Tuesday, September 14, 2010

True Blood Season 3: The Definition of Insanity....

... is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.

I first read about True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse books in an article in Newsweek when the first season was about to air on HBO two years ago. Another vampire series set in Louisiana. Great and how original. *eye roll* I thought about the horrible stereotypes of my home state I'd seen portrayed over the years: ignorant, backwoods, corrupt, New Orleanians with Southern accents... *shudder*

I avoided watching True Blood for all those reasons and more. But then, something happened: a couple of months later, a friend and I decided to flip channels and we happened upon Sookie being attacked by Bill in the graveyard. My friend was like, "Ah, what's going on?" and I responded, "I think he's her boyfriend and she likes it." Hehe. It was campy and seemed smarter than I'd originally surmised. I caught up on all the episodes, Season 1 ended, so I grabbed and devoured all the books. It was Christmas, I was bored, I wanted more, I found the TB wiki, fanfiction, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Imagine my horror now, three seasons later, when I realized my instincts were right all along: True Blood really is all those horrible Southern stereotypes and worse! It's dumbed-down crack for the masses; much of it pointless plots and one-dimensional characters, with a protein shake thrown in occasionally to keep the few skeptical, health-conscious folks hooked.

My trust in Alan Ball began slipping during Season 2 and the Maryann crap, but then Godric pulled me back in. Season 3 was cringe-worthy for different reasons and now that the finale has aired, I'm still a bit dumbstruck. So many meaningless storylines and characters ... So many WTF moments. Why, AB, why?

The Bad:

1. Sam. Ugh. Although boring, a steadfast and good guy is now a cold-blooded killer. But what does it matter because as Television Without Pity (TWoP) has pointed out, True Blood: The Best & Worst of Season 3, this season with his white trash family/Sawyer-from-Lost background illustrates the same result from last season: Sam overcame things to be the person he is today. Except now that he has allegedly shot his brother in the back, he's a monster again. And, as much as I like Sam Trammell the actor, I no longer care about Sam, the TB clusterfuckup.

2. Tara. The writing for her is terrible. For three seasons now she's been the victim, always blaming everyone else, crying and yelling in every scene. She seemed to be coming to terms with her abduction and rape at the hands of Franklin Mott and possibly growing as a character when she went to Holly's rape survivors' meeting, but then she was back to the same behavior, so what was the point? Episodes are written and directed by different people, so I have to think the actress is overacting too, badly. Does she really need to quiver her lip and pop her eyes in every scene? She was Juilliard trained with Nelsan Ellis for god's sake! Tara's also a terrible friend. She helped Sookie escaped Russell's mansion, but that doesn't make up for Tara letting Maryann trash Sookie's house last season. It's still a horrible, disgusting mess! This season ended with Tara cutting her hair and driving off, like she was going to find herself. But I could care less where she's going and hope she never comes back. I'm so over Tara it's not even... yeah... I'm done.

3. Jason. As TWoP has pointed out in its fabulous recap of TB, "don't tell us Jason taking over the needs of a meth trailer park is a step up for next season -- it is not." Touche, TWoP, touche

4. Calvin Norris. A good man in the books is made into a disgusting drug dealer, committing rape and incest. Then he's shot dead by his own son, making his character pointless.

5. Taking book scenes and giving them to other characters. Bill staking Longshadow in S1 was what led to the creation of Jessica, so I won't complain about that. But TB gave the Shower Scene to Bill/Sookie and made it Psycho-esque, so I don't expect to see Eric/Sookie in a shower anytime soon. Because it's also something bookies have been asking for since Day 1, AB will make sure we don't get it. Add to that list, Amnesiac Eric. I'm highly dubious that will take place. I've been joking that Sookie will come back from the Fairy Spaceship with no memory after she's been anally probed, but seriously, how will she come back from Fairyland? As old Sookie? I don't think so.

6. The Fae. A supernatural race that is fascinating in CH's books has been turned into Tinkerbell Aliens on TB. Maybe they will be more interesting in Season 4, but the soft-focus dancing around a pond does not lend itself to much depth.

7. Yvetta. Before this season began when the role was first cast, people were speculating that she was a mole/spy. Maybe a Were-something or a witch, connected to Hallow or Holly, someone who would segue to the "season of the witch." Well, guess what? She really was just a trashy, money-grubbing stripper (cardiologist in Estonia or not); she was simply there to have someone for Eric to f*ck. Even if Yvetta comes back next season and it turns out there is a connection to the witches or Weres, because there were no hints to make it intriguing, it will be too little too late.

8. Nazi Werewolf Storyline. Errghhh. When writers run out of ideas, they bring out evil Nazis. Add a crazy 3,000 year old vampire and Weres strung out on his blood and you've got... absolute crap. And poor Alexander Skarsgard, who got rid of his Swedish accent so he wouldn't be stuck playing Nazis, got stuck playing a vampire playing a Nazi.

9. So many inconsistencies. Eric's hair doesn't grow back (and actually gets shorter and darker), but poor Jessica's hymen does; no lights in the Bon Temps cemetery when Sookie walked through there in Season 1 and had graveyard sex with Bill, but it was lit up like a ballpark in the the Season 3 finale. After he's been tortured and drained, Bill can rise from silver chains and hold his maker, Lorena, so Sookie can stake her, but Eric who's more than 5 times older than Bill, is incapacitated by one silver handcuff. I could go on, but I'll spare you.

10. Godric. As much as I love Godric, it seems like AB brought him back only to pander to fans, and because the episodes in Season 2 that highlighted Godric, were the ones nominated for an Emmy. So, it felt forced to see him in S3 in flashbacks and as a ghost/vision. He hunted Russell and Nazi werewolves in WW2 with Eric so Eric could have vengeance for the killing of his family, but then Godric appears in the finale, telling Eric to let Russell have peace. When Eric doesn’t kill Russell in Fangtasia's parking lot because of Godric, but buries him instead in concrete, Godric appears again to tell Eric he's unhappy because Eric is full of hate. Okay, so what is Eric supposed to do exactly, Godric? You seem to not want Eric to kill Russell, and when he doesn’t, you are still upset. Was Eric supposed to let Russell go free so he could continue slaughtering others, including Eric? Godric's appearances in the finale seem unnecessary.

11. Women are helpless. Sookie couldn’t stake Lorena herself, she needed Bill’s help; Tara couldn’t kill Franklin when he came back to menace her, she needed Jason. I'm over the weak, whiny women in TB!

The Good:

1. Russell/Denis O'Hare. I won't get into how ridiculous it is that a 3,000 year-old vampire is a white man (seriously, writers? Not Egyptian or Asian or African?), because Russell, as played by the incredible O'Hare, chews up every scene he's in. This is what a villain should look like, full of awesomeness! He takes "vamp camp" to a whole new level. I want to just sit and watch him spew his lines, even when he's crispy; O'Hare did such incredible acting with just his eyes, under all that makeup. So I'm all for keeping Russell around.

2. Franklin Mott/James Frain. This character would have just been sad, pathetic, and scary, but Frain elevated Franklin's scenes to a whole other level. The speed texting was hysterical and cute. And when he said to Tara, "You never mourned me" drawing out the "mourned," OMG! Bizarre, yet moving, and entertaining-as-hell.

3. Alcide/Joe Manganiello. He's a good guy with sparkling brown eyes and a gorgeous ass, and he actually has chemistry with Sookie.

4. Bill. He's even more evil than Book Bill. Wow. Kudos to TB for going there. But that doesn't mean he won't win Sookie's heart again in Season 4. *gags* And if they have to show a scene THREE FREAKIN' YEARS LATER to tie into the present (*cough* Rattrays *cough*), it's been too long coming. Just saying.

5. Lorena, finally dead. But I will continue to mourn her fabulous wardrobe.

So, my original fears that True Blood would use cheap Southern stereotyping was correct. It's a mystery why a show that has inspired moments, would do that. If TB stuck to the books more (with the wonderful additions of Lafayette, Jessica, and Godric), this show would be good, maybe even great. However, I no longer have faith in AB, so I'm not expecting TB to improve much. I watch it now for the train wreck that it often is, and because I can gripe about it with my TB friends. I've also been curious about what makes a show excellent (ah, hello there, Mad Men), and what makes it not, and it always start with the writing.

So, I've watched this season of True Blood for a number of reasons, but not because I think it's going to get better. Does that make me any less insane?

P.S. I want to give a shout out to nycsnowbird and her awesome reviews on The Sookieverse for TB Season 3. The finale review is here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

When Emails Trump Postcards: My Parents’ Trip to Egypt

When I started this blog, I decided it would be about reading, writing, and my trivial observations. This is my first entry that falls in that last category under “picayunes.”

My parents went on a cruise to Egypt last spring. They usually do religious trips because they are very Catholic. Like New Orleans Catholic, go to Mass every day, Catholic. So they’ve gone to “The Holy Land,” Fatima, Sarajevo, Lourdes, basically to all the places where peeps see Jesus or Mary in a potato chip. But this trip to Egypt via Dubai was not typical for them; going to Muslim countries, seeing the pyramids, Giza, the Sphinx shouldn’t bode well for married Catholic seniors looking for visions of the Virgin Mary. My brother Jake, a former Marine, was worried about terrorists. The rest of us were worried about my 73 year-old father hugging women in Dubai and getting himself arrested (he does love the ladies). He couldn’t even hug my mother in public there, it’s against the law. It is a very strict Muslim country. But he doesn’t care. He hugs women, Burkas or not, kisses their pregnant bellies, then gives them a one dollar bill to start a college fund for the baby. My father is very friendly and unfiltered, and that’s how he rolls. Anyway, turns out they were in Dubai for only a couple of days, no hugs or arrests (thank god), then they got on the cruise ship. Little did we know, the dangerous part of the trip had only just begun: my parents on a boat for several days in pirate waters off the coast of Somalia.

My mother uses email, but it’s usually to forward videos of kittens playing the piano, when it’s not emails about Obama being the anti-Christ (I have thankfully been taken off of that email list). She doesn’t write a lot in her emails, she just types with two fingers and clicks the forward button. So, despite the fact it’s almost impossible to misspell words or make typos due to spell-check, my mother does, often and hilariously. Here are a few of her emails with my and my siblings’ (Jake, Steve, and Amanda) responses. I’ve highlighted some things, ‘cause they’re extra hysterical. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. I’m posting this ‘cause I love my nutty parents, I truly, truly do! And this stuff is just too damn good to not share with the world. Ahem…

And now without further ado, I give you my parents on their trip to Egypt…

On Apr 21, 2010, at 6:47 AM, Mom wrote:


We are on our cruise. Everything went well on our flight over. We are jet-leged but having a great time The ship is half full because lots of people couldnt get here do to the valcano. We are presently off the cost of Somalgia? We have what they call Safe Heaven and when called we all rush to the inside incase there is a pirate ship near by. I am not worried. We are well protected.and will be escorted through the waters. The internet isnt always working and it took me two days to find Cox and its not cheap. I will check my e-mail everyday but only send important things. Its 3:45 in the afternoon on Wed and all is well here and I hope there as well. PS there is a Catholic priest from S C on board and he says Mass everyday. What more could I ask for?

God Bless, Mom

On 4/21/10 8:12 AM, Amanda wrote:

Mom and Dad,

I'm glad that you are safe (seemingly). Have fun and if you get kidnapped by terrorists or pirates just let Dad do his thing and they will gladly hand y'all back to American authorities.

Love, Amanda

-----Original Message-----

From: Mom

Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2010 7:25 AM

To: Kids

Subject: Re: Arrived?

Steve and all,

Sorry I remembered I forgot you as I was going to sleep last night and your my favorit!!

We are still sailing --out to sea. We have been escorted by a ship on each side today. At 3PM they closed off the outside doors so no one can walk around out there for 12 hrs. We are all having fun and feel very safe. We are learning about Egypt and the Muslin religion by way of talks. They are keeping us busy. We also learned we need to ditox our body. Daddy has been having fun and eating as much as he wants and not really missbehaving that I can tell. I won $267 in the casino on the one cent machine and of course lost some of it too. Dont worry we are fine.

Love Mom

On Apr 22, 2010, at 8:47 PM, Jake wrote:

Mom & Dad,

Its so good to hear from you. Thanks for checking in. I am so glad that y'all were able to take this cruise in the Suez Canal amidst all our terrorist and pirate friends because, as I understand it, you are doing so many things that you are never able to experience at home:

1. Dad is not misbehaving and eating as much as he wants

2. Mom is gambling on penny slots and winning about as much one night as she loses the next

3. Both of you are going to mass every day

4. Both of you are learning about religion by way of talks

5. Mom is browsing the internet and answering email everyday

6. Dad is handing out pens and calendars.

I hope dad doesn't go through Solitaire withdrawals. I am so happy that y'all could experience so many things that you would never do here in Louisiana! ;-)

I really hope that you two have a great time. Be sure to check in next week, and please let us know how much fun it was to watch some stranger give dad the Heimlich maneuver at dinner.



On Apr 23, 2010, at 12:33 AM, Lan wrote:

Very funny. I was thinking of all those things too. Plenty of food, slot machines, captive people for Dad to talk to, Mass every day. The only difference from being in New Orleans is Mom and Dad are surrounded by pirates. How different is that really? O.o Glad yall are having a good time!

-----Original Message-----

From: Mom

Sent: Friday, April 23, 2010 12:10 PM

To: Kids

Subject: Re: Arrived?

We are still alive and just moved out of the "red Zone" into safe water and lost our escort. We have two more days of cruising before we stop in Egypt. We have met people from all different countries and they all speak English. The Brits and Assie have such a wonderful accents. The weather has been sunny and hot, well in the 80's. We have moved up an hr and are only 8 hrs ahead of home and I think we are finally no longer jet laged. we are having so much fun we are planning out next trip. We learned how the Suaze Canal was built today. Take care and we love you all


-----Original Message-----

From: Mom

Sent: Saturday, April 24, 2010 9:23 AM

To: Kids

Subject: RE: Arrived?

Well today we are tired. We went to the 9:30PM show last night which Daddy slept through. The problem is when we go to bed at 11's we get up every morning at 7:30 and its not enough sleep. We eat breakfast and then go to 8:30 mass and then to a very interesting talk at 9:30.

We are still at sea actually its the Red Sea and there are no real dangers here. We will have one more day at sea and then land in Egypt. Today we learned how Pyrmids are made and the whole story of Patty Herst. There is a Discrit Attorney from Las Angels who gives a talk every afternoon. We also went to a talk about art and what makes an artist a Master. Dads most fun is trying to get the manager of the computers to give us a better price per min because the internet is iffy and very slow. He visits them several times a day. Yesterday he had a body fat content test and he found out he isnt eating enough at breakfast and he needs to lose 18 lbs. Enough for now.

Love, Mom

-----Original Message-----

From: Mom

Sent: Sunday, April 25, 2010 10:00 AM

To: Kids

Subject: Re: Here's another good one.

We are still at sea but keeping busy several talks to listen to and we went to an art auction. We bought a couple reasonable things and were very lucky. They had a drawing and we won two bottles of champane and a dinner for one in a very nice restrauant on board and a $1000 gift toward a master painting. We gave the dinner to Fr Ronnie who was sitting next to us and one of the bottle of champane to a lady who won nothing.

They have full jym wich I work out in every day. Daddy swins in the evening in a lap pool. I am not sure how much he is exerting because he looks like he in in slow motion.

We lose another hr tomorrow. We will be 7hr ahead or you all. We go to our first stop in Ejypt ? Its 13 hrs so I am not sure I will e-mail out.

Love you al, Mom

-----Original Message-----

From: Mom

Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 8:16 AM

To: Kids

Subject: Hello from egypt

Hello everyone,

We have just spent two days in Egypt. Yesterday we were in Luxor and Valley of the Kings. It was like walking back in history. Everything you see on the Discovery channel. We took gobs of pictures but I cant send any because I am using their in house computers. It was extermly HOT there. Its worse than Austin on their hottest day with no breeze.

Today we went to a resort town on the Red Sea. It was not terrible hot there. We saw the coral and fish in a glass bottom boat . Tomorrow we go through the Suez Canal.

Take care and love you, Mom

From: Mom
Date: April 28, 2010 7:10:51 AM CDT
To: Kids
Subject: hello from the Suez Canal

We are at present crusing down the Suez Canal. We started about 6AM. It will take about 12 hrs. Its 2PM Wed afternoon. Its neat. In some places where there were natural lakes, its wide. But most of it is narrow like a canal. One side is developed and green and the other is barron and desert. We travel in caravans one boat behind the other. We will be in Alexandria tomorrow and will see the prymides.
Love, Mom

This was the last of my mom’s emails from the trip. My parents got home safely. They showed us all their pictures of Egypt (my Dad in his Who Dat? Saints shirt with the Great Pyramid behind him was especially awesome). My mom talked about how really small the “Spinx” is. I corrected her, “Sphinx.” “Spinx,” she said again. LOL. What does it matter? They had fun. They met people from all over the world, and they saw where civilization began. They entertained the hell out of their four children back home and countless other friends and family members. And we felt like we were there with them the whole time.

Postcards just wouldn’t have been the same.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tea Time with Alexia

Everyone who has been within earshot of me in person or on Twitter in the last month or so knows how crazy I am about the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. Soulless is the first book, Changeless the second; the third, Blameless, comes out in September. Carriger writes in a sharp, witty style that hearkens back to Jane Austen. It's a comedy of manners filled with supernatural mystery and romance. I haven't read a series this well written in quite some time. It's also a very enjoyable read; I smiled and laughed throughout both books.

The series is based in steampunked Victorian England where dirigibles transportation is ubiquitous, and the telegraph has proven not as reliable as the aethographor for communications. Vampires and werewolves are not only out of the coffin and kennels, they are partly responsible for the successful war campaigns of the 18th and 19th centuries that resulted in the sun never setting on the British Empire. Queen Victoria, to say the least, is most pleased.

Alexia Tarabotti is a 26 year-old bookish and outspoken spinster. Her deceased father was Italian, thus the cause of her tan skin, dark hair and eyes, and Roman nose. Her mother and two half sisters consider her a lost cause. They have no idea that she is a preternatural, considered soulless, whose touch plagues any supernatural with a bout of humanity for the duration of the contact. This ability of Alexia's comes in handy at times, as you can imagine. Lord Maccon, Earl of Woolsey, is gorgeous and a werewolf. He is head of investigations for the supernatural counterpart to Scotland Yard. Alexia thinks her frequent run-ins and angry outbursts with Lord Maccon are simply an annoyance for them both. Little does she know what these encounters really engender.

Carriger introduces side characters like the dandy vampire Lord Akeldama and his gang of merry drones, and Madame Lefoux, a secretive inventor who dresses in men's clothes, who add many funny and interesting moments in the books. For example, Akeldama terms of endearment to his friend Alexia made me giggle each time: my little sugar plum, my dearest petunia blossom, my dear daffodil. Carriger has created a world that you want to linger in well-past tea time.

My incredible Brazilian friend, Vamp Angel, made the Blameless Count Down widget on the right. Isn't it awesome? I can't wait until September!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Am I Really Blogging??

I have incredible online book friends (some I've met in person) who have book blogs now. They are all doing a great job with their sites. But I'm a slow reader, so I thought I could start a blog that was about the books I'm reading, but also (maybe) about other things...

So this is my first post. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I have a feeling it's going to be fun. ;)