Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Spells, Lies and Remorse" [R] - 3/9




"SPELLS, LIES AND REMORSE"

CHAPTER THREE

In San Franciso's Financial District, Cole sat in a booth next to his former wife, inside the seafood restaurant, Aqua. The pair sat in silence, as they focused upon every detail inside, except each other. Once Cole found the courage to return his gaze upon Phoebe, he noticed something different about her.

"Your hair!" he exclaimed with a slight frown. "You got it cut!" Cole continued to stare at Phoebe's dark-brown hair that fitted her skull like a cap. "When . . .?"

Phoebe's hand flew to her hair. "You like it?" she asked nervously. "I got it cut last week."

Cole smiled. "Yeah. It's nice. Reminds me of the Italian haircut." When Phoebe responded with a confused frown, he added, "Uh, it was a popular hairstyle for women, back in the Fifties."

"Oh." Phoebe nodded. Then she and Cole fell silent . . . again. For the half-daemon, the lack of noise seemed to stretch for eternity. Finally, Phoebe added, "Look Cole, the reason I wanted to see you . . ."

A waiter appeared to take their orders. Cole requested a martini - a Gibson - and a dish called Foie Gras Ravioli. Phoebe ordered iced tea and White Gazpacho. Once the waiter left, Cole asked, "What did you want to tell me?"

Phoebe heaved a long sigh. "Something happened to me a few days ago. Actually, it happened two days ago. I . . ." She paused and glanced away.

Cole frowned. Something had obviously rattled Phoebe. To the extent that she was displaying an openness toward him that he had not witnessed in over a year. "Okay Phoebe, what's wrong?"

"I found your blue sweater," the Charmed One finally blurted. "In my closet, at home."

Now, Cole really felt confused. "Blue sweater?"

Phoebe continued, "Your old powder blue, V-neck sweater. I guess . . . you must have left it behind."

Cole shrugged his shoulders. "O-kay. What about my sweater?"

"When I found it, I . . ." Phoebe hesitated. "I had a vision. Well actually, several visions."

"Premonitions?"

Phoebe lowered her eyes, as if she was ashamed to meet his. "No. Visions of the past. Your past. When you were the Source."

A cold wave washed over Cole. "Oh." Now he wished that he had never accepted Phoebe's lunch invitation. "What about these . . . visions?" he asked in a chilly voice.

"Please Cole, it's not what you think," Phoebe begged. "I saw . . ." She broke of, as the waiter returned with their drinks. Then, "I saw how you had become the Source. How the Seer had convinced you to use the Hollow. I saw how the Source took over your body, after we had vanquished him in our attic. I saw everything, Cole. Including how you had struggled against his control for so long."

Cole finally understood. Phoebe had apparently experienced the same or similar visions that Paige and Cecile had witnessed last December. A part of him - a small part - resented that all of his arguments from the past year could not convince Phoebe that he had never meant to become the Source. He also resented that it took a vision - 'her' vision - to finally convince her. But at least Phoebe finally knew the truth.

"Well," Cole began with a sigh, "better late than never." A mirthless chuckle rose from his throat.

Phoebe gently covered his hand with one of hers. "Oh Cole! I'm so sorry! All that time we had wasted! I guess . . . I guess we can't go back to the way things used to be between us." Her dark eyes pleaded with him.

Images of Olivia popped into Cole's mind. No, he and Phoebe would never be able to recapture their past. And quite frankly, he had no desire to do so. He liked his life, right now. And he was in love with Olivia. More than he had realized. "No, I guess not," he finally murmured. With his free hand, he covered Phoebe's. "But we can try something new . . . like being friends."

A rueful smile graced Phoebe's lips. "That sounds nice. I guess." Cole returned her smile.

---------

The San Francisco Brewery Company had become one of Paul's favorite restaurants since moving to the Bay Area over four months ago. He usually enjoyed the restaurant's warm atmosphere and delicious food. But not today, thanks to his present emotional state.

Paul glanced at his two companions in mild frustration. He had invited the pair with the sole purpose of feeding his potion to Olivia. Unfortunately, the opportunity to slip the potion into her drink had yet to materialize. And his lunch hour was almost over.

"With this trial almost over," Darryl Morris commented, "Olivia and I can hopefully get back to the Kostopulos case."

Olivia smiled. "What's the matter, Darryl? Itching to get back on the street? And I thought I was an action junkie."

"Don't confuse me with you, Livy, the police lieutenant retorted. "I simply want to get this Kostopulos case over with."

"C'mon Darryl! We've just received it, the day before yesterday! Besides," Olivia paused, "Scott, Carlotta and Marcus have already started on the case."

Paul frowned. "Kosta . . . Kos . . . Uh, who are you talking about?"

Olivia faced the ADA. "Stefan Kostopulos. He owns an antiquity shop on Kearny. Or he used to, until someone slit his throat, while burgling the place, two days ago. Darryl had assigned the other members of our squad to investigate - Scott Yi, Carlotta Trujillo and Marcus Anderson."

"What was taken?" Paul asked.

Morris replied, "A little over 2,400 in cash. Probably some two-bit perp had robbed the place. Guys like that are usually careless."

"Hmph." The grunt came out of Olivia's mouth, before she reached for her glass of iced tea.

The police lieutenant frowned at his red-haired partner. "Please don't tell me there's more to this case."

"Maybe. Maybe not. Scott told me that he found it odd that only the money was taken. Especially since there were so many valuable antiquities inside the shop. And why burgle the place in the middle of the afternoon?"

Morris sighed. "You know Olivia, you have a talent for making a mountain out of the smallest molehill. Had it ever occurred to you that the guy didn't have time to grab anything else, beside the money from the cash register?"

"Again, why rob the place in the middle of the afternoon, when it would have been more convenient to do the deed, late at night?"

In a gesture of surrender, Morris raised a hand. "Okay, you've got a point. But I still think that this was nothing more than a simple robbery."

"Really?" One of Olivia's red brows quirked upward. "So why did you order Carlotta and Scott to check the shop's inventory for any missing items?"

Before Morris could reply, his cell phone rang. He removed it from his jacket pocket and answered. "Hello? Oh, Sheila. Just a minute." Turning to Paul and Olivia, he said, "You mind if I take this call in private?" The two witches nodded and Morris left the table.

Paul smiled at the red-haired woman. She smiled back. Yet, he noticed that Olivia seemed slightly uncomfortable in his presence. Showing fake concern, Paul frowned slightly. "Is something wrong? You seem tense."

"Actually, I was about to ask you the same," Olivia replied. "Both Darryl and I had noticed that . . . well, you've been a little tense yourself, these past few days."

Paul's body nearly jerked out of his seat. He had no idea that his anxiety over Leo's project had been so obvious. "Really?" He chuckled nervously. "I didn't realize that I've been . . . uh, tense. I guess I've been a little anxious ever since the case went to the jury." He sighed loudly. "In fact, I still feel nervous."

Olivia gazed at him with sympathetic eyes. "Worried about the sentencing?"

"Well . . ." How in the hell was he going to find the opportunity to slip the damn potion? Paul eyed Olivia's glass of tea. If only he had the power of telekinesis.

Then to his surprise, Olivia stood up. "I'm sorry," she said, "but I have this sudden need for a trip to the Ladies Room. Excuse me." She flashed an apologetic smile and left the table.

Stunned by this sudden development, Paul stared at Olivia's retreating back. He could not believe his luck. Alone at last! With the two partners away from the table, he finally had the perfect opportunity to slip the potion in Olivia's drink.

Paul quickly glanced around to make sure that no one was watching. Then he surreptiously removed the small jar from his jacket pocket and unscrewed the top. After another glance, he quickly poured the jar's contents into Olivia's iced tea. He gave the tea a quick stir with a spoon and slipped the empty jar back into his pocket. At that moment, Darryl Morris reappeared.

"Everything okay?" Paul asked, aware of the increase in his heartbeat.

Morris stared at the attorney for what seemed like a long moment. "Yeah. It was Sheila. She only wanted to remind me to pick up a few things from the store. Uh, where's Olivia?"

"Ladies room." Paul smiled at the police inspector. "So . . . how about some dessert?"

----------

Upon her return to the precinct, Olivia found herself struggling to stay awake. Which struck her as unusual, since lunches rarely had an effect upon her. And today's lunch had been light - Quiche Lorraine, salad and iced tea. Too light to make her feel this groggy.

The telephone rang. Olivia picked up the receiver and answered. "Investigations. Inspector McNeill speaking."

"Olivia?" a familiar voice said. "It's me, Paul. How are you feeling?"

How was she . . .? Olivia frowned. Why would Paul ask her that question? "I'm fine," she lied. "Why do you ask?"

A long pause followed before Paul finally answered, "Well, you had seemed a little tired at the restaurant. I just . . . well, I wondered if you were feeling okay."

Realizing that the other witch had her best interest at heart, Olivia decided to dispense with her lie. "To be honest, I'm feeling a little tired. It couldn't have been the lunch. It was rather light."

"Maybe you should see a doctor," Paul suggested. "You could be coming down with something. Or maybe you should simply go home. Get some rest."

Paul's second suggestion seemed acceptable. Olivia informed him that she would take the rest of the day off and go home. Paul offered to give her a lift to her apartment, but she rejected the offer. "It will only take me twenty minutes or less. I should have no problem."

"If you say so," Paul replied in a reluctant voice. "Take care of yourself. Okay? And call me . . . if you need any help."

Olivia frowned. Why did he seem so suddenly attentive, today? She replied, "Thank Paul. Maybe I will. I'll see you." And she promptly hung up.

Within less than thirty minutes, a still groggy Olivia arrived at her apartment. She dumped her belongings on the sofa and immediately headed for her bedroom. After changing into a blue T-shirt and sweat pants, Olivia laid down on the bed and promptly fell asleep.

---------

Cole drove his black Porshe into the building's underground parking lot and proceeded toward his space. He turned off the engine . . . and remained seated behind the wheel - deep in contemplation.

Today's lunch with Phoebe replayed in his mind for the umpteenth time, this afternoon. He still could not believe that after fifteen months of estrangement, they had finally come to some closure over the whole ugly matter regarding the Source. No more uncomfortable moments or resentful glances, whenever they found themselves in the same room. No more of Phoebe's fearful or hate-filled glances. Granted, they could never return to what they had shared, but at least they had finally found peace in the form of friendship.

After heaving a sigh, Cole grabbed his suitcase and climbed out of the car. He glanced around for any bystanders. When none seemed to be in sight, he beamed out of the parking garage and into his penthouse. The clock on the wall read six thirty-five. Olivia should be home by now. Impatient to tell her about today's lunch with Phoebe, Cole dumped his suitcase on the sofa and beamed into the hallway, outside Olivia's apartment.

The half-daemon rang the doorbell. A minute passed and no one answered. Cole frowned and wondered if Olivia had not returned home. He rang the doorbell for a second time. Two minutes passed before the door swung open. A red-haired figure in T-shirt and sweat pants appeared in the doorway. Cole noticed that Olivia looked tired and slightly annoyed.

"Cole? What are you doing here?" Olivia asked. Her suspicious tone took him by surprise.

After a brief hesitation, he smiled at his girlfriend. "I have some news I think you might find interesting." He reached out to caress Olivia's cheek. She immediately jerked her head away from his reach. This time, Cole frowned. "Uh, Olivia?" he said with a nervous laugh. "What's going on? Are you pissed at me, or something?"

The annoyance in Olivia's green eyes seemed to have increased tenfold. She heaved an exasperated sigh that left Cole feeling like an intruder. "Look . . . Cole, I really don't have time for this. I've been feeling like shit all afternoon, and now you show up, expecting me to be the ever-attentive girlfriend. Now, can you really blame me for feeling pissed?" Olivia punctuated her last words with a hard stare.

Speechless, Cole merely stared at Olivia. He opened his mouth in an attempt to apologize to Olivia, but instead, he ended up stuttering. Something like this had never happened during his 118-year existence. "I guess . . . I mean, uh, I guess I should . . ."

"Leave me alone?" Olivia finished acidly. "And allow me to rest?"

"Uh, yeah."

Olivia regarded him with cold eyes. "Hmmm, good idea." She then slammed the door in his face. Hard. Cole stood in the hallway, feeling like a complete ass.


END OF CHAPTER 3

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pioneer Cookery



Below are some recipes for dishes prepared by wagon train emigrants during the 19th century:


PIONEER COOKERY



BUFFALO STEAK - Render some fat in a hot skillet. Add sirloin of buffalo steak and sear on both sides. At a lower heat, cook as beefsteak until done. For gravy, add a tablespoon of flour to the pan drippings and cook until brown. Stirring constantly, add a cup of milk and bring to a boil. Salt to taste.





BUFFALO JERKY - Slice buffalo meat along the grain into strips 1/8 inch thick, 1/2 inch wide and 2 to 3 inches long. Hang them on a rack in a pan and bake at 200 degrees until dry. To prepare outside, suspend them over a fire or drape them on bushes to dry in the sun.





FRIED CAKES - Combine 1 1/2 cups of flour with 1 cup of water. Mix well with a fork. Using plenty of flour on hands and a breadboard, roll out dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Roll into 2 inch balls or cut into 2 inch squares. Render beef fat in a skillet and add squares of dough. Brown slowly on both sides. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Makes about 20 cakes.





SODA BREAD - To make dough, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 cup of warm water, add 2 1/4 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Knead well. The dough may be used at once or allowed to rise overnight in a warm place. In either case, flatten dough to a thickness of 1 inch. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake (in a 400 degree overn) for about 25 minutes.





MORMON JOHNNYCAKE - Combine 2 cups of yellow cornmeal, 1/2 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir in 2 cups of buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of molasses. Pour batter into a greased 9-inch pan and bake (in a 425 degree oven) for about 20 minutes. Cut into 16 squares. To make lighter cake; add 2 beaten eggs and 2 tablespoons of melted butter to buttermilk and cook about 25 minutes.





DRIED APPLE PIE - Soak 2 cups of dried apples in water overnight. Drain off the water and mix apples with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon each of allspice and cinnamon. Line an 8-inch pie pan with a crust, add the apple mixture, dot with 3 tablespoons of butter and cover with a second crust. Make a few slashes in the top for ventilation and bake (in a 350 degree oven) for about 1 hour, until the crust is golden brown.


If you know of any recipes from this era, let me know.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Favorite Movies of the 1930s



Below is a list of my favorite movies that had been released during the 1930s:


FAVORITE MOVIES OF THE 1930s



1. "It Happened One Night" (1934) - This screwball comedy about a runaway heiress and a newspaper reporter on the road from Florida to New York won all five major Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Frank Capara, Best Actor for Clark Gable and Best Actress for Claudette Colbert.





2. "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1936) - Errol Flynn, Olivia DeHavilland and Patric Knowles starred in this revised look at the famous Charge of the Light Brigade and the incidents that led one regiment to participate in it. Directed by Michael Curtiz.





3. "After the Thin Man" (1936) - William Powell and Myrna Loy reprised their roles of Nick and Nora Charles for the first time in this comedy thriller about Nora's socialite cousin (Elissa Landi) being framed for the murder of her philandering husband.





4. "Bombshell" (1933) - Victor Fleming directed Jean Harlow in this hilarious look into the chaotic life of a glamourous Hollywood star. Lee Tracy co-starred as her fast-talking publicity agent.





5. "Kid Galahad" (1937) - Michael Curtiz directed my favorite version of a story about a naive bellhop who becomes a rising boxing star, due to a fast-talking boxing manager and his girlfriend. Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, Wayne Morris and Humphrey Bogart starred.





6. "The Thin Man" (1934) - The first (and one of the best) of six movies about a former detective and his wife, Nick and Nora Charles. This story, based upon Dashiell Hammett's novel, has Nick Charles investigating the disappearance of a wealthy friend accused of murdering his girlfriend. William Powell and Myrna Loy starred.





7. "King Kong" (1933) - Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack directed what I believe is the definitive version of the story about a monster gorilla discovered on a remote island and brought to New York against his will. Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot co-starred.





8. "Midnight" (1939) - Claudette Colbert starred in this witty comedy about a stranded American showgirl hired to impersonate a wealthy baroness in order to help a wealthy French business win back his wife from a playboy. Don Ameche, John Barrymore, Mary Astor and Francis Lederer co-starred.





9. "The Divorcee" (1930) - Norma Shearer won an Academy Award as an embittered woman, who leaves her husband when he cheats on her with another woman . . . and fails to forgive her for her own infidelity. Chester Morris, Robert Montgomery and Conrad Nagel co-starred.





10. "Baby Face" (1933) - Barbara Stanwyck had a field day as a speakeasy waitress who climbs her way up the corporate ladder by seducing various employees and executives at a New York bank. George Brent and Theresa Harris co-starred.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"THE INFORMANT!" (2009) Photo Gallery



Below are photos from the new Steven Soderbergh movie about industrial informer Mark Whitacre called "THE INFORMANT!". The movie stars Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Joel Mc Hale and Melanie Lynskey:


"THE INFORMANT!" (2009) Photo Gallery




























Thursday, September 24, 2009

”ANGEL” RETROSPECTIVE: (1.08)”I Will Remember You”



Below is a look into (1.08) "I Will Remember You", a Season One episode from "ANGEL":


”ANGEL” RETROSPECTIVE: (1.08)”I Will Remember You”

One of the most popular episodes to air on ”ANGEL” is the eighth episode of Season One called (1.08) “I Will Remember You”. This particular episode served as a follow-up to the Season Four ”BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER” episode, (4.08) “Pangs” in which Angel, the vampire with a soul, had paid a surreptitious visit to Sunnydale in order to protect his former love, vampire slayer Buffy Summers, from a malignant spirit during the Thanksgiving holidays.

After Buffy had learned of Angel’s visit to Sunnydale, she pays a visit of her own to Angel’s detective office in Los Angeles. There, she confronts him about his surreptitious assistance back in Sunnydale. They are attacked by a Mohra demon. When Angel kills the demon, he is restored to mortality by its powerful blood. After The Oracles - a link to The Powers That Be - confirms that Angel is human again, Angel and Buffy spend a blissful night together. Unfortunately, Doyle receives a vision that the Mohra demon has regenerated itself. Instead of recruiting Buffy, Angel leaves her to kill the demon for good. In the ensuing battle, Angel discovers the consequences of having only human strength. Buffy must come to his rescue and slay the demon herself. Angel returns to The Oracles, who that if he remains human, Buffy will face the minions of darkness alone and die much sooner. They agree to turn back time, so that Angel, accepting the entire cost of the bargain, can kill the Mohra before its blood makes him human. They also inform him that Buffy’s memories of their day together will erase once time is turned back.

I might as well be frank. I really dislike this episode. I almost hate it. Honestly. And although I am not a fan of the Buffy/Angel relationship, the one thing I truly dislike about this episode is the paternalistic manner in which Angel treats Buffy, once he agrees to the Oracles’ bargain. One, I suspect that Angel could not deal having human strength. It still amazes me that many fans have castigated Riley Finn for being unable to deal with Buffy being stronger than him; and yet in this particular episode, Angel seemed to be suffering from the same problem. Then he does something even worse by making that deal with the Powers to resume being a vampire . . . after being told that Buffy would have no memories of their day together. As far as I am concerned, he committed psychic rape via the Oracles and the Powers to Be. Even worse, he only told Buffy about his decision . . . seconds before she lost her memories.

Some fans have used Buffy’s alleged desire for a ”knight in shinning armor” as an excuse for Angel’s behavior. Many of these fans still view Buffy as that 16-18 year-old featured in the series’ first three seasons. And apparently, so does Angel. I really do not see how this desire of Buffy is supposed to condone or excuse Angel's decision to becoming a vampire again at the expense of Buffy’s memories. Others point out that the Oracles had informed Angel that order to prevent circumstances from repeating exactly, he alone will remember all they have shared. Let me see if I understand this. Angel could not tell Buffy that he had erased her memories of their day together, in case the circumstances of that day repeat themselves. Yet, Angel went ahead and informed Buffy that she would lose her memories seconds before she lost them? If Angel wanted to avoid a repetition of that day repeating, he could have told Buffy what had happened . . . and add that they could not stay together, in case the circumstances of that day would be repeated. But Angel did not bother. In fact, he remained silent. Personally, I found his actions appalling.

To me, Angel was a selfish and controlling bastard who could not handle the lack of vampire strength needed to deal with the supernatural beings he had fought, in the first place. Without that strength, he could not be a hero. One, he was stupid enough to go after the Mohra demon when he lacked the strength to fight it. He could have easily allowed Buffy to do so in the first place. And when he found himself forced to depend upon Buffy’s strength to take down the demon, he turned to the Oracles to get his strength back. And all of this happened before he learned of the details surrounding his return as a vampire. I suspect that deep down, his act of sacrifice was nothing more than bullshit. I have always suspected that Angel was nothing more than a control freak, who got his kicks making decisions for others . . . without their consent. If he had really cared about Buffy, he would have never agreed to the spell in the first place. Or . . . he could have told her what happened after the spell went into effect, just as I had pointed out in a previous paragraph. Or he could have told her what he was considering, before he allowed the Powers to Be remove her memories and turn back time. But he did not, because he simply viewed Buffy as a child who had to be controlled . . . by him. And considering that Buffy ended up dead a year-and-a-half later (with Angel not around), it seemed that Angel had given up being a human for nothing.

”I Will Remember You” strikes me as a good example of why I have never been a fan of the Buffy/Angel romance. It has always seemed like an unequal relationship that was never able to develop into an equal one. This episode also reminded me that many seemed to prefer a fictional romance that featured between an infatuated adolescent female and lovesick older man obsessed with her youth and his need to be controlling. To me, the relationship was nothing but a patriarchal wet dream. And Angel's actions in both the ”BUFFY” episode, ”Pangs” and this episode seemed to confirm this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Spells, Lies and Remorse" [R] - 2/9





"SPELLS, LIES AND REMORSE"

CHAPTER TWO

"I'm home!" Paige's voice carried into the kitchen.

Piper wiped her hands on the apron she wore and headed for the living room. There, she found her youngest sister plopping down on the sofa. Wearing a very odd smile. "Have a nice day?" she greeted. The smile remained stamped on Paige's face. Piper frowned. "What's with the smile? You look like the Cheshire Cat from 'ALICE IN WONDERLAND'."

Paige's dark eyes widened. "Huh?"

"The smile, Paige." Piper's voice radiated suspicion. "What's the news?"

A brief pause followed, before Paige finally answered in that annoying sing-song voice of hers. "Oh . . . nothing. I have a date for Friday night, that's all."

"A date?" The news did not strike Piper as worthy of the odd smile on Paige's lips. "That's it? What is it? You've finally found your perfect man?"

Again, Paige paused dramatically. "Well, I wouldn't exactly call him perfect. In fact, far from it."

"Paige!"

The younger woman added, "Oh, okay! I had a visitor at work, today. Harry McNeill. He asked me for a date on Friday night."

Stunned by the news, Piper could only stare at her baby sister. Why would the scion of an old and wealthy San Franciscan family be interested in Paige? She had nothing in common with the numerous other women Harry McNeill had dated. And the only thing Paige had in common with Olivia's younger brother was witchcraft. Even more disturbing to Piper was the fact that she found the idea of the two younger witches on a date a bit . . . threatening. "You have a date with Harry?" Piper asked.

Dark eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Yeah. Do you . . .? Are you okay, Piper? You seemed . . . I don't know, upset by the news."

"Upset?" Piper realized that her tone had raised a notch. She took a deep breath and smiled happily. "Why should I be upset? I think it's great!"

Paige continued to stare at the older woman. "Ye-ee-eah. Okay." Then she looked away. "Anyway, he's taking me to a play, then dinner at the Golden Horn. God! I never thought I would step foot in that place." Her eyes returned to Piper. "Why is it that we've never been there?"

"Too expensive," Piper quickly replied. She sat down in a nearby chair, tonight's dinner forgotten.

"But . . . Mrs. McNeill and Bruce had made sure that we would get a discount - just in case we ever decided to go there. Why haven't we . . .?"

Weary of further discussions about the McNeills, Piper shot to her feet. "You know what, Paige? I just remembered that I have to finish dinner. Can we save this until . . .?" She broke off at the sight of Phoebe descending the staircase. And wearing an oddly desolate expression. "Phoebe?" Piper frowned at the middle sister. "Are you okay? Is there something wrong?"

"No, I'm not," Phoebe replied in a strangled voice. "I . . . oh my God!"

Piper rushed forward to her sister's side and guided the latter to an empty chair. "What's wrong, honey?" She noticed the blue sweater clutched in Phoebe's hands. "What's that?"

Phoebe took a deep breath. "Cole's sweater. I found it . . ."

"Oh God! You had a premonition about him," Piper quickly surmised. "What is it? Is he going to hurt someone? Hurt us?"

Paige protested, "Why do you always assume that Cole is going to do something wrong?"

"Nine months ago, you would have assumed the same," Piper acidly shot back. "Of course, that was before you saw . . . the light."

"Hey!"

Phoebe finally spoke. "I saw it too, Piper." She seemed distant. Horrified over something.

Frowning, Piper demanded, "Saw what? Pheebs?"

"Cole. I saw what he had went through with the Source." Phoebe paused. "And us."

A deep suspicion niggled at the back of Piper's mind. "Wait a minute," she began. "You're not saying that . . .?"

"Paige and the McNeills were right, Piper. About Cole. The Source . . ." Phoebe took another deep breath. "He had taken possession of Cole's body. After we had killed him that first time."

Piper felt a growing resentment within her chest. "Cole had no one to blame but himself!" she retorted. "He was the one who made that deal with the Seer. And he was the one who tried to kill . . ."

Phoebe interrupted. "It was the Source, Piper! The old Source. He took over Cole's body, making him suffer for three months! He was the one who tried to kill Paige! And he would have succeeded if Cole hadn't stopped him! Just as Darryl had managed to stop Dako from killing her. Remember? And it was the old Source who killed that innocent! And we were the ones who killed Cole . . . who was only an innocent victim of the Source! We killed an innocent, Piper!"

It was the last straw. At least for Piper. The last thing she wanted to hear was that she had killed an innocent. Especially one who happened to be a notorious half-demon. "No!" she cried. "Don't you dare stand there, Phoebe, and tell me that I'm a murderer! Cole was never an innocent! Remember Ed Miller?"

Blue lights appeared and Leo orbed into the living room. "Hey! Is dinner ready?"

Piper and her sisters barely acknowledged his presence. Paige responded to Piper's last question. "Oh c'mon Piper! Are we any better? After what we had done?"

"We had vanquished a murderous bastard! A demon! And right now, I wish to God that he had stayed dead, like he was supposed to!"

Phoebe stared at the older woman in horror. "Piper! My God! Why do you hate him so much? Even after what Paige and I had seen, why do you still refuse to accept the truth?"

Anger overwhelmed the oldest Charmed One. "Enough! I've heard enough! If you want to crawl back to that son-of-a-bitch, fine! Be my guest! But I'll be damned if I'll ever apologize to him!" On that note, Piper turned her back on her family and rushed upstairs, forgetting the dinner she had been preparing.

--------

Several minutes later, Leo orbed into the middle of Paul's apartment. He found the witch sitting on the sofa, scribbling notes from a book. Paul glanced up and greeted the whitelighter. "Leo! What brings you here?"

"I . . . uh . . ." Leo found himself unable to speak, let alone describe the quarrel he had witnessed between Piper and her sisters. Or the flood of tears released by his wife in the privacy of their bedroom. "I was just wondering how our project is coming along."

Paul's expression hardened. "Has something happened?"

"No," the whitelighter quickly replied. "I mean . . . uh, the Elders are . . . you know, growing more concerned. About Cole."

The witch's stare remained frozen. "Why? Has there been a new development in the Underworld?"

"Huh?" Leo blinked. "Uh . . ."

"Okay Leo, what's wrong?"

The question reminded Leo of the old days - when he used to visit Olivia whenever he felt troubled. With his relationship with the redhead strained lately, Leo has been at a loss for the past nine months. Strange that he had never considered Paul as a substitute . . . until now.

Paul continued, "Leo? Are you . . .?"

"It's about Cole," the whitelighter admitted. "About his time as the Source." Then he revealed the quarrel that had flared within the Halliwell household. And Phoebe's recent vision.

"Do you think her vision was genuine?" Paul asked.

Leo hesitated, unsure on how to answer. He finally admitted his true feelings. "I don't know. My first instinct was that Cole had somehow arranged it. And that he had also arranged that vision for Cecile Dubois and Paige, last December. But the more I think about it, the more I'm beginning to suspect that maybe Cole had been possessed."

Wariness flickered in Paul's brown eyes. "Does that mean you don't want to go through with . . . our project?"

Memories of the Elder's warning whirled in Leo's brain. "No," he replied shortly. "No, the . . . project goes on. This isn't about the past, Paul. It's about the future. Our future. And we have to prevent Cole from endangering it."

Paul relaxed into a thin smile. "Well then, I believe I've found a solution to our problems." His smile disappeared. "Are you sure about Olivia being the one to kill Belthazor?"

Leo nodded. "Yeah. Cecile had a premonition about it." He failed to add that the premonition had appeared when the Vodoun priestess had first met Paul. "I hate to say it, but Cecile's talent for premonition is even stronger than Phoebe's."

"In that case, I've found the perfect spell - along with a potion - to use on Olivia. But I need one last ingredient. And it has to come from Cole. Blood, hair or some kind of skin fragment. Something with his DNA."

Leo hesitated. Then he told Paul about the Belthazor vanquishing potion that the sisters had created nearly three years ago. And the piece of flesh that Piper had extracted. Some of that flesh still existed inside the Halliwells' refrigerator. "Maybe I could get a slice . . ."

"It won't work," Paul said, shaking his head. "Don't forget that Belthazor's DNA has changed since coming back from the dead. I need something more recent."

Leo protested, "But to do that we would have to get something from his apa . . . uh, penthouse."

Paul rolled his eyes. "Forget that."

"Or his office."

Both whitelighter and witch paused. And stared at each other with dawning realization. Paul glanced at his watch. "It's six thirty-eight. Think he's left work, by now?"

With a shrug, Leo replied, "There's only one way to find out." He stared at the other man.

---------

The jury foreman stood up, all eyes focused upon her. "On the first count, we find the defendant . . . guilty." Triumphant cries, mingled with a few moans filled the courtroom. Olivia and Darryl acknowledged the verdict with satisfied nods. "And on the second count," the foreman continued, "we find the defendant . . . guilty. On the third count - guilty."

Pandemonium struck the courtroom. From the corner of her eye, Olivia saw a few reporters scurry outside. Television cameramen vied with each other to get shots of the stunned defendant. The jury remained in their seats - some looking impassive, some conversing with fellow jurors and one or two trying to avoid staring at the defendant.

The judge slammed his mallet and ordered the courtroom to be quiet. Once the silence had settled, he ordered the defendant to stand up. "Michael Alfredo DiMatteo, the jury has found you guilty of the first-degree murder of Sophia DiMatteo Hansen, guilty of the first-degree murder of Richard Hansen and guilty of obstruction of justice. This court will reconvene next Wednesday, on August 5, 2003; for your sentence. Court is dismissed." After he disappeared into his chamber, voice erupted all over the courtroom.

Darryl shook the prosecutor's hand. "Congratulations," he said. "Did a good job."

A polite smile tugged Paul's lips. "Thanks, but I couldn't have done it without your help." His eyes slid toward Olivia. "Both of you."

"But you were the one who put it all together," Olivia said. "Especially since you had to take over for someone else. Darryl is right." She gave the prosecutor a warm smile.

Paul's face turned slightly pink, as his eyes slid away. "Um, I was wondering if you two would . . . well," he refocused his gaze upon the two police officers, "uh, would like to celebrate. Our victory. Uh, at a restaurant. I thought lunch at the Brewery would be nice."

Both Olivia and Darryl exchanged a brief look, before the latter replied, "I guess the squad can spare us for an hour or two. Olivia?"

The redhead nodded. "Sounds like a nice idea."

A smile lit up Paul's handsome face. "Great! I'll meet you at the restaurant within a half hour. I have . . . the 'press' to deal with." He glanced uneasily at the crowd of reporters gathered outside the courtroom. "Until then, I . . ."

A cell phone rang. The two men stared at Olivia, who realized that she had forgotten to turn off her phone. "Oooops!" she said with a mild grimace. "Excuse me. She removed her phone from her purse and answered it. "Hello?"

Olivia, it's me," a familiar voice greeted softly. "Cole."

A warm flush spread over Olivia's chest. "Cole," she replied. From the corner of her eye, she saw Paul stiffened. "It's a good thing you had called now. A few minutes earlier and I would have been in trouble with the judge."

"So, the court is in recess?" he asked.

"Actually, the trial is over." Olivia paused. "In our favor."

Cole warmly congratulated her. "Now that the trial is over, I guess that means you should be free for lunch. Like today?"

Olivia hesitated. She hated to give Cole the bad news. "Uh . . . not quite."

"What do you mean?"

Another pause followed, before Olivia told him. "Paul has invited Darryl and me out to lunch."

"Paul?" Cole's voice expressed surprise and disappointment. "As in our favorite ADA?" Now, he sounded downright chilly.

Olivia sighed, as she turned away from Darryl and Paul. "We're celebrating the verdict, Cole," she murmured. "And it'll be the three of us. Not two."

"Don't worry Olivia," Cole shot back. "I do recall you mentioning Darryl." An uncomfortable pause followed before he added in a begrudging voice, "Well say hi to Darryl for me." He paused again. "And give my congratulations to Margolin."

Feeling slightly guilty at disappointing him, Olivia added, "Tell you what. I'll make us a nice dinner, tonight. For our own private celebration."

Once more, Cole paused before he answered. "Okay. I guess dinner would be nice. What are you making?"

"It's a surprise," Olivia replied. Relief flooded her body. "I'll see you tonight . . . around seven?"

Cole murmured, "Seven sounds fine. I'll be seeing you." He hung up without saying good-bye. And Olivia wondered if she would find herself facing a moody daemon, tonight.

---------

The moment he had hung up the telephone, Cole found himself wondering if he had made a mistake. Had he allowed his jealousy to get the best of him? And what was he jealous about? Olivia spending one lousy lunch with Paul Margolin? A man she had no romantic interest in?

Cole leaned back against his chair and sighed. Then a low chuckle rose from his throat. The half-daemon realized that he might have suffered a minor, yet serious bout of paranoia and insecurity. Especially since Olivia had been spending plenty of time with Margolin on the DiMatteo case, since late June. Time with both the ADA and Darryl Morris. And Olivia had mentioned that Darryl would be joining them. Right?

The telephone rang, jarring Cole out of his thoughts. Wishing that his assistant were around to screen his calls, the half-daemon reluctantly answered. "Cole Turner speaking," he said. "May I help you?"

A familiar voice breathlessly replied, "Cole?"

He blinked. "Phoebe? Is that you?"

"Yeah . . . it's me," his ex-wife reluctantly replied. "I, uh . . . can we see each other? Alone?"

Cole frowned. Why would Phoebe want to see him? Had she received some kind of premonition involving him? When Cole asked her, she answered, "Well . . . sort of. Could I see you, today?"

"Uh . . ." Cole hesitated, as he tried to absorb this phone call into his belief system. "Well, I'm free for lunch. Why don't I meet you at the Aqua restaurant, in an hour from now?"

Phoebe's voice gushed, "I'll see you then. Bye."

"Bye," Cole murmured. By the time the word came out of his mouth, Phoebe had hung up. He continued to stare at the receiver, wondering why his former wife wanted to see him.

-----------

Paul glanced at his watch. He had another thirty-eight minutes before meeting Olivia and Darryl for lunch. It was time to put the finishing touches to the potion.

He locked the door to his office and removed a small jar filled with purple liquid. He placed the jar on the floor and straightened up his body, allowing his muscles to tighten. The image of a blue flame appeared in his mind. He raised his right hand and declared, "I cast this circle to protect me from all negative energies that may come to do me harm. I draw this circle only the energies that are right for me and the most correct for my work." In Paul's mind, the blue flame became a circle that surrounded both him and the jar. "I create sacred space. So mote it be."

Now that his circle had been created, Paul began the spell. "From wariness to suspicion to paranoia and dislike. I call upon the power of the elk, guardians of the Water and the West, to direct these emotions to the consumer of this elixir and have said being to express them to the demon, Belthazor. So mote it be."

A blue flame shot up from the mixture in a brief second, before Paul deemed it safe to cover the jar. He picked it up and took a deep breath. Now all he had to do was feed it to Olivia.


END Of CHAPTER TWO

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: "Consequences"




PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: "Consequences"

Has anyone noticed something odd about the main characters in "POTC: At World's End"? Most or all of them either ended up with a less than happy ending or with their fates up in the air.

If one must be brutally honest, the trilogy's main characters had committed some kind of questionable act or one dangerous to others. Jack Sparrow was a pirate, who had no qualms about using others for his own personal gain. And that included bartering Will to Davy Jones in "Dead Man's Chest" in order to avoid paying his debt to Jones, lying to Elizabeth about it, and contemplating leaving the other pirates to the mercy of Lord Beckett and the East India Trading Company. Hector Barbossa, as we all know, was a murderous pirate who led a mutiny against Jack, threatened the lives of many and also double-crossed Tia Dalma by tossing her into the Black Pearl's brig in "At World's End". And then there is straight arrow Will Turner, who turned out to be not so straight arrow. He had left Jack to the mercies of Barbossa and the latter's crew in "Curse of the Black Pearl" and double-crossed the Pearl's crew to Sao Feng and the East India Trading Company in order to get his hands on the ship in "At World's End". Will's beloved and the future Pirate King - Elizabeth Swann - committed one of the worst acts by leaving Jack shackled to the Black Pearl for the latter to be killed by the Kracken in "Dead Mans Chest". And in that same movie, James Norrington betrayed his new crew members from the Black Pearl by stealing Davy Jones' heart from Jack and handing it over to Lord Cutler Beckett in order to regain his military position in society.

Not exactly a sweet bunch, were they? Many societies, religions and what-have-you seemed to believe in the old adage of what goes around, comes around. Or paying the consequences of one's actions. My favorite happens to be - "Payback's a bitch". And judging from the fates of the major characters in the trilogy, all of them - in one form or the other - seemed to have paid the consequences of their actions.

For Norrington, payback came in the form of death at the hands of poor deluded Bootstrap, when he helped Elizabeth and Sao Feng's crew escape from the Flying Dutchman's brig. After marrying Will during a battle against Jones and his crew, Elizabeth nearly found herself a widow and facing the first ten years of marriage . . . without her husband. And where was Will? During that battle, Jones stabbed him with the sword he had made for Norrington. And when Jack helped him stab Jones' heart before he could die, Will became the new captain of the Flying Dutchman, ferrying souls lost at sea to "the other side" . . . apart from Elizabeth and their child for ten years. Barbossa seemed to have had it made in the end. He managed to get back the Black Pearl from Jack. Unfortunately, he found himself facing a possible mutiny due to Jack's theft of Sao Feng's chart that could lead them all to a new treasure. And what about dear old Jack? Well . . . he found himself abandoned at Tortuga, after Barbossa took the Black Pearl from him again.

Mind you some of the characters like Norrington and Will suffered a more severe consequence than the other characters. But not one of them had the glowing "happily ever after" that was seen in the conclusion of "At World's End". Even though Will and Elizabeth were finally reunited in the film's post-credits scene, I wonder if there were some shadows in their reunion. After all, Will and Elizabeth have to adjust to being married. And Will has to learn to be a father . . . something of which Elizabeth already has ten years of experience.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ten Favorite Films Set in LOS ANGELES



Below are my ten (10) favorite movies set in Los Angeles, California (City of Angels):


Ten Favorite Films Set in LOS ANGELES



1. "L.A. Confidential" (1997) - This Oscar winning adaptation of James Ellroy's novel about three cops in 1950s Los Angeles is one of my favorite movies of all time. Directed by Curtis Hanson, the movie starred Kevin Spacey, Guy Pierce, Russell Crowe, James Cromwell, Danny DeVito and Oscar winner Kim Basinger.





2. "Chinatown" (1974) - Another Oscar winning crime drama set in Los Angeles . . . only this time, in the 1930s. Jack Nicholson is detective Jake Gittes who becomes embroiled in murder and corruption over the city's water rights. Faye Dunaway, John Huston and Perry Lopez co-starred. Roman Polanski directed.





3. "Sunset Boulevard" (1950) - Billy Wilder directed and co-wrote this deliciously twisted tale of a Hollywood "B" writer who becomes embroiled with a slightly insane Hollywood has-been actress. William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Nancy Olson and Erich von Stroheim starred.





4. "Bombshell" (1933) - Jean Harlow starred in this Pre-Code screwball comedy about a Hollywood starlet and the people in her life. Lee Tracy, Franchot Tone, Frank Morgan, Una Merkel and C. Aubrey Smith co-starred. Victor Fleming directed.





5. "Heat" (1995) - Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino starred in Michael Mann's superb cat-and-mouse tale about a professional thief and the L.A.P.D. detective hunting him. Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Diane Verona, Amy Bremmerman, Dennis Haysbert and Ted Levine.





6. "Changeling" (2008) - Clint Eastwood directed this excellent movie about the real life disappearance of Christine Collins' son in 1928 Los Angeles. Angelina Jolie received an Oscar nomination for her superb performance. John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Amy Ryan, Michael Kelly and Jason Butler Harner co-starred.





7. "Speed" (1994) - Keanu Reeves starred in what I believe is one of the best action movies I have ever seen. He portrayed an L.A.P.D. bomb squad officer forced to play cat-and-mouse with an insane bomber threating to blow up a city bus. Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Joe Morton and Jeff Daniels co-starred. Jan de Bont directed.





8. "The Black Dahlia" (2006) - Brian de Palma directed this underappreciated adaptation of James Ellroy's novel about the famous Black Dahlia case. Josh Harnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart and Hilary Swank co-starred.





9. "Rush Hour" (1998) - Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan starred in this hilarious comedy about an L.A.P.D. detective and a Hong Kong cop that team up to investigate the kidnapping of a Chinese diplomat's daughter. Brett Ratner directed.





10. "Jackie Brown" - Quentin Tarantino directed and wrote this adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel, "Rum Punch" about a middle-aged flight attendant forced by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) to bring down an arms dealer she had been smuggling for. Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda and Robert DeNiro starred.

Friday, September 18, 2009

"MAD MEN": Fan Dislike of Betty Draper



After watching the "MAD MEN" episode, (3.04) "The Arrangement", and reading several reactions to it; I decided to write the following article on Betty Draper:


”MAD MEN”: Fan Dislike of Betty Draper

I am angry. After watching the latest episode of ”MAD MEN” - (3.04) "The Arrangement" - and reading numerous comments about it, I have become angry over fans' reaction to the character of Betty Draper.

Ironically, I am not angry at Matt Weiner. But I am angry at many fans for their continuing misreading of Betty Draper's character. I just read this article on the recent episode and now find myself wondering if the fans of this show have ever understood the character. As of this moment, I am beginning to doubt it very much. Much of the fans’ vitriol toward Betty seemed to stem from her “treatment” of her two children, Sally and Bobby.

Ever since the airing of the Season Two episode, (2.02) "Flight 1", "MAD MEN" fans have been accusing Betty Draper (portrayed by January Jones) of being a poor mother. In this particular episode, they nitpicked over her complaint about Bobby's (Aaron Hart) lies about a drawing he had submitted in school. He had traced the drawing from another illustration and declared it as his own original work.

Matters became worse in (2.04) "Three Sundays" when Betty had demanded that Don (Jon Hamm) punish Bobby for a series of infractions. After this episode had aired, many fans accused her of being a cold and abusive parent, especially since she had expressed anger at Don for refusing to discipline his son. To this day, I am shocked, not by Betty's insistence upon disciplining her son, but by the fans' reactions. Surely they realized that the episode was set in 1962? Before this decade and in the following two, parents had disciplined their children with spankings. Yet, fans had acted as if this was something rare and accused Betty of being an abusive mother.

In a later episode, (2.12) "The Mountain King", Betty caught her daughter Sally smoking. She punished the girl by locking her in a closet for a few hours. Again, fans accused Betty of being abusive. They completely ignored the fact that Sally (Kiernan Shipka), a young girl under the age of 10, was smoking and focused upon Betty's punishment. I find myself wondering how my parents would have reacted if they had caught me smoking. I suspect that they would have shown less restraint than Betty. Hell, I suspect I would also show less restraint. Betty eventually let Sally out of the closet and explained - somewhat - the situation between Don and herself (they were separated at the time). But the damage had been done. Betty was now a bad mother.

Finally, Season Three had premiered last month. And if the fans' reaction to Betty had been hostile during certain episodes of Season Two, it became downright vitrolic during this season. In the season premiere, (3.01) "Out of Town", fans complained about Betty's curt dismissal of Bobby (Jared Gilmore), as she and Don were prepared to discipline Sally for breaking into her father's suitcase. They also complained of Betty's desire to give birth to a second daughter, citing this as an example of her immaturity. They also accused her of being immature when she insisted that her ailing father, Gene Hofstadt (Ryan Cutrona), remain with the Drapers after his live-in girlfriend abandoned him. They claimed that Betty wanted to prevent her brother William from selling their father's home and profiting from it. Again, they complained about Betty being curt to Sally, when she ordered the young girl to zip up the dress she wore at Roger Sterling's garden party in (3.03) “My Old Kentucky Home”. But the fans’ hostility toward Betty hit an all time high, since ”Three Sundays” in this latest episode.

According to many hostile fans, Betty is guilty of the following in ”The Arrangement”:

*Her refusal to discuss with Gene his plans to distribute his late wife’s furs to herself and her sister-in-law, which many saw as a sign of her immaturity.

*A few fans had accused her of closing the door on Sally, after the police officer had arrived with news of Gene’s death. Of course, this was untrue.

*Her dismissal of Sally from the kitchen, after the latter ranted at the adult Drapers and Betty’s brother William, over their “failure” to grieve over Gene’s death.

*Her failure to comfort Sally over Gene’s death.

Betty’s refusal to discuss Gene’s plans to distribute his late wife’s furs upon his death drew a great deal of critical fire. Personally, I do not understand why. Her refusal to discuss such matters seemed reasonable to me. Why would any grown child want to discuss a parent’s impending death, like it was part of a business discussion? That strikes me as morbid and too emotional for anyone to bear. Especially if that particular person was in the last trimester of her pregnancy. In one of his more lucid moments, Gene could have written down his wishes regarding inheritance and other arrangements in a signed letter. Instead, he decided to openly discuss the matter with Betty, who obviously found the subject disturbing. And I have a question. Why on earth did he wait so long to distribute his late wife’s furs? She had been dead for over three years.

Many fans pointed out that Gene’s disappointment in Betty was a clear indication of her shallow and immature nature. His main complaints seemed to center around her failure to become a professional, like her mother used to be (Ruth Hofstadt had been an engineer back in the 1920s); and her marriage to Don. Now, this man knew what kind of parent his wife used to be. There has never been any previous hint in past episodes that Gene and Ruth Hofstadt had encouraged Betty to acquire a profession. When she became a professional model, Mrs. Hofstadt called her a whore. And judging from Gene’s story about his wife’s efforts to reduce Betty’s weight, I suspect that he left his daughter solely in Ruth’s hands. As for Betty’s marriage to Don, had Gene become aware that his son-in-law had stolen someone else’s identity? Or was he simply disappointed that Betty had married a man from a working-class background who did not have any family? If Gene knew that Don was a phony, why has he never exposed the latter? And if Gene’s problem with Don had more to do with the younger man’s social background, then it would only lead me to believe that he may have been just as shallow as his daughter and nearly every other major character in the series.

Some fans have accused Betty of shutting the front door in young Sally’s face after learning about Gene’s death. Well, I have an easy response. The cop who had delivered the news about Gene was the one who had closed the door in Sally’s face, preventing her from following him and Betty into the house. And since I do not recall him locking the door, Sally could have easily went ahead and followed them inside.

We finally come to the one scene that caused a great deal of hostility from the fans – namely Betty’s dismissal of Sally, following the latter’s outbreak over her grandfather’s death. Many fans expressed outrage over Betty’s action, claiming it as another example of her cold attitude toward her children. The interesting thing about their reaction is that they were only willing to view the scene from Sally’s point-of-view. No one was willing to view it from Betty’s point-of-view, or anyone else. Very few seemed unwilling to consider that both Betty and her brother, William, were devastated from their father’s death. As far as I know, one person - anonymous-sibyl - was able to understand both Betty and Sally’s point-of-views, due to her own personal experiences. William tried to hide his own grief through a mild joke and both Betty and Don had laughed. Sally, who had overheard the joke, had jumped to conclusions that none of them cared about Gene’s death. And because of this belief, she ranted against her parents and uncle. Upset and shaken by her daughter’s outburst, Betty ordered Sally to her room . . . before she began to cry. And instead of viewing the scene as another example of family conflict during a special occasion – a death in the family, in this case – many viewers saw this as another example of Betty Draper’s despicable nature. I even came across an article that failed to mention Betty’s grief over her father’s death.

What I cannot understand is why very few viewers failed to comment on Don’s actions. What exactly did he do? He laughed at William’s joke. He looked understandably stunned by Sally’s outburst. He mildly chastised Betty for eating one of the peaches found in Gene’s car, and she ignored him. Speaking of the peaches, many fans saw Betty’s consumption of one of them either as a sign of her immaturity . . . or some kind of malice toward Sally. Following William and Judy’s departure, Don comforted a grieving Betty inside their bedroom. And when she finally went to sleep, he peeked in on Sally. That is it. He hardly did anything to comfort Sally. And yet . . . I have not come across any criticism against him.

I wish I could explain why Betty has received the majority of criticism from the fans. She has become the Bobbie Barrett of Season Three – the female everyone loves to hate. Fans have yet to find this season’s Duck Phillips. But I suspect that it will not take them very long. Are fans so desperate to find a character to vilify every season that they are unwilling to examine the complexities of all characters? Why are they willing to excuse the flaws and mistakes of female characters like Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) and Joan Holloway Harris (Christina Hendricks) and dump all of their ire on the likes of Betty Draper? Is it because Peggy has managed to adhere to their ideals of the new feminist of the 1960s and 70? Or that they admire Joan’s sophistication, style and wit? Whatever.

Look . . . I realize that Betty Draper is not perfect. She is not the world’s greatest mother and at times, she can be rather immature and shallow. But you know what? None of the other characters are perfect. Don strikes me as an even worse parent than Betty. He seems obsessed with maintaining appearance. And he is a fraud. Despite her ambition and talent, Peggy strikes me as an immature woman who assumes facades and personas with more speed than her mentor. I still cannot fathom her reaction to that opening sequence of ”BYE-BYE BIRDIE”. Despite the strides he had gained during late Season Two, Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) has shown that he has yet to overcome his desire for approval . . . and he still acts like a prat when things do not go his way. Paul (Michael Gladis) is another poseur who is ashamed of his past as a middle-class or working-class Jersey man; and of the fact that he had attended Princeton via a scholarship. And Joan . . . I really do not know what to think of her. Why on earth would an intelligent and experienced woman of the world marry a man who had raped her? Why? I have asked this question on several blogs, message boards and forums. And instead of giving me an answer, fans either make excuses for Joan’s choice or gloss over it by expressing their anticipation for the day when she finally leaves her husband.

I realize that I cannot force or coerce fans to even like Betty. But I am finding it difficult to accept or embrace their view. I am beginning to suspect that fans have allowed their emotions and prejudices to get in the way of any possibility of a rational discussion on the series and its characters. And considering that the comments regarding Betty’s role in ”The Arrangement” has managed to anger me, I realize I no longer can conduct a rational discussion, myself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Spells, Lies and Remorse" [R] - 1/9




"SPELLS, LIES AND REMORSE"

RATING: R

SUMMARY: The final efforts of the Side of Good to vanquish Belthazor, once and for all. Set after "A Family Affair" - AU between S5 and S6.

FEEDBACK: - Be my guest. But please, be kind.

DISCLAIMER: The Charmed Ones, Leo Wyatt, and Cole Turner belong to Constance Burge, Brad Kern and Spelling Productions. The McNeills and Marbus, are thankfully, my creations.



----------


"SPELLS, LIES AND REMORSE"


CHAPTER ONE

The couple stepped out of the elevator and made their way along the dimly lit corridor. "Could you please explain to me why we just used the elevator, when I could have easily teleported us to your apartment?" Cole grumbled.

"Because teleporting was unnecessary," Olivia replied. "I don't recall any magical emergency popping up, since we left your car."

Cole linked his arm through his girlfriend's. "Yeah, but at least we could have avoided meeting Mrs. Boone in the elevator. God, that woman can be tiresome!" He referred to one of the building's tenant - a forty-something divorcee, who had developed an unrelenting interest in the handsome half-daemon.

A wicked smile curved Olivia's mouth. "And miss that deliciously jealous look on her face, when she caught us kissing inside the elevator? Not on your life!"

"I've said it once and I'll say it again - you can really be one hell of a bitch, Olivia." Despite the insult, Cole's voice radiated affection and admiration.

Olivia chuckled. "I know."

The pair finally reached outside Olivia's apartment. She unlocked the door and they entered. After she switched on the light, Olivia asked, "Do you want anything to drink? Coffee, tea . . .?"

"How about you?" Cole finished, as he wrapped his arms around Olivia's waist.

It took all of Olivia's efforts not to wince at Cole's little pun. But she could not hold her tongue. "You know something, Cole?" she oozed in her most sexy voice.

"What?"

"Sometimes, it amazes me that I love you so much." She gave his nose a light peck. "Despite your tendency for bad jokes and puns."

Cole's mouth hung open in astonishment. "Wha . . . wait a minute! Are you saying that I have a bad sense of humor?"

Olivia slid her arms around the half-daemon's neck. "Well, it's not so bad . . . when you're insulting someone." She leaned forward and allowed her tongue to flicker across his left earlobe. "But never mind that. Didn't you say something about wanting me?"

"I don't know if I'm in the mood right now," Cole replied peevishly.

"Ooooo! Poor baby!" Olivia's teeth captured Cole's bottom lip and gently tugged it. "You're not mad at me, are you?"

A heartfelt sigh left Cole's mouth. "Well . . . I don't know."

Before Cole could comment any further, Olivia hungrily covered his mouth with hers for a passionate kiss. Which deepened even further, as she delicately brushed her tongue against his.

Once they paused for air, Cole added between heavy breathing, "I guess I'm not mad, any longer."

"Hmmm," Olivia flicked her tongue across the edge of his mouth. "That's good to know. Want to continue this in the bedroom?"

Cole responded with a hard kiss. "Why not?" Then he beamed the pair of them out of the living room.

-------

Her legs wrapped around Cole's waist, Olivia shuddered, as he gave one final thrust and sent her over the edge with mindless pleasure. Breathing heavily, the half-daemon collapsed on top of her. He remained there for a few seconds, before he planted a light kiss on her lips and rolled off her body. As always, Olivia found herself feeling strangely bereft.

"Oh God!" Cole murmured between breaths.

Slightly breathless herself, Olivia nodded. "I know." Then she turned on her left to face him. "Feeling hungry?"

"Are you kidding?" Cole replied. "I can barely move. Let's just stay in bed." Then he drew Olivia into his arms, and she placed her head on his shoulder. She sighed contentedly. There was nothing better in the world than post-coital snuggling. Well, except for sex. "By the way," he added, "I was wondering if you'll be available for lunch, tomorrow. Ever since that DiMatteo trial began, we've barely been able to spend any time together for lunch."

A low moan escaped from Olivia's lips, as Cole planted a kiss on the side of her neck. "I'm sorry Cole, but I have to say no. The jury went into deliberation yesterday. Darryl and I have to remain available, until they reach a decision."

"Oh. Great." Cole's voice expressed his disappointment.

Olivia quickly added, "Of course there's a good chance that they might reach a verdict, tomorrow. It's really an open-and-shut case."

Cole sighed. "Well, I guess I better cancel my reservations at Le Charm." Olivia winced. The half-daemon had just named one of her favorite local bistros. "So, uh . . . how is Margolin holding up? He must be relieved that the trial will soon be over."

Olivia turned her head to stare at Cole. "Well, this is a first! Since when have you ever been concerned about Paul? You haven't mentioned his name since the trial began."

"We ran into each other at the courthouse yesterday," Cole explained. He laid on his back - much to Olivia's disappointment. "I said hello and he pretended that I didn't exist."

Sighing, Olivia sat up. "I don't find it surprising. I haven't spoken much to him, myself. Except in regard to the trial. In fact, I haven't had a personal conversation with Paul since Bruce and Barbara's wedding, nearly three months ago."

"Good." Olivia frowned at Cole, as he quickly assumed a more sympathetic expression. "I mean . . . that's too bad. Rejection can be pretty hard to deal with. Something we both know from personal experience."

Olivia laid her body upon Cole's. He slid an arm around her waist. "Poor Paul. I just wish he would get over it, soon. It would make me feel a hell of a lot better."

"And me," Cole added.

----------

"DRUID SPELLS OF THE AGES". Paul Margolin heaved a sigh, as he thumbed through the book for a spell that he felt could help him.

Ever since his whitelighter, Leo Wyatt, had informed him of a premonition received by a colleague about Belthazor, the New York-born witch had become engrossed in a special project. Namely to convince a certain red-haired witch that her half-daemon boyfriend will end up being a great danger to the supernatural world.

Since the beginning of the project sanctioned by Leo, Paul had checked books from the local library and used bookstores in the Bay Area. What he needed was a spell to turn Olivia against Belthazor. He had considered one that would give him the power of telepathic manipulation. Unfortunately, the redhead had grown up with two telepaths in her family's household, and had a third as her best friend. Which meant that Olivia had been trained to detect and block telepathic incursion into her mind. Granted, she could still be caught offguard, but Paul did not want to take the chance.

He continued his search through the book. Finally, he came upon a spell that proved promising. One that would include a potion, as well. Paul read the spell's instructions. Hmmm. It seemed more than promising. Perhaps he should copy it into his Book of Shadows. But first, he needed to get hold of some Agrimony.

--------

The bell above Ostera's door tinkled. Engulfed in helping fellow shop assistant, Maddy Oser, fill one of the shelves with stock, Paige did not see who had entered. Especially since she stood on a ladder, several feet above the floor.

"Okay Maddy," she said. "Hand me that last bottle of Chamomille." She held out her hand. Seconds passed before Maddy shoved the bottle requested into her hand. "Okay, that's it." Paige descended the ladder. "I guess we can put the rest of the stock in the storeroom in the back." Upon reaching the floor, Paige turned and found a grinning Harry McNeill standing next to the ladder. "Oh. Harry. Uh . . ."

The redhead's grin stretched wider. "And good afternoon to you, Miss Matthews." He paused. "Aren't you going to thank me for my help?"

Paige glanced to her left. Maddy stood near a half-empty box of herbs with a slight smirk on her face. "Yeah," Paige coolly replied. "Thanks for the help." She brushed past the male witch and headed toward the counter in the front. "What are you doing here, Harry? You need something?"

Harry fell beside her and cocked his head in a manner that strongly reminded Paige of his father. "Just you."

"What?" Did he just proposition her?

Looking slightly embarrassed, Harry shook his head. "Sorry. That came out wrong. I meant . . . uh, well I was wondering if you're free Friday night. For a date. There is this new play at the Orpheum Theater. And I thought we could later have dinner at the Golden Horn." He paused, while an open-mouthed Paige stared at him. "Unless, you prefer some place less stodgy like P3."

As she slowly recovered from the proposition, Paige finally managed to speak. "Huh? Oh, uh . . . I . . . I guess the Golden Horn is fine." She paused. "Never been there."

Elation lit up Harry's green eyes. "So that means you're available, Friday?"

"Sure!" The word shot out of Paige's mouth before she could stop herself. God! What had she just done?

"Great! I'll pick you up around six-thirty." Smiling, Harry bid Maddy good-bye and nearly skipped out of the shop.

The younger witch faced Paige, wearing a cryptic smile. "Wow! A date with Harry McNeill! Lucky girl!"

Paige managed a wan smile. Inwardly, she wondered how long her luck would last. Granted, Harry was a very attractive man and one of San Francisco's most eligible bachelors. But he also happened to be a notorious ladies' man. And a man who came from a family regarded in a lukewarm manner by hers. She sighed. Friday night might proved to be very interesting.

---------

An oath left Phoebe's mouth, as she rummaged through her closet for a missing shoe. The closet resembled a junkyard, thanks to her lazy housekeeping habits. Piper had always chided her for using the closet as some kind of trash receptacle. And now it looked as if her older sister had been proven right. All because she could not find that damn shoe.

Her fingers finally touched what felt like a box. Phoebe gripped the edges and dragged it out of the closet. Various knickknacks and clothing filled the box. She stuck her hand into the box and removed a powder blue, V-neck sweater. A man's sweater. One that had once belonged to Cole.

Phoebe's heartbeat increased slightly, as memories of her former husband wearing the sweater, flashed in her mind. Then other images followed. Images that had nothing to do with the sweater . . . and everything with Cole.

***

Seer: Don't be afraid. (He spins around. The Seer walks in.)

Cole: Who are you? Where am I?

Seer: Back in your once and future life... Belthazor.

Cole: Belthazor? (The Seer moves closer.) Seer.

Seer: Even now I can see the void where your demon half used to exist. It craves to be complete again.

Cole: How'd you know I was still alive?

Seer: I had a vision. One where you and I do great things together.

Cole: I don't work with evil anymore.

Seer: You might reconsider if you hope to save your precious witch. Only you and I can help to beat the Source.

Cole: I'm listening.

Seer: If you take in the Hollow, you can absorb the Source's power when he attacks. Once powerless, they can vanquish him. (She picks up the Hollow box.)

Cole: And what happens to me after?

Seer: The witches and I will banish the Hollow back to its crypt. You will return to normal.

Cole: How do I know this isn't one of The Source's tricks? Or one of yours for that matter.

Seer: The Source has been corrupted by the Hollow. And is going to destroy us all. He cannot be allowed to continue with this path of madness.

Cole: If I do this, what do you see then? Seer: A future for both sides.

***

Scene: Underworld. A dark cave. Cole walks in, topless, holding a sword. He looks around. He sees the Source across the room, chanting with his back turned. Cole creeps towards him and is about to swing the sword.

The Source: Wait. (The Source faces Cole and lifts off his hood. It's Cole.)

Cole/The Source: You don't really wanna kill me do you?

Cole: But how... (Cole/The Source hits Cole and he lands on the ground. The sword flies up to Cole/The Source.)

Cole/The Source: We're one now. I'm reborn, within you.

Cole: I'll fight it. I'll kill us both if I have to. I won't let you hurt Phoebe.

Cole/The Source: You won't have a choice. (He stabs Cole and he screams.)

***

Cole: How did I get here?

Seer: The Source's magic brought you. I see you accepting that very soon. (Cole goes over and grabs her around the neck.)

Cole: You never told me I would become the Source if I help vanquish him!

Seer: Don't be naive. I told you of my vision. Of you and I doing great things together, this is just the beginning. (He falls to his knees.) You cannot change your fate. As you can see the evil within you wont allow it. C

Cole: I'll fight it, I'll kill it. I'll find a way.

***

Cole: I just got back.

Phoebe: From where?

Cole: I had to, uh, get out of the house for a while, you know.

Phoebe: No, I don't know. Do we need to talk?

Cole: Phoebe, I... Ahh! (He holds his head.) Damn it!

Phoebe: What's the matter? (She touches him but he pulls away.)

Cole: Uh, nothing. It's just a migraine, I gotta go.

Phoebe: Cole, where are you... (He walks away.) Cole

***

Seer: Holy matrimony will be the worst possible thing that could happen. It'll keep you from ever reigning as the Source.

Cole: That can't be right.

Seer: It's what I foresee. Unless of course you cancel the wedding.

Cole: I can't. I need Phoebe.

Seer: Yes, I can see that too.

Cole: We've been through this. Cole's love for Phoebe still exists within me. I can't overcome it. If I'm to regain what I've lost it has to be with Phoebe, marrying her.

Seer: Even if it means losing your son?

Cole: A son? You saw a son in my future?

Seer: More than a son. You and Phoebe Halliwell will produce the most powerful child the magical world has ever seen.

Cole: That's my boy.

Seer: No, he won't be your boy, he'll be theirs. On the side of good. Unless you marry the witch in a dark way.

***

Seer: Why would you save Paige after everything you do to destroy her?

Cole: They would've found a way to save her anyway. This way I get the credit.

Seer: Did you do it for credit? Or love? I supposed there's some things even the Source can't defeat.

Cole: Careful.

Seer: I am, but are you? We have worked too hard to let a nugget of humanity destroy a legacy of evil.

Cole: Paige has no memory. She's not a threat to us anymore.

Seer: I'm not talking about her. I'm talking about Cole. His is the one threat neither one of us can control. He saved Paige not you.

***

Cole: How much longer?

Wizard: Give me a break, will you, this is tricky stuff. It'd be a lot easier if I could do this in friendlier confines.

Cole: There are no friendly confines, not anymore. This had better work or you'll be joining the rest of your kind and not in the way you hoped for.

Wizard: Little tip. Pressure's not the best motivating technique. If you wanna lose the Source's powers, don't rush me.

Cole: Fine, but just so we're clear, once you get the Source's powers I never hear from you again.

Wizard: Understood. Not that I'm ungrateful, but why are you so willing to do this? (He places some lit candles on the floor.)

Cole: I lost someone I love and I want her back. That's all you need to know.

Wizard: Love? The Source can love.

Cole: Just keep working.

Wizard: I'm done. Now, if the spell's going to work, blood needs to spill. (He picks up a dagger and Cole holds out his arm. He cuts Cole's arm.) Now me. (He cuts his own. Smoke starts to rise from the Grimoir.) "Holus into exitus omne. Holus into exitus omne. Holus into exitus omne! Holus into exitus omne." (The both rise into the air and they start to glow. The wizard extends his arm and starts to pull the Source out of Cole. The Seer and Phoebe appear.)

Seer: Save him. For your son. (Phoebe throws fire and vanquishes the wizard. Cole falls to the floor and Phoebe rushes over to him.)

***

Cole: (to Phoebe) I'm sorry, it's, it's for the best.

Phoebe: I know it is. (She walks over to Cole and the fireball disappears. Phoebe kisses him.)

Piper: Phoebe? (Phoebe moves away from Cole.)

Phoebe: I'm sorry too. (She places the crystal in its place and the trap is activated.)
Cole: Phoebe, no. No!

Phoebe: I'm sorry, baby, I'm so sorry.

Piper: "Prudence, Penelope, Patricia, Melinda..." (Fire appears near Cole's feet.)

Phoebe: "Ashford, Helen, Laura and Grace..."

Cole: I will always love you.

Paige: "Halliwell witches stand strong beside us."

Phoebe: "Vanquish this evil..."

Piper, Phoebe, Paige: "From time and space." (They vanquish Cole and it makes a huge explosion, making the windows smash. Phoebe walks to the middle of the room and cries.)


***

The visions ceased as quickly as they had began. Phoebe fell back on her rear with a gasp. "Oh my God," she murmured. "Oh my God! What have we done? What I've done?" Shame and disbelief mingled within her, as she continued to stare at the sweater.


END OF CHAPTER ONE

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Top Ten (10) Favorite Movies of Summer 2009



Below is a countdown to my top ten (10) favorite movies from the Summer of 2009. Naturally, there are some movies that are missing from the list. Either I never got to see them or I did not like them very much:


TOP TEN (10) FAVORITE MOVIES OF SUMMER 2009



10. "Julie and Julia - Nora Ephron wrote and directed this comedy-drama about Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book. Meryl Streep and Amy Adams co-starred in this charming, yet slow-paced tale.






9. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" - David Yates directed this sixth entry in the Harry Potter saga, based upon J.K. Rowling's novel. Pretty good, despite certain plotlines that seemed to be missing.






8. "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3" - Denzel Washington and John Travolta co-starred in this solid, yet slightly unimaginative remake of the 1974 classic crime drama about the hijacking of a New York subway car. Tony Scott directed.






7. "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" - Stephen Sommers directed this action spectacle based upon the Hasbro toy. Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans and Sienna Miller co-starred in this curious mixture of typical action sequences and surprising character twists.





6. "The Ugly Truth" - Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler co-starred in this hilarious romantic comedy about a romantically challenged morning show producer who is reluctantly embroiled in a series of outrageous tests by her chauvinistic correspondent to prove his theories on relationships and help her find love.





5. "Angels and Demons" - Ron Howard directed this surprisingly well-paced adaptation of Dan Brown's novel about Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon's attempts to solve a murder and prevent a terrorist act against the Vatican. Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer and Ewan McGregor co-starred.






4. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" - Gavin Hood directed and Hugh Jackman starred in this well-made origin tale about X-Men Wolverine aka James Logan. Liev Schrieber and Danny Huston co-starred. Better than I had originally thought.






3. "Inglourious Basterds" - Quentin Tarantino strikes gold at the box office in this fascinating and well written tale about two attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944 Nazi-occupied Paris. Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender and Mélanie Laurent co-starred.






2. "Terminator Salvation" - Director McG's entry in the Terminator franchise became a surprise hit for me this summer. Christian Bale and Sam Worthington co-starred in this tale about a group of survivors led by John Connor who struggle to keep the machines from destroying humanity.






1. "Public Enemies" - Once again, Michael Mann proved why he has become one of my favorite directors with his direction of this exciting and well-made biopic about Depression era bank robber, John Dillinger. Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard co-starred.