Tuesday, July 30, 2013

'Hey Doreen!'

Head over to butlerway.com to read my latest article about quintet Lucius' latest single "Hey Doreen." The group's music is fabulous blend of classic 60's pop and 21st century indie rock influences. Think The Mamas and The Papas meets a poppier version of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. What really pulls the sound is the two lead vocalists Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe. Chile, these gals can sang and harmonize for days. Check out the article HERE.

Monday, July 29, 2013

True Blood Season 6 Ep. 7 Recap: 'In The Evening'

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

As always, spoilers lie ahead. Now read on so we can learn all about Stockholders' Syndrome...

Last week's "Don't You Feel Me?" was marked not only by new reveals, such as humans planning to destroy vampires by putting a deadly virus in True Blood, but by the deaths of Governor Burrell and Terry Bellefleur. Both characters' demises affect the proceedings "In The Evening," acting as a catalysts for characters to pull themselves out of their own dramas, assume new roles or make hard decisions. And another character bites the dust.

Eric escapes with Nora from Vamp Camp, instructing Willa to tell Pam and Tara about the hepatitis V-spiked True Blood. She lets Pam know the deal, and after some standard bitchery coupled with level-headed strategy--only let Tara and Jessica in on the secret, screw everyone else so the humans won't suspect a thing--Willa sneaks back into general population, without one guard noticing the governor's daughter breezing through the hall I might add. Pam plans on getting back into gen pop in her own special way, using her psychiatrist's obvious interest in her to her advantage by teasing him silly with talk of Freud, sexual appetites and her prostitute past before working him out on the couch in exchange for getting out of solitary confinement. See Sarah, that's how true demon whores get things done.

Eric and Nora end up at the door of the Compton House of Horrors, and Eric, still wary of Bill, asks him to save her. Nora refuses Lilith's/Bill's blood, and he obliges her request. Later though, after he shares his apocalyptic visions with Eric (you know, the one where everyone meets the sun) and Eric promises to assist him in finding Warlow, Bill gives his blood to Nora, but it doesn't work. Eric, still clinging to hope that Warlow's blood will do the trick, pleads with Bill to find him. While they wait, Eric pleads with Godric to come save Nora, but she mentions how it was Eric who saved her.

With that we flash back to London in 1665, where the plague is ravaging the city and a royal has instructed Eric to get Nora, who has gotten sick, tending to well, the sick and bring her back. Eric goes to her, and, taken by her stubbornness in the face of death, promises to take her to his father (Godric) to be healed. "And here we are, where we began," Nora says in the present. She tells him to allow Pam and Willa to walk beside him as equals, then closes her eyes. Eric, thinking she's dead, pulls her close, but that's not the half of it as she starts literally crumble in his arms, before dissolving into a steamy, bloody mess. It is a truly horrifying scene, made all the more horrific by Eric's reaction; he falls apart in a way we haven't seen since Godric met the sun. Nora, you were never one of my favorites, but girl you got a helluva good send off.

If she'd been there to witness that--as well as the enraged glare on Eric's mug as he stared at Bill afterwards--it's likely Sookie may have been quicker to give Warlow up to Bill when he stopped by for a little daytime chat.

But before we get to that, let's back track. Sookie and Warlow were enjoying their post-fairy light coital bliss, with Sookie making a wry crack about this being the first time she's woken up with a man in the daytime. Sun is good for the skin chile. You know, Vitamin D and all. It's all good until Warlow started talking about vows and thinking their fairy dimension romp means Sookie's ready to be royalty. Sookie pumped his brakes to a point, but she didn't exactly lead him to believe he completely misread the situation either. She conceded she doesn't think their tryst is simply infatuation, but the way she ruefully followed it up with "it never is" makes you think she's not so much in love with him as she is just surrendering to the inevitable.

Sookie hears a distraught Arlene crying at Terry's grave back in the regular realm and goes to her. The whole scene between two is heart-breaking, not only because of Carrie Preston's superb acting, but because these two have a history. Besides, it's nice to see Sookie come to someone's aid who doesn't want to sleep with and/or kill her for once. Sookie and Lafayette use the deposit key Terry gave him and discover he took out an insurance policy three days before he died for at least $2 million. For Arlene, this would add a whole new layer of betrayal and general effed upness to an already tragic situation, so everyone decides to keep mum for now. Besides, what's a little suicide shooting and insurance money compared to an invincible vampire strolling into your house in broad daylight?

And we're back. Bill enters the Bellefleur mansion, causing everyone to murmur their own version of "oh shit" in unison. Arlene, tore up from the floor up off alcohol, thinks she's seeing things as Bill offers his condolences. He turns to Andy and offers the same for his three daughters Jessica drained. The whole sequence is brimming with tension, until it becomes clear Andy is either smart, forgiving or scared enough to just let it go, and shakes Bill's hand. Bill asks Sookie to bring him Warlow, and fills her in on all the horrors taking place at Vamp Camp. After laying a little guilt trip by saying blood will be on both their hands if she doesn't come through, he takes off.

Speaking of Vamp Camp, Sarah finds Governor Burrell's severed head on the statue where Billith left it. She appears genuinely devastated, and sheds a few tears (and shares a gross severed head kiss) over what a pure, great man he was. Obviously the governor kept her in the dark about getting kick backs from the sales of True Blood, just as Steve kept quiet about the Fellowship of The Sun's seedier activities. Oh girl, the more you change the more you stay the same.

Anyway, it takes her about one point two seconds to spin his death into a zany, fundamentalist conspiracy theory that this was all part of God's plan. Then she springs into action to implement said plan, instructing the senator (Lafayette's old fling/customer from season one) to dispose of governor's body and keep his death under wraps while she, for all intents and purposes, take command. Funny how God's and her desires get along so well, to paraphrase Susan B. Anthony. Though Anna Camp always does a good job of making Sarah's craziness come off as equal-parts power hungry manipulation and true devotion. Of course lines like  "when God's message is this clear, I am truly unstoppable," help her quite a bit in that regard.

Jason summons Jessica to an office to let her know he's busting her out, but she tells him there's no need for that, as she's resigned to the fate Bill saw in his vision. She asks him instead to find James, the chivalrous vampire who refused to have sex with her on command last week, so she can thank him. Like Arlene and Sookie's exchange, this feels real because of their long, complicated history together. However, things could get more complicated if Jason found out about her and James getting down and dirty in the same office. Though Jason's got bigger problems at the moment; like how to survive after Sarah's goons sliced his arm open and threw him to the general population of female vampires. Unsurprisingly Tara sticks up for him, but then the mysterious vampire from before says, "ladies back off. He's mine." Hmmm.

In werewolf-shifter news, Sam, after learning of Terry's death, tells Nicole to call her mother to come get her so he can go home to Bon Temp. Nicole decides to initiate a little shower sex before they go their separate ways though, and gives him her number before driving off with her mother. All well and good, at least until Alcide returns to his pack to find Rikki has captured Nicole and her mother, putting a big hole in his story about killing her and Sam.  Alcide probably wishes he took his father's advice about leaving the pack.

I also wish this story arc would either die or become spontaneously compelling. Here's how it'll probably play out: Alcide gets demoted from pack master, and will face some type of wolf tribunal where it's decided he'll die, or will be banished the way he banished Sam. He'll escape or go to Bon Temp, fill Sam in on Nicole's impending doom (or Nicole will find a way to call him) and they'll go back to save her in some big deadly shifting showdown. Sound about right?

The werewolves notwithstanding, "In The Evening" was probably one of the best episodes of what will likely go own as one of the most solid, consistent seasons in the show's run.

Other Thoughts:

---I wonder if there are actual "spreading the gospel" motivational CDs like the one Sarah was listening to in the car?

---What are the mysterious gen pop vampire queen's intentions with our Jason Stackhouse? Maybe she wants to correct him on his usage of Stockholm Syndrome.

---Who thinks Jessica will become the third True Blood character to die this season? Her hookup with James notwithstanding, she's been in a pretty self-loathing headspace for much of this season. And if Godric taught us anything, once a vampire's ready to meet the true death, it's pretty much impossible to talk them out of it.

--Props to the makeup and special effect department on depicting Nora's disease and death. Honestly, it's one of the few True Blood scenes I do not want to watch again.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Holiday, Celebrate: Madonna's First Album Turns 30

Thirty years ago today, an ambitious bleached blond from the downtown NYC music scene named Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone released her self-titled debut album. It may seem hard to fathom now, but before Madonna, mainstream pop artists, particularly white female pop artists, did not dabble in the worlds of R&B and dance music that often. Throughout the 60's and 70's pop music, along with much of pop culture, was centered around rock music. Outside of blue-eyed soul singers like Dusty Springfield, Janis Joplin and the criminally underrated Teena Marie, Blondie's Debbie Harry or one-hit wonder disco queens, the biggest female artists in the era--Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett and Pat Benatar--were firmly entrenched in rock and roll or its mellower cousin, folk rock.

However the early 80's marked a shift in pop music. Along with Michael Jackson's Thriller and Off The Wall, and Prince's 1999 and Purple Rain, and Cyndi Lauper's debut She's So UnusualMadonna's mix of post disco dance, R&B, new wave, rock and early electro helped open a new musical category for artists, resurrecting dance music from its disco graveyard while creating a template virtually every modern pop star, both male and female, has drawn from. Almost every big pop/R&B album since, from Control and Rhythm Nation to CrazySexyCool, to ConfessionsJustified, Future Sex Love Sounds, to Dangerously In Love, The Fame and Britney Spears' entire catalog has been shaped by those albums.

Contrary to popular belief, it took a while for Madonna to catch fire. First single "Everybody," and its follow up "Burning Up," didn't make a dent on the Billboard Hot 100, only showing up on the dance chart. The album itself didn't make a mark on the album charts until September 1983, debuting at number 190. Then came "Holiday," her first hit, opening the door for the one-two punch of "Borderline" and "Lucky Star," which went on to become the first two of Madonna's 38 top 10 hits.

Of course, no discussion of Madge's cultural impact is complete without talk of her image. That classic black-and-white cover shot of Madonna, her arms covered with bracelets, clutching a dog chain and boring a hole into the camera with her eyes, inspired millions of girls (and boys) to bleach away dark roots, tie bows in their moussed hair and discover the power of lace, crucifixes and lingerie. Female stars before her--like a few mentioned above--hadn't completely shied away from flaunting their sexuality, but often presented themselves as trying to be one of the boys. Madonna however, expressed her sexuality in a way that was both feminine and strong, alluring and aggressive, and her early image, like all her subsequent ones, typified this.

All of those things aside, what makes Madonna's first album still listenable is the music. "Holiday," "Lucky Star," "Borderline," "Everybody" and "Burning Up" are timeless pop songs that sound as at home on the radio now as they did in 1983. Madonna went on to create more musically complex and sonically sophisticated albums such as Like A Prayer, Erotica, Bedtime Stories, Ray of Light, Music and Confessions On A Dancefloor. But Madonna was the starting point, kicking off three decades of reinventions, controversy and fantastic, indelible pop tunes. Listen to the whole thing below.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I Knew You Were Shady

Rupaul's Drag Race alum Pandora Boxx has created an anthem for the catfished. Snatching the melody from Aretha Franklin and George Michael's 80's duet "I Knew You Were Waiting,""I Knew You Were Shady," also known as "You Seemed Shady," calls out dating profile deception. The song features out singer Adam Barta, best known for his novelty tune collaborations with Tan Mom and Jonah Falcon.

The Francis Legge-directed video is also a Drag Race  reunion of sorts, with fellow alums Sharon Needles, Phi Phi O’Hara, Manila Luzon, Shangela, Alyssa Edwards, Coco Montrese, Ivy Winters, Mimi Imfurst, Jade Jolie, Vivienne Pinay, Morgan McMichaels, and Milan cropping up and ki kiiing for the cameras. Ru, girl you better get a Drag Race tour together and make those coins! Watch the video below.

DOJ: Trans Teen Must Have Access To Male Locker Room

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education has told a school district in California it must allow a transgender to use lockers, bathrooms and other facilities designated for men.

"The decision came as the result of a resolution agreement between the departments and the Arcadia Unified School District, in response to a complaint filed by the transgender student, who chose to remain anonymous.

In addition to access to these facilities, the landmark decision also mandates that the rising ninth grader, who was assigned female at birth but identifies and presents as male, be allowed to participate in sports teams and other male-exclusive extracurriculars. He “will be treated like other male students while attending school in the district,” the statement reads."

The departments have ordered the school district to change their policies to reflect the stipulations, as well as provide training for school administrators on gender-based discrimination and methods for creating a safe environment for transgender students.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

True Blood Season 6 Ep. 6 Recap: "Don't You Feel Me?"

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

Sorry for the late recap, but I had some major Internet connection issues yesterday. As always, spoilers lie ahead. Now read on so we can get everything hetero straight...

Last week's "F*ck The Pain Away," upped the stakes by having all our vampire buddies carted off to Vamp Camp, and Warlow summoned by Bill to the Compton House of Horrors. Meanwhile Sookie learned just how bad supernatural family reunions can be. This week's episode "Don't You Feel Me?" ratchets up the "oh snap" factor, bringing the vampire-human conflict to a head as the season reaches its home stretch.

We open with Sookie face down in the water, fighting for her life as Lafayette, possessed by the spirit of her dead father, tries to drown her to keep her from falling into the clutches of Warlow. As I predicted last week though, Sookie was never remotely in danger of actually dying, as Bill, sensing she's in trouble, stops being a megalomaniac for five seconds and lets Warlow leave the Compton House of Horrors and drive her father's spirit out of Lafayette. We get a little banter between Warlow and Lafayette--don't worry we'll see more La La in a minute--about his hybrid status, before Bilith does his super hardcore summoning trick and Warlow starts hacking up blood. Out of the blue, Sookie suddenly remembers the secret fairy haven and somehow has the ability to teleport herself and Warlow there, and off we go!

Once there, Warlow explains he's fine around Sookie during the daytime, but the nighttime isn't the right time for him to be around her or any human, since he'll want to suck them dry and all. An apt if too-on-the-nose metaphor for his dual fairy/vampire I suppose, even though whole thing made me think of DayQuil and NyQuil for some reason. Anyway, he instructs Sookie to tie him up and bound his hands with fairy magic, which leaves nothing for the two of them to do except talk and emote. It doesn't take long for Warlow to get mushy, saying out of all things he regrets doing over the past 3500 years, waiting for her was not one of them. Aww.

For her part, Sookie gives voice to the questions plaguing her (and us). "How did you think this was gonna go?" she asks. "You were gonna show up with a contract, signed in blood I might add, that gave you the right to turn me into your fairy vampire bride? I mean that is seriously fucked up." Warlow gives her the old "that's the way it was back in the day" excuse, and offers to tear up the contract, but Sookie's unmoved. Then he pulls out the pre-Billith Bill Compton card, talking about how tortured his existence has been since he was turned. However, what separates this from Bill's numerous "you brought light back into my life" monologues from previous seasons is Warlow is offering to turn Sookie, something Bill never wanted or never had any intention of doing. And if Sookie were to be turned, she and Warlow would, as he said, truly be equals, only needing the others' blood to survive. "But I'd be a vampire" Sookie reminds him, but with a slight wavering timbre in her throat.

But Warlow's not the only self-loathing supernatural, as Sookie goes on to count the ways being a fairy sucks, with telepathy topping the list. "They call me a danger whore," Sookie says of Bon Temps' residents. "Maybe I just oughta accept it." Then in one glorious (or misguided, take your pick) tour de force, she binds Warlow's hands a little tighter and lets him snack on her neck before taking a bite out his. Then, with blood still caked around her mouth, she strips down to her skivvies, snatches off his pants and rides him until they're both bathed in fairy light--like literal fairy light, not some gross double entendre. Oh girl, what happened to being normal again?

Meanwhile at Vamp Camp, Governor Burrell and Sarah's plan to watch Pam and Eric fight to the true death goes awry, as they shove their spears into the human snipers, impaling one of them through the glass. This being True Blood, Pam and Eric had about as much chance of dying as Sookie did. But the scene is worth it to watch Eric peeking through the bloodied hole like Leatherface or a velociraptor, reducing that snitch Steve Newlin--or as the governor calls him, that "vamp queen"--into a babbling, squirming puddle. Round one Eric, but the governor shows he's in it to win it by bringing in a bound Nora and injecting her with the deadly hepatitis V virus. Eric summons Willa from gen pop (she got there after throwing a combination temper tantrum-harsh truth tirade against Daddy) and she frees him and Nora, who's looking sicker by the minute. It looks like they're home free, until Eric goes into True Blood bottling room and discovers the governor's true master plan: to spike all True Blood with hepatitis V so all vampires can waste away. "Fuck me," Eric says. Yea that pretty much sums it up.

Down one ancient fairy vampire, Bill seeks out some advice from Lilith by having the good professor Takahashi (seriously, no one's come looking for him yet or reported him missing?) drain him to within an inch of the true death so he can slip into a coma and meet with her and her naked crew. But all is not well in merkin land. Bill and Lilith's conversation quickly devolves into a blame game over who's responsible for vampirekind's imminent destruction, until Lilith channels her inner Miranda Priestly and says "Now is the time to act. Do not come to me for answers again." Or maybe her inspiration was Rupaul, because I was definitely getting a "lip sync for your life/don't fuck it up" vibe in her tone. Though for me the cherry on top would've been her imitating Ru's iconic laugh before vanishing into the ether. But movin' on.

Bill takes Lilith's advice and runs with it, swallowing a vial full of Warlow's blood and zipping off to raise hell. What happens next will go down as one of the series' top ten moments (along with Sookie's "embrace my inner freak" epiphany). Bill waltzes into the yard of the governor's mansion, then absorbs his guards' bullets like a bizarro Superman before using his telekinetic power to make them all kill each other. Then after a few pleasantries, he sinks his fangs into the governor before ripping his head off and setting on a statue. And scene.

In human news, Jason's going full speed ahead when his plan to infiltrate Vamp Camp and save Jessica, and sits down for interview with a LAVTF recruiter. At first his rah rah sis boom bah attitude has the recruiter thinking he's another anti-vamper wingnut with delusions of grandeur. That is, until Jason shows his in-depth knowledge of vampires and awakens the guy's own inner wingnut. You can practically see him getting the vapors when he asked Jason how many vampires he's killed, before rushing off to push through his paperwork. First Steve Newlin and now this guy. Nobody loves hearing about sin more than the self-righteous. "Racist fucks," Jason mumbles to himself. Though he could have said the same thing about himself less than two weeks ago. But I guess hearing and seeing your dead parents doesn't make the title stick in the same way.

Cut to Jason regaling the boys with stories of his vigilante vampire slaughter last season when who walks in? Sarah of course, who is momentarily thrown by his presence but keeps her poker face on long enough to ask the others to leave.  She asks him what the hell he's doing at Vamp Camp, but Jason quickly gets the upper hand, letting her know he wants Jessica and if she dimes him out he'll tell the governor all about her whore for Christ ways. Then he walks off, leaving Sarah with a look on her face that's part scared, part pissed off and part turned on. I know girl, you don't know whether to hit him or kiss him.

Well maybe Sarah does know, because the next time we see her she's sitting Jason down in a control room and trotting Jessica and another vampire to participate in the copulation study. Lucky for Jason and his fragile pride, Jessica's fellow test subject is a good guy, and refuses to take her. Though it may not be a good sign that she screams out "my name is Jessica" to him as she's carted off.

Terry, still on his suicide mission, shows up at Lafayette's door, interrupting his hot glue gun designing and blunt smoking session. Terry, acting strange even by his standards, gives him the key to his safety deposit box and scampers. This still isn't my favorite story arc, but from a character point of view it does make sense. Terry was already haunted by going off to war, so of course having to kill Patrick would drudge up more demons, and not just fire ones. Plus the possibility of him getting shot through his skull any second gave the whole scene with Lafayette an extra layer of tension. Though most of the credit goes to Todd Lowe; for all his kookiness, there is a genuine sense that Terry really is a man at the end of his rope.

Holly calms a frantic Arlene by suggesting they call up her son's friend's dad's vampire husband and have him glamour Terry. Everything goes according to plan--the way vampire hubby and Holly lapse into regular parent talk the minute the glamouring is over was a nice touch--except now that Terry's military memories are erased, no one knows his old army buddy's still on call to kill him. And tragically his buddy follows through the next day at Merlotte's, as Terry's taken out while emptying the trash. Carrie Preston sells the hell out of the scene, as she simultaneously comforts her husband as he takes his last breath while dying inside herself. Again, while this arc ranked low on my list of compelling plot lines, it ultimately shaped a lot better than I expected, washing away the horrid stench of last season's Ifrit misstep with a believable, emotionally resonant twist. R.I.P. Terry Bellefleur.

If only I could say the same for the werewolves, shifters and the humans that advocate for them. Alcide is still looking for Sam and Emma and berating his father while Sam and Nicole are still on the run while bickering over just what exactly their next move is. This whole story is boring me to tears, but Jackson's new "friend" Jennie is certainly giving me life by serving trashy hooker realness, right down to the way she drawls "okie dokie big daddy" and her delightfully Pam-esque barbs. "C'mon we're werewolves. Butch the fuck up," she tells Alcide as she tears into a bucket of chicken, that she places right between her bare nether regions. She's such a lady.

Eventually Sam decides to give Emma back to Martha, who has broken rank with the pack--and who I learn also shares my distaste for Funyuns. Cue the standard tearful goodbye, but I like that Sam didn't lie to Emma and make some promise he couldn't keep about the two of them seeing each other again. Sam and Nicole run into Alcide, who spares their lives but then tells them to get the hell out of dodge, and never come back. Whatever. Though I do wonder about the future of Merlotte's.

Bill's gone berserk, Eric's realized all vampires might already be doomed, Terry's dead and Sookie's gone wild. Can't wait for next week.

Other Thoughts:

---Governor Burrell to Nora: "Sorry sis, but thems the brakes!" Oh governor, if you only knew how foreboding those words were.

---Did anyone else catch that Pam wasn't bound and injected because her psychiatrist has a "special" interest in her? Hmmm.

---The transition from a grieving Arlene referencing heaven to a dying Terry to a white light then Governor Burrell reading a scripture minutes before his own demise was a nice touch.

---What happened to Ginger?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Burn Outs

Good news! I've secured a new gig at the blog ButlerWay as the entertainment and political writer. Check out my first piece on BK-based rock duo XNY's (pictured above) new single "Burn Out," from their upcoming sophomore album ORANGE, here.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Must See TV: Claire Huxtable's Best Reads

"Don't come for me if you value your wig."

Claire Huxtable is probably my favorite TV mom of all time, although the first Aunt Viv (Daphne Maxwell-Reid was cute, but Janet Hubert was living, breathing Nubian Queen fierceness), Roseanne and Lois from Malcom In The Middle come close. Smart, classy, glamorous, funny and opinionated, Claire could handle being a lawyer in courtroom and a mom to five kids and wife to Cliff at home, all without breaking a sweat or a hair out of place. At little too perfect in real life terms at times? Perhaps, but more often than not Claire felt familiar, reminding me of my own mother and so many other women I grew up around.

But one thing that really made Claire an iconic TV mom was her superhuman reading abilities. While all good mothers possess the power to read, Claire was on another level. Whether it was schooling Elvin on his macho attitudes, getting Sandra together for being passive-aggressive with her husband, or tearing Vanessa a new one for sneaking off to Baltimore (to see The Wretched and have BIG FUN!) Claire was not one to be toyed with, m'kay? Get into some of her best reads below.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Food For Thought: Angela Robinson

Strangely, I feel like being an out lesbian in Hollywood has actually helped me. I feel like there is a ton of misogyny in Hollywood, and that many men -- not all, but some -- have a tendency to group women into the category of either "girlfriend" or "mother." They can't get out of these two ways of thinking. But when you're a lesbian and the whole potential of sex is kind of taken off the table, it's not even an issue; it kind of clears the air, and then they can just approach you as a collaborator. 


Satanists Hold 'Pink Mass' To 'Turn' Westboro Baptist Church's Fred Phelps' Mom Gay

Chile, that has to be the strangest post title I've ever typed. Of course, truth is often stranger than fiction so what can you do?

As you probably know, the Westboro Baptist Church, led by the Crypt Keeper (Fred Phelps) and his minions, often use national tragedies and the funerals of soldiers to spread their message of anti-gay hate. But now the Satanic Temple, a New York-based group that "seeks to foster benevolence and empathy among all people" has struck back by performing a "Pink Mass" ceremony at the grave of Phelps' mother Catherine Idalette Johnston. The point of this pink mass you say? To "turn" her gay for all eternity.

"Upon completion of the pink mass ceremony, Catherine Johnston is now gay in the afterlife," notes the Satanic Temple website, which has the cheeky URL www.westboro-baptist.com. "Fred Phelps is obligated to believe that his mother is now gay ... [and] if beliefs are inviolable rights, nobody has the right to challenge our right to believe that Fred Phelps believes that his mother is now gay."

The Pink Mass was performed twice, once with two lesbians, and another with two gay men, as an assertion of the group's belief in "freedom and the pursuit of happiness for all people." The group is now encouraging other gay couples to make trips to the grave site to perform their own pink masses.

Hmmmm, I'm kinda on the fence about this. I mean, as far as we know, Catherine Johnston wasn't the homophobic douchebag her son is. But the on other hand, the whole point of the stunt is to illuminate stupid Phelps and his clan's beliefs are.

What do you think?

House Republicans Drop DOMA Defense

House Republicans have decided to give up the ghost and abandon their support of the Defense of Marriage of Act, or DOMA and all similar legislation across the country. Of course the decision comes in the wake of the Supreme Court decision last month that declared DOMA unconstitutional.

According to The Advocate, the announcement, made by the GOP-led House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, also known as BLAG, comes as part of a Massachusetts federal case that challenges the constitutionality of the military's definition of spouse as " "a person of the opposite sex" in Title 38 of the U.S. Code."

"Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued Wednesday that the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA effectively decides the case in favor of their clients — a lesbian judge advocate general, Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, and her wife, Casey, — in the case brought by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Chadbourne & Park.  

"'The Supreme Court recently resolved the issue of DOMA Section 3’s constitutionality,'" wrote BLAG's attorneys, according to Geidner. "While the question of whether 38 U.S.C. § 101(3), (31) is constitutional remains open, the House has determined, in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Windsor, that it no longer will defend that statute. Accordingly, the House now seeks leave to withdraw as a party defendant.'"

BLAG came under fire for spending close to $3 million of taxpayer funds defending DOMA and similar court cases.

True Blood Season 6 Ep. 5 Recap: 'F*ck The Pain Away'

Photo: HBO

As always, spoilers lie ahead. Now read on, unless you've always hated the effin' book of Mark...

Last week's "At Last" let the boom drop on several big developments, including that country fairy Ben Flynn is Warlow, Niall being sent into the nether realm, Willa being made a vampire, and Pam and Nora being shipped off to vamp camp. "Fuck The Pain Away" (leave to True Blood to make that an episode title) deals with the aftermath.

Things start where they left off last week, with Sookie dangling her fairy death supernova over Warlow's head. Warlow tries to explain himself, telling her he loves her and he only slaughtered her parents because they were trying to kill her. But Sookie's basically like "fuck that" and pops the death supernova against his chest, causing Bill to rush through her door and work some "as your maker I command you magic" to get Warlow to come back to the Compton House of Horrors.

Warlow doesn't understand Bill's power over him, until Bill breaks it down for him: since Lilith was Warlow's maker and Bill's ingested her blood, he has inherited her memories and therefore has become Lilith/Warlow's maker by proxy. Got it? But in case you didn't we go through a flashback to 3500 B.C., where Warlow (in a horrible wig) is mounted, scratched and then turned by Lilith on the beach.  Bill's likely found his golden goose in Warlow, since his hybrid blood most certainly has more potential to synthesize than the fairy foursome's did. Though the sight of Warlow holding Professor Takahashi hostage while arguing with Billith shows this won't be an easy process.

Later Sookie, being the eternal romantic/near-suicidal optimist she is, spills the tea to Lafayette that she thinks there maybe some goodness in Warlow and truth to his words, and asks him to summon her parents to set the record straight. More flashbacks reveal Warlow was right, and that dear old Dad wanted to kill Sookie to prevent her from becoming his fairy princess. Then Daddy appears, pops into Lafayette's mouth--sis you need to get some type of medium mouth guard or something, 'cause that ain't cute--and drags Sookie off to the nearest bayou to drown her. While you can argue Lafayette turns hella strong when possessed, I find it hard to believe Sookie couldn't at some point hit him with a fairy Haduoken to the face and escape. Obviously Sookie's not gonna bite the dust; it's more a question of who will come to her rescue if she can't save herself.

Jason had a slightly better day than his sister, coming home to find the former Sarah Newlin, pissed off at her new beau Governor Burrell, on his porch. Jason reminds her they didn't end on best terms, and starts to tell her to kick rocks. Sarah though, reaches into her big bag of bull crap and gives some spiel about failing a challenge from the Almighty gave her change Jason's life back at The Fellowship of The Sun. She goes on and on about how she's grown, but at her core she's still the same woman with a need to be attached to and have the undivided attention of a powerful, idealistic (or in Steve and Governor Burrell's cased bigoted) man. Both of these men promised her that, but have failed in their own ways, so she seeks out someone weaker than herself to manipulate, using her faith as an excuse for bad behavior.

Hence her joyously hypocritical lie to Jason that "God wants me to fuck you." It's cruder than the Mary Magdalene metaphor that provided justification for her bathtub handjob back in season two, but the sentiment is still the same. All that said, it was worth having to listen to all of their "I'm not the same dumb kid," "I'm not the same girl" talk to witness a few glorious moments of butt naked Jason banging his little heart out, bumping and grinding and rocking the bedsprings like it was season one.

All good things must come to an end though, the end in this case being a strung out Jessica banging on his door(has Jason's crib become a half-way house for horny women in emotional crisis?) and then babbling about killing Andy's daughters, whether Bill's God or Satan and asking Jason if he ever loved her and what he loved about her. Deborah Ann Woll does such a good job of making Jessica's vulnerability feel genuine. Even though she's blitzed off fairy blood and feeling guilty about sucking some fae kids dry--don't worry, one, (or is it #4?) is still alive--you almost believe if circumstances had been different she and Jason would be together.

Then Sarah comes in guns a blazing, calling her a demon whore and quoting scriptures from Mark about casting out devils, which really sets Jessica off--and here I thought it was Paul or Moses who got on everyone's damn nerves. Anyway, Sarah rescinds Jessica's invitation just as she's about to snack on her, and she's taken to camp by the police, who Sarah called of course. "My body is a fucking temple. And you have defiled it with your vampire lovin' pecker," she snaps at Jason. Really girl? How clean is your sanctuary after begging one man to put a ring on it and have his baby then jumping in the sack with another one in the same night?

For Jason though, the run-in with Jessica (and Warlow's headache-curing blood) has put him back on the pro-vampire side, and judging from the shot of him walking into the LAVTF offices, it's looks like a one-man infiltration and rescue mission is underway. Though given the "we're evil and we deserve fry" kick Jessica is on, she may not want to be saved. Good thing she has a cell buddy like Tara to protect her, though the mysterious stranger who keeps the other inmates off their back may prove to be another ally.

As for our other vamp camp residents, Eric passes some type of survival-of-the-fittest-test and enters general population with a number one stitched on his jumpsuit. Pam (whose hair and makeup were on point!) is seeing a psychiatrist. "Hold the fuck up, am I in therapy?" she barks. Talking about feelings isn't her bag baby, but apparently the number one on her chest means she won't be participating in what her psychiatrist Doctor Flynn calls "the copulation study," the number threes are engaging in (Tara better not skip any watered-down True Blood meals).

Forced to either open up or get pumped full of silver and UV rays, Pam chooses the latter, particularly after she's offered the incentive of feeding on a human blood donor. I was afraid this was going to turn into a weep fest, seeing how vulnerable and off her game Pam has been this season. Fortunately, the writers knew better, and had Pam dish out facts about vampire's brutal nature, getting over he maker releasing her and a great riff about how pain is a useless emotion in her trademark deadpan delivery. She's smart enough to leave out that Eric is her maker, though what she didn't count on is Steve Newlin being a snitch and Doctor Flynn putting her theory to the test, placing her and Eric into a room to fight to death gladiator style. Shit has officially gotten real.

In human news, Terri wants an old army buddy to take him out, as he can't handle the guilt he feels over shooting Patrick. And honestly, maybe he should bite the dust. Terry's likable, but really, what can the writers do with his character that wouldn't feel completely ridiculous? Or Arlene's? Like the werewolves, and increasingly Sam, they have no real connection to the main action, and their presence is more a distraction at this point. Andy's only holding on because of his fairy daughters, and while the scene where Holly comforted him and talked him out of going vigilante on Bill was good, how long will it be before he too becomes dead weight?

As for Sam, he and Nicole are still on the run from the werewolves, with Nicole becoming more miserable by the minute as it dawns on her just how miserable a shifter's existence is. Oh, and Alcide's daddy, who got dissed and dismissed by his son earlier, spotted Sam and Nicole at the hotel he's currently shacked up at. But whatever.

Other Thoughts:

---Okay, so I was almost right about Sarah being pregnant. She wants to have a child, but the governor's got vampire extermination his on mind right now and ain't got time for all that.

---At first I rolled my eyes when Eric expressed genuine shock at Governor Burrell locking away his own daughter. As I wrote last week, it's hard to believe a vampire as old as Eric would believe such a simple, short-sighted plan would work simply because in his mind, humans are ruled by emotion. But when you think about it more, it makes perfect sense for Eric to believe this. This is the same vampire who held a grudge against Russell Edgington for murdering his family for a thousand years. If he can hold on to that part of his humanity for that long, why wouldn't a puny human like Governor Burrell be moved enough by the sight his undead daughter to see the "error" of his ways?

--The quick exchange between Tara and Jessica about whether Bill's evil and Tara's mother seeing the demonic in everything was nice. Both of them grew up in super religious homes with uber judgmental parents who provided condemnation but not much love. Hopefully they'll realize they are kindred spirits and stick together.

--This is super nick-picky, but was I the only one thrown off by the lack of early 90's fashion in Sookie's flashback to Warlow visiting her parents? If Sookie was 25 when the show began in '08, and around eight or nine when her parents died, that means Warlow would've come knocking around 1991 or 1992. So why did every look like they just stepped straight out of 2013? A minor thing I know, but if True Blood can take us back to the 3500 B.C., the Civil War era, the 1910s, 20's, 30's and early 80's, clothing and all, why not give the early 90's the same love? Couldn't we have a least gotten a nice mullet from Sookie's dad, big bouffant hair from Mama Stackhouse and a flannel shirt, Chris-Cornell/Eddie Vedder-esque hair and Doc Martens from Warlow? Priorities people!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thoughts On The George Zimmerman Verdict

A few thoughts on the not guilty verdict handed down in the George Zimmerman trial:

  1. I am, as I assume you are as well, feeling shocked, pissed off, saddened and disappointed, or some combination of that. The justice system is supposed to administer justice, and it did not happen in this case.
  2. But while I am shocked, pissed, saddened and disappointed, this is not a case of judicial corruption or a conspiracy by "the system," as I heard/read others say and write. The prosecution presented lots of evidence and witnesses, and cross-examined the defense's people to within an inch of their life. But ultimately they lacked that one piece of unshakable evidence or star witness that could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin. As with Casey Anthony--and let's be real, O.J. Simpson--it is not what you believe, it is what you can prove in court, and the prosecution failed to prove murder.
  3. Though the prosecution did not prove murder, I find it unfathomable the jury could look at the facts of this case and not convict Zimmerman of manslaughter. Zimmerman spotted Trayvon walking through the neighborhood, and saw him as a suspicious, hoodie-wearing thug who had to be up to no good. He was angered by the sight of him--"These assholes always get away," remember? That in and of itself, while an ugly and prejudiced assumption (though if we're honest with ourselves, we've all made assumptions, both innocuous and otherwise, at one time or another), is not a crime. However, he was told by police NOT to follow Trayvon, but pursued him anyway. He instigated the situation and escalated it by interrogating Trayvon and pulling out a gun. No one besides George Zimmerman truly knows whether it was self-defense or murder, but one thing we all know is Trayvon Martin is dead because George Zimmerman shot him. And the only reason he was in position to shoot him is because of a deadly situation he created. How could the jury not see this?
  4. I am happy people are not rioting and looting in the streets. That is not the way to get our point across. Peaceful protests and speaking out is, as well as taking civil action, which the NAACP is now pushing for (sign the petition here).
  5. I've seen lots of veiled and not-so veiled references to  Zimmerman having to answer for or being punished for Trayvon's death later (i.e. "god's gonna get 'em"). Of course, people are very emotional right now, but those comments made me think of The Atheist Experience's Matt Dillahunty's thoughts on cosmic justice. Some parts of it come off pretty blunt and harsh, particularly if you're a believer, but he makes some good points. Listen to it here.
What are your thoughts on the verdict?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

These Dreams...

Last night I dreamt of the number 45. More specifically me reading or reciting some passages with a vaguely biblical/old world bent, the most memorable being "44 and one will be in the heart." For some reason, as I read those words and stared at them on the page, a hard knot of fear rose up inside me. When I woke up, I thought it was some leftover Christian baggage that decided to randomly resurrect. I searched to see if it was connected to some scripture, but came up empty. At first I was going to leave it at that. But being the curious cat that I am, I couldn't resist digging into its meaning.

Though I've established via many past posts--including whole deconversion series--that I'm an atheist, I believe in dreams. Not in the sense some supernatural force is sending me a message from the other side, but in the sense that dreams can often serve as subconscious funhouse mirrors of the struggles, triumphs and desires of our waking lives. Of course, some are directly affected by our waking habits (like the time I feel asleep in the midst of a True Blood watch-a-thon and some vampers made a guest appearance), but many times, dreams can offer a surreal vision for us interpret, or not, at our own leisure. 

So, I looked up what 45 means in the dream realm and came upon these descriptions:

"To dream of the number 45 represents the balancing of change. A chaotic experience or unexpected event may be coming to a close. Alternatively, 45 may reflect a change of method in how a problem is fixed. 

Number 45 is a message from your angels to put your efforts towards the things in your life that embrace and enhance who you truly are, your lifestyle choices and your life in general.  Be prepared to make necessary changes that will bring auspicious opportunities to advance you along your path.  Trust that these changes will bring ‘better’ into your life in all aspects."

Again, angels? Chile no, but in this case the descriptions happen to apply to some areas of my life right now. I'm not going through anything really catastrophic or chaotic at the moment, but I am trying to change the way I operate when it comes to things like saving and earning money (I'm pursuing more freelance work, being less impulsive with spending), and focusing most of my creativity on my fiction writing.

Pursuing my writing ambitions in particular has made me afraid at some points, with the familiar doubts swirling in my head. "Am I any good?" "Will people get/like this?" "Will I ever get published?" "How will things change if I actually "blow up?" And so on. But putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, has made my life richer, because I feel like I'm expressing myself. Or to put it more bluntly, I feel like I'm getting some shit off my chest. Connecting things back to religion, choosing to seek answers to my questions, leaving Christianity and embracing my non-belief  was scary as hell, but has ultimately led to a more centered emotional state of mind.

Of course, this is all my interpretation; dreams and numerology are not absolutes, and as humans we are coincidence junkies, always looking for ways to connect the dots. But it's all interesting nonetheless.

What was the last dream you had that affected you?

Advocate Op-ed Highlights Corrective Rape Attacks, Murders in South Africa

Make time to read Victoria A. Brownworth's harrowing op-ed for The Advocate entitled "The Other Ex-Gay 'Therapy,'" which details the near epidemic wave of anti-gay violence, murder and corrective rape in South African against lesbians.

One of the victims profiled is 26-year-old Duduzile ZoZo, who was found murdered on June 30. Brownworth writes:

"Duduzile, an out lesbian, was partially naked and a toilet brush had been shoved into her vagina, rupturing it. She was found by her mother, Thuziwe Zozo, about 40 feet from the Zozo home, in a neighbor’s yard.

The neighbor was questioned and released by police, but Mrs. Zozo said she did not understand why he had told people he didn’t know who the victim was, when they were well-acquainted and lived next door to each other. No one else has been questioned in Zozo’s murder, which has garnered national attention and which has — unlike previous corrective rapes — been labeled a hate crime"

Corrective rape is not limited to South Africa. Incidents have been reported in Thailand, Ecuador, Jamaica and Zimbabwe. However, corrective rape is most prevalent in South Africa, which officials stating at least 10  rapes occur each week in the Cape Town area alone. Many of the attacks occur in all-black townships, and most of the victims are black.

What makes this all the more shocking and tragic is, on the books at least, LGBT folks in South Africa have many rights, including marriage equality.

Fellow blogger Rod 2.0 has covered corrective rape in South Africa, and gay rights in Africa, extensively. Read his posts here.

Senate Committee Passes ENDA

Well this is a step in the right direction. Today a Senate committee passed ENDA on a bipartisan vote.

"The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, 15 to 7, advancing the bill that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The bill, which does not contain religious exemptions, now heads to the full Senate, where it has a solid majority in favor with 53 cosponsors. But a majority doesn't guarantee passage in the Senate since so many bills are now filibustered, requiring 60 votes to break."

The White House released a statement confirming President Obama's support of the bill, saying "The President has long supported an inclusive ENDA, which would enshrine into law strong, lasting and comprehensive protections against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity."

A push for the bill to succeed in the GOP-controlled House is being led by Representatives Jared  Polis (D)  and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Currently protections for LGBT workers are offered in 17 states and Washington D.C., with another four extending protections to LGB people.

Monday, July 8, 2013

True Blood Season 6 Ep. 4 Recap: 'At Last'

Photo: HBO

As always, spoilers lie ahead. Now read on you peckerwood....

After pushing several story arcs foward in last week's "You're No Good," this week's "At Last" was loaded with big reveals and plot twists that put several characters, both new and old, in perilous territory.

First up though, Ben is Warlow. Warlow is Ben. I have to admit that was a pretty good okey doke by the show, making us think Warlow was stalking around Bon Temp looking like the runner up in a Rob Zombie impersonator contest, when all along he was posing as sweet, aw shucks Ben Flynn. Of course this led to more questions, which to true to True Blood form, where all answered by the end of the hour. I was annoyed by this at first. We see Ben draw fang and heal Jason, setting up a potentially tantalizing "what are you?" story arc and imbuing his character with a much-needed layer of mystery, but then said mystery is all explained away quickly and in the most pat way possible. Warlow was a full fairy long ago who was turned by who we now know is Lilith, then proceeded to slaughter both his and Niall's fae relatives. We're four episodes in and not only has this season's main villain been revealed, his complete backstory has been told.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized there are still questions about Warlow and his intentions. He's clearly not above using deception and brute force--poor Grandpa Niall didn't even know what was coming--but he also went out of his way to not only heal Jason but glamour all his vampire-hate-mommy-and-daddy-issues angst away. And he revealed to Niall that it was he who spared his life all those centuries ago. Of course, he told Niall about his act of mercy right before he tossed him into the same alternate universe he escaped from. Though something tells me Niall won't go gently into that good nether realm. He's too obsessed with getting even, and Rutger Hauer is too good a screen presence to be dispensed with this quickly. Or at least I hope True Blood's writers realize that. But I digress.

Warlow clearly, as he stated, has a streak of both light and darkness in him. Even his treatment of Sookie is curious. Why still be so secretive and still play the flirtatious Southern gentleman after he glamoured Jason and got rid of Niall? What was stopping him from draining her dry or becoming the Princess Peach to his big bad Bowser before she summoned up her death star light mid-dry humping? What does he want from her? Sookie's not waiting around to find out; along with aforementioned fairy death star light she summons just as they start to work it out on the couch, she poisoned his food with silver to see if her suspicions are correct. Warlow doesn't flinch or fry though. The fae side must cancel out the vampire weaknesses.

Sookie must have guessed this as well (and no doubt remembered Grandpa Niall's shiny blood parlor trick), and though I counted her out at first, her seduction ruse was admirable. "Get the fuck off me or die Warlow,"  she tells him. Snap! This isn't the same girl who got goosebumps watching Bill Compton sit down in a booth at Merlotte's; after six years, Sookie is older, wiser and most importantly, worn out with the supernatural bullshit that has wreaked havoc in her life, and is all too eager to give up her own supe status if it means she can go back to being normal. Though I doubt getting rid of Warlow will be that easy, particularly if Nora's prediction that he is key to defeating Lilith/Billith proves correct.

Speaking of Bill, he and Jessica have kidnapped Andy kids, well teenagers now after their latest growth spurt. They grow up so fast, and their first rebellious act is taking daddy's cop car out for spin and getting some beer. Jessica, though conflicted about the whole thing--the girls are about the same age she was when she was turned--lures them back to Bill's mansion so Professor Takahashi can start working on a way to synthesize their fae blood and save the vampires from annihilation. Though right now he's having no such luck, as fae blood isn't all that resilient outside the fae body. Bill of course, threatens, levitates and asks questions later, and tells the professor failure is not an option. Though after he rushes into the living room to find the fae quadruplets drained dry and a distraught Jessica cowering in the corner with blood on her mouth, it may be the only option.

Eric and Pam catch up with Tara, who last week took off with Willa and tried to help her escape. Eric chokes her location out of Tara, he and Pam engage in their now customary sniping (aww, I miss their playful, harsh banter) and he speeds off to find her. Pam and Tara go off to feed and bitch about Eric, then Pam bitches at Tara for trying to free Willa. "This is war. It is us against them. What is it gonna take for you to understand ?" Pam says, and while this is only the latest version of the same old human-tolerant vampires versus kill-all-humans vampires argument the show has done for its entire run, now that things have literally gotten to the point of war, her words carry a sense of urgency they would have lacked as late as last season.  Anyway, Tara disagrees and tells her she can hunt by her own damn self and speeds off. Bad idea, as forgetting her maker's advice to walk like a well, human causes soldiers to spot Pam and shoot her with a UV-silver bullet. Oh god don't let them take Pam!

Meanwhile Eric, has found Willa, who isn't running for her life but sitting calmly on a merry go round. She didn't even bother to run, not only because she knew he'd find her, but because she loathes her father's anti-vamp crusade and wants a taste of his blood. And well, you can guess what happens next.

While Eric's decision to turn Willa is not earth shattering, the way it happens is unexpected. Many times on True Blood, becoming a vampire is something done out of selfish desire (Lorena's making of Bill is the obvious reference point, but Tara's turn at the hands of Sookie and Lafayette could fall under that as well), punishment (Jessica) or abject despair and desperation (Pam). Out of all our creatures of the night, only Eric saw becoming a vampire as a wholly positive, transcendent, almost sacred event.

It would have been easy for the whole thing to be framed as Willa being all "I wanna be bad" (yes I went to that well again. Willa Ford, where are you now, besides popping up in Friday The 13th  remakes?) and clawing at Eric like a cat in heat, begging to be an immortal as a big screw you to Daddy. Instead of a vengeful act though, Willa's turning is treated like a rite of passage or a wedding night deflowering, one both she and Eric feel she deserves. What's more striking is Willa is the polar opposite of Pam. Where the latter is cynical, the other is earnest; where Pam guards her feelings behind an almost insurmountable wall of bitchiness, Willa is achingly vulnerable.

All that being said, it also ain't much of leap to see that white, virginal night gown and think Eric sees Willa as a brunette Sookie, and is using her as stand-in for whatever lingering romantic feelings he still has for our fairy princess. Unlike Sookie (or Nora or Pam) though, the two never consummate their union. Eric sends her back to the governor, and while it seems cruel to Willa at first, he explains he wants her to return to show her father that vampires are not monsters. Hmmm, that's nice and idealistic and all that jazz, but who's to say Willia won't be sharing a cell with Steve Newlin down the vampire experimentation compound?

Well, so says the former Sarah Newlin, who's banging the governor--oh honey, you can do so much better, but you're on a power trip, so do you--who shoots Willa just as she's about to snack on her father. Eric's plan was good in theory--making the political personal by forcing the governor to face the object of his hatred in the flesh--but not in practice. Willa is only like, a day old, and it's kinda naive a vampire as old as Eric wouldn't keep her around longer to school her on impulse control.

Over in shifter/werewolf land, Sam (who has to have been the wolf who scared off another were from Nicole last week, so my apologies for that mistake), Emma and Nicole continue their escape, with Lafayette playing get-a-away driver. Later, Nicole, who is stupidly calling and texting her now deceased friends, tells them she'll limp along on her own and to go on without her. Sam tells Lafayette to take Emma (which means more uber fab babysitting scenes for her and us) and convinces Nicole to go with him, shifting into a horse so they can ride off to a hotel to hide in. Once there they commiserate over dead lovers and friends and kiss. I'm not 100 percent against this development; Nicole's already more interesting a character to me than Luna ever was, and their reaching out to each other in the midst of tragedy makes sense. Though I don't know how their hook up will work in the long run.

As for the wolves, Alcide's still hot, Ricki still doesn't know her place in the pack and they're still looking for Emma. And while I get she's her grandmother, I'm sure the actress who plays Martha would love nothing more than to go an episode without running around and screaming that Emma's gone. This plot needs a new twist, and fast.

Other Thoughts:

---Nice, realistic touch to have the same sleazy gas station cashier from the pilot episode appear in this one.

---Pam's talk about vampire speakeasies with willing human donors was an interesting little aside, though now that she's frying from the inside out and being shuttled off to the vamp concentration camp, we probably won't get to see what that's all about.

--Who else thinks Sarah's big secret to Governor Burrell is she's pregnant?

--Niall might've gotten owned by Warlow, but he sure gave Nora one to grow on with that super Hadouken fairy light blast. Girl's got stop geeking when she's in the presence of fairy blood.

--Thankfully the writers didn't devote too much to Terri's Ifrit-sacrificial-murder PTSD. Though realistic (Patrick was his friend after all), it's not a story arc I want to see take up the majority of an episode.

--Lafayette was giving Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice with the look on his face as he turned Emma away from a naked Sam as he shifted. You could almost hear him him thinking "Nuh uh. That's wrong."

--Governor Burrell to Ginger: HUUUUUSH! DAYUM!

--Jason having a homoerotic dream about Ben/Warlow set to Miguel's "Adorn"? Thank you True Blood. Thank you.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Random Jam: Diana Ross "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"

Possibly the best cover version of a song EVER (and when the original's by Marvin Gaye--with help from Tammi Terrell--that's sayin' something). Perfection.

Pope Francis, Benedict Jointly Condemn Same-Sex Marriage

Well isn't this a touching moment? Pope Francis and his predecessor Benedict XVI, have issued a joint condemnation of same-sex marriage, restating the Catholic Church's opposition on the issue.

The 82-page encyclical, issued today, says marriage should be a “stable union of man and woman.” It continues, “This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgement and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation.” Encyclicals are documents written by popes for circulation to Catholic clergy members.

The encyclical, which tackles other topics, is the first written by the two popes. These two seem hopeleslly out of touch with their followers. The Catholics I've encountered usually have a live-and-let-live or overall supportive attitude when it comes to homosexuality and gay rights. Of course this is a huge generalization, but how long will it be before the church leadership realizes a large part of their congregants disagree with them?

Watch: Trailer For Gay Surfer Documentary 'Out In The Line-Up'

When you think of surfing, what usually comes to mind is bikinis, sunshine and beach-ready bodies wiping out under a big wave--or at least I do. What you never think about however is the homophobia that is apparently deeply embedded within surf culture. Now Out In The Line-Up, a new documentary created by Thomas Castets, explores what has long been considered a taboo subject.

"It [being gay] challenges many existing ideals: The industry has made millions of dollars selling the image of the straight white male and bikini-clad female surfers. Most people buy into this stereotype and reject whatever is different, which is why many gay surfers prefer to remain silent," Castets told Out magazine.

Watch the trailer below.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Random Question: Fourth of July Plans

What are your plans for Independence Day? Me, I'll be working the morning but plan on getting some ribs, baked beans and other cookout goodies in my belly at some point in the day.

So what are you doing (or not doing) for the fourth?

B. Scott Disrespected By BET, Rejects Network's Apology

B. Scott has rejected the non-apology released by BET (after GLAAD got a hold of them) in the wake of the snub he was given by the network at the BET Awards this past Sunday.

"BET's non-apology statement has added more insult to injury. It was not a 'miscommunication' and what they did to me was intentional," he tweeted Tuesday. The blogger and media personality was set to work the red carpet at the award show when things went sour.

"After interviewing AJ Calloway for my first segment, I was literally yanked backstage and told that my look from head to toe “wasn’t acceptable.They asked me to pull my hair back, they asked me to change my attire."

Let’s be clear, I wasn’t wearing a ball gown and stiletto heels. I was wearing long pants, and a long shirt.
I was returned to my trailer and forced to change into one of the other outfits while other producers waited outside. I changed quickly and returned to set, only to be told that I had been replaced by Adrienne Bailon and wouldn’t be going on at all.

I was hurt. I am hurt."

As he should be. B. Scott has built his reputation on being feminine, androgynous and fabulous. There is nothing wrong with having him host a segment. Not to mention he's already appeared on 106 & Park, which is the equivalent of going on TRL back in the day (i.e. the flagship, money-making show) multiple times. And even if it was his first time on the network, what's the difference between B.Scott rocking a little lip gloss and a flowery top and the hordes of females twerking it in mini-skirts, spangly bras and other red-carpet/stage wear that has practically become required for public appearances?

On top of that, the sponsors Proctor and Gamble were already aware of B. Scott's style and approved him. Why hire B. Scott then ask him not to be B. Scott? That's like scheduling Beyonce to perform and asking her to leave the stilettos, front lace and bodysuits at home. Like booking Prince and telling him he can't wear heels or play guitar. It's insane and disrespectful.

Read B. Scott's full account of the incident at his website, and check out Wonder Man over at Maybe It's Just Me, who's been following the controversy since it first came to light,  posts here.

Putin Signs Adoption Ban For Foreign Gay Couples

Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a bill banning the adoption of Russian children by gay couples from other countries. The legislation in the wake of France's legalizing gay marriage in May, and "is aimed at guaranteeing a harmonious and full upbringing for children in adoptive families," according to the The Huffington Post.

According to the Associated Press, this law limits adoption possibilities for 600,000 Russian children who do not have parental custody.

The Russian government has already barred Americans from adopting Russian children. Russia recently also approved legislation to outlaw all pro-LGBT "propaganda," out of fear that it could possibly corrupt children.


Monday, July 1, 2013

True Blood Season 6 Ep. 3 Recap: 'You're No Good'

Photo: HBO

As always spoilers lie ahead. Now read on before the proverbial ish hits the fan...

As with last week's "The Sun," this week's episode "You're No Good," dialed back the sex/violence/gore quotient in favor of moving the innumerable story lines forward.

We start off with Eric where we left him, glamouring the governor's daughter Willa and coming into her bedroom, kneeling before her as if he's about to propose. Well, he is proposing to murder her vagina then murder her (and since this is True Blood the order in which this transpires can go either way), so I'm not completely off base. Just as he's ready to begin the annihilation foreplay, Willa stops him with some business about vampire testing, which makes Eric go from seductive to "Say Wahh" and he absconds with her to Fangtasia.

Nora's still gone on her Book of Lilith fact-finding-mission, so he instead gets an earful from Pam and Tara about kidnapping the governor's daughter. Pam's all "kill her, kill her now," while Tara's more "just glamour that ass and get it the hell out our sight." After questioning Willa sans pre-glamouring (though if I were him I'd go back and do a glamour deception check, just in case), during which she reveals dear ol' Daddy is hauling vamps in for testing on their body chemistry, abilities and all of other sorts of vaguely Dr. Mengele-esque medical endeavors, Eric eventually settles on taking the girl with them to Ginger's house to shack up. Oh, and Ginger boo, I feel for you that you couldn't get a piece of Norman, but thems the brakes. But I digress.

While I love me some Pam, I'd have to say with Tara's suggestion was far and away the more level-headed course of action. I'm all for showing a little vulnerability and anxiety, but Pam's been off her game so far this season; she's always handled the endless barrage of supernatural crises with a scowl, a stiletto-heeled stomp and a sardonic retort. This is a woman--well, vampire--who quipped about being a Tiffany's girl when the magister was torturing her to death with silver; it's strange that it's taken her so long to grasp that, as Eric says the world is changing and decapitating humans for kicks and/or revenge won't cut it anymore.

Later, while on coffin lockdown, Willa spills more tea about her family. Turns out, the governor's wife ran out on him with a vampire, and he put the kibosh on her plan to go out the West coast with her mom and new step-daddy. She's being almost too candid, and Eric shares my skepticism as is he cynically mocks her for trying so hard to prove she pro-vamp. Willa responds she's just trying to keep her mind off that fact she may be worm food soon, then caresses Eric faces (he's got the bleeds) and tries to tastes his blood, but he gives her something to dream about anyway by sticking her finger in his mouth and licking the blood off. "Now put your tape back on" he says, as Willa shudders while clutching her imaginary pearls. Can't you can just hear Willa Ford singing "I, I wanna  be bad," playing on repeat in her head? Huh? Anyone? Eventually the governor calls and tracks their whereabouts, but they escape before he arrives. Catch 'em if you can governor.

Bill's still trying to figure how many new tricks he's got up his sleeve, and his fugue state pow-wow with Lilith has left convinced that his greatest parlor trick is the power to walk in the sunlight. Jessica begs and pleads him to come inside, but of course Bill, sloppy drunk off "I'm the chosen one" sauce, won't listen. Though in his defense, he did get shanked through the heart and lived (died? remained undead?) to tell the tale, so it's not that big of a leap to think he could withstand the breaking of the dawn. But alas, poor Bill did meet the sun, and it did surely slew him, until his progeny did cover his burning corpse and thus slid him inside, enduring his cowering cries of anguish and confusion all the while. We always want what we can't have.

Following in Russell Edgington's footsteps, Bill wants to synthesize fairy blood into a special brew that'll allow all vampires to become day walkers, and sends Jessica out on a mission (telling her to tart it up for good measure) to seduce and kidnap Professor Hiro Takahashi, who created True Blood, while he visits Sookie for a little chat. Sookie puts up with him for a few minutes, then gets all "up out my face boy" and refuses to invite him in. But then Bill reveals new power number 1080: he doesn't need to be invited in. Sookie screams for Jason (really girl? But I get it, desperate times...) and Bill easily works some telekinetic jujitsu, pinning him up against the wall. He goes on his uber religious trip about his duty but Sookie's had enough. "You're not god, you're just an asshole!" she screams while throwing a plate at him that of course does nothing. Bill says if she won't help then she's dead to him, and with a warble of "that's fine with me," from Sookie, it looks this epic love story is finally over. Or at least for five or six episodes, give or take.

Bill's strolling by the graveyard when Andy drives up and reminds him of the vampire curfew. Bill picks up on the scent of fae in his patrol car, and well you know where this is all going now, as Bill will scoop those crumb snatchers up for his own dastardly deeds. They took the long way, but this development does tie the whole fairy-baby-mama-quadruplet-birth story arc of last season to Bill's current one. As for the rest of Andy's story, Holly's back! But she's still (rightfully) pissed at him for fathering four fae/human babies. Well, preteens now. He takes her to he and Terry's old stomping ground Fort Bellefleur, and through shooting practice and a clumsy fort-I'll-be-your-protector metaphor, the two start to reconcile.

Sookie continues to practice her fairy super nova finishing move, when she's not watching over Jason and his sudden migraine problems. And I do mean sudden. Did he even have a headache last week?. Jason explains why he was acting nuttier and more racist than usual (his words, not mine), as visions of ghost Mama and Daddy were poisoning his mind.  He and Sookie share another heart-to-heart about learning to accept your parents, while not ignoring their flaws, and while the writers have gone to this well many, many times over the years, Anna Paquin and Ryan Kwanten always manage to make Sookie and Jason's sibling bond feel genuine.

Warlow makes his presence known throughout as Niall keeps vigilant watch, flash teleporting all over the place like he's Raiden circa Mortal Kombat II and visiting the Moulin Fairy to gather the troops. Unfortunately Warlow found the fae club and acted a damn fool, draining everything in sight. As consolation (and pushing he and Sookie's inevitable courtship), Niall happens upon Ben Flynn, and recruits him. Niall seems to sense Warlow again when back at Stackhouse residence, but it's actually Nora, who gets a face full of fairy light before dashing off into the night again. Where and when does that girl feed?

In were/shifter news, the police are cracking down on the werewolves, paying a visit to Martha's house to see if they're hiding Emma. Ricki channels Mommie Dearest and terrifies Emma into shifting to fool the cops (though Martha can do an emphysema cough like nobody's business) and all is well, until Nicole and the rest of her activist gang come into their midst and try to convince them to come out to the world. Things go from bad to worse when Alcide figures out they've been taping the whole tense exchange and practically growls at them to leave. Joe Manganiello is really sneaking his teeth into being big bad alpha wolf isn't he? Speaking of teeth marks, Ricki loses her shit, shifts and takes a bite out of one of the activists, and the other wolves join in, leading to much screaming and gnashing of teeth. Nicole gets a chunk of her leg eaten, but manages to limp away after Alcide scares another were off, allowing her, along with Sam and Emma, to escape.

While I'm still not thrilled with the werewolves overall, having them face the same supernatural restrictions does bring them into the show's universe a little more, albeit on the fringe. And the show seems to be at a loss at what to do with Lafayette these days. He's too magical to hang with Terry, Andy and the other humans 24/7, but he's not powerful enough to really mark his territory in the vampire/fairy/were world. The best they come up with for him now is to be the comic relief, which Nelson George handles fabulously. Though now that he and Sam are buddy buddy, perhaps he'll tap into some new abilities.

Ultimately, what's most compelling for now is Niall and Warlow's centuries old blood feud, and Bill's wicked--or is it?--scheme to synthesize fairy blood. And at least we won't have to hear the word Irfit ever again. Thanks Arlene.

---Other Thoughts:

---Don't think I forgot about the Steve and Sarah Newlin reunion! Praise His Light! Though fan weren't exactly clamoring for her return, she and Steve's barbed exchange provided some nice laughs. Also, wasn't Sarah serving season two Betty Draper when she told Steve "you embarrassed me?" I guess giving Don Draper a little skull duggery in the backseat leaves a mad men's taste in your mouth.

---Any guesses on what Jason's headache might be? Yeah, I'm coming up empty, but theories are welcome.

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