Month: December 2013

Sex and the City Re-watch Recap: Bay of Married Pigs

Despite its early plotlessness, Sex and the City explores resonant themes. In the case of this episode: singleness versus marriedness. 

We begin with Carrie spending an idyllic weekend in the Hamptons with a married couple alliterately named Peter and Patience. As Carrie puts it, the price for her visit is to “sing for her supper” in the form of spewing forth details about her sexual escapades.

It’s a sad fact couples do this, but when you are out getting some “strange” every few weeks, they kind of get nosy.

We also learn that Peter is rather blessed when he brandishes his namesake in front of Carrie, and Patience is rather lacking in her namesake when she finds out. Carrie is promptly kicked out so the couple can hash things out.

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It’s this event that exposes the ladies’ opinions, all negative except for ever optimist Charlotte, about married people. They have a point. When you are single, couples tend to keep you at arms length, and it sucks. Even the 4th-wall-breaking interviews express these very real frustrations, like losing good friends to the relationship monster.

And so begins a series of happenings that may or may not have happened to you:

·A gay couple asks Carrie for her baby-making facilities.
·Miranda is mistaken for a lesbian by work colleagues, but is this really surprising? Her hairstylist is stuck in 1995. And seriously, why is she always dressed in red? Okay, we get it, she’s ginger, but come on!
·Back to Carrie, she is set up with the new monster of the week: the marrying guy.

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And so begins the semblance of a plot. Carrie “tries on” the marrying guy, who apparently doesn’t know he’s the topic of Carrie’s article this week, and she winds up bringing her friends to a party full of couples.

Samantha is instantly out of her element, and Charlotte is instantly jealous because Carrie has snagged her perfect type.

This party turns out to be a gallery of frightening things, like the marrying guy’s tour where he shows off his baby plans, jealous wives who snatch their husbands away from Samantha like she’s contagious, and a whole host of married men Samantha slept with.

Her only recourse is to get drunk, understandably, and on her way out she meets Peter the Peppermill Penis from earlier.

On the other side of town, Miranda outs herself as straight despite bringing a lady date and lets down her boss. She even sips from the cup of Sapphic love by kissing her date, confirming her lack of lesbianism (Ironcially, the actress later has a lesbian relationship in real life).

And just when you thought things were getting boring, Samantha performs a street side lingerie seduction on Charlotte’s doorman. He’s ever polite, even getting the door when she catches him leaving after servicing Samantha’s revolving door.

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At the end of the episode, Carrie finally confesses her manipulations to the marrying guy who is justifiably frustrated, because Carrie does all kinds of shitty stuff in this show. She tries to make up for it by fixing him up with Charlotte, the marrying girl.

She breaks up with him over differing tastes in China because she’s a petulant twit.

Overall, this episode is a vast improvement. While the plot is still murky, it’s the exploration of a strong theme that really drives the episode.

Things still return to the status quo in the end, making you think you’re watching Singles and the City, because the most sex we got was Samantha’s cloak and garter dance, but I guess they meter out the sex so it doesn’t seems too much like Sluts and the City.

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Sex and the City Re-watch Recap: Models and Mortals

Sex and the City kind of had this monster-of-the-week kind of thing going on the first several episodes. Kind of like X-Files (seX-Files) where a different phenomenon was explored each week.

This actually is a problem. The series at this point replaces any actual plot with these topics. It’s more like a dramatized magazine article rather than real TV. But I suppose each episode is supposed to be one of Carrie’s articles…

So we start this episode with a charming dinner party starring Miranda and some creep. A creep who apparently has a thing for models, and, somehow, actually gets them to date him. It was beneath Miranda to accept the date with a guy, so how did he ever snag a model?

I guess we non-city types are supposed to believe that in far, far away New York “modelizers” are a real thing that plagues normal women. It does give us a chance, however, to discover more about the girls via their insecurities.

And then we meet a cute guy named Barkley who could definitely snag a model. He spends time spilling paint to make ugly art whenever he isn’t making homemade pornography starring his model conquests.

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After another draining scene with the entirely too chipper Skipper, we see Stanford, who is totally crushing on a client who walks around in his undies. We then are shown a blur of models showing off “clothing” while Samantha scores a hook up.

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Carrie waxes poetic about her insecurities, which is made worse by running into Mr. Big while her mouth is stuffed with finger foods. Just when you think Big might like to explore that capacity, he introduces his date, a model.

All is made better when she spends her evening with Stanford’s client. She somehow shows saint-like restraint and only talks with him all night.  Meanwhile, Miranda runs into Skipper. He calls her luminous while in line to buy Cap’n Crunch. There are so many reasons aside from cheesiness to say no, but Miranda gives in again. Oh, please. The sappy 90’s music makes you pity her all the more.

After a brief jealousy-inducing phone call with Stanford pertaining to his client’s whereabouts, we see Carrie tapping away on a laptop older than Jesus. Mr. Big drops by to engage in a bit of flirting. It’s quite obvious where that will lead…

This episode continues a rather rough trend of plotless happenings that dominates the first season. Instead the focus is on something supposedly shocking, but the journalistic approach just draws me away from the ladies. Watching it now, I basically feel like shrugging “so what” about the whole modelizer thing. It’s too tacky to be controversial.

On to the next freak of the week.

Sex and the City Re-watch Recap: Sex and the City (The first episode)

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And so it begins, just as you remember it with the sexual know it all strutting down the street in questionable attire. This won’t be the last time.

The episode begins with a parable. It’s supposed to hook the women who have been burned by sleazy men, but also snag some straight men with some tantalizing silhouetted side boob.  A pretty English lady gets dumped and, alas, we have yet another jaded woman in the world. This is how we are introduced to Carrie, from behind with a cigarette.

By the time Carrie breaks the fourth wall and asks, “How the hell did we get into this mess”, I find myself wondering that too with all the asides to the audience. It’s like Saved by the Bell with sex. (Maybe there’s something to that…)

Then, after a few interview-esque montages, we see a couple more of our ladies give their own characterizations, something my English teachers advised against doing. Then we are finally introduced to catty Samantha, after drag queens escort a cake of course. Here the episode’s premise is discussed: women having sex like men. Their initial banter sets the stage for almost every episode that follows.

You will eventually look forward to the ladies’ dirty mealtime chats.

After this the gay hook is cast with the appearance of bitchy but fabulous Stanford Blatch. He points out an old flame of Carrie’s (big mistake) whom she pursues in her attempt at man-like sex. Unsurprisingly, Stanford disapproves like a sassy gay friend should.
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So it’s off to the races, or the bedroom anyway where we see Carrie try out the casual sex line “maybe we can do it again sometime?”

Then our confident leading lady heads out to the sidewalk where her purse is spilled and some random guy (one who plays a Big role) bends down to help her get her pens and hair tools, and condoms, condoms, condoms!

But there’s no time to dwell because this is a pilot and we need more people shoved down our throats.

Namely Skipper.

The “nice guy” is basically a waste of time in the first season. He really doesn’t fit. He’s too nice. So Carrie does something shitty and sets him up with her best friend.

We see this date in action. You’d think from this exchange Miranda is a surgeon (she’s worse, a lawyer) from the way she rips Skippy a new orifice. That’s when Carrie does something shittier than before, she chats up her hook up instead of saving Skipper, and it’s clearly Miranda who needs saving.

After having her experiment backfire, Carrie watches Samantha perform oral sex on a cigar in front of the man who cleaned up Carrie’s condoms. We also see Charlotte’s plan to court a man slut backfire, too. Silly girl.

Samantha’s cigar seduction also backfires. Wow these women are winners. The only one who wins is the one who loses her will, Miranda, when the “nice” guy pounces on her. That’s until we see Samantha hook up with Charlotte’s former date. She says she’s fine with just a hookup, but that momentary look of longing makes you wonder is that’s what really makes her happy.

And finally, just when Carrie is about to do the unspeakable, whore herself out for a ride, she gets a ride from a guy who thinks she’s a hooker when she describes her career: sexual anthropologist. Then the Big mystery guy says the magic word: love.

But has he ever been in love? He says, ambiguously, “Absofuckinlutely.”

And that, friends, is the busiest 26-minute pilot ever. It’s here that I must warn you that Sex and the City suffers from First Seasonitis, an inflammatory condition caused by a new show trying to do too many things at once to fight for airtime.

While the series eventually settles down into a romantic sit-com role, some of its best moments occur in its more serious and dramatic scripts. This season is all about shock value. It’s not a bad tactic while it lasts, but it does begin to wear thin. Returning to this season after the high drama of the sixth certainly causes some stylistic whiplash, but it’s all in good fun. No wonder my mom thought this show was porn.

Re-watch Reviews: Sex and the City is almost grown up

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That’s right. Your favorite show about confident, independent, sexually mature (and knowledgeable!) women who often complain about confidence, independence, and sex is almost an adult. Back in ’98, this show dazzled a generation with its frank views on sex, its candid exploration of relationships, and set a template for how many young women expect those things to be like.

For six seasons on HBO we watched Carrie Bradshaw, Miranda Hobbes, Charlotte York, and Samantha Jones grow into women from the cardboard stereotypes they started as. Then we saw all that progress tumble like Carrie Bradshaw in heels on a runway with two films that successfully stripped away their depth.

Don’t forget the heavily edited Frankenstein monster that the tv networks show in syndication, or the young Carrie spinoff “The Carrie Diaries” clearly aimed at the daughters of women who originally watched the show.

And through all this, I can’t help but wonder… (you know I couldn’t resist)

Why did this show matter to us? Does it still?

And let me clarify “us”. I’m a guy. I started watching this with my father in high school. My mother thought it was porn. My dad liked it for the boobs and a chance to understand women. I liked the storylines, the laughs, and the (at the time) exotic glamour of the big city. So obviously we weren’t the target audience, yet we were drawn in.

Years later I still watch episodes. You’d think I’d have them memorized but I find the tightly written episodes and relevant themes to be a joy. And there is the humor. The bitchiness. And gorgeous New York men as a certain southern belle Samantha befriended pointed out.

Samatha’s boobs make a showing as well. In fact, they could have had their own spin-off.

After all those superficial things it provided everyone with a modern view on what sex means to (some) women, and what relationships mean to us all. Furthermore, like tv should do, it brought people into our home who’s fantastical lives could excite us, yet still serve as a mirror for ourselves.

This show doesn’t teach you a damn thing unless you wanted to learn about Kegel exercises, but you can learn about yourself and other people from the journeys, mistakes, and hookups of these women.

If you happen upon this and want to retrek old times in your favorite pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, then stay tuned for an episode by episode recounting of these tall-heeled tales and we can see what still makes your cup runneth over, or what is out of style today. 

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Re-Watch Reviews: Star Trek Into… Sigh… Darkness

I eagerly anticipated the return of Khan and his famous wrath. I was willing to give J.J. Abrams another chance. What did I get?

More of the same.

Not that it’s a bad thing. Unless you consider Abrams’ first effort an exciting sci-fi action spectacle wearing Star Trek’s skin, then, yeah, more of the same.

To be fair there is some Star Trek here.  I enjoyed the trifecta of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Spock and McCoy are excellently acted, just shy of parody. This sequel is also grittier than classic Star Trek’s prevailing optimism would allow it to be.

Overall, my biggest grievance is that this very well could have been a sci-fi flick on its own merit without leaning on Star Trek to hold it up while the public ravenously consumes it. I say this because this departs just enough from the franchise that I catch myself thinking “Wow, this would make a good Star Trek flick” but then I realize that it already is. It may be slighter than a phase shift to some of us it’s more than enough for Devidians to thrive.

There are other quibbles (and a Tribble), such as hyper-advanced technology that allows minutes-long warp and trans-galactic transporters and Praxis’ premature explosion (remember Star Trek 6) and that little puppet alien thing that Scotty is married to. Among other things. Like Leonard Nimoy’s unnecessary cameo. I mean, come on…

And what of Khan? Of course the audience knew it was him despite the media’s futile attempts at obfuscation, but the character’s dramatic “big reveal” seemed to pander to the audience as it fell upon the deaf ears of the characters in the movie.

Bandicoot Cummerbund, I mean Benedict Cumberbatch expertly portrays a different Khan than we know, which is fine, and he is more nonchalantly menacing than Ricardo Montalban. However, I feel that his amazing character was not utilized well. There are some positive moments, like when Khan is (finally) unleashed. The rampage that ensues is truly wrathful, except that you have to slog through the rest of the film to get to it.

I appreciated the attempted complexity of plot, but Khan got lost in the fray and spent too much time lying in wait, not because of his serpentine calculativity, but because the plot is looser than a sorority girl.

And therein lies the crux of the issue. If you look at the best Star Trek films they had simple plots. Wrath of Khan was written in a weekend. This film tries to do too many things, unfortunately, and all at the expense of the components within that are pretty good. On paper, this film must have jumped off the page, but on the screen it falls flat.

It’s a shame really, but it’s good press will hopefully save the franchise from the obscurity it suffered after Nemesis. Even more hopefully, J.J. Abrams can apply his spectacular vision to Star Wars 7 and maybe we can get another director who can give more sci-fi and less lens flare.

So what can you expect from this sequel? More of the same, which is better than nothing. It’s just not better than Wrath of Khan.

Ninety 90’s Songs: Jump Around, Hump Around, Rump Around

I went to an *ahem* urban middle school. I was a minority within a majority of minorities. I feel I’m better for the experience. I learned to mind my own business, stay out of fights, avoid gang association, and I learned some life-saving fashion advice: never wear a red and blue shirt in territory where Crips and Bloods are having a turf war. What I didn’t learn, however, is that Hip Hop has some white people involved, too. So like me, House of Pain is a minority within a majority of minorities.

#58 “Jump Around” by House of Pain. Not to be confused with “Jump” by Kriss Kross (like I’ve done), “Jump Around” became a hit in the US in ’92 before being re-released in the UK where it is still a club anthem. As famous as this single became, it is more infamous for it’s heavy use of sampling from a few different songs, and that terrible saxophone squeal at the beginning of every bar that could be used effectively to start a riot or to induce labor.

Squeeeeeeal. Squeeeeeeal. Squeeeeeeal. Squeeeeal. Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump.

Ugh.

And that basically what the songs is about.

And guess what people do when they hear this. Go on. Guess. And now pat yourself on the back because, if you guessed anything else besides “jump”, you are probably like me and tried to stab your ears with the nearest anything just to stop the madness. Still, this song proves the decade’s uncanny ability to produce unforgettable tracks that live forever.

Aside from releasing such an annoying single, House of Pain is also well know for giving Everlast to the world. Later in the 90’s he went solo sans the rest of his household of pain, and did quite well, and you might not even believe he was a member of this group due to the musical range he explores.

Now that I have a headache, I leave you with the video that includes lyrics in case you forget the words. And if you don’t stir the slightest bit to even tap your foot or bounce your knee when the song begins, even despite yourself, then I’d advise you to check with your doctor.

Ninety 90’s Songs: Sheryl Crow Tells It To You Straight

Imagine if some of the 90’s top female musicians were in the same room. Of course Madonna would be their shooting dour glares and trying to convince everyone that she’s relevant. Mariah Carey would be showing off by conversing in octaves only audible to canines. Alanis Morissette would be hanging around too, but she’d probably be spaced out on jagged little pills. Then there would be Sheryl Crow, sipping beer right from the bottle and offering to pass around a “cigarette” (It’s cool, she promises). She’d be the life of the party, because she’d make it a party.

#59 “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow.  This hit from the 93-94 era debut album “Tuesday Night Music Club” put Sheryl on the map. Her easy-going, laid back style is her trademark that propelled her musical career into all directions and many genres. If you don’t like country, honky tonk, blues, jazz, then you will after hearing this song. It’s infectious to the point that you’ll need to be vaccinated against day drinking because you’ll want that early morning beer buzz whenever you see a bar, and empty floor space will become potential arenas for beer bottle spinning.

And you won’t bat an eyelash at all.

Seriously, it’s Crow’s smooth delivery that suggests that all these things are okay, and that she’s not an enabler, she just wants you to stay cool.

But seriously, over the years Sheryl Crow has proved to be a consistently top-notch musician. For the rest of the nineties she put out hot single after hot single until she herself wasn’t a hot single anymore and started shacking up with Lance Armstrong. She eventually ditched him and moved on to other heroic things like battling breast cancer.

And winning.

This ain’t no Charlie Sheen winning. This ain’t no joke either. This is winning for real. She, thankfully, fought back from her cancer and still makes music to this day among other things, like television, and activism, and being all kinds of MILFy. Forever more when you hear those opening chords and that groovy guitar riff, it doesn’t matter where you are, even if you actually are at a disco in downtown L.A., you’re in Sheryl Crow’s house and you’re going to have some fun.