Thirsty for a Fresh Take on All Things True Blood?

WELCOME! Thirsty for a fresh take on all things True Blood? Pull up a virtual barstool at the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern where sisters Rachel and Rebecca are serving up juicy feminist analysis with a twist and opening a vein of thoughtful sociocultural dialogue on HBO's hit series.

Like the epic literary salons of eras past - theaters for conversation and debate which were, incidentally, started and run by women; where the spirited debate about the issues of the day ran as copiously as the actual spirits did - but updated for the digital age, the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is a fun forum for exploring questions ripe for discourse about the human condition & today's most crucial social issues through the medium of True Blood.

Your salonnières are not peddling liquor per se, but they are offering up new and alternative ideas informed by such diverse influences as pop culture, art, music, cultural history, Goddess studies, transformative theory, literature and poetry, and archaeomythology, filtered through the sieve of their own lived experiences as feminist women of a particular age, background, and culture.

This is a space where you - patrons and passersby alike - can view and engage with these perspectives through the lens of True Blood and contribute your own thoughts. So, no matter if you're a Truebie or a more casual viewer of True Blood, or your drink of choice is a pomegranate martini - one of Rachel's favorite cocktails to drink and Rebecca's to mix - an herbal tea, a frothy double mocha latte, or a can of Fresca (wink, wink) you're invited to join the conversation on the show's complexities in a way that can spark transformation.

Hopefully you'll find something to sink your teeth...err...straw, into! PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY ;-)


The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is dedicated to exploring social issues and more through the lens of True Blood. As such, you may encounter:

related to the often provocative and adult themes presented by the show

If you choose to enter and participate in this virtual salon, please be prepared to do so in a thoughtful, respectful, and mature fashion with the above in mind. Click here to check out our comment policy. Thanks!


No copyright infringement is intended, all rights to True Blood belong to HBO, credit is ascribed to sites where images appearing here were originally found.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Feminism: The new F-Word?

"Girls can wear jeans
and cut their hair short
wear shorts and boots
'Cause it's OK to be a boy
But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
'Cause you think that being a girl is degrading
But secretly you'd love to know what it's like
Wouldn't you?
What it feels like for a girl."-Madonna lyrics from "What it Feels like for a Girl"

     What is it about certain words that makes people so angry? Feminism- seems harmless enough but say it out loud and run for cover! I'm not sure where or when this happened, I'm not even really sure why, but some how over the years this simple word has gone from being synonymous with inclusion and equality to exclusion and bitterness. Will someone fill me in on this, because I never got the memo....

    I posed a question to my friends on Facebook a few weeks back to see if my suspicions were correct. I needed to know what the average person really thinks about feminism and more importantly feminists. My question was simple "what is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "feminist". "Bitch" was the first response I received, "annoying" was another. "Uptight and oversensitive" yet another; all but one response was negative. I must say I was not in the least bit surprised at these answers. What did surprise me was that the majority of them came from women.

     Now, this is the part of the blog where I was going to dazzle you with my research and overall knowledge of the feminist movement, but sitting on my bed, surrounded by notes and figures it all just seems a little too term paper for my screw it! I'm shooting from the hip. For a more in depth analysis on the feminist movement and how it relates to our blog please see our stand alone page on the "Feminist Lens". If I am to be honest, I must say, I am a little disappointed. How have we allowed our sisters, daughters, grandchildren to think so negatively about a trail blazing group of women that made our lives what they are today? Without them we would not be able to vote, go to school, have a job, own land or any countless number of things we are able to do today, but as with most privilege take for granted. What disappoints me even further is that more women don't see this as a problem. We have turned on each other! We live in a society where it is more entertaining to tear each other down then lift each other up. Through no medium is this more evident than in the world of "Reality T.V.". Here the Court Jester is king and kindness and morality are viewed as weaknesses.
     Where have all our role models gone? Let's see.....we have "Bridezillas", remind me again how these women managed to get anyone to agree to marry them?, "The Real Housewives of "-(Insert affluent society here) with their plastic surgery and constant cat fighting I'm shocked they can use the word "real" any where near the title of this show, Vh1's "Rock of Love", "Flavor of Love", "Real Chance of Love", "I Love New York" mockery of the dating show franchise which teaches girls, you too can date someone rich and quasi-famous if you act trashy enough to avoid elimination. This is what we lift up? These are the women who we have as ambassadors to the cause? WE ARE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE!!! Do you mean to tell me  there is not one strong, intelligent, financially independent, philanthropic, classy young lady out there more worthy of our attention?

     To add more salt to the proverbial wound, I turned on MTV (a station notorious for celebrating the morally and sometimes mentally corrupt) the other day and they were airing a program called "The Buried Life". Having never seen the show before I decided to watch. The premise is simple, the program focuses on four young men as they check off items on their collective bucket list ( a list of things they wish to do or see before they die). This particular episode had the four men in Washington D.C. on a mission to play basketball with President Obama. Their intent was to prove that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. For fear of spoiling the ending (if you would like to watch for yourselves) I will not tell you the outcome. I will however say this, I am entitled to agree with their credo that nothing is impossible and I was delighted to see such an inspiring and positive reality show for once. This docu-drama reality genre has become popular with the MTV set and the new show "World of Jenks" is further proof. The show follows young film maker Andrew Jenks as he injects himself into the lives of various young adults in an effort to see the world through their eyes.

     I offer these two shows as evidence that today's "youth" can be hard working self-motivated and positive, my only concern comes in the form of  gender. While young men have the film makers of "The Buried Life" and "World of Jenks" to look up to, our young women are left to identify with the cast of "The Hills", "16 and Pregnant" or "Teen Mom". What kind of message is this sending our girls? On one hand we have young men going out and living their lives, the way they want to live, on the other hand we have women fighting over clothes, boyfriends, and the limelight while others are forced to grow up too soon and wish they had the time or the energy to fight over clothes, boyfriends and the limelight. THIS IS NOT OK!!!! We have allowed this to happen, we have allowed ourselves to be stereotyped and pitted against one another. We allowed this the second we decided to make feminism a dirty word. We allowed this to happen and we owe it to ourselves and each other to make it right! ~ Rebecca

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Latte, Acorn Bombs, and Shout Outs as I (Nay, We!) Eagerly Await Rebecca's Think Piece on Feminism

Pumpkin Spice Latte is my beverage of choice today which is not so unusual in the month of October, the month that cradles so many of my favorite wedding anniversary & birthday, Halloween, all things Fall i.e. pumpkin everything, apple picking, changing leaves, and a relatively new addition to the autumnal lineup: my annual "Shocktober Movie Marathon" which just so happens to be taking place today - it's that spine tingling moment of truth when our family members gather to support each other as one of us faces our film nemesis - the movie which above all others has singularly terrorized and haunted us.

In 2008 - the inaugural "Shocktober" year - it was Rebecca's "The Amityville Horror". Last year it was our father's laughable "Creature from the Black Lagoon". This year, it's my turn - and I'm finally facing "Candyman" which I haven't seen since the age of 15 when after watching it for the first (and only) time with a slightly sadistic boyfriend who repeated Candyman, Candyman, Candyman over and over on the short ride home from the movie theater I slept in my sister's room for about a week!

As I write this post I can hear acorn bombs dropping outside, making their characteristic "kerplunk" on whatever they hit - the aluminum roof of the shed, the cars in the driveway, the asphalt street. Did you know that for the ancient Druids, the oak tree was symbolic of deep wisdom? Meditating on this called up for me lyrics from rapper Jeru the Damaja's "You Can't Stop the Prophet", a song that begins with the protagonist peering into the sky, trying to decipher the object hurtling toward him, then announcing, "One day I got struck by knowledge of self" (Hardy, 1999).

Dropping knowledge, not the bombs of war...I like that! Reminds me of yet another song; have you ever heard Arrested Development's "Raining Revolution" off their 1992 Grammy-winning album 3 Years, 5 Month and 2 Days in the Life of ?

It's raining revolution
 It's raining solutions
The rain this time I feel is mental

The goal of this rain I feel is spiritual
If not, you are truly missing something! Rebecca and I had the privilege of seeing the band perform this past summer here on Long Island and it was one of the highest energy shows we have ever been to; it reminded us how great socially conscious and spiritually aware hip hop can be. You can check out part of this amazing song courtesy of YouTube user mdzura03:


Knowledge of self, and self-in-society, is critical to the change process. Autumn is a transitional time for reflection and introspection; as leaves fall and oak trees drop their knowledge on us we're reminded to turn inwards.

During these days of waning light and overflowing harvest cornucopias, what changes do YOU want to make - within yourself, and within society - since inner and outer change are inextricably linked? Can themes explored in True Blood help us identify some of the things that need changing in our lives and in the world?

I'd say are a few more pieces I'm brewing up along those lines for your reading (and hopefully commenting) pleasure; I lifted the titles for the first three from True Blood episode titles or lines of dialogue from Season 2 & 3:
  • "Pack of Wolves"
  • "There is NO Excuse for Domestic Violence"
  • "Take It To Him Tommy": Passage to Manhood through a Crucible of Violence
  • Paradigm Shift: Images of Holism in True Blood 
Now, I know we've got something very special and thought-provoking to look forward to in Rebecca's forthcoming think piece on feminism. How can I be so sure? We spent Friday night in NYC celebrating our friend Kristina's birthday with her (shout out to the birthday girl who told us she reads this blog even though she doesn't even watch True Blood!!!) - and reconnecting with another friend Michelle; plus I got to meet some great ladies Rebecca already knows like Nicole and Christie. On the train ride in, Rebecca revealed some of the elements she is scrupulously laboring to mix up into her tempting cocktail of a post - so I know it's going to be good, but we'll just have to...wait for it!

And on that note...I'm signing off for now. I've got to mentally prepare myself for the Candyman onslaught! Wish me luck. Until next time...

~ Rachel

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yes, Waiting Sucks...But It Sucks A Little Less Here At The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern!

It's only been a month since True Blood's Season 3 finale "Evil Is Going On" aired on September 12th, 2010, but if you're like us that's enough time to start feeling the effects of withdrawal.

Tell me, has the show's absence left you feeling such a sense of loss that you're going a little crazy... the point that you feel like screaming at the top of your lungs?

Has staring into the eight month abyss between now and Season 4's premiere left you feeling depressed and forlorn?

Do you find yourself looking for new friends to help you pass your empty Sunday nights?

Have the long hours spent up watching reruns given you a serious case of the bleeds?

Has the prospect of living without True Blood until June driven you so mad that you're thinking about taking your wrath out on others...

...Or left you so despondent that you're considering more drastic action?

If so - fear not, dear Truebies! You don't have to suffer alone - so drop that stake, step away from the sunlight, and for goodness sake get off that cult's bus!!! 

Here at the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern we've got the perfect antidote for what ails you...and no, we're not suggesting that you hit the hooch to drown your sorrows...

...Not literally, at least. Pull up a virtual barstool and we'll slake your thirst for True Blood with thought-provoking discussion and analysis on Seasons 1-3 of the show that describes as:
Just pretentious enough to avoid playing like grindhouse fare, letting its ideas (about race, gender, sexual orientation, what have you) simmer on the artsy-fartsy backburner while blood and lust boil away in the low-culture pot up front.
And calls:
...that odd mix of kitschy, campy, over-the-top ridiculousness and weighty, message-laden social commentary.
Alan Ball himself calls True Blood "popcorn TV for smart people", and we all know that salty foods can make one pretty darn thirsty. Why not spent the long months until Season 4 drinking up pieces like:
  • "Ain't I a Woman?": Protection, Privilege & Preferential Treatment
  • The Heroine's Journey: A Non-Linear Path
  • The Great Goddess in Bon Temps
  • True Blood Reenacts Persephone's Ordeal...or Initiation?
  • Annihilating HER Again: The Suppressed History of Goddess Culture's Violent Overthrow Resurrected
  • MINE
  • The Shifter's Tale: A Passing Narrative?
  • Good Girls, Bitches, Fang Bangers, & Powerful Women
  • An (Unlikely) Ecofeminist Philosopher
  • Real Girl Power: Sisters in Solidarity
  • A Series on Tomorrow's Man Today
Part I: The Liminal Man
Part II: A Wounded Warrior
Part III: Chivalry is Undead
Part IV: The Ladies Man...And It's Not Who You Think
Part V: The Ladies Man...And It Is Who You Think

These are just a few of the ideas we're distilling. Before we serve up any of these tasty libations we'll present a piece Rebecca's been mixing up on feminisim itself involving some informal research she's conducted on how everyday people see feminism and feminists; it will offer a great segue to a discussion of our feminist frame.

Here's a fun game...or a challenge, depending on how you look at it -  match the True Blood characters below to the essay titles above! Some are more obvious than others. For example: Maryann=The Great Goddess in Bon Temps (Hint - NOT the right answer). There can be more than one character matched with each title, and some charactrers might go with multiple titles. 




Good Luck!

Rebecca's up next with a discussion of feminism...hope you'll join in!

~ Rachel     

Saturday, October 2, 2010


As promised, here's a rundown on the tastiest droplets we sucked up over the course of the three True Blood panels during Dragon * Con 2010:

Friday, September 3rd 2010  

Rebecca already gave you an inside perspective on what it was like for us getting to our first highly anticipated True Blood panel after a night of sheer hell in the Dragon * Con membership badge gauntlet. Here's some of the information and insights we gleaned from that event:

Production/special effect tidbits:

  • Nelsan explained how they were able to film the "V trip" scene (which resulted in an altered state Sam Trammell suggested Nelsan had not yet come down from because he was so tired and jet lagged)during which Lafayette and Jesus encountered their ancestors who were, let's say, spiritual practitioners of various persuasions - . They had a camera strapped to them, and they were strapped together; they had to act from the waist up only and Nelsan hated every second of it, but in his words, it came out well.
  • Kristin likened the scenes during which vampires are moving at super speed to "a college or high school movie" - everyone else in the scene freezes and the actor portraying the vampire moves at normal speed. For instance, when Pam dropped off Eric's check to Sookie, Pam exited her house at super speed. A grip fanned Anna's hair as Kristin walked past her normally to insinuate Pam blowing past Sookie.
  • Kristin told Sam, "I have no idea how you do the shifting", Same replied, "we really shift", and an audience member called out, "show me!" Needless to say, that didn't happen.  
  • Kristin talked about how it was tough for her to learn to talk with her fangs in and that after days trying she asked Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton) how he fits the fangs in his mouth. He replied, "you just have to take the pain" Ah, words of wisdom for like in general, wouldn't you say?   
Behind the scenes insights:
  • Sam told the crowd that when he streaked through the woods during Season 1 and was seen by Andy and Terry from their fishing boat, he was actually running across land that had been owned by his ancestors. He said he had 13 relatives buried about a mile away and they were from the conservative side of the family, so he figured they were turning in their graves. P.S. his only wardrobe for the scene was a sock and tan jazz shoes.
Character development/story arc:
  •   Nelsan explained that Lafayette is "a concoction of my mother and sisters", so he hits close to home. He lifted mannerisms, do-rags, and more from his female family members, and they have definitely taken notice. His sister took him aside after watching the show and said, "so the hand thing (you know, when Lafayette outstretches his fingers like he's grabbing something in the air and then pulls back to punctuate a point); I do that. Did you steal that from me? I'll take a check!" Nelsan also said Lafayette is country; he himself is from Alabama so it's not such a stretch to get into that aspect of his character .
  • Kristin explained that Audrey Fischer, the True Blood costume designer, is responsible for about 50%of Pam as we see her brought to life on screen. Pam's trademark left eyebrow raise and eye roll - that she got from her mother.
  • Kristin can't imagine Pam becoming a maker (which Eric hinted at in Season 2 when it looked like he may not survive a showdown with Russell) because in her eyes Pam "can't stand needy" and is more likely to dole out "tough love"; not necessarily the best thing for baby vamps as we've seen with Jessica. She replied, "I'm not feelin' it" to the possibility of that plot twist. 
  • In response to the question, "what is it about your character that is like you", Nelsan responded that the fabric of every character is the actor who plays him or her; as far as he and Lafayette's similarities, he said LaLa's flow and swagger; "That's who I am, Lafayette is me with a feminine exterior"; the difference is in choice of bedfellows, but "he's basically me". The moderator asked Nelsan how his background as a former Marine and Julliard graduate inform him when playing Lafayette, and Nelsan deadpanned, "they don't". Then he backtracked, allowing that perhaps LaLa's toughness comes from his experiences in the Marines. 
  • To the same question, Sam replied that he is basically a private person, a lot like his character.
  • Kristin responded that she herself is a softy but that Pam's tough, still, everybody needs one person (they can be close to, for her it's Eric).
  • Nelsan shared that at first he didn't like the idea of Lafayette settling down with one "boy toy" (Jesus) in Season 3 since "Lafayette's a ho", but that Alan Ball wanted to explore a different side of LaLa and Nelsan is warming up to portraying his softer side.
  • Sam said he had the best time filming the second half of Season 3 since his character has gone "kinda off the rails"; the first season he spent pining after Sookie, so this is a dark turn for him - some of it has been more than he wanted, or felt comfortable with. For instance, something that both Rebecca and I thought reflected on the kind of person Sam Trammell is; during the scene where Sam Merlotte crashes into the restaurant fresh off his bender; hung over, agitated, and over-the-top belligerent, he was directed to yell "damn, you're ugly" at a female bar patron. Sam Trammell said he recoiled from this, asking if he really had to do it. He recounted how lovely a woman the actress was that he had to lash out at and how he really, really didn't want to do it but was told he had to. We thought about how cruel it was to have Sam Merlotte attack a customer who was virtually anonymous to him; she certainly hadn't done anything to harm him or to "deserve" it -  since assailing a woman's appearance, aside from impugning her sexuality (i.e. labelling her as promiscuous, a whore, a "dyke", etc.) is one of the most cutting attacks someone can level at her in our culture. The fact that that line - over the terrible insults Sam Merlotte hurled at Terry, his own brother Tommy, and even the highly offensive "bitch" comments he threw in Arlene and Holly's faces - bothered Sam Trammell the most, made an impression on us, suggesting that on an instinctive level he could sense its particular egregiousness.          
  • In response to the question "how much input do the actors have in the direction their character's story arcs take", the cast pretty much unanimously replied, "not much". 
  • Kristin said she really doesn't ad lib; Nelsan said he doesn't either. Sam begged to differ; he said Nelsan ad libbed quite a bit during table readings for Season 1 and Lafayette's dialogue was written incorporating some of this. Nelsan allowed that some of his phrasing has been part of Lafayette's "language"; Alan Ball wanted an actor who could ad lib because he himself was trying to "figure out who Lafayette was". 
  • Kristin explained that Alexander Skarsgard (Eric Northman) doubles as her dialect coach for scenes in which she has to speak Swedish; her husband tried to learn her Swedish lines with her and since his native tongue is Afrikaans the accent is a little similar.
  • In response to the question, "why can't Sam get any love", Sam responded that he picks the wrong people; waitresses who lead him to crucifixion, etc. He's not sure where that aspect of his storyline is going for Season 4 but he knows he will be doing some "very cool shifty things". He said "maybe he'll end up with Sookie" (Sorry Sam, not too likely). Nelsan interjected that when he watches Sam/Tara love scenes he thinks they "know how to do the do"; he sees them as having passionate, good chemistry. The audience seems to agree judging by their applause. Sam sheepishly replied, "I try to bring it, it's my job".
  • In terms of whether the cast reads the Southern Vampire series and how closely upcoming seasons will follow the Charlaine Harris books, we were told that Season 4 begins shooting in November. Nelsan has read 7 books, Sam has read 4, and Kristin said she read the first book while shooting Season 1, started to get confused, and figured the less she knows about the book storyline the better. However, her husband has read 4 books thus far.             
Random "who knew?" stuff:
  •  Kristin surprised the crowd by telling us that the cast sees the final edit of the show the same time as we do; Sundays at 9PM - in this way, she explained, "you can be a fan of the show AND on the show".
  • Talking about whether or not they would attend an event like Dragon * Con if they were not there in connection to their work on True Blood, Sam brought up the cast's recent appearance at Comic Con 2010; he let us in on the fact that Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica Hamby) went "under cover" at that events dressed as the little girl character from the film Kick Ass for 2 days before the True Blood panel ! Neslan said when he was first invited to appear at Comic Con he had never even heard of it before and wondered, "what do you do at a comic book convention? Read comic books to each other?" He said he would probably not attend such events if not for his love of rubbing elbows with fans and that he has had the opportunity to come face-to-face with cool people. Sam continued that he might attend to check out horror movie staff and that he especially enjoys Italian horror movies.
  • Someone asked the panel if their characters have effected the way the actors are in real life; we took the question to mean have the characters they portray made an indelible mark on the actors in any way; have they seeped into their everyday lives and personalities, but they panel responded this way: Sam said he doesn't have paparazzi chasing him in his car, but there are certain place where he knows he'll be recognized. Nelsan said it's hard to maintain anonymity; he joked that he can be in a bathroom stall and a fan will be standing outside telling him how much he really likes the show. Nelsan said he would day "thank you but can I finish before we continue our dialogue about True Blood? He also said he comes from a family of alpha males; he has 4 brothers, and they kind of rough him up (playfully) when they see his portrayal of Lafayette. His son incredulously says, "daddy?" when Nelsan's scenes play. 
  • Regarding fan attention, Nelsan said he is "a shy dude" and a lot of attention makes him embarrassed. Sam concurred. The moderator queried, "you're both stage actors, but you don't like it when people watch you?" Sam and Nelsan laughed that off, noting that attention for your craft and attention because you're a celebrity are different altogether. Kristin said it's wonderful to get compliments, but she doesn't really know how to respond. 
  • Apparently Nelsan's brothers have profited from his fame; they meet girls by telling them they are related to Nelsan. He cautions them not to bring these girls home, rather to take them to a hotel since he's concerned they will go through his stuff. Kind of joking, kind of serious on that score.
  • Sam's multi-talented; he plays guitar in between takes on set!  
  • The moderator asked what accounts for the success of the show, and someone in the audience yelled out, "it's not Twilight!". Nelsan wryly retorted, "I like that guy". One a more serious note, Kristin said the great thing about HBO is that as opposed to working in network TV, where the ad agencies and censors weigh in on everything, Alan Ball as creator and the writers are trusted in their vision and creative process and the cast gets huge support. The seed coming from Alan Ball is what they get to film, and that contributes to the high quality and production values of the show.        

back shortly...gotta take a no attention to the woman behind the curtain!

the great and powerful Oz...
...and you guessed it - the man behind the curtain 


OK, I'm back...

Saturday September 4th 2010

I must preface my rundown of Saturday's "True & A" by saying that - as you know - I've already detailed our subjective experiences of being in the question queue, posing our questions to the panel, and receiving their responses. Pretty much everything that happened before we returned to our seats has disappeared into the void - we can't connect the dots in terms of most of the questions asked prior to ours and responses given since we were quite preoccupied.  What I will do is summarize the key points that I was able to get down in my trusty note pad once I settled back into my seat, wiped my brow in relief, and returned to my senses.

I'll be back to do that since we will be leaving (my husband and I, that is) shortly to go to my parent's house to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  

...I'm back! Anniversary celebration was great, my husband Bobby and I spent a lovely evening with my parents and Rebecca over an amazing gourmet dessert spread that included  brûléed cheesecake, candies, homemade thumb cookies (you know, those melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookies with the indentation made by your thumb that holds warm jelly goodness - which, for some reason, whenever Rebecca and I make them together, erupt into what we affectionately call "volcano cookies"):

Volcano Goddess Pele; her energy is direct, volatile, and explosive!

So anyway, back to the "True & A", shall we? I think Rebecca and I agree that this second True Blood panel was the most compelling out of the three held at Dragon * Con. It's a shame that we weren't able to take more notes, but you can find panel footage on YouTube that should fill in the blanks. The diversity of questions posed to the panelists flowed from lighthearted and fun to serious and pointed, and we got to see a range of responses from Sam, Nelsan, Michelle, and Kristin that really displayed the warm, supportive, at-times amusing, and all-around positive dynamic they share as case members and people. Plus, this is the only panel Michelle was able to participate in since she was representing another show while at the convention as well.

Here's some of the content that stood out most for me after I asked my question of the panel:

Character development/story arc:

  • According to Nelsan, Lafayette's mother oppressed him as a child and at one point he decided he had to be him. He continued that it's good to have an anchor like a family; Lafayette didn't really have that. he had Tara, but that's it.
  • Sam said that Sam Merlotte's reconnection with his birth family was something he thought would allow him to go back and find a part of himself, "you think you're going to find you". But then...he also said it made him reflect upon what he had to do to survive when he was abandoned at 15 by his adoptive parents.
  • Kristin said there was a lot about Pam & Eric's relationship that was uncertain when the show started, i.e. were they lovers, how was she made, etc. She said after the writers wrote for the Eric/Godric story arc, they decided it would have been similar for Eric and Pam. According to Kristin, Pam is "so hard, but so loyal". She because quite emotional during her response at this point, revealing that Eric is Pam's one person; they have a father/daughter relationship.
  • Kristen also commented that Pam will dress for any occasion; she recalled the vampire trial scene from Season 1 and called her costume "Barbie safari, or Barbie's witch hunt", likening her wardrobe to the way little girls dress their Barbies for any contingency.
Random "who knew?" stuff:
  • Nelsan has written a play entitled, "Ugly" but since it is very personal it is not published and probably won't be. He still writes.
  • Kristin reintroduced herself to Nelsan on set when he was in full "Lafayette mode" since he was so markedly different from when she had initially met him, as himself. 
  • Some one asked which characters are the favorites of the cast members who were present. Their responses really highlighted to cast cohesiveness and the respect they have for each other and the supporting players. Nelsan said it goes back and forth for him but this season it's Sam, since he's become such a "bad mo 'fer". Sam said he's a big Andy Bellefleur fan, which drew applause from the crowd. Kristin said it switches nearly after every scene for her, but she did remark that "Ryan (Kwanten) is quite something" - which also drew applause - she said he's not at all like the character he portrays (Jason Stackhouse). Kristin said she used to be cast as a "dumb blonde" often, and it's not easy. Michelle responded, "Terry (Bellefleur) breaks my heart", and she also gave accolades to the actress that plays Hoyt Fortenberry's mom, she continued that the supportive cast really rounds out the show and makes it full bodied. Sam jumped back in by remarking that he was a "massive fan of Denis O'Hare" (Russell Edgington) before he joined the cast of True Blood and loves what he's brought to the show. Michelle also praised Marianna Klaveno's (Lorena) work. The appreciation the cast members present showed the supporting players was certainly echoed and reinforced by the crowd. 
Sunday September 5th 2010

We were a little disappointment that this panel did not adhere to the theme implied by it's title, "Sin and Salvation in Bon Temps". We think a themed discussion along these lines would have been so rich and juicy, but alas, the moderator conducted it as more of a second Q & A session.

This panel was prefaced by an announcement that last year's Dragon * Con blood drive had beaten Comic Con's, and as of 9/5/10 they had already "blown this year's Comic Con out of the water!" They were shooting to set a world record for the largest non-disaster related blood drive and were well on their way to hitting their mark. I guess that blood thirsty Maenad we photographed the day before had done her job, huh? We were glad to see humanitarian action being taken by so many at the event.

Here's my pictures of the maxed out ballroom and the panelists taking their places, from our position in the second row, right-of-center:

    Random" who knew?" stuff:
  • In response to the question on how they got involved in the show, Sam commented that in the run-up to casting, True Blood was a hot script in L.A. He really wanted to be part of the project because of Alan Ball and HBO. Kristin said she didn't know about the show in advance of reading for the role of Pam. She said the pilot was shot and then time elapsed waiting to see if the show would be picked up. then 2 more episodes were shot, and the writer's strike hit. Sam very diplomatically asked if there were any writers in the audience that might have been part of the walk-out, as Kristin continued that they didn't know if the show would come back online; she referenced this series of events as what gave the first season a "really choppy" feel for her. She shared that the rest of the cast knew each other for a year because of the writer's strike break between shooting before she joined True Blood for episode 4, but she personally couldn't miss the chance to work on a project that involved both vampires and Alan Ball. Nelsan honestly remarked that he needed his next job and didn't have another prospect at the time. He said the pilot was crazy to him, he didn't know where it would go but it came out great.
  • Sam divulged that he did impersonations of neighbors as a child but never dreamed of becoming an actor; he didn't go to the movies much, but was always a musician 
  • Kristin studied fine art in college (she offered that she still likes to draw), and was living in Boston selling jewelry when she visited L.A. and liked that she could potentially do her laundry in her building with machines that actually accepted your dollar bills instead of spitting them out if she were to move there. She went ahead and relocated and was approached on the street by someone who asked if she wanted to be in a movie. That's how she got her first extra work and this led to her foray into acting.
  • Nelsan grew up in a small Alabama town where they called movies "the theater"; there were, in his words, "no arts of any kind". His father thought acting was "the devil" and refers to what his son does as "you pickin' up them spirits". Kristin comically interjected, "has he seen the show?"; this drew giggles from the crowd. Nelsan said his father actually throws blessing oil at the screen. This sure does seem to open a window of insight on what appears to be a tense relationship between father and son; perhaps some of this air of conflict spills onto the screen in LaLa and his dabbling in indigenous and alternative forms of spirituality? 
  • When asked if they pay attention to what's going on online and in the new media around True Blood, Kristen related that during the first season's run she googled Pam and found several pages of hits; this was reassuring to her but a voice in her head said "walk away". Of course she didn't. She found some content on the web that was complimentary and some...not so much. Sam interjected that for the most part as actors they never remember the positive things they read about themselves and their work in the media, only the negative, so in a sense it's better to keep away. Nelsan said Rutina Wesley (Tara Thornton) hooked her into looking online for information about his character. He found that during the first season, people were really ripping into LaLa and Tara on the Internet; they treated the cousins almost as one entity and often characterized them as jesters; this was enough to dissuade Nelsan from poking around online too much regarding the show. Hopefully these less-than-positive experiences won't keep cast members away from the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern, since we're serving up a fresh and different kind of take on the show! 
  • Kristen told a really amusing story about how she met her husband; because her anecdote goes into a lot of personal detail we'd rather not retell it here but I'm sure you can find footage of it on YouTube if you're really curious; suffice it to say that we may have to start using some of her admitedly stalkerish tactics in our outreach efforts to the True Blood creative team pursuant to this blog, the letter we sent to the National Organization for Women (NOW) in response to their critique of the show, and the paper I am preparing for the academic conference "Vampires: Myths of the Past and the Future" to be held at the University of London next year ;-) 
  • Oh his Julliard studies, Nelsan said it showed him how to be a disciplined actor and how to prepare for a role and read a script; he feels he would not be a sustainable actor without this formal training.
  • Nelsan has the ultimate respect and admiration for Alan Ball as the man at the helm of True Blood; he calls Mr. Ball, "A god among men"! 
  • In response to the question, "what's your favorite line (of dialogue) on the show", Sam giddily replied, "smite me m 'fer!!!". Nelsan said his favorite was actually one of Bill's from Season 1, "I can smell the sunlight on your skin"...aahhh, still gives me the chills, too!
  • On the subject of what they like to do for fun, Nelsan told us he's a big slam poetry buff' he likes to listen to it and perform it (with some drinks), he half-joked, "I like to drink, I'm sorry!" Well then, Mr. Ellis, come on down to the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern! Sam shared that even though he's a Southern guy and Appalachian at heart, he likes surfing - he'll get up at 4:40 or 5AM and drive out to the beach to paddle out into the cold, dark water. Thank you, Sam Trammell, for helping Rebecca finally truly grasp a central gem of meaning at the heart of one of our favorite songs by one of our favorite bands, Third Eye Blind's "Motorcycle Driveby" - the allure surfing holds for its dedicates and the pull the ocean exerts on them that it expresses!
  • Kristin deeply enjoys nature, doing things like hiking, being around trees (I can relate to that!) and painting, something she calls, "the opposite of acting". When shooting True Blood there is enormous structure, with her art, she's on her own and it's sink or swim.              

Behind the scenes insights:

  • The panelists divulged that the cast learns from each other and benefits from the different kinds of actors and people who are on set. Kristin likened this to the experiences of athletes; "if you play with someone really good it ups your game". She said Denis O'Hare is an "astonishing man to do a scene with".
  • Lafayette was supposed to just be a recurring characters, after the pilot he was upgraded to series regular. Nelsan didn't know LaLa would survive into the second season until the table read for the 12th episode (Season 1 finale); Sam interjected that he knew there was no way Lafayette would be dying, but Nelsan himself wasn't so sure until Alan Ball informed him, "you know we're not killing you, right?" I think I speak for all of us when I say THANK GOODNESS! 
  • The panel referred to the second season as the litmus test for whether the show would make it and really bound the cast together as an ensemble. 
  • Sam feels the show becomes less artistic when they don't have enough time to make it good (OK, OK, we'll stop whining about how much waiting sucks. Maybe. But we're not in control here, we all know True Blood's devilishly crafty marketing department makes us do it!)
  •  Kristin feels like working on True Blood is like shooting a movie, not filming for TV. 
Character development/story arc:
  • Nelsan called himself a "big old thief"; he steals from cast mates all the time, he thinks to himself, "I'm gonna flip that and use it" when he sees a performance he particularly appreciates from his peers. 
  • Of the transition in Sam Merlotte's personality, Sam reiterated that we really don't know a lot about his character's life from age 15 until he first appeared in Bon Temp (and neither does he!); he confessed to being a little envious of the flashback scenes that were enacted by the actors who plays the younger Sam - he likes the flashbacks because they fill some of the gaps in his character's backstory for him.
  • Nelsan wasn't initially a fan of LaLa's PTSD storyline; he thought to himself, "where's the fun Lafayette" but eventually came to see hat it was good to explore other sides of his character. He was told in no uncertain terms by True Blood writer Alexander Woo that "every character has to get flipped" on the show. 
  • In terms of their wishes for Season 4, Kristin wants to see Pam in a flashback scene that would involve period clothing. Sam would like to see his characters get some "decent lovin'"; "a healthy relationship with a woman would be good".
  • The actress who plays Lafayette's mom (Alfre Woodard) has another job lined up for next year that doesn't want to share her; she was supposed to appear in more scenes during Season 3 than she did also because of schedule conflicts, so Nelsan is not sure how LaLa's storyline with his mom will play out. 
  • During a pretty comical exchange between Sam and Nelsan about whether a shifter can be "turned", Sam said he thinks being a shifter and a vampire would be "greedy".  
  • Regarding True Blood's political undertones, Kristin feels it can create conversation; she doesn't know that it changes things directly, but she feels this aspect of the show gives it depth and layers. She suggested that the King of Mississippi's viewpoints on the earth and how human activity is degrading it (think back to his rant when he went "medieval" on TV) are arguably correct. She feels that show casts light on discrimination, and in this way is "really smart". Nelsan spoke about how the show illustrates different forces who live in the same place that have to learn how to live together whether they life it or not; Kristin interjected, "that's earth". Bon Temps as microcosm, here here to that, I say!  
  • Sam likes to be able to get away from his character during the hiatus and come back fresh; Kristin concurs but did allow that after talking about Pam for three days at Dragon * Con he was starting to miss her! Nelsan says that although his character tends to linger within him, he prefers to leave Lafayette on set. He threw the question back to his cast mates, "does that happen to y'all; does the character live in your bones?" Kristin responded, "sort of", that Pam is "living there somewhere"; in the sense that after she shoots a scene or when she's watching the show she'll run over how she could have done things differently in her head.
  • Kristin describes Pam as pansexual; in her 100+ years she has been with men, Eric being one of them. 
Nelsan had the final word of the day; his remarks effectively capped off three days of True Blood panels at Dragon * Con.

He stated that he would like to see the show end before the last book in the Southern Vampire series is released. He'd like to make the last book into a movie. I for one certainly don't object to True Blood on the silver screen, how about you?

~ Rachel