Friday, June 29, 2012

Breaking Down: Breaking Bad - Season Four, Episodes Five Through Eight

The build-up to the last several episodes of Season Four begins with Jesse falling into the good graces with Gus via desert roadtripping with Mike. Walt continues his state of panic, trying to find a way to get to Gus, as he asks Jesse to do his dirty work again, resulting in more failed attempts to use poison. As contempt flairs between Jesse and Walt, Hank's spidey sense has led him to Gustavo Fring, as he petitions Walt to chauffeur his off-the-books investigation. To end these few episodes, a flashback into Gustavo Fring's past reveals a brutal history with the cartel that he continues to battle.

Gus likes his chicken spicy.
Stan Earnest: We fire this puppy back up with the only episode this season that could be considered the character building one, "Shotgun". This time around it's Jesse with Mike, a nice change of pace. Mike is the anti-Walter, although when he clocked him in the bar he didn't implode or spontaneously combust or anything. I think Mike may have mystical powers; he definitely entertains for as little that is said.

Craig Scholes: The more this show goes on, the more I just despise Walt. Dude just needs to shut his hole and keep well enough alone. The idea that Gus is molding Jesse against Walt is fantastic, which, by the way, I totally knew was what they were doing; those shenanigans seemed awfully staged.

SE: Season Four is teeming with style. The weird Mexican techno/rap song during the Pinkman-waiting-for-Mike sequence (apparently he had to hold each pose for a minute to film that), lab vat cam, shovel cam, speeding-out-of-control-Aztek cam, the intense backing score, I love it all, and Gilligan remains cryptic with the show titles having dual meaning as "Open House" refers to both Marie's klepto adventures and Jesse's methed-out abode, along with "Shotgun," which I just realized likely also refers to Pinkman's front seat ride with Mike.

CS: I have a confession, I don't know the name of a single episode. I don't think my acquired episodes even list the titles. Do you think Gilligan is making a conscious decision to say, "Hey, Walt isn't a good guy, so lets make everyone hate him." Walt pretty much throws a four-year-old hissy fit at every turn.

SE: After Season Two's "737 Down Over ABQ", I now make sure I know the episode title before watching the episode, playing along with the game, searching for any clues. The upcoming Season Five starts with an episode titled, "Live Free or Die". If I can deduce anything from that, I must say that someone will likely die in that one. I will confess myself that it is hard for me to critique anything Breaking Bad because the writers have taken the game to such high levels of drama entertainment for me that I now have a hard time finding much wrong with the show. I was only slightly annoyed by Mike exiting the Pollos truck without a sweep or even a peak outside to make sure there were only two cartel muscle-heads and not a third one or a driver. I remember watching The Game with Sean Penn and Michael Douglas and (spoiler alert) thinking that it was a game the whole time, even the fall at the end didn't convince me. That ultimately tainted an otherwise spectacular movie for me. With Breaking Bad, it's different. I don't really care what comes next as long as it sticks to a credible plot line. The writers have sent me down paths that I didn't realize were even possible, such as the Tuco lair destruction, Jane's death and the subsequent plane crash, and Gale's death, so when Season Four rolled around I felt as if it didn't matter if I knew what came next as long as it was executed flawlessly, and I haven't been let down yet. I appreciate not having forced surprises crammed down my throat.

Romancing the clown
With that said and in regards to the Walt hatred, I just think that Gilligan & Co. are weaving the most intriguing story they can whilst keeping some form of reality in mind. They have to turn Walter into a beast to fulfill the mission of the show. Like I've iterated before, Walt letting Jane die in Season Two really bugged me out; I didn't know if I could ever get behind Walter going forward. It is the give and take, the Clockwork Orange effect as I've labeled it: hate, love, and back to hate, a binding of gut responses. There are times when I hate Pinkman and Walter and times when I have a rooting interest in them. The great thing the writers have done is to never sync those two guys up, leaving them in a constant state of flux, which makes for great drama and keeps the emotions of the viewers tangled. At this point, I feel like I am in on the joke and am fully on board with Walt becoming the most disgusting, vile excuse for a human being that ever walked the earth. The writers have put him in situations that have explained how a person could get to this point, and not only that, have created the rare prideful underachiever that would actually be in the situation to act out his hatred towards his previous life failures. Walter is tired of watching the nice guy finish last, and he is clearly celebrating his new role by antagonizing Hank and scaring the bejesus out of his wife. He is no longer afraid to let Skyler know he is the "one who knocks" because telling her he drinks her milkshake just sounds like a mammary fetish.

CS: I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't like the way the show ends, but then again I feel that way about most shows.

How can Walt be so independent yet be so fucking helpless?

SE: My biggest fear is that the show will either whimper to its finale or just go bonkers, jumping the shark in a lead fridge. What was the last great show that ended well? They all go either too long or southbound and down in the second season. Even The Wire's last season was likely its weakest.

As far as Walt being so strong yet such an emotional weakling, I think that comes from his juxtaposition as a married man. I am happily married, but it comes with patience, tolerance, and a lot of bitten tongues. There are so many times in a marriage where the man is just stripped of his masculinity. It seems every year I miss the NFL draft for a baby shower or wedding or something. This may sound like a complaint, but it is what makes her happy, which makes us happy. As much as Walt thinks he is a bad ass, at this point he is still commanded by Skyler. He may try to wave his supposed dominance around, but he knows without Skyler and his family he is nothing.

CS: Friday Night Lights, fantastic last season, phenomenal last episode. But if this is the case with Walt, why doesn't he just walk away? He clearly has passed the tipping point of ever going back to normal life.

SE: He may be so depraved that he now wants his cake and some ice cream too, and some caramel and chocolate and glazed pecans, maybe some chocolate-covered pretzels. Then again Walt probably rocks the fro-yo, or at least Skyler probably keeps it as the only frozen treat stocked. You see, I loathe Applebee's and my wife loves it, so guess where we eat? I prefer Casey's pizza to Pizza Hut by a long shot, but guess where we order from? But you leave me to my own vices, and I'm eating Casey's slop and waking up face down in a pool of stale popcorn too. Walt wants to be Heisenberg full-time, but he has to be a father to a new-born also and that requires Skyler's happiness, so he drags his sorry ass back home and changes some diapers.

CS: You kinda get the feeling that Walt doesn't want to move back too. He's gotten a taste of being free out from under Skyler and he doesn't seem like he wants to go back. Not to mention all the Beneke mugs to remind him of his wife trying to hurt him.
SE: Man, I really want to see a Beneke vs. Walter cage match, although Beneke would probably just run in circles struck by fear while Walt chased him with a metal chair. Maybe Saul could be special guest referee. One of my favorite television show characters of all-time is Larry David, either as himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm or as his character on Seinfeld, George Costanza, played with flawlessness by Jason Alexander. Cranston seems to have the Larry David anti-charm down, like when he convinces the ladies working at the laundry mat to clean the lab equipment. That scene gave me some old school chuckles.

CS: I think Beneke can take him to be honest. 

SE: Walt has spent days in desert heat while undergoing chemo and survived. He made the pilgrimmage out of Tuco's desert shack without water also, and let's not forget that he punked that high school kid teasing his son in the first season. I don't know about Walt, but if Heisenberg shows up, my money is on him.

To switch gears, please tell me you found some joy in the Dodge Challenger subplot.

CS: Oh definitely, and for the record I do love that car, it’s the anti-Aztek. Flynn played Walt like a fiddle, too. I am a little disappointed that Flynn didn't stick with a fastback Mustang though. Two seasons ago, Walt would never have tried to slip something like that past Skyler; Walt clearly has no fucks left to give.

Of course the scene I got the most joy out of was Jesse handing the tweaker a shovel and basically telling him to dig to China. The only thing that would have been more entertaining would have been if he just gave him one of those cards that said, "How do you keep an idiot busy, turn over."

SE: It was like Christmas as a kid waiting to see what vehicle Skyler switched Junior too. The writers drew the wait out too; it doesn't even happen in these four eps. So, how far did your jaw drop when you realized Hank had fully connected the dots on Chilean national Gustavo Fring?

CS: To be honest, I wasn't that surprised. Over the course of the run Gilligan and his crew did a fantastic job on the slow reveal of Hank not being a complete moron. So when you combine that with Hank literally having nothing elae to do other than shitting himself, especially once Hank had the realization of it being adored that Gale had the Pollos napkin, it was inevitable.

SE: Yeah, it was a slow reveal; I was being a bit dramatic. I just loved the scene that ended "Problem Dog" where Hank throws down his sleuthing skills at the DEA office. Gomez is now sporting the Walt beard; at this point I don't trust him or the director.

CS: I don't trust either of those guys as of right now. I don't trust any of them other than Hank to be honest, especially since we still haven't found out who the cartel's connection is in the police department. I love how smug Hank was as he was dropping the truthitude on the fuzz.

SE: Moving on to "Hermanos", we have a lot to talk about here. The episode brings us the back story of Gus and contrasts it with modern-day Gus. Once again, the writers inject a sense of humanity into a stone-cold killer. Giancarlo Esposito really shines. If you ever think you are going to be questioned for a crime, just study the scene where Gus makes the DEA his bitch.

CS: I wish that when they film the pure Spanish scenes that they would do them in the style of those wacky, super cheesy, over the top, ridiculously amazing Latino soap operas. Breaking Bad has done a fantastic job of establishing how each character got to where they are. Gus clearly is an amazing business man with a very savvy mind... and he's definitely gay.

Not even oxygen can stave off the spicy chicken flatulence.
SE: Yeah, you stole my thunder. He is totally Boy-George-sipping-an-appletini gay. I suspected it from the beginning, then it was reinforced by having Walt over for dinner in his huge house without any family presence, and then a non-stroked Tio confirmed it with his subtle jokes before Don Eladio terrifies the "hermanos". One doesn't put in 20-hour workdays running both above-ground and a below-ground businesses with a woman at his side, a big reason Walter is having trouble competing with Gus. The backstory definitely provides the motive for Gus to seek revenge on the cartel. I love that he taunts old man Tio in the nursing home. I imagine that if you wrong my family, I'm coming at you every bit a filthy as Gustavo Fring.

CS: To be honest, I never saw it coming until a coworker pointed it out to me, I even swore he had a family in that house of his. Boy was I wrong. For what its worth, I have access to a hog farm, I'll just leave it at that.

SE: Fun fact: Gus's partner, Max Arciniega, is the name of the actor that played Krazy 8 in Season One. Are you picking up on all the dualities Season Four is pushing, or am I just a homer? The aforementioned "Open House" and "Shotgun" meanings along with "Hermanos" meaning more than brothers--and the obvious chicken joint reference-- the Walt/Skyler conversations on how to commence with criminal action that mimic the Walt/Jesse conversations of Season One, Skyler saying she needs "complete honesty" and then taking the Walt White route with Hank and Marie and eventually Walt, the contrast of Walt telling Junior about the choices he has made and then seeing Skyler flip a coin and make a choice at the Four Corners--harkening the "flip a coin" line from the recent ending of Boardwalk Empire. Hell, even the sandwiches the cartel chow on from the Pollos truck driver to the Pimento sandwich Mike offers Jesse later in the same episode, everything comes in twos in Season Four, and I like the meaning that isn't so subtle but isn't over-the-top.

See you next week when we discuss Gus's warfare with the cartel and a renegade Walter White at the same time. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Queue Continuum: Holy Shit! Tuff Turf Is Streaming

Look, I've written a lot about Tuff Turf. Strangely, and not entirely because of the film itself, a solid majority of the traffic here at Inconsiderate Prick has been because of a piece I wrote on one of my first childhood crushes (temporally misplaced as it may have been), Kim Richards, being thrust back into my life. That seminal piece of IP lore can be found here.

Regardless of how hot Kim Richards was circa 1984 [insert obligatory Kim Richards photo that drove traffic now]
Tuff Turf itself must be seen. It's got James Spader as the new kid kicked out of prep school, a bicycle-riding, leather-jacket-wearing youth in revolt with what could easily be termed a death wish who sleeps with a dart gun and wants to steal away the school street tough's girlfriend, played by the estimable Kim Richards. It's got Robert Downey (before he added the Junior) as Spader's best friend, who happens to play drums shirtless with sunglasses hanging round his neck--oh, you 1980s--in the Jim Carroll Band. Yes, that's Jim Carroll of Basketball Diaries fame. Really, all you should need to know is it's got this scene in it.

What the hell are you waiting for? Queue it up.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reading Rainbow: John Irving on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

We still hope to get a Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey entry up this week, but it probably will not be until tomorrow. Until then...

With the release of his new novel, In One Person, John Irving has been making the rounds on the talk shows. This past weekend, he was on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Last Friday, he was also on The Late Late Show. If you're new to these parts, this is pretty much the only talk show I watch.
Now I've never read John Irving. I never really had the desire. After hearing/seeing him on these two appearances, I have to say I might actually dive into Irving.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Prick Tunes: Pat Benatar "Invincible"

Sure, the kids all love "We Belong," "Love Is a Battlefield," and "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," but for my money this is the best of Benatar. For those of you not familiar with the track, "Invincible" was the theme from the classic youth-in-revolt flick The Legend of Billie Jean, starring Helen Slater as the titular heroine with a young Christian Slater (no relation) playing her brother and Keith Gordon as the rich kid with lots of gadgets and a penchant for wearing blazers. If you have any doubt in your mind as to how this film could be awesome, then you clearly haven't seen Helen Slater chop off her locks and been affected like the rest of us. You can leave now.

Anyway, this song is fucking epic. Just as epic as the film. It's not just a theme. It's a goddamn anthem.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Prick Tunes: David Wax Museum NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Word mule pointed this one out a while back but it slipped through the internet ether before finding its way here. If you're down with David Wax Museum, you can also find a recording of their full set at the Newport Folk Festival from last year here.

Breaking Down: Breaking Bad - Season Four, Episodes One Through Four

Season Four starts immediately where Season Three left off, at the scene of the crime of Gale’s death. Victor finds Pinkman in shock in his car and escorts him to the superlab where Mike, Victor, Walt, and Jesse await Gus’s arrival. Gus shreds Victor and declares, “Get back to work.” Hank has since become mired in mineral collection and karaoke videos whilst bed ridden while Marie returns to her kleptomaniacal shenanigans. Skyler attempts to buy a carwash to power wash some bags of money and perfects Walt’s gambling story. As relationships boil on the domestic front, Mike battles the cartel behind the scenes, and Pinkman turns his house into an abysmal hell of a continuous methamphetamine/industrial rock party.

This week we cover the first four episodes, and the next two weeks we will do four more each, and then land on the Friday before the Season Five premiere with commentary on the last episode and predictions going forward with Season Five.

You don't want to be near Gus when he's wearing this outfit
Stan Earnest: Season Four starts with an immaculately paced episode, "Box Cutter", with Gale making a triumphant return in the opening sequence. First question: What do you think Gus was going to do with Walt if he didn't go to work for him?

Craig Scholes: I don't think Gus was going to do anything to Walt himself, but I do think Hank would be walking because dos Penas would have had their way with Walt instead.

SE: I think "Box Cutter" is the best first episode of a returning season of serialized television ever. The tension, the backing score, the foreshadowing, and the climax with Gus going all Joe Pesci on Victor's neck, and with a twinge of that smirky Breaking Bad dark comedy the episode comes full circle, and Jesse Pinkman survives as Walt's partner! The dialog has all kinds of quotable lines, notably, "Get back to work." But my favorite lines come from Jesse chowing down at Denny's. You're right Jesse, everyone's on the same page now. Rewatching, I aimed to figure out if Gus killing Victor was really an errant plot line, but I see how it makes perfect sense now, especially once I realized that when Gus walks in he is caught stubbornly playing with the millions of dollars in lab equipment with a goofy smile stuck on his I-got-this-boss face.

CS: It occurred to me that perhaps Victor was executed because of the way he showed up at the crime scene, poked around, and, if I recall correctly, left fingerprints on the door jam, which only set off Gus even more when he saw Victor fucking around with the lap equipment. The further the show goes along the more I fucking hate Walt. He was such a smug asshole in that episode.

I absolutely LOVED the foreshadowing of the box knife at the beginning when Gale opens up the first crate. I remember thinking that Breaking Bad would in no way be able to keep the pace up after Season Three, and they definitely did that. The first episode of Season Four is probably my second- or third-favorite episode of the whole run. My favorite line of the episode was Jesse expounding upon that same page Gus and they are now on, "The one that says, ‘If I can’t kill you, you'll sure as shit wish you were dead.’"

SE: That is definitely the line I latched on to. By the way, I totally forgot that AMC flashed a violence warning before the Victor slashing, a petty move I am sure AMC was forced to make, and I hope it doesn't happen again in Season Five.

Mike totally picked out the Kenny Rogers shirts while Walt and Jesse cooked right? There couldn't be a more direct homage to Pulp Fiction. I will always remember that UC Santa Cruz's mascot is the banana slug.

Say "banana slug" one more time mother fucker
CS: Have you ever seen a banana slug in person? They are actually nearly the size of a banana, and they are the most easily spotted thing ever. They have to be poisonous to be that color and not be feasted on by random predators.

SE: According to the ever-so-truthful Wikipedia, raccoons, ducks, geese, and salamanders all feast on the banana slug. Also, there is a festival in Russian River, California for the slug where the most successful entries to the food competition are often those in which the distinctly repugnant flavor is unnoticeable. Speaking of slugs, Hank is a real charmer in Season Four isn't he? How do you think he developed a passion for minerals?

CS: I imagine he asked himself, “What is the dumbest fucking thing I can collect to annoy the piss out of my super-awesome, hyper-supportive wife.” I imagine she keeps calling them rocks just to piss him off though. Fun fact, the university that I "studied" at in Germany had the world’s largest mineral museum.

SE: I totally dig the way "Box Cutter" ends with the Alexander song "Truth" and a sweeping shot of Gale's apartment with the last shot being of the lab notes. I had that lightning bolt folder in junior high, although it might have been a Trapper Keeper. And I'm no Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros fan, but I've listened to that Alexander song probably 100 times since that shows airing.

CS: Can't say that I’m a fan of the song at all. Would you say that the overriding theme of this season is that everybody is fucking miserable. Seriously, every character in this show is just in a shitty mood for one reason or another.

SE: Yeah, everybody is grumpy as hell; at least the writers understand what they have put the characters through. Unpopular opinion alert: I may like Season Four better than Season Three. It certainly has a flair to it.

CS: Liking Season Four more than Three isn't an egregious error; it’s probably my second favorite season.

I can't decide if I am surprised Jesse owns a Roomba. On one hand, it’s one of those impulse buys. On the other hand, I don't think of Jesse as being the type of person who would worry about having clean floors.
SE: He could have gone the Tom Haverford route and had DJ Roomba, but I don't think that sound system would fit on the Roomba. Fun fact about this episode: the writers wanted a scene with Aaron Paul's head against speakers vibrating with bass, but they didn't want to blow Paul's ears out. On a trip to a local electronics store (they definitely like giving back to the community in ABQ) to purchase the sound system, they found a store clerk that showed them they could solve the problem by programming the unit in test mode where the speakers vibrate to the music, but without sound. They made a deal with the kid's manager and hired him for the day to program the song for show.

"Thirty-Eight Snub" and "Open House" are seen as filler, or boring, episodes to casual fans of the show. I find the slow burn to be quite pleasing, as I am intrigued to see if this is what the characters would actually be doing in the aftermath of what has happened, and there is definitely a fair amount of setup needed for the coming episodes. My problem is with Walt becoming a dumbass in this episode, but maybe he is just so completely razzed by everything around him he decides to act completely irrationally. He totally deserved that ass whoopin' at the hands of Mike.

CS: You could clearly tell that sound wasn't coming out of the speaker, and boy is Jesse losing his mind, all while being a good guy and leaving a nest egg with Andrea. What would you do if you magically had a stack of cash appear in your possession? I’m too paranoid to try and spend a bunch of hundreds anywhere. Is it just me, or is Skyler becoming just as sketchy as Walt? It seems to me that the $873K or whatever it was she offered for the car wash was a pretty low-ball offer; on the other hand, I don't think I would have countered with $10 million.

SE: Eyebrows McGee really takes pride in his car wash. Another fun fact: real-life Bogdan is a nuclear physicist.

Did you think for any moment that Mike would switch to Team Walter at some point? I figured that was definitely Walter's next move, convincing Mike that he had some humanity left, but I had no inkling that the conversation would last two minutes and leave Walt bloodied on a bar floor. There is some karmic retribution in Walt getting the Pinkman treatment, even though I don't believe in karma, but I reckon it must exist in television drama.

CS: I don't think Mike would actually just switch sides, but I do see a scenario where he would if the right circumstances arise. Well, if you aren't so much a fan of karma, think of it as regression to the mean. Walt was just due to get his ass kicked. I doubt you can work in that business for too long without having a tooth kicked down your throat eventually, which is probably part of the reason why Walt is learning valuable lessons like how to properly draw a snub-nose.

SE: Walt is regressing all right, but not meaningfully. I respect that the writer's went super dark with Pinkman for Season Four. He's been through too much; of course he doesn't care about anything anymore. Most shows would just gloss over that and keep him running full steam. I hope I never get to a point where I am throwing wadded $100 bills into a passed-out drunk's mouth.

CS: I would however love to get to the point where I could afford to throw wadded-up Benjamins into a dude’s mouth. Yeah, Pinkman has really gotten it stuck to him, his parents turned their back on him, he has repeatedly gotten his ass kicked, his friends are useless deadbeats, his boss won't even give him the time of day, his lawyer fucks him over (more than the usual), the DEA has been on his ass, and his special lady friend pulled a Bon Scott. I think my breaking point is way before that; fortunately, I don't foresee myself ever getting to that point.

SE: How about Walt having a nice hot cup of coffee from Gale's wonder brewer? Maybe Walt can buy a coffee shop to launder all that money. Those cameras in the lab are probably a bad idea, but Gus is taking "full measures" this time around. I wish he could have seen Walt chase that fly around. Imagine Gus pulling his Volvo into a dark alley, screeching to a dust-unsettling stop. Mike hops in the car. Gus sleekly pulls a black leather folder personalized "Gustavo" in fine Italian stitching from beneath his suit coat, out of it slides an iPad, and he and Mike giggle like school girls as they watch Walt fall on that lab vat over and over again.

CS: Not only are the cameras probably a bad idea, but they're also really loud. What would be even better is if you see Gus walk into the lab with a box, open the lid, and a single fly flies into the lab. Then watch his maniacal laughter as he exits the lab; of course then you see Gus and Mike giggle like school girls as they watch Walt fall on that lab vat over and over again. Speaking of watch, has Walt always worn that sweet-ass calculator watch?

Walt = Butt-head. Fitting.
SE: I think I've only seen it once, must have been a luxury purchase with the meth loot; although he likely uses it for work--tax write-off ya know. I like the idea of prankster Gus and Mike vs. prankster Walt and Jesse. Can you see Walt calling up Mike and telling him he needed his help because he ice-picked Jesse and made a mess? When Mike arrives, they have a surprise for him. That better not be a surprise birthday party, though; an accidental shooting would be likely. At this point, what could Walt or Jesse call Mike about that would shock him?

CS: At this point, about they only thing that would surprise Mike would be for Jesse and Walt to shut up and do their job. But, if we want to go with the whimsical version I hope there is a stripper in the cake for the surprise birthday party.

SE: Question: why does Gus continue to pay Walt and Jesse after their little skirmish? Afraid of Pinkman running to the feds, or is it just part of the master plan? Certainly he must have charged them for the cleanup of run-over rival dealer #1 and capped-in-the-head rival dealer #2. That receipt is probably filed under "Vilma" in Roger Goodell's office.

CS: I was wondering about this too, and I would imagine it would have something to do with ensuring the product maintained a certain level of quality. Not only that, but as Jesse mentioned so many times, they are making a fraction of what Gus is making. There is also a good chance that Gus took away the bonus $3 Million of goodwill, and they are making the straight $1 Million a month again. Gus is smart enough to know not to make a volatile situation worse with even more disgruntled employees.

SE: Gus is very wise to leave the two up to their own devices. He figures they will probably ruin each other, but they have to keep an eye on Pinkman. I don't know if Gus knows that he has a get-out-of-jail-free card, but if you're found with a pound of meth and $500k, I am pretty sure that turns into a don't-pass-go-don't-collect-200-dollars card. Walt really needed to accept that invitation to go-kart. Walter White in a go-kart would be good times. I've never been; how 'bout you?

CS: Apparently if you have never gone go-karting, then you have never been to Branson, Missouri, sir. I'm willing to bet that Branson is the go-kart capital of the world, and I highly recommend doing it. Speaking of go-karts, that scene with Jesse reminded me of the go-kart scene in Clerks II.

SE: A Google search for "go-kart capital of the world" declares no specific winners, but Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is in the running according to some random webbie's Flickr photo. No, I haven't been to Branson, and I don't really see the appeal, other than it is closer to me than Disneyland and I like salt water taffy. I have relatives that go and claim that it is heaven on earth. And Clerks II kept me laughing, but that movie is an abomination, right? At least my favorite character, Randal, got a rehashing.

How fantastic is the Hank and Marie dinner party? The Gale karaoke video was a nice touch. If you ever get drunk enough to sing karaoke, what song will it be?

CS: One should definitely go to Branson once, especially if you are somewhat in the vicinity. The last time I went I watched an old dude fashion a square log out of a round log for about 20 minutes and I saw a guy carve a totem pole with a chain saw. They have some of the most amazing street vendor food, and in the summer they have a pretty righteous kids fest that I remember fondly. And for what its worth, I liked Clerks II.
Ground control to Rivers Cuomo

The last song I sang karaoke-style was the "Star Spangled Banner" in Germany on my birthday after having drank about 20 liters of alcohol. If I were to do it tomorrow, it would probably be something by Weezer.

SE: Trick question, homeboy. One can not get drunk enough to defend the singing of karaoke, unless you make a video to entertain your family and friends post-mortem, and even then you're on dicey ground, but 20 liters of German beer make you more of a man than me. And on that note, Walt needs to really learn to handle his liquor. First he forces Junior to slam tequila, then he wakes up in a sea of stale popcorn, and then he challenges Hank to get back on the scent of the illustrious Heisenberg. It really is killing Walt that he can't let Hank know that he is all badass now, but in a fight between wheelchair-ridden Hank and criminally insane Heisenberg, I'm still taking Hank.

CS: I’m not sure I would take Walt in a fight with Old Man Salamanca. It’s amazing to me how many times Walt gets put in his place, and how much it just causes him to push back.

SE: And no matter how much you push Jesse, he keeps figuring out all new ways to take it--the true vision of the odd couple. How nice was it for Mike and Co. to snag the guy that took Jesse's money, and Jesse doesn't even give a what-what. Did you have any first thoughts as to where Mike was taking Jesse at the end of "Bullet Points"?

CS : I remember thinking the first time I watched it that there was no way they were going to just off him. So I kinda figured they were going to try some sort of scared straight tactic, either that or they were going to make him mop up the chicken batter in the middle of the New Mexican desert.

So there you have it, Part One of Season Four. Tune in next week when we cover the next four episodes of everyone's favorite dynamic duo.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Prick Tunes: Flesh Lights "You're a Stealer"

I generally refrain from putting friends' bands up here, mostly because I feel pretty goddamn weird about it, but fuck it.

Austin's own Flesh Lights are out on the road right now with last night being the first of a handful of nights in which they open for The Hives. Messrs. Vandever and Steen and Dame Ussery are throttling across the eastern part of the continent, bringing their punk stylings to your backyard, or more precisely a club if you live in one of the following cities, they'll be doing so before The Hives and FIDLAR:

June 19 2012 - Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
June 20 2012 - Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
June 22 2012 - New York, NY – Terminal 5
June 23 2012 - Boston, MA – House of Blues
June 25 2012 - Montreal, QC - Metropolis
June 26 2012 - Toronto, ON – Sound Academy
Jun 27 2012 - Pontiac, MI – Clutch Cargo
June 30 2012 -Chicago, IL – The Vic

They may add dates when not opening for The Hives. I'll update this list if they add shows.

Their LP, Muscle Pop, can be purchased here. Do yourself a favor, and get yerself a copy. If you see them, make sure to hug Jeremy for an uncomfortably long period of time while your hands creeps down his back.

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Two, Episode Four

Another week, another installment of Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey with your hosts Wordy Ginters and Josh "Old Man" Duggan. Tell your friends, family, and even foes about what's going down here. Once again, you can buy the second series on Blu-ray and on DVD. They're the original versions as aired in the U.K. (Series One available here on DVD and Blu-ray.) Why the British versions? Because they're unabridged, unlike what aired in the U.S. 

Recap time. Ladies Edith and Mary help plan a variety show of sorts for the convalescents. Cora and Isobel butt heads over the use of Downton as the convalescent home, and Isobel elects to go where she is appreciated, France. Matthew and William go missing while on patrol. Everyone at Downton frets over the missing young men. Mary discovers that Branson has professed his love for Lady Sybil, who has not yet reciprocated any statements of a shared love but still makes Mary promise not to tell their father. Mrs. Hughes finds the randy Ethel in a linen closet making sex with the choady Major Bryant and shitcans the ginger hornball on the spot. Despite O'Brien trying to get Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Bird in trouble for stealing food from the kitchen at Downton, Lady Cora joins in on the soup kitchen (read that however you'd like) running in Crawley House. Lord Grantham discovers Bates is working at a pub and goes to ask him back to Downton. Matthew and William walk in mid-show, stopping the music as if they were Eddie Murphy in the biker bar in 48 Hours, with Mary being ever so happy to see Matthew. Ethel shows up downstairs begging Mrs. Hughes for help as she is knocked up by the Major she'd been humping.

Wordy Ginters: "I might not be a woman of the world, but I don't live in a sack." I was thinking the same damn thing Mrs. Hughes. The big ending doesn't turn out to be whether or not Matthew and William find their names on a list of war dead, but that Ethel is pregnant. It's a sly little commentary on social mores with the Major/presumptive father later playing to the crowd with lame magic tricks, life still intact. Quite a contrast to Ethel who quite literally has her life thrown into chaos. Ho Hum. This episode was a bit flat for me.

Old Man Duggan: There is definitely much less that seems to happen in this episode. What one could argue is the big event in the episode is an ultimately uninteresting one for the viewer, as no one gives a fuck about Ethel. Sure, nothing about Major Bryant doesn't reek of douchebag extraordinaire, but Ethel is a ginger (or insert any of her shortcomings and character flaws here, but clearly ginger is atop the list) and therefore deserves none of our sympathy. With no emotional weight attached to the one clear major event of the episode, it definitely doesn't carry the heft that past episodes have. I think the big things that happen in this episode are seen but unsaid, which leaves a weird feeling in my innards. This may be withdrawal. Obviously, the big shit (other than Bates coming back to Downton and storming back into my heart) is related to the eldest and youngest Crawley daughters realizing exactly how they feel about certain chaps--chaps with whom they are not actually attached. Recognition of feelings is certainly important, and when Matthew walks in the damn door with William in tow, Mary's tears of joy that teeter on the edge of her eye are nearly ours. It may not put butts in the seats, but in a serialized format these episodes are important.

WG: The return of Bates was a bit anti-climactic. In my mind, he returned to Downton shirtless on horseback, in a procession lead by six albino cheetahs on diamond leashes, and scantily dressed woman twirling flaming batons. Fellowes chooses a more conventional route. Grantham, being the good man that he is, recognizes the folly of his ways, and invites Bates back into the fold whence appraised of the real reason behind Bates' hasty exit. I love Bates' dialogue. 'Who would have thought an amateur concert could be the summit of all joy?" When Anna was encouraging him to trust his happiness, I wanted to reach through the screen, grab him by the lapels, and tell him to run, or more realistically, hobble with dignity, for his life. I shudder to think of the punishment that he has in store after being allowed a glimmer of happiness.

OMD: I'll refrain from commenting one way or the other on Bates's happiness and whether or not it will continue. I would like to raise a question as pertains to O'Brien and Thomas: What exactly did Bates do to them? He got a job that that country singer Thomas felt (unjustly) he deserved. Yet O'Brien is sitting there trying to tell Thomas that Hughes's message to Major Clarkson was Bates's handiwork. Jesus H. Christ. All I've got to say is that every goddamn episode in which Bates doesn't appear until the 28-minute mark is excruciating. My heart cannot take that torture. Furthermore, I do not want to him to ever live in a "fog of misery" again. I think his "God, I want to" response to Anna's telling him to "get used to being happy, and trust it" is telling in that he's still hesitant to get too excited. Hobbling away, he shall not do, however.

Mrs. O'Brien, Amateur Volcanologist
When Mrs. O'Brien asked to borrow baking soda, my first instinct was to assume she was making a model volcano.

WG: Of course. For the science fair portion of the convalescent entertainment. What did you think of the musical number that was Matthew and Williams figurative return to the living?

OMD: It's hard to ignore the lyrical significance as it pertains to Mary and Matthew. Matthew walks down the aisle (literally) singing, "I would say such wonderful things to you," Mary joins in singing in unison, "There would be such wonderful things to do / If you were the only girl in the world / And I were the only boy." There's a whole lot of subtext here. Everyone sees how much Mary loves Matthew, and vice versa, but somewhere out there lie Sir Richard Carlisle and Lavinia Swire, who Matthew quickly states he's off to see in London. Fellowes can be such a goddamn tease.

Total tangent here, but "Your Affectionate Cousin, Mary" has to be one of the most fucked up signatures on a correspondence I've ever heard. I know they're distant cousins, but sometimes it's hard to get past the inbred nature inherent in British aristocracy.

There is something that doesn't quite work for me about the sequence in which Matthew and William are out on patrol. It's shot hand-held, as one would expect, but somehow it never feels like they're at the front despite the evil Gerries trouncing through the woods. Obviously, there are budgetary constraints, and Downton Abbey is British television, so they're likely working with an even smaller budget than if it were an American program. Still, the tension doesn't get ratcheted up enough to affect any real emotion from me. I also think on a purely visual level that it's going to be difficult to make me feel the grit of war on high-def digital video, even with the tinting going on. I know film is expensive, but perhaps for these scenes film would have served them well.

WG: The choreography drained away some of the drama . No rationale. No bearings. Were they out getting some air? The scene seemed shockingly freestyle compared to the head to head trench warfare scenes we've come to know and love.

Comely nurse
I liked the first few seasons of Project Runway like everybody else, but I'm no fashion expert. I did notice the dresses Mary and Sybil were rocking at dinner had game. Even the Dowager looked smart in a beautiful blue velvet number. I even liked Grantham's "going to a public house" attire. Maybe before the end of Season Two we'll see Lady Sybil in a tasteful teddy?

OMD: I never paid Project Runway any heed (though I do watch Design Star), but wardrobe did shine in the latter half of this episode. I liked how "of the people" Lord Grantham's pub get-up was. Speaking of "public house," how great was it that Carson is so proper that he has no other way but to take umbrage at the notion of a trained valet working at a pub and has to refer to it in its full name while others in service still call it a pub? As for Lady Sybil, I think I speak for the world when I say this: We will welcome any attempt to make Lady Sybil even more ravishing than she already is; lingerie is both welcome and encouraged.

WG: What do you make of Sybil and Branson? Will they or won't they?

OMD: Well, now, that would be telling, wouldn't it? I will say that I loved how that scene in the garage (I pronounced that in my head to rhyme with "carriage") was shot. The reflections of Branson and Sybil in the glass of the car to intimate an in-frame closeness that wasn't possible given their station and Sybil's reluctance to embrace Branson's love for her were really cagey and more than make up for the weaker scenes in the "field" of combat.

WG: In general, the forces of good win this episode. Cora turns out to be human and ends up rolling up her sleeves and helping out with the impromptu soup kitchen. Mary doesn't narc on Sybil and Branson. The Dowager feigns real emotion at Matthew's possible death. Even Thomas apparently has backed off from his feuding with Bates, after Hughes drops a dime on him. O'Brien remains a humorless bitch. But what's new? How can she try to stir up so much shit without sweating thru that black cassock she wears during her day job.

OMD: I don't know that I'd go so far as to qualify Thomas as backing off from feuding with Bates. I just think he doesn't see there being much to gain given his station. As for O'Brien, it's a little known fact, but the black cassock is actually the official get-up that one is supposed to wear whilst stirring up shit. Other than that, yes, good wins out over evil this episode. The Krauts fail to capture Matthew the Brave and William the Strong. The prole breaks down the young aristocrats last defense around her heart. Cora works the soup line. All is right in the world.

All right, is it just me or does the notion of Mrs. Patmore feeling anything "in her waters" strike the fear of God into you, too? I have no idea what she means by that, and I surely would prefer not to be filled in. I'm scared of your waters, Mrs. Patmore. I'm scared to death.

WG: Sometimes you look into the abyss, and sometimes the abyss looks into you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Prick Tunes: Glen Hansard "Philander"

As was covered here a couple weeks ago, Glen Hansard has a new solo album entitled Rhythm and Repose. Well, it comes out today, kids. Why don't you rush on out to your local independent record store and get yourself a copy? Or if you hate independent record stores or live in some remote part of the world that doesn't have record stores, get it here. In the meantime, here is one of the singles from the record, "Philander."

Man on Film: Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed, the product of first-time feature-length director Colin Trevorrow and first-time feature-length writer Derek Connolly, was cute.

If I were leaving everything there, as TSLF suggested, it may seem as though I were using cute as a pejorative. Nine times out of ten, I probably would be. This time I'm not.

Bolstered by a comedically adept cast including Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, and Mark Duplass, the team of Trevorrow and Connolly gave us a surprisingly thoughtful comedy using the possibility of time travel to explore themes of regret, longing, and trust. As stated in the trailer embedded below, Jeff (Johnson) a reporter at Seattle Magazine takes two interns, Darius (Plaza) and Arnau (Karan Soni), to a resort town to find the man who placed the classified ad on the poster to the right. They find Kenneth (Duplass), and Darius gets in with him.

The set-up is in the trailer of course, and I just wasted precious time and keystrokes on the last paragraph, but Safety Not Guaranteed succeeds by and large where many other films would fail: in treating the subject of the piece, Kenneth, with respect. While the reporter and team head out to the seaside resort town with the notion that they're seeking a nutjob, the treatment of Kenneth by Darius is surprisingly sweet and earnest. While he is certainly different and a bit weird, it doesn't take long to wonder if maybe, just maybe he can actually do what he claims.

In treating Kenneth as something other than a joke, Trevorrow and Connolly open up the film to the opportunities that thoughts of fixing the past can present, both in reality and theory. It is a surprisingly introspective comedy that manages to be cute without being cutesy. Plaza gets to show a little range in a role that allows for her to stretch past the droll and disaffected twentysomething she's usually tasked to play. Much of the heart of the film, which it has in spades, comes from the surprising Plaza. While her character on Parks and Recreation has grown since the beginning of the series, Plaza doesn't often get to veer away from being sardonic. Her sincerity in Safety Not Guaranteed is refreshing. Don't get me wrong, Duplass and Johnson are both great, but Plaza is the revelation.

Go see this.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Prick Tunes: Super Furry Animals "The Man Don't Give a Fuck"

For whatever reason, I've not gotten around to putting Super Furry Animals up in these here parts. At one point, I waited with baited breath for every new release. Their concerts were incendiary, blending customized video projection behind with the best Brit psych-pop out there. Their releases after Rings Around the World haven't necessarily grabbed me like their earlier stuff did, but holy hell are those first handful of releases awesome.

Breaking Down: Season Three of Breaking Bad - Part Two

In the last episode we covered, Hank went all John Rambo on the Salamanca twins. The last half of Season Three brings us plenty of more drama. Walt brings aboard Pinkman to replace Gale in the super lab to avoid litigation against Hank. Meanwhile Walt can’t escape the hospital visiting room where his family is waiting on word of Hank’s health, thus casting his web of lies to include Gus, who is not impressed. Gus makes an appearance at the hospital much to Walt’s surprise, and this sets up a meeting at the chicken coop in which Walt reveals that he understands Gus’s brash business tactics, and accepts a continuous supply of cash to continue production of the “blue.” Jesse starts dating a fellow rehabber and haphazardly discovers the killer of his comrade Combo, the gal’s kid brother. This prompts a confrontation between Team Gus and Team Walt. The child drug dealer is then murdered, prompting revenge at the hands--or shall I say hood--of the Pontiac Aztek. As Walt is left with no other option but to protect his life by making himself the only meth chemist Gus has access to, he petitions Jesse to give a knock on Gale’s door. 

As we near the start of Season Five (one month away, hooray!), we will be shortening the span of the episodes we cover. Look for a break down of the first few episodes of Season Four next Friday.

Stan Earnest: The latter half of Season Three starts with bad Jesse. I really despise the role acceptance of Jesse Pinkman as he diverges into evil, celebrating Hank's critical condition, which really speaks to Aaron Paul's acting chops. Never thought I would be saying this at this point, but Paul can stand toe-to-toe with Cranston. Just brilliant acting all around.

Craig Scholes: In all fairness if you were in Jesse's shoes there, wouldn't you get a little bit of schadenfreude joy there too? I mean Hank essentially turned Jesse into the stunt double for Sloth from The Goonies. In contrast of spiteful Jesse, I also love the scene where Jesse clowns around in the lab waiting on Walt to get back from the ER, further proof of Aaron Paul's acting chops.

SE: Breaking Bad just speaks to me in ways other shows don't. My first college roommate was like this smart, prankster version of Jeff Spicoli that listened to either Alice in Chains, Grateful Dead, or gangster rap, nothing else. He introduced me to a lot of good stuff, including my favorite song at the time that I had never heard before: "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" by Ol' Dirty Bastard, the song during the aforementioned Pinkman scene. But why wouldn't Breaking Bad use an ODB song? That guy was the epitome of bad; his FBI profile circulating on the internet is quite exquisite. You've got to feel bad for Gale though, being at the top of your game and getting ousted for Jesse Pinkman, but the ho-hum work of an amicable Walt/Gale relationship doesn't spell drama the same way Jesse and Walt spell it.

CS: Yeah I imagine an entire season of Walt complementing Gale on how amazing his coffee is just wouldn't be the same. How great is it when Walt finds out he can't get one by Gus. Painstakingly going out of his way to create this intricate web of lies to try and throw off Gus, only for Gus to show up at the hospital and blow Walt's mind. I also really love how cool Gus plays it in the hospital, telling Walt he also hides in plain sight, then calmly saying, "Now thank me and shake my hand."

SE: Walt is a chemistry genius, but he can be behind the curve when it comes to judging character. Walt was extremely naïve to think that Gus didn't know about Hank being DEA. It was very shortsighted of Walt to think of himself as some sort of hidden mastermind, that he could tell my-dog-ate-the-homework stories to a slick drug kingpin. If Tuco could track your ass down, Gus probably has his eyes on you, Walt. Even more naïve it was to not realize that Gus's pragmatism also applies to him, that Gus was probably using Walt just for his formula anyhow, and could cleanse his hands of him at anytime.

Speaking of Gus knowing all, are you smelling an insider at the DEA? I feel like I can bring this up, because most viewers had been getting that feeling for awhile at this point. Danny Trejo reappears (no one on this show really ever dies) and we remember he had been tipped off, Hank is constantly being guided away from his Heisenberg search, and the Federales had the cartel leader's home in Mexico surrounded following the Hank/twins bloodbath, yet he met a machine-gun demise.

CS: Uh, do you not remember the cartel member saying his brother is the police chief? Getting back to the drug raid, it's amazing what Gus managed to do in a couple of quick strokes. And then for Walt to kind of figure it out was fairly impressive too.

All through high school, I worked in a chicken restaurant , but man is Los Pollos Hermanos distribution system way more complicated than what my employer did. Of course, it was me and a couple other high school flunkies working in basically what was a mom-and-pop chicken joint. I can't imagine the amount of work and trust it takes to be hiding meth in batter.

SE: Why can't real chicken commercials be that good? All of those fresh chilli peppers, spindles of slow roasted chicken dripping with flavor, and fried chicken wings falling from the sky makes we want to drive to Albuquerque and see if Los Pollos Hermanos really exists. All we get here is KFC commercials with buckets of "special seasoning" (basically MSG powder) laying around and uniformed stereotypes with teeth whitener. I think a Los Pollos Hermanos chain would make some serious money, even sans superlab. Surely someone has the paperwork started on that.

Both Walt and Skyler have eureka moments in regards to the meth operation. Skyler realizes that Walter has to--in some form--be caught up in Hank's shooting, which makes her realize how unsafe her family may be, and the trail of lies starts again for Walt. As Walt comes to and levels with Gus, I really applauded the choice to have Walt speak to Gus in a way that Gus would appreciate that he "respects the strategy," agrees with the move, and would have done the same. With that, both Walt and Gus have underestimated each other, and the chess match begins; oh wait that's Season Four, but the groundwork is definitely laid out in that chicken coop, or should I say coup?

CS: At the place I worked the chicken was salted and peppered, coated in home-made bread crumbs and cornmeal, and battered in just milk, egg, and garlic. Doesn't get any easier than that.

That conversation in the chicken coop kind of causes Walt to have a momentary lapse of craziness though. He maxes the Aztek out at 88 MPH and lets it wander into the opposite lane perilously close to a semi. Someone should tell Walt that the Aztek needs a new belt, because there was a little bit of a squeal when he got off the shoulder and back onto the pavement.

SE:  What did you think of Skyler's gambling monologue? In a microcosmic way, it parallels Gus's later fell swoop to take out the cartel; she needed an explanation for the money, a diatribe to let Walt know she was on board, and a way to show she had skills to be a player in the game. She knew Walt wouldn't go for it, so she just did it. Have you ever given someone an excellent idea and they shun you, but like three weeks later they somehow morph the idea into their own and go with it? Walt is that guy. He doesn't listen to an idea unless he thinks it's his own. "Walt that belt is squeaky, might want to get that looked at." Three weeks later he tells you how he figured it out.

CS:  I have an aunt who I convinced that she used to lock me in a closet, and now that story has morphed into something even crazier. It's absolutely hilarious to me.

Most definitely about Skyler, you can pretty much see how if the shoe was on her foot that she is very capable of Breaking Bad herself. Her character is a phenomenal liar. You know Walt just keeps kicking himself, knowing that you can't bullshit a bullshitter. Then again, an open-ended $15 Million per annum can make even the most moral people amoral.

The conversation where Jesse loses his shit about only making half a million a year as opposed to Gus making his $96 Million is hilarious to me. It would be impossible for me to be in that situation and not have to worry about any of the risk. Gus put up all the money to create this endeavor, and stands to lose the most; I know way too many people that would also fight the man in that situation.

SE: Walt has probably had the conversation too many times with high school students that want to fight the man, so he just figured he would give it the cake-and-ice-cream treatment. Walt could have really flipped out on him there though. Hey, Jesse, you want to know why Gus makes the $96 MM and you make $1.5? It's because your boss is a conniving mastermind willing to do anything to keep his business floating. How much overhead do you think it costs to employ Mike and Co.? Are you going to go head-to-head with the cartels? Do you have a distribution network as smooth and wide as Los Pollos delivery trucks? Do you sponsor the Fun Run for the DEA every year or even attempt to keep your nose clean? And how about the money it takes to clean up all your mistakes? Zip it, bro. Sit on your bag of cash and spin.

Everyone wants to let that inner Walter White out once in a while.

CS:  So how about "Fly?" I know you are dying to talk about this episode. I've probably seen it three or four times total, and I just don't love it like everyone else does. I mean, I get the appeal, and I wouldn't call it a bad episode, but it just doesn't do the same for me as it does everyone else. To me, this episode says, "Hey, our budget is getting out of hand; how can we cut corners a bit?"

SE:  Duder, "Fly" is one of my all-time favorite episodes of any show, ever. All character building episodes tend to have that putting-a-plug-in-the-budget feel to them, but didn't we applaud last season's version "4 Days Out?" My guess to what happened on that episode is that a portion of the script just ended up so damn good that Gilligan and Co. just figured it would work as an entire episode. Anyhow, I wish I was a fly on the wall in that meeting. The episode wasn't that fun for me the first time around; I was really wanting the action to continue to amp up, but I too have seen it several times and now I can't get enough. I literally snickered for 15 solid minutes the last time through, so damn funny.

Aaron Paul is at his best in that one. Talk about stories about aunts, how about that possum story? If I am ever in an Irish band, we will definitely be named the O'Possums. Walt is still showing after effects of going through treatment, marital strife, the attack on Hank, and the whole meth operation thing, so it isn't a surprise to seem him chase a fly to stop "spillage." I cannot imagine the hell fire conversation that would immediately reign down on Walt if Gus had video of that day. You know what is great? The Netflix 30-second rewind button. I must have watched Walt fall on that lab vat five or six times. As far as I can tell, it's all one shot, but I'm guessing that is probably not true, as I don't see who would approve Cranston over a stunt double for that one.

CS: Full disclosure: I am going to be playing with a friend tomorrow, and he wants to start a folk rocky type band. I'm gonna pitch the name the O'Possums. I also once came up with the band name the Republicants, but I think that is taken.

I guess I like the RV episode because it seemed more like genuine tension, not fabricated tension because Walt is beginning to lose his mind. Even though I've seen that episode several times, it still amazes me that Walt doesn't spill the beans about Jane; though I do love the part when Walt is going on about having lived too long, and, "You want them to miss you." I think this is also the first episode where Walt's cough starts to come back.

SE: I like how Walt's monologue provides closure to his thoughts on the plane crash, that there was a "perfect moment" where he could have died and all of it would have been worth it, but now the cosmic rocket--and Walt's ego--has been launched and nothing can stop it from reaching light speed. For that alone, the episode makes sense. We normally have to read Walt's inner thoughts, but this time we get those few raw moments where Walt is blistered from a combo of Gale's coffee (what would you pay to try a cup of that?), no sleep, and a half-dozen sleeping pills, revealing how he has rationalized the tremendous odds that aligned for him to meet with Jane's dad that night. At this point, Walt is really beginning to believe he was meant to become Heisenberg all along. You know, Elvis thought he could move clouds with his mind.

CS: I have actually only taken two sips of coffee in my whole life, so I probably wouldn't give much more than a wooden nickel to try Gale's coffee, though I can't imagine mixing sleeping pills with caffeine is a good idea.

Episode 11 is the first episode where I really start to not like Hank. I've never had serious physical therapy, but I have had minor physical therapy and Hank is being a full-on pussy. Just being the worst combination of whiny bitch and quitter, not to mention taking it out on everyone.

SE: I feel for Hank. All I will say is that I have gone to physical therapy 2-3 times a week for a couple of years with no end in sight and, although the folks that help me are extremely personable and fun to chat with, it's about the last thing you want to do when in pain.

CS: Fair enough I guess. I suppose if I couldn't go play laser tag I would be a pretty grumpy person as well.

SE: How much of a snake move was it for Beneke to show up at the White household after ducking Walter at his office? You know he circled the block like seven times to make sure mean ol' Walter White wasn't around. The funny thing is that Ted has no clue what he is stepping in, and Walter probably would have earned a prison sentence on the face of Teddy Beneke if he had showed up to that awkward situation, which is why the writers probably left it at that, but wouldn't you have liked to see Teddy get chased around the Aztek by a hornet's-nest mad Walt?

CS: Fuck Beneke, what a pansy. The funny thing is though, Beneke doesn't realize that Walt is kind of a pussy. Regardless, it would be entertaining to see the continuation of Walt unable to throw a fake plant through a window.

SE: I want to know how in the hell the writers came up with the plot line that brought Combo's death back to haunt Jesse and forced a confrontation with Gus. Along with that plane crash, the odds that Jesse would start dating the kid killer's sister are pretty stout also; I think the cosmos is dropping hints. And I love that Pinkman falls back into good guy status. That guy is on a roller coaster ride through the bowels of hell.

CS: Yeah, its pretty fucked up to use children, but history has shown that the most effective way to create criminals is to get them started young. It's such a great twist of writing to bring up call backs like that. In reality, the story wouldn't have changed much if that kid killed somebody that wasn't Combo. Jesse probably gets just as angry over it. I'm actually a little surprised that Gus, who runs such a tight ship, would actually allow this because there is no way he isn't aware of it.

SE: That is where we are left to wonder how much Gus knows and whether he ordered the kid's death or not. I would think Gus wouldn't specifically order it, but maybe influenced the men to take care of the issue, in which they saw fit to off the poor kid. Then again, I doubt the thugs make any serious moves without Gus's approval if they are very close, and being as they were in ABQ they are probably pretty tight-knit.

You have told me that Jesse was only supposed to be in the first couple episodes before he was to be killed off, but the friction with Walt worked, so they kept the character running. This was confirmed by an Aaron Paul appearance on Conan in which he also divulges that every season Cranston loves to scare him into thinking new script revisions have offed Pinkman. I've listened to a lot of the podcasts about the show featuring Vince Gilligan. He is pretty laid back and honest about the items he is willing to talk about. Apparently, the writer's literally don't know where they are going sometimes and just piece together ideas and mix and match until the stars align. I think the Combo murder tie-in may have been them retracing steps to push some confrontation to the forefront. I do love that if they find incongruities before the season airs, Gilligan shoots the additive scenes and edits them in previous episodes to further enhance plot cohesion, so I am always left wondering what was originally plotted out and what changed.

I also have read that Tuco was supposed to be a villain for several seasons, but Raymond Cruz had contractual obligations, in which the writer's developed the anti-Tuco, Gustavo Fring. Paul McCartney always said that he believed The Beatles succeeded because they were willing to try new things and experiment with new sounds and technologies, not discarding the off-the-beaten-path stuff. When Vince Gilligan says he doesn't know how this ends, I believe him, but I also know he will work like hell to get it done in a way that is true to his vision, quirks and all, for what it's worth.

CS: I think this type of thing is actually quite common. I know in the TV show Lost, Benjamin Linus was only suppose to be in a couple of episodes, and Mr. Eko was suppose to have a much bigger role, but he hated living in Hawaii. For one, I'm glad the Tuco character didn't last. I much prefer Gus. I prefer my villains to be cold and calculated, not some kind of maniacal wild card.

SE: I know I'm guilty of pointing out all of the genius moves that Breaking Bad has made, but in reality there have been a lot of breaks that led to how the show turned out, that whole contingency of life thing again. I like the contrast from Tuco to Gus. We see that not only are Walt and Jesse ill-equipped to handle a maniacal meth dealer, they can't even stay the course with the most pragmatic of men who has given them the deal of a lifetime and can offer them protection and an unlimited supply of cash. The only conversation we see between Gus and Gale is the plot to rid Walt, but what did he tell Gale when Walt ousted him? Surely Gale was still getting paid to chill out in his humble apartment, soaking in his patchouli stench.

CS: I don't think Gus talked to Gale again until he was rehired. Walt was the one that had to tell Gale his services would no longer be required. I think it would have been awesome if Gale flipped his shit and took his super coffee maker with him.

How big of a wheel barrow did Jesse need to haul his nuts around when he told Gus how it was going to be? It took massive cojones to tell Gus no after he tried to put the kibosh on Jesse's rage.

SE: No doubt it was a Paul Bunyan-sized wheelbarrow, bet you could fit Jupiter and Saturn in that thing. Jesse is at the end of the line there. Life's pissed on him too many times, and he just decides to ride the blue dragon into battle with the rival dealers. I guess he figures someone has to take some sort of an ethical stand eventually. And then probably my favorite single moment in the whole series happens: kamikaze Aztek rampage! The Kamikaze Azteks would be a killer band name, but you would probably get sued by the tribal nation, let alone Pontiac or the Japanese.

CS: Its odd that Jesse is, at times, the moral compass of the show. I had a teacher in high school that told a similar story to Mike's abusive husband story, except my teacher's version of the story dealt with a physically abusive wife, not husband. Man I love the last episode of Season Three, it's probably my favorite episode in the whole series (thus far anyway).

SE: Whoa, no comment on the acrobatic Aztek? I wore the Netflix 30-second button out on that one. I love the comical way in which Walt scrambles outside the vehicle. It's almost like he is Mr. White scrambling through the chemistry lab after a student-created fire in those slacks, and then he grabs the gun and goes all Heisenberg on that ass, steadying and then kapow.

I really liked the whole desolate-field scene with Heisenberg vs. Gus that begins the last episode of Season Three. One of the best lines is dropped by Mike, as Walt needs "assurance." Gravely responding, "I assure you I can kill you from way over here if that makes you feel any better." You're still naïve Walt. Better start learning the game quicker than that. And Walt, get your car fixed.

CS: Oh you know I take glee out of seeing the Aztek take on any sort of damage; however, I'm not a fan of turning the Aztek into a hero by eliminating evil-doers. It would be like being rescued from a burning fire by Denis Leary; it would be really hard for me to still hate the guy.
SE: Yeah, you know I am on board with the Denis Leary hate. I played No Cure For Cancer on an endless loop during a phase when I was 13, but then I discovered Bill Hicks. If you like Bill Hicks, you can’t like Dennis Leary’s stolen routine. Maybe it’s just that Bill Hicks went out in a blaze of glory, and Leary hung around to quit smoking, do a major television show, and make appearances on The View.

CS:  There is the old joke, Why is it that Denis Leary achieved mainstream popularity while Bill Hicks died in relative obscurity? Because there is no cure for cancer.

Denis Leary not only stole Bill Hicks' jokes, but his entire persona.

Man, the last episode is so good. After Walt is educated to how unsafe he really is, we then get a glimpse at why Mike is such a BAMF. So many great quotes in this episode, too. I love Walt reminding Jesse that he saved his life and asking if he is going to return the favor. And then there is my favorite moment of the season and that's when Walt has the phone, he looks Mike right in the eye and says, "You might want to hold off... Because your boss is going to need me," then blurts Gale's address and BOOM! The sheer terror in Mike and Victor's eyes is fantastic.

SE: Did you notice how Mike and Victor are so confused at that moment they draw their guns and back away? I never thought Pinkman had it in him, but it was the only way. Gale is an interesting character, such a cheap way to go, but I like how Walt proves to Gus that he is more like him than Gus realized, willing to take necessary steps. I was one of the many that was confused about the camera angle of the gun in the final "shot" and thought Pinkman may have opted to kidnap Gale.

CS: I never thought for a second that Jesse didn't shoot Gale. I would have liked a little more dialogue between Jesse and Gale though, I really wish there would have been another way.

SE: I got on the internet immediately afterwards and Vince Gilligan was adamant in interviews that Gale was most definitely dead. I can appreciate that kind of candor from a showrunner. A lot of other shows play that did-he-or-didn't-he game, and it just isn't right. Hell, as many murders as Breaking Bad has unveiled, The Killing would have to run about 273 episodes to cover them all, with Season Two wrapping up the whodunnit on Krazy 8.

Conversely, I did happen to like how the Jesse versus Gale scene played out. Jesse would likely be under an immense psychological pressure about what he was about to do that he likely wouldn't be able to say anything, and what would words be to Gale at that point anyway? Although I am surprised Jesse didn't apologize or give him a brief this-is-the-only-way speech. I do like how the writer's had Gale's character not recognize Jesse at first, just thinking it was a robbery, and then the uh-oh moment where he realizes what is happening. I think Jesse's face told the story. Of all the out-of-this-world actors on the show, Aaron Paul out does them all in Season Three. Maybe that is part of why I enjoy the show so much: I loathe bad acting (I can not stomach the first Star Wars for even a minute now), and the show has never had a weakly acted part.

CS:  One of my favorite podcasts is the Hollywood Prospectus podcast on the Grantland network. They particularly love to rip on The Killing and they once said in an episode that if The Killing had Lester Freamon on the case that the show would have been over half way through the first episode.

SE:  I particularly enjoyed Walt's reaction to the possibility of being offed by Mike and Victor. He has already talked about the "perfect time" for him to pass on, where his family will be safe and have money for the future. Well, if he just lets Mike put one in his skull, it is reasonable to believe that his family will have plenty of money and will still remember him in a good light. But people don't always act the way they say will act. Do you know what choice you would make in that situation? No one can really know until it happens. I took an Ethics class last semester and was tickled when a freshmen gal said that she would rather die than have a pig organ put in her body that could save her life. If she was actually put in that situation, I know what side I am betting she would choose. I imagine one realizes all the family members that will miss you, and all the life you might have left to live to learn more about the mysterious world, and the attitude changes real quick. Add children that depend on you to the scenario, and I damn well know the answer to the question. Our minds and bodies are not programmed to give up easily.

CS:  The more people I meet younger than me, the less faith I have in the fate of humanity. As you know, I majored in an Engineering field, but I also have a minor in Communications, and I could not believe how clueless 90% of communication students are to how the world actually works. I know for a fact that I wouldn't even hesitate to have a pig organ installed in me. As for the Walt situations, I'd probably fight to survive, but not sure I'd actually have the stones to order the execution of someone else.

So there we have it for Season Three. If you ask me, it goes on the Rushmore of best seasons ever. It begins with Mexican twin assassins sneaking across the border and ends with the desperate assassination of a Libertarian chemist. The third season of Breaking Bad runs you through the figurative car wash, then Walt decides to buy one. We get to witness Walter White slipping further into the recesses of the seedy underbelly of American society all while dragging down everyone he comes across. Walt continues to cook his world class meth for the sake of his family, yet continues to manage to make his family's life more and more difficult because of his actions and associations. As a viewer, you start to think the show has peaked, that the show can't continue to up the stakes, yet somehow it does.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prick Tunes: Captain Beefheart on Late Night with David Letterman

Here's a clip of Don Van Vliet from an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in 1982. Van Vliet is interviewed, and there is a portion of the "Ice Cream for Crow" video.

And since I can, here is the full video that is shown in part on Late Night.

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Two, Episode Three

As promised, we're back with the regularly scheduled installment of Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey with your hosts Wordy Ginters and Josh "Old Man" Duggan. We hope that the massive undertaking that two installments in one week ends up being makes up for the lack of entries yesterday. If not, oh well. Once again, you can buy the second series on Blu-ray and on DVD. They're the original versions as aired in the U.K. (Series One available here on DVD and Blu-ray.) Why the British versions? Because they're unabridged, unlike what aired in the U.S. 

The episode picks up in July of 1917 with the transition promised at the end of the last episode: Downton is being converted into a convalescent home for recovering soldiers. Cousin Isobel runs roughshod over the staff and Crawley family, drunk with power, stepping on their feet at every turn. Anna goes into town to run errands and thinks she sees a man who resembles Bates but who vanishes into the ether when she runs after where she'd seen him. Edith feels worthless as all around her are making themselves useful. O'Brien bends Cora's ear to get Thomas assigned to manage over Downton from the Army's end. Branson gets a draft notice and states his intent to be a conscientious objector only to have his grand plan negated when it is found that he has a heart murmur. Lord Grantham throws down on Cousin Isobel and Major (Doctor) Clarkson telling them they'll damn well handpick any convalescents they choose to stay at Downton and that his dog, Isis, will have rule of the roost. Ethel's wanton libidinous nature when combined with the invitation of hundreds of men into the estate quickly seems likely to be disastrous. With intelligence culled by Sir Richard Carlisle, Anna finds Bates at work in a pub. Bates tells Anna of his plan to divorce the vile Vera. Lavinia's role in the Marconi scandal comes to light, and Lady Rosamund coarsely urges Lady Mary to use this information to drive Lavinia from Matthew's arms. Upon learning of a British General visiting, Branson sets his sights on him as a means by which he can exact an act of protest against the British government's savage quelling of the Irish rebellion, only to have his attempt at public embarrassment thwarted by Anna and the steadfast Mr. Carson. General Strutt commends Lady Edith on her care for the wounded soldiers. Lord Grantham asks Matthew to take the newly-somewhat-engaged-to-Daisy William (Patmore essentially accepts his proposal for her) as his soldier servant in the field. Lang, bat-shat with shellshock, leaves his post as valet.

Messrs. Hasselbaink and Viduka
Wordy Ginters: Despite the initial disdain, Grantham and his crew adapt pretty well to having the place overrun by the wounded. Kudos. I liked seeing his Lordship draw the line at sharing dining quarters with the wounded officers. Gives his character a shade of darkness that is much needed. He's almost too nice, too decent, sometimes. Napier convalescing in Middlesbrough? My favorite Euro football team! Up the Boro! I was deep in Downton Abbey, but hearing Middlesbrough name-checked made me yearn for the halcyon days of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Mark Viduka knocking in goals like water flowing from a goal faucet. Who can forget the improbable run to Eindhoven back in 2006? Southgate anchoring the back. Boateng like a tremendous machine in the middle. A young Stewey Downing. Ah well. Maybe they make it out of the Champo meat grinder and get back up in the Prem next year.

Josh "Old Man" Duggan: Honestly, I have very little idea what's going on in the latter half of that paragraph. I got that you're talking about soccer, but it's basically like that episode of The I.T. Crowd where Moss and Roy use that website that helps someone fake passable fans and make nice with those soccer sorry, football fans, and Roy ends up unwittingly driving getaway as they execute an armed robbery. Back to Downton Abbey, or rather the words that I understood, Lord Grantham and fam are nothing if not adaptable. Well, aside from the Dowager Countess, who is afraid of all change in any form. If I knew how to properly conjugate brava/bravo into a plural form, I'd do it right fucking now. That said, I do not want to look at stumps of arms while trying to force down Mrs. Patmore's very British concoctions, so I understand why the line was drawn there.

WG: Cal Macaninch, you are a stud. Lang made me break into a sweat every time the camera cruelly put him in the frame. A fine line to walk playing a war-sick veteran without going over the top. He held a believable and freakish tension throughout the episode. We've said it before many times, but this show has solid fucking fundamentals.

OMD: Downton Abbey is basically the bizarro Royals. The foundation is there for excellence, the people in control know what they're doing at every turn, and the product put out there for the masses is beyond reproach. Cal Macaninch, you magnificent bastard, you owned this episode. I felt like I'd been shell-shocked.

WG: Did you catch the Altman-esque long take tracking shot around the 17 minute mark? Fancy footwork. As Downton Abbey prepares to receive the wounded for the first time, cinematographer Gavin Struthers hangs dong with a nice long take that flows out of the Downton like a gentle breeze, outside to greet the soldiers, and then looping around and coming back inside. Nice.

OMD: Gavin be nimble, Gavin be quick, Gavin opened his pants and unfurled his floor-touching dick. Tracking back, moving aside, following the family Crawley, looping 'round the army freight ambo, coming back in to weave betwixt columns. The action was beautifully choreographed--no small feat--and the shot was marvelous. It was made me long for the early days of The West Wing and its weekly heaping servings of walk-and-talk tracking shots through the recesses of the White House.

WG: I also liked the cut between Thomas "marching" up the drive, through the front door I might add, to his new position inside Downton and the black dragon garden thing. Not so subtle, but fucking appropriate. Why is Cora so bent on paving the way for Thomas? Did I miss some Jedi mind shit that O'Brien is pulling? I don't get Cora treating Thomas like he's her long lost son.

OMD: I've long wondered why Cora has such a blind spot in regards to Mrs. O'Brien. My guess is that Cora can't distinguish good from evil when it presents itself in an Englishman/Englishwoman. This is the only way to explain how Cora could be so dim as to not see how odious, as Lady Sybil once put it, woman. I'll give O'Brien this: she can manipulate Cora like it's second nature.

WG: Maybe it is just me, but damned if Branson doesn't look hot with his blouse open. Angry socialists are my favorite kind.

Dougie, cut from the same cloth as Branson
OMD: Oh, most definitely. While Branson was getting his chest checked out, I was getting palpitations. With his shirt open like so, I was taken with classic matinee images of swashbuckling buccaneers, sword in mouth, swinging from the mast of one clipper to the next, battling other lawless sailors whilst working up a healthy lather. It wouldn't shock me to see Branson become a contemporary of Douglas Fairbanks a couple years down the line. I bet Ol' Dougie would love the cut of Branson's jib.

WG: The dog's name is Isis? You're goddamn right it is. Apparently she is to have free run. They've got a ping pong table set up in the fucking study. What difference does it make if the dog is running wild? You can only shit on decorum so much before it becomes redundant. How appropriate that Sybil rocked the Isis femdom wear to close out Series One?

OMD: Lord Grantham will not have Isis locked away, Isobel be damned. Look, Isis's ass is pretty much the first thing we see in every episode of Downton. There's no goddamn way Isis can't do whatever Isis wants.

WG: Do you have any deep background on the war profiteering that is at the heart of the wedge the ghoulish dowager and daughter attempt to place between Lavinia and Matthew? I'd say Mary is well on her way to redemption, atoning for her deadly anal skills, which are horrible and beautiful at the same time. Like a Michael McDonald song.

OMD: First off, I don't know that we should stigmatize Mary's deadly anal skills by qualifying them as something for which she needs to atone. She may take your life at the moment that F2FA presents itself, and a Turkish dreamboat did bite it, but with F2FA dems da breaks.

So the Marconi scandal that Lavinia played a part in actually predated the war. It happened in 1912. Apparently the scandal revolved around a bunch of government ministers getting rich off of insider trading as a lucrative government contract was about to be awarded to the Marconi Company, who were to put in the Imperial Wireless Chain, a wireless telegraphy communications network with the goal to connect the entire British Empire. G.K. Chesterton was an editor at his brother's publication which played a central role in the breaking of the story. Mary's refusal to kowtow to Lady Rosamund's classless prodding shows increasingly strong character, which coincidentally is also not unlike a Michael McDonald song.

WG: Bates! Although I'm firmly on the side of wanting to be frustrated in this relationship, it is good to see Bates back and with his "A" game. He noticed Anna's hair. He rocked her with a little blue collar extempo poetry: "I so longed for a glimpse of you." Something tells me that things won't shake out as planned. He's usually more wary, more realistic. His little exit plan from his shrieking harpy strumpet of a wife has to be too good to be true. And I believe we've documented that Fellowes mission in life is to pump a river of shit on top of, around, and through Bates' character. He endures. With style. Who says you can't learn anything from watching TV?

OMD: There should be a fifteen hour self-help series that all children are required to watch in school in which lessons are learnt from The Book of Bates. Seriously, the episode-and-a-half that passed with Bates speaking nary a word seemed an eternity. The withdrawal I went through was akin to when I kicked my addiction to laudanum right alongside Alma Garret in the frontier town of Deadwood. And I don't know that Bates wasn't wary. He hid in another town, working in a pub that Anna would be highly unlikely to stumble across, and when Anna offers herself up as a candidate to be his mistress, he declines because he holds her character too dear. Granted, she'd be doing nothing wrong in our eyes, as Vera Bates is a nefarious country singer of the countriest kind and we'd all like that heinous woman put down like the rabid bitch she is, but John Bates will have none of that. Class incarnate.

WG: The look Carson gave Thomas when Thomas was getting all uppity with his military airs upon the arrival of General Strutt was COLD. Carson is Bates-light, or Bates with slightly goofed up allegiances and priorities. I thought maybe Branson would whup his elderly arse, but Carson hauls him downstairs like he's not but a naughty teen. I always thought Benny Hill was making a funny when he did those inverted elbow military salutes, but evidently that is how you rock the salutes in the British Isles.

OMD: Yes, it's a fairly dandy salute. Effete to the Nth degree. Benny Hill, not unlike Splinter in the first TMNT flick, was definitely making a funny. As for Carson, you saw him handling that wood last weekend. I am sure Carson is deceptively strong. His suit just hides his massive biceps and rippling delts. He is definitely a man of honor, one who does his damnedest to do right by others as long as it isn't to the detriment of the house he runs. The perfect butler/supplemental father figure for the daughters Crawley, particularly Mary.

WG: Thoughts on Daisy? Here are mine: she sucks. The way she was absent mindedly holding a carrot as Patmore nursed her thru the humane logic of committing to a wedding was no mistake. William deserves better. Big hearted dolt. I'm guessing he doesn't get rubbed out, but loses his genatalia via a gruesome barbed wire incident, and later goes on to be the real life inspiration for Jake Barnes in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.

Daisy's next move
OMD: While I'll refrain from giving anything away, good or bad, in regards to William's future, I'll certainly weigh in on Daisy. There is no way in hell that simple twit should ever advance past the occupation of kitchen maid. What a complete and total dipshit. With as dumb as Daisy is, I half-expected her to cross her eyes, ball up her hands, and use them as paws between which she'd clumsily pinch the carrot and start gnawing away as if she'd turned straightaway into a rabbit. William definitely deserves better. Maybe Lady Edith if only for the promise of a fortune in the future. She's certainly got no better prospects than William. It's weird to picture William as Jake Barnes, the sexually crippled hero of one of my favorite books ever.

OMD: The Dowager Countess's reluctance to allow for officers and regular soldiers to mix is ridiculous. They can't relax if forced to mix it up? I'd hate to hear her racial views. Miscegenation would most decidedly be a crime punishable by being left in a room with the vapors from electricity.

The Irish War for Independence hasn't been talked about much until now. The Easter Rising was more than a year in the past. Man, a lot of crazy shit is going down outside of The Great War. The Irish War of Independence is about to kick into full gear. Nicolas II and his family just got overthrown in Russia. The times they are a-changin'. That said, Branson's wide-eyed optimism about what the proles will do now that they've got hold in Russia is precious. Branson, cute, naive Branson...

WG: If it weren't for all of the "workers" who got mowed down in WWI, Gene Debs would have his mug on Mt Rushmore.

OMD: I mentioned this in the recap, but having all of these officers around the horniest two women in recorded history? You've got to be fucking kidding me. Given that it's under the roof of her own home and that she's been trained in the rules of decorum, we likely have to worry less about Lady Edith, but putting hundreds of convalescing soldiers within fucking distance of Ethel is asking to have an endless string of venereal disease run wild through the men they are trying so desperately to help. Christ, they're pretty much asking for tens of thousands of soldiers to go insane from syphilis. They'll call her Syphilis Ethel. I shudder to think what will come of those poor, poor soldiers.

WG: "Fucking distance" for Ethel is a wide berth. Draw a line from Middlesbrough to the constellation Cassiopeia and back over to Vladivostok on the Russo/Chinese border, and you've marked the heart of it. I almost forgot another seedy grease stained line: "I'm the best tucker." You know, it goes right up to the edge, that line. But yeah, I liked it. And why not, who wouldn't want a good vigorous tucking from Ethel? And Edith, she has the smell of closet kink about her. Some women like broad shoulders, firm buttocks, humor, kindness, smokey eyes, and the like. Edith has a weakness for gnarled teeth. Tractors. And stumps. But fuck all that, she's a champ when it comes to healing the minds and spirits of the soldiers, which also brings her back towards atonement of her past sins. Redemption is the word in Downton Abbey for the Grantham girls.

OMD: Jesus, I didn't even catch that "best tucker" line. That's fucking off, man. I thought she was just a hornball but finding out that she's the self-proclaimed best tucker and takes pride in that fact is repugnant. I'm dismayed. Have a bit of class woman. Lewd. Just lewd.

By the way, fuck Lady Rosamund.

WG: A toast. Let's drink to that.
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