ONCE UPON A TIME: Aladdin and The Temple of Dude

(Cross posted at AgonyBooth.com!)


“I hope you have good homeowner’s insurance. Otherwise, this place is a real money pit.”

This week on Once, Aladdin lets Jasmine check out his Man Cave. Hook gets crafty with a pair of Emma’s scissors. The Evil Queen and the Wicked Witch get mani/pedi’s from Goldilocks. And a popular fan theory is swiftly debunked.

Shall we review?

What, no Genie?


This week’s installment of Once finally brought us the bastardized version of Aladdin and Jasmine’s love story, with one notable absence. No Genie . . . which is a real waste, if you ask me. Everybody else got a role, from Jasmine’s doddering zombified father, to Evil Jafar and his pet bird! Even adorable monkey Abu got a small cameo, as a golden trinket that played an important, if silent, role in Aladdin’s first stab at heroism.


However, Good Ole Big Blue must have called in sick from the lamp on the day they filmed this episode. Because it seemed as though Aladdin “Ain’t never had a friend like him.” (See what I did there?)

But I digress. We start our tale in a street market in Agrabah many years ago. There, Jafar turns three thieves into rats, which is a method of crime prevention that would likely be met with approval by one of our presidential candidates. (I’ll let you guess which one.)


“It was cheaper than building a wall.”

Aladdin, not freaked out by this Rat-tastrophe in the least, continues to freely and haphazardly pickpocket while its occurring. He’s stopped by a poorly disguised Princess Jasmine, who thinks that wearing a scarf over her head will prevent the rest of the townspeople from figuring out she’s rich. (This is basically the Agrabah equivalent of Superman thinking no one should recognize him at the Daily Planet, just because he occasionally wears classes and a geeky bowtie.)



Jasmine wants to “hire” Aladdin to steal something from the Cave of Awesome Stuff called a Diamond in the Rough, which she claims will save Agrabah from Jafar’s tyrannical reign and rat-ification of the entire city’s immigrant population. Aladdin, to his credit, is rightfully skeptical of this poorly-hidden rich person’s invitation to him, a common thief, to enter a Cave of Awesome stuff ripe for stealing. But he goes along with it anyway, because he thinks Jasmine is super hot. (Typical dude, always thinking with the magical genie in his pants, instead of the stuff between his earlobes.)



It should be noted that Aladdin, though admittedly extremely easy on the eyes, sports this bizarre shifting accent throughout the hour, which served, for me at least, as the episode’s true mystery: What the heck nationality is the guy trying to convey? His intonations continuously morphed from British, to Irish to Cockney to American to Something Just Plain Weird (Pig-Latin, maybe?)

Anyway, Hot-Bad-at-Faking-Poverty Jasmine and Also-Hot-But-Talks-Weird Aladdin quickly head to the Cave of Awesome Stuff, which Aladdin easily opens by saying . . . wait for it “Open Sesame.” (Talk about bad security. Making the password to open your Cave of Awesome Stuff “Open Sesame” is basically the olden-day equivalent of making the password to your online bank account “Password.”)


I bet I know the location of another “cave” Aladdin wants to explore.

In the center of the Cave of Awesome Stuff, Aladdin conveniently finds an abnormally large diamond perched precariously on a sword. Quickly recognizing the in-plain-sight placement of the Diamond in the Rough for the trap that it is, Aladdin uses an Abu lookalike monkey statue to counterbalance the weight of the diamond, so he can pilfer it. But then, before the pair could make a clean getaway, the “diamond” crumbles to dust, as does seemingly, the roof of the Cave of Awesome Stuff.

Like a true gentleman who really, really, wants to get laid, Aladdin uses his own body to shield Jasmine from falling debris. And when that doesn’t work, he shoots lightning bulbs out of his fingers to stop the building from collapsing. Spoiler Alert: This common thief has magical powers . . . ones that go beyond just being able to alternate between ten unrecognizable accents in five syllables, and that thing he did with the apple earlier in the episode.


Jasmine, apparently, knew this all along, despite the fact that Aladdin himself was seemingly unaware of it until this very moment. It’s why she took him on this fake diamond extraction errand in the first place. So, he could realize what a special snowflake he was, and agree to help her save the city from Jafar! How exactly Jasmine knew of Aladdin’s Savior qualities is never made clear during the episode. Perhaps, she just assumed all hot guys with weird accents have magical fingers (hint, hint, wink, wink).

Aladdin though, is not too sure he wants to be a Savior, because being poor and homeless is so much more fun! After Jasmine leaves Aladdin to his decision, Jafar further compounds his would be nemesis’ indecisiveness by offering him a gift: a pair of scissors he could use to literally “chop off” his Savior-ness.


But also, like, lots of riches and stuff.

This actually seems to make Aladdin’s decision for him, but not in the way Jafar probably intended. See now, by giving up Jafar’s offer of riches, Aladdin no longer has to choose. He can be poor and homeless AND be the Savior! It’s like pulling a half-eaten dirty piece of cake from a rat-infested garbage can and eating it too.

So, a Happy Aladdin promptly rescues Jasmine from the giant hour glass Jafar has trapped her inside, and frees Jasmine’s dad of the zombie curse Jafar put him under, thereby saving the day! (And he does it while riding a magic carpet, because walking the three steps from Jasmine’s castle door to the center of the room is just too damn hard!)


When that’s over. Aladdin heads off to fully embrace his poor and homeless Savior identity, while Jasmine stays behind to rule Agrabah, because her dad certainly isn’t going to do it. Even un-zombified, the guy is clearly a mental midget . . . sorry mental “little person.”

As Aladdin heads off on his travels, he receives a parting gift from his old pal Jafar. It’s those darn scissors. Jafar probably figures that, hey, even if Aladdin never decides to cut his Savior-ness off, at least he could use them to make some really gnarly arts and crafts!

Hope Springs Aladdin


Back in Storybrooke, Emma is following Jafar’s bird again to get more information from the Oracle about that vision of her own death she keeps having. Archie is there too, because how to entertain the delusions of the possibly insane was the first lesson he learned in “I didn’t actually go to graduate school because I got my medical degree from a curse” university.

The good news is that the red bird actually help Emma find the Oracle again. The bad news? This time, she’s dead, thereby seemingly debunking a popular fan theory that the Oracle was actually Jafar in disguise, spreading misinformation to Emma about her possible untimely demise.


“Well aren’t you just Little Miss Mary Sunshine?”

Near the crime scene, Emma comes upon a poorly hidden Jasmine, and brings her in for questioning regarding the murder of The Crusher of Emma’s Hopes and Dreams. (Again, with the head scarf as a disguise! Does this woman never learn?)

Jasmine claims herself to be innocent of the Oracle’s murder. It’s a claim that Emma instantly believes, because of her supposed super power to tell when people are lying. You know, the one that’s proven wrong at least once an episode!

She then reveals her true identity and purpose for being in Storybrooke, to find Aladdin . . . the Other Savior. Though Emma hasn’t yet revealed her impending death to the rest of the cast, she’s secretly thrilled by this news. After all, the Oracle told her that Savior’s MUST die. But if Savior Aladdin somehow managed to survive, maybe that’s not entirely true . . .

Archie Bunkered


“Is this because I wouldn’t stop singing ‘When You Wish Upon a Star?”

In slightly less hopeful circumstances at the moment is Archie, whose just been kidnapped by the Evil Queen, so the latter can impersonate him, and trick Emma into revealing all her secrets. The Queen stows Archie at her sister, the Wicked Witch’s house, so he can babysit, while she’s off doing her dastardly deeds.


The Evil Queen, posing as Archie, does succeed in getting Emma to reveal the specifics of her vision . . . and in front of her entire family, no less.


The crew is less than pleased with Emma for keeping this from them. Taking the news particularly hard are her beau Hook, her son Henry, who blames himself for forcing Emma to become the Savior in the first place, and Regina, who learns that she’s not in Emma’s vision, which either means she’s already dead by this point in the future, or is the one responsible for killing Emma.


Looks like someone could use a hug!

While all the Good Guys are suffering from the doom and gloom of bad news, the Evil Queen and Wicked Witch are celebrating their victory with a ladies spa day, and gossip session about the boys in Storybrooke they are currently crushing on! Oh, and they also turn Archie back into a cricket, because, why not?



The Crypt Keeper


Now, that Emma’s life is at stake, everyone is freshly motivated to find Aladdin for Jasmine. (Whereas, before they couldn’t give two craps if some one-episode guest star’s boyfriend bit it, because it didn’t impact them personally.)

Since, both Emma and Aladdin have magic fingers, Regina cooks up a spell to link their magic together, so Emma could find the erstwhile thief. The spell leads Emma to an underground crypt that looks kind of like the Cave of Awesome Stuff . . . only without the awesome stuff.

Jasmine gets super teary when she finds a pin she gave Aladdin back in the day, on top of a pile of bones, assuming her would-be lover’s demise. This finding majorly bums out the rest of the crew too, because it seems to confirm the Oracle’s theory that all Savior’s die. (Ignoring the fact that . . . well . . . everybody dies eventually, savior or not, so maybe it’s just a crappy coincidence!)

Emma comforts a distraught Henry, telling him that she doesn’t regret reuniting with her family and becoming the Savior, even if it means she only gets to live a few more episodes. It’s a kind of sweet moment actually.


“The pilot episode of the series revolving around me as a bail bondsperson didn’t get picked up, so I really had no choice in the matter anyway.”

Aladdin must have thought it was pretty sweet too, because he decides to COME BACK FROM THE DEAD!!!!


Just kidding! Aladdin was never dead! He was just a really big wimpy baby, who was afraid his girlfriend wouldn’t want to bone him anymore, after he cut off his Savior-ness with Jafar’s scissors. So, he hid out in a cave for twenty-eight years, like the homeless person he always aspired to be!


Aladdin offers the Anti-Savior scissors to Emma, so she too can cut off her Savior-ness and avoid certain death. He then heads to the park to reunite with Jasmine, who is probably going to dump his ass, as soon as she learns he no longer has those magical fingers . . .and has officially become just like every other smelly homeless guy with a weird accent.

Running with Scissors


Since she’s been lying to him about dying for nearly five episodes, Emma decides to make things right between her and Killian by letting him hold her Anti-Savior scissors. “I trust you to hide them in a safe place, and not use them on me, while I’m napping on the couch after drinking way too much rum with you and watching those Pirates of the Caribbean movies you like so much.”

So, of course, Hook lies to Emma, and tells them he dropped the scissors 20,000 leagues under the sea, when, really, he dropped them 1/10 of a league into his pants. Because THAT decision isn’t going to come back and bite someone in the ass later this season, now will it?

Until next time, Oncers!

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Fangirls Fall Guide to 2016: Websites and Apps Edition


Welcome Fangirls, to our latest edition of The Fangirls Fall Guide to 2016!  Today,  my talented pal Amy from Imaginary Men.Net and I will share the things that make us Fangirl most on the Internet and our smartypantsphones. If you’re looking to catch up on our picks for TV, movies, music and podcasts, then go ahead and check those out now!  We’ll be right here waiting for you, and ready with our latest picks! (content is cross-posted at Imaginary Men.Net).

Amy’s Picks

Website: As I mentioned in the last post about my podcast pick You Must Remember This, I am a huge fan of classic Hollywood. About two years ago I stumbled upon Anne Helen Petersen a bonafide “Doctor of Gossip” who had a series called “Scandals of Classic Hollywood” (and wrote a book of the same name) I was stunned to find out that one could actually get a doctorate studying and writing about celebrities! I WOULD HAVE DONE THAT!! Well, likely not as academia was not my thing. So thank goodness AHP exists and that she left teaching to become Senior Culture Writer at Buzzfeed. I love her work because she writes with depth about celebrity and how it works, why we consume it. She explores what our pop culture fascinations actually reflect about us as a society. And her writing is accessible so complex concepts become easier to swallow when seeing them through her lens.

Montgomery Clift

Ridiculously pretty Montgomery Clift

Now with her Buzzfeed gig she has expanded her topics to politics and social issues and those are all well researched and written as well. No clickbait here with AHP! Luckily she is still exploring modern celebrity and giving weight to topics that non-celebrity obsessed people would call shallow. Her recent coverage of the Brangelina divorce was no gossipy piece of fluff but a decade-in-the-making essay on the evolution of Angelina Jolie’s public persona and masterful use of publicity throughout the course of the couple’s high profile relationship. She validates our celebrity fascinations and after I read her pieces I always feel a little bit smarter. Recommended reads: Tiger Beat Goes On, The Trouble with “It” Girls.

App: There is just so. damn. much. TV to watch these days and too many ways to watch it. Sometimes just finding what platform is streaming the latest show the Internet is demanding you MUST WATCH RIGHT NOW can take a lot of time that would be better spent on watching TV. Enter a delightful app called Fan TV available for iPhone and Android. Just do a search for what you want to watch and it will tell you where it is streaming for both free and pay, or if it is only available through traditional viewing methods. My only complaint about it is that it can’t be a feature on my Roku so I could just click on it and then go right to my searched show to begin watching (I believe this falls under the category “First World Problems”!).

Julie’s Picks

Website: I’ll be honest.  I have no clue how exactly I ended up on Refinery 29’s mailing list. I tend to do a lot of my shopping online, so, perhaps, it related to one of my recent purchases. Or maybe it was a related article I clicked on by accident. Perhaps, a friend recommended me.

All I know is that the first time the column / e-magazine appeared in my inbox, I was seconds away from sentencing it to the permanent Spam Zone. My finger waited hovering anxiously over the unsubscribe button. And then, for whatever reason, I decided to read.

Words can’t describe how much Refinery29 has made my life in the past few months. I learn everything from Refinery29. Article topics range from hair coloring and styling tips, to fall fashion trends, to diet and workout advice, to political, celebrity and news items, to what’s the best vibrator for you based on your Zodiac sign. (Mine, apparently is the kind you wear inside your underwear, and maneuver via external remote control. Who knew?) Regardless of topic, all the articles are well-written, interesting, insightful, and, let’s face it, make my dorky ass way cooler and in-the-know about top trends and goings on than I was before I got on the mailing list.

The good news though, is that you don’t have to get on Refinery29’s mailing list to read their articles. Save space in your inbox and find them at www.refinery29.com. I promise you won’t regret it!

App: Did you ever read those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books as a kid? If so, did you enjoy the freedom to dictate what happened in your own story, but find that enjoyment limited by the fact that the main character in the book neither looked, acted, or spoke anything like you. Not to mention the fact that his or her “life choices” consisted of things you would never ever consider doing in real life?


Welcome to Episodes, a free app you can download to your phone that allows you to Choose Your Own Adventure throughout thousands of episodic stories in which you’d actually ENJOY being a character. Some of the stories feature characters you already know; like, Mean Girls: Senior Year and Sorority Rush, in which your character battles against the iconic Regina George, and befriends Cady, Damien and Janis; or the Demi Lovato: Path to Fame Concert series, where you are a young rising starlet who landed a surprise spot on the established songstress’ tour bus.

Episodes also features and promotes the work of new up-and-coming writers, providing them with a new and unique visual medium through which to both promote their works, and reach readers they might not have a chance to access otherwise. Though the choices you get to make will vary drastically from story to story (and some choices cost money, but I’ll never choose those, on principal!), my favorite Episodes, by far, are the ones that allow you to design your own avatar. The choices you get to make toward crafting your character’s visual appearance actually go a long way toward helping yojulie-app-2u, as the reader, to visualize yourself in the story. And that visualization process is enhanced when the story allows you to select your character’s wardrobe at key points throughout the book.

Some of the threads you get are pretty sweet too! Check me out! I’ll be damned if this avatar doesn’t look exactly like me! Well…close enough.

Stay tuned next week for our final installment…books!

For more check out Amy’s book The Fangirl Files: True Tales and Tips from the Fandom Frontlines and Julie’s novels on Amazon.

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Fangirls Fall Guide to 2016: Music Edition (and bonus picks!)


Hola Fangirls!  Welcome to part 3 of the Fangirls Fall Guide to 2016, which has been lovingly brought to you by moi (apparently, I’m a bilingual mood this evening) and the uber-talented Amy H. Johnson of ImaginaryMen.net fame, the awesome website, where you will also find this series cross-posted.

For those of you just joining us now, so far we’ve talked about TV shows we adore and movies that make us giddy.   So, now, without further adieu, we proudly present our top picks in music for your listening enjoyment. In the words of Billy on the Street Billy Eichner: And away – we – go!

Amy’s Picks

Music you should listen to: I watch a show online called Out of Ireland. I like to save a few episodes and then put them on while I’m puttering around my kitchen on a weekend morning. I pretend I’m in my house that happens to be in Dublin! An episode this summer featured a video by the band Walking on Cars. I didn’t pay too much attention to the visuals as I was doing something domestic, but the song “Speeding Cars” sent tingles along my spine. Then I watched the video which is gorgeous and mystical (although not the visuals you expect for a song about an affair!) Finding their debut CD Everything This Way was difficult stateside and I ended up with an import. But this is the kind of music that gets me in the heart and soul. Driving, majestic, U2-esque melodies and emotional lyrics. I don’t think I singlehandedly am going to make Walking on Cars “happen” in the US, but I highly recommend checking them out on Spotify. Some really beautiful and energetic songs perfectly suited for being heard in a stadium full of chanting voices.

Music I am beside myself excited for: America I will never forgive you for not embracing Robbie Williams. The English mega pop star sells out stadiums throughout Europe, yet I saw him in a club venue in Boston in 1999 which, is likely the last time he ever toured here. Robbie is cheeky and outrageous. His music is often bombastic and ridiculous and he delivers it with such smirk on his face and sparkle in his eye you can’t help but get into it. Plus it’s catchy as HELL. I don’t think anyone captures the ups and downs of fame better in contemporary pop music: the love/hate of adulation, the dangers of temptation and the thrills of celebrity. On one track he’ll tell you, “I am scum”(Come Undone) and the next he’s proclaiming “I’m the one who put the Brit in celebrity” (Handsome Man) He has a new album called The Heavy Entertainment Show coming out on my birthday although sadly, I won’t be in England to get it so I’ll have to patiently wait for my lovely friend Felicity to supply me with a copy which I will play endlessly while proclaiming, “DAMN YOU AMERICA!!!”

Julie’s Picks

Music you should listen to: Meghan Trainor. For those of you out there who may have already written off this young ingénue as a teeny bopping pop star after her first album, which, most notably, included the catchy ear worm “All About That Bass“, and the 50’s nostalgic “Dear Future Husband,” take another look. Meghan’s second album, Thank You is edgy, sassy, mature, and will make you dance uncontrollably, even when you are in places you shouldn’t be dancing (like at work, or on the NYC subway). The song lyrics are just great.

Are you having an off day? Feeling down on yourself? Check out “Me Too(“If I was you, I’d wanna be me too.”), and your confidence will rebounf in no time. Heading for a night out with the girls?  You need to be playing “No,” while you are getting ready. It will make you laugh hysterically, and put you in a great mood just in time to hit the dance floor. (“My name is No. My sign is No. My number is No. You need to let it go.”) Indeed!

Music I am excited to hear: The Weeknd – Starboy It doesn’t take a Nostradamus to predict that this is going to be the album blowing up everybody’s Spotify this winter. Every song these guys put out into the universe almost automatically seems like chart topping gold. And their range is so diverse1 The sultry “Earned It” feels like it comes from a completely different universe from the haunting “The Hills,” and the bass thumping, booty shaking “Can’t Feel My Face.”

Need more evidence? The first single off the album came out on September 28th, less than three days later it had 19 million hits on YouTube. That’s insane! Out: November 25

Bonus! Our fave podcasts for your listening enjoyment!

Amy’s Pick

I have a very particular taste in podcasts. I don’t like anything of the genre I call “Two Guys Pontificating” in which two dudes like hearing themselves talk for over an hour. This is not sexist as I also don’t like “Two Girls Pontificating” either. I prefer my podcasts to have a narrative and structure. I don’t want to spend an hour with two people of any gender basically having an often tedious personal conversation that they somehow believe should be shared with a larger audience. That is why I am such a huge fan of You Must Remember This, which “explores the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” I LOVE The Golden Age of Hollywood and all the stars and scandals so already I was sold on this concept.

But creator Karina Longworth does the work. Every episode is meticulously researched and when she does series, such as “MGM Stories” or the recent “Six Degrees of Joan Crawford” each episode is a chapter that builds on the last and prepares you for the next. Not only is the material fascinating but it is one of the best constructed podcasts I’ve ever heard. If you think the Brangelina divorce is explosive, you should hear what some of the original movie stars were up to behind closed doors in our supposedly “more innocent” history. Recommend: Star Wars Episode III Hedy Lamarr, Frank Sinatra in Outer Space.

Julie’s Pick

Serial, Season 1: Before Making of a Murderer gained a cult following, and took Netflix by storm…before True Crime became as mainstream as reality  television talent shows, there was a much-beloved, but little known by the general public, podcast called This American Life, produced by an enterprising woman named Sarah Koenig, who introduced us to the obsession we now know as Serial.

In 1999, 18-year old Hae Min Lee, then a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore, was murdered. Her body was found in the nearby Leakin Park, hastily buried in a shallow grave. The cause of death: manual strangulation. The chief suspect: Adnan Sayed, also a senior at Woodlawn High School, and Hae Min’s former boyfriend.


There were a number of “bad facts” that pointed to Adnan as Hae Min’s killer. Cell phone towers pinged his location to be close to the murder site around the time the murder was said to have occurred. Witnesses saw Adnan offer Hae Min a ride home from school in his car that day. And, perhaps most damning of all, an associate of Adnan’s Jay Wilds admitted to helping Adnan bury Hae Min’s body.

Adnan was eventually arrested, tried and convicted of Hae Min Lee’s murder. But did he actually do it? Was the trial against him fair? Did he receive adequate counsel from his lawyer, who was disbarred shortly thereafter?

Throughout this binge-worthy series that has spawned thousands of obsessive fansites to catalog and extensively discuss each aspect of the case, Sarah Koenig does an excellent job of exploring and unpacking, what, up until this point, was a locally known “cold case” mystery. Without taking sides or placing blame, Sarah, through her investigations raises some very important questions, about the reliability of eyewitness testimony (especially when most of those witnesses are teenagers) the accuracy of cell phone records, (particularly in 1999, when the technology was nowhere near as advanced as it is now), the necessity of a good defense attorney, and whether the lack of one prevents an accused person from receiving a fair trial. Sarah even interviews Adnan himself from jail numerous times, allowing viewers to judge for themselves whether he is, in fact, guilty.

The popularity of Serial (to date the podcasts have received over 80 million downloads) and its re-invigoration of interest in Adnan’s case, eventually turned the tide of justice, resulting in Adnan receiving a new trial, nearly a decade after his initial conviction. So, if you aren’t one of those 80 million downloads, I highly recommend you jump on this bandwagon and enter the cult that is Series 1 of Serial. I promise you, you won’t sleep until you’ve heard the entire series from start to finish…

Get your tablets and smartphones ready because next time we tackle websites and apps!

For more check out Amy’s book The Fangirl Files: True Tales and Tips from the Fandom Frontlines and Julie’s novels on Amazon.

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ONCE UPON A TIME Recap: Arrested Development

The following post has been brought to you by Agony Booth.com


“Does anybody have any TUMS? I’m experiencing a mild to moderate case of heart burn.”

This week on Once, the Beast tries to win back Belle’s heart by incarcerating her. (Hey, it worked last time!) Snow White learns that she’s a terrible teacher, when the subject is anything other than making a birdhouse. The Evil Queen’s kryptonite is finally revealed. And yet another sort-of villain is given a hasty partial redemption arc, before meeting his untimely demise.

Let’s review, shall we?

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beast-Holder


Nothing makes you feel worse about your appearance than staring at yourself in a magnifying mirror. It’s the closest most of us will ever come to knowing how awful we’d look on HDTV.”

Being dumped by Belle (again) has good ole Rump feeling a little down on himself. So, he does what most of us do after a bad breakup. Get drunk on cheap wine. Eat an entire box of Cheez-Its in a single sitting. And watch on repeat that horror movie where a guy who looks like your ex gets brutally murdered in the first half hour. He gives himself a makeover!


Apparently, Rumpel felt as though the root of all his dating problems was that he had longer hair than Snow White. Her being “the fairest one of all” and all that jazz.


But now that the two characters have the exact same haircut, for sure all the ladies in Storybrooke will want to rumble in the sheets with Rumpel! The Evil Queen certainly seems to like her frenemy’s new ‘do.


Then again, she is so gosh darn horny all the time, she’d probably make love to a mop if it fell in her general direction.

Speaking of the Evil Queen, she and her new beau Hyde have come to Rumpel’s store to steal an ugly necklace. And they do it in this super stealthy way. Basically, they stomp into the store and loudly announce, “I’m going to take your ugly necklace.”

No wonder Rumpel’s pawn shop revenue isn’t what it used to be. Security has apparently gotten a bit lax. Shrinkage. It isn’t just what happens when George Costanza from Seinfeld goes for a swim anymore.


Infuriated by the loss of yet another ugly antique, Rumpel tries to Jedi Mind Murder Hyde.

Rumpel fails miserably at this, of course, as he does with pretty much every action he attempts throughout the course of this episode. It’s a wonder the guy was able to cut his hair, without accidentally chopping off his right arm.

Speaking of failures . . .

Those who can, do. Those who can’t . . . SNOW.


Last week, I predicted that Snow would end up being a bad teacher, because she spent twenty eight years teaching the same students how to build a bird house, every damn day, and they still couldn’t do it! It gives me no joy to be right about this. (Who am I kidding? I was thrilled! I’m an awful person, in case you haven’t figured that out by now!)


Oddly enough, since most of Storybrooke’s new homeless population is apparently in high school, Snow has gone from teaching bird house making to teaching physics for REASONS. After seeing Snow suck at teaching (Every single one of her students failed her exam!), her new teacher’s aid, Princess Jasmine, wonders why Snow doesn’t stick to stuff she’s actually good at, like playing with dwarves, and faking sleep so some hot guy will make out with her.

This seems like solid advice from a total stranger. And this is why Snow decides for her next lesson, to take all her students out into the school yard, and teach them how to shoot deadly weapons in each others’ general direction. Public education is the greatest, am I right?

“Anyone who gets accidentally murdered gets an automatic A.”

After class, Jasmine heads off into the woods to meet the girl, who is obviously Jafar in disguise, even though they haven’t officially told us this yet, and asks for her help in finding Aladdin. Because THAT’S not going to end badly at all . . .

You know what else is going to end badly?

Houseboat Arrest


In what will likely be the only non-snarky thing you will hear me say in this recap. I’m totally digging the burgeoning friendship brewing between Hook and Belle, the latter of whom, up until this point, always seemed somewhat separated from the main cast. It’s exceedingly rare for television shows nowadays to showcase a 100% platonic male/female relationship. So, when one appears and it feels genuine, I appreciate it.

I mean, so what if Hook tried to kill Belle a few seasons back? What’s a little attempted murder among pals?

Anywhoo, Hook is moving his stuff off the boat, so he can move in with Emma permanently, when Rumpel comes and puts a spell on the boat so Belle can’t leave it. Rumpel claims that he does this for Belle’s “safety.” Riiiiiiight. Because nothing says safe, like being trapped in a small wood mass surrounded on all sides by water, with no immediate avenue of escape, apart from plunging one’s self into the drink. Has Rumpel never seen the movie Dead Calm or Jaws, for that matter?


“Don’t worry Belle. You don’t have to come to me. I’ll come to you!”

Upon hearing of Belle’s incarceration, Hook, being a swell guy, tries to cheer up his very pregnant pal, by offering her booze and a fake telephone.



Meanwhile, Regina and Jekyll are racing to obtain the serum that will destroy the respective dark sides of their souls, before their sexier, better dressed halves, the Evil Queen and Hyde track it down first.

Of course, this wouldn’t be Once without the bastardization of a well-known classic tale. So, it’s time for a flashback, in which we learn that Hyde is just a misunderstood hipster with a bad case of pinkeye. And Dr. Jekyll is the sociopathic douchebag, “If I can’t have her, no one can,” Guy from every Lifetime movie you ever saw during the 90’s.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jerk-ll and Mr. Hide Me


“Even my sideburns are sad.”

Once upon a time, Dr. Jekyll wanted to be admitted into some fancy schmancy society, and tried to convince his rich lady crush, Mary’s dad, to let him in, by showing the latter his experiments with the duality of the human soul. Mary’s dad is unimpressed, and tells Jekyll his work is too dangerous for recognition by the society. Jekyll is angry, and you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.


(Actually, he just kind of pouts and throws a tantrum like a baby, but you get the basic idea.) Enter Rumpel, he of the permed hair and glitter-logged face to offer up his episodic dose of bad advice to a suitably naive and desperate party.

Rumpel, who apparently was trying to find a magical cure for his love for Belle, helps Dr. Jekyll to finish his serum, and persuades him to use The Dark Side of His Soul to help him gain entrance into the fancy schmancy society, and get into Mary’s pants.

Dr. Jekyll does is instructed. And Mr. Hyde, upon taking over Jekyll’s body, promptly does exactly what he was designed to do. First, he blackmails Mary’s dad (with evidence that the latter is boning a minor, naturally) to get Jekyll into the fancy schmancy society. Then, Hyde approaches Mary and reveals to her Jekyll’s heretofore hidden affections. Mary predictably has no interest in the milquetoasty Jekyll. But she’s totally bananas for the “passionate and scary, but in a good way” Hyde. (Every girl loves a bad boy, after all!)


Less than five minutes later, these two crazy kids are having sex. And I wish we as viewers got to see it, because I bet it was friggin awesome!

Instead, we find a horrified Mary waking up next to dull as dog poopy Jekyll, and she is understandably freaking the hell out. Jekyll quickly puts two and two together. And, upon realizing that Mary boned the dark side of his soul, Jekyll gets really angry and (accidentally?) throws Mary out a glass window? Oops! Don’t you hate it when that happens?


Jekyll then drinks the serum, so Hyde can take the blame for his murderous actions. And Rumpel appears AGAIN! (You would think a guy who has such great surveillance on the entire universe would be better at securing his personal property and the wife who despises him.)


Rumpel takes one look at the weepy Hyde, and knows instantly that his plan has failed. Hyde, despite supposedly being all dark, twisty, and hipster-like, was apparently just as much in love with Mary as that douchenozzle Jekyll. (I guess: There’s Just Something About Mary!)


And this meant that Rumpel would never be able to rid himself of his feelings for Belle, no matter how inconvenient they might be. Pissed, Rumpel decides to banish both Jekyll and Hyde to the Land of Untold Stories, giving both half-men a vendetta against the Dark One, which was sure to come back and bite him in the ass, by the end of the episode.

Another Two Bite the Dust


Ironically, even though everybody spent the entire episode fighting for this Magical Serum that could supposedly kill Hyde and the Evil Queen, the darn vial ended up being a total McGuffin!

First Hyde uses Dead Mary’s necklace, the one he stole from Rumpel at the beginning of the episode, to track down Jekyll and snatch the serum. Then, Hyde breaks the vial, snatches Rumpel’s Dark One sword, and uses it to control Rumpel, and get him to give up Belle’s location. Now, as we know from earlier in the episode, Rumpel has put a spell on Belle’s boat so she can’t get off it, and Hyde can’t get on it.

Unfortunately, for Rumpel (and Belle, as it turns out), because the spell was (moronically) limited to Hyde, Lifetime Movie Villain Jekyll was able to just waltz onto that boat and attempt to kill Rump’s lady love. Uh oh, Belle! Time to call for help on your fake phone!


I wonder if accidental smashing is covered under the Fake Phone insurance plan . . .

Lo and behold, Hook does actually end up hearing Belle’s cries for help. He magically manifests himself on the boat, and promptly stabs Jekyll to death, which is good! But he also kills Hyde in the process, which kind of sucks, because the latter was actually a fun guy!

In addition to being bad news for Bad Boy, Hipster, and Pink Eye Lovers the world over, the circumstances surrounding Hyde’s demise are also pretty crappy for Regina, who just figured out that the only way she can kill the dark side of her soul is to . . . well, commit suicide basically.


A distraught Regina makes Emma promise to murder her, if things get too tough with the Evil Queen wreaking havoc on Storybrooke.


“Just make sure that my funeral is better attended than the Evil Queen’s otherwise I’ll be super embarrassed.”

Speaking of uncomfortable conversations, how about the one where Rumpel has to apologize to Belle for trapping her and her unborn child on a boat with a total psycho?


Yeah, I think it’s safe to say the honeymoon is pretty much over for these two lovebirds . . .

Until next time, Oncers!

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Filed under Once Upon a Time, Uncategorized

Binge or No?: Netflix’s Original Series: Easy

(The following post will eventually be cross-posted at Agony Booth.com.  Please check out all the cool movie reviews and TV recaps they have there!)


Given the company’s recent decision to shift their business model away from previously-released films, and toward more original programming, I suspect we will be seeing a lot more “television series” like Easy on Netflix, in the near future. The show itself — an eight-episode compilation of VERY loosely related stories, each involving some aspect of sex and romantic relationships in the 21st century — struck me more as a slyly disguised abbreviated pilot season for the entertainment platform, than an actual comprehensive Season 1 of an ongoing television series.


Each episode features an attractive, more or less likeable, cast of B minus / C+ list Hollywood actors going about the sexy business of their respective upper middle-class lives. Orlando Bloom, New Girl’s Jake Johnson, and Dave Franco are probably the most recognizable faces you will see in Easy, which should give you an idea of the level of “star power” you will find here. Though there are definitely other faces and voices you will recognize. In fact, I think most of the fun of Easy is trying to pinpoint the failed television series or supporting role in a romantic comedy that has caused you to remember the visage of a particular Easy cast mate.


That being said, you’ve got to imagine that the good folks at Netflix created Easy under the assumption that one or more of the episodes would receive a more favorable review by critics than the others, and that cast and storyline can get its own show. (One cast of characters finds themselves at the forefront of two episodes in the series, while the rest of the work-a-day schlubs only get one a-piece). And hey, if none of the episodes end up being well-reviewed, well there is always the option for an Easy: Season 2, with an entirely different cast and story lines.


As for the individual episodes themselves, I found most of them, if not particularly memorable, at least pleasant and inoffensive enough (except for one episode, in particular, which featured, WAY too much female body hair for my liking. But I think that’s just a matter of personal preference. Maybe y’all really like looking at body hair, while sitting on your couch eating your Saturday morning cereal breakfast!) I certainly didn’t despise any of the characters featured in Easy. And there definitely wasn’t an episode of the series I watched, where I found myself saying, “Wow, this is so awful. I have to turn this off.”

If anything, part of me wishes some of the episodes were MORE controversial. I didn’t particularly feel like Easy had anything new and groundbreaking to say about sex and romance in the 21st century. In fact, in a post- Sex and the City age, I feel like most sex-related topics, including many of the topics covered in this series, have become part of the television mainstream.


So what sex topics are covered in Easy? You may be wondering. Well, in one episode, a forty-something husband and father struggles with the fact that his wife has recently become the breadwinner in the family, and that makes him feel sexually emasculated. In another, a lesbian couple tries to navigate a budding sexual relationship, despite the fact that the two lovers have vastly different recreational interests. In a third episode, a happily married couple attempts to spice up their relationship, by using a Tinder-type dating app to find themselves a companion for experimentation with menage a trois. In a fourth tale, a middle-aged graphic novelist famed for detailing his sexual escapades in his works is nonplussed, when his most recent, millennial, lover documents her rendezvous with him in a slightly more modern, and definitely more invasive, form of media. In still a fifth story, one half of a Spanish couple –who speak mainly in subtitles throughout the episode– (GASP!) has an extramarital affair with an old flame.


These are all topics that, had they been featured in a television series, say ten, or maybe even five years ago, may have seemed taboo, or at least titillating, but now, come across as commonplace, at best, and a bit ho-hum, at worst.

Ironically, probably the best story of the bunch, which also happens to be the one featured twice in the series, is also the most chaste, sexually speaking. It’s the one about two brothers, one straight-laced, the other a stoner, who decide to open a bootleg bar and brewery together, much to the dismay of the more conservative brother’s very pregnant wife.



In sum, while I wouldn’t recommend you drop everything this instant, and binge-watch Easy in its entirety (I’m sure you have much more exciting things to do with your Saturday nights, like laundry or toilet bowl cleaning, for example.), it may be worth a try, if for no other reason than to brush up on your character actor recognition skills, and to try and predict which of the eight of the episodes is destined to become Netflix’s next original series . . .


Filed under Easy, Uncategorized

Fangirls Fall Guide to 2016: Movie Edition


Welcome back Fangirls! It’s time for Part 2 of our Fangirls Fall Guide, which has been lovingly brought to you by yours truly, and my brilliant budding memoirist / blogging pal / fellow Fangirl Extraordinaire, Amy at  Imaginary Men.Net.  If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, please check out Part 1, our Television Edition first.  Then, come on back, because it’s time to talk movies!

Amy’s Picks

Movie you should see: Earlier this year I saw the trailer for Sing Street in theaters a few times. Each time I would think, “This movie looks made for me! 80s music! Ireland! Cute boys in bands wearing eyeliner!” But for some reason I wasn’t interested and I couldn’t figure out why. Thankfully I ignored myself and watched it on DVD recently and let me tell you, it is delightful. Written and directed by John Carney who did Once (a favorite of mine) it hits all the right nostalgia buttons: teenage crushes and heartbreaks, discovering yourself and defining who you are, losing yourself in music and the connections you make through songs. I flat out loved it and the soundtrack is something that I would have owned in the 80s and will keep you humming the tunes long after the movie is over. Available: iTunes, Amazon, DVD


Movie I’m excited for: Allied. My Girl Crush Marion Cotillard? I’m in. Brad Pitt being dashing? SOLD! But then the trailer came out and it was the first time in a long time that I watched a trailer and got swept away. I watched it several more times. Maybe it was the epicness of it – love and war, intrigue and danger all set in WWII and the post-war era, two movie eras that I adore. It looks pretty grand and it has actual capital M, capital S Movie Stars and there are no damn superheroes to be seen. Pretty people + Gorgeous costumes + War time dangers + Romance + Hot car make-outs in sandstorms = my butt in the theater on opening night! Opening: November 23.


Julie’s Picks

Movie you should see: The Lobster. I’m just going to come right out and say it. This movie is weird. And it’s definitely not for everybody. But it’s the one “new” movie that really stood out for me in 2016, not to mention the one that’s sparked the most conversation amongst my friends and family after viewing.  As a terminally single person, who just plain sucks at relationships, you could bet that I would long ago have been turned into an animal in the fictional world that embodies this film. (I’d choose a cat naturally. I know it’s not the most creative answer, but I happen to think I have a lot of cat-like tendencies.)

The Lobster has plenty of interesting things to say about the way that society pressures us to couple, and looks down upon and/or often vilifies single people. (That episode of Sex and the City, Bay of Married Pigs, comes immediately to mind.) But it’s not all one sided. “The Loners” in this story don’t come off so hot either. Though, to be honest, I’m less certain about what the writers are trying to say about . . . well . . . me. Hence, my endless discussions about the film with family and friends.

Apart from being an interesting social commentary, The Lobster is funny, quirky, and just flat out different than anything I’ve ever seen before. Seeing as we are living in a world that turns out cookie-cutter films like the assembly line at Chips Ahoy, that’s saying something. Available: iTunes, Amazon, DVD


Movie I’m excited for: The Edge of Seventeen. I’ve always been a sucker for a good coming-of-age tale, probably because my level of maturity is irrevocably about on par with most sixteen year olds. Not that there’s anything entirely new or different on the surface, about the story of an awkward, wise-cracking, but intensely intelligent, girl on the outer fringes of the high school social order, trying to survive the sometimes unforgiving, and often ridiculous, world of adolescence. But this trailer made me smile.  Plus, it reminded me of my own best friend from high school, who remains one of my favorite people in the world. Also, Hailee Steinfeld just seems so darn likeable here. How can you not root for her? Opening: November 18th


We hope you have your iPod / Spotify playlist ready because next up — Music!


Filed under Fall Fangirl Guide 2016, movies, Uncategorized

Fangirls Fall Guide to 2016: Television Edition

(Cross posted at Imaginary Men.Net)

In Amy H. Johnson’s honest, funny and inspiring debut memoir “The Fangirl Files: True Tales and Tips from the Fandom Frontlines,” she embraces fangirling, not just a hobby, but as a way of life.  Whether it’s a favorite band, a beloved book series, an admired actor, or an adored television show, fangirling is a way we define ourselves.  We fangirl both to stand out from a crowd, and to connect with an entire world of people who share similar interests, in ways we never dreamed possible even a decade ago.  Through Fangirling, Amy, like many of us, found solace and comfort, excitement and adventure, independence and self-reliance and a loving extended network of like-minded, who can turn to, not just to discuss the latest Killers album, but to share in all the ups and downs life has to offer.

IG fangirlfiles.comThroughout “The Fangirl Files” Amy details her life from childhood, through adolescence into adulthood, using the various fandoms with which she associated as milestones along her thrilling journey. And this, of course, may lead you to wonder, what is Amy fangirling about now, in the Fall of 2016?

With the help of her fellow Fangirl friend (Me, Julie, naturally), Amy will share with us the things that get her all excited and fangirly right now.

I’ll play as well, because, why not? I’m a Fangirl too, after all.

Coming up we’ll discuss a few of our favorite things in 2016 from a wide variety of pop culture topics including television, movies, music, apps, podcasts, columns, and books. And you can weigh in on whether you agree with us, think we are totally nuts, or have your own recommendations. Because that’s what true fangirling is about, after all . . . . sharing our passion, expanding our horizons, and bonding over the things we all love. Also, let’s be honest, it’s about the cute boys . . . because who doesn’t love those?

Amy’s TV Picks

What I’m watching:

I have been binging on season four of The Americans. Perhaps “binging” isn’t the right word as sometimes an episode is so stressful it takes me days before I feel emotionally ready to watch the next one! I often wonder why this show has never had the same sort of pop culture fixation as other “prestige dramas” like Mad Men or Breaking Bad. It is also filled with conflicted anti-heroes and heroines and is intense, brilliant, suspenseful, heartbreaking and superbly acted (if you ever thought, “Awww, Felicity Porter is so adorable!” Keri Russell will kick the living sh*t out of your memory of her previous incarnation). Plot lines are artfully woven through multiple seasons so things that happened two seasons ago come back to haunt the characters. Under the layers of spy intrigue and danger is the story of a family trying to stay together through the mundane tasks of every day life, and the high stakes secret world of espionage. And it always bears repeating, “POOR MARTHA!” Watch it: Amazon, iTunes.


What I can’t wait to watch:

I’m excited about season three of The Affair. This one is another under-the-radar show that critics and awarding bodies like but is also not part of the “Peak TV” conversation. I think that may be because it can contain some soap opera-y elements although I don’t think that detracts at all from the performances or really deep emotional places it goes to. It is another doozy of a show in terms of stressing me out but this one also makes me cry a lot because at the heart of it is the understanding that relationships­—with spouses, lovers, friends, parents, even enemies—are complex and often overwhelming. The first season featured the POV of the two characters having the affair Alison and Noah. Season two added the views of the spouses they cheated on, Cole and Helen. As we follow the frequently conflicting interpretations of what happened in each relationship, there’s also a central mystery unfolding known as, “Who Killed Scotty Lockhart.” Let me tell you, last season’s finale was a true Gasp-Out-Loud-What-Just-Happened-Holy-Sh*t! Kind of TV moment that made me miss a time when everyone watched TV shows at the same time so we could discuss them right afterwards. Of course the entire reason I even began watching this show was because of my Ultimate TV Boyfriend Joshua Jackson (Pacey 4eva!) who even got his own chapter in my book The Fangirl Files! Watch it: Showtime, November 20th.

If you’d rather laugh:

Try Billy on the Street (Hulu), Parks and Recreation (Hulu, Netflix) or my latest binge, Very British Problems (Netflix).

Julie’s TV Picks

Stranger Things (Netflix)


Admittedly, I was a bit late to the party on this one, if only because I thought it would be too scary for my wimpy, fraidy cat, ass. (Also because I’d heard the ending involved a full-sized slug coming out of somebody’s mouth, which pretty much describes every nightmare I’ve had from the age of six until forever.) If you’re an eighties kid, you’ll love the overload of nostalgia you will inevitably feel for a simpler time, when “fun” for kids involved just riding bikes around town or playing an intense round of Dungeons and Dragons, two activities that involve NO TECHNOLOGY AT ALL. Not to mention the fact that the film is jammed packed with pop culture references from the time: movies (E.T., It, Nightmare on Elm Street), music (Hazy Shade of Winter, Waiting for a Girl Like You); even school supplies (Teen Heroine Nancy owned and promptly displayed her very own Trapper Keeper during the series).

Even those who don’t exactly remember the eighties will still find plenty to love in this super fun series that is filled with action adventure, mystery, humor, horror, plucky characters you will root for, and cheesy special effects that will make you giggle. But most of all, I think Stranger Things is about the enduring nature of childhood friendship. Because when you are eleven years old your best friends are your whole wide world. It’s a feeling you never quite get back, after you inevitably grow into the self-absorption of your teenage years . . . Watch it: Now on Netflix


The Night Of (HBO)

Based on the British series Criminal Justice, this HBO crime procedural / mystery follows Naz, a well-behaved, dutiful Pakistani college student, who gets invited to a party, meets a hot girl, has the best sex of his life, and then proceeds to have the WORST SIX MONTHS EVER! Though its Naz’s plight and the mystery of Who Killed Andrea, that will draw you into the series, you’ll stay for the harrowing portrait of our criminal justice system, and the pressure it puts on everyone from beat cops, to detectives, to district attorneys to judges to arrive at a conviction for violent crimes, even if it means ignoring exculpatory evidence, not to mention the picture it paints of our prison system. The Rikers Island of The Night Of makes the Litchfield of Orange is the New Black look like a trip to the mall.


Also there’s a really cute cat in the series. And I’m just a sucker for really cute cats… Watch it: HBO On Demand


This is Us (NBC)


A husband whose wife is about to give birth to triplets; a Hollywood heartthrob experiencing malaise over the trajectory of his career; an overweight woman struggling to take back control over her life in a society that often obsesses over appearances; a successful businessman who has just reconnected with the biological dad who abandoned him at a fire station 36 years earlier. These are four very different people, with vastly different stories; people who seem to have nothing in common with one another but the date of birth that they share . . . OR DO THEY?

From the first moment of the pilot, this series instantly had me hooked with its cast of likeable, not to mention super attractive characters, their relatable stories, and the unexpected twists the writers seem to enjoy slipping into the end of every episode. And touching . . . man is this show touching. Bring your hankies folks, because if you are in the right mood when you are watching this, you will be happy crying all over the damn place! Watch it: Tuesday nights on NBC.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Movies!


Filed under Fall Fangirl Guide 2016, television, Uncategorized