Starting Up with Sons of Anarchy

It’s a sad state to be in—too busy to keep up with television watching. At the very least, I’m going to try to get caught up with Sons of Anarchy, watching the first two episodes: “Sovereign” and “Authority Vested.”

Interesting things to start the season, including a couple of new characters, an always welcome to see Jimmy Smits as Nero Padilla, a self-proclaimed “companionator,” and Harold Perrineau, from Lost, also makes an appearance as Mr. Pope. Jimmy Smits must get some kind of special props for having his first appearance in the series initially be a shot of his bare bottom (he seems to have picked up Gemma in a bar).

Clay confesses to the club that he killed Piney, although, he doesn’t tell the true story. Confession may be good for the soul, but this particular confession seems more for the good of Clay’s earthly being than his soul. Jax, anyway, doubts his sincerity: “What’s your play?”

For awhile there, I thought this was going to be an episode without a man hug! Clay at one point tries to offer Gemma a consoling hug, but she fends him off with an elbow in the ribs, and, at that point, I thought there was going to be no hugging in the episode at all. Fortunately, Bobby’s release from prison sets off a round of man-hugging, with 3 hugs of welcome. Then, after the club votes to confirm Bobby as VP, Jax gives him a particularly exuberant man hug—a three tapper (as they break the hug, they pound each other aggressively on the back three times before releasing). Then, there are hugs between Bobby and both Gemma and Tara. Man hugs do not necessarily take place only between men. Gemma gives Bobby a classic man hug, with three quick sharp taps on the shoulder to end it. Tara’s hug is just a basic hug, so I won’t include it in the man hug count.

It is not a good idea to cross Mr. Pope, even by accident, or by mistakenly taking out someone accident, especially when that someone is his daughter. His revenge on Tig is quite horrifyingly effective. Mr. Pope is an eye for an eye (and daughter for a daughter) kind of guy. Then again, I’m not sure crossing Tig is a particularly good idea either.

Man Hug total for “Sovereign”: 5

Robin Weigart (much beloved as Jane in Deadwood) shows up in “Authority Vested” in her recurring role as a lawyer for the MC.

There’s a nice exchange between Jax and Tara, as he suddenly decides he’s ready to get married:

Tara: “Here, in a brothel, wanted for murder?”

Jax: “Living the fairy tale, baby.”

Nero ends up going into a “Home for Physically Challenged Youth.” During the home invasion that smashes up Gemma’s house, we see that one of the invaders has a prosthetic foot. Connection?

As a general bit of advice: don’t play chicken with Jimmy Smits.

Well, one good thing about getting married on the spur of the moment in a brothel: at least there’s usually a judge to be found.

In an episode otherwise free of man hugs, we finally get 3 man hugs after the wedding near the end of the episode, as Jax accepts congratulations from his MC buddies.  There’s another Bobby/Tig man hug as he and Jax head off to jail after turning themselves in to the police, bringing the episode total to 4.

Man Hug Season Total: 9.

It’s early yet, but we may be well on the way to topping the Season 4 man hug total of 28 man hugs.

See also Sons of Anarchy and the Manly Art of Hugging for a definition and explanation of “man hug.”


Native American Studies Conference (CFP)

March 21-23, 2013
Mystic Lake Casino Hotel
Minneapolis, MN

Call for Proposals
DEADLINE: November 15, 2012

With literature as a crossroads where many forms of knowledge
meet—art, history, politics, science, religion, film, cultural
studies—we welcome once again spirited participation on all aspects of
Native American studies. We invite proposals for individual papers,
panel discussions, readings, exhibits, demonstrations, and workshops.

Nominations/Applications for the Beatrice Medicine Award for
Scholarship in American Indian Studies due January 15, 2013.  See the
website for details.

Queries can be directed to
Dr. Gwen Westerman                      or              Jason Zahn
Director, NALS                                  Assistant to the Director               


Left in the West (CFP)


Please send 500-word abstracts for a book collection of essays exploring the literary and cultural left in
the American West. Final essays should be 6000-7000 words and should in some way examine how the
political left is deployed in the literature or visual culture of the American West in the twentieth century.
Topics can include author and genre studies, cultural phenomenon, textual issues, political embodiment
and controversy, Old Left, New Left, the “left coast,” socialist conversion narratives, cultural work/
workers, and dissident, radical, or protest literatures, texts, and institutions. Abstracts are due October
10, 2012, and should be accompanied by a curriculum vitae or short biography. Authors of accepted
abstracts will be contacted by November 1, 2012 and asked to submit a first draft for publication by
April 1, 2013, when I hope to have the volume ready to be reviewed by prospective publishers. Please
send all material and inquiries to


Breaking Bad-“Gliding Over All”

As the final episode until next year, this episode did tie together loose ends while also loosening an exciting new one.

The moment that stands out to me the most is the conversation that happens between Hank and Walt after Hank comes home a couple of days after the deaths of Mike’s nine men. Hank tells Walt that he’s thinking of a job that he had during the summer breaks from college. He would mark trees to be cut down, putting a large orange mark on them, a mark that was probably the same color as the prison uniforms. He marked the trees in a grid pattern. Hank says that he never appreciated this job, that it was a lot better than chasing monsters. Walt replies by saying that he likes to go camping and the scene smoothly cuts to Walt getting up from another couch in his plastic meth cooking uniform. Then another cool sequence shows how business is booming. Planes take off to the Czech Republic, money is distributed, and most notably meth cooking tents spring up on placid neighborhoods all over Alburquerque.

The scene where the prison murders are planned is notable for the appearance of Damon Herriman who plays Dewey Crow on Justified. They brainstorm how 9 men can be killed within two minutes at three different facilities. The murders are gruesome. Someone is burned alive, several people are repeatedly stabbed, and blood drips from a weight lifting bench in one indelible moment.

Skyler takes Walt to the storage facility where she is keeping their excess money. She tells Walt that they can’t spend that money in 10 life times. Near the end of the episode, he tells her he’s stopping, but we don’t really believe him. Before they take their drive, she found him staring by the pool, the same pool she waded into at the beginning of the season.

Walt also gives Jesse his $5 million. In my second favorite moment of the episode, they reminisce about the early days of their business. They seem nostalgic for the RV. Walt may have enjoyed the fight of the early days, the not knowing and the exciting anxiety of running out of gas and dealing with day to day problems. Those days appear simple and almost quaint now.

Hanks finds a fragment of an answer sitting on the toilet. He picks up Leaves of Grass and connects Walt to an earlier moment in the series. I hope this is the start of a whole new set of theories backed up by facts for Hank. I want him to see Walt for who he really is in the final eight episodes next year. I want him to catch the monster.