Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Friday, September 30, 2005

I'll take Pop Culture Potluck for 100,Alex!

I'ld thought that I would finish off the week with some random tidbits from the pop culture scene-
mainly to clear my head for the weekend. Ok,let's go:

Tv:Loved the season premiere of Smallville last night-everything about it was great. Many of the
fans flipped out,I'm sure,with the Superman II style for the Fortress of Solitude and Buffy fans
hopefully noticed Season 4's Leonard Roberts(Riley's buddy,Forrest)as one of Kyptonian Krusaders as well as a very brief glimspe of James Marsters at the end. Alot of questions were
set up(wonder how Chloe's going to explain to Lex about winding up in Antartica?)and I'm eager
to see the answers.

Also enjoyed the season premiere of Veronica Mars(will more than likely get the Season 1 set to catch up)-really good cast there. Favorite line:"Get it yourself,kid-do I look like I can cook?" Yep,
Charisma Carpenter in an older High School Cordy mode. Kevin Smith's making a cameo next episode(he really has a jones for high school shows-he was on several Degrassi:the Next Generation episodes with Jason Mewes and how they kept Mewes from saying something too
outrageous is a miracle of editing) . First time I ever saw a literal cliffhanger on a show-pretty sweet.


Little Sister and I checked out A History of Violence(we were torn between that and Serenity-for once,two great movies were actually playing at a theater near us) and
we both found it to be amazing. Cronenberg manages to shock with low key tones .
There is no flinching from the gore that results from the character's actions but some
of the real tension moments come out during the more emotional scenes. The last scene of the film alone(no spoilers,don't worry)has no dialogue but the actor's expressions speak volumes.

Viggo Mortenson should get an Oscar nomination for AHOV but chances are,he won't. It's the
kind of film Hollywood ignores at award time. The Road to Perdition(which Tom Hanks did better work in than the other Oscar winning roles he had)makes a great bookend to this movie.
A History of Violence is definately worth your hard(or hardly)earned money.


I picked up the Outsiders:The Complete Novel on two disc DVD. It's Coppola's cut with different music(he used his dad's instrumental out of courtesy) with 22 minutes restored,plus featurettes on the cast and readings of the novel by cast members. I always thought the movie was OK and S.E Hinton one of the coolest writers for teens. My favorite Hinton novel was Tex(liked the movie,too) and now she's writing books for an adult audience. I plan to see this over the weekend and review it,so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Starring Tab Hunter Confidential


That's the first sentence you will read in Tab Hunter's autobiography(co-written with Eddie
Muller) and it's basically the theme of the book. Don't get me wrong,Tab is not Mr. Negativity.
Rather,he's a person who has been judged on outer appearances so much in his life that he
refuses to be labeled or to pigeonhole others. His story is not just another rehash of former
fame with kiss & tell tidbits thrown in for flavor-this is something else altogether.

Tab Hunter started off in life as Art Gelien,a fatherless boy who loved movies and horses.His
mother,Gertrude,struggled to make a better life for Art and her older son Walt,which lead them
to California where after Art left the Coast Guard(he lied about his age and enlisted at 15)and
held quite a few different jobs,wound up becoming Tab Hunter,the Next Big Thing.

Even before he became an actor,Tab was constantly admired for his looks-one teacher even accused him in front of Gertrude of perming his hair to which she replied"My son does not,but
you should do something about those dark roots of yours"(now,that's a mom!). Tab also had
constant struggles with his sexuality for which he had no one to confide in at that time(he
went to a priest for guidance to only have hellfire and damnation screamed at him) and altho
Hollywood in the fifties had a "don't ask,don't tell" policy,rumors would leak out about Tab's
real preferences.

He also had to deal with his mother's mental breakdowns and a so-called "friend" who manipulated her and him because of them and not being taken seriously as an actor. Tab
also made a hit album that Warner Bros blocked from major release(they didn't have a music
department back then and didn't know how to get ahold of the profits from that any other way).
Tab's career came to a head and he worked as a producer until John Waters teamed him up
with Divine in Polyester. I've never seen it but did watch Lust in the Dust(a non JW but with
Divine film) years ago on late night HBO and that was how I was introduced to Tab Hunter.

Many folks nowadays only know him from movies like that and people from an earlier generation know him from"Battle Cry" and "The Burning Hills"(a movie he made with Natalie
Wood,who was a good friend and studio sent "beard") but Tab Hunter was like the male version
of Marilyn Monroe-considered to be only a pretty boy with delusions of real talent. Sad to say
but Hollywood is still the same in many ways today and Tab was fortunate enough not to
become just another celebrity casuality. The other strong theme you get from this book is
sincerity;Tab is upfront about his mistakes,never glosses over the bad times in his life and
doesn't waste energy ripping others apart. He has no delusions about who and what he is and
refuses to be made into someone else's ideal at this point in his life.

Tab Hunter Confidential is a good,intelligent memoir about a Hollywood star who was much
more than that and it's forthrightness is one of the book's charms. The subtitle of it is "The Making of a Movie Star" but it should be "The Making of a Real Man".

Monday, September 26, 2005

Toni Collette Fans rejoice!

Finally,there is another In Her Shoes poster that actually has Toni Collette front and center(check out the title link)-I spotted it at the Yahoo Movies listing and went to get a nice big version for your viewing pleasure! Guess Toni's agent decided to throw some weight around and get her some
proper promotional pics. Also,some of the IHS commericals are focusing on Shirley MacLaine's
character(don't want to leave the Golden Girls out)so everyone's getting a slice of the publicity pie.

This is nice to see. In other news,I'm getting very interested in Veronica Mars(and not just because Whedonverse folks are popping up on the show)-Little Sister has a friend who sent her
the first season of VM on a computer-viewable-only disc and I've watched a few episodes with
her. Kristen Bell apparently auditoned for the part of Chloe Sullivan on Smallville,which explains
the eerie Chloe-ness of her character. She's like a doppleganger for Alison Mack,scary.

I like what I've seen so far-good,character driven show with smart and funny dialogue,plus
interesting cast choices such as Kyle Secor("Homicide:Life on the Street") and Harry Hamlin.
Charisma Carpenter will be appearing this season and she'll share an episode with Alyson
Hannigan(reprising an earlier appearance)-Willow & Cordelia reunion! Ok,I like that Buffy
peeps are appearing on the show(even Joss Whedon's making a cameo)but I can see why-
not that many strong female leads treated with intelligence and wit around on Tv land these days. Little Sister has dropped hints about getting the official DVD set and I may wind up
doing that next month.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Corpse Bride Cometh

Just got back from seeing Corpse Bride(Little Sister was not interested so I went solo)and if you were wondering if it lives up to all the great reviews,I can assure you that it does indeed. The story
of Victor Van Dort,his intended bride Victoria and his unexpected soul mate Emily,the Corpse Bride, is lovingly told in what looks like an Edward Gorey illustration come to life with it's pencil
thin or stout bell shaped figures,gothic scrawling ironwork and darkly lit settings.

Ths musical numbers are not as elaborate as the ones in Nightmare Before Christmas but neatly
done and quite lively,particularly in the Land of the Dead. The voice cast is mostly English(thought
I recognized Richard E. Grant in the trailer and I was right!)with the exception of Johnny Depp of
course. It's really hard to imagine anyone else doing justice to the character. Bonham-Carter is stunning as the title bride(can you believe Tim Burton made her audition for the part?) and Emily
Watson's Victoria was smashing and had alot more to do than I had heard from the reviews ,plus
one of my co-workers who went to a sneak preview of CB(he loved it-said he would pay money
to see it again).

So,that's one fall movie checked off-plenty more to go! Also saw the new Harry Potter/Goblet of Fire trailer and I'm sooo looking forward to that-things are going to change,that's for damn sure.

Oprah's Book Club hopping

I watched the tail end of the Oprah show to find out what her new Book Club pick was(I've been off from work the past two days and wanted to be in the know before I went back) and was not very
impressed by her "boldness" as she kept loudly proclaiming across the land. The new book is not
a classic but a recent paperback title by a live author. It's Million Little Pieces by James Frey,whose mom was planted in the audience to "surpise" her with the announcement. Lucky
for them,she's a screamer.

I remember when this book came out and actually tried to read it but it has that"Look at me,I'm experimenting with form!"style to it which repulses me on contact. Nothing against trying something new but not everyone is good at it-some people just fall back on that to excuse their
lack of skill(my dad was always peeved at so-called "abstract" artists who thought arranging
broken pieces of dinnerware on a canvas with paint slapped on was talent). From a link at
Jennifer Weiner's blog(you can find it at www.jenniferweiner.com),I read part of a Salon article
in which Frey says things like"Fuck Dave Eggers-I'm writing the book of my generation!" What
a modest fellow indeed.

Also,if you clink the title link above,you can read Miss Snark's(a literary agent who blogs and no,I don't know her-if I had a agent,I'ld be trying to get published,belive you me)entry on
nonfiction writing that may be more fiction than non(Frey is mentioned). I suppose we should
be glad that Oprah's back into the land of the living author but I hope she takes a chance on a
good book and not just promote those who feed into her "bad family" jones and kiss up to her
as the Great and Powerful Oprah.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Julie & Julia:blogger's delight

Arriving this week in bookstores is an interesting memoir:Julie & Julia,365 Days,524 Recipes,1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. Government temp Julie Powell,frustrated by her job and attempts at having a child,takes on a project to
give her focus:she will cook every single recipe in Julia Child's classic Master The Art Of French Cooking(hence
the 524)for a year. Her husband Eric convinced her to step up a blog to chart her progress(it's still around,even
tho the project has officially ended)and Julie gained a group of faithful "bleaders"(her term for blog readers) and
some media attention.

Now,I'm not a foodie person(and no fan of French cusine)but the down to earth tone of this book drew me in.
Appropiately,this was one of my Lunchtime Reading titles-I'll explain. At my store,there's a large round table
used for business purposes(bookbuying meetings,mostly)downstairs in our sprawling office/recieving section.
Many of us eat our lunches there and against the facing wall is a large breakfront section where all of our
reader's copies wind up(usually in a higgly-piggly set of stacked piles). I keep a select stack of books to look
over during lunch(when I'm not grabbing with one of my co-workers). Some of the LR books find their way
back to my house,some don't.

Also,when reading a book with food as the theme,it's best to have a tuna sandwich at the ready. When I was
reading Toast by Nigel Slater(guy tells his lifestory thru food-damn good book),even the descriptions of his
least favorite dishes had me licking my chops. Julie not only made French food sound good(and was honest
about when it was not,particularly with the section on gelee)but she touches on much more than that:her
family,friends,Samuel Pepys,politics(not too much,just enough to know who she'll vote for),and ,of course
Julia Child. Julie never got to meet her(Child did know about the project but she may or may not have liked
the idea)but she did pay respect for the her memory in an unusual way(not telling-read the book!!!!).

Julie was one of my inspirations in starting this book-I don't foolishly belive that instant fame and fortune can be
gained thru this forum(and from what I've heard,alot of those interviews are a pain in the ass)but who knows?
It gives me the chance to express myself in a non Madonna video way and that's good. Julie's quest may seem
trival to some but the mere fact that she decided to do something instead of brooding about her probelms is
damn admirable and she takes us on a journey of delicious highs with very few layers of lows. Also,I really
liked her when she revealed her fandom for Buffy the Vampire Slayer-she was even cooking on the night of
the series finale with a TV camera crew updating her on the show. A Buffy fan who cooks with butter,definately
someone I'ld love to have dinner with.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Top Five Improvements needed for Entertainment Weekly

I tend to sing the praises of Entertainment Weekly magazine quite a bit but like any long term
relationship,there are little things that bug you about the one you're with but are tolerable. If
you had the chance,however,you would tell 'em"She snores/He wheezes/Say housework and
he freezes/she eats these skeevy cheeses that I can't describe!"

Ok,before I start singing the entire book of the Buffy musical,let's get to it-my top five peeves
about EW:


Sorry for the shouting but the only way I can truly express my annoyance with her style of
writing and stance on certain subjects is to scream. She is such a condescending bitch when
she reviews comic book films,sneering at "fan-boys" and how she's not one of those people.
If she doesn't like that genre,why review "Sin City",for example? She can't switch with somebody? Also,Lisa is prone to the diatribe-her review for The Machinist is all about how
Christian Bale got extra thin for the part and how Hollywood is depraved for forcing actors
to do this,body weight issues,etc. That's nice ,dear,but what's the movie about? Who else is
in it? Is it worth seeing for the story?

Actually,I've not liked her ever since she reviewed Muriel's Wedding(one of my favorite films with Toni Collette)-instead of getting the point of the movie (which was that Muriel didn't need
a ritual to find self validation),she saw it as glamorization of weddings,like a fetish film. Yeah,real
insightful,there hon. Then again,what do you expect from a gal who calls Marky Mark Wahlberg a"wily chameleon"?

2)More End Page Columns needed.

I know Stephen King can't knock out a column every week(I don't buy his retirement from
writing,myself-he's as retired as the Rolling Stones)due to other commitments but Stupid
Questions and those Pop Culture Quizs are getting staler than Trump's hairpiece. Maybe
have alternating writers do an end page-Chuck Klosterman one week,Kevin Smith the next.

3)More Comic Book/Graphic Novels section

Comic books are covered in their own niche every once in awhile(so is Stage). In my opinion,
Comic books are more main stream and accessible to the average EW reader than Stage so it should be a regular feature.

4)The In/Out list is so five minutes ago.

5)The Fashion pages bore me.

And one positive trend I'm seeing and liking...

Wacky Pop Culture coverage

Having features on the cult flick Manos :The Hands of Fate and where are they now for the Police Academy films rock. It's cool and interesting stuff like that which sets EW apart from
the media saturated magazine crowd. Keep up the good work,gang.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Hunger's Brides:Baroque Banquet for the soul

This debut novel is truly one of those labours of love you hear about so much. It took 12 years
for author Paul Anderson to recreate the world of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz,a Mexican legend
who was clearly trapped in the wrong century. Born in 1648.she taught herself to read by age
three and before Juana hit her teens,she had read nearly every book in her grandfather's vast
library,which included Greek philosophers and Eygptian histories.

At age 16,Juana's extraordinary intelligence and natural gift for poetry lead her to become a
handmaiden at the court of the Vice Queen,in which she realized that she was still considered
an oddity. Juana became a nun and wrote many poems(such as "The Divine Narcissus" which
interwove the temptation of Christ with the greek myth)that had her crossing swords with
church authorites. She took a vow of silence(signing the decree in her own blood)at age 40
and died from the plague five years later. Sor Juana is one of those mysterious genuises that
pop into being and leave behind a body of work that inspires many scholars.

Sor Juana's history inspires Beulah Limosneros,a modern day college student,to research all
she can about her while engaging the more than scholarly notice of Don Gregory, a notorious
womanizer and her American Lit advisor. The framework of the book is that these are the
research papers that Beulah left behind after a bloody encounter with Don Gregory that gets
him into trouble with the law and his "editing" of Beulah's writings on Sor Juana should help
to clear him. Beulah's own personal diaries and letters are included,which paint a picture of
a very troubled young woman,haunted by past sexual abuse,mental breakdowns and eating

Don tries to cast doubts on Beulah's truthfulness(an Unreliable Narrator trying to create one
himself;pretty slick)but the one voice you totally trust in is Juana's. Her rich and haunting
tones as she decribes the glories and frustrations of being able to live the life of the mind
with those who can't or won't understand her are achingly gorgeous and give the reader a
heightened sensation of entering another world which is both alluring and off putting at

Hunger's Brides has already gained a reputation for its length(1,358 pages)in the US and I hope
that,as in Canada where it was first published,HB will gather quite a few praises for the content
of it's covers. It definately will inspire more interest into the life and work of Sor Juana. If you
use the link provided in the title,you can go to the official Hunger's Brides website to find out
more about her and the brilliant author who has written one of the best books of the decade.

Friday, September 09, 2005

This Fall Preview is brought to you by the letter "T"

I know it's September already but since summer has not "officially" ended(who decides these things,anyway?),I feel I'm right on time with my look at the upcoming autumn goodies. The focus
will be on books,movie and tv(music I only know so much about). Let's start with my Top Ten list of Must See Movies:

10)Aeon Flux:Always enjoyed the MTV cartoon series(that and The Maxx)and so far,the trailer
holds some promise. One of my co-workers has doubts about Charlize Theoron but anyone who
has seen her in Monster knows not to underestimate this Charlie girl.

9)Saw 2:The first Saw flick was much better than I thought it would be and Little Sister was thrilled to see that a sequel was heading our way. Most theaters won't put up the poster for it-
the number 2 is represented by severed fingers-but plenty of folks will be eager to hand over
their do-re-mi for this sucker.

8)Bee Season:it's based on Myla Goldberg's debut novel about a girl's profiency in spelling
bees helping to upend the tilting dynamics of her dysfunctional family and I only hope
that the film version does it justice.

7)Corpse Bride:Tim Burton back in Nightmare Before Christmas mode. I'm definately getting
a cool doll version at my local Suncoast.

6)Memoirs of a Geisha:Another literary adaptation and it looks beautiful. With Rob Marshall
at the helm and starring Zhang Ziyi,this should be the crown jewel of the film year.

5)In Her Shoes:despite the overmarketing of Cameron Diaz's ass,I still have hopes for this
sisterhood flick,particularly due to director Curtis Hanson who will not drown the plot in
soap opera pathos.

4)Serenity:I only saw the pilot episode on tv so even a Buffy fan like me can find plenty of
new thrills and laughs in the film length version. Plus,Nathan Fillion is not hard on the eyes:)

3)Chronicles of Narnia/Lion,the Witch and the Wardrobe:This is the book most people,including
myself,are familar with and if it does well,we may have to catch up on the other six.

2)Pride and Prejudice:Keira Knightley takes on one of the most challenging roles in English Lit
and faces the wrath of certain Jane Austen fans. My money's on Keira to show them how it's

1)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:As those of us who have read the books and seen the films know,this is where the big boys play. Blood is truly spilt and this adaptation will set an
even newer and darker tone than Prisoner did.

Dark Horse candidates:History of Violence,V is for Vendetta,Just Like Heaven,King Kong,The Fog,Walk The Line

Books:I plan to review two amazing titles in this blog-Hunger's Brides(which will appear next week)and Tab Hunter Confidential(written by the man himself with a little assist there). Other
noteworthy titles are:

Mark Twain:A Life by Ron Powers-There have been plenty of books about Twain but this one
is very readable,smart and engaging. You feel as if the author is a great storyteller,passing on
the legend of MT without sugarcoating his flaws.

Goodnight,Nobody by Jennifer Weiner-Forget those Desparate Housewives(one of the most overrated shows ever,IMO),meet a real suburban mom who winds reviving her reporting skills after having the murder of her oh-so-perfect neighbor dropped into her lap.This may seem
similar to Susan Isaacs' Compromising Positions but trust me,Weiner puts her own unique
emotional spin on this story.

Popco by Scarlett Thomas-A brainy Brit Lit about a toy company designer, who's hobby is
decypting codes,being put on a comittee to create the ultimate teen girl product which,oddly
enough ties into a treasure map that her grandfather held the code key to. Little Sister said
it sounded very Nancy Drew to her when I explained the plot but it's much cleverer than
my descripton makes it out to be and very adult in content.

TV:I don't watch alot of it but there are two good shows I may not get to see because of their time slots-Everybody Hates Chris and My Name Is Earl. EHC is on opposite Smallville and this year,James Marsters plays Braniac so there's no way I'm missing that.

Got to see the pilot of MNIE on a CD-Rom(thanks,EW)-it looked really good,very Raising Arizona in style(one of my favorite movies)but it's on at the same time as The Amazing Race.
This time,it's the "family" edition and you know families have the best fights so I gotta see that.

Network programmers are total idiots-why put new comedies up against dramas/reality shows
with a large fanbase? Counter programming,sure but not every one has Tivo,people! Atleast F/X repeats their shows later in the week(which is good since I missed the next to last episode of Rescue Me)so that you get another shot at it.

Afraid I have to start the fall movie season by seeing"The Man" today(Little Sister wants to go)
which should be tolerable given that it has Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy. The only other
option is the Exorcism of Emily Rose,which given that it's PG-13,will be as scary as watching
Criss Angel,Mindfreak.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Indie Bookseller inspiration

I just finished a great book over the weekend,The King's English-adventures of an independant
bookseller by Betsy Burton. Betsy founded The King's English in Salt Lake City,Utah(best known
for Mormons and South Park punch lines)with then partner Ann Berman in 1977. She changed
partners in '81(Ann had to retire for personal reasons)and has held the store together despite
hard financial times,increasing competition from chain stores and online shopping and various
controveries,such as having Jon Krakauer give a reading for Under The Banner of Heaven.

She's very honest about the ups and downs of the business and can laugh at herself(one of the best
stories in the book is about her struggles to open the trunk of her mom's car which held the luggage of visiting author John Mortimer,who fortunately had a good sense of humor and plenty
of champagne at the helm). Betsy's love of books and reading is also shown thru the recommended reading lists placed after each chapter.

Whenever I get down about the state of books today,I like to think of those who came before and paved the way for others,such as Sylvia Beach,founder of Shakespeare and Co in Paris,who
sponsored such writers as James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway(Beach actually put up the front
money for Ulysses to be published),Leona Rostenberg and Madeline Stern,lifelong friends who
were excellant rare book dealers and scholars who helped find the early works of Lousia May
Alcott to bring to light and my all time favorite,Helene Hanff(best known for her collection of
correspondance that begat a book,play and movie,84 Charing Cross Road). Folks like that are
admirable and give one hope for the future of book lovers everywhere.

So,is Betsy on my list? I do belive that she would not be out of place amongst the ladies mentioned-heck,I wouldn't mind working for her! If you want to know what kind of people
are out there on the front lines of literacy today,please read this book. You can click on the title
link and buy it right from TKE. Celebrate Labor Day by supporting those who labor for literature:)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Times may be Grimm but this movie is not

Like everyone near a TV this past week,the plight of the victims of Hurricane Katrina has brought on heartbreak,frustration and a need to help(you know where to give support to, http://www.redcross.org). Despite all the blame game BS that's been going on(Kayne West is about as much of an expert on the situation as Martha Stewart is on guerilla warfare),people are still out there,doing good to their neighbors and they are the real heroes.

For the rest of us,a mental health break is needed and I recommend The Brothers Grimm as a great diversation this holiday weekend. I know the reviews have been harsh but then again,if
ever there was an artist misunderstood in his own time,it's Terry Gilliam. TBG is not his all
time best(that would be 12 Monkeys,IMO)but this flick is a good way to introduce someone to
Gilliam's style of offbeat elaborate storytelling. He cast Damon and Ledger against type,which
works out very well-Ledger is perfect as the dreamy-eyed bumbling half of this erzatz con team
while Damon's charm suits the Scully side.

The settings are belivably Old World and Peter Stomare's performance is one of the fun parts(Little Sister didn't even recognize him from Constantine and I agree with her about his chameleon like abilities)of the show. Since one of my favorite fairy tales is Snow White(love the Disney version of the Wicked Queen),I particularly enjoyed Monica Bellucci as the Mirror Queen. Her costumes,the top tower room drowning in cobwebs as she lies in withered crone mode while her beautiful reflection seduces men(watching Heath Ledger getting sexed up by a mirror is quite surreal)and her final destruction are hauntingly memorable images but not the
only ones worth recalling.

The capture of the girls,the torture chambers of the occupying French(complete with musical quartet),a forest on fire being put out by magical breath and Matt Damon licking a toad are only
some of the highlights of this film. Damon and Ledger have good chemistry as brothers and Lena Hedley as Angelica,the forest guide who attracts the both of them,gives a good performance as well. So mellow out with some fairy tale antics and remember:trust the toad!