Monday, April 29, 2013

"SouthLAnd" -- My Favorite "Bad Ben" Moment

"SouthLAnd" again.  Yeah.

As you know, if you are a "SouthLAnd" fan, Officer Ben Sherman has -- put simply -- gone from being a kind-hearted, wide-eyed rookie to being "Bad Ben" (as my Bridget likes to call him).  He began the series as a new cop eager to do the job as it was taught to him at the Police Academy, but has become an "ends justifies the means" type of dude -- seeming to proclaim himself the ultimate "arbiter of good and evil."  The path taken by Officer Ben has been executed beautifully by the "SouthLAnd" folk -- creators, producers, writers, directors, costume designers, hair stylists, make-up artists, and, of course, the actor (Mr. Ben McKenzie) himself.  Our ride-along with this character has been an unexpected journey -- filled with heroism, hope, adventure, romance, suspense, and heartbreak.  And the whole thing culminated in the Season 5 finale with Officer Sherman lying (laying???) on the ground in seeming defeat, suffering the consequences of his misguided decisions.

This Tale Of Officer Sherman has been wonderful for the show and for the actor.  It has brought depth and complexity to "SouthLAnd," and has shown the extraordinary ability of Mr. McKenzie to portray different types of characters.  Nobody will ever be able to pigeon-hole this guy from here on out.  The whole thing has also been, perhaps, just a little bit hard on the hearts of us viewers.  I have to admit, though, that it can be kind of fun watching Officer Ben be a bad guy.  At times, it has even been amusing.  And I would like to share with you one of the moments in which -- I admit -- I was actually grinning.  And giggling.

In Episode 10 of Season 5, Officer Ben is, basically, panic-stricken.  The walls are closing in around him, and the heaviest of those walls involves the fact that he had his girlfriend's rather dim-witted brother break into his partner's house to steal a potentially career-ending videotape.  The escapade, naturally, went awry; and now Officer Ben is trying to keep his very bright, former-detective partner from figuring the whole situation out.  Part of Officer Ben's strategy is to threaten his girlfriend's brother and convince him to leave town.

So, we see Officer Ben lurking behind a wall in his cop uniform, awaiting the arrival of the unsuspecting brother, whose name is Chris.  Chris comes nonchalantly walking along, not a care in the world, when he is spotted by Officer Ben.  Officer Ben peeks out from around the corner -- where he is hiding like a hunter in a duck blind -- and whistles at Chris.  HE. WHISTLES.  In a way that is both menacing and rather hilarious.  And I find myself in a fit of giggles on my sofa.  And I am thinking to myself, "I have no idea who thought of that whistle thing right there.  I have no idea if it was the writers or the director or Mr. McKenzie.  But, whoever thought of it was freaking brilliant."  Officer Ben then marches (?), strides (?), walks authoritatively and with great purpose (?) over to Chris and proceeds to deliver a rather frightening speech about how he's gonna "bury him" if he tries to pull anything that would incriminate Officer Ben in any type of way, etc.  Officer Ben "encourages" Chris to make himself scarce and backs this encouragement up by stuffing what appears to be a wad of cash into the ignorant fool's pocket. (Officer Ben always has plenty of cash on hand.  Trust fund from his dysfunctional parents, I suppose.)

I find myself just loving this whole scene.  I find myself gleefully imagining what I would do if I were Chris's mother.  Because, frankly, if I were Chris's mother, the boy would not be able to leave town without me wresting from him all the facts about what in the hell was going on.  Actually -- if I were Chris's mother -- I would have had a handle on the whole situation long ago, and it never would have gotten so far and Officer Ben would not be hanging out with my either of my kids.  But, anyway, once I had extracted all the information about this ridiculous situation from my ridiculous son, I would have given Officer Ben a little speech of my own that would have sent him -- tail between his legs -- back to that Castaic place from whence he came.

(Excuse me, please.  I am having too much fun here.)

So, back to my point.  Which was???  Oh, yes.  I remember.

My point was -- and is -- that although the phenomenon of "Bad Ben" is rather hard on us Officer Sherman fans, it can also be a fascinating thing to watch -- and sometimes even a lot of fun.  And I am grateful for this to all of the people who bring us "SouthLAnd."  It has been quite a roller coaster ride.  And I do love roller coasters. ;-)  

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why I Love The "SouthLAnd" Strippers

First of all, I really don't know anything about strippers.  So, if you are more knowledgeable about this profession than I -- and I make errors in this post -- please forgive me.

I just really love the strippers in "SouthLAnd."  And I would enjoy telling you why.

What strippers do I mean?  In Season 5, Episode 1, of this epic television show, Officer Ben Sherman receives a big LAPD award.  In order to celebrate the occasion, the nefarious Officer Mendoza arranges a bash for Officer Ben and all their police buddies at a strip club called Cheetah's.  I think that's what it's called, anyhow.  Officer Ben, always one to support the morale of the team, humbly accepts Officer Mendoza's kind gesture.  Thus, at the end of the episode, we viewers find ourselves being vicarious guests at Officer Ben's party.

My impression of this scene is that the creators of "SouthLAnd" use an authentic strip club and authentic strippers.  I mean, why wouldn't they?  They use real cops and real gang members for the show, so why not real strippers in a real strip club?  I have never been in a strip club (and this is not a moral statement; it is just a fact), so I have no objective basis for saying this.  But, the whole thing just feels real to me.  One of the reasons that it feels real to me is that not one of the girls is going around announcing that she is a "law student."  Have you ever noticed that the vast majority of TV and movie strippers are law students? Not that there aren't strippers who are law students.  And if you are a stripper who is a law student, I mean no offense.  But, our entertainment industry seems to want us to believe that something like 99% of strippers are future lawyers.

Anyway, this brings me to why I love the strippers in "SouthLAnd."

I love them because they look and act like real women.  They are pretty.  But, they also look a bit worldly-wise and world-weary.  They obviously haven't had the good things of life handed to them on a silver platter, and they don't expect to.  And because they have had it rough, they have had to develop a bit of grit and determination to survive.  They have had to be tough.  But, you can also see that these ladies have hearts that have, perhaps, been bruised and broken.  And that bruised, brokenness comes through.  You see a bit of vulnerability.  A little sadness, maybe.  But, these ladies are strong.  They are survivors.  And I find myself rooting for them.

Again, I don't mean to offend anyone.  I don't wish to make unfair generalizations.  It's just that -- like everything else in "SouthLAnd" -- I feel this particular scene presents us with a view of the world and of humanity that is multi-layered, complex, and thought-provoking.  The people who "do" this show aren't afraid to rattle our cages a bit.  And this little gem of a scene is no exception to that rule.

How the Republicans have the Catholics by the...


I went to early Mass this morning with my daughter Bridget.  She likes to go to early Mass.  And since, because of her health issues, she is unable to drive, I went with her.  I usually go to a later Mass, as I am no longer much of a morning person.  In my youth, I was very much a morning person.  Not anymore.  And not being a morning person combined with being at early Mass made me a little cranky, which made me start to think about the topic of this post.  I have thought about it other times -- when I was not cranky.  But, my crankiness in combination with my middle-aged broad menopausal-ness have given me the audacity to actually write about it.

As we all know, if we have been paying any attention whatsoever, is that the Republican party has essentially become the party of the those who oppose legalized abortion and the Democratic party has essentially become the party of those who support legalized abortion.

The Catholic Church teaches very strongly against abortion -- legal or otherwise.  It is not my purpose in this post to discuss this teaching, but what this teaching has wrought politically in our country.

When my parents were young, most Catholics were Democrats.  My mother explained to me when I was growing up that the Democratic party was the party of the "working person" -- it supported labor rights and a social safety net for people who worked hard for a modest living.   And most Catholics were working people.  Hence, most of them were Democrats.

As time went on, the Democrats began to support many other ideas that are very "Catholic."  The Democratic party still supports a strong social safety net for the poor and the elderly, and champions the right of working people to a living wage and a safe work environment.  It also views access to adequate healthcare, housing, and education as essential to human dignity; sees war as something to be engaged in only as a very last resort; promotes the welcoming of the immigrant; and encourages us all to work in solidarity to form a civil society that allows for all people to live according to their beliefs.

The Democratic party also supports abortion rights.

And herein lies the conundrum for Catholics -- and this is how the Republicans have them by the balls.

Because the Republican party does not support abortion rights, and because many in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church have made statements to the effect that the abortion issue should be seen as the top priority for Catholic voters, a lot of Catholic voters will vote for Republicans based primarily -- or even solely -- on this issue.  I have personally known Catholics who vote this way.  I have also personally known Catholics who feel that you are endangering your immortal soul if you vote for a pro-choice Democrat -- even if you vote for that person based on issues other than abortion.

But, there is a danger to this.  It basically gives the Republicans a pass to potentially get away with what I will call "crap" without a whole lot of scrutiny by the Catholics.  I have, at times, seen Catholics almost turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to some of the objectionable things Republicans say and do as long as those Republicans "toe the line" as far as abortion is concerned.  And this worries me. It worries me because I think the Republicans are very well aware of this situation, and I think that at least some of them take advantage of it from time to time.

Please know that I realize I am generalizing a great deal in this post.  Most Catholics are not mindless dupes.  Maybe some politicians are people of good character.  I do not mean to say that Republicans are war-mongers who don't care about poor people.  I do not mean to say that Democrats are all selfless do-gooders.  There are even Republicans who are pro-choice and Democrats who oppose legalized abortion.  My main purpose here is to point out the danger -- no matter what political party you belong to -- of having one issue become so overwhelmingly important that it leaves you vulnerable to those who might manipulate you to their own ends.

Friday, April 26, 2013

"SouthLAnd" -- John Cooper's Drug Dealer

There are a couple of "SouthLAnd" characters who I have particularly enjoyed, even though they have had smaller parts. 

One of these characters is John Cooper's drug dealer from the earlier seasons of the show.  This guy is often seen in the gay bar, selling Officer Cooper his supply of pain pills.  Sometimes, he shows up in other locations.  What especially intrigues me about Mr. Drug Dealer is that he appears to be wearing a Scapular.  If you are a Catholic, you may know what a Scapular is.  It is worn about the neck, much like a crucifix or a holy medal.  It is made of cloth with a small crucifix and St. Benedict medal attached to it.  And there are some words printed on the cloth.  If it is the Brown Scapular -- such as the one the drug dealer seems to be wearing -- it has a promise of Mary stating that if you die wearing the Scapular, you will not suffer the eternal fire.  Of course, this promise only applies under certain conditions -- one of these conditions being that you have some sorrow in your heart for whatever wrong you have done in your life.  The Brown Scapular was reportedly given to the Church by the Blessed Mother to St. Simon Stock in the thirteenth century.

(Aside:  Just so you know, Catholics are not required to wear -- or even believe in -- the Brown Scapular.) 

So, here is a drug dealer in a gay bar selling illicit pain killers to John Cooper -- while wearing a Scapular.  And I think it is brilliant.  It is a wardrobe item that gives you great insights into this character, especially when combined with the things he says and does.  He never seems to be completely at ease with the idea that Cooper could suffer death, or even serious health consequences, from the drugs he is taking.  He warns him more than one time that he is taking too much.  Of course, the dealer makes this concern out to be self-interest on his part.  After all, he tells John, having one of his customers die would be bad for business.  And so it would be.  But, the dealer -- through his facial expressions and body language -- appears to have more than self-centered motivations.  We see an inkling of actual concern in this man.  Perhaps he was raised as a Catholic -- it is possible that his family background is Hispanic, for example -- and his conscience has not been fully erased, even through his rather nefarious profession. 

The writers of "SouthLAnd" have always been amazing.  They have created characters that are complex and multi-layered.  Nobody is completely good or evil.  All struggle as human beings.  We have consistently seen this with the main characters.  And perhaps it is true with the more minor ones, as well.  Maybe care was taken by the writers of the show to make even this character -- with a relatively small role -- someone who would be thought-provoking.  And if this is the case, whoever had the idea of putting a Scapular around the guy's neck... Well... My hat is off to you.

Maybe my eyes deceived me -- I do not see as well as I used to -- and it is not actually a Scapular the drug dealer is wearing.  In that case, what I have written is so much dust in the wind.  Although, Scapular or no Scapular, John Cooper's drug dealer will always stand out in my mind as one of the more outstanding of "SouthLAnd's" supporting characters.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bridget, Ben, and Fred...

...Fred Nietzsche, that is.

As you may or may not know, last week was the Season 5 finale of "SouthLAnd."  In an interview he did before it aired, Ben McKenzie discusses his character (Ben Sherman).  He says, if I recall correctly, that Officer Sherman has come to see himself as the arbiter of good and evil.

My daughter Bridget -- student of philosophy -- upon thinking about this, created a meme which she sent to Mr. McKenzie via Twitter.  This meme involved a photo of the book "Beyond Good And Evil -- Prelude To A Philosophy Of The Future" by Friedrich Nietzsche.  The meme also included the words, "Ben Sherman's Slippery Slope."  She sent this meme to Mr. McKenzie accompanied by Mr. Nietzsche's statement, "He who fights with monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster."

I guess this pleased Mr. McKenzie because he Retweeted it.

And that got me to reflecting on political relationships in our country.

Bridget is, in a nutshell, a traditional Catholic.  Ben McKenzie appears to be, in a nutshell, a progressive.  Yet, they seem to agree that proclaiming oneself to be the "arbiter of good and evil" is a bad idea.

This got me to thinking about conservatives and progressives, in general, and how they view each other.  And how they might be misunderstanding one another.  And how -- even though there are issues on which they will probably never agree -- they might be able to stop fearing each other.  Because I do see a lot of fear, of the progressives by the conservatives, and of the conservatives by the progressives.  And it makes me sad.  How can we, after all, move forward as a country if we fear each others "agendas?"

This is where the Ben and Bridget thing can, perhaps, help us gain a better understanding of one another.

The conservatives I have spent time with (most of whom are traditional Catholics and other varieties of Christians) feel that the progressives are making themselves the arbiters of good and evil -- especially on the issues of abortion and gay rights.  Most religious conservatives see God as the ultimate arbiter of good and evil and react negatively to the progressive view, which they see as human beings trying to take the place of God.  Many of them see the progressive view as erring in the same way that Adam and Eve erred in the Garden of Eden -- pridefully believing that they could decide right and wrong for themselves, disdaining the Lord's ultimate authority in this area.  

The more progressive people I have spent time with, though, have expressed to me the following idea:  They feel that the conservatives/Christians/Catholics are making THEMSELVES the ultimate arbiters of good and evil by trying to impose their belief system on the rest of society.  They get a little freaked out when they hear the Pope or the Bishops or other religious people telling them what they should believe and do based on (what appears to them) to be their personal religious opinions.  These progressives -- especially secular ones, but even some religious ones that I have known -- believe that there needs to be adequate space for non-religious people to make their own moral choices, without being pressured by either religious authority or religious individuals.

So, to me, this is how people of seemingly very different worldviews can hold a common idea -- in this case, the idea that it is not wise for an individual to view himself as the ultimate arbiter of good and evil --  but how they can view that idea from different perspectives.  And if these different people can come to understand one another better, then maybe we can converse with each other instead of fearing each other.

Maybe Bridget, Ben, and Fred have shown us a little bit of the way forward.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"SouthLAnd", Shawn Hatosy, And Bangs

As you all know -- or should know by now -- I love the television show "SouthLAnd."

Two of my favorite characters on the show are Sammy Bryant and Ben Sherman, who are (or were) epic cop partners.  The best cop partners since Reed and Malloy.  Until their epic cop partnership fell apart in a dramatic fashion in last week's season finale.

The first time I watched "SouthLAnd", though, I was impressed with neither of these guys.  It was the middle of Season 4, and what stood out to me about the two of them in the episode I saw was the following:  First, Ben Sherman is seen leaping out of a bedroom window in his skivvies after apparently having been engaged in a menage a trois.  He has to leap out of the window after the husband of one of the ladies arrives home unexpectedly.  And he actually COMPLAINS about having to leap out of the window.  "Beggars can't be choosers," I thought to myself.  He struck me as a spineless little man.  Second, Ben and Sammy are driving around in their squad car, engaged in some "guy talk."  They observe a couple of overweight ladies walking by on the sidewalk and proceed to make some rather boarish remarks.  Then Sammy says something to this effect, "My father told me, 'Son, if you're like me you'll go to bed with a lot of beautiful women.  But, you'll wake up with a bunch of ugly ones.'"  He and Ben then appear to be quite pleased with themselves and their advanced senses of humor.   At this point, you can imagine what this middle-aged broad was thinking about these two characters.  I was not expecting to ever like them very much.

(I'm sorry if I have not gotten all the details of this episode exactly right.  I watched it a while ago and I am too lazy to go watch it again before writing this post.)

As time goes on, though, I come to love Sammy and Ben.  I come to see their heroism.  I enjoy watching them run around with their guns and hand cuffs, knocking bad guys to the ground and taking them into custody.  I love watching them drive the squad car -- especially during high speed chases.  I come to enjoy their sense of humor and relationship with each other.  In short, they do become my favorite cop duo since the days of "Adam 12." 

Eventually, I start to follow them on Twitter.  Not Sammy Bryant and Ben Sherman, of course.  They are fictional.  I start to follow the actors who play them -- Shawn Hatosy and Ben McKenzie.

And Shawn Hatosy is an ABSOLUTE RIOT.

And this is where we come to the part about bangs.


Now, sometimes Shawn's humor goes over my head.  The meaning of this Tweet may have totally escaped me.  At first, I thought it was about that poor actress who got arrested on Friday, but I looked at her picture and her bangs don't appear to be short.  Then I decided that perhaps it was a "SouthLAnd" reference, as one of Ben Sherman's Season 5 love interests turns out to be a psycho -- a darling little psycho with a very cute haircut involving fairly short bangs.  Am I correct in my interpretation of this Tweet?  I have absolutely no clue, whatsoever.

But, it did remind me of a story:

When I had my second baby, I had a hairstyle which involved bangs.  I didn't have much time to go to the stylist, though, as this little baby was of the type described as "high need" -- meaning that if I put her down for more than (literally) 30 seconds, she would scream bloody murder.  This went on for three or four months.  I really didn't mind it all that much, as I enjoyed holding her.  But, it really cut into the time I might have devoted to going to the salon.  And my bangs had the audacity to keep growing until they were pretty much driving me nuts.  So, I got out the scissors, looked into the bathroom mirror, held my bangs down, and cut.  I do have fairly curly hair, though, so when I released the bangs from my grip, they popped up into a position that was somewhat higher on my forehead than I had originally intended.  At least an inch and a half higher.  I was fairly mortified, but -- by this time -- my baby was screaming again.  There was no time to fret.  I decided to brush the bangs back into the rest of my hair and hope they weren't too noticeable, and that I would not appear to be some kind of psycho on my next trip to the grocery store.

The bangs grew out, though, and the baby grew up.  All's good.

And I thank you, Mr. H., for your Tweet.  I still have no idea what it actually meant, but you brought back some fond memories for me.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Why I Would Volunteer For Ben McKenzie's Political Campaign...

...even though I am a Republican.  And he -- clearly -- is not.

Why am I discussing this?

Late last week, a conservative-type politician Tweeted some really lame-ass thing about gun control and the Boston tragedy.  Now, Mr. McKenzie did not comment on this lame-ass statement directly.  At least on Twitter.  What he did -- and the only thing he did -- was Retweet the guy's apology.  I suppose you could interpret Mr. McKenzie's response in more than one way.  But, I thought it got his feeings about the whole debacle across in a classy manner.  So, I sent out a couple of Tweets to Mr. McKenzie expressing my admiration for his handling of the situation and telling him that I would be happy to volunteer for his campaign if he ever decides to run for public office.

Yesterday, I noticed that somebody with a Blackberry had read several of my more political blog posts.  Nobody with a Blackberry had ever read my blog before.  Also -- who uses a Blackberry, anymore?  I researched that question and discovered that, generally, people heavily involved in politics and business still do.  So, I was wondering if some political-type had seen my Tweet and wondered why a Republican would want to work on the campaign of a Democrat.  Especially a Democrat who -- on the face of it -- seems pretty dang liberal.  Perhaps this politically curious person looked at my Twitter bio and discovered there the link to my blog and clicked on it.

So, this post is for you, Blackberry Person.

I am going to explain why this Republican would volunteer for Mr. McKenzie's campaign.

First of all, it is NOT:
     1. because of "The O.C.,"
     2. because of "SouthLAnd," or
     3. because he is a little bit nice-looking.

Rather, it is because of the following:

As a Catholic, maybe I have never been a tried-and-true Republican.  In fact, on many issues of social justice, I lean more towards the Democrats.  And I always have.  But, I also have to say that I am unhappy with what I am seeing in the Republican Party as of late.  For example, I find the whole Tea Party thing to be out-of-touch with reality.  Wake up, people.  Getting rid of the Department of Education or the Fed would have disastrous consequences.  It also seems to me that the Republican Party has gotten itself too enmeshed with religious groups.  I do believe that religious groups should have a voice in society -- a public voice.  But, the level of involvement of certain religious groups in politics is beginning to seem a bit inappropriate to me.  We do have a pluralistic society.  Frankly, I believe that we need to come up with a way of living with each other in our country that, as much as possible, respects the consciences of all peoples, the sincerely-held ideas of all people of good-will -- religious and secular, alike.  Maybe we will make some mistakes along the way.  But, perhaps it's worth a try.

And this is where Mr. McKenzie comes in.  From what I have heard him say and seen him do, his liberalism seems to come from a place of compassion, from a genuine concern for both the good of individuals and the Common Good.  Objectively, he is well-educated.  He holds a double major from UVa in foreign relations and economics (I believe).  He seems to think before he speaks.  He seems to think before he acts.  He seems to think, period.  Also, I was impressed by his behavior in the last election.  What he did and said publicly was positive and uplifting.  He even made me feel uplifted, even though I voted for a different person.  Why did he make me feel uplifted?  Because of his genuine belief that we can move forward in our country, making it a better place for all.  He and I may not agree on all the methods that should be used to make our country better, but at least he believes it can be better.  And, along with that, he appears to be a fair person who would be able to listen to and work with people of different ideas -- at least reasonable people of different ideas.  Yes, from a couple things that he has said, he is probably rather passionate in a political discussion.  But, he appears to be an honest guy, a "straight-shooter," so I can handle the passion.

So, even though we may not agree on everything (even some very important things), I believe Mr. McKenzie is a person of excellent character, possessing those vital qualities necessary to lead our country forward -- integrity, compassion, honesty, passion, goodwill, intelligence, and a good grasp of the realities of our day.  And this is why I would volunteer for his campaign -- because I believe that people with those qualities should have a chance to represent us in government, even if those people are not exactly like me.  That is the beauty of our political system.  That is the beauty of our country.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Why Ben Orchestrated The Break-In At Sammy's House In "SouthLAnd"

I noticed upon checking the stats for this blog that several people have searched the internet with (roughly) this question:


If you don't know the answer to this question, then most of the last part of Season 5 of "SouthLAnd" would make no sense to you -- at least in regard to the characters of Ben Sherman and Sammy Bryant. 

So, here is what happened:

Earlier in Season 5, there is an incident where Sammy and Tammi have a confrontation while Sammy and Ben are on duty.  Sammy gets a bit physical with Tammi, because she starts beating on him.  In my opinion, his reaction is not out-of-line, but it is pretty dramatic. Tammi's boyfriend manages to capture the whole thing with a video camera.  As you may know, Sammy is in the midst of a heated custody battle with Tammi over little Nate, so the incident -- as caught on tape -- would not look good to a family law judge.  So, in the heat of the moment, and in his worry about his son's future, Sammy grabs the camera out of the boyfriend's hands, gets in the squad car with Ben, and drives off.

Later in the episode, we learn that Tammi has filed assault charges against Sammy and that there will be an I.A. investigation.  Ben tells Sammy not to worry.  "I've got your back," he tells him.  Full of his usual Ben Sherman confidence, he assures Sammy that there is no way Tammi is going to win this one, because it's going to be her crazy-ass word against the word of two cops.  And, hey, who are the investigators going to believe in that situation?  So, Sammy and Ben put their heads together and come up with a story to tell I.A.  A story that is not entirely factual.

As the show progresses, though, Sammy's conscience starts to bother him.  He tells Ben about his guilty feelings over lying to I.A.  This worries Ben.  Sammy also tells Ben that he still has the videotape.  He has not been able to bring himself to destroy it.  He just keeps watching it, over and over again. This worries Ben some more.  He says to Sammy something to this effect, "I need to know if you are going to throw me under the bus."  Sammy reassures him that he does not need to worry, but Ben continues to worry.

In fact, Ben gets himself so worked up that he arranges to have his new girlfriend Elena's rather dim-witted brother Chris break into Sammy's house to steal the videotape.  Ben apparently tells Chris to make the whole thing look gang-related.  He tells Chris to do the job when nobody will be home at Sammy's house.  Chris, though, being rather dim-witted -- and, apparently, unlucky -- manages to screw things up so that he encounters Nate and his babysitter, resulting in the babysitter being injured and Nate himself being endangered.  Ben seems rather sorry over this unfortunate turn of events.  But, not nearly sorry enough.  The asshole.  (calming self down here)

Side Note:  Ben does all of this really stupidly for as bright as he's supposed to be.  I mean, if I were going to hire somebody to break into someone's house -- especially if that someone had been a detective -- I would hire a smart person.  Wouldn't you?  It would probably have been better if Ben had just done the thing himself, wearing some sort of a disguise. 

Anyhow, that is why and how Ben arranged the break-in at Sammy's house.  And in the Season 5 Finale, we see him trying to justify himself to Sammy.  And that scene tells you everything you need to know about what has happened to the soul of Ben Sherman.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Shawn Hatosy, Ben McKenzie, and Father Buckley's Miniskirt Rule

Y'all probably know who Shawn Hatosy and Ben McKenzie are by now.  If you don't, you haven't been reading my blog. ;-)

But, y'all might not know who Father Buckley is.  Father Buckley is a priest who:

     1. was one of my husband's favorite teachers at the University of San Francisco
     2. officiated at my wedding -- and --
     3. is now a chaplain at Thomas Aquinas College -- my daughter Bridget's alma mater. 

So, he has been close to our family for many years.

And he is amazing.  He is wise and kind and funny and down-to-earth.  He is exceptional with young adults.  He used to live on my husband's dorm floor and take care of all the young men when they were sick -- or had hangovers. 

He is also very well-educated and was my husband's teacher for Western Civilization.  As a teacher, he promoted a rule among his students for the writing of papers.  It is known as The Miniskirt Rule.

The Miniskirt Rule States:

Pretty brilliant, huh?  And what student could ever forget that advice?

Anyway, there has been much commenting on Twitter this week about horrific national tragedies, things political, and the fate of certain TV shows.  And this brought to my mind Father Buckley's famous Miniskirt Rule.

Many people have been Tweeting up a storm -- one thing after another, all day and all night -- concerning the issues mentioned above.  It is a bit overwhelming.  And, perhaps, not incredibly effective.  When one feels overwhelmed, sometimes it is just easier to tune everything out and watch "Duck Dynasty."

Here is where Mr. Hatosy and Mr. McKenzie come in. 

They have used Twitter to express their opinions on these matters.  They have used the medium wisely, though -- saying enough to get your attention and encourage you think about things, but not so much that you have to go to the medicine cabinet to get some Advil.  They have put into practice, in an online fashion, Father Buckley's Miniskirt Rule.  And I don't think they even know him.  They have also expressed their thoughts in a way that is classy, clever, and intelligent -- qualities that I know Father Buckley always appreciated in papers.

So I would like to thank you, Mr. Hatosy and Mr. McKenzie, for both your good example of how to behave online and for your intelligent, interesting thoughts.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"SouthLAnd" And My Bridget

As you may or may not know, I have a three beautiful kids:

     1.  Andrea, who is 24
     2.  Bridget, who is 22 -- and --
     3.  Scott, who is 20.

They have all watched "SouthLAnd" to one degree or another.  Scott refused to watch it after sampling a couple of episodes because they reminded him too much of his Criminal Justice class, and -- according to him -- that was just depressing.  (For the record?  He is now a History major.)  Andrea, who has a "film degree" thinks the show is fantastic, but it is a bit too violent for her taste.  That leaves Bridget.  And this is how she ended up being roped (by me) into being a "SouthLAnd" fan.

One year ago, Bridget was finishing up her senior year at Thomas Aquinas College.  I, meanwhile, was enmeshed in watching all the episodes of "SouthLAnd".  I hadn't been aware of the show until the middle of the fourth season.  After the season ended, I assumed re-runs would be shown and that I could see the part of the season I had missed.  Can you tell my age now?  There are apparently no such things as re-runs, anymore.  Frantically, I tried to determine how to watch the first part of season four.  And I discovered this thing called iTunes, with which I could download ALL the episodes from ALL the seasons onto my new iPad.  Imagine my excitement.

Anyhow, Bridget was busy writing and defending her senior thesis and studying her massive pile of books, so that she could graduate from college.  I was busy downloading and watching the adventures of Sammy, Ben, Cooper, Lydia, and company.

One Sunday, Bridget called (as was her custom) to chat with her old mum.  She was rather tired and suffering from senioritis.  In an attempt to cheer her up, I said, "Bridget, there is this great cop show you can watch with me when you come home.  It's so much fun.  And it has this hot blonde guy that you'll really like."  Bridget, in her exhaustion and faced with her mum's silly priorities, said in exasperation, "MUM.  YOU HAVE TO STOP NOTICING ALL THE HOT MEN."  "I am not noticing them for me," I told her.  "I am just thinking of you."  (I may be middle-aged, but I am Italian.  So, you just figure out if that was a little fib or not.)

Come mid-May of 2012, Bridget did graduate.  YAY!!!  She came home quite run-down and missing her friends.  So, I snuggled up with her in my bed and we began watching "SouthLAnd" together.  Keep in mind that she had just graduated from a school where:  there is basically no internet, you aren't allowed to watch movies alone in your room, you are not allowed to watch movies (even with friends) that are basically rated above PG, there is a strict dress code, a curfew, the girls aren't allowed in the guys' dorms, the guys aren't allowed in the girls' dorms, and the kids swing dance for fun.  So she was, at first, a bit overwhelmed by this "dark and gritty" cop show.  Occasionally, she would try to get up and walk away while squeaking in horror.  But, I would -- gently -- haul her back.

As I predicted, though, the show did start to intrigue her.  And the blonde guy did hold some appeal.  Quickly, though, she realized that his ethics and temperament were not quite her cup of tea, so she switched her allegiance to Sammy.  (And let's face it.  Sammy is every bit as hot as his junior partner.  Well... ex-partner.)  She has actually declared -- in her own blog -- that she would marry Sammy.  For my part, I would not object to this.  He would make a fine son-in-law.

Bridget, having earned a degree that is, essentially, a double major in philosophy and theology with a minor in math, also came to appreciate and explain to me many of the finer points of the writing of "SouthLAnd."  It is, put simply, a wrestling match between St. Thomas Aquinas's Aristotelian worldview and the ideas of the Modern Philosophers (i.e. Nietsczche).  

And that is the story of how my sweet, gentle, classically-educated daughter came to be watching "SouthLAnd" with me every Wednesday night -- right up to and through last night's heartwrenching season five finale.   As you can probably tell, she really loves her old mum, in order to agree to participate in this activity.  Because in many ways, watching the show has been hard on her.  She is a sensitive person and wants so very much for each character to have a "happily ever after."  I think Officer Ben's saga has been especially difficult for her to witness.  (Although, my "film major" daughter reminds her regularly that Ben McKenzie has a home, a dog, many adoring fans, and -- most importantly -- craft services.  No teary sentimentality out of that girl.)

So, I would like to thank you, my Bridget.  Watching the show alone was fun.  But, having your company has made it infinitely more enjoyable.

And in case you are wondering where my dear husband is in all this:  He doesn't really watch TV.  Sometimes he'll stand in the middle of the room and watch a few moments of something, but he prefers reading and playing his guitar.  And that is fine by me.  I enjoy seeing him do the things that make him happy. ;-)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Fuhrman" Rhymes With "Sherman"



Maybe.  Maybe not.

If not...

I am assuming here that you all remember Mark Fuhrman from the OJ Simpson trial.  He was the handsome, intelligent detective from the LAPD who offered much convincing testimony as to the guilt of OJ.  I remember being so taken with him.  He was, like, this perfect man.  I used to watch him daily and hang on his every word.

And then he turned out to be a lying, son-of-a-bitch, racist evidence-planter.

Sound like any fictional character we know and love???

Chris Chulak and Ben McKenzie are intelligent and well-informed people.  I am sure they are aware of the Mark Fuhrman debacle and the lessons it has to teach us concerning those who are sworn to "serve and protect."  And they may very well have decided to have the character of Ben Sherman remind us of those lessons.  "Art imitating life."

I think Ben McKenzie would be especially amenable to this kind of story-line.  He seems to be a person who is passionate about justice in our society, a person who is aware of the dangers of people who arrogantly get caught up in their own power.  I believe he would be eager to remind people of these important lessons about human nature through the characters he portrays.

What got me thinking about this is the scene where Officer Ben is testifying to I.A. regarding the incident involving Sammy and Tammy.  He really, REALLY struck me -- in that moment -- as a Fuhrmanesque character.  Polite, intelligent, respectful, educated, well-spoken, calm, confident, perfectly attired.  It occurred to me that, perhaps, Ben McKenzie had been studying tapes of Mark Fuhrman's testimony in preparation for that scene.  Maybe I am taking it a little too far, but the resemblance Officer Ben bears to Mark Fuhrman in that scene is uncanny.  In my opinion, anyway.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SouthLAnd "Reckoning" - Or - Ben, O Ben, What Is To Become Of Thee?

It sure is fun to write about this kind of thing.  Many thanks to all who read and put up with my strange ramblings. ;)

As we head into tomorrow's Grand Finale for Season 5 of "SouthLAnd" there are so many questions swirling about concerning Officer Ben and his ultimate fate.  Here are some things that must be taken into consideration:

     1.  Does Ben McKenzie want to stay with the show?
     2.  If Ben McKenzie does want to stay with the show, is there any possible way his character can remain a cop?
     3.  Do the "SouthLAnd" creators/producers believe there is any sort of chance the show will be renewed?
     4.  What kind of mood do the creators/producers of the show want to leave us in at the end of tomorrow night's episode, regardless of whether or not they think "SouthLAnd" will be renewed?

Keeping these issues in mind, there are so many directions the story can take in regard to Officer Ben Sherman.  Infinite directions...  And if you don't believe me, then you don't have a wild and crazy imagination like I do.  And you are fortunate.

Mr. McKenzie has stated that, if "SouthLAnd" is renewed, he wants to remain.  I will take his word for it.  There is no other option at this point.  I am not a telepath, and I have not seen any evidence that Mr. McKenzie enjoys telling fibs.  Of course, this may be purposeful misdirection.  He may have been ordered to make this statement by the Big Wigs of the show.  After all, if we all knew he was leaving, audience anticipation of the big finale would not be nearly so great, leading to a drop in ratings, which this particular show DOES NOT NEED.  So, Mr. McKenzie and the "SouthLAnd" Big Wigs may be engaging in a bit of a Cold-War-style misinformation campaign.  You know?  Like when Oliver North said that Ronald Reagan really had no idea about that whole business with the arms and stuff.  Or when JFK and his peeps reassured us all that the whole missile thing with Cuba was just an easily resolvable teeny tiny misunderstanding.  Or when we were told that -- make no mistake about it -- Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.  And I think Mr. McKenzie would be quite capable of doing this sort of thing in the service of the show.  Why?  Because Mr. McKenzie has all the attributes that would have made him an excellent spy during the Cold War.  He is intelligent and clever and charming and faithful to what he believes in.  He also gives the impression of being a rather quiet person (a.k.a. -- he seems to be able to Keep His Trap Shut when necessary).  And he likes sports, appreciating the necessity of occasionally "taking one for the team." 

So, maybe Mr. McKenzie is, in fact, leaving the show.  If this is the case, whether Ben Sherman will be left alive or dead at the end of it all remains to be seen.  I think it could go either way.

BUT, what if "SouthLAnd" is renewed and my Cold-War conspiracy theory is a bunch of hogwash and Mr. McKenzie stays?  What then?  Some seem to think that Ben Sherman could not possibly remain as a character after all the crap he has been up to.  I disagree.  I think there are still many possibilities for his development in the story.

Yes, Ben Sherman will probably not be staying in that cop outfit.  (Which, in itself, is a tragedy.  Sigh...)  I think the only way Officer Ben can remain in uniform is if Sammy gives him a complete and utter pass, which -- I admit -- is doubtful.  Why would Sammy let Ben off the hook after he finds out (which he probably will) that Ben is responsible for the break-in?  Because Sammy himself would have to "fess up" to I.A. about his own lies in order to bring to light the things Officer Ben has done.  Sammy may choose to keep his mouth shut.  If this is the case, Sammy and Ben will, in all likelihood, not be "SammyandBen" any longer, but Ben could remain in uniform.  Officer Ben will also, in order to remain a cop, have to avoid being "found out" for the other illegal things he has done -- such as murdering the pimp.  And if he does manage to dodge all of these proverbial bullets, he will most likely do some other dumb-ass thing (he seems unable to help himself) which may prove to be his demise.  It could be very interesting, story-wise, to let Ben Sherman remain an officer with the LAPD.

To me, though, the most likely scenario is that Officer Ben will be "taken down" somehow.  Sammy is going to be in that chopper in tomorrow night's episode, and I really think he's going to be chasing his old buddy Officer Ben.  Will he catch him?  I don't know.  It might be a cliffhanger. 

But, if Officer Ben is arrested and if the show is renewed and if Ben McKenzie wants to remain with it, I think there could be a very compelling story-line involving the character of Ben Sherman.  No longer Officer Ben, just Ben Sherman.  Why do I believe this?  Because Chris Chulak and at least one person with the last name of Whedon are involved.  These people are interested in telling stories, not just about cops chasing bad guys, but about the human condition, about soul struggles.  And there is no better story involving the struggle of a man as he grapples with himself than the story of Ben Sherman.  I think it could be quite a ride.

I can't wait for tomorrow night.  I'm hoping y'all will join me.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"SouthLAnd" -- I Look To "Reckoning" While Eating My Words

I would normally write this post tomorrow, after I had time to digest all the happenings of tonight's "SouthLAnd" episode.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, though, I will be unable to blog for the next several days.  So, I'm going to get some basic thoughts down and maybe come back to it next week, before the season finale.

My insides are still trembling from the happenings of this evening's show.

And I have to eat my words.  At least some of them.

Ben is bad.  As my daughter said, "Ben is bad.  BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD." Yep.  Totally and completely bad.  I knew he had Elena's brother break into Sammy's house to steal the tape and some other stuff -- to make it look like a robbery.  But, I admit, I didn't think he had it in him to have the young idiot wreck the place.  I also believed he wouldn't want it to look like the gang had broken into Sammy's home.  I thought Ben would figure that Sammy would go after Strokeface.  But, I FORGOT one very important thing.  Sammy had discouraged Ben from going after the gangsters who allegedly shot Mendoza.  So, I guess Ben thought this meant that Sammy wouldn't go after Strokeface.  Leave it to me to forget such an important piece of information.  I guess it's a good thing I'm not a detective.  If I were a detective, I'd have to have the world's greatest and most detailed detective notebook, or I would completely blow all my cases.  But, Ben also forgot one very important fact.  The fact of TESTOSTERONE and that Sammy has plenty of it.  No self-respecting cop dude is going to let a gang break into and wreck his house and say to himself, "It's ok.  I'm cool.  I'll just relax and do the logical thing and let the detectives handle it."  HA!  Ben should have, as a guy himself, realized this.  "Pride goeth before the fall," is the old saying.  And Ben certainly has plenty of pride.  Enough for several people, in fact.  And it seems that his pride got in the way of his planning.

And I must apologize to Sammy.  He is a saint.  Well, maybe not a saint exactly.  But, the questionable things he does are in NO WAY comparable to the crap Ben pulls.  And when Sammy does wrong, his conscience does get the better of  him and he backs away from the abyss.  Ben just plunges over the edge.  So, Sammy --  I am VERY, VERY sorry.  I grovel in the dust at your feet.  Although, I'm still not convinced you didn't steal the money from the robbery.

So, what can we expect from next week's season finale?  I know Ben McKenzie tweeted that he is doing the pilot of his new show in second position to a sixth season of "SouthLAnd."  I know he has stated that he loves "SouthLAnd" and wants to remain.  I don't know what he will remain as, though.  Is he going to join forces with Elena and her brother, going south of the border and eventually establishing himself as the new head of a big drug cartel?  He certainly has the personality for that.  "SouthLAnd" could go on for several more seasons, with the LAPD waging war against "Ben Sherman's Drugs 'R' Us."   Heck, he could throw a little arms dealership in on the side.  Maybe he will be caught, though, and he will spend Season 6 in prison, with much drama swirling about him.  In my last post, I discussed the fact that Sammy is going to be in a helicopter in Episode 10, and I joked that perhaps he is chasing Officer Ben.  Well, now I think I might have (inadvertently) been correct.  Although, unlike I jokingly stated in that last post, there probably won't be any "Happily Ever After" for Ben Sherman.

It's possible that Ben McKenzie will do his new show -- "The Advocates" -- while occasionally popping by "SouthLAnd" to be on trial or run the cartel (or the bar, if he does get that happy ending I dreamed up for him).  I don't know if that would be allowed in television land, though.  It would be one heck of a contract negotiation.

I also heard a little something that made me believe that "The Advocates" is being looked at as one of the hot new shows for the upcoming season.  So, was Ben McKenzie's tweeting just a little purposeful misinformation meant to throw us off track?  Or, am I wrong again, like I was in thinking Officer Sherman hadn't done all of those wicked things?  Time will tell...

And if Mr. McKenzie's tweeting was purposeful misinformation, I must admit that I will have a hard time believing anything he says ever again.  But, I'll always be a fan. ;-)

Oh, one final thought.  How is it that Brooke thinks that by giving b-jobs to all the other cops she is somehow going to make Officer Ben feel repentant or bad or whatever??? That girl makes no sense.  But, she is colorful. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ben Sherman's Little Love Triangle, Or -- Just A Silly "SouthLAnd" Post

This is just a silly post about my fave TV show.  I am just going to be having fun.  If you are not in the mood for silly or for fun, you should probably click away now.

The writing for "SouthLAnd" has always been outstanding.  This year, though, those writers are outdoing themselves.  And one thing that is just a little gem of storytelling in the midst of the whole glorious crown is "Ben's Little Love Triangle."

Toward the beginning of the current season, Ben and Sammy do a darling little community service puppet show for an elementary school class.  This class is taught by a darling little teacher who recognizes Officer Ben from the LAPD recruiting posters.  Barely able to contain her excitement in front of all her tiny charges, she manages to communicate to Officer Ben her attraction to him.  Later in the episode, she calls him up and they arrange to meet for coffee at one of the more "sophisticated" coffee establishments favored by Officer Ben.  He jokes with her that she needs to be careful of "talking to strangers" -- alluding to the chat which he and Sammy had earlier in the day with her class. But, in the end, he concedes that having coffee is probably a safe enough option.  Little does he know that he, in this moment, should be heeding his own advice, as this darling little teacher is inevitably going to turn out to be "Psycho Chick."

(Aside: I had a feeling this little lady was going to end up being a problem for Officer Ben when she gave him a "B" for his "romantic performance."  Anyone who has seen Officer Ben's alter ego kissing Marissa on the ferris wheel should know that he would never get a "B" in this area.  So, from the very beginning, it was obvious there was a something awry with the mind of this beautiful woman.)

Meanwhile, though, before we know that Teacher Lady is actually Psycho Chick, Officer Ben -- for some reason known only to him -- takes up with another darling little lady.  This lady's name is Elena, and she is an artist, cook, and lover extraordinaire.  I think, at first, we are not really supposed to like her.  We are, at that point, rooting for the schoolteacher.  I mean, she is a SCHOOLTEACHER!  Who could be more perfect for Officer Ben than a drop-dead gorgeous, well-educated, down-to-earth schoolteacher???  And in comes this little firecracker of a girl with a no-good brother who has no-good friends.  "Ben," we are thinking, "BEN!!! What are you doing??? Have you lost your FREAKING MIND??? You have found the perfect woman, and you are SCREWING IT ALL UP!!! You are going to catch a disease and give it to the schoolteacher, and then she will break up with you and you will never get married and have beautiful babies!!!"

Those "SouthLAnd" writers, though.  They were just playing little mind games with us.  Because, as I said, the "perfect woman" is evidently an unstable loon -- while Elena is turning out to be the most lovable gal.  She just adores Officer Ben.  She is so nice to him.  She cooks for him and fusses over him and begs him for a "quickie" in the morning.  She sure as heckfire is not giving him any "B" in the "romance" department.  She just loves him -- really, really loves him.  And she is a doll.

I'm not saying I think Officer Ben necessarily deserves all this love and affection from this adorable girl.  I'm just saying that maybe she is turning out to be the right one for him, after all.  So, perhaps this is what will happen:

In episode 10, Sammy is going to be in a helicopter.  (As I said in a previous post, I know this from Instagram.)  What do I now think he will be doing in that helicopter?  I think he is going to be chasing Officer Ben.

I believe Officer Ben is going to be found out for one or more of the following:  murdering the pimp, lying to IA, and having Sammy's house broken into.  I think he is going to run to Elena for help, as she probably has connections "south of the border." She and her brother are going to hide Officer Ben in a "borrowed" vehicle and make a run for her country of origin.  And I think they're going to succeed in their escape, which will leave Sammy circling around in the helicopter with a rather frustrated look on his face.

Once they arrive at their destination -- a place where there will be many of Elena's friends and relatives waiting with open arms -- the local priest is going to frown disapprovingly at poor Officer Ben.  He will want Officer Ben to do the right thing by Elena.  And because this priest will let Officer Ben know that he has friends in the Border Patrol, Officer Ben will agree to marry Elena.  Which won't be so bad, because Officer Ben really does (in his heart of hearts) love her.

So, there will be a wedding with wonderful food and music and ruffled dresses.  Ben will open a bar, where he will mix the drinks, while Elena's brother wipes down the tables.  Elena and Ben will have beautiful babies -- at least 5 of them.  These babies will have beautiful, wavy, golden-brown hair.  They will have beautiful golden-brown skin.  They will have big hazel eyes.  As they grow, they will run around the bar and sit in the customers' laps and make everybody smile and laugh.  And Elena will, each and every morning for the rest of her and Ben's mutual life, beg him for a "quickie."

And they will live happily ever after.

--- THE END ---

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Saint Sammy Bryant???

So, right about now, all of us "SouthLAnd" fans are feeling pretty bad for old Sammy Bryant (played most excellently well by one Mr. Shawn Hatosy).  His crazy ex-wife has basically bankrupted him, threatened to ruin his career, and take his little boy away.  His crazy partner has just hired a rather dim-witted young man to break into his house and steal stuff.  And either that same crazy partner or a very evil gang is responsible for the graffiti all over his living room walls, the broken glass all over his floors, and his son's semi-conscious babysitter.  Sammy can't catch a break, it seems.  And he is such a nice guy.  He just wants to raise his little boy in peace, ride around in his police car with a guy who doesn't murder pimps in cold blood (and is perhaps, even more importantly, willing to buy a cup of coffee that doesn't cost an hour's pay), and maybe even have a date once in a while.  Saint Sammy.

Let us, though, remember a couple of things.

Saint Sammy is not so perfect, either.  HE STOLE THE FREAKING MONEY FROM THE FREAKING ROBBERY, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE.  And he was probably in the process of stealing it when Officer Ben was busy being beaten up on the train by the suspect.  I mean, I grant you, it wasn't Sammy's fault that he was separated from Ben.  But, he should have been busy worrying about Ben instead of taking their separation as an opportunity to gather up wads of cash in some surreptitious manner.

Yes, you could say this was all for Nate.  Which it was.  I mean, Sammy needed to get his plumbing fixed, and he didn't have the money because of all the legal bills brought about by the actions of his crazy ex-wife.  I understand that he was backed into a corner.  I understand his actions were selfless.  He just wanted to take care of his son.  But, he STOLE the money from the ROBBERY.  He could go to prison for that.  So, when we all get up in arms about poor Sammy and about how Ben could go to prison for a B&E, we should consider this.  Sammy could have just borrowed the money from Ben.  I'm sure Ben -- who seems to be constantly flush with cash -- would have helped him out.

Secondly, who asked Ben to lie to IA about the tape in the first place?  Sammy.  Yes, Saint Sammy arranged with Ben to lie to IA.  They went to the trouble of getting their stories straight and everything.  And it was Sammy who said to Ben, during Season 4, I believe:  "You always have your partner's back.  Especially when he's wrong."  So, Ben was just doing what his more senior partner asked of him.  Just being a good friend.  I wonder how Sammy would have reacted if Ben had refused to lie to IA about anything.  Hmmm.......

So, I'm sure you can understand how totally pissed Ben was when Sammy started threatening to "confess" his lies to IA.  Sammy would totally have been throwing Ben under the bus.  I'm sure that's how Ben justified the B&E to himself.  He probably figured that he wasn't being any worse than Sammy had been to him in asking him to lie to IA.  Tit for tat.  When we start getting all uppity about Ben, then, are we really being fair?  "Ben, you are so terrible.  You had the dim bulb break into Sammy's house.  HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY DO THAT???  You have gone over to the DARK SIDE!!!"

Please know that I realize I am being pretty ridiculous here.  I don't think it was morally right for anybody to be stealing or lying or breaking in.  I just find it intriguing that, even though Ben has done some pretty bad stuff, we don't really seem to be noticing that Sammy isn't quite perfect, either.

You know when I realized Sammy's lack of perfection?  During the whole toilet paper argument with Tammy.  You remember?  Sammy wanted Tammy to be more "fiscally responsible" and he got all over her for going to Walgreen's instead of the Box Club to buy toilet paper.

Yes, Tammy is crazy.  But, in the midst of all her craziness, Sammy did not handle himself very well.  He was never very patient.  He didn't really listen to her side of things.  He wanted her to be somebody she could never be.  And he could get really obstreperous and loud about it all.

The marriage of Tammy and Sammy was obviously doomed.  But, he caused it to crash and burn more spectacularly than was necessary.  Now he is paying the piper.

And he is paying the piper with Ben, too, because he has not handled that relationship well, either.  He selfishly asked Ben to do immoral and illegal things.  Ben did them.  He did them for Sammy -- his partner and friend.  And then Sammy -- at least in Ben's mind -- started threatening (in a pretty serious way) to "screw" him.

So, I don't see any saints here.  I see a bad situation created by the unethical decisions of both parties.

I can't wait to see how it all turns out... :-)

Mercy Sunday, Lena Dunham, And The Missiles Of Righteous Wrath

Today, for Catholics, is Mercy Sunday.  It is a time for remembering and celebrating the mercy of God.  And for reflecting on how we should show mercy to others.

This has gotten me to thinking about Twitter.  I love Twitter.  I have "met" (if you can call it that) many wonderful people there.

When I first started using Twitter, I naturally followed some Catholic and Christian stay-at-home mom types.  I figured we would have things in common.  I also followed some artsy people -- cinematographers and directors and actors and producers and writers.  I find that world quite fascinating, even though I don't consider myself to be very creative.  And most of the people I have encountered on Twitter have been delightful and kind and funny and interesting.  I have greatly enjoyed their "company."

I am going to describe an interesting experience I had, though.  I hope nobody takes this as an insult, or anything.  It is just an experience I had that caused me to reflect, and I think it is relevant to the whole idea of mercy.

Around election time, back in the fall, many people's opinions were being tossed around all over Twitter.  There were liberal opinions and conservative opinions and moderate opinions.  Of course, being a Catholic, I was reading opinions of the other Catholic and Christian stay-at-home moms.  I was also being exposed to the opinions of the people those moms were listening to, by virtue of the "retweet" option on Twitter.  And some of those opinions had to do with a young lady by the name of Lena Dunham.  She had done an ad for the Obama campaign, the aim of which was to encourage young people to vote.  She compared voting for the first time to having sex for the first time.

And the Catholic and Christian and conservative people pretty much went apoplectic over this ad.  Interested by their vociferous Tweets, I Googled the ad and watched it for myself.  And I giggled.  Well, I pretty much laughed really, really hard.

I then went back and sent a Tweet to a couple of the Catholic ladies telling them that I thought the ad was kind of funny.  I didn't mean any offense, or anything.  Then hell proceeded to rain down upon me from the Catholic/conservative corners of the Twittersphere.  I sort of didn't expect that.  I thought we could all have our opinions and be respectful of each other.  I thought we could try to see each others points of view.  I thought we could all have a SENSE OF HUMOR.  Well, I was wrong.

I felt sort of bad for making these poor moms stressed out with my opinion of Lena's ad.  A lot of these moms have many kids and homeschool and are quite tired, so I didn't intend to further complicate their lives with my obviously misguided thoughts.

This whole thing got me thinking, though, about kindness and mercy.  Especially where Christians are concerned.

Now, as a Christian, I probably have most of the same ideas about sexual morals as these people who fired their Missiles Of Righteous Wrath down on me.  And how did these Missiles Of Righteous Wrath make me feel?  On the one hand, I was kind of amused.  On the other hand, I felt a little angry.  Why?  Because, as Christians, we have to think about how our words and actions and attitudes towards people -- even actors -- will affect them.  If you hope that somebody will come to see and feel God's love, it is not helpful if you just shit (pardon my French) all over that person and his/her opinions.  I mean, if I were Lena and I read some of the stuff religious people were saying about me and my ad, I would just think to myself, "Screw those self-righteous people.  Long live the HHS mandate!"  I would not be thinking about how I really wanted to go to Church now and socialize with all the Church people at their Church festival.  I would get as far away as I possibly could from them and all their self-righteous ways.  And, as I recall, Jesus himself did not care too much for the self-righteous, for the hypocrites.  In fact, he tended to go to a lot of parties with a lot of people who were probably a lot like Lena Dunham.  Because -- you know what?  People like that are the people with the hearts yearning for love.  They are the people with the open hearts.  They are the people who yearn for fairness and justice.  They are also a lot of fun.  And I think Jesus liked to have fun, or he wouldn't have been going to all these parties. 

Please don't misunderstand me here.  I am NOT saying that you should be kind to people, that you should befriend them, because you want to convert them.  That is NOT what I am saying.  I have had people befriend me for that reason and, trust me, it did not feel good.  That is not friendship.   A friendship is based on mutual acceptance.  It is unconditional.  It exists in spite of differences.  It respects and appreciates differences.

So, saying that, I hope my little diatribe has not been too offensive.  And may we all reflect, on this beautiful Feast of Mercy, on how we can be a little kinder, a little more loving -- a little more merciful.

P.S. -- If you look at the people I follow on Twitter, in order to find the offending parties written about herein, you will not succeed.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

On The Other Hand -- SouthLAnd Episode 508 -- "The Felix Paradox"

In my previous post, I maintained that there were two break-ins at Sammy's house.  One organized by Ben, using Elena's brother to steal the incriminating tape.  The other organized by Strokeface's gang, after Sammy had an altercation earlier in the day with said bad guy.  I alleged that these two break-ins had somehow converged, ending in an assault on little Nate's babysitter.  I also alleged that Ben was being a true friend to Sammy by the end of the episode, helping him to defend his child and his home.

Well, I could be all washed up in that opinion.  I admit it.  But herein lies the difficulty.  Elena's brother, frankly, does not seem like the sharpest tool in the shed.  So, after Ben witnessed Sammy's argument with Strokeface, he would have had to, in a very short period of time, arrange with the pretty girl's male relative to imitate that specific gang -- right down to the perfection of the graffiti.  Could Elena's sibling have handled that?  I'm not sure.  And Ben obviously was planning the tape heist before Sammy encountered Strokeface.  As I recall, we see Ben talking on his cellphone at basically the same time as this encounter -- probably with Elena's brother.  He said something to this effect:  "If you have any questions, give me a call."  It seems as though the plan was already formed and in motion.  So, the addition to the plan of using Strokeface's people as the fall guys would have had to be made at the last minute. 

It could have happened that way, though.  Elena's brother could have been in the house, stealing the tape and spray-painting the walls when the babysitter unexpectedly arrived with Nate.  Elena's brother may have freaked out, knocked the sitter down, and run away.

Morally, does it make that big of a difference if the situation happened one way or the other? Not in my opinion.

Logistically, though, having Elena's sibling imitate the Strokeface gang is going to create a lot more problems for Ben in the long run.  Because Sammy is now going to go after Strokeface.  And that's going to make everything more difficult for Ben than if he had just asked Elena's brother to go into the house and steal the tape along with a few other items (to make the incident look like an actual robbery).  After all, if just the tape went missing, Detective Bryant would know what was up.  Ben is smart.  He would realize this.  Therefore, it still seems to me that Strokeface had a hand in the whole incident.  And I think Ben is genuinely scared for and worried about Sammy and Nate.

Many people are saying today that Ben has finally gone over the point of no return.  They are saying that he is now a bad cop.  Personally, I think that happened at the end of Season 4, when he murdered the pimp.  And I do think it was a murder.

Might he be redeemed?  Many say, "no."  I think it is still possible.  I think there is still some heart in him.  What will it take to redeem him?  Well, it will most likely involve some action or actions of his that have devastating consequences for which he cannot deny responsibility.  He will have to "face the music" in a pretty life-altering way.

It could also be that Ben continues as a law enforcement officer -- sometimes being the hero, sometimes the crooked cop.  And that could be very, very interesting for the show if he ends up as a detective.  After all, it is unlikely that his involvement in the break-in at Sammy's house will be discovered, at least by anyone in any official capacity.  Sammy might figure it out -- thus ending any kind of positive relationship between them.  But, Sammy is unlikely to report Ben through official channels, as his part in the whole tape business would be found out.  And I'm not sure he's ready to face the consequences of that.  We'll see, though.  Sammy does have a good conscience, and it's eating at him.

So, buckle up.  Episode 9 is coming our way.

SouthLAnd Episode 508 -- "The Felix Paradox" -- My Take On It

Last night's episode of SouthLAnd -- "The Felix Paradox" -- certainly has fans a-tweeting and a-blogging.  Including me.

What in the hell did Ben do, anyway?

In my opinion, there were two separate break-ins at Sammy's house.  One, orchestrated by Ben -- getting Elena's brother to steal the incriminating tape.  The other, orchestrated by the Strokeface gang.  Somehow, these two break-ins converged.  And I really don't believe Ben had anything to do with the actions of Strokeface's people.  In the end, I think he is just as scared as Sammy over this turn of events.  And he is also scared for Sammy.  Because Ben, when all is said and done, truly is Sammy's friend -- at least as much of a friend as he is capable of being.

What really fascinates me about this episode, though, is people's reactions to it -- especially in light of the things Ben has done in the past.  A lot of people seem to be genuinely shocked at Ben's actions in this episode.  Albeit a lot of those people think Ben and/or Elena's brother (hired by Ben) may be responsible for the true violence that occurred at Sammy's house.  As I said, I don't agree with this, for many reasons.  I don't think Elena's brother is a violent person, for example.  And I don't think Ben, even in desperation, would have asked any of the members of Strokeface's gang to break into Sammy's house.  And I don't think Ben could have managed to get Elena's brother to somehow make it look like Strokeface's gang broke into Sammy's house.  That just seems too far-fetched.  We shall see.

But, whatever the details of Ben's actions, his actions were definitely wrong.  And many people seem suddenly quite shocked at Ben for acting in this unethical manner. 

Hello, people.  No offense, but Ben has not been a nice guy for a while.  It all started when Daisy dumped him. (Just kidding.  But, not really.  That did seem to be a bit of a turning point for old Ben.)

Ben has been flying around "under the radar" for a while on this show.  I think people have perhaps been riveted by the wonderful performances and fascinating story lines of many of the other cast members.  Maybe a lot of people have mistakenly seen Ben as a relatively simple character -- the smart and handsome new cop, trying to get his bearings in a tough job while making some understandable errors of judgement, chasing skirts (But, hell, why shouldn't he???  He's so hot, after all.  And the ladies don't seem to be complaining.).  And I think that because he is young and handsome and smart and capable and confident and new and someone you want to root for (at least that you wanted to root for), a lot about Ben has been overlooked, in both his actions and his ethical make-up.

Let's look at what happened at the end of Season 4.  If you watch the end of that season, you will see Ben filing a gun.  You will then see Ben making excuses for tracking down the evil pimp, while Sammy is in the hospital.  You will watch as Ben chases the evil pimp to an area where nobody can observe either of them.  The evil pimp ends up shot and killed.  And -- ta-da -- there is a gun on the ground next to his poor, dead body.  And where do you think that gun came from?  I'll give you one guess.  And I bet the identifying numbers on that gun have been filed off.  Hello, dear people.  But, this is first degree murder, I believe.  So, now we are all shocked that Ben hired Elena's brother to sneak into Sammy's house to steal the tape?

Let's look at the womanizing behavior, too.  I think there is a temptation to "wink-wink" at this.  After all, Ben is just so cute.  And he has those arm muscles.  And he is so personable.  And he's not hurting anybody, right?  I mean, the ladies go after him just as much as he goes after them.  It is very tempting to just view this behavior as innocuous.  The "sewing of the wild oats," as we used to say.  But, I disagree with this.  I think Ben's attitude toward women belies a certain self-centeredness.  A willingness to rationalize dishonesty.  In short, it shows what a liar he can be.  He is able to look into the eyes of both Brooke and Elena with that heartbreaking mug of his, making each feel that she is the only one.  He is able to spend time with each of them, converse with each of them, go to bed with each of them, as if the other one doesn't exist.  He often seems to be in each of their beds within the same 24-hour period (ewww...) and it doesn't seem to bother him in the least.  Maybe I am a middle-aged lady.  But, I am a sexual-revolutionary Boomer, and I think there is something very wrong here.  I think we are observing in Ben some very serious moral shortcomings.

There are many other examples of Ben's morally dubious behavior and crass attitudes.  There is the way he talks about the hooker who is having the retirement party.  There is the time he tells Sammy that maybe Tammy is lying, and Nate really isn't his son.  I mean, talk about cynical and totally insensitive to the fact that Sammy loves Nate with all his heart and soul.  There is the way he got his old high school drug-dealer arrested.  There is the manner in which he accepts the award for heroism, even though you can be sure he knows he doesn't deserve it.  Then, at the strip-club celebration afterwards, he is happy to follow Officer Mendoza's suggestion to make himself scarce when things go awry.  And do you recall how he practically strangles the prostitute in order to find out the whereabouts of the pimp (the one he ends up murdering)?  Remember his propensity to punch out perps who are already handcuffed or otherwise indisposed? Remember how he acts toward the man who sexually assaulted his mother and knocked out his teeth -- threatening him after he is released from prison?  And last -- but, certainly not least -- there is his whole negative attitude toward dogs and vet bills.  I mean, that says it all. 

I think the SouthLAnd writers have been brilliantly stealthy with Officer Ben.  There have been  many little clues about the kind of person he really is -- and the kind of person he has been turning into.  The numerous things that are attractively compelling about his character have sometimes tempted us to either miss or turn a blind eye to even the seriously crappy things that he does.  We have so much wanted good for him.  We have so much wanted him to be good.  And our desire has, perhaps, clouded our vision.

What to take away from all this?  Our preconceptions, our desires, our values color our way of seeing something.  And when we are dealing with a person we really want to admire, when we are dealing with a situation that we really want to turn out a certain way, we often interpret what we see in a manner that is most amenable to our point of view.  That can be very dangerous.

Way to go SouthLAnd.  What a lesson for us, what a reminder, in this day and age in which we live.



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Some Reflections On The Treatment Of Homosexual Persons In Our Society

I was very moved this morning when I saw a friend of mine -- a lovely young lady who is involved in a same-sex relationship -- express her sadness over all the friends she has lost because of her "lifestyle."

This young lady was raised in a very conservative Catholic home.  She went to a very conservative Catholic college.  Don't get me wrong, though.  Her parents love her very much and I believe her relationship with them (and with her siblings) is very positive.  I also know that she still has many friends from college who love her and support her.  But, I am also fairly sure that a lot of the friends she has lost were of the religious conservative variety.

And this is quite unfortunate.

Now, some people who have distanced themselves from her may very likely still be her friends.  They are probably just uncomfortable with the situation and don't know how to behave.  Perhaps, with more maturity and reflection on the matter, they may again show her their friendship.

Some friends she has lost, though, may believe that by showing her friendship in a nonjudgmental way that they are somehow condoning her situation and contributing to her "sinfulness."  Some of them may also be actively angry and disgusted with her.  And these attitudes, in my opinion, are wrong.

What is it that makes a friend?  Why should we be friends with somebody?  A friend is someone of good character.  A person you can trust and count on.  A person who is kind and charitable.  You don't have to agree on everything -- even "important" things.  You don't even have to entirely approve of each others' lives.  And you can accept a person, without accepting every opinion or action of that person -- even if those opinions or actions are "important."

And for those of us who call ourselves "Christian," we need to approach all others with the recognition of our own fallen nature.  Every single person who is my friend is friends with a sinner.  And I count myself the worst of all. 

People know that I am a Catholic.  My young woman friend knows I am a Catholic.  So, she probably knows what my objective beliefs are.  I don't have to rub her nose in them.  I can just be her friend.

And what about her relationship.  I respect it as her relationship.  I believe her when she tells me that she loves her girlfriend.  I enjoy her friendship.  And I pray for all of us, without considering her to be any worse than I.

One of my daughters knows a gay man who has a spouse who is a gay man.  She considers this man to be her good friend.  In many situations, he has certainly acted as a friend to her.  He knows she is a devout Catholic -- and he supports her in her faith.  My daughter, though, has taken considerable heat from some of her "good" Catholic friends for calling this man her friend and for referring to his spouse as "his spouse."  But, he has proven himself -- in his actions -- to be her friend.  And she told me that she is going to respect his relationship by referring to it as he does.  He, for his part, understands her position on the theological definition of sacramental "marriage."  And he does not consider her to be a bigot or a "hater."

I really admire my daughter in her friendship with this man.  I admire that she doesn't back down in her charity out of fear of losing the approval of other "religious" people.  I admire her kindness and the true respect she shows her friend.  To me, the relationship she has with this man should be a blueprint for how society should act in the face of all the controversy over the gay "lifestyle" and gay marriage.

Many people are tossing around the words of Pope Francis concerning gay marriage.  To paraphrase, I believe he referred to it as a trap laid by the devil to trick the children of God.  I would put forth a couple of thoughts about this.  I read an article by a gay activist describing the interactions he had with the Pope when he was still a Cardinal in Argentina.  The activist said that the Cardinal was actually very kind and understanding in their conversations -- even when the gay man talked about his same-sex relationship.  The Pope, when he was a Cardinal, acted toward the homosexual person with charity.  He didn't make him feel judged and condemned.  He didn't refuse to associate with him.  Secondly, there is more than one kind of trap that can be laid by the devil here.  And I believe that the temptation to treat homosexual people -- even when they express the desire to marry -- with contempt and anger and scorn is, perhaps, the worst temptation of all. 

And just in case you thought you were going to escape hearing about Ben McKenzie today, well... ;)

In the November elections, Mr. McKenzie did some rare Tweeting.  Mr. McKenzie is an Obama person.  And one of his Tweets was expressing his happiness that a gay woman had been elected to Congress.   I -- as you are aware -- really like Mr. McKenzie.  I think he is classy and intelligent.  And I think his opinions -- even when different than mine -- are well thought out.  He has also been very kind to my younger daughter when she was not feeling well.  Although, he probably doesn't know that.  So, when he "Tweeted," about this newly-elected Congresswoman, I thought about it.  And I realized that many, many people still have ugly, mean, nasty attitudes about homosexual people.  This is not right.  This really should change.  So, I do understand the happiness of the gay community and people who are pro-gay rights when homosexual people are elected to public office.  And I hope these elections -- and friendships like I and my daughter have with gay people -- will help to create in society more true kindness toward individuals with same-sex attraction.  For even if there are issues of theology and public policy on which there are disagreements, perhaps those disagreements can be discussed in an atmosphere that is truly and actually charitable.