Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Celebrity Passings - Less is More

The year is coming to a close, as well as the decade, and if there is one thing I think we'll remember about pop culture this year it will be the significant number of icons, celebrities and the like the pop culture community lost. The summer alone experienced grieving Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze, Farrah Fawcett, Walter Cronkite and Ed McMahon to name a few. I thought the surreal trend had come to an end until this past Sunday when I got word that Brittany Murphy had also passed. I really liked Murphy and always enjoyed seeing her in her films.

All of the losses this year are significant and make an impact, if you ask me. However, today I've noticed that now it's different. When Heath Ledger died in 2008, I had a very different reaction. I can still remember where I was when I heard the news and feeling such remorse for this person I had never met. Maybe the news hit so hard knowing that one of his greatest (if not THE greatest) role would play on without him with us. Still, I've noticed recently that I haven't felt as much of an impact for the passings this year.

I mean no disrespect, of course. All of the icons we lost this year left a significant stamp on pop culture (personally, when I heard about Cronkite that hurt the journalist in me the most). But I can't help but feel that it's beginning to feel like the norm. Maybe the difference is that I'm almost two years older and more equipped to deal with this kind of death than I was in '08. Who knows. One thing I do know is that I hope 2010 won't bring an end to as many (if not any) entertainers and icons.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bobby's Top Ten TV Shows of 2009

10. Merlin
After an average, formulaic, solid first season, Merlin's second series (season here in the States) has taken a step up and becomes even more dangerous for all characters. The characters are getting more depth, and Merlin and Arthur are both LESS whiny. YAY!

9. Modern Family
This show seems to be everyone's favorite new comedy...understandably. The dry, natural humor of a dysfunctional family makes for perfect relation to the audience. There's no way to not love every character in their own quirky, idiotic ways. The kids Manny and Alex, including the lovable child-like Phil, steal every scene. How can you not love a show that does that?

8. Big Bang Theory
Big Bang Theory continues to shine as it showcases its goofy nerds. And it turns out that people love nerds! Thanks for accepting us nerds into your TVs, America. I love the developing relationship between Sheldon and Penny. It's ridiculous and brilliant at the same time. "Nice kitty, soft kitty, little ball of fur."

7. Dollhouse
It's too bad that Dollhouse was not renewed because it continually got better. Why, Fox, why? At least it was given a second chance. Dollhouse is now addicting and maybe my favorite show at the moment. It's crazy, unstable, twisty, and very Whedonesque.

6. Legend of the Seeker
Legend of the Seeker is Bad. Ass. You all know my love for Kahlan/Bridget Regan. But the second season shows her badassery off even more. And the lines between good and bad get blurred, as Richard inherits the throne of the Midlands from his villainous brother Darken Rahl, but Richard increasingly shows his dark side. We actually see the dark side of all the characters, except for maybe Kahlan who is the most rational, fair person, which is good since she is the Mother Confessor, judge of the Midlands. And there's the addition of the wonderful, and beautiful, Tabrett Bethell as former Mord S'ith Cara.

5. Battlestar Galactica
What a way to end the show. It was a bit direct on the final scene, but I wouldn't expect anything less from a show that so blatantly criticized religion, government, technology, society, among other things. The latter half of the last season was bone-chilling and intense. Blood on the Scales...HOLY CRAP!!! Roslin's speech to the mutinous Zarek was one of the best, if not the best, speech from the entire series. I'm not one to talk to the television or cheer or any of that, but I stood up and cheered Roslin. And then I orgasmed a bit. The finale was a nice, satisfying goodbye to the characters we so loved and enjoyed, and still the goodbyes are mysterious.

4. Glee
Glee is the breakout hit of the year, and it really induced our salivary glands when the pilot aired, making us want more immediately, but that more didn't arrive a long time. And the arrangements and cast made me love pop songs that I thought I'd never even tolerate. I hate Rihanna's music, but I loved Rachel's/Lea Michele's version of "Take a Bow." And I can't wait for Matthew Morrison's forthcoming album.

3. Party Down
I absolutely love this show; of course I would, because it's from the same creator as Veronica Mars, and the cast is even shared. And the guest stars are off the wall ridiculous, just as ridiculous as the employees of the catering business. And next season we have Megan Mullally joining the cast in place of Jane Lynch, who will briefly reprise her role to wrap it up. So much stupidity in one show and only two rational, sane characters.

2. Parks and Recreation
As I've stated before, this show has increased in quality, surpassing The Office, I think. I don't think I need to repeat myself, so I'll stop.

1. Better Off Ted
By far the best and most unwatched show of the year. It didn't help that it was a summer show going against stupid reality shows. The hilarious Veridion Dynamics commercials embedded in the show are definitely the highlights. I'm a fan of adorable characters, and this show has a lot of them.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bobby's Favorite Seasonal Tunes

Here's What I'm listening to this holiday season to get me in the festive mood!


"Baby, It's Cold Outside"
versions: Jim Hanft and Samantha Yonack; June Carter Cash and Homer & Jethro; Zooey Deschanel and Leone Redbone
Hanft and Yonack bring a contemporary, modern edge to the now-classic song. It's fun and light. But not as fun and light as June Carter Cash and Homer & Jethro singing the song, mixing the words to add a drunken humorous quality. "I'll take your hair, your hat looks swell." And of course, Zooey Deschanel and Leone Redbone singing the song from the Elf soundtrack is rich in distinctive vocals.

"Here We Come A-Wassailing"
Kate Rusby
Kate Rusby's version of this song is probably the best I've ever heard. The soft, ethereal voice matches perfectly the Celtic-tinged folk tune.

"A Christmas Duel"
Cyndi Lauper and the Hives
I love this, edgy, rock song, almost the opposite of "The Twist of Magii." Cyndi Lauper's vocals add a definitive flare that makes the song stand out to other holiday songs. And it's rather dirty.

"It's Christmas So We'll Stop"
Frightened Rabbit
Very Frightened Rabbity. I love my Scottish rock bands. There's no reason you can't listen to this all year round either.

"Christmas Songs"
Foxes!
An interesting way to combine all elements of traditional Christmas songs. Definitely worth checking out.

"Frosty's Beach Party"
Barbary Coasters
I love this throwback to the 60's/70's, recreating the Beach Boys and other surfer bands. I'm a fan of fun holiday songs, and this is definitely one of the most fun. Don't fret, readers; Frosty's beach party will not cause him to melt because it's in winter.

"Silent Night"
Glasvegas
I love Glasvegas. That is all.

"Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis"
Neko Case
I love Neko Case, and, really, how can you not love a song entitled this????

"Deck the Halls"
version by Beverley Mahood
Former member of the country group Lace, which covered "The Christmas Shoes" beautifully, released a country Christmas album, and this is highlight, with intricate soft vocals and a flute. Strange, but it works.

"O Holy Night"
Theoretical Girl
I absolutely love this version, the harmonies are soft and airy, unlike most versions where vocalists show off their powerful voices. It's a nice change of pace.

"Auld Lang Syne"
versions by Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis
I found it odd that this was in the Sex and the City movie. It just doesn't seem to fit, as this song is very traditonally Scottish. I don't hear many recorded versions these days that use the traditional Scots-English language that Burns write it as. Rather many artists modernize it. Maybe it's my love of the Scots-English language and traditional folk tunes, but I love this one, and it appeals to all audiences with a soft angelic melody.

Holiday Albums by Patty Loveless (Bluegrass & White Snow); Rhonda Vincent (Beautiful Star); SHeDAISY (Brand New Year); Tori Amos (Midwinter Graces); Enya (And Winter Came); Loreena McKennitt (A Midwinter Night's Dream)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cheaters Never Prosper

*blogger's note: this post is not about Tiger Woods*

We love Glee here at Nerdy Pop and Wednesday's fall finale did not disappoint. There were great performances both musical and acting wise, but that's not what this post is about.

For months while watching the show I've been rooting for Will and Emma while hoping that when they finally did get together it would be without encouraging infidelity. Call me a prude, but I tend to get annoyed when television shows or movies have two characters come together romantically when one or both are in a serious relationship; no matter how compatible. Maybe it happens often outside of TV Land, but I want my shows to represent to me the ideal.

So, let's take a look at how Glee has handled some story lines that thankfully took the high road.

• Will and Emma
This is the obvious one. From the first episode it's been clear that these two belong with each other, but a marriage and engagement stood in their way. Kudos to Glee writers for bringing these two together after taking care of the dysfunctional, yet exclusive relationships they were both in.



• Quinn and Puck
It ain't neat to cheat kids and thank goodness Glee sends this message so well. Here's what happens when you take up with your b/f's bff and become his baby mama: you lose your boyfriend, your parents, your popularity and you get slushie in the face.

• Finn and Rachel
It's still unclear after the fall finale what will happen with these two. For me, that's a good thing. Viewers need something to root for now that Will and Emma are together, so come April I'll be right there waving my Rachel + Finn flag high when the show's spring premiere airs.

I don't know about you nerds, but this Gleek can't wait too see what this show has in store for the spring. And that's how Sally C's it.

Why Parks is currently funnier than The Office

The Office seems more like an awkward drama these days than a dry, awkward comedy. While it declines, just like Rome's empire, Parks and Recreation takes it place as the empress of Thursday night TV. The dialogue is less forced and now flawlessly hops between possible improv and cleverly-crafted concentrated scripts. Plot and jokes fit well together.

While it seemed first season that Leslie Knope (Poehler) was a carbon copy of Michael Scott with a vagina, she has since changed directions as a bumbling idiot. Leslie now acts as a prominent female political leader, on the same status as Hilary Clinton, Condy Rice, and Janet Reno. But she hold her own status too high? I don't think anyone actually cares if she goes out on the town and replaces her blood with pure alcohol or hires male prostitutes. But she takes the high road (usually). She has heart and tries to do the right thing, like cover for Tom in shooting Ron. While she is actually intelligent, sharp, witty, and resourceful, it seems those around her are more buffoonish than her now. She really is respectful, and I'd totally marry that.

I'm also glad to see the minor characters getting more screen time, which is something The Office is not doing. Donna and April are my favorites on the show, and their few lines make the entire episodes for me. The Venezuelan delegates lust for Donna was refreshing and hilarious at the same time because of her reaction. And my favorite parts from her were from my favorite episode "Hunting Trip," where she throws herself on her car in agony and despair, where we think she was shot or someone in the car was. But the windows we shattered by a gun, and when Leslie confesses to doing it, Donna tackles her! I laughed for minutes about that. Never saw that coming.

April's (Aubrey Plaza) lines of flat delivery are always welcome. She is so unhappy to be there, but on the bright side: she has a job. I don't think she even knows what her job is though, which makes it even better. She knows she's smarter than everyone else, but she doesn't flaunt it. She wants to partake in the crazy schemes and is often left out.

Previously I hated Andy Dwyer (Christ Pratt) and thought him unfunny and annoying and really wanted him gone. But now, he's a lovable goof that doesn't see the good things in front of him.

Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider) is the only one I'm still indifferent towards. His character is flat and not funny. Even his lady friend Ann (Rashida Jones) is the most rational of the bunch and is funnier.

Ron Swanson is delightfully awkward, and you never know what you'll get form him. The episode with his ex-wife (Megan Mullally) was crazy-hilarious as she plays Jerry and Leslie. We find out more and more about him each episode.

We finally find out why Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) has a model-esque wife, and it's disappointing, but now we understand why he hits on other women. We still get lots of depth from his adorable and often inappropriate character.

I ALWAYS feel terrible for Jerry (Jim O'Heir), but it still makes me laugh. His only lines are thwarted by the rest of the crew when they make fun of him. The most we got out of his character was the hunting episode, which I think was a great character episode (which I think Poehler improvised during her interrogation).

While supporting cast members fade into wallpaper in The Office, Parks and Recreation makes use of their supporting cast characters.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Superhero Sightings!

Superheroes are everywhere these days, almost a reality. I expect someone to fly over me at any moment when I walk out my door. Let's take a look at recent shows revolving around superheroes:

No Heroics
ABC declined the American pilot, but the British version is successful and HILARIOUS! It's about the love lives (more sexual lives) of superheroes. The core setting is a bar where "capes" hang out off-duty. In this world, heroes are celebrities, and this follows the lives of a group of B-lister friends. A competition is played among the capes at the bar, where for each news report about one of the capes, they get a tally. There is an ongoing tally of news reports for each hero, and the most popular jerk of a hero Excelsor tops the list. The cast includes Electroclash, a technopath and loose-moralled bitch; The Hotness, a bumbling idiot ex-boyfriend of Electroclash that controls heat; Timebomb, the token gay dangerous (and questionable) hero that can see thirty seconds into the future and works for hire; and She-Force, the third strongest woman on earth and incredibly sweet and naive.

Heroes
Even though it's gone downhill, and I'm no longer watching, the premise was an X-Men rip-off and worked well onscreen. Let's just get a live-action X-Men series instead. That way we don't get crappy movies that try to fit too much in. Heroes has taken all ages of powered folk, but none of them are relatable or admirable other than maybe the now-annoying Claire. They're all devious and destructive and stupid.

Misfits
Another British superpower show, but this time, the main characters are troubled young adults who are doing community service. Each character is noticeably different, and their powers reflect their personality. The guy who can time travel wants to go back and change the past. When the girl who craves male attention is touched by a man, he cannot help but ravage her. The boy who is lost in life doesn't know what his powers are. The boy who often goes unnoticed and doesn't speak much has the power to turn invisible. The girl who wants to know how her boyfriend really feels about her ends up having telepathy. All in all a good show!

Fringe
A modern X-Files. Not a fan. I tried. It's formulaic and just like other detective shows, but with victims with superpowers of sort.

Sanctuary
A recent episode included a superhero that could fly, had superstrength, and could deflect blows. But it was the workings of an abnormal. I guess you could even say the good abnormals are superheroes.

Then I can't count the outrageous amount of movies and books about superheroes, but I shall give some examples.


Movies:

Confessions of a Superhero
Documentary that follows the lives of three people who dress as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman for tips.

Superhero Movies
Fantastic Four, Watchmen, X-Men, Spider-Man, Hellboy, Batman, Hulk, Iron Man, Superman, Wolverine....


Books:

Black and White by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge
Hero.com/Villain.com by Andy Briggs
Hero by Perry Moore
So many others......

Monday, November 23, 2009

Feminist Feature: The Missing

Cate Blanchett, Evan Rachel Wood, and Jenna Boyd play a family of strong females in Ron Howard's The Missing. While the movie does play off some stereotypes of Native Americans (which I hate) only for certain characters, I love the feminist nature of it. Cate plays Maggie, the local doctor who’s lost her lover to Native Americans selling white girls as sex slaves in Mexico. Not only that they’ve taken her daughter Lilly for that very reason. Lilly is tired of working on the farm, doing hard labor and going without luxuries that all the city girls have. But her farm training ends up helping her during the kidnapping. She shows her strong nature in supporting the other kidnapped teenage girls and trying to help them escape. Dot displays similar personality features as her mother, and she actively seeks knowledge and can handle herself in a fight. She knows what to do in a sticky situation.

While the feminist aspect is a strong theme in the film, the theme of religion and faith come into play, as two opposing faiths learn to interweave with each other through character interactions and necessities. Healing also takes on the role of Native religion and Christian doctoring. You guys! this movie is intense!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crazy Cancellations: jPod

Maybe Canadian producers should’ve tried to sell their shows to American stations, like The IT Crowd on BBCA and Merlin on NBC. If they had done so with jPod, perhaps this dark, dry comedy would’ve survived. The show’s alumni now appear often in Canadian-friendly shows, often sci-fi, such as Battlestar Galactica and Psych. The show, based on Douglas Copeland's creative novel jPod, is about a group of video game designers, tucked away in the basement of an office building, in which they are not in contact with the rest of the company. For some reason the most crucial workers are unknown to everyone. It’s kind of like the IT Crowd but even dryer and incredibly dark and twisted. It definitely revolves around sex, secrets, and misunderstandings…and probably stupidity. And there's lots of marijuana-related jokes and scenes.



The characters were mysterious with shady pasts and complicated childhoods, but you begin to understand them episode by episode, especially after seeing their parents. Characters were diverse and incredibly interesting as backgrounds and secrets were revealed. Cowboy (Benjamin Ayres): the ladies’ man who often goes shirtless. John Doe (Torrance Coombs): the virgin man seemingly as general as his name, but is far from it. The normal…ish Ethan (David Kopp) with crazy-ass parents (played by Sherry Miller and Alan Thicke). Kaitlin (Emilie Ullerup): the young woman who used to work for Mac and is from the U.S., but keep it on the DL because her co-workers don’t know. Brie (Steph Song): the germophobic badass lady who loves gore…and sex. Then there’s their incompetent boss who knows nothing about video games, but wants to make the perfect video game for his son…minus the violence the team was originally making…and minus the humans…because his son likes turtles…and minus the gore. So the video game slowly morphs into something that it never was. Essentially jPod had to make a new game from scratch.

Here's the deal: the series is on DVD, but it's rare. And it's faulty. One of the episodes when played goes back to the menu. Not cool. But they're not bothering releasing it with corrections due to lack of interest. But how often have things been released to video/DVD and they have had major success in that form when not in theaters or TV. I only begin to hear about amazing things when they're off air.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Geek Chic: Hoop Skirts



Ladies, start walking the beaches in search of those whale bones! We’re going to bring back whale bone corsets and combs! I know they’re uncomfortable, but to look good, you have to feel terrible. I’m kidding, of course. But I do have a fascination for hoop skirts on the ladies. I don't care about the femininity of it; I only like the way it moves. It's fun...like a bell ringing. I think they could come back in style for formal evening wear. In most places, they would get in the way, but think about going to a ball where the ladies wear hoop skirts and the menfolk wear top hats! BRILLIANT! Colonial-style clothing was in just a few years ago, with ruffles and lacey shirts with floral print patterns. It can happen again. Even corsets came back with Amy Lee wearing them like she was a badass, but in reality, she sucked and did nothing to prove her badassness except sing fairly well, which doesn’t qualify you in a doctorate degree of badassery. Anyway, I think the 1800s style is coming back, especially with the vest-wearing and stylish caps for men and rimmed hats for women.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Crazy Cancellations: Pushing Daisies


Sally and I finally got around to watching Pushing Daisies. I never picked up on it when it was on, well, frankly, because it seems it was doomed from the start. No matter how many commercials I saw and positive critical reviews, I think it hit the screen at the wrong time. They came in supposedly having 13 episodes scheduled, and then the writers strike happened, and the final 4 were cut. Then the second season happened. Maybe people forgot about it after nearly a year absence. Usually we only have to wait 4 months, but about 10 months sucks. From Fuller's genius mind of Dead Like Me-ness and Wonderfall-ness, comes this brilliant fairy tale noir crime show.

So let's talk about the scenery first. It's oddly dark, yet vibrant at the same time. The city is like that of old noir films or Batman's Metropolis, but then bright colors of green, orange, red, and yellow contrast the dull darkness. It seems like it's straight out of a storybook. It's a mix of the old and the future. Cars and buildings are antiquated. But it supposedly takes place around 2025, I'm assuming, since Chuck and Ned were born in the 1990s. Wardrobe is retro-inspired, anywhere from 1920s through 1960s. And the idea of a pie store called The Pie Hole is adorably 1950s.

Now let's move onto the characters and actors. Oh. My. Lordy. Every single character is lovable and adorable beyond belief. Ned, played by Lee Pace, is perhaps the most adorable adult man ever (hence my mancrush on him). When Ned gets shy or awkward or embarrassed, he blushes and looks down and his shoulders shrink into his body. It's adorable. ADORABLE, I SAY! Lee Pace does a fantastic job at making this character lovable, a character who has lost so much in his life and is afraid to attach himself to anyone. When he lies, his eye twitches. Adorable? Yup. Ned has the power to awaken the dead for one minute before something else dies of similar size in proximity. And those the things that revives, like Chuck and his dog Digsby, he can't touch or they die again. Unfortunately these are the two things he now loves most. How sad!

Kristin Chenoweth. That should be all I need to say, but I won't. She's brilliant. She's her. She's godsent. She plays the character Olive Snook, who is and has been in love with Ned. She might be certifiably insane, but, damn, is she hilarious, especially in the second season when she becomes sidekick to the private detective. She also breaks out into song when overwhelmed with emotion. One includes a duet on "Birdhouse in Your Soul."

Charlotte "Chuck" Charles, played by Anna Friel, is Ned's childhood crush, and she dies in the first episode, but he wakes her up. And allows her to live. This has repercussions throughout the series. Her clothes are always super fantastic, complete with hair bows and ribbons.

Chi McBride's private investigator Emerson Cod also has an adorable quirk: knitting. He likes to knit sweater vests! He adopts Ned as his sidekick in investigating deaths. And then he adopts Chuck, as she tags along with Ned everywhere he goes. He's not keen on that until the second season, but he is keen on Olive joining him. And they make an adorable couple, which I would've loved to see, but it didn't happen.

Chuck's aunts are played by Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene, and you couldn't ask for better casting for a series. Together these two are a retired synchronized swimming duo The Darling Mermaid Darlings. Kurtz's Lily is a drunken hardass, and Greene's Vivian is adorably sweet and naive.

The guest stars galore, especially second season, have you stoked and squealing in excitement, like Molly Shannon, Fred Willard, and loads of others.

The writing is witty, snappy, and intelligent. It's not natural dialogue, but the relationships are, which is what makes it relatable. But the dialogue is brilliantly different. It's fresh, like a good apple, not the cardboardy mushy apples that I hate. The crisp apples that have that piercing sweet and sour taste that lasts on your tongue.

And best of all, you want to eat a lot of pie with a side of coffee after watching it.

But on a little brighter side...the third season (or the rest of the second seasons, if you will) will be in the form of a comic book! Bryan Fuller has already submitted a script for the first issue and the next two should be coming in soon. So hopefully we'll see the first issue by the summer of 2010 (if Daisies doesn't return to the screen by then, which it would be a nice summer show anyway).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME ACTION?!




DON'T FORGET TO WATCH TONIGHT!!!! WGN! Check local listings! It's a two-parter, airing the season finale of season 1 and the premiere of season 2 back to back!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bah Humbug

Disney's A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carey, releases today in theaters. Anyone else think it's too soon? Last weekend the streets were filled with ghosts, hobos and the like and now we're being invaded by Father Christmas himself, a few days shy of three weeks before Thanksgiving.

I'm a holiday fan and no Scrooge, so don't get me wrong. It's actually because I love holidays so much that this upsets me. Granted there are few Thanksgiving movies, but really people? Poor Thanksgiving once again being overshadowed by Christmas. You couldn't release the movie that weekend? I'd even be okay with the Wednesday before Turkey Day, but the first weekend in November is too soon.

I plan to see this film as I adore the Christmas Carol story and any adaptation I can get my hands on, but I won't see it until the actual Christmas season begins (November 27). Who's with me, nerds?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nerdtastic idea!

When you go home today or before good TV comes on, watch your favorite movie while cooking dinner, finishing up work, exercising, whatever! But there's a catch, watch it with commentary. I'm surprised by how many people don't watch commentary. It seems only my nerdy friends do so. Sometimes the commentary is hilarious depending on the people recording it. Most often it's informative, especially if it's a director and/or a writer. You see aspects of a movie you never noticed. You'll understand how the film-making process occurs form different points of view.

I just finished watching/listening to Little Women's commentary by Aussie director Gillian Armstrong. Incredibly fascinating! I had to watch it rather than just listen, which you can normally get away with and do other things, but she was so specific to each scene and detail that I had to watch. She's very informative of what it was like working with the cast, how they came to even greenlight this movie and why they did certain things rather than stick to the book at certain things. Yes, I love Little Women! This is the feminist feature guy! And it seems at the comment I'm the only blogger...hooray! I'm sorry for those who read it not for my psychotic ramblings but for the sophisticated stylings of Sally or Bogie.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 1--El laberinto del fauno


Guillermo del Toro’s absolute genius magical realism film Pan's Labyrinth is a fairytale that simultaneously occurs in the harsh reality of a violent World War II. In reality the lost princess forgets her way and is in danger by her villainous step-father. Best performance by a child actor…ever. Ivana Baquero shines as she goes one step further than Natalie Portman ever did as a child. And Doug Jones gives the character performance of a lifetime, without ever showing his true face. Poor guy AND lucky guy. He can walk down the street without anyone knowing who the hell he is. I had the fortunate chance to talk to him a while at the Mid-Ohio Con last year, and he was the most sociable, personable, affectionate celebrity (maybe....?) I've met. He loves hugs, and his legs are very chickenish. He's proud of his roots and doesn't forget them. You guys! You can't see it, but I'm raising a glass to del Toro in his future endeavors, surely being awesome!

Side note: Look for motifs of images, symbols, colors, etc. It's fascinating how del Toro ties everything together.

“I'm not some old man! Or a wounded prisoner! Motherfucker, don't you dare touch the girl. You won't be the first pig I've gutted!” -Mercedes (Maribel Verdu)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

DVD Review: Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

If you've never watched the re-imagined BSG, do not watch this first. Actually this should be watched last of all things because it would ruin so much of what makes BSG great the first time around.

Sooooooo this was a little disappointing. I think it could've been better. EJ Olmos, come on! I think the writing was great. Although I do wonder if Jane Espenson wrote in her script "ZOOM IN ON NAKED PENIS." Not sure why they did that but it made me laugh. The nudity though I think was fine. I would expect people to be naked in the locker room. And I think a bar where the bartender is topless says something about where Ellen Tigh hangs out and even says something about the culture of that colony. Anyway, getting the nudity out of the way.

The background stories of the cylons like Cavil and Number Four really bring in character development for some cylons that needed it. I never thought I'd like Four, but he turned out to be very humany. Impressive. And The Plan makes you hate Cavil even more. In The Plan we find out what the cylons were doing when the bombs when off, who was with whom, what the cylons knew about themselves before the blast. We see the beginning of Anders' insurgency, which was the best part of The Plan. That and Four's marriage to a human, whom he actually developed feelings for. It's awesome to think that the cylons really loved, aside from Cavil (I geuss we don't see much origin on Doral). D'Anna's love was a different love, but nonetheless she loved. But Cavil hates. The thing is, though, which cylons embrace love and which deny it and stick with Cavil? This is what leads to the cylon civil war. Sharon's storyline was a bit strange. I guess it makes sense, but I didn't care for it.

We don't get Number 7 in it at all, which is what I was hoping for. I wanted to see how all the cylons interacted together when they were first born and all that jazz. (Let's hope for that though!) Rather, this is comprised of vignettes that fill in gaps of why cylons did certain things throughout the first three seasons. This makes it very un-movie like, so don't expect to be watching a perfectly flowing movie. It jumps around with somewhat of a semblance of storylines in itself, but if you've never seen the series, it would be confusing.

The Plan comes out on DVD this Tuesday. Buy it if you're a hardcore BSG fan.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Feminist Feature: Legend of the Seeker


I thought it appropriate to highlight the feminist Sam Raimi’s Legend of the Seeker, as its premiere is nearing. Weirdly, many of the directors have done many Power Rangers series, but the show is quality. Sam Raimi’s given us the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness, Spider-man, and Drag Me to Hell, in which Drag Me to Hell (written by him too) is a feminist film as well. But he’s most known for Hercules, Xena, Young Hercules, and Starz’ upcoming Spartacus, starring Lucy Lawless. And he loves to reuse his actors, which is something a lot of sci-fi and fantasy creators love to do, such as Joss Whedon, and it makes the fans really happy, but it also limits the exposure of other fans coming in because of a certain actor. In Seeker’s case, Raimi got unknowns and Bruce Spence to star. I guarantee you Bridget Regan and Craig Horner will be huge in a few years. The acting is great, except for occasional slips of the Aussie and Kiwi accents from actors, including Horner, as everyone is supposed to have American-English accents.

For those of you who don’t know the premise of the first season: Kahlan Amnell (Regan) and her sister Dennee are on a mission to deliver a book to the Seeker, who has been hidden and secluded in a non-magical kingdom of Hartland, ignorant of prophecies and magic. When Kahlan enters their kingdom, trouble begins for the people, and they begin to accuse her of everything gone wrong, as well as Richard (Horner). Little does she know the first person to help her when she’s followed by soldiers tracking her is the Seeker. So when she confronts one of the three most powerful wizards left in the world Zeddicus Z’ul Zorander (Spence), she finds out the Seeker is none other than Richard and Zedd has hidden him since he was born. According to a prophecy, Richard would come to be the seeker and destroy the villainous, ruthless, iron-handed Darken Rahl (Craig Parker), so Rahl sends troops to destroy all the first born sons of the town of Brennidon, where the Seeker would be born, a Biblical allusion it seems.

So the first season is the adventures on their journey to kill Rahl. The show is a beautiful mix of action and humor, at which is what Raimi’s shows are great. My favorite episode may be the dark “Denna” or the uber-hilarious “Mirror” where all the actors get to expand their acting abilities: Spence gets to act like a whiny woman, Regan gets to be a crude glutton, and Horner gets to be a goofy failure at life.

Okay, so what makes this so darn feminist? At first it doesn’t seem so, when in the first couple episodes, Richard says to a D’Haran soldier something about it being unfair that there are five men against one woman. But in defense, Richard doesn’t know anything about the outside world where women are highly regarded as being powerful. You could say that where he was from, Hartland, women aren’t powerful or as highly regarded. But in the magical world…Kahlan and the Confessors and the Mord’Sith are all women and all the most powerful beings, aside from the first-order wizards and sorceresses. The funny thing is that if you go in depth enough, the women’s powers are to make people do whatever they want through torture (Mord’Sith) or loss of will (Confessors). Kahlan seems to be the most powerful of the Confessors, as her powers grow exponentially as the shows progresses. You’ll have to find out how! And it’s not just her powers, but her fighting abilities that make Kahlan a force to be reckoned with…and ogled over. With Regan’s dance background, her fighting is smooth and sexy. And she can wield mean double daggers! It takes talent to move in the corsety clothes that she wears too! And she does most of her own stunts and fight scenes. Most Hollywood actors wouldn’t be allowed to do half the stuff she does. And she stays very true to the book’s character, as she rigorously studies the books and takes notes, and it shows.
The natural-ginger-and-now-raven-haired-and-fair Bridget Regan tops my list of most beautiful women. She oozes sexy nerdiness as the ultimate dream of all nerds. And it helps that she’s not a skeleton; she has some meat on her bones…and nice legs! I’m in love! Check out her twitter, where she reveals her favorite music, season 2 guest stars, and things about her adorable cat that eats her Sword of Truth books.

Check out Season 1 on DVD and then watch Season 2, starting November 7 on WGN here in the U.S. I have no idea what channel it airs on in other countries, so…..find it yourselves.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 2--The Hours


Everyone finds this movie either confusing or boring (or both), but I found it highly enthralling. The unrecognizable (amazing makeup department) Nicole Kidman played Virginia Woolf with extreme accuracy, or so I’d think. Again, Kidman is in two of my top three, and I don’t even like her! So that shows how amazing she was in the movie. On top of that, Claire Danes plays Maryl Streep’s character’s daughter. Ed Harris as Julianne Moore’s son. Allison Janney, Miranda Richardson, John C. Reilly, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Jeff Daniels. Everyone has a connection in some way or another, but all three women of Streep, Kidman, and Moore’s characters connect throughout time by Woolf’s book Mrs. Dalloway and the book’s reflection of their lives. The entire movie is complex in its symbolism, dialogue, and relationships. It’s everything an English major loves. It also stresses how Woolf placed her own thoughts in her books. One can see her state of mind in reading her books chronologically from the first to the last, and Mrs. Dalloway is one aspect showcased in this movie, though misleadingly not her final book as the movie suggests.

“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It's contrast.” -Virginia Woolf (Kidman)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NERD ALERT!!!! Whedon directs Glee!

Joss Whedon said it himself on Whedonesque.com. This. Will. Be. Awesome. Maybe Sarah Michelle Gellar or
Emma Caulfield will guest star! Exciting! Whedon can write a mean musical! We have proof of that from the musical episode of Buffy and Dr. Horrible. You guys! Glee is great, and will continue to be even better!

Side note: I think Ryan Murphy's Popular was ahead of its time, considering no one watched when it was on, except me seemingly. I use clips of that show in studying body image and media influence. Now that people watch Glee and Nip/Tuck, they look back and say, Popular was awesome! Why did it get canceled then? Were people afraid to admit it? I wasn't. It was insanely hilarious.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Crazy Cancellations: Sons & Daughters

This crisp show was a spark that never caught fire. Comedies without laugh tracks did not exist too often. This was around The Office’s surge in popularity, but before other comedies followed in witty dry humor. It was lost coming in midseason as a transition between a cancellation and a new show and irregular scheduling. ABC could have had a hit if they aired S&D the next fall season. To make things better, it wasn’t scripted but improvised, which makes the cast even more impressive in its delivery. The way they all play off each other like they were all actually related was truly special. The realistic portrayals, complete with stumbling, mumbling, and stuttering, make it relatable. Think: Modern Family but funnier and bigger family, creating more problems and more rumors that spin out of proportion! I love that it took place and actually filmed in mid-Ohio (around Hamilton) about middle class people, who often struggled for money, a problem which is not touched upon often. And some jokes were based up on that, which may seem funnier if you live in the area like me.

The show starred Fred Goss (creator, director, and writer) as Cameron Walker in his second marriage with Liz, played by the quick-witted slightly-insane Gillian Vigman, complete with his teenaged outcast and possibly crossdresser Henry played by Trevor Einhorn and their son together Ezra (Noah Matthews). The Geico Guy Jerry Lambert plays the extremely awkward and asexual Don Fenton, and his whiny wife Sharon is played by the brilliantly sharp Alison Quinn. Her slight lisp was adorable, and her lines were always delivered with perfection and reality. Eden Sher (who was completely awesome in The Middleman as a fowl-tongued alien mercenary of the highest rank) played their daughter Carrie, and Randy Wayne played their son Jeff. Amanda Walsh’s Jenna Halbert was constantly torn between her stupid ex Whitey played by Greg Pitts and her handsome, shy boss Wylie, played by the awesome Desmond Harrington. Max Gail and Dee Wallace played the siblings’ parents Wendall and Colleen, who announced the first episode their pending divorce. Lois Hall played the knee-slappingly-hilarious Aunt Rae. And there was even a guest spot by Step by Step alum Christine Lakin.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nerdy News: Rachael Harris joins Cougar Town!!!


Just when Cougar Town was digging a rut, unable to get itself out of a snowy ditch, it just may pick up with Rachael Harris coming to town for a little competition against Jules, as Harris's character's husband begins to crush on Jules. Awesome. Even though Christa Miller is funny on the show, her extreme plastic surgeries have made me not want to look at her. Did she get a Michael Jackson nose to honor his death? I hope the classy AND nerdy Rachael Harris gets to take some of her screen time. Even Courteney Cox's botox didn't look bad, just noticeable. Now if we got Kristen Bell to guest star on any show at all, I'd watch it.

And look forward to Sally's upcoming post about Glee. Bust time for her having her brother's wedding this weekend. Now that I've posted this Sally must post about Glee or she sucks hardcore. And look for a feminist post from me and a highlight about Legend of the Seeker, as well as wrapping up my top 10 movies.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 3--Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain

I’m not typically a Nicole Kidman or Jude Law fan. At all. BUT I loved this movie? Why, when I don’t care for the two main actors? Number one: the Civil War. I’m a Civil War buff. And I love the Civil-War-era South, for a number of reasons. It’s complicated. I may get into this in later blogs. Number two: THE MUSIC!!!! The same Oscar year that my favorites were all up against each other for best original song (including Annie Lennox for “Into the West” in Lord of the Rings and A Mighty Wind’s Mitch and Mickey for “Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” in A Mighty Wind) Alison Krauss was nominated TWICE as performer for Elvis Costello and T-Bone Burnett’s war song “The Scarlet Tide” and the Sting-penned-and-co-performed Scottish-lilted “You Will Be My Ain True Love.” The bone-chilling sacred harp singing, as well as every other song, is used to its full potential as an emotional layer, adding to the incredible complexities that went into the book and the movie. Three: the acting!!! Renee Zellweger was over-the-top, in a good way, that really added to the psychological intrigue of the character. Kidman and Law were excellent, in an occasional creepy way. Brenden Gleeson, Natalie Portman, Kathy Baker, Giovanni Ribisi, and Philip Seymour Hoffman offered stellar performances as supporting cast members. Perfect villain in Ray Winstone’s Teague, inducing terror and suspense. Portman's part was emotionally intense, and Kathy Baker's was heartbreaking.

The battle scenes are beautifully shot and bone-chilling, especially due to the scoring. Everything is perioded down to the last detail of every scene, every actor. The literary allusions: Brontes, Odyssey, Shakespeare. AGH! My mind! Everything about this movie is awesome.

“They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say 'Shit, it's raining!'” -Ruby (Zellweger)

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 4--Christopher Guest movies

Waiting for Guffman/Best in Show/A Mighty Wind/For Your Consideration

Christopher Guest is a comedy genius. Jennifer Coolidge and Fred Willard steal each scene in every movie, which is hard to do when every single person is uproariously funny. Aside from songs in the movies, the dialogue is unscripted and the actors ramble on and on in character. Nothing tends to happen, but comedy gold is struck solely in dialogue. No one else can do that. There’s no way for me to separate the movies in rank. There are all pure genius.

Waiting for Guffman is waiting to actually make it to Broadway and shine a spotlight on the fictional town of Blaine, Missouri. It’s a town of idiots founded by idiots. The best part is the dinner double date and the circumcision discussion. Eugene Levy was fantastic as a two-left-footed, cross-eyed dentist with a wish for being a stand-up comedian when he is clearly unfunny.
"'Cause you people are BASTARD PEOPLE!" -Corky St. Claire (Guest)

Christopher Guest’s second directorial/authorial movie, the one that went…sort of mainstream…a mockumentary about a dog show? Best in Show is the first Guest movie with Jane Lynch and Jennifer Coolidge in it. It couldn’t get any better for people who love to laugh at ridiculous dry humor. Every person in the cast was absolutely poop-from-laughing-too-hard hilarious. And Parker Posey even got real braces just for the role!
“Leslie and I have an amazing relationship and it's very physical, he still pushes all my buttons. People say 'oh but he's so much older than you' and you know what, I'm the one having to push him away. We have so much in common, we both love soup and snow peas, we love the outdoors, and talking and not talking. We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about.” -Sherri Ann Cabot (Coolidge)

A Mighty Wind was the Guest movie I saw first and fell instantly in love with it. That may be because I’m a folkie, and it’s a mockumentary about folk musicians. It’s amazing that every actor sang and played for their parts. Who knew Eugene Levy could sing so wonderfully? His song with Catherine O’Hara “Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” sounds like it could be a real song. No wonder why the song was nominated for a Grammy. And the songs are ridiculously twisted and often sexually undertoned. Each character is subtly ridiculous and delivery of jokes are natural and precise.
“Thank God for the model trains, you know? If they didn't have the model trains they wouldn't have gotten the idea for the big trains.” -Amber Cole (Coolidge)

The underappreciated For Your Consideration is brilliant as well. With the addition of Rachel Harris to the main spotlight, Guest movies could still go strong. A satire of the film industry—its advertising methods, interviews, celebrity status, awards, production changes, and so much more—FYC is more polished than the other films. Less interviewing and more action. But still unscripted, despite rumor.
"Someone's killed their children and made them into cookies, and I want to go see that." -Whitney Taylor Brown (Coolidge)

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 5--Stardust

Stardust

I like how when Sally and I went to see this in the theater, everyone else either never heard of it or saw a preview and thought it looked stupid. We were made fun of for it being fantasy and/or a fairytale. People, it’s so much more! I’d consider it a comedy over anything. Robert DeNiro’s performance was stellar as the flamboyantly gay Captain Shakespeare. Claire Danes is a literal fallen star and shines in her fitting role. Michelle Pfeiffer is an evil witch, obsessed with devouring the heart of a star to gain youth for a period of time. It was also my first exposure to Sienna Miller, who coincidentally was the same person in every movie she’s been in: a bitchy whore (often drunken as well). When it came out on DVD, people saw it, especially after I hyped it up, and guess what! They loved it! Don’t mock a movie until you see it! Oh, yeah, and Sir Ian McKellan narrates!

“You know... an interesting fact, actually - the first champagne glass was molded on the left breast of Marie Antoinette. I don't know if there was something wrong... with her right one.” -Tristan (Charlie Cox)

Crazy Cancellations: ROAR!


Come on! This show rocked! It was a different angle than the usual Roman times. Mostly we get the viewpoint of the Romans and, hence, a support for them. BUT in this case we get the underdogs of Ireland, fighting off the invading Romans. Not only do we get to root for the underdogs, but we get themes of the religious dichotomies of paganism versus Christianity and nature versus civilization, among many other things. And there’s messed up love triangles. I guess its cancellation was good for Heath Ledger, considering he got to be a pretty big film actor after this show.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not-so-Movie-of-the-Week: Couples Retreat

I excepted more when I shouldn't have, since Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. But I was hoping Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell, who should be leads in a movie by themselves, would excel in it, but their talent was put to waste by bland writing. Jokes were not hilarious, only mediocre. Really, why would you make jokes out of "ball cancer?" That's just unfunny and distasteful. Jon Favreau is disgusting in his attempt to try to get a handjob or sex with younger women the entire movie. Kristen Davis's character was also annoying in her wanting to jump every shirtless man on the island. Oh, and there was a whole part that involved Guitar Hero--Vince Vaughn playing a whole Guitar Hero song. Why? Don't ask me. People were laughing, so I think Guitar Hero must be fun and funny, but I never got that game either. The orgiastic yoga session was completely awkward and crude. Why did Jean Reno do this movie? I can't believe that he'd be out of work, not after Leon the Professional. Maybe he just wanted to go to Bora Bora really bad and agreed to do the movie. Malin Ackerman was great, diversifying her range lately. Kali Hawk was ridiculously goofy. At first she was annoying, but she provided the only quotable lines. The children were cute and hilarious. They had good lines, better lines than the adults. And Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell, my future wife, were simply adorable. While I respect that the couples' situations are entirely realistic, they weren't as funny as intended. I think there might have been too many cast members for anyone to shine. It ended up turning into a sloppy mess. You will want to go Bora Bora after seeing the movie. Unfortunately that's 9 bucks a person you can't get back in saving up for that trip to Bora Bora. It was terrible how the advertisers also led everyone to believe it was a movie starring Vince Vaughn and no one else. It was an ensemble cast with Vaughn being in it maybe a minute or two more than the rest. Advertising Vince Vaughn draws in a certain crowd. I'm not in that crowd. I went to see it for the Bateman and Bell. Instead a potentially good movie was made at a sub-par level. I appreciate Vaughn's attempt to expand outside of the high school/college movies, but maybe he should stick to that, since it's apparently what he knows how to do best, where his annoying diatribes are more loved. To sum up my review: Vince Vaughn is a stupid turd. My grade: C+

PS--I'm sorry, Kristen. I wanted to love everything you've been in, but I find that I can't.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

TV Time: Ike is Growing Up!

So the past couple days have been awesome, you guys!

Glee
Holy crap!!! The mash ups were excellent and so fun. I loved all the crazy "mash ups" of the adult couples. But best of all was Jane Lynch's dialogue. That's what's brilliant about the show other than the music: the witty, insane, off-the-wall dialogue!

Cougar Town
Disappointing. That is all.

Modern Family
I loved all the relationships going on but most of all Alex and Gloria bonding and Claire and Manny. Manny offers advice to Claire, who is considerably older than him (since he's what...ten?), which in itself is hilarious that she takes him so seriously. I'm madly in lvoe with this show and its dry humor.

South Park
I was hoping this would happen, and it did. Figures Cartman would be a Billy Mays fan and that Michael Jackson would hold everyone up in Purgatory. I was disappointed, though, that Bea Arthur didn't have any lines. Even Swayze had a line! Somehow, South Park combines so much criticism all in one episode: child beauty pageants, ghost hunters, infomercials, Chipotle-induced bloody stool, and dead celebrities. It all blended well together; I loved the beauty pageant and Chipotle jokes. And Ike has had more lines than ever. And he sounded like he was starting to get older! Exciting!
Dead celebrities include: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Patrick Swayze, Natasha Richardson, Billy Mays, Bea Arthur, Tom DeLuise, Ted Kennedy, John Hughes, Walter Cronkite, Ed McMahon, David Carradine, and Les Paul.

Community
Meh. This show is still not impressing me, although I did like the bonding between Jeff and Shirley. By far the best part, making me roll on the floor laughing, especially at the small nipples part. Coming in close is the credits with Troy and Abed doing something stupid or insane.

Parks & Recreation
This show is impressing me like crazy. I love everyone on the cast. I think it's less interesting that Tom is married to a bombshell only so she could get her green card since she was from Canada. Leslie was adorably hilarious, especially with all her date screw-ups. I hope there's more on the DVD's deleted scenes. So far every one of April's lines this season have had me crying from laughing so hard. It's the "less is more" tactic. She was great last week, but this week her last line on the episode was so fantastic about her being completely ignored by her co-workers and she's done the most outrageous things. The office's competition to see who had the least dirt on them in case any of them ran for office was brilliant. This show is quickly climbing to the top of my top show list.

The Office
You guys, this is was I was hoping for! Again, I hope there's more dancing on the DVD's deleted scenes, since the dancing makes me crack up. The episode had the right mixture of suspense, hilarity, romance, awkwardness, and DANCING! And Andy's sexuality comes into play again, as he now has a possible Oedipal complex on top of his possible homosexuality and flirtation with his lady cousin. But really, Andy really was awesome in his orange clothes and his injury. Kevin and Oscar--a couple...could it happen? Also very funny. I love how the cast copied the wedding party entrance video. So good, especially when Dwight kicks his ex-lover in the face and Angela walks down the isle stiffly. I think this episode worked out well for everyone and really shined in characterization. I also think the beginning was one of the best and grossest openings yet. The chain reaction had me cackling like a witch on helium. Good job, Pam!

Supernatural
Paris Hilton gets her head chopped off. Nice. It's like older episodes where they are standalones and there's demon problems that arise in small towns all over the U.S. The brothers are back in full swing. It's funny: Supernatural tends to have a lot of social criticism these days. This episode's is celebrity idolatry. And I love the snarky reference to House of Wax as Paris and Jared are in the same scene together. Hilarious. Big swollen thumbs up to this episode.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Awesome episode tonight. The gang tries to intervene with Fran's drug and alcohol problem, and as they do, they all find fault with each other and try to have interventions with every character. It turns into a sloppy fiasco. Surprisingly the intervention director doesn't fall off the edge with them or try to intervene in all their lives, since they all are now drinking wine out of a diet cola can because it doesn't spill and no one can tell you're drinking wine. I think I might try that...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 6--Atonement

Atonement

This movie. Agh! This movie! Its cinematography is truly the best part of it. Keira Knightly in the green dress? Hell yes! The story is heartbreaking and intriguing. Ironic fate weaves a story of a love that can never quite be due to circumstances beyond their control: lies and war. You guys, check it out!

“Dearest Cecilia, the story can resume. The one I had been planning on that evening walk. I can become again the man who once crossed the surrey park at dusk, in my best suit, swaggering on the promise of life. The man who, with the clarity of passion, made love to you in the library. The story can resume. I will return. Find you, love you, marry you and live without shame.” How can you not fall in love with that dialogue?! How?!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Things That Annoy Me: Celebrity Gossip Shows

Celebrity gossip shows. Why do these exist? Access Hollywood, Extra, whatever else there is…I’m watching the news, don’t pay attention when commercials come on and all of the sudden obnoxious sounds are blaring into my ears, like a mix of howler monkeys, malfunctioning machines, pooping babies, and rocket ships, interchanging with strange voices that mock news anchors in a William Shatner voice. I cringe in utter annoyance and run to the TV to turn it off. Why do I care about celebrities’ personal lives unless I actually know them? I don’t care who’s married or who’s cheated on whom. I didn’t even know who these John and Kate people were until a few months ago when John was having an affair and it’s was all over the news (REALLY?! National News?!).

Reviewing Readings: Final Crisis

I normally wouldn't pick up DC Comics, though Wonder Woman looks pretty good. (I just don't want to pick up another comic right now. In fact, I might drop Cable because it seems to be going nowhere.) I picked it out to sample DC in the arc that "killed Batman" when picking out books to review in Reviewers of Young Adult Literature. We send our reviews to publishers; after all that's why they send them to us! I then saw that Grant Morrison wrote it. I was never a fan of his twisted, convoluted storylines and odd characterizations when he took over X-Men. Here's what I wrote for the summary and criticism:

In the Final Crisis arc, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the JLA and DC characters team up against the ultimate evil: Darkseid, who declares himself a god and possesses the human population and superhumans to do his will and worship him. While simultaneous plots of murdering the New Gods, framing Green Lantern Hal Jordan, using Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Batwoman, and Giganta as furies, Apokolips is trying to build a superhuman army, the Daily Planet is bombed and Lois Lane’s life is in danger, and the evil masterminds plot together to take down the superheroes once and for all, Darkseid attempts to overthrow reality. Really.

Because there’s so much going on in the arc, the story actually lacks well-developed plot and characterization, other than maybe Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Superman. It’s confusing and not entertaining. If anything it’s really a power struggle to be God between Superman and Darkseid. Grant Morrison has never been great at storytelling, and this proves that he can’t handle a big event. Batman died, and I don’t even know how. If you want quality writing look to Marvel, where women are treated with respect and honored as being highly valued members of the superhuman community. Wonder Woman or Supergirl didn’t even make it onto the hardback cover, beautiful though it is. I don’t recommend it unless you’re a huge DC fan or maybe if you read all the tie-ins, then perhaps it might make sense. A well constructed comic consists not only of good writing but of good art that assists the story. In this story, neither exist. The art jumps around and seems to skip panels, though visually stunning some panels may be.

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 7--The Wind That Shakes the Barley

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

This movie makes me so angry and so sad at the same time. It’s a film I hold dear to me, as a subject I study closely on both sides: the Irish and English war that’s been nearly non-stop for centuries and has largely been ignored outside the British Isles. This particular snapshot takes place during the Rebellion of the 1920s. I won’t talk about my stance on the subject, as it’s an awfully controversial subject and not really for a nerdy blog. To talk about the technical aspects of the film… It’s a perfect realism film. There’s only maybe one or two scenes that do have score to them, but the rest is natural music made on screen. Dialogue is the most realistic and natural in its delivery. There’s stumbling, stuttering, pure emotion, and seemingly improv at times. Cillian Murphy and co. are perfectly cast, especially Liam Cunningham.

“Mercenaries! That were paid to come over here to make us crawl and to wipe us out. We've just sent a message to the British cabinet that will echo and reverberate around the world! If they bring their savagery over here, we will meet it with a savagery of our own!”

Friday, October 2, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 8--Songcatcher

Songcatcher

Emmy Rossum debuts in this film about preserving the old British Isle tunes and preserving them with accuracy and heart. None knew how the songs originally sounded, but because of the seclusion of the Appalachian mountain folk, the songs are preserved in the form closest to their origin and in their purest form. The music makes the movie. It also shows us that sometimes scholars, those who are so highly regarded, are also the most ignorant of the subjects they specialize in. With themes of nature vs. urbanization, ignorance and intolerance vs. sexuality and individual freedom, responsibility vs. irresponsibility, formal education vs. experienced education, greed vs. happiness, among so many others, Songcatcher. PS--Check out all the soundtracks. Dolly Parton sings a self-penned duet with Rossum, and Sara Evans sings "Mary of the Wild Moor."

“Alice, you're gonna have to keep Reese away from you. Well, if you don't want butter, you gotta pull the dasher out in time.” -Viney Butler (Pat Carroll)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Movie of the Week: Pandorum

The race to find a new planet due diminishing and extinct earth resources seem to be a popular theme these days, and Pandorum excels in this category. The film follows Ben Foster's character Bower and his supervisor Payton, played by Dennis Quaid, when they wake up from cryogenic freezing. In the thriller film, Pandorum is a disorder triggered by a reaction to space travel. Knowing that information leads us on a goose chase to figure out who has Pandorum. Not only is that going on, but there are creatures on board killing and eating everyone that moves. How did they get on board? What are they? We find out bits and pieces as we progress through the film. I was on edge the entire film and was very surprised in its ending. It's genius! I love the movie like crazy, and I can't wait to watch it again. It's one of those thrillers where the characters are intriguing and the plot intricate and layered.

And I can't not talk about the acting. Anything with Ben Foster is AMAZING, just because he makes it so. This guy....ah! He's a brilliant actor! And the newbie Antje Traue makes her mark on American cinema as Nadia, the uber-awesome badass that's been awake from frozen slumber for a few months. She knows the ropes on how to evade the creatures and how to protect life, as that was her original duty on board to carry Earth's habitation to the new planet. Dennis Quaid has always been an okay actor to me, and this continues to prove that. I mean, he's good, but not fantastic. He's the same character in every movie. But despite that, it's all still awesome. You guys! Go see this movie!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 9--Inglorious Basterds/Watchmen

Inglourious Basterds

Holy crap. I love me some Tarantino, and this is by far my favorite. Tarantino knows how to do everything: write flawless dialogue; build suspense and tension; create beautiful strong characters, especially women; great shots; and tell a damn good story. Refer to my previous blog on the movie.

“My name is Shosanna Dreyfus... and you've seen the face of Jewish vengeance.”

Watchmen

But since I've already raved about Inglourious Basterds I wanted to share one that came in close on the list: Watchmen. I'm not one to complain when a movie doesn't match up panel by panel with the graphic novel or word by word with the novel. They are different mediums. Why do you want to watch your comic book? It's a comic book for a reason. Are we trying to make the comic book die? There would be no point in it if every movie made from one copied it verbatim. That being said, Watchmen was genius. The music choices kicked ass, especially Dylan's "The Times They Are A' Changin'." The characters were perfectly cast in this noir superhero criticism. The ending was changed to fit the modern-day big screen better. With themes of utopia, heroism, sexuality, and so forth, Watchmen should have created a legacy that parallels with comic counterpart, but alas, many do not see film adaptations the way I do.

"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon." -Rorschach

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Site of the Week 9/21-9/27: Cover Lay Down

You guys! I'm crazy about this blog! Wanna know why? I'LL TELL YOU WHY! It's a blog that provides us mp3s and clips of folk covers of original songs from the pop, rap, blues, classic rock, and other genres. It gives backgrounds to versions of traditional songs, where some versions originated and when a shift changed. Reviews, rationales, and studies are provided. Tunes are often grouped in themes, like Dolly Parton or Sailing. Some of my favorites: First Aid Kit's version of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song;" Brianna Lane's version of the Foo Fighters' "Learn to Fly;" Shawn Colvin's cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy;" Jonathan Coulton's countryish-boy-band-sounding cover of "Baby Got Back;" and anything by Richard Shindell.

The best part for you guys....you get to hear a lot of my favorite bands, like The Greencards and The Duhks! Many of my favorite Irish musicians make it on the list too, like Cara Dillon and her version of the Beatles' "Wait!"


Cover Lay Down

Friday, September 25, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 10--Evening

Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll post my top ten movies and reasons why they're in my top ten. Surprisingly there's a lot of dramas and Nicole Kidman. I tend to not enjoy either. So I'm shocked at my own choices sometimes.

Evening

Evening is based on Susan Minot’s same-titled novel of a woman on her death bed, confusing the present and the past. What’s real and what’s not? Wonderful acting, especially by the rarely-seen-on-screen Glenn Close. Everything about the movie makes me want to watch it again and again. On top of that, Claire Danes does her own singing! Cue swoon! Other stars include veteran Venessa Graves, the lovable Hugh Dancy, the multi-faceted Toni Collete, the man of men Patrick Wilson, the versatile acting goddess Meryl Streep, Streep’s daughter Mamie Gummer, and recently departed daughter of Redgrave Natasha Richardson. You can’t go wrong with the most talented cast in Hollywood. It was totally underrated and misunderstood and flew under the radar and will continue to do so, making me utterly sad. Complexity, unfortunately is lost within the typical moviegoer’s…moviegoing.

“We are mysterious creatures, aren't we? And at the end so much of it turns out not to matter.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Geek Chic: The James Joyce

TWEED!!!!! You guys, tweed is so in again. The seventies and eighties brought in the popularity of tweed jackets, but I've been seeing them again, as well as tweed vests and caps. I went to an Irish festival last weekend, and nearly every person had on a tweed cap, man and woman. I don't see them just at Irish festivals, but also in everyday circumstances. How fun! I love my tweed cap. You can wear them with anything, and in the winter, they look friggin sweet with a nice pea coat. The Irish look is natural and comfy, yet stylish. Irish designer Zoe Boomer said of what she likes and what trends seem to be in style in Ireland from what I've seen: "I love individual styles with personality not necessarily following the trends but looking stylish and well put together, in garments that suit their figure. I'm not a fan of too grungy or too perfect. I love when women look well dressed especially if they have natural hair and make-up. To me a natural finish makes them look more stylish and real." Fully agreed, Lady Boomer!

Also, as of this moment, I just got the softest blanket for my bed....EVER! you're welcome for that information...thanks, Máthair!

Lollysmith.com Irish Gifts

If you're a manly man, and if you're not in the U.K. and don't mind paying extra (or if you're in the U.K.)...The Big Man's Shop

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Summer Watching List: A Reflection

Well nerds, it's fall (or autumn, if you prefer) and that means summer time is over. The end of summer brings many things, including new episodes of our favorite shows (yay!). While this is good news, the good thing about the summer months and no new episodes (save summer series) is that it gives me the opportunity to watch shows I haven't had the time to watch. This summer I invested my time into two t.v. series: Weeds and Supernatural.

Catching up on a t.v. series such as these (both in their fifth season this year) can be taxing. For me, every free half hour or hour I could find was devoted to getting caught up to where the new episodes are. It's an enjoyable experience most of the time, until it gets to the point where it starts to feel like a job. But, if it's a good show like these you're happy to get up and go to work.

Although Weeds is a summer series I was able to watch seasons 1 through 4 in enough time to begin watching new episodes halfway through season 5. I adore this show and have come to realize that I will love any show with a group of dysfunctional characters.

Last week I finished season 4 of Supernatural and I am totally invested in the show now. I love the characters, but most importantly I love that I can sit back and watch the show without easily predicting what will happen next.

There are more shows on my list, but I'll be taking a break from it for a while. Up next are It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Damages and Bones.

Growl for me!

In honor of the premiere of Cougar Town tonight on ABC, I think it's appropriate to compile a list of a nerd's top ten cougars. What qualifies as a cougar? Old enough to be a teen's mother, I'd say. So I'll go with mid 40s.

10. Mary Steenburgen: From Woody Allen's Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy to Elf, Mary Steenburgen lights up a room with her flighty, sweet voice. I wish she'd cook spaghetti for me...

9. Jane Seymour: Seymour was by far the sexiest bond lady EVER. She looked good decked out in western garb, but I began to lose respect for her when she started doing roles and movies like Wedding Crashers. Less sexy, more slutty. But because of Dr. Quinn and previous experiences, she still tops my list...and have you seen her?!



8. Robin Wright Penn: Princess Buttercup. Classic. Queen of the Wealthow. And she can sing? I couldn't stop listening to her two songs on the Beowulf soundtrack for two weeks when I saw the movie a few months ago (I should've seen it sooner with Neil Gaiman scripting it).

7. Famke Janssen: All I have to say is "Jean. Grey. Bad. Ass." Another Bond lady and classy actress. If only she could read my mind...

6. Faith Hill: I know to most, she'd probably top this list, but remember this is Nerdy Pop...I do think she's classy and beautiful and has a great set of pipes. She's not afraid to speak her mind. I like that in a lady. And she's not afraid to be herself, which is probably why she doesn't have more a fan base in her music and just her looks.

5. Megan Mullally: The only character I liked on Will & Grace, and, therefore, the only reason I watched was Karen Walker, the squeaky, drunken, pill-popping riot! And now she'll be a single mom looking for love in obviously the wrong places. And look...look at those glasses! That's hot.

4. Courteney Cox: I usually considered Monica the Friend that was most like me...clean freak, crazy, etc. Unfortunately it turns out I'm more like Ross...disappointing to say the least. I loved, loved, loved her as bitchy Lucy Spiller on Dirt, and I can't wait to watch her tonight.

3. Michelle Yeoh: Wowzas! A woman who does her won stunts and wields a sword and every other hand-combat weapon. I'll watch any movie she's in. And she tore my heart into shreds in Sunshine. She's the only reason why I tolerated the Mummy III. She's oh so sexy. Her voice, her poise, her....well, her.

2. Amanda Tapping: I love you, Madame Tapping. You own science-fiction as far as I'm concerned! Though I haven't seen her in her previous work, I have heard of her dedication to Stargate, and I've seen her dedication to the thrilling and complex Sanctuary. And damn, can she rock a ladyhat like crazy. See first episode for classic broad ladyhat. I've only seen Chely Wright rock it like her in her video for "Jezebel."

1. Mary McDonnell: I feel like I don't need to say anything, but I do. Because...I owe that to her. She's sexy beyond all sexiness. Her fantastic acting makes her even sexier. When she delivers the lines in "Blood on the Scales," she made me shiver and tremble with excitement and all sorts of good feelings in my pants. But why on earth would she guest star on Grey's Anatomy?! That almost pegged her down a notch, but since they have good music on their show, I let it slide. She played the most badass lady president ever, and I wish Laura Roslin could be ours one day. I hope Roslin guest stars on Sanctuary this season! I might explode!

Honorable mention: Cate Blanchett, solely for being the classiest, most talented performer to grace the big screen since Dame Judy Dench and Meryl Streep. And she's beautiful.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Celtic Corner: Cara Dillon

I failed to mention that Cara Dillon's newest release came out in the U.S. last Tuesday. I failed to mention it because I already ordered it in the spring from the U.K. I'm that nerdy. Listen, every single time I suggest Cara Dillon to somebody, they end up loving her. Why? Listen and find out for yourself. Her voice captures the winding, lush, rustic land of old Ireland. Her cover of Tommy Sands' "There Were Roses" is what addicted me to her music. And to Tommy Sands. Her latest album Hill of Thieves falls back to more traditional sounds as she covers more traditional songs. The only self-penned tune is her title track, and it's my favorite. Every track is Irish to the core, even through the very last tune "Fil, Fil A Run O." In between are gems such as "The Parting Glass" and "P Stands For Paddy," where Dillon gets a rare chance to sing an upbeat tune. Doesn't happen often, but I don't mind one bit! Another highlight is "Spencer the Rover," guest starring her brother in-law and AMAZING talent Seth Lakeman on vocals and guitar. You guys, Cara Dillon will be your most favorite person EVER!

Curse Thee Thursday Night!

Thursday night has been the best night of TV for a while now with Monday now coming in close. But let me talk about the season premieres this Thursday.

We'll start with Parks and Recreation. Oh my stars and garters! This episode was by far the most hilarious yet. Besides, there's penguins! In marrying two penguins, which Leslie thought would be cute, Leslie is publicly shown to be a gay activist due to the now-married penguins being gay. While the gay community has taken her in as a hero, the rest of the community has shunned her. Being from Indiana, I can tell you that's pretty reflective of Indiana! Anyway, funniest episode of any of the shows Thursday!

The Office! Disappointing in hilarity, but good! Stanley! Come on! Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone. Michael begins to spread rumors about everyone in The Office when he tries to hide a rumor that is the truth and will end up hurting people. Jam was pretty funny at the beginning. And I love how Erin and Kelly are quickly becoming best friends, where Erin even starts to dress and act like her. Though I liked Erin being really shy and happy about everything, I think it'll be fun to have her be outgoing and happy about everything. Kevin's one line was hilarious, like he always is. But overall, not as funny as it could've been or should've been.

Community. I suppose they were just setting up the cast, but it was lacking in anything spectacular. I think its got interesting characters, and I think it will pick up in terms of good plot and writing. But we'll see soon.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Dee and Charlie are my favorite characters, so I always love their own storylines. Dee wanting to be a surrogate mother, Charlie wanting to duel a lawyer for making him look like an idiot when he was "lawyer speaking." Guest starring Melanie Lynskey as the wife who wants to have a baby.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Geek Chic: It's a Mad Men World

It is often said that I was born in the wrong era. When other kids my age were watching cartoons at age 4, 5 or 6 I was glued to I Love Lucy. I stayed up late to watch Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie and The Dick Van Dyke show on Nick at Nite. So, it's probably no surprise that I love anything and everything having to do with the 50s and 60s. Naturally, this includes Mad Men, and while the show is becoming more and more popular, so is its wardrobe.

Certain subtle trends in fashion this year, I think, can be traced back to the AMC original series. So many of the trends in dresses have been belted, pleated and looked so similar to Peggy Olson's day-to-day threads (except now in 2009 they're in Technicolor!) I can even see a subtle link to Mad Men in the shirt dress trend, as well as the more frequent use of plaid.

As far as men's fashion I've noticed that many men have started to ditch the sports jacket for the tailored vest when looking to dress to impress. Also, I just recently learned that Banana Republic has partnered with Mad Men to create a line of suits. ME-OW. This trend excites me a great deal, mainly because I like my men like I like my Draper: dapper.