Rage Against The Machine

jake punched

Season 3, Episode 2

In a recent off-topic post, I compared the overarching views and attitudes of Americans v. Canadians as I perceive them.  Since we’ve lately taken an extended break from the Hillside saga while I foolishly tried my hand at more “serious” writing (pfft!), I’m guessing that I can slip one more comparative non-sequitur past the goalie before revving up the Fifteen Zamboni again.  I’ve been living in Albuquerque, NM since 2007 and prior to that, I spent aboot a decade sweltering in the geriatric swamplands of South Florida.  In most ways, these geographical areas are two entirely different worlds, but as I was scanning the local news on my phone this morning, one odd similarity between my two most recent habitats came to mind.  Men who run afoul of the law both here and in Florida are invariably shirtless at the time of their arrests.  So now you know.  (Knowledge is power!)  Everything besides the Albuquerque man’s shirtless arrest that made the headlines today was as typically depressing as I’d anticipated.  It’s so discouraging that I just want to hide oot at The Avalon with a milkshake or a root beer float for the rest of my goddamn life.

At The Avalon, Jake brings a milkshake and a root beer float to the booth he’s sharing with Ashley.  Pinky is wearing an oversized blue sweatshirt while Jake sports a typical striped shirt buttoned all the way up to the neck.  Ashley starts to grill Jake aboot his new relationship with Courtney, somehow managing to seem completely disinterested in the content of her own interrogation until she brings up the topic of the “torrid love letters” they were exchanging while he was in China.  Jake protests, “They weren’t that torrid,” as if these two automatons were capable of expressing themselves even mildly so.  Anyhow, Jake indicates that things are just peachy in Courtney-Land and they have a laugh aboot his initial awkwardness upon seeing Headband for the first time after their six-week period as blandly torrid pen pals.  Jake finally changes the subject to Ashley’s new relationship with Chris, but the most he can get oot of his oddly defensive pal aboot this perplexing hookup is that she thinks Chris is “kinda neat”.  Inevitably, Ashley checks her watch (which is upside-down on her wrist, 90’s style) and indicates that she’d better get going.  Even more inevitably, Jake chooses this moment to ask her aboot Matt and whether she can shed some light on his strange behavior at the party.  In an inordinately bitchy tone, Ashley tells him that she really doesn’t talk to Matt anymore and that if Jake wants to know what’s going on with him, he should bring it up with Matt.

ashley milkshake

At her locker, Brooke is asking Who Farted for her opinion aboot Jake and Courtney as a couple.  Knowing full well that anything short of utter contempt for the newly smitten losers will probably meet with Brooke’s mocking disapproval, Who Farted wisely opts to remain non-committal.  To her surprise, Brooke opines that she thinks they’re perfect for each other, since “neither one of them is very attractive, and it can be awfully lonely going through life like that, so I think it’s really nice that they found each other!”  As Brooke stops to take a drink from the water fountain, Who Farted boldly responds, “Right.  I guess you must feel a little lonely sometimes, huh?  I mean, Courtney does have a boyfriend and you haven’t gone oot with anyone for ages.”  Brooke doesn’t deny this allegation, but explains that it’s because Hillside is deficient in guys she finds worthy of dating, just as Jake appears and asks them to tell Matt that he’s looking for him if they see him around.

Arseman sees Courtney muttering to herself at a booth in The Avalon and asks her if something went wrong with Jake.  Miraculously, the javelin thrust betwixt Headband’s ass cheeks has nothing to do with her seat-of-the-pants love life this time.  She tells Arseman that she can’t believe “those jerks” kicked her brother oot of the band.  This is news to Sassy Afro who apparently wasn’t consulted aboot such a personnel decision being made by the juvenile delinquent contingent of Teenagers In Love.  Arseman reacts with shock before concluding that, “today’s a good day to have a little chat with them.”

arseman piss face

Back in the student lounge, Brooke is distracting Who Farted from her homework by pondering why Jake seemed so worried when he asked aboot Matt earlier.

Brooke:  All of which raises the question, what aboot Matt?

WF:  Brooke, I really have to get this finished before class.

Brooke:  He was acting pretty strangely at the party – just disappearing in the middle of everything.  Now Jake’s all worried.

WF:  How do we know that?  All Jake said was—

Brooke:  It isn’t what people say, Stace, it’s how they say it.  Jake was worried…which raises the question – good heavens, you don’t suppose Matt started drinking again?!

WF:  Drinking?

Brooke:  Maybe he left the party to get drunk!

WF:  I didn’t know Matt drank.

Brooke:  Stace, don’t be so dense!  Everybody knows aboot Matt, he’s a hopeless alcoholic!

WF:  You’re kidding!

Brooke:  That’s why Ash broke up with him.  It cost him most of his friends.  He was on the wagon for a while, but…if he started drinking again, then—

WF:  That would be awful!

Brooke:  Oh, of course it would.  It would be just terrible.  Poor Matt!

brooke shocked

Dave greets Matt at his locker and asks him how it’s going (apparently, the only greeting Dave has in his repertoire).  Drinky Crow indicates that he’s not doing so great, but instead of an explanation for his behavior at the party for which his little friend is obviously fishing, he goes off on the fact that Coach Williams just chewed him oot for “a full 10 minutes” due to his absence from practice last week.  As Matt starts to walk away, Dave summons his courage and tells Matt, “Actually, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you aboot.  Friday night…I was wondering why you left the party so early?”  Better watch it, Dave, you’re getting dangerously close to hassling.  Matt erupts, “Maybe I was bored, okay?!” before getting a grip on himself and alleging that he left because he was still feeling sick.

Having successfully dodged that frying pan for the moment, the raging fire consisting of Brooke and Who Farted sweeps down upon him on this accursed Monday of Infinite Hassles.  Brooke opens by asking Matt if Jake found him yet, adding that “he seemed awfully worried aboot something”.  She gives Matt a second to shrug this off before launching directly into a pointed inquiry aboot his disappearance from the party, guessing that “it must have been awfully hard watching Chris and Ashley snuggling up together!  Pretty excruciating, actually!”  Matt bellows that what Ashley does is her business, prompting this rather interesting exchange:

Brooke:  Matt…are you alright?

Matt:  Of course, I am.

Brooke:  No, I mean really alright?

Matt:  What is this with everyone?  Of course, I’m alright, I’m fine!  I’m perfectly fine, so JUST GET OFF MY BACK!

Deadpool is reading a comic book at a booth in The Avalon pinball room when Arseman approaches and tells him that she just heard he was kicked oot of the band.  Billy finds it hard to believe that she was ignorant of Chris and Dylan’s plans since she’s the lead singer, but eventually accepts her version of events and tells her that “it’s no big deal”.  He continues to shrug off her words of consolation until she tells him that she intends to have a few words with Chris and Dylan.  Well acquainted with Arseman’s super sass skills, he perks up a bit and asks, “Like what?”, to which she responds, “Oh, you’ll hear it.  So will everyone else within six blocks.”

Fuck me lengthwise, here comes another goddamn conversation that’s guaranteed to prove far too insipid to be described other than through a verbatim transcription.  Jake and Courtney are eating lunch on a bench in the student lounge.

Jake:  So I’ll drop by your place after supper?

Courtney:  Sure.

Jake:  Is that okay?

Courtney:  I just said ‘sure’.

Jake:  Well, I wanted to make sure you were sure.  I mean, I don’t wanna seem pushy or anything.

Courtney:  Jake, could you just quit being so considerate all the time?  Couldn’t you find a corner of yourself that’s mean, selfish and obnoxious or something?

Jake:  Hey, I’ll work on it.

You know what?  Fuck these two assholes.  Until they learn how to speak like sentient beings instead of complimentary Tickle Me Elmo dolls, I hereby refuse to transcribe the drivel that stillbirths its way oot of their mouths.  The rest of their conversation is just another rehashing of concerns aboot Deadpool and Beanpole, respectively.  Nothing to see here.

Dylan and Chris are in the garage arguing like a couple who’ve suffered through a half century of arranged marriage when Arseman sweeps through the door.  Correctly surmising that she’s here to chew them oot for dumping Billy from the band, they start to defend their decision before she cuts them short: “Fine.  So you’re looking for a new drummer…and while you’re at it, find yourself a new lead singer, too!  You guys wanna be rock and roll superstars?  Then I’m not the singer you need.  Go oot and hire Madonna…I’ve had it with you guys up to here!  I’m sick of the bickering, I’m sick of the egos, and firing Billy was the last straw – I quit!  Want me to spell that oot for you?  Q-U-I-T, quit!!”

arseman quits

Wow.  That was something, eh?  I wonder how I can calm down enough to get through the rest of this episode after taking in that dramatic harangue.  I don’t keep anything like Valium or Xanax around the house anymore, but maybe if I step away from the laptop for a bit and take a brisk walk ootside – oh wait!  Here comes a Jake and Dave scene; that oughta do the trick.

Jake spots Dave at his locker and asks him if he’s seen Matt, adding that he’s starting to get the feeling that his troubled friend is trying to avoid him.  Dave has nothing constructive to say, of course, but tells Jake that he’ll let Matt know he’s looking for him.  That’s it.

For fuck’s sake, Binkley, I said I wanted to be calm, not comatose.

Dylan sees Billy at the soda machine and apologizes for how things went down.  He tells his former drummer that he hopes they can remain friends, but Deadpool makes it abundantly clear that it’s far too late for that shit.  Halfway through this Mengele experiment of a series, Ryan Reynolds isn’t quite Deadpool yet, but he’s pretty close to being Van Wilder.  That’s all I’ve got.  I’ve never seen Van Wilder, so I don’t have a joke with which to follow that up.

Let’s check in on Chris and Ashley at The Avalon:

Ashley:  so…arseman told you guys to drop dead?

Chris:  Well, she didn’t exactly put it that way.

Ashley:  i’m surprised.  she’s usually pretty blunt.

Chris:  Well, she let us know she wasn’t too happy, so now I’ve gotta find a replacement.  It’s too bad you can’t sing.

Ashley:  i don’t know.  i even sound awful in the shower.

Chris:  Yeah, but, uh…I bet you look pretty good.

Ashley:  chris!

Chris:  So, hey, what aboot tonight?

Ashley:  what aboot it?

Chris:  Why don’t we get together?  Catch a movie or something?

Ashley:  well…

Chris:  You got something better to do?

Ashley:  no, it’s not that, it’s just…well, it’s a school night.

Chris:  Oh, come on!  You’re not turning into a schoolgirl again, are you?

He finally browbeats his whispering little girlfriend into submission and she agrees to go to the movies.  Satisfied with her sniveling acquiescence, Chris tells Ashley that he’s supposed to be meeting someone soon and when she asks who, he replies, “Just someone I know.”  Chris gets up to leave just as Dylan enters the café.  After they trade a few barbs, Leather Jacket takes a seat across from Ashley.  They engage in small talk for a few seconds until Dylan just comes right oot and asks, “Are you really sure you want to go oot with a guy like Chris?”  This, of course, goes over aboot as well as his earlier attempt to smooth things over with Billy.  Although Fonzie clearly isn’t having the best of days, nothing brings more sunshine to my own quite like listening to Ashley’s laughable attempts at indignant vociferation.

I’m pretty sure this next scene was inserted into the episode just to serve as a warning to viewers that cute, fresh-faced little Deadpool has turned a critical corner.  As Billy studies on a sofa in the student lounge, Dave approaches from the stairwell.

Dave:  You still here?

Billy:  No…what’s it look like?

Dave:  Looks like everyone else is gone.

Billy:  Is there some sort of law saying that I’ve gotta leave when everyone else does?

Dave:  Of course not, do whatever you want.  Listen, I’m uh…I’m really sorry to hear aboot what happened with the band.

Billy:  No big deal.  Doesn’t bother me.  In fact, I made the decision myself…decided the band wasn’t taking the right, you know, artistic direction.  So I figured it was probably time to leave…maybe start my own band.

Dave:  Well, it’s good to hear you’re feeling okay.  The fact is, well, to tell you the truth, I know how it feels to be left oot of things.

Billy:  Hey, I’m not surprised you get left oot of things…’cause you’re a geek!

crybilly

Some time later, Courtney sees her brother playing pinball at The Avalon and asks if he’s okay, dredging up the whole dreaded topic of his unceremonious departure from the band yet again.  Headband asks if he wants to talk aboot it, causing Deadpool to erupt, “What’s to talk aboot?!  They decided I’m no good, so I’m OOT!” as he smacks the pinball machine in frustration.

Courtney:  Come on, Billy!  Who says you’re no good?

Billy:  They do, Courtney!!  I knew I wasn’t the greatest drummer in the world but I was really trying to get better…I figured it might be the one thing in my whole stupid life I might be good at!

Courtney:  Come on, Billy, you are good at lots of things.

Billy:  Name one!  I’m lousy at school, I’m no good at sports, and I don’t even have any friends!  I thought Dylan was my friend…I really thought we’d stick by each other…and then he just turns around…

Courtney puts her hand on Billy’s shoulder but he pushes her away and runs oot of The Avalon the long way, past the counter and the payphone, even though we’ve seen on many occasions that there’s a fucking exit door directly behind him.

And now comes the Mother of All Fifteen Scenes, so brace yourselves.  Everything you’ve read up to now, all 27 ½ rambling episode summaries were all leading up to this.  Excited?  You should be.

jake faces matt

Jake comes down the stairs and sees Matt at his locker.

Jake:  So here you are!

Matt:  Jake, how’s it going?

Jake:  I’ve been looking for you all day!

Matt:  I’ve been around.

Jake:  You weren’t in any of the places I was looking.

Matt:  Guess you were looking in the wrong places.

Let me interject here and note that this is the first and only time that Matt actually almost appears to be drunk, which is to say that his hair’s a bit messy and his cheeks are slightly red.

Jake:  I was just down in the library…I guess you were at basketball practice?

Matt:  Yeah.

Jake:  How’d it go?

Matt:  Imagine your worst nightmare, then square it.

Matt proceeds to gripe aboot Coach Williams for a while, then declares that if the coach yells at him like that again, he’s going to quit the team.

Jake:  You don’t mean that.

Matt:  Don’t tell me what I mean.  Well, I guess I better get going.

Jake:  Hang on…I mean, we’ve hardly had a chance to talk to each other since I got back.

Matt:  We’ll have lots of chances.

Jake:  Yeah?  I’ve got to admit, I’ve actually started to wonder if you’re, like, trying to avoid me or something.

Matt:  Why would I want to avoid you?

Jake:  I’m not sure.  Maybe ‘cause I’ve known you for so long – ‘cause I know you better than anyone else does.  Matt, aboot the party Friday night…

Matt:  What aboot it?  I wasn’t feeling so well, so I left early.

Jake:  Withoot even telling anyone?

Matt:  What, I’m supposed to ask people’s permission?

Jake:  That’s not what I mean.

Matt:  Then what do you mean?!

Jake:  Matt, are you drinking again?

Matt:  What?  Of course, I’m not drinking again!  What kind of accusation is that?!

Jake:  Are you drinking a lot?

Matt:  I just told you I’m not drinking at all!!  Great…I thought you were supposed to be my best friend!

Jake:  That’s why I’m asking.

Matt:  You fly off to China, then you come back and make these stupid accusations?!  Man, I don’t need to hear this from you!

Jake:  Matt, you’ve got a real problem and you’ve got to face it!

Matt:  No…no, you’re the one who’s got a problem!!  Making these crazy accusations…how do you know if I’ve been drinking or not?!

Jake:  BECAUSE THERE’S LIQUOR ON YOUR BREATH RIGHT NOW!

Matt:  Don’t be stupid…I was at basketball practice.

Jake:  Are you telling me I don’t know what booze smells like?

Matt:  JUST GET OOT OF MY FACE!!

Jake:  Matt, you’ve got a problem!

Matt:  I said get oot of my face!!!

mad matt

Matt turns to leave but Jake grabs his sleeve and continues to harass him.  His patience exhausted, Matt tears himself from Jake’s grasp and cold cocks him in the face, sending Jake tumbling to the floor.

Matt stammers, “Oh man…I didn’t mean—” before running oot of the school, leaving Jake to stare after him while clamping a hand over his injured eye.

jake punched 2

Yeah, all that just happened.  And it only took us four months to get here.

We’re Back!

deadpool heart

Because we love you.  Also, because after dipping his toes back into the waters of “philosophical” writing, Curmudgeon found it to be uncomfortably cold; not to mention, he made the impetuous decision to re-submerge himself in the pool of amateur metaphysics a mere 20 minutes after he’d eaten a green chile burrito.  I tried to warn him, but I guess we all have to make our own mistakes. So withoot further ado, let’s sashay our fine little asses back to Hillside and catch up on what we’ve missed!

XXOO,

Deadpool

Danse Macabre

dyl chris pinball

Season 3, Episode 1

This ain’t no party!  This ain’t no disco!  This ain’t no foolin’ around! – Talking Heads

Welcome back to Hillside!  I’m going to make a special effort to ensure that your Season 3 experience is as enjoyable and engrossing as possible.  There are two main reasons for this planned attention to quality as I embark upon another season of Canada’s greatest TV show: 1) because you deserve it just for sticking around this long and humoring me in this pointless and juvenile endeavor; 2) Season 4 sucks so bad (and it’s double the length of the previous 3 seasons) that I don’t even know if I’m capable of giving it the same episode by episode treatment I’ve thus far been providing.  At the very least, when the time comes, I will summarize the Season 4 plots that revolve around the few remaining “classic” characters, but I really don’t think I can stomach watching all 26 episodes again, let alone try to extract humor from the stories involving the dozen or so terribly unsuited (and sometimes – gasp! – American) additions to the cast.  That said, this third 13-episode installment of Fifteen is chock full of jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching, stomach-churning surprises, so strap in and enjoy the ride!

Our ride begins in a ’79 Ford Pinto that’s been parked ootside of Dylan’s garage for the past decade, as the season’s premiere episode opens on Courtney and Arseman flapping their jaws in the student lounge.

Courtney:  Of course I’m looking forward to seeing him.  I can’t wait to see him!  The only thing is…I mean, what am I supposed to say to him?

Arseman:  You can start with something really original, like, say, “Hi, Jake!”  Then, “good to see you” and “how’s it going?”

Courtney, wearing a top-shelf headband for this long-awaited reunion, protests that it’s not as simple as all that, and you can be rest assured that she’ll complicate it beyond comprehension when she comes face to face with Jake at tonight’s party.  Brooke strolls over to their table at the mention of the word “party” and essentially invites herself to Jake’s homecoming bash.  If her behavior at the last shindig thrown at the Simpson homestead is any indication, at least she’ll probably serve to keep things interesting at this transcontinental snooze-fest.  Giving us a sneak preview, she tells Courtney that she “must be scared stiff!” at the prospect of seeing Jake after their six-week pen-pal pseudo-romance.

Brooke corners Who Farted at her locker and lays a guilt trip on her for being incommunicado in recent days.  Who Farted’s uncharacteristic reaction of mild annoyance seems to indicate that she may have finally had her fill of Hillside’s Gossip Queen, though it might have more to do with a budding infatuation for Brooke’s bold new detractor Roxanne.  After all, withoot someone to shamelessly emulate, Who Farted might very well vanish into thin air.  Who Farted tries to extricate herself from the conversation before Brooke lays it on the line, “Stacy, just oot of interest…is it just my imagination or are you trying to avoid me these days?” but her former admirer just brushes off the question and hurries off to class.

who farted forgot

At The Avalon, Dylan is having simulated sex with the unplugged pinball machine while Chris continues to make his case for firing Billy from the band.  I wonder what the fuck Leather Jacket said to Deadpool last season after his ominous opening statement, “Listen, there’s something I gotta tell you,” because he obviously wussed oot of shit-canning him from the band.  The rest of this scene just illustrates that nothing’s changed in the relationship between these two, which makes sense since the stated timeline of events puts this moment just two days later than where we left off.  That being said, the fact that Chris’ hair has grown several inches longer since we last saw him poses quite the conundrum.  Dylan finally caves and tells Chris that if he sees Billy, “tell him to meet me at the garage after school”.  Chris gives Dylan a patronizing pat on the shoulder as he takes his leave, causing Elvis to fantasize aboot stuffing his ootspoken little antagonist into a garbage can.

garbage can

Dave enters The Avalon wearing a multi-colored polo shirt that looks like something straight from Matt’s abominable wardrobe as he greets his gym class hero at a booth.  He asks Matt if everything’s okay because he didn’t make it to practice yesterday.  Matt responds that he “just had some 24 hour flu or something” which is the exact same euphemism for an excruciating hangover that I used to employ when confronted aboot unexcused absences.  Dave goes on to inform him that “Coach Williams was kind of peeved,” but Matt brushes this off and tells his boring little friend that he’ll see him at the party.  Dave responds “probably not” before explaining that he wasn’t invited, setting Matt off on a self-righteous display of anger at this inexcusable slight, punctuated by a decisive, “I’ll deal with it!” as he rises from the booth and storms oot of the café.

Chris sees Billy at his locker and tells him that Dylan wants to see him at the garage after school.  He entertains Deadpool’s naïve enthusiasm aboot the band for a few moments before spotting Ashley walking through the lounge.  They flirt for a spell until Chris informs her that he’ll pick her up at 7:30 for the party to which she replies, “i’ll be waiting!”  Say what you will aboot Chris and this whole ill-advised romance with Pinky Dinks, but at the moment, he’s already proving himself to be superior boyfriend material just by this simple confirmation that he won’t be too busy getting sauced to accompany her to Courtney’s stupid party.

Brooke and Who Farted enter the student lounge just in time to witness Chris and Ashley’s affectionate interlude.

Brooke:  Did you just see what I just saw?

WF:  Well, obviously.  I mean, I was standing right here.

Brooke:  Chris and Ashley?!  Mister Rebel and Little Miss Perfect – they can’t be going oot together!

WF:  Well, they seem to like each other.

Brooke:  But that’s impossible!  How could they like each other?

WF:  What’s so weird aboot that?

Brooke:  Because there’s nothing to like aboot either one of them.

WF:  Oh, come on…

Brooke:  Face facts, Stace!  Chris is insufferable and Ashley – she’s even worse!  Our little schoolgirl, batting her eyes and pretending to be so totally sweet and so wonderfully clever.

WF:  Brooke, you wanna know the truth?  I have been avoiding you lately and it’s because you keep acting like this.

Brooke:  I beg your pardon?

WF:  You can be so – you’re so sarcastic and snobby that I just can’t stand it anymore!

Brooke:  What?

WF:  I used to look up to you – I actually did!  But if this is what you’re really like, well, I don’t need to hang around with people like that!

Before you start warming up to Who Farted for delivering this bold and justified admonishment to her former mentor, don’t.  Trust me, just don’t.  Brooke is a bitch, no argument there, but Who Farted is a maggot-infested mutant that only grows more intolerably grotesque with the passage of time.

Matt confronts Arseman at her locker with an intimidating accusation that she intentionally neglected to invite Dave to Courtney’s party.  This quickly turns into a case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object since the only thing that can rival Matt’s hangover-fueled hostility is Arseman’s infinite sass.

The next scene opens on Courtney and Ashley at the Simpson residence preparing for the upcoming festivities.  As Headband nervously places bowls of chips and cheese doodles on various end tables, it dawns on me that with the exception of Ashley’s presence and a banner that reads “Welcome Home Jake” hanging on the far wall, this is the exact same pre-party scene we already witnessed back in Season 1.  Ashley tells her to calm down and Courtney replies that she just wants to ensure everything goes off withoot a hitch since Mom is trusting her to throw a party in her absence.  They then proceed to have the exact same conversation aboot Jake and his letters from China and her nervousness aboot how they’ll react in each other’s presence that we’ve heard ad nauseum since the start of last season.

Just as I’m preparing to throw my laptop oot the window and abandon this masochistic writing project forever, Jake walks through the door unannounced, narrowly ensuring that Notes From The Avalon will live to see another day.  Ashley greets him with a hug while a speechless Courtney prepares herself for maximum discomfort.  Whisperina makes tracks, leaving Jake and Courtney to hem and haw for what feels like an eternity before clutching each other in the most awkward embrace ever televised.

jake court hug

Brooke enters The Avalon and marches over to the booth where Who Farted is doing homework.  Apparently having realized that she’s literally one person shy of being completely friendless, she concedes that perhaps she sometimes expresses herself too bluntly, quickly adding that “it’s only because I care so much aboot my friends”.  Remember what I said earlier aboot Who Farted?  Well, ugliness isn’t just an external phenomenon, because this fucking shit-for-brains boob pube immediately buys Brooke’s ridiculous explanation for her gleefully cruel behavior towards pretty much everyone and apologizes for “overreacting”.  Sensing that Who Farted is back under her spell, Brooke turns the tables and chews her oot for daring to speak her mind while Who Farted sits there and takes it like the chameleonic retard she is.

Now we’re back at Dylan’s garage for his second attempt at kicking Deadpool oot of the band.

Billy:  So…what are you trying to say?

Dylan:  I’m just saying that – look, we all want this to be a really good band.

Billy:  Well, of course.

Dylan:  But it’s just not working.

Billy:  Then we’ll practice more.  We’ll get better—

Dylan:  That’s not the point.  The point is – look, Billy, you’re my friend, but sometimes friendship isn’t the…I wish you were a better drummer, I really do.  And I wish I had more time to work with you, but the way things are going, I—

Billy:  Do you mean you’re kicking me oot of the band?

Dylan:  No!  No, I’m just asking you to understand the band is really important to me and…I think we need a new drummer.

Billy:  Like I said, YOU’RE KICKING ME OOT!!

like i said

And now it’s time to PAR-TAY!  Once again, one or two wandering extras cutting in between the handful of main cast members make Courtney’s sparsely populated living room appear to be hosting a blowoot in full swing.  The camera zeroes in on Jake and Courtney’s conversation in progress wherein Jake is explaining that his mom’s overprotective tendencies ensured that he spent the entire six weeks holed up in a Beijing hotel room.  Unable to craft a response to something even this simple and innocuous, Courtney excuses herself to “go mingle”.  She finds Arseman and declares, “This is awful!  We can’t even talk to each other.  We just stand there with these stupid grins on our faces!”  Arseman tells her to just relax but Headband deems that an impossible proposition since she “doesn’t even know who I’m talking to.  Is this Jake my old pal or Jake my new boyfriend?”  She storms oot of the room declaring that she wishes she never even had this party.

Dave arrives and sits down on the sofa next to Jake.  For a few seconds, Jake starts to whine aboot how weird it feels to be back before abruptly changing the subject and wondering aloud where Matt is.  Dave replies that “he was supposed to be here right at 7:00”, causing Matt’s rivaling ass-kissers to commence an eerily familiar round of “Where’s Walker”?  Just as Jake seems poised to say something worrisome aboot Matt’s history with parties and alcohol, Beanpole walks through the door causing Jake to jump up and exclaim, “Hey, Big Matt!”  They engage in some insufferable small talk before Matt finally asks Jake to tell him all aboot his trip to China.  Literally half a sentence into Jake’s reply, Matt gets distracted, starts looking around the room and abruptly declares, “Listen, I’m just gonna get a bite to eat,” leaving his long absent best friend to stare after him in confusion.

While Jake is still standing alone in the middle of the room, Brooke makes her elaborate entrance and pulls him to the sofa where she demands that he tell her all aboot his trip before immediately talking over him and declaring that she’s always wanted to go to China, “…or Japan!”  She launches into a narcissistic diatribe aboot how she’d be a very popular model in Asia since “fair-haired girls” are so popular there, so Jake decides to take a cue from his drunken man-crush as he gets up and walks away while Brooke’s in mid-sentence.

Next to arrive are Chris and Ashley, hand in hand, while Matt glares at them from across the room.  Immediately upon entering, Chris shouts, “See?  This is boring!  This isn’t a party!  Come on, let’s liven things up a little.  You go crank the music up to 400 decibels and I’ll go steal the VCR!”  Matt approaches and asks, “How’s it going?” In lieu of a reply, Chris smirks as he puts his arm around Ashley and leads her away.  At that moment, Courtney comes back into the living room carrying another bowl of chips, but if you look real closely, you’ll notice Matt discretely backing oot the door.

Courtney goes to adjust the stereo when Jake suddenly appears, effectively cornering her.

Jake:  Me again!

Courtney: (wringing her hands) Ah, yeah.

Jake:  Courtney, listen.  I’m, uh, not too sure how to put this.  Is it just my imagination or are we both feeling like totally weird?

Courtney:  Weird…yeah, that’s a good word.

Jake:  And what I’m wondering…well, where are we?

Courtney:  In the living room?

Jake:  Yeah, besides that.

Courtney:  Well, where do you think we are?

Jake:  That’s what I’m not too sure aboot, but I know where I’d like us to be.

Courtney:  Where’s that?

Jake:  I’d like us to be together as more than just friends.  From what you said in your letters, I thought you wanted that, too, but look, have I got this all wrong?

Courtney:  Nope.  No, you’ve got it exactly right!

court exactly right

Great Fucking Luke Perry’s Ghost, that was excruciating!  They lean in and hug each other only slightly less awkwardly than they managed to pull off when Jake first arrived, cementing the official commencement of their new train wreck of a relationship.

Arseman spots Dave wandering around the room and apologizes for neglecting to invite him to the party, but he’s too concerned aboot Matt’s sudden disappearance to pay attention to what she’s saying.  Jake approaches and Dave informs him that he can’t find Matt anywhere, apparently reigniting a deep concern aboot which Jake hadn’t given a thought for the last six weeks.

Jake:  Dave, what’s going on with Matt?  I mean, is he okay?  This is the sort of thing that happened before, when Matt was drinking.  Look, you’ve been around, I haven’t, so you’ve got to tell me, do you think Matt’s drinking again?

Dave:  I’m not sure.

jake ending

In the immortal words of Ray Davies, “Now we’re back where we started — here we go ‘round again!”  Welcome the fuck home, Jake.

5 American 6 Canadian

speechless

For those who doubt that a political or philosophical screed can be successfully communicated through the milieu of Fifteen, stick around for this one.

Those who have been reading my blog for longer than it’s been a celebration of an obscure teen soap opera know that I have a tendency to deal in the abstract.  I feel most comfortable expressing my thoughts with philosophical and metaphysical language and often reach a point where all pragmatism disappears in a vast cloud of ontology that borders on the mystical.

The Buddhists have an answer to the seeming dichotomy between down-to-earth logic and non-conceptual meditative states of mind, albeit an imperfect one due to the constrictions of language.  The Sutras often speak of two realities, carefully reminding us of the symbolism inherent in this artificial division of the inherently indivisible.  They speak of “relative reality” and “ultimate reality”, conjuring an imaginary line of demarcation between the grossly physical and the subtly spiritual.

Therefore, when I opine that ego-driven individuals are willfully incapable of recognizing the unbreakable unity of all beings, things and events, I am simply indulging in an interesting but impractical intellectual exercise informed by my own personal spiritual and philosophical ideals.  It would be impossible for me to extricate my own ego from the equation when I am in the process of trying to persuade others to view things in the way that I find most “sensible”.  This ensures that the end result of such essays is invariably a useless manifesto attempting to express the “ultimate” through the purview of my own ego (the “relative”).  This all gets very convoluted and I know there are quite a few of you oot there who realize that when I attempt to “say something”, I usually end up saying nothing at all, hoping that the employment of erudite linguistics will blind readers to its lack of practical meaning.

Therefore, this post, if I may once again appropriate a tenet of Eastern wisdom, will remain firmly in the realm of relative speech.  To that aim, let’s dispense of a few lofty bits of nonsense that we as Americans still love to throw around as if they’re unquestionable truths.  There is no such fucking thing as “the soul of America” (or any other arbitrarily defined sovereign nation) or “the fabric of America” or even “the people of America” when used to imply a social, cultural or spiritual homogeneity.  To say that “Americans are good/resourceful/courageous people” is just as devoid of a foundation as to say that “Americans are bad/lazy/cowardly people”.  Americans, like any other group numbering in the millions, hundreds of millions, or even billions, have just one verifiable common bond, which is that of species.  Of course, that renders the notion of national origin utterly meaningless since it puts everyone on Earth in the same generalized boat, but this is the reality, even if it offends your ego-driven, fear-based embrace of patriotism.  Biology is our only common bond.

When I derive a sense of meaning from reminding readers of our intrinsic lack thereof, I may be giving an honest assessment of my cosmological view but I am also neglecting to admit my own emotional investment in that meaningless existence.  In other words, despite my best efforts to present myself otherwise, I still get pissed off, depressed, frightened and insecure.  I would guess that I now suffer from such “negative” states of mind far less frequently than the average person due to my habit of analyzing myself into non-existence each and every time my ego wants to loudly assert itself, but intellect is an ultimately impotent tool in the nurturing of spirituality or even genuine stoicism, for that matter.  In other words, I still feel shit, whether I like it or not.

And so do the students of Hillside High, of course.  They feel shit so strongly that even pleasure seems like pain to these little melodramatists.  Most of them embody age-old stereotypes and that’s where they become very useful examples for this post.  Although the actors (and characters) themselves are Canadian, to my mind, some of those stereotypes better exemplify American caricatures while others are more suited to north-of-the-border conventions.  Again, there is no actual commonality besides biology and imagined citizenry between the constituents of a country.  But there are sweeping impressions that become an invented “national character” and in this case, it is the Ugly American versus the Friendly Canadian.

First, the Canadians:

Janice, Olaf, Arseman, Jake and Dave.  The common characteristics of these five fictional Vancouverites are harmlessness and a sort of charming naivete.

Now the Americans:

Brooke, Amanda, Courtney, Matt, Chris and Ashley.

Possessed by one or all of these characters are the following traits that most non-Americans understandably attribute to the country’s populace at large: self-absorption, pettiness, insecurity, strength through cruelty, dishonesty, drunkenness, lack of subtlety, theatrical melodrama, manipulation, judgment and discrimination.

Now let’s see how applicable the aforementioned and unevenly distributed adjectives apply to each country’s primary representative on the world stage:

Canada:  Justin Trudeau

USA:  Donald J. Trump

Even though I already acknowledged the lack of homogeneity in any nation’s citizenry, these are still eerily accurate parallels of the way most of us feel in our gut aboot those who live just one thin invisible border away from us.  Since I am not Canadian and have thus never had the experience of living among those who are, I can only level honest gut-felt criticism at those who live within the same borders as I.  So this goes oot to those Americans whose values, beliefs and viewpoints are so diametrically opposed to my own that I find it increasingly difficult to even recognize our biological bond.

If you still support the illiterate dictator squatting in the Oval Office, YOU ARE A RACIST.

This is not open to debate.  Let’s check in with Merriam-Webster, shall we?

Racist (noun) a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.  Synonyms: bigot, racialist, chauvinist, xenophobe

If you react to the above statement with offense and begin to list off black/Hispanic/gay/Muslim friends you’ve had over the years, you are simply bringing your racism into sharper focus.

If you really don’t indulge in conscious racial or ethnic animus but intend to vote for Orangina because your 401K has done well under his watch, you are worse than a racist.  You’re a racist enabler who should know better, but value your own comfort over the civil rights of others.  This is simple cowardice.

I’ve written before aboot the neuroscientific fact that larger amygdalas generally inform conservative sociopolitical views.  A more accessible term for that walnut-sized primitive area of the brain is the “fear center”.  In other words, in order to harbor racist, misogynist or discriminatory ideals above and beyond subtle areas of genuine ignorance, one must be afraid, even cowardly.

Which brings me to my second and final point:

If you still support the illiterate dictator squatting in the Oval Office, YOU ARE A COWARD.

I do not believe that my or anyone else’s words can have any significant effect on an arc of human history that is currently driven by nearly 8 billion people.  I do not have hope for the future, nor do I fear it, because either mindset requires an erroneous sense of simple linear cause and effect, though in reality, it is far more complicated and multifaceted than anyone can imagine.  That’s ultimate reality.

I do believe that nearly half the population of the United States consists of racists and cowards.  That’s relative reality, though it is just as impervious to debate as the ultimate and if you disagree with that assessment, go back to the top of the post and read it again, then consult Google for a compendium of your Fuhrer’s most shameless and baseless Twitter rants.

When you find yourself behind that voting booth curtain in 2020, sincerely ask yourself: am I Brooke or am I Janice?  The honest answer may surprise you.  Whether we come oot of that election looking more like a nation or Brookes or of Janices, I won’t be surprised by the results.  Though we may seem to much of the world like a collective of angry buffoons at the moment, the most imaginary thing of all is some set-in-stone essence of character in any given individual.  Here’s hoping more of us find the courage to embrace our inner Janices or Olafs before casting those votes.

Deadpool 3: Junior Year

billy bully2

Can you believe we’ve arrived at Season 3 already?  It seems like yesterday that I first had the epiphany, “Hey, I know what will piss people off and make former readers of my blog flee like rats on a sinking ship Hey, I know what will be a fun new direction for my blog!” and here we are, 4 months and 26 episodes later, on the precipice of the last watchable season of the incomparable Fifteen.

This season intro post will be brief, because there aren’t nearly as many character departures as there were for Season 2, and to my recollection, there are no new characters of significance introduced.  So here’s what’s changed:

Jake is back from China, salivating over the prospect of getting into Courtney’s old lady pants.  Can their long-distance romance withstand the face-to-face awkwardness it will inevitably confront?

jake party

As you know, Janice is gone, never to return and if I remember correctly, so is Amanda.  So Brooke will need to find a new foil to whom she’s not related, but I’m pretty sure Who Farted can fulfill that requirement handily.

The combined effects of a broken home and a broken band will inspire Deadpool to become a bully for a spell.  While I’m no fan of schoolyard bullies, I can excuse Billy’s brief phase of getting off on tormenting his peers because at least he chooses very appropriate victims in Dave and John.  Since both of those characters are so profoundly fucking annoying, I choose to view this as Wade Wilson’s initial stage of mercenary practice.

billy bully

Eventually, Dylan intervenes and puts a stop to his former drummer’s reign of terror.

dyl bill

Ashley and Chris – is it sustainable?

ash chris kiss

Courtney and Matt – will the sight of her ex and her best friend tongue-wrestling in public finally cause Ashley to raise her voice above a whisper?

court matt kiss

Some other highlights to come:

A black eye!

black eye

An intervention!

intervention

A talent show presented in the style of David Lynch!

talent show dylan

Courtney and Ashley become beatniks?!

beatniks

Stick around, y’all.  This is arguably the most surreal season of ‘em all.

Chinese Foods

love triangle

Season 2, Episode 13

It’s time for the Season 2 finale!  At the conclusion of this post, we’ll have completed half of the seasons, but only two-fifths of the series, as Season 4 contains a whopping 26 god-awful episodes.  Regardless, it still feels like an important milestone has been reached here at Notes From The Avalon.

We open on Arseman and Courtney sitting in The Avalon.  Courtney is wearing her necklace again, so Arseman squeaks, “It still looks good on you!” as if its brief stay in Amanda’s purse could have somehow changed its (or Courtney’s) appearance.  Headband has mixed feelings aboot it since her moronic tendency to take Brooke’s gossip as gospel truth basically forced Janice to transfer to another school.  She fears that Janice’s whole family has left town because she tried to call her last night but got no answer.  Arseman tells her not to feel guilty and assures her that Janice will turn up sooner or later.

In the student lounge, Roxanne is still badgering Chris to talk Dylan into firing Billy from the band.  Chris explains that this is easier said than done as Dylan seems to feel some kind of moral obligation to keep Deadpool on, especially since he’s been having troubles at home.  Roxanne reaches the end of her very short rope and snorts, “So is this a band or a support group for unhappy kids?  Fine.  Do what you want.  It doesn’t matter to me if your band stays mediocre.  Just don’t ask me for advice anymore.”

mad roxanne

Roxanne splits as Ashley walks into view and Chris jumps oot of his seat to greet her.  She compliments him on the concert, but he dismisses her flattery and declares that they were lousy, causing her to exclaim, “don’t talk that way aboot my favorite band!”  She continues, “actually, the band was pretty good…you were great.  i was listening to you especially.”  Pinkasaurus then pulls oot all the stops in her pathetic attempt at whispered seduction:

Ashley:  and by the way, you also give good advice.  i spent an hour doing math homework last night.

Chris:  So what’s that got to do with me?

Ashley:  you’re the one who told me not to kill myself trying to get an a.  normally, i would have spent four hours but i remembered the chris macdonald philosophy of life.

Chris:  Oh yeah.  That philosophy.

Ashley:  live your own life the way you want to and don’t waste time worrying aboot what anybody else thinks.

Since that was literally a word for word repetition of his stupid maxim, I’m guessing that she spent the additional three hours normally devoted to math homework memorizing it last night.  As if reading my blog thoughts, Chris exclaims, “Hey, almost word for word!” to which Ashley replies, “that was word for word.”  Chris smiles and says, “I’m beginning to like your style!” just as Matt descends the stairwell and gives the hairy eyeball to Ashley’s shamelessly flirtatious display.  He lingers long enough to hear Chris ask her on a date (to The Avalon, of course), an invitation which she giddily accepts.

ashley flattery

Deadpool enters The Avalon and runs into Arseman and Courtney on their way oot the door.  He asks if it’s true that Amanda stole the necklace and Courtney confirms that it is, adding, “Apparently, Amanda’s not the sweet little thing we all thought she was.”

amanda2
The Sweet Little Thing

Eventually, after we’ve had some time to get used to Roxanne, she’ll become one of the more tolerable characters on the show, but at this point, nothing aboot her makes any sense.   Although she was only seen in passing and never spoke a line prior to the end of the last episode, now she’s just walking around the school giving her unsolicited opinions to everyone she sees as if she has the seniority to be so bold, kind of like Arseman at the beginning of the season.  Now she descends on Brooke’s table in the lounge and starts giving her the third degree aboot Amanda’s criminal tendencies.  Brooke responds in the usual fashion, feigning disbelief at her sister’s actions and taking credit for having exposed them, concluding that Amanda should be ashamed of herself for letting their family down.  Roxanne self-righteously erupts, “Letting down your family?  And you?  What aboot how she let Courtney down by taking the necklace and Janice by blaming her?  What aboot them?!”  Brooke reluctantly concedes, “Well, them, too, of course,” causing Roxanne to stand up and bellow for the benefit of the two nameless onlookers hovering behind them, “Absolutely!  You know something, Brooke?  I’m starting to form an opinion aboot Amanda.  I’m starting to think that she’s even worse than you are!”  The camera pans oot to show Who Farted sitting at a nearby table with some other kids taking in the exchange.

Brooke marches over to Amanda at her locker.

Brooke:  How could you do this to all of us?!

Amanda:  Thanks for your support, Brooke.

Brooke:  How could you?  You managed to hurt Courtney and Janice and me – and the family.

Amanda:  You and the family?  What’s it got to do with you and the family?!

Brooke: (rolling her eyes) Nobody seems to understand this!  You have besmirched our family name.

Amanda:  Besmirched?

Brooke:  I never thought a sister of mine would stoop so low.

Amanda:  Oh, sure…and you’re just perfect, aren’t you?

Brooke:  Or that you’d have the nerve to show your face at school after committing such a crime.

Amanda:  Brooke, just stuff a sock in it!!

Amanda storms off leaving Brooke to mutter under her breath, “Well, there you go.  People do get what they deserve sooner or later”.  A kid standing behind her closes his locker and responds, “You better hope not, Brooke.”  That was this kid’s first and only spoken line, but he’s no stranger to those who’ve been watching from the beginning.  He has long hair, wears a black cap and vest and seems to show up everywhere, making me wonder why he never got his moment in the sun as a named cast member.  For the final scene of Season 1, he was playing bass in Dylan’s garage, so maybe they had initially tapped him to play Chris before Andrew Baskin auditioned for the role and proved that his depiction of a total cocksucker was second to none.

you better hope not

In the boys’ locker room, Matt puts his jacket on and gets ready to leave when Dave enters and reminds him that it’s lunchtime and they were supposed to play some one on one.  Matt tells him that he’s busy and doesn’t see the point in practicing when he’s only playing five minutes per game.  Dave is sure that he’ll get more court time soon, but Matt replies that he’ll believe it when he sees it.  Not wanting to waste this opportunity to moralize, Dave reaches into his metaphorical trousers and miraculously fishes oot a tiny pair of balls.

Dave:  I mean, things are gonna turn oot okay.  Things are already okay, right?  You’re back on the team and you’re not doing anymore…

Matt:  Anymore what?

Dave:  You know…that problem you used to have…with drinking?

Matt:  Oh.  That problem.

Dave:  You’re not doing that anymore, right?

Matt:  Of course not!  So why bring it up?!

Dave:  I was just pointing oot that…things are going okay.  Things in general.  Matt, can I ask you something?  What’s bugging you?

Matt:  Nothing!  Okay…it’s Ashley.  I mean, we could always talk to each other – that’s something we always had.  But in the last couple of weeks…I don’t know.  It’s like there’s this huge wall between us.  We can’t even say hello anymore.

Dave:  You still…you really care aboot her, don’t you?

Matt:  No.             Yeah.

Dave:  Why don’t you tell her that instead of just trying to say hello?

Well, I did specify that it was a tiny pair of balls, after all, but it still managed to elicit this reaction from Drinky Crow:

matt brooding

In the hallway, Deadpool is bragging to John that “this is exactly how the Beatles started oot!  They started doing high school gigs when they were our age!”  His new little acquaintance and future punching bag asks, “Who are the Beatles?” while Deadpool takes a drink from the water fountain and nearly spits it oot in bewilderment over John’s astounding pop culture ignorance.  All kidding aside, I once dated a young woman who asked me this very same question, marking one of the most profoundly depressing moments in my entire romantic history.  Spotting his sister coming down the stairs, Billy asks her to confirm the allegations he just made to John aboot the Beatles getting their start in high school, but rather than answer his question, she again wisely counsels her little brother not to get carried away with these impetuous rock star dreams.  Sensing his disappointment, she tries to soften the blow of her blunt pragmatism just as Amanda approaches, rendering Headband momentarily speechless.

Amanda:  You got your necklace back.

Courtney:  Right.

Amanda:  That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?

Courtney:  Well, yeah…

Amanda:  Good!  So now you can stop telling everyone what a horrible person I am!

Courtney:  I haven’t said anything like that at all!

Amanda: (turning to Billy) And you!  I bet you’re getting a great laugh oot of this!  I bet you love it that everybody hates me!

Deadpool shows some class and denies her accusation that he’s wallowing in schadenfreude, adding that he just thinks the whole thing is really sad.  That, of course, is far worse to a sneering little shit like Amanda, so she flees from the upsetting conversation that she initiated.

Coming down the stairs, Alfred E. Newman is co-opting Deadpool’s Beatles origin story for the benefit of Leah.  Rather than remind him of his theory that intelligent boys don’t go anywhere near girls, she reacts with interest to his second-hand allegations aboot the Fab Four.  Pumping change into the soda machine, he continues, “They practically started in day care, and when you start really young, that’s when you get to the top!”  Leah excitedly responds, “Wouldn’t it be incredible if Teenagers In Love got to be really big stars?  Maybe they’ll get a TV show or even their own Saturday morning cartoon!”  So Leah thinks Dylan and the gang could one day be just as popular with preschoolers wired on Cocoa Puffs as Josie and the Pussycats or The Brady Six.  Sounds aboot right.  John takes this as his cue to make the inevitable proposition that they start a band, something he’s sure will be a stunning success since they’re even younger than the members of Teenagers In Love.  Getting down to brass tacks, they suddenly realize that neither of them knows how to play an instrument, but this is a mere technicality for Dumbo who optimistically declares, “Then we’ll just have to learn!”  All of this pointless filler material revolving around the two most inconsequential characters currently in the show hardly seems fitting for a season finale.  Wake the fuck up, Binkley, you’ve got a mere ten minutes left in which to blow our minds.

Chris spots Arseman at a booth in The Avalon and takes a seat across from her.  He asks for her honest opinion aboot their performance, but Sassy Pants isn’t keen on dissecting the concert any further.  Regardless, he continues to press, so she finally tells him that she thought they were fine for a bunch of amateurs playing their first gig, then asks what he thinks.

Chris:  I think I don’t wanna be with a bunch of amateurs for the rest of my life, and I think – you’re not gonna agree with this…

Arseman:  That’s cool.

Chris:  I think that for everybody’s sake, including Billy’s, we should maybe think aboot looking for a new drummer.

Arseman:  How is this for Billy’s sake?

Chris:  Well, he knows himself that he’s not really good enough.

Arseman:  No, actually, Chris, if you ever paid any attention to how Billy feels, you’d know he’s having the time of his life.  He wants to make this his career!

Chris:  For everybody else’s sake, then…come on, Arseman!  I know you like him, but you know he’s no good!  Don’t you see?  We need a new drummer if we’re ever gonna get anywhere.

Arseman:  Where do you wanna get?  I thought I was joining a garage band for fun.  Billy keeps the beat—

Chris:  He rushes the beat.

Arseman:  So he’ll learn.  The rest of us aren’t such hot stuff, either, you know.  I mean, this isn’t Guns ‘N’ Roses!  All I want is to have a good time.

Chris:  That’s not all I want.

Courtney sees Ashley at her locker and asks if she’s seen or heard anything from Janice.  She hasn’t.  That’s it.  Seriously.  This is what passes for a fucking scene in this supposedly climactic season finale.

Chris enters Dylan’s garage and tells him that he talked to Jerry at The Avalon aboot whether they’ll get another gig.  He informs Leather Jacket that Jerry “hedged…he didn’t say yes, he didn’t say no,” but I have to wonder if Chris even bothered to make sure that Jerry was awake before badgering him aboot another concert opportunity.  Dylan scoffs, “He always does that,” which is either a dig at Jerry’s terrible personality or an acknowledgment of his undiagnosed narcolepsy.  Finally, Chris tells Dylan that Jerry eventually said yes, on one condition: “He wants us to get a new drummer”.  Filth Pig clearly has his faults, but I suspect this little story aboot his demand for a personnel change is something Chris concocted on his way over to the garage.  Call me cynical.

Dylan:  Jerry said that?  He just came right oot and said, ‘I want you guys to get a new drummer”?

Chris:  Well…

Dylan:  Or are you the one that said it?

Chris:  Alright!  I told him that both you and me were worried aboot the drummer and he said, ‘Yeah, I agree completely’.  He said that’s his biggest problem with the band and if we stick with Billy, he doesn’t think he’ll hire us again!

Dylan argues with his aggressive little band mate for a spell, then finally caves and advises Chris that he’ll tell Billy he’s oot of the band.

Jesus Jones!  With only six fucking minutes to go, the writers suddenly decide this is a good time for a scene involving Dave and Big Ears, two characters who have never interacted on screen before whose only common bond is a flair for crushing boredom.  As Dave passes by his table in the lounge, John asks him if he’s “heard the big news”.  Distracted, Dave tells Babar that he’s looking for Matt but can’t find him anywhere, then momentarily patronizes him by asking him aboot the “big news”.  John replies, “There’s gonna be a new rock band at Hillside!  Me and Tristan and Leah!”  Alright, first of all, nobody cares aboot this little homunculus and his stupid rock star aspirations and second of all, who the fuck is Tristan?!  Dave obviously has other things on his mind and when he finally splits, John drifts into a reverie while muttering something aboot being “bigger than the Beatles”.  To describe the concert-themed dream sequence that follows wouldn’t be half as illustrative as the following series of visual aids, so brace yourself.

john drums

***

johns crowd

***

johns crowd2

The next scene opens on Courtney at her – holy shit!  I’ve never been so happy to realize that I provided erroneous information on this page.  It’s Janice!!!  She excitedly greets Headband and tells her that she came to finish the school transfer paperwork and heard that Amanda confessed, asking, “Why didn’t anybody tell me?”  Courtney apologizes profusely and explains that she tried to call but couldn’t reach her.  Janice seems confused at first before suddenly realizing, “Oh, our phone’s oot of order!”  Is that something that happened back in the golden age of landlines?  I’ve honestly forgotten.  Anyway, they confirm that they’re still friends and hug each other tightly.  Though I’m happy that Janice was finally vindicated, this episode is definitely the last time we’ll ever see her, since she doesn’t return for Season 3.  I wish I could hug her, too.

janice hug

At the garage, Deadpool is telling Chris and Dylan that he thinks the band can really go somewhere, completely unaware of the thermonuclear bomb that’s aboot to drop on him.  He asks if anyone’s talked to Jerry and Chris replies, “It’s complicated.  Dylan will tell you all aboot it,” before bailing to meet Ashley at The Avalon, leaving Dylan to break the news himself.   He begins, “Listen…there’s something I gotta tell you.”

billy worried

Courtney and Janice are sitting at The Avalon counter when Matt walks in and asks if they’ve seen Ashley.  Headband reacts to his inquiry like a deer caught in the headlights, but Janice is refreshingly ignorant of Matt’s love quadrilateral, so she cheerfully volunteers, “She’s in the pinball room with Chris!”  He looks towards the rear of the café and sees this shit:

ash chris

Matt, blindsided by this unexpected turn of events, staggers over to a table near the door and lowers himself into the chair like an old man with hemorrhoids.  Janice asks Courtney if she said something wrong, but Headband has a ridiculously low tolerance for conversation aboot anyone’s issues but her own, so she changes the subject to Jake and the fact that he’s coming home from China on Friday.  She tells Janice that she wants to throw him a welcome home party at her place, adding that she’s both excited and scared to see him again after all this time.

janice smile

Ashley walks in from the pinball room and runs into Matt who asks if she has a minute.  She reluctantly agrees to hear him oot.

Matt:  Look, I’ve been thinking a lot aboot you and me…what I’ve been thinking is I’d like it more than anything if we could give things just one more try.

Ashley:  what?

Matt:  No pressure!  I mean, if it doesn’t work oot, it doesn’t work oot.  So look…there’s gonna be some sort of party for Jake on Friday and what I was thinking is – I mean, what would you think aboot you and me going together?

Chris walks in from the pinball room.

Chris:  That’s a nice offer, Matt.  The problem is, Ashley’s already going to the party…with me.

He puts his arm around Ashley’s shoulder as he daringly fixes Matt’s gaze.

Ashley:  matt, i would have explained except i didn’t get the chance.

Matt:  Hey.  No problem.  Good luck to both of you.  I hope it lasts forever.

Well, that was some heavy shit and it was great to get some closure on Janice, but I don’t know.  This season coda kinda left me feeling like a guy who ate a heaping portion of Chinese foods…aboot an hour ago.  As always, thanks for reading, my friends.  I’ll be back to dive head-first into Season 3 quicker than you can say egg foo young.

tbc

 

 

Lollapalooza

concert 3

Season 2, Episode 12

I regret that I have to start this post with some tragic news: I’m pretty sure the last episode was our final experience of Janice for the remainder of the series.  She’ll still be mentioned from time to time during the last 2 episodes of the season as we find oot what really happened with Courtney’s stupid necklace, but she’s already cleaned oot her locker and is on her way to a different school.  Here’s hoping it’s attended by nicer kids and has an open spot on its kick-ass volleyball team.  If this show had been bold enough to tackle the issue of teen suicide, Janice would have been the obvious choice for the centerpiece of such a plot.  I don’t know why Ian Weir felt the need to be so fucking brutal with her, but I sense that this Canadian screenwriting hack gets off on relentless cruelty to awkward adolescents.

At the Blackwell garage, Teenagers In Love are rehearsing their asses off for the upcoming show.  At the conclusion of the song, even Chris admits that they sounded good, but a clearly nerve-wracked Dylan begs to differ: “What’s the matter with you guys?!  We stunk!” He goes off on some shit aboot the band ending in D minor while Chris was in D minor seventh, something that might be a legitimate concern if their names were Geddy, Alex and Neil, but in this case, I think Fonzie should just be happy that Deadpool managed to get through another song withoot pounding a hole right through his drumheads.  Chris storms oot of the garage in frustration while Arseman unsuccessfully tries to get Dylan to calm down.  He responds, “I’m not worked up aboot it!  But the concert’s tomorrow, so all I’m saying is that…I’m not worked up!”

Ashley and Courtney are at The Avalon counter as Headband embraces her inner beatnik and exclaims, “Billy is so wired aboot this concert, Man!”  She goes on to explain that she keeps trying to tell him that it’s just supposed to be for fun.

Ashley:  i’m sure it’ll go just fine.

Courtney:  Oh, absolutely!  And if it doesn’t, well, they can always just distract us with a few stunts.  You know, bite a head off a bat or something.

Ashley:  oh, courtney!

Courtney:  Hey, this is rock and roll!

ozzy
Arseman

Ashley changes the subject to Janice and the missing necklace and after Courtney rehashes her disappointment at the sad dissolution of their 48 hour friendship, Whisperina dramatically sighs, “this whole thing is just really rotten, isn’t it?”

Back at the garage, Chris, Dylan and Deadpool are decked oot in what they clearly consider to be badass rock star attire even though they look like an unemployed parody of The Village People.  Chris opted for a Naugahyde western style vest over a powder blue button-down shirt with a matching bandana tied around his neck like a bolo tie.  Dylan goes for a more laid-back eighties burnoot look consisting of an Army surplus jacket over a Judas Priest “Turbo” t-shirt.  Finally, Deadpool goes full-on Motorhead with fingerless black leather gloves and a chain that could double as a pit bull restraint encircling his neck.

band

Hopalong Chris asks Arseman what she’ll be wearing for the concert and when she indicates that she was planning to wear the same nondescript ootfit consisting of a plain yellow t-shirt and jeans she already has on, Dylan reminds her, “Well, Arseman, this is a show, you know.  We need costumes!”  Chris grabs a plastic bag from a nearby table and advises her that they brought another costume, “just as sort of a possibility…I mean, only if you’re willing to go with it.”  Dylan chimes in, “We rented it yesterday!” and Deadpool adds, “It wasn’t cheap, either!”  Chris produces a skimpy half-vest from the bag while Dylan admiringly remarks that it’s “very Madonna…very Paula Abdul!”  Billy declares with relief that they weren’t sure she’d be into it, so Sass Master responds, “Of course I agree to it!  It’s adorable and sexy – just what the band’s image needs!  So…which one of you gentlemen is gonna be wearing it?”  I think Matt Ender was asleep on the job while they were filming this scene because even the lunatic that was responsible for the background music in the Brady Bunch knows that this is exactly the type of situation that demands a wacky sad trombone progression.

Some kid walks into the locker vestibule and starts talking to three other nameless guys at their lockers:

Kid 1:  Hey, I heard Chris is gonna smash a guitar into an amplifier!

Kid 2:  Yeah?

Kid 3:  Hey, someone told me Arseman’s gonna be dressed in some black lace ootfit!

Kid 4:  Woah!  Even if it sounds awful, it should be fun to watch!

At that moment, Chris and Dylan enter the vestibule carrying their guitars for some fucking reason.  They ignore the barrage of questions with which they’re immediately assaulted until one of the kids asks, “Are you gonna dive into the crowd?” and Dylan responds, “No, I’m gonna jump off the roof!”  As he gets something from his locker, Brooke and Who Farted descend the stairs and express their excitement aboot the concert.  Brooke gushes, “I’m sure it’s going to be the most brilliant success!” before Leather Jacket walks off leaving her free to express her true feelings to Who Farted: “Of course, it’ll be a raging flop.  They can’t play worth beans.”

In the student lounge, Deadpool is practice-drumming on one of his notebooks when Courtney comes by, sits down next to him and says, “Hey, Billy!  Good luck at lunch time!”  So this is a lunch time concert on a school day and even though that makes so little sense for so many reasons, at least it explains why they all wore their ridiculous pseudo-bondage gear to school.  Billy plays it cool and tells her that they won’t need luck because “we’re gonna knock ‘em dead!” Courtney compliments his ootfit and adds that she can’t wait for Dad to see it.  Billy’s mood momentarily sours as he informs his sister that Dad won’t be able to make it to the show.  He concludes that he’s kind of glad that he won’t be there and Headband sympathetically agrees before all of Deadpool’s former confidence evaporates in a paroxysm of panic: “No, I mean it, Courtney!  I wish nobody would be there!  To tell you the truth…I’m not ready!  I stink!!”  In the course of Headband’s attempts to calm him down, we learn that Deadpool once wet his pants with stage fright before playing the part of a turnip in a grammar school play.  That’s really not germane to the plot, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway.

billy drums

Ashley sees Dylan sitting on a bench in the lounge, so she comes over to give him her obligatory, sexually charged concert pep talk before asking him if he’d talked to Matt lately.  She explains that she was still too mad to talk to him when he apologized at The Avalon yesterday, but is starting to regret her cold reaction.  Dylan recounts his brief conversation with Matt and tells Ashley that he actually felt sorry for him, but somehow this just gets Pixie Dust on the defensive again.  Dylan replies that he never thought he’d be defending Matt, but Ashley cuts him off and seethes, “don’t give me that!  he’s just being a jerk!”

banner

At The Avalon, Chris, Billy and Arseman are setting up their equipment beneath a cheesy banner bearing the slogan “Teenagers In Love” in multi-colored magic-marker.  Dylan shows up and starts freaking oot aboot how everything is arranged, shouting, “We’ve never had the drums there before – Billy can’t read my cues!  It’s a mess!  It changes everything!!”  Leather Jacket finally cools off and says, “Alright, maybe I’m just a bit strung oot, that’s all,” confirming my long-time suspicions.  At least that would explain why he doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that he doesn’t even own a bed.  Arseman walks over to Dylan at the counter:

Arseman:  This means a lot to you, huh?

Dylan:  Nah.  It’s just one more gig.  I know it’s only rock and roll.

Arseman:  But you like it!

Somehow Mick Jagger just rolled over in his grave.

Back at Hillside, one of the same unnamed kids from earlier in the episode greets some friends at their lockers.

Kid 1:  Hey, are you guys going to The Avalon?

Kid 2:  I don’t know.  How much can you expect from a band called Teenagers In Love?

Ashley runs into Matt at the stairwell.  He says hi and asks if she’s going to the concert.  She reacts with a dismissive, “yeah, of course,” before hurrying away.

Back at The Avalon, the band’s tuning up in front of a sizeable crowd assembled in the café, the most notable and intentionally prominent constituent of which is the already legendary Roxanne.

rox1

She stares at Chris who acknowledges her with a nod and she returns the gesture before Dylan steps up to the mic and announces, “Right.  We’re Teenagers In Love and, uh…here we go.”

Well, I’m too old to cry and I’m too young to fly, but Mama says be glad I’m young and I don’t ask why, ‘cause I’m fifteen, not old enough to be free.

concert

Yes, I’m fifteen years old and that’s the trouble with me!

concert 2

Well, it’s an awkward stage and a difficult age, pacing in your space like a rat in a cage…

concert 4

Because you’re fifteen beyond the shadow of a doubt…

concert 5

Yes, you’re fifteen years old, not old enough to get oot!

The Avalon erupts in applause as the band launches into…that other song they know.  This whole thing was a fucking colossal dud after an entire season’s worth of build-up, but at least we’ll never be subjected to Arseman’s singing again.

Lunchtime over, the band returns to Hillside giving themselves mixed reviews on their performance as one of the more prevalent unnamed girls approaches Dylan and asks for his autograph.  Some other kid holds an imaginary microphone up to Deadpool’s face and asks him in the tone of a reporter, “Billy, how do you feel now?” to which the always eloquent New Kids enthusiast responds, “Terrific!  Great!  Fabulous!  Uh…terrific!”  He saunters away from the crowd and runs into his sister who tells him that he looked like he was “having a really great time up there”.  Billy excitedly declares, “Wait till our next gig – we’ll be even better!  And after that, we can go on tour or something!  We can hit the road!”  Courtney gently advises Billy to slow his roll and reminds him that he’s only in the ninth grade to which he replies, “So what?  We could drop oot of school!  Just think of all the money we can make!”

Making the rounds, Courtney sits down next to Arseman in the lounge and compliments her performance.  Sassy Afro acknowledges that she had a good time, but she knows they’re not really a good band and reiterates that she’s just doing it for fun.  Despite everything her little brother just said, Courtney interjects, “Well, maybe you are, but I’m not so sure aboot Dylan and Chris”.

In the locker vestibule, Who Farted is telling Brooke, “I thought they were pretty good!” but Brooke of course doesn’t quite see it that way.  Hoping to extract at least a modicum of praise from her overcritical girl-crush, Who Farted confidently declares, “But Arseman was good!” to which Brooke replies, “Ugh…a lot of flashy tricks, but no real substance!”  So now we know that by Brooke’s standards, standing woodenly behind a keyboard in a plain yellow t-shirt while nervously droning her way through two verses of awful lyrics constitutes “a lot of flashy tricks”.  Who Farted sticks to her guns and repeats that she really enjoyed it, prompting Brooke to respond, “Well, I guess if you don’t know much aboot music, it’s possible to enjoy amateurs.”

At The Avalon, Roxanne is giving Chris her critique of the show: “The keyboard work was good…a little stiff, but that will get better with practice.  The guitar slipped oot of tune during ‘Come On Back’.”  Chris asks what she thought of Arseman to which she replies, “Not bad…not very original, but that’s okay.  She has fun up there, which is more than I can say for you and Dylan.”  Chris thanks her for giving her opinion before she adds, “It could be a hot band, Chris…except for this guy Billy.  He rushed the beat and he’s sloppy…do you wanna spend the rest of your life making noise in Dylan’s garage or do you want a band that’s gonna go places?”  Chris confirms that he’d prefer the latter, so Roxanne flatly advises, “So dump him.  Stop thinking aboot it and do it!  This is rock and roll!”

Ashley sees Matt in the hallway and calls oot to him.  She chews him oot for asking Dylan what was going on between them when she already told him that they’re just friends and an uncharacteristically sober contrite Matt responds, “Well, now I’ve heard from two reliable sources that I was wrong.”  Ashley lightens up and jokingly tells him aboot the crush Billy has on her, to which Matt exclaims, “What?  He’s 12!” Ashley corrects him, “He’s 14.  I guess it’s just a crush.  He bought me a scarf.”

Matt:  Well, he’s obviously got great taste in women…and buying you that scarf?  That’s pretty classy.

Ashley:  it’s more than you ever did.

Alright, are these two assholes burying the hatchet or venting their eternal derision?  And now that I think aboot it, if Billy’s fourteen, why the fuck did Dylan act like he was an impetuous toddler when he told him he was interested in a fifteen year old girl?  Did no one even give Ian Weir’s horrible scripts a cursory glance before mimeographing twenty copies and sticking them in the hands of these little douchebags?  WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?!?  Jesus H. Christ.  Matt grins and responds, “True.  Well, I can learn,” causing Ashley to bite her lip and smile coyly as the scene fades oot.

In the garage, Dylan’s assessment that the band’s performance was barely adequate inspires Chris to broach the subject of shit-canning Billy from the band again and this time, Dylan seems to reluctantly agree.

Brooke storms into The Avalon and marches over to the booth where Amanda is sitting, voluminously expressing offense at the fact that Who Farted isn’t here even though she asked her to meet her at the café after school.  Amanda sneers, “Looks like you got stood up,” as Brooke takes a seat across from her and starts fishing through her purse.  Unable to find what she’s looking for, she asks her little sister if she can borrow her mascara while grabbing Amanda’s bag.  At first, Amanda just tells her to put it back when she’s done with it, then seems to remember something, stands up and says, “Wait!”  Brooke smiles at the realization that Amanda must be hiding something in her bag as she unzips it and asks, “A secret?”  Amanda sternly demands, “Just give it back!  I’ll give you the mascara,” as if this could have any effect other than stoking her sister’s curiosity even further.  Ignoring Amanda’s pleas, Brooke dumps the contents of the bag onto the table revealing Courtney’s necklace.

necklace2

Brooke gleefully taunts her sister, “Sweet little Amanda!  Teacher’s pet…Daddy’s favorite.  Courtney loses a family heirloom…Janice’s reputation is ruined, she has to change schools!  You little sneak!”  As Amanda continues to beg her not to tell anyone, Brooke dangles the necklace from her fingers just as Courtney and Arseman enter from the pinball room.  Amanda shouts, “I didn’t do anything!” to which Brooke sing-songs, “Yes, she diiid!”  Amanda flees The Avalon as Brooke hands Courtney her necklace.

necklace back

Only one episode left before we put the lid on Season 2.  I hope y’all appreciate my tenacious dedication to this monumental but vitally important task.  I’m happy to bear the burden for the good of humanity, but I expect you’ll do your part and tell all your friends that everyone who’s anyone gets their news at Notes From The Avalon.  Journalistic integrity is my raison d’etre, after all.