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Incest is not best

Just when you thought the show had covered every area of sexual depravity, they throw some incest at you. That’s right, Octavian is back from boarding school and Servilia enlists his sister (and her lesbian lover) to seduce him once she discovers that he holds the secret to Caesar’s ailment. Octavian is a bright kid and after he and his sister get it on, he tells her that he’s suspicious of her motives. A servant witnesses the morally reprehensible act and blows the whistle by telling his master, Atia – pissing her off to no end. Octavia only went along with this plan because she thought her mother had killed her husband (she did) and after confronting her, her mother lies right to her face. Later, Atia arranges for Servilia to get carjacked, leaving her naked and wailing in the streets of Rome – not a pretty sight.

Meanwhile, Lucius comes thisclose to a dangerous confrontation with his old boss (over a slap to the face, of all things) before Caesar unknowingly saves the day by showing up at Lucius’ home and asking him to be his magistrate for a section of Rome. Lucius hesitates, but agrees and this sends Titus Pullo into a tailspin. The two most interesting relationships in the show are Titus’ friendship with Lucius and his budding romance with his slave girl. The latter is cranked up a notch when Titus ties one on and calls the girl out – literally. It’s tough to get a read on the girl; as the two start to get it on, she seems quite distant. I’m interested to see where this takes poor Titus – I think he’s in love.

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Wallace Shawn as an embezzler? Inconceivable!

The casting coups continue, with Wallace Shawn (best known for playing the diminutive Vizzini in “The Princess Bride”) turning up in the role of Susan’s agent, Lonnie. How Susan warrants an agent when she never seems to spend a single moment of her day actually writing or illustrating the children’s books by which she earns a living is not explained…but that’s beside the point.

It’s great to see Shawn working, and even better to watch him reach for the stars: short, squat, balding Lonnie makes a pass at leggy, lean, gorgeous Susan – right after telling her that he inappropriately “borrowed” some of her royalties. Needless to say, the underdog gets neutered this time.

Tune in next week to see clumsy Susan accidentally poison both her and Vizzini’s wine glasses at their reconciliation dinner: “CLEARLY, I cannot choose the wine in front of ME…”

And speaking of wine, alcohol appears to be the solution to all of Lynette’s problems when she uses it to get her uptight boss Nina first drunk and then – in a stellar bit of wingmanship – laid (presumably for the first time in ages). Sadly, alcohol then becomes the cause of her problems: Nina, that crazy sex kitten, wants to get laid AGAIN. Once, apparently, is not enough for this voracious creature. She wants to go out every night, and she threatens to stall Lynette’s career if Lynette won’t play along. No one else can be Nina’s wingman; Nina’s too insecure to compete with other single women for her men.

Lynette knuckles under for a while, until she herself is identified as a “regular” by some skeezy married guy at the bar – and then it’s time for action. A quick trip to the rest room, and out walks the Slutty-Sandy-at-the-End-of-“Grease” version of Lynette: no shirt beneath her vest, no more ponytail in her suddenly remarkably curly and bouncy hair, and no qualms about dancing on the bar, slapping herself in the ass. She garners a host of male admirers, and leaves Nina fuming on the sidelines.

Think that one might get back to Tom? Perhaps. But at least Lynette won’t have to be Nina’s boy-fetching bitch any more.

Elsewhere on the block, Bree finally learns that Rex died believing that she murdered him, and Carlos hires himself a lawyer who admits to wanting to sleep with Gabrielle. And, at last, we learn more about the man in Alfre Woodard’s basement. His name is Caleb, he’s “slow”, and he appears to be responsible for the death of a Chicago teen named Melanie Foster.

Sounds like there’s some Steinbeck brewing on Wisteria Lane. Tell us about the rabbits again, George?

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Lost… and found (in translation)

It’s a real shame that Korean castaways Jin and Sun aren’t more interesting characters, because this week’s flashback episode had to be the worst yet. Despite the look back at the couple’s individual lives before the two met, the audience didn’t learn anything that we didn’t already know. Jin got fired from a job as a doorman and Sun was dumped by a potential suitor. So what? Surely something more exciting has to be happening to them now that they’ve become stranded on a mysteriously island. Nope. Sun just walks the beaches looking for her lost wedding ring while Jin shows off his mad fishing skills to the newest survivors on the other side of the island.

We were teased with the possibility of a little action when Michael suddenly ran off to search for Walt, but all that really happened was a little getting-to-know-you session between Jin and some crazy African castaway who calls himself Mr. Echo. Is this guy in a rock band back home or what? This guy is “Lord of Flies” crazy through and through, but he could be a serious asset to the A-Team back on Plane Crash Beach. And if nothing else, at least Locke would finally have someone to talk to.

Meanwhile, Sawyer and the rest of the new survivors begin the trek back to Plane Crash Beach when they hear the Others mucking around in their backyard, but no one really has no idea where they’re even going. And this poses an interesting question. Why haven’t these castaways attempted a journey like this before? It’s not like they’ve been held up by anything important, save for the production of a creepy prisoner pit and a few nifty weapons. And what ever happened to a little R&R and a round of golf? I’m bored, can we please get Hurley a fresh set of batteries? Watching him listen to his CD player was more exciting than this. Oh, wait! Someone’s going to die? And we have to wait three weeks? The suspense! The suspense! But let’s not forget, there’s a fresh group of red shirts just waiting their turn for a little small screen glory. There’s no way another major cast member is biting the bullet this early into the second season, and you know it.

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An interview with the Dude, Jeff Dowd

To cult movie fans, Jeff Dowd’s greatest accomplishment will likely forever be the fact that he’s credited as being the inspiration for the character of The Dude in “The Big Lebowski.” (For the record, it only requires a few moments worth of conversation with him to determine that Jeff Bridges really nailed the impression of Dowd’s voice.) There’s a lot more to Dowd than The Dude, however. His movie career spans decades, and he’s had his hand in many classic films, from “Gandhi” to “War Games.” Dowd spoke with Bullz-Eye about some of those flicks, his upcoming book, and the special edition of “Lebowski” that’s just hit stores. He also makes twice as many references to Huey Lewis than your average interview subject, and, as you’ll read, performs an act of coolness that confirms that he truly is…The Dude.

Jeff Dowd: Hey, Will, how are ya…?

Bullz-Eye: Pretty good, Jeff; how are you?

JD: Where are you?

BE: I am in Chesapeake, Virginia.

JD: Fantastic!

BE: And where are you today?

JD: I’m out in California.

BE: Good enough.

JD: Chesapeake, Virginia. Where’s that, exactly…?

BE: That is right next door to Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

JD: Fantastic.

BE: Pretty close to the water, anyway.

JD: So you’re an East Coast beach guy.

BE: The palest one you’ve ever seen.

JD: (Laughs) So what can I do for you?

BE: Well, I understand that, unlike “Fargo,” which was purportedly based on a true story, I guess you were more or less the inspiration for “The Big Lebowski.”

JD: Well, the character, anyway. I mean, I knew Joel and Ethan (Coen) quite well; I got to know them during “Blood Simple,” and I think they wanted to do some kind of buddy movie, and they thought the character of what they thought I might’ve been like back in the ‘70s would be a good departure point…to put ‘em in there with Walter (played by John Goodman), a guy who would get him in a lot of trouble all the time, as often happens, whether it’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” or “Lethal Weapon” or “Some Like It Hot” or, y’know, any buddy movie where, like, one guy’s getting another guy in trouble.

BE: How did you come across the Coens? I know you met them in ’81, but how did that actually come to pass…?

JD: I actually met ‘em indirectly because of Robert Redford. An investor in “Blood Simple” happened to be in Sundance, when we were starting the Sundance Institute, and he said, “Hey, I put some money into this, what should I do?” And Redford took him over to introduce him to me on the lawn of this mountain up there in Utah. A couple of months later, I met Joel and Ethan Coen back in New York City, when I went back there for the New York Film Festival. I happened to be at 20th Century Fox that day with a film called “Heart Like A Wheel,” and, because I was in New York, I happened to have a jacket and a tie on, which you do in New York sometimes. So I was at the Fox offices, and they came in, and they’re kind looking real grubby, as Joel and Ethan Coen tend to look – especially back then – and chain-smoking cigarettes and unshaven and all that, and I’m looking like the suit from Fox! And they’re kinda telling me about this movie that’s in post-production, and you can imagine trying to pitch “Blood Simple.” “Oh, yeah, this dead guy gets dragged across a field, and, then…” Well, anyhow, we left, and I kinda sensed, “Well, that’s the end of that,” and I think they did, too, even though I was trying to humor them, because the setting was so weird. Fortunately, by chance, I ran into them down in the Village that night on the street. I had a leather jacket on, and we chatted for a couple of minutes. And, even more karmically, two hours later, I’m in a party in the East Village in some loft, and there they are there! So now we’re having a couple of drinks, and so we said, “Okay, there’s something going on here.” And they showed me the movie a couple of months later, and the minute you saw that movie…y’know, there’s certain movies where you’re five or ten minutes into them and you go, “Wow, I’m dealing with some real filmmakers here!” And you could tell that just by the choices they made in the acting and the cutting and everything. So I ended up helping them sell “Blood Simple,” which, I’ll just say parenthetically, was turned down 3 times by every distributor until we finally got it in front of an audience. Well, we had actually shown it to a couple of audiences, but we finally got a distributor to see it in front of an audience at the Toronto Film Festival, and, all of a sudden, the black humor started to work. I mean, if you sit alone in a screening room or watch it on a tape, then it really doesn’t work as well, because you think it’s a little weird to laugh at certain things, but, in the comfort of 800 people in a dark room, people tend to start to laugh at the places they’re supposed to laugh and get it a little more. So, then, we had a minor little bidding war, and the rest is history!

BE: And you’ve maintained the friendship with them over the years…?

JD: Yeah! I mean, they’re not the most social of guys in a lot of ways…not to say that they’re not very friendly guys, but they don’t hang a lot, so to speak. But, yeah, we see each other from time to time…I’ll be in New York or they’ll be in L.A. or we’ll be at a film festival or an event and have drinks or dinner or whatever.

Click here to read the full interview…

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Even Caesar gets sloppy seconds

It was all about Egypt in this episode, as Caesar took a small group of men to find out what happened to Pompey. The child king of Egypt is in a feud with his sister (none other than Cleopatra) and the king describes his relationship with her by saying, “I piss on her! I shit on her!” How’s that for a sibling rivalry? Once Caesar finds out that Pompey was beheaded he realizes that this boy ruling Egypt (for Rome) will not do and he sends out a couple of men – Lucius and Titus, of course – to find Cleopatra.

The two men find her and actually save her life before Cleo orders Lucius to have sex with her because she wants to give Caesar a child, saying that her “womb is between floods.” Colorful imagery aside, you have to like the reasoning – Cleo is a deceptive one, for sure. Having a conscience, Lucius can’t pull the trigger so he orders Titus to do it. As expected, the big fella has no problem sexing up the beautiful princess, and an angry Lucius ends up suffering from serious penis envy. When they return the princess to Alexandria, Cleo seduces Caesar and nine months later, Caesar has his first son – or so he thinks. Titus doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that he may have a son that will never know his true father, but that is a secret that he’ll have to take to his grave, or else face the consequences

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Paging Sherry Bobbins… Sherry Bobbins to Wisteria Lane, please

Who would have thought a simple black umbrella could make a grown woman cry?

Adding to Lynette’s already crushing sense of guilt about returning to work full-time, Parker invents an imaginary friend: beloved British nanny Mrs. Mulberry, represented by the aforementioned umbrella. In the spirit of her forerunner, Disney creation Mary Poppins (not to mention Simpsons homage Sherry Bobbins), Mrs. Mulberry is fun-loving, strong-willed, and deeply reliable. Unlike her Disney inspiration, however, Mrs. Mulberry is also promptly run over by a garbage truck, in full view of her young charge.

Years from now, Parker will undoubtedly relive that trauma many times, flat on his back on a therapist’s couch, tearfully describing irreparably-mangled umbrella spokes…and Lynette will gladly cover the cost of each session…since she was the one who threw nanny under the bus (so to speak). On the bright side, Mrs. Mulberry is now free to engage in a torrid romance with Drop Dead Fred.

Elsewhere in Happy Town, Gabrielle ditches lawyer Michael “Best In Show” Hitchcock for Adrian “Profit” Pasdar, after inciting a disturbingly touching prison riot. Profit succeeds where Dog Boy failed, and gets Gabby the conjugal trailer tumble she demands…but we’re left wondering how long it will take for her to succumb to Pasdar’s rakish charms.

Clearly overestimating viewers’ patience with Susan’s general incompetence as a human being, the writers choose to have her lie to Mike about having seen Zach, and then fund Zach’s escape to Utah. In other words, she will happily let her lover continue to worry about the welfare of his RUNAWAY TEENAGE SON, because that is more convenient for her than having Zach reunite with the man who gave him half his DNA. Susan is a dipshit. We’re done writing about her until Marc Cherry apologizes for treating his audience like a bunch of inbred baboons.

Last but never least, Andrew and George circle one another like snarling tomcats, each protecting his own interests. Andrew baits George with a delightful imitation of Bree’s orgasm noises (uncannily similar to her dessert-enjoyment noises), but in the end it is George who wears the victor’s smirk. He taunts Andrew with a poolside kiss of Mommy Dearest, earning himself a bloody nose and–more importantly–a return trip to Correctional Camp for Andrew.

The nerdy pharmacist wins this round…but never count out the aggressive, moody teenager: they don’t tend to take defeat very well.

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Pilgrims & Indians

Ah, finally… an episode of “Lost” that actually had me licking my chops by the end. And since I’m closer to the subject of food, it seems only right to focus on Hurley for the moment, who’s discovered food heaven inside the hatch. But what’s this? Jin and a man in a giant chicken outfit have joined Hurley down in the hatch? And Jin is speaking perfect English? Oh, wait. It’s Hurley who’s speaking the other language (Korean), and it’s only a daydream. But you have to admit that the producers were pretty sly in their preview of Jin speaking English last week, but why would Hurley be dreaming about the Korean castaway if he didn’t have any connection to him winning the lottery?

Remember back to season one when Jin made a short appearance in Hurley’s flashback and think hard on it. Still nothing? Yeah, me either, but at least we got to hear Jin tell Hurley to “have a cluckity cluck cluck day,” and we also got a little more insight into Hurley’s lotto winning days before the plane crash.

But none of this changes the fact that Hurley’s been given the toughest job on the island: inventory all of the food without letting anyone else know about it. So what does he do? He tells someone. But it’s only Rose he lets in on his “little secret,” and probably for the better. Without her to calm him down when he planned to blow the food up with the leftover dynamite, no one would be enjoying a tasty Thanksgiving snack.

Meanwhile, Claire comes across one of the messages in a bottle carried back to shore, which only causes reason for concern from the ladies on the island (Claire, Shannon, and Sun), who fear that everyone on the raft is dead. But more important, Sawyer received yet another beatdown (his third since he reached the island), this time at the hands of Ana Lucia, who is apparently the leader of the remaining survivors from the back of the plane that broke off during the crash. There’s only a handful left, and they’re living more like savages than castaways, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Raft Gang will stay there with them, or bring them back to the original camp. That is if they can even find it.

But by far the best part of last night’s episode – yes, even better than Jin’s “cluck cluck” line – was Charlie’s outward distinguishing between the A Team (Jack, Kate, Locke, Sayid, Hurley) and the B Team (the rest of the major characters) on the island. It’s funny to thing that the same people are doing everything week in and week out while some of these castaways just lounge around all day long. Then again, we’ve seen what happens when a red shirt goes on a mission with the A Team. Better off leaving the dirty work to the people you know won’t die.

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Down goes Pompey!

After last season, many of the networks scrambled to capitalize on the success of “Lost,” but I wasn’t expecting any of the characters on “Rome” to end up stranded on a deserted island. Such was the case for our heroes, Lucius and Titus, who find themselves in dire straits after their ship sinks in a storm. I half expected a polar bear to charge out of the jungle, only there wasn’t any jungle, or any water for that matter. “This is where we die,” proclaims Lucius, who later figures out a way to use the corpses that washed up as part of a raft to get off the island. Like the Guinness guy says on those commercials – “Brilliant!”

Last week, I discussed Octavia’s budding relationship with Servilia, but I thought it would develop as more of a mother / daughter connection, with Servilia acting as a proper maternal figure that Octavia seems to so desperately want. But that’s not what we saw tonight. Regarding the lesbian love, I started to get suspicious when Octavia had to primp before seeing Servilia the first time and then more so after her strange reaction (post-masturbation scene) when Atia wanted her to visit Servilia the second time. There’s sort of a Melissa Etheridge / Portia De Rossi thing going on between these two. It should be good television when Atia finally finds out.

I felt a little cheated after all the buildup to the final battle between Pompey and Caesar. The battle consisted of a few close up strobe shots of soldiers fighting. I hate the strobe effect – it is a cheap way to try to add drama to a scene that should contain more, and it is usually a sign of a show going the way of the dodo, or at least being dropped from my viewing roster. I am going to give “Rome” a pass on this one, but if this is really their idea of a battle scene, we’re all in trouble. Nevertheless, we have no idea how Caesar overcame horrible odds to be victorious until Pompey draws it out in the dirt later in the show. That’s just what I want to see, a semicircle in the dirt.

I also wonder about the likelihood of Pompey arriving at the exact same spot on the coast where Lucius and Titus wash ashore. Talk about random. Caesar explains this convenient coincidence away in one of the final scenes by saying that our two heroes “have powerful gods on their side.” If you say so, Julius. If you ask me, it’s just uncharacteristically lazy writing.

And how about poor, poor Cicero? The guy wants out of politics and just wants to sleep, whether it’s a proper retirement or a permanent dirt nap. He and Brutus surrender to Caesar and the chief welcomes him with open arms. Cicero tries to beg for Caesar’s mercy, and seems to be trying to put himself out to pasture in the process, but Caesar won’t let him get a word in edgewise. An overused Michael Corleone quote comes to mind – “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

The episode was saved by the final scene where Pompey lands in Egypt and is beheaded. Gruesome, violent, unnecessary – these are all words that come to mind. Man, I love HBO.

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An interview with Lisa Lampanelli

Bullz-Eye.com interviewed stand-up comic Lisa Lampanelli a while back. Here’s a clip:

It takes a tough broad to hang with the boys in the world of comedy, and Lisa Lampanelli is so tough that the boys are actually afraid of her. Her routine (you’ve no doubt seen her on a number of Comedy Central roasts), which focuses mainly on ripping the paying audience to ribbons, is the kind of stuff you’d get out of Don Rickles after messing with his medication. It’s venomous, yes, but playful; her secret weapon is that she’s equal opportunity, and in doing so makes everyone part of the joke and lets them in on it as well.

Bullz-Eye caught up with the lovable Queen of Mean, on the road to support her new album Take It Like a Man, in a hotel outside of Kansas City with a phone system that sounded worse than if we had strung a wire between two tin cans. Luckily, she had her cell phone handy.

BE: (laughs) Roasts are obviously supposed to be mean fun, but that Chevy Chase roast was one of the most mean-spirited things I have ever seen.

LL: Well, because he was such an A-hole. I’ve always thought that the more tongue in cheek the roast comes off, like Foxworthy, he’s such a great guy. I mean, there is nobody who has a legitimate complaint with Jeff Foxworthy.

BE: Well, how could you?

LL: Exactly, and Larry the Cable Guy, they’re all just great guys. And because none of us (roasting Foxworthy) meant anything that we said, it came off so much funnier. And I was the only chick on that, so that helps. You know, “wow, she’s the only girl and she did so good,” this and that. But this Pam Anderson (roast) made it a million times better, because of all those celebs like Courtney Love made idiots out of themselves. And I got to cash in.

BE: I have to admit, I haven’t seen that one yet.

LL: Oh, my God. Dude, Courtney Love and Andy Dick, they misbehaved so much that it was on CNN and Access Hollywood. So everybody wanted to watch it, and because of (Love and Dick) being idiots, people got to know who I was. I’m like, bring it on, drink some more, Courtney, you old whore.

BE: I lose track of all the times I’ve read about Courtney Love doing something stupid.

LL: Oh, well, she did something even stupider. After my set, because I had to headline the thing, I go up, I do really well, she grabs me, and before I know it, she’s kissing me on the lips. Now, listen, I ain’t had a dyke encounter, and I got nothing against lesbo encounters, but I figured that if I had one, that I would be the ugly one. I mean, of all the broads there, of all the chicks that could have planted one on me, like Pam Anderson, Anna Nicole Smith…I would have made out with Bea Arthur, do you understand? I would rather have a Golden Girl on my face than that broad. And she tasted terrible; she tasted like Marion Barry’s morning breath.

Click here for the full interview…

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Admit it: Lynette’s boss is right

I’m not saying Joely Fisher’s character is likable, and I’m not saying I didn’t thoroughly enjoy Lynette’s multitasking, agency-future-strategizing, baby-diaper-changing Supermom scene a few weeks back. All I’m saying is, Bitter Single Gal’s got a point: Why should the childless people of the world have to shoulder extra workload to cover for those who choose to have kids?

It’s patently unfair, yet it happens all the time–and people with children tend to take it for granted. Lynette’s boss is served up as a villain for pointing this out–and, granted, perhaps she could have peppered her delivery with a tad more tact–but she is absolutely justified in protecting her own “work-life balance.” So what if she doesn’t have kids? So what if her only plans for the evening are to see how many shots of tequila she can down before her vision starts to go fuzzy? It is her absolute right to do just that. Her down time is her own, to spend however she sees fit, and she shouldn’t be obligated to pick up anyone else’s slack unless she wants to–which, clearly, she doesn’t.

It’s a shame they’ve made her character into a borderline Cruella DeVille caricature, because this issue is a hot button for twenty- and thirty-something adults all over the country (including, most likely, some of the writers on staff behind those cheery Wisteria Lane facades), and some real give-and-take debate on the topic would be relevant, timely, and fun to watch. Instead, we get Bitter Single Gal: selfish, intolerant, and pathetic: a missed opportunity.

Elsewhere on the lane, Gabrielle’s ego takes a hit when she witnesses sweet, pure, loving statutory rape victim John having a go at another older woman’s…um…hedges. Worse yet, John tells Gabby he thinks he may be in love with his latest Mrs. Robinson. Chalk one up for Carlos, who called it from the get-go: Lawnmower Man ain’t as sweet as he looks (and he ain’t none too smart much, neither).

Over in Susanville, where every day brings some new form of humiliation–the more public, the better–Susan butts in on Julie and Edie’s daughter/potential stepmother bonding, and this time Julie is the one to suffer. Yawn. Susan’s neighbor Alfre Woodard briefly has an enraged black man rampaging in her kitchen, but he is immediately subdued. Double yawn.

And then, before the yawning gets too entrenched, Bree takes a lie detector test to prove her innocence…and it spikes when they ask whether she loves George. George, meanwhile, apparently puts his pharmaceutical knowledge to good use, and passes his own polygraph with flying colors.

Will Bree question her true feelings for George? When will the police going to make the connection between George and Rex? What ever happened to Andrew’s plot to take revenge on Bree? And how many tequila shots does it take before Bitter Single Gal’s vision goes fuzzy?

These questions and more will be answered…eventually. Maybe. We hope. Or we might start to yawn again.

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