9/30/10

Retro Orlando: September 2010

My monthly column for Orlando Attractions Magazine is up now for the month of September, and as usual, it's 80's-tastic.

The 1986 way to get to an Orlando tourist attraction. 

Tim Burton and Danny Elfman Announce Another Cool Collaboration



The website is HERE.

How amazing is this?

Family Guys does "Clue" - Season 9 Premiere Review

I was talking to my students today about manipulation in writing. All creative writing is manipulation. Whether it's for stage or screen, book or magazine, writers intend to create emotion in people and make them feel a specific way and contemplate specific topics. That's kind of the whole point. Of all art.

But sometimes that manipulation can go too far and push us out of the story. I asked my students to talk about when the manipulation can go too far and ruin a story for them. Several brought up M. Night Shymalan movies, saying that the plots became so outrageous and silly that they could no longer believe the writer's manipulation. Others said horror movies lose them easily, we talked specifically about Hostel and how the frustration of watching characters almost completely victimized, seemingly not able to make a difference in their own circumstances, can make viewers disconnect from the movie, thinking to themselves, "Who cares? They won't survive anyway."

It was a good discussion and it got my wheels turning on something that has been bothering me for years.

Family Guy. I loved the show when it first premiered. It was wry and sarcastic and full of dark humor. The idea of a baby that wants to kill his own mother is so absurdly humorous.

9/29/10

Midnight with the Stars and you...

Once upon a time, there was a little website called Myspace...and oh how I loved it. Then I got stalked there and deleted my account.

But before that, I enjoyed making themed playlists on their music player. Halloween and Haunted Mansion playlists, old timey playlists, Indiana Jones playlists, and so many more. This song was almost always on my list, no matter the theme. Always. Does that make me creepy? (Don't answer that.) Because I totally have some kind of romantic attachment to this song, despite never having a romantic experience attached to it. Maybe it's that Haunted Mansion/Tower of Terror/Indiana Jones era of music that just clicks with me.

But yeah, it's best known for ending, "The Shining". Maybe I'm just sick.

Enjoy!

Here's To New Bloggers

I try to read as many blogs as I possibly can. That's difficult sometimes with teaching and finishing a thesis and freelance work. But still, I like to stay up to date on what's happening with other people's blogs.

A new blogger emailed me a couple of months ago and told me that a conversation we had this summer at church made her want to start blogging. She kept a Live Journal account for years, but she realized after our conversation about art and home life that she was ready to pursue something different. So she started THIS BLOG. HowdyHoosier.com

It's one thing to surf around and discover blogs that have been around for years. I read Wil Wheaton's, BoingBoing, PinkRayGun, SmithBites, and I visit a lot of websites on a regular basis. AintitCool, Mousetalgia, Doombuggies, etc. I have my rounds. I bet you do too. But it's something else entirely to have the chance to witness a new blogger just getting started.

9/27/10

You Know You're a Geek When...

A girlfriend asks you how she can return a favor and you think to yourself that you can't really come up with anything at the moment.

 So you then tell her that you will consider her your "giant eagle" friend. When you need her for something, you will call upon her the way Gandalf calls upon one of his giant Eagle buddies.

 Like, oh, say you're trapped by an evil wizard on top of a giant tower, you could send her a message via tiny little moth, and she can help you out by showing up in a really cool dramatic fashion and saving the day. Or, she could buy you a sandwich sometime. Either way.

True story. It's where my mind went.

Also, this morning, when I looked at my cell phone on my nightstand to see what time it was, it was precisely this bright...

Cell Phone the White.

9/25/10

Bill and Ted Ride AGAIN!

There's a little something in this world called, "the zeitgeist". It sort of  means, when something just seems to be in the air amid creative types. When you say to yourself, "That's funny I was just thinking/talking/writing about that," when you hear about something in the news or from a friend. Well, a few nights ago, in the middle of the night, I randomly asked Jake if we could rent, "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" this weekend. To which, of course, he gave a resounding yes. (Not that I need to ask permission to rent anything, but I wanted to know if he would think it would be fun.) To top that off, I've been walking around humming, "God Gave Rock and Roll To You" all week.

I loved the Bill and Ted movies when I was a kid. They were cheesy fun, but then again, I do confess to the ending of "Bogus Journey" striking a chord with my young, Star Trek influenced, Utopian-socialist heart. A world of peace and harmony brought on by rock and roll? I liked it. (Plus, even back then I knew that they filmed in some locations where the Star Trek: TOS was filmed.)

Plus, I had a major crush on Ted Theodore Logan and always identified with movies where the losers became the heroes. Imagine that. (I also kind of thought the Reaper was cute. What the heck was wrong with me? An early jones for the artsy films of Ingmar Bergman? A sick fascination with death? A pre-Conan love of pale-skinned Scandanavian men? Maybe the question is best left unanswered.)

So you can bet I got pretty excited when I accidentally discovered today that there will be ANOTHER, "Bill and Ted" sequel. Or so they say. I have my doubts. But this is one sequel that would give me no apprehension whatsoever. If it's bad, who cares? It's kind of supposed to be, right?

Check the article on DEATH AND TAXES here.

So let's prepare, shall we? Let's revisit the joy that was the idealistic early nineties and discover where we left our heroes...



Where do you think Bill and Ted will go next? Oh, and good luck getting the KISS song out of your head. *maniacal laughter*

9/24/10

NEW Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trailer

I remember sitting in the Ball State library in the autumn of 2000, working in the reference section and reading a news article that said casting was underway for a movie based on the Harry Potter books. If I would've had any idea how big the movies were going to be...I mean, for children who grew up with these movies, it was their Star Wars or Indiana Jones. There's literally never been a series of so many films, mostly trilogies and that was all. So what are we all going to do when there's no more Harry Potter to watch?

My family is celebrating Thanksgiving this year by going to the movies to see this instead of sitting around in a traditional dinner. Then again, to my family, seeing a movie is kind of the traditional celebration. (Reason #512 why I love them so.)

Anyway, here is the latest trailer. If you're as obsessed as me, you've probably already seen it several times. Bill Nighy! The high drama! The goosebumps! Enjoy it yet again. Let's milk this last little phase of life when there will still be an unseen Harry Potter movie in our futures with as much geeky anticipation as we can.

9/23/10

"Best Action Heroines" tackles some comics

You know, sometimes I wonder to myself...can't I ever just sit back, relax and enjoy? I do, often. But sooner or later, I find myself pondering, musing, looking for patterns and connections. It's an annoying habit, this critical one. But it's also a sign of my ongoing obsessions. When you just can't let something go, when you have to pick it up and look at it again and again in different lights at different angles.

For years, I decorated with comic books. I framed them and hung them on my wall, separated room by room with one action heroine for a theme a piece. I had my Poison Ivy kitchen, my Batgirl living room, my Harley Quinn bedroom. If you think the Big Bang Theory guys decorate like geeks, they had nothing on me...

I've toned it down since then, mostly to accommodate more obsessions. The Haunted Mansion, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. But between my decorating and our weekly trips to Bob's Comic Castle and the movies and books on our shelves, comic books still lurk in my life at all times. I've dyed my hair, bought clothing, and undertaken entire exercise regimes that have been inspired by the world-saving characters of film and comics that I love so well. It's just another theme that I visit again and again.

These are crafty and intelligent women with traits I'd love to embody, with interests I'd love to have time to pursue. From archaeology to astronomy to world travel, they're just plain fascinating. Just plain cool. Yet, born from so much tumult, so much social chaos and McCarthyism and sexual revolution. You can read them like a map, these characters. From whatever decade they originated in to their costumes to their superpowers, they all mean something symbolically. Yet the pleasure of watching them leading these globe-trotting, take no prisoners, roof-jumping lifestyles, usually while maintaining high punk rock aesthetics and visual individuality...it's just plain easy to envy.

So if you find yourself wondering why I turn these things over and over and over again in my head, just know that I wonder too. I don't have an answer for you. I guess it's just part of being a geek deep down in your DNA. I really can't help it. Hanging Star Trek comic books in frames in my bathroom just feels like the right thing to do. Growing up with it, examining this phenomenon that's such a huge part of American pop culture, and the way that pop culture is a method to take the pulse of a nation or a generation. So just know...I think it's weird too.

That being said, here's a recent addition to my other blog, Best Action Heroines...this time I'm thinking about the action heroines of comics that I've spent so much time obsessing over and their possible implications on the ongoing movement of feminism.

CLICK HERE TO READ ON...

9/22/10

Ain't It Cool Does Something Cool (Imagine That...)

The movie news and review website AICN (Ain't It Cool News) has been doing something very cool indeed lately. They've been posting some old behind-the-scenes photos from productions that were shot when we didn't have such a thing as a special features section on a DVD. If you visit THIS LINK, you can see the original post that shows the pic I shared in this blog today. But if you scroll down, you can also see a whole mess of behind-the-scenes pictures from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and a lot more. These are shots that you haven't seen before, and they're just very very inspiring. (If you're new to AICN, beware, there are plenty of what Spock would call, "colorful metaphors" on the site. Lots of bad language, in other words, and totally not safe for kids.)

If you're like me, you take in as much behind-the-scenes info from movies as you possibly can! Especially anything from the classics. I just showed, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" to my husband for the first time a year and a half ago and he loved it. This movie terrified me as a kid and it was the first in a series of terrifying encounters with monsters of the deep on film. (JAWS being the primary monster, of course.) So enjoy the pictures! I know I do!

9/21/10

Wreck the Halls! It's never too early for Halloween...

Would you believe I'm already in the mood for Halloween? Well, believe it. Because I am. We've purchased our Creamy Pumpkin handsoap from Bath and Bodyworks, installed the Spiced Cider air freshener, and plugged in the light up pumpkins. We've strung the purple lights and we're already listening to our Halloween iTunes collection while sipping on a Pumpkin Spice latte.

As an "artist", a writer, a blogger, and a creative type in general, I live my life in a series of themes and obsessions and the holidays always suit that need for a theme. It's the time of year to watch Harry Potter movies and bake pies and don cozy sweaters and rake leaves...I don't care if it is ninety degrees outside! (And it is.)

So go digging into some links below if you're ready for fall fun, and enjoy this video of the Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland which goes up every year at about this time. It's the perfect blend of Haunted Mansion goodness and holiday cheer!

Twenty Halloween Flicks, made-for-television movies, and Cartoons

Seven Halloween Cartoons to Get You in the Mood for Halloween

Fun Autumn Seasonal Movies 

David Letterman at Ball State

This is my coverage of Biz Stone and David Letterman's visit to Ball State for Indiana Public Radio last Friday.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE STORY. 

9/20/10

I Shook Karl Rove's Hand

It's true you know, I did shake Karl Rove's hand. I work as a freelance reporter for Indiana Public Radio alongside some of my teaching and grad school duties. I love radio. A lot. It's one of the few mediums that I think, has the power to transcend our culture's constant visual, commercial and overtly-sexualized image-based assault on all of us.

Everywhere we turn, it's image, image, image. I'm not anti-image, believe me, as a movie freak I'm quite the opposite. But I was raised on public radio, and there's something really soothing about being able to simply listen instead of having to be visually entertained all the time, and in radio, it's much harder to pass off any sneaky advertising. Also, radio let's the imagination play. But now I'm on a tangent.

I was lucky enough to snag the assignment to cover Karl Rove's visit to Ball State University, where he was to give a speech entitled, "Why Mid Term Elections Matter". Before the speech, he gave a press conference to local media.

Now listen, when a controversial speaker comes to town, they don't have to answer any questions. So I always appreciate it when people of note, specifically people who have to know that they are going to be facing some tough questions, open themselves up to the media. For that, I am very grateful to Rove, who was gracious in speaking with us.

9/13/10

What is real art? or Pardon Me, but I'm Raging Against the Machine.

God as Burgess Meredith?
You know that old saying, "If it walks like a duck, and it talks like a duck, it's a duck."

Well, that's how I feel about art. If it's self-expression, it counts as art in my book.

We're trying to get something off the ground at our church right now, something we've been trying for and praying for for years. Ever since Jake and I were married, we've had a vision. It's kind of amorphous at the moment, but aren't all ideas about life, when you're young and married and you have no idea what your future holds? Right now, we're attempting to get some filmmaking workshops off the ground for people with no knowledge of cameras or editing. For people who want an outlet, a voice, a way to make a documentary or a short film that will change the world, show something important, or just give people power in their own lives. But that's really just the tip of the iceberg in our vision.

This dream is nothing new.

9/5/10

Going the Distance (Her Review) - mild spoilers

My husband and I decided to try something we've been thinking about for a good long while. Instead of talking about a movie on the way out of the theater, we decided to wait until we got home, go to our separate corners, and write separate reviews without knowing what the other one thinks. The Drew Barrymore/Justin Long comedy, "Going the Distance" is the first movie in our little experiment. This is my review, and when Jake is done, I'll include a link to his. "Going the Distance" (His Review) I guess it's our own little version of, "At The Movies", but without famous people...and without a television show. No Ebert either...

"Going the Distance" is intended to be an adult romantic comedy. I know this, because I heard Drew Barrymore talking about it on "The Late Show" with David Letterman. The idea is that this romantic comedy is grounded in reality. It's not candy coated and it's not a fantasy. It's meant to highlight the real issues that long-distance couples face as they attempt to stay faithful to each other, fight phone fatigue and inflated airline ticket prices, and just generally go about the business of maintaining a normal relationship without moving too fast or too slow. Great premise.

One problem.

Every person in this movie is a frat boy. (No offense to frat boys everywhere.)

The Park Geeks Ride Again - The Tea Party Comes Along (and I'm not talking about the Mad Hatter...)

Jake and I hit up Kings Island yesterday, but not for filming. Just to enjoy. We are releasing a tip this month on our Park Geeks YouTube page and filming in Florida this October. So there's more on the way. But until then, here's a little photo album of sorts from the Park Geeks' day off, three pictures from our day. After that, I'll get into a little review of how Kings Island is doing this season and tell you about some of our stranger experiences yesterday.

The Zephyr became a new favorite yesterday after a rough ride on The Beast.

9/2/10

True Confessions of a Bad Vegetarian

I was sitting on the outdoor patio of a restaurant last week when a phrase caught my ear. A young woman, dressed very business professional was hobnobbing with a colleague. Before she took a bite of her thick hamburger, she paused to make a notation in their conversation. Something about an issue they were trying to define, and she said, “Let’s put a face on this,” before she bit down hard. And I envisioned a cow’s face, a cow’s head really, a dead cow to be more specific. I’ll leave it at that, but the image only grew more disturbing in my mind. I almost threw my napkin at her. Really, who says the word “face” before biting down on meat?  

9/1/10

Getting Schooled, Scone Style...

Jake and I work for/with these amazing food bloggers sometimes at a website called SmithBites.com, which is an extremely cool and artful foodie site that shares recipes, tips, and beautiful photography related to the culinary arts and food tourism. Last May we filmed a little something called, "Well Seasoned" and Debra recently released a kind of mini-video of stills from our day of shooting.

The idea was, I'm learning how to cook and bake and having a ball. But I'm honestly still really intimidated by a lot of the processes involved. So Debra is being very patient with me and teaching me things and showing me that cooking is accessible to everyone and that I can, in fact, do it too. Here is a link to the entry she recently posted where she shows me how to make scones. (They're SUPER tasty!)

Here is the video that just goes to show, cooking makes me as nervous as Chunk from The Goonies having to spill his secrets...it all came flowing out under the very real fear that I may ruin my scones...I'm telling you, baking is free therapy. (I'm also proud to say that I've lost a considerable amount of weight since the filming...hooray for my face being de-bloating!!!)


Scone Therapy with Audrey from Smith Bites on Vimeo.

I HEART Smithbites.com and you should too! (There's no "heart" function of course, but you can always like them on Facebook.)