Friday, January 30, 2015

Scandal Season 4 Ep. 10 Recap: "Run"

Photo Credit: ABC
“Girl, you need to move on.” Those words were uttered by Maya Pope—international terrorist, world's worst mother, and tea clocker—in the middle of a rafter-raising rant by her daughter about needing her help to find her equally monstrous father Eli, a task she should be good at since, as Olivia explained, she likely possessed a “PhD in his crazy.” Maya went on to call Olivia and her former husband two sides of the same coin; obsessive, lonely workaholics with no life outside the toxic environment Washington D.C. politics.

Olivia took this not-so-motherly-but-generally-bitchy advice to heart in the mid-season finale “Where The Sun Don't Shine.” She stopped Jake from talking about Eli, put on some music and danced halfway decently while telling him she chose herself, Fitz, Vermont, and him, and wanted to celebrate by making love on a piano. At least before she was kidnapped by some masked man, spilling the good wine on her couch as she was dragged off to some unknown destination. In retrospect, it appears Mama Pope's other gif-worthy phrase—“Look around boo. I'm in a cage,” may prove to be more helpful to her child.

“Run,” the premiere episode of the second half of Scandal's fourth season, finds Olivia Pope becoming well-acquainted with the concept of captivity as she fights and schemes to escape from a prison. While much has been written and said—much of it by Scandal characters--about Olivia being trapped in the world of D.C. politics, it has, for the most part, been an emotional trap. No matter how high the stakes, Olivia has been able to pretty much come and go as she pleases; there was always another move, another secret to use for leverage, another bottle of wine or pants suit or door to power walk through to help her handle whatever crisis plagued her or one of her clients at the moment.

What “Run” does so masterfully over the course of its hour is have it slowly, terrifyingly dawn on Olivia that none of her accomplishments or high-powered connections will rescue her from this latest hell. Save for some much-appreciated shirtless, panicked running by Jake, the episode is all Olivia, filling in the blanks on just how she vanished without a trace before using the rest of its time to show just how bad her circumstances are.

After being sedated by her captors, Liv awakens to find herself in some godforsaken jail in what she thinks is Somalia. Liv's cell mate is Ian, a journalist whose wife (also a journalist) was killed by a car bomb in Afghanistan. Ian doesn't have good news for our gal; he makes up a tale that his previous cell mate Bradley was let go after his people paid his ransom, but later confesses he was likely shot and killed. Along with her captors, Ian makes a point to tell her more than once that there is no way out.

Liv being Liv, she does escape, only to run out onto a sound stage showing footage of the middle east. Turns out, she's been participating in some bizarre test set up by—surprise!--Ian, a twist that snaps the previous action into place. While it may have been easy to dismiss the other men's claims there was no way out as arrogant douchebag taunts, Ian presented himself as lost and broken. As he later tells Olivia, she truly feels she has to save everyone, and knew placing her with someone weaker than herself would spur her into action.

We don't learn much about Ian (if that's his real name) in “Run,” but he's likely connected to Andrew and Elizabeth, who are using Olivia to force Fitz's hand in the Angola conflict, in some way. We do know he has a Saw-like penchant for cruel, psychological games, and a shall we say, lax attitude toward human life given his non-reaction to Olivia killing two of his underlings. Being locked away in a cage is one thing, but Ian's head games add a whole other layer of terror to an already traumatic situation.

As a bottle episode, much of emotional heavy lifting in “Run” rests almost entirely on Kerry Washington's shoulders, and she nails it, portraying everything from Liv's gritty resolve at the outset and her growing desperation to her eventual shell-shocked resignation with arresting sincerity.

It was also a brave choice by the show keep Liv on lockdown. There was never a real chance Olivia would die. Aside from the explanation she herself gave to her captors-- that she knows they're merely workers, not the power players who decide her fate—Scandal has always been and will always be Olivia's story. Without her there is no show. However, all signs were pointing to a grand opening, grand closing situation, in which Liv's prison stint would be introduced and wrapped up within the hour, ending with her being rescued and returning to Washington, or at the very least escaping, finding a flat iron and/or rocking a fierce hijab as she hid in the surrounding city and tried to get home.

“Run” flirts with the first scenario, pulling a fakeout when a midnight rescue raid led by Jake turns into sexy shower time and making jam out of boysenberry in fucking Vermont with Fitz, who in this alternate universe, is a childless mayor with a non-existent ex-wife. Thank goodness dream Abby's there to call bullshit on the whole fantasy and tell her to no man's coming to save her, so she better get her shit together and rescue herself.

But Shonda and Co. seem interested in telling a different story, and in taking Olivia and Scandal to a deeper, darker place. Olivia will eventually get out, but not without more than a little suffering first. I could be wrong of course, but the last scene makes me think otherwise. As she walks back to her cage in a daze, past quotes from characters, including Olivia herself, tumble over each other in a voice over, providing a sad contrast to the gladiator thoughts that raced through Liv's mind as she ran for the exit just seconds before. The one that rings loudest (and last) comes from Papa Pope: “You are on are your own.”

Welcome back Scandal.

---Other Thoughts:

--Not that I necessarily want to give nefarious kidnappers props, but the fact they snatched Liv and took her not away in a speeding car, but right across the damn hallway, and got away with it was some ingenious shit. It's a move that sounds utterly stupid on its face, but one so unexpected it works brilliantly.

--Loved Olivia's breathy rebuttal to the guy who asks why she's not begging for her life or offering secrets or money for sale. She's smart enough to know none of the men in the ambulance are powerful enough to decide her fate, so bump all that. Put her in a body bag underneath a woman she just watched get murdered, but damn it all if it's going to keep her from firing off a good monologue!

--Gut Wrench moment: When Liv tries to escape through the bathroom window a second time, only to find its been sealed up and proceeds to have a complete breakdown.

--The second the dark-haired dude looked down at Olivia holding a gun and drawled“That's a man tool you got there,” I immediately I thought “You know you fucked up. Right?” And one shot to the dome proved me right. Never try to tell Liv what she can't do!

--“And your father is--Ike Turner?”

Monday, January 26, 2015

Looking Season 2 Ep. 3 Recap: 'Looking Top To Bottom"

Photo Credit: HBO

When the cat's away, the cheating mice will play, watch rugby together and gently mock the other's self-books. But worst of all, things will feel like they could always be this way.

Like last week's “Looking For Results,” “Looking Top To Bottom,” dangles the possibility of a lasting, legit relationship between Patrick and Kevin in front of us and Patrick, before pulling the rug out with a one early morning phone call.

With its morning sex and bonding over pop culture and certain shared experiences of growing up gay, “Looking For Results” earned comparisons to season one's excellent “Looking For The Future,” as Patrick and Kevin spend much of the day together and got to know each other in much the same way he and Richie did. Of course, the big difference is Kevin has a boyfriend, and their hookup took place in sleazy hotel populated by cum stains, meth heads and bedbugs. However, “Looking Top To Bottom” further raises the stakes for these two by taking them out of the hotels and the woods of Russian River and planting them squarely out in the open.

The episode is great in the way it spins more potential promise and peril out of this turn of events, as Patrick falls deeper into the abyss of the affair while hitting several red flags on the way down. Kevin's boyfriend John is out of town, a development which gives them a chance to do things like go together to Dom's rugby debut and spend the night at Patrick's place. At a stop at a bar, Kevin reveals more details about his childhood, including his complicated relationship with his mother, who left after divorcing his dad, and a fondness for making board games. He also nonchalantly drops the news his Visa expires in two years, and unless he gets married, it's back to Rumford he goes. Patrick internalizes this with his trademark anxiousness, but pushes forward and takes him to the game as planned. Once there, he's reminded of his second-string status when Kevin tells Eddie (the only person besides Richie and John who doesn't know about their affair) he has boyfriend, and reacts by deciding to live out a teenage fantasy, whisking Kevin off for some “under the bleachers” kissing (technically they weren't bleachers, but use you imagination).

When Kevin calls John at the end of episode, Patrick is again confronted with the reality of his situation. Though he's gotten more than a few clues this may not work out, this gut punch lands harder than the others, because it came after a night where he and Kevin didn't hookup in a random hotel, but made love in his home An evening where they didn't exchange post-coital chat on cum-stained sheets, but cuddled fully-clothed on his couch and watched television. But the call is a reminder that as long as Kevin is with John, Patrick will never be able to have all of him, and all of this, all the time.

Dom and Lynn had a minor tiff this week, again involving Dom and his restaurant plans. Lynn arranges a meeting between Dom and Jack, who's opening a new restaurant in Soma, but conveniently leaves out that Jack's only looking for Dom to manage his new place, not to invest in his. Dom runs down he and Jack's meeting over breakfast with Doris and her new beau Malik, during which Lynn tries to subtly suggest (or manipulate, take your pick) him into seeing how managing a restaurant can eventually lead to him owning his own, but is shut down by Dom and Doris' steely twin glare.

Dom learns the truth while showering after the game and confronts Lynn, who, ever the cool cucumber, can't understand why Dom is so upset when he's simply trying to help. Lynn's logic—that Dom becoming a successful restaurant manager could lead to Jack (and presumably others) to invest in his own restaurant—is very practical. However, his puppet master tactics are all wrong. As Dom reminds him, Lynn already took the possibility of the two becoming business partners off the table. And with this latest subterfuge, he's basically told Dom he's not ready to run his own business. As I wrote last week, there's always been a father-son dynamic at work in their relationship; but Lynn's failure in realizing that treating Dom like a child is only going to make Dom push back and tune him out (kinda like, you know, a child) shows a lack of understanding as to who his boyfriend is. Add in Lynn's continued emotional unavailability, and things don't bode well for these guys.

Agustin's finally acting like he's got some damn sense, going down to Richie's bearing food and an apology for being a jerk. Richie reads him for filth before offering an olive branch via shaping up his beard. Later, he makes a date with Eddie to eat ice cream and torrent Romy and Michele (that's Romy and Michele's High School Reunion for the uninitiated), but also blabs to Eddie about Patrick's affair  with Kevin. One step back, two steps forward, so I guess Agustin's winning this week. Then again, almost anything would count as personal growth after passing out high and drunk near a pupusa stand.

Other Thoughts:

--Best “Clutch The Pearls” Moment - the utterly terrified “oh shit” look on Patrick's face when he thinks Kevin is asking him to get married.

--“Does anyone actually know what they're doing? Except for being all porny and 'I want a naked calendar of them on my fridge right now?'”

--“Fuck, I'm naked. Whatever.” Oh Doris.

--I like that the show is calling attention to the, shall we say, Will and Grace-ness of Dom and Doris' friendship via characters like Malik, who reasonably asks why two forty-something—excuse me, fortyish—adults are still playing the roommate game, and Lynn, who complains their apartment is not like college. While the aforementioned sitcom largely played its two leads' super-close, if not codependent, relationship for laughs, such closeness can often stifle chances for romance. Judging by their current states, Dom's relationship may be floundering as Doris' flourishes, and the way this could affect their friendship is ripe with potentially rich material.

--“You know how much I hate the devil children.”

--“I'm more of a self-cleaning oven.”

Monday Man Candy


Via Underneath The Starz

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Emperor's New Mix


While I'm still hard at work on finishing the tracks for Bougie Beats - The Remixes, --the original Bougie Beats EP is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon for $4.95, and free streaming on Spotify by the way--I managed to squirrel away a few hours and finish my first ever DJ mixtape, a 10-song minimix of tracks by Marilyn Manson, a.k.a. The Pale Emperor (or Antichrist Superstar, Omega or The God of F*ck if you like).

At this point I'd definitely consider myself an amateur DJ, but the final product came out nicely (or deliciously evil, given the artist:). As for Bougie Beats - The Remixes, I'm a little over halfway through the album, which is shaping up to be a house record--deep house, tech house, electro house, ballroom/vogue and so on--with nu disco, trap/hip hop, and breakbeat elements in the mix. Teasers for all the finished tracks are available for free download and are posted on my Soundcloud page.

In the meantime listen, enjoy, download the Marilyn Manson "(Sensei Minimix)" below, and look forward to many more! (Listen HERE if the embedded file doesn't play).



Monday, January 19, 2015

Looking Season 2 Ep. 2 Recap: 'Looking For Results'

Photo Credit: HBO


Well, that didn't take long. After confessing to Dom and Agustin he's been sleeping with his boss Kevin last week, Patrick spends much, if not all of “Looking For Results” going down an epic shame spiral as the Molly-assisted, sex-in-the-woods fantasy of “Looking For The Promised Land,” gives way to reality.

Things don't start off that way. The episode opens with he and Kevin in post-coital bliss in a sleazy hotel, sharing the kinds of specific “me too!” details of growing up—in Patrick's case, doing a happy dance when your father's best friend (who, with his love of motorcycles, sounds like he could've been Uncle Jessie from Full House) comes to visit, or in Kevin's, making up a dance routine to your favorite pop song--many gay men can relate to.  As Kevin extols the joys of Top Trumps, a hugely popular English trading card game, the chemistry between these two really snaps into place. You could almost imagine them as a real couple, chatting about random shit and making up gay versions of Top Trumps that involve Lusty Lads of London versus Gay for Pay.

The keyword being almost. Because even while Patrick claims Kevin and his boyfriend are having major problems, the fact Kevin that says others finding about their affair would spell the end of it is telling. And though Patrick tells his friends being Kevin's little secret is sexy, it only takes one little rash for him to freak out, not only about his HIV status, but where this dalliance is going. It doesn't help that Richie shows up at his door due to some Agustin drama; Patrick lies to him about seeing anyone, but then pushes Richie for a lunch date. Later, Kevin offers some solace by admitting he's a mess as well, before busting out his childhood dance to Take That's “Do What You Like.” It's adorable, but like last week's trip to Russian River, it's ultimately a temporary distraction from the real challenges they have to overcome if their hookups are ever going to turn into a real relationship—that's assuming  either of them truly want what they have to turn into a relationship.

Speaking of spiraling, Agustin continues to make bad decisions, taking some drugs after hoping to run into Eddie at a bear bar and running into Scottie—the man he and Frank had a threesome with in the series pilot—instead. Scottie reveals Frank (who he sees all the time by the way) told him about their breakup, then asks what Agustin has been up to, which we know is a whole bunch of nothing. Scottie  isn't dickish when he says any of his, but it makes Agustin feel shitty enough that he takes a hit of the narcotic Scottie's sipping.

As serendipity would have it (or not, if you're Richie), Richie and a few friends find him zonked out at a random street corner. Agustin is so delirious he forgot he was an asshole to Richie and starts speaking and singing to him in Spanish while he and Patrick carry him to bed. Not much new here--Agustin reacting to pain by getting fucked up and damning the consequences--but if the after-episode commentary is to believed, he may have further to go before he hits bottom. Then again, next week's preview sees him hanging out with Eddie, so maybe there's hope yet.

Dom's moving forward professionally, settling for a window eatery style setup since it's cheaper than opening up a restaurant (though having to cough up six months' rent in advance doesn't sound like a drop in the bucket). However, he's still hitting a brick wall emotionally when it comes to Lynn. He asks if he misses his deceased lover Bryant, to which Lynn answers “of course” before asking whether Dom adhered to the checklist for securing his getaway abode or had sex with anyone in the same blasé tone.

As I said in the last week's recap, the open relationship appears to be working out so far; Lynn and Dom are both mature men who've been around the block more than a few times, so avoiding an monogamous relationship feels like a smart decision. However, it's becoming more and more obvious that while he has no qualms with sharing his boyfriend, Lynn sharing his emotions is another matter. His feelings about Bryant and his death are buried so deep, that the more Dom pries, the more Lynn will likely pull away. Also, there's still a subtle father-son dynamic to their pairing, and couch sex aside, Lynn appears more than happy to play Daddy Warbucks. Dom on the other hand, clearly wants a boyfriend, not a father, and unless Lynn embraces that, there'll be conflict down the road.


Other Thoughts:

--Dorris appears to have snagged a man, the handsome and burly Malik. While it probably won't get as much screen time as the boys' relationships, it'll be interesting to see how it affects the group dynamic, especially he friendship with Dom.

--Dom and Agustin leaving Patrick to his own obsessive Googling devices during his AIDS/Kevin panic may have been a bit douchey, but felt honest to the dynamic that often exists amongst long-time friends. Sometimes you just don't have the energy to deal with your friends' emotional baggage, and  after you've known someone long enough, you know when you have to let them figure their own shit out, and vice versa.

Agustin on Dorris: “She's just so rude sometimes.” Pot meet kettle.

“No that's okay. I live in San Francisco, they give them out like coffee stirrers.”

“You can't do that! Homeless people have Twitter accounts!”

Personally, I always liked Take That's “Back For Good,” but Kevin's dance routine to “Do What You Like” is priceless.

I don't know about you, but a drag queen revue of Showgirls sounds awesome.

Monday Man Candy



Saturday, January 17, 2015

Food For Thought: Martin Luther King Jr.



"We can never be satisfied as long the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police

brutality."

WATCH: Trailer for 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'



I know I'm a little late on this...but what do you think?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Looking Season 2 Ep. 1 Recap: "Looking For The Promised Land"

Photo Credit: HBO


(Typically, my recaps for 'Looking' are posted on Butlerway.com. But as the site is experiencing some technical difficulties at the moment, I'll post my recap of the second season premiere here. When the site is back up again, I'll resume posting recaps there, and post links to the site on this blog. Got it? Now on with the recap!)

Welcome back to the Castro. Well, not exactly. When we last left our boys—and Doris—Patrick had botched his relationship with Richie and gotten his cherry popped by his boss Kevin, Dom had pulled off a successful pop up of his restaurant while still pursuing the ever-inscrutable Lynn, and Agustin got high (let's assume he took Molly for the sake of continuity) after blowing up his relationship with Frank and hitting rock bottom professionally.

“Looking For The Promised Land,” the season premiere of Looking's second season, finds the trio escaping the city for Lynn's cabin in Russian River, which apparently is a west coast version of Fire Island in that its a place where gay folks go to get away from the San Fran grind. As with most of the show's episode titles, “Looking For The Promised Land” has more than one meaning; it obviously refers to the fantastic party the guys, joined by Doris, attend after happening upon a beach full of bears earlier in the day. But it also refers to how Patrick, Dom and Agustin are each searching for their own utopia.

However, as with last season, the guys are getting in their own way of achieving emotional paradise. After after encountering a Richie look-a-like at the party--a subtle, sly fakeout by the show--Patrick makes a call to who we assume is Richie, but who actually turns out be Kevin. The two engage in some in-the-woods action (a callback to the series premiere where Patrick bumbled a random hookup in another wooded area), and it'd be easy to blame Patrick's newfound sexual confidence on the Molly and being on vacation if not for the fact he hadn't already banged Kevin once before. Well actually more like three or four times before.

Yes, our little Paddy is the other man, as Kevin is still booed up at the moment, a secret that weighs on him throughout the episode until he confesses to Dom and Augustine during their pre-dawn post party recap (heh, recap) the next morning. While he's down for a break room blowjob, Kevin doesn't appear to be in any rush to break up with his boyfriend, and Patrick's self-aware enough to know what he's doing isn't likely to end well. But some part of Patrick also appears to be getting off on it, as having an affair is uncharacteristic behavior for him. His story is shaping up to be the classic rom com conundrum: choosing between passion (Kevin) and stability (Richie).

Dom and Lynn have finally started their relationship, but it's open relationship. Exactly who came up with that idea is never revealed, but watching Dom flip through an old photo album and hearing him talk about wanting Lynn to be more open about his past has me thinking he wasn't the one who suggested it. Of course, monogamy is not a natural state for Dom, so having an open relationship may have been a way for Lynn to both protect himself while also giving Dom what he believes he wants. Dom does take a guy back to the cabin and is all post-coital smiles the next morning, but I have a feeling it'll be harder for him to deal with their open relationship status as time goes on.

Judging from Patrick none-too-subtle remarks, Agustin's been reacting to his breakup with Frank in typically Agustinian fashion. Meaning he's been drowning his sorrows in alcohol and random, loud hookups. He also seems to have given up any notion of being an artist, as he tells Eddie (a.k.a. Damien from Mean Girls), a bear he meets at the party, that the world is probably better off without his art. Agustin is a tricky character to get behind. On one hand, it's easy to relate to his sense of aimlessness and dissatisfaction. But on the other hand, it's hard to feel much sympathy or empathy for a guy who can be (and has repeatedly been) an intentional asshole to his friends. Just because you acknowledge your shitty behavior doesn't make it any less shitty.

However, what keeps Agustin from being totally unlikable is underneath the snark, he does carry genuine affection for his friends (a trait that is more prominent in this episode than it was last season), and his commentary, however biting, is often spot on, particularly when it comes to Patrick's personal life. If he could just start to deal with some of his own issues. his actions would probably come off more supportive than shady.  Maybe meeting Eddie, who works with homeless gay and transgender youth and has a certain joie de vivre, despite his HIV positive status, can help him find some focus and direction. At least, if he doesn't find a way to push him away.

The episode ends with Patrick stopping talk of Kevin and the affair by asking they talk about it tomorrow, and instead take in the moment, look up at the sky and pretend things will work out for the best. It's an understandable request, but like their trip, it's only a temporary escape from the reality that awaits him back home. Tomorrow's coming, and Patrick and his friends are going to have to face it whether they're ready or not.

--Other Thoughts:

“You know I actually prefer you fucked up, because it makes you way less narcissistic.”

“Bring the clone and the seal pup.”

“How did you know it was my door?”
“Because it smelled like misery.”

--A sad, but realistic moment: when Patrick and Dom flip through Lynn's photo album and talk about an old boyfriend who appears in a few pictures. It's almost a given a gay man of Lynn's generation lost someone close to him to AIDS, but neither Patrick or Dom say that out loud, because it's already understood.

--The whole slo-motion sequence of the main cast and the woodland gays dancing to Sister Sledge's “Lost In Music” was the visual highlight of the episode. Though Looking derives much of its emotional resonance from its characters screwing up and questioning themselves, this scene, like the one last season of Richie and Patrick dancing during their first date, proves it can be just as affecting when it captures the characters' joy, chemically-induced or not.

--Doris provided a welcome blast of blunt humor, as her presence usually does. Though I'm happy to see she may also be getting a love interest of her own, as it'll help her character transcend the funny but ultimately one-dimensional fag hag role she occupied for much of last season.

Gifs That Give


Monday Man Candy



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Incarcerated Trans Woman Sues NY Prison Over Sexual Assault


A transgender woman has filed suit against Sullivan Correctional Facilities in Fallsburg, New York for allegedly failing to protect against a rape by a fellow inmate in February 2013.

The Advocate, citing The Associated Press and Slate, reports that LeslieAnn Manning, who was housed in a maximum security male facility, says officials knew she was a transgender woman at the time of the alleged assault. Manning had previously fought to received hormone therapy, grow out her hair, wear female undergarments and legally change her name.

"In February 2013, Manning says she was at performing her job as a letter typist and deliverer for disabled inmates when she was attacked. In her suit, she claims that her work area was poorly supervised, allowed inmates to move freely, and was a gathering place for sexual offenders after their program meetings were held there. When, following her job duties, Manning delivered a letter to an inmate who sat alone in a room at the end of a hallway, she was allegedly grabbed from behind by him, raped, and told she would be killed if she told anyone." 

According to Manning, officials at the facility were "deliberately indifferent" to her elevated risk for attack--which, as a transgender woman, she faces a high chance of--"demonstrated by their failure to protect her from the assault."

"Deliberate indifference" to safety has previously been declared by the Supreme Court as "cruel and unusual punishment" in the 1994 case of Farmer v. Brennan, and is therefore a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Sullivan officials have not commented publicly on the lawsuit. Manning has been moved to protective custody at an alternate facility.
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