8 Titles From a Used Book Sale

Not a regular feature, just something fun to do now and then. Anytime I pass a pile of used books for sale, I’ll make short list of a few of the titles I find and juxtapose them for your amusement. Here’s the first list.

The Theory and Practice of Reinforced Concrete

How to be a North American

Our Tempestuous Day

Fruit Palace

The Management of Quality Assurance

Notes & Counternotes

For Your Own Good

Analysis of Human Motion

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True Blood: “I Found You” Review

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True Blood is two hours into its final season, and the second episode of the show focuses on the tensions in Bon Temps in the wake of the attack on Bellefleur’s. We finally see Eric; Arlene, Holly, and Nicole almost make their way out of Fangtasia; Sookie, Sam, Jason, Alcide, and Andy visit a ransacked town for clues about the Hep-V vampires; and the angry mob is even angrier.

We begin the episode with one of Jason’s Eric dreams. Drinking vampire blood causes dreams TBE2and fantasies about that vampire and forges a vampire/human bond; Jason drank Eric’s blood a few seasons back. That said, I’m not entirely clear on the point of this scene, even if it was enjoyable. It doesn’t add to the story in any real way, but it does add some much needed screen-time for Alexander Skarsgard. I think we’ll make our way back to this dream at some point, but it wasn’t in this episode.

Cut to outside the police station. Andy is frustrated by the search for Arlene, Holly, and Nicole, and he doesn’t have a clue what to do. Now, Andy—townspeople in general—don’t you think Fangtasia might at least be a place to start? Shreveport isn’t far away, and the place has been a centerpiece of the show. But Sookie, at least, has an idea. She saw a body in the woods, and ID’ing the body, finding out where the girl came from, might be a start to finding the vampires. Does this mean Sookie didn’t tell anyone she found a dead girl in the woods until now? Really? Either way, Andy decides this is a Good Idea and the beginning of a Sound Plan, so they go off to find the corpse.

Meanwhile, the infected vampires that are nesting in Fangtasia are still hungry. They’re arguing over who will go and get the next person (remember that unfortunate incident in the basement from last week) and what they’re going to do for food. An older-looking woman, Betty, is given the keys to the basement to go and fetch the food. When she comes downstairs,TBE2.2 Arlene recognizes her son’s former teacher, and Betty recognizes Arlene, too. She looks directly at her before choosing a man and leading him upstairs. Arlene and Holly, who now recognizes Betty, begin to hatch an escape plan.

Having ID’ed the girl by her driver’s license, the group realizes that she’s from “two towns away” and that that is a good place to start looking. Before leaving, Sam asks the townspeople to tidy up, to clean up Bellefleur’s. He’s trying to give them a way to be useful in the wake of the crisis and discourage mob mentality. Andy, Jason, Sookie, Alcide, and Sam then leave for St. Alice. I can’t tell if they even plan to try to notify the next-of-kin, because this is all about finding the vampires. The dead girl is irrelevant, evidently.

Elsewhere in Bon Temps, Lettie May is knocking down Lafayette’s door. He reluctantly lets her in, and the two chat about Tara for a moment. Lettie May asks Lafayette for V (vampire blood), as she says it’s the only way she can help Tara, who is somewhere between worlds. Lafayette isn’t buying what she’s selling, though, and he shoos her out without giving her any V. Lettie May’s track record being what it is, she’s gotten herself hooked on V already.

Back in Bellefleur’s, Vince is rabble-rousing. He’s tired of Sam; he’s tired of vampires; and he thinks this is his time to shine. He mentions seeing Sam turn into a dog, and then several other people tell similar stories. We get some really funny dialogue here, especially from Maxine Fortenberry. Adilyn, who is helping with the clean-up, tries to talk down the crowd, but she is unsuccessful. She overhears a woman thinking about taking the cache of weapons from the police station, and she runs to warn them. Apparently, guns and ammo are on short supply in these days of Hep-V vampires.

Back in Fangtasia, Arlene and Holly manage to convince Betty to help them escape. There are some wonderful, tense moments between the actresses. Betty is aware that she’s dying, but she has no real desire to hasten it. Arlene and Holly give her just the reason, though, reminding her that they know and remember the kindness Betty extended to the children when she was their teacher. Betty decides that it’s worth the cost to save them and takes another prisoner upstairs.

At this point, Sookie and the crew have made their way into St. Alice, and it’s a ghost town. TBE2.8There’s no one walking around, there are no cars driving, and it’s eerily quiet. Windows are boarded up and graffiti is scrawled everywhere, including “FEMA HELP US” written in huge lettering on the road. They go into the dead girl’s home, where they find more evidence of death and destruction. Sookie also finds the woman’s diary, and she reads aloud the tale of a woman who falls in love with a vampire but is eventually killed by the infected vampires. Leaving the town, the group encounters a mass grave, which is the reason we don’t see anyone—there is no one. I wanted to suspend my disbelief here, but I was annoyed by the concept that a modern town could be TBE2.5completely obliterated without anyone noticing. It’s silly. And Sookie’s reading aloud for the diary seemed still to be beating us over the head with the Sookie-is-a-vampire-freak stick, especially when it was interspersed with her memories of Bill.

In Bon Temps, Adilyn and her cousin arrive at the police station just ahead of the mob, and they manage to warn Kenya, a black female officer. They begin moving the weapons to lock them up, but the mob arrives. I’m not sure if she was a friend or family member, but at any rate, a woman speaks to Kenya, reminding her of  the TBE2.9promotion she was been passed over for in favor of Jason, all the work she’s done that has gone unrecognized. And she relents. Adilyn uses her fairy powers to protect herself, while Kenya attempts to restrain her, and the cries carry over to Jessica (whose blood Adilyn drank in the previous episode).  Jessica is locked inside Andy’s home and cannot leave—it is the middle of the day.

Lettie May has gone home, and we now return to her. She’s cooking, and she burns her hand. This gives her an idea—if she burns herself badly, Willa will have to give her blood so that she can heal. She lays her hand down in the skillet. Yeesh. She then goes to wake Willa, and she’s almost killed in the process. Not a good idea to sneak up on a sleeping vampire. It takes a lot of convincing, but Willa finally gives Lettie May some of her blood. While she is high, she has a vision of Tara, in a white dress, hanging on a cross with a snake crawling over her, but she TBE2.7cannot hear Tara. Willa is bewildered, and Lettie May is crushed. Difficult to tell if this is just Lettie May’s predilection for addiction that we’re seeing or if there’s something to her dreams of Tara.

Back at Fangtasia, Betty offers to monitor sleeping for the infected vampires. They agree, and she uses the time to try to rescue Arlene, Holly and Nicole. She’s too weak, though, and needs to feed from one of them before she can attempt the escape. Arlene agrees to let her feed, but Betty becomes ravenous TBE2.6before she dies in a sad, gross pile on Arlene’s lap.

Andy has returned to Bon Temps, and he’s home. Adilyn isn’t, though. He calls for her, but it is Jessica who replies. Andy is near killing her, and I’m not sure I blame him, but she manages to convince him that Adilyn is in danger somewhere else and that she hasn’t hurt Adilyn. At their return, Sookie sneaks out of the house while Alcide showers. She goes to Bill’s home, asking him if he could still sense her, still feel her fear if she felt it. Oh please, don’t let us go for a Bill and Sookie reunion.

And then we cut to France. Pam walks up to a house. There are female vampires inside, but she quickly ushers them out. And then we’re face-to-face with Eric, who is infected with Hep-V. Cut to the end. And maybe I should’ve seen that coming, but I didn’t really, and I think it’s a damn shame. I’ll just say that if he dies, I hope it’s in a blaze of glory with Pam beside him.

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Penny Dreadful: “Grand Guignol” Review

This week marks the season 1 finale of Penny Dreadful, and we get lots of answers. We still didn’t see Dorian’s portrait, but we know what Ethan is, Caliban has a bride, and we found Mina. I’ve mixed feelings about the episode; it felt like a series of “and now for the moment(s) you’ve all been waiting for” spliced together, the stories not as neatly tied together as they’ve been most of the season.

We start out at Sir Malcolm’s mansion, where he and Vanessa are discussing the rescue of Mina. They agree on going to the Guignol that night, and Murray leaves.

Dorian Grey knocks at the door, and Vanessa’s ambivalence is clear. She rejects him, soundly PD8.6and coldly, and Dorian is shocked. Later, when she meets him in the greenhouse, she rejects him again. She cannot be with Dorian, as he unleashes whatever is within her. She says as much, but Dorian, who only knows that she was ill during her possession, clearly doesn’t understand. As she walks away, we see him wipe away a tear. Carney does a nice job of looking bemused at his own sadness here, and Dorian’s complete inexperience with rejection is obvious.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen Ethan sitting at Brona’s bedside. She’s obviously not going to make it, and we’ve all known that for a while. When Ethan leaves to fetch the doctor, though, we get a few new folks. Surprise, Ethan is being hunted! Two Americans wait outside of the inn.

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Sir Malcolm, during this time, is buying a gun. Murray buys a large, semiautomatic weapon with powerful bullets. While there, he meets Madame Kali in the shop. She asks after Vanessa, naturally, given that the last time she saw Vanessa, she was upstaged during the seance. Malcolm lies, claiming that he doesn’t see much of her. It’s clear from his past exploits and the way he carries himself around her that his admonition of wanting to “see more” of Madame Kali is a double entendre. Wonder if this means that we’ll see Madame Kali next season? The scene seems superfluous otherwise.

Meanwhile, Caliban is working in the theater, and nothing is going well. He’s trying to hoist  an actor using a system of pulleys, but they get stuck. Simon, who we know has been seeing Maud, screams at Caliban, calling him monstrous and refusing to work with him any longer. Maud and Vincent stand by while Simon screams, and though Vincent makes a disparaging remark about Simon, it is only after he’s walked off. Rory Kinnear once again manages to get under my skin, his absolute sadness and awkwardness reading as raw emotion when Caliban turns to stare into the empty theater.

A bit later, Maud comes to Caliban’s room, where he is reading. She gives him an orange as an apology and mentions the copy of Paradise Lost that he gave her (I was right!). She quotes from book 10, and included in the quotes is the famous: “Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay to mold me man? Did I solicit thee from darkness to promote me?” This is also the download (16)epigraph from Frankenstein, so my nerd-happy-level skyrocketed right about the time this happened. Anyway, then Maud switches to talking about Simon, attempting the “he didn’t mean it” apology tactic but moving on in the face of Caliban’s “yes he does” retort. She asks if Caliban loves anyone, but responds “love is for others.” She’s saddened by his answer, clearly, and she kisses him on the forehead before returning to her dressing room. Caliban is overcome by this show of affection. (Side note: this is how, in the novel version of Phantom of the Opera, Christine manages to liberate herself and the others trapped by the Phantom.)

Caliban, like most of us, wants more, though, and it’s clear that he hopes he can be beautiful enough for Maud to accept him. He wouldn’t need Victor to make him a bride if he found his own. He puts on stage makeup, brushes his hair, and goes to see Maud, orange in hand to repay her favor. He sneaks up on her, though, and she only becomes aware of his presence by seeing his reflection. Bad start. She giggles at his appearance, and he’s taken aback by her response, especially when she says “you shouldn’t be in here.” Caliban replies that Simon comes back there often, but this frightens Maud, who now knows that he’s been spying on her. He keeps on, asking her to share the orange, but she asks him to leave. He covers her mouth when she moves to scream, pushing her against a wall. I think my fingernails left impressions in my palms during this scene. He comes to his senses though, rushing out of the room and leaving Maud, gasping and terrified, in her room. Vincent, of course, must fire him, and the two share a bittersweet farewell.

Back at the Murray mansion, Vanessa confronts Sir Malcolm about the shipyard. Murray responds harshly to Vanessa, admitting that he only kept her alive as a way of connecting with Mina when Vanessa questions him about why she wasn’t allowed to be part of the excursion to the shipyard.

Caliban has returned to Frankenstein. He has nowhere else to go, no one else to turn to—but Victor is still understandably upset about the murder of Van Helsing. Caliban sits in front of PD8Frankenstein, broken. He begins to talk about what he did in the theater and how unfit he is to be anyone’s mate. Victor raises a gun, quietly moving into position to kill his creation. I wondered if he was really learning how to kill Caliban in that basement shootout with Ethan. Caliban continues to talk, finally coming to “why did you allow me to feel” and, aware of the pistol behind his head, begging for death. Victor can’t do it, though, and there’s a knock at the door just then.

Ethan has come to fetch Victor Frankenstein for help with Brona. Victor leaves Caliban and goes with Ethan, but he finds that he cannot save Brona. We’ve known that almost from her first appearance, though. Victor asks Ethan to fetch a pail of water, and while he is gone, Victor smothers Brona. When Ethan returns, he is heartbroken. Victor allows him to say his goodbyes
but promises that he’ll take care of the body. Uh-huh. Ethan goes to drown his sorrows in drink, where he is confronted by the two men hunting him but manages to best them.

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By this time, it’s evening, and Ethan goes to meet Vanessa, Murray, Sembene, and Victor at the theater. They enter quietly, and after a bit of searching, their light falls on the vampire we’ve been seeing most of the season. A trap door on the stage opens, landing Ethan in a pit of female vampires. While the vampire leaps around, avoiding Vanessa and Malcolm, Ethan, Vincent, and Sembene fight the other vampires. There are too many though. Just in time, however, Vanessa manages to do that stopping-vampires-in-their-tracks thing and Murray has stabbed the vampire, killing him and vanquishing his progeny.

And then Mina appears. She gasps “Vanessa” as she runs from behind a curtain, and everyone is smiling. For a moment. Then Mina’s eyes change to black as she says, in a cold voice “father.” She uses Vanessa as a shield, hand around her throat, but it becomes clear pretty PD8.7quickly that her end-game is getting out of the theater with Vanessa. So we haven’t met the illustrious Master after all. Good. Malcolm pleads with Mina, but only briefly. It’s clear that she doesn’t want to be saved. And so he shoots her. Finally, Sir Malcolm Murray gets something right. I can’t help feeling, though, that this is a anticlimactic way to end the arc of an entire season. It took maybe 15 minutes or so, and Mina’s appearance was brief.

And now story-lines really start closing for the season. We see a shot of Vanessa and Murray at home. They’ve claimed one another as family now, and they are acting it. Murray admits that he’s not going to Africa. Caliban and Victor are in the basement laboratory. Victor draws back the cover from Brona’s body, and Caliban is awash in emotion. We also see Ethan in a bar. The men hunting him have caught up to him, and though he presses to leave him be, they continue trying to take him home (yes, home. To his father, evidently.) But then Ethan turns into a werewolf, like we’ve been waiting for all season, and eats them up. Damn, damn, and double damn. Oh well, at least it looked cool. And then Vanessa walks into a church, listening to hymns, looking for a priest. She finds him and the two talk, mainly about Vanessa wanting an exorcism. The priest assures her that it will be difficult, if it is even possible. He asks “do you really want to be normal.” We see Vanessa, hear her intake of breath, and then there’s a sadly predictable cut. We’ll have to wait for next season, folks.

I’m hoping that we see not only that, but a lot more of Sembene, the most underused character on the show, and of Dorian, the second most underused character on the show. And maybe that we’ll see the Master, and that we’ll see Dorian’s portrait.

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