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FJ Reviews & Recaps

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A collaborative effort from Free Jinger members to review and recap books, movies and tv shows.

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Flowers in the Attic: Table of Contents

Here is the Table of Contents for Flowers in the Attic. New recaps will be linked as they are hastily written.  Part One Prologue and Good-Bye-Daddy.
The Road to Riches
The Grandmother's House
The Attic
The Wrath of God
Momma's Story
Minutes Like Hours
To Make a Garden Grow
To Make a Garden Grow (Part II)
Holidays
Holidays (Part Two)
The Christmas Party
Christopher's Exploration and Its Repercussions
The Long Winter, and Spring, and Summer
  Part Two
Growing Up, Growing Wiser
Growing Up, Growing Wiser (Part II)
A Taste of Heaven
A Taste of Heaven (Part II)
One Rainy Afternoon
To Find a Friend
At Last, Momma
At Last, Momma (Part II)
Our Mother's Surprise 
Our Mother's Surprise (Part II)
Our Mother's Surprise (Part III)
Our Mother's Surprise (Part IV)
My Stepfather
My Stepfather (Part II)
My Stepfather (Part III)
Color All Days Blue, But Save One for Black
Escape
Endings, Beginnings and Epilogue

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

The Phantom Tollbooth Reread: Chapter 13

Chapter 13: Unfortunate Conclusions Keeping his mouth shut, Milo goes to meet the crowd of silent people. They ask him about the sound, he writes “It’s on the tip of my tongue” and spits it into the cannon. As the group prepares to fire it, Milo suddenly hopes no one gets hurt. Before he has time to think about that, the sound goes flying into the building and the building crashes down. All of the sounds come out at once, and there was lots of confusion. Milo, Tock, and the Humbug go to console the Soundkeeper. The Humbug says the wrong thing, Milo apologizes, Tock reminds her that they had to do it. While she is lamenting the length of time it will take to collect all of the sounds again, and realizing that you cannot improve sound by only having silence, the DYNNE shows up with all of her sounds in a giant sack.   The Soundkeeper invites DYNNE to a night of beautiful music; the DYNNE is horrified and runs off. Milo prepares to leave the Soundkeeper behind. She gives him a package of sounds to use on his journey and tells them they will soon be in Digitopolis. They drive along a shoreline road, watching the beach and sea of knowledge.  Each character makes an assumption, and as they do so, they leap off and disappear. Milo is the last to go – thinking that it couldn’t be a nicer day – and finds himself next to Tock and Humbug on the island. The island looks completely different in person. From the car, it was a beautiful island with palm trees and flowers. Up close and personal, it is covered with rocks and dead tree stumps. Milo asks the first man he sees if he (the man) can tell Milo where they are. The man responds by asking if Milo can tell [the man] who [the man] is. Milo says “you must know who you are” and the man responds with the same level of irritation “you must know where you are” After a conference with his friends, Milo asks the man to describe himself. The man responds with a riddle, and eventually they decide that he is “Canby” (presumably pronounced, “Can be” as he described himself as a bunch of different “can be(s)” (He’s as tall as can be and as short as can be, strong as ... you get it.) Canby tells them they are on the Island of Conclusions and to make themselves at home, as they will be there for a while. Milo asks how they arrived, and Canby tells them that they jumped, of course. Humbug tries to jump back and lands in a heap two feet away. Eight or nine more people have arrived from every direction, as well. Canby tells them that the only way back is to swim. The Humbug tells him that he doesn’t like to get wet. Canby replies that “you can swim all day in the Sea of Knowledge and still come out completely dry. Most people do.” Milo and Tock decide to swim, and the Humbug protests. They drag the bug with them toward the sea. They swam for what seemed like hours, Tock being the strongest swimmer. They reach the shore and Milo and Tock are completely soaked. The bug is not, and he straightens his tie and remarks that it wasn’t bad at all. Remarks: Milo, Tock, and Humbug “jump to conclusions.” They each made an assumption and have to swim back through the Sea of Knowledge. The Humbug think he knows everything already, so he’s not wet with Knowledge. At least that is what I got. Also, jumping to conclusions has to do with making assumptions before you know all the facts. Milo remarked that the day couldn’t be any nicer, so off he goes. Tock mentions that they have plenty of time, and the humbug thinks that nothing can go wrong. They learn a lesson and off they go! Milo receives yet another gift for the final boss fight. Links to Previous Chapters:  Chapters 1 & 2 Chapters 3 & 4 Chapters 5 & 6 Chapters 7 & 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

The Phantom Tollbooth Reread: Chapters 14 & 15

Chapter 14: The Dodecahedron Leads the Way Five miles from Digitopolis, the trio comes across a sign at a three-way fork in the road. Because this is no ordinary book, the sign points them in all three directions and gives them the distance to Digitopolis. The distance is given in miles, rods, yards, feet, inches, and half inches. The Humbug suggests traveling by miles, as it’s shorter, while Milo wants to travel by half-inches. Tock is more concerned about which road to take. I swear, the dog is the smartest one of this group. As they argued, another character steps out from behind the sign, talking constantly. He introduces himself as the Dodecahedron. He literally has twelve faces (each one displays a different emotion), because that is how this book rolls. Milo introduces himself, and the Dodecahedron is quick to point out that Milo only has one face. Dodecahedron finds it confusing that all one face creatures are called different things. He tells them that in Digitopolis, everything is quite precise. Milo asks him which road to take. In return, the Dodecahedron gives them a math problem. I think I had a teacher like that in eighth grade. It’s one of those super annoying word problems involving extraneous information about travel times.  After the Humbug shouts out a clearly inaccurate number, and Milo tells the Dodecahedron he’s not good at figures, the (ugh, I have to type it AGAIN?) Dodecahedron gives them another problem, this one pertaining to beaver (hehe) size and the construction of Boulder Dam (sidebar: this book was published in the 60s, well after the Boulder Canyon Project was built and renamed.)   Meanwhile, the Watchdog has managed to completely the fairly easy word problem from earlier and tell them all that all three roads arrive in the same place at the same time. The Dodecahedron tells them he will take them there himself. Milo mentions that all the roads are the right way, then, if they all arrive in the same place at the same time. He is very wrong. He turns spins the sign and all three roads disappear, a new road appearing in it’s place. They bounce around a bit in the car and there is some nice descriptions about the land and the (god damn it) Dodecahedron landing on different faces. Eventually it comes out that Milo doesn’t think numbers are very important.   The Dodecahedron is offended, has a bit of a tirade, and runs into a cave, where men are mining numbers as though they are precious gems. They meet the Mathemagician, who is dressed in a robe covered with equations and a tall pointed cap. He carries a giant pencil as a staff. The Mathemagician shows them some of the numbers that have been mined, and a room full of “trash” which is emeralds, rubies, and diamonds.   Chapter 15: This Way to Infinity Eight miners carry a huge caldron into the cave for lunch. As they eat bowl after bowl of “subtraction stew,” the only felt hungrier. The Mathemagician explains that it’s very economic to only take meals when they are full and eat until they are hungry. Digitopolis obviously has a similar outlook as Dictionopolis, with the horrible food. The Mathemagician pulls out this staff and magically transport Milo, Tock, Humbug, and himself into his office. There, they discuss important things like the concept of infinity and using the proper terms. Lots of word/number play in this chapter. Milo is told that he can find the land of Infinity by climbing some stairs. He takes off, two at a time to try and find it.   Links to Previous Chapters:  Chapters 1 & 2 Chapters 3 & 4 Chapters 5 & 6 Chapters 7 & 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13   

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

The Phantom Tollbooth Reread: Chapters 17 & 18

Chapter 17: Unwelcoming Committee After what seemed like days, the trio of reluctant heroes have barely made any progress on their projects. Milo notices that he doesn’t feel tired or hungry and could on doing the same thing forever. The faceless man remarks that perhaps Milo will go on forever. Tock suggests that Milo use “his magic staff” and find out how long it will take. Milo calculates that it will take them over 800 years to finish. Milo chooses to question the “man” about the 800 years to complete this unimportant project, and the man says that he wouldn’t have asked them to do it if he thought it was important.   He laughs and introduces himself as the Terrible Trivium, demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort and monster of habit. As the Trivium continues to try and convince the trio to spend their time doing busy work, someone yells at them to run. So they run, and they run through some stuff, and eventually lose Trivium, but find themselves in a deep murky pit. The voice belongs to something that identifies as a long-nosed, green-eyed, curly-haired, wide-mouthed, thick-necked, broad-shouldered, round-bodies, short-armed, bowlegged, big-footed monster. Milo uses his telescope and sees something that doesn’t match that description at all. The Demon of Insincerity hides and eventually flounces. Milo, Tock and Humbug climb out of the pit, and walk along until the entire mountain moves. Turns out it wasn’t a mountain at all, but the Gelatinous Giant. The Gelatinous Giant is a giant, um, creature who is afraid of everything. Including ideas. He is a conformist who blends with the background. As he goes to eat Milo, Tock, and the Humbug, Milo reminds him of all the ideas that Azaz had given him earlier in the book. And so, the Gelatinous Giant was defeated. The trio is placed on a nearby peak and they start running forward, as more and more shadowy, scary demons come out to chase them. Chapter 18: The Castle in the Air They climb and run and finally find the highest peak, which has a “spidery spiral stair” which leads to the Castle in the Air. In front of the first step is a little man, calling himself the official “Senses Taker” and he asks a thousand questions and asks them to fill out forms. As the demons close in and Milo & friends become more impatient, the Senses Taker switches to a new tactic – trying to entice them with things only they could see, smell, and hear. Milo is shown a circus, Tock gets to smell all the wonderful things (he’s a dog, so I imagine it to be cat poo. Gross, Tock.), and the Humbug hears people cheering for him. Milo, completely oblivious and sucked into the show, allows his bag to fall from his shoulder, spilling his gift of sound, which distracts them and breaks the spell. The Senses taker helps people find what they aren’t looking for, hear what they’re not listening for, run after what they’re not chasing, and smell what isn’t even there. In a villainous speech, he claims to take the sense of purpose, duty, destroy the sense of proportion, but he can’t touch humor. FFS. They run up the stairs. It sounds scary. The princesses of Rhyme and Reason tell them to come in and that they have been expecting them. They sit down on comfy furniture and discuss their trip. Milo tries to apologize for the delay, but they shush him. They tell him it’s OK to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. There is also this quote: And this And then the demons start to chop down the stairs and the castle starts to fly off into space. OBVIOUSLY, PHYSICS IS NOT PART OF THIS LESSON. SEE ABOVE QUOTE ON MOVING THE EARTH. And so, they determine that sometimes, time can fly. The Princesses climb onto Tock, the watchdog, Milo grabs Tock’s tail, and the Humbug (who is a bug and should already be able to fly), grabs ahold of Milo’s feet and/or ankles. Thoughts: TWO MORE CHAPTERS. One which is REALLY short. I could finish it right now, but I think I’ll wait until tomorrow. I do wonder if perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from the Trivium. Some of us are spending a lot of time doing a lot of unimportant work in our offices day in and day out so we can have a paycheck. See also the conformist giant. Actually, maybe the Gelatinous Giant is more of a Trump type figure. Hiding in plain site, trying to blend in. Then again, maybe not. The Senses Taker is just a pain in the ass. So frustrating with the paperwork and the questions and the wasting of the time. See also TSA. Anyway, I still love this book and love the “time flies” joke, even though it’s super cheesey. Any suggestions for what else to read? I was thinking I might do another YA type book, just to balance out the depressing Game of Thrones Reread.

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Chapter 3

This chapter is awkward.  Chapter 3: Mr. Wonka and the Indian Prince  Grandpa Joe tells Charlie the story of "Prince Pondicherry," who had asked Mr. Willy Wonka to "come all the way out to India and build him a colossal palace entirely of chocolate." Those Indians, amirite? Always with their weird names and schemes to do impractical things. /s Mr. Wonka, of course, builds the chocolate palace and tells Prince Pondicherry (Which is a cute name but also strikes me as somewhat inappropriate. This book was written in the 1950s, published in the 1960s, so this would be about when the UK was taking in a lot of refugees from the India/Pakistan border area. I am not intimately familiar with the causes of the partition, and being a 30 something American, I am not 100% certain that I'm not talking out my ass right now.) to start eating the castle immediately, as India is hot and the castle will melt.  The castle, btw, sounds amazing. Both amazingly engineered (hot chocolate comes out of the chocolate pipes, even the chocolate carpet) and amazingly gross. Seriously, you'll just be sticky all the time.  The story of Prince Pondicherry, btw, has little to no bearing on the rest of the story. It's used to show that Charlie is skeptical of this story, and Grandpa Joe want to "tell him something else that's true." Which is that Willy Wonka's factory doesn't use local workers. At this point in the story, it's just Grandpa Joe, whispering to Charlie that "nobody....ever....comes...out..." and "nobody...ever...goes...in" And of course we find out how "good" Charlie is. He's a kid, poor as hell, and his supposedly bedridden grandfather is telling him a story, when his mom tells him it's time for bed. And Charlie and Grandpa Joe immediately decide to finish talking about Mr. Wonka's mysterious workers the next night.  As I mentioned earlier, I grew up with the 1976 paperback with the illustrations by Joseph Schindelman.  The bottom is the version that was in my book. The top, I believe, was in the UK version, published around the same time.       

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Chapter 12

Chapter 12: What It Said on the Golden Ticket Charlie (which I pronounce in my head as Chaaaaalie, which I think is a TWOP Lost reference that I should stop doing) bursts into the cat's grandparent's room. They are eating their evening soup. Charlie shouts about finding the Golden Ticket, and finding money in the street. Everyone is silent. They think it's a joke. Charlie shows them the Golden Ticket.  Grandpa Joe, who is not illiterate, holds the ticket up to his face, so close it's almost touching his nose. The other grandparents wait. Grandpa Joe is excited. So excited that he jumps out of bed for the first time in 20 years. Grandpa Joe is 96. My grandpa is 96. My grandpa, sad that my grandmother died a few years ago, found himself a new girlfriend. At 96. He still drives (though he shouldn't.) He still works around the house. Grandpa Joe is content to let people wait on him for 20 years. TWENTY YEARS. That means he took to his bed at 76, when he should have still been able to hold a job.  He let his son's wife take care of bedpans and feeding him daily for 20 years. And the second he gets something interesting in his life, he's up. He's so excited about the prospect of going to the factory that he knocks a bowl of soup into his wife's face.  Charlie's father comes home and they have to explain the excitement. Mr. Bucket sits down and has Charlie bring him the ticket. The Golden Ticket is described as being a sheet of gold hammered to ALMOST the thinness of paper. The invitation is read to the family by Mr. Bucket.  The invitation invites the winner to come to the factory and be the guest of Mr Willy Wonka for a whole day. When it is time to leave, the winners will be escorted home by a procession of large trucks which contain "supplies" to feed the winner and his/her household for many years. When they are gone, the winner can go back to the factory, show the ticket, and get more. There are more undescribed surprises in store for the winners.  The first of February is when the winners must present themselves and the ticket. They can bring one or two members of their own family.  Turns out that Charlie found the ticket on the last day of January. Good thing he lives in the same city as the Wonka Factory!  Grandpa Joe decides HE will be the one to take Charlie. Mr Bucket wants to go, but he feels that his father is the one who "deserves to go" ... Whatever. This family is dysfunctional as hell.  Mrs Bucket then says that Grandpa Joe should go because she can't go and leave the "other three old people all alone in bed for a whole day." She actually says that. In front of them.  And then the paparazzi show up.    

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.18 - The Kids Are All Fight

Yeah, yeah, another Simpsons episode. This week we get to go back in time! Again. To Bart and Lisa's early childhood! Again. It's hard to get enthusiastic this far into the game. Come on, writers, wow me. We actually get real opening credits! Chalkboard: Lisa writes the words, "I will not pay my sister to do my punishment". Bart watches. Lisa plays the harp in the school band this time. The couch gag shows the Simpsons as pegs playing the Game of Life, hitting such squares as "unexpected pregnancy", "lose hair", and "descent into alcoholism". In the end, though, they finally get to their couch. At Moe's, a suited-up Homer offers to pay off his bill, damn near killing Moe. He goes through his pockets, coming up with odd items, both from past seasons and from off-the-wall adventures we never heard from. One of these items is an old film roll. Carl mentions that most film developers are closed. However, Moe says that the bar can function as a darkroom, so they develop it. With Duff beer. Shudder. Homer summons his family to look at the photos, which were taken about six years before. Most of them are of the kids fighting. Marge wonders why Homer didn't step in, Bart why they fought so much, and Lisa how they resolved their differences (kinda). So guess what, it's time for a story. Bart and Lisa are little hellions who can't stop attacking each other, which is probably a side effect of being 4 and 2 respectively. Homer tries to reason with Bart, but the child is too frightened of his infamous clown bed to listen. (You know the one.) The fighting continues, and it's really boring. We do get a funny 2001 parody, though. Marge tells the kids that she lost a lot of sleep during that difficult period. Past-Marge asks her husband to help her find answers. The child psychiatrist condemns Bart while praising Lisa, saying their differences are too great to ever be overcome. More fighting, and some Miami Vice hair courtesy of Flanders. We even get Maude's first appearance in ages. The Flanderses can see that Homer and Marge are having trouble at home, so they invite the couple to lunch, presumably to lecture them on the principles of blanket training. Grandma "Hello, Joe!" Flanders, perhaps even more religious than her son (wait, wasn't his mom a freaky beatnik?), is horrified at the Simpson kids' lack of morality. In her shock, she kicks the bucket. Homer and Marge get caught up in "snuggling" and don't quite make it to brunch. The Simpson kids, terrified at the death of Grandma, run for home, where they almost run into an even scarier sight. Fortunately, they're distracted by an ice cream truck. They get hopelessly lost and Bart plays in traffic. Homer and Marge finally get to brunch, which we do not get to see, and arrive home only to find Ned grieving for his dead grandmother. (That's right, she's not a horribly aged freaky beatnik.) Marge panics when she realizes the kids are gone. They go to the police, who are their usual incompetent selves. Baby Bart and Baby Lisa get menaced by the Baby Bullies. They try to steal Bart's trike, but Lisa cries, so they give it back. (Also, Kearney is portrayed as almost a dad, even though he's like four. I know he's been portrayed as a dad the whole series, but eccchhh.) Once they're gone, Lisa admits she faked the tears to get rid of the bullies. Bart decides that maybe a little sister isn't so bad after all. Homer tells Marge that he can't find the kids, so they should just have a third child and call it Maggie. An exasperated Marge calls a medium, who happens to be Selma, who of course blames it on Homer. Bart and Lisa find themselves at Springfield Retirement Castle, The old people terrify them, but Grampa saves the day! (And we get to see Bea Simmons!) The kids sit there while Grampa sleeps. As they try to kill the time, they find themselves becoming reconciled to their differences. Homer wants to search for the kids some more, but his buddies won't help him, because they just ordered pizza. Homer shoots the pizza. Yeah, that's right. He chose his kids over food. YOU GO HOMER. Young Milhouse runs into the Simpson kids and tries to alert his dad, but is distracted by cartoons. They bike away from a dog and find themselves at the top of a large hill, which they immediately throw themselves down. Fortunately they survive, but Lisa is shaken. Homer and Marge continue their fruitless search, almost going so far as to alert Social Services. Miraculously, the Surly Repairman is able to point them out - on top of the tire fire. Homer wants to save them, but only develops the strength to do so when Marge reminds him that they just bought the kids new shoes. He grabs a tree and manages to bend it so that the kids can grab on. Unfortunately, he then flings them halfway across town - directly into Bart's clown bed, which they destroy. Back in the present, Marge concludes that they lived happily ever after and had their Maggie. They also gave her the room where Marge used to grow her weed. WHAT? No. Back the fuck up, Simpsons. You do not get to throw Marge into out-of-character situations like that without at least an entire episode to justify it. Bad Simpsons writers! Go sit in the corner. We get a tag scene where Grandma Flanders miraculously pulls through and Ned sings "Amazing Grace" to celebrate. Unfortunately, this kills her. In the present, the kids play pool while Homer talks about how great a dad he is. So yeah, this episode was pretty much a nothing. Incredibly rushed, no real sentiment, very few jokes that landed. I liked some of the callbacks to the past, but other than that, it was incredibly meh. There was absolutely nothing in plot - and I'm pretty sure the actors were sleepwalking. Oh well. Next week, I guess. FJ Discussion Thread  

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

The Phantom Tollbooth Reread: Chapter 16

Chapter 16: A Very Dirty Bird Milo climbs the stairs to infinity, but eventually collapses. As he begins talking to himself, half of a small child starts talking to him. Okay, .58 of a child. The child says that they are the average family, with a mother, father, and 2.58 children. He is the .58. He also says that infinity is a dreadfully poor place where no one can make ends meet. They discuss averages. Milo is confused by some of the examples given to him, such as The boy offers Milo some more advice, namely that even though Milo can never reach Infinity, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking for. Milo decides to turn around. A few minutes later he is back with Tock, the Humbug, and the Mathemagician. More great advice: They have some conversation, including a silly letter that Mathemagician sent to Azaz, which is made up only of numbers. Eventually, Milo out logics Mathemagician and gets him to agree to the rescue of the Princesses Rhyme and Reason. The Mathemagician transports them to the edge of Digitopolis by carrying the three (ha!) and the (goddamn it) Dodecahedron has Milo’s gifts. He hands over the gifts of sight, sounds, and words. Mathemagician gives Milo a gift as well, a “magic staff” which appears to me to just be a pencil, but whatever, I’ll go with it. The trio takes off into the Mountains of Ignorance. They climb and it gets darker, but not darkness from night. It’s a “mixture of  lurking shadows and evil intentions which oozed from the slimy moss-covered cliffs and blotted out the light” Milo wonders if they should wait until morning, and a voice replies that “They’ll be mourning for you soon enough.” The voice belongs to a filthy bird who “looked more like a dirty floor mop” Milo says something in reply about looking for place to spend the night, the bird makes another gosh-darn pun, and I slam my book shut. (Just Kidding!) The puns go on for a bit, finally Tock (the dog of reason) asks the bird if he has to be like that. And the bird answers in the affirmative. He is the Everpresent Wordsnatcher, and he is from a far away land called Context. He is not a demon, only a nuisance, and he flies off. The next character we come across is a well dressed, friendly man with no face. He asks the trio for help with some small tasks, and they cheerfully agree. He asks them to move a mound of sand with some tweezers, move a well with an eyedropper, and crave a hole in a cliff with a needle. For some reason, the trio works on this for hours before the chapter ends. *For some reason, the text has percent written as per cent.   Thoughts:  We are finally in the Mountains of Ignorance! Milo will be faced with a series of demons and then will go to the Castle in the Air and meet the princesses! There is a lot of interesting stuff coming up, and I think this chapter and the one before it have some of the best quotes about Milo and learning things. But alas, I can't just copy and paste the entire chapter into a blog post, so I just have to "recap" it.  The Everpresent Wordsnatcher says something about knowing the Humbug. That makes sense, because the Humbug uses a lot of words to say very little and represents people who do the same. Tock is still the most reasonable character here, being a pretty good opposite of the Humbug. Milo is still learning. But he's learned a lot and that is reflected in his conversations with the "Mathemagician."  LINKS: Chapters 1 & 2 Chapters 3 & 4 Chapters 5 & 6 Chapters 7 & 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapters 14 & 15  

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother 9.18 - Rally

The Olympics are over, the fifth ring has expanded, and Canadians have stopped being smug about hockey (for now). We're back to our regularly scheduled programming. How about the denouement of Ted's epic tale? Somewhere in the future, Ted and The Mother are off to a New Year's party. She has apparently published a book and life is just peachy. They consider getting super wasted, but Ted reminds her that he took a vow. The reason for said vow involves Barney, and what he remembers of the first part of his wedding day - a few flashes of bears, stairs, and a lesbian kiss between Robin and Lily (finally). Now it's up to Ted to put it all together. The bride and best man come back from the beach to find Barney passed out in front of his room. There's ten hours left before the wedding. Opening credits. They manage to get Barney onto a bed, summoning Marshall and Lily for assistance. There are two hours left before the wedding pictures, and no one will be amused if the groom is falling over. Ted recalls Barney's superpower of being unable to take a bad photo. He demonstrates with his camera - only to witness the first bad photo Barney's ever taken. They decide he must have died, and Marshall vows never to get that drunk again. (Old Ted wryly notes that he didn't keep this promise.) We later see Marshall winning a spot in the State Supreme Court, drunk as a skunk and vowing to "make Batman work harder". Hey, after Rob Ford it's believable. Ted decides that they need Barney's help. Apparently, he made some kind of magic hangover cure many years ago, which has proven miraculous on several occasions. It was commissioned by FDR as the "too many Manhattans" project, and invented by Brobel Prize-winner Barnard Stinsonheimer. I've got to say, Barney's ancestors get awfully creative at times, though no one can top his Russian family earlier in the season. So this wonderful cure is out there - but the trouble is, the only one who knows the ingredients is passed out on the bed. It involves FunYuns and the infamous Tantrum soda. Without the secret ingredient, they toss around some ideas, including "Weekend at Barney's", which has been suggested about eight hundred times this season. Lily sets the guys in action to go assemble the magic potion, and she and Robin try to wake Barney up in order to coax out the secret ingredient. Unfortunately, they accidentally throw him down some stairs in the process. This is still not enough to wake him up. Robin suggests some of her dad's wake-up methods from early childhood, including some dire threats involving an axe and a Cabbage Patch Doll (they go with scissors and Barney's tie). Lily vows never to get that drunk. Another flash-forward, where Lily and Marshall take Marvin to college. Once he's safely in the dorm, they proceed to celebrate - only to have their son walk into the same bar. In the present, Ted and Marshall come back, short one ingredient - grease. The inn's chef is aghast, pointing out that somewhere as nice as Farhampton doesn't have grease. Ted notices bacon, which means grease must be around, but the chef says they throw it out. Unless all the bacon gets eaten in the next ten minutes, there will be no more greasy food cooked today. Ted sees a challenge, and accepts it in true Bro fashion. However, he has long believed that he's allergic to the stuff - but that was an invention from his mother, obsessed with healthy food. For the first time in his life, he gives bacon a try, and has something of a religious experience. Lily suggests making out with Robin, though her motives are not exclusively to wake Barney up. Robin vows never to get that drunk. Another flash-forward! Travelling with her husband in Argentina, Robin wakes up half-dead. A baby starts crying, and Robin gets up to attend to her, then remembers that they don't have a baby. Wrong room! Ted has gotten territorial over the bacon, and soon enough a new batch of grease is necessitated. However, Ted doesn't want to leave his new discovery, which he declares the love of his life. However, he faints from the sheer amount, and thus gives up bacon for life. Desperate to wake up her husband-to-be, Robin finally suggests that she and Lily make out. Lily reacts like Christmas came early. Just as they lock lips, Barney wakes up with the most terrifying look on his face that you would ever see, and begs for more. In the process, he admits that there is no secret ingredient. Ted falls over with indigestion while the gang realizes that Barney has created some sort of "placebro" effect. They're angry with him for lying, but then Robin reasons that he was doing it out of love for them. Marshall's hangover cure came when he thought he'd failed the bar, Robin when she was about to go back to a news job, Lily when she was about to take the world's worst field trip, and Ted - when Stella left him at the altar. To each, Barney gave the words, "Drink this. You'll be fine." However, there's still the wedding pictures... ...and they wind up doing Weekend at Barney's. Robin's dad not only suspects nothing, but is impressed with Barney's new "strong and silent" persona. They even share a high five. Hours later, a recovered Barney congratulates his friends on the Weekend at Barney's trick. Once he leaves, the gang talk about how it was all a lie - in fact, the photos were cancelled and Robin's dad kicked Barney in the crotch. The groom is none the wiser, however. Inspired, Ted makes the same vow all his friends made. He will never get that drunk again. Cue New Year's Day 2022. A sober Ted brings Barney's magic hangover drink to The Mother, who can barely open her eyes. Also, why do Marshall and Lily look old in 2020, but Ted and the Mother look exactly the same in 2022 as they did in 2013? I'm missing something. No matter. The Mother accepts the drink, and just in time, because the kids come barrelling in. Happy New Year. Tag scene: Robin laughs about how she totally almost kissed Lily. She suggests kissing again, in front of Ted and Marshall, just to "blow their minds". However, Lily tells her that once was enough. It's Robin's turn to look like a wounded puppy. Well, after the break I'm glad to be back, and this episode was just fine. Lots of fun gags, a story that went nowhere as usual, and a lot of good old messing around with the gang. As the show winds down, it's nice to take a bit of a breather and just see the five friends at work. Four more episodes left. Can you believe it?   FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 5.20 - Australia

Well, it's another Modern Family travel episode. So far we've done Hawaii, Disneyland (barely travel), Vegas, Florida, and a dude ranch, and probably some more I've forgotten. This year, the entire gang is off to Australia. Let the stereotypes begin! We get the classic "down under" picture, taken by Manny in view of the Opera House and starring Luke - which warrants Jay to quickly admit that he dropped his grandson on his head many years ago. Naturally, Phil has to join in. During an interview, in between Men at Work quotes, he explains why they've gone south. Apparently, during his parents' honeymoon, he was conceived on a picnic blanket in Sydney, and his mom left him money to take his family there, because that's not the creepiest thing you've heard today. (Apparently, Phil does have family there and stuff, so it's not completely terrible. Yet.) The rest of the family has tagged along, due to a significant increase in ABC's budget desire to see the world. Also, Phil still has the blanket. On his marital bed. Um. Alex is a pain-in-the-ass narrator (she thinks her fancy vacation will help her get into college), while Phil happily scarfs down Vegemite. Thanking his family for joining him on the trip, he unveils a list of things that they're supposed to do in Oz, all of which appear to be hundreds of miles apart from each other (American geography at work again). They all immediately ditch him. Cam and Mitch are off to lunch with an annoying Australian friend from long ago, while Claire is finally getting some work-related praise from her father. Naturally, the two teenaged boys are off to topless Bondi Beach, though the Opera House is also on Manny's list. Unfortunately, the adults decide to accompany them. Phil shows up with swollen lips. Yep - he's allergic to Vegemite. Opening credits, and already this episode is barely holding together. That's got to be a record. Everyone heads to the beach, where Gloria calls her mom in LA (she's babysitting Joe) and I salivate at the thought of being able to waste so much money. Manny and Luke make a flimsy excuse to sneak off to the clothing-optional section. To be honest, this entire plot seems really out of character for Manny, who is the last teenaged boy on earth to get into the "BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS" mindset, but eh, I'll let it go. Alex continues her dumb narration. Surely she could choose something better than "going on vacation to a country with a very similar culture on Grandma's money". Haley is hit on by a hot surfer, but explains to Alex that in this surfer-populated country she's smart to be picky. Meanwhile, Lily tries to buy a stuffed kangaroo, but is warned by her cousins not to spend her paltry souvenir money on the first thing she sees. Oh, boy, this plot is going to be suspenseful. Claire and Jay get an emergency phone call from work. They've been outbid on a prospective deal, and need to quickly run back to the hotel and craft a new bid. Angry at being abandoned, Gloria takes Phil on a long walk down the beach, to Phil's delight. Cam and Mitch go to lunch with their weird friend Fergus (Rhys Darby). He's still strange as ever, and they keep trying to get out of it. However, they soon find out that he's a locally famous talk show host. Naturally, they decide to stick around, thus putting them in the running for Worst Friends Ever. On their walk, Gloria and Phil discuss their reasons for the trip, and Gloria confesses how much she empathizes with Phil's longing to connect with his lost mother. To be honest, though I could do without the Phil-has-a-crush jokes (which seem to be getting lighter, thankfully), the two characters have managed to form a pretty interesting friendship. Their scenes can be surprisingly deep, and funny, too. Oddly enough, I feel like Phil is one of the few characters who treats Gloria as a person rather than a walking accent, which the writers are all too keen to encourage. The scene is abruptly interrupted when Phil gets bitten by something - most likely a jellyfish, from what I can tell, though considering the kind of jellyfish Australia tends to have, it's surprising that he lives long enough to run along the beach, especially since it gets both his hand and foot. This is not Phil's week, is it? Manny and Luke finally manage to locate a pair of boobs, but when Luke runs into the surf to follow them, a big wave comes along and rips off his bathing suit, which I have literally never heard of before. What, did it reach out with its wave hands and pants him? While he's screaming in terror, Beautiful Topless Woman chooses this moment to ask if he's okay. Manny helpfully explains the problem. She sweetly offers to look for it, throwing on her goggles and commenting on how clear the water is. And here we have every teenage boy's nightmare. Cam and Mitch continue to exploit their famous friend, riding around town in his limo and getting special privileges at zoos and nightclubs. They've abandoned their daughter to the care of their teenage nieces, who continue to counsel her on souvenirs while she counsels them on boys. Claire and Jay are getting along better than ever, united by their shared workaholism. Phil, miraculously still alive, tries to drag the entire family to the bush. Luke is AWOL, presumably having drowned himself from embarrassment. Cam and Mitch decide to ditch the expedition to hang out with Fergus (and Hugh Jackman). In the woods, the entire family (including Luke, though minus Cam and Mitch) march along the paths and complain about nature. Alex in particular is annoying, reading out her magical experiences on her digital recorder. It's AUSTRALIA, for a VACATION. If she tried working in Russia I'm sure she'd flee in a week. Phil annoys the shit out of their guide. Claire and Jay continue to sneak work in between gawking at trees. They decide to ditch their family to finish the deal, so Jay takes a page from Frank Underwood's book. Pushing Claire off the path, he claims she's hurt, so they have to leave. Actually, she is hurt. Naturally, their spouses see right through it. Ditching a vacation for work. Am I a horrible person for kind of hoping they step on a live taipan on their way home? Cam and Mitch arrive at the boat to find that Fergus has been exiled from Hugh's inner circle. He insulted Russell Crowe in Les Mis, though come on, that's fair game if I ever saw it. Observe: And to be fair, Cam and Mitch are on my side. Unfortunately, the Jackman boat has already sailed. We get a joke about the New Zealand pronunciation of "deck" (Fergus is a Kiwi). They decide to strike out on their own, much to Cam and Mitch's reluctance, and hire a rickety little raft-thing with a motor. Truly, it is hell. On the walk, Phil is in terrible pain and about to give up when Gloria points out a kangaroo (or is it one of Australia's zillion knock-off species?). To her, it's a sign that his mother's spirit is still with them. Having learned absolutely nothing this trip, Phil approaches the animal, and I wonder if this season might not take a dark twist after all. He approaches the creature, who of course claws him, though fortunately it's with the front paws instead of the hind. Haley, Alex and Lily manage to stumble across a souvenir stand, where Lily goes insane over a giant pile of stuffed animals. As she digs through the boxes, Haley comments that watching her is excellent birth control. Lily finally settles on a purple koala. However, when it's time to buy, she hesitates. Haley tells her not to worry, she'll never find anything better, just as Haley never found a hotter lifeguard. The moment she pays for Lily's souvenir, though, a cuter boy immediately turns up at the stand. Lily returns the koala. Manny and Luke are still dealing with the trauma of their first boob glimpse. Their guide, who is Aboriginal, invites them on a Walkabout, saying it's men-only. When they protest that they're not really men, he insists that it's all the more reason. I have no idea if this is acceptable by local standards, though a quick Google search tells me that there are Walkabouts offered to tourists, so I'm going to give the writers the benefit of the doubt and hope they did their research. As the guide helps them prepare with traditional face paint, Luke dismisses it as "makeup". Charming. Cam and Mitch have now abandoned their friend, and are on their way to rejoin the family. Or they would be if the cab hadn't broken down. Just as they're wondering if they'll be at the side of the road forever, a whole bunch of bikers pull up. At first, things look tense, with Mitchell even referring to Cam as his "friend" - though Cam puts a stop to that nonsense pretty quickly. Fortunately, the bikers turn out to be as gay as Dumbledore, and offer to reunite them with Lily as quickly as possible (as long as Cam tells them where he got his shoes). What, can't straight bikers be gay-friendly too? Reactionary Family rides again. Gloria heads back to the campsite, where she finds Jay and Claire hunched over a laptop. She flips out at Claire for abandoning her husband while he's on such a spiritually important journey. Phil is a total mess, since getting punched by a kangaroo is not exactly healthy, so Claire rushes to his side once Gloria shames her enough. A dingo runs off with Claire's laptop (no, I'm not making this up), to which Claire shrieks that a "wild dog" took it. Alex comments that it seems like a missed opportunity. I'm just relieved they didn't go for the obvious dingo-baby joke, since it's tasteless enough as is. She runs after it. Phil refuses to join her, telling her that she's on her own "like I've been this whole trip". Ouch. Meanwhile, Gloria yells at Jay for travelling halfway across the world, even leaving the baby, and not spending a moment away from work. She even mentions First Wife. Again, ouch. To cool off, Phil walks over to the sea, where he gets attacked by a biting insect and meets a Mysterious Figure. He confides in the man that he feels rejected by Australia. The man's response is to show off all his Australia-related scars. He tells Phil that his scars mean he's part of Australia, not just a tourist. Phil, of course, does not miss an opportunity to declare himself "Crocodile Dunphy". This doesn't endear him to his new friend. Phil thinks he hears a kookaburra, but when he turns to ask the man, he finds empty space. Jay follows Claire, who is hysterical about the laptop, and advises her to let things go. They decide to spend more time with their families, and share a Hug of Finally Finding Priorities. The bikers show up with Cam and Mitch. This is good news for the koala-toting Lily, who has probably forgotten she has parents at this point. Haley's hooked up with the cute Aussie dude, the boys feel like men now (strutting Bondi Beach with confidence), and everything is great. They do all the stuff on Phil's bucket list, while Alex narrates and everyone tells her to STFU. Tag scene - they fly Qantas "from Australia to Los Angeles", because apparently only Americans deserve cities. Jay and Gloria take first class seats, much to the family's resentment. Cam and Mitch wonder if perhaps they've seen Hugh Jackman up there. In fact, Cam goes to investigate, but Jay has him kicked out. Lily just sighs. Okay, so they flew them around the world for that? The whole show felt shallow as hell - no funny moments, no time to develop any of the story, no real characterization. Instead, it was a bunch of lukewarm Aussie jokes we've all heard a hundred times. Perhaps too many storylines were crammed into the episode, and a two-parter (like they did with Hawaii) might have worked out better. As it was, the episode provided nothing of real substance. I give this one a definite thumbs down. Will next week be better? FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

The Phantom Tollbooth Reread: Chapters 19 & 20 (The End)

Chapter 19: The Return of Rhyme and Reason Tock, with the Princesses on his back and Milo and the Humbug holding on the back, flies over the demons, lands on the ground, and starts running with the Princesses still on his back. They all run down the mountain trails. with demons chasing them. They meet: Triple Demons of Compromise   Horrible Hopping Hindsight    Gorgons of Hate and Malice. These guys inched along like giant soft-shelled snails, with “blazing eyes and wet anxious mouths.” They left slime behind them and moved quicker than you’d expect. OH GROSS THE IMAGERY HERE WITH THE “wet mouths.” I am seriously regretting my lunch right now. As the demons close in, they run faster and faster, but the demons move just a little bit faster than the fastest that Milo has ever run.   Then come more monsters, including: the Overbearing Know-it-all. This is a demon who is mostly mouth, who offers up misinformation. Talks a lot. His body is heavy and bulbous, with spindly legs. He tumbles often, but only hurts others. the Gross Exaggeration. Has “grotesque features” and “unpleasant mannors.” Has “rows of wicked teeth” that mangle the truth. the Threadbare Excuse. Tattered clothes, small, and constantly giving the same string of excuses. The demons keep coming, and eventually the path widens a bit and becomes flatter and lighter. And then it ends. The armies of Wisdom are there, as a last minute save. The armies include everyone that Milo has met so far, and they charge and the demons retreat. Azaz’s cabinet declares a holiday. There is a parade and celebration. Milo, Tock, and the Humbug ride in the royal carriage with Azaz and the Mathemagician, and the two princesses. Milo says that he couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help, and then Azaz and the Mathemagician tell him that the quest was, in fact, impossible. They didn’t tell him because if he knew it was impossible, he wouldn’t try. And sometimes you discover the impossible is possible if you don’t know. Or something. I guess this is the life advice of this chapter. Just don’t think it’s impossible and you’ll find a way. Well ,I want to live forever. Figure that out, Milo. Anyway, so they party and carry on and then there is a feast (with division dumplings!) and songs and poems and it goes on for a bit. Eventually the party ends and Rhyme and Reason tell Milo to say good-bye. He tries to convince Tock and Humbug to come with him (why he would want to bring this weird ass talking bug back to the real world is beyond me, but whatev. Boys are weird.). They can’t, and Milo gives them both a hug. Milo gets into his car and drives away. As he drives away, he hears the brothers start their old fight again about word vs numbers. Chapter 20: Good-by (spelling is unchanged from the book) and Hello Milo drives back to the tollbooth, puts a coin in, and ends up back in his bedroom. It’s only six p.m. on the day he left. His room appears to be very different than he remembered. The next day he rushed home from school to take another trip. Only the tollbooth is gone (so sad.) As Milo mourns this loss, he realizes that he has a million other things to do and play with and see. He’s not even sure he has the time to take another trip. The end. Thoughts: Still a pretty good book. Good wrap up to the hero’s journey. I don’t actually have much to say anymore. The demons are both adult demons and child demons. I don’t think it’s “too advanced” for a children’s book, which is something that publishers worried about back in the 60s. I think that kids tend to be smarter than we think they are, and if given the opportunity to do these things, most kids will “get it.” I also think there are kids that this book won’t do anything for. But as a fantasy book, with a hero’s quest, this book was pretty much a textbook. Structured nicely, good use of interesting words, the climax was exciting, etc.   Next YA book: I was thinking about “A Wrinkle in Time” before @WhatWouldJohnCrichtonDo? suggested it. But I’m still unsure if that’s something I feel like reading right now. I might do something a little bit happier or maybe just another adult fiction book like Jurassic Park. I can’t decide. Which I suppose is also a demon. I also have the Southern Vampire Mysteries, and Outlander, and non-fiction. Decisions, Decisions. Links to Previous Chapters: Chapters 1 & 2 Chapters 3 & 4 Chapters 5 & 6 Chapters 7 & 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapters 14 & 15 Chapter 16 Chapters 17 & 18    

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

Flowers in the Attic: "Christopher's Exploration and Its Repercussions" Part 1

Christopher's Exploration and Its Repercussions: Pages 202 - 215 (Kindle)  At the end of the last chapter, Cathy climbs in bed with her sister, while Chris dresses up like Groucho Marx and goes exploring while a rip-roaring Gatsby party rages on in the Foxworth Mansion. We were treated to descriptions of how they had to pee, what the guests ate, and Cathy's inappropriate thoughts about her brother.  Said brother stared at his mom's boobs. If they hadn't been locked in a room together, they probably would have found someone else to creep on, right?  Anyhoo, we open to Cathy being shaken awake by her mother that she barely recognizes. Corrine demands answers to Christopher's whereabouts.  Cathy tells her that he went exploring; Corrine is very displeased. She shakes Cathy "like a rag doll" and tells her that they will never be allowed out again, for any reason. Cathy recognizes that they didn't betray her as much as Corrine betraying them. There is some staring and flowery language in regards to Corrine's anger, which I won't repeat here.  Oh, who am I kidding.  I'm aware that I am from a background that is less "Foxworth Hall" and more "Mousetrap Trailer Court" so I ask the question - When being yelled at by my mother, do I remember the scent of her perfume not matching the anger in the room? Or is it just that the odor from the family next door drowned out any "flowery perfume that goes ill with her demeanor?"   Chris enters stage left. Mother is displeased. His eyes do not light up at Corrine's appearance, as expected. Corrine slaps him across the face! Twice, once on each cheek and threatens to whip both him and Cathy if he ever does something like that again. Then she hugs him and apologizes. Cathy monologues (internally - I don't know if there's a word for several paragraphs of her thoughts) about how Mother has changed, she doesn't come every day, how she used to come twice a day (phrasing!) and Cathy is scared.  Corrine slips up and says that they can't mess anything up because things are going right for her, then she quickly corrects it to "us."  There is a lot of skeeziness about her breasts.  Cathy realizes that she has never felt her cheek against the softness of her breast.  OK.  MOTY leaves them as the clock strikes 1. It was their first Christmas in the Attic. Chris and Cathy cuddle in her bed, next to Carrie. She rests her head on his chest, saying that they smell different and Chris has lost weight.  Creepy Chris defends his precious Mum to Cathy. STFU with this mansplaining bullshit.  It goes on and on.  Cathy questions why they had to wait for a TV when she could have just bought one. He claims that they wouldn't have done anything but stared at it, but instead they learned stuff, like how to create a garden out of construction paper. (pretty sure we all learned how to make a paper flower well before 14, Chris.) Cathy claims that Mother has changed. Chris claims that Cathy has changed, but won't tell her how.  Cathy drops that subject, and demands that he tell her everything he saw while exploring the halls. Batten down the hatches and tighten up your bootstraps because it's about to get weird.  He begins by describing the house. Cathy demands he pretend that she is there and he locks eyes with her and tells her she was there. In a "weird voice." Thanks for the clarification. He felt her holding his hand. Anyway, so the house is big. He went down and looked at people and talks about perspective and yadda yadda yadda, long story short, he ends up hiding behind a suit of armor when Bart and Corrine come upstairs to make out. Bart wants to see the bed, which apparently is shaped like a swan and once belonged to a French courtesan. I don't know about you, but I definitely want my next bed to be previously used by a prostitute. Chris doesn't want to talk about what he saw. Cathy asks what a courtesan and he gives her a sanitized version of a "woman who does favours for nobility" which is absurd. She's 12, she knows what sex is.  So Corrine and Bart went up to her room for some kisses and talked about the swan bed, which I guess didn't belong to a courtesan, because I didn't read very closely and am slightly confused as to why it's even been brought up, but whatever. It was her Grandmother's bed and Corrine always wanted that suite but her parents told her no because religion. Chris gets upset about the idea of corruption, as he doesn't believe that Corrine is corrupted, and Daddy loved her and they were married, etc.  Chris then tells Cathy how he also found a trophy room. (Game hunting kind of trophy) There is a portrait of the Grandfather, Malcolm Neal Foxworth and he looks very much like their father, and was painted when their father was 5. He finds the room with the swan bed and it's AMAZING. (Supposedly) There is also a baby swan bed.  Cathy asks if it was better than their house in Gladstone, which was a ranch with eight rooms and two and a half baths. I'm not an expert on architecture, but would that style of home even existed in Pennsylvania in the 1950s? I thought the whole point of "ranch-style" was that they started in the sunbelt/out west where there was more land and moved eastward, mixing with Colonial style? How do you even get 8 bedrooms in a ranch style and not have it sprawl?  They go to sleep.     

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 8.13 - The Anxiety Optimization

No, I could not resist this picture of cat-Richard Feynman. After too long a hiatus, we are back in nerd country. Enjoy it! Penny and Sheldon go out on a date, but Sheldon asks him to help test out some noise-cancelling headphones first. The couple lobs insults his way until they're satisfied he can't hear. Sheldon explains he's trying to minimize distraction for the benefit of his work, blocking out his senses at all costs. When they're gone, he begins his work on proton decay - but finds he's drawing a blank. Penny and Leonard, back from their date, roll their eyes. Opening credits. The next day, bummed about his work, Sheldon refuses to go to the university. Leonard accuses him of sulking. Stir-crazy, Sheldon goes for a walk - only as far as the hallway. He hears Penny doing some very loud workouts. She tells him that unpleasantness is a huge part of why she keeps exercising, as she feels more accomplished the worse it is. Lightbulb. Howard invents a new game called "Emily or Cinnamon?", where the players have to guess whether Raj's comment was about...well, Emily or Cinnamon. Raj takes exception to this, but the others are having way too much fun. Sheldon shows up after all, claiming he's found the secret to his physicists' block. He needs to make his environment less pleasant, and the others all have to help. Needless to say, they're thrilled. Amy conducts a series of neurological tests to measure Sheldon's optimum anxiety level, treating him more or less like the mice in her lab. She keeps irritating him with various stimuli, including rubbing a balloon next to his ear, but this only causes him to freak out. Sheldon reaches his optimum anxiety, which he is very pleased about - but this causes it to drop, which freaks him out, and soon he is trapped in a vicious yo-yo. While the others play "Emily or Cinnamon?", Sheldon tells them of how successful his mission was. The guys, of course, tease him into a frenzy, which was the exact effect he needed. And if this sounds like it's getting tiresome and repetitive, well, it is. Penny is in a sales competition at work, for which the prize is a trip for two to Hawaii. She's debating who to take, since none of her options are that much fun. Sheldon has decided that he needs to have an evening of "girl talk" to become uncomfortable, and asks the women to talk about their periods. Unfortunately, this devolves into a "Can werewolves swim?" discussion. And I can't mention werewolves, ever, without this. Sheldon plays sounds of various comic book villains, with what looks like underwear on his head (it's brain monitors, but it sure looks like underwear), in order to increase his lack of comfort. He also wears the brain monitors on his date night with Amy. Amy confesses that she is worried about him, since he's starting to fall apart. Of course, Sheldon thinks falling apart is great. "Emily or Cinnamon" continues. And yeah, it is a great game, especially when you see Raj's reaction. They discuss Sheldon's new kick, and though they agree he's getting his work done, they're getting increasingly annoyed with his bizarre behaviour. Then they go back to the game. Meanwhile, Amy is getting frustrated with Sheldon's constant work talk, and finally demands that he stop. She impassionedly tells him that his brilliance is innate, not from a dumb system, and asks that he remove his cap. Cut to Sheldon on a bus telling a stranger why his girlfriend threw him out. By this point, he's hallucinating armadillos, so it's safe to say he needs to give up. Leonard and Penny escort Sheldon to bed, telling him that the President of Science is waiting. Sheldon is so far gone that he believes this. They encourage him to make himself comfortable, despite his protests. Penny sings him "Soft Kitty" (Leonard helps) and he's a goner. After he's out, Leonard and Penny discuss smothering him. At lunch the next day, Sheldon is in much better shape and getting work done. Raj brings Emily to lunch, where she tells them how sexy she thinks his sensitivity can be. She plants a kiss on him - and comes up with a mouthful of dog hair. Charming. So, yeah, this episode was pretty thin. And repetitive. There wasn't a lot of character development, and to be honest not much that was funny, except for "Emily or Cinnamon", which definitely had its moments. It's safe to say this week was a bit of a snoozer. Oh well. Next week, guys, next week. FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 25.4 - YOLO

After last week's highly depressing post-Marcia Wallace episode, I'm ready for some fun. How about you? We inexplicably begin with a James Bond-like iris over the opening credits, complete with theme music. The credits proceed as normal. Blackboard: "My school schedule does not include a bye week". We cut straight from blackboard to couch, where the Simpsons try to wander across the room in a zero-g manner. It's actually pretty beautiful, with a lovely score. Homer winds up getting sucked through the roof and out of the house. I think it's supposed to parody Gravity, but Google does not see fit to enlighten me. Bart is about to christen his newly assembled model roller coaster. However, Milhouse is pissed off that Bart always gets to go first, and stops the little car in protest. Bart isn't happy, so Milhouse literally pushes him out of the way. Is it just me, or is Bart's voice getting more womanly and Milhouse's more gravelly? I guess even voice actors can't stay the same for a quarter of a century. They wind up getting into a fistfight, destroying the roller coaster. Time for Homer and Marge to intervene. They notice that Milhouse's face has gotten all swollen and weird. Apparently he can die from sniffing a nectarine. We get a closeup of his gross red eyes, as well as the loud whistling sound he makes breathing through his tear ducts. He also inexplicably throws up mac and cheese through his nose. Rather than, I don't know, feeling sorry for the kid, Marge and Homer just get annoyed and try to send him home. However, Kirk surprises them by turning up in a fancy new car with a "YOLO" license plate. He then explains the concept to Homer and Marge, who are dismissive of Kirk's "mid-life crisis". Later that night, Homer and Marge make fun of Kirk's new changes. However, Marge inadvertently reminds Homer that they've lived the same life for years, and it will NEVER change. Suddenly it sinks in. Marge wishes him goodnight - but Homer can't sleep. Kent Brockman arrives at the school to interview Skinner. The principal quickly shuts down his fetish porn and prepares for what he assumes is a puff piece. However, it is actually a takedown of the school's cheating scandal. Skinner maintains that there is no cheating, but Kent has the thirty identical student assignments and compromising video footage to prove him wrong. "Cheater Cheater Booger Eaters" is aired that night, and Skinner is destroyed. Homer wanders around, miserable, to a "You Only Live Once" Shirley Bassey-style parody. So that was the James Bond reference in the opening credits. Stretching it, guys, stretching it. Anyway, Homer aimlessly lives his life, tired of his job, tired of his DVR, and taking solace in food. That - that honestly feels close to home. But I digress. Lying on the kitchen floor, Homer finishes the song, then bursts into tears. He's still crying at Moe's. The bartender offers him comfort, all while liquoring him up. Marge is worried about him, too. Homer maintains that he wants to live in the past, and digs up some old correspondence from his Spanish pen pal, Eduardo. Homer sighs over his carefree childhood and dreams of being King of Cheeseburger Mountain. Angry parents stream into the school for a special meeting about the scandal. Skinner talks about "initiating a dialogue", but this has about as much success as it does in real life. Krabappel makes a snappy comment - ouch, my heart - but Lisa has a real solution. She proposes instituting an honour code, the little brownnoser. Yeah, like that's ever stopped a cheater before. Just ask half the people I went to university with. Everyone else is about as skeptical as I am. Lisa argues that students will behave better if it's under their own power, however, so they wind up supporting it. Homer hears a knock on the door and gets a surprise - Eduardo's come to visit! Marge invited him out of the goodness of her heart. The man is stunned by Homer's appearance, but composes himself and gets down to saving Homer's soul. He fondly remembers their pen pal exchange, which he apparently read while working on the construction of the Sagrada Familia. Gaudi reference FTW. Eduardo kind of looks like Javier Bardem, but is voiced by the same guy who does all the Spanish-accented characters on this show. Sigh. Anyway, Eduardo took all the YOLO risks he always wanted, including having eight wives and 200 children. Homer somehow thinks he has a disadvantage. Um, doesn't one stable relationship and some sort of half-assed parenting trump endless marital upheaval and so many kids you can't remember their names? Maybe they all begin with J? Eduardo is going to help Homer achieve these ridiculous dreams. He promises Marge the safe return of a risk-taking, horny husband, and they're off. Marge is cool with it, especially after he speaks in gorgeous Spanish to her. Lisa is having trouble getting the kids to sign the code. Her strategy? Get Nelson to do it, and everyone else will. Though she has to bait him by inviting Milhouse up first, and thus awakening his need to defend his toughness. Nelson signs. She continues with more titles, including "smartest" and "class nerd", and soon everyone's signing. Eduardo and Homer speed away on a remote road, guided by a book of Homer's childhood dreams. We've heard some of these before (own the Dallas Cowboys, run out on a baseball field, be a contestant on The Gong Show). Hey, whatever happened to those? I don't think we've had one since, like, season 6. You know, guys, after a hiatus of two decades, it's okay to bring an old joke or two back. So we montage Homer's adventures. Here lies my problem with this episode. Hasn't Homer had an epic fuckton of adventures? Winning a Grammy, getting blasted into space, travelling absolutely everywhere, touring with Lollapalooza, trying out about fifty careers, jumping across the Springfield Gorge, owning the Denver Broncos. Surely one couldn't ask for more out of life? The man's entire existence has been one cool moment after another. He is the last person in need of YOLO. Rant aside, the two ride on a fire truck and appear in The Pirates of Penzance. This offers an absolutely golden opportunity for an appearance by Jon Lovitz as Llewellyn Sinclair. You may remember him from Season 4, where he directed Marge in the Streetcar Named Desire musical. I'm not sure why they brought him back for three seconds, but it's great to see him. Man, this episode is getting really retro. (Tragically, his sister's Ayn Rand School for Tots does not make an appearance.) They also re-enact Star Trek with materials rented from Comic Book Guy, who thrives on the opportunity to savage their re-creation. Krabappel (sob) reminds her students of the honor code as she passes out a test. Everything is going well - for now. All is well with Homer, too, as he relishes getting to do all the things he ever wanted. Marge is less enthusiastic, feeling left out. She, too had a childhood dream - jumping on the bed. Sadly, she could never disobey her parents. Homer suggests that they do it, but Marge just wants to snuggle and go to sleep. Homer actually turns down sex in favor of jumping. She gives in, and they have a fun time. Meanwhile, Ned and Eduardo make their acquaintance outside. They are as different as chalk and cheese, but both essentially kindhearted, so it works. Homer and Eduardo have finished the book, so they go out to celebrate. Homer remarks that he hasn't felt so good in years. However, there is one dream left. Homer wants to jump out of a plane like Rocky the flying squirrel, using a special suit with expandable wings. This is called "wingsuit flying" and is famous for killing people. In real life, it's done with parachutes to finish off, which these guys don't seem to have. Homer chickens out and tells Eduardo he'd rather think about June Foray, the voice of Rocky, as a way to honor the character instead. (Foray, incidentally, was the voice of Granny in the Tweety and Sylvester Cartoons, is alive today, and was parodied in "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show".)  Eduardo is having none of this and pushes him out. An old-timey cartoon narration, complete with title cards, advises us to tune in to the next cliffhanging episode of "Fat Splat". I'm just disappointed that Boris and Natasha haven't made an appearance. The honor code is working wonders, and the school is in perfect harmony. Lisa asks for extra credit. Instead, she gets a pumpkin. Willie offers to carve it, but when she turns him down, he darkly mutters that he has to carve something. What is this, Treehouse of Horror? So Homer is freefalling to earth while Eduardo advises him to glide, not flap. The ground is getting closer... Lisa finds a bomb in her backpack, only to realize she accidentally took Bart's. She's relieved, until she notices that Bart got 100% on his test. Countless more perfect tests reveal that Bart has been cheating all along. However, as Bart points out, reporting the crime will unravel the honor code's image of effectiveness, and we can't have that, can we? Lisa might lose her pumpkin! Homer and Eduardo glide along, delighted to be one with the squirrels. However, Marge pleads with him (via his headphone) to come down - it's too risky. The other side of YOLO is that once you're dead, you're dead. Someone hasn't studied cartoon physics. Homer panics, but Eduardo rips off the headphone before he can change his mind. So they soar through the sky, flying through the Lard Lad donut and over the tire fire - which promptly lights Homer's suit. Fortunately, the Duff Blimp puts it out. However, there are more mishaps along the way... Lisa has gone insane from her dilemma, and confronts Bart. She will force him to turn himself in, proving the students' accountability once and for all. Wait, wasn't part of the honor code informing on each other? How does her turning him in disprove it at all? Well, there's no time to talk about it, because Homer hits ground and makes a big crater in the schoolyard. Bart agrees to turn himself in - yeah, just like that - and spends his time in detention, working on the Detention Quilt with the bullies. At Springfield General Hospital, Homer recovers from his adventures while Eduardo congratulates him on living the dream. With a new sense of calm and no regrets, Homer is happy - which Dr. Hibbert attributes to all the morphine. Homer wakes up in his home, asking for Eduardo. He opens his pen pal book and realizes it was all just a dream. However, Eduardo comes in telling him it was all real - and he needs a ride to the airport. Homer asks if he should drop him at the curb, or walk him in. "Go as far as your heart will take you," Eduardo advises. We cut to the Sagrada Familia, where Homer and Eduardo walk together, good friends on one last adventure. "You Only Live Once" plays over the closing credits. Well, what did I think? The entire premise was stupid, but it played out surprisingly well. For all the repetition - and let's face it, the utter pointlessness of pretending Homer's never had the opportunity for adventure - there were some good moments between friends and some exploration of what makes Homer tick. Lisa and Bart's story was rather forgettable. Next week - Elisabeth Moss guest stars! Bring it on! FJ Discussion Thread  

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

The Phantom Tollbooth Reread: Chapter 11

Chapter 11: Dischord and Dynne Milo wakes up at the prescribed time and chooses not to wake up Chroma for the sunrise. As the musicians have been performing since the dawn of time, he figures they probably know what to do by themselves anyway. A few more excuses and Milo raises his arms up and begins to conduct the symphony. He’s surprised that it goes well, and then decides to stop them and go get Chroma. Unfortunately, they don’t stop, and the sky turns funny colors and he keeps trying harder and harder and it gets worse and worse. Finally, Milo drops his hands to his sides and they stop. It’s been one week and four minutes. The group (minus Chroma) leave and Alec gives Milo a telescope. It’s so that Milo can see things as they really are, not just as they seem to be. So that’s two gifts that this kid has been given for no real reason, but I imagine (spoiler: I know) that they will be useful later in the story. They drive away from where they have been, and come across a carnival wagon belonging to “Kakofonous A Dischord, Doctor of Dissonance.” The A stands for “as loud as possible” (which is printed larger, bold, and in all caps). “Dr.” Discord is a strange man, with ears as large as his head and a raspy voice. He invites them in and they talk about noise. Dr. Dissonance goes on about medicine and sound and healing things that don’t exist. The “Doctor” summons a genie-like creature to give him the “medicine” that our heroes refuse. The creature is called “DYNNE” (all in caps.) and they all discuss noise and the importance of it. Eventually, Milo & Friends leave, driving toward the Valley of Sound. DYNNE and Discord warn Milo to be careful.   Thoughts: Milo learns that conducting a symphony is out of his skill range. Alec teaches him to see things as they are, and Dr. Discord & DYNNE (who are two characters I don’t really like and I sort of skimmed over that part) teach him how most sounds are useful.  Since I’ve read this before, I know that Milo will soon come to the Silent Valley, which is called the Valley of Sound, and there will be no noise.  I liked how they showed the Humbug and Tock as opposites. When they entered the carnival wagon, Tock entered first, ready to fight to protect Milo if needed. The Humbug hung back, ready to flee.

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 25.5 - Labor Pains

Sunday programming is so much easier now that Downton's off the air for the time being. Too bad I'm bringing in Girls once it premieres midseason, just to complicate things. (If there is a God, it will be finished before the seventh season of Mad Men comes along.) The things your blogger does for you. Speaking of Mad Men, tonight we have a very special appearance from Ms. Elisabeth Moss! She is the third cast member to appear on The Simpsons, following Jon Hamm and Jon Slattery. Let's see what she and Springfield have to offer. Chalkboard: "Rocktober is not followed by Blowvember". Couch gag: Simpson pilgrims get on a weirdly-animated Mayflower for America. After an arduous journey, they reach Plymouth Couch. They are invited to a $19.95 Thanksgiving Dinner by Apu. That last sentence...has so many things wrong with it I don't know where to begin. Damn, they are going to get slammed in the press for this. Blatant racism aside, everyone settles down for a nice dinner. Maggie is in the process of choosing a new pacifier, which apparently takes more time than buying a house. Marge finally gives up and gives her back her old one, even though the dog chewed on it. Lisa is inexplicably interested in "American football" this week, and as usual reads too much into it. Homer, gulping a banana-and-syrup breakfast on the go, tells Marge he's working late because of the economy. (Read: "I'm going to poker at Carl's apartment because I hate life.") Moe loses the poker game and a good chunk of his blood in the process - hence why bodily fluids make poor betting material. Homer wins, not entirely ethically, and heads out with some food and a ton of poker chips. He gets into the elevator, where he is joined by Elisabeth Moss, who does not sound like Elisabeth Moss, mainly because in my mind Elisabeth Moss pretty much sounds like Peggy Olson.   Like her live-action counterpart, Moss's character (Gretchen) is single, her baby's father is nowhere to be found, and the little cherub is coming unexpectedly. The elevator predictably breaks. Homer is instantly converted to Mr. Midwife. He tries to be comforting, even referencing Alien. You know. That part with the cat at the end. For some extra help, he flashes back to his Lamaze class, where he played the part of "the pregnant woman carrying big". Fortunately, at this point he doesn't really need to remember much, because it's pretty undramatic. A boy is born a couple of seconds later. Gretchen is thankful to him both for being there and for caring - as opposed to the dude in the corner who didn't even look up from his newspaper (and happened to be a doctor). So Homer goes home in awe of motherhood, which naturally delights Marge. At the football game, the local cheerleading squad needs the help of a "junior" from the audience. And who should they pick but Lisa? (Milhouse is disappointed it's not him.) Of course, Lisa is a bit iffy on the whole concept of cheerleading, but they bring her onto the field anyway, and before she knows it, she is sucked into the routine. Surprisingly, she enjoys it. Though she has to correct Milhouse when he proclaims he's dating a cheerleader. On the way out, she notices how little the cheerleaders are paid and remarks that it seems unfair. They agree with her, and complain more about their working conditions. Lisa certainly has some food for thought. Homer leaves Carl's apartment again, only to run into Gretchen in the hallway. I have to say, it's pretty cool that they animated her as looking kind of pregnant-ish, like many women look after they have a baby. She's named the baby Homer and would like to introduce him. The Homers wind up very taken with each other, and after a while Grown-Up Homer is showing up at Gretchen's with boxes of baby stuff. She is going stir crazy and ropes him into babysitting for an hour. He happily skips out on the increasingly violent poker with Moe. Instead, he plays Peek-A-Boo and "The Simpsons: Tapped Out" with Homer Junior ("HoJu"). And yes, they really did just use a joke from Season 4, for real, in this show. (Episode: "Marge vs the Monorail".) Soon enough, Homer becomes like an extra parent. He combs Hoju's hair like his own, thinks of HoJu while he plays with Maggie - it's okay, she's imagining being Flanders' daughter - and even introduces the kid to Itchy and Scratchy. This one, called "Cat's in the Cradle" (okay, you've definitely used that joke about seven times before), concerns Itchy adopting an infant Scratchy and then brutally murdering him. And yes, they did do this episode backwards before, with infant Itchy being adopted by Scratchy and then brutally murdering him. A series that runs twenty-five years will inevitably repeat its jokes - but come on, this is giving a new meaning to repetitive. At the Springfield Trader Joe's knock-off, Marge spies Homer buying baby things and assumes they're for Maggie. He blithely tells her the whole story, and she is outraged. Oh, wait, that's what he imagines if he does tell the truth. In reality, he agrees that he's shopping for Maggie, but does it so badly that Marge gets suspicious. Lisa shows up at cheerleading practice, where she informs the women that they're being exploited, with no access to any of the profits, killer hours at a dangerous job, and webcam broadcasts of all their practices without their consent. That's right, Lisa's going to start a cheerleader's union. Oh, well, at least their protests will be more entertaining than others. The Rich Texan (who owns the team) doesn't take this too well. Lisa and the cheerleaders persist, and he agrees to "say no in the nicest way possible". Fortunately, Lisa knows how to live to fight another day, and brings the cheerleaders to paint strike signs in the treehouse - which brings every man in Springfield to the Simpsons' yard. Marge is not impressed. She mentions that it's weird that Homer isn't there. Bart says he claims to be working. Since Marge was not born yesterday, she sees right through this, and decides he must be playing poker. She storms off to find him. The cheerleaders give her an appropriately spectacular sendoff. She's surprised to find Carl alone. As she walks down the hall wondering where Homer could be, she suddenly hears his voice - "Oh, baby, shake it, Homer like." Assuming the obvious, she flings open the door - to find Hoju shaking a rattle at Homer. With Hoju's name and makeover to look like Homer, Marge easily deduces that this is her husband's secret love child and Gretchen his mistress. She swoons over being a "Schwarzenegger wife", but Homer insists he can explain. After a commercial break, the story has been cleared up and Marge is surprisingly cool with it, despite overwhelming evidence that Homer is a cheating manwhore. However, she insists that Homer and Hoju never meet again. Homer tearfully bids the child goodbye, telling him that he's now man of the house. Seeing the sorrow in both Homers, Marge reluctantly gives in. They can spend a few hours together every once in a while. Hey, if they've formed a bond, why not? Every kid could use an extra adult figure to guide them, and Homer seems sincere enough. Change his hairstyle, though, it looks super suspicious. The local cheerleaders, weather girls and au pairs go on strike, depriving the town of hot women. Scab cheerleaders are brought in - Nelson's mom, Patty and Selma, and the Crazy Cat Lady - but it's no use. The men of Springfield just can't get loud without some sexy ladies. Woody Guthrie plays to underscore the cheerleader's cause, which is actually pretty funny. The message here is incredibly mixed. On the one hand, the show fetishizes hot bodies, implying that men will go insane and cover their eyes if un-tight abs dare to assault their vision. On the other hand? Hot women are often overlooked as deserving freedom from scrutiny, so thank you for pointing that out. Overall, not a fan of this subplot. Homer sings Hoju to sleep with the "Simpsons" theme, then complains to Marge at home about how tired he is. Marge, disappointed that he isn't drunk for the first time ever, rightly wants to know why he isn't doing this kind of stuff with his own kids. Homer says it's cool - he's taking all four of his kids to the zoo tomorrow. I'm surprised Marge doesn't explode. And possibly demand a DNA test. Seriously, that kid looks more like him than any of the Simpson kids. The cheerleaders are tired of not cheering, and fed up with the strike. The Rich Texan arrives at just the right moment to strike a deal. They accept a raise very quickly. Well, that's done, I guess. The four kids spend an uneasy afternoon at the zoo with Homer. Maggie especially resents the intruder. Pretty soon they come to blows. Homer and Bart start to fight, too, as Lisa pleads with them to stop and watch the capybaras. Homer tries to distract them by taunting the monkeys - "I have a soul and you guys don't!" - but they just take him captive, a plot which, oh I don't know, this show has done TWICE ALREADY. See: Ned Flanders with the baboons and Bart with the mother ape. Maggie pushes Hoju out of the cart, and Hoju stands up and pushes the cart away, sending Maggie to her doom. Wait, Hoju can walk? How long has this episode lasted? Shouldn't the kids have aged another year by now? Dammit, stop making me ask these troublesome existential questions! While Maggie is rolling toward the prairie dog labyrinth, Homer tries to free himself from the monkeys. Fortunately, the little genius manages to stop the cart with an impromptu dino-wand brake. However, we should point out that Maggie did this - and thus Homer has failed as a father. Marge steps in and tells him that he's gone too far. It's time to ditch "that elevator baby". Homer agrees, sobbing, while his three kids ask for therapy. So that's where all their money goes. I thought it was paying for Maggie at the grocery store each week! Homer walks Hoju back to Gretchen's apartment, and decides to give all the fatherly advice he knows along the way. Since it's Homer, the advice is terrible but truthful. "Girls are great and terrible at the same time. And most importantly - whoops, we're here, you'll have to figure it out on your own." Fortunately, a totally predictable surprise awaits - HoJu's dad has come back! From the army. Yeah, he's a soldier. Gretchen conveniently forgot to mention that part. Also, he had no idea he was a father until now. Oh, well, everything gets swept under the rug and they become a happy family. Homer says goodbye to Hoju. Hoju's dad assures him that one day, he'll have kids of his own. When Homer admits he actually does have kids, the whole thing suddenly seems a lot creepier. Homer walks out ashamed. The guys are still playing poker, but he just walks on by. He arrives home expecting anger, but all he finds is a happy Maggie, who offers him her doll as a substitute baby. He takes Maggie and "baby" into his arms, as her thought bubble changes from "Flanders with baby bottle" to "Homer with beer bottle". That's right, kid, appreciate what you've got for now. Therapy comes later. We get a filler scene (no, really - you can tell they just needed to pad until the credits rolled, and possibly give Elisabeth Moss some extra lines) where Hoju demonstrates that he can already open a beer bottle with a key and pour the perfect glass. Guess Homer isn't a useless dad after all. Over the credits, we get cheerleading product ads. Homer bemoans missing all the cheerleaders in his house. In the meantime, want a copy of the "Cheera Sutra"? This episode was awful. It never went anywhere, never did anything, and constantly recycled old jokes, going from "meta" to "amnesiac". The Lisa plot was filler that pretended to make a point. Elisabeth Moss was totally wasted (come on, was there anything in her part that one of the regular actors couldn't do?). Nothing was funny, nothing had a message. Maybe an odd line or two brought out a smile, but that was it. Thumbs down for this week. In honor of our guest star this week, let's find an appropriate Mad Men GIF to play me out. Ah, yes, this is the one...     FJ Discussion Thread  

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 8.8 - The Prom Equivalency

Hey guys! Everything the actors have been hinting at suggests that this is going to be a big episode. I'm a little skeptical, due to the marketing machinations of the Hollywood world, but definitely game. Take your bets on whether Penny's pregnant, Howard goes to space again, or Amy and Sheldon finally do it, and let's get going. Over lunch at CalTech, the guys discuss Howard's mom, who is apparently still dating Stuart, which creeps Howard out immensely. Sheldon throws in trivia to keep everyone on their toes. Opening credits, and dear god I need a drink already. Penny has cleared out her wardrobe, since she has to replace it with work-ready outfits. One of the outfits is her prom dress, which prompts everyone to relive their memories of that one special high school moment. It turns out that everyone has terrible memories, except Penny, since no smart people can ever have friends or dates. This immediately prompts the idea of a prom do-over, because a bunch of grown-ass women have nothing better to do. This also brings up another issue - why do all the girls hang out completely separately from the boys, almost all the time? Is there no room for a Sheldon/Bernadette hang out, or something? It bugs me that all activities are so clearly split along gender lines. Raj is on board with the prom thing, since it's such an American thing to do, but no one else can muster up enthusiasm. Sheldon is especially disdainful, obviously. However, Leonard is at least happy to be going with someone as pretty as Penny. Bernadette is so excited that her voice keeps going high-pitched, in the key of "makes me want to kill myself". However, the party has a massive damper on it when Stuart invites Howard's mom. Bernadette shrewdly points out that Howard has no room to talk, since his mom was his date, too. However, it turns out that Stuart is inviting someone else, to which Howard asks whether he's cheating. There is just no way this guy can win, right? Sheldon desperately tries to ditch prom, inviting Penny along for the escape. Hearing this, Penny blindsides him by introducing him to the concept of "post-prom mating rituals". Sheldon admits he's open to these rituals, which stuns Penny, until Sheldon admits it's all part of a fantasy where he pretends to be an alien. Yeah, I'm confused too. Eventually, he is stuffed into a tux (complete with bowtie, because Bruce Wayne wears one) and the party begins. He even brings a flask, because spiking the punch (with pomegranate juice) is another timeless ritual. I don't need to tell you what Leonard thinks of this. Leonard chooses this moment to give him the "hormone talk", at which Sheldon is terrified that he'll have to lose his virginity. Why they can't just leave the asexual guy alone, I don't know. Let's hope they don't decide to roofie him. Prom night begins, and I have to say, everyone cleans up nicely. Amy looks downright sexy, with her hair flying about like that. However, Sheldon is terrified by the mere prospect of sex and runs out on his date. Raj invites Emily, who is still creepy as fuck (ask her about her tattoo, I dare you), and Stuart brings Jeannie. If this name sounds familiar - she's Howard's second cousin. And the taker of Howard's virginity, long ago. Penny and Leonard go up to the decorated rooftop and discuss their past proms. They wind up sharing a slow dance, alone, before anyone else shows up. Sheldon, in the midst of a panic attack, has barricaded himself in his bedroom. Amy goes after him and finds out that he's feeling a lot of pressure to have coitus. Jeannie and Stuart seem really tight, which drives Howard to distraction. Bernadette's none too pleased, either, but Emily finds it hilarious. Honestly, I'm liking her character more and more. Sheldon admits that he thought Amy looked pretty, and that was what panicked him. Amy admits that she always hope for sex, but a nice time would be enough. She starts to say something else, something he doesn't have to say back - and he interrupts you with "I love you, too." Everyone watching falls off their chairs. That's right, Sheldon and Amy love each other, and the world is upside down. Amy has a panic attack of her own at his words. Everyone poses for awkward prom pictures, except for Howard, who flips out when Raj tells him to say "Cousin" instead of "cheese". Stuart gets a call from Mrs Wolowitz, and runs out on his date, much to her disgust. End credits. Well, TBBT has long consisted of interesting premises poorly executed, but this is an example of a dumb premise well-executed. The prom plot was a tad creaky, but provided for some great moments between the characters - not least the new development between Amy and Sheldon. I'd honestly believe this before any sort of carnal development. Howard's outrage was quite funny, and the many jabs at everyone's past refrained from getting too stale. Even Emily had a couple of good moments. The episode had little in the way of plot, but in my opinion, it really didn't matter this time. This week, everyone was on game. Can they keep it up?   FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

Flowers in the Attic: Prologue & "Good-bye, Daddy"

I thought I might attempt a reread of the "classic" coming of age/incestfest novel "Flowers in the Attic." Those of us of a certain age remember reading these in secret, learning about horror and sex and rich people's games. I, however, did not read it in secret. Rather my mom checked it out of the library for me. I'm not sure why, or what about it appealed to her or if the librarian suggested it. But somehow I ended up reading this one and a number of other VC Andrews books.  For those of you who don't know, VC Andrews wrote this book, and a handful of others. Then she died and the publishers hired a ghostwriter to finish off this series, the Casteel Series, and a few others. He later added to this series, rewriting them from Christopher's POV. I have not read that far into it. Too many terrible books by this "author." Flowers in the Attic is a story about a preteen who is literally locked in an attic with her two brothers and sister. By her mother and grandmother.  Anyway, I paid money for the kindle edition of this book, i'm not sure why. I had forgotten that it's divided up into "parts" and then "chapters."  We start with the Prologue, which is written from Cathy's POV. It's clear that we are supposed to believe that she is literally writing this novel. She compares herself to Charles Dickens, says she is using false names, and living in fake places. She claims that she thinks of herself and her family as "flowers in the attic." Paper flowers. Brightly colored and then faded and dulled through nightmarish days. K.  Chapter One: Good-bye Daddy.  Cathy, our main character, has a brother named Chris. Her father's name is Christopher, her mother's name is Corrine, and her twin brother and sister are called Cory and Carrie. This should be fun. Not at all confusing. She describe at length how great her father was. He was 6'2, 180, tan, "hair was thick and flaxen blond, waved enough to be perfect; his eyes were cerulean blue and sparkled with laughter." He played tennis and golf and ran away all week leaving the kids in the car of their mother. He "warmed their mouths with kisses."  I thought the incest came later.  Her mother, on the other hand, would spend half the day in a beauty parlor, come home, bathe, "emerge in a filmy negligee." Because that's exactly how 12-year-old girls describe their parents. Much is made about how her mother is "a creature so ravishingly beautiful she didn't look real." and Momma answers questions with kisses. (Mother kisses father, but father spends a LOT of time kissing Cathy as well.)  Cathy tells the story of when she and Christopher found out that Mother was pregnant and the twins came; Cathy was upset so father came and talked to her. Beautiful bit of prose:  Then Daddy slips a gold ring on Cathy's finger.  The twins are born, and we get a bit of foreshadowing with the babysitter remarking that Corrine and Christopher look more like "brother and sister than husband and wife."   We find out that they are called "Dollanganger" but sometimes people call them the "Dresden dolls" which I'm guessing I don't know about because this book was published before I was born.  Christopher (Daddy) is killed in a car accident on his 36th birthday. Oy, I can't imagine having a 14 year old right now. Also I probably read these when I was Cathy's age and now I'm almost Christopher's age and ugh I'm going to have a completely different perspective on these books, aren't i?  It's a sad story about how they were waiting with friends and he's killed and I remember reading about how they found the plushies and clothes on the side of the road when the suitcase was ejected from the car.  Even sadder is this is just the first car accident that VC Andrews wrote and it's probably the best executed. I mean, later there will be another car accident in this series, and I know there is at least one in the Casteel series. That can't be it though! I mean, these books all have the same things going on: incest, deaths, houses that are named, extreme poverty, abuse, extreme wealth, tragic accidents (I believe there is a character in the Casteel series who is thrown from his horse and dies, tragically. Only he's not dead! He is hiding because he loves someone he can't be with!)  Anyway, the car accident is described through dialogue, which.. well, here:  Brilliant writing. Very realistic dialogue.  At some point after the funeral Cathy and her Mamma have a talk. Cathy wants to pretend that her daddy will come home, Corinne doesn't want that. And then we find out that Cathy feels envy towards her mother, as she looks like her mother, but comes in second after her. Um. OK.  IIRC, Christopher and Corinne are half brother/half sister? Or some other sort of relation; either way I guess they don't have the same mother.  I'm still on the first chapter. Page 26 out of 411. We find out that Christopher and Corinne made most of their purchases on credit; that Corinne is the reason why - she asked for the bigger house, and she would convince him that luxuries were necessities. Everything will be repossessed. It's tragic. Cathy cries about losing her dolls. The mom is talking about hiding the engagement ring. Then she gives Christopher and Cathy the "good news" which is that they will be going to Virginia, where she grew up. And her parents are rich! "Not just middle-class rich, or upper-class rich, but very, very rich! Filthy, unbelievably, sinfully rich!" Because that's what children who just lost their loving father care about.  They can only bring two suitcases for four kids, as the mom needs two for her things. She's already the most selfish mother I've read about in the last 20 minutes and we haven't even gotten to the part where she locks the kids in the attic yet.  Also:  That's when "Momma" decides to let them know that their "real" surname is Foxworth. Both of Corinne's older brothers died in "accidents." I vaguely remember one of them driving off of a cliff on his motorcycle. Obviously the lesson learned from VC Andrews is: don't be poor. don't be "filthy rich." don't drive cars or motorcycles or ride horses or go skiing. Also, it's okay to love your brother and marry him.  Christopher pleads for her to reconsider & find a way. She gives a little rant about how she has no skills and can't support four children. OBVIOUSLY this is the only option. To go back to Foxworth Hall and try to get back into her father's will. Not, you know, go to secretary school and ask the church for a handout or get on food stamps and move into a smaller house and do odd jobs. Nope, this is VC Andrews world, where a father in W. Virginia literally sold his children (one of which ends up mauled by a tiger) and where it's perfectly normal to seduce your stepfather for revenge.  Or to buy a daughter from a shack in the West Virginia Mountains, and proceed to abuse her. I think someone in one of the books was forced to drink castor oil to induce a miscarriage as well.  Anyway, so Corinne (Momma) needs two suitcases for her things and the four children have to share the other two suitcases. They leave just about everything behind. 

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

The Phantom Tollbooth Reread: Chapter 12

Chapter 12: The Silent Valley   Milo, Humbug, and Tock drive down the highway. Humbug is humming, Tock is being a dog, Milo is thinking that everything is pleasant. They drive through a heavy stone gateway and suddenly everything is different. It takes a few minutes for them to realize that they had entered into a valley devoid of sound. Milo tries to speak but nothing comes out, the wind isn’t rustling leaves, the Humbug is humming silently. They come across a crowd of people silently protesting with large signs. The people are obviously silently shouting, and the signs are all in reference to the silence. They also have a large brass cannon. And placards that conveniently let them ask questions of the trio.  The protesters write out the story of why everything is silent. The Soundkeeper was appointed by the Old King of Wisdom as a guardian of all sounds and noises. She released sounds and categorized them, everyone lived in peace, etc. Then people came in and brought new ways and new sounds, and people laughed less. The soundkeeper got upset with the new noises not being beautiful anymore and refused to allow any sound at all. Milo is tasked with petitioning the Soundkeeper for a sound, so the protestors can break down the fortress. He accepts this sidequest, and heads to the fortress. When Milo arrives at the fortress, he finds that the Soundkeeper is a nice lady who is lonely and covered in bells. She calls herself several times a day, and listens to silence on the radio. They have some discussions about how there are different types of silence. Soundkeeper shows Milo around, and her collection of all the sounds ever. She has an envelope containing the tune the George Washington whistled when he crossed the Delaware in 1777. There is a super cool area in the fortress where people like Milo can make sounds the sounds physically manifest. They hit a base drum, and giant cotton balls appear. He claps his hands, and sheets of paper fall from the ceiling. Eventually Milo asks about releasing sounds again, Soundkeeper says no. Milo catches the word “but” on the tip of his tongue, literally, and decides to smuggle it out that way. They leave.   Thoughts:   Ha Ha, the Humbug hums. Sounds, like words, are physical objects in the Lands Beyond. This seems to fit the themes of “not appreciating what you have.” The people in the Valley preferred the noise of DYNNE and the Soundkeeper preferred pretty noises, so the extreme was to allow no noise. Like the city of “Reality” in the past, the people didn’t use the nice sounds (or look at the nice buildings) so they got nothing. Nice wordplay with “On the tip of his tongue.” I always loved the "sound room" where noises you make come out as objects. I wish there were a place to do that.     

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 4.20 - Flip Flop

Okay, I’m getting really bored with the “Claire and Cam Flip a House†storyline. There were some fun times playing the two of them against each other, and the appearance from Pam was gold, but it should have been finished an episode or two ago. There’s only so many times you can make Cam into a diva about interior decorating and send Claire into a “Mommy to the World†state of control-freakishness. Perhaps with this episode, the house-flipping will finally be at an end, and we can get back to more inventive plotlines. The cold open consists of Cam and Claire taking the entire family on a tour of the house. Cam is nervous to the point of flipping out over every move the others make, and – HELLO Gloria’s boobs! That is certainly an interesting choice of shirt there. Phil proposes a toast (which Haley uses to surreptitiously get wasted), full of bad puns and a ridiculous portmanteau (Clameron), but it’s essentially sweet in nature as always. Mitch begins a toast but starts randomly quoting Polanski movies. Cameron claims he wasn’t prepared for the speech they demand. Riiiiight. He manages to thank everyone but Claire. Stay classy! Luke mentions that he has a friend who wants to buy the house. Since nobody takes him seriously, we can be sure it’s going to be the best buyer possible. They toast one last time. Haley, weaving slightly, points out it’s bad luck to toast with an empty glass. The opening credits come on. Phil is out for a meal with his main realty rival, Gil Thorpe, who found some buyers for Claire and Cameron’s place. He offers an insultingly low price for the house, arguing that the market’s crashing. Phil refuses, saying “I don’t know the meaning of the word ‘regret’.†Perfect Ty Burrell Delivery. Someone get that man yet another Emmy. He insists that the house is going to sell like “thatâ€, snapping his fingers. Cut to two months later. Yet another open house has come and gone, with no success. Claire remarks that they’re going to die in this house. Everyone is super frustrated. At Jay and Gloria’s, there is tension afoot. Manny’s dad, Javier, has brought his “bimbo†along on the special father-son weekend that Manny has been looking forward to for ages. Gloria (snuggling an adorable Baby Joe) is pissed. Jay has a less-than-sympathetic response, which leads to both of them snarling at each other and Gloria finally storming out of the room. Claire and Phil have gone to Cam and Mitch’s place to discuss the sale. Things are going badly. The offers just keep declining. Mitch mutters something, and Cam asks him to clarify. Cut to Mitch addressing the camera with an “I told you so†rant. Fortunately, Real Life-Mitch is much smarter than Camera-Mitch. Claire and Cam get into an argument over staging budget. Claire suggests that Phil flatter Gil Thorpe into a better price. After some well-chosen flattery directed at him, Phil agrees. When Javier drops Manny back home, Gloria is utterly prepared for a fight – only to be disarmed when the bimbo turns out to be a bookish Ph.D named Trish (Criminal Minds’ Paget Brewster). She is left flustered as this kind and educated total-opposite-of-what-she-expected totally upends the situation. Turns out that they met when Javier convolutedly won a painting and encountered her through her work at Christie’s. He does not forget to sneak in a couple of digs at Gloria’s thwarted expectations. Manny is of course thrilled with his dad’s new girlfriend, and the couple end up staying for dinner. Phil calls Gil Thorpe, who thinks it’s hilarious to see his old rival come crawling back. While Phil listens to a barrage of insults, Luke mentions that his friend “Zack†is still looking. Once it’s clarified that Zack is not fourteen, but some sort of software genius who volunteers at Luke’s school, Phil and Claire are all ears. Once Gil is done with his takedown, Phil gleefully declares that he already has a buyer, to the horror of the other adults in the room. The stakes have been raised. Jay shows Trish the infamous dog butler statue and asks her what she thinks. She diplomatically states that it “really says somethingâ€. Jay naturally takes it as an opportunity to tell Gloria she was wrong. Everybody is tense for a moment. The argument dissolves, but Manny proposes a game of charades with him and Trish versus Jay and Javier. Gloria asks to join in. Uh-oh... So Zack the not-fourteen-year-old is interested in the place. Everyone jumps at the chance. There are a lot of things running on this deal – Phil’s dignity, Cam and Mitch’s well-being, Claire and Cam’s new endeavour – and they cannot fail. Oh, and Haley gets in another dumb remark. The charades game is not going well. Gloria, on a team with both of her husbands, keeps tripping them up with mistakes like “The Old Man and the Fishâ€. Meanwhile, Trish and Manny are getting along like gangbusters and winning by a landslide. Gloria is jealous. She gets her own clue to act out, but throws it away because it doesn’t make sense. Trish is sympathetic. Manny encourages her to show him. The clue? Sweeney Todd. Manny gets it instantly, provoking a furious reaction from Gloria. She storms out, again. Meanwhile Haley, armed with a computer, has dug up enough information on Zack Barbie to allow them to maximize their personal tour. (“She’s like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,†says Phil. “But with cuter hair,†Cam sighs.) Exactly one joke about “Barbie’s Dream House†is made. And Haley is developing a crush. Uh-oh. Gloria is destroying the evening’s dinner in a fit of rage. She explains to Jay all her hurt feelings about Manny’s relationship with Trish. Jay says that like most of Javier’s girls, she will be gone before long. Javier comes in and tells them that no, he has asked Trish to marry him – and he wants his grandmother’s ring back. “You see I am holding a knife,†Gloria says. It doesn’t faze him. Over a glass of the excellent wine Trish brought, Javier breaks the news to Manny, who is of course thrilled. Gloria slurps down a lot of wine. The ring is a little small for Trish’s hand, and  this precipitates a statement that she “can’t do this†and “it’ll never workâ€. At Clameron’s place, they have decked out the house according to Zack’s interests – with even Mitch helping out, though he has (adorably) never bought beer before. Haley makes an excuse to show up. Zack arrives and is initially impressed with the place. Let’s wait and see how the Dunphy-Pritchett-Tuckers manage to screw this one up. Trish has locked herself in a bedroom. Gloria offers to talk to her, though she may have ulterior motives. Under the guise of helping her, she manages to sneak a lot of slights at his character past. Turns out Trish is threatened by Gloria – with her amazing figure, her adoring son and still besotted ex-husband. She feels like she will never measure up to Gloria. The ex-wife’s response? “Welcome to the family!†Zack kinda can’t believe how perfect the place is, until Cam slips up by revealing that he knows the dog’s name. Oops. The Google secret is out, though Mitch tries to cover up with a quick quip. Doesn’t work. He decides it’s all weird and is about to leave. Claire tries to make one last plea, but it fails. Haley is brokenhearted and everyone is upset about the house. Claire feels guilty. Cam tries to comfort her. The doorbell rings, and Phil declares that they should sell the house with “No more tricks.†Turns out it’s Gil Thorpe. Within seconds, Cam and Mitchell are posing as the buyers and raving about the wonderful house. Gil is distressed, because the buyer wants in. Phil gets him to up the offer. As he leads Gil away, it’s Cameron who finally cries, “I told you so!†The end credits cover Phil and Gil in the midst of a golf game. Claire calls. Phil pretends he’s in a meeting, but Thorpe screams about Phil’s lie into the phone, ending with a cry of “You just got Thorpedoed!†This episode was reasonable, I suppose. Not very inventive and kind of par-for-the-course, but it wasn’t bad. I did enjoy the Trish character and hope that she returns. And no more house flipping! It was your typical Modern Family – but that’s a good thing.   For more Modern Family discussion on FJ, go here. 

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 6.5 - Won't You Be Our Neighbor

It was so tempting to add that extra, civilized "u". Differences in English, it bums me out. My apologies for turning this in a day late (I came down with that mysterious illness known as "unexpected theatre tickets"), and let's move on to the episode ASAP. The Dunphys court a new neighbo(u)r, hopefully the hippie played by Jesse Eisenberg who lived next door to Mitch and Cam. We'll see what transpires. Phil heads out to work, which involves selling their neighbour Jerry's house (yeah, remember him?). Claire, competely insensitive to the man's recent bitter divorce, is thrilled to finally be able to upgrade on her iffy neighbour, because Claire is a heartless shallow wench. You know you're in trouble when Phil is the sensible one, even as he pouts Tobias Funke one-liners. Claire recruits all the children into making the house and family look perfect, to a Stepfordian extent, and has even apparently been stalking the prospective buyers. Run fast, new neighbours, run fast. Also, is it just me, or did Julie Bowen have to get high to get through this dreck? Cause she sure is glassy-eyed. Opening credits. We go to the second of our three obligatory family stories, over at Jay and Gloria's house. Jay has received something mysterious in the mail. It turns out to be his new invention, some kind of sock organizer, which will expand Jay's closet business a thousandfold. Manny has apparently gotten over being dumped last episode, and has brought his friend Sophie over. She thinks Jay is pretty much a genius, and Jay wonders why she knows so much about the closet business. Turns out that her grandfather is Earl Chambers, who started "Closetfornia" with Jay back when he was still Al Bundy and promptly screwed him over. Time for some Romeo and Juliet-style drama, I guess. I'll be here with some of whatever Julie Bowen's having. Lily and Cam return from a birthday party, whereupon Lily informs her dads that she has to do homework and cannot be disturbed. Cam and Mitch are horrified that Lily's strict teacher has given her weekend homework, but Cam has heard that the much nicer Miss Sparrow has an opening in her class. This is none too soon - Lily's starting to get a bit stressed out from her teacher's demands. Like all the petty parents of the modern era, they scheme a way to get Lily transferred, rather than teaching her the valuable lesson of how to deal with annoying people. Also, I sincerely hope that this new teacher is a pirate, preferably one who sounds like Keith Richards. The new potential neighbours seem to be clones of Phil and Claire, to the point where I wonder if this is the Halloween episode and they're parodying Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Meanwhile, the Dunphy kids become increasingly bitter with their forced gardening. The Body Snatchers seem to be perfect, and it looks like everything's going through. Unfortunately, at that moment everything fizzles, as a total jackass (played by Steve Zahn, who has made a career off of playing jackasses) pulls up for the next viewing. Honestly, if you squint you can see a Married With Children parody, especially once you meet his awful family. The jerks love the house, of course, and seem pretty friendly despite their flaws. Let me be the first to say that I'd take them in a second over the creepy Body Snatchers. Phil and Claire openly treat them like dirt, because remember, the Modern American couple is characterized by exclusion and classism! Actually, maybe that's the most accurate reflection of this show's title. Jay rails at Manny for daring to date the granddaughter of his rival, and even forbids them to see each other, on the grounds that he might give away professional secrets - since two teenage paramours are really going to discuss the structure of a closet. Meanwhile, Phil tries to discourage Steve Zahn from buying the house, and it totally fails - the guy throws in another $50,000, as he had the best sex of his life in the house he only found five minutes ago. Cam and Mitch have a conference with Lily's current teacher, Miss Plank, who is the caricature of every dragon lady that terrified you in elementary school. (Mine was kindergarten, and to this day my friends and I shudder when her name comes up.) Miss Plank, who is not a fool by any stretch, knows exactly what they're up to and informs them tersely that parents cannot choose a child's teacher. They babble excuses like a pair of morons while Miss Plank deftly debunks every attempt at logic they throw. She even corrects Cam's grammar, and I want to marry her for it. However, she does let Lily go, after a few disparaging remarks about Miss Sparrow and her pirate teaching abilities. Cam and Mitch go on about how their precious little gay-parent-raised snowflake will thrive (and yes, they play the gay parent card), but no one's really convinced. Jay and Gloria go out to dinner, where it turns out that Gloria has invited Earl, which is a spectacularly bad idea, since they get into FISTICUFFS almost instantly. They argue over frivolous closet technology ad nauseum. Meanwhile, Claire and Phil are trying to get Married With Children away from the house, so they invite the Body Snatchers to come over. However, due to the ridiculously over-inflated price, they refuse within seconds. It turns out that Phil's Tobias-like qualities led them to believe that the Dunphys were swingers. Pfft, like those prigs would ever do anything other than missionary covered in a sheet. Earl and Jay continue to argue about who said what back in the days of hair metal. Literally no one cares. Gloria keeps encouraging them to talk it out, which makes me wonder when she swapped personalities with Phil. Earl is surprised to find out that Sophie is dating Jay's kid, especially since he thinks Jay is talking about Mitchell. (This is cleared up pretty quickly, and Jay's gleeful about it.) Outraged, he vows to put a stop to it, but Jay has already gotten sweet revenge and moved on. Getting to be the bigger man in this argument, he walks out of the restaurant, with Earl yelling after him that he banged Jay's ex-wife. Jay retorts that "If you banged Dede, I do owe you an apology." BOOM. Mic is dropped. Cam and Mitch break the good news to Lily - she's going to be transferred to Miss Sparrow's class. Apparently not entranced with rum and parrots, Lily freaks out. Miss Sparrow's class, apparently, doesn't do much of anything, while Miss Plank actually bothers to teach a real curriculum. She begs to be sent back to Miss Plank's class, and sends her dads away to undo it. Claire complains about her new neighbours, though other family members seem to be warming up to them (see, the son called Alex hot). Phil doesn't think he can turn down the offer. Claire offers to make it "disappear". Over at the Pritchett-Delgados', Jay mentions he wants to talk to Manny, which Gloria immediately interprets as a Shakespearean edict. However, Jay actually intends to give his blessing. Earl Chambers suddenly arrives to tell him that their feud is out of control. He'll apologize, as long as it keeps Manny away from Sophie. Jay immediately abandons all pretense of paternal affection and throws Manny's romantic future under the bus. At that moment, Manny appears at the top of the stairs in full Julius Caesar costume. Compounding his sins, Jay pretends he's the maid's son. Manny confidently introduces himself, and Earl takes a surprising liking to him. Jay is still pissed he didn't get his apology. Stay classy! Phil goes to visit Jerry, who is living in a tiny apartment in a bad neighbourhood. His ex-neighbour happily tells him about how he can use the money to move to a better place and get medical care. Jerry is skeptical, but still feels he can trust Phil, which immediately causes Phil to break. Surprisingly, Jerry does not try to murder him upon hearing the story, but offers to hold out a bit longer in the name of friendship. Phil is shamed into giving in. The new neighbours arrive, and immediately ask if there's some tension between the two families. The Dunphys acknowledge that there is, but that wasn't the kind of tension the neighbours meant. Turns out there actually is a family of swingers in the neighbourhood - now. Tag scene - Cam and Mitch beg Miss Plank's forgiveness. Miss Plank tests them by asking them to find the object of a sentence: "Lily's parents were wrong about Miss Plank". Mitch incorrectly/sort of correctly guesses that the object was "to humiliate us", and she gives it a pass. End of episode. Apart from Jay being the world's worst parent (and his plot mostly filler, hilarious closet minutiae aside), the episode was pretty good. I'm especially looking forward to the new Dunphy neighbours, and hope the writers know not to waste those talented actors - let us now have a moment of silence for David Cross's aborted story arc. ... ... Cam and Mitch were fine, and there was some good commentary on modern teaching and parenting (as a former teacher, I quite enjoyed it). However, the episode did belong to the Dunphys and the family next door. Phil had a real moment of growth, and Claire was less annoying by this season's standards. I guess we'll have to see what comes next - and if that offer in that last scene was any hope, maybe this show will really get daring before too long.   FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Chapter 14

Thank you to everyone for not wondering where I went for two weeks. I'll be continuing my reread of the beloved children's classic "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" on my normal schedule of "whenever I feel like it" from now until I finish or get bored. JUST KIDDING! I went on vacation. It was lovely.  Chapter 14: Mr. Willy Wonka  We, the readers, finally  meet the much described Mr. Wonka. He's wearing a tail coat made of plum-colored velvet, bottle green trousers, grey gloves, and carries a gold-topped walking cane. He has "bright eyes" and goatee. He is described as full of fun and laughter. He is also described as "like a clever old squirrel from the park."    Not quite right.  Nor this.  Better, but I don't know what it is from. Is there a stage play I don't know about?  Mr Wonka, with a "high and flutey" voice, invites the children and parents to come forward. He shakes their hands and checks their tickets. When he gets to Charlie, he does the same, pointing out that Charlie found his ticket just yesterday.  Entering the factory, Mr Wonka points out that it is warm because of "the workers" who are used to an "extremely hot climate." The group is led into what appears to be maze that slopes downward. They go this way and that way, and the air is described and it's all very lovely.  Finally they arrive at what is labeled "The Chocolate Room." 

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 6.21 - Integrity

Considering that Integrity is the name of a very famous LGBT Episcopalian organization, I assume this will be about Cam and Mitch moving to Connecticut, drinking sherry and playing polo, right? Manny has had a bad day, because the girl he likes has found someone else. Jay tells him to buck up. If you ask me, Rico Rodriguez needs to join Nolan Gould in acting school again. Jay also discovers that Gloria had Joe's toenails painted, to which he reacts in a typical old-man way. Gloria of course has no time for this nonsense, telling him to go help Phil pick up Lily's princess castle from Cam and Mitch's - Joe is now about to inherit it. Jay wisely doesn't quibble, but he does roll his eyes when Manny wanders by muttering about lavender bath beads. Cue a bad pun. Well, that's a promising start to the episode. (Not.) Phil is about to buy an original Ms. Pac-man, and not gonna lie, I'm pretty excited for him. Ms. Pac-man was awesome. It's also awards day at school. Alex is super-excited, and Claire for her, though she worries about the other children feeling bad. After all, Mitchell is clearly inferior to her. Speaking of which, Cam and Mitch are sad because their upstairs neighbour has passed away. However, they're not too sad to preclude buying the geezer's apartment. Also, Cam wants another baby, so they'll need the space soon. He thinks Mitch doesn't want it, but Mitch is totally on the same page (and also thinks Cam is not on board). So we're Gift of the Magi-ing through this episode. Both girls distinguished themselves at the Dunphy kids' high school, but Luke is so nondescript that the principal has no idea he exists, even when Claire arrives to talk about him. She's here to beg the principal to give him some awards, because she has no shame and the era of the Helicopter Mom is alive and well. The principal rightly tells her that it's not possible, but does try to console her by mentioning that Luke was in the running for the Integrity Award. Again, Claire begs, but then realizes what an asshole she's being and leaves the office in embarrassment. But not without trying to bribe the principal. Haley has her first day off in a month, but is called in by her boss to bring an orchid to the office. As usual, the boss is a demanding, condescending douche, making her go reserve him a parking spot near his favourite food truck (by standing there) and completely ruining her day. Gloria, who has come along for the ride, is really pissed off on Haley's behalf, but keeps quiet for now. While Haley is standing around being a human traffic cone, Gloria shows up to make her feel better. She reveals that she has gotten back at the boss by stealing his flower. Of course, Haley is horrified, knowing that she'll get fired because her aunt is on a dumb crusade. To make matters worse, the boss pulls up just then. Claire is still pissed about the award. When she sees the true winner pull up behind her, she decides to get her revenge. Once he's gone, she BACKS INTO HIM in order to frame him and display his lack of integrity. Um, FUCK NO. What a stupid, selfish CUNT. You can cost that kid a bucket of money, ruin his insurance, and even get him CRIMINALLY CHARGED for that. Yeah, I'm going to go apeshit because even for Claire, this is a new low. Bitch. Okay, all she did was push him into a handicap spot so he would get a ticket, but still, Jesus FUCK. Cam and Mitch babysit little Joe and try to pretend to each other that they totally don't want another baby. Lily watches jealously. Finally, they admit to each other that they want to do this. One adoption coming up in...(checks how much longer the season will last) three episodes, tops! Jay and Phil drive the princess castle over to Jay's, but Phil is strangely silent. Jay wonders what's going on. Phil tearfully confesses the story of Ms Pac-man. Jay counsels compromise to keep his wife happy. However, he has also been feeling henpecked, so the two of them decide to fuck compromise. Phil is getting that game come hell or high water, and orders it on his phone before anyone's thought it through. Unfortunately, at this moment the castle falls off their truck. It's too damaged to ever use. Jay wants to quickly rebuild it before their wives find out, but riding on the spirit of "no compromise", Phil decides they'll have to be straight with them. It turns out Claire is actually on board with the Ms Pac-man thing, so no compromise needed. Also, Gloria has been planning all along to turn the princess castle into a pirate castle, because Joe's a boy (um, I can think of at least two things wrong here). Meanwhile, little Joe turns out to be a demon, running around and destroying his brother and brother-in-law's home and possessions. Even so, Cam and Mitchell are still claiming it's cute, and still want another baby. However, then Joe ruins the precious white couch, as well as a fancy bowl, and it gets harder and harder to pretend. Finally, they admit that they like their current lives and maybe want to rethink the baby business. Lily mentions that Joe's stuck in a well. Cam and Mitch decide to leave him there. Haley puts the flower back in the office, while Gloria berates her for actually caring about her job. Haley flips the fuck out and tells her that she has to be a doormat, because she doesn't have a rich husband to fall back on. Ooh, kitty has claws. Unfortunately, while this is going on, she uses the word "jackass" to describe Gavin just as he walks in. Looks like Haley's fashion career is over. Thanks, Gloria. She decides to give him an angry phone call, but Gloria stops her, saying that there's a time to hold back. Her own temper has gotten her into trouble more times than she can count. She says she will straighten it out. So she goes into Gavin's office and threatens him with what sounds like Mob connections. Stay classy, Gloria. Haley goes back to being a happy doormat once again. Luke wins the stupid award and Claire pretends to be surprised. Not an ounce of shame. However, Luke is very pissed off, because it's a nerd award and you get bullied for it. (The award's name is "Boniface", but because Americans can't pronounce "Boniface" properly, it immediately gets skewered to "Bonerface".) Also, everyone knows that someone pushed the other guy's car, which makes me wonder why they changed the winner in the first place. Luke thinks Manny did it, and Manny reveals that Luke stole his girl, so they get into a badly-acted fight. Alex struts around bragging about all the awards she won. Claire finally admits her treachery. Luke is mortally offended that his mother rigged a competition for him, as any sane child would be. Luke is still in a bad mood, because he actually doesn't want to date the object of Manny's affections, but doesn't want to break Manny's heart, even. Claire tells him how proud she is while Alex bemoans that she's still neglected, even when she does something right. Free Alex, you guys, Free Alex. The castle is nearly complete, but the guys are getting frustrated with the building process. Joe absolutely loves it, though, even though it's still princess-themed. Unfortunately, the minute he steps into it, the structure collapses (he's okay). Jay blames Joe, Gloria yells at Jay, and finally the guys are forced to come out with the truth. Alex narrates about the help of family and moral decisions. We flash back to Alex presenting the award while Luke protests. Tag scene - Alex wins everything and acts like Queen of the Universe about it. She may be neglected by her family, but damn if I don't want to kick her ass sometimes. I felt this episode meandered quite a bit, despite having a central theme. Not a lot of it was funny, but there were some good moments featuring Gloria, and featuring Joe at his brother's house. Ultimately, it skimmed these ideas without really delving into them, so it was a fairly thin stretch. The best Modern Family episodes can balance several stories and let them run alongside each other. This week's wasn't it. FJ Discussion Thread    

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Chapter 11

Chapter 11: The Miracle Charlie goes to the candy store and buys a Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight. Maggie Mae tears open a Russell Stover Mini Egg, with Fudge Brownie filling. I think it's pretty similar. 50% off! I put the rest of the bag in the jar with the old Halloween candy, the christmas/Hanukkah candy, and the Valentine's day candy. There is probably candy in there from two Halloweens ago. I know there are New Years Eve Noisemakers from three years ago, also in the same jar. I know this because one was used last night.  Oh, so in the book, Charlie buys this candy bar from a "fat and well-fed" man. He is described in great detail about how he is fat and his neck bulges out over his shirt collar. This shopkeeper watches as Charlie shoves the candy bar into Charlie's mouth like he was starving. I guess Charlie is starving, though, so it's OK.  The man tells Charlie to slow down and make sure to chew, to avoid the "gut-ache."  Charlie decides to buy a second candy bar and bring 80 cents back to his mother. One dollar in 1964 is equivalent to 7.65 today, so I guess it might buy a meal. I've lived in a high cost-of-living area for so long that I don't actually know what 7.65 would buy at a grocery store. Maybe ingredients for a stir-fry? For 4. Or a LOT of almost expiring bananas.  The second candy bar - same type as the last - has a Golden Ticket! We all knew he would get one, and now it's happened!  The shopkeeper does not assault Charlie and steal it, he does however, draw more attention that I would be comfortable with to the situation. Did you know the shopkeeper was fat? If you had forgotten, it's helpfully pointed out again.  A "large boy" is angry because he's been eating 20 chocolate bars a day trying to win this ticket. A girl laughs and says that Charlie will need the free chocolate, as he is a "skinny little shrimp." (What is up with people and making fun of fat and skinny people? Why can't we just not do that?)  People offer to buy the Golden Ticket from Charlie. Finally the "fat shopkeeper" helps him out of the store, tells him to run home, and don't let anyone have it.  The "fat shopkeeper" mentions that he thinks Charlie needs a break like this.  So the "fat shopkeeper" isn't a villain, really, although the other adults are. So maybe it's not really fat shaming? It still seemed jarring to read about this man's weight so many times in such a short chapter. The other adults, though, are terrible. $50 and a bicycle? How awful to try and cheat a kid like that! Even $500 is still not even close to what the ticket is worth! How much do you think Veruca's dad spent on chocolate to try and get one ticket? I'm kind of surprised that no one else sold a ticket. If I had gotten one, I'd sell it for sure! A lifetime supply of candy, plus an exclusive look inside the chocolate factory is worth a lot more than $500. If I didn't sell it, I'd for sure bring a secret spy pen camera and take pictures and sell those. Or write a book about what I saw and sell that. And the candy. I don't think I eat that much candy, so I'd be donating that to soup kitchens or something. Or maybe just leave it at the end of a race, when people will eat just about anything.   

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

The Phantom Tollbooth Reread: Chapter 10

Chapter 10: A Colorful Symphony The group (Milo, Tock, Humbug, and Alec) run through the forest. The author describes how the sunlight leaps from leaf to leaf, sort of echoing how they are running through the trees. Alec has difficulty, as he is able to see through things and keeps crashing into trees that he’s looking through. Amusing. The humbug asks if they are lost, and Alec says no. They know where they are, they are standing right there. He says some stuff about being lost. It’s hard to recap because it’s kind of confusing. He thinks that being lost is not about knowing where you are, it’s about not knowing where you aren’t. There are a lot of double negatives and the more I read it the more confused I get. Alec doesn’t think they are lost because semantics. I get it. Sort of. He doesn’t care where they aren’t. I actually get that part a lot. Anyway, the point is moot because there is a small house. Milo and Tock decide to go ask “the giant” who lives there where they are. The giant is normal sized. He tells them to walk around back and ask the midget. The same man answers and asks them to go see the fat man around the side. The fat man tells them to go see the thin man. It’s the same guy. The shortest giant, the tallest midget, the thinnest fat man, and the fattest thin man. He offers advice as all four because he’s ordinary and no one wants an ordinary man’s opinion. I suspect if this were written today the fat man and the thin man might be replaced by the rich man and the poor man. But maybe not.  The ordinary man ponders the “are we lost” question and finally tells them that it’s hard to tell if you are lost than if you were lost. There’s more, and it’s pretty good life advice. Milo and Tock return to Alec and the Humbug. Milo asks about people living in the forest, and Alec tells them that they live in a city called Reality. They go look at it. It’s beautiful and shining, with silver paved roads. Only that’s not Reality, that’s Illusions, which is, in fact, an illusion. Because Reality disappeared when no one appreciated it. Everyone walks around as fast as possible with their heads down so they can get where they are going faster. Alec opines that the most important reason for going from place to place is to see what’s in between. Milo realizes that he can’t remember things on his street anymore. Eventually Alec tells them that some people live in Reality and some people live in Illusions, but “It’s just as bad to live in a place where what you see isn’t there as it is to live in one where what you don’t see is.” And guess what? The only way you (I guess they mean Alec) can have one city as easy to see as Illusions and as hard to forget as Reality would be for someone to bring back Rhyme and Reason! More reasons for Milo to work on his hero’s quest! Milo and his group of friends leave Reality (which you can’t see) and enter a different part of the forest. The sun is setting and there is an enormous orchestra. At least a thousand musicians. The conductor is tall and gaunt. There is an illustration of him, which I suppose is helpful. Alec helpfully points out that you don’t listen to the concert (because, even though they are playing, no sound can be heard), you watch it. They are playing the sunset. (They also play all day and night, and weather. All the color in the world comes from them) The conductor’s name is Chroma. He shows Milo that if everyone stops, all the color leaves the world and it looks like a coloring book. Chroma asks Milo to wake him up at 5:23 for the sunrise. Thoughts. This is a longer chapter than the others, or maybe more happened? I haven’t been keeping track of pages so I’ll just say that it seems longer.

Milo’s conversations with Alec is one of the more memorable parts of this book, for me. I remembered as a kind thinking that the world would disappear if no one looked at it, but it never did. Also, the city of Illusions seemed very beautiful. I also remember the ordinary man. But I never really grasped the meaning of it, as a child. Just thought it was amusing that someone could be so average and yet somehow market himself as all four. Pretty funny for a weird 10-12-year-old. Alec’s unchanging perspective seems nice but also created a lot of problems for him. I’m sure the crashing into trees that he can’t see because they are right in front of his face means something more. Also, Alec is the one who points out that other people have different perspectives.

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae



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