2/27/09

Safety Dance Friday

Here are the videos of the week! This week's theme? Weirdos. Weird songs, weird videos, weird lyrics, and things that sort of have to do with science. (A la NPR's time honored "Science Friday".) This week has been so structured, that I could really use a little "weird" in my life right now.










Ack, he looked like a scary Michael Keaton. Good luck getting the Safety Dance out of your head, by the way. But you better try, or THIS could happen to you.

Okay, one more scientific 80's video bonus. I stand firm that this counts, because it includes a robot.



*shakes fists at the sky* Gutenbeeeeeeeeeerg!!!!!!!!!!

2/25/09

Garfield Minus Garfield

Things look a lot more bleak for Jon without Indiana's famous fat-cat. This just gets more and more hysterical as it goes on.

Saber Wars & Bad Makeup

In theory, the Star Warsian spectacle that I saw this morning as I sipped my coffee and ate my oatmeal was "cool". It's something I should've liked. Something right up my alley. But not surprisingly, I had some hang-ups. You see, the Today Show had a team of people in front of their studio doing Jedi exercises. They call themselves, "The New York Jedi". http://www.newyorkjedi.com/

Again, in theory, a very cool idea. The guy who started it all seemed interesting. He had a denim jacket with all kinds of geeky patches. (The original Batman logo, the Fantastic Four symbol, etc.) So the guy had geek street cred for sure.

The concept is simple. After watching Star Wars for the umpteenth time like the rest of us, he eventually decided that being a Jedi should be something akin to a real-life martial art. I admit, there's something exciting about seeing a team of people standing on the street fighting with lightsabers. There was no force-pushing of course, because...well, it's not real.

Here's where my hang-up comes into the picture, and let me preface this in some detail. I am not a big fan of fan-fiction. (It'll make sense in a minute.) Fan fiction is always balanced on the knife's edge of really good or absolutely terrible. I've read my fair share of Star Trek fan-fiction, I forayed in Futurama fan-fic for a minute, and I've browsed some Star Wars stuff too. The problem with it is that it's usually done by people who can't write. It's also almost always an obvious rip-off of something else. It's like a geek just sits down and goes, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if Captain Picard had to fight a dinosaur like in Jurassic Park?" Or something ridiculous like that.

It's either those "let's plug the characters we love into other stories" plots or it's some kind of pervy "Dynasty" type storyline where different people get together romantically. Sometimes, it's downright creepy. I'm a self-admitted geek, and even I often think, "Geez, get a life." when I'm reading some of them.

I'm also a geek purist. I don't like it when toy companies make Batman figurines with things like, "Laser blasters" or Luchador masks, or whatever else they just decide is marketable. If it's not in the comic, the movie, or the cartoon...I don't want to see it in the toy aisle. Also, I'm not excited about Abrams' Star Trek, but that's aother argument for another day. I just want it to be known that I know as a geek, I have the tendency to be exacting in a really annoying way.

(Sidenote: I went looking for a skit that SNL did when the movie "Philadelphia" came out in 1993 about toys to accompany the movie. It pretty much stated my point for me, but I can't find it. Let me know if you can.)

So what does this have to do with the New York Jedi? Well, some of the "Jedi" just didn't look anything like they do in the movies. I realize that the concept of what a Jedi looks like became much more fluid after the prequels came out. But, I only saw a handful of Jedi robes. For the most part, it appeared to me that people were dressed as...

A. Punks
B. Vampires (with wings, and no I'm not kidding) &
C. People dressed in bad Halloween costumes

I hate to be the one to try to quell someone's originality...but as a Star Wars geek myself, I was a little embarrassed for our kind. Why can't we pull ourselves together a little? Are there any Star Wars geeks out there who are costume and makeup experts? Anyone, anyone? Why do the Jedis I see look like they're going to go to a rave half the time? If this really were a martial art, wouldn't wearing greasepaint and red contact lenses be kind of a detriment to your fighting skills? I can't imagine that bat wings would help you out very much either, unless they really worked I guess. But now I'm just getting judegemental.

It was pretty funny to see the Today Show crew wearing Obi-Wan Kenobe robes though, so it was definitely worth the watch.

If you're going to do a live Jedi performance, THIS is what it should look like. Watch, and weep at the purist Star Wars glory. (I mean...except for all the screaming kids and the microphone taped to his face. I fully admit to wishing I was a kid again specifically that I could do this.)



Sadly, being a Star Wars nerd and dressing up in public usually works out more like this...

WARNING: There's some material in here that could definitely be considered offensive to some people. (I'm talking to you Grandma...don't watch this. You would think that dog is very rude.)

2/24/09

My Personal Lansbury

I got a package in the mail yesterday from my friend Jen. Jen is the one who bestowed with with a 1971 issue of "Look" magazine about the opening of Disney World, wedding salt shakers that look like Mae West and Peter Sellars, and various musical mixes for my listening enjoyment over the years. She is the Martha Stewart of thoughtful gift-giving. But this one, she wasn't so sure about. Her first instincts told her to buy it for me. So she did, then she began to think that it might be too bizarre...even for me.

Not so! When I opened it, I saw a vintage framed headshot of Angela Lansbury. I squeaked out something that wasn't really words in a delighted high-pitched voice. You know how when you're really happy about something, your voice jumps an octave? Kind of like Cameron Diaz in, "My Best Friend's Wedding". (Don't judge me, I like rom-coms.) I did that.

It's so perfect for me in so many ways.

A.) I don't think enough people appreciate Angela for her impressive history in performance. Yes, she was Mrs. Potts. And yes, she was Jessica Flethcer in, "Murder She Wrote". Sidenote, that theme music came to mind instantaneously upon opening the picture. I was 8 again sitting in my grandparent's tv room. Remember this?



I like that foreboding bridge the best of all. I honestly did love that show, so I'm not downplaying it's significance in the canon of television. (I know it's hard to determine the snark from the sincerity sometimes in my writing, it's a blogger's curse.) Especially not since it was such a significant part of the "television for older people" movement of the 1980's. I was proud to have witnessed such a prolific time in entertainment for the geriatric. You should be too. Matlock, Golden Girls, Murder She Wrote...life was good.

BUT, my favorite Angela Lansbury roles were from much older movies I watched growing up. Namely, Danny Kaye's, "The Court Jester" and Judy Garland's, "The Harvey Girls". In the first she played a spoiled princess, in the second a singing saloon girl. This first clip is a long one, so you may want to save it until the end. But if you've never seen the movie, it's a little encouragement from me to you to go rent it.



What you are about to see next is Angela in her prime, featured in a fight scene to rival any modern fight scenes. Ladies of "Kill Bill", eat your heart out. (Apologies for some content in this scene that's racially insensitive. I honestly wish I could just edit it out. It makes me wince.)



Yes, the Lansbury you know and love as a matronly caretaker was once a young blonde who was frequently cast as the sassy bad-girl. Famously, she then went on to begin her stint in her most well-known roles in, "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" as well as being the original, "Mrs. Lovett" in Sondheim's incredible but violent, "Sweeney Todd" on Broadway.

So you see, she's a legend in her own right. Not simply a pop culture icon. But I love the gift for other reasons too...

B.) Jen told me in a note accompanying the gift that she pictured my apartment resembling Corky's from, "Waiting For Guffman". Which looks just a little something like this...



C.) Jen didn't know this, but it is a LONGSTANDING tradition in my family to frame pictures of famous people and say that you are related to them. As evidenced by half of my little friends in grade school thinking that Albert Einstein was my grandfather, the Marx Brothers were my wacky great-uncles, and Ghandi was a distant cousin. So I'm comfortable with Lansbury's headshot being a part of my natural landscape.

I am not joking.

D.) The frame is art deco, which just happens to be my favorite style.

E.) I love things that evoke creepy old-timey vibes. Now, Angela isn't creepy in the slightest. But I'm a big fan of songs like, "Midnight, the Stars, and You" from "The Shining" and, "I Can't Get Started With You" from the craptacular made for t.v. movie, "The Tower of Terror". I really lament that fact that there is no such thing as a supper club anymore, or women singing in giant seashells on stages with big bands. I think that was a glamorous and classy time, and I genuiney feel like I missed out. So any little piece of that style that I can grab and create in my own home makes me genuinely happy.

Angela will sit nestled amongst paper lanterns and framed diplomas, directly next to the Hagrid and Fang toys that my sister got me for my birthday last year. My hope is that she will inspire me to stay connected with my love of "showbiz legends" as Jen put it, and feel like I have some sort of grand history in pictures supporting me as a write. A la the opening sequence of, "A League Of Their Own".

Angela Lansbury, ladies and gentlemen. Not just a teapot.

2/23/09

Ten Point Oscar Wrap-Up

1.) The Barbara Walters special was a little watered down this year. Not that I don't respect Barbara, I definitely do. But the questions she asked this year kind of fell flat in my opinion. For one thing, they were very obvious questions meant to be nosy. Usually reporters try to mask that sort of thing, but not Barbara this year. She fired 'em off like they were rounds from the rude pistol. The interviewees would squirm, she would instantly change the question and move on. As David Spade would say, "You gotta finesse it a little." Walters used to be known for being able to get anything out of anybody. This year, I couldn't help but channel surf during the special. But maybe that says much more about me than it does about Barbara...

2/22/09

Good Luck Kate

Lauren loaned us the box set of "Extras" this weekend. All I can think about is her role on the first episode. I've got my fingers crossed for you, Winslet. I wonder what else is in store for the evening? In a really wacky twist of fate, a woman I used to work with at Chateau Thomas Winery is attending the Oscars tonight with my old boss, Dr. Charles Thomas, and pouring wine for the stars. I wonder who she'll pour for? Johnny Depp perhaps...crazy to think that I was once behind a mid-western counter with a woman who may pour a glass of wine for Johnny. But that's very "Kenneth the page" of me to think of it like that, isn't it? Sigh....



2/19/09

Friday Night Videos - Early Edition

I've got tomorrow's column to finish about Princess Leia's bikini...and I'm just too distracted thinking about which videos I'm going to post for Friday Night Videos. So I'll just do it now. Happy Early Birthday.

This week I'm focusing on 80's artists whose work is very lasting, genuinely touching, or bands featuring artists who have moved on to do even better work. (Will feature a couple of examples of this at the bottom of the blog.) I thought I owed you something with a little dignity after last week's M.C. Hammer-fest.

The Talking Heads seem to be one of those bands that people either love or hate. For the record, I love them. A lot. Byrne was always creative, as evidenced by the following video. But wait until you hear what he's been up to lately.



I never get tired of this next guy's voice. He's Colin Hay and I feel bad for him that he's mostly known as the guy from "that Australian 80's band". Because he's actually really phenomenal, and I think worthy of a Sting-sized following.



The next couple of songs just melt my heart every single time I hear them...and even though the videos are kind of unintentionally funny because they're from the 80's...the music hits me right in my emotions for some reason. I think they capture the ridiculous angst of young love extremely well. Heart melting, I say...



And of course...this one has the same strange effect on me. Maybe it's the very Dana Carvey/Rick Moranis thing he has going on. There's an extremely high likelihood that this one gets to me because of "The Breakfast Club". Judd Nelson/John Bender in that movie was also one of my first crushes. Man, I had a LOT of 80's crushes....



So those are some of my genuine favorites. I usually do a fairly tongue-in-cheeck entry for Friday Night Videos...but not this week. Because yes, the 80's were hilarious in many ways, but they weren't all silly. Especially not on the music scene.

Now here is David Byrne performing his amazing song, "Glass, Concrete, and Stone" which I love so much that it played at my wedding reception...maybe a couple of times. But this is just an example of his genius as an artist. Yeah, he was an 80's star, but he's still very worthy of your attention. There's no video, but give it a listen anyway...please, I beg of you. My very savvy best friend from high school, Lindsay introduced me to this, and it's one of those songs you put into your lifetime rotation.



Lastly, another contemporary example of the classic quality of Colin Hay's voice, the lead singer of "Men At Work". He's so amazing with just a guitar and his voice, and just this stripped down version of this song also carries some serious emotional weight.

In true "I'm always thinking of myself" fashion...I desperately want to cover almost all of the songs I've listed here at an open mic night. But I can't find a guitar player or a keys player who wants to do something so simple with me. Anybody known anyone in the Indy area who would be willing to just do one simple set with me?

The Coreys

No, not those Coreys.

I have an interview lined up for mid-march with an author named Cory Doctorow for "Geek Monthly". I'm finishing a piece on the 40th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion for a future issue, and I'm talking to him because he's one of the biggest Mansion geeks on record. A friend of mine from Doombuggies.com told me he had a special tux made for his wedding day that looked just like the Butler costumes that are worn by Disney employees in the mansion.

Last year I interviewed Corey Burton, who did the voice-over work for the Haunted Mansion Holiday Overlay.

So I think I just might have to track down more famous people named Corey and ask them what they think about the Haunted Mansion. There's the obvious question I would have to ask Corey Hart. "Do you wear your sunglasses in the mansion?"

Then for Corey Feldman...gosh, I don't know what I'd ask him. I might lose my cool a little around him. Along with Huey Lewis, Michael J. Fox in "Teen Wolf", and Harold Ramis from the first Ghostbusters, he was an early crush. Mostly thanks to his roles in, "Lost Boys" and one of the most underrated 80's dark comedies out there, "The Burbs".



Then for Corey Haim, I think I would just ask him if he's okay and buy him a cup of coffee.

I have to say, if I could go back in time and ride any Disney ride with any 80's icons...what, you don't think about these things? It would have to be the Haunted Mansion with the entire cast of "The Goonies". Because the ride would break down, and we'd have to get out of our doombuggies and get lost inside the ride, which would lead to some super-secret underground tunnels and end up in the pirate ship over at the "Pirates of the Carribean" ride. And I could ask Martha Plimpton to be my mentor.

I've had a lot of caffiene today, okay? Just go with it.

Aside from all this talk about the Coreys, if I ever own my own theater someday (Come on, winning lottery numbers!) I will show this one before, "The Burbs" as one of my first Saturday matinee double features. Enjoy the very "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" remix of the title song.



And if we wanted to make a marathon out of it, we'd go for both Ghostbusters movies, and then this...

Isolated Geeks

My Mom used to have this pair of bellbottoms. She made them herself and they were denim with all kinds of swirly sherbet colors. Like pink and light orange and raspberry. Sometimes she wore them with platform shoes that were made of stretched red leather and wood. I used to just die when she wore them to school. I couldn't understand why she would wear something that wasn't in style. (I probably thought this while wearing really dark purple lipstick with a y-shaped necklace, braces, and Umbro shorts....oy.)

She used to talk about how someday us girls would understand. Something would come along that we would love and then it would go out of style and we could either suffer the fate of not being able to wear our favorite thing, or be bold, wear it anyway and face the snark attacks head on.

Now that I'm 26, and I can look back and see how cool it was that my Mom always did literally whatever she wanted when it came to clothes and her life in general, I definitely get what she was saying. Because right now, at this time in my life, everything that I like is fairly mainstream. It's not a bad thing to be a geek anymore. The internet fixed that. You can find any kind of footage that you want of anything that you loved as a kid. You can find other people who love Star Trek or 80's music or a certain genre of movie.

Just the other day on, "The Big Bang Theory" I noticed that while "the guys" were playing Klingon Boggle, they had the same "How To Learn Klingon" book that I have the accompanying CD for. Same picture on the cover and everything. That same night I found that PBS was airing an American Masters about musical theater in general and, "Gypsy" in specific. LOST was on last night too, which I never miss. Even when it's in a slump. I was able to immediately run to the computer and start emailing people about my theory that Charlie appeared to Hurley and told him to to get on the plane and take his one of his old guitars with him. Hence why Hurley looked to be withholding some information.

I think that the days of isolation for geeks are OVER. Totally over. Instead of people feeling like individual weirdos, they can just say they're a part of a counter-culture. A la the Twilight Moms.

It really makes me think. I wonder what kind of counter culture my Mom would've been a part of throughout the 80's and 90's. Being firmly lodged in the mid-west, we always felt so weird. We were the "weird" family. Which wasn't that bad most of the time. Honestly. But it's just food for thought.

We weren't weird. We just weren't around people like us.

2/17/09

Funny Ladies

They're absolutely everywhere on television right now. They have no shame, they're totally willing to humiliate themselves for my entertainment...and I love it SO MUCH. And they're not just sidekicks, they're in the trenches doing prat falls and wearing hideously ugly clothes and making faces and doing all the hard work.

Finally, there are women on t.v. acting like complete and utter klutzes...now that's something I can relate to. I feel so immensely grateful for this. This could just be a perception thing, because I'm just now sort of "coming of age" as an adult enough to be able to take in media and decide what's good and bad, what I like and don't and why. But didn't it used to be a "thing" that women weren't as funny as men?


Maybe I could've understood the argument back in the day. Men ran the show, therefore, men were given most of the comedy and women were forced into the role of comedic straight man on shows like "The Honeymooners". Then came, "I Love Lucy", but she was a rarity. She set the stage for other greats like Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, Madeline Kahn, Lily Tomlin, and yes...all of the Golden Girls.

Now, it feels like women are getting to be funny all over the place. It's the prominence that I'm impressed with. It used be something of a niche interest to be into female comedians. Ellen used to be a niche. Even women like Catherine O'Hara, Tisha Campbell, and Tea Leoni only got to be funny in about 1/4 of the roles that there were given. Or maybe they were cast in the female role in a movie, and they just made it funny naturally.

But now, now it's an embarrassment of riches. There's the obvious Thursday night lineup on NBC with Tina Fey, Molly Shannon, Selma Blair, and even Jane Krakowsi. (Man, I hope they don't cancel "Kath and Kim". People just don't get it yet, it'll catch on...please give it another season NBC!) As well as all the ladies from the Office. Bonnie Hunt has her own talk show! SNL is still fairly evenly matched in the gender department, with women like Kristen Wiig, some new ladies, and still working alumni like Rachel Dratch and Maya Rudolph. Amy Poehler's joining with her own show too...

I saw Isla Fisher on Conan the other night, and I see a real rising star in her as a comedian. That's tough for me to admit, because I thought that "Wedding Crashers" was abominable and I'm not going to see, "Confessions of a Shopaholic" because it looks to be a little too pandering for me...but I think girlfriend's got chops. For sure.

Also in the rising star category, I think, is Kaley Cuoco from "The Big Bang Theory". She manages to play a sort of dumb blonde, who happens to be beautiful, and still manages to be extremely likeable and sympathetic. That's quite the accomplishment. I actually really love this show, it's so relatable to some of my college experiences, that it's sick. And yes, I just called myself a little dumb. Aren't we all when we're in college?

I really miss Leah Remini on "King of Queens". I think a lot of people underestimate her as an actress and a comedian, and I don't think she gets the roles she deserves. Her wit is razor sharp, and I'd really like to see more of her. I honestly think she could also hold up her own show.

The promos for "In The Motherhood" are making me laugh pretty hard too, even though that's a show I won't be able to relate to. It'll be nice to have something on the air that's the polar opposite of "Desperate Housewives", which I can't seem to force myself to watch.

I also enjoy Sarah "the other Becky from Roseanne" Chalke on "Scrubs". I don't think she deserves that moniker, but every time I just say "Sarah Chalke", people go, "Who?". She does amazingly well with physical comedy and plays neurotic well too. Ironically, I think she should go for some Laurie Metcalf type roles.

Then there's the fast-talking comedy of Kaitlin Olson from, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia". She has this way of making me feel completely comfortable watching things that would normally make me wince or turn red. That show is so over the top. She's definitely hysterical.

I'm drawn to comedy that has to be performed and isn't too mean-spirited. I can see how people like Chelsea Handler or Sarah Silverman...but they're just not my cup of tea.

But isn't it just amazing that I can list ALL these women, and they're all working at the same time in mainstream media? I've even left some out that I can think of right here and right now. I know the industry is still skewed, but I'm just glad that I'm this age at this time in the history of entertainment.


Please, don't let "Kath and Kim" go the way of the dodo or "Andy Barker P.I"!

2/15/09

Ludo, Sweetums, Gossamer, and...

I saw a commercial for a diet aid the other day that featured one heck of an adorable puppet. It was very "early Henson" as Jake put it. Whoever came up with that ad is a genius, because normally diet ads drive me toward acts of violence. Or minor vandalism in the very least. (Seinfeldian question of the day: Why do they ALWAYS put teeny tiny women in diet commercials?) Here's the little guy that gave me an epiphany about my love of muppets shaped like old-timey wardrobes...
I wish I saw that little guy every time I wanted a snack. It would make my scraping around in the fridge for wobbly old celery or slightly dried up tortillas a much more pleasant endeavor. Here is the parade of similarly shaped fictional creatures that just make me want to start hugging things.




What?!

They should send out geek newsletters about these things! Why didn't I know about this until today?

Jorge Garcia is keeping a blog, people. How very cool is that? There's nothing quite like some good old behind-the-scenes info.

Oh, and guess how I know about it? The Cakewrecks blog. What can I say, blogging's been good to me. They're both going in the nerdery section for this...

http://dispatchesfromtheisland.blogspot.com/

2/14/09

A Bonus Valentine

From my family to yours. My sister up near Michigan made these. They're the polar opposites of those little toothpaste flavored candy hearts. If you knew nothing about my family, I would show you these pictures first and the pictures of all of us wearing wax lips with fangs at a family reunion second. She said the "Suck It" cookie was especially for me since I loved Tina Fey's Golden Globes speech so much.

Speaking of Tina, how great was the Valentine's episode of 30 Rock?

Toys of the FUTURE!

As Terry would say from Futurama, "Welcome to the World of Tomorrow!"

Mattel is calling this a "mental acuity" game. I call it...a possible hoax. I don't know, what do you think?



This is Mattel's press release about the game. Read it and tell me if you're creeped out or excited about the possibility. It all feels so sci-fi movie plot to me. The only question is, what kind of a movie are we in if we play this game? The scary kind where the game is secretly training us as super-soldiers or the good futuristic kind where things are heading toward a utopian society? Or, is this just a cool game. Or an early April Fool's prank? You decide.

"About the game:
Have you ever dreamed of moving an object with the power of your mind? Mindflex™, makes that dream a reality! A lightweight headset containing sensors for the forehead and earlobes measures your brainwave activity. When you focus your concentration, a small foam ball will rise on a gentle stream of air. Relax your thoughts and the ball will descend. By using a combination of physical and mental coordination, you must then guide the ball through a customizable obstacle course – the various obstacles can be repositioned into many different configurations. Once you have the mental skills necessary to complete the course, it’s time to take it up a notch and challenge your friends and family to see who can achieve the highest scores by being the fastest and most accurate mental warrior around. Mindflex™ combines advanced technology with the power of thought to create an interactive experience unlike any other – a game where players compete in the ultimate mental marathon!"

For updates on Mindflex™ go to:
www.mindflexgames.com

You know, Star Trek: TNG episode 106 was called, "The Game" and dealt with addictive mental gaming. I'm just saying...

2/13/09

It's Always Hammer Time In My House


I'll get to the Hammer in a minute, first some shameless self-promotion. This week's column over at FOG is kind of a mish-mash of subject matter. Next week, I'll be tackling the subject of Princess Leia's bikini. About which I have a surprising amount to say. But as for this week...

http://www.forcesofgeek.com/search/label/AMB

Other items of interest: Here are two statements I overheard students say while subbing,

Girl: "Hitler walks like this..." *girl starts goosestepping*

Girl's Friend: "Hitler doesn't walk like anything, he's dead."

And the gem...

Girl: "My parents are afraid of the people in Hot Topic."

Kids do say the darndest things after all.

Item II:

I got to sit down and start writing only yesterday, and I just didn't feel like working on anything that had any pressure attached, so I did a couple of fluff pieces. But they were fun. Apologies to anybody who has already been repeatedly subject to these links via myspace or Twitter.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1470055/how_to_decorate_a_room_based_on_disneys.html?cat=30

&

http://www.ehow.com/how_4782288_based-disneys-haunted-mansion-attractions.html

All in all, it was a good week. An encouraging week. One of those weeks where you think to yourself, "Okay, I'm not crazy for trying to follow my dreams for a living, it just may work after all!" Progress is slow, but it's certainly progress.

In that spirit of moving on and not quitting, let's move on to Friday Night Videos. Otherwise known as "Hammer Time" this week.

First up is an opus of epic proportions. So large that I dare not embed it. (Plus, embedding on this one has been disabled.) If you want to skip the part with James Brown, though I can't imagine why you would, skip ahead to the 4 minute mark.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_mU1VFraHY

I want to be the backup singer that sings those two high notes over and over and over all the way through. I would fully support a Hammer comeback if he came back old school with the same act as before, and didn't try to come out as a gangster rapper. Again.



Man I loved that movie when I was a kid.



I call for more prayer-friendly rap. How about you?




Happy Valentine's Day! Nothing says, "I Love You" like a little time with M.C. Hammer.

2/9/09

Accentuate the Positive

I've been skipping around the house like a 50's housewife this morning singing Perry Como's "Accentuate The Positive", which just might be my new life anthem. I was wondering to myself, "Hmmm, why did I never listen to Perry Como before, I always listen to Sinatra and Martin and lots of other old-timey crooners." Then I remembered this!



I'm truly amazed when I really start to dig into "why" I do or don't like things as an adult, how many tiny little snippets of my childhood are responsible for the forming of my opinions. Makes a gal think...

David Alan Grier

David Alan Grier is one of the most socially poignant comedians to get his own show since Dave Chapelle. That's why I was so surprised to hear that he is going to be on Dancing With The Stars this year. That seems like the kind of thing he would make fun of, not participate in. (Side Note: I am constantly wondering if people are judging me for frequently ending my sentences in prepositions...but I don't care, it's how we talk in real life!) Anyway, I've never watched this show and now I fear I'll have to just to see him.

I remember first noticing David Alan Grier in "Jumanji" of all things. Then "Return To Me" came out when I was a senior in high school, which I went and saw four times at the theater, two of those times alone. I loved him in that too. He's the best at delivering fake punchlines.

He reminds me of Bernie Mac or Jim Gaffigan in the sense that he doesn't even have to have a funny line to deliver and he can make me laugh. Jake's the same way, if Daid Alan Grier yells, for some reason, Jake's doubled over in stitches. He's just one of those people, you know? I think if I ever see him in public, I'll just point and laugh. That will make him feel great. Right?

Anyway, here's his website... http://www.dagcomedy.com/ There's lots of great stuff of his floating around on YouTube and Hulu.

Great, now I've put myself in the mood to watch, "Return To Me" and I don't own it anymore, no VHS capabilites in this house. This is DAG doing his SPOT-ON impression of Maya Angelou:

2/8/09

Medium

By the way, Medium is back on t.v. This is a show I NEVER thought I would've liked, but have slowly come to love. It's funny, my best friend from high school and I have something in common. We suffer bouts of obsession, that are usually tough for us to explain. We are mysteriously drawn to specific television shows, actors, genres, whatever...for small stretches of time. Then the obsession fades and we just add that particular media to our library. We just all of the sudden have an insatiable curiosity for a show or film. I went through that with Medium when we had Netflix, and I figured out why later.

It's the marriage that's portrayed. It's so seldom that we see a marriage on television or in film that is portrayed as functional. The couple from Medium still has a spark, still has pssion. And it's just SO trendy to show loveless marriages or sullen people or households with deep dark secrets. (Desperate Housewives) This show portrays the couple fighting, which is a normal part of life. And the fights don't threaten their relationship, which is also a trend in television and film writing used to create suspense. But t's over-used at this point. This show features the mundane every day business of living together, who's driving who where and is your cell phone charged, and all that jazz.

Yes, the show is about a woman with pyschic tenedencies. (Or if you're religious, you could call it, "the gift of prophecy", whatever...) I'm not super big into that subject matter, but at it's heart, it's a show about a marriage and a family. The writers allow their main characters to be less than perfect and there's something fascinating about that. Usually in film or television it's like, good people do good things, bad people make mistakes and deserve to be doomed. But this show allows a bit of realism, which is ironic considering its subject matter.

There's also been Patricia Arquette's public battles over anonymous network people who informed her that she needed to lose weight for the show at one point. She refused, saying that it was way more accurate to be the NORMAL size that she was since she was portraying an average American mother and wife. That earned her and the show some major bonus points in my eyes, especially because it was discussed almost as an after thought, and not a battle fought on the covers of tabloids.

It's also cast really well, there's only a couple of actors that I don't love...but I won't name names.

It's also been ahead of itself when almost "jumping the shark". When it got too formulaic, it changed the plot. In many ways. That's something else I admire about it. They say some actors either have it or they don't, I think it's the same thing with television shows. I could list all the qualities that are great about Medium, but I think it's something intangible that makes it a truly good show. One that I want to watch every week, like 30 ROCK and The Office. Allow me to leave you with a fan girl moment from an episode that every Medium geek somply must find and watch for themselves. It was one of the most cinematic and endearing episodes of all.

Tisha Campbell

There are so many funny women out there...people are always saying, "women aren't as funny as men", but it's just not true. They may not get as many funny roles as men, but they are just as funny, if not more so. One of my favorite contemporary funny ladies is Tisha Campbell. Her role in "Little Shop of Horrors" is small, but it's so great. It's not exactly comedy work, but it is an example of her diversity.

Now that I've finished my "helpful robots" list for Forces of Geek, I think one of my next lists will be of contemporary comediennes.

I felt like this for the first half of the day.

2/6/09

Friday Night Videos and the new U2

First and most importantly, I heard the new U2 single today "Get On Your Boots" for the first time. I have to say that I really liked it, a lot actually. I can also see how it will grow on me tremendously as I listen to it time and time again the way I typically do whenever I get new (or new to me) U2. Funny enough, it reminds me a lot of their single from Batman Forever, it has that edgier sound. Kind of reminds me of "Desire" too in the sense that it makes me wish I was an action heroine. I've always desperately wanted to film an all female wild-west shoot out scene set to that song. With the women dressed as legitimate cowboys, not "gross Halloween costume for girls who want to show off their bodies" cowboys. No red lipstick. Anyway...

Unfortunately, I don't have great things to say about the accompanying video for the single. It's very early 90's Bond film, and I don't mean that in a good way. It's downright silly actually. But that's okay, they could probably never do anything to lose my love.

So on to tonight's selection of Friday Night Videos. This week, I decided to go with the theme of songs that I simply can't believe actually exist. They're just all so weird and silly...and yet they get stuck in my head so often. I have many happy memories associated with these songs. Walking around with my sisters at King's Island and singing them, driving to my marathon in St. Louis with Amber, and just "partying all the time" in general.



My favorite thing about that video is all the confirming looks that Eddie gets from Rick James and the crowd in the sound booth. Everyone's just like, "Oh man, this is SO amazing!"



Jake's main memory of this song is when it was featured in a Disney Haloween special in the mid-80's. This is one of the WEIRDEST songs/video ever made, I love it so much...by the way, Rockwell is Barry Gordy's son, hence Michael Jackson's chorus. It's just all so Monster Mash! When I hear it, I'm just sure that the whole reason Rockwell wanted to do this is because he thought he could repeat the success of "Thriller". The special bonus is Rockwell's oh so proper pronunciation of the word, "hair".

Moving along...



Wait a minute, I'M from the U.S. nation...it just makes it so much more relatable. How 'bout the dress on that girl too, eh? Personally, I genuinely miss 80's rap, like Run DMC. I feel like if Biz Markie would start rapping again, it could bring peace to the world. Because you just CAN'T be mad when you're listening to this stuff. And I haven't seen him since his cameo in Men In Black II. Where are you Biz??? The world needs you.

2/5/09

The Geekporium

has begun to expand...


I have a lot of ideas, but NO photoshop skills. I should learn so I can create to my heart's content.


2/4/09

Valentine's Day Movies

Being a freelance writer makes the holidays pretty anti-climactic. Why? Because chances are you've written about the impending holiday a couple of months before it even comes around and tried to sell something about it. I don't count anything that I write for AC as freelance necessarily, it's where I put lists of things or articles that for whatever reason, I just don't feel like following through on after a first draft. I take a lot of stabs at topics, sometimes spending hours on a topic before I realize that I'm not invested enough to actually pitch it to any editors anywhere, sometimes because the topic is so generic that I'm sure they've all been pitched on the idea a hundred times before. Plus, lists of things usually get done by staff writers. This is why I sometimes struggle as a writer, I just can't force myself to write something I don't care about.

But, being slightly obsessive, I just have to make lists of things anyway. So this was my short list of movies that I thought might make for fun Valentine's Day viewing. I've recommended several of these before in other lists and recognized a trend in them.

Boy, I'm really selling this one, aren't I? Actually, just don't even bother clicking on the link below...it's absolutely terrible and I stink and am very boring. (No seriously, click it.)

10 Unique Valentine's Day Movies

I did leave out this one, which is one of my all-time favorites to watch at this time of year.


I tend to warm to movies where the romantic angle is taken with a grain of salt. I guess I'm just prickly when it comes to romantic angles. I don't like to be patronized, that's why I'll take a romantic comedy over a just plain romance anyday. Because love is just not that serious in real life. In real life, you live with this person that you love, and funny things happen on an everyday basis. They step on your toes and they belch and they wake up with bad breath. THAT is real love, because that is real life. And I LOVE that, so when I'm watching a movie where it's all tears and agony, I guess that's just not something I can relate to anymore. Thankfully, my "Dawson's Creek" days of dating drama are over, and there's nothing more romantic than that.

2/3/09

Karen Allen wrote my name...

I can't believe I forgot to post about this, but today in the mail I got my autograph from Karen Allen. You see, the lovely and amazing Ms. Allen has a Fiber Arts business. (Something Jen also told me about before Indy IV came out...HUGE points for Jen over the last couple of days. Actually, I don't have a points system for my friends, but you know what I mean.)

At her website, in the CONTACT section, there is an address that they provide you with where you can send a photograph, and she will autograph it and send it back to you. Or one of her assistants will send it back, either way... who cares, right? (Why do I want to say that last sentence with a Brooklyn accent?)

I happen to believe that she's just one of those celebrities who really is just THAT nice to her fans. Can you imagine how many "weirdos" (As Sam Eagle would put it.) have probably written to her over the years, and she STILL does this for all her fans. For FREE. I also slipped in the chapter that I wrote about her for my "upcoming" book on action heroines. I couldn't help myself. As a little geek girl, you're always sort of naively doing things with the hope that somehow it will land you your "big break". I just have to take those chances, even when my brain tells me not to bother.

Anyway, I just thought that was really cool. If I do "make it" someday, I'm going to look to people like her and David Letterman and Tina Fey to be my role models. Then I'll go buy a bunch of caviar and diamonds and a golden limousine...

Here's me with my newly puffy face, groggily holding my awesome autograph.

Don't let me down...Bruce.

Jake and I were really intrigued by the Springsteen halftime show during the Superbowl. I know nothing about the man outside of the basic facts, and I've never been a fan. I've never been a non-fan either, but I was really blown away by his performance. It made me feel the way I felt watching Duran Duran live, really happy and excited. His music seemed to be so without angst, but not devoid of meaning either.

And hey, he had some of the guys from Conan O'Brien's band...bonus points in my eyes. Jen has started to introduce me to the man, or should I say "the Boss" and she's the one who introduced Lauren to U2 who then introduced ME to U2, who then proceeded to become the soundtrack of my life for many years. So I have high hopes for Bruce.

Anyway, it occured to me that I can pinpoint the PRECISE moment that I decided not to take Bruce Sprinsteen seriously. (By the way, I used to spell it "Sprinstein".)

When I was about 14, I used to babysit one of my nephews at my sister's place. She had cable. At the time, the Ben Stiller Show was popular, on MTV I believe. And I have always remembered this clip and took it to mean that Springsteen was a silly sort. Because when you're 14, you give more creedence to things like this when forming opinions. The part of my brain that analyzes satire must not have been fully developed yet.

Anyway, I hadn't seen this clip since that day over a decade ago until I searched for it on YouTube today. And that's the story of me and Bruce Springsteen up to this point. One last thing, Youtube videos are being finnicky about appearing on my site lately, (Noticed the same problem over at failblog.org) so just in case, here's the link.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=BeDAcDHjt7A

The wisdom's in the teeth, not the glass windows


I had two wisdom teeth removed this morning.

Fun.

There is an upside to having some kind of minor surgery that will leave you incapacitated for a few days though. Should you be forced into such a predicament, be sure to have married a cool guy (with a cool family) who will surprise you by borrowing his brother's gaming system and go rent "Tomb Raider: Anniversary". It will make all the difference to your recovery, I assure you.

I have to say, I had a really hard time staying relaxed while in the dentist's chair, because I just kept thinking about Bill Cosby's dentist routine. My nervous reaction is ALWAYS to think of something funny, nervously giggle, get all hyperactive, and I couldn't let that ball start rolling...it could only end in tears. So I just tried to hum a soothing Bobby McFerrin tune to myself from the album, "Medicine Man". Hey, whatever works. You CAN'T laugh when someone has all those tools in your mouth. Also, it is disconcerting to hear the word "blade" while in such a helpless position. I'm just saying.

Anyway, I am sadly behind on my Tomb Raider, the last game I played all the way through was TR: Legend. In the movie department to keep me company, I also have the much underrated, "Contact", the what I would consider to be guilty pleasure, "Tombstone", and the hilarious, "The Pink Panther Strikes Again".

2/2/09

Culture Shocked by TV

I've got some nerve being shocked, and I know that. I just want you to know that I know that before I dive in. There.

I've been without t.v. for the past six months. Sometimes, I just don't have it. I had network t.v. all through my childhood, then I moved into the dorms at college and had free cable, and literally watched more television in year than I ever had in my whole life. I kept it on all night and slept to it. It was kinda pathetic, but what can I say? I was lonely.

Then I moved into my first house with roomates. One day, a tree fell near our house and our cable just went out. Just like that. I remember us all kind of wandering out of our rooms and being like, "What now?" I remember the exact moment, because I was watching, "Housesitter" and sitting on my bed. It was like waking up from the Matrix. From then on out, I didn't have television. We didn't have it in our next house together, I didn't have it when I lived alone, and so on and so forth. Jake and I only got cable when we moved back to Muncie.

Then, this last August, we just felt like we needed a break from it and the bill it brought with it every month. We can get everything we want on the internet, so we just shut the t.v. off. It was a weird adjustment, but then it became quiet bliss. We talked when he got home. We went to bed early instead of staying up to watch Conan or SNL. We cooked meals together and sat at a table while eating instead of sitting on the couch. Honest to goodness, I got fewer headaches. It was amazing.

We changed service providers recently, and they dangled free basic cable in front of us. Well, naturally, we took it. It was purely coinciental that this happened right around the time that LOST, MEDIUM, the Superbowl, and a handful of our other favorite shows and events were returning to television.

Now, I've been culture shocked before. I've been in and out of the t.v. world and I've been in and out of different countries, and believe it or not, the feeling of culture shock is all the same. It's just a lot of anger and annoyance. You know you shouldn't be annoyed, but you just are. This is where I want you to remember that I said at the beginning of this blog that I KNOW I have a lot of nerve saying I'm shocked. We live in the world after all, and nothing is perfect.

But did you know that what's on television is really sexist? Shocking, right? But it is. When we didn't have t.v. we just rented a lot of movies, and one of the last movies we rented was the literally abominable "Surfer, Dude"...which I could spend HOURS talking about since it was so horrible. But since we're on another topic, I'll just say that the movie made me SO angry that I took it out of the DVD player and kicked it across the room. Why? Among other things, it was hideously sexist.

I HATE watching female characters who are obviously written by men. They're either models or hot models or they're stereotypes (the "mean" one, the "sexy" one, etc) or they're dumb as rocks. There are always 50 men to one woman and they women are always about an average of 20 years younger than the men in the movie or television show. Yet they're mysteriously attracted to the lead male character. And they all fight over a man, and they're all vicious backstabbers. It literally makes me sick. It makes me mad enough to kick DVDs. Why do they even bother trying to pretend they're making a movie with a plot? Why not just go work for "Girls Gone Wild"?

Well, television is no better. I'm not saying it should or shouldn't be, I'm just saying, I HATE THAT FACT. Within the first quarter of the game last night, I saw a movie preview with two women dancing for a man while he watched, countless women being dumb and sexy, and all kinds of other RIDICULOUS and completely unrealistic portrayals of women. Usually whenever I talk about this, both men and women roll their eyes at me and tell me to, "lighten up". But it's like I said, I'm not crusading for change...I'm not that stupid. I'm just sick of it all. Sick of seeing it. Sick, sick, sick. So I guess I'll have the t.v. off about as often as I did when we just didn't have it.

In what dream world do these magical "for men only" women-bots live? Why is EVERYTHING on television built to appeal to adolescent males? (Don't answer that, I know it has something to do with money.)

Here's the kicker, I have perspective. Honest, I do. I am NOT against the portrayal of women as sexy. I'm not even anti-nudity. There are countless women whose beauty I can appreciate, even women who are considered way over-the top Hollywood beauties. Salma Hayek and Kate Winslet, Bettie Page, Rita Hayworth and Angelina Jolie, just to name a few.

In a weird way, those are women I feel comfortable knowing that men thought were attractive, because they look like real women. But I hate one-sided portrayals of women. I hate it when they package femininity like it's for a man and slap it onscreen and use it for a means to an end. I hate it even more that so many women buy into this idea and start ACTING like the women they see on t.v. and in movies. One dimensional, aggressive, attention-seeking bobble heads. It's insulting, even though I should "be used to it". I don't like it when they do it to men either. A la the disgusting Axe commercials or the old-timey Diet Coke guy. It's patronizing.

I hate seeing dehumanized people.

I feel like the last person in the world that this bothers. I feel like I'm in grade school all over again and people are like, "What's the big deal? Who cares?" But I can't seem to stop myself from getting emotional about it. I don't know why, I wish there was an off-switch. But it still makes me mad.