Saturday, October 17, 2015

HALLOWEEN: Dream a Little Dream

Because I'm watching the first five Nightmare on Elm Street movies today...

Friday, October 16, 2015

This Week in Neat-O

:: Terry Gilliam's deleted animations from Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam's own commentary. ("What does John expect me to talk about??")

:: Hear The Epic of Gilgamesh Read in its Original Ancient Language, Akkadian

:: Here's a Deviant Art user who carved a fantastic pumpkin that uses projection to re-create a scene from Luigi's Haunted Mansion.

:: Cracked has an article about some of the differences in the James Bond films and their source novels that includes one of the best descriptions I've ever heard of their different approaches: "The movies are wish fulfillment that try to convince you of how cool it would be to be cool in various scenarios. The books are wish fulfillment for those that would like to be in a nearly constant state of panic, followed by a short span of calm, followed by a lengthy span of vodka. You don't finish the books wanting to be James Bond. You finish the books hoping that James Bond just gets a night of uninterrupted sleep."

:: The trailer for Netflix's Mr. Show follow-up, W/ Bob & David.

:: Steve Irwin died nine years ago now, and I still can't believe it. Did you know that Animal Planet still shows The Crocodile Hunter early in the morning every weekday? It broke my heart when he died. Becca and I were big fans, His daughter Bindi is now an amazing and beautiful young lady, and she did an emotional dance tribute to him on Dancing with the Stars that I found quite moving.

:: Cartoonist Pranas T. Naujokaitis is doing a series of Lost Monster Cereal Boxes on his Tumblr for Inktober, and they're wonderful.

:: And here's another very talented artist who draws... well, he's drawn some... samurai frogs!

HALLOWEEN: Peanuts, 1983

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

JOY RIDE (2001)
Alright movie about a pair of brothers (Paul Walker and Steve Zahn) driving cross-country to pick up the neighborhood girl that one of them likes (Leelee Sobieski). The male characters are pretty recognizable, but, par for the course for a JJ Abrams-written movie, the girl is written like the fantasy of a man who's never met a girl before. The guys get a CB radio and play a prank on a trucker (voiced by Ted Levine), and are made to pay for it over and over again. Some effective stuff, but it ultimately doesn't add up to much more than some ephemeral fun that won't stay with you. Directed, weirdly, by John Dahl, who made one of my favorite movies, The Last Seduction. **1/2

FOCUS (2015)
Margot Robbie as someone new to running confidence games who is taken under the wing of a smooth con artist (Will Smith). They fall in love, but he leaves her behind because she'll complicate his set-up, and then runs into her when he's running a different, more dangerous con years later. The problem with movies about cons is that they are fun, but there's never a lot of depth to them because you can't trust the emotions being presented; they often turn out to be necessary misdirection in order for the con to surprise you. Focus is slick and stylish and fun, but it's shallow, and the screenplay doesn't seem to understand that. There are too many times where it wants to play the movie as a flick about a cynic who learns to care about someone, and it just sort of derails the film's second act, so not everything clicks into place. There are some good twists in the third act that mostly save it, and like I said, it's a stylish movie. I like that it feels a kinship to older con movies like The Thomas Crown Affair (a movie which, in my opinion, had similar problems). It has a surprising soundtrack that mixes eras; I was very gratified to hear It's a Beautiful Day's "White Bird" in the movie. And, honestly, the chemistry between Will Smith and Margot Robbie really makes up for a lot, because he usually comes across pretty cold to me. I've never seen him have what I would consider good chemistry with anyone. (Tommy Lee Jones works with him because he bounces lines off of straight man Jones.) Robbie is kind of wonderful and lovable, though, so she seems to have good chemistry with anyone. It's not a great movie, and it's not quite the sophisticated surprise it wants to be, but it's fun, the leads are great together, and I enjoyed myself. ***

WILD (2014)
I'm willing to concede that I'm not necessarily the audience here. Honestly, this one left me a bit cold. Reese Witherspoon stars in a true story about a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother (Laura Dern, only an 8 year-age difference) died of cancer. I just couldn't really find a hold here. I really liked how it was directed, almost like an impressionistic, female-led take on the kind of movie they made in the early seventies were people dropped out of society in order to find themselves. (Also, it didn't piss me off like Into the Wild did, which is a plus.) But the way it's structured doesn't establish a time and place for her to drop out of, and so the wilderness didn't have as much of an impact. It didn't seem like she was shutting herself off from society in order to purge herself or try to re-establish her links on her own terms; it just seemed lost and meandering and a little too formless. I don't mind formless, but I didn't feel this movie's point. I think I'd be more interested in reading the book, honestly. **1/2

HALLOWEEN: Throwback Thursday

Some Halloweens past.

Here's my sister Jayne in 1982 with my maternal grandparents. I love the Jack O'Lantern on the right. He just looks really happy and excited that Halloween is coming.

Here we are in 1983. Jayne is wearing one of those Ben Cooper Halloween costumes (Cabbage Patch Kids), but by the ripe old age of 7, I felt like those were for babies. I was pretty excited to get to use makeup that year for my costume, going as a vampire. I even have those lame vampire teeth stuffed in my mouth. They were annoying, so I only put them in just before ringing someone's doorbell.

1984, the first of Jayne's 40 straight seasons going as a witch. I'm Mer-Man from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The raincoat is supposed to be a reasonable substitution for the skin, I suppose. As a creature-loving kid, I was really excited to get a "real" mask that year. I'm not sure who made that mask, but it reminds me a little of Don Post Studios. I sweated so much in that thing.

1985 is one of the many, many years in which we have no pictures of my costume, which sucks. (There is one of Jayne, who went as, of course, a witch.) But this is a nice photo of the two of us with Dad carving pumpkins out on the deck.

Some old Halloween memories.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

HALLOWEEN: Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts

This Halloween season, I decided I'd try the limited edition seasonal Frosted Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts. I like Pop-Tarts. I like pumpkin pie. I was sure I'd love them together.

But... no. Somehow, these Pop-Tarts left me cold. It was great to try them (and they were on sale, cheep!), but they just tasted like a big nothing to me.

See, pumpkin pie is my favorite of all the pies. Every late September through late December, I make a bunch of pumpkin pies, because it's just one of the things that makes the season for me.

I guess it's because I'm used to biting into a thick pumpkin pie with its rich flavor that I found the Pop-Tarts equivalent to be kind of a nothing. It didn't really emulate the flavor for me. It tasted kind of citrus-y, but mostly it tasted like pastry with a begrudging smattering of filling. Not what I expect from a Pop-Tart, honestly, and not at all what I expect from limited edition Halloween food. As I keep saying, what I like about Halloween food is that is usually tastes freshly made. (It's the reason why I really only want Oreos at Halloween.) Becca said there was too much ginger and not enough complimentary "pumpkin spices" to balance it out, but that lack of satisfying filling just killed it for me.

Oh, well. They can't all be winners.

You know what does make me happy, though? Cheetos Bag of Bones are back! That was one of the big winners of last year's Halloween season for me, and I'm pleased to report that they taste just as great in 2015 as they did in 2014. They make me giddy, just like that banner, which I stole from the official Cheetos Facebook page.

So, while I am disappointed in the Pop-Tarts, there are Cheetos Bones to be had! And pumpkin pie to be made!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

Muppet Monday

I always wish there was more Halloween-related Muppet stuff, but there's really not a ton. But I did just find a picture of this Hallmark wall decoration from 1981.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Song of the Week: "Mind Games"

Friday would have been John Lennon's 75th birthday. I've featured Lennon on Song of the Week seven times over the years, but somehow I've never posted this one, my favorite. From 1973.

HALLOWEEN: Tumblr Finds II