Warning: Don't even consider reading this article if you haven't seen the latest episode of Breaking Bad yet, you loon.
After about 59 minutes of causing you to vomit out your entire central nervous system, Breaking Bad set its dear viewer to a state of blissful melancholy as Walter White rode off into a silent sunset, shotgun to a faceless criminal who specializes in making people "disappear." Not in the dead way, in the starting life anew way. But after Saul Goodman's phantom associate whisked an all-but-defeated Heisenberg off to the Granite State (as far as we can surmise from the flash forwards), we caught glimpse of a stray dog skipping across the road, hopping swiftly aboard the curb as the screen faded to black.
What the hell was up with that?
After an episode that packed an impossibly chaotic rise and fall, plot turns that contort every theory and preconceived notion to which we might hold fast, a stampede upon all of our emotional investments in the Breaking Bad characters, we close on a dog. After what felt like a veritable sweep of each of the tall drama's many chapters, a border collie scampers along the Albuquerque highway. After Walt watches his brother-in-law get shot in the face, knife fights his wife, gets tackled by his teenage son, kidnaps his baby daughter, and tells his best friend that he watched the love of his life choke to death on her own vomit, we fade out on f**king Lassie.
The extended canine metaphor dates back, most memorably, to the fourth season episode "Problem Dog," in which Jesse Pinkman, crushing under the weight of his own guilt, subs in the titular moniker to identify Gale Boetticher, whom he murdered at the behest of Walt. Two years later, we revisited the theme with "Rabid Dog," in which Saul batted around an Old Yeller analogy to suggest that Walt put a paroxysmal Jesse to certain rest. And two weeks after that, we see Jesse chained up by Todd — weird, weird Todd — after Walt chokes up from a stomach full of resentful agony an abandonment of his friend and partner and casts him off to the clutches of the neo-Nazis.
Jesse is leashed in the ad hoc meth lab by Todd, who baits the tortured young man with a snapshot of his cherished ex-girlfriend Andrea and her son Brock. Closing in this image, of Jesse itching with horror over the idea of these monsters having his family in their eyeline, we know that Jesse must find his way to freedom... we hope it, anyway. And perhaps the galloping hound is meant to all but shout this outright. Walt is out of the picture, New Hampshire bound to leave the mess he has created behind him. But this story, as we know, is not over — even if we hadn't seen the flash forwards, there are still two more episodes to go. There are still dogs left runnin' around.
But is this an inherently good sign for Jesse? The tone attached to the final seconds of the episode was terrifically ominous, as has been every mention of dogs this show has ever produced. Breaking Bad's utilization of the canine race is far more in line with The Sopranos' use of the dead Christopher's cat than with Lost's use of life-affirming Vincent. To this viewer, the border collie sauntering across the ABQ highway didn't quite have the feeling of a spirited pup throwing caution to the wind to make the world his oyster (or whatever a dog's equivalent of an oyster would be... like, maybe, a rubber squeak toy shaped like an oyster? Would a dog be into that?), rather an on-the-run, cold-and-alone, doom-around-the-corner feeling. Jesse's story might not be over yet, but it's on its last flea-bitten legs.
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It turns out, the Internet was right — people like cats.
Some people, anyway. Historically, the issue of feline affection is more divisive than most political elections. But enough people are on the tabby bandwagon to have voted the domestic silvestris into a revered community: Monopoly pieces. Last month, Hasbro opened a public vote to decide which of its original pawns would be ousted, and which of a set of five candidates would be brought on board (pun excessively intended). The results, as of Wednesday morning, have named the cat as Monopoly's newest addition — beating out a robot (with a mustache!), a diamond ring, a guitar, and a helicopter.
But, more importantly, our focus shifts to the retired veteran: the iron, which is losings its spot among its longtime colleagues (the Scottie dog, the racecar, the top hat, the boot, the battleship, the wheelbarrow, and the thimble — perish the thought that our dear pitted needle safeguard be doomed to oblivion).
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For many, the dismissal of the iron marks celebration, highlighting a new, progressive attitude inhabited by the board game — in fact, #LiberalMonopolyPieces began trending on Twitter when the change was announced. But as the iron is cast into the fire, we must look toward a new era of Monopoly. One for which we might not be adequately prepared.
Monopoly serves now as the perfect communion for any diverse family or clique. Suggestions to play are met with a universal, "Yeah, okay," during middle school sleepover parties or winter getaways when everybody is too tired to go skiing. Everybody's fine with it, because it has something for everybody. Not the gameplay, necessarily — only your a**hole friend Troy, who always wins despite the fact that he was a freakin' fine arts major, seems to actually be having fun — but the pieces. More so than your choice of favorite ice cream flavor, summer song, or Ninja Turtle is your go-to Monopoly piece wholly telling of your character.
The Scottie Dog: You're playful, the heart and soul of the group, more interested in a whimsical adventure around Atlantic City than in any cold-hearted buy-and-sell nonsense.
The Racecar: You're ambitious, the cutthroat go-getter, the one who'll probably take the victory via any means necessary (and brandish your company with shame as a result).
The Top Hat: You're wry, a trickster of sorts, whose skills in Monopoly come from mindgames and a probing understanding of your weak-willed cohorts' fragile psyches.
The Boot: You're brutish and determined, but honest to a fault — you'll vie for the win with hard-work and dedication, rather than deceit and manipulation.
The Battleship: You're wrathful, tortured, haunted. You're not out to win, but you are out to make sure your sworn enemy (everybody has one in their group of friends) loses, and you'll team up with racecars and top hats alike to take down that nefarious jackass you so despise.
The Wheelbarrow: You don't really know what's going on. You're pretty drunk.
The Thimble: You're weird, and everybody loves you for it. Except maybe battleship, whom might want you dead.
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And then there was the iron — the compassionate sort with a clean head on his or her shoulders, one to level the playing field when racecar sped ahead (for the good of the group), one who kept battleship's warfare in check, one who enabled Scottie dog's childlike yelps and scampers, one who held wheelbarrow's hair back during mid-game vomit fits. But now, iron is gone... and we have cat.
And we have to wonder what this might do to the group dynamic. Can those likely to opt for cat uphold the responsibilities of iron's good nature? Or will cat-choosers, like the featured mammal itself, instead adopt their own brand of cunning, duplicitous, antisocial gameplay (I'm a dog person, sue me), thrusting the entire well-manufactured harmony of Monopoly into chaos?
Fear for your lives, slumber party-goers and cabin vacationers. What was once a marginally fun pastime might now erupt in Armageddon. And here I always thought it'd be Don't Wake Daddy that'd be our undoing...
[Photo Credit: Steven Senne/AP; Hasbro]
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The Brazilian beauty's pooch Vida passed away earlier this week (begs01Oct12).
Taking to her official Facebook.com page to announce the sad news, Bundchen wrote, "My best friend, she will always live on in my heart. Let's never take for granted the unconditional love that our animals show us every single day."
Bundchen, who is rumoured to be pregnant with her second child, uploaded a snap of herself with the Yorkshire Terrier alongside the statement.
Beep. "Hello, everyone. This is Sonja T. Morgan, authoress of Buns in My Oven: The Toaster Oven Cookbook now available from Home Eatins Press. Please do not leave a message. I am too busy to check them and um, like use that thing on the computer or do the typing with your thumbs instead....Oh, damn." Beep. "Good evening. I am Sonja Morgan. Don't leave a message. I am sick of hearing your voice unless you are moaning my name or saying, 'Yes,' when I ask you to spend money on me. Please just throw your Blackberry in the toilet and never talk to me again....Oh, that's too mean." Beep. "Hey, girl, it's Sonja. Holla!....Oh god, I sound like Heather." Beep. "Guys, it's Sonja. Do not leave a message, unless you are royalty. Then you can leave a message. Or if you're European, then I guess it's OK. But not if you're American. Or the Countess, because we all know that title....Damn. This is hard." Beep. "Hi, It's Sonja. Don't leave a message, just text or email and my intern will get back to you. Smooches!"
That is what Sonja Tremont Morgan sounds like trying to record a message on her Blackberry, a device that she uses to stop up her toilet. Actually, two of the seven toilets in her house are currently stuffed with Blackberries. I'm not sure why Sonja continues to do this. Maybe where she is from, a small Pennsylvania town that just finally got electricity in the early '80s, they always threw their mail in the outhouse hole to help cover up the smell and now she does the same thing in fancy New York City. I don't know, but things are rough for Sonja. Yes, she has an intern Elizabeth Millsapps, of the Orlando Millsapps, and she is living with Sonja for free and working off her debt like an indentured debutante. I also have a feeling that Sonja makes her sleep in the busted down Saab that she keeps in the parking garage next to her townhouse.
But, no, life is rough for Sonja right now because her dog got hit by a car, her toilets are clogged, she's doing her own electrical work like a damn lesbian, and she only has this free intern to bring her her chocolate shake, vitamins, and medication in the morning and the girl almost gave her the dog's pain pills! You get what you pay for, Sonja. (Also, dog pain pills will do in a pinch.)
Sonja's still my favorite even though everyone was having really silly arguments last night. Most of it has to do with whether or not Heather is going to invite Ramona on her little jaunt to London or not. She will not. It was all just silly drama.
But do you know who I am in a fight with? My former best friend Carole Radziwill. It turns out that she has another handsome gay friend (well, he's definitely handsome and he may or may not be gay, but he's hanging with a Housewife, what do you think the over under on that is, and by over under I mean whether he sleeps over or under another man). His name is Tripp, as in Linda, and I f-word-ing hate him. He lives downstairs from Carole and they become friends and she watches his cats (ugh, who has cats?!) when he's away and they hang out together. Ugh, he's so awful. "Hi, my name is Tripp. I live downstairs from Carole Radziwill who is super awesome and I just go upstairs and say, 'Hi, Carole, wanna sit on the stoop and drink white wine and pick out tourists' outfits? Hi, Carole, wanna go check out Occupy Wall Street and laugh at the hippies? Hi, Carole, do you wanna watch Myra Breckinridge and then I'll do you up with some Rachel Welch tranny realness? Hi, Carole, yes you look fierce in that caftan dress thing, now let me do your hair up in the back like one Princess Leia bun and you will look flawless. Werq, sister! You are pissing on it right now, hunty.'" Ugh, that should be my job! I should be freaking Tripp, not Tripp. He's a jerk. I am going to find a way to kill Tripp (with two P's, like a Palin) in his sleep (not really.)
Anyway, Carole went to Occupy Wall Street and was afraid she was the 1% (sorry, Carole, you're too poor) and she covered it like she was a journalist and took pictures and when she takes pictures, she actually looks through the view finder in the camera, holding it up to her eye like Black Beard holds up a telescope to his eye and screams, "Chips Ahoy!" (that's what pirates say, right?) and it makes me want to pick on Carole for not looking at the screen on a digital camera, but even that is so damn cute. Oh, Carole. I love you so.
Alright, what else happened this episode? Oh, not much. What ever happens. What ever happened happened, as a hack would tell you, and we don't really care about what happened, do we? We just care about judging these ladies. Let's judge ¡Que Viva!, because she deserves it. ¡Que Viva! is a freaking basket case. She is nuttier than a jockstrap. She can't even ride in an elevator or go on a plane without a Xanax and a glass of rosé (I would say that she can really drink a lot of wine because she has a hollow leg, but that seems like it might be in poor taste). She tries to pretend like she's not, like on the outside she's this big tough St. Bernard with some brandy around her neck but on the inside she's a quaking chihuahua who is about to blow over in the breeze and really needs to drink some brandy. She also plays both sides of the fence. She tells Ramona that Heather talks too much, but then she tells Heather that she can talk as much as she wants and she doesn't mind. This is going to get you in trouble faster than anything else on the Housewives. You can be a totally C U Never Tomorrow to someone's face and they won't care, but if you're not being "real" and telling everyone what they want to hear, no one will want to hear anything from you.
Rexxx is a superstar dog in Hollywood with movies such as Jurassic Bark and The Fast and the Furrious on his plate. On the set of his latest movie he is being a diva refusing to come to the set because one of the spotted coats in his trailer reminds him of a snooty Dalmation who broke his heart. Eventually Rexxx’s people convince him he can outlive the Taco Bell Chihuahua dog's legacy if he performs this one great stunt. But while diving out of an airplane Rexxx forgets his parachute and lands in a truck full of tomatoes. He ends up running into a boy Shane (Josh Hutcherson) who’s really not into dogs. Shane’s dad is a fire captain (Bruce Greenwood) and the boy’s extended family is a group of well-meaning misfit firefighters at the Dogpatch Station. They're in constant competition with their rival fire station and the city manager (Steven Culp) is warning the Dogpatch Station that they will soon be closing down. On top of it all there are lots of mysterious fires breaking out around Dogpatch. Can Rexxx help save the day? Hutcherson is an amiable child star. After his recent dramatic role in Bridge to Terabithia and as the older brother in Zathura it's clear he's got a long career ahead of him. He comes across as clever and sensible while the world around him is often going haywire. And the young actor has a superb connection with Greenwood as his distant father. Also doing a fine job is Culp as the city manager and Greenwood’s best friend. The last time these two veteran character actors starred together was in Thirteen Days. Teddy Sears (TV’s Ugly Betty) is particularly funny and charming as the fireman who keeps sliding on top of his fellow firefighters when going down the pole. But of course this is a dog's movie and the four Irish setters used to play the lead pup do some pretty cool stunts and reaction shots. Rexxx comes across as delightfully personable even though he smells bad. Director Todd Holland certainly knows how to direct family stories after winning three Emmys for Malcolm in the Middle. This father-son story centers on a recent tragedy and neither of them deal well with it instead becoming more and more distant from each other. Of course the dog’s intrusion brings them together but the storyline cleverly dances a fine line between the stereotypical genres. Firehouse Dog has both laugh-out-loud moments as well as warm fuzzy teary-eyed moments that feel very real. Of course some of the absurd facial expressions and Matrix-like moves by the dog are computer generated but it's not distracting--and not too obvious. The movie is fun for kids and parents to see together especially if they have a dog at home.
Professor Brody (Jeff Goldblum) is a mad scientist type who spends his days locked in the test tube-filled basement of his upper middle-class home in hopes of developing a potential cure for dog allergies. A group of vigilante felines led by Persian cat Mr. Tinkles sets out to sabotage the professor's work in a bid to take over the world. The dogs in order to protect their standing as man's best friend decide to send out their best undercover agent to protect the professor's lab and the Brody household but a barnyard snafu results in them sending Lou an unsuspecting and clumsy beagle instead. Rather than replace the unskilled pup the dogs decide to make do with what they have and attempt to train Lou to be a cutthroat agent. Lou's greatest challenge however is that he is not allowed to develop a bond with the Brody's which would interfere with his mission and the greater good of dogs all over the world. It's a cute story that unfortunately gets boring really quickly which is not a good thing for a film marketed to kids with short attention spans.
Golblum plays the role of Professor Brody as well as such a one-dimensional role can be played. His character spends a little too much time in the basement emerging sporadically to test his vaccines by sniffing or at times licking the family pet. It's difficult to drum up sympathy for him and his family when they get kidnapped by Mr. Tinkle's henchmen in exchange for the professor's research. The part just seems too ridiculous for an actor like Goldblum and too sharp a contrast from his past roles like Seth Brundle in The Fly or David Levinson in Independence Day. Elizabeth Perkins as Carolyn his wife and Alexander Pollock as their son Scott have minimal and unmemorable roles. There were several impressive names in the voice cast including Tobey Maguire Alec Baldwin Sean Hayes Susan Sarandon Michael Clarke Duncan Jon Lovitz and Charlton Heston but none were distinctive enough to add anything special to their animal counterparts. Hayes is entertaining enough as Mr. Tinkles but a cat can only object to wearing a bonnet and getting bathed so often.
Boone Narr who was the animal trainer and stunt coordinator on the set does a mind-boggling job with the real-life animals and the Jim Henson Creature Shop which received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for the film Babe created the puppets so you know they're fantastic. The different visual effects used throughout the film-including puppets animatronics and computer-generated imagery (CGI)--morph together so well it is difficult to discern where the real animals end and the puppets begin. The sets are interesting enough visually especially the Flocking Factory with its industrial revolution machinery and the dog's secret headquarters (though one has to wonder why the dogs used a human keyboard made for bony fingers rather than a more ergonomically designed one for fluffy paws). Despite all the visuals the film lulls after the first 30 minutes and doesn't regain its momentum not even at the climax. The concept is great and while everyone loves a good turf war especially between dogs and cats there just isn't enough substance to pull this film together.
David Arquette is happy-go-lucky Gordon Smith a dog-fearing postman in the Jersey 'burbs who likes to hang with his buddy Benny (Anthony Anderson) watching sports and eating Cheetos and enjoying a life free of responsibility. Until that is the hot neighbor Stephanie (Leslie Bibb) he's been trying unsuccessfully to date is left without a babysitter and leaves her young son James (Angus T. Jones) in his care. Meanwhile mobster baddie Sonny Talia (Paul Sorvino) puts a hit out on the hardworking FBI canine Agent Eleven who helped bust up his drug deal. Eleven escapes protective custody and ends up hitching a ride in - you guessed it -- Gordon's mail delivery truck. Now Sonny's hit men (and the FBI) are after all three of them.
Arquette who's best known for his AT&T spots "Scream" movie roles and marriage to "Friend" Courteney Cox is good at pulling off the physical comedy required to portray a kid in a grown man's body with his wild hair wacky attitude fart jokes and breakdancing abilities. While most kiddie flicks feature annoyingly precocious tots you'd rather strangle than watch on-screen the pudgy terrifyingly cute Jones comes across just like any regular kid. You wouldn't guess that perfect-looking Leslie Bibb ("Popular") could be so appealing but she's willing to get dirty -- literally - and is able to pull off slapstick schtick with the best of 'em. Michael Clarke Duncan as Agent Eleven's way-too-devoted human partner Murdoch is over-the-top silly but gets plenty of laughs. The dog's cute too.
Director John Whitesell whose only other film credit is 1993's "Calendar Girl " does a good job of hanging this not-so-original tale around a likeable energetic cast that really looks like they're having fun. Thankfully the movie doesn't go overboard with sentimentality -- "Spot" hits the right emotional spot tempering the tear-jerking stuff with juvenile comedy and throwing in some jokes that'll make adults laugh too. Young and old will enjoy this movie although it might be overlong and too confusing for some very little ones to follow and some of the humor gets pretty gross - watching the hapless Arquette roll around in doggy doo for 10 minutes was a bit much.