Saturday, August 07, 2010


I took this from Caffeinated Joe, who got it from Billy Loves Stu, who created it. It's a meme for horror bloggers, and while I'm not a horror blogger, I do love horror movies. So I'm going to just go ahead and do it.

1: In Ten Words or Less, Describe Your Blog:

Me wasting time and talking about stuff.

2: During What Cinematic Era Where you Born?
A: The Classic Horror Era (late 30's to 40's)
B: The Atomic Monster/Nuclear Angst Era (the late 40's through 50's)
C: The Psycho Era ( Early 60's)
D: The Rosemary's Baby Era (Mid to Late 60's)
E: The Exorcism Era (Early to mid 70's)
F: The Halloween Era (Late 70's to Early 80's)
G: The Slasher Era (Mid to late 80's)
H: The Self Referential/Post Modern Era (1990 to 1999)

Born in 1976, I feel like I'm on the cusp between E and F; after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Last House on the Left, but just before The Hills Have Eyes and Halloween.

3: The Carrie Compatibility Question:
(gay men and straight women - make your choice from section A)
A: Billy Nolan or Tommy Ross, who would you take to the prom?
(straight guys and lesbians - make your choice from section B)
B: Sue Snell or Chris Hargensen, who would you take to the prom?

Chris Hargensen, of course!

4: You have been given an ungodly amount of money, and total control of a major motion picture studio - what would your dream Horror project be?

I don't have a dream horror project, but if I did, I can assure you it wouldn't be remaking a classic horror film.

5: What horror film "franchise" that others have embraced, left you cold?

I'm not interested in seeing any of the Saw movies.

6: Is Michael Bay the Antichrist?

Not at all. He's just a very, very, very bad filmmaker. We've got a lot of those, sadly.

7: Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Frankenstein Monster - which one of these classic villains scares you, and why?

None of them. They're like old friends to me.

8: Tell me about a scene from a NON HORROR Film that scares the crap out of you:

When Lampwick changes into a donkey in Pinocchio. It's terrifying, especially when you're a child, but even as an adult. Just that horrible, plaintive cry--"Mother! Mother!"--followed by a donkey bay and watching his hands change into hooves... it's awful.

9: Baby Jane Hudson invites you over to her house for lunch. What do you bring?

A rain check.

10: So, between you and me, do you have any ulterior motives for blogging? Come, on you can tell me, it will be our little secret, I won't tell a soul.

No. Just wasting time.

11: What would you have brought to Rosemary Woodhouse's baby shower?

I don't really do baby showers. But maybe some wine and cheese...

12: Godzilla vs The Cloverfield Monster, who wins?

I haven't seen Cloverfield, but Godzilla. Godzilla wins.

13: If you found out that Rob Zombie was reading your blog, what would you post in hopes that he read it?

I don't know; I don't think I have much to say to Rob Zombie. I mean, I'm a fan of his, and except for Halloween II, I've liked all of his movies. I'd just suck up, and why bother doing that? He's just a person, full of shit like you and me and anyone else.

14: What is your favorite NON HORROR FILM, and why?

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is my favorite movie of all time. Why? Well, because of the way it makes me feel when I'm watching it.

15: If blogging technology did not exist, what would you be doing?

Same thing I did before blogging: writing, watching movies, reading. The things I do when I'm not blogging now.


Friday, August 06, 2010

Doctor Didgeridoo

I love this version of the Doctor Who theme played by world music trio Manta with a guitar, a didgeridoo, and a cello.

Great Things Come in Bears

Tag line double entendre? Check. Mad sex faces? Check. I had no idea that Yogi Bear was going to be that kind of movie, but it's a brave choice.

Although, based on the positioning, it seems like the tag line should really read "Great things come in twinks." That seems to define the relationship between Yogi and Boo Boo that the poster's going for.

Can't wait to see what they do with Huckleberry Hound.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

That's Not Burlesque; That's Cabaret

I saw the preview last night for Burlesque, a movie I'm really only interested in because Kristen Bell is in it. I won't bother attempting to post the trailer, since it keeps getting taken down from YouTube by Sony.

What I will say is this: it looks terrible. I knew it was going to look bad, but it looks so much worse than I thought it would. Christina Aguilera's acting is pitched way too high--she's in some kind of Joan Crawford movie from 1931 or something. Cher comes across badly even for Cher; her days of being able to handle a role are long behind her, I think. Stanley Tucci is doing what he tends to do these days: the supportive gay man who knows everything going on and is realistic about it. He's basically repeating his role from Prada. Again.

The burlesque dancing itself is not burlesque anymore than the stripping in Showgirls is stripping. It's cabaret. It's song and dance. Christina can do that, at least. Acting doesn't seem like her bag. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, since I haven't actually seen the movie, but the trailer doesn't look promising.

And that last line? "Alice, welcome to Wonderland." Ugh, really. Not only is the movie afraid to reach for a cliche, they're making it the tag in their trailer. I rolled my eyes so hard I'm wanted for felony disrespect in Elmhurst.

As for Miss Bell... she's barely in the trailer. They give her one line and, like, two close-ups. I kind of hope her appearance in the trailer is indicative of her role in the movie--which is basically the Bette Davis role from All About Eve. If she keeps her head and doesn't go too far over the top, she'll either be hailed as one of the more grounded things in the movie, or at least go unnoticed because Cher and Christina Aguilera are overacting so archly that they'll take up the bulk of the reviews.

Seriously, this movie looks terrible.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

California Overturns Prop 8

The ruling: "Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis,the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional."

Of course, this will surely be appealed by the bigots, who have already filed a motion to halt implementation of the ruling. After all, the bigoted, the hateful, and the churches that fund and support them--the child-marrying Mormon fundamentalists and the child molester protecting Catholic hierarchy--really believe gay people getting married may be harmful to children.

Erik Larsen Is Going as Crazy as Dave Sim Did

I've always liked Erik Larsen. Savage Dragon is one of my favorite comics. Which is why I'm disappointed to read about Larsen's sexist and frankly insane comments on a recent trial that gave Neil Gaiman royalties to Spawn characters he created (like Medieval Spawn and Angela). Larsen compares it to OJ Simpson's acquittal for murder, and then blames this on women in the jury who were personally charmed by Neil Gaiman and his British accent. Even Todd McFarlane, the plaintiff in the case, has been reasonable about the whole thing... when you're an even bigger dick than Todd McFarlane, it's time to stop talking.

I'm really disappointed in you, Erik. You were one of my favorites.

Film Week

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

Slow to get started, but ultimately a funny and sweet story about recapturing past glories that borrows quite heavily from Back to the Future. Not much else to it, but I enjoyed it. Fantastic soundtrack. And hey, Lizzy Caplan! Didn't know she was in it. *** stars.

Look, Kristen Bell is obviously suited to romantic comedies. But can't they be good? I liked her in this, and I liked Josh Duhamel as her love interest. Even the plot mostly works--thank you for not having to go to the hackneyed, insulting old saw of having to force the woman to choose between her career and love. Even the plot conceit--that when you steal someone's coin from the fountain, their wish for love is transferred to you--pretty much works. It can work that Kristen becomes uncertain whether her ideal guy is really in love with her or if it's just some magic spell. The problem is that most of the comedy falls flat, and does so loudly. What this movie doesn't need, at all, is the comedy chorus of Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, Danny DeVito, and Jon fucking Heder playing the most over-the-top stereotypes possible who are stalking Bell because she took their coins from the fountain. It's not funny, it doesn't work, it takes away from the rest of the movie (it seems like Josh Duhamel's entire life got left on the cutting room floor), and it's irritating as all hell. Cut those guys out, leave in the uncertainty, give the relationship time to breathe, and you've got a movie that works. Unfortunately, the filmmakers don't think that's enough, and they ruin the whole thing. Could've been a nice movie instead of one that tries too hard. ** stars.

I couldn't really get into this horror movie about plastic surgery and the circus. I wanted to, but I just couldn't. It's a nice-looking movie, though, despite some of its sillier moments. (Apparently the way a bear kills you is to turn itself into a rug and remain still as you slowly fall to the ground.) ** stars.

Very atmospheric but somewhat nonsensical movie about Satan worshipers in England. Excellent score, looks great, but didn't get me going. ** stars.

Angie Dickinson is Ma Barker (kind of). Silly movie, not as much fun as it seems like it should be, but Angie's naked and she's a sex goddess, so there's that. And William Shatner is hilariously bad in it as a smooth-talking thief who has a sex scene that's frankly horrifying. ** stars.

I thought it was excellent. It might not work so much as a mindfuck--though it kind of did on me--but it's an excellent character piece with a great performance by Leonardo DiCaprio as a detective investigating the disappearance of a patient from a mental institution on an island. Trapped there by a hurricane, he and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) dig deeper and deeper into the institution's true purpose. I loved it; I think it's Scorsese's best since probably Bringing Out the Dead. **** stars.

An old-fashioned disaster epic with a bit of religious epic thrown in. Marcus (Preston Foster) is a simple blacksmith who loses his wife and child in an accident, is forced into the arena as a gladiator, and comes to care for a boy whose father he killed. Now with a son, Marcus lets his ambition guide him into becoming a horse dealer, a slave trader, and a shady businessman. Of course, all ambitions (and religious decisions, apparently) will eventually come to a head when Vesuvius erupts. From the makers of King Kong. There are some good turns in here from Basil Rathbone and Alan Hale. I always enjoy pictures like these. ***1/2 stars.

This was a surprisingly affecting movie. It tells the story of a rivalry in the world of Donkey Kong, between long-standing Donkey Kong champ Billy Mitchell (record holder for 25 years) and Steve Wiebe, a likable guy who, after getting laid off from Boeing, got really, really good playing Donkey Kong in his garage. When he sends a tape to Walter Day at Twin Galaxies, the chief scorekeeper in competitive gaming, showing himself beating Billy's record, Billy questions the record, the machine, the video, even Wiebe's character. He has his creepy little lieutenant, Brian Kuh, go to Washington and take apart Steve's machine without his knowledge in order to look for irregularities. So Steve goes first to New Hampshire and then to Florida to challenge Billy, but Billy won't play him head on. Instead, after denouncing videotape as something that can't be trusted, he sends in a tape of himself playing Donkey Kong and beating Steve's new record. Even though there are questions raised about the veracity of the tape, his score is accepted.

It paints an interesting picture of the very insular world of coin-op arcade gaming. It still has its devotees but, to watch the film, not many. These guys aren't playing to large audiences, but they take this very seriously. Not seriously enough to police themselves, though; for all of the talk about having to create a standard of rules or else competition is meaningless, no one thinks to raise the question that maybe, as a board member of Twin Galaxies, Billy Mitchell has no business submitting competitive scores. That seems like an ethical boundary to me.

It sets up its conflict nicely. You have Steve Wiebe, a likable guy with a very supportive wife who is being shunned by an exclusive establishment that is too heavily invested in Billy Mitchell as the wizard of 1980s arcades. And then you have Billy Mitchell, who comes across as a Machiavellian narcissist surrounded by people who seem to have latched their self-worth to being a part of his inner circle, as much as anyone can be. I don't know how much of it is editing and how much of it is just that Mitchell's self-confidence comes across as a massive ego (he does say, at one point, that his record is as polarizing as the abortion issue; and he also says that if you can't defend your record, you might as well step aside, yet he never actually defends his record in the film). But it is one hell of a movie. **** stars.

Moving, surprisingly personal documentary about Daniel Ellsberg and his release of secret memos showing America's extensive, decades-long involvement in Vietnam to American newspapers. Makes you think about what's going on right now, with the WikiLeaks exposing of papers about American involvement in Afghanistan. The importance of the Pentagon Papers in trying to establish, however briefly, government accountability, cannot be overstated. What was really effective about this film, though, was how Ellsberg takes us through his change from a believer in the rightness of America's cause to a whistle blower who dedicated his life to peace. **** stars.

Hell's Kitchen, Episode 14 (and a brief MasterChef comment)

Okay, why wouldn't you guys think you were going to have to make whatever Gordon Ramsay serves you? What are you, new?

Benjamin... how does Benjamin manage to just become more and more loathsome? He's such a crybaby. He really just thinks he's the greatest thing ever. He always says things--with an absolute straight face--like "I've never had a bad service" and "My dish was the best" which are just not true. His problem--one of his many problems--is that he'll lose a challenge, get constructive criticism from Gordon, and then just shrug it off and say "My professional opinion is that I'm the best cook here." He just doesn't internalize any of the criticism at all, even the criticism of a great, self-made chef like Ramsay, because he thinks he's absolutely perfect in every way. But really he's an insufferable prick.

Oh, and his "back injury." Nothing more than a temper tantrum and a crippling attack of self-doubt. I recognize his behavior because, I hate to admit it, I've done that kind of thing myself. He's losing his nerve, he knows there's a good chance he won't win, so he's building himself an excuse in order to protect his own ego from his lack of self-confidence. That way, when he gets eliminated, he can tell himself that he wasn't at his best because he hurt himself, and then he can bore everyone he ever meets with stories about how he almost won Hell's Kitchen.

So Benjamin skips prep, says that he's going to quit, and then sails into dinner service and, lo and behold, his back doesn't appear to be bothering him at all. What a surprise.

Like I said, I get it. And he was probably too scared to quit after confronting Ramsay about it, because Ramsay was exactly right: you'd never forgive yourself for making it this far, and then just quitting. Lots of people would've loved to have been in his position, and he was talking about throwing it all away--and for the record, I don't think he was ever really going to quit, he just needed an ego massage, a stronger voice to tell him what he should do, because he was trapped in this self-doubt. And honestly, that's not the kind of man capable of running a restaurant.

Even after dinner service, Ben was still trying to sell it, too. "I almost died." Yeah, of being a little bitch.

As Jaquandor pointed out, Dave broke his wrist last season, in the first week. And he won. Like I've said before, the people I respect the least are the ones who won't fight for it.

Also, Jay... I see he's the same kind of sexist that Ben is. Talking shit about Holli? What a douche. I can see Jay's strengths as a cook and as the head of a kitchen, but I don't really like him. He's all in love with Holli, but cutting her down behind her back shows he doesn't respect her very much.

Dinner service was interesting. I always like it when they get to take turns running the pass. Jay did the best; he was right on top of things and caught the sabotaged dishes. I pretty much expect him to win. I don't have to like him personally; I do have to admit he knows what he's doing and he's good at it. I think he's a natural. Holli was initially nervous, but kept it together, ran the place, and only missed one quality check. Benjamin missed two; he apparently can't tell different cuts and types of meat apart. And he still actually did better than I expected he would; I thought he'd have another attack of being unable to speak to anyone because his ego was hitting the reset button, but I guess his psychosomatic back injury got that out of the way for the day. And Autumn overcompensated for an early mistake by nitpicking everything.

I knew Autumn was going to go, but I wish Benjamin had been eliminated first. I really, really wanted to see the look on his face when he went before her. She did have a great moment when she said, very pointedly, "I never quit," and the editor cut right to Ben. Still, the look on his face when he handed over his jacket was pretty enjoyable. I'm so glad he's gone.

And now we're down to Jay and Holli. Like I said, I expect Jay will win. But I am supporting Holli. I do think she's got a real chance. I hope she takes it.

As for MasterChef, I'm still not endeared to this show. When the competition really gets going, that's when things will really get interesting, I expect. Once again, it was typical Fox, going for the emotional pornography that it hasn't earned at all: I don't know these people yet, why am I supposed to be elated when they get on the show?

And this Joe Bastianich continues to piss me off, with his judging looks and his half-closed eyes. Hey, Joe, I wish my mommy was a famous, well-established Italian chef so that I could win every argument about what constitutes Italian food, too. Asshole.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

God Damn It, Joe Simpson!

I didn't want to say anything earlier and jinx it, but I knew Joe Simpson would fuck up Jessica's chances of being on American Idol.

A couple of outlets are reporting on some of the behind-the-scenes shuffling going on right now, and it looks like Jessica Simpson actually had the job in the bag. It was hers. She was a lock. And it was a great opportunity for her because, let's face it, her music career is deader than disco. I'm saying this as a huge fan of all things Jessica: her music career is done. Her acting career is done, too. She's got nothing right now except for a very poorly-made reality TV series on VH1 which I highly doubt will be renewed for another season. All she's got is her clothing line and her cosmetics line, and nothing else.

For years now--even when things were going good for her--I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of her father. He has no business being anyone's manager, and he's done more to screw his daughter's career than anyone ever had a chance to.

And Jessica, who I just want to see do well and keep producing because I am a big fan of hers and I want to have something new from her, had the best opportunity anyone could offer her at this point in her failing career: a permanent spot on the number one show on television in front of millions of people.

Apparently, when the producers came to Joe Simpson to negotiate a deal, he made so many ridiculous demands that the producers just dropped the idea and moved on to Jennifer Lopez, who needs it just as bad as Jessica does. And she was smart; she took the deal and apparently didn't ask for too much. Joe, who is truly an idiot, once again kept Jessica from getting a chance to boost her career.

I've said for years she should fire him. I know she won't, because he's her daddy and she's a daddy's girl, but anyone else would have been fired already.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Song of the Week: "Home Sweet Home"

I've been hearing this song a lot lately, in movies and on commercials, so it's stuck in my head. That's okay, though, because this is a great song. I remember when I was a kid, and Motley Crue were supposed to be, like, bad for you. Kids weren't supposed to be into heavy metal, anyway, but because of Motley Crue's "Girls, Girls, Girls" video, they were supposed to be especially bad. In that stupid way suburban parents have of overreacting to everything their kids might clap eyes on, my parents didn't want me to hear any of their music. Whatever; I saw that video a ton of times as a kid--and that one Scorpions video MTV wouldn't play until late at night, and Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time," and I turned out fine. Maybe it's because I had all of that scrambled porn to put it into perspective.

Anyway, this song is awesome. Motley Crue, 1985.

Triceratops (Not Triceratops)

Triceratops has always been my favorite dinosaur. But, according to an article linked at BoingBoing, triceratops may actually just be the juvenile form of torosaurus.

It's a fascinating read, and, as it says on BoingBoing, demonstrates the difficulty of studying animal species that have been extinct for millions of years, and which no one has ever seen alive.

It's still my favorite dinosaur, but if it comes down to it, I am really going to miss the name triceratops.

Paleontology is endlessly fascinating.