The West Wing Drinking Game!

I can’t be the only one who is charging through (yet another) re-watch of The West Wing right now. The TV shows peppy little theme song and rosy outlook on the political landscape and condition of America is just what we need to deny reality. And since we’re all imbibing as another measure to deny reality, why don’t we combine the two sports into one jolly activity. Therefore, I give you THE WEST WING DRINKING GAME!

Remember to drink responsibly, and never ever drive after drinking. If some episodes are just too out-of-hand, don’t forget to sub in some water, or you’ll end up like Josh, wearing fisherman’s waders and showing up at Donna’s apartment at midnight swearing at her cats. With any luck, we’ll all be singing The Jackal within just a couple episodes. Cheers to you and yours!

LOST: The Island, Smoke Monster, and Everything Else Explained

Most series finales are awful.

Seinfeld was absurd. M*A*S*H was depressing. The Sopranos didn’t have an ending. And [sigh] Game of Thrones didn–GODS, Bran did not have the best story, and that is not why you make someone a King, especially because he was the villain the whole time and they’re all going to suffer and die now and it’s the WORST!

I’m okay, really. But we need to address LOST.

Its series finale lives in infamy for its vague conclusion and lack of payoff. But if we’re telling truths, the problem is that most viewers just did not understand the finale. Which means they probably didn’t understand the whole show. I get that it was easy to miss big chunks of the plot–the seasons were spread over long hiatuses, and a swaths of viewers thought they could just jump into the show in the last season and fairly judge it. But the confusion has led to a lot of backlash and a thick tarnish on the show’s legacy.

So I’ve decided to put on my dot-connector hat and go through the series in chronological order. I want to lay it all out so that we can demystify the writing and pick at the show’s carcass for all of the answer morsels we crave.

First, I have a story to tell–a story that is the backdrop for every single plot-line and mystery on The Island. It’s an ancient story that begins it all.

[Begin storybook voice.]

Once Upon a Time, About 2,000 Years ago…

A lady, named Allison Janney, watched over a mysterious island with a magical light at its core, protecting the light and the island from outside invaders. Some such invaders brought her twin boys (whose mother she murdered). One of these boys, Mib, was clever but also devious and overly curious about the power of the light. The other boy, Jacob, was much more loyal, but simple-minded.

(For the sake of our tale we will refer to the “Man in Black” as “Mib”.)

Lost allison janney

One day, when Allison Janney discovered that grown-up Mib was digging a well and building a wheel to harness the magic light, she destroyed the project and offered some quick blessings on the twins. First, she used magic to prevent them from ever killing each other. Second, she made Jacob her successor as Island Protector and warned him never to go into the cave of light, for it would mean a fate worse than death.

Shortly after this, an irate Mib murdered Allison Janney. This riled simple Jacob, who flung his brother into the magic light cave, turning him into a shape-shifting smoke monster.

Through the millennia Jacob and Mib lived on (in a sense), hating each other. Various ancient invaders on The Island worshiped the Smoke Monster as a deity and sought to summon him, though it is likely that Mib could not simply be summoned.

The pair also had an ongoing tedious philosophical debate about whether man is inherently good or bad. This prompts Jacob to lure people to The Island to test their character. He has also been looking for his replacement. Mib has vowed to find a way to kill Jacob and any of his replacements.

The entire show is this–two brothers fighting, and killing, and searching. Everything else is a byproduct of these two ancient men.

Why is the show so confusing?

It seems numbing to boil such an intense and mysterious show down to two bickering brothers. Truly, had anyone known this at the outset of the show, no one would have watched it. The suspense was the thing that kept us coming back, and in order to achieve such elaborate layers of mysteries and contradictions, the writers employed two basic strategies:

  1. The show is almost entirely told in reverse chronological order. We had to wait 8 seasons to get all the way back to Jacob and Mib. It took 3 seasons to even start to look at the 1970s & 1980s Dharma era. The whole show’s flow more or less goes: 
    2004 > 1990s-2000s > 1970s-1980s > 100 AD. With a sprinkling of 1950s and 1860s thrown in. So when the plane crashes, we’re actually seeing the end of a story (well, nearly).

  2. Sloppy writing. I’ll admit how disheartened I was to discover that the writers never had a clear plan carved out from the start. They were pretty much winging it and stretching out parts of seasons (or chopping them up) depending on network needs. If the show was done by more thoughtful writers as, say, a Netflix series today might be, there would be a lot less ambiguity. Or that’s what I tell myself.

Let’s Put the Show’s Timeline in the Right Order

Pre-Jacob & Mib: Unknown Eqyptians inhabiting The Island build the Statue of Taweret.

c.100 AD: Jacob and Mib are born on The Island. Allison Janney is the current Island Protector. Within 30 years, Allison Janney is killed, Jacob becomes the new Island Protector, and Mib becomes the Smoke Monster.

smoke monster Locke

Continue reading “LOST: The Island, Smoke Monster, and Everything Else Explained”

Gilmore Girls: 100+ Things That Make No Sense

We all love our Gilmore Girls. Even Rory. A trip to Stars Hollow is magically full of vegetable-shilling troubadours, Bjork snow women, Kirk’s doggy daycare, and Taylor’s sexy beard. There’s nothing like it.

But let’s be honest, as enchanting as the show may be, it is completely riddled with problems and things that make no damn sense. Some of them are flubs and bloopers, while many other issues defy the realms of logic, mathematics, and decency.

That Dragonfly magazine article, money issues, the Donna Reed dress, Lane’s father, Jason squatting and pooping in the corner of the Dragonfly’s dining room, and Trix’s disappearing fella. How many have you noticed?

It Just Makes no Sense…

  1. Lane magically owns her drum set, which at first she was just playing in the shop. That drum set was worth over $1,000. Where did she get the money?
  2. Taylor put a window in between his soda shoppe and Luke’s Diner. Not only does it serve zero purpose, but it’s hard to imagine Luke agreed to it. It’s just a filming device.
  3. Lorelai and Sookie catered a kid’s birthday party. Unless the Rockerfellers moved to Stars Hollow, who pays caterers and waitstaff to handle a Lord of the Rings 8 year-old birthday party?
  4. The potting shed. Did it have electricity? A refrigerator? Why does it have a toilet and tub in the first place? How about heat for the cold Connecticut winters? Basically, Rory and Lorelai shared a bed and had no kitchen, heat, or private toilet until Rory was an adolescent.
  5. Lorelai was ready to bail on her plans with Sookie to buy the Dragonfly (due to lack of dough) before she was willing to cancel her Europe trip with Rory. Even with backpacking and hostels that is an expensive trip over three months.
  6. Christopher wasn’t there for Rory’s high school graduation.
  7. When Luke and Lorelai decided to get married late at night at the gazebo, they woke up Lane, but not Sookie and Jackson.
  8. At Rory’s 16th birthday party (Stars Hollow edition), the only other teen at the party was Lane. The rest were unnamed adult townspeople. Did that girl have just no friends ever?

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  9. Lorelai says that she and Rory took a train to Ireland to stalk Bono, but there is no train that runs between mainland Europe and Ireland. It’s an island.
  10. At the end of the evening during the Dragonfly’s test run, Jason disappears to use the toilet, turning right into the dining room–where there is only a corner. Did he just squat in the dining room?
  11. Rory is announced as the Chilton valedictorian before she takes her final exams.
  12. Emily and Richard’s house magically transforms in layout between seasons 1 and 2.
  13. On the first day of Chilton, Lorelai swears that her outfit is a last resort since all of her clothes are at the cleaners. So she sent every single pair of jeans? And all of her other t-shirts? Her shoes must all be off at the cobbler since she wears those cowboy boots.
  14. Stars Hollow the Musical didn’t star a single resident of Stars Hollow.
  15. In some exterior views of the Crap Shack, basement windows can be seen.
  16. Every now and then, mountains and palm trees are visible in exterior shots of various Connecticut scenes.
  17. Lane’s father. He’s mentioned constantly in season 1, and is still being referenced in season 4, yet clearly he doesn’t live in Stars Hollow. In fact, he doesn’t show up for Lane’s wedding (or baby shower, etc.).
  18. Dragonfly decorator (slash porn star) Natalie swears she wasn’t the one who told Emily that Sookie was pregnant. But if that’s true, who on earth did?
  19. Sookie and Lorelai were super excited to hire Natalie to decorate the inn, but when the inn was profiled in a magazine, Lorelai took 100% of the credit for the interior design.
    Continue reading “Gilmore Girls: 100+ Things That Make No Sense”

Stars Hollow Unhinged: The Dark Side of the Gilmore Girls

You’ll never look at Gilmore Girls the same way.
We all love Gilmore Girls, right? It’s sweet, peppy, and oh so innocent. Remember Rory’s first kiss? Jess knocking down a snowman? Lorelai sewing costumes for the school play? Yes, the WB/CW really had us believing that the streets of Stars Hollow were made of cotton candy and the Gilmore Girls lived in a house of Pop-Tarts and Brillo Pads.

I regret to tell you, it just isn’t so. Once you removed the WB/CW network filter and peel away the peppy “la-la-la-la” music, there is a seedy underbelly to Stars Hollow, particularly at the Gilmore House. It’s so twisted that not even a Rory Curtain could hide it. So come with me as I decipher all of the clues and break down the truth behind the cold, dark Stars Hollow as it really was.

In the Beginning, Lorelai Ran From Hartford

Fans, let us journey back in time to the very beginning. The year was 1985. 17 year-old Lorelai Gilmore took her baby daughter and made a hasty retreat from the safety, shelter, and sustenance of her parents’ house out on to the mean streets of Hartford and beyond.

Why? It wasn’t because she lived a life of abuse, poverty, violence, and drugs. That wasn’t Lorelai’s world. She was a wealthy socialite who was unsatisfied with her parents’ smothering and planning. Their tedious efforts to help and support her. So, with baby in tow, she disappeared without notice, other than a scrap of paper.

This is no typical story of someone who is stable and thinking. In fact, from the start, one can imagine that any mom fleeing into the night with no plan or protection–given her circumstances–is likely highly disturbed. Maybe even dangerous to herself and her baby.

We can surmise Lorelai must have taken a bus with her baby daughter, a small amount of luggage, a bag of diapers, and maybe a car seat (I hope)? And landed where? She did not turn to a friend or family member. Lorelai turned up in a random town with no connections.

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Mia Welcomes Them to Stars Hollow

Mia and Emily once had a conversation about how Mia should have behaved when Lorelai showed up at her door. Emily took a swipe insisting that Mia should’ve sent her back home. And Emily is right. There is no way that a penniless teen (save for some diamond earrings in the pockets of her designer jeans) with a baby doesn’t get turned around and pointed back toward her mansion.

Did Lorelai refuse loudly and madly? Did she threaten to go sleep in the street if no one would take her in? And for that matter, did she even really show up at the Inn looking for a job? Or did Mia find her sitting on the streets? Sleeping on a park bench with her baby?

Keep in mind, even the dirtiest hotel rooms must gouge at the cash supply after a while. And diapers aren’t free. Any credit cards she had would’ve pointed to her location, and Richard and Emily would’ve come after her. In fact, wouldn’t it be remarkable if Emily didn’t have the police looking for them, knowing Emily’s nature as we do?

Maybe Mia was more of a saint than we realize. Maybe she was covering for a very disturbed teen girl.

Consider also, isn’t it a bit funny that Rory later discovered a newspaper article about Lorelai arriving in town? It’s a little peculiar that such a headline would exist…unless this person was sensational. Maybe even alarming? Perhaps the article described the hubbub of a baby sleeping on a park bench, and how authorities tried to intervene until guardian angel Mia Bass stepped in.

Potting Shed Baby

Fortune smiled on the disturbed runaway when Mia offered to shelter her in the inn’s potting shed. The potting shed.

GG Emily in Wonderland Potting Shed 1

A potting shed with a toilet and a tub? But no interior doors? Was it heated? Connecticut has brutal winters. Where did they move the tools and herbicides? One year-old Rory was housed in an actual shed. There was no kitchen to keep her food. No crib.

Continue reading “Stars Hollow Unhinged: The Dark Side of the Gilmore Girls”

Star Trek: Voyager–Being Katie O’Clare

I have a very special story for you about Star Trek: Voyager and how my life inadvertently imitated a holodeck fantasy. Gather ’round.

The tale of my holodeck-style adventure starts not terribly long ago when I moved my little family to Ireland. My husband and I lay in bed, me dozing off after a long day of unpacking boxes, he, intent on finding a new show to watch on Netflix, irritatingly scrolling through the menus so that they flickered through the dark room and pierced my closed eyelids. Sighing, I cracked my eyelids just enough to see the screen. One of the title cards flashed past my vision and prompted me to mutter through my own drool, “What is Red doing on Star Trek?”. Wait, was I half-asleep? “Was that really RED? That was RED! On STAR TREK!” He scrolled back to a cast photo of Star Trek: Voyager, and in the role of Captain Janeway was a young Red from Orange is the New Black.

Star Trek Voyager cast photo

My husband had been keeping a terrible secret from me! Red has always been my absolute favorite character from Orange, and he never let on that she was a Star Trek Captain?! Startled by my recognition, he confessed to having never connected Kate Mulgrew’s two brilliant roles before–a notion that still horrifies me, and brings great shame upon our family.

And to add to his dishonor, he admitted that he never even watched all of Voyager, since his dopey late-90s teenaged self had fallen into the chauvinistic trap of not appreciating Capt. Janeway, thinking of her as a less-than, politically correct version of Kirk and Picard (Sisko deliberately omitted from this list since he is terrible.) Now, wiser and older, and considerably more discerning, he announced instantly that he would undertake the quest of re-watching every episode, beginning that very night.

From then on, each night I drifted off to sleep to the beautiful opening melody, and then the husky tones of Kate Mulgrew’s voice. It became a soothing balm as I learned to settle into sleep in a new house and a very new place.

Several weeks passed until one night when my husband shook me out of a sound sleep to look at the television screen. He had just started a Voyager episode called “Fair Haven”, and it had a startling connection to our own real life.

The episode is all about escapism–the crew of Voyager is in need of a respite from their stressful roles, so Tom Paris develops a new program in the holodeck. It’s the town of Fair Haven in County Clare, Ireland.

And this is where the beat drops. My new home, boxes still scattered and things still not hung on the walls, is in County Clare, Ireland. This was one of those moments when I really wondered if my life is The Truman Show.

(I have wondered this often, and have seriously pondered the notion that if my life is The Truman Show, some team of writers would most definitely taunt me by fabricating a Hollywood film that mocks my actual life and lays out the entire truth right in front of my face, both beckoning my recognition and also belittling my paranoia–and of course it would star Jim Carrey. But I digress…)

The episode continued to get spookier and spookier. Captain Kathryn Janeway quickly falls in love with the quaint rural setting and begins to adopt the in-holodeck moniker of Katie O’Clare.

But I am Katie. Katie of Clare.

Janeway in Clare

Through my sleepy eyes I watched the tale unfold–both sweet and disarmingly dark at various points (“Delete the wife”), until it reached a point where both my husband and I nearly fell out of bed in sheer disbelief.

Katie O’Clare saunters over to the Fair Haven train station to get her flirt on with the local bartender, and does so by attaching herself gingerly to a signpost–a signpost that points to towns such as Tuamgraney and Killaloe.

Those are towns very close to my home (without giving away my precise hometown). I visit Tuamgraney frequently, and Killaloe every now and then (I tend to head there less frequently since traffic flow is dependent on this 18th century one-way stone bridge).

Katie OClare

Naturally, because I am a super nerd, my first reaction was to jump up and down and yell “I’m Katie O’Clare! I’m Katie O’Clare!”, because hells yes my life is reflecting a Star Trek holodeck fantasy (and it doesn’t even involve Vic Fontaine!).

The very next thing I did was sit down and attempt to calculate where the fictional Fair Haven might fall on the map. The signpost–notably created by Tom Paris–indicates that Fair Haven is 5 km from Tuamgraney and 3.5 km from Killaloe. Also 7.5 km from Holy Island, but we’ll set that aside since it involves water travel. Continue reading “Star Trek: Voyager–Being Katie O’Clare”

West Wing: The Complete Adventures of Goldfish Gail and Her Fishbowl

Ever wondered about the props in Goldfish Gail’s fishbowl? I have answers.

Fans of The West Wing know a little secret: C.J. Cregg’s pet goldfish, Gail, often has her bowl decorated with props that wink at episode themes. Panda bears, cash, flags, cabbages, flamingos, a love bed, a space shuttle, a telephone, and a fire engine. They are planted just for our delight (and hopefully Gail’s as well). The trick is to try and spot them. And this friends, became my obsession recently.

Below, for the first time, is a complete list of all of Goldfish Gail’s adventures alongside C.J., Danny, and the rest of the West Wing gang. Let’s get swimmin’!

And, hey, if you think you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment. If you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!


Season 1

Gail 1.9

Season 1, Episode 9

  • Prop: Nothing. Welcome, Gail!
  • Gravel: None? Oh, com’on, Danny.
  • Nod to Plot: It’s a new fish! (And Danny loves C.J.)

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Season 1, Episode 10

  • Prop: Christmas tree, with some festive poinsettias atop
  • Gravel: White, like snow. Snow with fish poop.
  • Nod to Plot: Christmas episode!

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Season 1, Episode 11

  • Prop: What appears to be a military helicopter
  • Gravel: Red, like blood
  • Nod to Plot: India-Pakistan conflict

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Season 1, Episode 12

  • Prop: A little wooden lectern and two American flags
  • Gravel: Red, white, and blue
  • Nod to Plot: It’s the State of the Union address!

Continue reading “West Wing: The Complete Adventures of Goldfish Gail and Her Fishbowl”

The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 7

Gail the Goldfish, friend and companion to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is back for an exciting and FINAL seventh season!

This is sad and exciting. It’s sexciting. Wait, no. Sorry, Gail. I didn’t mean it like that.

Truly, though, Gail experiences the frost of terrifying allegations against her mama, deep loss, and the anticipation of moving. It’s a traumatic season for her, but she handles it like a champ. Let’s do this one last time! Here are Gail’s appearances in Season 7.

(If you think that you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment and if you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!)


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Season 7, Episode 1

  • Prop: Gail’s opening the final season with a light bulb in her bowl
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: I’m not entirely certain. Perhaps it is Gail’s epiphany that C.J. is the focus of the intelligence leak investigation. Gail is hoping that everyone stops and listens to her horrified realization. Gail’s has a lightbulb, people! A lightbulb!

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Season 7, Episode 2

  • Prop: Some little things are stuck in her gravel. Could they be a bunch of little U.S. flags?
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: Well, maybe Gail is being supportive of candidate Santos’s military service. Plus, ya know, it’s America. So, flags.
    I, for one, am disappointed that Matt and Helen’s absolutely destroyed bed wasn’t in the bowl. Gail usually has more of a sense of humor.

Continue reading “The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 7”

The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 6

Gail the Goldfish, friend and companion to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is back for an exciting sixth season.

Gail moves offices, hosts a visitor, gets snubbed for an invitation to an ice cream party, and ponders classic literature. She also explores a little nihilism. That is one deep fish.

Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 6.

If you think that you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment and if you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!


NoGailSeason 6, Episode 1

No Gail. She’s as appalled as we all are about the beginning of season 6. Since it looks like the gang is heading to Camp David, I fear we might be missing Gail for quite some time.

Continue reading “The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 6”

And Now, My Cat Invades Star Trek: Voyager

From the recesses of the Delta Quadrant, comes Star Trek cat!

Very little needs to be written about the following images. My senior Tonkinese cat, Maisy, decided to assist (or sometimes surprise) the crew of Voyager.

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We don’t ask how she went from floating in space to sitting on the bridge.

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One thing is for sure though, Maisy doesn’t give a shit.

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She can’t even give a shit when the Doc is all worried.

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Okay, that’s a little alarming to her.

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Time for her to review procedures with Captain Janeway.

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Maisy also takes time to supervise underlings

….when she isn’t playing hide-n-seek with the Captain and Seven of Nine.

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Oop! They found her!

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Maisy also wants everyone to remember to never split infinitives. May you all go boldly where no cat has gone before.