This week, Grantland's Rembert Browne dropped by the Hoodie Clubhouse to recap his actually-pretty-fun-sounding adventures at Burning Man, the famed festival/temporary city/art space that sets up shop every summer in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. $400 for a week without money or cell phones and 8 a.m. dubstep alarms? Sign us up! We also assess the legacy of True Blood in light of the announcement of its final season, and our conflicting feelings about the often funny, frequently grating roast of James Franco on Comedy Central. How many ironic gay/racist jokes does it take to make an actual gay/racist joke? We don't have an answer to this question, but that won't stop us from talking about it.
Someone asked me recently if I’ve ever had to break up with a television show, and I had to think about it. I've had short-lived affairs with shows that burned hot and fast and disappeared just as quickly. I've picked up and repeatedly dropped other shows before deciding that lukewarm interest is even worse than hatred, since at least hate-watching a show involves some level of passion. There have been shows everyone told me I'd love that I then felt ambivalent toward. And there have been shows I didn't particularly expect to like that wound up being my favorite shows of all. Some shows fade away without a fight, while others cling desperately, showing up in reruns begging us to watch them one more time. But the only show I've ever genuinely dumped is True Blood, because it let me down so many times, and hurt me too much, and I just couldn't take it any longer.
HBO announced Tuesday that True Blood will end next year, after seven seasons. The final 10 episodes will air next summer, but I won’t tune in. I stopped watching the show last season, and I can't foresee getting involved with it again. I have nothing against vampires or werewolves, campiness or soft-core. In fact, I like all of those things. But True Blood wore down my desire to watch supernatural characters having soapy sex in a few different ways: by running every character into the ground; by exhausting all possible pairings and love triangles; and, most of all, by introducing too many new elements that required tons of exposition. (The show is based off Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire books, which also ramp up the supernatural quotient as well as the fuck quotient as they progress.)
Vanilla Ice has a Wikipedia page that is roughly 500 times the length that you would expect it to be. I'm kind of stuck on the paragraphs describing how he let his friends tattoo him when he was on a drug binge and the chronicle of when his pets, a wallaroo and a goat, ran away. There's much more — battery charges, motocrossing, Juggalo wrestling — and Ice, a.k.a. Rob Van Winkle, is going to be adding to his own personal canon in 2014 with a DIY Network show called Vanilla Ice Goes Amish. The show is a follow-up to Van Winkle's Vanilla Ice Project, but this time he's going to a settlement in Ohio and leaving his power tools behind. I think his thoroughly modern facial hair will look very becoming with a wide-brim straw hat and some suspenders. Hand-churned Vanilla, artisinally chipped Ice.
Miley gave her first post-VMAs interview to MTV: "We’re three days later and people are still talking about it. They’re overthinking it. You’re thinking about it more than I thought about it when I did it. Like, I didn’t even think about it ’cause that’s just me."
Free-associating on the official poster for Mad Men's sixth season: Draper crosses paths with Draper (maybe the embodiment his Dick Whitman persona?) as they head in different directions (past! Present! Future! A spring suit and a winter suit!); we have entered the fashion era of bad sheer sleeves; the moral or actual police are on to Don for either going the wrong way down Madison Avenue or for being a cad or maybe for some new secret crime yet to be unearthed; granted, this is a sketchy illustration, but I don't see a wedding ring on Don's left hand. Time to get out the magnifying glass. It's going to be a long three and a half weeks.
Here is a crowd-sourced Dunder Mifflin ad that will air during the Super Bowl in Scranton, and only in Scranton.
• Oh, and hey guys, got any hot sexy plans this weekend? Maybe gonna eat some poached veal with Larry King? Wear something trampy on your date with a pickup artist skeeve in a rape van? No? You could always try this online dating service that uses humans instead of algorithms if you’re interested in capturing the sensation of being set up by your “fabulous, drunk aunt.” Or you could save the $99 and just ask your own fabulous, drunk aunt for the hookup. Fabulous, drunk aunts have been making it happen since two-thousand-never.
The fairy squad lays the whammy on Russell Edgington from their Pleasure Island funhouse goblin-mouth portal. He mocks their inefficacy until Eric puts him in a headlock, at which point his face melts off like the Nazi's in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Russell bursts all over Eric's torso, giving him a contact body high.
Ugh, the Authority. We've been trapped in this stupid, sleek, modernist basement set all season. It's like being stuck at the airport. It almost makes me miss last season's evil Wiccan feminist bookstore (almost). Bill is lured into the temple of doom by Lilith's inviting voice. She instructs him to chug the vial of her fluids and become the clan leader. Bill somehow resists her goth, topless, tomato-sauce charms and flees. She leaves a bloody handprint on the glass to remember her by.
Fun fact: That time-lapse clip of a decomposing fox from the True Blood credit sequence is stock footage in the public domain. It has also been used in Adaptation, The Hunger, a Nine Inch Nails video ("Hurt"), a Katy Perry video ("E.T."), a Linkin Park video ("The Catalyst"), and an episode of Wonder Showzen. It's my favorite part of the opening credits. Here is the creepy/awesome/informative clip in its entirety.
When Sookie Stackhouse stops getting laid she turns into a murderer. Her single-girl Sunday-night meal of Chinese takeout in pajamas is interrupted by a rude late knock from Mike the coroner, who turned into a vampire sometime during the season he spent offscreen. Sookie unsuccessfully shoots him, and then stabs him with a chopstick so that he collapses into a pile of carmine goo. Sure, it's self-defense — but it's also second nature to the increasingly criminal Sook, who ought to head southwest and give Walter White a run for his meth money (or at least a competitive rate on fairy blood).
Continuing our hopes of a True Blood/The Newsroom crossover (first order of business: Pam drains and enslaves Will McAvoy), the show jumps ahead slightly for the first time this season. It would be amazing if the writers permanently freed themselves from the gimmick of every episode picking up where the last one ended. The cliffhangers have become laughable, resolving within the first minute of the next episode. It's impossible to wring much tension out of it that way.
So we begin with news footage of a fire at a Tru Blood factory in Houston that resulted in six casualties. Great timing for a flippant plotline about terrorist acts. (NOT!) This means some time must have elapsed since Bill hatched that idea at the end of the last episode and they followed through with its execution. Unless vampires can just light psychic fires in the outside world with their minds? I don't know, I don't expect this shit to make sense.
Sam watches as the burly bearded guy who helped orchestrate the anti-shifters hate crime is escorted off the hospital premises in cuffs. Frank Sobotka calls beardo a butt plug, which you'd think would be a compliment of the highest order in the usually kinky world of True Blood. A still-bedridden Luna is mad as hell and looking for a fight.
Sam reassures her that there's nothing to fear and that he will wreak enough vengeance for the both of them (FORESHADOWING). Luna has some kind of attack and drags herself to the bathroom, but rather than shift into a wild animal, she becomes Sam, and then passes out from the shock of turning into her own boyfriend.
Welcome back to the Sunday night fangball post-show. After slaying Christopher Meloni (good night, sweet ripped prince of SVU, humping frosty-cold fridges in a mellow-tone afterworld), a blood-freckled Russell Edgington is swiftly taken down and netted by The Authority's own laser tag militia. Bill looks up to see that Eric has been staple-gunned to a post.
At the horrible fairy burlesque club/hookah bar/pop-up shop/vegan bakery/weed dispensary/live-work space, some pixies are attempting to determine the luminescence pH of Sookie's fairy cave. Jason Stackhouse "ain't been to fairy school or nothin'," but even he knows this plotline is wack.
A yellow-eyed werewolf drags B.D.W.R. down a hospital corridor as two others go in for The Scarecrow (Bill) and The Tin Man (Eric). A reconstituted Russell wearing dirty blue striped linen pajamas tries to make Sookie part with more of her precious fairy blood. Sookie shoots a burst of Spidey-Stackhouse energy from her palms, which maims Russell long enough for Bill and Eric to get the jump on him. They are discussing torture layout options when a group of officials with red laser beams tell them to freeze.
Tara puts Jessica through a bathroom wall defending herself in their Fangtasia catfight over guylinered Hoyt. Pam lets them scrap for a minute before stepping in to assist Tara. Jessica, not used to losing, swallows her ginger pride and limps off in anger. Pam gives Tara a compliment followed swiftly by a neg, because Pam is a world-class player. Terry and Noel from Felicity are making a run for it but get stopped in their tracks by the nefarious Ifrit demon, who throws a few posts of fire in their way. I guess bad luck will follow you out of Bon Temps all the way to the Sunnydale Hellmouth.
Sookie gets ready for an epic night of consummation with Big Dick Werewolf Richie (Joe Manganiello shall henceforth be known as B.D.W.R. after his role in Magic Mike) after some frantic hump-style petting on the couch. He carries her upstairs and she goes so far as to put her hair into a blow job ponytail before they are interrupted by Sookie's gastrointestinal issues and two lurky vampire ex-boyfriends watching them from the bedroom doorway. Curses! Fangblocked again!
Lafayette talks out loud to himself like this is Shakespeare or Passions. He looks in the mirror and sees himself as the blue brujo demon, apparently not recognizing his new potential to win RuPaul's Demon Race. May the best demon win! Lafayette stomps on the mirror and begs the universe for some help with the condition of his rapidly deteriorating mental health.
Tara's attempted suicide by tanning bed comes to a swift and predictable halt at Pam's black latex gloved hands. Pam hears out Tara's self-pitying excuses but she is NHFT. Tara's light-abraded pizza face makes her look like Freddie Krueger. Even if Bon Temps has a good dermatologist, they'll probably turn out to be a gorgon.
Sookie yells a half-assed "Sorry for murdering your soul mate!" at Alcide as his truck pulls out of the lot at Merlotte's. Sookie sure has a weird way of flirting. She's on her fairy blood period tonight. Lafayette reminds Sook that he could've sold her "peach-pie ass out so many times" but abstained out of dumb friendship loyalty. Fair enough, Lala!
Tara wakes up in a supernatural forest whose filter effects are shockingly similar to those of last season's fairy world. She stares at her hand, which is usually what people do in a fictional situation to establish that they are on psychedelic drugs. Considering how horrible Tara's story lines usually are, it seems like things can only get better.