Tag Archive for sons of anarchy

Sons of Anarchy: Season 3

WARNING!! This contains spoilers…

At the end of Season 2 Half Sack is killed while trying to prevent the Irish from kidnapping Abel and Gemma has been setup by Agent Stahl.  If you think things really heated up between Seasons 1 and 2, just wait until you watch Season 3.

This season can really be broken into two halves.  One part takes place in Charming and the other in Ireland.  I’d say there’s probably equal amount of excitement taking place in both locations as the older Hale takes a stronger hand at his conniving politics after his brother’s, Deputy Hale, tragic death in a drive-by shooting.  There is friction between between the Sons and other gangs as usual and the DEA, led by Agent Stahl, is still trying to take the down the club.  In Ireland the Sons are trying to track down Abel, Jax’s son, and end up discovering a whole other mess of corruption and deceit among their Irish brothers and the IRA.

One notable performance to point out is Hal Holbrook as Nate Madock, Gemma’s father.  We see him in a few episodes towards the beginning of the season as Gemma’s mother is dead and she’s checking in on him to make sure he’s OK.  His mind is going he mistakes Tig as an intruder during Gemma’s visit.

After most of the Sons decide to skip bail and head across the pond there’s a noticeable change in the theme music.  On one hand this is nice to signify the location change, but I really prefer the original arrangement.  SAMCRO teams up with their counterparts in Ireland who happen to include one of the Original 9.  They seem to hit roadblocks in every direction though trying to find out where Abel is and who has him.

Back in the states the Sons have worked out their differences with the Mayans and team up to stop a rogue Mayan patchover who is single-handedly attempting to take down both clubs.  At one point he even kidnaps Tara in an attempt to turn the Sons against the Mayans.  Cooler heads prevail and all ends well…mostly well.

If you already disliked Agent Stahl you’re really going to hate her in Season 3.  She’s about as bad as dirty cops can be as she manipulates both business and personal relationships to her advantage.  She forces Jax to make a deal with her and then rats him out to the club in the end.  We all know what happens to snitches, but you’ll have to watch to get the details.  I can’t give everything away here.

While in Ireland we discover some important background history about Jax, Gemma and John Teller.  In some ways it almost plays out like a soap opera.  History really seems to be repeating itself as Jax is becoming his father and Tara slowly begins to be the new Gemma.  This will be much more apparent after Season 4.

Piney is still my favorite character as he stands on the sidelines and offers words of wisdom when necessary.  It’s interesting to see Jax and Opie really come into their own as the young blood in the club.  We get a few more prospects and Happy continues to be…well, happy.  If you have yet to watch Season 4, be prepared for the Sons to come home and start focusing on their domestic troubles again.  There’s never a dull moment.

Hollywood and Asthma

It’s easy to believe a lot of what you see on TV and in the movie theater until you come across something with which you have personal experience and say, “what the….”  I first remember one of these instances sitting in the living room watching who knows what when a woman on TV was giving birth and my mother thought it was ridiculous.  There was probably a lot of unnecessary sweat, screaming and flailing going on there.  I just remember my mom thinking it was over-dramatized.  I think the same can be said for asthma.  At least 25 million Americans are diagnosed with asthma (“Asthma at a Glance,” National Center for Environmental Health, U.S. CDC, 1999) and COPD is currently the 4th leading cause of death in the US (Mannino and Kin, 2006).  You’d think people would be more informed about lung disease and what it looks like.  This also makes me wonder who is consulting with these writers, directors and producers as to exactly how actors should act in these scenes.  To be fair, some portrayals are supposed to be over the top and exaggerated, but how is the average, free-breathing, entertainment-connoisseur supposed to know that?

Portrayals I find inaccurate, annoying, and what have you:

I have often seen asthma exaggerated, blown out of proportion, and not treated seriously in films and on TV.  Children with asthma are often picked on, made fun of, ridiculed and seen as less than normal.  They can’t go outside, participate in gym class, breathe normally, talk normally or do what they want in life.  Their disease, condition, symptoms or even medication are used at plot points or MacGuffins, instead of just being a part of who they are.  Even in the show Lost, the character Shannon has pretty convincing asthma, but it’s really just a ploy to find her medicine than anything else.

http://www.anyclip.com/movies/the-goonies/mrs-walshs-reproach

  • Uncle Junior in The Sopranos (1999) – OSA and his CPAP, can no one help him get his mask on properly?

  • Bobby Elvis in Sons of Anarchy (2008) – constantly trying to buy those “crazy expensive” albuterol inhalers, not to mention your average rescue inhaler has roughly 200 puffs in it.

sons-of-anarchy_bobby-needs-albuterol

Bobby – That dealer, she got that albuterol?

Piney – Probably.

Bobby – Tiki’s going through three inhalers a week…

  • Stevie on Malcolm in the Middle (2000) – overplayed wheezing and shortness of breath.  Sorry about the poor quality of videos here.  The first is a scene from an episode and the second is the actor, Craig Traylor, leaving a phone message as “Stevie.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWGRogQ_lPA

  • Wheezy Joe in Intolerable Cruelty (2003) – that’s one physically active hitman, not to mention a professional who easily mistakes a pistol for medication and blows his own head off.

  • Albert in Hitch (2005) – “cures” himself of asthma to kiss the girl

Portrayals I find closer to what asthma really looks like:

These examples may not be perfect either, but they’re much more closer to what I’ve personally experienced and witnessed.

  • Che in The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) – suffers from severe attacks, but is not completely debilitated from his condition

  • Regular Sized Rudy in Bob’s Burgers (2011) – young kid who lives life to its fullest even though he has to take his asthma medicine every 2 hours or he could die

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvXx8eqXTR0

  • Morgan in Signs (2002) – suffers from an asthma attack without medicine while his father tries to help him through it.

  • Thomas in Black Hawk Down (2001) – soldier uses his inhaler before heading out on a mission, and yes I know there are questions to be asked about his active duty status.

  • Bob from Up in the Air (2009) – man loses his job and wants to know how he’ll care for his daughter without insurance.  I really dig J.K. Simmons’ righteous anger here.

  • Barry in Sidekicks (1992) – teen with severe asthma manages his symptoms through a regulated exercise program.

So what’s wrong with asthma in pop culture?

I’m fairly certain there is no lack of education and information available about asthma.  The problem is people seeking it out or stumbling across it.  Unfortunately the main way people learn about things that aren’t in their face is through TV and film where asthmatics are generally depicted as:

  • Negative
  • Funny
  • Pathetic
  • Emotional
  • Weak
  • Victims
  • Helpless
  • Social outcasts

This leaves both children and adults ashamed of a very common condition not wanting to admit they are ill and embarrassed to use their rescue medications in public.  In response to the animated film Jimmy Neutron, Nancy Sander, head of the organization Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics wrote the following to Nickelodeon:

Why asthma? Why did you select any life-threatening condition or the character, Carl Wheezer? Is asthma funnier than heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy, or AIDS?

There is nothing funny about growing up with asthma, a condition that robs children of oxygen, limits physical activity, and requires responsible use of inhaled medications and avoidance of allergens and irritants.

Was the character intended to educate children and the public about asthma?

If so, your efforts backfired.

Jimmy Neutron perpetuates the painful myth that children with asthma are emotional wimps that tend to overuse inhaled medications when faced with excitement.

It may not seem like a big deal, but these cartoons are both educating children on their limits and expected lifestyle AS WELL AS educating non-asthmatics on the appropriate response and treatment of those suffering with the disease.  This includes other children, parents, teachers, family members and anyone else an asthmatic might deal with on a daily basis or run into only once.  If this still doesn’t seem like a big deal, I’d like to point out several articles where two children and an adult find themselves in need of emergency care.

Fortunately it’s not all storm clouds and tornadoes.  A new asthma treatment clinic is being opened in Contra Costa County, California in an effort to treat and educate their large number of asthmatics, and keep them out of the Emergency Room.  While asthma never really goes away for those who suffer from it, the main goal is to maintain and manage the symptoms which is the purpose of this clinic.  There are many educational opportunities for both adults and children out there like Tim & Moby Explain Asthma, and the recurring character on Sesame Street who helps children understand asthma action plans and the need for them.

Personally I think we need to encourage children to make goals and support them in achieving those goals.  I was told as a child I could do whatever I wanted and played football even though I suffer from severe asthma and severe summer/fall allergies.  Instead of creating ridiculous, debilitating characters why not celebrate our fellow asthmatics who have proved they accomplish their goals.  Asthma obviously didn’t keep Martin Scorsese from winning 111 film awards including an Oscar for Best Director on Hugo (2011).  Here’s a short list of a few other famous people you might recognize.

  • Alice Cooper
  • Bill Clinton
  • Billy Joel
  • Bob Hope
  • Bono
  • Charles Dickens
  • Che Guevara
  • David Beckham
  • Dennis Rodman
  • Diane Keaton
  • DMX
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Emmitt Smith
  • Greg Louganis
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee
  • Jason Alexander
  • Jerome Bettis
  • John F Kennedy
  • John Updike
  • Joseph Pulitzer
  • Kenny G
  • Leonard Bernstein
  • Louis “Studs” Terkel
  • Ludwig von Beethoven
  • Marcel Proust
  • Mark Spitz
  • Martin Scorsese
  • Mike Tyson
  • Orson Welles
  • Paul Sorvino
  • Peter the Great
  • Rev Jesse Jackson
  • Ricki Lake
  • Sharon Stone
  • Steve Allen
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Walter Mondale
  • William Tecumseh Sherman

So what can we do?  I’ve decided to start blogging more to share my story and experiences.  In just the past few weeks I’ve already been contacted by friends, family and strangers saying they’ve benefited from or learned something from things I’ve shared.  I’m committed to be on the lookout for fellow asthmatics in need of assistance out in the world and taking action when necessary.  I’m also looking to point out and share good examples of asthma in pop culture that will further asthma education around the world.  In fact, there’s some buzz about a new movie, Asthma (????), directed by Jake Hoffman and starring Krysten Ritter from Breaking Bad.

Resources:

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.  Tim & Moby Explain Asthma.  Retrieved September 6, 2013 from http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/just-for-kids/tim—moby-explain-asthma.aspx

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.  Asthma Facts and Figures.  Retrieved September 5, 2013 from http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=42

Asthma Institute of Michigan.  Famous People with Asthma.  Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://www.getasthmahelp.org/famous-people.aspx

Brown, Mark (2012, January 8). Time to take asthma more seriously.  Retrieved September 6, 2013 from the Chicago Sun-Times website: http://www.suntimes.com/news/brown/7892555-452/time-to-take-asthma-moreseriously.html

Donovan, Cathy (2012, June 12). Children with asthma marginalized in movies, says Rutgers-Camden researcher.  Retrieved September 5, 2013, from Eureka Alert website: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-06/ru-cwa061212.php

Huffington Post (2013, September 3). Taylor Smith, Georgian Woman, Abandoned Near Mobile Home After Apparently Fatal Asthma Attack.  Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/03/taylor-smith-asthma-dead_n_3861638.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

Jouret, Jill (2012). Asthma on Screen.  Retrieved September 5, 2013, from The Lancet website: http://download.thelancet.com/flatcontentassets/lanres/edch3no2.pdf

Malcolm, Marshall (2013, September 1). In Asthma-Plagued County, a Move Toward Prevention.  Retrieved September 6, 2013 from The New American Media website: http://newamericamedia.org/2013/09/in-asthma-plagued-county-a-move-toward-prevention.php

Mannino, David M and Kin, Victor A (2006, September).  Changing the burden of COPD mortality. International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, 1(3): 219-233. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2707151/

Onespot Allergy (2013, March 6).  Teen Having Severe Asthma Attack Denied Help And Ignored By Staff At Tim Hortons.  Retrieved September 6, 2013, from the Onespot Allergy website: http://blog.onespotallergy.com/2013/03/teen-having-severe-asthma-attack-denied-help-and-ignored-by-staff-at-tim-hortons/

Sesame Street (2007).  A Guide for Parents of Young Children with Asthma.  Retrieved September 6, 2013 from http://www.sesamestreet.org/cms_services/services?action=download&uid=250b1bca-8fbd-4727-a595-f03be19c0320

Wu, Ann, MD, MPH (2013, June 10). Hollywood’s role in the stigmatization of asthma.  Retrieved September 6, 2013, from the Asth.ma website: http://asth.ma/post/52673422110/hollywoods-role-in-the-stigmatization-of-asthma

Sons of Anarchy: Season 2

If Sons of Anarchy: Season 1 was about introducing characters and getting a sense of background, season 2 was definitely about hard times and revenge.  After setting the scene and giving us a good idea of what SAMCRO is going through, a new player comes to town and tries to rule with an iron fist.  Did we mention this fist is connected to a suit and tie?

Adam Arkin and Henry Rollins are the two new boys in town.  I always have to laugh a little when I see Rollins on TV.  If you’re not sure who he is, Rollins fronted punk bands Black Flag and the Rollins Band.  While having never seen nor talked to Henry, I get the idea he considers himself a badass.  This tends to creep up in every role I’ve seen him act.  He also plays the part in other aspects of his public life in his books, gig as a radio DJ, and speaking engagements.  Adam Arkin, son of Alan Arkin, has always done well in stuff I’ve seen.  I loved his recent role in the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man, and in the TV show Life.  He does a great job playing both businessman and scumbag.

Two other actors I have to say I’ve been impressed with are Charlie Hunnam and Ryan Hurst.  These two guys are playing very different and original roles from what I’ve seen the do.  I often see men and women playing “type cast” roles over and over.  While this can be good for a while,  I wish I could see what they’re really capable of.  Neither of these actors disappoint.

When I think of Hunnam, two roles immediately come to mind: Undeclared (A Judd Apatow masterpiece that followed up Freaks and Geeks) and Nicholas Nickleby.  I’ve never actually seen the 2nd, but he’s on the cover and it’s one of those things I’m just aware of.  In Undeclared Hunnam plays the foreign college student whom all the girls fawn over due to his accent.  He was no where near a bad boy, more like an Abercrombie boy.  Chalire did start to get more “thug” with his role in Green Street Hooligans, a film about soccer/football fans in the UK, but it was still no where near Jax Teller, Vice President of SAMCRO.  This guy is the quintessential American outlaw, even though he’s from England.  I was almost surprised to spot him the first time I caught an episode playing at the gym.  I practically took a double-take.  I never would have guessed Hunnam could grow a bear and start riding a motorcycle like he owned it, let alone handle a gun.  I might actually be afraid of this dude in real life.

Now to Hurst – here’s a guy who’s best known in my mind for playing a high school football player in Remember the Titans and the bumbling idiot in The Ladykillers (2004).  Here’s another guy who changed his whole demeanor for a role.  Besides the fact he’s already huge and really could kick your ass, Hurst completed modified his look, voice, and person.  No more passiveness, no more mister nice guy; I would definitely fear Opie Winston.  He’s come a long way from the deaf soldier in Saving Private Ryan, the high school athlete in “Titans,” the timid sergeant in We Were Soldiers, and the idiot trying to pull off a heist in The Ladykillers.  I can’t wait to see what roles he takes next.

So plot-wise I said this season was all about hard times and revenge.  We meet a few new characters, several die, and others are left dealing with the pieces.  You probably know by now biker gangs motorcycle clubs do not rely on the police to take care of them.  In one scene a member tells Clay if it had been his wife, there would already be six charters halfway to town by now.  Fortunately the club has a good working-relationship with Charming law enforcement.  SAMCRO doesn’t take aggression or turf infringement lightly, so if you enjoy a good fight spiced with some Cold War era revenge, this is the season for you.

Sons of Anarchy: Season 1

WARNING!! This contains spoilers…

While having a chronic lung disease is mostly bad, the silver lining is I often stay awake for days at a time where I am able to watch hour upon hour of TV and movies.  I’m not always completely paying attention to whatever I’m streaming via Netflix, but Sons of Anarchy definitely caught my eye.  It has great music, good acting, character development and left me wanting to watch just one more episode.

Sons of Anarchy Season One is about a motorcycle gang in Charming, CA fulfilling the role of modern day outlaws.  While illegally selling firearms and fighting with rival gangs and motorcycle clubs, SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original) also does a lot for the community.  The founders of the club worked out a deal with the local law enforcement allowing these motorcycle enthusiasts to basically do whatever they want as long as drugs are kept out of Charming.  It has the makings of an Italian mafia thing but with a Californian twist.

Clay Morrow, played by Ron Perlman (Hellboy), is the current president and one of the original nine members.  He and his friends founded the club after returning home from the Vietnam war.  Jax Teller, played by Charlie Hunnam (Nicholas Nickleby and Undeclared), is the current vice president and step-son of Clay.  Jax’s deceased, biological father was the club’s previous president.  Gemma Teller, played by Katey Sagal (Married with Children and Futurama), is Jax’s mother and Clay’s wife.  Jax has a new baby to take care of because his junkie ex-wife Wendy Teller, played by Drea de Matteo (Sopranos), is at rehab trying to turn her life around.  Tara Knowles, played by Maggie Siff (Mad Men), is Jax’s highschool sweetheart and has just returned to her hometown to work at the local hospital.  Opie, played by Ryan Hurst (Remember the Titans and Saving Private Ryan), is Jax’s best friend and son of Piney, one of the original nine members.  On top of all the soap opera drama we see SAMCRO selling guns, avoiding the ATF, involved with the IRA and clashing against rival motorcycle clubs.  There is plenty to keep you interested.

I’ve mentioned gangs and rival clubs – they’re pretty much the same thing.  In season one we meet:

sons_of_anarchy-the_mayans

  • The Mayans – this Latino gang blows up SAMCRO’s gun factory in an effort to disrupt its gun business

sons_of_anarchy-the_one_niners

  • One-Niners – this African American gang is SAMCRO’s biggest gun customer

sons_of_anarchy-the_nords

  • Nordics/Nords – this white supremacist group is led by Ernest Darby, played by Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files), and they are constantly looking for a way to bring drugs into Charming

Everything has been going fairly well for SAMCRO and Jax is being groomed to one day take over as president of the club.  History seems to be repeating itself as Jax starts reading his father’s old diaries and begins to discover what really happened in the early days of the Sons.  This diary is making Jax question who he is, what he stands for and why SAMCRO does the things it does.

If you enjoy mildly realistic crime dramas with decent character development and exciting twists, you should probably give Sons of Anarchy a try.  As always I suggest watching three episodes before making a decision to continue.  Parts of this show remind me of HBO’s Oz.  I think it’s because of the different gangs always at odds with each other and making deals to try and destroy their enemies.

Sons of Anarchy

Sons-Of-Anarchy-sons-of-anarchy-32111948-1600-1200

Sons of Anarchy is a show that’s had a lot of ups and downs for me.  On one hand it’s one of the best modern American-outlaw shows I’ve seen.  It’s hard to argue with the thrill and cool-factor associated with the motorcycle gangs, tattoos, leather and guns.  When I first saw Eastern Promises (2007), starring Viggo Mortensen, I must admit I was a little mystified by the whole Russian prison/gang tattoo thing.  Some of that exists in this show with their tattoos, patches and pins, but I still haven’t figured out what they all mean.

I’ve never been a soap opera person, but I must admit I was really getting into the storylines and plot twists.  After my two favorite characters had been killed off in seasons four and five, I threw in the towel.  I called it quits and said, “no more.”  Well, it’s been a few months and I decided I had cooled down a bit.  The sixth season is going to start this fall and I decided I needed to get over it and watch season five.  The rest of the episodes turned out to be not so bad.  I know this is by no means reality and the story that unfolds is often ludicrous, that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to watch.  In a build-up to my thoughts on season five, I’m going to re-post some thoughts on seasons one through four back in the day.