Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

The Peanuts holy trinity of holiday specials goes, chronologically: A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Speaking in terms of quality, it's probably accurate to say that conventional wisdom would leave the order unaltered. While I won't disagree, I emphatically state that the gap between first and second seems to shrink every time I watch this Halloween standard.

Both are fresh takes on hoary traditions, suffused with imitable animation, quotable lines, and homey soundtracks that settle sweetly into that nook in the brain that houses the memories of how damn tasty a cup of cocoa is in the winter, and how goddamn good an accompanying dish of piping-hot apple crisp is too.

Two factors help swell the Great Pumpkin's thumb:

1. The titular blockhead is utterly outshone by his needy pal, Linus. It is Linus who conjures up this "Great Pumpkin", thus setting himself and his faith up for brutal peer admonition.

2. This special creates an icon. The "Great Pumpkin" concept--while clearly borrowing from Santa Claus--was a beautifully delineated absurdity that has stuck in our pop culture, referenced from squeaky-clean soccer moms to foul-mouthed parodists. It added to the lexicon, and that can never be ignored.

AIRDATE: 10/27/66

STORY: Linus is skipping "tricks or treats" to reside over a "most sincere" pumpkin patch. His mission: prove worthy of the "Great Pumpkin", a fantastic fruit god who blesses the faithful with goodies. The other kids, gearing up for a night of free candy and unsupervised partying, are far from open-minded. The single exception is Sally, as much a sucker as any treat passed out that night. She can't resist the urge to stay by Linus, her unrequited crush. Big mistake. When the Pumpkin pulls a George Jones, Sally goes apoplectic trying to reconcile the reality of having spent the night in a pumpkin patch waiting for some apparent benevolent wonder of the world that she only just found out about while her friends gorged and had a general blast. 10

Also, Snoopy takes flight.

MUSIC: Cozy, autumnal cues coat the action like caramel on a stuck apple. Classy to the point of wearing a monocle, the pinnacle actually comes at the start. Linus and Lucy trot out to grab a pumpkin as their namesake tune bubbles beneath. What makes it so outstanding is the addition of a path-skipping flute to the familiar track, popping up at the conclusion of each piano "riff". One rarely goes wrong with flutes, friends. Big fat 10.

ANIMATION: Vastly improved from the debut, though still flawed, perfect use is made of color, namely in the depictions of trees, leaves and skies. Whether watercolor or painstakingly precise pencil work I do not know--masterful rendering of fall hues, regardless. 10

VOICES: Peter Robbins and Christoper Shea reprise their Christmas gigs, to the tune of 10. Each boy even expands on their respective niches, with Charlie Brown now showing emotions other than raw despair and Linus revealing another side too. The boy who can conjure phantom spotlights as he delivers a pitch-perfect Scripture recitation now comes to our screen immediately as a feckless young boy, who picks up a fallen apple from the ground, takes one hearty bite, and then tosses the tempting fruit in a nearby trash can. That's just disgusting. He also shows disregard for leaves, shown once kicking a pile and then taking a running leap into a carefully-raked pile, scattering the poor castaways every which way once more. Which is why I'm not really buying his horror over the dead pumpkin.

Lucy and Sally are 10's as well. (And how mildly dear that Lucy's voice is done by Sally Dyer.) Lucy is punchy and bitchy, yet somehow still inviting, but Kathy Steinberg's Sally is a riotous joy. From innocent devotion in the face of her myth-spouting beau, to her ambivalence over dressing up ("I wouldn't want to be accused of taking part in a rumble"), to losing her shit when she realizes the unavoidable no-win situation that arises when a young girl places her trust in a boy whose fabrication of a pre-Christmas gift-lord is the only thing keeping him from setting fires, this is the best Sally you will ever hear. Fergie can suck it. There are so many words stretched out to the snapping point, so many sentences rife with the pauses of prepubescent development, that rooting for this little lady is like rooting for Brett Favre's knees to give out.

Gail and Lisa DeFaria do Pigpen and Patty (7.5 and 8) while two kids do double duty: Glenn Mendelson for Schroeder and Shermy (a 7; how's that for alliteration?) and Ann Altieri for Violet and Frieda. She gets an 8 solely off delivering a laugh of halting malice when teasing Linus in the patch. It's like someone you shared a cell with has just come back from a week of nonstop torture and deprivation, and now they're overjoyed to know that you'll get yours too.


--"Notarize your documents" is the new, "Diversify your bonds".

--Charlie Brown, still getting no love. Pigskin denied, head used as a jack o' lantern model, "I got a rock". Whoever doesn't get that last reference whenever it is properly evoked, they're not stupid. They're just unfortunate, and must be enlightened. Chuck's lament, echoed throughout the journey from door to door, works for any situation in which one's expectation of something grand instead turns out to be something wretchedly undesirable.

--Today, the pumpkin...tomorrow, the delicate flesh between Schroeder's shoulder blades.

--Snoopy as the World War One Flying Ace.

It starts off as his costume, an eye-popping ensemble when one considers the sad little conformity of the others. It explodes into violent imagination and imaginary violence with a battle against the Red Baron. Atop his doghouse/plane, Snoopy loops and whirls, plummets and ascends, as his craft is strafed with merciless enemy fire and the skies behind him (and then he himself) shift snaring colors: yellow to clouded blue to orange to purple to blue to red. Snoopy is the doomed hero immaculately, from his resigned salute to his unceremonious ejection into a dog dish.

(I can't get enough Snoopy saluting; he goes especially fuckin' nuts with it in the Thanksgiving special. To appropriate a quote from Tami during Real World LA: "It wasn't not funny!")

The ensuing scenes with Snoopy in furtive exploration of "France" are just awesome (love the steam whistle in the background too)--

Just one thing. We are transferred to Snoopy's literal flight of fantasy to illustrate Charlie Brown's replying to Lucy as to the beagle's whereabouts. Why, then, does blockhead continue to narrate the action? "Here's the World War One Flying Ace in the French countryside." He clearly can't be telling that to Lucy, as she is not watching the action to need its context--so he is telling us. Awkward, but understandable for the kiddies.

The Ace's tale continues to the party (yeah, I know there's no way he could have slipped unnoticed into that tub of water. He did anyway. He's fucking Snoopy, not Mickey Mouse). The greatest laughs come when he breaks out into a space-conscious dance routine to Schroeder's jaunty "Long Way to Tipperary" (peep the pearlys on the upbeats)...and then collapses from dejection as the music switches to the solemn "There's a Long, Long Trail A-Windin'".

Concluding with the scene that inspired figurines and shirts, the moment that features a slide whistle effect so perfect that I want to say screw this screen capture, how could it dare to boast it is the butter on your breakfast toast. But here it is. Here it is!

Linus, you freakin' licorice-head.

--Charles Schulz went from intense identification with Christianity to secular humanism. The passion of Linus towards a "greater entity" that will honor "the most sincere" is a loving portrait of a wise, searching little boy ("We are obviously separated by denominational differences") whose hopes are put in a touchstone uniquely his own and also a jab at anything that would cause a little boy to sacrifice what should be a due night of junky treats and boisterous interaction with friends just to freeze his loyal ass off.

--Get meta, it pays.


--When Sally reads Linus the 23rd chapter of the Riot Act in the patch post the great non-attendance, she bemoans missing out on "apples and gum and cookies and money and all sorts of things!" Did kids actually once upon a glorious time get money when they tricked and/or treated? Was it in fact I who was gypped on all those Halloweens?

--This program did not win an Emmy; the only of the main holiday specials to go statueless. Unthinkable! This gets the Trapper Jenn score of 9.5, classic status by any standard. If you don't have it, get it. If you don't get it, have at it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ian MacKaye Was Here

Seeing Fugazi play live in 2001 was incredible. It was one of many concerts where I established a durable trend: I came solo and left solo. The feeling that everyone else in attendance came in packs was as overwhelming as my two previous trips to the 9:30 Club, and all I could do was dip deeper into anxious ennui waiting for the gig to start up. True to the classic form, music was the great unifier. All extant vibes of being a hapless outsider vanished as the sheer tightness of the performance eliminated the negative sphere I'd convinced myself I'd been standing in contempt of.

The band's "hiatus" has permitted the unpunished proliferation of an insidious, sneering commentary (almost invariably from people who aren't from DC) that writes off Fugazi, the grassroots scene it both sprung from and helped to evolve, and especially its singer/guitarist Ian MacKaye, a man and musician who dares pride himself on personal and artistic integrity. The disdain for MacKaye--a thoughtful, politically involved proponent of the don't-drink-smoke-fuck-eat meat ethos known as "straight edge"--can reach such a fever pitch that Fugazi are frequently written off because of it; if their public face is so ridiculously insufferable, goes this ill logic, how is the band worth any effort? This is how the genius of Repeater, et. al, goes neglected by someone who may actually appreciate what it offers.

All this has been inspired by a recent, stunning find from that haven for jaw-rattling discoveries: YouTube. It would seem that on 36 West Antietam Street there once stood the 180 Club. In 1998, Fugazi played there.

This sends my head spinning like a merry-go-round operated by a meth addict convinced that a diet of nothing but sugar and Mountain Dew is the key to expedite even more grotesque weight loss.

Fugazi...the band who drop kicked punk rock to the ground and forced it ever so politely to go stand with the other genres and eventually engage in temperamental play with them. The closest thing to an American Gang of Four that actually honors the comparison (completely, totally, making googly-eyes at Interpol here). The band that strove to never play a venue that would charge fans more than 10 bucks a head to see them perform. Who actually called out a pair of obnoxious concert attendees as fun-loving ice cream eaters. This racket-gang actually set up shop for one sweaty night in the city that gave birth to Kix...the city that is aiding and abetting the continued sonic offense of Jimmies Chicken Shack and Clutch with the Downtown Live concert series (still the number one cause of apoplectic seizures amongst the denizens as we speak)...the city which contains myriad street gangs bonded by their intense devotion to propagating horrid graffiti technique...the city that boasts 'bout 5 McDonalds (at least) but no Five Guys.

Fugazi in Hagerstown!

And me...oblivious to the greatest blessing bestowed upon Hagerstown since General Early got that 20 grand.

I'm not sure whether to love or hate YouTube right now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hockey Night In DC

Last Saturday, I joined my partner in crime Patrick at the Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins game at the Verizon Center in DC. Jaunts to the District are not uncommon for us, but usually we go to attend concerts. It had been two seasons since we were in the crowd for a meeting between these two rivals, when Alexander Ovechkin was a crackling rookie and Sidney Crosby's voice was cracking.

That previous game was also on a Saturday; we had seats in Section 225, which is quite close to the ice and more importantly, more suffused in general with actual Capitals fans. The higher up one ventures, the more Pens fans one will encounter. This time we were at the end of row Q in Section 423, the next to last row in that section. Inevitably our eyes and ears were besieged by boisterous Pittsburgh rooters, invading the house and disrespecting the workmanlike furniture. Not to mention futzing with the central heating, the bastards.

If you're not acrophobic, Section 423 can actually be a cool place from which to watch. Our view was nearly unobstructed, with only the right corner of the rink at the far end blocked somewhat by the overhead scoreboard. Also the announcer was pretty much incomprehensible at that distance, but that's what they have the captioning on the screen for.

In the last row, just behind us, sat three Penguins supporters who looked and sounded to be in their twenties. All wore black Pens jerseys (Crosby, Malkin, Lemieux). Each took turns being either innocuously dumb or enragingly stupid.

"Fuck Ovechkin!"

"Crosby's the best player, ever!"

"HAHAHAHA!" (One guy kept doing this at any example of Caps bad luck or failure; in the third period, he was heard to laugh loudly and then explain to his friends, "I don't know what's going on, I just heard the crowd booing."

My personal favorite, coming at the end of a highlight reel of Ovechkin's top 10 career goals as screened on the scoreboard as the greatest goal ever played repeatedly to cheers: "You're showing stuff from two years ago? We've got highlights from last week!" He then followed through with the following example--nothing. YAH RAR ARGH!

Joining them in the last row was a young woman attending her first hockey game. She expressed amazement at the sheer volume of Pens fans in the house, brazen and brash. One of the drunk dudes, eager to fill up the slate, informed her "Pittsburgh sports fans travel really well. Steelers, Penguins."

I leaned over to Patrick upon hearing this.

"Because there's almost nothing to do there. We've been there. What was the highlight? Gazing across whatever river to look at the majesty of Heinz Field. Sports, that's it! That's all they have. DC has culture...diversity...and other shit, some not so good, but you's the nation's capital. I can understand why the fans of the teams here don't travel. There's actually shit here to do and everyone gets fucking ESPN."

Only once were the three amigos engaged in verbal battle, when a nearby Caps fan insulted the Pirates. He was laughed off with "That's baseball!" A Penguins fan sitting near me muttered, "Did better than your team."

Three things here I would like to address.

1. I do agree that other sports should not be brought into it. If I go see the Mets and Nationals play and the Nats actually win, I wouldn't expect a Mets fan to snarl, "Yeah, well...Rangers! Jagr! He actually wants to play for us!" (I'm one of the 14 Capitals fans who does not despise Jaromir Jagr--he's the best European player to grace the NHL, to my mind--so that would especially would not work. It would be better to evoke Esa freakin' Tikkanen.)

2. Pittsburgh Pirates, 2007 season: 68 wins, 94 losses, last in division
Washington Nationals, 2007 season: 73 wins, 89 losses, fourth in division

Know your sports if you're going to open your mouth. Otherwise just keep your yap shut and go back to fantasizing about the day your grassroots campaign finally pays off and Kevin Stevens is inducted into the Hall of Fame.

3. Stop wondering why the crowd "woot woot"s at former Cap Sergei Gonchar when he touches the puck and I'll stop wondering why certain among your number wear football jerseys to hockey games. Unless it's a Mike Collier #44, this practice is unacceptably lame.

On to the game.

The Caps scored first but ended up on the losing end, 2-1. They looked fantastic in the first period, actually working as a team to create opportunities, but progressively had difficulty maintaining focus. As the game wound down, the team--fired up by two fights--was haphazardly firing shot after shot, with little thought to strategic attack, emboldening Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with every save he made. I thought Nylander was brought on board to assure these desperate times were not revisited. Of course one cannot underestimate the absence of young phenom Alexander Semin, scratched from the lineup again.

On the plus side for Washington, Ovy went points-less but was all over the ice, with many a chance to score and hitting little Pingus over left and right (including, most thrillingly, a mid-ice crash into Crosby that electrified the entire building). Goalie Brent Johnson played his ass off. Both netminders were superlative in the game.

Nothing got the fans more into the action, more hyperaware of the back'n'forth lightning bolts streaking the ice than when the action stopped for fisticuffs. The first was best: heavyweights Georges Laraque and Donald Brashear. As you can see here, Laraque came out with not only power but balance, able to land good shots on Brash (aka, the 87 who matters) and force him to his knees. But to the credit of the Caps bruiser, he was able to regain his composure and drop the would-be emperor with two great lefts to the head.

Later, Matt Pettinger fought young Penguin prospect Jordan Staal. This is the fight that provoked one of the men behind me to scream, "Come on, he's only 19!" S-S-Saigon.

I love hockey fights, myself. When they come, as these two did, in the final period of a close game between two rival squads, the energy level for everyone in the building skyrockets and you can practically see the ice glow as the game continues. As your central nervous system accelerates, so too does your perception of what happens around you. Everything is going faster, all sound seems louder, the stakes are immediately higher. Every puck hanging around the goal line, never quite making it in, is like being stabbed in the gut (and oh yes, that happened a couple times to the Caps). Every pass, shot and save is crucial; anytime, something could happen to shut the hated rival fans up or to send them into paroxysms of ecstasy.

In the end, salvation for this fan came in--

The game being so close. Nothing worse than being blown out and having to hear some moron in a Tom Barrasso throwback yell "o-ver-rated!" at Ovechkin everytime he's on the ice, like that isn't some of the richest irony of all time.

The Zamboni. Charles Schulz knew it, you should too. The Zamboni is a wonder of the world. Sitting back and observing the resurfacing snail-trail it leaves on the ice is not unlike sitting under a wise looking old tree.

The Mites on Ice mini-game in between the first two periods. Two teams of youth league players show off their skills to the amusement and glee of fans who haven't already rushed to the toilet and/or Papa Johns. One woman nearby could not stop expressing "how cuuute" she thought it was. Patrick was off getting Chinese at this time and thus missed out on her opinion. Which I think he still is kicking himself for. He was able to see, however, the best goal of the entire night, when a red-jerseyed Mite shot the puck into the back of the net...and then immediately followed it headfirst after losing his balance. All of this happening in what seemed like slow motion after twenty minutes of watching grown professionals streak up and down the ice, which really gave it the extra absurd boost.

P.S. to all Penguins fans. Sidney Crosby is not, repeat not, going to break all of Wayne Gretzky's records by the time he's done all the skating, shooting and simping he has to do in the league. So what if Gretzky said that he would? Of course Gretzky would say that, he's not only the best player in NHL history, he's also the league's premier ambassador. He'd say anything to promote the good and great things and people in and about the sport. It's good copy. But he doesn't actually believe it. Jesus Christ could come back for the sole purpose of strapping on the skates and not break the Great One's marks. Seriously, now. No one is getting 200 points in a season again, for starters.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Straight Up Cat Power

When they're not aiding and abetting in the continuing flagellation of one of the most overrated bands in the history of all music, Pitchfork actually provides some sweet music news and information. Case in point, the cover and tracklisting of Cat Power's follow-up to her classic Covers Record.

My friend Annie likens the artwork of this long-awaited release to a Paula Abdul retrospective, and I can't disagree. I can only pray for a similar sentiment to sweep the Internet and the inevitable emergence of a Photoshopped image depicting the luscious Ms. Power buddying up with the one the only MC Skat Kat.

I wanted to celebrate this momentous occasion by sharing video of the rappin' felines smash "Skat Strut", but can you believe it's not uploaded on YouTube? Instead, here's "Opposites Attract", the best song ever about a woman in love with an animated character depicting a non-human creature.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

One Thing About Ducks Is, They Go "Quack"

As far as hoary sayings go, few beat: "A picture is worth a thousand words." It is, like most famous maxims, almost always true. Often because it has to be. When words cannot take sufficient shape, a captured image can encapsulate with near-perfection an event and/or emotion that seems beyond the grasp of mere human intelligence. If a new parent wants to get across the sublime sensation of viewing and hearing and feeling their infant in its first moments and days, they would be better served at bypassing words as the method to express to others this incredible push of emotions, be they spoken or written, and just get a picture of themselves holding the newborn. The punch drunk ecstasy evident in that snapshot will speak for itself.

For a quick fix, a snapshot is unbeatable. It achieves maximum impact with minimum demand.

That said...any of the blogs on my roll to the right--and innumerable others that I have not yet added--are worth 25 Flickr pages. Which is no disrespect to Flickr, a site I visit daily. Anyone can fancy themselves Ansel Adams for the 2-double and snap shot after shot of ducks in the midst of aqua laze, skies in various hues, and trees shedding for the season. I do it, not least because the City Park is one of the few true bright spots Hagerstown has to offer up. It's a relaxation method. If I ever wrote to relax, I'd stop writing. A gifted photog can capture what something is and show you slices of life. A skilled writer can tell you why that something is and give you slices of life.

Why do photographers who put their works on the Internet get so precious that they tattoo their pictures with ugly watermarks? Nice way to ensure no plagiarist will go unpunished, but they've also ruined their shot for the Web audience. Unless you want to spend some money and get a print!

Text plagiarism is still a problem in the blogosphere, thanks in large part to a lack of similar precautionary measure. Although...I guess if you wrote a piece you were proud of and didn't want it stolen by some lazy, ignorant sack of unemployed loser you could just put a watermark over what you perceived to be the least-impressive paragraph.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's a Better Legacy Than, Say, That of Gary Glitter

Some football stars lend their names and faces to clothing, cars, equipment, or charities. Washington Redskin Fred Smoot is all about his own "Smack energy bar". (Warning: clicking link will subject your ears to a horribly trite "clubbin'" hip hop beat that Lil Jon came up with by programming a drum and Korg pattern into his MPC then dropping it into the hot tub; it would behoove you to go to the bottom left and click "mute sound".)

Which is all very nice, as one cannot go wrong sponsoring food. Unless the food is made of dead children, which this Smack bar is almost certainly not. But when I found the picture above on the site I just...couldn' A snicker escaped my throat and I wondered there and then if Mr. Smoot would ever escape "The Sex Boat."

Should he, though? I mean, in case you've forgotten the Minnesota Vikings mini-scandal of two years ago, reacclimate yourself with it. These guys performed consensual sex acts on a boat. While athletics from the professional level on down is scarred with incidents of severe sexual misconduct, Fred Smoot showed a selflessness that should have had some womens organization somewhere in America nominating him for Male Athlete of the Year, or whatever award they normally bestow upon a sports figure who misses a game because his wife is giving birth.

I really hate rooting for a Redskin, but it would be an abdication of my very gender to turn my back on Fred Smoot. He isn't tackling very well this year, isn't getting interceptions, and LaRon Landry is already looking worlds better in this his first season, but don't you ever one covers the field like Fred Smoot.

Friday, October 5, 2007

To Which I Reply, "Go Italy!"

Chris Berman on ESPN after Brett Favre threw his record-breaking 422nd touchdown pass:

"Rooting for Brett Favre is like rooting for America. It just is."

Yeah, hurrah for scruffy pill-popping hillbillies who throw balls down a field.

Chris Berman is a large, annoying blot on the mediascape who has long outlived his usefulness to his network and profession of sports journalism. He just is. He's still clinging onto what made him in the first place, what seems like freaking eons ago: forced nicknames, buddying up to athletes, bellowing puff pieces for the players and the leagues, and avoiding controversy like it's a salad.

NBC's NFL coverage got a gigantic boost with the addition of Keith Olbermann. He was the best thing about ESPN during his years transforming the very face of "Sportscenter" (and left a legacy of egocentric referential anchors in his wake, but in his defense, hardly any of those hacks have his passion for the games or his wit, and also, blame a lot of that on Craig Kilborn as well), and now makes a show led--led!--by Bob Costas watchable.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I'm Doing WHAT For the Top Chef 3 Finale?

Inner conversations are enlightening so long as brevity is the rule.

"Now with a lot of this crap out of the way, I can get back to the blog."

"Great. You should live blog the Top Chef finale."

"Er? Nah. I don't live blog. This isn't a political debate, it's a reality show."

"I read somewhere it's great exercise of sorts for the blogger looking to either get back into or get into the blogging experience. Just please don't make it a habit."

I can't imagine being the person who live blogs regularly. Award shows, sports events, political's typing, not writing, and I still like to operate under the possible delusion that what I put up here on Trapper Jenn is quality writing. More often than not. So I may suck at this.

10:00 PM Oh shit, it's an audience. I thought we wouldn't have to deal with clappers till after the episode. For those unaware, the winner of this season will be announced live. I hope Hung loses and throws a chair bigger than himself at the ground.

10:01 God I hope Andy Cohen isn't at the reveal/reunion. I know, it's foolish to anticipate the Bravo honcho being anywhere else, but I seriously cannot stand him.

10:02 Chefs are getting ready in the bathroom. Casey is breathless and Hung is shirtless. How many viewers want it the other way around?

10:04 Casey still can't breathe. Stupid altitude.

10:05 Picking from the proteins/produce table, the chefs taste several items. Hung lamentably has not bitten into a Scotch Bonnet. Nice call on cooking duck, asshole. Ducks are for enjoying and taking pictures of, not eating. Way to confirm once and for all your utter lack of soul. Dale is mad 'cause the other two are doing prawns, kthx.

10:08 Holy shit, Rocco DiSpirito is Hung's sous chef. That motherfucker just walked out like a vision in white with an ego the size of a whale glowing from his magnificent chefly form. The greatest testament to the beauty of Aspen is that you could not even make out one bit of evidence re: the endless injections his face has undergone. Casey gets Michelle Bernstein and Dale, Todd English. Great twist. Interesting that Hung seems to think of the season, the bottom chefs were Micah, Clay and Howie. I would say he's not far off. At least none of them made placenta pesto like your boy Tre!

10:15 Oh the reunion is next week. "Chefs Gone Wild". Which means only one thing: Howie and Joey canoodling like two platypuses in love.

10:17 Rocco understands that Hung has a flavor.

10:19 Cameraman in the shot! Check for it on any of the 34 times this episode will be run this month. All those speedy knives...did I ever tell you about the time I sliced my left thumb on a meat slicer? Yeah, when I worked at the Woodpoint Bar and Grill. That's what happens when one places finishing the job at hand because you have a ride waiting outside on a higher priority than safety and common sense. That's such a key thing to know about a person, if they have physical scars, how many, and the backstories. Nose scar tales are almost always the best ones.

10:24 Reserving any and all judgments until I see the dishes. Though, the pork belly (Casey) and duck (Hung) might be the downfall of either.

10:26 Hung's bullshit translated into earth-people talk: "I really didn't even think about my artistically brilliant food having soul until the judges kept bringing it up. So now, I have decided to always mention it in hopes that I can convince someone that I actually make love to the food, not just fuck it."

10:28 Whenever I hear Hung talk about "soul", I save my sanity by hearing Lisa in the "Bart Sells His Soul" episode of The Simpsons. Then I imagine he gets hit in the head with a hot buttered roll. Sweet.

10:30 Fourth course? Bravo is in fact the evil. Oh shit, it's Sous Chefs! Oh my God, Howie! CJ! Hung cannot get Sara, they might actually work well together. SHIT! Casey is going to lose, she got SweatBull! CJ is going to put his fake ball in Hung's food! I love it!

10:32 Sara is the Queen. A Jamaican who looks like she's from India and talks like she's from Ireland. Unfortunately, I think she'll do her best for Hung. Although the last time she tried to do a dessert, in episode 4...dude. Oh, and there was the SS Caterus. Dude, if Hung loses off of Sara fucking up, she's up there with Lia in my heart forever. BFF, motherfuckers.

10:35 Casey is going as insane as you would expect someone to be when 100 grand is on the line and they are depending on Howie "Forgot to plate for Jesus at the Last Supper" Kleinberg. Love it. Shoulda rubbed his shiny dome for good luck, Casey!

10:37 It has hit me that Casey is fucked and I'm loving it. Sandbag this, ya pissy bitch! Ah, NYPD Blue. Remember that show? Hill Street Blues' recalcitrant nephew? It's getting more than 2 seasons out on DVD, why not the superior program that fathered its whole steezo? Fox Media can eat Tre's placenta pesto. Sara's Chicken ala King, even. Get Smart isn't in stores either. All sorts of injustices. Which I hope isn't tonight's theme.

10:41 Hey, Brian, not where you expected to be huh? Ha. They are dishing to an elite table outdoors. Dale's foie grase mousse looks eh, Casey's cinnamon scented scallop has foie grase apple going for it too and looks great. Hung's fish and chips is no doubt tastier than it looks. Ah, the judges agree. Fuck, live blogging those dish names is annoying.

10:43 Hung's got shrimp and cucumber salad. Ah, you lost me when you threw that vegetable in, loser. Dale has seared scallop. Oh shit it's Casey's poached prawn with lobster shit thrown in there. Dale getting raves, and of course, it's a goddamn scallop. Padma bringing up acid? Way to pay attention to people who know far more than you throughout the season, babe!

10:46 Jesus, this is like endless soup and shrimp at Red Lobster. Oh oh, duck time. Dale has brought lobster, corn, mushrooms and gnocchi. Casey has roasted a peach with her pork belly. Hmm. I find that flavor combination promising.

10:47 Hung is getting fellated by the judges. Dale was told to pull his pants back up. Casey got groped then slapped.

10:48 Hung has busted out le choco cake. Dale has poached lamb with squash. See Hung with shrimp, dude. Casey has seared sirloin with potatos. All of this looks like you just want to slam your face down onto the plate and have multis. Are they seriously considering Brian's opinion at the table? Dude almost wept at the sight of a hot air balloon.

10:50 Tom throwing his hands up in the air after someone else concedes a point to him is great. He takes this shit for serious.

10:51 The new Devo song Bravo is using in its ads is called "Watch Us Work It" and it's a welcome return to New Traditionalists-era Spudgunnery. The drum pattern is pretty much the one on "The Super Thing", but to recycle awesomeness is less an indicator of laziness than lazy brilliance. Ruminate on that one.

10:55 Hung has gone on record as saying if he does not win, the show is confirmed as a "fraud." Hung is already confirmed as Napoleon reincarnated as a pygmy sous chef.

10:57 Judges table. Dale gets a largely positive review. Padma just slurred out "repertoire".

10:58 Casey, there were leeks! I swear on everything I hold holy, which is basically nothing, that there were leeks with that goddamn dish! Stop this cutesy, shucks, um, lemme-splain-suttin' act, Casey. You were nervous and Howie was the pot of coffee that your central nervous system did not need. Big mile smile here.

11:00 Gail is gonna make Hung cry. Do it, Gail! Twist the knife!

11:01 Fuck "modern", chocolate cake wins as dessert with every freaking meal imaginable. I could just see Hung pulling out mille feuille and getting dissed for going "easy French".

11:04 Dale had a little lamb...and yes, I did just want to reach into the TV and bring a plate of it out. Shit, now I'm thinking of the lamb in "Lisa the Vegetarian".

11:06 Oh shit, here come the chefs! "Yay" goes the audience. Hung is eating this up like it wasn't Dale's lobster, Dale is trying not to form a puddle, and Casey is going to cry because Howie Kleinberg still lives.

11:09 Hung for the win. How I loathe that talented son-of-a-wet-wood-wanderer. Padma slurs out his name, and here comes the family, and we see Hung's soul at last! Oh you did it, you arrogant ass! Smile through the tears! You're gonna make it after aaaaaaalllllll! Insufferable prick.

11:11 Please be Dale, please be Dale.

11:13 Casey, utter a pause-free sentence once, please.

11:14 Ah, they finally saw Hung in his food! I musta missed the refried dick he dished tonight.

11:15 Hung won. See 11:09. I'm glad I typed that out already so I can destroy windows with the delicacy, ability, and strength I know I am capable of.

11:16 Oh God, Marcel. The guy who makes Hung seem like St. Francis of Assisi. Yeah, that's what winning looks like, Logan.

WHEW. That was a hell of an end to the season. Hung earned it, no question. Sara Mair, though? She's cool, but...she can now never be Lia.