Friday, November 21, 2003

Letter from Bogota

Well, first of all, sorry I haven’t written anything in so long. I’m certainly not busy, so I must be very, very lazy. Here’s the latest:

Matt got his leave approved and we’ll be in the U.S. for two weeks over Christmas. We’ll be flying into Atlanta on December 20th, where we’ll borrow a car from his parents and drive to Washington. We’ll be in DC from the 21st until the morning of the 24th. We’ll drive down to North Carolina and spend our first Christmas somewhere quiet, probably Chapel Hill. On the 26th, we drive to the Johnson cabin in Franklin, N.C. It’s in a dry county (the South really has those), but there’s some wicked mini golf to be played. On December 31, we’re driving back to Atlanta for the Widespread Panic show (anyone got headphones I can borrow?). We’ll be in Atlanta until January 4th. I’m not really sure yet where we’re staying for most of the trip, but we’ll let y’all know as things get firmed up.

I’m starting to figure out the basics of living in Bogota: 1. If anyone asks, say you’re Canadian - they’re not as rich a source of ransom money 2. Never buy food from a street vendor, unless salmonella is your favorite hobby 3. Look both ways before crossing the street, even if its one-way, then run like hell.

I’ve never seen anything like the roads in Bogota. Imagine the battle scene from The Two Towers, the mall the day after Thanksgiving, AND Grand Theft Auto. Violence, chaos, and utter disregard for the rule of law? Fun! Not only do pedestrians NOT have the right of way, the government puts a star on the street wherever somebody got hit. The stars exist to warn pedestrians, not drivers. Awesome. Weirdly enough, I’ve only seen one car accident, and it was a minor fender-bender.

If you want high adventure for less than a dollar, take a cab ride. Bogota cabbies are notorious for breaking the laws of traffic, common decency, and physics. Stop signs are a suggestion, speed limits are nonexistent, and street vendors are target practice. Riding in a taxi is made even more fun by the fact that taxis are late-model Hyundais that don’t have seat belts. Sometimes there’s a belt, and sometimes there’s a buckle, but never both.

My Spanish is improving by leaps and bounds. I can now speak in complete sentences, thanks largely to my tutor, Diana. I meet with her three times a week, which can get stressful. When you’re in a class with 20 other people, you can hide. When you have a private tutor, information just keeps getting shoveled in until you explode.

I still make the occasional amusing mistake, mainly because some words sound very similar. Example: ham is jamon, and soap is jabon. I went to the store the other day and tried to buy ham to wash myself, but at least I didn’t eat a soap and cheese sandwich.

Last Saturday, Matt and I went to a Casino Night party hosted by the British Ambassador. The week before was spent shopping for a cocktail dress. Shopping in Bogota is interesting, if only because the shop clerks are even more aggressive than the cab drivers. One woman literally tried to block me from exiting the store, and then chased me with a halter-neck lace dress more appropriate for Britney Spears than an old married lady like me. The language issue reared its ugly little head: I don’t speak Spanish, and Matt doesn’t speak Women’s Clothing. We finally found a nice Italian boutique where they customized a little black dress for me.

Overall, fashion is more European than American in flavor. American brands like Tommy Hilfiger (known here as “Preppy”) and Esprit are expensive, but Moschino sweaters sell for only $30. Oh, and all the women wear low-rider jeans with significant butt cleavage. I’ve never felt like such a conservative dresser before.

Speaking of butts and cleavage, we hosted a Casino Night pre-party for Matt’s friends. We gained instant Kennedy class by serving cocktail weenies and Maker’s Mark. Then a fairly hefty swarm of us crossed the street and went to the party. I won about 40,000 pesos at the slots (about $13, served as a supremely heavy bucket of change), while Matt lost the same amount at the blackjack tables. By the way, Colombia is perhaps the only country in the world where you can tell your wife, “I lost 40,000 gambling,” and NOT spend the night on the couch. Viva exchange rates! Matt and I were also spotted on the local news. We’re famous!

However, we had to leave the party early because of the explosion at the Bogota Beer Company. We weren’t sure if Matt would have to go in to work, so we went home and drank coffee until we were relatively sober. (We also checked out “Hot Ticket”, the MGM Saturday night soft-core film. Last week was lesbian housewives finding themselves with each other, or some such Oprah nonsense. It wasn’t as great as the guy who turned into a monkey and then bumped uglies with a princess, so we didn’t bother with it for long. Besides, Saturday soft-core isn’t as interesting as it used to be, because they show full frontal nudity and tantric sex at two in the afternoon on the Film Zone channel. Wow, I'd never realized how prudish Americans really are.)

As for the Bogota Beer Company, one person was killed in the explosion (a young Colombian woman), and 72 were injured. The only American to be seriously hurt was an American Airlines pilot. Basically, a FARC operative was told to hit some gringos, so he lobbed a grenade into the most popular expat bar in Bogota. The grenade hit a propane heater and the whole place went up in flames.

We never went there anyway - it’s just not wise to be with large groups of foreigners. Overall, our lives haven’t changed much. We’ve been told to not go out with large groups of Americans, not to eat on patios, and to avoid expat bars. All of those things should be pretty easy for me, as I don’t have enough friends to constitute a “large group”, I don’t like to eat on patios because it’s cold out, and most of the expat bars are kind of cheesy.

Anyways, that’s it for now. Wubba wubba, good-bye, God bless (10 points if you know who I’m quoting). See you at Christmas!

On a random note, if you look at the top of my site, Blogger lists these searches as "related information": "7th Heaven" and "How to Make a Bong." Awesome.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Good morning from Colombia! Now that I’ve settled in a little bit, I thought I would let everyone know what I’ve been up to.

My last full day in the States was spent glaring at the movers, whose supervisors are going to get a piece of my mind as soon as I figure out how to make international calls from here. They showed up two hours late, left a crack in my window, argued all day long, and referred to my belongings as the S-word (and I don’t mean “stuff”). They also refused to properly pack my Aboriginal bongs. Bastards.

Once they left, Mike and I were presented with the challenge of cleaning the apartment before “The O.C.” came on. The solution was a game of “how many surfaces can be cleaned with a mop?” Windowsills: moppable. Bathtubs: not moppable. Ceilings: Moppable. Shannon: Not moppable. Mike: Eminently moppable.

The journey from D.C. to Bogota isn’t much longer than the one to L.A., unless you count my 3-hour delay changing planes in Atlanta. The pilot had to take his dad to the hospital, which meant Delta had to round up a new flight crew. All was not lost, as I got to spend some quality time in the E Concourse at Hartsfield, which looks like 1983's Vision of the Future. I can just see some architect in leg warmers saying, “In 2003, people will ride jet packs and live on the Moon!”

I finally arrived in Bogota, and the altitude is just plain extreme. I’m about 9000 feet up, which is almost as high as that time in college I took Dexedrine with a vodka chaser and watched TV static for an hour. I sleep between 10 and 16 hours a day, and usually wake up gasping in the middle of the night. I’ll adjust in a week or two. The buses here run on coal, so the pollution can get pretty strong as well. Maybe I’ll pop in to Los Angeles for some fresh air.

Although pollution can get bad, the climate here is quite nice. It rains a little most days, but the high temperature is usually between 60 and 70 degrees. It’s sort of permanently October here. No heat, no snow, no summer and no winter.

The apartment, like Colombia itself, is lovely and scary all at once. State pays for us to live well, so we have 3 bedrooms, 4 baths, a big kitchen, lovely views and marble everything. The only sore spot is the State-issued furniture, which is overstuffed, hunter green and in a terrible tapestry pattern. It looks like Ethan Allen threw up in here. What’s even funnier is that every Foreign Service family gets the same stuff, so this furniture will follow me to multiple continents. There’s no escape.

Our view is terrific. I can see most of the neighborhood and a lot of the mountains. I can even see into the British Ambassador’s compound, and sometimes I watch him play tennis. He’s pretty bad at it. He also has a guard with an AK-47, who carries an adorable red umbrella when it rains.

I’ve gotten a bit of a chance to see the neighborhood between naps, and so far I like it. We live in North Bogota, which is relatively swank and has a lot of shops and restaurants. It reminds me of Georgetown. Except in Georgetown, you probably wouldn’t see as many burro carts as you do here. It’s a bit of a surprise to see a Mercedes drive past, followed by a Fiat, followed by a horse.

The restaurants here are lovely and cheap. On Sunday night, Matt and I went to an Italian place near the apartment. I had gnocchi with a creme brie sauce, he had veal. We also had cocktails, wine, coffee and dessert (mango mousse, yum) for about $30. They also have a chain of coffee places called Oma, which is like a Xando. Fortunately, I speak enough Spanish to order food. But if the waiter asks me a question afterwards, I get flustered and have to elbow Matt to get his help.

My Spanish is coming along nicely. I can say a few pleasantries, introduce myself, and purchase eyebrow tweezers. On Saturday I had my first unsupervised conversation with a taxi driver:

Driver: “It’s hot out.”
Me: “Yes, it’s very hot out.”

Wow! I also spoke my first complete sentence to the maid this morning. “Elsa, if you would like some coffee, it’s in the kitchen.” Most people here realize that I don’t speak Spanish, and communicate with me using hand signals. I have a much clearer idea of how Coco the Gorilla must have felt. The porteros (doormen) wave hello when I come in, and point to the door to ask if I want to be let out of the building. I’ll start Spanish lessons next week, but in the meantime I’m learning the language the old-fashioned way. Television.

For more fun than a body has a right to, I recommend Colombian television. They show the most random movies, like "Breakin' 2:Electric Boogaloo" in Spanish, along with the entire Emilio Estevez ouevre. And the MGM affiliate shows soft-core porn on Saturday nights, called "Hot Ticket." This week's Hot Ticket movie was about a monkey who could write in Arabic. He was dressed in finery and brought to the a rich man in the village. The monkey turned into a man, and the rich man's daughter spontaneously combusted. Then the man played hide-and-go-seek, then went on a sea voyage. The ship sank, so he landed on an island and shot down an empty suit of armor with a bow and arrow. Then he found a teenage boy living underground and they took a bath together (I changed the channel, because eeeeew). Then he led a battle in the desert and a princess took off his clothes. It was in Arabic (I think) with Spanish subtitles. I have no idea what the movie was really about, but it was cool.

Fortunately, I’m able to get most of my shows here: The O.C., Everwood, Angel, and even Mutant X. So far there’s been no sign of 7th Heaven, which is a testament to the grace and class of the Colombian people.

When I’m not watching TV or sleeping, I’m attempting to leave the apartment. I went to a Halloween party on Friday night dressed as Hugh Hefner (paisley robe, pajamas, and cigar). We were supposed to go to the Marine Ball on Saturday, but we cancelled because I slept until 6 pm that day. Oops. This week we’ll probably go out for my birthday (I turn 27 tomorrow), but that’s about it.

Speaking of about it, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll try to post at least once a week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Before we get to 7th Heaven, I'd like to make a few announcements. The move proceeds apace, and I've even gotten rid of some of the furniture. I've also found a lot of bizarre things, like a bunch of twin-size sheet sets (I haven't slept on a twin bed in 6 years). The next step is a yellow fever vaccination, which should be a riot of upturned intestines.

Speaking of upturned intestines, my going away festivities are set for 8 p.m. this Saturday, October 25th at Gordon Biersch. It's near the Chinatown Metro stop at 9th and G NW. Come one and all for big beers and my last chance to hang in a bar where they check your ID rather than your orifices. (Not really, but you do get patted down before you enter a club in Bogota). I'd love to see all of you one last time before I go. Email if you have questions.

Also, as next week's 7th Heaven is a repeat, this will be my last recap for a while. Want to keep the site alive? I'm taking volunteers to record the show and mail it to me in Bogota. Volunteers may submit three words or phrases of their choice for me to include in a recap. Aluminum siding? Weapons of Ass Destruction? You're not the usual cabana boy? Whatever, it's in. Email me for details.

Here's some other crap shows I watch, and would love episodes of to recap:

Mutant X, "Pretty People Pretend to Have Plots"
One Tree Hill, "Pretty People Who Love Basketball and Hate Their Daddies"
The O.C., "Pretty People Talk About How Hard It Is to Be Rich, Young and White"
Tarzan, "Travis Fimmel/Tarzan Removes Clothing, and Jane Is Cross-Eyed and Dumb"

Finally, back to the upturned intestines. Here's this week's 7th Heaven rundown.

"Charity Begins At Home", Airdate October 20, 2003

On the plus side? No narration over still photos. On the minus side? Everything else.

Last night's episode began with the Reverend invoking September 11th (AGAIN) as an opportunity for his congregation to employ themselves in self-serving, parade boat, look-at-me activism. Everyone's supposed to figure out a project that will help others.

Ruthie decides that her "project" is to befriend a new girl at school, Jill, who is Musleeem (seriously, everyone on this show pronounces it Musleeem). We're treated to 7th Heaven's 8th PSA about how we shouldn't pick on Muslims. We're also treated to the idea that it's OK to treat human beings as pet projects.

Kevin decides to start a neighborhood watch, yawn, and Lucy decides to rejoin Habitat for Humanity. They bicker, they make out, and they make me realize that kissing is perhaps the most revolting noise on Earth. Smack, slobber, squish. Eeeew.

Neck of Steel Cecilia gets bangs, which makes her squishy face look even more ridiculous. She decides to more or less raise the Poddlers while Annie's off taking care of Alzheimer Grandpa. Cecilia and Annie get in a phone smackdown, they apologize, and Annie calls Cecilia the Answer to Her Prayers. Dear God: I'd like a blond around the house that makes me look halfway attractive and fashion-conscious. Prayer granted!

Chandler and Woefully Miscast Rachel Blanchard both volunteer for the same youth organization, and help troubled teens by making out, breaking up, and basically wearing signs around their necks that say, "Don't Turn Out Like Me". The people on this show are the most selfish activists I've ever seen.

Finally, the Reverend decides that his project will be to tell Contrivance Carlos, Mary's husband, to fly all the way from New York to come to dinner. When Carlos arrives, he gets a big fat speech about how he's part of the family now. Geez, how incredibly manipulative to shame your son-in-law into a last minute, cross-country trip. Yuck. Selflessness? Selfishness? To the Reverend, if they sound the same, they ARE the same.

Oh, and at 8:53, Wynonna sings, the Poddlers pray in unison, and I look to my yellow fever shot as sweet, sweet relief.

Intentional humor: 0 Unintentional humor: 4 Preachiness: 10 Histrionics: 7 Items thrown at television: 2 Emotional Trauma: 5
Before we get to 7th Heaven, I'd like to make a few announcements. The move proceeds apace, and I've even gotten rid of some of the furniture. I've also found a lot of bizarre things, like a bunch of twin-size sheet sets (I haven't slept on a twin bed in 6 years). The next step is a yellow fever vaccination, which should be a riot of upturned intestines.

Speaking of upturned intestines, my going away festivities are set for 8 p.m. this Saturday, October 25th at Gordon Biersch. It's near the Chinatown Metro stop at 9th and G NW. Come one and all for big beers and my last chance to hang in a bar where they check your ID rather than your orifices. (Not really, but you do get patted down before you enter a club in Bogota). I'd love to see all of you one last time before I go. Email if you have questions.

Also, as next week's 7th Heaven is a repeat, this will be my last recap for a while. Want to keep the site alive? I'm taking volunteers to record the show and mail it to me in Bogota. Volunteers may submit three words or phrases of their choice for me to include in a recap. Aluminum siding? Weapons of Ass Destruction? You're not the usual cabana boy? Whatever, it's in. Email me for details.

Here's some other crap shows I watch, and would love episodes of to recap:

Mutant X, "Pretty People Pretend to Have Plots"
One Tree Hill, "Pretty People Who Love Basketball and Hate Their Daddies"
The O.C., "Pretty People Talk About How Hard It Is to Be Rich, Young and White"
Tarzan, "Travis Fimmel/Tarzan Removes Clothing, and Jane Is Cross-Eyed and Dumb"

Finally, back to the upturned intestines. Here's this week's 7th Heaven rundown.

"Charity Begins At Home", Airdate October 20, 2003

On the plus side? No narration over still photos. On the minus side? Everything else.

Last night's episode began with the Reverend invoking September 11th (AGAIN) as an opportunity for his congregation to employ themselves in self-serving, parade boat, look-at-me activism. Everyone's supposed to figure out a project that will help others.

Ruthie decides that her "project" is to befriend a new girl at school, Jill, who is Musleeem (seriously, everyone on this show pronounces it Musleeem). We're treated to 7th Heaven's 8th PSA about how we shouldn't pick on Muslims. We're also treated to the idea that it's OK to treat human beings as pet projects.

Kevin decides to start a neighborhood watch, yawn, and Lucy decides to rejoin Habitat for Humanity. They bicker, they make out, and they make me realize that kissing is perhaps the most revolting noise on Earth. Smack, slobber, squish. Eeeew.

Neck of Steel Cecilia gets bangs, which makes her squishy face look even more ridiculous. She decides to more or less raise the Poddlers while Annie's off taking care of Alzheimer Grandpa. Cecilia and Annie get in a phone smackdown, they apologize, and Annie calls Cecilia the Answer to Her Prayers. Dear God: I'd like a blond around the house that makes me look halfway attractive and fashion-conscious. Prayer granted!

Chandler and Woefully Miscast Rachel Blanchard both volunteer for the same youth organization, and help troubled teens by making out, breaking up, and basically wearing signs around their necks that say, "Don't Turn Out Like Me". The people on this show are the most selfish activists I've ever seen.

Finally, the Reverend decides that his project will be to tell Contrivance Carlos, Mary's husband, to fly all the way from New York to come to dinner. When Carlos arrives, he gets a big fat speech about how he's part of the family now. Geez, how incredibly manipulative to shame your son-in-law into a last minute, cross-country trip. Yuck. Selflessness? Selfishness? To the Reverend, if they sound the same, they ARE the same.

Oh, and at 8:53, Wynonna sings, the Poddlers pray in unison, and I look to my yellow fever shot as sweet, sweet relief.

Intentional humor: 0 Unintentional humor: 4 Preachiness: 10 Histrionics: 7 Items thrown at television: 2 Emotional Trauma: 5

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

As most of you know, I’m leaving for Bogota on the 30th, which has turned my life into a swarm of errands. Today I applied for a Colombian visa. Rather, because I’m cool, I went to a special diplomatic room where I signed for my diplomatic passport (“Dip Pass”, to those in the know. It sounds, to me, more like a drunken party game than an official document). A Dip Pass is black, and the information page has this weird glittery stuff that makes me look like an Ecstasy-ridden club kid. I pick it up again in 10 days with my visa, which the good folks at the State Department will arrange for me.

I’m still trying to get rid of the furniture, so please let me know if you want anything. I’m also putting up an ad on Craigslist.

“Simon’s Home Video”, Airdate 10.13.03

7th Heaven answers affirmatively to many of life’s little questions. Is it appropriate for a 13-year-old to be in a long-term, steady relationship? Apparently, yes. Is it OK to listen in on private conversations? Yes. Is it appropriate to live in your parents’ garage after you’re married? Yes! Can a minister’s family afford to drink Snapple almost exclusively? Yes.

But now, 7th Heaven has answered a question that’s been chewing at me for years: Is there anything on Earth more boring than a clip episode? YES! And the pioneers at 7th Heaven have found it. I spent one hour of my life looking at still photos of Camdens, while Simon narrated. “This is Mary. This is Lucy. This is Lucy’s husband Kevin.” Really. Since none of the Camdens seem to be on the show any more, maybe the viewers need to be reminded who they are. Occasionally, they’d spin the photos around in a barf-worthy “special as in short bus” special effect. But, mostly, it was narration in bold defiance of the key rule of screenwriting: show, don’t tell. They spent an hour of my life TELLING! Aaargh.

I’d like to think this was some sort of bold experiment, where Aaron Spelling’s team of creative geniuses drank a whole bunch of Jolt Cola one fateful night and rhapsodized about “documentary-style filmmaking.” However, once I typed the phrase “Spelling’s team of creative geniuses”, I realized that, most likely, David Gallagher was being punished for quitting the show by receiving the lamest send-off ever. Or, even more likely, everyone wanted to take the week off, and a clip episode would at least require the editors to show up for work. Most likely of all, this episode was an elaborate prank in which an intern was told to write the episode that would be his “big break.”

Since nothing really happened in this episode, I’ll recap my reactions: Uncomfortable giggling, followed by nervous pacing around the apartment. Mute horror. Mild nausea. And, finally, sweet relief: crushing boredom and mild coma, chased with Yuengling. I don’t think a family values show could drive me to drink, but there you are.

Worst. Episode. Ever. All assessments: 0.

Why, God, why?

Why did they create something even worse than a clip show?

To punish David Gallagher for quitting the show

They've been smoking Tertiary Corpse's ganja

They wanted a week off for Botox injections and Sno-Cones

Some misguided idealist thought it was a good idea

This time, the entire cast and crew posed half-naked in Gear

They hate me. They really, really hate me

Current Results

Thursday, October 09, 2003

The Great Shannon's Stuff Giveaway

Please forward to your friends and whomever may want free stuff.

You know how, normally, people get married and get gifts? Well, since I'm not normal, I got married and I'm giving things away. The following items are free to whomever will come to Southwest and haul them away with no hassle to me:

Full size mattress and box spring
Computer desk
6' tall white laminate bookshelf
Wooden TV stand with built-in magazine rack
Large purple dresser
Clothing, sizes 2-4, and shoes sizes 5 1/2 to 6
Knicknacks, wall art and kitchen/home things

Everything must be picked up by Saturday, October 25 at 2 pm (I leave on the 30th). Anything that isn't claimed goes to Goodwill or the dumpster. I cannot be responsible for moving items or arranging for transportation. Most items are too heavy for me to lift, and I do not have access to a car. If you can show up at a designated time with a truck or van and take it away, it's yours. To claim furniture or get more information, email me at First come first served, and please think about whether it's something you really want. Again, my time is very compressed and I can't deal with "Do I really need it? Can you hold it for me until I decide? Can I think about it for a while and change my mind?" Sorry, not trying to be rude, but I am extremely busy these next few weeks and need to get rid of things quickly and conveniently.

If you're interested in clothing or home items, please let me know and I'll schedule a time when people can come over as a group and pick through my things.

Thanks everyone!


Tuesday, October 07, 2003

First, I apologize for not sending out a 7th Heaven update last week. I was frantically busy with both settling my medical clearance and helping Roxanne get ready for her wedding.

“I Wasn’t Expecting That!” Airdate October 6, 2003

I wasn’t expecting this show to be quite so awful. The last few episodes of mere mediocrity had lulled me into sleep.

We now have a new character, named Martin, who brings the Credits Grand Total to 15. Assuming an episode is 43 minutes long, that’s 2.86-bar-repeating minutes per character. No wonder this show makes no sense. There’s no time to establish anything for these characters.

Martin is a high school student who follows Ruthie and Teeth-to-Spare home from school and spends the day lounging in the Camden living room, watching people come and go. He’s already perfected the Camden stalking talent. At 8:53, we discover his dad is in Iraq, and that we Americans have been neglecting our servicemen. We get to hear Martin pontificate about it, as the Reverend babbles about how he’s going to pray for the troops. So, rather than telling Americans to open a newspaper, get off their lazy asses, and have a faint clue what’s happening in the world, the Camdens allow us to nod sympathetically and perhaps pray once in a while. If we feel up to it.

Ruthie and Teeth-to-Spare construct a coal mine out of licorice and bicker. Ruthie at one point actually says to Teeth-to-Spare, “I know I’m being a negative pill. I love your positive attitude.” What the hell kind of tween says that sort of thing? Pill? Did we take a wrong turn and wind up in a Trixie Belden mystery novel? Are the Bob-Whites of the Glen going to solve the mystery of whether Ruthie is adopted? (10 points to whoever gets the reference.) Ruthie also finally asks Peter why he calls her “honey” and “sweetie”, which is, to me anyway, a bizarre speech habit for a preteen. Peter says it’s because that’s what he calls all the “women in his life.” Exactly how many women in his life does he have?

Simon has decided to go away to college a year early, because of the Tertiary Corpse Blood on the Highway incident. However, since he only has 2.86-bar-repeating minutes to grieve, Tertiary Corpse is not even mentioned and Simon mainly slumps around the house looking for sympathy. So much for that semi-interesting plot, and so much for Simon.

Kevin the Evil Robot gets beat up on a domestic disturbance case, allowing for several brand-new and not so interesting slams against women. Turns out that he got beat up protecting Woefully Miscast Rachel Blanchard, because she is the “weaker partner”. Also, Lucy announces that the fact that Kevin is a “man” and “protects women” makes her horny. Seriously, she tells him that it “turns her on”. Yick. And in, quite possibly, the yuckiest moment of this show’s history, Kevin tells the Reverend that “Lucy and I haven’t had sex since I got beat up.” EW! Apparently he feels like “less of a man.” If Matt EVER said something like that to my dad, I’d be in a widow in less than five minutes. By my own hand.

Finally, in-law Rabbi Glass, perhaps the most irritating Richard Lewis incarnation ever, comes to visit. Turns out he caught his wife kissing the cantor, so he babbles gratingly, drinks beer, and shoves his tongue down Mrs. Camden’s throat. At 8:53, Mrs. Glass comes to visit him at the pool hall and tells him it was a misunderstanding. And in case anyone misunderstands and doesn’t know they’re Jewish, Mrs. Glass announces there are some latkes waiting on the stove. With the way this show portrays Jews, they’ll probably eat the latkes by a menorah and say “oy” a lot.

Intentional humor: 3 Unintentional humor: 8 Preachiness: 12 (anytime these people go near issues, disaster strikes) Histrionics: 4 Items thrown at television: 3 Emotional Trauma: 10

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Well, it's been a banner week. Hyperbole Isabel rolled through with nary a power outage or downed tree (perhaps because Southwest has no trees). In fact, the finest entertainment offered was the neighbors who did not bring their patio furniture in. Watching lawn chairs race one another down the block was wonderful for the spirit.

In other news, my beloved temp agency has been unable to furnish me with work. Also, I pulled a muscle in my neck last night, rendering me completely unable of moving my head. I’ve spent most of the day lying very, very still and popping Advil. All of this brings us to an interesting question: Have you ever watched daytime television while physically incapable of shaking your head in disbelief? “I wish Sharon Osbourne would just shut…YOWCH!”

Speaking of pain, here’s the 7th Heaven rundown:

“An Early Fall, Part II”, Airdate Sept. 21, 2003

Last night, we paid a visit to Bizarro Glenoak, where Mary’s still an idiot, but Lucy is likable, people actually think things over before marrying each other, and someone feeds the Poddlers.

Mary’s big secret is revealed: she’s married to Carlos, the Homeless Hispanic, and she finally gets up the balls to tell her parents. However, Carlos finds out that she’d planned on annulling the marriage at first and mumbles in Spanish. Apparently Hispanics do that when they’re angry. I half expected Mary to hand him little household trinkets to break, like they did on “I Love Lucy”. Carlos refers to her as “loco”, which is of course grammatically incorrect (she’s a she, and therefore “loca”). What annoys me further is that Mary assumes “loco” means “chicken”, because of the Pollo Loco chicken chain. So, not only is she abysmally stupid, she also thinks “Livin’ La Vida Loca” was about chickens. Which, by the way, would have been awesome.

The whole family babbles about that rebellious Mary, who toilet-papered the school gym three years ago, which is like the worse thing EVER. Except not: does anyone really care? (Considering that entire plotline was punishment for Jessica Biel’s booby photos in Gear, I especially don’t care. Viva Boobies Libre!) Mary’s also pregnant, so prepare yourselves for the inevitable “will the baby be Protestant or Catholic?” episode. Because the infallibility of the Pope shows up in ultrasounds.

In other Camden-rific news, Ruthie still creeps me out, Lucy and Kevin decide against having a baby, and the Poddlers say that elopement is the worst thing ever (clearly they haven’t seen the photos of my kickass Elvis Wedding). Woefully Miscast Rachel Blanchard and Chandler break up, because she’s not ready to be a preacher’s wife. I notice for the first time that Chandler has a bit more junk in his trunk than at the beginning of the summer. He looks positively bloaty. Speaking of bloat, there are now 14 people in the credits (including Happy the dog and 7 non-Camdens). Indeed, the non-Camdens have credit-conquered the Camdens. There’s cast bloat, and then there’s a cast that’s so bloated it has to be removed from its house with a crane.

Finally, the family reassures Simon over and over that he’s not responsible for the Blood on the Highway incident. Simon’s not so sure, and he wants to “test out” of high school.

Sadly, this episode lacked much snark potential, as it wasn’t mind-bendingly dreadful.

However, here’s a snarky poll to amuse you:

Blood on the Highway

How can we convince Simon that the accident wasn't his fault?

Tertiary Corpse has had "adult relations"

Tertiary Corpse drank half-beers and disrespected his parents

Tertiary Corpse listened to the wicked rap music

Tertiary Corpse trashed the school gymnasium

Tertiary Corpse posed half-naked in Gear

Current Results

Intentional humor: 7 Unintentional humor: 3 Preachiness: 6 Histrionics: 9 Items thrown at television: 3 Emotional Trauma: 4

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Your long and arduous wait is finally over! Last night’s 7th Heaven premiere was everything it should have been: terrible, squicky and confusing.

But first, time for personal announcements. Howdies and hosannas to Roxanne, Rowena, Stephanie, Tricia, Amy, Emily, and Jen. The eight of us spent Saturday night in Atlantic City for Roxanne’s bachelorette festivities. Highlights included a Donald Trump sighting (dude needs a haircut), and my first experience with going to nightclubs as the Married Chick. I have a new Favorite Thing That Was Ever Said to Me: “Is that an engagement ring? It’s very nice…I find you very attractive. Can I buy you a drink?” That is just too cool for words, and no, I did not accept the drink.

“An Early Fall, Part I”, Airdate 9.15.03

Remember all the way back in May, after Deacon Lou and Detective Michaels showed up on the Camden porch for a cliffhanger ending? My exact words: “If prior 7th Heaven cliffhangers are any indication, we’ll find out that a tertiary character no one cares about has died.” I was wrong. A tertiary character no one has even HEARD OF died, in an all-new low for chicken-hearted writing.

We open with a Camden summer vacation, which primarily consists of frolicking on the beach fully clothed. While there isn’t a single Camden I’d want to see in a swimsuit, that’s just odd. Various Camdens and Peter (why anyone would bring the random neighbor kid on vacation is beyond me) play Go Fish and gossip about “the accident.” And in a new level of Poddler neglect, the twins are left sleeping on kitchen chairs for over four hours before anyone takes them to bed.

Apparently Simon hit a motorcyclist named Paul with his car, killing him and spreading brain matter across the roadway. All of this has made Simon very broody, which is quite sexy. He should kill people more often. David Gallagher acts the hell out of his scenes, because, as long-time readers remember, he is the only member of the cast who bothers to act anymore. Poor David Gallagher.

Over the course of the episode, Simon dumps Cecilia (hooray!), broods (sexy!) and wanders around on the beach. When the vacation ends, the Reverend and Annie get in a hilarious kitchen battle. Annie says it’s time they got in a fight about the accident, and the Reverend delivers a soliloquy about how he should have been the one driving. Annie turns away from him to face the camera and look pained as he talks, creating one of those tableaus only seen in dinner theater and Lifetime “Mommy May I Sleep With Danger?” movies. At the end, Annie says, “I just wanted to say, I wish his parents had told him to wear a helmet!” Huh? As Mike pointed out, it’s not like the Reverend would have argued AGAINST the wearing of helmets. So why did she want to fight?

Over the course of the episode, we also learn that Simon is going to go to trial for the accident, and that Paul’s brother Justin has been stalking Simon and vandalizing the church. Simon also runs away to New York to see Matt and Sarah, and Annie tries to order the Reverend to go get him. How does this family afford all of these last-minute flights to New York? At 8:53, Paul’s parents show up at the Camden residence and tell the Reverend that they are dropping the case. It turns out Paul was on the drugs, thereby completely absolving Simon and chickening out of a remotely interesting plot. However, they don’t specify what the drugs were. Was it the ganja, the cocaine, the crack rocks or the high-powered cough syrup?

However, the episode wasn’t completely Simon-focused, because there are 28 people in the credits now and at least half of them need something to do. Chandler and Woefully Miscast Rachel Blanchard bicker and smooch (fully clothed, on the beach), and Chandler threatens to dump her if they don’t get married. Who in hell issues and engagement ultimatum six months into the relationship? The Reverend also asks Chandler if he and Roxanne are doing the funky monkey. What kind of boss can ask that of his assistant and NOT get his pants sued off?

Lucy and Kevin, who are slightly likable so far this season, decide they need to do something “life-affirming”, like have a baby. Because being a newlywed simply isn’t affirming enough. In a new gross-out moment, Lucy tells the Reverend that they are going to skip church in favor of said affirmations. So, Lucy basically announced, “Daddy, we’re going to go upstairs and have unprotected sex!”

We also discover Mary’s mystery from the season finale when Carlos shows up on the front door. Carlos is another Camden Pet Minority Character, this time in a sassy Hispanic flavor. Camden tertiary characters are frequently racial minorities whose lives are improved merely by the Camden aura. They met Carlos a few seasons ago, when the show wasn’t completely terrible. He was homeless, and the Camdens gave him a plane ticket home to his family. Well, it turns out he’s Mary’s husband now. And Coincidence completes its metamorphosis into Contrivance.

Intentional humor: 2 Unintentional humor: 4 Preachiness: 9 Histrionics: 7 Items thrown at television: 5 Emotional Trauma: 7

And, a poll in honor of Carlos:

Camden Minority Report

Which Camden racial or religious minority mascot is your favorite?

Carlos the Homeless Hispanic Husband

Morgan, the black minister whose church burned down and who gets mistreated in restaurants

Yasmine, the wooden and oppressed Muslim girl

Joy, the sassy singer with the pink pants and borrowed Massive Attack riffs

Sarah, Matt's Jewish wife with the odd teeth

Kevin, because robots are minorities too!

Now and forever, Ruthie. Girl's adopted.

Current Results

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

So, OK, it happened. I’m married. AS of Labor Day weekend. You can see pictures here.

Now I’m back in Washington, temping at a company that is secretly ruled by leprechauns (that’s the only explanation I can come up with for why the tables and chairs in the breakroom are so tiny).

Here’s the full rundown:

I flew to L.A. on a Thursday on America West, which may be the worst airline in the world. The movies suck (Holes and Daddy Day Care), there’s no food, and they always seat you next to the screaming kids. However, for $300 round trip, they can stuff me in the cargo hold for all I care. I'm cheap. (Everyone who went to college with me: shut up).

Matt and Merrill (one of his oldest friends) picked me up at the airport. We picked up food from a restaurant that carried tacos, burgers AND chili cheese fries. Matt and I stayed at the Hotel Merrill, where he not only relinquished his room to us, but allowed us to watch all the Cartoon Network we could stand. After watching an outrageously sexual Japanese cartoon, we met up with Skye and J.B. for drinks. Emphasis on the multiple drinks.

Also, Matt gave me a pretty, shiny emerald engagement ring that I absolutely love. I use it to mesmerize fish and small children. Ooh, shiny. Though, in retrospect, pretending to bite it to test its authenticity may have been mean.

Friday, Skye picked Matt and me up to eat at the In-N-Out Burger. Fun fact: it’s even more Christian than Chick-Fil-A, and the bottom of the soda cups say John 3:16. Afterwards, we shopped for wedding bands at the mall. We just wanted sterling bands, since we’ll get nice ones later when we do the church wedding. Virtually every store tried to guilt us into buying platinum (“You must not really love each other if you just want silver!”). However, Fox Jewelers offered to make the rings on the spot. The best part was their slogan: “Home of Bling-Bling.”

Friday night was Merrill’s 30th birthday party/the rehearsal kegger. Skye brought 40s for the wedding party, Matt and Merrill performed some songs together, I kept the snacks refreshed and alphabetized, and Skye’s friend wanted to adopt me and take me home in her purse.

Saturday Matt and Merrill hunkered down in front of some wings and an Alabama game, so I begged Skye to come rescue me. I can go to football games and have a great time, but sports on television make me want to scream. Skye picked me up and drove me to the Grove, where we had brunch and shopped. Skye bought pants. She was very excited about the pants. On the way, we saw Flynt Publications. Porn is housed in a building that looks just like the Death Star.

Saturday night a group of us went out for a steak dinner for Merrill’s birthday. On the way, we saw a sign for “Korean Disconunt Underwear,” which may be the most awesome sign ever. I had no idea that Korea had specialized underwear, or that Nunts could disco.

Sunday Matt, Merrill, Skye and I got into Merrill’s Toyota Matrix (the Cool Dude’s Minivan) and drove to Vegas. Ever spent five hours crossing the desert? I’m an East Coast girl, and that much nothingness weirded me out. We had a great time listening to Will Shatner sing “Mr. Tambourine Man”. Until you’ve heard the Shat, you simply haven’t lived. We also saw the Definition of Optimism: a truck towing two Jet Skis across the desert.

We arrived in Vegas and went straight to the courthouse. Let me tell you, getting a marriage license may have been the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I had to show more I.D. for my Safeway Club Card. The place was German in its efficiency and 60s fortress in its architecture. Best of all, when we got back in the car, “White Wedding” was on the radio. Omen!

We drove to our digs for the evening, the Westward Ho! hotel and casino. I highly recommend staying anywhere with an exclamation point in the title. Our room wasn’t ready, so I only had about 40 minutes to get ready for the wedding. I chucked Matt out of the room, dove into the shower, and assigned Skye tasks such as untangling my necklace, smoothing my veil, and finding a way to attach a large Icelandic coin to a flip-flop (answer: hairpins).

To prepare, Matt and Merrill watched football on TV.

The limo picked us up at 4:30 and took us to the Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel for our 5:00 service. Advice to anyone who’s getting married: go easy on yourself. Chuck the detailed wedding plans, the worry, and the fuss. Not because your wedding will be beautiful anyway, but because you won’t remember any of it. I do remember Elvis singing “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, during which time Matt and I were supposed to stare into each other’s eyes. No matter how much you love someone, that can get a little dull after the fourth chorus. We said our vows, or at least, we think we did. We couldn’t understand what Elvis was saying, so we just said “I Do” every time he paused. So, instead of getting married, it’s entirely possible we bought swampland in Florida. Then Elvis launched into “Viva Las Vegas”, which we incorrectly assumed was the recessional. The four of us paired up and strolled out, and were shooed back into the chapel by a minister to dance. Fortunately, it looks somewhat intentional on the video. We completed the service with a Rockettes line. Afterwards, we took pictures, I threw the bouquet (caught by Skye), and we got back in the limo. The time? 5:12. Awesome.

We had 6:30 dinner reservations at the Hilton, so we killed an hour in the Star Trek Experience theme bar. A very nice couple purchased our Klingon Blood Wines (aka rotgut Merlot), and we gawked at the geeks. Afterwards, Skye and Merrill treated us to dinner at a lovely Northern Italian restaurant and then we went gambling. Matt and I lost money right and left, while Skye and Merrill came out ahead and went out for steaks at 2 am. Matt and I had long since turned in. It was fun being in the only city in America where no one looks at you funny if you play the slots while wearing a white dress and a veil.

Monday we got up, went out for breakfast, and drove back to L.A. We celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day early by making up stupid pirate jokes in the car. We also stopped in Baker to buy Slim Jims and see the World’s Tallest Thermometer, which was digital and not even turned on. What a scam.

We got back to L.A., watched T.V., went out for Thai, and stared at one another aimlessly. I flew back on Tuesday, where I changed planes in Vegas. McCarran International Airport is nasty, smells weird, has really unlucky slots, and only has Taco Bell to eat. Yuck.

So, I’m home now and getting organized to move to Bogota. The uniquely solipsist State Department has decided on several occasions that I do not exist, and I’m temping for leprechauns. Needless to say, I'm ready to go.

To keep yourselves amused until the 7th Heaven premiere (September 15), please feel free to vote on my name:

Pick a New Name for Shannon

Now that I'm married, what should I be called?

Shannon Stamey Johnson

Mrs. Matthew R. Johnson

Shannon Stamey-Johnson

Shannon Johnson

Mrs. Johnson, if you're nasty

Current Results

Monday, August 04, 2003

Well, here's all the latest from Wedding World:

Thanks to the logistical wonderfulness of the State Department, and my own infectious impatience, Matt and I have changed our plans. We'd decided to get married in December, but instead we're going to do it over Labor Day weekend. It'll be a small, intimate, dignified ceremony, featuring...Elvis. My mother is so proud.

That's right, due to Skye's mad planning skills, Matt and I will be married at the Viva Las Vegas Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Elvis will perform the ceremony, along with two songs of our choice. Skye will serve as maid of honor in a beer hat, Merrill will be best man, and J.B. will give me away like I'm a free sample of cube cheese at the supermarket. Afterwards, we will dine at a restaurant that hopefully contains neither go go dancers nor salmonella. The bridal party will stay at the Westward Ho! casino and hotel, home of 99 cent Heinekens and wood-paneled walls. Hey, if logistics prevent a nice wedding, you may as well go whole-hog awful.

We'll be married at about 5:30 pm PST on August 31. The Viva Las Vegas Chapel may provide free webcasting, in which case I encourage all of you to tune in. If not, please raise a Heineken at 8:30 pm EST in honor of the happy couple. Also, Skye has offered to film the event, so I will hold a screening party when the film is available in a few months.

I highly recommend running to Vegas: the marriage license application can be downloaded on the Internet, and is shorter than most video club membership forms. This also means the State Department can process me sooner and I can get to Colombia in October or November.

Instead of a poll, here are some stats:

Number of men who checked my hand for a ring: 12
Number of women who checked my hand for a ring: 5
Number of people who asked about a ring: 3 (all men)
Number of people who believe this is an elaborate practical joke: 3
Number of bridal magazines in my apartment: 8
Weight of bridal magazines: 37 pounds
Chances I'll have a big foofy wedding and not fall on my ass at any point: Slim to none

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I’m ENGAGED!!!!!!

As many of you know, Matt and I were seeing each other last year while he was in Washington for Foreign Service Officer training. He'd prove his love by sitting through 7th Heaven episodes with me.

He left for his post in Bogota, Colombia, in February, and we tried to take time apart. I dated some good guys and a few dinks, but none of them were anything like Matt. He dated a few bimbos that I am forever going to giggle about. We talked things over when he arrived on Wednesday, and we officially got engaged on Friday, July 18.

Because of Matt’s career, the entire thing is going to be untraditional and out-of-order. That’s the fun part. He’s back in Bogota, and will give me a ring next time we see each other (we all know how picky I am, so points for Matt for getting my input first). That'll be Labor Day weekend, in Los Angeles. We’ll have a courthouse wedding, most likely in Washington at the end of the year. The State Department will need a a month or so to process me once we have a marriage license. Then I pack for Bogota, most likely in February. Our honeymoon will be the Galapagos Islands in the spring. (In honor of Darwin, we’re going to push the weaker passengers off the boat.) We’ll be in Bogota for a year, where I will either work for the Embassy or attempt to pick up some freelance work. We don’t know yet where we’ll live after Bogota. We return to the U.S. in February 2005 for a small church celebration in Alabama. So, engagement then ring then marriage then moving in together then honeymoon, and last of all, the wedding. Awesome.

So, since the TV season hasn't started up yet, I'll regale y'all with marriage polls.

Lots of love to you all,


Shannon and Matt are Getting Married!

First Reactions?

You people are FREAKS!

I think you crazy kids can make it work

How romantic! *swoon*

Current Results

PS - I chose "freaks"

Monday, July 07, 2003

The Laws of Deception

After weeks of only slightly bad offerings from the WB Weekend Cinema, our local affiliate came up with two doozies in one weekend. First, For Love Alone, which is sort of a biography of Ivana Trump and mainly an excuse for Rev. Camden (Stephen Collins) to get naked with the Ivana-be Astar. However, repeated Reverend Camden quivering-lip sex scenes at 11 on a Sunday morning just wasn’t going to happen. So, instead, I will review the fine film The Laws of Deception, which aired Saturday afternoon.

The Laws of Deception is the greatest trash film ever: It supposedly takes place over about 25 years, but no one ages and fashion doesn’t change in the least. The cast includes 80’s washout C. Thomas Howell, 90210’s Brian Austin Green (who unfortunately did NOT play keyboards or dance in this film), and Amber Smith, whose IMDB listing gives her bra size as 36D and whose other credits include "Hot Redhead" in Tomcats. The “law school” scenes were blatantly filmed at a junior high school (the "law school library" is smaller than my apartment). Also, C. Thomas Howell always addresses the camera rather than the person he’s supposedly talking to. I kept expecting someone to break character and yell, “Hey! I’m over here!” Best of all, C. Thomas Howell (Evan) and Brian Austin Green (Cal) have a tight, fiercely homoerotic friendship. I counted 3 top of head kisses, twelve full hugs and 13 arms draped over shoulders. It's almost as sexy as Smallville.

Random question: what do C. Thomas Howell’s friends call him? C? Thomas? Or Howell? I also wonder what L. Ron Hubbard was called by his friends.

The film begins at Christmas, with Evan at age 5 (which is supposedly 25 years in the past, but the clothing and technology in the house are entirely modern – someone even got a DVD for Christmas). Evan’s entire family is murdered in the living room as pseudo-opera plays. You can always count on a mob film for pseudo-opera.

Cut to twenty years later, as Evan and best pal Cal are studying in the shockingly miniscule law library. They have a boring conversation about how justice is Evan’s only love, and then a hot chick named Elise starts looking at Evan. You know, if I saw Brian Austin Green and C. Thomas Howell at the same table, I’d stare too, but only because I’d be wondering if Corey Haim was going to join them. Elise asks Evan out on a date, and shows up at the restaurant in a see-through mesh outfit. She’s HOTT.

So, Elise and Evan prance in their 1998 fashions, although it’s supposed to be 1988. A love montage begins: sitting on a blanket together, having sex while making French toast, and more sex. This movie has enough C. Thomas Howell sex to last a lifetime. Elise and Evan snuggle in bed together and drink eggnog from champagne glasses. Mmm, mucus. Evan’s dial-a-quirk is that he drinks eggnog and listens to Christmas music year-round. I can’t get behind that at all: Christmas music annoys the crap out of me even in December. Do I really need to hear 19 versions of “Come All Ye Faithful”, two of which are performed by kittens?

Evan tells Elise that he is obsessed with Christmas because his parents were murdered, and that he was raised by his Mafia uncle. Elise responds by saying, “So, what’s Cal going to do after graduation?” Which, when you think about it, isn't a very nice thing to say when your boyfriend starts talking about his murdered parents. Also, although I can’t claim a lot of dating prowess, “Mafia uncle”, “murdered parents” and “obsessed with Christmas” would all set off alarm bells in my head. We’re also treated to an extraneous scene of a Western-theme bar owner’s hand being “tenderized” by thugs, and a recipe for chicken-fried steak. This whole movie is like a CD player set on “shuffle” – and I also get the feeling that the script was handed to the actors 3 minutes before filming so none of them could say, “What the hell is this?” They never look at each other, which implies to me there's a Teleprompter or cue cards off to one side.

Of course, Everything Falls Apart: Elise is caught going through Evan’s things, Elise turns out to be a stripper, and Evan gets beat up by her mob boss/strip bar owner boss, Carlucci. Evan recognizes Carlucci as the man that murdered his parents (although, I must mention, Carlucci hasn’t aged a bit in the last 20 years). However, he doesn’t do a damn thing about it. Elise and Evan break up.

Cut to 10 years later (although, again, fashion and technology haven’t changed a bit). Evan is now a hotshot attorney, and in the B-movie world, that means he slicks his hair back and smarms a good bit. Elise comes to Evan’s office and says that she has been accused of murdering her husband, Carlucci. The movie devolves (as if that had been possible) into a pseudo-noir whodunit with many twists and turns, all of which involve Elise’s 36D boobs. Here we go: Evan destroys three rental cars in a bizarre attempt at comic relief, Cal returns to say that Elise is trouble, Elise and Evan make the beast with two backs, Elise says that Cal is stalking her, Evan encounters a private detective who says that Elise is into S&M, and a sheriff with the fakest Texan accent ever insults Evan. All of that took an hour, thanks to loads of generous shots of Evan and Elise looking at each other, Evan driving very slowly down empty streets, aerial shots of Miami freeways (Lord knows, freeways are novel and exciting!).

The film’s climax (if we can call it that) involves a motel room. Evan meets Cal, who waves a gun at him and says that Elise ruined his life. Then why doesn’t he wave a gun at Elise, instead? Oh, whatever. Cal says that Elise was paid by Carlucci to date Evan. That must be the real reason the Mafia is in decline: mobsters are stupid. Carlucci spent 30 years of his life supervising Evan. Why not just put a bullet in Evan’s head and be done with it? I think someone needs lessons in Total Quality Management. Cal shoots himself in the head and blood spatters everywhere. Cal-Gone, take me away!

Evan turns on Elise because she's done him wrong, and Elise is convicted of murder as Evan sits in the courtroom and smarms. However, because every bad film has its twist (and every rose has its thorn, and every cowboy sings a sad, sad song), the final scene clues us in that Evan actually murdered Carlucci and framed Elise for it.

Scorecard: Intentional humor: 2 Unintentional humor: 9
Subtle, Confusing or Sledgehammer of a Plot? Confusing. So, the bar owner's hand got tenderized because he borrowed Evan's hair gel? Do the whuh how?
Damage to My Liver: Minor. Every time I'd take a drink, something stupid would happen and everything would shoot out of my nose.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Fame: Beyond Thunderdome

For those of you missing my television recaps, I’ve done a wonderful thing: suffered through an hour of summer “original programming.” Unfortunately, NBC’s reality version of Fame chucks originality and plunges headlong into the bizarre.

The charming hosts are Debbie “Please take ‘In The House’ OFF my resume” Allen and Joey “I was in Rent! Please forget N’Sync” Fatone. The “celebrity experts” include producer Johnny “BritneySpearsPDiddyNameDrop” Wright, Carnie “Stomach Stapling” Wilson, and JoJo Stupidhair, a DJ I had never heard of and never want to hear from again.

Not only is this a very weird show, it’s also very cruel. All of the kids are lined up on the stage, and told one by one if they’re advancing. If you advance, you have to perform then and there, so two kids every week prepare a whole performance just to be sent home.

First performer to advance: Allyson Arena. Allyson has curly red hair, and whenever she straightens it I forget who she is entirely. She has a high, twangy, vibrato-laden voice, that’s great for Broadway but doesn’t make a damn bit of sense on this show. And I was a big Clay Aiken fan. Allyson showcases her talent by picking the worst songs possible. Last week? “Material Girl” This week? “We Are Family”, which sounds positively idiotic when you’re up on the stage by yourself. “I’ve got all my sisters with me,” my ass. Allyson wears the first fur vest Mad Max getup of the evening. The funniest part of the performance is when they show her friends…all three of them. I guarantee that if my friends had the chance to be on national TV, they’d come running. And at least one of them would show up in just underwear to guarantee more camera time (my guesses are Heath, J.B. or Mike W.). Debbie cackles and swings her boobs onto the stage (they visibly swing when she walks), Joey says it was a fantastic performance, a celebrity judge blows sunshine, and Allyson thanks God. All of them do that every time. I should really hope that God has better things to do than call in votes on a bargain-basement, low rated reality program.

The next performer to move forward is Justin Jacoby, and Joey announces that he is “going to perform an original rap.” Justin is an obnoxious teenager who can’t sing, can’t dance, and can’t even rap to a beat. His raps include original lines like, “If all dogs go to heaven, when’s my chance to bark?” What? Seriously. Out of curiousity, and due to my abiding hatred of America, I voted for Justin at the end of the show. His personal message is a rap, including an attempt to rhyme “dope” and “vote.”

Next up is Serena Henry, who settles into a chair and performs the talent-show staple “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Serena is one of those singers that has to perform vocal loop-the-loops, whether they fit the song or not. “Look at me! I’m talented! No, really!” She also shakes her chin around and chicken-flaps her elbows so America knows how talented she really is. The judges eat it all up, because they’re imbeciles.

After Serena performs, all the kids do a group performance of “America” in honor of the Fourth, with cane-dancing lifted directly from Nickelodeon’s Roundhouse. Everyone wears red-white-and-blue skimpy outfits, which I’m sure does our Founding Fathers proud. Some of the performers are less coordinated than others, so several smack into each other or hit their neighbor with a cane. After the performance, Debbie tells the audience they’ll be right back, so “Get your chicken wing.” Debbie says these things all the time, and I don’t know whether she’s trying to be chatty, or if she’s sending coded messages to the Trilateral Commission.

After the break, Alex Boyd is told he made the cut. Alex Boyd is blandly cute, over-gelled, and from McLean, Virginia: Where Real Estate Value is King. Alex wears the second Mad Max vest of the evening, which is totally wrong for performing Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke”. Alex, as a NOVA native, can’t enunciate worth a damn and even stumbles over the spoken jazz musician shout-outs. So he recovers by giving McLean a shout-out in his interview segment. He also says that his performance “is all for God.” God snorts, shuffles a bit on his cloud, and hurls down a lightning bolt. Not really, but that would have been awesome.

The next contestant to advance is single-name Moy. She’s got a blond pixie cut, tats, a gap in her teeth, and perennially high heels. Because I’m a reality ho, I know who she is straight off: I’ve seen her on both Popstars and American Idol. She’s made a career of being a reality show runner-up. Her real name is Petagay, which is the funniest name ever. Right now, in your offices, I want all of you to yell “Petagay” and see how many people stare at you or laugh. Moy sings “Let’s Stay Together”, and it isn’t good, it isn’t bad, it isn’t even interesting. The judges practically hump her leg when she’s done, however.

Harlemm Lee is up next, and he’s just awesome. Sure, he can sing, but the best part is just looking at him. He’s tiny, he’s bald, he’s 37, and his eyebrows move independently of one another. He’s not human. Harlemm sings “Greatest Love of All”, because he had to out-pageant Serena Henry. There’s lots of dramatic lighting and arm-tossing so we know he's Really Singing.

Once it’s down to the final four, the kids are split into pairs. One is told they’re advancing, the other gets an Assboot. First pair: Shannon Bex advances, Raymond Lee (who really, really couldn’t sing anyway) get the boot. Shannon is a leggy blond “virgin until marriage” (which is none of my business anyway) who wears the third Mad Max vest of the night. She sings some Christina Aguilera tune that even I haven’t heard of, flops about, and shakes what her mama gave her. I get eerie flashbacks of Britney Spears pole-dancing at the VMAs. Afterwards, Shannon thanks God, then thanks the troops. Meanwhile, all the other contestants smack themselves on the forehead and say, “Dammit! Why was I thanking God when I could have thanked the troops? Bitch!”

The next pair: Brandon O’Neal, a skinny cornrowed teenager, advances. Jamisen Tiangko, who erroneously sexed up every song from “Black Cat” to “God Bless the Child,” gets the boot. Brandon performs “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” and it’s good, and I really don’t care because I tune in for the awful and the surreal.

Fortunately, Debbie Allen serves up the surreal by introducing Tyse something-or-other, the “spoiler” contestant. Tyse was chosen by NBC to “shake up” the show, as in “maybe NOW someone besides that sarcastic bitch in DC will watch.” Tyse really dishes up the surreal. He runs down the line of contestants like he’s on The Price is Right, and bounces up and down between Joey and Debbie. He yells something about a shout-out to Brooklyn, twitches uncontrollably, sweats, yells about Brooklyn again, says he’s ready to compete, and sweats again. The other contestants glare at him in mute horror. Debbie reminds all of us to vote, then tells us that Tyse will perform next week. I can’t wait.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Announcement #1: check out this cool website by Mike Queen and Carlos Queen, featuring writing by Heath Tomar. Mike and Heath went to college with me and are therefore cool. They take submissions, if anyone would like to send things in. (Edited to fix link).

Since I’m in TV withdrawal, I figured I’d start posting recaps of dreadful movies I’ve watched on TV. I’d been wondering if I’m just a bitter old crank, or if I’ve been watching particularly bad films lately. I’ll let you be the judge. Also, the reviews will give away the entire plot (such as it is), so reader beware.

Before I post my first film review, I’d like to announce a contest in honor of “Powder”: Design Your Own Stupid Movie, and please use as many movie clichés as possible while including one idiotic random twist. My favorite clichés are: Hooker With a Heart of Gold, Everyone Thinks the Hero is Dead but He Comes Out of the Burning Building Anyway, and Rural People Hate Everyone. Send entries to by Friday afternoon. Winner gets Internet glory and the opportunity to assign my next bad film.

“Powder”, 1995, starring Sean Patrick Flanery and Mary Steenburgen

Gun-toting, ignorant Texans? Check. Kindhearted social worker? Check. Bullying teenagers? Check. Sweet small-town girl who’s kind to the hero? Check. Jeff Goldblum as a stammering scientist? Check. Sean Patrick Flanery as a basement-dwelling albino with superpowers? Yeah!

The film begins with a baby in an incubator screaming as its brain waves are being charted. The brain wave activity is really high, as his father sobs. Ominous yet uplifting music plays.

Fifteen years later, Sheriff Doug and Social Worker Jessi are walking up to a farmhouse as the ominous, uplifting music takes it down a notch. The farm’s owner has died, and the police found his teenage grandson in the basement, kept down there as a “family secret.” Damn those Southerners and their family secrets and close-minded ways! Because that device has never been used in a film before (off the top of my head: every goddamn movie that has ever been made).

Jessi meets the bald, albino kid, who says that his name is Jeremy but his grandparents called him “Powder.” She gets him lunch, discovers that he has memorized every book in his basement, and packs him off to her Home For Wayward Boys, Xenophobics and Godawful Accents. Naturally, the boys are mean to him and tell him to balance a spoon on his nose as an “initiation”. Lame! I think a pack of orphans and delinquents would at least make him tip a cow or moon somebody. Jeremy responds by telekinetically summoning every utensil in the room.

Jeremy is then sent to school, because it’s completely logical that a boy who has never left the house would be immediately packed off to a large public high school. Jeremy meets his science teacher, Jeff Goldblum. I won’t bother figuring out what his character’s name is, since Jeff Goldblum has been playing the same character since “The Big Chill” anyway. Jeff turns on a Jacob’s Ladder, and the electricity zaps Jeremy from across the room as a generically pretty red-haired girl stares in awe. Gee, think she’ll be important later?

Jeremy is hauled off to the hospital, where the doctors can’t find a single scratch on him. He slips out of his room and begins to walk. On the way, he pets a dog and is greeted by Generic Redhead. They have a sweet, uplifting conversation as the score beats into our heads that this is an Uplifting Conversation. Generic Redhead points Jeremy to the interstate, where he is intercepted by Sheriff Doug and Deputy Harley. Jeremy gives up his quest to return home and goes back to the Home for Wayward Accents with Sheriff Doug.

Jeff Goldblum sputters science throughout the film, but in the interest of not typing for the rest of my life, here’s the Science Stuff all in one meaty paragraph: Jeremy IS electrolysis. Alert beauty salons! Jeremy uses all of his brain, and is therefore “pure energy.” Cue Information Society! Jeremy has an off-the-charts IQ, and is more human than human. Cue White Zombie! Jeremy is so super-evolved that he slices, dices, he even juliennes.

Back to the plot, such as it is: Sheriff Doug and Deputy Harley take the Wayward Boys camping. Jeremy tells Sheriff Doug that “God took his mother” as we see a hilarious flashback of a pregnant woman being struck by lightning as water sprays straight up and his dad screams. No movie death has ever been funnier: Mom gets a look of bored terror as she stands in her Puddle of Certain Demise.

The next day, Jeremy goes strolling through the woods. Wayward Bullies #1 and #2 emerge and yell twangy insults. This scene couldn’t be more generic if #1 and #2 wore straw hats and were chewing tebaccy. Bully #1 waves a gun at Jeremy as shots ring out. All three boys race across a clearing to find Deputy Harley and a dead deer. The obviously robotic deer twitches as the boys yee-haw. So, Texans like to go hunting? Color me shocked! Jeremy grabs the deer, then grabs Deputy Harley. Deputy Harley goes into seizures as the Wayward Bullies twang uselessly in the background.

Sheriff Doug and Jessi give Jeremy a stern talking to. Jeremy responds by telekinetically shattering all of the glass in the room and saying he wants to go home. Somehow, that scene took 20 minutes.

Somehow, everything is instantly all better, because Sheriff Doug takes Jeremy to meet his Vague Ailment Nobly Dying Wife. She’d actually been in a few scenes already, but it was stupid to mention them because they were pointless scenes. Vague Ailment’s nurse is afraid of the “freak.” Whatever, I think this film has already established (and established, and established…) that everyone’s afraid of Jeremy because Texans are hicks. Jeremy uses his vague superpowers to channel Vague Ailment, who tells Sheriff Doug that she can’t die until he makes up with Estranged Son of Sheriff Doug. They make up, Vague Ailment dies, Uplifting Score wields its sledgehammer and we cut to commercial. I pour a drink or 12.

The next day, Jeremy walks around the County Fair, then brings a soda to Generic Redhead. They hold hands and read each other’s thoughts, which would be quite moving if 1. I cared about either of these people 2. These people had interesting thoughts 3. If they’d added a car chase or naked people. Jeremy talks about how everyone is beautiful and sarcasm is unnecessary. Dude, sarcasm is half the joy in life. You don't know what you're missing! Generic Redhead and Jeremy share a passionless kiss. Generic Redhead’s dad, Generic Villain, shakes Jeremy around. Sean Patrick Flanery’s physical acting is priceless: he twitches in the exact opposite direction that he’s supposed to be shaken in. It’s like the whole fight was choreographed by people who took Physics for Poets in college. Jessi runs over and Generic Villain tells her to keep her “state trash” away from his pure and perfect daughter. Generic Villain couldn’t be more evil than if he had a handlebar mustache and tied maidens to train tracks.

Jeremy melodramatically packs his cardboard suitcase, dons his cheap fedora, and slips out of the Home for Wayward Accents as sad uplifting music plays. We see him walk to the interstate, then hitch a ride in the back of a truck. Jeremy returns to the Farmhouse of Isolation and crawls into his basement.

Jessi pulls up a few minutes later and finds him there. All of his books are gone, and she vows to return every last one of them. Well, then why didn’t you let him pack the books or store them in the first place, you nitwit? And the fact that the house is empty and his whole family is dead is enough of a hint that Things Have Changed. Cripes.

Anyway, Jeff Goldblum arrives and he and Jessi offer to take Jeremy somewhere he belongs. Central Casting, perhaps? I’d love to see an albino endorse sunscreens. Comedy gold.

However, this dream is shattered as Sheriff Doug and Deputy Harley pull their patrol cars onto the front lawn. Everyone argues about Destiny and Deeper Meaning and Enough With the Albinos Already as a thunderstorm brews in the distance. Jeremy is being led to a car when the Idiotic Plot Twist becomes clear to him. He breaks away and runs, followed by the Four Horsemen of the Albino. He turns around and has something profound to say to each of them:

Sheriff Doug: “Your vaguely dying wife is now vaguely part of the atmosphere and you should be vaguely happy about that.”
Jessi: “You’re a good person blah blah blah.”
Deputy Harley: “It’s wrong to shoot things. It’s wrong to hate people. You are just plain wrong.”
Jeff Goldblum: “Get a new schtick already, Stammer Boy! I can't believe this movie makes Earth Girls Are Easy look like quality!”

Jeff Goldblum says something profound about technology surpassing humanity, humanity someday surpassing technology, and then sums up the film I knew the plot of anyway because I’d been watching it for the last freakin’ two hours. Jeremy takes off running across a field, the score becomes the Noble Death Song, Jeremy is struck by lightning and vanishes. A wave of CGI energy smacks the Four Horsemen to the ground. All four get these looks of Profound Wonder that vary based on acting ability. Jessi: profound wonder crossed with did-I-leave-the-oven-on. Jeff Goldblum: profound wonder that he actually got paid for this clunker. Sheriff Doug: profound wonder crossed with what-the-hell-is-with-this-ending-anyway? Deputy Harley: profound wonder, hold the mayo, extra pickle.

The end. Credits. Credits that roll by faster and faster so we can never know who inflicted this film upon us. Awesome.

Scorecard: Intentional humor: 0 Unintentional humor: 5
Subtle, Confusing or Sledgehammer of a Plot? Sledgehammer, by a mile.
Damage to My Liver: Substantial

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

I tried to watch the Martha Stewart movie for you guys last night, but considering how much I drank to get through last night’s 7th Heaven, going to bed seemed like a better idea. Also, I found it distressing that the actress playing “teenage Martha” had more wrinkles than I do.

This is the last 7th Heaven of the season. Depending on my schedule, I’ll try to keep this site updated throughout the summer. I’ll definitely be posting a review of the American Idol movie. If anyone has further suggestions, please let me know. I’ll take requests.

Life and Death, Part 2 Airdate 5.19.03

Last night on 7th Heaven, we learned that getting your period is a BIG DEAL, Lucy is even more messed up than the creepy local pharmacist, the producers still hate Jessica Biel, Tara Lipinksi ain’t nothing but a trick, Chandler’s dad likes the Yankees, Barry Watson is hot, and Deacon Lou and Detective Michaels like to stand around on the porch and give bad news.

Ruthie’s uterus is apparently worthy of its own two-episode arc. The whole family, one by one, finds out that Ruthie has “become a woman” and takes a moment to congratulate her. Even the Poddlers. While bizarre and disgusting, this plot gave me a chance to have some fun with Mike: I waved a glass of cranberry juice under his nose whenever Ruthie was on the screen. At 8:53, Annie manipulates Ruthie into a family celebration dinner.

Last week, Lucy figured out that she was late for more than when God was passing out brains. Lucy’s “She’s a Woman Now” is late, and her first reaction is to tell Kevin. Oh, of course not, her first reaction is to stuff a pillow under her shirt and pose in front of the mirror. Then she tells Kevin, er, calls Mary to say “I did something” in horror. OK, Lucy, Kevin is required to, ahem, “contribute” before you can get pregnant. You didn’t do this on your own. She spends the rest of the episode avoiding Kevin, then goes to the Promenade with Mary and buys a pregnancy test from the creepy local pharmacist. This is the same pharmacist that knows what brand of tampons Peter’s mom uses, so I can think of about a dozen better places to go. Glenoak has a mall, an airport, a synagogue, and a Buddhist temple, I’m sure they also have a Wal-Mart. The last shot of the episode is Lucy staring glumly at her home pregnancy kit.

In case you are wondering, the producers still haven’t forgiven Jessica Biel for posing half-naked in Gear three years ago. That’s the only reason I can think of for Mary being given such insulting storylines. This time around, she’s married some mystery guy and wants her dad to get her an annulment. Both Lucy and Matt married someone out of the blue, but when Mary does the same thing it’s a horrible sin. I’d guess that she married Robbie, but since Robbie has ceased to exist I’m out of ideas. Perhaps she married her leathery boyfriend from the season premiere.

Tara Lipinski reprises her role as Christine, whom Kevin identifies as a “professional dater.” Only Lucy, with her wacky potential pregnancy hormones, is willing to go the extra mile and call her a hooker. Christine prances around the house in a towel and flirts with Simon shamelessly. At 8:53, Christine decides to quit turning tricks and go have pizza with the Camdens. Ah, the Healing Power of Wholesome Camden Pizza will straighten out all her little slutty problems.

Chandler and his dad finally make up, although it’s much less compelling than it could be. For a terminal cancer patient, Chandler’s dad is pretty active and healthy-looking. He does threaten to beat up the Reverend, though, so he can’t be all bad. Chandler and his dad mumble about the Yankees in the Sports Talk of Emotional Healing. At 8:53, Chandler returns home to Glenoak to slobber on Woefullly Miscast Rachel Blanchard. The scene implies that they are going to have sex, but I'm betting they run off and get married.

Matt is back, although he is given absolutely nothing to do except leave messages for Sarah and stalk Simon. But he’s still hot with the short hair, so he could just read weather reports and I’d be happy.

Finally, Deacon Lou and Detective Michaels show up on the Camden front porch, saying they have bad news, so the season ends with a cliffhanger. If prior 7th Heaven cliffhangers are any indication, we’ll find out that a tertiary character no one cares about has died. The Camdens will sob for 20 minutes, then be totally happy by the next episode.

Intentional humor: 3 Unintentional humor: 7 Preachiness: 8 Histrionics: 8 Items thrown at television: 4 Emotional Trauma: 6

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

“Life and Death, Part 1”, Airdate 5.12.03

I’m convinced that the writers of 7th Heaven sit around every week and figure out ways to traumatize me. Last night’s episode included numerous references to products for our dirty parts, including pregnancy tests and tampons. Mike spent much of the episode chugging beer or hiding under the sofa. There were also numerous unintentional PSAs for sex education in high schools. Because these people are CLUELESS and probably believe that babies are caused by impure thoughts and delivered by the stork.

The Reverend goes to New York, unbidden, to talk to Chandler’s dad and get them to reconcile before the evil Dad Of Chandler dies. I’m so delighted that a church with a collapsing roof can afford to send its minister on a last-minute flight to New York to meddle in someone else’s business. The Reverend meets Orson Bean, who pretends to be Chandler’s dad so Dan Lauria, the real dad, can hide. Seriously. The Reverend also spends plenty of time at the hospital, hassling Matt at work. Woefully Miscast Rachel Blanchard avoids Chandler the entire episode, because she thinks playing hard to get is a healthy thing for their relationship. Let me see the logic here: she is proving her love by using sex as a weapon and avoiding her boyfriend, whose dad is dying and could use her support. Wow, these are some great “values”!

Matt is back on the show, and looks adorable with his short, spiky hair that for once has been washed. OK, I admit it – I have a teenybop crush for Barry Watson. He’s dreamy when he has short hair, and after finishing cancer treatment he named his new dog Hodgkins. He may replace Everwood’s Ephram as my TV boyfriend. Matt’s wife, Sarah, who has peculiar teeth like all tertiary characters on this show, is L-A-T-E. Matt and Sarah talk about it in a supply closet, and Matt is delighted that Sarah may have to drop out of medical school to be a good mummy. He also gets caveman cred by referring to her gynecologist as a “witch doctor.” One of the nurses lets slip to the Reverend that Sarah may be pregnant, and he spends the rest of the episode stalking them mercilessly. However, Sarah is not pregnant, despite the multiple positive results she got on the pregnancy tests. Fun Fact: false negatives are way more common than false positives, because it takes time for the buildup of traceable amounts of the chemical pregnancy tests look for. And getting two, let alone three, false positive tests in a row is virtually impossible. And you can get your period and still be pregnant. So, Sarah is probably indeed preggers. Sorry, this show spreads so much misinformation about sexual health it makes me twitch. Like the “Let’s Talk About Sex” episode a few years ago where Mary and Lucy were basically told that there is NO middle ground between kissing and having sex. Well, guys, there are two women who will never want foreplay! Huzzah!

Tara Lipinski, skating star and creepy blowup doll lookalike, joins the cast as Christine. She’s apparently a classmate of Lucy’s, and needs a place to stay while her apartment is being fumigated. Naturally, Lucy offers up her parents’ house without asking them first. Christine parades around the house in a teeny-tiny tank top and boxer shorts, shakes her modest boobage at Simon, and tries to get him to take her to the prom. She even does a ridiculously pornorific “Oops! I forgot my robe!”, which is almost as porny as “You’re not the usual cabana boy.” Christine seems comfortable in her sexuality, which in the Camden universe means she’s a criminal of some sort.

Neck-of-Steel Cecilia has forever redeemed herself by refusing to go to the prom – because it’s expensive and a hassle. Simon flips at both her disobedience and his own lengthening sideburns (his third look for the season, which Mike has decided is indie-rock. I sorta dug the Eddie Munster slicked-back thing from earlier in the season). Simon decides to take Christine instead.

Annie mentions to Lucy that Sarah might be pregnant. Annie then mentions that birth control doesn’t always work. Oh, sweet Lord in heaven! What a revelation! Annie mentions that she was on the Pill when she got pregnant with the Poddlers. Judging by the clear developmental problems of the Poddlers, I’m going to guess that the “Pill” Annie was taking was OxyContin. Lucy gasps, realizes she’s late, and checks the date on the newspaper. Lucy rubs her tummy (unfortunately she does not pat her head at the same time) and stares heavenward in a state of mute shock and idiocy. I find it hilarious that in Lucy’s 21 years on this earth, and all of the “people who have sex always get pregnant” plotlines they’ve had, that NO ONE has ever told her that birth control isn’t perfect.

Ruthie is stuck with the most grotesque subplot ever. Ruthie spends the first half of the episode having a psychotic break, which is an interesting contrast to her usual mild sociopathy. Eventually, Teeth-to-Spare catches on that it’s Ruthie’s First Period. What follows is more traumatizing than Lucy’s First Period in the pilot episode, wherein the Camdens held a party in her honor, complete with presents. Teeth-to-Spare says that she’s been acting crazy lately, as her womenfolk hormones have taken control. He also says he discussed things with his mom, and that Ruthie’s problem is “girl stuff…as in none of my business.” Good save! Mike says he is going to start using that. And, also, I like that Paris and Teeth-to-Spare have recovered so quickly from Dick that they can discuss Ruthie’s uterus. And that may be the most disgusting sentence I have ever typed. Teeth-to-Spare takes Ruthie to the drugstore to purchase tampons, which is ridiculous on two fronts: no 12-year-old uses tampons instead of pads, and no 12-year-old will go buy them without dying a thousand deaths of embarrassment. Teeth-to-Spare and Ruthie go up to the register, and the cashier greets them by name AND points out to Teeth-to-Spare that this isn’t “his usual brand.” So either Paris sends her son to buy corks, or Teeth-to-Spare buys them for his own amusement. Either option is squicky beyond words. Seriously, I would have rather spent the hour watching Xander getting his eye poked out on Buffy.

Also, Mary repeatedly calls the house to talk to her dad, because she’s “done something stupid.” Aside from returning to this horrible, misinformed show, I don’t know what she’s talking about.

Intentional humor: 2 Unintentional humor: 6 Preachiness: 4 Histrionics: 9 Items thrown at television: 8 Emotional Trauma: 31

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

I ran home from Cinco de Mayo drinks to watch this last night, so you guys better show me some love. Last night on 7th Heaven...

“Dick”, Airdate 5.5.03

The previews for last night’s episode cracked me up: “Things couldn’t be happier in the Camden household (footage of people making out)…but someone across the street could threaten it all!” (shot of Dick driving a Buick ominously, which is a pretty neat trick since Buicks rarely get to be ominous). How exactly does Dick threaten the Camdens? Is he going to remove all of their Snapple from the fridge? Don’t get me started about how the hell a minister’s family can afford a fridge full of Snapples. However, I learned a great deal last night: men are evil, women just want the bling-bling, men are evil because they want sex, Neck-of-Steel Cecilia’s family is weirder than mine, and, oh, men are evil.

In the first Men Are Evil subplot, everyone keeps telling Chandler to go home and see his dad before he dies of lung cancer. Chandler is still angry that his dad cut him off for going into the ministry. Aw, poor widdle adult, having to take care of himself! Both Woefully Miscast Rachel Blanchard and the Reverend try to bully Chandler into going home, only to find out that Chandler’s dad told him to stay away. Because Men Are Evil and can’t get in touch with their feelings.

As for Women Wanting the Bling-Bling, Chandler is asked to do marriage counseling for a couple named Cathy and Mark. This subplot features the triumphant return of Mayim Bialik as Cathy. Cathy has been engaged 7 times, receiving an assortment of rings, a pig farm and a boat. Hearing Blossom say “I guess the pigs could ride in the boat” somehow made the whole episode worthwhile for me.

But men are mostly the evil people in this episode. Woefully Miscast Rachel Blanchard tells Chandler that she wants to wait until they get married to have sex, because Lucy talking about her honeymoon made her want to wait. Listening to Lucy talk about her honeymoon would give me dry heaves. However, because men are evil pigs who only want sex, Chandler now wants her more than ever. Woefully Miscast Rachel Blanchard calls Lucy to gloat about how holding out on her man ensures obedience. Barf.

Neck of Steel Cecilia’s parents announce that they’re going to renew their vows. However, it turns out that her parents were never married in the first place. Cecilia’s head bobs about in shock, and her parents get married before they get seasick just watching her.

Finally, last night’s Very Special Men Are Evil Main Plot: Teeth-to-Spare’s mom, Paris, is engaged to Dick. See Dick threaten Teeth-to-Spare. See Dick be syrupy nice and muscle his way into Teeth-to-Spare's and Paris’ private counseling session with the Reverend. See Dick spend all his time with Paris. See Dick demand that Teeth-to-Spare see a child psychiatrist (I would have gone for an orthodontist). See the Reverend make an appointment with Dr. Gibson. During the counseling session, Dick does most of the talking. Afterwards, Dr. Gibson asks Teeth-to-Spare if Dick ever threatened him.Teeth-to-Spare says that Dick was going to get rid of his dog. Dr. Gibson says that Dick is an abuser, and that getting rid of the dog and the kid would have been smart because animals and children are excellent judges of character. Really, there’s nothing more flattering than comparing human beings to dogs. Dr. Gibson points out that Dick was trying to take control by getting Paris to quit her job, taking responsibility for Toothy McTooth away from her, and being at her house all the time. Paris stares in mute shock as Kevin and the Reverend swoop into the room. Kevin informs the room that Dick is on probation for beating his previous wife, then tells Dick that he is not allowed to contact Paris in any way. Because I can’t think of a better way to build Paris’ self-esteem up than make all her decisions for her. Shouldn’t she be the one telling Dick to stay away from her, rather than letting the menfolk take care of it?

Intentional humor: 4 (Blossom!) Unintentional humor: 5 Preachiness: 10 Histrionics: 3 Items thrown at television: 5

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Tuesdays are not complete without the 7th Heaven rundown...

"A Touch of Bink", Airdate 4.28.03

God. NOTHING interesting happened in this episode. Maybe I ought to just start making things up. Even at my drunkest, my plots would make more sense than last week's Desert Smackdown. Last night's episode mainly circled around bad things happening to tertiary characters that no one gives a damn about, thereby draining it of any emotional resonance.

The Reverend gives his first sermon after six months of "If I Only Had a Heart." The roof starts leaking, so the Reverend and Chandler start raising money with the help of grouchy church lady Ms. Bink. Ms. Bink isn't my favorite church lady (that would be the one that got high on cough syrup during Annie's baby shower). Of course, Bad Things Happen to Bad People, so at 8:53 the church finds out that she has cancer. However, since Mrs. Bink has only been in 3 episodes, I don't know why I'm supposed to care.

Ruthie's boyfriend Teeth-to-Spare is upset because his mom has a new boyfriend. The new boyfriend is smarmy, intimidating, and over every night. Teeth-to-Spare is especially annoyed when the mom and boyfriend "fall asleep on the couch after talking for hours." Right, and my 10th grade boyfriend was in my room helping me with a stuck bra clasp. The mom, like all womenfolk, is clueless. At the end of the episode, the boyfriend tells Teeth-to-Spare that if he messes up the relationship, he'll get his dog kicked out of the house. I'm sure this could be a very compelling plot, but again it centers around a tertiary character that I don't give a damn about. At this point, I'm on the boyfriend's side because his name is Dick and I'm sure that created some issues for him.

Lucy and Kevin are back from their honeymoon and are living it up in the garage apartment. Roxanne presses for details about S-E-X, but Kevin tells her that "guys don't talk about that kind of stuff." Mike and I were laughing so hard we missed the next 10 minutes of the episode. I suppose guys are busy talking about shoes, self-tanners and Melrose Place. Roxanne and Lucy go out for pizza and Lucy talks about how wonderful married sex is and how so very glad she is she waited. I have given up understanding why two characters who have hated each other all season would go out for pizza.

Finally, that horrific thing we'd all been dreading has finally occured: the Poddlers got a subplot. The Poddlers take time out of their busy schedule of speaking in unison to steal money from all over the house. The weirdest part of all is when they take money out of Cecilia's purse - she has an organizer, a makeup bag and NO WALLET. All the money is just mixed in there higgeldy-piggeldy (hee, "higgeldy-piggedly"). At 8:53, they apologize and the episode mercifully ends.

Intentional humor: 2 Unintentional humor: 2 Preachiness: 6 Histrionics: 2 Items thrown at television: 0 (I was too busy sleeping).