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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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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 24.18 - Pulpit Friction

Hey everyone, CFK’s unsuccessful date frees her up for another recap! Lucky you. Watch out for Edward Norton as a guest voice this week. Alley-oop. We skip over basically all the opening credits. Couch gag: everyone parachutes out of a plane, but Homer’s chute fails to open. He crashes onto the others’ parachutes and takes them down with him. They crash through the roof of their house, past Grampa taking a bath in the bathroom, and onto the couch. The springs on the couch pop up, with one going right through Homer’s abdomen. For the second time in a row (and if I remember correctly, the second time ever in the series), the couch gag becomes part of the episode. The Simpsons have a broken couch and it needs to be replaced. Homer wonders if they should get rid of something just because it’s a little old. Cue Grampa appearance. We heard this one back in Season 3. Anyway, Grampa and the couch are put on the sidewalk and Homer settles down to watch TV. Balancing a bowl of popcorn on his lap, he cries out from the effort of maintaining a sitting position with no couch, which I must admit is funnier than having him just fall. Marge wants to take him couch shopping, but he explains that he’s already ordered an exact replacement online. Unfortunately, the couch arrives from Brooklyn full of bedbugs. When Bart has a sleepover and his friends crowd under their makeshift couch-fort, the bugs infiltrate and are immediately spread all over Springfield. Nonetheless, the Simpsons don’t figure it out even when bugs crawl all over them. Lisa eventually points it out. They begin to scratch. The bug has spread to the entire population. Beds are thrown out like corpses, Ned Flanders’ wool sweater is burned, firefighters hose off townspeople. In Hazmat suits, Lenny and Carl are slowly devoured. Frink thinks he has developed a repellent with bear pheromones, but just winds up getting sexually harassed by a bear. I did not think this would happen twice in the series, but it did (remember Homer and the panda in Season 12). Sigh. At church, Luann Van Houten accuses the Simpsons of giving Milhouse the bedbugs. Kirk blames Cletus and Brandine, and Helen Lovejoy wonders “why won’t somebody blame the children?†Flanders points out that at least it got people to church, but Lisa dashes this point by noting that in the days of the bubonic plague, going to church only spread the bug. The entire congregation breaks into argument until Marge calls them to a stop. She tells them that Reverend Lovejoy appears, and the crowd agrees that he will offer guidance. He launches into a droning reading of obscure Bible verses that quickly sends the congregation into an angry frenzy. Suddenly a light appears from the church doors. They turn and gasp – only to find a new preacher (dead ringer for Mr. Rogers/Bing Crosby), who quickly wins them over and pisses off the Reverend to no end. He in turn introduces their real new preacher (voiced by Edward Norton), Elijah Hooper, who does little to endear himself to the beleaguered preacher. The congregation loves him, though. His theory – so revolutionary! – is that church should be a comfort and make you happy. His theory on the Bible, explained through Meet the Parents, is that “at the end of the day we all love each other and that’s all this thing really says.†Awww. FJ, I think we could adopt this one. He even actively discourages people from going to church in favour of socializing or watching Die Hard. The Reverend complains to his wife, only to find her taking selfies with Elijah. Meanwhile, the bug exterminators are patrolling the town (and giving Otto his fix). Marge has sent all the clothes in the house to the cleaners, and Bart brings out his stash of dead bedbugs for Homer’s oatmeal. Unfortunately, the cleaners have mixed up Marge’s wedding dress with one of Krusty’s shirts (complete with vodka-squirting flower). She hurries over to Krusty’s to get her wedding dress. Homer, meanwhile, sits down for a bowl of oatmeal... Krusty reveals that he does have the dress, which he put on Mr. Teeny in a sketch. He has since thrown it out the window. Marge’s search continues. Lenny and Carl argue over that eternal question – wooden vs. plastic? I am, of course, referring to coffee stirrers. Reverend Elijah shows up. When confronted by Moe, he explains that he represents “an easygoing offshoot of Protestantism.†Meanwhile, he is almost exactly like all the Anglican archbishops CFK grew up with, causing her to reach for the vodka. Moe the snake handler is not amused and threatens him with a gun – which is full of salt to shoot raccoons and coat margarita classes. Homer and Elijah wind up talking on their own. Naturally Homer makes a fool of himself, but the preacher does not seem fazed. After a few beers, he has basically criticized every aspect of the church. The reverend declares that he likes Homer’s passion. Does this guy ever get ruffled? He ends up asking Homer to be his deacon. What?! Oh, buddy, you haven’t been in town long, have you? Homer is skeptical, but eventually accepts. Elijah explains that it’s a way to let the town know that “religion can be funâ€. Uh-oh. You – you should ask Barney’s Bowl-a-Rama about Homer’s motivational efforts first, methinks. Homer accepts, getting in references to two former careers (snowplow driver and astronaut) in one line. Just so we can remember those golden days and long for them. Marge sits on her bed, miserable, playing a video of her wedding day, where she shows Patty her wedding dress from Shotgun Mike’s. Unfortunately, Homer ruins it by walking in before the ceremony. Back in the present, Lisa tries to console her mother. Marge admits that she wanted Lisa to wear the dress one day, to which the eight-year-old confidently replies that she’s never getting married. Marge flips out at the idea of a woman never marrying and enlists Homer to chastise her. He points out that it would save them hundreds of dollars, but Marge isn’t buying it. He attempts to find out why Lisa thinks this way, noting that he let her stay up to watch the Royal Wedding. As she explains, she just has “a weakness for pompâ€. I guess this storyline isn’t going anywhere – and though it is nice to see a girl interested in a life besides marriage, it seems kind of...outdated coming from Lisa. I feel like this would have been better in the early ‘90s. Oh well. Back to the church, where Elijah explains Jesus’ message through an episode of “Californicationâ€. Reverend Lovejoy tries to lead them in a Christian version of “Up Where We Belongâ€, but remember that episode where he tried to sing “Michael Row the Boat Ashoreâ€- oh, you do. Well, his musical skills have not improved. Elijah takes the opportunity to introduce Homer as deacon, which horrifies Lovejoy. Elijah’s theory is “You bring in the lost sheep, the others will follow.†Dejected, Lovejoy leaves the church – for like the second time this season. Come on guys, it’s one thing to repeat over twenty-four years, but twenty-four episodes? No one misses him. Homer has fallen completely into his new role, practicing handing out church bulletins with great enthusiasm. Bart says it’s strange because Homer hates the church, but Homer explains that he only hated “The building, the people in it, and the spirit it represented.†It’s good to be part of something bigger than himself. He even manages to restrain himself from strangling Bart after the kid utters his usual fat joke. Maybe he will be a good deacon after all...for ten more minutes, anyway. He carries out his duties faithfully, annoying Flanders but working like a champ to the sound of “Day by Day†from Godspell. Unfortunately his fellow parishioners don’t seem to be enthused – but he takes it in stride. Marge is feeling “off†today, and is handling Maggie badly. Clearly she’s still depressed about the wedding dress. Fortunately, Lisa runs in at that moment and explains that she’s found it. She recounts a tortuous journey through alleys and theatre companies all the way to a young couple’s wedding at City Hall, which Marge and Lisa hurry to crash. However, upon seeing the ceremony, Marge concludes that she’s glad to see someone else use it. Lisa says that her mother shouldn’t give up hope, she might get married someday – “even if it’s only a green card marriage to keep a Chinese dissident from being deported.†Green card marriage or no, Marge is thrilled by the possibility and suggests a reception at a Chinese restaurant. That was...honestly kind of sweet. Homer gets ready for church, singing “Day By Day†with his own made-up lyrics. The job is going swimmingly, for now anyway. Bart asks him to go moon the Google street view car while it photographs Springfield, but he’s not interested. As a deacon, his pants must remain on. Bart is dejected. Equally annoyed is Flanders, who is horrified by the way the church is going. He’s sure Martin Presbyluther would be upset. Bart is incredulous. He questions Flanders, who admits that he’s annoyed. The least likely team in Springfield suddenly forms. They go to find Lovejoy in a place of “brimstone and exposed flesh†– a hot tub store. Looking great with slicked-back hair and some seriously plaid pants, Lovejoy is selling a hot tub to Apu and Manjula. Flanders arrives to ask Lovejoy to come back. Lovejoy refuses, saying that he wasn’t right for the job. Bart frolics naked in the hot tub. Flanders takes this as an example of the church’s decline. He begs. However, Apu and Manjula pick that moment to say yes to the hot tub, and Lovejoy explains that he has found his calling. Flanders despairs. On the drive back, Bart laments Homer’s new religion while Flanders decries the new church Twitter account. He comments that the church needs “leprosy and plagues†instead. Naturally, this gives Bart an idea. After convincing Flanders to get in on it (or at least look the other way), he settles on frogs. Cut to Ned turning Bart in to the police for “thinking of doing something naughtyâ€, and himself for waiting thirty seconds to bring him. Cut to Bart angrily telling Milhouse that Flanders will never be his partner in crime ever again – and thanks for the bail. The boys have collected bags of dead bedbugs, which they will use to attract frogs in a trail leading down to the church and driving Elijah Hooper crazy. Surprisingly, it works. Colonizing the town like they did Australia, they’ve soon covered everything, causing princesses to go on kissing sprees and Jim Henson to flee in fear. This is a genuinely funny sequence, complete with Frogger parody. The congregation steps out only to find the plague awaiting them. They panic, dodging the frogs. Moe thinks it’s the apocalypse and uses the opportunity to score with Lindsey Naegle. Wiggum enjoys a meal of Tased frog. The townspeople take refuge in the church. There is a general cry for leadership. Homer steps up and tells them to put their faith in an “almighty being†– Rev. Hooper. He attempts to explain it away with a reference to The Blind Side “with Sandy Bullockâ€, but the crowd’s not buying it. In a true crisis, pop culture references aren’t going to cut it. The Reverend is lost. A Fight Club reference occurs. CFK squeals. Suddenly, a holy hot tub is wheeled down the aisle – and out pops Reverend Lovejoy, energized and ready to take command. He launches into the 23rd Psalm, inspiring his flock and winning them over once again. Even better, it’s so boring that the frogs fall asleep. While Groundskeeper Willie and Lunchlady Doris collect the frogs (shudder), Lovejoy is reinstated. By next week, Lovejoy is back to boring from the pulpit, while the “Oogle†Street Map truck is confronted with two mooning Simpson men. Status quo is back, end episode. So what did I think? The episode was uneven, no denying it, and some plot points were downright stupid – but it had some funny jokes. Norton felt wasted, which was unfortunate. Classic moments? Hardly. Enjoyable half-hour? Yes. I liked the frog plague, and enjoyed the hot tub selling scene. In short, if we can’t have classic Simpsons, I’ll still take what they’ve got now. FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

I Read It So You Don't Have To: The Flipside of Feminism-What Conservative Women Know and Men Won’t Say by Phyllis Schlafly and Suzanne Venker

Oh those irksome feminists with their abortion parties, man hating conventions and false accusations of rape. Feminists focus so much on frivolous things like equal pay for equal work, voting rights, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. Feminists, who are so hell-bent on power, they control the media, the workplace, families, government, education, Hollywood, sports, and religion. Feminists want to destroy! Destroy, I say! Well, I don’t think feminists want to destroy much of anything other than strict patriarchy. But Phyllis Schlafly and her niece Suzanne Venker are quite certain feminists are a destructive bunch. And both of them try to convince us with their book “Bitches Ain’t Shit,†Oops, I mean, “The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know and Men Can’t Say.†Many of you know Phyllis Schlafly. During feminism’s second wave, Phyllis spoke out publicly against the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) and pesky women libbers. Phyllis claimed to be simple housewife who treated politics as a hobby. But Phyllis wasn’t content to work the election polls in between loads of laundry. Married to a wealthy man, Phyllis had domestic help, is a Harvard educated lawyer, and a prolific writer and lecturer. She ran for Congress when her eldest child was a toddler and campaigned against feminism and the ERA when her youngest was in junior high and high school. Does that sound like a simple housewife to you? Nope, that sounds like a woman who benefited from feminism. And who is Suzanne Venker? Not quite as well-known as her aunt, Suzanne has also authored several books and is a contributor to Fox News. She's also just as smug as Phyllis. In the opening of “The Flipside of Feminism,†Suzanne assumes the reason why she’s a conservative, and therefore superior to liberal feminazis, is because she was raised by members of the Greatest Generation, not the Baby Boom generation. Yes, the reason why you feminists smoked the pot, had premarital sex, and now vote for Democrats is because you were raised by Steve and Elise Keaton, not Archie and Edith Bunker. Suzanne wastes no time mentioning that her mother, Auntie Phyllis, and other assorted anti-feminists didn’t need feminism to obtain an education or a career. Well, that may be true—for them—but plenty of women were denied education and careers simply because they were women. My own maternal grandmother was denied a high school education because she had to go to work at 14 to help support her family and an education was considered a waste on a girl. However, Suzanne would disregard my grandmother’s experience and others just like her. In fact, Suzanne and Phyllis arrogantly ignore their own privilege throughout this entire book and assume other women are simply not as smart, hard-working, or talented as them. Suzanne and Phyllis also assume women turned to feminism because a handful of them, notably Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, experienced dysfunctional childhoods or rocky marriages, and society should not pay the price for their maladjustment. Gee, nice show of compassion ladies. As if conservatives never experienced crappy childhoods or bad marriages. Speaking of marriage, feminists love divorce according to Suzanne and Phyllis. We love divorce so much we want to marry it! However, there are is no examination why some feminists concerned themselves with divorce. Nor is does this book mention conservatives who are divorced like Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura. Feminists may love divorce but we hate marriage and motherhood. We want to replace being supported by our husbands with being supported by taxpayers. And as for feminists demeaning motherhood, I just think feminism was brave enough admit motherhood wasn’t all sunshine and daisies for some women. You know who I think demeans motherhood? Michelle Duggar, who seems to see her children as accessories, not full human beings. And we all know Michelle would never wear “This is What Feminist Looks Like†T-shirt. What else? Well, feminists demand Title IX, which opened up athletic opportunities for girls, because guys who play sports are usually conservative (yea, right). We hate men but somehow are responsible for irresponsible sexual hook-ups. We lie about rape and sexual harassment. And companies are struggling because we want to earn the same pay as men for doing the same exact job. The nerve! And who are these horrible feminists? Well, according the authors, feminists fit into two camps—radical feminists (Andrea Dworkin) and media feminists (Katie Couric, Oprah). Feminists are can be found in large urban areas like Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. Feminist want nothing more than to rip off a Montana housewife’s apron and replace it with a hard hat. Phyllis and Suzanne can’t imagine feminists who live in fly over country, bake cookies, work regular jobs, cherish their families, and include women, men, and children. At the end of “The Flipside of Feminism†Phyllis and Suzanne offer tips on how to combat the evil effects of feminism. One of my favorites? Educate your son how feminism has harmed society and encourage them to seek out conservative women. So if that cool chick your son meets in his French Literature class has an iPod filled with Ani DiFranco downloads he should run far away and date that simpering lass who owns a tattered copy of “Fascinating Womanhood.†I must give Phyllis and Suzanne some credit. They write with total conviction; they don’t hem and haw. And I can imagine some people reading this book thinking feminism is the other “F-word.†However, people with critical thinking skills will be able to read between the lines and realize Suzanne and Phyllis are just a couple of snotty and selfish Queen Bees. They are all three Heathers, and the rest of just a bunch of Martha Dumptrucks. Cleansing the Palate There are countless books that counter “The Flipside to Feminism.†Susan Faludi’s classic “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women†is as relevant today as when it was published in 1991. By the early 1990s women had made extraordinary strides in the boardroom, politics, media, science, education, and sports. But there were reactionary forces working fervently to strip women of their hard-won rights. Hence, a backlash. After the extreme right-wing days of the Reagan years it felt like we had gone from “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby†to “Get Back in the Kitchen, Bitch.†Susan’s brilliant “Backlash†examines these forces in very thorough detail. “When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present†by Gail Collins is also a fine read on how the second wave feminist movement, inspired by the civil rights movement, fought to improve the lives of women everywhere. Interspersed throughout the book are personal stories of those who fought for everything from reproductive rights to access to non-traditional jobs. Though “When Everything Changed†marks the accomplishments of feminism it is also very honest about the obstacles that stood in its way, and still do. But how should young women view feminism? Today’s Millennials can’t imagine a world without feminism’s gains. Perhaps, these young women don’t embrace feminism because they think it’s no longer needed. But third wave feminist Jessica Valenti, author of “Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters,†says feminism is still very relevant and young women should not fear it; they should celebrate it. Written in down-to-earth and sometimes salty language, Jessica explains how feminism favorably affects young women both professionally and personally. Jessica is also the founder of the kick-ass blog Feministing. Go to Free Jinger to discuss this post. GolightlyGrrl's mother would be grateful if you did.

GolightlyGrrl

GolightlyGrrl

 

Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 6.21 - The Closure Alternative

After a long hiatus, we are back with our favourite gang of nerds. Sorry for the delay (but in the meantime I finished undergrad – in your face, academia!), and I will keep on schedule as much as possible for the rest of the TV season. Let’s see what Sheldon and his friends have been up to since we saw them last. Thanks to a blip in scheduling, Sheldon thinks there’s something wrong with the DVR. First he accuses Penny of recording her (presumably terrible) television on the sly. He gets nothing- though as she whispers to Leonard, she’s just covering up because she can’t afford another demerit on Sheldon’s weird system. Leonard suggests that China has been hacking the DVR. Sheldon thinks it’s preposterous and is about to delete the movie in question when Leonard suggests that he free up space by removing some of his old episodes instead. Sheldon won’t hear of it, despite having watched them many times. He explains that he has to review the Season 2 finale of “Alphas†before Season 3 starts. Leonard tells him that there is no Season 3, the show was cancelled. Waiiiit a minute. No way does Sheldon not know this already. The Internet exists, and if he liked the show so much he would have been following its renewal process all along. Come on, guys. Okay, let’s pretend he doesn’t know anyway. Jeez. Anyway, Leonard breaks the news in what must be the least tactful way possible. Like, if they cancelled Mad Men and someone told me like that I’d probably cry like a baby. Sheldon comes close, stammering and getting the wounded puppy look on his face. He can’t believe they cancelled on a cliffhanger. He’s too upset to eat. His world has been overturned. Penny is unsympathetic. She proposes that he write fanfiction, which Sheldon thinks is a terrible idea. Within seconds he is on the phone to the SyFy channel, citing shows who weaned their viewers off in various ways (Firefly had a movie, Heroes declined in quality until viewers were happy to see it end). Penny quips that she feels bad for whoever’s on the other end of the phone, and Leonard points out that if they didn’t want to be attacked by nerds they should never have started a sci-fi channel. The opening credits come up. Howard is installing a security system in Raj’s apartment. He waxes eloquent about all the technological innovations involved, but Raj is mostly interested on spying on his Yorkie from work. (Don’t worry Raj, you are far from the only one who would do the same thing.) Howard naturally thinks that’s weird, but they are interrupted when Raj discovers his girlfriend’s blog. Remember Lucy? The shy one? Yep, apparently she’s strange online too. He is enraged that she went on a date with another Indian astrophysicist named “Rogerâ€. Howard corrects his assumption and says it’s obviously a pseudonym. Raj says his “white name†would have been Gavin, which is honestly pretty perfect for him. Regardless, “Roger†and Lucy have been detailed all over the blog. Raj feels weird about reading it, because it’s essentially like reading her diary, but Howard insists that he keep reading since it’s there. Hey, don’t we get into this exact discussion on FJ about eight times a day? In the end, Raj does not read it, deeming the act creepy. Howard notes that it’s no creepier than using his new security system to spy on his pet. Raj’s response is to cuddle the Yorkie and make cooing noises while the dog licks his face. Howard gets the “Wha...?†look on his face. He wonders if he should leave. Aaaand Raj needs a hobby, fast. Leonard knocks on Penny’s door with an exciting idea – even better than his Star Wars coffee shop, Brewbaccas! He wants to get into a TV series with Penny, and thinks that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an excellent choice. Well done, Leonard, there is no time when Buffy isn’t a good choice – except for 6:30 AM, which it unfortunately is. Penny closes the door in his face, despite his protests that she grew up on a farm and should be used to this. Meanwhile, Sheldon is on the phone to the SyFy network, impersonating the vice-president of programming in order to uncancel his show. He doesn’t get far, mostly because he knows way too much about “the person who just calledâ€. When he is inevitably hung up on, he complains to Amy. Her suggestion is to seek comfort in physical contact. She leans in for a kiss. Sheldon says he can’t fly to Texas just for a hug from his mom. Oh, Horny Amy, will you ever get the memo? She takes a different tack, suggesting that Sheldon has “a pathological need for closureâ€. He is skeptical. She proposes a new neurological process which retrains your brain, essentially, to care less. Sheldon insists that he doesn’t have a problem with closure. In response, she knocks on the table. He is silent. He fidgets. His eyes twitch. Finally, he gives in and knocks back, all while protesting that it means nothing. At CalTech, Howard goes to collect Raj for lunch. Raj asks if he thinks he’s feminine, to which Howard says “yes†without hesitation. Real compassionate there, buddy. After some coaxing, Raj admits he read Lucy’s blog and that she noted he seemed a little feminine. Howard thinks that’s progress (“a littleâ€), so problem’s solved. Raj feels he has to talk it out with her, but is immediately dissuaded by Howard, who insists that he use it to his own advantage. I can see this going wrong approximately six hundred ways, but that’s the beauty of this show. Per Howard’s logic, it’s unfair that hot girls don’t like nerdy guys, so Raj is free to do something unfair in return. Really, Howard? Surely your mom was fond of the phrase “two wrongs don’t make a right.†Raj agrees to do it, but chooses to view it in a more romantic manner than just getting her into bed (which is of course Howard’s perspective of the situation). In doing so, he quotes “a man who knows a thing or two about women – Sir Elton Johnâ€. To be fair, Elton John probably knows a lot more about women than we do just by virtue of having lived through the 1970’s. Free love, y’all. Still, Howard is incredulous. Penny and Leonard watch Buffy on the couch at her apartment. Leonard’s just as into it as he presumably was in the 90’s. Penny’s opinion? “It was cute.†NOOOOO Penny how can you not love Buffy? She’s awesome! Leonard’s poor tiny heart is crushed into a million pieces. With a sigh, he decides to turn to some other show. Penny feels bad, but is also annoyed with him for behaving like such a jackass just because she didn’t adore something. We know Leonard is insufferable, writers, let’s move on. Penny gives in and turns on the next episode, commenting that it’s just like her high school if you substituted the vampires with meth heads, and instead of a curse all the cheerleaders suffered from crabs. They begin. Amy has come up with a group of exercises to retrain Sheldon to accept lack of closure. Nice physical comedy from Mayim Bialik there. That’s it, Amy, win him over with science. Her complex technique? A game of tic-tac-toe. Sheldon dismisses this, saying that tic-tac-toe can only end in win, lose or draw, all of which provide closure – until Amy erases the game from the board entirely without conclusion. Sheldon is flummoxed. He goes into a tirade, which Amy says is what they’re seeking to remove. He claims she has no idea what it’s like to have built-up desire with no opportunity for release. Uh-oh. He earns a Look and a snarky remark for his efforts. Penny has enlisted Bernadette to teach her about Buffy’s appeal. I’m still shocked she doesn’t like it, but no matter. Bernadette loves the show and suggests that part of the appeal is the reversed gender roles. This does not resonate with Penny. She continues to say that she can’t understand why Leonard gets so passionate about things – she’s just not like that. Bernadette talks of her own passion for science, and the God-like powers microbes inspire in her. Penny thinks maybe something’s wrong with her, but Bernadette says the passion is there, it just has to be applied to the right thing. They get down to business. Lucy’s coming over, and Raj quickly Skypes Howard seeking advice. His suggestion is to triple how long foreplay lasts, no matter how long he thinks it should be in the first place. Raj is disgusted and asks what’s manlier, a football jersey or a hockey jersey. Come on, hockey, it’s obvious. We’re more violent and awesome than football, and on ice to boot!  Howard wisely chooses hockey, though he thinks the whole endeavour is stupid. Raj agrees because “black is more slimmingâ€, then tells his friend he has to “go off and be butchâ€. Oh, boy. When Lucy arrives, she immediately makes a beeline for the Yorkie, exclaiming on how cute it is. Raj claims an obscure German command will turn her into an attack dog. She gives him a quizzical look. And so it begins. Sheldon stands, hand on heart, while Amy plays “The Star-Spangled Banner†on the keyboard, stopping just before the final note and driving him batty. She moves on to the next song. Sheldon has built an enormous domino configuration on the floor. Amy approaches. DANGER! DANGER! Instead of knocking it over, however, she does something arguably worse – before he can finish the design, she wants to box it up. His frustration builds. Amy hands him a jack-in-the-box, and he winds it. Just as it is about to burst, she snatches it from his hands. Sheldon goes into a Hulk-style rage and fights her for it. She still wins, but at what cost? The dangerous look in his eyes is quite the warning. Just as Sheldon is about to blow out candles on a cake, Amy covers the last one with a paper plate. One candle remains, forfeiting his wish – which is lucky, because at that point he was wishing for Amy’s death. I never knew Jim Parsons had so many muscles in his face to twitch. At dinner with Lucy, Raj tries to impress her with his great hockey fandom. Turns out Lucy was a big hockey fan as a kid. She asks him who his favourite player is. He stammers something about “Not Brian Boitano,†and changes the subject to their dinner- frozen burritos. Yum. Raj declares that he is a slave to no instructions. Lucy wonders why he’s acting so weird. He blames it on all the steroids he’s been taking. She makes a break for it. Run, Lucy, run! But just as she is about to step out, Raj comes clean about the blog. She’s surprised that he even managed to find it. He explains that he wanted to make a manly impression. Lucy immediately assures him that she meant feminine as a good thing – sweet, thoughtful, and skin like caramel? Casual racism aside, this is what gender roles do to us, people! If not for the patriarchy, how many people would forgo tragic involvement in hackneyed sitcom plots? I kid, I kid, but seriously, to any guys out there – give us you, not some preconceived notion of what manliness looks like. That’s what we want. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming. Anyway, they come to a consensus and Lucy forgives him for the weirdness. They return to dinner and appear to be having a better time than ever. Penny and Leonard, meanwhile, are also enjoying dinner over at her apartment. She brings up how much he likes Buffy, science, etc. She concludes that even though she’s not passionate about stuff like he is, she’s instead passionate about him. With all of her hopes and dreams, Leonard is extraordinarily important to her, as are Sheldon and the rest of the group. At this point she breaks down in tears, and I almost do too. I’m leaving all my friends in a week, I can get teary over a sitcom, okay? Leonard loves her explanation, and excitedly asks if this means they can dress up and go to Comic-Con together. Her answer: “Leonard, I had an epiphany, not a stroke.†Ah well. One step at a time, kid. Sheldon says goodbye to Amy at his door, and tells her that it was truly transformative even if it was frustrating. He calls her a great neuroscientist and girlfriend, and...never finishes the sentence. He gives a ridiculous grin to show he got the message. For a second I was wondering if Sheldon had been replaced by a body snatcher, but apparently not. She says she’s proud of him, and leaves. Sheldon closes the door and finishes his sentence... “And a complete sucker!†Within moments he is finishing all of their tasks, including the tic-tac-toe games, the birthday candles, the jack-in-the-box, and the national anthem complete with descant. When his domino sculpture finishes its collapse, he has what I’m pretty sure is the closest thing he’s ever had to an orgasm. Sheldon, don’t ever change. Penny appears and tells Sheldon she’s glad to have him in her life. He mumbles that he loves her, too, in an extraordinarily postcoital manner. Turns out the only way to provoke a response from him is to deny him closure. Hmmmm. We cut to Sheldon on the phone with the writer from “Alphasâ€. The guy is fortunately very nice, and at Sheldon’s request, tells him how he planned to finish it. Sheldon concludes that it was terrible and no wonder they got cancelled – and hangs up with another quasi-orgasmic sigh. I liked that Raj actually got a storyline this week, and felt it played out well. Sheldon and Amy had the opportunity for various antics. Penny and Leonard’s story was not as developed, but had a very emotionally satisfying resolution (shut up, I’m a sentimental old thing). I would call this episode very enjoyable, to say the least. As Season 6 begins to wind up, I say The Big Bang Theory is different from what it was, but still strong in its own right. FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: Community 4.11 - Basic Human Anatomy

Heads up, everyone – it’s my last week of university, and I’m moving across the country to boot, so I’m overrun with exams and packing and goodbyes. As a result, some of my recaps next week might be a day or two late. This includes tonight’s Big Bang Theory, unfortunately. Sorry in advance. For now, let’s enjoy this week’s episode of Community, even as it slowly approaches its end. After a middling season, maybe they can pull off something great at the final hour.   The study group (including Pierce) are trying to figure out an idea for their history project. Britta’s psychoanalysis isn’t helping. Pierce points out he looks like a Kennedy, Annie claims that they need to take it seriously – though Jeff points out that since Cornwallis didn’t even bother to finish signing his name, he might not be paying close attention on this one. Shirley and Annie both protest that they need the mark, especially after their previous C+, to keep in the running for valedictorian. I love Yvette Nicole Brown, and she doesn’t get nearly enough moments in this series, so it’s nice to see Shirley take Annie down a peg. Finally, Annie suggests a series of banners, which Jeff approves without knowing the topic. All he needs is to pass, and he will do so with the least amount of effort, as befitting Jeffrey Winger.   Shirley shifts the conversation to Troy and Britta’s upcoming one-year anniversary. Turns out they both forgot about it (and Pierce didn’t even know they were dating). Annie suggests that they do something romantic, like go back to Senor Kevin’s for lunch. Wait, Senor...Kevin...something’s going on here. Troy takes the opportunity to announce that it’s the third anniversary of him and Abed watching Freaky Friday for the first time, which produces some muted “awwsâ€, a grin from Abed and a pained look on Britta’s part. He gleefully presents Abed with a six-pack of body-switching movies. Abed rips through the pack of films, and upon reaching the last (Freaky Friday, of course), he loudly wishes that he had Troy’s capacity for emotion. Troy, for his part, wishes that he was more like Abed with all the awesome adventures. After a shared wish to switch bodies for just – one – day (clutching the DVD the whole time), the lights start going on and off, Troy and Abed spin in a circle, and the switch is done. The security guard finishes his “routine light switch checkâ€. Troy and Abed get up from their heap to find that...nothing happened. They are still in their own bodies. Jeff makes a snarky remark. Cut to the opening credits.   In bed with Troy, Britta slowly awakens and wishes Troy a happy anniversary. Troy answers with a robotic acknowledgment – just like Abed would. Hmm. Britta is confused. Is it just me, or does Glover!Abed sound like he’s on helium? I think he’s got the mannerisms down pat, anyway, though Pudi!Troy steals the show. After all their years of working together, those two should know each other. We’ll go with TIAB (Troy in Abed’s body) and AITB (Abed in Troy’s body) to mark which one’s which, okay?   Anyway, they’re freaked out because each one has an important meeting with their study group. However, they are quickly distracted by a quick crotch check. (They’re both satisfied.)   Back with the study group, Annie explains that they’re retelling the American Revolution through banners (heck, I did weirder projects in college), and that each person is responsible for one. Yeah, know way they’ll screw this up. In her typical Type A manner, she has organized all the supplies needed – as well as an “Approval Station†where she and Shirley will decide which ones pass muster. Seriously? Jeff protests that he just wants to pass, but Annie and Shirley retort that they have to beat Leonard. Yep, everyone’s favourite hellraising curmudgeon is running for valedictorian, too, and beating them out. The rest of the study group is derisive. Just then, Troy and Abed arrive, accidentally sit in the wrong seats, and promptly switch. At the slightest of excuses, they explain their predicament. Jeff scoffs at them, and is pissed off that they’re getting in the way of his slapdash project. The problem is, they have to reconstruct the original moment to switch back, and the DVD is missing. AITB will go look for it while TIAB will take Britta on an anniversary date.   Jeff sits Annie and Shirley down and explains that they’re taking the project too seriously. Britta runs off to talk to Troy (“tell your boyfriend to talk to his boyfriend,†Jeff yells after her). Annie and Shirley are sent on a mission to find out why Leonard is leading – which seems like a kind of snipe hunt? Clever, Jeffrey. Pierce just has to stay alive – or not. After that, they will finish their doable, passable banners. The group splits.   Britta catches up with the guys in the library. Getting AITB alone, she asks what the hell is going on. AITB plays to her psychologist side. “Abed†is going through some stuff, he explains, and “really needs thisâ€. Britta decides to pencil him in for a session after the “dateâ€, and is more thrilled than ever. She is so easy to manipulate.   Jeff finds the DVD and asks the Dean to give it to Troy and Abed. He explains that they will think he bought it specifically for that purpose (he did), but coming from the Dean it will look more...organic, shall we say? As he explains just how Troy and Abed switched, the Dean grabs the DVD and declares his wish at the same time that Jeff says the words. BOOM. The light switch inspector is walking by, again, and the Dean and Jeff transform.   If there’s an MVP this episode, it is definitely Jim Rash. JITDB is absolutely believable, and hilarious to boot. Jeff is outraged and refuses to join in. Are we going to see his inner Dean emerge soon? Let’s hope so.   At Senor Kevin’s, Britta tries to coax answers about Abed from TIAB. TIAB thinks it’s because his limbs resemble popsicle sticks. He then suggests that Britta “talk to Abed†– which really does not help. The Waiter Who Hates Die Hard shows up, and challenges TIAB to a rematch. Since he is Troy, he is confused. Britta eggs him on by saying that someone who hates Die Hard is insane. TIAB insists that the waiter has the wrong guy. Britta continues to coax the guy into dissing Die Hard, in the hopes that the real Abed will be provoked. TIAB gives him a serious look – and then says that they should order. Sorry, Britta, Troy’s still in there.   Jeff confronts AITB in the hallways. At first vindicated when the man answers to “Troyâ€, his dreams are quickly dashed when AITB explains that he has to be Troy in public. Jeff hands him the DVD, but AITB gives it back, explaining that it’s the remake, which has an entirely different transformation process. A frustrated Jeff tries to trick AITB out of it by simply declaring it over, but to no avail. AITB leads him on a quest for the DVD, Jeff rolling his eyes the entire time. You’ll look back on those college days fondly, Winger.   Annie and Shirley arrive at the Dean’s office, only to be flabbergasted by the spectacle of JITDB. It is glorious. He’s working out, he’s full of himself, he’s dismissive. Someone give Jim Rash an Emmy. Annie gets all flirtatious, of course. Shirley brings them back on topic and asks to see Leonard’s transcript. They need to figure out how he can possibly be in the lead. JITDB says he won’t jeopardize the integrity of the school... “that’s what I’d be saying if I gave a crap.†(My god, he has the McHale voice down! It’s uncanny!) He grabs the transcript. Turns out Leonard got an A in Rotary Phone Maintenance decades ago, and every class since has been pass/fail, giving him a 4.0. JITDB vows to join them and bring the man down. He takes his shirt off, revealing an impressive chest, and throws it at an overcome Annie (Mad Men echo! Mad Men echo!). Shirley wonders what’s wrong with her. Annie, too, is confused.   At the restaurant, TIAB impresses Britta with his vast knowledge of her quirks. She thinks Troy must have told him, but it is Troy, so that can’t be right. She suggests that maybe it upsets Abed to hear about the relationship all the time, and maybe that’s why this whole thing happened. TIAB doesn’t think so. Abed is not “invested†in them. She asks if he tells Abed that things are good. He doesn’t know. She doesn’t know either. TIAB wonders why their anniversary isn’t more special to them. Uh-oh.   Jeff walks in on what appears to be some kind of Sherlock Holmes Club. It turns out to be “Murder Mystery Night During the Dayâ€, with various guys dressed up as famous detectives. Jeff and AITB task them with finding the DVD. They take him to the Lost and Found.   A shirtless JITDB runs angrily through the hall, closely followed by Annie and Shirley. He confronts Leonard about the transcript. The old fart makes a run for it, and JITDB declares that the job is done – now Annie and Shirley can just resent each other instead. I don’t think they bargained on that one.   At the Greendale Lost and Found, which resembles the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Jeff and AITB and one of the detectives begin their search. Jeff soon accuses AITB of knowing exactly where the DVD is, and hiding it so they could keep up the game. He pleads with him to end it. AITB declines, saying he has to keep going for Troy. It’s adorable. AITB turns back to searching, commenting that this is at least better than a date with Britta. Soon he comments on how he doesn’t understand Troy’s relationship at all. Instantly, Jeff gets it.   Britta asks TIAB how long he has felt like this. Both TIAB and AITB (intercut) talk of how Troy wanted it to be easy, and doesn’t think it should be like this – like they’re going through the motions. He doesn’t want to lose friendship. Soo...he switched bodies with Abed in order to get away with breaking up with Britta. Stay classy, guys!   Jeff admits that, even though the body switching thing was dumb, he wishes he was able to commit to a friend so completely – or to a relationship. He says there’s no shame in the end of the relationship, but Troy needs to put himself out there and end it. Anything else is cowardice.   Britta and TIAB are pretty bummed, though Britta maintains that ABED HAS TOTALLY BEEN A TERRIFIC FRIEND TO US BOTH ARE YOU LISTENING. Jeff and AITB run in. The latter declares that he knows why Abed had to go “high-conceptâ€, but that Troy’s fear is no reason to pull off this charade. He holds out the DVD. They make a wish, Jeff turns the light on and off, and everything is back to normal. This recapper is very relieved that she doesn’t have to keep track of peoples’ bodies anymore. Troy apologizes to Britta for his conduct, and asks to be her friend.   Back at Greendale, Annie laments her second-place status, but admits that the best woman won. Shirley revels in it. Abed and Troy decide the body-switching was fun, but for stupid purposes. Annie asks Britta how lunch went. Britta tells her it was good, and you can see that there is truth in it. They are met by Pierce, who got bored and did the entire project while they indulged in shenanigans. (Another way of writing Chevy Chase out? Clever.) Annie’s feathers are ruffled, but she goes to take a look anyway – and they are wonderful. Pierce says the whole thing took less than half an hour. Group 1, Annie 0. They declare an “early weekend†and are about to leave when the Dean shows up to apologize, saying “I thought I knew what it would be like to have Jeffrey inside of me.†(Tobias Funke, your long-lost twin.) Jeff isn’t putting up with it. The Dean admits that it brought out the worst in him, and manages to repeat “have Jeffrey inside of me†about six times. Okay, we got it, it would have been funnier if he’d said it once. He concludes that since he scolded Leonard, he now has to grant him three wishes. Annie and Shirley look like they’re about to keel over. Troy comments that they all need to be scolded by the Dean immediately, and they follow him out of the room. As they’re about to go, Britta grabs Troy’s hand...and hugs him. It’s honestly a really touching moment. My heart twists a little, knowing our time with this wonderful group is running out, fast. Fade out.   Closing credits: Troy and Abed do outtakes from their body switch. No, that’s not production bloopers – it’s Troy and Abed’s outtakes. Yup. Jeff gets them to shut up, only to be interrupted by the Dean, who has joined in on the outtake game. Troy and Abed tersely tell him it’s over.   Great performances and a concept that led to a necessary plot point (the break-up) in a highly creative manner. I was never feeling the Troy-Britta thing anyway, so I’m kind of glad it happened. Could have had more jokes, but all in all, it was fun. Special points for Jim Rash’s all-around excellence. Big Bang Theory recap follows tomorrow (sorry guys, exam at 8 AM), but until then, stay in your own bodies! FJ Discussion Thread  

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Movie Review: Girls Rock

Music seems to be an important part of a fundie girl's proper matriculation. It's not rare to see photos of our fundie faves playing the piano, cello, harp or violin. But what about girls who desire to get behind a drum kit or play electric guitar? Fortunately, for these "miscreants" there are rock and roll camps that allow them to channel their inner rock star and learn other lessons not found at the SODRT.
"Girls have got balls. They're just a little higher up that's all." - Joan Jett
At Rock and Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Oregon, girls between the ages of 8 and 18 get a week to form a band, learn to play an instrument, write a song and at the end of the week, perform in front of 700 people.

The documentary "Girls Rock" follows the young campers and their camp counselors, known as band managers, during an intense week. Not only do these girls learn how to rock, they also learn self-defense, anger management and how to cope with shaky self-esteem. The campers come from all races and backgrounds and embody every musical stripe

Filmmakers Arne Johnson and Shane King focus their camera lens on four individual campers. Laura is a 15 year-old Korean adoptee who loves death metal and whose parents can’t quite figure her out. Amelia is an energetic spectacle-wearing eight-year-old who writes lyrics about her dog Pipi. Palace, a sweet-faced and tough-minded seven-year old is far wiser than her years. And then there is troubled Misty, who has struggled with meth addiction, gang violence and juvenile hall.

The film makers allow the girls to speak for themselves showing them as real girls with dreams and problems that often don’t get addressed on an old episode of "Gossip Girl." A week at Rock and Roll Camp for Girls gives our young heroines a chance to be “100% exactly who they are.†Cool mentor rock chicks like Beth Ditto from The Gossip and Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein offer sage advice to the campers. They remind the girls they can take up space, scream as loud as they want, make mistakes and triumph at the same time.

Intermingled with scenes from camp are some disturbing factoids. Girls are expected to sexualize themselves at very young ages, eating disorders are huge problems, and not surprisingly, girls are filled with feelings of self-doubt. Not to mention, riot grrrl third wave feminist rockers of the 1990s like Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth were soon over-shadowed by barely legal pop tarts like Britney Spears. Is it any wonder young girls think they have to be thong-wearing airheads to be accepted? When camper Laura casually mentions, “I just accept that I hate myself,†it breaks your heart.

The girls have a lot to work out both personally and musically during the short week at Rock and Roll Camp. But in a small segment in time these girls master their instruments and their songs. They figure out the mundane, like finally deciding on a band name and the more significant, like working as a team. But most importantly, they learn to believe in themselves and all they can accomplish.

"Girls Rock" culminates at the end when the girls finally perform in front of family, friends and fellow campers. I was absolutely delighted how much these girls achieved in just a week. They are truly an impressive bunch, and I found myself applauding and well as getting teary-eyed. Perhaps most of them won’t end up playing sold out shows at Madison Square Garden, but Rock and Roll Camp gives them lessons that will last a lifetime. Do girls rock? Yes, they certainly do. And "Girls Rock" is probably one of the most important “chick flicks†I have ever seen.

Please go to Free Jinger to discuss this movie. Thanks.

GolightlyGrrl

GolightlyGrrl

 

Worldly Distractions: Mad Men 6.4 - To Have and To Hold

I am burned out from a gruelling TESOL course this week (successfully completed, by the way), but have emerged from my semi-consciousness to bring you Mad Men’s latest. After last week’s bevy of shattering domestic moments, the “Next week on†sequence suggests that this will be an office-heavy episode, always a welcome look into the high-stakes world of advertising. And maybe we’ll even  get a real Joan story. Let’s do this. “Previously onâ€: Don tells Sylvia he wants to stop. Peggy, quitting SCDP, thanks Don for what he has done. Pete mentions that they’re going to lose Jaguar; Joan strips naked. Back at the office, she asks for a partnership. Don mutters something about Megan being a big TV star. Stan tells Peggy about the Heinz debacle. Chaough demands that she seize the opportunity. Opening credits. Alison Brie is in this! In Pete’s man-whore apartment, the Skeezeinator asks a client (revealed to be Heinz Ketchup Dude) about a planned change in his life. Turns out Don is there, too. He wonders how they’re going to handle the delicate situation with Heinz Baked Beans. The line “There’s prestige that comes with ketchup†is uttered. The plan – the creatives will produce some work, and it it’s good, Ketchup Dude will keep Raymond of Baked Beans in line. They’ll have to hold the presentation out of the office, of course – “We’ll get a hotel room,†says Pete, which causes every viewer to shudder. Once he has departed, Pete and Don sit down to talk business. Only Pete, Don and Stan will be in on it. Don mentions the apartment in a way that indicates he thinks it’s kinda weird. Pete naturally bungles it, offering it to him “In case you ever need to stay in the city.†Translation: “Look at me! I’m a big boy! My (kind of ex) wife lets me do whatever I want!†Don shoots that one down pretty fast with his best quizzical look. Dawn, Don’s secretary, meets her – sister? BFF? Something – in a diner to discuss an upcoming wedding. She complains about her job and how alone she feels and how hard everyone works her. Boo hooo, wah wah. Does this mean we’re getting a real plotline about her? At Joan’s apartment, Gail is getting gussied up by a gorgeous blondie whose identity won’t be revealed until Joan walks in. It’s her sister, Kate! Joan has a sister? Huh? EDIT: Apparently it’s a friend. She sells Mary Kay cosmetics and has several children...and in six seasons (eight years) has not even been mentioned. Joan has dinner reservations for two, as she puts it rather pointedly, but Gail insists on home cooking so that Kate won’t be hungover for a job interview the next day. I am detecting some serious tension. Don gets on the elevator in his building only to be confronted by Sylvia. They exchange some snotty talk, then make out and start arranging their next trysts. Seriously, have some decency, or barring that at least a little common sense. Megan or Arnold could walk in like any second. Anyway, Don’s got a ridiculous look on his face, so he’s happy. Kate discusses why she’s transferring from Mary Kay to Avon – or more accurately, why she’s moving from Spokane to New York. Gail comments that seeing Joan’s job, she wouldn’t want all that responsibility. At least Joan manages to coax some pride out of her. Kate departs for the Waldorf, but not before Joan wishes her well and expresses some support. I really feel like more’s going to be revealed really soon. Something happened between those pals, for sure. Harry has most ridiculously embraced the 1960’s, with his epic sideburns and nearly Elton Johnesque glasses. He’s drinking out of an ABC mug. Charming. Ken comes in ostensibly to talk business but ends up complaining about his in-laws, including his father-in-law’s involvement with napalm. Not your average family gripe there. Harry suggests that he has an idea for how to deal with them. His sycophantic secretary practically drops her panties right there. As teasingly advertised in last week’s preview, Stan walks down a hallway. It is thrilling. Ginsberg notices that he disappears into a room marked “private†and wonders how they can find out what’s happening. He suggests a spy cam. Bob Benson wonders about the mysterious “Project Kâ€. Jeez, guys, don’t you ever watch this show? Don arrives just in time for Benson to suck up to him (why are you even here, buddy?), but he’s just looking for Stan. In the Secret Room of Secrets, Don chastises Stan for lighting up a joint on the job – Happy 4/20, everyone. When Stan mentions that it “clears the cobwebsâ€, he promptly takes one himself. Attaboy. They put on some music, probably so they won’t be heard, and Don looks over some food ads Stan’s using for inspiration. He launches into the kind of stoned talk every stoner in media ever uses. “A hot dog cries out for mustard.†Heh. Munchies in three seconds flat. Stan looks really confused. They decide a hot dog cries out for ketchup instead, and to order lunch. It certainly seems that Stan has proved himself at SCDP if he can get this kind of trust. Scarlett, Harry’s secretary, asks Dawn to punch her out early so she can leave. Supposedly this has to do with another secretary’s birthday gift, but since this is Mad Men I am forced to assume that there are ulterior motives. Dawn complains yet again about how demanding Don is. Oh, Dawn, at least you don’t seem to have fallen for him. Yet. We go to the set of Megan’s TV show. She is wearing the gaudiest maid’s uniform I have ever seen. One of the actors, Rod, comes in to tell her about a new script. He is quickly joined by an actress named Arlene, who mentions that Megan and Rod are going to have a love scene in a couple of episodes. She mentions that she thinks Megan is super talented and so does her husband (a writer). Megan is thrilled. Lots of hugging and squealing occurs. There’s only one hitch. Megan has never done a love scene before. Arlene tries to reassure her, but you can tell she’s a little bit worried. Forget her, how’s Don going to react? Eek. And of course Arlene brings it up right away, advising her to be up front. Arlene proposes that she and her husband take the Drapers out to dinner to break it gently. Dun dun DUN! At SCDP, Whiny Meredith walks into Joan’s office to ask whether she sent Scarlett anywhere. Joan is not attuned to Scarlett’s whereabouts. A crisis appears averted when Harry walks by charming the client perfectly well. Joan gives Meredith the “fuck off†look – and then asks her to send Scarlett in as soon as she finds her. I can’t help but think this storyline is going to blow up fast. Don comes back to his gorgeous apartment and sexy wife, both of whom are in fine shape this evening. (Megan fashion watch: Pink turtleneck and fabulous red pants. Niiice.) She butters him up with drink and the promise of a good meal, then says they should talk about things other than work. Megan, this is the way spouses announce something really terrible. You’re not putting anything past Don Draper, my dear. He is quick on the uptake, and Megan laments having such a smartly husband who can figure things out sooooo perfectly. She breaks the news of the dinner first. Don isn’t thrilled, and knows there’s more, so she brings up the love scene. Record screech. Even though Megan insists it’s “just kissing and huggingâ€, Don is pissed. Megan tries to reassure him with the “it’s all part of my job†spiel. Nope. He says he needs to think about it. You don’t own her lips, buddy. Finally, he admits that if she was just some random actress he knew, he’d be happy for her – and he’ll put up with it even if he can’t be happy for her. Well... progress, I suppose? Harry and Ken are buttering up Ken’s father-in-law, Ed Baxter, over all the bad publicity Dow has been receiving for napalm. Constant exposés are crippling him. SCDP and the guy from ABC  suggest a variety special with Joe Namath, lots of other stars including Julie Andrews, and Broadway music.  Dow will be “responsible for making people smile†again, distracting from the little problem with crimes against humanity. Lots of peppy commercials. It’s brilliant. Everyone starts singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy†until Baxter gives in. Harry is a genius and the shining light of SCDP. Score. Joan shows up in front of Harry’s office (radiant blue dress, by the way) and taunts Scarlett a little about being away. As she points out, it’s very odd for Scarlett to have been away from Harry’s desk in the afternoon when she left at 6:47 PM. After explaining about the birthday gift, Scarlett thinks she is saved. Poor lamb has never dealt with Joan before, has she? Joan descends the Fancy New Staircase only to run into Dawn (forest green dress, very Late-Sixties), who to her credit immediately gets flustered. Joan broaches the topic of the punch card, then mentions that “Scarlett told me everything.†Dawn is about to open her mouth when Scarlett runs down the stairs waving her arms in the classic “shut up†motion. Joan fires Scarlett on the spot. BOOM. Do not trifle with the Wrath of Joan. Called away for a partners’ meeting, Joan vows to deal with Dawn later. Scarlett whines and cries to no avail. When Joan tells her that she’s embarrassing herself, she runs away as fast as her shiny white go-go boots can take her. Wow, this show looks different from Season 1. It’s almost the 70’s in some aspects of design. But it doesn’t feel like that “fake sixties†we all know so well – it looks lived in. Kudos, production team. Harry and Ken arrive at the office bursting with their good news. On their way in they run into a crying Scarlett, who confesses the whole sorry story (eerily echoing Jane to Roger in Season 2). Next thing you know, Harry drags Scarlett back into the office and demands an apology from Joan. The Queen of Madison  Avenue is unrepentant, and laughs Harry off. He complains that he’s tired of her “petty dictatorship.†A circle of confusion surrounding the word “attached†follows. Oh, god, Harry’s not going to boink her too, is he? I thought he was still cleaning off the patchouli after his encounter with Mother Lakshmi last season. Joan says she has more important things to do and firmly puts him in his place. Translation: “I’m a partner and you’re not NEENER NEENER†(picture that with a lot more snark). Scarlett is caught between the all-powerful Joan and the desperately-trying-to-maintain-some-semblance-of-power Harry. With a malevolent glare, Joan gives in – but Harry walks right by the partners’ meeting, showing him who has truly won. Considering their history (remember Joan’s brief job as his script reader in Season 2?), it’s a real triumph on her part. Harry glares. He resembles a bull about to charge. Ken advises him to stay put. Too late. Harry storms in and declares that he needs to defend himself (too bad they were actually talking about Project K). Awww, cute little Harry still thinks he’s the centre of the universe. Joan tries to stop him, but Roger is clearly having fun with this and lets him proceed. Ken lights a cigarette in the same manner that we get popcorn whenever a fundie posts something inflammatory. Harry recounts the Saga of Scarlett and finishes by declaring that if she goes, he goes too. Of course, he mixes it up with “it’s either me or herâ€, leading to a priceless correction from Cooper. Harry cites his brilliant television idea as evidence of his value. He complains that Joan is seen as more worthy because she’s a partner, and he’s sorry “my accomplishments happened in broad daylightâ€. Ouch. Seriously, I gasped and pushed my computer chair back when he said this. Harry, you shit. You absolute piece of shit. Joan should fire your ass and Lane should come back from the dead and give you a nice ghost beating. Pete gets all faux-outraged about it, which is laughable. Don is still confused by what his secretary did. Harry lays down the law – he wants to join the partners from now on, because he has earned it. Seriously, dude, keep digging. The partners are stunned into silence. (It should be noted here that Roger says approximately nothing in the defence of the mother of his child, nor Don for his favourite liquor cabinet-clearing bestie.) Harry drops the mic and leaves, with a shocked Ken trailing behind him. The partners try to reassure Joan (the word try being what’s important here, as Pete obviously fails at it) that Harry is a loser who will get approximately nowhere. Pete points out that the HRC is investigating the industry about their employment of “Negroesâ€, presumably headed off at SCDP by Dawn’s presence. She won’t be fired yet. As for Scarlett, Cooper points out that she’s probably learned her lesson by now. They get back to business. Don gives Joan a Significant Look. At the same diner as earlier in the episode, Dawn meets her Sister-BFF-person. She complains about her day at work that she totally got herself into. Her friend thinks she’s acting like an idiot and shouldn’t trust the other secretaries. She accuses Dawn of compromising her job by being scared, but Dawn points out that the entire firm is scared. Good point -  it’s not like anyone has an easy time on Madison Avenue, though Dawn has more considerations than any of the other secretaries. But no matter what, Dawn wants to keep her job, and that means giving in on a lot of different things. Cut to another restaurant – some kind of soda joint – where Joan and Kate are hanging out and picking up guys. It’s a little childish-seeming for a sophisticated woman like Joan, but she goes along with it. A waiter seems to be interested in them, but it turns out he’s way more into Kate than Joan. The beauty is no longer foolproof. Uh-oh. Joan is slipping. Even the greatest must say goodbye to youth, I guess – especially if their younger friends work in the beauty industry. The phone on their table rings. It’s the waiter. Joan coaches Kate through the phone call and manages to set up a meeting between the two. Gracious in defeat, as always. Cut to Don (I keep typing Dawn) and Megan at dinner with Arlene and Mel from the soap opera. They discuss some controversial Vietnam comments from the Smothers Brothers. The discussion turns to sponsors. Don mentions that he’s against the war, which I find curious – there are very few contexts he would have mentioned that in. Is it true, or just smooth talk to win over the left-wing writer? Hmm. Don dubs satire “the most threatening humor there is.†Mel comments that he should just cast Don, though Arlene notes that he probably plays many roles already. Megan very subtly points out that the show is TOTALLY NOT CONTROVERSIAL AT ALL DON, GAWD. Mel does not get the message, talking about titillating housewives. Poke at Fifty Shades of Grey, writers? Come on, you can tell us, I’d be tempted too. Megan steers the conversation to HOW TASTEFUL MY SHOW IS DON. Mel and Arlene respond by inviting them back to their apartment for some weed – oh, and swinging. YES. Don looks like he’s just been stabbed in the gut with a Tabasco-coated dagger, but Megan says it sounds like fun. Double shock for Don. He gives her the “Are you fucking kidding?†look. (Side note: start a gallery of Jon Hamm’s Looks. Yum.)  They say, oh, it’s cool if you don’t smoke pot, we could just skip to the other stuff we had in mind (PSST, WE MEAN AN ORGY). Don plays dumb. Arlene explains that they like the Drapers and want to be friends, with the “come hither†in her eyes. Megan says “Us too!†super brightly, and Don is like “Um.†Mel helps out by suggesting that they get better acquainted, a “chemistry experiment†for “playâ€. They both say they have to work, and Arlene comments that she makes delicious black coffee.  Guys, I am loving this conversation way too much. Madison Avenue Don + weird artsy couple + swinging = hilarious. The Drapers manage to stutter their way out of it, and Arlene and Mel take it graciously. I guess they of all people would know swinging’s not for everyone, and – sorry, I just rolled back to watch that conversation again. Jon Hamm’s face. I died. The waiter, Joan and Kate all cram into a taxi headed for the Electric Circus. Swinging and a psychedelic club all in one episode? It is the sixties. Stop this, my poor heart can’t take it. Joan pretends they’re from out of town. The waiter suggests that he have a kissing contest with the two ladies. Surprisingly, both are game. Unfortunately, the waiter goes for Kate while Joan stares out the window. Every Mad Men fan feels an inexplicable rage. Suddenly, Joan’s playful adventure seems kind of...sad. “What the hell was that?†Megan asks in the taxi with Don, summing up the viewers’ reactions perfectly. Her husband is philosophical and not taking it particularly seriously, pointing out that Mel had a good strategy, anyway. At least he’s not super pissed off. In fact, he jokes about it quite well. Megan worries that this is some elaborate form of the casting couch. Don thinks not – they’ve probably tried it with lots of people. Then Megan points out that she has to work with this couple. If anyone has expertise in this area, it’s Don, and he reassures her that it will be just fine. And the couple have been married eighteen years, so clearly they’re doing something right. At the club, crazy colours flash and everyone gets high while some weird French music plays. The Sixties are well established. Joan looks like a time traveller in her exactly-the-same-as-season-1 dress, sipping wine and totally alone. She gives the impression of a chaperone, for heaven’s sake – she doesn’t have the “fun†image that Kate does. Frankly, all the free love just seems to piss her off. Soon, a dude sits down between Joan and an entwined couple. His name is Johnny. They quickly begin to make out. At least she didn’t totally strike out – and Johnny looks way cooler than that dorky waiter. Go get ‘im, Joanie. Roger and Bert discuss the upcoming election. Harry comes in for what is obviously a pre-arranged meeting. They turn to the embarrassment of recent events, after some small talk – turns out that in addition to the daughter, Harry and his wife now have twins named Nathan and Stephen, who’d have thought? Harry is suspicious, unsure what’s coming next. Roger calls Harry’s freakout “initiative†and hands him a significant cheque – seriously, I would love to earn that much in one year, let alone as a bonus – meant as a a commission on the special. Harry waits expectantly. They make it clear he’s not getting anything else. Immediately Harry is pissed off because Jooooaaaan whine whine whine...Roger and Bert cut him off. Bert gives him a dismissive put-down. Harry takes the money, but reminds them that he still thinks he deserves a partnership. He threatens to leave. Oh, Harry, when will you learn? Bert remarks that it’s the most impressive thing he’s done yet. Clearly, Harry’s not going anywhere, or at least not where he wants to go. While watching RFK on the news, Don gets a goodbye kiss from Megan. She asks for luck at her big love scene. He gives her a much deeper kiss, and the wish, but watches her go with a forlorn look in his eyes. Don, if you weren’t such a rat I’d feel bad, but you are a major rat and you don’t own your wife. Carry on. Joan and Kate are passed out in her bed, nursing the hangover to end all hangovers. Gail (with adorable Kevin in her arms) drags them out of the room and harangues them for good measure. Kate is tired out, but glad to have had a taste of fun. She comments on how much she admires Joan for taking risks and doing well in the big city. Joan says that she will not have a man to fall back on, for better or for worse – and the glamorous executive life Kate imagines is nowhere near reality. Still, I think she has a much better view of her life than she did the night before, and those feelings of inferiority to Kate? Gone. Don pitches to Heinz Ketchup, with Stan’s help. The setup: a blank white canvas with a picture of food on it. It’s incomplete. What’s missing? The ketchup, of course. A cellophane cover is pulled over with Pass the Heinz on it. The execs are not impressed. Don rambles about imagination, but they are convinced it’s not finished. They decide to think about it. SCDP is in the race if not in the lead. On the way out, Don runs into Peggy, clearly pitching for CGC. She looks away, but Chaough gives them the smirkiest smirk ever smirked. They’re in control, and Don’s protégé is blooming somewhere else. Awkward greetings are exchanged. Pete grows the bitchface again, and Stan looks completely furious. While the other two head for the elevator, Don eavesdrops on the pitch. Peggy starts with the difference between catsup and ketchup. Competitors are selling a gross imitator by claiming it’s just as good as ketchup. Peggy pulls out the Don quote “If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.†Outside, Don shakes his head. The look on his face is somewhere between pride and horror. The ad is minimalist – white with simple black lettering – but the Heinz bottle is there, captioned with Heinz. The Only Ketchup. Peggy knocks it out of the park. It’s done. Joan walks into SCDP, hungover and with her hair in a jaunty ponytail. She notices Go-Go Boot Scarlett and a contrite Harry. Dawn, wearing a most excellent grey jacket-plaid kilt combo, trembles at her approach. She asks for a word, only to get Joan’s best eyebrow-raise in response. After a halting apology for the Saga of Scarlett, Dawn offers to dock her own pay for the missed hours. Though Joan is still pissed, she recognizes that Dawn essentially has her heart in the right place. She sends her to clean out what is evidently a very gross supply closet as punishment. Dawn comments that it doesn’t matter who hates her at SCDP, as long as she has Joan’s respect. A ghost of a smile crosses Joan’s face as she says, “We’ll see.†God, Christina Hendricks can act the crap out of a scene. Don, Stan and Pete commiserate over a post-failed pitch drink. Suddenly, Peggy and the CGC contingent walk in. Chaough is obnoxious once again as he tells them that J. Walter Thompson won the pitch. Peggy’s brilliance hasn't quite paid off. Pete goes into a minor tantrum. Ken appears to scream at Pete for being careless with Heinz, because now Raymond of Baked Beans is in a state and has withdrawn his business. Ken is furious because they left him out of it, the rest of them are in poor spirits, CGC politely looks away. Don storms out. Pete whines that it was totally worth the risk you guys. Everyone onscreen and off mentally wills him to shut up. Peggy gives Stan a smile, and he gives her the finger, but I don’t think their friendship is dead. It's business, right? On the incredibly garish set of Megan’s show, the love scene is in progress. Megan is the cute innocent maid being hit on by the dashing lead character. They fall into a passionate embrace on the bed. Meanwhile Don lurks in the shadows. He is decidedly not impressed. Hypocrite. The scene gets steamier. Arlene sneaks up behind him, and comments that Don likes to watch. Ech, gross, go away you crazy lady. The scene ends. Megan brightly runs up to her husband expecting praise, and gets a cold glare instead. Ouch. Don, you rat. Arlene loves it, no surprise. He offers to “keep Megan company†while she gets changed, which is presumably code for “scream at her like a hypocriteâ€. It’s not like he’s screwing the neighbour or anything, after all. Megan and Don argue. She’s annoyed that he showed up at all, and thinks he’s being a) pervy and controlling. He pretty much calls her a prostitute. Ugly. Just plain ugly. She wails that he’s ruining her career and never cared until now. He leaves her with a taunt about the “open-minded†Mel and Arlene, leaving Megan in tears. Can we just say here that Don is an awful, awful person? Because I don’t think that gets stressed enough. Don picks up a penny from the corridor floor, the code Sylvia devised to let him know that Arnold was on call, then knocks. She lets him in but is pissed that he didn’t show up earlier. Okay, so it’s cool for Don to cheat, but not cool for Megan to kiss someone she’s not even involved with? Sure. Don asks her to take off the cross around her neck, then suggests that when he leaves she should “Get down on your knees and pray for absolution.†She says she prays for him to find peace. SERIOUSLY, writers. That is not Mad Men subtlety. He takes off her cross, they screw. Another Mad Men episode done with, and where was Alison Brie? I will leave this now as I am very tired, but suffice to say that Mad Men does not do bad episodes. I would not call this a standout, or even the best of this season so far, but it got the job done. We finally got a Joan storyline – and at long last Dawn had more than three lines – and Peggy and Don briefly interacted. It was well worth exploring, and even if the rest of the episode had been pure dreck, let’s face it- the swinger scene made it all worthwhile. Welcome to the Sixties.   FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: Community 4.10 - Intro to Knots

Four months later, we finally get the annual Christmas episode. These are generally fun – with the highlight almost universally acknowledged to be last year’s incredible Glee parody – and have some unusual twist on a classic to brighten up our holiday season. This year, it comes just in time to brighten up – exam period? Post-Easter chocolate binge? Well, for the sake of continuity, let’s just assume it’s Christmas right now. Put on your ugly sweater, warm up some eggnog, and let’s celebrate with Greendale, even if it is a little out of order. In an uncharacteristic display of generosity, Jeff has agreed to host what Annie dubs the “first grown-up Christmas party†the group has celebrated. Annie immediately launches a girly attempt to spruce up the apartment, and receives a stern reminder from Jeff not to “play house†with him (Jeff/Annie coming? Please please pretty please?). After some wheedling, Jeff gets into it. Flirtation occurs. Honestly – I’m sad that his status as a complete bastard has declined in recent seasons. He was a lot more fun the first way. Jeff discovers that Annie has brought him a gift despite their “no gifts†policy. He comments that this will make things awkward because a gift creates obligation. Annie is skeptical. Shirley seems to prove her side by coming in with a cart full of gifts. Troy, Britta and ChangKevin immediately follow, with ChangKevin commenting that he’s finally figuring out that “No means yes†(shudder). Even Abed has brought gifts, though he comments that Christmas would be a lot more fun if they were re-enacting Die Hard. Pierce is not present due to enforced sensitivity training – I guess this is their excuse to cut Chevy Chase out for an episode. (Apparently he only missed one, because the episodes were filmed out of order and he was contractually obligated to provide his voice for the puppet show.) The loss of Pierce hasn’t been too gaping, and they’ve handled it well in terms of writing him out. If I hadn’t known the reason behind it, I doubt it would have been all that obvious. Once they are gathered, Annie opens with some bad news – they’ve failed their History paper, which she heard from an acquaintance who helps with grading. Apparently this was a group project (a group paper by seven people? Oookay), so naturally Jeff is desperate to find out who screwed it up and ruined his chances of graduating early. It’s him, right? Jeff’s the failure. Annie tries to smooth things over. She springs her good news – she invited the professor to the party. They have the chance to win him over. Jeff decides. The plan is set. Once Troy and Abed are contained, that is – although Abed does manage to get them to sit there silently until “the plot point we need nextâ€, as befitting a TV show. After some silence, Jeff starts to speak, but is interrupted by the doorbell. Cue opening credits. Side note: Alison Brie’s gorgeous green dress is making her look very Trudy-esque this episode – that is, Trudy Season 1 when she was all young and not jaded by being married to Pete. It’s kind of sweetly nostalgic for us Mad Men fans. Back to our regular discussion. Professor Cornwallis (Malcolm McDowell, people! Malcolm McFuckingDowell!) arrives to an overly enthusiastic (not to mention squeaky) reception. He immediately lets them know that he can’t stay long because his daughter is visiting. He then kicks the shit out of people while performing Singing in the R – er, he lets Jeff know that his place is “very feminine†and insists that he was not expected to bring a gift. One of these actions thrills Jeff, you can guess which. Britta decides that they lost the grade because Cornwallis clearly hates strong, independent women, which leads Troy to run off to the corner with Abed. Once safely away from his girlfriend, he surprises Abed with a gift – John McClane’s tank top, which Abed is happy about though curiously not effusive. Jeff charms the professor with incredible whiskey and creative hors d’oeuvres. Noticing that Cornwallis seems to be paying more attention to the women, he takes Britta aside and suggests that she “get in there and jiggle somethingâ€. Britta is not on board. Jeff tries to get her to admit that her section was bad, only to hear that she worked hard on it. He finally confesses that he slacked off, and his section was likely to blame for the failing grade. He explains that it seemed mathematically impossible at the time for the entire group to fail. Britta gives him her “judgey faceâ€.  Jeff acknowledges his slacking and redoubles his efforts to win Cornwallis over. On the way out, he learns that Cornwallis has been sexually harassing everyone and is generally behaving like a tool, but seems to be having a good time. So far so good...sort of. After intercepting ChangKevin from a poorly executed card trick with the promise of bubble wrap, Jeff returns to pseudo-intellectual smooth talk. The old professor does not fall for it and correctly intuits that it’s because of “that C-minus I gave you for the paperâ€. Jeff is massively relieved not to be the group’s academic downfall. He drags Annie aside to tell her the good news. When he reminds her that a C-minus is not a failing grade, she protests “To me it is!†Uh-oh. Annie explains that she’s on the valedictorian track and can’t have a C-minus on record. Jeff is furious that they went through an entire charade just to make Annie stand out. Unfortunately, as he is ranting about this, Professor Cornwallis overhears, and declares that he is changing the grade to an F. They’re stuck, and we get Annie’s priceless “You’re f-ing us?†The former lawyer tries to explain his way out, but it’s not working this time. Frustrated, he leads the study group into the bedroom. (No, this is not the beginning of that fanfiction everyone’s thought of.) He explains the situation with some help from Annie, who is enraged. They all agree that the professor is creepy, and that the situation is demoralizing. Especially vocal is Abed, now clad in the Die Hard shirt. Jeff reminds Annie that soon her grades will no longer matter. He declares that she needs to grow up. The whole mess, according to him, is all Annie’s fault for not being able to accept a low pass. Britta breaks out the judgey face again. Jeff decides to talk to him “man-to-man†in a last ditch effort. They step out to save their grade...and find that ChangKevin has tried to “help†by tying the professor up. He offers to kill him for them. And cut to commercial. The group immediately springs into damage control. Annie apologizes and promises to free him, but Jeff suggests that they reconsider. The professor is subdued and they have nothing to lose grade-wise, so why not run with it? Abed decides this is even better than Die Hard. The professor challenges them by pointing out that it’s going to take a long time to starve him, and in the meantime he’s not changing the grade. (And, heh, I just figured out why Jeff is called Winger. He’s always winging it. Duh-doi.) Jeff descends into lawyer mode. He points out that Cornwallis had previously changed the grade that evening, indicating that he considered factors other than the paper itself. KevinChang stands there grinning like an idiot the entire time. Cornwallis mentions what everyone’s thinking, that he could just call the police and get them in huge trouble, but Jeff counters him by indicating that there are several reasons why he can’t. (“First, he’s tied up!†Troy shouts – can we give him one decent storyline this season? Please? Donald of Awesome deserves better.) Besides that, Jeff points out that no one knows what really happened in the apartment. They could easily make it look like there was a struggle – and they were justified in restraining him. The study group is remarkably quick on the uptake. Annie in particular delivers a heartfelt rendition of the professor’s (nonexistent) trouble with co-eds at Oxford. However, as Cornwallis tells them, “Empires are always destroyed from within†– sooner or later one of them is bound to mess things up. He declares that he will give an A to the first person that unties him, failing the rest. Rather than scrambling for the chair, they all argue over what happens next, except for Abed, who thinks “This is all amazing, and in impossibly real time!†Jeff brings it to a halt. Cornwallis wonders which of them will crack first – the “Type A Lolitaâ€, the “put-upon housewifeâ€, or the “odd, emotionless Muslimâ€? Abed’s response is to get popcorn because it takes a while before the good villain monologue. Nice try, Cornwallis. Shirley proposes letting him go, but because no one wants to be the betrayer and get an A, they are stuck. Jeff suggests that, instead of fragmenting the group, Cornwallis has instead made it harder to be released, because their friendship is just that strong. Cornwallis says that everyone wants to be the betrayer when the chips are down, and history proves it. He cites the invasion by Hannibal, in which the invaded group cracked before one could say “E pluribus unum†– to which Troy chimes in that he’s pretty sure it’s “anusâ€. Sure he’s onto something, Cornwallis shifts his attention to the “damaged blonde†and the “childish black oneâ€. Jeff insists that no one has a problem with the fact that they’re dating, especially since his own involvement with Britta wasn’t what one would call “datingâ€. Britta takes exception. The unraveling has begun. Pretty soon, he’s established the Troy-Britta-Jeff conflict. Abed returns with popcorn, only to be upset that he has obviously missed something. Cornwallis decides to focus on the person most desperate for an A, the one most likely to be class valedictorian – Shirley. Everyone is shocked, while Shirley is offended that no one thought of her. Boom, another conflict established. Soon Annie and Shirley are firmly pitted against each other. Annie has the chance to take Shirley down by untying the professor, and ostensibly has nothing to lose after pissing off all her friends with this party. She is sorely tempted. Jeff steps in, saying he has no more bullets. Cornwallis begs to differ, as he throws out the fact that Jeff’s coasting is what caused the bad grade in the first place. Everyone flips out at Jeff. Annie and Shirley both protest that he cost them valedictorian. The group yells. Abed contentedly munches popcorn. Just as it looks like disaster is imminent – the doorbell rings. Dun dun DUN. Of course, it’s the Dean, who can smell Jeff’s presence. He is of course mortally offended that Jeff excluded him from the Christmas party, and storms out. In the meantime, the professor has managed to escape. However, he won’t reveal who untied him – leaving the group to figure out which one is their Judas. They panic and quickly descend into argument. Britta proposes waiting until the grades come out, but the professor says they must learn now or else the lesson is incomplete. Upon hearing this, Jeff launches into his typical “we learned something speech†he does in like 90% of the episodes. He concludes that though empires can fall, they are no empire, but “just a bunch of flawed selfish peopleâ€. Their strength is in their weaknesses – and because they all screw up, they can all forgive each other. He offers his forgiveness to whoever did it because he, too is flawed. Cornwallis concludes that this is exactly what the betrayer would say. At this point Jeff flips the proverbial chess table. If it was him, he will forfeit the A by tying up the prof again, which the group proceeds to do. They then open their Christmas gifts in front of him, just for added torture, I guess. ChangKevin insists that his gifts be first – which is how they discover that all he knows how to do is tie slipknots. The professor managed to work his own way out, and no one was a Judas. The professor admits that he set this up out of loneliness. The daughter’s visit was a lie. He needed something to do. Jeff proposes (after another unsuccessful stab at an A) that he grade everyone separately so Annie and Shirley don’t suffer, but Shirley insists that they all fail together. The professor is disgusted by their strong friendship, but since they rescued him from total loneliness for an evening, he grudgingly gives them a C+. The group agrees with him. Everyone wishes each other a Merry Christmas and delves into gift-unwrapping. In the midst of this merriment, ChangKevin steps out – and reveals on his cell phone that he is fully aware of his identity. He has been communicating with someone as Chang, and has not managed to get the study group expelled. Back to the drawing board. We never find out the identity of his conspirator, but it sounds sinister. The Dean, now slightly mollified, drops by with a basket full of kittens (two are named Jeffrey). Why he has them is never explained. Since things are going so well, Abed wonders what’s happening in the darkest timeline, which Jeff still doesn’t believe in. Of course, we then move to that timeline, which plays out over the end credits. An armless Jeff defends Annie (who is decked out in Hannibal Lecter gear) in court after an enormous, violent crime spree. The judge releases her. She promptly falls into Jeff’s arms, where she makes sure that their age difference is okay, then makes out with him – but not before Jeff urges her to join them and destroy the prime timeline. Back in the regular timeline, Abed stares thoughtfully into space, petting a kitten with all the seriousness of a Bond villain. The first part of the episode felt really weak and had the sort of “pseudo-Community†quality that plagued much of this season. There was nothing you could put your finger on, the setup simply felt...off. Once the professor arrived at the party, however, things really picked up. Everyone started to behave as usual and the plot moved along at a fast and hilarious pace, even if it did stretch a bit. It wasn’t really up to the standards of the show’s greats – I would put it in the bottom half of Season Two, for example – but it did the job. Overall, the second half of this season is emerging as much stronger than the first. This is great for us viewers, but on the downside? It will make it that much harder to say goodbye. FJ Discussion Thread  

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother 8.21 - Romeward Bound

-DARY! Phew, that was a long wait. After a lacklustre episode a few weeks ago, it was nice to get a break, but I’m glad to be back with Ted and the gang (well, the gang – who’s ever glad to be back with Ted?). Let’s see where the mind of Mosby will take us next. We begin with a quick recap of Lily and Marshall’s life. Lily is doing wonderfully as the Captain’s art consultant, Marshall is an awesome lawyer, and everyone’s happy – even baby Marvin. Leave it to Lily’s boss to ruin everything. He’s moving to Rome for a year, and wants Lily to join him. Apparently he can’t live without amazing art, even though I’m sure he can find a suitable replacement in Italy? Whatever his reasons, Lily has the chance of a lifetime, and less than a day to decide. This is a perfect set-up to lead us into the opening credits. At MacLaren’s, Barney is trying to leave after only a few minutes. After a brief argument about the word “literally†(guess which side Pedantic Ted is on – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised), he devolves into a rant about why people go to bars, anyway, and how lame bars are, making every viewer spit out their coffee in the assumption that they have accidentally added LSD instead of sugar. Barney denigrating a night out? Barney wanting to spend time at home with his wifey? There’s got to be a catch, right? Before we get to find out, however, Ted interrupts him when he notices a girl from his yoga class at the bar – “The Girl in the Big Coat†(Mircea Monroe). He claims the two had an instant connection, so it means she’s probably the one and they’ll totally get married and have kids named Luke and Leia yada yada yada. Her “redonkulous†body under the big coat might have something to do with the attraction, too. As soon as Barney hears that he’s not going anywhere. Lily bursts in with news of an offer. Barney immediately assumes – what you can imagine Barney would assume, but she clarifies the true nature, and is definitely considering it. Turns out living abroad and working in art has been a longtime dream. Ted excitedly tells her that Marshall has long dreamed of Italy, too. Looks like a fabulous opportunity, right? A quick phone call to Marshall shatters this idea. Lily dreams of her stunning career, while Marshall is bored and lonely at home with the baby. Eventually, Ted predicts, it will devolve into “an angsty, existential black-and-white Italian movie.†Do we get the Italian art cinema homage to go with it? We get the Italian art cinema homage to go with it. At a little cafe in Rome, Marshall is lured away from his marriage by an Italian beauty who wants to go to Minnesota and learn his mother’s recipe for ham casserole. Yep, that is definitely too big a risk to take. Lily is interrupted from her reverie when the room suddenly becomes very hot. Turns out Barney slipped the bartender $100 to heat up the bar in the interests of getting Big Coat Girl to undress. Lily’s horrified. He’s engaged, not dead, guys! And Robin totally understands, he promises. With a sigh, Lily calls the Captain to turn him down. He’s not taking no for an answer. When she insists, he hangs up the phone and Lily’s career as an art consultant is over. Just then, Barney is distracted by Big Coat Girl taking off – sorry, putting on a scarf and adding to the portion of her skin that’s covered. He is bitterly disappointed, but instantly cheers up when Robin walks in and kisses the girl on the cheek. By his reckoning this is going to be the greatest night of his life, and he can totally rub it in Ted’s face forever. Robin walks over and introduces him to Liddy. The wedding planner. Barney hastily rebuttons his shirt and introduces himself. Sorry, Barn, maybe one of these days. Ted sheepishly tries to butt in. Lily flees the scene to go tell Marshall about her day. She is met with an enormous discrepancy. Marshall had told her of a “big work project†keeping him away from home. Turns out it was a house of cards, they haven’t had a client in ages, and the firm is slowly dying. The promising career Lily gave up Rome for has turned out to be nothing. When she tells Marshall, he is immediately besotted with the idea. He runs to the Captain’s place himself. Josh Radnor has the world’s best goofy face, and it’s on full display as Ted ogles the wedding planner. Liddy, meanwhile, has no idea that both men are hot for her and keeps “Tobiasing†the conversation – that is, obliviously peppering her speech with double entendres and driving the guys mad. Unfortunately, she’s still wearing the coat. When she leaves to go to the washroom, Robin immediately interrogates Ted and Barney. They confess to everything. She’s a little exasperated – but extremely curious to know what’s under the coat too. Barney declares that she’s the coolest fiancée ever. Ted tells The Story of the Coat Removal in Yoga Class, which only tantalizes them further. Barney bemoans the fact that Marshall isn’t there, because he would just ask to have the coat removed. Having met the girl of his dreams, Marshall does not give off the air of desperation that would seem creepy if, say, Ted asked. Robin picks up on this and suggests that Barney ask. He hesitates. BIG DILEMMA. Liddy comes back and launches into more wedding plans. Barney is still terrified of asking. He steels himself. Opens his mouth. Says nothing. Silently tells himself to man up. Nothing’s happening. Finally, he manages to ask. She gives him a blank look, and there’s a very tense moment... and then she smiles brightly and says “Sureâ€. He passed the test, AND gets to see Liddy’s body. Barney is pleased that he finally seems to have gotten his raging libido somewhat under control. Until Liddy removes the coat, revealing a body which gives off a ray of light that temporarily blinds both Barney and Robin and renders them speechless. (It makes sense in context.) Thunderous music plays. Something spectacular has changed them both forever. At Marshall and Lily’s place, Robin excitedly recounts the Saga of the Coat. Barney comments that Robin has given him a great gift – he can be as big a creep as he wants without a problem. (Side note: Is this why women keep inexplicably falling for Pete Campbell on Mad Men?) If this is what marriage is like, he’s going to enjoy it. Just then, the Captain calls. Marshall has convinced him to offer the job again. Lily pauses for a moment – and then gently tells him no. Everyone is horrified. Lily comes out with a ton of silly excuses, like having to get a new passport photo, but Ted stops her and asks to know the real reason. She imagines massive failure while Marshall has the time of his life home with the baby. At a cafe (in black-and-white), a beautiful Italian woman chats her up. When she hears Lily was an art consultant, she mentions that her husband used to be married to one. You guessed it – Marshall turns up on a scooter with Marvin in a Snugli, and the Italian woman gleefully runs over. We go to Marshall in Little Italy, wandering around in a white suit inspecting fruit just like The Godfather. Before you can say “Simpsons already did itâ€, he gets a text from Ted letting him know that Lily has turned down the job again. He curses in Italian. Okay, question – is this elaborate setup just a way of getting rid of Jason Segel and Allyson Hannigan for the final season? I’ve heard Segel was reluctant and Hannigan certainly doesn’t need the show for her career. Hmm. This could be interesting. Let’s see if they actually leave first. At MacLaren’s, Barney is rhapsodizing about his upcoming wedding day, and the very low chance that Liddy will be wearing the coat when she attends. Ted advises him to stop waxing eloquent about Liddy. Robin may be cool, but Barney is still being pretty inappropriate, and just might push her too far. Barney points out that he’s the one getting married in three weeks, and Robin’s marrying him, not Ted. Ouch. Just freaking ouch. Way to twist the knife, Barney. Ted concedes that it’s not his place. With a resigned expression, he orders the next round. Marshall, Lily and Marvin are sitting out on the steps, Marshall still in his Godfather regalia. He tries to get her to talk to him about it. She admits that she’s afraid – she came back from Paris and San Francisco early out of loneliness, and is worried about repeating the same pattern. She can’t leave New York. Marshall points out that the difference between Minnesota and New York is pretty huge too. Lily asks how they’re going to overcome the language barrier, since Marshall only knows one sentence (which is pretty hilariously translated, if you ask me. The stoner phrase is “Come on, bro. Don’t Bogart the funionsâ€, only Bogart becomes Mastroianni in translation. Clever, clever, HIMYM). Marshall tells her, by repeating the same Italian sentence over and over and using subtitles  that he only knows one sentence, but he is sure that at least she will always understand him. He’s scared, too – but sometimes risks have to be taken. They’ve decided. It’s a beautiful moment. Barney returns to his apartment. Robin is curled up on the couch, clad in an enormous puffy coat. He’s thrilled. She’s hot – in both senses of the word. Barney reaches for the thermostat. End credits. This episode was oddly reminiscent of the early seasons, especially during the Marshall-Lily storyline, which made a nice change. Its use of clever tricks like the fake subtitles worked really well. The Barney/Robin/Ted story was considerably weaker, though it allowed for that nice setup of potential conflict between Ted and Barney in a way that seemed not so repetitive. There were some good jokes and heartfelt moments of friendship, which is really the heart of the show. Season Eight isn’t completely stale, guys, even if it doesn’t quite have the quality of, say, Seasons One and Two. This episode is not perfect, but it is emblematic of the show’s appeal and was a nice reminder for all those HIMYM viewers who might be getting a little jaded. It started off in a predictable manner, then grew into a nice little story, and that is a great thing to see. I hope it doesn’t indicate that we’re losing Hannigan and Segel, though I don’t think a show with just the Ted/Barney/Robin angle would be horrendous either. I guess all one has to say to that is che sera, sera and hope for the best – whatever form that takes.  FJ Discussion Thread

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Worldly Distractions: Mad Men 6.3 - The Collaborators

Worldly Distractions: Mad Men 6.3 – The Collaborators After an intriguing if not terribly eventful premiere, we are back with Don and the gang in early 1968. The “previously on†reminds us to remember the following: Heinz beans, Joan being pimped out for Jaguar, Peggy getting a job with Ted Chaough, Pete being miserable in a cab after he and Don went to the whorehouse last season, Sylvia grabbing Don’s hand at the end of last week’s episode. Gotcha. After the beautiful opening credits (this episode directed by Jon Hamm!), we join Pete at some boring married couples’ party. One of the wives advises him that he must see Hair. Heh. Vincent Kartheiser’s forehead. Pete utters the line “marijuana smoking and simulated sexual actsâ€, sounding like a preacher who is trying to seem hip. The woman hits on him and suggests that he grab her the theatre tickets in secret. Uh-oh. Then the other wife hits on him. Seriously, ladies, it’s just Pete. Trudy is chatting up the husbands, and also getting hit on, much to her delight. Alison Brie is looking a lot more mature this season – for the first time I can believe her as a grown-up married woman rather than a girl playing house. The hideous dress she’s wearing does not make her look girlish, let’s put it that way. I love how Janie Bryant can costume these guys in all different kinds of 60’s wear. Most movies and shows set in the era design costumes that could look just as good now – which lends it a false feeling. Bryant is not afraid to make them look ridiculous. That, my friends, is a gift. The Campbells are still keeping up their happy married couple appearance, and it is revealed that the apartment is theirs – they have moved, though Pete mentioned getting his own apartment last season. Do they still have the place in Greenwich? Did they forget Tammy under a shrub somewhere? It’s actually their house; Pete has a solo apartment in Manhattan. All in all, they seem reasonably cheerful but stagnant underneath. I can’t help but think they’re going to explode sometime soon. While riding in the elevator one day, Don observes the Rosens arguing in the hallway. Weirdly, Don and Arnold seem to be becoming friends, as much as Don can be anyone’s friend. A moment later, he knocks on the Rosens’ apartment door. Suddenly we get a – ready, guys? – DICK WHITMAN FLASHBACK!  A gramophone plays old-timey music while Dick and his stepmother Abigail(who is pregnant, so it must be soon after Archibald died) move in with Abigail’s sister and brother-in-law, AKA the famous Uncle Mack. They live in some kind of skeezy boarding house that appears to have at least a couple of prostitutes hanging around. Abigail is not impressed, especially when one of the hookers starts flirting with Dick. This is going to get Oedipal fast, right? On the way upstairs, Mack advises Dick that he’s the rooster around the place. SUBTLE. Back in the present – the past – er, the ‘60s, Don and Sylvia are in some sort of post-coital tangle. She feels wrong about a dinner they have planned as a foursome later that week, what with the adultery and all. Don says “What for? They’re good company.†Suave. He instantly follows it with “This didn’t happen,†which should send chills down the spine of any devoted Mad Men fan. While the radio blares news of the Tet Offensive (um, I’m not 100% with my Vietnam War history, anyone want to confirm that?), Don gives her some smooth talk and makes a non-committal exit. Not before handing Sylvia some money, ostensibly for their dinner later on but – well, Don, what did you learn in Season 4 about handing money to women you’ve recently slept with? Sylvia does not appear ashamed, however, so clearly it’s cool on some level. Yet another glimpse into the twisted Madonna-Whore psychology of Draper. Peggy, looking very busy and important, is told by her secretary Phyllis (who is African-American – eep! The times are changing!), that a bunch of creatives are here to see her, and hints that she might want to not behave like a crazy Don Draper clone. Peggy dismissively says “I’ve had their job,†but brave Phyllis persists, saying “And you’ve had mine.†Go Phyllis! I like her already. Naturally, Peggy treats her like dirt. My dear, there is such a thing as overcompensating, you know. I get that there is a ton of stress with her position, especially as a woman in the 1960’s – but it wouldn’t kill her to be a bit nicer. The creatives fare slightly worse than Phyllis as Peggy berates them for not being super-geniuses like her. Picking apart their ads for the pettiest of reasons, she terrifies them into another rewrite. Then taking her secretary’s advice, she tries to be encouraging, which is somehow even scarier. The perfect mixture of condescension and fumbling puts Pete in mind, which begs the question – is smarminess an incredibly slow-acting STD? The creatives slip away looking as indistinguishable as the Season 1 Sterling Cooper staff. Back at Casa Campbell, Pete escorts the first of the blonde neighbour wives he was chatting up into the apartment. What does this gorgeous, lively woman see in him? It’s Pete. Flippin’ Pete. Don, maybe Roger I could understand, but this is the guy Lane Pryce was driven to punch in the face. Beware, Blonde Lady of Doom. Smarmface tries to seduce her with music, food and drink, but she is having none of it. He asks if the temperature is okay. PETE, YOU’RE A SKEEZE. She’s into it, though. They start making out. He leads her into the bedroom with his most ratlike expression. Seriously? As one might have guessed from the opening, we are dealing with Heinz again. Raymond of baked beans has brought along Timmy of ketchup, who is impressed with the current sales but is not so sure about SCDP – or at least isn’t falling for Don’s act. When he’s gone, Raymond tells the reason: he’s totally jealous of Timmy’s ascent to the top and wants the glory of SCDP to himself. If they keep contact with Timmy, there will be dire, presumably account-related consequences. Ken and Don argue over the opportunity of Heinz ketchup vs. Raymond’s loyalty when the company was suffering. Brenda the Neighbour walks out of Pete’s bathroom in a lacy black-and-red underwear set. She and Pete begin to set up more encounters. Turns out the apartment is his, Trudy was just helping him set it up? Okay. Peter gives her some sexy talk, then tells her to hurry up because he has to get going. Ever the charmer. Down in the laundry room of the Drapers’ building, Megan is fussing at the maid because her inferior housekeeping skills are, like, totally ruining her vibes. She is also wearing a fabulous green sweater, but I digress. In the midst of this whining, Sylvia walks in just in time to see someone get fired. After the maid leaves, Megan and Sylvia begin to chat. Suddenly Megan bursts into tears. Fired? Pregnant? Thinks Don’s totally cheating on her...with someone else?! Dun dun DUN! Turns out that she’s upset about having to fire the maid. Oh. They go upstairs and Megan dishes about all the upcoming storylines on her soap opera. Then all of a sudden it gets serious. Turns out Megan had a miscarriage two days ago. So...I was kind of right? She has been looking a little – off this episode. Kind of unhinged and not herself. A good performance from Jessica Pare, who is not normally at the top of my list (not her fault – she’s just surrounded by too many other talents!). Anyway, Megan messed up her pills in Hawaii and was clearly not happy about the pregnancy to begin with, which makes me wonder if “miscarriage†is a code for something else. Oh, and she never told Don. Of course. This revelation is enough to bring Sylvia’s Guilt Factor on, as it compounds her sins. Megan starts talking about her Catholic upbringing (her own as well as Sylvia’s), during which it becomes clear that she was considering an abortion (mostly because of her career) and that she was relieved not to have to decide. At Megan’s prompting, Sylvia shares her own experience and gets all Judgey McJudgerson about Megan’s uncertainty. By her logic, the strong feelings about the miscarriage are an indication that she TOTES WANTED THE BABBY AFTER ALL. Because ambivalence can’t truly exist, of course. Pro-lifers, amirite? Don gets home in the midst of this to find Sylvia looking upset and Megan clearly in tears. He puts two and two together and gets five, and gets this brilliant “OH CRAP†look on his face. Don and Sylvia exchange a Look. Sylvia excuses herself pretty fast. Megan starts in about the maid without picking up on what seems pretty obvious. Look to your left, Megan. Like, right there? That look on their faces is something you should notice. Turn your head, dammit! Peggy is at her office (of course) looking over some kind of product called Quest, which Google isn’t helping me with. Turns out to be “feminine hygiene powderâ€. Hilarious discussions ensue. Peggy was sent this as a prank, presumably by the creatives, with the label “Kills overly critical bacteria. Target: Professional women and other Olsens.†Ouch. I’ve got to say, the prank atmosphere on Madison Avenue is really something. Peggy flips, understandably, and remarks that they can’t be funny when she wants them to be. Zing. We finally get to Joanie, who is ruling over SCDP as always when she is interrupted...by Herb the Perv! That’s right, everyone’s favourite Jaguar creep is back and as gross as ever. He immediately assumes Joan is looking pretty for him. It turns out he’s been aiming for her to go and get a Jaguar (free) and presumably do other things. This gives Joan a few good snark opportunities, including a killer one-liner.  WE LOVE YOU JOAN, DON’T EVER CHANGE. Pete shows up just then, followed by Meredith the Incompetent and acting like he totally didn’t pimp Joanie out a year ago, and escorts Herb away. In a rage, Joan runs off to Don’s office and pours herself a drink. Don is all understanding of their cool platonic friendship and lets her work through his liquor cabinet without a word. We go to the Jaguar meeting, where Bob Benson (remember him from last week? Pete 2.0) introduces himself as “part of the team.†Ha ha sure you are. The men get down to business. Herb is not happy with the Jaguar ad, and wants it to be more relatable to the ordinary American man rather than the lofty ideas of the first campaign – more focus on local rather than national. Don patiently explains that the work has been signed off on. Herb continues with more terrible ideas and PETE OH MY GOD DO NOT EVER SMILE LIKE THAT AGAIN. The man gets creepier every season. They come to an agreement without really coming to an agreement and Herb asks Bob Benson to show him the sights. My hunch: either that means checking out the secretaries or getting poor old Benson to do something unorthodox in a bathroom stall. (Okay, okay, not seriously, we all know he’s into redheaded advertising partners with an acid tongue.) Don and Pete argue about the ad campaign. Pete is still a douche, Don is still suave. It’s the age-old client v. quality debate, which is ultimately unsolvable. We do get another installment of Pete Campbell’s Bitchface, however. Drinking alone in her office, Peggy calls Stan to complain about her job. They exchange some silly banter. Stan points out that he worked with her, which is totally different. He tells her about Raymond of Baked Beans and Timmy of Ketchup. She’s laughing her head off when Ted Chaough walks in. Peggy rapidly tries to cover her tracks, which totally doesn’t work, but Ted lets it pass. She tells him the saga of Heinz. They behave all friendly-like (and kind of flirty-like) with each other. It’s nice to see that at least one person at CGC accepts Peggy. Ted’s exit is contrasted with a great shot of Don walking into his apartment. Excellent composition there, Hamm. Megan comes out of the bedroom looking like shit and tells him she’s not feeling well. Don is concerned and goes up to feel her forehead. She kind of suggests she’s on her period and BOOM! Away goes the hand. Don Draper does not deal in female concerns, I suppose. He’s still concerned and asks whether she cancelled dinner. She ends up convincing Don to go alone, then curls up in bed looking absolutely miserable. Poor Megan. Pete and Trudy are at home lazing around when they suddenly hear a woman screaming for help. It’s Beth, isn’t it? Tell me it’s Beth. And...it’s Brenda, the woman Pete slept with earlier in the episode. Her husband has beaten her badly and screams that she’s Pete’s problem now. Shit, Pete. The Campbells usher her into the house, where Trudy starts First Aid and Pete wants to call the authorities. She insists that they shouldn’t. Trudy insists that she stay with them, or at least away from her husband, even though she likely has guessed what happened. Worth her weight in gold, that woman is – Pete, you’re a cheating jerk. At the restaurant, Sylvia looks blank while Arnold is oblivious. They discuss Vietnam, with the line “You know surgeons are arrogant†from Arnold. Oh, boy, Arnold, if you met the surgeon on this show... Anyway, this is the first mention on the show that the war is being lost. Sixties reference! Take a drink! Just then the good doctor gets a call and Sylvia goes to powder her nose, leaving Don alone with his drink. Pete and Trudy are frantically calling people for Brenda to stay with (note Trudy does not suggest that she spend the night at there place). When Trudy leaves the room, Pete demands to know what she said to her husband. Brenda insists that he take her to the city apartment for some good old-fashioned shagging. Seriously. Pete suggests they call a cab to take her to a nearby hotel, but Trudy comes in and offers to drive her. As the women leave, Trudy gives his this awesome “This is not over†look. Turns out Dr. Rosen has to leave (oh, yeah, never saw that one coming) and Don is left with Sylvia. They begin an innocent conversation about the menu which turns into thinly veiled sniping. Masterful writing here. Eventually they get to the heart of the matter. Don is mad they can’t spend time together without the adultery thing getting in the way, because Sylvia gets mopey and ruins the mood right up until they get naked. Intercut with scenes of Don seducing her later in the evening, he gives a speech that is basically a rundown of what he’s going to do to her later, ending with “Don’t pretend.†Sylvia is not taken in. “Weren’t you telling me you were drifting apart?†she asks. Oh shit she’s going to tell isn’t she? The waiter cuts in asking “So, have you decided?†Dead on, there. Then they go back to her apartment and fuck. Greeeaaaat. She’s afraid she’s falling in love. These scenes are honestly very well set up – I haven’t seen such a good Don-and-a-Woman scene since – Season 2 with Bobbi Barrett, maybe? Sylvia is certainly a nice contrast to Don and a strong character in her own right, just like Bobbi. And they do have a great amount of sexual chemistry. That much is obvious. Pete is at home watching TV and awaiting the music. Trudy has a Look on her face, but quietly gets into her nightclothes and into bed beside him. She’s letting it slide – for now. My guess is Pete behaves himself at least until the last scene of the episode. Megan is on the couch when Don gets back and immediately says that she needs to talk to him. She comes straight out with it. His first thought is for her, did she go to a doctor, that sort of thing. When he asks why she didn’t tell him, she says she didn’t know what he would want. “I want what you want,†he tells her. They decide to have “the conversation†at Megan’s discretion. Don is giving her space, trying to put her at ease, and if he’s a little forceful with the “you should have told me†he is at least acting out of concern. It’s a surprisingly good move, from him. Maybe he isn’t going to fail at this marriage? (HA. Not likely.) At breakfast the next morning, one look at Trudy tells you that Pete is Fucked with a capital F. She has sent the nanny out of the house with Tammy. Uh-oh. Trudy erupts. She let him have the apartment in the hope that he would be discreet. Obviously this has failed if he’s shagged the neighbour. Other issues get brought up, such as moving out of New York. Trudy says they’re done. Fiiinally. And she didn’t even have to find out about Peggy while she was at it. But wait – turns out she wants him to stop shagging in the neighbourhood and appear at her home only when necessary. Okay, so they’re keeping up some kind of sham? Or does she want a total divorce? The language is a tad confusing. Either way, Trudy has finally taken a stand. Pete rants and insults her, but she holds firm – especially since she clutches a bloodstained towel from the night before. Ted Chaough has decided to go after Heinz Ketchup in earnest. Peggy is edgy about taking a tip that Stan has accidentally offered her. Ted tells her to go for it and damn friendship. Peggy is on the prowl. BOOM, competition with SCDP. We have another meeting with Jaguar, where Pete proposes a strategy favoured by all (mostly radio ideas). Is it just me, or does Vincent Kartheiser sound especially nasal in this scene? Jaguar is skeptical and Don is clearly not on board, but tries to explain it away and gets caught up in it. Direct sales on a luxury car? It’ll never catch on, right? Jaguar is not convinced. They want to stay elegant. The new idea fails, despite their pleas that it will bring up sales. Herb, Pete and Roger are all pissed at Don. Extended analogy for the Nazi surrender occurs. Roger misattributes a Churchill quote to his mother. Beautiful. Bob Benson (who looks so late 60’s with that hair) and Pete have their first interaction! If they don’t discover they’re long-lost siblings by the end of the season I’ll eat my hat. Benson kisses some ass while Pete demonstrates his bitchface. Benson is hopelessly naive about the business, Pete jaded. “It’s all about what it looks like, isn’t it?†he asks. Then he asks Benson to pick up some toilet paper for him, because a true gentleman does not purchase his own Charmin. Don shows up at Sylvia’s door. They flirt and agree to meet in the morning. DON, YOU RAT. Just when I thought he could maybe – just maybe behave a little better, he demonstrates that he has learned nothing. So of course we get a glimpse into his complicated past to explain it away. As Sylvia closes the door, young Dick Whitman spies at a keyhole long ago. Uncle Mack is seducing Abigail, the only mother he has ever known, who is pregnant with the child she always wanted. Madonna/Whore alert! Madonna/Whore alert! The blonde prostitute who teased him before walks by and calls him a “dirty little spyâ€.  She takes another man away while Dick watches longingly. And – would you believe it – her voice is incredibly similar to Betty’s. Eek, leave the scene, leave the scene. We move to Don in the hallway of his own building. As he is about to enter the apartment, he stops and sits down. He might be drunk – he’s certainly remorseful. Like the finale of Season 1, he simply stares ahead. He stares and thinks while the gramophone music plays without ever opening the door. Cue the closing credits. At the beginning, I still felt Jon Hamm needed to prove himself as a director. “Tea Leaves†was my least favourite episode of the last season. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just...not quite Mad Men. John Slattery tends to fit in a much better manner. Something about Hamm’s style is muted, softer. He doesn’t take as many risks as some of the other directors on the show. I’d like to see a movie of his, but as part of the show, it’s not there. So I was worried about this one. It is an improvement on Tea Leaves, to say the least. A lot of interesting stuff happens, old touchstones are recalled, many more potential stories are set up, and the writing is solid. Some neat graphic compositions occur. Overall, the stories and characters gain layers. It is an extraordinarily complex balancing act and all concerned handled it well. I think we’re already shaping up to be better than Season 5 (which was by no means bad!). But would it be too much to ask for a proper Joan storyline? Next week: “To Have and to Holdâ€. The preview, which of course never tells us anything, shows a lot of Joan. There’s hope. Pete starts with “so you haven’t officially told†and is cut off. The ad men nod sagely. Stan walks down a hallway. Don and Megan flirt. Joan asks someone not to involve himself. Pete says “What’s that supposed to mean?†Bert Cooper tells someone that something’s not going to happen. Don says “I don’t know how that solves my problem.†He gets into an elevator...and SCENE. Oooh, mysterious. I guess we’ll have to wait on that coveted zombie apocalypse Halloween special. Until then, there are more than enough ghouls coming out of Madison Avenue. Free Jinger Discussion Thread

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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 24.17 - What Animated Women Want

What can I say about the longest-running primetime sitcom? Are there any of you out there who aren’t at least marginally familiar with our favourite family? Hell, this is the Internet – most of you can probably quote entire episodes. Current debate rages over whether The Simpsons should have ended twelve seasons ago or whether it should have ended ten seasons ago, but they’re still going and will probably outlive each and every reader of this blog. I say, a world with The Simpsons is better than a world without them. In the meantime, I am here to account their adventures until they take that final couch gag. One thing that has gotten better (or at least more interesting) since the show’s beginnings is the opening sequence. The couch gags are longer and more elaborate, the blackboard is snarkier – and sometimes they just do a complete overhaul. Tonight is a tribute to Breaking Bad, complete with periodic table credits. We see a dead-eyed Marge cooking something blue. “Crystal Blue Persuasion†plays. Homer, in a Heisenberg-style hat and sunglasses combo, sneaks a hand in the window to taste the mix. Bart – who, let’s admit it, is basically a younger Jesse Pinkman – takes the finished product away in a suitcase. Cut to the church bake sale, where Marge is peddling blue cupcakes while Homerberg watches through binoculars. Marge counts the money she made. The camera suddenly moves out to reveal Walt and Jesse (yes, Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston, live action) watching the show in their meth-cooking suits. Without even so much as a “created by†credit, we are into the episode. Fun little experiment, although it could have been much funnier and more interesting. I would have liked to hear a reaction from either Walt or Jesse, and the story itself was rather dull – far more inventive couch gags have been told in seconds. The length also makes me wonder about the quality of the episode, because usually their longest couch gags show up when they don’t have enough for the main narrative. Hopefully this just means they’re being concise. We begin with The Herstory Channel  narrator wondering why the men of planet “Herth†always ask what women want, and fail “or shall we say maleâ€. Homer and Marge are out on a lunch date at Swankyfish Sushi, clearly not the same place that almost killed Homer with fugu poisoning way back in Season 2. We do get a cameo from Akira the waiter – and lots of making fun of Japanese people, as well as restaurants in general. Guess which one hasn’t aged well since Season 2. (Note: Listen for George Takei, who also guest starred in Season 10’s Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, as the sushi chef.) Homer comes to the astounding conclusion that some restaurants are better than others, based on samples of the delicious offerings. He and Marge strike up a conversation with Akira. Marge realizes that they can have “sophisticated grown-up talkâ€, but Homer isn’t paying attention. She gets pissy. The date’s a flop. The narrator comments that all marriages reach a breaking point. Marge ends up storming out and taking a cab home. Homer is at his wit’s end. The narrator comments that he is in a “fight or flee†situation. Three guesses which one Homer picks. However, he soon realizes that fleeing means running, so he chooses the other option. Plot A is officially set up. The narrator takes us to another part of town, where another battle of the sexes begins. Milhouse is wondering, for the millionth time, how he can get Lisa to pay attention to him. Just then, she comes over and asks if he has anything she can eat (a lunch mixup has left her without food). She ends up asking for his blue cupcake. Heh. Milhouse is totally prepared to give it away, until we get a flashback... A Streetcar Named Desire is being played in class while Miss Hoover and Mrs. Krabappel (Mrs. Flanders?) exchange bon mots and smoke. Mrs. Kraflanders puts out a cigarette in Bart’s ear. Wha?! That seems harsh even for The Simpsons! Milhouse overhears Nelson commenting that chicks go for Brando (which prompts the bully to “drop this sophisticated actâ€). Inspired by the comment, Milhouse begins writing down reasons to imitates Brando in his notebook (though he notes that the play starring Flanders was better). Back in the present, Milhouse asserts that the cupcake is his and Lisa can’t have it. Lisa is surprised, but backs off to “go think of you in a different lightâ€. Seconds later, she is back with an apology, and a comment that she respects him more for saying no. This is taking an odd turn. Fortunately they abandon this conversation when Milhouse sends Lisa to get him some milk. She happily acquiesces. We are treated to a Milhouse-as-Brando clip complete with stained wife-beater and weird accent. He fires a straw paper in her face. Lisa is besotted and invites him on a nature walk. He tells her to see if he shows up. After a brief look at what Maggie’s doing (nothing much), the narrator brings us back to a very bitter Marge. Homer comes in on his knees telling her that he is ready to fight for her love, and hands her a bouquet of roses – from the place beside the gas station. Marge is not won over, and tired of his treatment of her to boot. She’s done. Homer is lost. In the wilderness, Milhouse shows up in a leather jacket, which bowls Lisa over. She’s “lost in the blue of his eyebrowsâ€. He snaps back at her, and realizes that he’s turning into a mean person, which wasn’t quite the plan. He decides to talk it over with the school counselor (Wanda Sykes). His plea for help is useless, however, when she is quickly fired for no apparent reason. Milhouse flips the fuck out (by Milhouse standards), smashing things and wrecking her papers. As a last bit of advice, Counselor Wanda Sykes advises him to act more like his new persona rather than himself. He takes the advice, but not before cuddling a fluffy stuffed bunny – and then getting into a fight over it with the counselor. Homer is still searching for answers to his love problem. He thinks of several options, but dismisses each one. He hits on the novel idea that if he does the things Marge wants, it might please her. He takes out the chore list, looks up the places where he might run errands, and promptly gets into a fight with Siri. Lisa is still crushing on Milhouse, who left her alone in the forest to go see Wanda Sykes, and bakes him cookies. Dressed as Brando in Mutiny on the Bounty, Milhouse swings on a rope from the roof in an attempt to do some daring move – but instead breaks several branches and sends the treehouse crashing to the ground. (Since “demolishing the unsafe treehouse†was on Homer’s chore list, at least one person in the house is happy.) Project Chore List continues. Marge interrupts Homer while he’s filing down the door. He proudly shows her the list. She’s disappointed. It turns out the list is six years old. This time Homer will not be getting an A for effort. He goes back to the sushi restaurant to eat away his sorrows, where Chef George Takei prepares him a sketchy-looking feast (paid for by Flanders’ credit card, naturally). Lisa digs Milhouse and Bart out of the wreckage. Unsure of what to do in the situation, and out of Brando-advice, Milhouse considers turning to Karl Malden (okay, this really is animated Play It Again Sam, right guys?). Rather than take advice from Potato Nose, he flees. Lisa is crushed. At the sushi restaurant, Homer confesses all his problems. Chef George Takei gives him advice, comparing marriage to fish in an incredibly labored analogy. Parodies of Japanese commercials ensue. Inspired by the chef’s analogy, Homer immediately leaves for home. He serves Marge a plate of sushi in bed and tells her that he really wants to make the marriage work. Marge realizes that he is trying and is prepared to give him a chance, as long as he allows her to take the first piece of sushi. He immediately screws up – several times. Marge goes to sleep without any acknowledgment. The sushi ends up being fed to Santa’s Little Helper. This wakes up an enraged sushi chef, who turns out to be married to (or at least involved with) the ex-school counselor. They argue over who has the worst of it. The battle never ends. Milhouse goes up to Lisa on the playground, where he apologizes and promises to make it up to her. With a flourish, he presents the blue meth cupcake. Lisa is reluctant, but accepts when he presses. Delighted, he wonders whether Brando liked cupcakes. Yet another Fat Marlon Brando reference occurs. As in so many occasions over the course of the series, Homer turns to Moe for advice. The bartender has been reading Fifty Shades of Grey (all together, now – shudder) and suggests he take charge in the bedroom. Er, Homer that is – not Moe. Thrilled, Homer runs home to make love to his wife. Moe has been inspired, too, and returns to his Andy Griffith slash fanfic. At the local sex shop, Homer shyly browses through shelves of bondage gear. A very awkward encounter with the Lovejoys occurs. Let’s just say I never want to see the Reverend in leather again. The shop clerk takes pity on the hapless Homer and suggests role play, which turns out to be a terrible idea. We don’t get to see what Homer purchases. From the kitchen, Marge hears Homer calling to her in a singsong voice. He has a surprise for her.  She goes to look (probably against her better judgment). With a few items from the sex shop, the garage has been converted into a “snuggle dungeonâ€.  She is intimidated and grossed out. Just as she complains that he doesn’t know her at all, he slips into the bottomless chair and hurts his back. Homer is curled up in an impossible position at the hospital. Marge enters the room, silent – and then says with a smile that she’s glad he’ll recover. Progress! With a (placebo) injection from Dr. Hibbert, Homer is fixed. He and Marge discuss their marriage problems. She forgives him – though not because of the sex items – and admits that she admires his persistence. After a bit of coaxing, he gets her to confess to her fondness for one of the sex toys. However, she won’t tell him which one, only revealing that it takes sixteen D batteries. Later, Homer burns the entire contents of the snuggle dungeon – minus the bottomless chair, which he keeps. The narrator moves us back to the Milhouse storyline. Lisa is disturbed from her reading when two blue cupcakes hit her window. She isn’t taken with him anymore, but finds the gesture sweet. Friends again. Awww. Inside the dog’s stomach, the sushi discuss an escape route. Santa’s Little Helper begins to suffer digestive issues. Er, could have done without that one. The viewers are very grateful when the closing credits come up. My response to this episode? Ehhhhhhh. It’s not as offensively horrible as, say, Homer v. Dignity, but it’s not very good, either. They could have done so much more with each plotline, and I was really hoping no one would ever mention Fifty Shades of Grey again. We have been over this Homer-and-Marge-fighting territory so much that it has become incredibly tiresome. Same goes for the Milhouse-is-a-geek-and-then-cool-for-three-minutes plot. Two sadly underused guest stars add to the episode’s total lack of inspiration. Is it time to put The Simpsons down? If this is all they have left, I don’t think saying goodbye will be too painful. For more Simpsons, here is the FJ discussion thread.

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Meet samurai_sarah

German-born, based in the UK. I accidentally migrated to the UK to attend university, and found the British Library. So, I decided to call it “home”, and stayed. Books are my catnip, especially when they deal with history, but I’ll read anything. Unlike Lori Alexander, I actually do love learning; and the implicit idea that knowledge might be dangerous, baffles me. I came to reading Christian fundamentalist blogs after stumbling across the word “quiverfull” in a newspaper article. Google led me down the rabbit-hole of fundie blogs. My background is one of liberal Catholicism, in Germany, where the mainstream Christian Protestants seem the real liberal ones. I had never heard of Christian fundies, and was hooked. Holy rose-coloured spectacles, had these people never cracked open a history book? Also, why do some people resist spell-check? After the occasional mention of "Free Jinger", I googled that and realized that I’m not alone with my questions and bemusement. And my continuous amazement, about how little fundies seem to know about actual history. So, with that in mind, I’m going to mostly focus on history. Because fundies don’t seem to get that the past isn’t some magical la-la-land of Victorian ladies in white summer-dresses, and independently wealthy gentlemen. If you have an issue you’d like me looking into, let me know. I don’t pretend to know everything, but I love learning about new things, and keeping that pitchfork of knowledge polished.

Curious

Curious

 

Worldly Distractions: Community 4.9 - Intro to Felt Surrogacy

How is it that we’re only four more episodes away from the end of Community, forever? Each time a new show airs, I’m happy to see another adventure with Jeff and the gang, but at the same time I mourn a little. The ratings alone make it highly unlikely that we’ll get a Season 5, even though it’s still technically “on the bubbleâ€, but the departure of several luminaries doesn’t help. Six seasons and a movie shall never come to pass, but we can stand together as honorary Greendale students and enjoy what’s left. On the bright side – PUPPET EPISODE! We open in the study room with a very tense group. The music is ominous, Britta is tapping her fingers and everyone looks expectant. Troy looks like he’s about to cry, though that is not unusual, as Donald Glover has demonstrated again – and again – and again. With that enigmatic opening, we go directly into the credits. Huh? The Dean comes in to declare that he’s putting an end to the awkward silence, which has apparently been going on for days. He is going to get to the bottom of it and force the group to live again. Annie whines that it’s too embarrassing. In a show of both creepiness and understanding, the Dean reveals that they won’t have to talk about it – they will instead talk through a set of puppets that look exactly like them which he inexplicably has on hand (Jeff is the only one who finds this weird, especially since his puppet seems to be holding a whip). Britta indulges in psychobabble about puppet therapy. The Dean suddenly points out that Pierce is missing – so this how they write Chevy Chase out, huh? – and Troy reveals that no one has seen him since he “lost his mind in the woodsâ€. This gives the Dean the perfect segway into whatever caused the silence, and our story begins. Not before Shirley protests on the grounds that “It’s between us and Jesus†and Abed agrees only because he’s a fan of the medium, however. Also, am I the only one who thinks it’s very creepy that Troy and Jeff can exchange details about having sex with Britta? Eek. The Dean rips off his outfit to reveal a Deanocchio costume, complete with nose that kind of looks like a dildo. Abed starts the narration. The puppets (noticeably nicer-looking than The Dean’s puppets) are gathered in the study room doing their typical things – Britta is ranting about something, Jeff is sarcastic, Troy and Abed are planning mischief, etc. The latter two have created “Study Group Bingoâ€, because Abed argues that they have fallen into repetitive patterns just like a sitcom (heh) and need to liven things up a little. Every time someone reacts in a predictable manner, they yell “Square!†and presumably check off a Bingo box. (Full confession: I haven’t played Bingo since Grade Two.) No one seems interested. Here Pierce not only has a puppet but is clearly voiced by Chevy Chase, so I guess we’re not getting rid of him just yet, though his whereabouts will probably set things up. Jeff hates the game, but agrees with the general idea that they’re in a rut. He wonders how they got so predictable. Ohhh, I can feel that this is going to be genius. Just then the Dean interrupts with a group of touring would-be students. Inexplicably, they are all human (including the Dean) while the study group remain puppets. He explains that the group showcases Greendale’s diversity, then leaves to show them Magnitude. Bye, Dean. Abed declares that they need a day off just like Ferris Bueller. Annie reminds him that his constant pop culture references are part of what they want to avoid. The gang puts their heads together to figure out where they should go – which gives them a song in which each character gives perfectly typical responses. Finally, Annie suggests a hot air balloon ride, which they agree to immediately. By the power of music they are instantly transported to the balloon, where they meet their balloon guide (Sara Bareilles, not a puppet). She gives them an extremely long run-down of the safety features. HEY – is this a parody of obscure 90’s Canadian kids’ TV series Ballooner Landing? I highly doubt it, but a hoser can dream. Sigh. Perhaps unwisely, the balloon guide lets them go entirely on their own. As they finish their musical number, everyone realizes what has happened and begins to panic. ChangKevin (puppet) shows up moments too late and is very distressed to have missed it. Something tells me we haven’t heard the last of him. Back in the non-puppet world, Deanocchio is extremely upset that they almost let Jeff die. Britta points out that the entire group almost died, which is apparently lost on him. Shirley steers them back to the story, where Pierce has ruined things by flying the group directly into a thunderstorm. Everyone is convinced they’re going to die, until Jeff points out that they’re dropping. Abed amends this to crashing. It looks like the end for our intrepid study group. In reality, the Dean diagnoses the group with PTSD based on a couple of minutes of story. Abed continues the saga. The group is unhurt but terrified, and are desperate to return to Greendale. Immediately Abed starts comparing them to Lost. Troy regrets never having seen Blue Man Group. Annie assures them that it’s going to be fine – until a sudden growling from the bushes prompts her to scream and jump into Jeff’s arms. It turns out to be a woodsman (Jason Alexander), who immediately recognizes them as being from Greendale, and reveals that he knows Pierce’s name, which creeps them out until he reveals that both pieces of information are from Pierce’s shirt – and that he’s a touch psychic. It turns out that he’s a Greendale graduate himself (which Jeff remarks is the fate that awaits them – transient mountain men). The Mountain Man tells them that this is the life where they can be themselves, which prompts another song about individuality. The group decides that abandoning society to go live in the woods is a good idea after all. By the end of the song, courtesy of Jason Alexander they have all consumed what appears to be “magic berriesâ€. And here shit gets freaky. The screen blurs, the speech slurs, and the music begins to resemble late-‘60’s John Lennon experiments. Looks like trouble is ahead. Deanocchio comments on what great progress the group has made, as they are now willing to discuss their experiences. Garrett rushes in to inform him that the cafeteria’s on fire. The Dean impatiently dismisses him and goes back to the story. Shirley picks it up with a line about how “those devil berries freed our minds and loosened our tongues.†In the woods, they are all high as kites. Britta and Annie engage in pseudo-lesbionic chatter by the fire. Troy comments on how free he feels. Shirley mentions that she thought Andre was cheating again, but upon following him realized that it was a different man, and ended up accidentally leaving her kids in the grocery store overnight. In response, Jeff comments that loves women. Pierce goes off to indulge in personal business. Back in the real world, the group falls silent. They stare at the table. Shirley says that they’re treating her like Judas and judging her like Judy. She breaks off, looking guilty...until it’s revealed that no one actually remembers hearing her secret. Britta admits that the reason she’s been so awkward is because she thought everyone heard her secret. Apparently not, but Annie also has a secret about how..she...trails...off...from time to time. Ahem. Jeff gets to the heart of it – everyone revealed an awful secret, but nobody listened to anyone else’s. There is much rejoicing. They’re in the clear! However, they all realize that Shirley is left out, having revealed the terrible thing already. She’s upset, and the group feels guilty. Jeff tries to reassure her, but Shirley’s about to walk out anyway. They decide after much discussion to share the secrets again, sober, though not before Britta offers up her remaining stash of berries that she was saving for “Laser Floydâ€. It’s better, Jeff theorizes, to have all of them feeling bad together rather than Shirley alone – but to make it easier, they will reveal their secrets through the puppets. Of course, this means a musical number. Jeff met a perfect woman, then met her kid, and after pretending it didn’t bother him, he skipped out on the kid’s baseball game before never calling again – just like his own father. Britta admits that she’s never voted, except for on The Voice. Annie is struggling in History, despite her general academic prowess. She let the professor rub her feet in exchange for the test answers. Troy caused a fire at Greendale, losing 55 acres because he was burning an anthill. After a chorus about how they’re all revealing their secrets and it makes them feel better. The Balloon Guide shows up to escort them out of the woods. They start to leave. Pierce, now alone, wails that he never actually slept with Eartha Kitt, but dry humped her instead. Another thing we could have gone without knowing. That’s Pierce for you, and it looks like he’s gone forever. With the secrets off their chests, the group is in harmony again, and Deanocchio is thrilled. Inspired by their candour, he starts to reveal his secret, but only gets as far as “I am not what you would call tradi-†when Britta suddenly realizes that Abed never told his secret. It turns out he never had one in the first place, but instead mimicked the entire group’s awkward silence. Everything is falling into place. They all reassure each other that they are not as bad as their secrets would indicate – as Jeff says to Britta, “the level of respect we have for you as a political activist has definitely not changed.†Free of their burden, the group tosses the puppets on the table and leaves. The Dean is left alone – except for the Jeff Puppet, who has come alive and developed a look one might describe as “come-hitherâ€. Happy endings all around, except for Pierce, I guess. Instead of a traditional Troy-and-Abed closer, we get clips from production of the episode, which is a nice change actually. It’s fun to see everyone goofing off backstage. Though one can’t help but wince every time they address Chevy. This episode could have gone farther, could have been funnier – they definitely could have done more with the concept. And the songs lacked a certain something, certainly not possessing anything near the humour of the Glee episode. The guest stars also seemed underused, and the questions they were asking about predictability could have been much darker, funnier and more penetrating – not to mention more meta. All in all, I feel they sacrificed humour for sweetness. It was a decent episode, and I would rank it highly within this season, but it certainly wasn’t great. The puppets were a fun novelty – and it was interesting to see how they’re going to get rid of Pierce for the next couple of episodes – but in the end, I wanted more. You’re doing better for now, Community, but I do hope you pick up soon. For more Worldly Deanstractions, click here.

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

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: Mad Men 6.1/6.2 - The Doorway

After a long year of waiting, the King of Television has returned. With Season 6 on the horizon (likely the penultimate season), the show is still going strong. Even Mad Men – yes, even Mad Men – has been the recipient of “it’s been on too long now it sucks†whining. To which I say, shove it! Mad Men is king and I would love to be Jon Hamm’s queen. Ahem. Okay, guys, we're in for the long haul, but bear with me. I don’t expect anything particularly shocking from this episode. Usually, the premieres are there to set up what has happened since the last season ended (I have heard from semi-reliable sources that it takes place around Christmas, 1967, several months after the end of Season 5). Generally, the viewer can deduce the season’s main thematic arc, though plot points are generally elusive. With a two-hour episode, I think we can expect a lot to happen, however, and some of the establishment itself will come as a surprise. If Trudy hasn’t left Pete yet I’ll eat my hat. We get an extra-long “Previously On†to fill us in, then onto the show. The opening credit sequence is honestly one of the best in television history. How can it say so much in a couple of drawings and a simple theme? How can it characterize one of the strangest times of the twentieth century? I don’t know how, but they manage it. And that opening theme will stay with me forever. On another note- both Talia Balsam and Peyton List (AKA Roger’s two wives) are in this episode – I wonder why? We open with an unholy screech from Megan. It appears that she is being raped by Some Bald Guy, in a room with a groovy 60’s chandelier. An ambulance is heard. EDIT: I got this wrong. It's a guy having a heart attack - specifically, the doorman. Oops.  Fade to black, and narration from Don comes in. “Midway through our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road...†Oh, that sounds promising. Fade in to a incredibly flat stomach, on a woman lying on a beach in a purple bikini. Don is reading Dante’s Inferno (subtle) in a beach chair. We get Jon Hamm’s chest. Everyone wins. Purple Bikini is revealed to belong to Megan – so at least he hasn’t dumped her yet – who is perky as usual. From Megan’s concern over her looks, she appears to have some kind of acting job. Don’s watch has stopped. Ooh, symbolic. Don and Hoser Wife return to their hotel room, where she presents him with two joints. I guess it really is the sixties. Megan wants them to have sex high, and Don gives in with nary a word. Cut to a luau scene, revealing that the couple are in Hawaii. Saving their marriage? Courting Pacific business? Filming a commercial? Whatever their reasons, they seem happy – carefree – in love – and knowing Matthew Weiner, this is going to last maaaybe two minutes. Some Hotel Jerk and his wife lecture them on authentic Hawaiian food while the emcee drones on about tours. This is tacky 60’s tourism at its finest, folks. Megan gets up to dance and is promptly hit on by the emcee. I’m not sure if Don is annoyed or thinks it’s hot. Probably both. As she returns to the table, she is approached by a middle-aged lady, who recognizes her from TV (it looks like some kind of soap opera called To Have and to Hold) and wants an autograph. So Megan’s career is going well, and though she is flustered she clearly likes the attention. Once again, hard to tell what Don thinks. Damn, Jon Hamm can act. Cut to Don and Megan’s room, where they have just had sex high again and Megan is babbling on about the fan. Even though on the outside they look okay, I can’t shake the thought that something’s off. Don goes downstairs to the bar while Megan sleeps. Christmas carols play in the background. Don is pestered by a drunk guy who wants to know if he was in the service. They strike up a conversation over Korea versus Vietnam. Drunk Guy tells him it’s his bachelor party. Don offers to buy him a drink, Drunk Guy insists on buying him one instead and wants to know if Don’s an astronaut. More war talk, without sparing gory details. Drunk Guy (Dinkins – heh) suggests that they “get into some troubleâ€. Don ends up being asked to give away the bridge, though not without a few half-hearted attempts to weasel out of it. The Drunk Guy insists, saying “One day I’ll be the man who can’t sleep and talks to strangers.†Don smiles. The morning after, we get plenty of gratuitous shots both of scenery and Mrs. Draper’s body. Megan goes out onto the balcony looking glorious. We cut to Megan taking pictures of the GI’s wedding, with the Drapers and the groom’s buddy as the only attendees. It’s sweet. Back in New York, we see Henry’s imperious mother with Sally, Not-So-Fat Betty and some little friend of Sally’s at a performance of The Nutcracker. Cut to Betty getting pulled over for speeding on the way home. She tries to sweet-talk her way out of it, but it doesn’t quite work. Sally and her friend exchange smirks. Oh, Betty, you’ll never change, will you? Mother Francis tries to use name recognition to get her out of it, and it doesn’t work. Mother Francis is pissed. Sally mentions that she “hates copsâ€. Wow, it is the sixties. Sally’s friend mentions that her mom is dead, which makes everyone laugh for some reason. Huh? Henry is waiting for them at home complete with ugly sweater and drink. The house looks...surprisingly inviting and not so much like a mausoleum. I can’t quite tell if we have a new Bobby or not (who ever pays attention to Bobby, anyway?), but baby Gene has grown into a full-fledged kid. We are reminded that the Draper sons exist, now they can go back into the vault for the rest of the episode. My god, Kiernan Shipka is looking grown-up. She refers to her mom as “Betty†while telling the story of the ticket. No one reprimands her. That seems...off to me. Anyway, Mother Francis wonders why her name-dropping didn’t work, which makes Henry laugh. Honestly, I think he’s got his head screwed on better than all of them. Sally’s friend, a Juilliard-bound musician, whips out her violin and favours them with a song. Bobby comments that the case “looks like a coffinâ€. Subtle, Matt Weiner, subtle. We return to Don and Megan arriving home, looking gorgeous as always. They exchange pleasantries with the doorman. Megan inquires as to how he’s feeling when he suddenly collapses – oh, no, it was a flashback. Megan calls 911 and the guy appears to be having a heart attack. The violin continues to wail in the background. Back in the present, Don won’t let the doorman carry the suitcases and Megan assures him that they’re happy to see him back. He hands her a script that had been delivered yesterday. Her career is clearly on the up. Cut to Betty and Henry chatting before bed, needling each other about reading the newspaper. Betty hints that Henry thought Sally’s friend was hot, and reminds him that she’s only a year older than his stepdaughter. Henry jokes that he can totally run away with a teenaged musician. Okay, this is getting creepy fast. Betty casually suggests that he can go to next room and rape her, she’ll hold the girl down and – WOAH WOAH WOAH. This is their idea of dirty talk? What the everloving hell? ...which is pretty much Henry’s exact words. Betty counters that he wanted to “spice things upâ€. And then it just gets creepier. She offers to take Sally out so he can be alone with her, if her presence ruins it, and Henry can just stick a rag in the friends mouth. WOW, Betty. Henry is confused and grossed out (understandably). I guess Betty’s jealous or something, but, um, that’s a unique way of expressing it. She kisses him. He is still confused. Run, Henry. At the Draper apartment, Megan is pissed for being offered a small role. Don isn’t too sympathetic. More cracks in the Draper marriage. Betty wakes up to find Sally’s friend in the kitchen. She is surprisingly okay with this. They share a midnight snack, where it is revealed that Betty is still “reducingâ€. The friend tells her she’s beautiful, which Betty is not falling for. The friend (Sandy!) complains about her dead mom. Betty offers her sympathies, remembering her own mom’s death, and extends her friendship. Awww. They talk about going to college and growing up. Sandy reveals that she was actually rejected from Juilliard. She’s crushed by this, and wails about being too old for the violin. Betty advises her that she’ll probably get along just fine. It’s actually kind of sweet. Too bad about the rapey talk beforehand. Betty starts talking about her modelling days, and Sandy reveals that she wants to go live in the City and has in fact visited on her own a few times. Betty gives her the “times have changed†talk and asks if she’s on dope. Sixties sixties sixties! Peggy is living with a different boyfriend, a long-haired hippie type with enviable facial hair. Okay, IMDB won’t tell me anything. What happened to Abe? Dammit. Peggy is looking super fashionable and professional, and seems to have grown overall since taking the new job. Sexy beret. Burt Peterson (wait, he’s back?) calls her in the middle of the night about DEFCON changes. Apparently Peggy’s agency is planning a Super Bowl spot, which is going wrong. Everyone’s relying on Peggy. Great job, Olson! She’s becoming eerily like Don, though. The tone...the manner of speech...it’s all Draper. Eeek. Don and Some Guy From Another Company Who Is Apparently A Surgeon ride up in an elevator to work and talk about cameras. Christian Barnaard references occur. Current events reference! I wish we had a drinking game going on. Meanwhile, Roger is in an analysis session, which is surprising to approximately no one. He’s talking about some girl he’s shagging. He feels at loose ends and has no identity. Same old Roger Sterling wit, which the doctor isn’t putting up with. Roger starts talking about a door. Episode title drop! “That’s all there are – doors and windows and bridges and gates, and they all open the same way, and they all close behind you.†He feels his path isn’t right. Aww. Peggy and Burt meet up to discuss the ad campaign. The ad features “lend me your ears†as the tagline, and some guys in Vietnam have been cutting off Viet Cong ears (My Lai, history buffs?), so it has to change. Peggy is still a Don clone, and has amazing hair to boot. The copywriter, Lawrence, looks really wimpy and scared of Peggy. More Christian Barnaard references. They talk about some irreverent comedian. I feel like I should know who he is. (Google says Milt Kamen. Okay.) Peggy is horrified, the guys find it funny. Clearly, Peggy is in charge here and everyone runs to do her bidding. The agency is on her shoulders. GO PEGGY! Cut to Don and Bob Benson from accounts (new character, total kiss-ass, basically Pete Jr.) in the elevator. He mentions Don’s Pennsylvania background, which is of course going to piss Don off. He attempts to sweet-talk Don with tickets to a football game. It works about as well as one would think. At least it wasn’t my initial impression, that Ginsberg had turned square. Seriously, their voices are creepily alike. The agency is still called Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, which stabs me a little. We get a brief glimpse of the creative team. Stan is still obnoxious but has a rockin’ beard, and there seems to be a woman on the team, which is not a surprise after the disastrous pitch once Peggy was gone last season. Benson is still a kiss-ass. Ginsberg has a mustache that makes him look like my mom’s draft-dodging first husband. There’s also another guy, whose name I don’t know, or maybe I don’t recognize him. They needle Don about being old and ask about his trip. Don hints at some kind of transformative experience. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be. (Stan’s theory: Megan in a bikini.) Dawn is still Don’s secretary – heh, more confusion – and is looking very fantastic in her late-sixties office outfit. You can really see the fashions evolving in this scene – Dawn’s outfit is practically 1970’s – though Joan looks very much the same as the first season. Someone has arrived to take publicity pictures for the SCDP partners. Pete is still a douche. Seriously, just look at that smile, ugh. I wish Lane would come back from the dead and punch him again. And Benson looks like his little brother or something. GROSS. Joan and Don exchange some vaguely flirty talk, Pete is a kiss-ass, and the photographer is slobbering over Joan. Roger comes back and says some funny stuff. Harry shows up briefly (looking the most modern of all of them) and is promptly dismissed. They have an ad campaign for Sheraton coming up. All is pretty much status quo. Except for Pete’s sideburns, of course. Don goes into his office for a quiet moment. We hear the ocean in the background. Are we going to see Don’s transformative experience? We cut to Peggy deftly trying to salvage things with the headphone campaign. The guy is surprisingly accommodating, but Peggy’s concerned that cutting the offending line will leave the actor in a toga looking weird. (Oh, Peggy, Peggy, I hope you lived to see today’s Super Bowl commercials.) Peggy firmly rejects the company man’s suggestion and asks for some time. She tries a Draper-esque speech about what the ad is going to mean – and succeeds! Damn, Peggy, you really are following your mentor. Ted Chaough, meanwhile, is apparently AWOL. Don looks over the ads for some kind of cleaning product from Dow. He points out that a married couple is old fashioned – “Anything matrimonial is Paleolithic.†Clearly, he isn’t as out-of-touch as one might have guessed. He and the female copywriter have an argument. The doctor from upstairs shows up with a blonde who looks kind of familiar. Oh, wait, it’s just Meredith, the stupid secretary Joan yelled at last season. Dr. Rosen has come to pay Don a visit for no apparent reason. They flatter each other about their jobs. Don presents him with a sample Leica camera, which they had been talking about in the elevator. Dr. Rosen meets Dawn (whose last name is revealed to be Chambers). Do I see an affair coming? Awesome. At least Don and Dawn don’t seem to be boinking, can you imagine the confusion? “Hey, did you hear Don is cheating with Dawn?†Yeah, that would be a problem. Roger is on the phone (presumably with Shag-of-the-Moment) when Caroline comes in to tell him that Roger’s senile old mother has died. Aww, I adored her one scene back in Season 3. Caroline is broken up, Roger is philosophical. Clearly he has been preparing for a while. Roger tells her to put it in Joan’s hands. Ah, yes, Keep Calm and Ask Joan, the unofficial motto of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Alone in his office, Roger raises his glass, a faraway look in his eyes. Peggy is meanwhile trying to get in touch with Ted Chaough, who is somewhere with a pastor. Rehab? The pastor starts interrogating Peggy about her religious background. Peggy brings him back on topic to try to get to Ted. She is skeptical of the pastor’s note-taking abilities. They discuss the Super Bowl. Peggy hangs up, more frustrated than ever. Don is subjected to the horror of publicity photos. As you can imagine, he has little patience for the process. The photographer “wants to see the brains behind this operation.†Don clearly thinks this is bullshit but complies. He takes out a lighter that says “In life we often have to do things that are just not our bag.†Once again, Matthew, you demonstrate enormous subtlety. Turns out the lighter was Private Dinkins’, and somehow ended up with Don during the whole matrimony adventure. Don looks reflective. Profound experience? I guess so. I think this is the part where the episode would be split in half for syndication. Carry on. Don is in bed, but the Hoser wakes him up to tell him she’s off to work and will have to miss Roger’s mother’s funeral. She’s being kept busy, for sure, but Don is not thrilled. He lets her go anyway, and teases her about being a big TV star. Also, JON HAMM IN PYJAMAS. Ahem. He takes out the lighter again. He looks pensive. Betty walks in and tells Sally to stop eating because Sandy’s coming for lunch. Upon hearing that Sandy cancelled, Betty gets strangely curious. What’s your deal with Sandy, Betty? Replacement daughter for the Spawn of Don? Weird lesbian crush? Do enlighten us. Or don’t, considering the earlier scenes. Ugh. Sally mentions that Sandy “went to Juilliard early†and is clearly onto her mother’s interest in her friend. Jealousy abounds. Sally now considers her “stuck-up†and is clearly glad to be rid of her. Meanwhile, Betty’s alarm bells are going off. We get a brief shot of Don sitting at home with the profound-experience look on his face, getting drunk and watching TV. Then we cut to Roger and couple of old ladies (presumably relatives) at the funeral. First Bert Cooper glimpse! Seriously, seeing Robert Morse is like getting a big piece of candy. Unexpected joy. Jane shows up and gives polite but frosty condolences, complete with fabulous 60’s mourning clothes. She offers his mother’s ring back. Ouch. Roger tells her to keep it – “She liked you. You always paid the rent on time.†The men of SCDP offer perfunctory condolences. Bob Benson the kiss-ass has ordered food for the funeral, though all the guys chipped in. Roger sees right through it, of course.  We get our first glimpse of Roger’s daughter since the disastrous post-JFK assassination wedding. Harry says something creepy, as with every woman in this series. “Everything turns you on, doesn’t it?†Pete scoffs. Don arrives, wasted, and makes a beeline for his co-workers. Huh, apparently Roger’s daughter has a kid? Like, not a baby, but an actual kid. I guess enough time has passed, but it really does bring home the gap between episode 3.12 and episode 6.1/6.2. Just over four years. Harry gets in another creepy remark (this time about Megan), and Aaron asks Pete “Is she still alive?†Uh-oh, sounds like something is rotten at Casa Campbell. Trudy’s absence is certainly huge. Guess Alison Brie had a Community episode that day. On a side note – every young guy on the show has a new haircut. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who the person is, sometimes it looks kind of stupid (Ken) or improves the guy’s looks (Pete). At any rate, it signals changing times...like everything else on this show. Roger stands up to speak, but one of the old ladies yells at him that she wanted to go first. He concedes. Suddenly Mona and her new husband walk in. (For those of you who don’t know, the actors who play Roger and Mona are married in real life, adding to the fun.) There is instantly a chill in the air. The old lady gives a flowery and ridiculous speech, emphasizing how much Roger’s mother loved him. It gets downright Oedipal. It’s awkward. Everyone is a little weirded out, until Don starts barfing all over Roger’s mother’s umbrella stand. Pete, Ken and Harry rush him out of the room. Don mutters an apology, Roger looks pissed. The old lady wants to continue, but Roger chooses to pick a fight with Mr. Mona instead. He claims everyone is upset at Mr. Mona’s presence, but really just succeeds in upsetting everyone else. He shouts “THIS IS MY FUNERAL!†(Oedipal! Symbolic!) and orders everyone out. Stay classy, Roger. ...but no one leaves, so Roger storms out instead. Great funeral. Betty takes a cab to the Village to search for Sandy. It’s dingy and gross and everyone’s unfriendly. Betty is decidedly a fish out of water. Mona shows up to comfort Roger, who has apparently retreated to one of the bedrooms in his mom’s apartment. They exchange some barbs. Mona comments that Don “never tires of embarrassing himself.†Roger claims he was just saying what everyone else was thinking. Mona is surprisingly understanding and gives some consoling words. She reminds him that he has a family, which he shoots down. She reminds him that he still has Margaret. It’s a lovely scene, if tinged with bitterness – until Roger attempts to seduce his first ex-wife. Mona flees. Pete and Ken get Don home, and man is he tanked. I don’t think I’ve seen him this drunk since “The Suitcase†(4.7, the one where Anna Draper died). He’s overly friendly with the doorman, Jonesy, and slurring words like crazy. He asks Jonesy what he saw “When you diedâ€. Jonesy insists he never died, Don says he did. He demands to know what Jonesy saw. Jonesy is vague, but says “I guess there was a light†before helping Ken and Pete get Don upstairs. Betty finally manages to track down the grossest apartment building you have ever seen with a bunch of freaky hippie kids listening to (gasp!) modern music. She might as well be a Martian. Suddenly, she catches sight of Sandy’s violin, but the guy she questions won’t tell her where it came from. The boys demonstrate the squalor they live in, using snow from the roof to cook goulash. We’re reminded that they have moms, somewhere.  Betty is grossed out. Back at Roger’s mom’s place, Roger enters the living room to find Margaret. They exchange small talk. Roger gives her a jar of water from the River Jordan, in which both Roger and Margaret were baptized (though not the grandson). It was a gift from Roger’s father to his mother from some of his many travels. It’s yellow now and kind of gross-looking, but Margaret is touched. She asks about her inheritance. Roger tells her that Grandma left everything to the zoo, including demanding specific names for various animals. She whines about not getting money because her husband has “an opportunity†in the refrigeration industry. Roger offers to help, with trepidation. Margaret is still the spoiled daddy’s girl of three seasons ago, but at least they love each other, I guess? Megan comes back to find her husband sleeping it off. She knows immediately what happened, but is too thrilled with her acting day to be upset with him. She asks (based on her character on the show) “Will you love me even if I’m a lying, cheating whore?†to which he replies “I’ll walk behind you on the stairs.†...does that seem a little too on the nose to anyone else? Megan pulls out Dinkins’ lighter, mentioning the maid found it in the garbage. Meaningful music plays. Cut to Betty standing in the gross building waiting for Sandy. It’s dark by now and she looks miserable. Dude, what is your deal with Sandy? That is either serious devotion or Crazy Betty in action. The guys offer her some weed, BAHAHA. She turns it down like the prim and proper lady she is. Some more guys show up and Betty asks them about Sandy. It turns out one of the guys bought the violin off her while she was “trying to get enough bread to go to California.†Sandy is out of her grasp. The guys see her contempt and insult her freely. They grab her wallet and make fun of her some more, though they hand it back. She says they have bad manners. Ohhhh, Betty. She snaps at them and ends up getting away with the violin, but not before tearing her coat on a nail. Ooh, symbolism. At the doorway she stops, looks around, and leaves the violin behind. We go to Peggy at her office. The Boyfriend has brought dinner, and she and the writers attempt to retool the commercial. It’s...lukewarm at best. Peggy is not happy, and goes off on another Draper-esque rant. Seriously, it’s uncanny. She orders them to work all night. Ouch. And The  Boyfriend is Abe. Damn you, changing hair of the sixties! Well, at least they’re still together, they are a cute couple. Peggy looks thoughtful. Hmmm. We cut to Betty returning home. Sally’s on the phone with a friend. Betty tries to talk to her, but she closes the door. She goes to Henry, who asks where she’s been. She lies. They have a cute spouses-in-bed moment. Really, I’m liking Betty and Henry a lot more this season, though I’m sure they’ll be awful in an episode or two. Pete makes a smarmy remark at Don about being “under the weather†as he returns to SCDP. Don gives the Draper Glare, which does nothing to deter him. They get down to business. He gives the lighter to Dawn (side note: I keep typing the wrong name. Damn you, writers!) to give back to the private. He goes back into his office without a word. Roger is back on the analyst’s couch, complaining about his awful family. He refers to his mother as “his parachuteâ€. He realizes that from here on in, all he will be doing is “losing everythingâ€. Confronting his own mortality. Frankly, I’m surprised he managed to outlive his mom. On some level I’m sure he is, too. Ken walks into the office and finds Kiss-ass Bob. He chooses the moment to confront him over the catering flap, saying he overstepped his bounds – “It was almost like you were invited. But you weren’tâ€. Bob spouts something about his dead father, which Ken hardly believes. He tells Bob to stop goofing off on the creative floor and go back to work. Watch out for that skeeze. We go to the Sheraton meeting, where the executives display more sideburns. Turns out the Hawaii trip was for business purposes. Don begins his pitch. It is Draper at his finest, making everything sound more profound than it is – “It’s not just a different place. You are different...but you’re not homesick. It puts you in this state.†The executives are impressed – until Don unveils a downright suicidal campaign, and I mean that literally. He mentions some Hawaiian beliefs about souls leaving the body to go into the waves, then reveals art showing an abandoned suit on the beach with the tagline “The Jumping Off Pointâ€. The looks on those guys’ faces, I swear. Someone brings up the ending of A Star is Born. Holy shit, Don. What’s going on in that magic brain of yours? The advertising executives call it “poeticâ€, but are confused and upset. Don has blundered badly. He quickly agrees to change the campaign, but it’s still weird. Footprints in the sand. The executives think it sounds like the man died. Don said “Maybe he did, and he went to heaven.†The executives say it’s morbid. Don says “Well, heaven’s a little morbid.†Um, what? Pete and Roger try to smooth things over, but the damage is done. Don insists his ad is attention-grabbing. The executives hang in – barely. Back to the drawing board. Once they’re gone, Roger manages to get in a barb about puking at the funeral. Stan and his epic beard think it’s a brilliant ad, though.  Roger points out that they sold death for decades with Lucky Strike because “We ignored it.†Sally is growing up, demanding to go out to a party for New Year’s. Why aren’t you still six years old? Eek. Betty shows up with...dun dun dun! BLACK HAIR. Same haircut, but dyed to all hell. What happened to the icy blonde? Is Betty the perfect housewife finally getting with modern times? The kids are horrified. Henry compares her to Elizabeth Taylor and generally seems cool with it. (I think it looks great, myself.) Caroline comes to Roger’s office with more bad news – his shoe-shine guy died. Roger seems more shocked over that than his mother’s death. He closes the door to his office, sits down and opens the shoe shine kit, which has been sent over. Without a word, he cries. Beautiful, utterly convincing job from John Slattery. Most touching moment of the episode. Meanwhile, it’s New Year’s Eve. Don and Megan have invited some trendy neighbours over to have trendy French-Canadian fondue. Megan is overly made-up and has on the most gorgeous pantsuit ever. One of the  neighbours tells a story about his gay coworker who got arrested in a department store for shagging in the bathroom. Nobody’s overly disgusted – this is sophisticated company – but everyone giggles at  that silly gay. The conversation turns to everyone’s kids. Megan turns to “a trip to Hawaiiâ€, which is eerily reminiscent of Betty’s Season 2 “a trip around the world†party, though this turns out to be slides instead of a dinner. Does Don ever smile? I must say, though, the slides look incredibly authentic. We inevitably come to a slide of the wedding. One of the guests asks how Don came to be involved. Don smiles quietly to himself and gives nothing away. We go to the Creative offices at SCDP, where Stan is on the phone with Peggy discussing what is clearly the most pleasant company topic – Roger and Joan’s sex life. They debate whether the affair ever happened and whether it’s still going on, as Joan ignored Mrs. Sterling’s death entirely. It’s true we had a serious lack of Joan this episode, but I’m sure they’ll fix that next week or the week after. Stan goes to get some coffee. Peggy waits for him to come back, but is interrupted by Ted Chaough, who was on some kind of “retreat†with his wife because he “worked too muchâ€. He and Peggy discuss the ad problem. She shows him an outtake with the commercial actor that they might use. She comes up with an amazing campaign. Ted is thrilled. They seem to have a decent working relationship, and he’s pleased. He tells her to ease up on her workers, especially on New Year’s Eve. Stan teases her about Ted. Peggy gets a knowing grin on her face. Something’s going on... EDIT: My copy of the episode was missing the last few minutes. Sorry for the mix-up. Here's a recap of those: We leave Peggy to return to New Years with the Drapers, where they drink and exchange bon mots and talk about real estate. Megan notices that they missed midnight from having so much fun. The phone rings. It's for Dr. Rosen, who has some kind of emergency. Don walks him downstairs and grabs him some skis, because there's enough snow and he'll never get a cab. They discuss life and death some more, and the doctor says that "People will anything to alleviate their anxiety." Don looks...you guessed it...thoughtful. We see him knocking on the door, which turns out to belong to the doctor's wife (Linda Cardellini). Apparently they have been having an affair for a while.The Dante was from her. AND Don is back to his womanizing ways, big surprise. We're in for a typical season of Mad Men, I guess. One has to wonder how he manages to be away long enough to shag Mrs. Rosen and slip into bed next to Megan literally moments later without giving the game away. But she doesn't seem to notice, and wishes him a Happy New Year. He wishes it to her back, and lies staring into space while she curls up with him. Hello, 1968. I would call this overall a very satisfying episode. Not a barn-burner, but it gave us a great view into each character save Joan and brought us relatively up to date. There seem to be some interesting changes ahead, especially for Don, who seems to be totally off his rocker, and we’ve got the main theme of the season set up – mortality. Great character moments all over the place. I’m excited to see how this season shapes up, for sure, and I’m looking forward to having you guys follow it along with me. Long review (over 5000 words), but a two-hour premiere is something special. Thanks for reading. Next episode: “The Collaboratorsâ€. Hmm, wonder what that could be about?   For more discussion of Mad Men on FJ, click here.      

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Movie Review: Movie Review: 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

Hey, ladies. You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that some people, many of them in power, want to take away your reproductive rights. And some of these people think if we outlaw abortion and lessen your access to birth control America will be right with God and nothing bad will befall our nation . But the following review shows how horrifying it is for women who have no reproductive rights at all. This movie, "4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days" is both timeless and timely, and one that should inspire thoughtful discussion. (Note: This review was originally published at my blog Popcorn in My Bra) It is communist Romania—1987. "4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days" opens in university dorm room. At first, it just seems to be an ordinary day for any group of college students. They try on make-up, buy illicit cigarettes and talk about mundane topics. But you soon realize something is going on beyond idle chit-chat and daily college activities. "4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days" takes very realistic and gritty look at two roommates, Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) and Otilia (Anamaria Marinca). Gabita is pregnant and is relying on Otilia to help her procure an abortion. At the time, not only was abortion illegal in Romania, so was birth control. And though the rather dim Gabita is the one in need of an abortion, it is the more pragmatic Otilia who goes through the channels to make sure she gets one. After leaving the dorm, Otilia starts a bleak journey going from hotel to hotel trying to find a room for Gabita to have an abortion. This can’t be done at the dorms, and obviously, they can’t go to a clinic. After she finally gets a room, she meets with a back-alley abortionist ironically known as Mr. Bebe (Vlad Ivanov). Otilia takes Mr. Bebe to the hotel room where Gabita waits. Chillingly, Mr. Bebe describes the procedure, and shames both Gabita and Otilia for being dirty sluts. While Gabita spends some time in the bathroom, Mr. Bebe apparently rapes Otilia. We never see an actual rape scene, but Otilia coming into the bathroom, sans pants and scrubbing herself between her legs gives you a terrifying idea of what happened between her and Mr. Bebe. Mr. Bebe discovers Gabita is further along in her pregnancy and demands more money, which the young girls somehow come up with. They will trade both their bodies and their money to go through this procedure. As Mr. Bebe commences with the abortion, he becomes very matter of fact on what will happen. During a long shot, we see him insert a probe into Gabita and inject a liquid. There is no idea how long this will take. It could take a few hours or a few days, and Gabita could get sick and die during the procedure. Mr. Bebe does not wait to find out the outcome. Otilia also has to leave to join her boyfriend’s family for his mother’s birthday party. Otilia doesn’t say much during the dinner, but the look on her face speaks volumes. As her boyfriend’s family and friends chat about everything from food to schooling, Otilia’s emotions bubble very close to the service. She has no idea what is happening to her friend, and it is driving her mad. Otilia soon escapes the party and goes back to the hotel to find out what has happened to Gabita. These two women have gone through a very harrowing experience, but Otilia tells Gabita that they will never talk about this ever again. It is as if it has never happened. "4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days" is not a pro-life or pro-choice movie. It is a look at two young women living in a world of very few options. Though young, they are world weary and defeated. The scripted dialogue doesn’t hit one false note, and neither do the performances. Ms. Marinca as Otilia is exceptionally good in her role. Without melodramatics, she conveys her character’s struggles in silence using subtle facial expressions. Written and directed by Cristian Mungiu, this movie’s aesthetic choices of no accompanying music and tight, almost claustrophobic camera shots convey dreariness of a particular moment in time. "4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days" is not an easy movie to watch, but never does it ring false. This movie proves not all unexpected pregnancies turn out to be puppies and rainbows. This movie is the anti-Knocked Up and can inspire a great deal of difficult conversations. "4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days" is not rated and is in Romanian with English subtitles. You can find a discussion of this movie here at Free Jinger.

GolightlyGrrl

GolightlyGrrl

 

Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 6.20 - The Tenure Turbulence

As mentioned before, I live in a house of nerds. Roommate 1 is just like Wolowitz, Roommate 2 is just like Sheldon, and – well, we’ve never been able to find a BBT character for me. But the fact is we’re all devoted to the show. Sure, it’s very very light comedy. Sure, there are much more “authentically nerdy†shows out there – Community was once an excellent example. One cannot deny, however, that the show has a huge amount of appeal. It has created characters far from the norm and succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. That’s something to celebrate, right? A lot of people have quarrelled with the addition of Amy and Bernadette, as well as the general shift of focus towards romantic relationships. I can see how it makes the show different, but honestly, I really don’t mind at all. Sure, there’s some of the seasonal rot that sets in with every long-running sitcom, but overall the laughs are still there, with some excellent character development to boot. I like that the dynamics have shifted. It’s true to life – well, as true to life as a world with Sheldon Cooper can ever be. Feel free to debate this on FJ, of course. On to the episode. Academia’s answer to the Super Friends are gathered in the CalTech cafeteria, where they are discussing the sex life of the jellyfish and the immortality therein. Kripke stops by to tell them that one of the tenured professors has croaked. Sheldon is characteristically insensitive and pays little attention – until Kripke points out that a position is now open, which just gives him an opportunity to rant about how much he hates the tenure system. Nonetheless, all of the main characters save Howard decide to go for it. The contest is on! I should mention here that I can’t listen to the opening credits without singing along at the top of my lungs, and the neighbours all hate me. At dinner with Leonard, Penny seems to have no idea what tenure means. Um, was she this dumb three seasons ago? FLANDERIZATION! FLANDERIZATION! Leonard decides this is the time to finally prove himself to his intensely competitive family. Amy and Sheldon, having a rendezvous of their own, are also discussing the position. Sheldon is of course convinced that he will get it – although he’s convinced that Leonard will kill him (which Amy takes as an excuse to settle down). Meanwhile, Raj tells Howard and Bernadette that the tenure position would be a great excuse to get more money and make his parents proud. Suddenly, the life partners – and Bernadette – are in on it. Penny urges Leonard to be assertive, while Sheldon insults Amy a few times (but she’s still on his side). This prompts an awkward session where Leonard attempts to chat up the woman from HR and fails miserably. Leonard, Leonard, when are you ever going to learn that you can’t sweet-talk to save your life? This does offer some great (if somewhat pervy) physical comedy from Johnny Galecki, who is quite underrated on this show. Unfortunately, HR Lady seems much more interested in Kripke. No surprise there – especially when Leonard goes into an asthma attack. Meanwhile, Raj attempts to chat up HR (“Mrs. Davisâ€, apparently? She appeared a few episodes ago but I’m terrible with character names) with the most awkward YouTube video ever filmed (Actual Quote: “I’m not really in space!â€). After 90 minutes of painstaking detail of Raj’s life story – mostly promoting his genius in increasingly pointless ways – Sheldon interrupts. Mrs. Davis just can’t seem to get away from them. Sheldon has apparently brought her a gift, knowing he needs to endear himself to her after the sexual harassment episode. ...It’s Roots. As in the famous 1970’s TV miniseries, not the popular Canadian athletic brand. Maybe I should mention here that Mrs. Davis is African-American, for those of you who haven’t been watching.  She is understandably pissed and reduces Sheldon to a stammering mess that includes the question “You are black, right?†That’s a zero for all three. Great progress, guys. In the cafeteria, Howard decides to have fun with his tenure-obsessed friends and lures them into attending the dead professor’s memorial service. Amy decides to come along as it coincides with their date night, and Penny throws her hat into the ring. Sheldon has Amy’s excellent knowledge of academic politics on his side, Leonard has Penny’s amazing rack. Wonder who’s going to win this one? Raj whines over the phone to his parents in India. He needs money. He is desperate for tenure. Nothing’s changed. Amy and Sheldon rehearse emotions before the funeral via a Seussian rhyme. Raj shows up (in an amazing suit), Leonard and Penny arrive, and the guys get into an argument about who’s paying respect vs who’s buttering up the tenure committee. Penny’s cleavage pops out pretty quickly. Sheldon insists that Amy do the same. Howard is loving it. Various insults are exchanged, with Wolowitz adding his own helpful suggestions. Sheldon insinuates that he had coitus with Raj’s mother for a dollar. Leonard decides to quit the argument, saying that friendship is forever – but so, Howard points out, is tenure. They decide that friendship is more important in the end and are prepared to leave. Suddenly Kripke comes out chatting happily with Mrs. Davis. It’s on. We cut to the next morning. Sheldon knocks on Mrs. Davis’ door, where we learn that all three have been put on the shortlist for tenure, which she stresses is entirely due to their academic abilities. After they establish that Sheldon has not brought a gift, he thanks her for her consideration. They shake hands – which Sheldon ruins with some kind of weird pseudo-gangster move. Mrs. Davis wisely decides to let it go. So, was it a good episode? I wouldn’t rank it in the all-time greats, but it’s certainly one of the better episodes of the season and played the characters off each other well. I would love for Raj to get a good storyline one of these days – the writers don’t seem to know what to do with him – but he did have his moments. The sex jokes with Penny were a little too obvious,  but I can live with that. A good Community episode and a good Big Bang Theory in one night – how lucky can a sitcom fan get? Thanks for reading, and giving me a lovely distraction from Essay Hell. I will be back on Sunday for the extra-special two-hour premiere of Mad Men. Until then, happy viewing!   For further discussion of The Big Bang Theory, go here.

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: Community 4.8 - Herstory of Dance

CFK has emerged from the pits of Essay Hell to bring you another recap! (PS: Anyone know anything about medieval literature?) To my nerdy group of college students, Community was a breath of fresh air. Presenting a charming group of weirdos in clever and innovative fashion – not to mention parodying everything we hold dear – the show gave us three fabulous seasons . My roommates and I still talk about the divide between “Good†and “Pierceâ€. So it was very Pierce when the network Britta’d the show’s Season 4 return. We rejoiced when it finally aired...until we saw what NBC had to offer us. After losing Dan Harmon and several key writers, the show is simply not streets ahead like it used to be. But we shall stick with it to the bitter end, just like Abed and Cougar Town. Let’s take a look at tonight’s episode and see if they’re even remotely on their game again. We open with the study group in the study room – who would have guessed? – and find Pierce wearing an American flag T-shirt. Huh? Closer inspection reveals that it’s for the American remake of Inspector Spacetime, which Pierce loves. Abed is naturally outraged. The Dean interrupts their argument in what I think is his most fabulous costume to date, a black-and-white 50’s housewife number, complete with dyed grey skin. He looks like he’s stepped out of an old-timey television. Donna Reed, eat your heart out...and there’s the Donna Reed pun, right there. Oh, Community, we know each other too well.  It turns out that Greendale is throwing a sock hop. And it’s not just any sock hop – it’s a Sadie Hawkins sock hop, so girls ask boys! Annie and Shirley squeal, the guys look vaguely uncomfortable, and Britta is of course needlessly defiant. She decides to throw her own dance, which pisses off the Dean like nothing before. The opening credits interrupt him before we can get too hairy. Back in the study room, Britta insists on a Sophie B. Hawkins dance instead – which is a Britta-ing of Susan B. Anthony. Despite the fact that Sophie B. Hawkins is a singer and not really affiliated with feminism, Britta refuses to admit that she’s wrong and proudly proclaims that they’re going to have a dance in her honour anyway. Jeff confronts her in the hall, and challenges her to actually bring Sophie B. Hawkins to the dance. Britta agrees, setting up the episode’s main challenge. Meanwhile, Annie decides to set Abed up on a blind date for the dance. Shirley suggests one of her church girls. Annie claims she can come up with her own date even faster. Within moments, it has turned into a competition – who can choose the best girl for Abed? My question is, where is that girl who was into the Abed lookalike a couple of seasons back? Britta is freaking out over the Hawkins situation, and Pierce of all people comforts her (mostly because he wants to get back at Jeff for – well, everything). Chang/Kevin is firmly on the Dean’s side (can we please have a plotline for him? That isn’t stupid?). Troy suggests that he and Abed work together on the dance for some classic Troy-and-Abed awesomeness, but Abed is on a new “seriousness†crusade and is not eager to participate in tomfoolery. Will this last? Maybe half an episode. Annie introduces Abed to a cute, quirky redhead named Kat, who I’m pretty sure is a parody of half a dozen Zooey Deschanel characters. Abed quickly agrees to go to the dance with her, which Annie takes as a sign that she won the competition. However, never underestimate Shirley’s manipulative guilt-tripping ways. Before long, Abed has agreed to go with Shirley’s church girl. Neither woman knows about the other, which Abed explains is a chance to re-enact the classic trope of “two dates on one nightâ€. The seriousness lasted about two minutes. Thank God! Troy is hurt that Abed would take on this kind of hinjinks but refuse to help him with Britta’s dance, which he has been clearly roped into. We skip directly to dance night, with Sadie and Sophie B. each occupying a side (and sponsored by Hawthorne Wipes). Abed gives his “Shirley Date†a corsage. Seriously, this girl is adorable, glasses and pink dress and all. Pick her over the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Abed! Come on! Unfortunately, she seems a little on the stodgy side. With the help of an obliging coat check girl, Abed’s implausible situation is on. We’ll see how this unfolds. ChangKevin is the deejay. Well, this could lead to some laughs, I guess. At least one can never get tired of the word “Changnesiaâ€, right? Jeff confronts Britta over the Sophie B. Hawkins issue, pointing to a Craigslist ad looking for the singer or a suitable impersonator (Please be the Dean! Please be the Dean!). Troy is disappointed in the lack of opportunity for hijinks, as he half-heartedly puts on a fake moustache to get chips from the supply closet. Oh, Troy, this is what happens when you date Britta the Needlessly Defiant. Abed is handling his two dates fairly well, giving Kat an artichoke and Shirley-Date (Jessica) the false impression that he's a devoted Christian . Not only is he deceiving the girls, but he also has to handle an unsuspecting Shirley and Annie, who are both very eager to know how his “date†is going. He’s going to end up with the coat check girl, isn’t he? The Dean shows up to Sadie Hawkins in disappointingly normal clothing, where he promptly hits on Jeff. He and Britta exchange a few barbs about their respective dances. My guess about the coat check girl seems to be on track, as she is fully aware of what Abed’s doing and is totally in favour. Abed is having trouble keeping up with his dates in the meantime, talking to Jessica about Star Wars and Kat about the Bible. Suddenly the coat check girl shows up in a trenchcoat with an “urgent telegram†that gives Abed an excuse to slip away. The game is afoot. Britta begs Pierce for help, as she knows that Sophie B. Hawkins isn’t coming. Pierce tells her a story about his friend who everyone called a liar (Bernie Madoff). Britta realizes with horror that she...Britta’d it. Annie and Shirley get into a conversation where they each carefully say exactly the right thing that won’t give the game away. Which, of course, gives the game away. These ladies have seen too many Abed moments to be fooled again. They are seriously under-using ChangKevin, by the way – he’s had like three lines, and all of them contain the word “Changnesiaâ€. Weak. Weak, guys. Meanwhile, Abed and coat check girl are getting cozy. A sweet 50’s tune begins to play. The girl remarks that this is the part where they would kiss in a movie. Abed says that since it’s a sitcom, not a movie, they won’t do it, and promptly runs off to declare his love for one girl (he thinks Jessica is the audience favourite – and I must admit, I like her better than Knock-Off Zooey Deschanel). Coat check girl’s heart is broken. Abed has bigger fish to fry, though, when he is confronted by an irate Annie and Shirley. Abed runs back to the coat check, where coat check girl (Rachel) has been replaced because she “had to goâ€. Is it time for a romantic run for the reconciliation like in every movie with a love story ever? Abed apologizes to Annie and Shirley, who concede that setting him up was a bad idea. The ironic part is that in all his shenanigans, Abed really did meet a girl he liked and ruined it (“I was so busy chasing one trope that I missed the trope right under my noseâ€). Won over by his honesty, Annie and Shirley beg him to chase her down just like the movies. Bingo! The Sophie B. attendees are now screaming for their promised singer. The Dean gloats, Britta’s getting desperate, and Jeff is going to come up with a plan, right? Wrong! Sophie shows up, to everyone’s shock and delight (except possibly the Dean). Everyone looks around for the culprit. Abed interrupts her to declare his love for Rachel, just like a movie – and she is not only there, but agrees to go out with him (although she first suggests that he pretend they’re only dating on a bet). Abed has a girlfriend! What’s more, it’s the perfect girl! The feelz, I can’t handle them. And neither can Annie and Shirley, apparently. And as everyone guessed – Pierce was behind the Sophie B. Hawkins appearance, thanks to a history of supplying towelettes for Lilith Fair. He likes the way Britta persisted, and thinks she was being treated badly throughout the series (when your name comes to mean screwing up, you really should start reconsidering your friendships). Also, he’s mad at Jeff for some reason. A slow song begins. Britta is happy. Jeff sends her a sweet congratulations text, telling her “You really Britta’d thisâ€. It’s one of his most honest moments on the show. Is Jeff losing his bastard side? For a moment it looks like they’re going to dance, but instead the study group gathers and listens happily to Sophie B. – which is really the much better option. We close with “a sneak peek at next week’s Community†– which shows the PUPPETS! YES! This episode made me feel hopeful, though my first look at the synopsis was with trepidation. It is the first time this season that I’ve really felt I was watching Community. There was an interesting  concept, great jokes, some good character moments, and a few moments that might even register as classic when we look back at the shows run. They’re getting the characters right – finally! Between this and the puppet episode next week, I’m wondering if the season can be salvaged after all. Even if the rest of it sucks, this was a pretty great episode. They really did Britta it. For more discussion of Community, go here.

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 4.19 - "The Future Dunphys"

Hello, and welcome back to Worldly Distractions! A serious lack of The Simpsons and How I Met Your Mother led us directly back to Modern Family this week. I’m sure you’re all thrilled. So, what’s in store for the Dunphy-Pritchett-Delgado-Tuckers this week? Let’s take a look. At the Dunphy household, things are a teensy bit tense. Claire’s little heart problem has led to an angiogram (that’s where they inject dye into you to see if your arteries are ‘sploding) and she is totally not scared at all in the slightest thank you very much. Kind of. Phil is doing the supportive husband thing and putting in the creep factor all at once. Turns out if Claire died, he would turn their bedroom into a shrine to her. Guys, it’s only a test. Seriously. As a viewer who has had more than a few of these, I officially declare the Dunphys wusses. Luke is wantonly taking apart appliances in the kitchen to make a robot. Phil, of course, being six years old at heart, is thrilled to join him. Haley has quit her job on a whim. Alex is – get this, guys – SO NERDY that her mom keeps demanding that she stay out past her curfew and blow her spring break on a frivolous vacation! Tee hee! Phil attempts to intervene in all three situations and naturally makes things worse. Claire demands that he “step away from the childrenâ€. Opening credits come in. Gloria (holding the be-yoo-tiful baby Joe) informs Manny that she’s annoyed he’s forgetting his Spanish. This offers another “embarazada/embarrassed†joke that should be familiar to any Spanish speakers in the readership and prompts Jay to make a snarky remark. Manny is absolutely desperate to get into a snooty private school, and is eager for his parents to measure up. Jay is dressed too casually and Gloria is banned from the interview. Meanwhile, Manny has already memorized all 36 verses of the school song. Jay recalls how snobby the private school kids were to him back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, setting up a potential conflict immediately. Oh boy, wacky hijinks on the way! At the hospital, Claire is rambling on about her quitter daughter while Phil plays with the adjustable bed. An Old Coot next to them interjects with some parenting advice (basically, let kids be who they are, which is an unfamiliar concept to Sergeant Claire). Old Coot’s kids show up, and are basically grown-up Haley, Alex and Luke. One girl is into weird mystical stuff and married to a doctor, one has three degrees, and the boy is famous for getting stuck in banisters. All in all, the kids look pretty successful, and Claire’s mind is about to be changed – until Claire leaves the room and Phil overhears that they’re all fuck-ups. With the first two storylines set up, it’s high time to check in with Cam and Mitch. Lily is having a “girls dayâ€, which is Two-Daddies code for “make sure the kid has feminine influence in her life†–which is also useful for avoid the five-year-old version of the girly sex talk. Men are just not cut out for some things, especially when their child plaintively whines “When am I going to get some real boobs?†Fortunately, Gloria is up to the task. Cam and Mitch flee the scene. Gloria gleefully announces all the girly things they’re going to do, ending with the pointed instruction that “You can ask me anything you wantâ€, to which Lily replies “Did you know I’m gay?†Screech go the brakes. At Snooty Academy, Manny is thrilled and Jay is a curmudgeon, especially once he is shoved into a school blazer to “get the full experience.†Yup, that’s really going to thrill The Character Formerly Known as Al Bundy. At least it gives him the opportunity to use the phrase “Candy-assed preppies with too many privileges.†He admits that, okay, perhaps, he was a tiny bit jealous back then – okay, really jealous. Suddenly he’s just as desperate for Manny to get in. Gloria and the guys are having a heated debate. How can Lily really know at this age? Cam and Mitch both maintain that they knew from early childhood, with Cam fondly remembering his second fifth birthday party tipping everyone off. Mitch is a little more skeptical than his boyfriend, however, and in the heat of the argument “It’s probably just a phase†slips out. Ruh-roh. They decide to ask Lily herself about it, whose only answer is “Because I’m gay.†Helpful, kid. It’s eventually teased out that she thinks she’s gay because her dads are, just like one kid is Italian because his parents are Italian, etc, etc. A round of applause for our public schools, please! The guys explain the difference between heritage and sexual orientation (with Mitch accidentally making several more awkward remarks in the process). “You’re not gay...you’re Vietnamese!†Lily promptly asks what Vietnamese is, and her dads try to explain Vietnam but end up getting sidetracked and talking about random things like bikes. Fortunately, the conversation is ended by Lily’s kindergartner attention span. However, Gloria has to have her say. She is furious that Cameron and Mitchell don’t know anything about Vietnamese culture. In all their fuss over gender, they completely ignored her heritage. Gloria insists that they go to a Vietnamese restaurant even for just a tiny glimpse of culture. The boys can’t name one. Oops. At the hospital, Claire is waiting for her test and eavesdropping on Old Coot’s family. Turns out the mom is an absolute control freak (“I have my probation officer for that!â€) and none of the kids want to see her. Claire interrupts them to suggest that maybe Mom has good intentions. The kids won’t hear of it. Phil, however, has gotten the message and is on the phone to his kids to tell them to turn their lives around. He begs Haley not to quit her job – while Claire is in her hospital room telling Alex that it’s okay to be a study freak. The girls switch phones, where each parent tells the other daughter the opposite of what the first parent said. Haley can quit, Alex needs to throw her books away. The girls are confused until it dawns on them – clearly Claire has received dire news on her test and these are fond farewells (though Luke is sticking with the theory that they’ve been kidnapped). Side note: I wonder if this storyline was inspired by Julie Bowen’s real-life heart issues? Anyone heard about this? Back with Manny and Jay, the curmudgeon has become totally gung-ho about Snooty Academy. Manny is surprised but delighted. They decide that Jay will sit in on the interview, which Manny blows. Jay’s dreams of status and class go out the window. There’s moonwalking. I’d accept that kid in a heartbeat. Cam, Mitchell and Gloria have managed to find a Vietnamese restaurant, which Lily is not very impressed with. Mitch decides to ask the server about Vietnam. She patiently starts to tell them when Lily interrupts with a cry of “I HATE Vietnam!†The adults are mortified. Cam tells her that she is being very rude, Mitchell reminds her that we don’t hate, and Gloria says it’s important for her to know her culture because she is Vietnamese. “NO, I’m GAY!†Cue silence in the restaurant and another mistake of a comment from Mitch. Gloria begins to rant about how everyone in America forgets where they are from and all congeal into one homogeneous lump of cheeseburger. As she gets angrier, Mitch and Cam realize what’s going on. Gloria is very homesick and feeling isolated, and disappointed that her sons are losing touch with their Colombian background. Lily, too, feels that she must be gay to be like her dads. But the important thing is that they are all family. Awww...and one more accidental politically incorrect comment to ruin things. Don’t ever change, Cam and Mitch. The Dunphy kids have rushed over to the hospital to find their (probably dying) mother.  Claire is coming out of sedatives with Phil by her side. Everything’s fine, Claire is healthy, she and Phil have a special moment. Meanwhile, the kids are riding up in the elevator with Old Coot’s children, who are bickering and being general assholes. The Dunphy spawn are not impressed. They reminisce over all the good times they had with their mom, unaware that their father is currently texting the good news from upstairs. Phil leans in for a cuddle with his wife, but like everything else in a marriage, the kids ruin it. They are outraged that Phil has the gall to text “mom ok†and storm out in a huff. The Dunphy parents look over to the next bed...where a younger Dunphy-like family is giving them the side-eye. It’s the ciiiiircle of liiiiiife! Jay and Manny are pretty glum about the interview, with Manny blaming himself for disappointing Jay. Jay admits that he might have put too much pressure on his stepson and had unrealistic hang-ups about the school. At last, he tells Manny that he is proud of him every day. They both leave the school feeling good about themselves. Aww. The closing credits feature Phil and Luke in lab coats and goggles attempting the ultimate father-son achievement, the self-flipping pancake. Unfortunately, they are defeated and share in their terrible failure. Phil comments that you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, to which Luke says “Or can we?†On to the next Dunphy Boys adventure – until the pancake miraculously flips itself. Looks like they’re geniuses after all? Tonight’s outing of Modern Family was solid. Not all-time great, but it had some excellent one-liners and very funny moments while developing the characters quite well. Comedy and drama shows occasionally need to indulge in the other, right? A few serious moments never hurt a sitcom (do not mention Full House, do not mention Full House). I especially loved the Cam/Gloria/Mitchell storyline, as I feel like they’re always getting the crappy C-plot. And Lily really is the perfect snarker. If they just alternated this show between Phil screwing up, Luke being a weirdo and Lily being bitchy, I wouldn’t mind one bit. As for me, I am heading back into the essay cocoon. See you tomorrow night for a double feature of The Big Bang Theory and Community! And don’t forget Mad Men’s two-hour Season 6 premiere on Sunday night! For the FJ discussion thread on Modern Family, go here.

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

I Read It So You Don't Have To: The Simplicity Primer-365 Ideas for Making Life More Livable by Patrice Lewis

Always on the hunt for books on simplifying one’s life, especially in a chaotic and stressful world, I was initially excited to come across Patrice Lewis’ book “The Simplicity Primer: 365 Ideas for Making Life More Livable.†Sadly, this book was a huge disappointment. On a positive note, Ms. Lewis is a good writer. And I like how her primer is divided into several sections on topics like marriage, raising children, running a household, the workplace, and saving money. These passages are brief and easily-digestible. The reader can freely read this book piecemeal instead of reading from beginning to end. However, I soon found Lewis’ advice repetitive and her tone to be snotty and self-satisfied. First, Lewis hardly breaks new ground with “The Simplicity Primer.†Instead of providing concrete, step-by-step advice on how to simplify, be frugal, etc., Lewis offers common sense that most of us already know—don’t break the law, discipline your kids, wear your seat belt, and live within your means. Now even if we don’t always use common sense, most of us learned these things as a child. Secondly, Lewis is quite smug. There is nothing wrong with enjoying one’s life and being proud of one’s choices, but in “The Simplicity Primer†Lewis exhibits a moral superiority that is off-putting. Lewis lives on a twenty acre homestead in Idaho where she and her husband own a woodworking business. Her family raises all their own food, and Lewis home-schools her two daughters. Sure, that’s wonderful...for her. But I could have lived without Lewis’ dismissive attitude towards those of us who don’t live like her. Not everyone is suited for the country life. I find I’m more suited to living in a city where I can walk just a few short blocks to the grocery store, my favorite coffee shop, and the local library. Lewis seems convinced city dwellers don’t have any connection to nature, but I live only a few blocks from Lake Michigan—talk about being able to connect with nature. Thirdly, Lewis admonishes us not to gossip but I found this book quite “gossipy.â€Â  Lewis often mentions friends and acquaintances and the bad choices they made, the kind of choices she would never make because she is just so perfect. But what really got under my skin was how she described a former employee of hers as “slow...not a mental giant.†Though she did praise his amazing work ethic, I couldn't help but wonder why she had to mention that he was less than bright. I thought it was rather unnecessary and quite cruel. Many of you are familiar with Lewis through her blog “Rural Revolution: In-Your-Face Stuff from an Opinionated Rural North Idaho Housewife.†Yes, Lewis is quite imperious in her blog and definitely has her devoted followers. However, “The Simplicity Primer†might have been a more satisfying read if Lewis softened her tone and wrote with more humility. After all, this is a book that can be found at libraries and bookstores by people who have never read her blog. And I’d hardly be surprised if they, too, would find Lewis’ superior tone a complete turn-off. Cleansing the Palate Fortunately, there are books that can help you simplify, be frugal, and live a more self-sustainable lifestyle that won’t make you want to light yourself on fire. A good place to start is with Amy Dacyzyn’s “The Tightwad Gazette.†There are several volumes of this classic, and I got to give Dacyzyn some props for embracing the cheapskate way of life long before it became cool. Another great book is Pia Catton and Califa Suntree’s “Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less." Down-to-earth and practical, “Be Thrifty†explains in clear-cut terms how to simplify and save money when it comes to home life, car care, raising kids, dressing up, and entertaining. Catton and Suntree provide the scoop on making your own soup stock, diaper wipes and bird feeders. They offer advice on how to cut your own hair, build a campfire, negotiate a raise, and alleviate debt. And interspersed throughout Be Thrifty are real life stories on how people saved moola and how our elders survived tough times like the Great Depression. And if you’re looking to live a bit more off the grid I can’t recommend Deborah Niemann’s “Homegrown & Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living†enough. Like Lewis, Niemann lives a very rural life, raises her family’s food, and home-schools her children. However, Niemann writes in a very gracious and charming way that eludes Lewis. Niemann is quite honest that she’s made mistakes in her quest to live more self-sustainable, and that she’s always learning and growing. She gives lots of great advice and ideas that most of us can use. Furthermore, Niemann is no snob. She greatly appreciates not everyone is a country mouse and encourages suburban and urban folks to implement her ideas in ways that work with their lifestyles. To discuss "The Simplicity Primer" and other books mentioned in this post, please join us here at Free Jinger.

GolightlyGrrl

GolightlyGrrl

 

Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 4.18 – “The Wow Factor�

Ah, Modern Family, we meet again. Darling of the Emmys, prince of ratings, fan favourite of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney alike. And yet, somehow your lustre has dimmed. Is it simply backlash? An acclimatization to your brand of humour? Or simply a dip in quality from four years on the air? Let’s take a look at tonight’s episode and see. We cold open with Claire and Cam trying to flip their house, complete with Cam’s girliest screech. Is it just me, or have the guys been getting more fabulous with each episode? Flanderization imminent. If not already established. Anyway, it looks like they’re in over their heads. Budget arguments ensue. Oddly enough, the cold open doesn’t end with a sting. (And when are they adding Fulgencio Joe to the opening credits?) Phil: What did I say about eating things for money? Luke: Charge the most and people will think you’re worth it! Phil and the kids are enjoying an ordinary day, cleaning the kitchen – or at least trying. Alex can’t sweep and Haley doesn’t understand the concept of stepstools (Flanderization! Take another drink!) Phil decides his kids need to be self-sufficient, so he’s going to teach them all the basics of housecleaning. More physical comedy from Phil? YES! They could change Modern Family to The Phil Show, and I wouldn’t mind one bit. Ty Burrell is one of the most gifted comic actors working. Somebody give that magnificent bastard another dozen Emmys. Cut to Gloria cooing at the baby in Spanish, and a racist remark from Jay. Why do these two stay married again? Manny has been eating al fresco, and Gloria worries he’s too isolated because of the new baby. Jay decides to take father-son time with Joe so that Gloria can spend some time with Manny. Jay+baby = another promising storyline. Meanwhile, Gloria and Manny are off to a stage reading of Moby Dick, allowing ample time for Manny’s nerdy pursuits. I’m getting into this episode, I must admit. Mitch drops Lily off at kindergarten, where she points out a “mean kid†who always beats her at handball. Do we get to see Mitch vs a five-year-old? Okay, this episode is going to be awesome! The mean kid, Milo, is a big stickler to rules, which annoys Mitchell. They get into a rivalry, which ends up with Milo challenging Mitchell to a game. Yes. Yes, I can see it now... ...and of course Mitch is soundly defeated. Lily pretends not to be related to him. That kid is such a perfect snarker, she’d fit right in on this forum. Claire and Cam are still fighting about the house – Cam falling decidedly on the side of ostentatious, while Claire is actually thinking of a budget. They end up fighting about each others’ manipulative ways, and Claire throws an insult with the word “flaming†in it. Ooh. Predictably, baby Joe is freaking out (and is adorable! OMG). Jay can’t handle it. He ends up taking the baby to “baby class†– some yuppie thing, I guess? – where he runs into Rachel, one of Claire’s high school friends. Ouch. After a brief discussion about Jay’s adorable baby vs Rachel’s two hellion sons, Jay ends up taking the baby to the new James Bond movie. BRIEF PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Anyone who brings a baby to an action movie deserves to get their ass kicked. Now, back to our regular programming. Phil is continuing to teach the girls how to houseclean (where’s Luke?), and they are not having any of it. I swear, Haley gets dumber every episode. We get it, writers! In an attempt to try to teach the girls how to work the water heater (is he going to blow up the house?), Phil ends up destroying it. Cue snark from Alex and stupid from Haley. Come on, Phil, at least give us a pratfall or something! Unable to solve his argument with Claire, Cam brings in Pam – his nemesis, one of the lesbian moms from Lily’s school earlier this season, and a contractor – who is played by the delightful Wendi McLendon-Covey of Bridesmaids fame. He really should have thought this through, because Pam is instantly hot for Claire (then again, who isn’t in love with Julie Bowen?) and forgets all about Cam’s side of the argument. Back at James Bond, Joe is in tears and the theatregoers are all pissed at Jay. Well, no duh, I wish I was there just to throw him out. Claire’s friend Rachel offers to take him outside (“Once Daniel Craig put his shirt back on, I lost interestâ€), which he gratefully accepts. In his drive for self-reliance, Phil insists that they have to fix the water heater themselves, or so he claims. Sending the girls out of the house to get a screwdriver, he immediately calls for help – or rather, his dad (Fred Willard). Silly Phil, always has to save face! Mitch shows up at Luke’s school and begs for help with handball, in order to win a rematch with Milo. Luke accepts. One of my favourite gags in this series is Luke’s irrational hatred of Lily - “As if there’s any emotion in those eyes.†(I must admit, she seems a bit of a sociopath at times.) Meanwhile, Cam and Claire are still at war, with Cam insisting on ever-more ostentatious decorations, and Claire finding excuses to slip out of her clothes in front of Pam. This makes room for more taunts from her brother-in-law, who is as determined as possible to keep Pam from finding her attractive. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work.) Claire is playing into this as much as possible – I don’t think I’ve seen her this flirtatious with Phil. Pam is totally aware of Claire’s gambit, but is enjoying it and hates Cam to boot, so she’s all too happy to be on Claire’s side. The verdict is in: the fountain is too expensive, Claire wins. Cue a hiss of “Lesbians!†from under Cam’s breath. Back at the mall, Gloria and Manny walk by the theatre (Moby Dick was sold out) and happen to catch Rachel with baby Joe. Jay is immediately dragged from the theatre by his irate wife. Drama time! Phil’s dad has helped repair the water heater via Skype. When Phil protests that he feels silly, his dad replies that no, it’s great, it makes him feel needed. They share a few Dunphy jokes. The girls come back with a wrench rather than a screwdriver, thoroughly pissed off, and immediately demand that he fix the car. Phil concludes that it isn’t so bad to need help after all. Awww. Manny interrupts Gloria and Jay’s inevitable argument by announcing that Moby Dick wasn’t sold out, after all. His mother is a liar! Gasp!  None of them know how to raise a child properly. What a mystery. We’re back for Round 2 of Milo vs Mitchell. Mitch gets a point, and instantly begins taunting his five-year-old opponent all through to his win. Stay classy, Mitch. Cut to Mitch and Lily solemnly announcing that Cam will be doing the pickups for a while. Cam unveils to Pam and Claire that – he went ahead with the fountain anyway! The women are horrified that he “went rogueâ€, but as soon as he turns the fountain on, they’re done. It’s beautiful. At least until the goldfish get sucked into the drainage system and start exploding. Three screaming people run around covered in fountain water and fish guts. Beautiful. Now we get the Jay Voice-Over Moral of the Story. Life is weird. Phil has fixed the water heater, Mitchell continues to taunt kindergartners, and Jay is reading from Moby Dick...to both boys. Awwww. The stinger involves Luke and Mitch practicing handball. Luke is the cruelest coach around, and Mitchell is cowering like a scared little boy. Holy uncle abuse, batman! This episode was fair. None of the storylines really paid off comically speaking, but they were very sweet, and we had some great character moments. So has the show lost it? I don’t think so – they can be off and on, but there’s quality behind it. Modern Family still has all the ingredients, no question. How they come together is what determines their success. For FJ’s Modern Family discussion thread, click here.    

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother Recap - 8.20 - The Time Travelers

Spacesuits and singing and Ted, oh my! Hello, readers, and welcome to Worldly Distractions! Here we will recap some of the not-so-Godly diversions that television has to offer. Special notation will be taken when its content happens to coincide with FJ themes, but series of all types will be covered. Let’s begin with our very first recap, arriving at How I Met Your Mother’s penultimate season. Spoilers abound. Okay, so we can acknowledge this show has been off its game for a while, right? I still don’t know how they’re going to stretch it into Season 9 (and yes, Season 9 has been confirmed). Regardless, Season 8 has had some fun episodes so far, and there’s no reason to think that this one won’t be interesting. We begin with more Bob Saget voice-over, this time filled with Mother clues! She lives near Ted, she’s getting a degree in economics and dating some financial bigshot, she’s not a barfly like Ted and his friends. At this point I’m wondering if she’s going to be too perfect to be fulfilled by any one actress. Whoever plays her is going to have big shoes to fill – and we know we have to meet her by the season finale at the latest, since she attends Barney and Robin’s wedding. Still, it’s fun to get details like this, even if I do think it will fill in too many blanks. This leads us into MacLaren’s, where Barney invites Ted out to - Wait, this is another episode dealing with Robots vs Wrestlers? We were done with that a few seasons ago. Perhaps viewers will finally get a chance to see it? Anyway, Ted turns him down, which prompts Barney to discuss how “Twenty Years From Now Barney†calls the shots – ie, he leads his life in a way that will seem awesome twenty years down the line. In this case, it means he can sit in a Jacuzzi tell his four future wives (oh?) about how Robots vs Wrestlers was the greatest thing ever and Ted almost missed it. Side note. Despite Barney retaining his perverted ways, it’s kind of dull to see the two couples plus Ted all the time. Between the new baby and the Swarkles engagement, we’re a bit too deep into the domesticity pit. Writers, feel free to throw a wrench into the works. Prompted by Barney, Ted closes his eyes and is face to face with Twenty Years From Now Barney, who is wearing some kind of shiny motorcycle space suit, but otherwise looks pretty much like Current Barney. Interesting gimmick...and here come the opening credits. So we’re back with Ted, Barney and Twenty Years Barney, who is horrified that Ted doesn’t want to see Robots vs Wrestlers. Twenty Years From Now Ted, also clad in a motorcycle spacesuit, is brought in to convince him. Seriously, guys, you couldn’t make even a tiny bit of effort to age them? Put a couple of gray hairs on Ted or something. Okay, first storyline is a total gimmick. Will it be successful? That will be answered after we cut to the Robin/Marshall/Lily storyline, which appears to be a fight about Marshall’s drink (“Minnesota Tidal Waveâ€) vs the “Robin Scherbatskyâ€, named after the drink Robin has been ordering for weeks. Yes, they hope to get an entire plotline out of this. Yes, I’m confused too. Marshall appears outraged. Meanwhile, with Barney, Ted and the future versions, we get a few jokes about Ted’s perpetual singlehood before they decide to leave for Robots vs Wrestlers. However, they are interrupted...by a rumpled and pissed-off Twenty Hours From Now Ted. The trip is in danger! Waaaaait a minute... is this a bottle episode? Apparently Robots vs Wrestlers is going to result in great intoxication and a bunch of injuries, causing Twenty Hours Ted to come back and slap Current Ted upside the head for his stupidity. More debate ensues. Finally it’s agreed that Ted will go but not get wasted, which Twenty Years Barney vehemently protests because Sober Ted would never kiss a female robot. Twenty Years Ted attempts to mediate, the Barneys screech about it, Twenty Years Barney insists that it’s necessary. Back to square one. Marshall is still angry about the “Robin Scherbatskyâ€, and claims Robin is “Zuckerbergering†him (ooh, reference to The Social Network, how timely). The name will be settled in court...a dance court. Yep, Marshall and Robin are having a dance-off – until the idea is quashed by Lily. Marshall appears to give in, but instead writes Robin’s name in the men’s washroom. Charming. Robin writes a retort in the ladies’ room, and after a brief debate about the double standard about men in women’s washrooms vs women in men’s washrooms, Marshall is coaxed into checking it out. Rather than an insult, it appear to be some kind of weird confessional about how Baby Robin was treated like a cat and had to crap in a litter box – yep, this storyline’s going nowhere, let’s check back in with the Teds and Barneys. Current Ted has decided to go to Robots vs Wrestlers, until they are joined by Twenty Minutes From Now Barney. Who has a stain on his shirt. From a meatball. Still in the women’s bathroom, Marshall is moved to tears by Robin’s cat crap confession, at least until she ends by mentioning that she wrote it specifically to trap him in the stall when a lady came in. Foiled by Midwestern good manners! Twenty Minutes From Now Barney, who has since become Twenty Seconds From Now Barney (okay, completely pointless), is here to tell them to “Watch that door!†Twenty Years Barney and Current Barney exchange some barbs. In walks a beautiful strawberry blonde. Turns out she’s the coat check girl from a club seven years ago (Glee’s Jayma Mays, who appeared in 1.05, “Okay Awesome†– AKA the episode where Barney grinds with his cousin). Ted thinks he has a shot with her. All the guys urge him on. In order to get out of the stall, Marshall puts on a Mrs. Doubtfire voice. Thinking the coast is clear, he steps out, scaring a bunch of women. He has his freedom, but embarrasses himself in front of the entire bar, prompting the bartender to call creepy behaviour a “Marshall Eriksenâ€. And the drink still has Robin’s name. Point Scherbatsky. Ted goes to hit on Coat Check Girl, but is stopped by Twenty Months Coat Check Girl – that is, the two different versions of her. One is clingy to the point where he’s sick of her, and the other is dismissive and sick of him. Either way, the relationship has an expiry date. Ted lets her go. So, Ted is lonely, Barney’s anxious to go out, Marshall and Robin are still fighting. All seems lost when Lily fiddles with the jukebox and prompts a dance-off. Ted says he’s going home. Barney tells him that the drink-naming incident happened five years before, and everything else never happened and WHAT?! Seriously, writers? That was pulled right from your asses! I know Ted’s unreliable narration can be fun to play with, but – what?! Instead, Marshall and Lily are on baby duty, Robin and Barney are wedding planning, and Ted is at the bar living a generally sad life. No one can go to Robots vs Wrestlers. Ted is all alone, and the writers have managed to sneak another bottle episode past us. Well played. Bob Saget comes back and tells the kids how Ted would have spent his evening, playing with baby Marvin, watching Barney and Robin fight over the wedding. But first, he leaves MacLaren’s – and talks to the Mother (or rather, just her hand) at her apartment. He tells her all about their future life. We’re finally given a specific timeline. 45 days and counting until Ted meets the Mother! It’s very romantic, at least until the Mother’s boyfriend shows up and gives Ted a punch in the face. We close with Ted, standing on the sidewalk in front of the bar looking sad. He turns and leaves. Wow, that was depressing. And weird. Cut to Twenty Years Barney leading the Current and Future Teds and Barneys in a barbershop rendition of “The Longest Timeâ€. I’m always up for a few minutes of NPH’s singing voice. And so we end one of the most bizarre – but oddly heartwarming – episodes of the season. I’m not quite sure what to think of it. The writers brought out a real Ass Pull on us, but the unexpected twist is something How I Met Your Mother specializes in. Overall, I think it could have been much better with a simpler plot and a less abrupt mention of the twist – and the Robin/Marshall storyline was ridiculous, all in Ted’s head or not. The coat check girl’s cameo was also fairly pointless. Mostly I just want them to hurry up and bring in the mother, if only to keep Ted’s kids from starving to death after eight years. Join me for Modern Family on Wednesday, but until then, keep it legen – wait for it...

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Meet crazyforkate

CrazyForKate (“CFK”). Based in Canada. I’m about to finish a BA in Russian Language and Literature and Cinema Studies, then travel around the globe teaching English to people foolish enough to put me in charge. I’m unhealthily obsessed with the movies and take pride in my classic film nerditude. When not trying to find ways to turn “incessant discussion of dead filmmakers” into a way of life, I sing opera and study current North American politics, especially as related to feminist issues and the troubling influence of the religious right. In the summer of 2011, I discovered FJ while looking for information on the “Pissing Preacher” and was instantly hooked. Though my work will mostly be fundie-related - as befitting this blog - I also hope to cover some of the more secular aspects of this forum, including many of our Worldly Distractions!

Curious

Curious

 

Meet floridaotaku

I am a media junkie and board-lurker extraordinaire, who became interested in fundie-watching back on the original (infamous!) TWOP 14 Kids and Pregnant Again forum. I can hardly believe I have devoted (read: wasted) so many years to Duggar watching, but it’s like a magnificent kaleidoscope of horrors  - so scary, so shiny – that I just can’t seem to stop. I was raised pretty standard issue Baptist, with a preteen switch to evangelical non-denominational thrown in for good measure.  I definitely wouldn’t consider my background fundie, but I’m the non-religious black sheep in a fairly uber-religious family (my grandfather even worked for Billy Graham for a time when he was younger). I was a pretty religious kid, but turned into a morbid (we weren’t called goths back then), rebellious teen, and the way the church turned against me pretty much pushed me away from religion for good.  They even tried to anoint me with oil and cast the demons out of me because I had the gall to walk out on a cheesy 80s Geraldo special on Satanism. I guess that makes me a reformed possessee! I’ve been obsessed with cults and religious abuses since I was a teenager – probably a subconscious reaction to that bit of craziness (or the demon that they failed to cast out trying to drive out the fundamentalist threat – take your pick), so Free Jinger was a pretty natural place for me to land.  The freakier the topic, the more glued I am to the forums.  I came for the Duggars, but the Arbys courtship and the hate email miscarriage kept me coming back.   I’ll be doing mostly TV recaps, and when I’m not fundie watching, you can usually find me obsessing over television, adaptation and media theory or Victorian lit.  So seriously, if anyone ever wants some BBC costume drama recaps, I’m right on it.

Curious

Curious

 

Welcome to the Free Jinger Blog!

Welcome to the newest arm of Free Jinger, the Free Jinger Blog!   We have lots of great things planned and I think you will enjoy them.   We have put together a marvelous team of bloggers, that you will be meeting as we go along.   We will also be having guest posts on occasion. No comments are going to be allowed on the blog, but each blog entry will provide a link to our forum where you can find our usual intelligent, witty and thought-provoking commentary.  As we like to say, The Best Snark on the Internet! Some of the things we have planned include: book reviews, tv show recaps, articles on the various ways religious extremists try to take away our rights, a weekly fundy blog round-up and a weekly FJ round-up.   That is just a peek at what we have planned! If you are interested in being a guest blogger or a recapper, please contact me via PM on the forum. We hope you enjoy your stay!

Curious

Curious



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