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April 23, 2018

'Once Upon a Time' recap: 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'

Superhero franchises tend to follow a familiar, tried-and-true pattern. They launch with origin stories catalyzed by personal tragedy; they feature love interests who are pert and plucky and not granted very much screen time; they increasingly focus on quests to snatch an All-Powerful Glowing Thingie from the bad guy who wants to use it to take over the world, at least if they take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They also tend to make one assumption as they age: The more villains that can be crammed into a sequel, the better.

Often, but not always, this is a strategy that reaches its apotheosis in the franchise’s threequel. Spider-Man 3 didn’t think Harry Osborn breaking bad would be enough to sustain an entire story, so it also threw in Venom and Sandman for good measure. (The movie was not very good.) X-Men: The Last Stand crammed in a whole legion of brand-new bad guys, including The Juggernaut, Multiple Man, and Quill. (Everyone involved with X-Men likes to pretend this movie never happened.) The Dark Knight Rises couldn’t make do with Bane and a semi-evil Catwoman alone, so it tossed Talia al Ghul into the mix as well. (Nobody liked the movie as much as The Dark Knight.) Superman III provided a shaky blueprint for all of those films, mucking things up by forcing the Man of Steel to contend with not only the villainous Ross Webster, but also his own evil double. (It wasn’t as poorly received as Superman IV, but it didn’t exactly garner rave reviews.) Other franchises—think The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man 2—play the Too Many Villains card earlier, usually to just as mixed results; still more franchises don’t really go nuts until the fourquel (i.e. Batman and Robin, which is a mess for many reasons, but mostly because the titular heroes have to contend with Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy and Bane and a Batsuit with nipples).

But despite all those cautionary tales, Villain Creep continues to plague cinemas—maybe because franchises naturally tend toward excess as they age, maybe because a good bad guy is often more fun to watch than a good good guy… so it naturally follows that two good bad guys should be twice as fun. Mostly, though, Villain Creep probably persists because storytellers worry that sequels won’t pack the same punch as their predecessors unless they raise the stakes, and adding multiple antagonists is the easiest way to up a story’s ante.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that, after multiple arcs that have focused on taking down one major baddie—Cora, Peter Pan, Zelena, the Snow Queen—Once Upon a Time too has decided that a single Big Bad (in addition to shades of grey like Regina, Rumplestiltskin, and Hook) just won’t do. Enter season 4B’s trio of terror: Kristin Bauer von Stratten’s Maleficent, Merrin Dungey’s Ursula, and Victoria Smurfit’s Cruella de Vil.

On one hand, it’s exciting to see the show get back to its roots by introducing characters from stories older than the year 2013. On the other, Once has never exactly suffered from a dearth of characters, and it seems like it’ll be impossible to give each of these ladies the attention they deserve when they’re all constantly fighting against one another—not to mention the billions of other personalities already in Once’s Disney vault—for screen time.

We’ll put an evil pin in that thought for now, though—because tonight’s midseason premiere is all about simply getting its wicked ducks in a row, poised for future mayhem. The fairyback explains how the Mistress of All Evil, a mysteriously be-legged sea witch, and a Gatsby theme party reject came to know each other in the first place; the present-day story line focuses on how two of them find their way to Storybrooke. And naturally, both plotlines hinge on string-pulling courtesy of Once’s chief meddler: Rumplestiltskin.

The Dark One is, of course, the one who first calls Cruella, Maleficent, and Ursula together for a Random Villain Caucus. (Timeline nerds: This fairyback apparently takes place earlier than episode 411’s fairyback.) As Rumple reveals, he needs their particular set of skills to help him secure a dark curse. What’s in it for them? He promises said curse will help each of the three ladies achieve their own personal happy endings. (If you drank every time someone said “happy endings” tonight, I’m assuming you’re reading this recap from a hospital bed.) As of now, it’s unclear whether the hex they’re stealing is the same Dark Curse Regina will eventually use to create Storybrooke—didn’t Rumple create that one himself?—but either way, the spell is currently being hidden deep below Hogwarts in the Cave of Wonders inside of a place called Bald Mountain, guarded by a series of “lethal magic obstacles.”

Those obstacles, in order, are: some bugs that Cruella disperses via magical halitosis (sick superpower, De Vil), a ring of dragon fire Maleficent sucks up with her staff, and… a short distance. (Ursula foils that one by reaching across it with one of her tentacles.) Um, maybe “lethal” means something different in the Enchanted Forest than it does here. Also, Rump: You, uh, couldn’t just do any of this yourself?

There is, however, one more thing protecting the curse Ursula has just handed over to Rump: the Chernabog, a.k.a. the winged hellspawn first introduced in this utterly traumatizing Fantasia segment.

Fun fact: According to the Disney wiki, Walt himself thought this guy was “the most horrible Disney villain.” How horrible? “If all the Disney villains held a contest to see which was the most truly, purely, evil, Chernabog would just throw them into the fires of hell.” Now I’m a little bummed Once didn’t keep him around longer, revealing in three episodes or so that Chern’s only aggressive because of his strained relationship with his father. In this scenario, his father is Shere Khan.

NEXT: Evil takes the front door

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'Once Upon a Time' recap: 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'

Porky and Buddy Pet Health – Poison Ivy On Dogs Can Rub Off On Humans

Dear Porky and Buddy,

I can’t go through my woods without gallons of Roundup because they are so infested with poison ivy and I am highly allergic. If I even look at it I seem to get it. But, my dogs run around in the woods all the time. It doesn’t seem to bother them at all. Should I be worried?

Linda

P.S. I’m just kidding about the gallons of Roundup. It’s only a few quarts.

Dear Linda,

Lucky for you we are not an environmental organization.  The truth is there is not enough Roundup in the universe to make a dent in the poison ivy that grows here, so your best option is to find ways to simply avoid contact.

You are not getting a poison ivy rash from looking at it.

So assuming that you are really not touching the plants, it is  likely you are getting it from petting your dogs.

This is ordinarily a good thing, but not if they have been rolling around in or running through poison ivy.

The culprit with poison ivy is an oily substance called urushiol which causes the rash that you get.

You can only get the rash from contact with that oil, but it is highly probable that your dogs have it on their fur and you are picking it up there. Dogs and most other animals do not seem to get the rash; some animals even eat the stuff with no ill effects.

Your options seem to be to figure out a way to keep your dogs away from the infested area as much as possible and/or to make sure that you bathe them carefully to remove the oil as much as possible when you know they have been in the woods.

Better yet, don’t leave your dogs outside alone and unsupervised.

Take them for walks, play with them, sit in the shade with them.

It’s your company that they crave so you might as well take advantage of that reality and have an itch-free summer.

Got the itch for a new pet?

You can find the perfect summer (and winter) companion for years to come at www.oswegohumane.org

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.

Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY.

Phone: (315) 207-1070.

Email: ochscontact@hotmail.com

Website: www.oswegohumane.org

Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other!

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Porky and Buddy Pet Health – Poison Ivy On Dogs Can Rub Off On Humans

Lethal Lips: Study Highlights Toxic Content Of Lipstick

Lethal Lips: Study Highlights Toxic Content Of Lipstick

May 2, 2013

Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

Known for her lethal lips, Batman villainess Poison Ivy might appreciate a new study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley who found dangerous levels of lead, chromium and other metals in a number of commonly sold lipsticks.

Previous research, including a 2011 FDA study, has found toxic metals in commercial lipsticks, but the UC Berkeley team has specifically studied how long-term exposure to various concentrations of these metals relates to current health guidelines.

“Just finding these metals isn’t the issue; it’s the levels that matter,” said lead author S. Katharine Hammond, a professor of environmental health sciences at UC Berkeley. “Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term.”

The researchers say that the detrimental effects of these cosmetics depend on how often and how much of the product is applied. According to the study, which appeared in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the average user applies lipstick 2.3 times a day and ingests about 24 milligrams of the product. A heavy user goes through as many as 14 applications per day and ingests an average of 83 milligrams, the study said.

Average lipstick users, as determined by this study, already expose themselves to excessive amounts of chromium, which has been linked to stomach cancer. Heavy users of these products may also be overexposed to aluminum, cadmium and manganese, the study warned. Of these metals, manganese has been connected to toxicity in the nervous system.

“Lead is not the metal of most concern,” Hammond told USA Today.

She noted that the heavy metal is found in 24 of the products, but at levels considered to be safe for adults. However, exposing children to any amount of lead is considered unsafe.

“I believe that the FDA should pay attention to this,” said lead author Sa Liu, a UC Berkeley environmental health sciences researcher. “Our study was small, using lip products that had been identified by young Asian women in Oakland, Calif. But, the lipsticks and lip glosses in our study are common brands available in stores everywhere.”

In their conclusion, the authors said that tossing out these products may be premature, but the findings do demonstrate a need for more supervision by health regulators. There are currently no federal standards for metal content in cosmetics. The European Union considers cadmium, chromium and lead to be unacceptable ingredients in cosmetic products.

“Based upon our findings, a larger, more thorough survey of lip products – and cosmetics in general – is warranted,” Liu added.

In response to the study’s findings, Personal Care Products Council spokesperson Linda Loretz said finding trace amounts of metals in cosmetics needs to be put into a larger context.

“Food is a primary source for many of these naturally present metals, and exposure from lip products is minimal in comparison,” Loretz said in a statement.

She added that the trace amounts of chromium or cadmium found in the Berkeley study are less than 1 percent of the exposure people get in a typical diet.

Source: Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online


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Lethal Lips: Study Highlights Toxic Content Of Lipstick

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