Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Rhythm of Love

Take out some time today (today of all days really) to read about the wedding of Alvin Ailey dancers Antonio Douthit (left) and Kirven Boyd, who tied the knot in NYC. Kirven has a cute, warm memory of their first date:

“When we first joined the company, we weren’t romantically involved. We were just finding our feet and getting established, but one of our first dates was at a Starbucks overseas,” Kirven recalls. “I was so nervous that I spilled hot chocolate all over my jeans. I still have those jeans and the stain never came out!”

Told you it was a warm memory lol. Read the whole story here.

Right Wing On DOMA, Prop 8 Rulings: Court Doesn't Change God's Law

Well, we knew this was coming. Right-wing leaders have condemned today's landmark Supreme Court decisions, citing God, the Bible and of course, "the best interest of children."

Up first, Michele Bachmann. “Marriage was created by the hand of God,” Bachmann said. “No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted. For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman. Only since 2000 have we seen a redefinition of this foundational unit of society in various nations."

You know there's tea when it comes to gay marriage and Michele's husband Marcus, so we can see why she's so pressed.

“The courts have allowed the desires of adults to trump the needs of our children,” Kansas Republican Congressman Tim Huelskamp said, saying kid needs a mother and a father, and gay marriage denies them that. Really? Since when do all gay couples--or straight couples for that matter--want or have children? Nevermind that decades of studies have proven kids who grew up with two moms or two dads turn out the same or in some cases better than kids raised with heterosexual parents.

 “The Supreme Court has no authority when it comes to the nature of marriage,” Evangelical Church Alliance spokesman Rob Schenck said. That authority belongs to the creator.”

Then how about you follow your religious doctrine in your church, since that's your right, and we'll have our secular, civil marriages outside of the sanctuary, since the laws in this country are based on the Constitution, not religion, since that's our right, m'kay? Equality means everyone, not the people or relationships you deem acceptable. To paraphrase Kirsten Dunst in Bring It On, this isn't a theocracy, it's a democracy.

God, the Bible, the children...chile these fools are like a broken record.


DOMA Ruled Unconstitutional, Prop 8 Ban On Gay Marriage Dead

Yaas! History has been made. With today's Supreme Court ruling, the part of DOMA, or the Defense of Marriage Act, that prevented federal recognition of gay couples is no more, and Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages in California, has been overturned.

Now, in states where gay marriage is legal, gay couples can begin to claim federal benefits such as filing joint tax returns and receiving Social Security benefits, while married gay and lesbian service members can now be recognized by the Department of Defense to receive benefit and protections, while same-sex marriages can resume in California. According to The Advocate:

"In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the nation's highest court ruled that DOMA denies equal protection to a group of people protected by the Fifth Amendment for no other reason than the group's political unpopularity. 

'By seeking to injure the very class New York seeks to protect, DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government," writes Kennedy in the majority decision, which was joined by justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer. "The Constitution’s guarantee of equality 'must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot' justify disparate treatment of that group… DOMA cannot survive under these principles.'"

However, we can't all ease on down the rainbow road just yet. Things could get complicated if say, a gay couple who got married in Massachusetts decides to move to Louisiana, where gay marriage is banned (Chile help my state), and applied for federal benefits. Which brings up another point, that being that marriage equality is not de riguer across the land.

But make no mistake. This is a HUGE step forward toward equality.

True Blood Season 6 Ep. 2 Recap: 'The Sun'

Photo: HBO

As always, spoilers lie ahead. Now read on before you start frying up like rotisserie chicken...

This week episode, "The Sun," picked up right where last week's premiere left off, introducing some new characters, ramping up the intensity of the inevitable vampire versus human war, and delving further into Bill's new found powers and identity.

Well, it turns out the creepy good Samaritan who picked up a unhinged Jason Stackhouse last week, was not in fact, the Warlow. That honor goes to the dude who punched his way through a portal on the same rainy bridge he slaughtered Jason and Sookie's parents on. Am I the only one who thought Warlow (at least with the wide brim hat) is a dead ringer for Rob Zombie? Seriously, I expected him to start busting out "Thunderkiss 69" after he bared his fangs for the camera. But I digress.

Creepy Samaritan Guy is in fact Jason's fairy godfather Naill. Compared to Sookie's fairy godmother Claudine, this guy's pretty up there in age. No offense to Rutger Hauer, but he must have missed the day when all the other fae took a dip into the fountain of youth.  Anyway, Jason doesn't believe him until he rattles off a few memories, like breaking his middle finger, winning a big game, and hiding a juicy porn stash that resonate with his inner dumb horndog . Naill tells Jason he needs to get his shit together if he wants to have even a snowball's chance of hell of defeating Warlow, and the two head to Sookie's house (more on her whereabouts in a minute). Jason leads his grandfather to the bathroom where Warlow warbled his threat to Sookie, and jumps through a portal to the dark world where the vamp sprang from.

Though Warlow's long gone from that nether realm. Over plates of spaghetti, Naill reveals he's been tracking the ancient vampire, but now he's been unleashed courtesy of Sookie and the fairies nature summoning circle last season. Naill goes on to explain Warlow's been obsessed with the Stackhouses, for centuries, being that their bloodline doesn't include just any fairy lineage, but royal fairy lineage. The only way to kill Warlow for Sookie to manifest her light into a supernova that will destroy any vampire that touches it. The catch: she can only use it once, and when she does, bye bye fae magic. It has to be said that Hauer was great in these scenes, lending them a much-needed gravitas that's usual lacking in True Blood.

Naill's not the only fairy who pops up in "The Sun." After getting read for filth by Arlene (who really should start campaigning for a manager's position, being that she pretty much runs Merlotte's at this point) for being late to work, Sookie shuffles her tired bones out of bed. While walking to work she hears someone groaning in pain, and after weighing her options for a nanosecond, decides to help the stranger in distress. Girl face it: you'll never be the girl in the white dress ever again. And deep down, you probably don't want to be. Anyway, the stranger writhing in pain happens to be a half-fae named Ben. Ben explains he's been attacked by vampire, which given how they dissolve into crack fiends whenever they so much as get a whiff of Sookie's sugar, strikes me (and her) as odd that there's even a piece of him left. But a bit of telepathic communication but her doubts to rest, and she brings Ben back to her place. Light flirtation ensues-- he is a cutie-- and she gives him directions to the fairy club, a.k.a The Moulin Fairy, but pumps his brakes when he asks her out for date.

Maybe it's the makeup department or Anna Paquin's "I'm too through" facial expressions and body language, but Sookie does seem to have a weariness that was nonexistent six years ago; her hesitation to jump into another relationship is palpable, though there is a spark between her and Ben, even if the mention of Bill still stirs something in her.

Speaking of Bill, one of his new super vampire appears to be seeing the suffering of other vampires via visions. Vision that leave him in a comatose state so Lilith came summon him in his dreams (nice sashay away by the her naked bloody assistants BTW).

After going a spiel about the end being near, salvation and other apocalyptic babble, Bill asks her if he in fact has become a god, but she sort of sets him straight by explaining god is god, while she, along with Bill, will be worshiped like gods, when in fact, they are not. Got it? Well Jessica doesn't. Freaked out and at a loss at what to do about comatose Bill, she calls up some fast food (Human Edibles, who are sort of like prostitutes, but trade getting bit for cash instead of sex) to see if feeding will bring him back. No luck, but cracking the call girl's skeletal frame before sucking all the blood out of her body will do for a snack for now, thank you very much.

In the end Bill wakes up just in time (after a prayer from Jessica that gave Deborah Ann Woll a chance to flex her dramatic skills) to the vampire he saw being drug through the streets in his vision suffer the same fate in real life. Turns out Bill can see the future, and future ain't pretty, with all the vampires we know being burnt to a crisp and such. Which, given, Lilith's order to him to "save us all," means it's not gonna be pretty for humans either.

In other vampire business, Eric's on the warpath. The humans have stepped up their game, creating new vamp-killing weaponry like UV-tipped silver bullets that fry their targets (in this case Tara) from the inside out. After scooping out the bullet and saving Tara, Eric screams at Pam and Nora to stop their bickering, then orders Nora to find something in the vampire Bible that'll give a clue as to how to vanquish Bill before dashing off to governor's mansion. After taking out a Wildlife and Fisheries rep and donning his clothes, Eric puts on his best hick accent and enters the mansion, .

The scene between governor and Eric is a standout, as the two have an increasingly tense conversation about exterminating vampires (apparently two kiddie vamps drained some kids at Chuck E. Cheese. See, they never should have changed their name from Showbiz.) under the guise of talking about the survival skills of whooping cranes. Finally Eric goes for the glamour, but wouldn't you know, the governor has developed special contacts to stop that! After much gloating, Eric is carted off, but manages to fly away before returning to the mansion and glamour the governor's daughter. If he knows what's good for him, he'll kidnap her and hold her for ransom, as the governor has now decreed vampires have no rights under the law.

Sam got an offer from new character Nicole (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a supernatural rights activist, to "come out" about his shifter status as way to smooth over supe-non supe relations. Is she naive? Yeah, but the way she snaps back at Sam after he tries to dismiss her, name dropping of her grandparents' involvement in civil rights in the process, shows she's got the tenacity to back up her idealism. The werewolves made a (thankfully) small appearance. Just as I predicted, Sam and the pack's story lines became intertwined due to Emma , with Alcide and Martha taking her by force to keep her safe in the wake of Luna's on-air shift. No doubt Sam won't give up that easily, but the fact he has such a fabulous baby sitter in Lafayette alone should grant him permanent custody.

As for the other non-supes, Terri and Arlene wrapped up their Ifrit saga with a big red bow of lies, telling Patrick's pregnant wife that he ran off with someone else. And Andy's still totally lost when it comes to raising four fae kids. On the upside, at least they didn't hit puberty overnight. Literally.

Other Thoughts:

---Where are Holly and Steve Newlin? Seriously?

---Something tells me if Jesus had lived, he and Lala would have moved to Vermont or D.C. and adopted a couple of kids or went the surrogate. Mama Lala looked like she was having the time of her life playing dress up with Emma. Or he could always open a combination seance/daycare center.

---Speaking of Sam and the wolves, where was Rikki when they came to take back Emma? After the big show she made (complete with making the other were chick go downtown on Alcide) last week of being the HBIC, she was conspicuously absent.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mad Men Season 6 Ep. 13 Recap: 'In Care Of'

Photo: Jaimie Trueblood/AMC

As always, spoilers lie ahead...

Mad Men sixth season finale was entitled "In Care Of," but it could have been "Wow. Didn't See That Comin'." Throughout the entire hour the writers upended expectations by having characters travel down familiar roads, making the same bad choices until they decide, or others decide for them, to try something different. And for the most part, it all played out in a way that was surprising, heart breaking and completely believable and true to the characters we've come to know.

No one exemplified this more than Don Draper. For a man who once said "people don't change" like it was gospel, he took some awfully big steps towards beginning to pull himself out of the hellish depths (Dante's Inferno reference!) he descended to this season. Don's been at the brink before. And as fascinating and complex as he is, his arc each year has always boiled down to the same thing: the relentless self-destruction of his life, followed by a brief moment of clarity and introspection (his California trek to Anna Draper's house in season two, not fighting Betty and letting her move on with Henry Francis in season three, season four's swimming and journal keeping) before throwing himself headlong into another surface reinvention that gives a temporary feeling of happiness, but inevitably ends with a return to same destructive cycle. However, what made season six's downward spiral stand out from the rest was its public nature. Don was not only out of control, but everyone could see (or no longer ignore, take your pick) that he was. What's more, he no longer had the luxury of his creative genius or mysterious aura to fall back on to make up for selfish, often inexplicable behavior.

At first it looked like Don again, took away nothing from his latest exploits in self-loathing. There he is at the bar, drinking up a storm in the middle of the day and blowing off a client meeting after a phone conversation with Sally, during which she alludes to catching he and Sylvia in the act. Next, he comes to in a holding tank after punching a priest (though I don't feel that much sympathy for his holiness being that he presumes to have intimate knowledge of whether MLK, JFK and RFK were true Christians. Though IMO they were good men in spite of, not because of, their religious beliefs. But I digress). The morning after he's let out of the slammer, he acknowledges to a concerned Megan he knows he's been out of control. But then he goes on a riff about moving to California for Sunkist and taking Megan along with him. The kids will see him maybe twice a year, during summer vacation tops.

"We were happy there," he tells her and she gets caught in the potential romance of it all and agrees. He's still running away, making rash decisions that will hurt people in his work and personal life (the kids, poor Stan, who came out of the haze only to have his ambition stamped out). Still only liking the beginnings of things. Faye you may have gotten dumped, but girl you live on spirit with that immortal line. He brushes off Betty's worries about Sally's suspension for drinking with a "kids will be kids" platitude.

While Ted practically pleads with him to stay in New York so he can move to California and save himself and his family from a doomed affair with Peggy. Don rebuffs him at first, saying he didn't make his decision lightly (yeah right), but Ted lays down the emotional gauntlet, saying he knows there's goodness in Don somewhere, and advises him to have a drink before the meeting with Hershey's, alluding to his own alcoholic father's attempts to cut back.

All this (along with a quick whorehouse flashback involving a minister, God and talk of forgiveness) help lay the groundwork for Don to break his cycle in a way that was totally unexpected and riveting to watch. After giving what's easily his best pitch in ages  (it ain't The Carousel, but it'll do), the Hershey's execs are sold on his tale of having his father rub his head after buying candy for him. He appears to be in his element, selling another lie about the family he never had. But one look at Ted, flawed and vulnerable but trying to do what's right, then down at his own shaky hands,causes Don to clue everyone in on what his boyhood was really like: one spent in a whorehouse with a cruel stepmother and a prostitute who rewarded his theft of her johns by buying him a Hershey bar,which he ate alone "and with great ceremony." It's a heart-stopping scene, and game-changer for Don; despite his best attempts to obliterate his past, he's finally letting lonely, unloved Dick Whitman's story be told.

Unfortunately, he's letting it be told in the middle of an important business meeting, treating a client who can bring big money to SC&P and his co-workers like his own personal team of therapists. Don Draper has officially hit rock bottom.  The partners can no longer deny it, and tell him he must take a leave of absence, with no return date in the near future. Adding insult to injury, he sees Duck Philips, who no doubt will savor this moment until the day he dies, ushering in what may be his permanent replacement, on his way out. Don's always buried himself in work when his personal life was imploding. Now that that's been taken away from him, will he start to repair all the havoc he's wreaked? The final shot of him taking Sally, Bobby and Gene to the now-abandoned house where his demons where born and saying, without hesitation, "this is where I grew up," suggests he will.

Make no mistake. Don's not looking for total absolution. We didn't see him tell Sally the truth or confess the affair with Sylvia to Megan and probably won't. However at this point the latter seems moot, as after he tells Megan plans have changed and they're staying in New York, she digs her heels in and plows ahead with her own plan to pursue leads in Hollywood. "I love you," Don tells her, and unlike his "I've been away" speech in "The Better Half," it comes from a place of truly wanting to work on their marriage. But to Megan, it's more of the same mercurial, controlling behavior from Don, putting his career and his priorities above her own. This may change now that Don's out of a job, but for now things aren't looking good for them.

No doubt it was a deliberate choice on Matt Weiner's part to have "In Care Of" take place on Thanksgiving, just as season one's finale "The Carousel" did. While the Don Draper of 1960 was moved by his own pitch of private family photos to fix what was broken in his home life, it was all surface; he wasn't ready to go there yet. He wanted the appearance of a perfect family without doing the hard, sometimes painful work it takes to have a real one. Now that all vestiges of his invented persona have been burnt to the ground, there is no surface, be it booze, philandering or work, to distract him What's exhilarating about this turn of events is that he actually wants to be there for his family. The possibilities of Don's story arc for next season are endless.

Woo, that was a lot to process. While we're talking about family, Roger Sterling's daughter is still a spoiled brat who's only interested in her daddy for what he can give her. Roger's immature, and the apple didn't fall from the tree; she pushes him to invest in her husband's business, then when she doesn't get her way right away, she withholds love as punishment. She might as well scream "You're mean!" and stomp up the stairs to her room, which she pretty much does, telling him to forget Thanksgiving dinner and leaving her husband to clean up her mess.

Feeling down, Roger sees Bob Benson and Joan laughing and tries to break up the good mood with a harsh (but funny) quip about Bob potentially getting shot in the face like Kenny by Chevy execs. He then orders Bob into his office and berates him for "taking advantage" of Joan. Not to say Bob's not working his opportunistic magic on the former Mrs. Harris, but it's not remotely in the way Roger thinks. Either, Roger's outburst is obviously coming from a place of loneliness and insecurity, and, after his secretary tells Joan how distraught he is over his daughter "bleeding him dry" she lifts her ban on his visits to Kevin, inviting him over to her apartment for Thanksgiving. He grimaces when he catches sight of Bob, but something tells me Joan will spill the tea on Bob in her own marvelously discreet way. I only wish we could have heard it.

Speaking of Bob, Draper 2.0's order last week to have his friend Manolo speak with Pete's mother Dorothy has lead to fatal consequences, as Pete receives a telegram that she went overboard while on a cruise. The other shock comes when he learns Manolo and Dorothy got married, right before she happened to take a dive. Pete rips Bob a new one in the elevator and swears he will not let go of this. Bob denies knowing about Manolo's plan, which is likely true (Bob's a corporate climber, not a mob boss), but Pete gives him the cold shoulder anyway. It's hard not to be on Pete's side in this, but he makes a mistake when he tries to cut Bob out of a lunch with Chevy execs. Bob retaliates by pushing Pete, who just learned to drive last year, to test out a car on the showroom floor. Long story short, he backs into a sign, earns the scorn of the execs by not knowing how to dry stick and is finished in Detroit. Memo to Pete: never mess with a stunt queen unless you're prepared to do battle.

In his office with Bud, Pete tries to see if they can find their mother's body and Manolo, who is likely on the run after discovering she was broke. Ironically,  Pete expresses more love and concern for his mother in death than he ever did while she was alive. In the end, the brothers decide to let it all go, as Dorothy's "burial at sea" is, in its own strange way, appropriate, given her love of the ocean and that their father died at sea courtesy of a plane crash. I did have a tiny quibble with this story line. It felt a bit like an easy way to do away with two characters the show no longer had use for. But it did lead to a nice scene between Pete and Trudy, in which she tells him that while he can't see it now, his mother's passing has freed him from his family's baggage. She's right, and and for him California could be the new start that Don wanted it to be for himself.

Peggy's story arc was another great  fake out by the writers. At first it looked as though they would go the cliche route and have Peggy and Ted engage in a torrid affair doomed to fail, and I groaned a little inside. It's not that it wasn't totally implausible--she and Ted are obviously attracted to one another--it just felt a little disappointing for a character like Peggy, who if anything has tried to make a habit out of not making the same mistakes. While she and Ted did sleep together (though you can't be too hard on the guy; Peggy turned it OUT in that baby doll dress), Ted's compartmentalizing skills nowhere near as good as Don's and he's breaks it off the next day.

Peggy's devastated of course; all season long she's been at the mercy of the men around her, their attitudes toward her shifting faster than she can read them. Don punished her for choosing a new mentor and Ted has played hot and cold with his feelings for her. Now his decision to move 3,000 miles away is only the latest gut punch. She tries to lay the blame on Don, but Ted tells he gave up his spot in Cali for him. I'm surprised she didn't try to choke him out with her scarf. "Well aren't you lucky, to have decisions," she snaps at him. But, as Ted tells her, ending things was better for her in the long run. She wasn't thinking clearly about the potential consequences an affair could have, not only personally, but professionally. No doubt Ted's wife Nan is a well-heeled socialite who has connections.

Now she's left to work on a holiday since she has no one and she and her family aren't close. However, she and Stan's quick conversation shows it's not the end of the world for her. "This is where everything is," she tells him and as she settles in at her former mentor's--now her--office, it's clear that while she is alone, she isn't lonely.

A stunning, superb finale to what at times was an uneven, but ultimately satisfying season. See you next year for the (gulp) seventh and final season of Mad Men.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Food For Thought: Audre Lorde

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” 

Families Are Forever

Most of us have been told (or said/blogged about) repeatedly about the importance of coming out and how it change the hearts and minds of people, including those closest to us. But it never gets old seeing it actually happen. Such is the case with the Montgomerys, a Mormon family who had to rethink their views on homosexuality once their teenage son Jordan came out of the closet.

The 20-minute film Families Are Forever, which debuts this weekend at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, captures the family's journey to understand and ultimately accept their son. Watch the trailer below.

FAMILIES ARE FOREVER from Family Acceptance Project on Vimeo.

Lesbian Couple Attacked At Philadelphia McDonald's

Two women were attacked at a McDonald's in Philadelphia after they were caught allegedly having sex in a bathroom.

Police say the restaurant's manager asked the two women, both 23, to leave after finding them "in a bathroom and engaged in some type of sexual activity."

According to The Huffington Post, "As the women exited, they reportedly exchanged heated words with seven other customers. The quarrel escalated when the crowd followed the women out of the restaurant, according to Consumerist. Someone in the gang of irate patrons allegedly stabbed one of the women in the shoulder with an unknown object.

Chitwood told the Philadelphia Inquirer that at least one attacker yelled derogatory language at the women, telling them,'Get [out] of here, you dirty dykes."' The alleged stabber is believed to be a 40-year-old mother of two (If I prayed, I would definitely be lifting up hands for her kids if they turn out to be gay) , who is thought to have instigated the attack. 

No arrests have been made yet, but investigators are currently reviewing the surveillance footage. The woman who was stabbed was treating for non-life-threatening injuries at the hospital. If the two women were in fact, banging in the bathroom, it may not have been the smartest move, but it sure as hell wasn't one worthy of a stab wound.

Obama Announces Two More Openly Gay Ambassadorial Nominees

President Obama announced he would nominate two more gay men, to ambassadorial posts.

John Berry (pictured left), who worked previously in the administration, was the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management from April 2009 to April of this year, making him the highest ranking openly gay official in the executive branch, is Obama's pick for ambassador to Australia.

James "Wally" Brewster Jr., the nominee for ambassador to the Dominican Republic, has served as a Democratic fundraiser and LGBT activist while working in the private sector as senior marketing partner for SB&K Global, a Chicago-based consulting firm. A national LGBT co-chair for the Democratic National Committee, Brewster also serves on the board of the HRC.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

True Blood Season 6 Ep.1 Recap: 'Who Are You, Really?'

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

FYI: Because there are only so many hours in a day for me to over-analyze, snark and pontificate, the first two True Blood recaps will be posted on Tuesday this week and next week, until Mad Men wraps up. Now on to the recap before I end your face...

Since its very first episode, True Blood has used vampires and the cornucopia of other supernaturals that populate Bon Temps, as well as the humans who love or hate them, as a thinly veiled metaphor for the uber partisan, red state versus blue state culture wars of the last decade of American culture and politics. While the first season toyed with this through campy satire (vampires "coming out of the coffin" and vampire/human marriage as stand-ins for LGBT rights), the divide between pro and anti-vampire sides has grown each season.

There have been a few detours; the Mary Ann maenad madness of season two, the werewolves (save for the fact they fall in the supernatural category and their connection to Russell, they've always had trouble fitting into the show) and Sam's family drama of season three, and the fairy/witch coven/ghost baby/Brujo mess that was season 4. True Blood has, in its own haphazard way, been pushing toward an inevitable war since it's inception, piling on religious fundamentalism, political corruption, paranoia, civil unrest and good old fashioned sexual/romantic entanglement to push the proceedings to this point.

These things aren't just abstract concepts; they've caused characters to commit serial murder (Renee), suicide (Luke's take one for the team bomber mission) and lose their identity (Hoyt's stint the with Obama-mask wearing hate group) and in general cause destruction to themselves and those around them (Sanguista/mainstreamer arc of last season). They've trickled into their personal lives as well. Jason, Sookie and Bill may be the most obvious examples, but each character has at some point gone back and forth between grudging acceptance, love, suspicion, fear and outright hatred of vampires. Until now though, they've had the luxury of not having to pick a side and truly sticking with it (well Tara had to once Pam ordered her not to fry herself, but you get the point). But now that Bill's become Bilith, Luna's shifted on live TV after revealing the Authority's plot to take over the world and humans have for all intents and purposes have declared war, there's no longer room for fence riding. In other words, shit has officially hit the fan.

Jason's definitely picked a side. He doesn't comfort Jessica when she melts down and runs off after they've all escaped the wrath of Bilith. And he's got a hair trigger when it comes to Nora, threatening to kill her even after Eric threatens to kill him. After accusing Sookie of choosing "them" over him, he runs away and hitches a ride with a creepy stranger. Not the smartest thing to do in a vampire/human war, but that's our Jason. Though he's got his wits about him enough to put his hand on his gun when the driver says he's not afraid of blood.

However, all it takes is a little small talk before Jason's spilling out his whole life story; it's obvious he wants someone to confide in, and since Hoyt's gone and he hates Jessica, this dude's the next best thing. Well almost, since surprise! It's Warlow, who let's his true identity slip before unleashing a skin-crawl worthy laugh (seriously Rutger Hauer, the actor who plays Warlow, is scary good, and he only got about 10 mintues of screen time. But I digress.) and vanishing out of the car. I guess Nora saying Warlow was Lilith's progeny should have been a head's up that he'd make an appearance, but the reveal was genuinely unsettling moment nonetheless.

While we're on the subject, a relationship between another progeny and their maker has hit the skids. Pam is pissed Eric kept another big secret from her (that being Nora's his sister; I wouldn't even wanna be in the same room if she found out they screw like champions), but Eric basically tells her to "hush that noise, the world's ending woman" and zooms off with Nora. Tara tries to be there for her, and they share a nice moment after she and Eric's spat, but her overall attitude towards her own progeny is still arms length--well except for the occasional sex on the beach (forgive me, I couldn't pass that one up).

Pam tries to dismiss the intensity of Tara's affection by bringing her disastrous track record with men, but Tara rightly points out that she's so focused on chasing after Eric and competing with Nora she can't see  Tara anyway other than a nuisance she can occasionally fool around with. But the two are a good match for each other; Tara doesn't take any crap, and though her past romances may have been doomed, during them she was fiercely loyal and protective of the person she was with. Pam keeps bringing up how she's been with Eric for 100 years, yet she's been kept in the dark for all these years about huge parts in his life that anyone who knows him at least one year should be privy to. How well does she really know him (cue the episode's title)? She may want to reconsider Tara's words. And judging from the anguished looked on her face after a bunch of guards bust in to tell them Fangtasia much shut down--per the new restrictions on vamp-owned businesses--and shoot a defiant Tara, she just might.

Sookie may believe the Bill she knew died when he downed Lilith's blood, but there's no doubt in Jessica's mind; he's her maker, and anyone, vampire or human, that stands in his way, will be destroyed. Though now that he's become immune to staking and can move things with his mind, he'll probably be the one protecting her, at least physically. In a nice scene between Bill and Jessica, she confesses how seeing him all butt naked and bloody was freaking scary (then there was that whole business about summoning her and almost ripping her heart out in the process). But Bill is scared too. "I don't know what I am," he says, in a subtle callback to Sookie's confusion over her fairy origins, as he asks Jessica to not let his power corrupt him and drive him mad. Though she's probably got her work cut out for her, if the visions and multiple bloody vampires zipping into his skin is any indication.

I'm kinda disappointed Bill didn't get all "destroy all humans" and go on a rampage, but I can see why the writers would rather build to that climax than use it on the season premiere. It's smarter plot-wise to have Bill try to understand his new abilities and struggle not let them consume him. Still, it's hard to feel that much sympathy for Bill; while Lorena made him a vampire against his will, he chose to ignore the signs that Lilith's a  mad god and drank her blood anyway.

For his part, Eric's gotten all chivalrous; not only did he walk Sookie home, he gave her her home back, signing a temporary deed in blood, and instructs (more like commands) Nora to stay away from her. Though if you remember how she sniffed around Sookie like a rabid dog last season, that may be easier said than done. While talking to Eric, Sookie gave him this spiel about not turning out to be the person she thought she'd be. "I want to go to back to being the girl in the white dress," she tells him before rescinding his invitation. That's all well and good girl, but we've been here before. Season after season she's let Bill and Eric back in her life and then kicked them out after the latest betrayal was revealed or crisis had died down. Actions speak louder than words, so she's gonna have to do better than showing Eric the door and telling Bill where to go. Besides, with Warlow coming to claim what's his, she's not going to go back to way things were anytime soon. Or, if you want to apply her words to episode title, does she even remember who that girl was?

In shifter news, Luna died. Cue crocodile tears. Truth be told, I could never get into her character. Her personality was just too one note (perpetually pissed off); of course True Blood's other females are tough as nails, but Luna had neither Pam's acerbic wit, Sookie's sweetness (or naivete depending on the situation), Tara's vulnerability or hell, even Maxine Fortenberry or Arlene's trashy charisma to add more depth to her character. Luckily this frees up Sam to interact with other characters like Lafayette, who like Pam, had some of the best lines of night ("Sobering up on your office floor. You know drunk driving kills," he tells Sam after he spies him sipping his Tequila). Though I hope he doesn't get lost in the shuffle this season either.

Look, I love some naked Joe Maganiello, but at this point the werewolves story arc is totally disconnected from everything else that's going on. Right now, Alcide enjoying his new pack master status, taking a bite out of JD's severed arm and having threesomes in the woods with Ricki and another were chick. Martha tells Ricki that power "eats away at a man's decency," so I guess we'll see Alcide's struggle to remain a good guy this season parallel with Bill's. Perhaps he'll lead the pack in trying to stake a claim in vamp/human affairs (which they've been trying and failing to do the past three seasons) and Sam will likely get mixed up in things now that he's taking care of Emma, but other than that I don't see much happening with them. I also don't see much interesting coming out of the governor of Louisiana's backdoor deal with a True Blood exec. How exactly does a greedy politician lining his own pockets with True Blood tie into the story? You got me, but I'll try keep an open mind.

Oh, and Andy's fairy offspring went from babies to toddlers in one night. Suck on that!

Other Observations:

---Where's Holly? Or Steve Newlin? I guess fitting them in would be one too many characters, even for True Blood.

--Kristen Bauer must look at her scripts each week and plant a big wet kiss on the pages when she sees the lines she gets to recite. A few of my favorites: "I hate the beach. Fish piss and sand in your cooch," the aforementioned "I'm about to end your face," "Who the fuck is Mary Poppins and can I please kill her?" and her curt "Honey it's been swell knowin' ya'. Good luck," to Jessica as her insides almost implode. Not to mention the epic F bomb she drops when screaming at Eric to drive when the gang spots Bilith in all his blood insanity.

--Was that random girl's "Stop the blood shed governor" moment, complete with hurling a ball of fake blood, a dig a PETA?

--Tara and Sookie's simultaneous "Shut up Jason!" was cute. Nice to see the two of them bonding over shutting down Jason's stupidity, just like old times.

Your thoughts?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mad Men Season 6 Ep. 12 Recap: 'The Quality of Mercy'

Photo: AMC

As always, spoilers lie ahead...For an episode that began with Ken Cosgrove getting shot--gotta tap dance faster buddy--"The Quality of Mercy" was kinda a low-key episode. While there was nothing as heart-stopping as Sally walking in on Don and Sylvia mid-coitus, the after shocks from it, as well as from Bob Benson's confession to Pete and the rekindling of Ted and Peggy's potential affair, permeated the proceedings.

Sally has decided to be merciful to Don--though she really just wants to get the hell away from him and the mental picture of him with his pants down--by choosing to head off to boarding school. On the way there, Betty tries to suss out her reasons for wanting to leave home, and Sally, as required by teenage law, tests her patience with a series of non-answers. Finally she throws Betty a bone with "I want to be an adult, but I value my education."

She and Betty may have sat down with the headmaster for a greeting/pre-interview, but it's her future dorm mates she really has to worry about impressing. Apparently they run this mother, and whatever girl they decide is cool, gets in. The way they lay this news on her is condescending, which I guess par for the course when you come across queen bees (in my head Andy, blonde girl, grows up to be Regina King's trashy mom in Mean Girls), but at least they were kind enough to clue her in. After rolling their eyes and drolly reprimanding her for not smuggling refreshments(cigarettes, pot, booze etc.), they call over some boys, one of which is Betty's old crush Glenn Bishop. After drink and weed are passed out, Glenn follow s Andy into her room, while his friend Rolo stays with Sally.

Rolo tries to make a move, but Sally resists, though it's hardly surprising she'd be less than thrilled about going all the way with a boy, given the psyche-throttling image she got last week. It's why she didn't just shoot the guy down, but knocked on the door and insinuate to Glenn things went further than they really did so he'd get angry and beat his friend down; teenage boys can be pushy about sex, but boasting about how other girls you've been with (though I'm guessing Rolo's number is probably should be adjusted for the rule of three), saying you're tired of talking and expressing mild frustration ("You're a tease") when all signs led to getting laid but morphed into a  big red "NO," is not forcing someone to do anything.

The Mona Lisa smile that spreads on her face as Glenn knocks some chivalry into Rolo, shows she wasn't really scared. Or it could be she's just happy there's one male figure in her life she can count on to protect her. Creepy or not creepy (I happen to fall in the latter camp. Some kids are just kooky) Glenn's always been open and honest with Sally in a way Don never has. If anything, Sally may have subconsciously been using Rolo as a scapegoat for her lingering anger and frustration at not only seeing Don's infidelity in the flesh, but not feeling she can say anything about it to anyone. Was it any coincidence Rolo's hair style, while youthful, was pretty much a more stylish dead ringer for Don's trademark flop sweat side part 'do? Me thinks not, but I'll leave that Tom and Lorenzo to dissect, if they deem it so.

On the car ride home, Betty informs her the headmaster told her that, given the family she comes from, she can have her pick of boarding schools, which means she's gotten in. Betty hands her a celebratory cigarette. "I'd rather have you do it in front me than behind my back," she says, earning her a few cool Mom points. "I'm sure your father's given you a beer." "My father's never given me anything," Sally says in an arctic tone that could have sprung from her mother's lips. It's the first of many similar statements she'll probably spend the Eighties uttering on a couch to her therapist.

Sally's not the only woman in his life Don's disappointed. Things haven't been right between he and Pegg since she walked in Ted's office after the Chevy meeting and saw him sitting on the couch. And since the merger, he's consistently put her in a position where she must choose between his ideas and Ted's, and by extension, between him and Ted as people. Peggy has clearly chosen Ted as both her new professional role model, and whether or not she wants to admit it, still hopes for him to be her romantic partner as well.

Ted, whatever his earlier misgivings, is clearly still attracted to her, and the way they giggle and carry throughout the episode makes you wonder if they aren't already sneaking back to her place during lunch hour for a quickie. If you need more evidence Ted is acting the way Don did when he was on "love leave" with Megan, look no further than Ted championing Peggy's elaborate Rosemary's Baby-inspired idea for a St. Joseph's commercial. Even though Don points out said commercial would go $35,000 over budget, Ted pushes for it anyway, believing it's award-worthy even after the client says he doesn't want such an expensive ad.

Later, during a meeting Ted tries and fails to convince the St. Joseph's exec that going with Peggy's idea, while costly, is the best move. When he doesn't budge, Don pulls a showstopper out of his hat  by saying the commercial is very "personal" to Ted. After twisting the metaphorical knife in deeper by letting the tension in the room thicken until Ted and Peggy look as if they might spontaneously incinerate, Don says it's personal because it was late partner Frank Gleason's last idea. The exec agrees to go on along with it, but the cost of salvaging the ad  comes at Peggy getting no credit for what sounds like an amazing commercial (stereotypical references to Japanese people always having cameras on hand notwithstanding). It's not the first time though. Remember the Clio-winning Glo Coat ad? Peggy no doubt does, and seethes until Ted asks to be left alone with Don so they can talk. He tries to read Don about letting he and Peggy twist in the wind in front of a client, but Don points out what everyone else already knows: Ted's in love with Peggy and it's clouding his judgement.

"I know your little girl has beautiful eyes, but that doesn't mean you give her everything." Damn when did Don become Bert Cooper? Ted denies it, but Don tries to make him see light, saying "we've all been there" when comes to having your head turned by a pretty face, and Ted's protest of "don't say that about her" doesn't go a long way in dismissing the notion he's over heels. Though the women who had Roger and Don punch drunk with love, Jane Segel and Megan, don't really hold a candle to Peggy when to comes ambition, talent and sheer ambition, he has a point, and to his credit lets Ted know he and Peggy never slept together. In the end, Don is right, but like Pete, he often can't speak or make others see the truth without doing it in the shittiest way possible.

Even so, Don's words hit a nerve with Ted, because he's gone home by the time Peggy goes to check on him; though his secretary Moira didn't have to mention he left right after he was told she wanted to see him. Anyway, Peggy marches into Don's office and proceeds to ream him out. Like season four's "The Suitcase" and "The Other Woman" their conversation is tense and barbed, and comes after an incident that left Peggy feeling totally disrespected. "You hate that he's a good man," Peggy says, and she must be deep in infatuation land, because Ted has proven time and time again that while he is better man than Don in some ways, he can be just as cold (rejecting her the morning after she broke up with Abe) impulsive (Don didn't merge SCDP and CGC on his own) and at times is just as much a part of old boys' club (immediately thinking of Pete for Avon instead of Joan) as her former mentor. Don, right on the money but being dickish again, says "He's not that virtuous. He's just in love with you." He would know, as he's describing himself as much as he is Ted.

Peggy is emotional, but unlike their showdown in "The Suitcase," or her wrenching goodbye in "The Other Woman" she's neither tearful, enraged or affected by Don's words in any way. All her feelings are for Ted. She's officially through with him, and is steely as titanium as she lets this zinger rip. "Well you killed him. You killed the ad, you killed everything. You can stop now. You're a monster." With that she walks away, leaving Don alone to curl up on the couch and wallow in his own self-loathing. If he was seeing clearly himself, he'd realize Megan is trying as much as she can to be there for him. The sight of him pouring Vodka into his morning OJ the morning after he got absolutely blasted actually had me feeling sorry for Don for a moment. But it's obvious he's intent on pushing her away, the flicking off of her soap opera thematic evidence of his overall attitude toward her; he won't even try to win Sally back.

Of course, the only way to do that would be to man up and tell Megan the truth, something he doesn't look remotely courageous enough to do at this time. Sally's discovery of Don's affair has made his latest downward spiral stick more than his other trips to the abyss. There is a witness who won't, or can't, pretend it never happened. He's going to have to make some drastic changes and finally realize he'll have to save himself if he wants his daughter to start respecting him again.

Enough of Don's drama. After getting shot in the face, Ken is done with Chevy, leaving the door open for Pete to become their new account man. Of course that also means Bob Benson will be joining Pete on trips to Detroit, as Cutler placed him on Chevy a few weeks back. Pete tries to push Bob off the account, but Cutler and the other partners put the kibosh on that. Sensing things may be going south, Bob decides to let everyone discuss things further without him and leaves the room.

I fully expected Pete, never one to pass up a self-sabotaging low blow, to blurt out "Bob's a homo and he hit on me" to the whole room. But he's clearly desperate to restore some luster to his career--and besides, after Roger's admission Lee Garner Jr. once made him cup his balls (shout out to Sal), who's to say how much shock value that particular announcement would have had? If anything, hearing everyone trade all these war stories sent the overriding message that when it comes to clients, personal discomfort or indignities suffered must be brushed aside in the name of new business. Of course Ken doesn't agree, but Ken's always done foolish things like not having his total self-worth wrapped up in work and seeing the value of building a real, separate life outside of the office.

Pete goes out and tells Bob he doesn't want to share a hotel room with him or get too close to him, as he's "sick." But Bob forcefully (or as forcefully as Bob has addressed anyone in the office) informs Pete in no uncertain terms "this ain't personal bitch, this is business," when it comes to Chevy and that he should watch how he speaks to people. Later, we see Bob screaming on the phone in Spanish to someone who is likely Manolo, complaining Pete is a son of a bitch (no arguments here) and saying he's trying screw with his future.  His suspicions are right as Pete is calling up Duck Philips to see if he can find some job options to offer Bob when shows him the door.

However, Duck comes back with a big ol' bag of "oh snap": it turns out Bob or "Bobby" as he was referred to back in West Virginia, reinvented himself as Bob Benson and worked as manservant to a big-time exec for three years before snatching his Rolodex one Christmas and applying for corporate jobs. Gay translation: he was a kept boy (think Scott Thorson and Liberace since Behind The Candelabra is popping right now) for a rich closeted queen, and when things turned sour, he pulled a stunt, knowing he wouldn't suffer any consequences from his sugar daddy because he wouldn't want to be outed, and struck out on his own. Duck's not even sure of his real name or age .

At first it looks like Pete will use the information to his advantage. After all, unlike his discovery of Don's past, he's Bob's superior; the power dynamic is dramatically different from the one he and Don had in season one. But instead, Pete surprisingly (and thankfully; it would have been supremely messed up if the show got rid of Bob just as he was becoming really interesting) decides not to hurt Bob with  what he knows. Given his experiences with Don's Dick Whitman mess and the sacrifices he's had to make over the years to keep it quiet (giving up the North American Aviation account in season four comes to mind) the last thing he wants is to get sucked into anyone else's secrets. Bottom line: as long Bob "doesn't get too close' to him, their working relationship will be just fine.

Will things will remain just fine among any of these characters? Only next week's finale will tell.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Food For Thought: Rupaul

"When you become the image of your own imagination, it's the most powerful thing you could ever do.”

Watch Rupaul speak this and other fabulous truths during her appearance on Arsenio back in '93 below hunties.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Tale Of Two Dads

Mark Maxwell (pictured right) and Timothy Young (pictured left) have been together for over two decades, marrying in January in the District of Columbia. The couple is also raising four boys they adopted out of foster care. However, they cannot jointly adopted the boys due to the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, and the ban on same-sex marriage in their home state of North Carolina.

They speak on both their long relationship (Mark met Timothy at 17) and the personal and potential legal struggles they face in the short video "A Tale of Two Dads." Footage of the family's home life, with shots of the boys' Christmas stockings, as well as of their wedding in D.C., with both of them wearing matching top hats, is particularly touching. Watch it below.

Student Expelled For Being Lesbian, University Demands She Pay Back Tuition

Can you say insult to injury? Danielle Powell, a former student at conservative Christian school Grace University in Omaha, has begun an online petition to protest the institution's demand that she pay back her scholarship funds after being expelled in 2012 for being a lesbian. According to The Advocate:

"Grace University, originally the Grace Bible Institute, has refused to transfer the credits earned by Powell during her three-and-a-half-year enrollment until she agrees to pay $6,300. The amount reflects the tuition of the spring semester of 2011, when administrators first discovered her sexual orientation and removed her from courses.  

Powell, a former member of the college’s volleyball team and an on-campus volunteer for the homeless, was one semester shy of graduation.

Michael James, executive vice president at Grace University, justified the college's actions to The Huffington Post, affirming that its student handbook forebade "sexually immoral behavior." Quoting from the handbook, James stated:

'Any student involved in sexually immoral behavior, including premarital sex, adultery, and homosexual acts, is at minimum placed on University probation and may be subject to a Judiciary Hearing.'”

How is he so sure she's engaging in any acts? Being lesbian doesn't automatically mean you're getting down with the get down. Anyway, Powell's wife Michelle Rogers has started the position, which demands the university drop its claims as they are keeping Powell from transferring to another college and completing her degree. So far the petition has 11, 200 signatures.

Go here to sign the petition.

LGBT Survey Reveals Progress and Struggles

A new Pew Research Center study reveals both the strides many LGBT Americans feel they've made and they struggles they've face. The study, titled "A Survey of LGBT Americans states "an overwhelming percentage of respondents — 92% — “say society has become more accepting of them in the past decade and an equal number expect it to grow even more accepting in the decade ahead.” 

However, many of those surveyed said they've experienced bias and stigma, from being rejected by a close friend or family member because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, being the target of anti-gay slurs or jokes, or facing physical threats or attack, feeling unwelcome in a house of worship or being subjected to unfair treatment by an employer.

The study also revealed LGBT folks are on the whole "more liberal, more Democratic, less religious, less happy with their lives, and more satisfied with the general direction of the country." We're also, on average, younger than the general population, have lower family income and are more likely to perceive discrimination, both against us and other groups.

Read more here.

Marco Rubio: Immigration Reform Shouldn't Include Gay Couples

Ain't this some mess? Sen. Marco Rubio has said--more like reiterated (which mean he didn't catch the discrimination brimming in his throat the first time--he won't support an immigration reform bill that includes rights for same sex couples, and thinks the prevision would the kill the bill.

“If this bill has in it something that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill,” the Florida Republican told conservative radio host Andrea Tantaros on her show today. “I’m gone, I’m off it, and I’ve said that repeatedly. And I don’t think that’s going to happen, and it shouldn’t happen. This is already a difficult enough issue as it is.”

On Tuesday Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced an amendment to the immigration reform bill that would  allow citizens to sponsor foreign same sex couples for permanent residency in the U.S. just as citizens can already do for opposite sex couples. The senator, a Democrat, had originally withdrawn the amendment with "a heavy heart," but has decided to reintroduce it.

Listen to the interview here. Rubio's remarks come around the one hour, five minute mark.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mad Men Season 6 Ep. 11 Recap: 'Favors'

Photo: AMC

As always, spoilers lie ahead...

Just as last week's "A Tale of Two Cities" aptly summed up that episode's theme of the culture clash between  late 60's New York and L.A. as well as the inner decay and power struggles happening within both SC&P's offices and across the country, this week's "Favors" hit the thematic nose on the head, as Mad Men's  characters found themselves on either asking for, on the receiving end of or offering a helping hand. Although it has to be said that helping hand wasn't always appreciated.

Pete got a lot more screen time this week, and as his story arcs are want to do, was given sympathetic moments as well as those where you wanted to join the list of people who've punched him in the face. On the sympathetic side, he's terrified of flying and over a few drinks with Ted and Peggy, actually comes off as pretty likable. Though that may have been the Dramamine working it's magic. Either way talk of Ted flying a plane leads to speculation over how his adventures must terrify his wife. "You don't want me to talk about his wife," Pete tells Peggy, catching the lingering tension still crackling between her and Ted. She tries to dismiss him at first but he reminds her he's seen that look, with Peggy's surprise season one pregnancy being the living, breathing proof.

Unlike ninety percent of the time when he calls attention to something, Pete doesn't remind of their long-ago tryst in way that comes off as snarky or bratty. Instead it comes off with a fond, knowing air; for a moment Pete's face even regains it's old youthfulness, before the career flailing, impending divorce and a mother with crippling dementia (though her scathing insult of "you've always been unlovable" hardly seemed to be coming from a senile place) started weighing him down. "At least one of us ended up important," he tells Peggy, before softly asking her whether or not she pities him. It's hard to tell whether or not she truly does pity him as she ponders his request, but she does know him well enough to know when he's vulnerable, and does him the favor of saying "I don't." Though after confessing to him an very, shall we say, enlightening conversation she had (though it was more like an experience than mere chit-chat) with his mother Dorothy about her relationship with her caretaker Manolo, her words feel less like a favor and more like genuine empathy as they laugh and gag at the thought of fire being set to his mother's loins.

In it's own twisted way, Dorothy's mental illness gave Pete and Peggy a glimpse into what life could have been like for them had circumstances been different. Trudy was good wife--better than what Pete often deserved-- and the two had their nice moments, but it's hard to think of one in which he and Trudy were as relaxed and loose as he and Peggy were at that table. Of course, Peggy's workaholic attitude would likely rankle Pete and his douche bag tendencies would alienate her in the long-term. And a lucid Dorothy would no doubt have treated her like garbage, given her Brooklyn Catholic girl status. Then again, maybe Pete would have appreciated having someone who understood his world. And Peggy's original choice of an upper east side apartment shows she was/is striving to become a part his old money world.

But enough what if's--let's talk Bob Benson, who has been doing favors for Pete all season long, offering to pay for his prostitutes, getting him toilet paper and securing Manolo for Dorothy. Everyone in the MM blogosphere has been suspecting whether Bob's gay, Don's illegitimate son or a mole sent in to gather info and destroy SC&P.  It looks like the Weiner and Co. have chosen door number one, which I saw coming long before his knee nudge to Pete during his speech about taking care of someone. Going to the beach with Joan--the ultimate fag hag--and interacting with her in a way that felt completely nonsexual was one thing (there are straight men who can be friends with women after all), but deftly evading Ginsberg's "are you a homo" question last week definitely pinged my gaydar. However, what sealed the deal was when Bob, trying assure Pete that Dorothy Manolo are not knocking boots, says in no uncertain terms Manolo plays for the other team. The look on Bob's face when Pete calls Manolo a degenerate "who's capable of anything" says it all.

While what he does next doesn't exactly do much to advance old school perceptions of gay men as sinister predators (at least in the eyes of men like Pete), I guess it's a testament Bob's attraction to him that Pete's clear distaste for homosexuality didn't stop him from letting his true feeling be known. Though it's hard not to be sympathetic towards Bob--him downing his liquor in one gulp and taking a deep breath already had me thinking "oh honey"--Pete makes it even easier by telling him to pay Manolo for the month, and to inform him his behavior (and by extension Bob's) is disgusting.

Look, I'm not trying to defend Pete here, but his vitriol likely stems not only from homophobia, but from feeling violated. Here was someone he trusted who turned out to have an ulterior motive. Yes Pete's being a homophobic jerk. He could have given him a polite "I don't swing that way" kind of brush off and let that be the end of it. But one another level his reaction could have also been fueled by a feeling of betrayal. However,unlike Arlene's advances towards Megan, Bob's far from predatory. His words and body language were so open and honest--it's the first time we've seen him be himself, not whatever someone needs him to be--that it's obvious he was looking to start up something serious with Pete. Also, I get that this is 1968. Stonewall is still a year away, sodomy is still illegal in many states and public attitudes towards LGBT folks aren't all that great (the previous year CBS aired a special titled The Homosexuals, which wasn't exactly a pride parade). This is not the era of It Gets Better. But just once on this show I'd like to see a gay man seek to get or get served some cock sans dire emotional consequences.

All being said, Bob, girl you can do a lot better than Pete Campbell, so his rejection is all the better for you in the long run. Now you can hook up with Manolo and Joan for nights out in the Village.

Over in Don's world, Vietnam and the draft have spilled into their living room via Sylvia and Arnold's son Mitchell. Turns out he sent his draft card back in protest and has been reclassified (which basically means he's been bump up to the top of the list). Mitchell asks Megan to use her familial connections to get him to Canada, which she explains to Don, who at firsts instruct her to stay out of it. "He cant' spend the rest of his life on the run," Don says, and it's hard not to roll your eyes given whose windpipe it's coming out of.

Later he has a heart to heart of sorts over drinks with Arnold, during which the good doctor opens about Sylvia's small lies, his belief something's off in their marriage and his regret over letting Mitchell go to France. The two talk about their own military service, with Don mentioning how lucky they were not to experience any action. For Arnold though, luck means getting to live in America, and part of the price of getting to be a citizen is service and sacrifice. "We knew that that," he says, referring to himself and, Don the deserter who was less interested in sacrifice or service to anyone other than himself. The man who has fashioned an entire existence out of fleeing headlong from his past.

At one point Arnold tears up and Don looks empathetic, but it's hard to believe the main reason he goes on out on a limb for Mitchell is for anything other than getting back into Sylvia's good graces. He and Arnold have a little bromance vibe going, but not enough for him to pull these kinds of strings. Why else would he kill the good mood at a table full of Chevy execs to see how they felt about the war, or agree to drop the Sunkist account for Ted if he would put in a good word for the kid with a military buddy?  After Ted promises to put in a good word, he calls Arnold but gets Sylvia, and tells her the potential good news. She's understandably overjoyed, then expresses disbelief he'd do this for her, seeing through his BS that he's doing it because he has children too.

"You're were good to me. Better than I was to you," she says, and I don't know what adulterous affair she was in, but being locked in a hotel room for days without even a book to keep you company isn't my idea of good. Their fling wasn't about love, but about control, power and domination, at least on Don's end. Sylvia repeats her earlier warning that she didn't want him to fall in love, but if anyone's falling down the amorous rabbit hole, it's her. And as Betty hipped us to in "The Better Half" loving Don is the worst way to get to him,  but she's so caught up in his goodwill gesture--and likely the whole situation with Mitchell--she's blind to just how dark things were between them.

Things get more precarious when Sally(goodness hasn't this girl seen enough?) trying to snatch back a note her friend Julie slid under the Rosens' door for their crush Mitchell to find, catches Don and Sylvia in the act. Sylvia curls into a ball and berates herself, while Don goes into a shocked, zombiefied state, drinking himself into a stupor then stumbling home to find a disgruntled Sally sitting with an oblivious Megan and Julie at the dinner table.

To further twist the knife, Arnold and Mitchell come in to thank Don for his good deed (and it is good despite its selfish origins). Megan kisses him and calls the sweetest man, causing Sally to scream "you make me sick" before sprinting off to her room. Don pulls out the best lie he can think of at the moment and explains to Sally's closed door he was "comforting" Sylvia, and that "it's very complicated." Deep down Sally's way too smart to believe that garbage, but more than anything she probably just wants to forget she ever saw her father with his pants down, and manages to utter a weak "okay." She does him the favor, for now at least, of sticking her in sand and pretending she didn't catch her father about to sleep with another woman, but who knows how long she can keep that game up?

Ted's home life, while not as perilous as Don's is quickly becoming, is in its own state of unrest. At home his wife calls him out not only for working too much, but taking a junior copywriter (i.e. Peggy) on his plane and being obsessed with Don Draper. Given the way he comes off the morning after the Chevy dinner, she may have a point. When Ted confronts Don about what he saw as sabotage, Don doesn't go into his default mode of arrogant prick. He's too concerned about Mitchell and of course Sylvia. Feeling out the Chevy execs for a new friend in a high place and going after Sunkist, unknowingly pitting it against the Ocean Spray account, were not the masterful manipulations Ted interprets them as. Even Jim Cutler questions why Ted is freaking out over SCDP side missing a memo.

It looks like his wife's message sinks in when later on, when Ted comes home and indulges in some play time with his sons. Though as Pete pointed out, he hasn't completely snuffed out his attraction to Peggy. Speaking of Peggy, it looks she may her mother's advice to get a cat, thought not to ease her loneliness. With Abe gone, someone's got to take care of the mice roaming around her house, and Stan's unwilling to come get rid of her furry friends in the middle of the night, no matter how flirtatious she acts. Maybe Pete will do her a favor and brave a trip to the west side.

--Other Thoughts

---Watching Roger juggle oranges? Awesome.

---The argument between Ted and his wife could have been any spat Don and Betty had in seasons one and two. From the way his wife (a blond by the way) sat up on the right side of the bed to Ted sitting on the edge, tie off and shirt slightly unbuttoned, it was almost an exact call back to the original Mr and Mrs. Draper's former suburban life.

--Peggy to Stan (a shirtless Stan BTW): "Why are you using your sexy voice?"

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Porn Star Mr. Marcus Sentenced For Exposing Co-Stars To Syphilis

Oh my! Porn star Mr. Marcus has been sentenced to 30 days in jail for knowingly exposing two of his female co-stars to syphilis last year. Marcus, whose real name is Jesse Spencer, was the main focus of a STD scandal that temporarily stopped adult video productions.

"Spencer, who admitted having altered documents recording the results of mandatory medical tests all porn actors must take, pleaded no contest in Los Angeles Superior Court to knowingly exposing another to a communicable disease. He was also sentenced 36 months’ probation and 15 days of community labor.

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office said Spencer got a penicillin shot on July 13 after having tested positive for syphilis. After he tested positive again eight days later, he altered a photocopy of the original test form, it said."

Spencer worked on two videos last July with two female co-stars. The women noticed the forms had been altered and turned the star into police. The women tested negative for syphilis.

Look, I like a good Mr. Marcus flick as much as the next gal, but passing around syphilis? That's just wrong. 30 days was too soft a sentence. For his part though, he has apologized for his actions, and claims he went ahead with the video because his doctor told him he wasn't contagious.

"I have to live with this. No one else does," he said. "I'm sorry. I'm very sorry."

What do you think?

School Won't Read Transgender Student's Name At Graduation

Administrators at a Pennsylvania high school have said they won't read the name of transgender senior Issak Wolfe when he walks across the stage for his graduation ceremony. Wolfe had asked the school to read his assumed name rather than his birth name of Molly Tack Hooper when receiving his diploma. Though administrators have allowed him to wear the cap and gown designed for male students, his female birth name will be read.

"The school board's solicitor Ben Pratt said Wolfe's diploma is a legal document, so it must bear his legal name. Molly Tack-Hooper, an attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union representing 18-year-old Wolfe, said he is still in the process of changing his name. 

'I am really disappointed that the school district doesn't want to do anything to protect transgender students," Wolfe said last month in a statement by the ACLU. "I want to make sure that future transgender students are not humiliated and disrespected the way I was.'"

While the school may be right that the diploma is a legal document and has to include Wolfe's legal name, there's nothing stopping them from reading his assumed name aloud at the ceremony. Would that really be so hard?

Majority of Older Americans Support Gay Relationships

Well this is a pleasant surprise. Although it's almost a cliche to say young folks are overwhelmingly supportive of marriage equality, a new Gallup poll shows older Americans--those 55 and up--now find gay and lesbian relationships "morally acceptable."

"The Gallup poll show that 51% of people 55 and older find gay or lesbian relationships "acceptable," while 74% of those ages 18-34 and 54% of those 35-54 do. As reported by ThinkProgress, the percentage of older Americans who support same-sex relationships has doubled since 2001. Also in 2001, 52% of those 18-34 supported gay and lesbian relationships, while 42% of people 35-54 thought gay and lesbian relationships were morally acceptable."


Monday, June 3, 2013

Mad Men Season 6 Ep. 10 Recap: 'A Tale of Two Cities'

Michael Yarish/AMC

As always, spoilers lie ahead...

Last week's "The Better Half" delved headlong into the themes of the two halves of individuals (i.e the way we see ourselves vs. the way others see us) and how time can shift the nature of key relationships, particularly when one party is trying to reach for a safety net that no longer exists. There are traces of the former in "A Tale of Two Cities," with Joan's story line in particular, but the main thrust of the episode was how the social upheaval going on in American culture is seeping into the culture of the ad business, is changing into a more ferocious beast.

Of course, this has always been one of Mad Men's ongoing themes, with its characters often experiencing the radical changes on both a personal and professional level. But now it feels even more pronounced. "A Tale of Two Cities" pits Los Angeles against New York, and while there are aesthetic differences--the sunny, laidback party atmosphere vs. cocktail hour in a dark restaurant, hippies and businessmen mingling freely (sup Danny!) instead glaring warily at one another--the truth is things have been getting mighty loose around the offices of SCDPGCG (or now known as SC&P; more on that later) for quite some time now. Joints are sparked up without a second thought; beards, mustaches and looser clothes have replaced suits and ties; and once-private personal politics are being dragged kicking and screaming into public life.

The chaos captured on video and broadcast on the radio is easier to spot, but with all the confrontations, ideological differences, strategic power plays and general psychological warfare, the agency may be gearing up for a long, bloody war of its own.

For her part, Joan is trying to stake out some new territory. After accidentally-then-kinda-on-purpose business coup via a lunch date set by her friend Kate, she practically skips to Peggy's office and tells her the good news. Peggy tells her to set up another meeting before the Avon exec leaves town. Joan says she knows she has to but is afraid that with Don out of town she'll "get kicked off the diving board." Heh, nice foreshadowing, and it's interesting to see that although she lit into him about never saying the word "we," Joan stills looks to Don as someone who'll have her best interests--or more than likely his, which will benefit her--at heart. Peggy suggests taking the news to Ted, and though Joan expresses doubts about whether or not she can trust him not to leave her behind, Peggy replies "he's isn't like that." Oh Peggy, did staring at those two closed doors last week teach you nothing?

Anyway, the two of them tell Ted the news, and he immediately summons Pete, whom he christens the head of new business (to which Pete responds "I don't want that!") to handle the account with Peggy signed on as creative. Joan says she should be there, but Pete says that would be a mistake, and that he and Peggy will lay the groundwork and Joan will "show him around" when the Avon exec around when he visits the office. You can almost hear Joan thinking "just like a secretary," if she wasn't already thinking it when Pete told her to set lunch for he and Peggy. Joan prods a little more, with Peggy joining in, causing Pete to school them in slightly snotty tone on how things are done.

Some of his irritation probably stems from the latest indignation of being denied of chance to meet with Chevy in Detroit, but he's clearly misreading how important this is to Joan. And though I love Joan, I have to say part of that is her fault; her knack for decorum and poised, calm exterior usually serve her well in most situations. However, this was not a moment to play it cool, but one where she needed to make her desires bluntly known. In other words, instead of just saying "I should be here," her words should have been "I want to be there. I want to be in accounts. I want to do the work." She probably could have thrown in a line about wanting Pete to be her mentor, but you get the point.

Joan's not one to give up easily though, and takes matters into her own hands by "forgetting" to invite Pete to the Avon lunch. Though she's a quick study and fares a thousand times better than Lane did in his dinner with  the Jaguar exec last season, it's obvious Joan's out of her element here. She interrupts Peggy's flow when she starts to spin a childhood anecdote (though Peggy was chattier than she usually is in client meetings) about Avon, doesn't know when it's her turn to jump in and sell Peggy to the client, and unwittingly undermines her ideas.

Later, back at the office, the two get into a spat about the meeting, with Joan wondering why Peggy's not grateful for being handed "the business of your life" and Peggy shooting back she just threw said business away. The argument starts out being about Avon, but quickly spirals into airing out long, simmering resentments the two have towards one another; Joan feeling Peggy has never respected her or her job, while Peggy calls out Joan for never supporting her ambition to climb out of the steno pool.

For her part, Peggy says she knows Joan would be a good account exec, but she has start at the bottom and work her way up like she did. "You were so brave, letting Don carry you to the deep end of the pool," Joan snaps, and while it's true her promotion came out of Don's desire to spite Pete, anyone can see Peggy's worked her ass off to get where she is. "I never slept with him" Peggy says, and the two exchange ambiguous stares, ones that don't out right say whether or not Peggy knows about Joan's Jaguar prostitution. But it's enough for Joan to believe Peggy is shaming her and looking down at her, just like the men at the agency.

Peggy apologizes but tells Joan she thinks she's made a mistake. "I have to do it myself Peggy...because all that matters now is who has a relationship with that client? Who's the client going to call?" Joan says, and it's hard to argue with her both in her assessment of the free-for-all, every-man-for-himself-environment SCDP has become--or even more so in the wake of the becoming SCDPCGC--and the idea she's all alone in this. Ted doesn't know her, Don thinks of her as little more than a damsel in distress, and although Pete collaborated with her on the merger, he obviously doesn't see her as an account woman in the making. And Roger's never even pretended to give a crap about her career or anything beyond roaming her hillsides, last week's ham-fisted attempt at being father for Kevin notwithstanding.

And let's face it, Joan's not a 20-year-old secretary who has the luxury of attracting a genius mentor and a decade to spare to wait for opportunities to prove herself.  She has to blaze her own path. Or as her new BFF Bob Benson said to a freaked out Ginsberg, "You can't put yourself in the right place in the right time. You gotta be in the right place all the time."

Even so, Peggy says she's sick to her stomach about what Joan will do once the partners find out. And Joan herself looks pretty ill when Pete summons her to the conference room. She holds her own at first, defending Peggy (who also defends "the girls," a.k.a. the secretaries, a nice nod to her and Joan's origins). Pete being Pete, he can't help but go for a low bow, insinuating Joan is sleeping with the Avon exec. "Oh I bet you're making him very happy," he seethes. "Because it's better than being screwed by you," Joan shoots back. But when Pete and Ted give her what basically amounts a tongue lashing over her stunt, it looks as if Joan may get the ax. At the last minute though, Peggy sends Meredith in with a fake note from the Avon exec requesting he call her, and she lives to fight another day.  But as Peggy notes, Joan better hope Avon does actually call. She also better get Peggy (and Meredith) a new dress, take them out for a girls' day, or whatever gift says "thanks for saving my ass."

Out in L.A. Don, Roger (who is serving Thurston Howell III realness) and Harry meet with execs from Carnation. Things start off on the wrong foot when one of the execs walks in on the his partner and the boys talking about the '68 election and goes on a rant against long-haired freaks and Nixon. Things don't really get much better from there, as the Carnation exec go tag team on both SCDPCGC and NYC ad agencies in general, ranting about what they see as their smug, condescending attitude, just as Roger predicted they would. Afterwards, they head to a paradise party where the grass is green and the girls look like Megan.

Don gets high again, smoking hashish and making out with a woman (whom he may have/may almost have revealed his Dick Whitman past to, if him saying "that's not my name" when she calls him Don is any clue)  before seeing his wife gone all hippie chick. Though the experience is shorter than the one he experienced in "The Crash," it's just as disorienting, as Don sees not only Megan--who presses his hand to her stomach and talks about a new beginning--but the soldier he met in Hawaii. A soldier who by the way, is now dead and missing an arm. "Dying doesn't make you whole," he tells Don. "You should see what you look like." Next thing Don knows he's looking at a man floating face down in a pool. Can you guess who? Don of course, as we cut to him coughing up a mouthful of pool water after Roger jumped in to save him. Birth or an actual new life symbolizing/providing a chance for personal rebirth, death not absolving you of the damage you inflicted on yourself or others, it's all in there, as well as the knowledge Don should stick to sipping an old-fashioned.

For the time being though, Don better concentrate on living if he doesn't want the power to shift away from him at the agency. Ted's meeting with Chevy was a success, and after a mouthful of Ginsberg's ideology, Jim is hellbent on pushing him and the rest of SCDP's "people (with the exception of Bob Benson)" to the background. Ted warns him he's splitting the company in half, and not equally, and when Jim suggests giving Don and Roger something to distract them, it comes in the form of shorting the company's name to SC&P.

Pete, bruised from all the other slights he's endured through the episode, sees this as the last straw in a inside revolt, one that disregards protocol and fairness in favor of  a "whatever gets the job done" mentality. "This is not the same business," Pete says, pleading with Don to open his eyes. Though Don responds by basically telling him if he can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen. Pete, as we know all too well, is adept at being ruthless and cutthroat to get what he wants, so he probably won't have much of a problem adjusting to the new corporate culture. And the last, slow-motion shot of him, blowing out weed smoke like he's Snoop, strongly implies Ted and Jim may have unknowingly unleashed the most ravenous dog in the kennel, now that, in Pete's mind, all bets are off.

---Other Thoughts

 --Watching Bob and Ginsberg interact was entertaining, given that they're such polar opposites personality wise; It would've been interesting to see how Bob's unrelenting niceness translated in a business setting, but obviously Joan and Don's stories to center stage. Also, nice shout out by the writers to the "is he or isn't he?" gay rumors with Ginsberg's "Tell me the truth, are you a homo?" line.

---Dawn got a line and an appearance. Yay, I guess. But hey, it's more than Ken got this go around.

---Roger and Danny's pissing contest was another highlight; No one can play the dozens like Roger Sterling. Though I knew a punch to the crotch was coming as soon as Roger said "to his knees." And boom, there it was.

--Speaking of Mad Men characters fleeing to California after imploding in New York, where was Paul? Kooky creative types, an endless supply of ganga....if this isn't his scene, then what is? Unless Comic Con has already been founded.

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