers to a one-on-one fighting style, is often translated as "man to man." Oh boy is that wrong. First, there's the plain fact that "mano" means "hand" and not "man" in Spanish. "Man" is not "mano" just like "hand" is not "hando." It's unfortunate but it's so, so true.

Another issue is that the letter "e" is more of an Italian word for "and" than a Spanish one. "Mano" still means "hand" in Italian, so "mano e mano" would technically be Italian for "hand and hand." But I think what we're shooting for is "hand to hand [as in combat]," and so that would be "mano a mano" (interestingly, correct in Spanish and Italian).

Mano a mano (as in "hand to hand") > mano e mano (as in "man to man")

& I am prepared to fight you on this.

19 March 2012

Burning Down The Barn

Ladies and gentleladies, we have come to the end of Walking Dead's second season. The finale, "Beside the Dying Fire," made me so consistently terrified, I can honestly say that over 30% of my notes are "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and "oh god!!!! where they gonna go now?!!?!!!!!!!!!!" Please, take a walk back through the episode with me. Today is the day we leave Hershel's farm.

The episode begins in Atlanta, where an ominous helicopter speeds over the skyline. Zombies from all over the city follow in its wake as though the chopper trails a huge, invisible net. Days pass, weeks even, yet the zombies march tirelessly on through woods and farmland. Eventually, they hear grown men bitching at each other plus a gunshot. A huge batch of walkers has finally intersected with Rick's gang. And they're only 20 feet away!

I love it when the Walking Dead credits come on in the midst of everything going wrong. It's a beautiful (if sickly) pause from an ill-fitting world. Like staying home sick from work. Small things.

While Rick and Carl saunter back up to the farm (trailing thousands of zombies), the rest of the group convenes in Hershel's dining room to discuss Zombie Randall's biteless body. Soon, though, they see the tremendous horde of walkers trudging toward the farmhouse. Cue Lori freaking out about some missing family member! Cue me wishing I felt more compassion for 2/3 of this family! Cue Carol saying something useless about how they'll find him together. Cue me shooting an arrow into her eyeball, as I am now Mockingjay.

Rick and Carl run to the closest structure, which in this case is that infernal barn. Obviously the wooden slats are no match for fifteen thousand hungry zombies, so Rick douses the place in gasoline, invites the walkers in, and instructs Carl to light the place up as soon as he's on the ladder. Where does the gasoline come from? How do they avoid blowing the entire place up? It doesn't matter! It's working!

Outside, the gang has assembled the caravan. Daryl shoots zombies from his neo-nazi motorcycle, and two-person teams of everyone else drive around shooting whatever they can. It might be trick perspective, but it really looks like those cars are flying around on the uneven farmland. If they go too slow, they'll get trapped in the zombies' sticky web.

Daryl, The Smartest Survivalist In The World, notices that if the barn is on fire, someone alive must have set it. He instructs the Greene teen driving the RV to pick up whoever started the fire. The RV pulls right up underneath the catwalk where Rick and Carl have escaped the barn, but for no reason at all, the kid just stops driving. He looks at the door and sees that zombies are coming in. His neck spurts bright ribbons of blood as he gets eaten to death. WAY TO GO STOPPING DRIVING THERE, GUY. Surrounded by hungry walkers, Dale's RV finally meets its match.

Hershel stands in front of his house, picking off zombies one by one as a horde lurches toward him. Lori and the rest of the Farmhouse Women try to convince Hershel to get going, but everyone has a different idea of what's best. The blonde, catatonic Greene teen wants to stand still and freak out. Lori wants to slap Carol's face. Hershel wants to take care of this whole biz himself. Everyone has chosen wrong.

Andrea leaps to Carol's rescue just when she's surrounded by walkers. T-Dog waits for them as long as he can before he has to drive out of the zombie-smotherers, which he eventually does because he thinks Andrea's dead. Pinned to the ground by zombies can tend to look that way. Basically everyone else that's in a car is like "We need to get the heck off this farm right now, you ignorant slut!" to the various drivers. Rick and Carl team up with Hershel and take up the rear of all the escaping cars. Against all odds, Andrea frees herself just in time to see Hershel's red truck speed off. She picks up the nearby gun bag and takes off running.

Daryl hears Carol screaming and running from a few rogue zombies, so he Sister Christians her onto the back of his motorcycle. I'm so glad they didn't end up showing us what must have gone down between them soon afterward. I'm so glad I can pretend it hasn't happened and might never happen. Basking in the golden flame of Hershel's barn on fire, I have another thought: I hope everybody has enough gas.

Here we come upon the first true drama of the season: after such a chaotic attack, the survivors are now hopelessly split up. They very well may be experiencing the first morning of a new, lonely chapter of life together. I feel their loss and fear. I feel their vulnerability and despair. This stuff isn't even in the comic. For the first time in a long time, I feel genuine empathy for these apocalypse survivors. Change is hard.

Rick, Carl, and Hershel pull up to the interstate where they'd left supplies and a note for Sophia. Hershel cracks a joke about when Jesus talked about "resurrection of the dead." Elsewhere, Lori tries to jump out of T-Dog's moving car in order to, I don't know, cause even more trouble for everyone else. I don't know much about the physics of jumping out of moving cars, but I know that a top-heavy pickup truck might not respond well to that kind of change in weight. Lori's existence runs counter to letting cars run the way they should. And that is but one reason her character causes so much trouble in this universe.

Soon the whole gang reunites at the sacred spot on the highway. Daryl teases Glenn for being an asian driver, Lori wants to know if Shane is safe -- normality is temporarily restored. Even though T-Dog recounts seeing Andrea on the ground covered in zombies, the gang realizes she might not be dead. Yet again, Daryl's ready to find a missing blonde girl.

Andrea has been running through the woods all night. She stops to reload her gun in a reasonably safe area, but the walkers nearby are quickly drawn to her. This kid can't catch a break, and that's not such a bad thing. Sometimes certain characters need to survive a crucible or two. I think we'll all come out liking her more for this.

The survivors' caravan slows to a stop when Rick realizes he may indeed be running out of gas. The gang is tired, grumpy, and skittish. When they look to Rick for their next move, he decides now is the time to spill the beans: back at the CDC, Jenner's secret to Rick was that everyone is infected. No matter how you die, you will reanimate as a zombie. Rick uses this as a reason to start building a life somewhere together. I would think this is a great reason to go ahead and die. There will be no conquering this dilemma. It will only get worse. It's time to die.

I suppose dramatic television requires that as soon as someone shares information, multiple other people must get upset that the info wasn't shared sooner. The gang is mad at Rick for keeping this ultimate bummer a secret for so long. Obviously it would help people to know that if they're near a dead person, any dead person, they should be prepared to kill its zombified corpse within a few minutes. But come on, dudes. It's not like he's hiding the location of Curly's gold. It was only a CDC secret, and the CDC doesn't even exist anymore.

Lori is wearing an Old Navy Tech Vest as she questions Rick about Shane's death. She is terribly upset, but I seem to recall her Lady MacBeth speech from a few weeks ago planting the very seed in his brain. Things can get so messy in the Zombiepocalypse.

It is now dusk in Andrea's woods, and she's been running for about 20 hours. Out of energy and ammo, Andrea readies her teensy just-in-case knife as she stumbles through the dark. A zombie jumps on her, one that she'd kill easily if she weren't so fatigued, and it looks like the end of our spunky blonde human rights attorney. UNTIL A CLOAKED STRANGER TRAVELING WITH TWO ARMLESS ZOMBIES SLICES OFF THE WALKER'S HEAD WITH A SAMURAI SWORD. GUYS, WE ARE BACK ON THE RIGHT TRACK.

The final scene of the night takes place around the gang's temporary campfire. Carol and Maggie continue to grumble about Rick lying to them "for so long," and someone hears a noise off in the distance. Feeling his authority ebb away, Rick puts everyone in line. He killed Shane, he admits, but he killed his best friend in order to keep the group safe. He dares them all to leave, which actually makes Carol poop in her pants. "Let's get one thing straight," Rick declares. "If you're staying, this isn't a democracy anymore."

A few hundred yards away from the poopy-pantsed group, we see a large facility in the background. It's surrounded by barbed wire, and there are guard towers stationed at the main entrance. As scary as it looks, the right track is just up the way.

photos courtesy AMCtv.com

18 March 2012

The Last Time We Saw The Shore

This is it, my friends. This may very well be the end of Jersey Shore.  The Season 5 finale, "We Are Family," aired on Thursday, March 15th, 2012 -- a mere 2 years and change since it began in late 2009. Could the peak of reality television possibly last longer than that? The very thought is crazy:

As Pauly and Vinny await their roommates in the living room hot tub, Pauly quotes Home Alone: "This is it -- don't get scared now." Their guido siblings pour onto the astroturf and gawk at their furnitureless rooms. Eventually the girls find their beds and clothing rearranged on the roof, meticulously reinstalled. Almost everyone is amused. The Situation is very upset.

A thunderstorm threatens to soak their mattresses and shoes, so everyone but Mike brings their stuff inside. Mike sits around downstairs waiting for Pauly to unprank him, but obviously, that never happens. The roommates react to Mike's behavior in various ways. Pauly admits in a confessional that he thinks it's sad. Sammi tries to lighten the mood with jokes, but she doesn't get why he reacted differently from everyone else. Snooki calls him "Bitchuation."

Snooki and Bitchuation go to brunch together for some reason, and Mike tells her a rumor he heard about Deena's sister Joanie. A sexual rumor. One more opportunity to make Deena uncomfortable. Back at home, Deena blissfully irons her blonde extensions before fitting them to her head. She tells us her boobs are called "Devil" and "Angel."

The gang goes to Jenkinson's and Vinny immediately meets a lesbian couple who are more than dtf. I believe that disqualifies them from being technical lesbians, but I also know it's not my job to assign sexualities to people. Unless of course I'm writing about the extras on an mtv reality show. The title card reads "Holy Grail." Yes, because a true lesbian-lesbian-male threeway would be exceedingly rare.

You know what? That's probably wrong. At any rate, one of the lesbians looks like Matthew McConaughey. They do the deed, and one of Vinny's life goals is fulfilled. Right outside their door, Deena confronts Mike about the secret he told Snooki. Mike comes back at her with the least coherent response ever in the entire history of the world:
"I don't know, I mean, you know what I'm saying? She may have, she may have not." [Deena: "What did you say, though?"] "What did I said? Uh, who did I speak to? Who did I speak to? Uhhh I was actually, somebody might've overheard me on the phone, ok? And Unit told me they were like, 'yo, um, this is what happened,' they told me. So Snook mighta heard me on the phone..." [Deena: "So like, what was said?"] "Do you really wanna know? I'm not, I don't wanna say it because I don't wanna disrespect your sister. Unfortunately, unfortunately, they yeah, but to be honest with you, it's not a bad thing. Between me and you, guys are like, like when a guy hears that about a girl -- and it's not a bad thing -- they're like 'Holy shit! It's kinda cool!' It's cool as hell."
The fear in Mike's eyes is enough to signal his intense mental panic, not to mention the jumping and nervous energy and breathy terror. Mike, this may be my last chance to implore you to PLEASE GO TO THE BRAIN DOCTOR AND HAVE IT LOOKED AT. YOU TOOK QUITE A SPILL IN ITALY. YOU MAY HAVE BRAIN DAMAGE. PLEASE, GO TO THE DOCTOR. 

Around then, a tornado rolls into the far side of Seaside. Deena flips out, trying to get into the car and drive away so she's not a "stuck duck," and their lack of access to the weather channel only makes things worse. Snooki starts screaming. The power goes out. A few minutes later, everything's back to normal and the gang's going to Karma!!

Deena's older sister and Mike's older brother show up together. They seem to really like each other. I guess Jersey Shore has accomplished one good thing then, right? At least there's that.

Sammi buys a water balloon slingshot and stows it away for later that night. Jwoww and Ronnie cook dinner, burning their arms every few minutes and setting off the smoke detectors multiple times. Pauly throws one of the smoke detectors into the kiddie pool full of now electrified water.

At dinner, everyone applauds Sammi and Ronnie for being so cool these past few seasons. I can't believe they've pulled that off. I honestly can't believe that they observed their behavior on television, had a series of long talks, and finally figured out how to keep their passionate rancor under control.

Possibly the last awkward insert ever shows the Meatballs wearing fat suits. Tell me this will not be a miserably accurate vision of the future. Tell me they'll do a reunion season in a few years. Two years, tops.

After dinner, the girls unfurl their water balloon plan. It is immediately foiled by the boys and their attention to detail. They lock the girls out on the mattress patio and find much worse ways to pour water onto a person. Deena tries to escape by scaling the roof in flip flops. Ronnie throws a trashcanful of water. Deena gets pushed into the hot tub head over heels and accidentally shuts herself in with the lid. Deena, my old friend. Just got to keep livin'. L-I-V-I-N.

The next morning is the final morning of this grand fifth beachside adventure. Pauly wakes everyone up by screaming "Aw yeah, wake up yeah!" in their ears. Jwoww admits that she's going to miss that. Whatever happened to Jwoww and Pauly? The series never went full circle the way I wanted it to. Their relationship would have been the ultimate reversal of guido culture -- a screwball marriage of a goofy man and a powerful woman -- and it would have been the perfect ending to such an exaggerated lifestyle story. But it didn't happen. Sometimes even Jersey Shore doesn't hit a home run. So it goes.

The roommates' loved ones come to pick them up one by one, and Mike leaves alone in a gypsy cab. Pauly and Vinny say goodbye, and Vinny describes it as "just bitter, not sweet."

Deena leaves with the final words, "this place has definitely been a soap opera, but I'm not gonna lie, I'm addicted to soap operas." Our Deena will stay alive. That's for sure.

Finally Snooki is all alone in the house, walking around with a drink and saying goodbye to all the rooms. She talks about coming back next year, but I can't risk the hope. When her dad comes to pick her up, it will all be over. She tells us she could come back here until she's 90. You and me both, sister.

photos courtesy mtv.com

14 March 2012

Usage Wednesdays: Daylight Saving Time

This Sunday we all jumped an hour closer to our inevitable deaths. We begin Daylight Saving Time, a time during which we "save daylight" by having more of it.* Which brings me to the common usage error of the week:

Daylight Saving Time > Daylight Savings Time

Thankfully, no one cares. "Daylight Savings Time" makes just as much sense to us now because we can easily imagine the savings we keep in the bank. Eventually, though, we'll spend all our sunlight and have to revert back to Standard Time. Booooo.

*How on earth would using up more daylight be in any way SAVING it for later use?? Usage is so stupid sometimes. But it's not my job to judge; I'm only here to be your human usage dictionary.

More like Daylight Shaving Time anyway, am I right, you know it's true.

13 March 2012

Shane, Shane, We Know Your Name

Before I begin this Walking Dead "Better Angels" recap,  I'd like to give a big old tip o' the hat to Time Warner Cable's DVR equipment. Time and again, model after model, our cable box consistently stops recordings 10 minutes in. It always cuts off the Thursday night NBC tags. And it still declines to AT LEAST TAKE ME OUT TO DINNER BEFORE SCREWING ME OVER. (Hence the lateness of this recap.) This one's for you, box of crap.

Rick's gravelly voice eulogizes Dale over images of Andrea, Shane, Daryl, and T-Dog pummeling the crap out of a few zombies. Dale was right and the group's broken, Rick admits, but he doesn't want it that way. Shane's Killer Gang doesn't look all that broken to me. They're working together like enraged, insane ballerinas. Maybe their brains are broken, but not their group. Is this the message we're supposed to get out of this?


Carl asks Shane to keep his secret(s), which are pretty small, only that HE STOLE DARYL'S GUN and MESSED WITH THE ZOMBIE THAT EVENTUALLY ATE DALE. We all know ahead of time that Shane's obviously going to tell Rick and Lori as soon as possible, but what we don't expect is that Shane, once again, hands young Carl a gun. "Shoot this gun like you'd shoot your mother, boy, and don't ever think twice about it." That's what he should've said, anyway.


Winter's a'comin', so Hershel invites everyone into the house and gives Lori the master bedroom. He, like me, and like my own grandfather, prefers the couch. I guess Lori winning the housing lottery solidifies her place as Lady MacFarm, because now she's running with it. She walks right up to Shane and apologizes to him in that special way where no matter what she says, she's telling him she's hopelessly in love with him. Suddenly she's not quite as sure whose baby she's growing in the belly. Also, she mentions "that night they went to Atlanta" as though that comes ANYWHERE NEAR MAKING UP FOR THE MISSING DARABONT ATLANTA FLASHBACK EPISODE. Just hedge your bets and 86 the blab, Lori. Don't make me feel cheap.

That afternoon Andrea and Glenn go on the most melodramatic Magic RV Adventure of all time. They'd like to start up Dale's old caravan, but you see, it's been parked too long. Sitting here at Hershel's farm for months, obsolescent, becoming quite an uninteresting character indeed. Glenn starts crying and Andrea's all "I let him down!!" Once they weep enough salty tears to do the trick, the RV starts up like magic. OH REALLY, GUYS. OH REALLY. LIKE IN LOST? What a leap I was willing to take that first time! Hurley's van was one of the Island's splendid miracles! Oh, how I have soured since then!

Modern storytelling generally trends towards the "if he dies, he's dead" camp of reality. In some stories, the long-thought-dead father comes back from war or the crushed sister climbs out of the rock-tumbled cave by sheer force of will. But these days, if you are presented as dead, you stay dead. The Hunger Games is that way, Harry Potter is that way, and for God's sake, Lost is that way. In the end, at least. Dale's RV died, so it's dead. Let's not play pretend. Let's not shy away.

Rick starts in with the Give Carl a Gun Foundation, and I guess it all adds up to Carl shooting someone at the end of the episode. They've given him a gun too many times for it not to happen. Classic zombicopter parenting!

Wrong things are happening in Randall's prison barn. First of all, his wrists are a mess from struggling to undo his ropes. He's crying and miserable and blindfolded, and Shane's nudging his gun all over the kid's face. What on earth kind of zombiepocalypse is this? I'm reading Colson Whitehead's Zone One right now, and his idea of intersecting groups works much better: in this situation, you travel around on foot picking up and dropping off group members here and there. If you're alone when you run into a friendly seeming group, you offer up your weapon for the night and promise to pack up and leave in the morning. Rick's gang is more like that crazy underground nightmare city from A Boy and His Dog. It took a lot of effort to get their camp like this, with prisoners and torture and everything. At least it's sort of like the comic books.

Not too much later, T-Dog opens the door to the empty prison barn and actually says, maybe for the first time, "Aw, hell no!" You did it, Dog!

Shane drags Randall through the forest and tricks him into thinking he wants to join his gang of rapscallions. He then snaps the poor kid's neck and slams himself into a tree for effect, much like Mark Wahlberg in Fear. Back at camp he pretends Randall got the jump on him, to which Daryl's like "No, that's not what happened, no way buster." But everyone else believes him, so they run into the woods, where zombies live, in the dark.

I can see from Rick and Shane walking together like this that something very similar to page 1 of the comic book will happen soon. It will be too much too late, and it will not have needed to happen. But I guess this way the writers can keep the comic book fans upset while also upsetting the first-time watchers. Shane gets a wild hair to KILL OFFICER RICHARD GRIMES.

Glenn and Daryl run the opposite way as the latter follows Randall's tracks with only a flashlight. Daryl, you are the best at everything there's ever been! It's no question! So stop askin!* Soon they run into Zombie Randall (!!) and have more than a little trouble exterminating him. Once they kill him, Daryl looks him over and finds no bitemarks. No bitemarks?! Another puzzle piece flips itself over, begging us to move it into place!
*Daryl is also a great small-whistler, I noticed. He sounds like the forest when he wants to get your attention. What an absolute dreamboat genius.

Back to Rick and Shane, the Rickashane Brothers. Rick's like "Shane, you and your crazy wobbly eyes are ogling me far too much not to be planning on shooting me." And Shane's like "I'm a better father than you! I'm a better man!" Then he calls Carl weak, even though I was pretty sure Shane was Carl's biggest fan. So Rick offers to put down his own gun, but he keeps creeping closer to Shane as he lowers it. Finally Rick's close enough to trick Shane and stab him in the gut with a hidden knife! Yowza!

Glen Mazzara, you old stinker. You had Rick kill those guys in the first midseason episode so that we'd be primed for this to happen. But if this is the way Shane dies, then why did everyone spend so much time giving guns to Carl?

Because Carl's there, witnessing all of it, and he sees Shane's corpse sit up and hop to its feet. Shane only gets up because loud bits of fiery, bloody carnage have blasted into his brain, and now we know "what it's like to be a zombie." Come. On. No.

Carl points the gun at Zombie Shane, but from Rick's perspective it looks like Carl wants to shoot him. This is the stupidest, least tense, fakest set up for tension there could be. Nobody wants Rick to be a big lumbering dum-dum who can't even get out of the way. Remember when Carl wouldn't get out of the way for Otis to shoot that deer? Dumb. And there's just one dumb other thing: ALL THIS NOISE JUST INVITED 100 FOREST ZOMBIES TO COME EAT YOU.

Hopefully, now that Carl has killed (sort of) Shane, mythology has been done and we can start a new chapter of crazy zombie adventures. Shane is gone, like he should be, and now Rick can slide into his morally ambiguous territory. So let it be written, so let it be done.

photos courtesy AMCtv.com

09 March 2012

The Jersey Shore Goes Camping, Inspires End Of Natural World

I never thought I'd be saying this, but our friends from Seaside spent the week camping. I don't, I can't even. I will not even. Because I couldn't, that's why not. I just couldn't.

Last week we left Situation on the back porch with Jionni, poised to spill the hugest secret of reality television: indeed, there was a Situation/Snooki night of passion a few months ago. Jionni listens to all of it, then reacts not at all, then slips back into bed with Snooki. He tells her a funny joke Mike told him. But guess what, Snooki's mad and fidgety and upset with Mike now, and not once has she denied doing anything. Eventually even Ronnie can connect those dots.

That day, as everyone else wakes up and prepares for part one of GTL, the tension rises. Everything's cool as a cucumber between Snooki and Jionni, but between Snooki and Situation, there's a whole Kelly Ripa sized tension balloon that's fit to burst.*
*Have you been watching Live! with Kelly for 10 minutes every morning before work like me? If so, get it?

Snooki stands in front of a mirror doing her makeup so that she can pretend to be completely calm while reaming Mike out. Jioni's on the side begging Schnickers to quiet down ("Nicole...stop..."), but nothing can keep her from telling Mike off as a mature adult: "Just to let you know, I'm never gonna be friends with you ever again."

We spend the rest of the afternoon with Pauly D as he makes doughnuts on the rooftop astroturf with Ronnie's minibike. Everyone else prepares Sunday dinner downstairs. Suddenly, for no reason other than the Producer Earbud stuffing her head with helpful suggestions, Snooki tells everyone they should go camping. Or maybe she does come up with it on her own, realizing that Jionni loves traditional Italian housewives -- and her large pot of forest stew will show him what a doting casalinga she'll make one day soon.

But first, a food fight. Every single promo from the past two weeks has shown an enraged Snooki chucking a casserole dish at Mike, suggesting that this would be the week Snooki resorts to domestic violence (more than she usually does). Alas, they've made fools of us yet again. It's only a food fight after all, and the entire house is involved, not just Snooki on the warpath. Although to be fair, it does devolve into a Snooki vs. Situation Personal Fight very quickly. I guess MTV has finally written a check its butt could cash.

Snooki stomps up to the rooftop patio holding an angry glop of mashed potatoes. Mike prepares a bucket full of old hot tub water. Soon they bring out a jumbo-sized ketchup bottle and an entire gallon of milk. Snooki rolls her filthy body all over Situation's bed, not realizing how telling a tableau she's set up. What we have here are two technical adults, one in his thirties and the other pregnant, fighting like preteens who can't understand that the reason they hate each other so much is that they want to do each other so much. Thank God these people aren't living at their parents' house. They'd be so busted.

Throughout the argument, each and every roommate comes to the gradual realization that Snooki must be lying. Defensive, caustic, and paranoid are not the descriptors of a girl who's been falsely accused. But none of that is to say that anyone will ever know what truly happened that fateful night. Except The Unit, of course, and his brain ain't cooperating. It's got a fever, and the only prescription is more booze.

Throughout some of this, Deena has been on the phone with Joey, trying desperately to salvage something from the wreckage of their aborted relationship. Pauly's like "NO, DEENA" and hangs up on the guy, and then Jwoww takes her aside again to explain why Joey's not a good guy for her. With all this prodding, you can bet she'll be married to Joey by next week. Did all these guidos grow up without sitcoms perfectly illustrating why you can't be so outwardly against whatever jerk your daughter's dating? You'll push her right into his arms, you knuckleheads! Learn something from tv for once!!!!

This week's episode features two awkward inserts to break up the extra long commercial breaks they've built into the second half. The first one shows Vinny deciding to bring a heavier girl than usual back home from the club, plus Pauly grabbing a few extra regular girls so that Vinny can have just-in-case options. Why must everything be made so awkward for all women all the time here? It makes my brain's stomach hurt.

The next morning Pauly and Vinny opt to stay home.  Everyone else goes camping. Farrrrt.

For a while now, Deena's been missing Snooki more and more. Not only is Deena the only uncoupled woman in the house, she's also the last fun-loving Meatball. Snooki naps with Jionni all day, and it puts Deena in a lonely place. She brings it up around the campfire, sharing honestly and being impressively vulnerable, but Snooki takes it as though Mike had just run up and farted into her face. "I'm happy," she insists over and over, pissed that Deena would suggest something so true. This is what life is. It's being Deena.

For real, being actively alive is being Deena:
  • Deena says "yes" to new adventures yet continually gets her heart smashed in two
  • Deena is friendly to everyone, even when they're jerks, yet she's treated like a squishy-faced dog in the best of circumstances
  • Deena allows herself to be vulnerable and actively tries to remedy loneliness by meeting new men, yet she's still single because no one wants to date a Meatball. 
  • I guess for every generation, there is only one man on earth who will dare go The Meatball Way
And all of this is just to try to get a small piece happiness.Which isn't to say that Deena's not totally happy already. Look how thrilled she is to be here! She's open and interested and resilient. But because she's so eager and because she looks more like Danny DeVito than a woman, she endures pain all the time. This is a life genuinely lived. This is why Jersey Shore is better than the other reality shows.

Back in Seaside, Vinny and Pauly enlist Bossman Danny's help to prank the entire house (which Danny owns). They want to switch all the rooms around, furniture and clothes included, and install astroturf in the living room so it can become the rooftop patio. Danny is so in, he's almost through to the other side youknowwhatI'msayin!! They literally install astroturf in the living room. Danny must be making so much money from this show.

Ronnie tries and fails to pitch his pup tent because, having grown up in the Bronx, the closest he's come to camping is seeing homeless people sleep on the sidewalk. And he's tickled pink with that word choice.

The second awkward insert scene is of Mike peeing very near the camp for a very long time. I hate this, I hate all of this. I already have a hard time with camping, but going camping with THESE ASSHOLES? God take me up to heaven right now I'm ready. I would sooner die.

Right on cue, Ronnie holds the lighter fluid bottle up to where his penis would be and "pees" on the campfire to get it started. His clothes nearly catch flame immediately. Situation throws a large bundle of leafy branches onto the fire. Deena calls him a "hermaphrodite," meaning "pyromaniac." Meaning hermaphrodite, too, though.

Later on, Braindead Sitch wanders around the camp in the dark, looking for someone to jump out of a tent at him. Everyone starts calling him a schizo, but I think we all know what's going on here. Think it with me: severe brain damage. And I'm pretty sure that most other victims of brain damage could actually do great in a camping scenario. What gives me the right to say any of this. "Well, it is my blog."

The next morning everyone's clothes are crawling with huge spiders. It's just awful. Everything is terrible. But when they get back home...that'll be even crazier, eh? Eh? A crazy, prank-filled home.

Next week it looks like Vinny has settled on a lesbian conquest. His tv-stardom must mean he's so virile, he can bring a woman who is only attracted to women over to the other side. Nobody ever said the kid was low on self-esteem, folks.

photos courtesy mtv.com

05 March 2012

I'm Really Not Supposed To Talk About This But...

All this Snooki pregnancy/engagement stuff? It's totally true.

She told me last week when we were on the phone talking about my 'cap. Granted, she used a lot of misappropriated slang, but yeah. It's all true. I just didn't want to say anything...'cause it's like...you know. She's kind of a private person.

Oops, I meant privates person.

Courtesy people.com

Sweet Dale Horvath's Baadasssss Song

I'm not the first Walking Dead recapper to notice its eerie similarities to Lost. Hundreds, thousands even, have observed the parallels between surviving on an island and surviving in an apocalypse. Lots of dramatic scenes unfold in the woods. Morality takes on starker tones of black and white. Naturally, everybody's dirty; unnaturally, everybody wears subdued earth tone colored t-shirts (never any Frankie Says Relax designs or any zeitgeist graphics whatsoever). With all these connections, we're left to wonder: "How far can we go before it turns out the zombies are just manifestations of 'evil' that escape through the novelty size steam plug of a large golden cave?" A very good question, indeed.

"Judge, Jury, and Executioner" begins with a scene directly lifted from Lost: Daryl, our resident badass, tortures Randall, the weak-seeming stranger from another group, so he'll tell a truth that seems less and less true as the torture continues. It's a lot like the time the Lost crew took turns interrogating Henry Gale during season 2. With every cut, the survivors' humanity loses strength and their prisoner's words gain wild desperation. Eventually Randall tells a bleak story about his gang happening upon a family with teenage girls and raping them. He didn't join in, of course, but why on earth would he bring this story up in the first place? To convince them to go ahead and kill him? To intimidate them?

As the episode unfolds, it becomes clear right away that this entire hour will be about killing or not killing Randall. OY. I believe that Rick and Shane decided not to kill the kid last week. Did they not bond? Are we not on Randall's side by now? After months of silence, Dale pipes up. Randall's "just a kid," Dale reminds Rick. Killing him will only teach Carl a bad lesson.

As per usual, nobody listens to Dale. So he marches right up to Andrea and asks if she remembers being a civil rights lawyer in her old life. Andrea was a civil rights lawyer?? I assumed she was a professional terrified person, like someone who works in a haunted mansion or something. At any rate, she's like "Yep, I remember, and nope, I won't guard Randall from anyone who wants to kill him." But she guards him anyway.

Spotting a golden opportunity, Shane waddles up to Andrea outside the prison shed and suggests that they take over the farm. While that conversation swirls ever deeper into the proverbial giant toilet, Carl sneaks into the shed to see what they've done to the prisoner, maybe even to shoot him (who knows??). Randall tries to sweet talk him into helping him escape, but before any serious Ben Linus stuff happens, Shane whips open the door to the shed and throws Carl out. "And Carl?" says Shane, "Stop trying to get yourself killed, man!"

Obviously that's the only thing Carl will do for the rest of the episode, starting with a bold dressing-down of Carol's intellect. When Carol assures Carl that they'll see everyone they've lost in heaven, Carl's like, "That's the stupidest thing you've ever said, ya big dummy." Carol promptly gets him in trouble with his parents, and yet again, Carl ends up more ornery than ever.

Dale starts in on Daryl, begging him not to torture Randall anymore. This is all days late and dollars short, Dale. You used to be the voice of morality, but for the past few weeks you've just been Stink Eye Magoo over in the corner. "Group's broken," mutters Daryl. Yes indeedy, didely doo!

Carl goes looking for more trouble and finds it in Daryl's SS motorcycle saddlebag. Dragging the antique-looking gun next to him, Carl wanders the woods, literally searching for danger. He quickly finds a walker stuck in the mud of a creek bank. While I'm personally frozen in terror, Carl throws rocks at the zombie and overall riles it up. Granted, it's a classic boy move to throw rocks at decrepit things. But if you're growing up in the post-Apocalypse, your rock targets will be zombies. Childhood is weird these days.

Meanwhile, Hershel makes nice with Glenn for once. He reminds him that immigrants built this country, and he tells him a story about pawning his Irish grandfather's pocket watch for liquor money. His first wife Jo had bought it back without telling him, and she gave it back when he quit drinking. I could be wrong, but I bet there's a secret meaning underneath this story. Maybe people like Glenn and the rest of our survivors are too willing to give up what's good about the past in order to keep themselves alive in the present. Maybe it's up to people like Maggie and Hershel to keep some things safe, for when they're ready for some small piece of civilization again. Yeah, that seems like what they're going for.

Back in the creek bed, Carl accidentally teases the walker into freeing one of its legs. Ravenous and wild, the zombie grabs for Carl's feet. Even though Carl aims Daryl's gun at it, he can't seem to shoot it. So instead he drops the gun in the creek and makes a break for it. Great choice, you dumb little kid.

Rick holds one last vote in the farmhouse dining room. Will they execute Randall to prevent further danger to the farm, or will they keep him alive to avoid killing someone who technically hasn't committed a crime yet? We all know where Dale stands. He doesn't want to live in a world this harsh and ugly. Somehow he manages to swing Andrea over to his side, but 2 votes against killing Randall isn't enough to keep him alive. It's time to kill the boy.

Since Dale can't bear to watch, he wanders around the grounds for a while until he hears a cow dying. He's so confused by the idea that something might have happened to the cow that he doesn't hear the walker from the creek sneak up on him. Oh crap, we're in trouble now!

Rick can't force himself to kill Randall, possibly because his son's standing in the doorway with wide, innocent eyes. "Do it, Dad. Do it," urges Carl. I guess that's Rick's final straw. 'If my kid thinks it's a good idea, I better finally take that good, hard look at what I'm doing.'

But it's too late for Dale, whose guts are currently in the hands of a rabid zombie, which is sort of Carl's fault. If only Carl hadn't riled it up, hadn't inspired it to unstick its feet, hadn't left a tasty little boy scent trail straight back to the farm...but he did, and now Dale's intestines are outside of his body. Rick wants Hershel to do surgery on him right there in the meadow. Considering Hershel's past medical feats, maybe that's not such a bad idea.

Alas, a gut wound this serious will indeed mean the end for Dale. Instead of letting him die slowly and painfully, Rick decides to use that execution bullet after all. But again, he can't make himself pull the trigger. Daryl takes Rick's gun and aims it at Dale's head, sending him into oblivion with just a tight-lipped "Sorry, brother."

It would've been cool if Rick could have been the one sending Dale off. Maybe he'd have given him a respectful "Thank you for everything you've done" or something more like that. But no, we're left with Daryl's much simpler valediction. For 15 years it's been time to make the donuts...and now it's time to die.

photos courtesy amctv.com