Sunday, October 29, 2006

Demon Days: Season 1, Episode 6 - "Your Fairy Fucking Godmother"

Previously on Demon Days…
  • It’s amazing how many of the little things I leave out of these recaps. You’ll notice that several of the items on this list are personal character details that I’ve neglected to mention to this point but are crucial to understanding this episode. This is my bad.

  • Edgar’s personal life is pretty crap. He’s bankrupt, he’s living in a hotel, and he’s in the midst of a very expensive, very traumatic divorce.

  • There’s an old woman—a mage—named Sunday who thinks the Hunters are “interesting.” She’s given them cookies and behaved oddly. Two other mages, Charlie and Rico, have been hounding the Hunters, telling them to stay away from her.

  • In his travels, Dean found a bag…a magical bag. It’s essentially a bag of holding with apparently unlimited capacity, capable of storing anything small enough to fit inside. The problem is that the bag belonged to someone else (he doesn’t know who), so all their stuff is still in it. And it’s quite a random lot of stuff, too.

  • This group certainly has their vices. Dan is a stoner, Dean smokes like a chimney, Willem is a borderline alcoholic, and Edgar is a full-blown alcoholic, with added nicotine and gambling addictions. All except for Lucy, it seems, who always acts very uncomfortable at the alcohol and drug use around her.

  • Though she’s been distracted from it by all the vampire- and zombie-killing, Lucy’s been involved in a rather lengthy cold war with her roommate, Vanessa—Lucy’s boyfriend, Brian, is sleeping with Vanessa and thinks Lucy doesn’t know. But she does, and Vanessa knows that Lucy knows, so the two of them are engaged in a bizarre battle of wills—Lucy waiting for Vanessa to have the nerve to admit it, Vanessa waiting for Lucy to have the nerve to confront her.

  • Dean has a thing for Lucy. Since he’s new in town, she’s allowed him to sleep on her couch (telling Vanessa he’s a long-lost “half-brother”), and he made his move a while ago, but was gently (and awkwardly) turned down, with an, “Um…uh…not right now.” And this was before…

  • Dean almost got everyone killed with a rather risky plan. This plan was enacted without the knowledge or consent of the group, and the results were lots of injuries for Dean, a savage bullet wound in the arm for Lucy, and bad feelings all around. Dean looked for Sunday’s help prior to the event, but she was nowhere to be found.

“Your Fairy Fucking Godmother”

Lucy looks through the newspaper, as she always does, looking for stories that might be supernatural-related. But it’s a slow news day—a princess from Bulgaria is visiting the city! Starting next year, Bazemore will have its very own minor league hockey franchise!—so there’s nothing.

Two weeks have passed since the botched double-cross, and Dean is not happy with himself. He’s spent that time doting on Lucy, helping her during her recovery. This has been done out of kindness and guilt, not any ulterior, romantic motive, but when he asks if he still “has a chance,” her only answer is, “You lied to everyone. You lied to me.” Depression sinks in.

The plan is for the group to meet back up at the bar that night—they haven’t met as group since the shooting—but Lucy reports to Dean that Dan “has the flu. He sounded really bad.”

After getting shot, Lucy was given a prescription for Percoset. This is perfectly normal, so it’s a little odd when Vanessa stomps in carrying the bottle and angrily interrogates Lucy: “Where’d you get these? Why do you have them? How many are you taking?” Even stranger, Lucy’s response is “Don’t lecture me,” and to remind Vanessa that she was shot. “Possibly the only thing in this world that hurts as much as a bullet ripping your arm apart is that same arm trying to put itself back together again. So, yeah, the doctors gave me something to take the edge off. Okay?” To change the subject, Lucy sardonically implies that she might drop by the place where Brian works tonight (since he tells her he’s working when he’s really with Vanessa); Vanessa encourages her to: “He can meet your brother.” After Vanessa leaves, Lucy, quivering with rage, takes one of her pills and tells Dean that they can’t be certain Vanessa’s not a vampire, and could maybe kill her just to be safe.

Later, in the car, Lucy confesses that Vanessa’s questions weren’t completely out of line—several years ago, Lucy was forced into rehab for an addiction to painkillers. She subsequently kicked that addiction, and she says she only takes the Percoset when she needs it.

At the bar, things are a little more cheery. Edgar is beside himself with glee—his sister, Michelle (described as the only member of his family who will still speak to him; more on this in a few sentences), is going out of town for a month and needs someone to watch her house. So Edgar is out of the hotel for a while, and even gets to use her car, on the condition that he care for Michelle’s “many” animals. His bliss doesn’t last very long, though, when a woman approaches him at the bar. Though her name is never mentioned, it’s clear she’s a mutual friend of both Edgar and Helena, his soon-to-be-ex-wife. She offers her support for Edgar, for what he “must be going through,” and he quickly realizes he doesn’t know what she’s talking about. A little more needling reveals that Helena is already seeing someone else, and, in fact, they plan on getting married. Willem and Dean, two kind, compassionate souls, start chiming in to get more information. “Oh, it must be someone you know.” “Do you have a brother?” As it turns out, Edgar does have a younger brother, and the woman confirms him as Helena’s new fiancĂ©e.

With his happiness gone, Edgar does a two-and-a-half tuck dive straight into a bottle of scotch, and gets absolutely plastered in record time. A stakeout of the Millhaven mental hospital is planned, but with Dan gone and Edgar really gone, Lucy suggests it wise to wait until tomorrow.

And here, Sunday chooses to make her entrance.

She’s all smiles and how-are-yous, completely ignoring the vitriolic looks she gets from the drunken Edgar. She says she was out of town, and has no knowledge of the horrible events two weeks ago. Edgar drunkenly demands to why she wasn’t there to help, getting more angry, more pushy, and more inebriated as the conversation continues. Towards the end, as Sunday continues to try to be nice, Edgar actually starts physically pushing the old lady around. Sunday gives him plenty of warning to knock it off—“I know you think I’m a nice old woman, Edgar, but I’m really not a nice person most of the time, okay? I’m not your fairy fucking godmother, so knock it off.” But Edgar doesn’t, and Sunday finally retaliates: she stands ramrod straight, locks her eyes on Edgar, gives a stiff, Barbara Eden-esque Magical Nod, and…

Nothing happens.

Edgar asks, “What the hell was that?” An apparently confused Sunday replies, “Nothing…that was…nothing.” No one really buys it, but Sunday keeps selling it, and quickly turns and leaves.

With the whole evening now good and smashed, the meeting breaks up. Edgar tells the group that he still wants to do the stakeout tomorrow, as planned, and they should meet at his sister’s house around noon. Luckily, the Hunters are thoughtful enough to call him a cab. Willem follows Edgar home and decides to sleep there, in case something happens during the night. Edgar’s sister’s home is, quite literally, covered with animals. Dogs, cats, birds, snakes, a rabbit, all creatures great and small roam around this jungle-like abode. With Edgar passed out on the couch, Willem clears a place in a big chair and goes to sleep.

The next morning, Lucy can’t even move her arm from the pain. She desperately wants to take one of her pills, but says she doesn’t know “if my arm actually hurts, or if my brain just wants me to take another pill.” She finally gives in and takes one, “only because I can’t even think.” Dean offers to hold onto her pills for her, and she somewhat hesitantly agrees.

They head to Edgar’s new place, and learn that, when Willem woke up, Edgar was gone. A cursory search is performed, but they suspect he may have been turned into one of the many animals running around. Sunday arrives, smug as can be, and confirms this. She’s even nice enough to tell them which animal, though simple logic would have narrowed it down quite a bit. We are dealing with a witch here, after all…

Lucy: “You turned him into a frog?”
Sunday: “I’m old-fashioned.”

Indeed, Edgar is know an oversized bullfrog, hopping around quite at random. Sunday defends herself, saying she was only retaliating from Edgar’s physical assault and drunken ranting. The Hunters demand she change him back—Sunday at first outright refuses, saying he deserved it, and later elaborates…

Sunday: “Okay, first of all, even if I could, I wouldn’t. He was drunk, he was mean, he was violent! He deserved it!”
Lucy: “…Even if you could?”
Sunday: “…Yeah, that would be the second of all.”

See, as Sunday explains, what she did to Edgar wasn’t a spell, as they assume, but a curse—spells can be broken and dismissed, but a curse is conditional. In order to release the curse, all they have to do is fulfill the condition.

Lucy: “What’s the condition?”
Sunday: “Not a fan of the classics, are we?”

Dean remembers the newspaper story Lucy had mentioned the day before…about the Bulgarian princess visiting the city. Yes—to turn Edgar back into Edgar, the frog has to be kissed…by a princess. “And it has to be a real kiss,” says Sunday, “none of this, ‘Hold the frog up to her lips while she’s sleeping’ crap. She has to want to do it, and she has to know she’s kissing a frog.” She explains that it’s just that simple, though there is a time limit: the kiss has to happen before midnight of the next full moon. Unfortunately, she realizes, to her chagrin, that the next full moon is that night, leaving the three of them less than twelve hours to pull this off. She apologizes for that profusely.

After Sunday leaves, they debate their next move. Obviously, getting a Bulgarian princess to kiss a frog of her own volition is not an easy task. They decide to grab a newspaper to see if they can find where she’s staying in town. Luckily, it’s printed right there in the Lifestyle section: she and her entourage are staying at the Luxury, the fancy-schmancy rich-people hotel in Westwood. They head that way, still unsure what they’re going to do.

(This might be a good time to note Dean’s original idea: buy a dog, name it Princess, and have it kiss the frog. Considering what happens later, it’s debatable whether this would have worked or not. The sticking point seems to be “She has to know she’s kissing a frog,” but still—no one is sure.)

Once they get there, the first idea goes nowhere: walking up to the front desk and telling the woman there they have a frog for the princess. They go back outside before security can be called.

Out there, they continue to debate about what to do. The problem, it seems, is that none of them have any clue. This is demonstrated quite clearly when several black limos pull up, and the princess—along with nine bodyguards—strides toward the hotel. Willem calls an audible, gets an egg from Dean’s bag of holding, runs toward the group of Bulgarians, and hurls it at one of her guards. He immediately runs away.

The idea seems to have been to distract the guards long enough for Dean and Lucy to grab the girl and execute the kiss. However, as Lucy will angrily proclaim later, “We aren’t Bowser,” and nabbing a princess is harder than it looks. Plus, surprisingly, throwing things at a woman does not inspire the nine people charged with guarding her to suddenly abandon her. Go figure.

Several of them do give Willem chase, though, and he burns Willpower points to get away and leap into a dumpster in an alley. To his surprise, he meets Charlie inside. He also finds himself inexplicably wearing a tuxedo. Charlie tells Willem he knows all about the frog thing, and offers this as the final proof that Sunday is “bad people.” He then gives Willem a way to solve the problem—he gives him a small blue vial that, if drank by a woman, will cause her do to one thing on command. The command has to be issued by the person who puts the liquid into her drink, and it only works once, and only on a woman. (Willem, of course, asks if he has more, and Charlie says no, citing the difficult process needed to make it. “Nothing in this world is harder than getting a woman to do what you want.”) The tuxedo is for the opera—the newspaper article they read earlier also mentioned the princess would be taking in a show at the Bazemore Opera House this evening. Charlie gives Willem three tickets and a suitcase containing a tuxedo for Dean and a dress for Lucy.

They regroup and head to Der Weinerschnitzel for lunch and planning. (Lucy tries feeding the frog, but Edgar won’t eat.) They come up with a vague plan of action: since the guards are probably going to be looking for Willem, he will go in and make himself noticed, which will at least thin out her protection a little as they go after him. Dean can sneak in and put the potion in a drink, which he will give to Lucy, who will deliver it to the princess, claiming it’s from “the mayor” or something. Later, they will run up to the princess as she leaves, and Dean will ask her to kiss the frog. Edgar can only croak.

Once the evening comes, they dress for the show—Dean in his tuxedo, and Lucy in her dress. She’s extremely uncomfortable in the formal clothes, but she looks fantastic, which is a great big railroad spike in the chest for Dean, who vows to get drunk as soon as possible.

At the Opera House, the first part of the plan, amazingly, works perfectly. Willem distracts, Dean slips the mickey, and Lucy delivers it. With nothing else to do for the next several hours, Lucy and Dean decide to watch the show, as Dean pours all the alcohol he can into his body. But when they get to their seats, they find themselves sitting next to Sunday, wearing a garish purple dress and ready for the opera. There are harsh, bitter words, though Sunday continues to profess her innocence. To make things less uncomfortable, Sunday leaves.

After the show, the Hunters wait at the back entrance for the princess. With only twenty minutes or so left before midnight, she exits, surrounded by bodyguards. Dean rushes her and asks her to kiss Edgar, and though she clearly doesn’t understand why she’s doing it, the girl agrees. She takes the frog, holds it up to her lips, and kisses it.

Nothing happens.

Confusion all around, of course…and then they realize the girl in front of them isn’t the princess—it’s a decoy, put in place sometime after Willem threw an egg at her. (“A decoy? What, have they got Amidala back there?”)

With time running out, and hope going with it, the three Hunters pile back into Willem’s car, determined to get wasted as quickly as possible. Disconsolate, Lucy sings softly to herself—she has a beautiful singing voice.

For some reason—either out of desperation or divine inspiration—Willem tells Lucy to kiss the frog. She at first refuses, saying she’s not a princess…but then remembers her mother. She died when Lucy was a little girl, but when she was alive she was a lounge singer in Vegas. Her stage nickname was “the Queen.”

With five minutes left before midnight, Lucy kisses the frog. Poof! Edgar changes back, very relieved. In his pocket, he is surprised to find a large envelope; inside is a note for Dean—and just for Dean.


See? You guys did it. It wasn’t that hard, was it? And you didn’t need help from those two idiots, did you? I apologize for the inconvenience it caused you. I hope you understand why I did it—I’d do it again if I had the—

Dean stops reading here and looks inside the envelope again. In addition to the note, Sunday left a large stack of money: $450,000. Dean goes back to the note.

I’d do it again if I had the chance. But I’d like us to be friends. I think you guys are interesting.


P.S.—She likes ice skating.

The Hunters return home.

The next day, Dean once again seeks out Sunday, and this time finds her in the park. He apologizes for his harsh words the night before, and she tells him no apology is necessary. He also thanks her for the money and the information about Lucy, but tells her the latter is useless—she doesn’t want anything to do with him. Sunday tells him he has to have patience, because “you’ve got some kind of social ADD happening.” He tells her that Lucy isn’t going to change her mind, and Sunday says that’s because Dean is “small-time—you think in the short term.”

She gestures to a nearby tree. “Now, look at this tree. You look at it, and you think it’s a tree. And you assume it’s always been a tree. That yesterday it was a tree, that tomorrow it will be a tree. But unless you come back here and check, you really don’t know. If you walk away now and tell yourself, ‘Well, it’ll be a tree forever,’ you’ll never find out. You have to have patience. Now, maybe, if you come back tomorrow, it’ll still be a tree. And maybe next week, it’ll still be a tree. Maybe you’ll have to wait a long, long time, and it’s still a tree. But if you’re patient, and you’re dedicated enough, maybe one day, you check it out again, and…” She pulls off a piece of bark and takes a big bite of it. “Mmm—fudge!”

Storyteller’s Notes: First off, the conversation with Dean and Sunday was actually roleplayed the day after this session, in case you were wondering. Second, the idea for this episode was inspired by, of all things, a Peter Gabriel song, “Kiss That Frog.” (Of course, the song isn’t about a literal fairy tale situation—it’s a rather graphic plea for oral sex: “Sweet little princess, let me introduce His Frogness/You alone can get him singing/He’s all puffed-up, gonna be your king…You think you won’t/I think you will/Don’t you know that this tongue can kill…Princess, you might like it/If you lower your defense/Kiss that frog, you will get your prince.” But it’s a great song nevertheless, and it did inspire this story.) And third, this story was originally supposed to be episode 7—this spot was to be taken up by a much more serious, darker story called “Hardware,” which would deal with Lucy’s desire for revenge and thirst for big, powerful automatic weapons with which to serve that cold, cold revenge. But Dan’s player was unable to join us, so that plot was jettisoned for this one, instead. The plot from the lost episode may or may not be reworked into a later one.

Next week’s episode: “Green.”

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Say it ain't so, Magglio

Well, the early reviews of "Halloween" are in, and I must say I'm quite gratified. I've been called a "cruel bastard," which is certainly a measure of success considering the subject matter of the piece. It was also called "kinda sappy," which would be bad, except the reader making that comment understood that it was supposed to be -- there's a difference between a writer writing something sappy, and the characters doing something they know is sappy; I was going for the latter, and it apparently worked. And then that same reader told me it was "some of the best writing [I've] ever done," which just makes me all glowy.

So, with that nice feeling, it's hard to get too upset about the Cardinals walking away with the World Series last night. I won't say they "won" the Series, because they didn't win it so much as the Tigers lost it -- I've never seen a team play as badly as the Tigers did in those five games. Fielding errors, baserunning blunders, idiotic choices for starting pitchers, normally patient hitters swatting at every pitch thrown their way: I think we might have a fix on our hands. And I'm not sure I'm kidding. If I hear reports about Magglio Ordonez or Curtis Granderson taking money from mobsters, I won't be shocked.

I also just watched "The Wrap Party," the most recent episode of Studio 60, and am sad to report that it kinda sucked. Dull, talky, predictable, and it felt about three hours long. If Sorkin's out of gas already, then maybe it is better no one's watching.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Oh, little lonely eyes, open and staring up at me

I finally finished the goddamn thing: "Halloween," the new episode of That's When I Reach for My Revolver, has been written, posted, and edited for HTML goofiness. Peruse at your leisure.

In other news, the iTunes Store rules, because it's letting my download the pilot of The Nine for free right now, rather than charging me two dollars. Aw yeah!

And in still other news, DIE CARDINALS DIE! You BASTARDS!

And hey, Detriot Tigers manager Jim Leyland -- you know what might be a good idea for your pitchers? INFIELD PRACTICE! That way, maybe they won't set a World Series record for errors by a pitching staff halfway through Game 4.

You guys are so totally screwed. And you have no one to blame but yourselves. Stupid bastards.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Demon Days: Season 1, Episode 5 - "The Sting"

Previously on Demon Days…
  • The Hunters had a violent run-in with some vampires posing as police officers. Said vamps gave a warning to the Hunters, who responded with violence. Lots of violence.

  • The Hunters also met Det. Weathers’s partner, Detective Panam, and here’s something I forgot to mention in last week’s recap: Panam’s cell phone ringtone is “Fur Elise.” This would be irrelevant, except that the vampire whose car exploded in Dean’s face (“Sunday”) also had the same ringtone. And one of the mysterious letters may in fact stand for “Beethoven.” Is it possible they’re connected? You think I’m mentioning this up here for no reason?

  • Two mages named Charlie and Rico approached the group and told them to stay away from Sunday—“She’s bad people.”
“The Sting” (or, “Someone Set Up Us the Bomb”)

Dean has an idea. Since the encounter with the cops, he thinks (and not unjustifiably so) that the vampires are afraid of them. So he calls Detective Panam—who, it turns out, is in fact working with the vampires—and offers a trade: he’ll turn in his associates, in exchange for free passage out of town and $1 million. Of course, he has no intention of following through with this plan—the goal is to set up the deal, make the trade, then kill the bagman and take the money. And run.

Unfortunately, other members of the group aren’t as wild about the idea. He tells Lucy, who thinks the plan is extremely risky. She doesn’t get any more excited when he says that he doesn’t want to tell anyone else—he doesn’t trust in their acting abilities, you see, and the vampires have to believe it’s real, or it won’t work. She rejects the idea and decides to tell everyone about it, anyway.

The group isn’t unanimous on it, either. A rather democratic vote from the constantly-bickering team reveals 2 for (Dean and Willem) and 3 against (Lucy, Edgar and Dan), leaving the idea rejecting. Dean says it doesn’t matter, because he wasn’t going through with it anyway—he received a dream from the Messengers last night, and they told him where to go next. (He gets dreams from them sometimes, as result of his Patron background.) So the sting is forgotten, and the group heads, at Dean’s direction, to the old Brookhaven Hospital in Harper Park. The place is long-since abandoned and condemned, leaving them to wonder what they could possibly expect to find there.

Of course, Dean’s story is bogus—there was no dream from the Messengers. He’s already set up the operation with Detective Panam well in advance, and is intent on implementing it. After all, if it works, the group will have a million dollars. And if it doesn’t…well…And in his defense, he tried to get help—he looked everywhere for Sunday, to see if she could act as backup, but she was nowhere to be found.

They arrive at Brookhaven, which is, as they already knew, completely abandoned. Many of the windows are boarded, stray cats have overrun the place, and there’s a decaying dead body on the second floor, its face half-eaten. Yuck.

They quickly and quietly run through the building, and eventually find what Dean is looking for—a big idiot thug with a bag. The group is pissed, but things go to hell very, very rapidly. Dean dispatches the idiot thug, no problem, but a sniper—hiding in the library across the street—takes potshots at them through the windows, and Lucy is hit. And the bag, it turns out, contains no money at all, but a bomb. Edgar tosses it out the window just before it explodes and kills them all.

With the sniper still firing, and Lucy badly hurt (though Dan uses his Rejuvenate power to heal it a little), the Hunters try to make it out of the building, a trek which is complicated somewhat by the fire started by the exploding bag. And once they do get outside, a few more thugs with guns are waiting by Willem’s car. When it rains, it pours.

Dean decides to head for the library to take care of the sniper, while the others deal with the guys at the car, while protecting the unconscious Lucy. Luckily, they get an assist from Charlie and Rico, who show up and hurl magical plate-sized ninja stars at the thugs, contributing to their speedy demise. The two mages offer this as proof of their good intentions, and reiterate their previous directive: Stay away from Sunday.

Meanwhile, Dean ducks sniper fire as he runs across the street. He quickly realizes, after a shot nearly parts his hair, that the gunman isn’t actually trying to kill him—he’s being played with. Inside, after a frantic search, Dean comes face-to-face with the sniper—of course, he’s a vampire, and while he’s put away his rifle, he tosses Dean another gift: a big glass jar full of wasps. Knowing that wasps are probably not a good idea, Dean tries to catch the jar in the air. Now, he was a baseball player, so he’s got extraordinary athletic prowess, and making jumping, diving catches is sort of his bread-and-butter. Unfortunately, you may remember he’s a washed-up baseball player—he misses the jar, which breaks and sends small pieces of glass into his face. Oh, and the wasps are loose. They start stinging him, and it’s safe to say these aren’t regular wasps.

Surrounded by a cloud of evil stinging insects, wincing from the pain of glass in his face, Dean tries chasing the sniper, but just before he can catch him, the vampire turns into a bat (!) and flies out an open window. Now, Dean is overcome by the bugs, and, desperate, he leaps from an open window himself. Not having the same aerodynamics as a bat, he plummets to the ground and nearly kills himself. (He’s lucky: he only dislocates his shoulder, cracks his wrist, and gets a damn good whack on the head.)

The battered, wounded Dean gets back to the car and the Hunters speed away to the hospital. Dean is on fire with pain, Lucy is unconscious and still bleeding slightly (though they manage to remove the bullet—ouch), and Dan is furious at Dean.

But hey—if it had worked…

As always, your Storyteller’s notes: As is perfectly plain by now, I don’t have an original bone in my body. The plot for this episode was not my idea—it was Dean’s player, the Former Roommate I’m Not Allowed to Name, who thought it up. Of course, it was me who designed all the very special ways for it to completely backfire, but that’s my gig. Also, the Brookhaven Hospital, is, of course, meant to be that Brookhaven Hospital. And I was accused of ripping off the sniper/wasp-throwing vampire from two Metal Gear Solid 3 villains: the End, who was a sniper, and the Pain, who used hornets as his weapon of choice. I will not respond to such a scurrilous accusation, except to say to that it’s absolutely true. As my hero Aaron Sorkin once wrote, “Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright.”

This week’s episode: “Hardware.”

Monday, October 23, 2006

Is this going to be a thing?

“Ironically, I’m the one who’s high as a paper kite right now—but legitimately. I had back surgery on Tuesday: L-5, S-1, if that means anything to you. Stop talking now? You bet.”


“Are they fixing it?”
“In a manner of speaking, yeah.”
“What does that mean?”
“They don’t know how to fix it.”
“How much of this do I want to know?”
“As little as possible.”


“At this point, you know me better than my parents.”
“I don’t know your parents at all.”
“I know. I meant…”
“I know what you meant. I was doing a dangling modifier joke.”
“Yeah, I stopped doing those to people in high school, after the fourth time I got shoved in my locker.”


“This isn’t going to be a problem.”
“It is if you’re still in love with her.”
“I’m not. [pause] I’m not. [pause] I’m not! [pause] Really. I’m not.”
“…We’re totally screwed, aren’t we?”

Have you ever gone on a long vacation? Like, for a month or two? You know that feeling you get when you come home for the first time, that feeling of rightness, that feeling that says everything is in its right place? Sure, you enjoyed your trip, but now you’re where you belong—you don’t have to wander around wondering where the bathroom or clean towels are: you know! And everything, somehow, feels right with the world? It ain’t much, you know, but it’s home.

Watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is kinda like that.

Aaron Sorkin is more than just one of my favorite writers: he’s a goddamn miracle worker. He managed to write not just most of The West Wing during its first four seasons, but churned out the scripts for all but one episode: the bulk of the series, indeed. And even though the show pretty much went off the rails when he left, those first four seasons are universally accepted as some of the finest television ever created.

And before The West Wing was Sports Night, another beloved show that, by all accounts, was a masterpiece that died before its time. (I only saw one episode, regrettably, but that one episode was bloody fantastic.) And there was The American President. And A Few Good Men, which somehow still manages to be entertaining even after the fiftieth viewing. Sorkin is some kind of Hollywood Midas, turning every project he touches to television or cinematic gold.

And so it is with Studio 60. Once again, he takes a behind-the-scenes premise—this time, it’s the goings-on at a long-running live sketch comedy show, like SNL—and weaves his tormented romances, insecure Jewish writers, substance abusers, baseball metaphors, dangling modifiers, gratuitous uses of the word “thing,” and Gilbert and Sullivan references into magic. And not just any magic—his style is so instantly identifiable (especially when combined with the impeccable direction of his West Wing and Sports Night partner Thomas Schlamme) that watching the show feels very much like coming home again after being away.

Unfortunately, this isn’t The West WingStudio 60 is far from flawless. The biggest problem is the show’s pomposity: the whole thing is presented with a smug, pretentious, we’re-making-an-important-drama-here air. Now, that’s perfectly all right when you’re telling stories inside the Oval Office, but it feels wildly out of place backstage at SNL.

And there’s the little problem with informed attributes. An informed attribute is when characters stand around talking about Character X, telling us that he’s got this ability and that ability, rather than showing us. The reason is that, usually, Character X is nothing like he’s described, and is often the exact opposite.

In this show, Studio 60’s returning head writer Matt Albie (played remarkably well by Matthew Perry) is described as a comedic genius and a fantastic writer. When we meet him, he’s being given the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Original Screenplay. (Not the Academy Award, mind you, which is handed out by the writers, directors, actors, costume designers, electricians, and the other people in the AMPAA, but the Writers’ Guild Award, which is handed out only by other writers. So: other Hollywood writers point at him and say, “He’s the best.”) The writers he’s taking over for are repeatedly described as pathetically inept, and Matt’s return is supposed to save the show. Once he does come back, Studio 60 undergoes a renaissance of quality and popularity, and Matt is regarded as the savior.

The only problem is the actual bits of the show-within-a-show we see are absolutely terrible. On his first show, he kicks off with a cold open that features the entire cast singing an apologetic song to the tune of (big surprise here) Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Modern Major General.” It’s hailed as genius, the audience roars and leaps to their feet, but it’s not funny. Other sketches we see are similarly unimpressive, and most are depressingly obvious, including a much-adored game show sequence that pokes fun at fundamentalist religions, and a promo commercial for Pimp My Trike. On The West Wing, we could buy that Toby and Sam were beyond-gifted speechwriters because the snippets of Bartlet speeches that we heard were gorgeous—here, the entire show suffers because Sorkin is apparently a far inferior sketch comedy writer than he thinks. And maybe he knows his weakness—the sketch that kickstarts the entire plot of the show is described in insanely glowing terms throughout the first two episodes, and we never get to see it at all.

(In fairness, “The Long Lead Story” did show the cast rehearsing a Nancy Grace sketch, featuring Studio 60’s big star, Harriet Hayes [played, again very well, by Sarah Paulson], doing a screamingly funny impersonation of that idiotic twit. That sketch was brilliant, and I wish we could have seen it in its entirety. And in even more fairness, “The Long Lead Story” is the first episode not written solo by Sorkin. So.)

But I’m spending an awful lot of time here dumping on a show I’m really enjoying a great deal. It’s funny, it’s smart, it’s well-acted, and Sorkin can still write snappy dialogue like no else. It ain’t The West Wing, or even A Few Good Men, yeah, but it’s Sorkin. Even when it’s bad (like the latter half of West Wing’s season four tended to be), it’s still pretty good. And Studio 60 is far from bad.

Sorkin seems to have, for the first time in his life, created something that is merely…good. Not grand, not spectacular, but just…good. And that, somehow, feels like a letdown.

But it’s early, yet. As of my writing this, only five episodes have aired. And I’d love to say that we should all wait for Sorkin to get his swing back, but he might not have the time—the ratings have been dropping steadily with each episode, and it doesn’t look like Studio 60 is long for this world. Which is quite a shame. But you can count on me to watch it as long as it’s on—because every episode feels like coming home again.

Mad props (yo) to the iTunes Store, where I’ve bought and downloaded all five of the episodes, since I don’t have cable. I’m also watching Lost this way, and I’ll tell you what I think of the new season as soon as I figure out what I think of the new season.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Oh, almost forgot

Wanted to show you something:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this guy used to be a SportsCenter anchor, right? And he once called Mystery Science Theater 3000 the greatest show in the history of television? It's the same Keith Olbermann, right?

Who the hell knew he was, at the same time, the reincarnation of Edward R. Murrow? Certainly not me.

Dammit, dammit, son of a bitch

So -- dammit -- the Cardinals, as predicted, are going to the World Series again. Those bastards.

But if you didn't see Game 7 -- wow. You missed an incredible baseball game. It was tied 1-1 almost all the way through, a tie preserved with fabulous pitching, clutch defense, and Endy Chavez pulling off, quite simply, one of the greatest plays I've ever seen. Seriously, it's not fair the Mets couldn't win the game, because if they had, you would have seen that catch over and over again for decades: the play that saved a season. As it stands, it's just a great play -- a footnote. But don't worry, we'll definitely get to see Yadier Fucking Molina's ninth-inning homer over and over and over and over, just like I've had to see Aaron Fucking Boone's shot roughly 2,198 times in the last three years.

And how about this: my fondest wish for Albert Pujols pretty came true for former Astro/money-grubber Carlos Beltran. Mets down by two, two outs, bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, game on the line. Beltran comes to the plate. What does he do? Strikes out. Looking. How 'bout that?

And it serves you right, Beltran. The Astros offered you the GNP of a small country after 2004 to man center field for us. But no. You went to the Mets for the additional fifty cents or however much they gave you. And since then, you've been to the World Series exactly zero times. And now, you got to look like a complete doofus in front of the world.

How does that taste?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Demon Days: Season 1, Episode 4 - "You're No Fun Anymore"

Previously on Demon Days…
  • The gang met a mage named Sunday, an old woman in a purple raincoat who makes the most awesomest cookies ever.

  • They brushed off another meeting with Detective Weathers, who is probably starting to truly hate them.

  • Sunday gave them the location of a vampire meeting place. When they staked it out, though, the vamp Dean decided to tail got into an exploding car.

“You’re No Fun Anymore”

The explosion knocks Dean straight to the asphalt, re-injuring his broken jaw. But as they make their getaway, Dan discovers to his surprise that he has healing powers, so he fixes Dean’s jaw.

Two days later, Dan is at home (totally not getting high) when his girlfriend spots two guys in black suits—one wearing eyeglasses, one wearing sunglasses—smoking cigarettes and eyeing his van. When confronted, they identify one another as Rico and Charlie, and claim they’re brothers. They make horribly veiled threats regarding Dan’s van and house (“It’s nice van you’ve got here. Be a shame if someone was to…set fire to it, wouldn’t it?”) and generally make nuisances of themselves for a while before finally getting to their point: Sunday is apparently “bad people,” they say, and warn Dan and his “friends” to stay away from her. Then, because they weren’t annoying enough, I guess, one of them tosses his cigarette at one of Dan’s tires, which promptly bursts. The other one is horrified at this, and gives Dan some money to pay for the damage. They leave.

At the bar, Dan arrives for the regularly scheduled meeting only to find Detective Weathers (who still has a bandage on his head) waiting for him, along with his partner, Detective Panam. Weathers wants to talk to all of them, right now, and he’s in no mood for their bullshit this time.

Inside, Weathers tells the group that he wants to arrest them all, but he can’t—not only does he have no evidence, but he’s been temporarily relieved of duty for medical reasons (“I have post-concussion syndrome”), and Panam has been assigned to, essentially, watch him. He also announces that they arrested someone else for Kevin Shepherd’s murder, anyway: an old college acquaintance of Lucy’s named Bruce Dinsdale. Bruce apparently mentioned many names to the police in his crazy, rambling confession, and Lucy’s was one of them. But even though he confessed, it’s obvious to the police that he didn’t commit the crime, and they’re planning to let him go. He also tells them they recovered the car that Dean’s quarry left behind (“Corpses”), and in the trunk found a necklace. The charm is the symbol they found; a small “17” was stamped on the back.

With Panam out of the room, Weathers begs them to just tell him the truth, and they oblige. But their stories of vampires don’t gain much purchase with the detective (even though he’s temporarily brain-damaged), and the two cops leave unsatisfied.

Lucy wants to know why Bruce, her old friend, confessed to a murder he didn’t commit, and, furthermore, wants to know why he gave her name to the police. So they perform some cursory research, and discover that he was, in fact, released by the police and returned to his place of residence: the Millhaven Home, a mental institution in Harper Park.

Before they leave, Sunday arrives to talk for a bit. She gives Willem more delicious cookies, and dismisses Charlie and Rico as loons. They don’t like her, she doesn’t like them. She then walks into the restroom and, presumably, vanishes.

The gang hops into the Mystery Machine and speeds to Millhaven. Once there, they meet several mentally unstable individuals, but can’t find Dinsdale until a burly, bass-voiced orderly assists them (“Dinsdale! Dinsdale!”). Bruce tells them he confessed to the murder because it was his fault—he gave Shepherd the picture that led to his death at the hands of vampires. You see, there is a secret war going on Earth between vampires and…aliens. They’ve been battling for centuries over which of them will get to enslave humanity. The aliens have recently taken up a new tactic in the conflict: using their hyper-advanced technology to grant supernatural powers to ordinary humans, then turning them on the vampires in force. (Admittedly, Dinsdale’s crazy, but the group acknowledges the similarity to their own situation. And it’s as good an explanation as any.)

Fortunately, aside from his lunatic ranting about aliens (and his constant assertions that the group should all wearing kilts—“Are you Scottish at all?”), Dinsdale is able to shed some light on the picture they found. It is, as suspected, the official seal of the vampires. The letters in the corners stand for their four leaders, though Dinsdale doesn’t know their names. The writing on the other side was put there by Dinsdale—he got the information from another inmate at Millhaven, who recently died. Those are the full initials of the leaders. He’s not sure of the others, but he’s pretty certain that the Harper Park letters are JSB, and the Glenville letters are JH. He says the Westwood letters are either LEB or LVB, he’s not sure which.

The Hunters leave, bickering in the elevator about what to do next. When they reach the ground floor and exit the elevator, another man enters, addressed by a nurse as “Doctor.” He is, naturally, a vampire, but the Hunters choose to not go after him right now.

In the parking lot, they’re still talking about what to do next and the initials on the paper, when Willem, probably being a wiseass, suggests that WAM stands for “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.” This would be funny…except that JSB might stand for “Johann Sebastian Bach.” And LVB could definitely stand for “Ludwig von Beethoven.” JH? Joseph Haydn. The Hunters aren’t sure what to make of this information. It could be crazy ramblings. It could be that the vampire leaders have taken the names of great composers as pseudonyms. Or it could be that the real Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Haydn actually still exist as centuries-old vampires.

They climb in the Mystery Machine and head back to the bar, but run into some difficulty on the way there. First, they spot a black car with his headlights off following them, and doing a really bad job of hiding it. Discern allows Dean to see in the dark, so he has no problem spotting the drivers, who turn out to be Charlie and Rico. Dean pulls a baseball from his bag and throws it at their windshield with full velocity, but quick hands (and magic) allow them to avoid the fastball. They eventually fall back, but still follow at a distance.

But not for long, because the Machine attracts the attention of a police car, which pulls them over at a gas station in Glenville. The two cops turn out to be vampires, who are there to issue a warning: apparently, killing that vampire in the subway tunnel has pissed people off. They are to knock it off immediately. It’s not certain how serious this warning is—or why they’re bothering with a warning at all, really—but it doesn’t go over like they wanted, and the Hunters bust out the Cleave and eliminate one of the two and badly injure the other. There’s a crowd, but Dean draws on experience and forces the cop to announce that he’s a vampire and will eat all of them—he knows the vampires will have to clean that up, and the Hunters’ actions will be cleaned up, too. They give the vampire a message, too: leave us the fuck alone.

After the cop leaves, they receive a call from Charlie and Rico, who admonish them for talking to Sunday after their warning. But the admonishment doesn’t last long, because someone (“You crazy old bitch!”) shows up and assaults them with a baseball bat.

Pissed as hell about the “police” encounter, the Zeal-heavy team of Hunters decides to wreak some serious havoc. Two days ago, they decided against blowing up the fire station; now, they decide it’s a good idea. They head to Glenville, load the propane tanks into the Mystery Machine, and decide to sacrifice the van in the name of big explosions.

The plan goes off without a hitch, and the station erupts into a giant fireball. Sunday shows up to watch the big bang, humming “The Blue Danube” the whole time.

Afterwards, they discuss the significance of the 17 Weathers found. Dan, with his encyclopedic knowledge of Bazemore trivia, says that a building in Bazemore (an abandoned shop of some kind) has a giant red 17 spray-painted on the side. It’s been there for years, and even though most buildings in Glenville are covered in graffiti, this building has just this one thing, undisturbed for as long as anyone can remember.

They get into Willem’s car (Mystery Machine 2.0? Mystery Machine Lite? Mystery Machine Nano?) and head to the place. And when they get there, they do indeed find the building, and do indeed see the graffiti on the side. A big red…16?

A few notes. The bulk of this episode was inspired by various Monty Python sketches—Rico and Charlie are clearly Dino and Luigi, and “Dinsdale!” is a Python reference as well The name Bruce Dinsdale is taken from two different bits, and Detective Panam’s name was inspired by Police Constable Pan Am. “You’re No Fun Anymore” is the title of one of my favorite episodes of Flying Circus—most of the episode is devoted to one story a series of sketches about aliens using their supernatural powers to change humans to better suit their ultimate plans. Of course, they’re turning the humans to Scotsmen so the aliens can then win Wimbledon, but other than that, it’s exactly the same as the story Dinsdale tells the Hunters.

This week’s episode: “The Sting.”

1 Canadian vs. 1,000 Asians (I love this video)

(Posted from: home)

This is the video for "In View," the first single from World Container, the new album by one of my very very favorite bands, the Tragically Hip. You gotta love the way the video completely disregards the song it's apparently for, cutting out to silence and occasionally another song altogether. But it's fun.

I would have the album already (it released yesterday), but I don't really have the money, and Amazon -- which is the only place I have access to that I think would have it -- wants $31.49 + shipping for it. Plus, they won't even have it for another week.

'Cause, see, it's an import. From way over on the other side of the globe: CANADA.

Gotta love internet commerce.

(And if you've never heard -- or heard of -- the Tragically Hip...well, obviously you're from the U.S., like me. I got lucky and saw the rerun of their SNL performance, and have been a huge fan ever since. You should be, too.)

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's about time

I want this so bad:

Here is the track listing:
One 7:41
Enter Sandman 5:28
The Unforgiven 6:21
Nothing Else Matters 6:24
Wherever I May Roam 6:05
Sad But True 5:26
Until It Sleeps 4:32
Hero Of The Day 4:30
Mama Said 4:51
King Nothing 5:26
The Memory Remains 4:37
The Unforgiven II 6:33
Fuel 4:35
Turn The Page 5:49
Whiskey In The Jar 4:43
No Leaf Clover 5:33
I Disappear 4:28
St. Anger 5:50
Frantic 4:55
The Unnamed Feeling 5:29
Some Kind Of Monster 4:28

2 Of One - Introduction 5:43
One (Jammin' Version) 5:05
The Unforgiven (Theatrical Version) 11:29
Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster Film Trailer 2:27

December cannot come soon enough.

But hey, guys, while you're at it, coming up with great ideas and stuff, you know what else would be awesome? A new album.

That is all.

The first seven names I wanted were taken

Well, the internet connection I described as "kaput" last week is back today. I have no idea why, or for how long, but blessed it is indeed.

So, since I'm big on the whole counting-one's-chickens-before-they-hatch thing, I downloaded AIM again. But I've changed screen names, since I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to be using the other one. (I cancelled my AOL account in February, but they conveniently never got the memo and decided I still owe them for a couple months of service I didn't use. Yeah, good luck, turkeys.)

So, in case you gave a damn and wanted to talk to me on AIM for some bizarre reason, my new screen name is EvilGenius815.

I bought Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas last week, after eyeing it with envy every time I went to any store that sold video games, but I haven't played it yet -- I'm keeping myself away from it until I finish the next episode of Revolver, which could be done today. (Don't count on it.) And I might be able to find the time for a full recap of our last Hunter session, but you might end up with a quickly-written bad one instead. Say sorry.

And they are playing some ugly baseball in the NLCS, as the Cardinals and Mets battle to see who gets to become the third straight National League team to get swept in the World Series.

Good night, and good luck.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I don't have the express written consent of Major League Baseball

(Posted from: Helen Hall Library, League City, TX. The internet access I was stealing before has gone totally kaput, so I'm forced to roam around looking for it. There are three or four locations where I can do this. This is one of them.)

So, it's October. My favorite month of the year, by far. Why? 'Cause the weather is nice, Halloween is my favorite holiday (and one of my favorite Dave Matthews songs), and--most important--it's the baseball postseason. The official MLB slogan for the playoffs is "I Live For This!", and it's a sentiment I can empathize with.

Unfortunately for me, the Astros couldn't quite make it to the playoffs, finishing just behind the Cardinals in the oogliest division in baseball, the National League "Comedy" Central, and are out playing golf right now. Same with the Boston Red Sox, who choked early and never caught up with the Yankees. And my other team, my childhood favorite Los Angeles Dodgers, played like liquid fire in the last two months of the season, won the Wild Card, and were then unceremoniously swept by the New York Mets, who didn't have most of their top players: no Pedro Martinez, no El Duque, and Cliff Floyd hurt his Achilles tendon.

So, with my three favorite teams out of the running, watching the postseason becomes an exercise in cheering for whoever is playing one of the Enemies. As there are three teams I root for, there are also three teams I just as passionately root against--those teams being, of course, the New York Yankees, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Atlanta Braves.

Luckily for me, though, the Braves didn't make the playoffs (the last time that happened, I was nine years old and living in Springfield, Missouri), and Joe Torre is a complete retard who thinks that Jaret "Chunk" Wright is a good guy to send to the mound when you're facing elimination on the road. It also doesn't help that the Yankees haven't been able to hit in the postseason since Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS, which they won 19-8. Since that game, the Yankees are 3-10 in the playoffs. Yeah!

So, now I'm left rooting for the Mets, A's or Tigers to beat the Cardinals. I don't really care which one does it, but I hope it's embarassing, like in 2004, when they made it to the World Series after that classic NLCS with the Astros, only to get swept by the goddamn Boston Red Sox, who had been cursed by the baseball gods for nearly a century. Or last year, when Albert Pujols pulled the baby out of the fire in game 5 of the NLCS with a ginormous homer off Brad Lidge that blew out of Minute Maid Park and achieved geosynchronous orbit seventeen minutes later, only to go to game 6 and have Roy "Cheerie" Oswalt shut them down completely, at home, in the last game ever at Busch Stadium. That was fun.

My money's on the Tigers. The Cardinals are playing too well right now, the Mets are banged up, and they have a chance to squeak by to the Series, where they'll probably play Detroit. Of course, once they get to the American League, either team is dead meat no matter who they're playing, so.

But I hope Albert Pujols comes up in the ninth inning of the deciding game -- the bottom of the ninth, 'cause they're in St. Louis. Cardinals down by three, bases loaded, two outs. The entire world watching this one at-bat. His entire career comes down to this. Three balls, two strikes. And the pitch...

And he takes it for strike three. The Mets/Tigers/A's rush the field and celebrate as the Cardinal fans watch in horror. Pujols slinks off the field and spends the entire offseason reliving that moment, knowing he ended the season with his bat on his shoulder.

Hey, once your teams are out of the running, you gotta find something to root for.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Demon Days: Season 1, Episode 3 - "Sunday"

Previously, on Demon Days…
  • Dan Owens, van driver and stoner, was imbued during a zombie attack.

  • The gang went looking for Dean’s quarry in Harper Park, where the trail lead them to a recently-murdered reporter named Kevin Shepherd. Unfortunately, it also lead them to Detective Weathers, who might have dragged them in for questioning if not for a fortuitous potted plant accident.

  • In Shepherd’s apartment, they found a bizarre picture they can’t identify. Notes on the back are similarly inscrutable.

  • They chased the vampire into the subway, where they destroyed him.

  • And Dean saw large, burning red eyes in an unfinished subway tunnel.


The group gave Dan a week off to think things over, but that week does not pass without incident. Dean’s car is struck by a drunk driver (a big redneck named Steve), and he’s seriously injured. The worst of it is a broken jaw, which has to be wired shut while it heals. In the interim, since he can’t talk, Lucy loans him her laptop computer, so he can type his messages to the group. Meanwhile, for reasons he can’t explain, Willem has a song stuck in his head: Jay-Z’s “Dirt off Your Shoulder.” Not only that, but he’s been hearing it everywhere—in the car, at the bar, people drive past him on the street playing on their stereos. It’s weird.

Dean has told everyone about the strange eyes, but no one is quite sure what to do about it. Marching off into the darkness with shovels doesn’t seem to be the best of ideas, and they’ve been sidetracked with Dean’s injuries.

On Saturday (a week after the zombie incident), Lucy calls Dan, as promised, and after confirming that the group is dedicated to simple mass slaughter of innocent people, he agrees to join them. Around that time, Edgar is treating the group to some Chinese food (well, everyone but Dean, who can’t eat). The fortune cookies are passed around, and Willem opens his and reads the fortune: “Wait until Sunday.” He, of course, adds “in bed,” but doesn’t think anything else of it.

Edgar asks Willem for a light for his cigarette, and when he can’t find one anywhere in the bar (despite usually having many lighters and matches on hand), he heads out to his car…where he runs into Detective Weathers. He’s fine, save for a serious concussion and a bandage on the back of his head. But he’s pissed, and wants to know why they left him unconscious in the rain. Willem bluffs—badly—through the conversation, and Weathers tells him that their story (“We were looking for a…friend”) checked out. The “old lady” he spoke to confirmed that they were visiting her, and that the potted plant was hers, knocked over by a cat. “She was very apologetic,” Weathers says.

Dan pulls up during this conversation, but stays out of sight while Willem continues to drown. Finally, as Weathers is again announcing his intention to take them all in, gunshots ring out down the block. The police detective is forced to investigate, and orders Willem to stay put. So, of course, as soon as Weathers’s back is turned, he flees. Dan pulls the van around to the back of the bar.

Inside, Edgar starts to get worried (either about Willem or the light for his cigarette, it’s not clear) and looks outside, sees the cop and quickly turns back in. Moments later, Willem enters and announces that they have to leave. Quickly. Now.

Dean, on the other hand, says—err, types that leaving will only anger the cop more, and he decides to stay alone. Lucy, however, doesn’t want to split the group up, and certainly doesn’t want to leave any one of them alone. (This will become a recurring theme.) So Willem, Dan and Edgar race to the van and leave Lucy and Dean behind. At least trying, Willem leaves a note on the front door of the bar: “Had to go. Family emergency.”

A few minutes later, Weathers enters the bar, even more pissed than before. Lucy tries to do the talking, but she’s even worse at bluffing than Willem, to the point where Dean finally types in desperation, “Stop talking.” Dean also takes his hand at talking the police officer, oddly by being more honest (that he was there looking for an acquaintance to continue a fight they started in a bar…all of which is actually true), but Weathers still isn’t buying anything they say. The problem is that they haven’t actually done anything, and when Weathers receives a call, he has to leave. But he’s still pissed.

Lucy calls Willem to come back to the bar, but as it turns out, they’re still sitting in the van in the alley behind the bar—they started a discussion on where to go, and never quite left. So everyone comes back to debate their next move.

Edgar reveals that he’s spotted an odd-looking man in his hotel—stringy black hair, really pale, and he only seems to be around at night, wandering the third floor. The group decides to go investigate.

(It isn’t known, exactly, why Edgar never bothered to turn his Second Sight on the weird guy to know for sure, but it’s strongly implied that he only sees him on his way back from the hotel bar, so he’d be too drunk to think of it.)

At the hotel, the gang waits for sunset and then walks the third floor hoping to run into the guy. (Really, it’s the best idea they have.) While strolling the hall, they hear loud music playing from one of the room—“Dirt off Your Shoulder,” by Jay-Z. Willem knocks at the door, and the occupant appears: a really pale guy with stringy black hair. Various Hunter powers are used to first identify the man as a vampire (which he is) and then to summarily slaughter him, including one savage Cleave-assisted punch from Dean (five successes will do it pretty much every time). An attempt is made to question the guy about the items they found in Shepherd’s apartment, but he knows nothing, and soon he’s ash.

But as they loot his body, Willem glances out the window and sees, on the balcony of another room in the hotel, the old lady in the purple raincoat. She waves frantically to get their attention, then beckons them over to her room. They race over to find the room unlocked and empty and a note waiting for them:


Planets in this solar system


The number of times people say “Beam me up, Scotty!” in the original Star Trek series


(The number of words on this paper minus the number of people in this room)


The best closer in the American League.


(This isn’t too hard, is it? I worry about that kind of thing.
But you’re a bunch of smart people, aren’t you?
I hope so. Otherwise, I’m gonna be waiting a while.

See you!)

The group immediately sets about solving the puzzle, which doesn’t take very long at all. (It isn’t that hard, and the only part that tripped them up was figuring out who exactly the best closer in the American League is. Gut instinct is Mariano Rivera or Joe Nathan, but the answer the puzzle is looking for is Huston Street.)

The puzzle’s answer takes them to a small house in Harper Park, where they are greeted by the smell of chocolate-chip peanut butter cookies and the old lady in the purple raincoat, whose name they soon learn is Sunday.

After going to great pains to insist that she means them no harm (and offering them delicious cookies and milk, which Willem takes to with gusto), she wants to know all about them. As she puts it, they’re “interesting”—she says that the universe “hums” around them, and she can’t figure out why. They’re just as interested in her, and refuse to answer her questions until she answers theirs, though that plan is upset a little by Willem’s constant talking.

But she agrees to tell them some things. She says she’s a “magic person,” with the ability to use magic (as result of a sarcastic request from Dan, she pulls a rabbit from a hat, but later claims it was a trick hat). She glosses over her own personal history, though she does say she grew up in California, which might explain her preference for Huston Street. She says she doesn’t like vampires (“They eat people. Well, I mean, not really. But I wouldn’t put it past some of them.”) When asked, she says she doesn’t know how many “magic people” there are, but that they can do “just about anything” with their abilities.

As a further token of good faith, she gives up the location of a common meeting place for vampires: an abandoned fire station in Glenville, out of service for years. Fifteen or twenty vampires meet there three times a week, including tonight. (Interestingly, no one asks how she knows this, but they do ask about the symbol and initials—she knows nothing about them.) She even offers several canisters of propane for use as an explosive.

The Hunters take the propane (and Willem takes several pounds of cookies) and set off to destroy the meeting place. Sunday leaves them with a word of caution, to pay attention to everything around them, because even the smallest things can have huge consequences. To illustrate, she tells a story about an accused murderer who was acquitted largely because the investigating police officer didn’t get enough sleep the night before he began investigating and botched the evidence due to exhaustion. She’s clearly talking about Edgar, who doesn’t take the sentiment well.

They leave, but as soon as they reach the van they start to have second thoughts. Blowing up a whole building is highly illegal, highly visible and highly dangerous. Not to mention the group’s lack of experience with explosives in general and the potential for great collateral damage. After much debate, the group decides to take Willem’s car to the place and simply scout the place.

They do so, each Hunter hiding in a separate darkened place near the station. After a while of waiting, a blond woman exits the building and walks down the street. Dean sneaks after her, hoping she isn’t walking to a car (the group only has the one car with them, after all).

Unfortunately, she is. She gets into her car, and Dean walks away in disappointment…and the car explodes behind him.

Next week’s episode: “You’re No Fun Anymore.”

Monday, October 02, 2006


The new episode is here.

And there was much rejoicing.