Wednesday, December 15, 2010

And so it ends.

Another season of Dexter has come and gone. How do we feel about the end of another segment in our story? Let's get to it.

While Dexter frantically gathers his stalking paraphernalia to go rescue Lumen, he is rudely interrupted by . . . Astor and Cody! They want to spend the summer with him! How sweet. But, it's business as usual for Dex, who is off and running.

Deb and LaGuerta strategize finding Jordan Chase. Blah blah. Quinn is at his desk looking all a bother. When Deb questions his distress, Quinn reveals that he had a lot of things "crash down on him". No kidding, Sherlock.

Back on the hunt, Dex gets a call from Jordan, who lays on the guilt trip about Rita, but in the meantime, he lets it slip that Lumen is still alive. Oh, there she is! In the trunk. How cliche. In an "obvious plot point" happening, a fruta salesman recognizes Jordan in his car (who is this guy that the non-English speaking population knows who he is? Dr. Phil?) and hears Lumen banging around in the back. Jordan retaliates by knocking her out. Well played, sir.

Meanwhile, Dex is back at Miami Metro, trying to find properties that are registered to Jordan. He chats with Deb about the situation, and she tells Dex that she really feels like she knows what these women went through, a callback to her season 1 dealings with Dexter's creepy brother, the Ice Truck Killer, which turns out to be an important point for discussion later on.

After verbally abusing the real estate records guy, Dexter discovers that Jordan owns the camp where they first tortured Emily Birch. Bingo! But not so fast! LaGuerta spoils things by telling them that Liddy's body has been discovered. Bricks are crapped on the part of Dex and Quinn, and off we go.

We're on a boat. Quinn is visibly troubled, and in order to avoid the inevitable subpoena is deleting his voicemails faster than Chuck Norris's leg in a roundhouse kick. When we arrive at the crime scene, LaGuerta immediately corners Quinn to inquire why Liddy's last four calls were made to him, while simultaneously using her super-human vision to notice the minute blood spot on Quinn's shoe. A lawyer is requested. Oh, snap. Is this the end of Quinn?

Meanwhile, at the second location (which closely resembled the Lost Boys' hideout), Lumen attempts to escape Jordan, who, in return treats her like . . . a piece of meat? Seriously, WTF was up with the sniffing? Honestly, Twilight did it better. And since Twilight did it badly... Anyway, Lumen's escape attempt is foiled by a chain link fence. Better luck next time!

Things aren't going great for Dexter either. Due to a heated conversation with Harry, Dexter crashes his stolen car just as he arrives at Camp River Jordan. Clearly, the man can't catch a break. Jordan appears, holding the world's most useless looking hand gun, and proceeds to tie him up with Lumen. The kill tools are confiscated. We wonder where MacGuyver is for such a time as this.

Continuing to be the only useful person at Miami Metro, Deb speaks poor Spanish to the fruta man, managing to discover the direction in which he was headed. And the chase is on.

Jordan waxes on to Dex and Lumen, and is apparently so caught up in the moment that he doesn't notice Dex stealing a knife (seriously, where did that thing come from?). One moment Jordan was talking, and the next thing I knew, Dexter was knifing him in the foot! Awesome and seemingly unbelievable. And we find Jordan Chase on the kill table. Fin-al-ly.

Dex offers Lumen the kill, which she attends to with . . . gusto? And yet another big villain is finished.

But wait! The real suspense is just getting started, when who shows up just as Lumen and Dex are cleaning up the kill room? Deb. But, just when you think the crap is hitting the fan, she lets them go. She is literally 20 feet from finding out the truth. And she let's. them. go. I know. Heart stopping. But, I think that this deserves some discussion, as this is going to be a huge thing for Deb's character development. In the old days, Deb saw things as much more black and white, but this season, her confusion over whether or not some people deserve to die has been really eye-opening for her. After her own experiences with Brian, watching Rita get murdered, and then having to witness all of those rape dvds over and over again, Deb has come to realize that maybe she doesn't see things so concretely anymore, and I think this is going to be huge for when she finally finds out the truth about Dexter. Instead of being disgusted, I think she'll understand. Agreed?

After all this, it's still time for Harrison's birthday party. But before that, Lumen has some news. Her dark passenger is gone, and she has to leave. For me, this was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever seen on Dexter. Even moreso than the image of poor Rita in the bathtub. Dexter begs her not to go with an urgency that he has never shown on the show before. Wheras he didn't discover his true feelings about Rita until it was too late, I believe that Dexter truly, truly loves Lumen. And credit to Michael C. Hall, because honestly, you could just see his heart breaking in that moment, while he says to Lumen, "Don't be sorry your darkness is gone. I'll carry it for you. Always. I'll keep it with mine." Maybe the most romantic thing he has ever said, no? And it makes sense to him. Logically, she has to go, but it doesn't make it any less difficult.

And so we come to the end. Deb and Quinn (who has been cleared by Dexter, as a thank you to Deb) are happy. Angel and LaGuerta pledge to make a fresh start. Masuka feels up a stripper. All is right with the world.

So what will happen to Dexter until next season? Can Deb be in a healthy relationship? Will Masuka finally get that STD panel? Does Maria LaGuerta own anything other than floral skirts? What does Angel's head look like under that hat? I'll be tackling these questions and more when Dexter resumes next fall. So until then, we sail into the sunset.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Lesson in Reading Comprehension

Sarah and I have been friends for a long time (almost ten years, to be exact). And in those ten years, we have done a lot of things, most of them involving a certain disregard for standards set before us. We reveled in annoying the leader of the praise band in high school. We were as obnoxious as possible in front of people we disliked. We famously refused to pay a dollar for driving through an airport parking lot until we spoke with a manager. We gave a certain air of ... conceit?

Well. It has caught up with us.

This year, we got season tickets to Gammage Auditorium and Broadway Across America. Usually when it's a show night, we have dinner in Tempe and then attend the show, well-fed and satisfied. At the last show we attended, we decided to eat at the PF Chang's on Mill, but rather than looking for a parking spot for PF Chang's, we parked at the Jack-in-the-Box across the street. I should point out that the Jack-in-the-Box had signs like the one above.

And yet, we pressed on, were not towed, and had a lovely meal. And so, in the same way, Wednesday night we parked there anyway, had a lovely meal at PF Chang's, and exited the restaurant, ready to be dazzled by theatrical feats hitherto not experienced. Think again! We returned, only to find..

Or something like that. Picture a Jack-In-The-Box wall. Well, after some swearing, general frustration, and yes, a few tears, we discovered that the Jack-in-the-Box has a camera that the towing people watch and wait for fools like us to leave the property and then pounce! They're like lions, only much less noble.

And so, we pressed on, calling a cab (which I had never done before), and the cab hauled us off to what will from now on be referred to as the SATY (Shady-A** Tow Yard). When we pulled up to the SATY, there was nothing but a dirt lot, surrounded by some chain link fences and a huge sign that said NOGALES CAR COMPANY. Greaaaaat. Honestly, the only thing missing was a couple of pit bulls. When the SATY people came to unlock the gates, I was disgusted when they pulled up in a Cadillac! Honestly. I am in the wrong profession. You educate the youth for a living, and you drive a Honda. You pounce upon people's ill-parked cars and practically steal their money for a living, and you drive a Caddie. There appears to be an imbalance in the force.

The men got out with a MagLite, and the Suburbia dweller in me wondered whether or not we were going to be beaten to death. In any case, we escaped, got the car back and drove home, Sarah's bank account emptier, and Broadway free.

No one has been impressed by this story (well, except for the quality of my gross exaggeration when telling the story in public). But, I suppose this is simply another entry in The Idiot-Girls Action Adventure Club. Take this, and learn.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vampire Hunting

Welcome to your regularly scheduled feature, LIFE ON THE SINGLE SIDE

About a year ago at Waldenbooks, I lost the will to live. Ok, maybe not really, but I am certain that if anyone gave a crap about literature anymore, what I witnessed would never have taken place. While I was wandering the Young Adult section, I came across this little beauty...

Yes, indeed, that is a copy of Emily Bronte's classic, Wuthering Heights, with a new, trendy Twilight-esque cover, and a marker declaring it "Edward and Bella's Favorite Book".


Rant over. The point is, I am growing increasingly tired of hearing everything compared and tied to Twilight. Even Edward is driving a frickin Volvo on television now. It is just NOT ok. The worst part about this particular trend, is that I keep hearing my friends say, "Oh, if only I could find a man like Edward..." Well, ladies, I am here to tell you that YOU CAN. Simply follow my easy steps, and it shall be no problem.


1) Look for a creeper. Edward, with all of his supposed strengths as a boyfriend, is, at his core, a huge creeper. From reading people's thoughts to sneaking into Bella's room at night, the guy could use a hobby. Or perhaps a telephoto lens. Either way, what I fail to realize is how people cannot notice that in fact, there are plenty of creepy stalker guys out there, ripe for the picking! For example,

No Edward, no problem.

2) Find a man who is compulsively constipated. Now, you ask, Julie, what does this have to do with Edward? Well, according to Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, apparently constipation is the key. Our hero Edward walks around the Twilight movie with one look on his face,
Frankly, I don't see much difference between that face and ...
3) Stock up on some pessimism and angst. Again, what is the difference, between this

and this?

4) Look for someone feminine. Let's be honest here, Edward is not handsome, Edward is pretty. Men should not be pretty. Rugged, yes. Masculine, yes. Pretty? No.

I mean look at this...

and this...

I don't think I need to go on.

In any case, I think we can all agree that Edward is not as unattainable as once believed. Happy hunting!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Damage Control

So much to discuss about tonight's penultimate episode of Dexter's fifth season! Honestly, the pants were getting a little damp by the end. I really missed being held in complete suspense by the show, being spoiled by season four's adrenaline-fest. In any case, the show has almost redeemed its underwhelming start in the last few weeks, so let's get down to tonight's happenings in Miami.

We open with Deb and Quinn again questioning big bad Jordan Chase, who is becoming less and less...cooperative. Well, actually, dude is losing it. Big time. We are reminded that Jordan's DNA has not been found on any of the victims, leaving Deb's main purpose in the episode to find a way to catch this [colorful terminology].

Cut to Dex and Lumen, who are having a cozy moment over some floor plans (love that they used army men for visual aids!) of Jordan's lair, when Dex makes an alarming discovery on Harrison's baby monitor - someone is watching them! Good gracious, that took too many episodes to figure out. As Lumen and Dex discuss who could possibly care about what he is up to (as white panel vans are a dime a dozen in Miami), Lumen inquires as to whether Dex thinks Deb has ever suspected how Dexter spends his recreational hours. "She has a blind spot when it comes to me," he confesses. However, this seems to be an intentional plot point, obviously leading up to Deb finally discovering the truth, or at least coming closer than she's ever been (season finale fodder?).

Quinn is then paid a visit by Liddy, fresh off being officially terminated, and who is getting as demanding as his dialect is irritating (can't handle his pronunciation of "po-lice"). Quinn refuses, and Liddy peels out in a huff (that'll show 'em!). At the same time, Dex discovers that the surveillance equipment was checked out by Quinn, but assures Lumen that they still have time to take control of the situation. After all, "no torches or pitchforks." Oh, Dex, even in the midst of crisis, you still tickle me with your internal monologue.

In the meantime, Deb is busy attempting to convince the homicide department of her vigilante theory (presented in last week's episode). Everyone is on board except for (surprise!) LaGuerta, who has abandoned her usual butt-hugging floral skirt for - a floral top! Maria, you trickster. Just when we were going to start a floral skirt drinking game. Through a series of far leaps, the team concludes that a man is helping the vigilante victim (a-duh). Masuka compares them to Bonnie and Clyde, at which Dexter's brow furrows in worry. "Great. They ended up dead in a bullet-riddled car," he quips. Honestly, with the poor police work Miami Metro is turning out this season, I'm unsure they could solve a game of Clue, much less a homicide. For example, what did Deb and Quinn do last week after they discovered the footprint outside Alex Tildon's house? Grab Starbucks and call it a night? Ridiculous.

Dex, on the other hand, has bigger fish to fry. He and Lumen pay Quinn's house a visit, but apart from the discovery that Quinn is amused by flatulent cats, it proves useless. Meanwhile, Deb and Quinn have a chat with Dan the Dentist's wife (can we discuss how his doors actually SAY "Dan the Dentist"?), who leads them to Jordan Chase's true identity, fatty Eugene Greer. Again, it seems completely unrealistic that they wouldn't have discovered in what, six weeks of dealing with this guy - what they establish in the first ten minutes of an episode of Bones. If they had looked into Jordan Chase's history at all (as any moron would have by this point - see above Clue comment), they wouldn't seem so incompetent. Writers, I am disappointed in your belief in my stupidity as an audience member. But I digress.

We arrive at the real OMG moment in the episode. Dex has narrowed the shady-A van options to one and pounces, believing the van to be containing Quinn, only to see Dexter immediately taken down by Liddy (this elicited more than a few shrieks from my watching buddies). Liddy called Quinn and told him to get down and meet him so that he can bust Dexter (for what? Holding a knife?).

Lumen, who is proving to be both understanding and completely stupid, sets off for Emily Birch's house, right into a trap set by Jordan. Jordan implores her to get Dexter there, and she leaves him a few frantic messages before Emily's whining proves to be too much for Jordan, who beats her to death with an iron poker (how cliche!). Lumen fights back, and that's the last we see of her, but Jordan laments finally having to get his hands dirty.

Back in the white panel van, good 'ol Dex puts himself to good use by both kicking the confession cam right into Liddy's face and MacGuyver-ing his knife right down into his heart (fist pump!). Good riddance to bad rubbish. However, things were not smooth sailing for our hero, as he had to leave Liddy's body behind (and avoid Quinn, arriving to deal with his unleashed monster, but not before he got a drop of blood on his shoe), to rescue Lumen.

When Dex arrives at Jordan's, he finds the body of Emily, deducing that Lumen has been taken to that dreaded second location. With a look of pure vengance (and hottness?) we fade to black.

So, what do we think is going to happen next week? There are so many storylines to wrap up, but the one I am most intrigued by is how this sitch between Dex and Quinn is going to be resolved. It seems too good to be true that the two will shake hands and depart as friends. Also, what is going to happen with Lumen? Dex expressed his desire to have her stick around, and actually, I wouldn't mind her sticking around either. It's nice to see Dex maybe growing some genuine affection for someone by being able to share his real life. In any case, see you next Sunday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Terrible Christmas Songs

Call me old fashioned, but I like to listen to the radio while driving home. Usually, I stick pretty well with 102.5, 1047 and the like, but during the Christmas season, I venture to one of the stations that has switched their format to all-Christmas music (et tu, Movin' 97.5?) for the month of December on the off-chance that maybe a cheerful Christmas tune will brighten my commute. And usually I regret it. Today was no exception. Terrible selection. Terrible. As a lifelong valley resident, I have been listening to 99.9's "Continuous Christmas Music" since, I don't know, fifth grade? And since about seventh grade, I have loathed their choices of music, particularly for their inexplicable inclusion of these, the worst Christmas songs ever, on their never-ending cheer list.

"Do They Know it's Christmas?" - Band Aid

I'm pretty sure I sent my good friend Brigitte Borcuta a text-message based rant about this song last year. File it under "good intentions", but honestly. This isn't exactly a number you can trot out caroling. Do they even celebrate Christmas in Africa? Do they not have calendars? Does Africa even know about this song? Do Bono, Sting, Bob Geldof and the like know that this is not stopping anyone's commercialism?

"I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas"

No explanation necessary. I heard it twice today.

"Happy Christmas (War is Over)" - John Lennon and Yoko Ono

I have always hated this song, even before I decided that John Lennon was an overrated commie. First of all, hiding war protests under the guise of Christmas music is deplorable. Also, it is not encouraging as much as it is sarcastic (war is over, if you want it). And lastly, any song that subjects us to Yoko's screeching deserves to be put out of its misery. We know John loved her, but the rest of us aren't tone deaf.

"Last Christmas" - Wham

The poster child for Christmas songs devoid of actual content. In fact, if it weren't for the "Christmas" in the title, I probably couldn't tell the difference between this song and any song sung by Eurhythmics. I want to know who is walking through the mall saying, "Although Christmas is the season of perpetual hope, I think I'll "rock" out over a song about someone leaving me on Christmas". No thank you.

"Christmastime" - Paul McCartney

Did Paul McCartney sing this to a leper colony somewhere and I don't know about it? Is this why it is played continuously and revered as one of the greatest and most cover-worthy songs in our Christmas catalogue? According to an article I read recently, Sir Paul has denounced this number in recent years. Maybe he's ashamed that the synthesizer sounds like my junior highers could have put together in tech lab? Or maybe he realized that the phrase "simply having a wonderful Christmastime" does not get better or deeper in meaning with hundreds of repeats? Either way, I would have a wonderful Christmastime if I never had to hear this song again.

"Christmas Shoes" - NewSong

Let it be known, if I am dying, I want none of you to rush out and buy me shoes. In fact, if anyone rushes from my deathbed saying "MUST GET SHOES! MUST GET SHOES!" consider my friendship revoked. I think that we should take this song and simply not follow any of its advice. Don't leave your mother on her deathbed. Don't ask strangers for money. Don't listen to this saccharine garbage.

Honorable Mentions

"Feliz Navidad"

"Santa Baby"

"Jingle Bell Rock"