Lucy on TV with Diamonds

BAKER STREET

by Eric J Baker

Living with an addict is crushing. Believe me, I know.

Addiction, America’s ugly secret, is sneaky. In the beginning, it hides behind a façade of normalcy and happiness. But, like an insidious disease, it spreads until the victim can think of nothing but the next fix. The people who care for her are spurned, for she has found her one true love. Though you are desperate to help, it’s too late. The addiction has rotted her from within and infiltrated your home. It is addiction on demand.

It is cop shows.

Lucy Liu, at home in her ice palace.

At least I can take solace that the cop-show addict in my home, the lovely Ms. Ahn, my wife, has discovered TNT’s Southland. In a televised sea of cardboard CSI characters unraveling too-clever murder plots and fluffy, witless network detective dramas that take no chances on upsetting advertisers, Southland brings true grit to the airwaves. You know what? I don’t mind joining her for a toot of that stuff.

Shot with hand-held cameras, the documentary-style show follows three sets of law-enforcement characters through the grimy slums of L.A. as they bust up teenage prostitution rings, laugh at gun-shot-wounded drug dealers who are bleeding to death, and cause as much havoc as they put down. One storyline tracks jaded patrol officer Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) and his partner Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie), the latter of whom gets emotionally invested to the point that, out of uniform, he sometimes enforces his own laws. Meanwhile, compassionate detective Lydia Adams (Regina King) and her chauvinistic partner Ruben Robinson (Dorian Missick) solve crimes while dishing out profanity-laden, Tarantino-esque dialog. The third storyline involves this season’s addition, diminutive tough girl Jessica Tang (Lucy Liu), teaming up with a recovering drug addict, Officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz).

Cudlitz packin' heat in 'Southland.'

And does my Ms. Ahn have a thing for Michael Cudlitz or what? It never stops amazing me who women find hot. It’s hardly ever Ryan Reynolds and it’s almost always someone you would not expect, like Michael Cudlitz, who looks to me like a hybrid of John Goodman and Sean Astin. It recalls the time our own James Killough waxed poetic about the sexiness of disgraced New York governor and not-at-all-good-looking man Elliot Spitzer. But I don’t have to live with Killough, and I do have to live with Ms. Ahn, so every time Cudlitz’s face shows up on screen, I am compelled to ask (with affected incredulity), “Really? That guy?”

The show is thinly plotted, almost like a high-stakes episode of Cops with crisscrossing story threads. And whenever it seems we are about to travel down the well-trodden Law and Order path, the writers take a left turn. On a recent episode, a nanny driving her employer’s kids around in the family Mercedes disappears. In the Law and Order universe, where wealthy people are inherently evil and perpetually orchestrating murder conspiracies, the bitchy wife is all-but guaranteed to be guilty. In Southland, after an hour of trying to uncover a complex – but nonexistent – web of secrets, Detectives Adams and Robinson find out the nanny was killed by a random schizophrenic who wandered up to the car. Case closed. The show may be hard-edged and grim, but it’s underpinned by sardonic humor.

A gratuitous second picture of Lucy Liu.

Given her fondness for the down-and-out Officer Cooper, my adorable little addict enjoys following the Liu/Cudlitz thread. Lucy Liu, who has carved out an interesting career playing venomous snakes of varying motivation and temperament, is cold steel as Officer Tang. Given her morose partner’s struggles with drug abuse, they make a dark pair. I prefer the lighter King/Missick storyline, not just for the crackling dialog but for Regina King’s weirdly sexy Detective Adams. King, who seems to be the black Anne Archer (she’s played the thankless “hero’s wife” in a number of films), is not a traditional beauty, but her character’s soft-spoken intensity and vibrant eyes make it hard to look away when she’s on screen.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, what with me having just cracked on my wife and Killough, respectively, for their weird attractions. When we were watching Southland the other day and Regina King came on screen, I said what I’d been thinking for a while: “You know, that’s an unconventionally beautiful woman.”

How does Regina King feel about being called “weirdly sexy” by the likes of me?

Ms. Ahn, in her distinct dialect of Konglish (a tangle of Korean and English) said, “You like the girls with the different skins.”

“Ya think?” I said. Perhaps she hasn’t looked in a mirror recently.

Her point, if she had one, was well taken. Why does one guy gravitate toward the exotic while the next one goes for the all-American apple-pie look?

Geographer, linguist, biologist, and Pulitzer-prize-winning science-guy Jared Diamond wrote in his fascinating book, The Third Chimpanzee, that we humans map the people closest to us during our first five years of life and later use that imprint as a model for sexual attractiveness. Diamond was citing others’ research and didn’t describe it exactly that way, but I think it explains why a lot of people marry someone who reminds them of their mother, father, or siblings.

I was an odd kid, though. My three older siblings are close in age to each other but not to me, which means they were seldom around when I was. That isn’t particularly weird, but the fact that I spent a lot of time alone with Japanese sci-fi films and blaxploitation movies might be. While other four-year-old kids were playing wiffle ball in the park with their dads, I was watching Blacula. My earliest opportunity to imprint the concept of “woman” was watching the versatile Mie Hama strut around in King Kong vs. Godzilla. No doubt you recall the scene in which she flees from a train (moments before it’s smashed by Godzilla), falls in the brook, and stands up, her dripping-wet dress clinging to her body…That moment was ten-bell hot when I was four, and it still gets my pulse rate up.

Kumi Mizuno

Another Japanese sci-fi princess from the 1960s, Akiko Wakabayashi, co-starred with Hama in the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice. To me, though, she will always be the beautiful yakuza moll in the bizarre gangster/sci-fi hybrid Dogora, about a space creature that eats stolen diamonds. But my dream girl back then was Kumi Mizuno, who starred in heaps of Asian fantasy films, including the hallucinogenic horror show Matango, which, as a metaphor for drug addiction, was rather ahead of its time in 1963.

Not that I thought about any of that as a kid. I just remember watching these women on TV and thinking, “Is it getting hot in here?” I’ve been begging Ms. Ahn to get a Kumi Mizuno haircut for years but she refuses, probably for the justifiable reason that I will be pestering her for sex and making her act out scenes from Invasion of the Astro-Monster all the time. For whatever weird reason, chicks aren’t into that. Go figure.

None of this explains why she is into guys like Michael Cudlitz and David Caruso. To my knowledge, she had very little exposure to raspy-voiced, middle-aged, redheaded white men while growing up 20 miles from the DMZ.

Looking for answers before I sat down to write this story, I asked her what it is about “John” she finds so appealing (she refers to her TV boyfriends by their character’s first names. When CSI Miami is starting, she says, “Shhh. Horatio is on.”).

She replied, with a definitive tone, “He looks like a man.”

Which made me feel pretty good because I can compete with that. I just need to get me a cop uniform. I’m already packing heat.

My 1960s Japanese Babe All-Star Team (l to r): Akiko Wakabayashi, Kumi Mizuno, and Mie Hama. Plus some guy who, unfortunately, isn’t me.


James Killough

Comments: 17

  • Pure Film Creative March 11, 20126:47 pm

    Well, now you have me thinking about what must have formed my passion for big blond cruel jocks (and redheads). Speed Racer? Probably my father gets thrown in the mix somehow, if only for the “big” and “cruel” bits. Definitely the older WASPy boys at the country club. Hmmm. To be pondered further.

    • ericjbaker March 11, 20127:03 pm

      That Jared Diamond is good at provoking thought. “The Third Chimpanzee” is a recommended read, even if it’s a bit out of date on the scientific-discovery front.

      • Pure Film Creative March 11, 20127:18 pm

        My next non-fiction book is the new Alain de Botton about religion for atheists.

        • ericjbaker March 11, 20127:32 pm

          That guy was causing some heat on the Huff-Po religion page the other day. It should be a stimulating read.

  • Gil Alan March 11, 20127:04 pm

    Well, if ‘Southland’ has captured Ms. Ahn’s attention… I would do my best to keep her away from ever discovering the British ‘MI5’ series, with 10 seasons of episodes, which could suck her out of reality altogether! Seriously… if she reads your blog, do yourself a favor and delete my comment – take all precautions at all cost!

    • ericjbaker March 11, 20127:30 pm

      If it keeps her quiet and happy, bring it on! You should see her in the summer when all the shows are on hiatus. Cop-show DTs aren’t pretty. 10 seasons of MI5 would last her at least until the first week in July.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Bryan Edmondson March 14, 20129:14 am

    Eric you are becoming quite the connoisseur for music,movies, and television.
    As usual, I like your writing style; it is creative with a refreshing plasticity which is always a little bit different in each article. This is a refreshing twist for me. Also lately the titles of your post are sensation attention grabbers. If my opinion counts, I think you are, doing a very good job.
    I think your varying literary voice shows a lot of hard work; and your yarn balls of writing skills are constantly growing bigger and bigger. (Is that why you are taking at least 2 testosterone induced cheap shots at Killough per article?) What has James ever done to you, but cuddle you like a kitten? Eric, no one likes a Bully who attacks in a post of flaming literary rage. Enough said about that.

    On an unrelated question, I am wondering if you have any recommendations for the movies or t.v. show(s) that have the best dialogue between charters? I am very weak in my writing in regards to dialogue.
    I am reading a lot of online screen plays. I liked Pulp Fiction (Tarantino in general) and I am reading old movie scripts of classics like Hitchcock’s, as well as a lot of Bogart movies.
    They are helpful but I am looking for dialogue that is more related to current issues such as family drama dialogue, and reality t.v. type genuine character dialogue. I am trying to write dialogue pieces where a group of people are involved in conversations. I am not around many social situations and I am having a hard time developing characters and getting into their heads to create dialogue.
    I do not watch t.v. except through ITunes rentals. I do not know where to start looking. If you (or anyone in the thread) has any suggestions I would be most gracious.

    Thanks for enduring my long post. Thanks for your support with my health issues. That means a lot Eric.

    Bryan Edmondson (biggest fan, potential stalker)

  • ericjbaker March 14, 20128:31 pm

    James and I are both ‘tops,’ which creates a lot of angst and tension. When you get two tops together it’s like neither of us has sexual organs and, thus, cannot consumate. I can’t believe Dateline hasn’t done a story on it.

    I don’t think you can learn to write dialog from someone else’s dialog. You have to find it. Try writing something in the first person with you as one of the characters. When you get to your dialog, does it sound like something you would say? It has to feel real. Make the other characters real people you know. Would they say the words you have given them?

    I started a writing blog recently, which you can get to by clicking my name. I’m mulling around a few ideas for posts about building characters and writing dialog. I need to do more analysis on the subject first.

    Thank you for your compliments and I hope you are taking care of yourself. Despite your health concerns, I noticed you are still e-mailing me pictures of naked women. I’m glad you have that front covered.

    • Pure Film Creative March 15, 201210:11 am

      Incidentally, I did read you post the other day, Eric, and I think you’re on the right track with the How To Write thing.

      • ericjbaker March 15, 201210:47 am

        Thanks. It has lead to a couple of weirdly amusing e-mails from strangers.

    • Bryan Edmondson March 17, 201210:00 pm

      Dialogue from Weeds:

      NANCY
      The Tennis Chinese Professional Player? Doug, she’s from Anaheim, not Bangkok. She can’t shoot tennis balls out of her vagina to practice your back swing, you are an idiot.

      DOUG
      Not true, I know for a fact that last week, she stuck the handle of
      her tennis racket up Dean’s ass while he was fucking her. He said it felt unbelievable, but if you ask me It probably felt “totally-fucking unbelievable”

      Bryan- If you ask me, any guy who lets someone shove a tennis racket handle up their ass, they probably read the blog at PFC.
      If any guy lets someone shove the other end of the racket up their ass, they probably read The Anvil.

      (Both are sin portals)

      Affirmed by http://noodletoes.wordpress.com/
      The Official Blog of The American Christian Monitor

      • ericjbaker March 17, 201210:18 pm

        Damn. You can’t fake that kind of weirdness.

        Bravo, Mr. Edmonson.

        • Pure Film Creative March 17, 201210:37 pm

          Oh, get a room, already.

          • ericjbaker March 17, 201210:54 pm

            You think I’d allow myself to be alone in a room with the artist formerly known as Hanson Anderson?

            • Bryan Edmondson March 20, 201212:52 pm

              Such manly sass is coming my way in this thread. My,my,my; talk about “top testosterone”
              Pop quiz, hot-shots: Do either of you men know what a Thailand, double-seated, 75 pound-pull, fully- mountable, perineum-strike, pleasure bow is? (The one with the four devil horns with the heated, vibrating, rubber end-knobs?)
              Hint: There are only two in the world and I own one. And I know how to use it.
              (Just so you know, Eric and James: I could melt either one of you top-bitches into a full-time bottom in 30 minutes)
              🙂 Have a nice day.

              • ericjbaker March 20, 20124:28 pm

                The only thing stopping me from running and screaming in terror is the unlikelihood that the three of us will ever be in the same room.

  • Bryan Edmondson March 14, 20129:20 pm

    Thank EJB I will check your blog.
    🙂

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