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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Don Jon



In Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has to make a choice no man would envy between a relationship with Scarlett Johansson or giving up his lifelong love affair with Internet porn. He can't have both. That's a fucking catch-22 if there ever was one. 

In his debut film as a writer and director, Gordon-Levitt stars as a studly gym-tan-laundry New Jersey mook admired by his bros as the "Don" for his ability to bag any piece of ass he picks up in their favorite nightclub. But even during and especially after sex with a real girl, the allure of his beloved Internet porn is a siren song he can't ignore. In Johansson, Gordon-Levitt thinks he's found the perfect 10 for him. He even tolerates her making him wait for sex, but when she catches him jerking off to Internet porn after they've soiled the sheets ("making love", as he rolls his eyes at the female terminology) she goes ballistic. So he does what any guy would do: he lies and moves on to watching porn on his smartphone. Until she catches him again by trolling his laptop. ("All you do is look at porn! It's your whole history!")

Brutally honest and blisteringly funny, Don Jon lobs a lot of truths out there about the dating scene: the expectations and complete lack of preparation for actual intimacy many men have in our modern culture oversaturated with sexual imagery. Then there's the easy (and free if you know how to find it) access to unlimited amounts of pornography on the Internet; always there, always available to "lose yourself in", with no effort to make. One of the best running jokes in Don Jon is Gordon-Levitt's weekly confession at church, giving the count for how often he masturbated to porn (dozens of times per week!) and treating the amount of "Our Fathers" and "Hail Marys" he's told to recite as a progress report on how well he's doing. On the flip side, Don Jon also casts a withering look at the unrealistic expectations women can have for men; some of them, like Johansson, "princesses" weaned on a lifetime of watching schmaltzy Hollywood rom coms where "the guy gives up everything for the girl".

Also a lot of fun are Gordon-Levitt's Sunday dinners with his family, his macho pop Tony Danza, put-upon mom Glenne Headly, and his bored and perpetually texting sister Brie Larson. Danza and Gordon-Levitt, slurping pasta in front of football games playing a huge HDTV, are a trip, arguing over who's the alpha male while wearing matching white wife beaters. Imagine Sima and Mufasa from The Lion King if they were father-son Jersey goombahs. Of course, Headly is over the moon when Gordon-Levitt brings Johansson home and is devastated when he has to report she ditched him. Larson steals every scene she's in by never saying a word; she's like an upgraded version of Kevin Smith's Silent Bob character, observantly understanding her idiot family clearly because she keeps her mouth shut. Finally, there's Julianne Moore, the weird older lady at Gordon-Levitt's night classes who has more than a few things to teach him about women and being a real man. But the star of Don Jon is this guy. This fuckin' guy right here, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He made a hell of a fuckin' movie, this guy.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1x1 - "Pilot"

Welcome to the Whedon Universe, I mean, the Marvel Universe. In this case, it's one and the same. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings the live action Marvel cinematic universe to television, and if you've been paying attention to all of the Marvel movies up to this point, (three Iron Man, an Incredible Hulk, a Thor, a Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers all-star jamboree that made a kazillion dollars), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. rewards you with in jokes and references to all of those movies galore. Extra bonus goodness if you're a Joss Whedon fan, with a couple of beloved Whedon series alumni appearances from Angel and Firefly/Serenity (Ron Glass, people!). Why, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is so Whedony, maybe keep a towel on hand during commercials to wipe some of the Whedon off. But hey, Whedony + Marvel superheroes grossed exactly one kajillion dollars at the box office so Whedony now is the way to go.

"What does S.H.I.E.L.D. stand for?" asks the fetching Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders in a welcome cameo). The answer if course is "Someone really wanted our initials to spell out 'shield'." We'll also accept Strategic Homeland Intervention, Espionage and Logistics Division. In Whedony terms, S.H.I.E.L.D.  is "the line between the world and the much weirder world." In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the late Phil Coulson (Clark "Happiest Man in the World" Gregg) lives again, under mysterious circumstances. Coulson believes he was in Tahiti after Nick Fury faked his death to motivate the Avengers to save New York from the alien Chitauri invasion. Hill knows otherwise, and believes Coulson can never know what really happened. In any case, #CoulsonLives and he assembles a Mobile Command Unit to deal with new threats in the Brave New World post-Avengers.

The most intriguing aspect of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is this burgeoning new Marvel universe the characters are living in; a world now keenly aware of billionaires in flying armor, Norse gods calling down the thunder, World War II living legends throwing indestructible shields, and giant green rage monsters. And those are the good guys. What about the increasing number of people with powers the world doesn't know about yet? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ably captures a 21st century spin on the gee whiz, anything goes feel the comic book Marvel Universe had in the 1960s when Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko were masterminding Marvel by the seat of their pants, creating colorful, complicated heroes and villains and changing pop culture for good. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. even features a loving tribute to the rollicking S.H.I.E.L.D. comics drawn by the great Jim Steranko in the form of Lola, Coulson's prized vintage car that - surprise - flies. (Lola is the perfected version of the flying car Howard Stark unveiled in Captain America: The First Avenger - a bonus easter egg for Marvel movie fans.)

Never let it be said Phil Coulson will assemble his own team of Agents and not have an eye for attractiveness. His good looking team of do-gooders include Ward (Brett Dalton), their Ethan Hunt-like super spy, mysterious martial artist and pilot Melina May (Ming Na-Wen), and the UK science nerd duo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), referred to as Fitz-Simmons. But that's not enough for Agent Coulson, who needs one more hottie to round out his group. This would be Skye (Chloe Bennet), a hacker who lives in a van ("by choice") representing a Wikileaking group called The Rising Tide. Skye is the spitting image of WWE Divas Champion and Marvel fan AJ Lee. Why, if Skye dressed in short shorts and skipped around, she would be AJ. (Skye is also a cosplayer who hangs around outside Stark Tower in New York.) To meet and contain the new powers appearing in the world, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. themselves have no superpowers besides good looks and banter. But they do have all the best new tech and an airplane to put it all in, though we never see their plane actually in the air. It's always just parked in a hangar.

Thrust into this Brave New World of Marvels is a confused and desperate man named Mike Peterson (J. August Richards), the "Hooded Hero" Skye is tracking, both of whom in turn the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are tracking. Given superhuman powers by a mysterious group called the Centipede that wishes to remain secret, the increasingly unstable Peterson was injured on a factory job and grafted with a device on his arm shaped like a centipede. He wasn't the first person given a centipede either. (Thankfully, the people grafted with centipedes don't want to become a Human Centipede.) The centipede is comprised of alien technology fused with the Super Solider Serum, gamma radiation, and, worst of all, Extremis ("All the ways people get powers"), turning Peterson into a ticking human fire bomb. Amidst one of the funnier double crosses and interrogations involving a truth serum and rather hokey comic booky speechifying about "What kind of person you are" that skims just a little too close to the kind of blechh Heroes used to vomit out, Coulson and his Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. manage to work together to save the day and Mike Peterson. And look good doing it.

So here we are, then, with the Marvel Universe on  television and Excelsior days ahead. Also, Clark Gregg is a good man. (But Maria Hill is a 10.)

Saturday, September 21, 2013




Prisoners is a taut, harrowing expertly-made thriller about child abduction as well as a war of glowering between stars Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. As a temperamental survivalist and blue collar father of two, Jackman's glower is permanently activated when his precocious young daughter, along with the young daughter of his kindly neighbor Terrence Howard, are abducted on Thanksgiving. All signs point to an RV parked in their neighborhood owned by Paul Dano, a mentally handicapped suspect whom Jackman is convinced kidnapped his daughter. Matching Jackman glower for glower is detective Gyllenhaal, the twitchy and constantly blinking lonesome investigator on the case.  

Without any evidence to convict Dano, Jackman, with reluctant help from Howard, takes justice into his own hands by abducting and torturing Dano to force him to reveal where their daughters are. As Jackman compromises his soul and humanity by brutalizing Dano but finding dead ends, Gyllenhaal follows up leads on local sex offenders, delving into dank, cavernous basements and uncovering their grim secrets which may or may not be related to a 30 year old series of child abductions. And what does this all have to do with Dano's aunt Melissa Leo, lurking on the fringes of the investigation, or with a mysterious hooded man who commits breaking and entry in Jackman and Howard's homes? The clues and various threads converge nicely as the answers to the crime are slowly discovered, individually and through very different methods, by Jackman and Gyllenhaal. 

Prisoners plays hard but fair with the cost Jackman's actions towards Dano weigh on his soul; there are conscious echoes of Jackman's brutality as Wolverine as well has the penitence of Jean Valjean. Prisoners' weakness lays in the fuzzy relationship between Jackman and his wife Maria Bello, who starts off as perfectly normal but then is drugged out on sleeping pills and antidepressants for most of the movie. Jackman's son Dylan Minnette also spends most of the movie in his bedroom waiting for the increasingly alcoholic Jackman to occasionally yell at him. For her part, Leo is pretty much Auntie Exposition, filling in plot points by speechifying every time she's in a scene. It's also alarming just how many people keep disappearing in this small town.

Through Jackman's extreme actions in becoming arguably a worse person than the movie reveals Dano to be, Prisoners asks what sins a father is willing to commit to find his missing daughter, and then weighs in with punishment for those sins. Ultimately, Jackman's glower power winds him in a hole he can't dig himself out of, and it's Gyllenhaal's equally relentless but measured glowering that proves to be everyone's salvation.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Total Divas 1x8 - "No Longer The Bridesmaid" + After Party

"I'm a professional. I'm a very classy person. I'm Stu Hart's granddaughter. I'm tough as nails and I'm unbreakable." - Nattie Neidhart-Wilson

Oh, for Christ's sake. Nattie is Stuart Smalley. "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!" I mean, I just... I can't stand this wom -- Whatever. Start over. 

Welcome everyone to what is now the mid-season finale of Total Divas. It's the wedding of Nattie and TJ, and we're all invited! Who wasn't invited? Weirdly, Bret "Hitman" Hart, Nattie's uncle. Where was he? And where is Triple H, the COO of WWE, and Randy Orton? They didn't get invitations. That's bad for business. Someone should be fired. But we'll get to all that. 

First, we meet the Neidharts, Nattie's sister Muffy, her weirdly slurring mother Ellie (the Hart women have always been really bizarre and off putting and Ellie lives up to the family credo), and of course, Jim "The Anvil" (Who?). Nattie already picked out her dream wedding dress but that didn't stop her mom from sewing a hideous concoction that Nattie didn't have the hart to tell her mother she didn't want to wear, but she did and then she didn't. It seems like multiple factors are contriving against Nattie having the wedding of her dreams. There's the fact that her "best friend" Nikki Bella (since when?) opted not to attend the wedding. There's the fact that Nattie invited Jaret (likely with E!'s grinning approval) to this special day. There's the fact that Ariane brought Vincent, who apparently she had broken up with last week, to the wedding, announcing that they are back together, babe. And there's also God, who decided to send "a hurricane" to spoil Nattie's perfect beach dream wedding. As I suspected, God's not a Nattie fan. Also, a Nattie wedding is apparently black tie-optional. Thanks for dressing up for the occasion, Daniel Bryan, Jon Uso, and Jaret! I'm surprised Daniel didn't wear a Respect the Beard shirt. I wish he had. (Yes! Yes! Yes!)

Jaret's arrival made for some primo staged uncomfortable moments, sauntering in at a table full of Total Divas regulars and then blabbing on and on about his romantic dinners with Nattie in Calgary, their emails and texts, and even the sexy spray tan he gave her. TJ turns pink and black and asks Jaret to step outside, but it doesn't resort to fisticuffs. TJ's real issue is with Nattie, and he comes close to calling off the wedding before he's appeased by Nattie's declarations that he's the only man for her and blah blah blah. TJ at least came off as reasonable and manly this week, and the wedding ultimately came off without a hitch (or Hitch - Will Smith wasn't invited either). The most delightful surprise of this wedding was the eloquent presence of one Damien Sandow, who was the wedding announcer and did a tremendous job making all the introductions and announcements. Sandow in this role is money in the bank. It should be noted that when Nattie threw the bouquet, it was caught by Brie, the Bella Who Showed Up and Offered Nattie Sound, Reasonable Friendly Advice When Nikki Bailed. Cut to the look on Daniel Bryan's face. 

Classic. Nikki did call into the wedding to apologize again for missing it, and Nattie accepted her best friend's apology because she's a good person (just ask her), and that was that. So, all's well that ends well for Mr. and Mrs. Theodore James Wilson. I hate them.

The Evapowers Explode! (Just calling them that would piss off Jojo.) Ever since Eva Marie posed for Maxim, Jojo has been very distant to her. We know this because the Eva Marie avatar is programmed to state her feelings, and she feels Jojo hasn't been the same as the Jojo that used to be in her corner. This is affirmative. At the opening of the WWE Performance Center over the summer, Jane from Talent Relations announced that there were "spots" as valets open for the Newbies to be brought up. "Spots" turned out to be "a spot" as Mark from Talent Relations later informed the Total Divas, choosing Eva Marie to be the robot servant to Nattie when she faces Trinity in a very important match on Superstars. (A debut Eva Marie treated as if she were main eventing WrestleMania - her actual RAW debut in that interview Jerry Lawler conducted when Eva cut a promo and Brie Bella nip slipped wasn't mentioned. Nattie also treated her win over Trinity as if she ended the Undertaker's WrestleMania streak or something.)

Jojo was angered and disappointed that she was passed over for the red headed fembot and was soon busily texting on her cell phone while Eva Marie was trying to communicate with her in an attempt at human relations. No doubt, Jojo was trying to inform the authorities that a Nexus 6 replicant (most likely a pleasure model) designated Eva Marie had escaped from the off-world colonies, and to please send a Blade Runner. Later, in Tampa, Eva Marie again attempted to interface with a surly, belligerent Jojo, to no avail. Jojo exploded in a display of human emotion that Eva Marie cannot process, declaring "this has always been a competition!" even though it isn't really, unless you make it one, which Jojo does. Proving man and machine cannot co-exist in the same apartment, Eva Marie and Jojo agreed to live apart and end whatever sort of team they were thrown together into being a part of by the E! Network. And in defense of Eva Marie, she is correct that at nineteen years old, Jojo is too young, too immature, and in no way ready for a spot on the main roster. We don't even know if Jojo can wrestle at all. Whereas we have confirmation Eva Marie cannot. But Eva Marie looks like something John Laurinaitis would certainly have masturbated to if he still ran Talent Relations, and her breasts probably also become machine guns. Jojo can wait, but she is young, and impatient. Conclusion: the hell with both of them + we are stuck for the foreseeable future with both of them.

Trinity had little drama to contribute this week, but she did contribute a selfless act of heroism towards her tag team partner Ariane, who called dramatically complaining of stomach pains and it was serious enough for Trinity to call 911. (Trinity even breaks the fourth wall and asks for the cameras to be turned off.) Ariane quickly lost an ambulance match to the paramedics, and it's good that she did because after a night at the hospital, Ariane was diagnosed with endometriosis, which Ariane revealed during the After Party could seriously affect if she can ever have children. (Vincent and his father won't like that news.) Speaking of Vincent, it was his caring behavior following Ariane's hospitalization that convinced her she couldn't live without him and to take the babies and marriage thing one step at a time. But no babies, probably. Sad. 

Finally, we come to the romance of Nikki Bella and that amazing man, John Cena. Cena approached Nikki with a problem: his family, the Cenas, are having a rare reunion. John, because of his schedule, misses most major family events, but the family arranged to accommodate John's schedule. He would like Nikki to attend to meet the Cenas. Problem: the Cenas Reunion is in direct conflict with Nattie's wedding. So, does Nikki attend the wedding of her "best friend" or does she go meet the family of the man she loves. It's a no brainer. Soon Nikki and John board his private bus and his private plane and fly to the CeNation: West Newbury, Massachusetts! Wooo! West Newbury! (I hang out there in the summers. Friends' family own a beach house.) The mean streets of West Newbury that made John Cena hard and taught him to drop rhymes like a gangsta welcome Nikki with open arms and soon the Cena clan are off to... Kowloon?!? They went to Kowloon? Of course they did. (For those not from the Boston area, Kowloon is a famous Chinese restaurant known to cater to WWE after events, and also for having terrible, terrible Chinese and Asian food.) Luckily for Mr. Cena, Edge did not drop by West Newbury at any point to punch him in the face in his own house. Maybe in season 2?  It's a wonderful reunion and almost certain indigestion from hideous pu pu platters side, Nikki loves the Cenas and they love her.

Later, at Industriel, which is a restaurant a quick Google search indicates is in LA, John and Nikki have a romantic dinner with E!'s cameras where John asks her the question she's been wanting to hear: Will you, Stephanie Nicole Garcia-Colace, move into the CeMansion with him? I know what my answer would be. He'd have me at hello. John can no longer handle the San Diego-Tampa long distance relationship. Nikki can only say yes. It's not quite the question Nikki wanted to hear, but it's close enough. Nikki Bella is now, officially, the mistress of the CeMansion. Dreams do come true!

This concludes what is now the first half of the first season of Total Divas and brings us to the AFTER PARTY shot last week and hosted by WWE's Renee Young in front of a live, well-behaved studio audience. What did we learn? That there will be some relationship issues to come between Brie and Daniel Bryan. Jon Uso does a pretty decent impression of Nikki on crutches. Special guest John Cena, who arrived to his entrance music, spoke eloquently in support of the Total Divas as brave pioneers in this new sports entertainment reality TV venture. That Eva Marie is done being a mother to Jojo, who at 19, can't rent a car and is a hassle to travel with. That Ariane might not be able to have children due to her medical condition and she has severe anger management issues we will see in future episodes. And then they bring out the special surprise guest Jaret, a total a-hole heel who tells TJ to his face Nattie still is in contact with him and that even though they're married, he doesn't think TJ is the one. (This burn eclipses TJ's "Jaret can't wrestle" insult when he came out.) But hey, what a prize that Nattie is. I personally dispute Trinity's declaration "Who wouldn't wanna bang Nattie?" Nikki touched her boobs a lot, declaring when the doctors put in "the fakeness, they have a mind of their own". There was no mention of AJ Lee, the reigning, defending WWE Divas Champion and savior of the division who is better than all seven of the Total Divas combined. And when asked a direct question if he'll ever propose to Nikki, John Cena quickly stated, "No." But we still love him.

Total Divas returns November 17th. It'll be a great two months without them.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Total Divas 1x7 - "A Leg Up"

"Unless your face is everywhere and you're actually being used, it doesn't even matter." - Nikki Bella on being top Diva in WWE. She's describing AJ Lee, incidentally, who is the only Diva who qualifies for that description. Just wanted to put that out there.

This week, the true story of why Nikki Bella has been on the DL can now finally be told. During a six Diva tag match on RAW (placing it in May or early June judging from Kaitlyn holding the Divas Title), K8LYN tossed Brie into Nikki. Nikki flew off the ring apron and slammed her left shin on the arena floor. This made an old soccer injury (insert pics of cute teenage Nikki) she never properly healed much, much worse. Shin splints, I believe was the diagnosis. After her X-rays, the WWE doctors put her on 12 weeks of recovery time on crutches.

After a year away from WWE, Nikki is horrified at what this could mean for her WWE career. Brie is similarly alarmed since her destiny is tied to Nikki's: "We're a package -- THE BELLA TWINS!" (HELLO!) Nikki goes into DENIAL MODE (a bitchier alternative to BRIE MODE), spurning Brie's advice about how to handle it, when to tell Mark and Jane, and what it would mean to take time off to heal herself. 

While Nikki lashed out at Brie and refused to listen to her mature, reasonable sister, there is one man - one special man - Nikki will listen to. One man we all listen to, for when he speaks, I know I lean forward a little closer to heed his words. That man is John Cena, who - after taking in "her femininity" - listened to Nikki's fears that time off to heal her leg after a year off already will torpedo her wrestling career ("I'm almost 30 years old!"). Cena reminded her she takes meticulous care of every aspect of her body but wondered why she left this injury alone for so long. Cena then reassured her everything will be okay, and if she has to take a year off (Nikki is aghast!) Cena would make it fly by for her. (No doubt, Nikki is currently reciprocating this for Cena as he heals his elbow.) Finally, Mark from Talent Relations tells Nikki that she's off TV while she heals. All of this drama of the future of the Bellas' WWE careers sure is undercut by the fact that we see them every week on WWE TV and on this show, Total Divas, regardless.

Meanwhile, the human-like replicant called Eva Marie received some wonderful news: Maxim Magazine chose her of all the Total Divas for a photoshoot for the September issue. This goes over with a lot of measured congratulations and purposely edited jealous looks and comments by the rest of the Total Divas. Nikki and Brie didn't hesitate to mention they posed for Mexican Maxim last year, but American Maxim is a much bigger deal. No one is more threatened by what this could mean than Jojo. While the red headed android had a great shoot with Maxim, Jojo greeted her cybernetic roommate's pictures with "stank face". A successful Eva Marie could mean leaping onto the main roster, leaving Jojo behind. She's suddenly aware this is a competition. (It is? Does Jojo suddenly think she's on NXT3? Where are Cole and Josh to mock them while they play Name That WWE Theme?)

Turns out living with 19 year old Jojo is like living in Robot Hell for Eva Marie, as she complained to Nattie, who had little to contribute this episode besides her usual fowl looks and insulting Hooters Girls, which Eva Marie used to be, thanks to her cybernetic implants. Jojo seeks solace with Trinity (who doesn't appear until 20 minutes into the episode), and pitches her one big idea to get herself noticed and make it into the main roster: singing. Before Lillian Garcia can say, "Oh no, she di-n't!", Jojo suggests she sing the National Anthem before RAW. Trinity, perhaps realizing that's a one way trip to never actually making it onto the main roster, instead suggested her and Jojo re-recording the Tons of Funk theme song. After a day in the studio with Trinity's father, who it turns out is a music producer of no repute, Jojo and Trinity present their new theme song and idea to Jane. Before Jim Johnston could say "Oh no, they di-n't!", Jane calls Jojo and says she loved it and she can perform it live with the Funkadactyls. I had no recollection of this performance taking place, and no wonder, because it turns out it happened on Main Event (a show I don't watch). 

This episode of Total Divas marks the very first time Vince McMahon himself makes an appearance, to tell Jojo and the Funkadactyls he's looking forward to their performance. Looking good in the yellow sport coat, brother!

Vince appearing actually genuinely shocked me. I think the only other person who would literally stop me in my tracks if he suddenly showed his face on Total Divas would be the Undertaker

Finally, the Funkadactyls and Jojo take the stage (splice in Justin Roberts announcing so that it sounds like he's saying this performance is the "MAIN EVENT!"). As it's standing room only at the monitors backstage for Jane and the other Total Divas, Jojo and the Funkadactyls proceed to perform hideously. I'm not Simon Cowell, but that was the shits. Nattie's face says it all - wait, that's her usual facial expression. But the funniest thing Eva Marie may ever be programmed to say was saying Jojo's horrible performance was karmic payback for being mean to her. LOL. The Funkadactyls and Jojo tried to save face about their bombing out there, but Jojo knows she stank (faced). Oh well, back to the drawing board.

And yet, the star of Total Divas is clearly Ariane. Ridiculous histrionic Ariane and her bald, ape-like dreamboat Vincent. In between the two of them shouting "BABE!" "BABE!" "BAAAAAAAABBBBEEE!" at each other, and Vincent pushing her buttons (which Ariane helpfully mimes), we learn Ariane is under enormous pressure this week. You see, Vincent is pushing her (buttons) to meet the family, which to the Bellas can only mean he's getting serious and is looking for marriage and kids, things Ariane isn't interested in for another seven years. When the Bellas ask point blank if she loves Vincent, Ariane must pause and can only muster, "I have love FOR him..." Uh oh, girlfriend! Despite her best attempts to ignore him while giving her puppy a pedicure (pause to say, I think I hate this woman), Ariane buckles when Vincent invites her to have dinner with his father. And thus we learn Vincent is Armenian, and yes, indeedy, Father of Vincent makes no bones about the fact that 1) He wants a wedding straightaway and 2) He doesn't like his son being left at home for four days out of every week. In the funniest moment of the episode, Father of Vincent tells Ariane his plan to place Armenian bread on her shoulder during the wedding. Is she allowed to munch on it if she's feeling peckish?

Vincent, unable to glean any hints from Ariane's facial expressions or erratic behavior (or maybe he's just used to how she is), "surprises" Ariane by taking her to a fine jeweler to pick up an engagement ring. So, we learn in Armenian culture: Bread on shoulder, yes. Getting down on knee to propose, no. Finally, Ariane can't take it anymore and storms out of the jeweler and then informs Vincent in so many words she just can't bear the bread on her shoulder. It seemed like she was finally breaking up with Vincent, but no, it seems like they're still together for some reason. BABE! I guess they deserve each other? BABE!

TOTAL DIVAS REVELATION: This episode actually highlighted a real concern amongst most WWE Superstars and certainly the Divas about their job security. Except for a handful of top guys who have reason to feel secure, the performers of WWE are constantly on edge about how close they are to being wished well on their future endeavors. Any injury, any reason to have what little TV time they claw for taken away from them, could mean the death knell for their careers. For all the perceived fame, money and glory there is to be found as a WWE performer - and there is a quite bit if you're successful - it's also sucky and stressful for everyone on the middle and bottom of the roster.

Next week in the season finale of Total Divas: A Match Made In Heaven, or do Nuptuals Turn To Napalm?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Batwoman Forever: Her Greatest Eight

With a heavy heart (indeed, for fans as well), writer-artist extraordinaires J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman announced they have left their groundbreaking, award-winning Batwoman title. Batwoman was my favorite comic book published by DC Comics. Circumstances and any controversy aside, Williams and Blackman, along with former Batwoman scribe Greg Rucka, and frequent artistic collaborators like Trevor McCarthy, leave behind a truly remarkable body of work about the first gay superheroine to headline her own comic book, as well as an unquestionable artistic masterpiece. Their Batwoman will stand the test of time as a benchmark of mainstream superhero comics, one that should be read and reread by fans new and old and continually celebrated for its beauty, boldness and bravery.

Here are what I feel to be the Eight Greatest Moments of the Williams/Blackman/Rucka/McCarthy Batwoman era. Why eight? Because the numeric '8' is also a Mobius strip, the infinity symbol. Batwoman's adventures will continue onwards in the pages of DC Comics, but these eight moments are the shining examples of why the J.H. Williams era of Batwoman will, in the hearts of her fans, be Batwoman forever.

Just Say No to Batman Inc. 

A few years back, having returned from traveling through time after he shot Darkseid with a God bullet (don't ask), the Batman decided to expand his crime-fighting operations into a Bat-branded global network called Batman Incorporated. Batman approached Batwoman about joining Batman Inc. She turned him down, to the amazement of her sidekick Flamebird. But it really was a no brainer. Batwoman, though she wears a Bat symbol, is not one of Batman's little helpers like the Robins, Nightwing, or Batgirl. Batwoman is busy saving Gotham her own way against her own foes. The last thing she needed was to be dragged into Batman's messes like the Night of the Owls and his war with Leviathan. Kate Kane is her own woman and has her own enormous problems. Boy, does she.
(Read it in: Batwoman #1-2)

Hawkfire's Training

Bette Kane, the former Flamebird, wanted to be her cousin Batwoman's sidekick, but tragically paid a dear price for it. Surviving a debilitating injury (more on that in a bit), with the help of Kate's father Jacob, Bette returned to action better and more dangerous than ever under a new guise: Hawkfire. No longer a thrill seeker fighting crime for kicks, Bette was put through her paces by Jacob and his army buddies, the Murder of Crows, displaying a new seriousness and formidable fighting skills that rival even Batwoman's. It's a remarkable and inspiring turnaround, and the start (hopefully to be continued by the new Batwoman regime) of an important new heroine in DC Comics.
(Read it in: Batwoman #17, #22)

Kate Kane's Training

How Batwoman begins, who she is and how she came to be, is a tale every bit as harrowing and inspiring as Bruce Wayne's, and even more groundbreaking. Expelled from the US Army because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Kate Kane survived over two years of the most brutal military training imaginable to turn herself into Batwoman. Her origin is best told in Batwoman #0 (2012), where she narrates her own story to her estranged soldier father Jake. Kate didn't gallivant around the globe to learn her skills. She sacrificed her body and endured incredible hardships and horrors to earn the right to return to Gotham and wear the black and red of the Batwoman.
(Read it in: Batwoman #0 (2012))

Batwoman Takes Down Bane

This is the guy who broke the Batman? He doesn't seem so tough. On a mission from the D.E.O. to track down Batman's most physically formidable foe, Batwoman and Hawkfire run across Bane in the snowy woods of Alaska. In record time, Batwoman uses her wonderful toys to subdue Bane. He doesn't ever get the chance to snap her back or anything. To see Batwoman and Hawkfire battle Bane together and have Batwoman brilliantly take him down is probably my favorite Batwoman fight, and one of those moments that simply make you cheer while reading a comic book. In this instance, Batwoman > Batman.
(Read it in: Batwoman #22)

Bette Kane Gutted

Batwoman's Gotham is in some ways more violent and horrific, often even more supernatural and ghastly, than Batman's. No one knows the dangers the Gotham nights bring better than Batwoman herself, but despise being grounded as her sidekick, Flamebird wouldn't listen. Taking to the streets with a point to prove, Flamebird battles a monster aptly named The Hook, and suffers one of the most gruesome injuries inflicted on any superheroine: The Hook used his blade to slice Flamebird's guts open, leaving her bleeding to death, holding in her intestines, in a snowy alleyway. Bette Kane survived and heroically battled back from her injury, ultimately gaining revenge on The Hook as Hawkfire. Still, that terrible moment is an eternal reminder of what can happen to a costumed crime fighter in Gotham.
(Read it in: Batwoman #4)

World's Finest

For my money, the single greatest super team up (male or female) of the rebooted New 52 DC Universe, the "World's Finest Team" of Batwoman and Wonder Woman banded together on a quest to end a supernatural power threatening Gotham. Uneasy allies at first, the vividly contrasted women of Bat and Wonder slowly earn each others' trust on a global hunt for the mythical Gorgon monster Medusa, which ultimately lead to them, Hawkfire, and the D.E.O. waging war against all the supernatural creatures of the evil Greek monster Ceto for the fate of Gotham. This arc brought the storylines involving the Drowned Woman and various supernatural foes Batwoman faced since the first issue of her ongoing title to their conclusion, as well as spotlighting the most dynamic and mature incarnation of Wonder Woman yet in the New 52. But Batwoman is the star of the show, proving her mettle as one of the foremost superheroes (male or female) in the DC Universe.
(Read it in: Batwoman #12-17)


Arguably the classic Batwoman story, Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III's "Elegy" is heart-wrenching, violent, fantastic. Locked in a war against the Religion of Crime and their leader Alice, Batwoman's personal version of The Joker, Kate Kane endures being stabbed in the heart (literally!) on her quest to stop Alice, uncovering shocking and long-buried family secrets. To say more would ruin the joys of reading "Elegy" for the uninitiated. Suffice to say, once you've read "Elegy," you will become a Batwoman fan for life.
(Read it in: "Batwoman: Elegy")

Marry Me!

At the heart of Batwoman's brutal, nocturnal crime-fighting life is Kate Kane's romance with Gotham police captain Maggie Sawyer. At the conclusion of the "World's Finest" arc, seeing Gotham nearly fall to a horde of supernatural gods and monsters, Kate decided that life is too short to hold back her potential happiness any longer and proposes to Maggie, revealing her secret identity to her. In our world, it was a groundbreaking hallmark moment in comics: a proud lesbian superhero asking her lover, a tough as nails cop, to marry her. Sadly, what would have been a historic marriage and a true leap forward for gays depicted in mainstream superhero comics, will not be. What does the future hold for Kate and Maggie (besides the "unhappy personal life" dictated by DC Comics)? We'll find out in future pages of Batwoman. But perhaps, in an alternate Earth to ours, readers of Batwoman got to see their J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman take their epic Batwoman story to their intended conclusion.

Finally, one last sincere thank you to the creators of Batwoman, J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman, Greg Rucka, Trevor McCarthy, and the collaborating artists and editors of DC Comics, for this miraculous comic book series.

Batwoman Forever.

 My prized copy of Batwoman #13,
my favorite single comic book of 2012, signed by J.H. Williams III
Why is it my favorite? Because of this.

Saturday, September 7, 2013




"You're not afraid of the dark, are you?"

"I can't accept that you're the hero of this demented fairy tale," or something of the sort, is uttered in exasperation at Riddick. Therein lies the not-so-secret joke at the heart of the Riddick franchise. Vin Diesel's titular, ultraviolent yet ultimately noble anti-hero, Richard B. Riddick, really is the hero of this "demented fairy tale" spanning three movies, two video games, and an animated feature. Riddick is well-aware he's the center of the universe, and he always seems silently amused when the various corrupt human bounty hunters and alien warriors who cross his path don't seem to realize this, or figure it out far too late. It's a strange universe indeed when the most important person in it, the one unstoppable, incorrigible force, is Richard B. Riddick. It's a good thing he's on our his side.

After the disappointment of 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick, which vastly expanded the Riddick universe but set Riddick up against a race of undead alien conquerors called the Necromongers in a PG-13 setting, Riddick is a welcome return to form. That form being Pitch Black, the original R-rated sci-fi nightmare tale about a crew of bounty hunters, civilians, and Riddick stranded on a hostile alien world with fearsome monsters. Once again R-rated and proud of it, Riddick efficiently blazes through the exposition of what happened after Riddick killed the Lord Marshal of the Necromongers in Chronicles, when he ended up as the new Lord Marshal (the Necromongers "keep what you kill"). As miserable as Riddick was with his new job ruling over the Necromongers (he couldn't even enjoy his bed full of undead nude Necromonger playmates encouraging Riddick to explore their Underverse), the Necromongers were even more eager to get rid of Riddick. In the briefest possible appearances that still qualifies for top billing, Karl Urban, who was the Necromonger who schemed to be Lord Marshal before Riddick slid right in and took the crown, preyed on Riddick's one desire: to find his homeworld of Furya. Instead, the Necromongers took Riddick to a godforsaken hellhole of a planet, told him it was Furya, and left him there (after trying and failing to kill him).

The first act of this new film is basically the Riddick version of Survivorman, as a severely injured Riddick uses every bit of his skill and cunning to survive on this barren rock, battling killer alien dogs and the new Big Bad creatures of the franchise, giant aquatic scorpion monsters. As Riddick slowly adapts to his new surroundings, Diesel's voice over laments that somewhere along the way, he's lost a step. Indeed he has. The Riddick in Riddick is not quite the Riddick of Riddicks past. Though dangerous as ever, he is also more careless, more prone to mistakes, and sometimes finds he's out of his depth. Riddick's arc in Riddick involves him trying to regain the Eye(shine) of the Tiger. Always a fearsome loner incredibly resistant to anyone or anything getting too close to, or God forbid, relying on him, Riddick adopts a pup of one of the alien dogs and raises it as his stalwart companion. A Furyan and his dog. Good grief! Has Riddick gone soft? Ask the two different crews of bounty hunters who land on the planet looking to collect the hefty bounty on Richard B. Riddick. The bounty is even doubled if he's brought back dead. "I haven't heard that one before," Riddick smirks, after a lifetime of icing bounty hunters coming for his head.

The most memorable bounty hunter who ever came after Riddick is Johns (Cole Hauser) from Pitch Black. (Though Vin Diesel seems to have not aged a day, we learn 10 years of real time has passed since the events of Pitch Black.) Turns out, bounty hunting is a family affair as the father of Johns (Matt Nable) has come for Riddick, seeking answers to what happened to his son in Pitch Black. Daddy Johns ultimately learns a lot of things he didn't want to know about his son, and about Riddick, and finally, about himself. It's a tough pill to swallow that Riddick was the good guy in Pitch Black and his baby boy was the morphine-shootin', kid-killin' bad guy. With Daddy Johns is Katee Sackhoff, looking identical to Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, her most famous role, as Johns' second-in-command and deadly lesbian sniper. Opposite Johns' uniformed crew is a gaggle of roughneck, sleazebag bounty hunters lead by Jordi Molla and counting Dave Bautista among their number. After The Rock, Bautista is now the second former WWE Champion Vin Diesel has battled and bested in a Vin Diesel movie. Molla spends most of the movie bragging he'll put Riddick's head in a box. Riddick's reversal of fortune on Molla is the movie's most gruesomely hilarious gag.

Eleven bounty hunters against Riddick. The old Riddick wouldn't have left a man standing. This time, Riddick takes it easy on them, recognizing he needs the help to deal with the real enemy Out There: a gathering rainstorm that will bring wave after wave of hungry, killer scorpion monsters. Unlike the relentless assault by the flying creatures in Pitch Black, these scorpion monsters are far more considerate, limiting their attacks to happen in between important plot points, like Riddick, Johns and Bautista going after the engine nodes to their spaceships Riddick stole and buried. The scorpion monsters easily take out the red shirts among the bounty hunters but are careful not to horribly murder anyone whose name goes immediately below the title. They all do want Riddick's blood on their gross bladed pincers, though, and when the scorpion monsters impale Riddick in the side of his torso and then have him hopelessly surrounded on a cliff's peak, we come to realize we are watching The Passion of the Riddick. But what kind of a universe would Riddick be without Richard B. Riddick? A lesser one, to be sure. In the end, Riddick learns that he may still be the baddest Furyan mofo in the galaxy, but sometimes even Richard B. Riddick can only get by with a little help from his friends.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Now You See Me



Now You See Me openly declares to the audience on the outset that it's out to bamboozle them, so in that regard, it plays fair. An entertaining and wildly implausible - sorry, I mean magical - heist movie about four magicians banded together to pull off incredible crimes, Now You See Me turns out to not really be about that at all. Which it told us on the outset, if we were paying attention. Look, a car chase! Pay attention! It's not what you think it is! (Stuff like that gets irritating after a while.)

We meet the Four Horsemen, as they come to be known. Jesse Eisenberg is their de facto leader, an arrogant, slick-talking illusionist. His former assistant Isla Fisher is a sexy escape artist. Mentalist Woody Harrelson, the disgraced senior member of the group. Finally, there's Dave Franco, an eager street grifter. Eisenberg makes a habit of condescending to Franco, and if you expected that to go somewhere, no, it's a feint. Fisher and Eisenberg clearly have the flash paper hots for each other, but did you expect her to pull his rabbit out of his hat? Nope, that's a feint. Maybe Fisher will end up succumbing to Harrelson's endless sexual innuendos. Hey, look over there! One of the Horsemen is seemingly killed in a car crash, but ha! Fooled you! The others made it seem like they believed their colleague was dead, but no, they knew it was a trick all along.

The Four Horsemen are mysteriously assembled from their piddling lives eking out a living dazzling rubes and agree to work for someone they've never met. A year later, they have the resources to stage the most elaborate magic show in Las Vegas; bigger than David Copperfield or Sigfried and Roy, plus everyone's straight. Their benefactor is corrupt multi-millionaire businessman Michael Caine, who, it turns out, is not the man who brought them together. Caine is more surprised than anyone he's just another mark. During their Vegas performance, the Horsemen somehow rob a bank in France. Or did they? Yes. But how? Ah, you see, that would be telling. Now You See Me does tell us how, and the answer would leave even the Ocean's Eleven crew scratching their heads. The heists and escape that follow, in New Orleans, and New York, become even more hard to swallow. But it's magic.

Mark Ruffalo is the FBI agent assigned to take down the Horsemen, who frustrate him at every turn with their parlor tricks, double talk, and ridiculous agility and fighting prowess. Fighting magicians is almost like fighting Spider-Man, according to Now You See Me. Ruffalo is assigned an unwanted partner from Interpol, the luminous Melanie Laurent, whose presence is a mystery, as is her interest in some sort of secret order of magic called The Eye of Horus. What exactly is she doing on this case? Finally, there is Morgan Freeman, a former famous illusionist himself, who wants to take down the Four Horsemen for his own reasons (money from debunking their act on DVD) and has ties to a legendary magician who died over 30 years ago. You are getting sleeeepy. Pay attention. Especially pay attention when Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman share the screen together, two master actors from The Dark Knight Trilogy reunited.

With all those balls in the air, Now You See Me mostly ignores the interesting characters it introduces in its first act, becoming way more involved in its ludicrous plot and then explaining how it pulled the wool over everyone's eyes. The Four Horsemen get shunted off to the background, turned into pawns, which apparently they were all along, as the movie focuses mainly on Ruffalo hunting them and bringing them to justice. But it was all a ruse! We, the audience, were being played from the beginning. Nothing, and no one, is as it seemed. All of Now You See Me, every absurd, impossible plot development and machination, was part of an elaborate scheme to get at Freeman, who was the real mark all along. The biggest reveal of all, that Ruffalo was the master illusionist behind everything from the very beginning, and everything we saw him do was a deception, feels like the biggest cheat. But then, Now You See Me told us so from the very beginning. So, tah dah! Thank you, you've been a beautiful audience.

Now You See Me should combine its sequel with the Magic Mike sequel: stripper magicians robbing banks.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

World War Z



In World War Z, Brad Pitt can't catch no Z's. You literally have to subject him to a plane crash and knock him out to get him to take a nap. A former UN inspector and a caring family man with a wife (Mirelle Enos) and two young daughters, Pitt's wholesome life was rudely interrupted when the world suddenly ended. A zombie apocalypse sweeps every nation, with millions of people transforming into zombies. The scant pockets of survivors the UN is able to airlift onto its ships in the Atlantic Ocean remind us of Battlestar Galactica's ragtag fleet running from the ruination of civilization. With the death toll reaching an epic scale ("The President is dead!", we quickly learn), Pitt finds himself as our reluctant Best Hope for figuring out what caused this zombie epidemic and maybe finding a cure, or at least a way for surviving Mankind to fight back.

The specter of the mega-popular The Walking Dead hangs over World War Z, and in terms of establishing its own rules about how zombies operate, World War Z wisely zigs where The Walking Dead zags. World War Z embraces the word "zombie", even having American special forces soldiers in South Korea flippantly calling the zombies "Zees." These Zees aren't the lumbering zombies of yore; they're of the new breed of super fast running movie zombies, but all jumped up on zombie Ritalin. Fond of twisting their limbs and barking like velociraptors (one sequence late in the film coolly invokes the famous Jurassic Park scene in the kitchen), the World War Zees will leap headlong at you, crashing through walls, doors, windows, and flinging themselves off buildings and onto helicopters and airplanes. When the Zees swarm in the thousands, we are aghast at the sight of them scaling fifty foot high walls. Even when burned to ashes, somehow whatever appendages they have that survive continue to move. They're hyper-sensitive to sound and they're even worse than screaming children on airplanes. Forget Snakes on a Plane, Samuel L. Jackson should have been present to utter the immortal line:

"I'm tired of these motherfuckin' zombies on this motherfuckin' plane!"

Resembling a male lion, like an exhausted adult Simba or Lion-O, the increasingly injured Pitt goes on a global hunt for the cure to the Zees, barely surviving one horrific zombie attack after another. In a military base in South Korea, he meets a toothless, cuckoo bananas CIA agent (David Morse) who tells him North Korea beat the zombie apocalypse by removing the teeth of their entire population. Next stop is Israel, which held off the Zees by building a giant wall around Jerusalem, until the Zees figure out how to swarm over the wall. Almost stealing the movie from Pitt is his unlikely partner, a brave soldier played by the stunning Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz. When her hand is bitten by a zombie, Pitt quickly chops her fucking hand off to stop the infection, which has gotta go into the Movie Meet Cute Hall of Fame. After slicing off her appendage and then sweetly taking care of her, Pitt and Kertesz are bonded for life, especially after they arrive at a WHO hospital in Wales where Pitt figures out why a small amount of people are being ignored by the rampaging hordes of Zees. 

After relentless days of Pitt fighting for his life in the traditional ways like using weapons, head shots with guns, and cleverly duct taping magazines around his forearms as bite guards, World War Z hits upon with a novel idea for surviving against the zombies; injecting yourself with a lethal disease to create a "camouflage" against them. Zombies only want to infect hosts that aren't already infected with a fatal disease. Though entire cities are "lost" and billions are dead from the zombie infection, Pitt's closing narration that "the war has just begun" blatantly states that World War Z is leaving itself open for sequels. Perhaps when World War Z figures out a twenty seventh letter for the title of its sequel, someone like Magic Johnson can join Brad Pitt in the fight to take the world back from the Zees.

Blue Jasmine



When a man like Alec Baldwin, a New York billionaire tycoon investor and philanthropist, is revealed to be an unfaithful Bernard Madoff-like crook, who really suffers? Why, his doting socialite wife, of course. Woody Allen's terrific Blue Jasmine asks us to empathize - as much as we can - with the plight of Cate Blanchett, once the toast of New York with all the money and finery one could ask for, now being forced to stay with her adopted sister Sally Hawkins in San Francisco and find a way to rebuild her life. Blanchett suffered a nervous breakdown when her world in New York ended and experiences bouts of talking to herself while remembering (in flashbacks the audience sees) the demise of her happy, oblivious life of privilege with Baldwin. Blue Jasmine is also a fascinating examination of the social ladder as Blanchett endures Hawkins' blue collar life and her skeevy mechanic boyfriend Bobby Cannavale while angling for a way to "make something of herself" and "do something substantial with her life", preferably by finding another wealthy husband. When a viable prospect, political hopeful Peter Sarsgaard, comes along, Blanchett finds out she still can't escape her past or the lies she habitually tells as she self-medicates on vodka, self-delusion and rationalization. Meanwhile, Hawkins also explores the possibility of finding someone seemingly better than Cannavale when she meets Louis CK, a stereo engineer who romances her and seems a little too good to be true. Andrew Dice Clay as Hawkins' contractor ex-husband whom Baldwin swindled out of his $200,000 lottery winnings is tremendous. As a dark comedy of manners and an examination of class structure, different kinds of people, their ambitions, and their different stations in life, Blue Jasmine is razor sharp and goes for the jugular in urging the audience to examine what in life actually makes someone a "winner" and a "loser." Running the gamut from being empathetic, pitiable, and repellent, Blanchett is astounding, a shoo-in for a Best Actress nomination and likely the Oscar itself.

I would like to see Blue Jasmine remade in the Lord of the Rings universe where Galadriel suffers a nervous breakdown and must lower herself to live with humans after her life in Rivendell with a cheating Elrond ends.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Total Divas 1x6 - "Diva Las Vegas"

Vegas, baby, Vegas. If you wanted to see the blurred crotches of the Bella Twins, this Total Divas is your dream come true.

The Total Divas head to Sin City this week to "celebrate" (Nattie's favorite word and thing to do about herself) Nattie and her bachelorette party. TJ also has his bachelor party in Vegas and he brings some of WWE's lower rung talent with him (a special sighting of Curt Hawkins!), but they also have a main eventer present in the form of Daniel Bryan. The specter of Jaret in the form of flirty text messages she was warned by Nikki not to answer but does follows Nattie to Vegas, but overall Nattie and her bachelorette party are merely the backdrop for some of the other Divas to have their turn in the spotlight.

For the Jojo fans, it's at last Jojo's week to be front and center. She hasn't had a storyline since her ex Sebastian dumped her, and she has quickly rebounded by crushing on Justin Gabriel. (She's taunted for it by none other than Chris Jericho.) Jojo and the red headed fembot called Eva Marie have a house warming party in Tampa and invite the Total Divas cast, their male counterparts, and Justin Gabriel, who disappears onto a balcony with Jojo and applies the Greco-Roman tongue lock. Justin is also invited to Vegas, presumably as Jojo's date for the weekend. What's weird about Justin's presence, besides how weird Justin comes off in general, is that he seems to stick out like a sore thumb, even among his male peers. Gabriel seems more consciously aware than most he's on a television show. Justin doesn't join TJ's shenanigans and instead seems to hit on women solo, seen by Jojo (who is underage and can't really do anything fun in Vegas) and Eva Marie. Justin hops in a cab with the lady (of the night?) and disappears. Later, he tells Jojo the age difference is too much for him (she's 19, he's at least a decade older). He's right, probably, and skeevy definitely.

So that's it for Justin Gabriel. Seems like he blew his chance to be a regular player on a hit E! reality show. Back to Superstars, Main Event and Saturday Morning Slam for him.

Meanwhile, we learn of the course of events that create a situation known as BRIE MODE. See, when Brie Bella gets drunk, she goes into a state Nikki dubbed Brie Mode (Nikki also says Brie was called Keg Killer in high school). Thing is, Brie Mode doesn't seem all that bad. Oh, she dances around all sexy-like (but it's Nikki who falls and plops down on the ground all drunk), but even in Brie Mode, Brie can still give heartfelt advice to doubting Nattie a la what to do with Nattie's conflicting feelings toward Jarret. Bryan Danielson (Brie's boyfriend/WWE Superstar), who is in Vegas, isn't the biggest fan of Brie Mode, and has his own cure for the morning after hangover. Overall, though, Brie Mode is pretty tame, solidifying Brie as the better Bella. This is not to say Nikki wasn't awesome in this episode as well. This is Nikki's best outing yet in terms of being not the center of drama. Plus we meet Nikki's vibrator, the Purple People Eater.

Finally, there is Vincent. Bald, orangutang-like Vincent, who reacted badly to Ariane not inviting him to Vegas because it's all WWE people there and arrived anyway. Once in Vegas, Vincent becomes the Tazmanian Devil, bouncing around their thebombdotcom suite at the Palms, making a complete ass out of himself at dinner, and then plowing himself with alcohol and making an even bigger ass of himself at Ghost Bar. Ariane literally had to drag him out of the club for a permanent time out. Previews indicate Ariane has some bad news for Vincent next week. Babe, that's messed up! *punches elevator door*.

TOTAL DIVAS REVELATION: TJ is the only man Nattie's ever been with. John Cena reacted to this appropriately nonplussed. As for Nikki and how many men's she's been with, no number is given. "Hopefully, it's between one and a thousand." says Cena. (The Champ is here!)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Live Tweeting #WWEBoston SuperShow

On the onset of what turned out to be a terrific night of WWE live action, announcer Justin Roberts encouraged the thousands in attendance at TD Garden to tweet about the event with the hashtag #WWEBoston. I decided to live tweet the results of the show, but with a twist. To wit:

The munificent missive above was momentarily broadcast on the TD Garden jumbo tron during intermission.

An enchanting evening of exciting exhibition of sports entertainment prowess! Okay, so what the hell was I doing? Simple. 99.99% of live tweeting anything, WWE included, is mind-numbingly banal. So I decided to live tweet by invoking this man:

I think his Lordship Alfred Hayes would have approved of my endeavors.

Actual results of what was my first live WWE show since WrestleMania 28 in Miami, my first house show in 3 1/2 years, and one of the best WWE house shows I've ever been to:

Dolph Ziggler defeated Big E. Langston with the Zig Zag.
Dean Ambrose of The Shield pinned Rob Van Dam to retain the United States Championship in the match of the night.
Smackdown General Manager Vickie Guerrero introduced the Divas and announced the result of a fan poll determining a six Diva tag team match rather than a Dance Off.
Kaitlyn, Natalya, and Naomi of the Funkadactyls defeated Divas Champion AJ Lee, Brie Bella, and Layla when Brie abandoned AJ and left the match, allowing Kaitlyn to spear AJ for the pin.
Kofi Kingston pinned Ryback.
The Big Show and Mark Henry defeated WWE Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns of the Shield when Dean Ambrose interfered with a chair to cause a disqualification.
The Wyatt Family defeated R-Truth and the Usos.
Paul Heyman invoked Article 17.4 of Curtis Axel's contract, voiding that the following No Disqualification match would be for the Intercontinental Title.
In a non-title No Disqualification match, CM Punk pinned Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel in under three minutes with the GTS and then caned both Heyman and Axel.
WWE Champion Randy Orton pinned Daniel Bryan with the RKO following interference by RAW General Manager Brad Maddox and distraction by The Shield. Rob Van Dam, Dolph Ziggler, and Mark Henry helped Bryan hit all their finishers and clear the ring of the Shield.