Friday, November 30, 2007
I've never been big on the whole "On The Road" experience,both in literature and in real life(way too fond of my creature comforts there)but as they say,to each his own.If you are curious about what living such a harum-scarum lifestyle is like without getting out of your easy chair,a good way to do so would be to grab a copy of Ethan Clark's lively memoir,Leaning with Intent to Fall.
The title refers to an alledged offense that can get you arrested in New Orleans(along with "assaulting a cheeseburger.") Clark is a freelance writer and the creator of such zines as Chihuahua and Pitbull and A Little Guide To Truing Bike Wheels,who recounts his times spent in New Orleans,both pre and post Katrina as well as in other exotic ports of call like Marshfield,Wisconsin,where he and a buddy sold fireworks during the summer season(with the constant refrain of "where's the good stuff?" being asked by every other customer they had at the tent).
Clark worked a number of odd jobs(stilt walker for a professional party company,delivery boy for many restaurants,one of which had fried Twinkies on the menu)and lived in various places that all shared one thing in common-they were filled with folks ready to party or just do their own thing.
He finds alot of good humor and pathos in this(including himself as the punchline when need be)which makes his stories incredibly entertaining,like hanging out at a friend's casual get together and listening to one of his/her rebel yell pals sharing a strange but true tale of fleeing wild dogs or trying to use a borrowed blowtorch to break into a sealed up monument just to look out one of the upper windows for the view.
Having never been to New Orleans myself,I can't say if the picture that Clark is a true representation of the life and times of certain young people there or not. I do feel confident in saying that certainly sounds authentic and proves that"this whole world's wild at heart and weird on top."
Also,while reading it,I kept thinking that it's the kind of book that Rory Gilmore's old boyfriend Jess would've kept in his back pocket to read while waiting to flirt with her at Luke's. Leaning With Intent To Fall is definately a smart and snappy tome for those who prefer to walk off the beaten path:
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Project Runway's menswear madness,TAR takes a U turn and ANTM's Heather go sees a sad Shanghai surprise
The contestants on Project Runway were thrown for a real loop this week,as the challenge was to design an outfit for Today show correspondant Tiki Barber to wear onair. The vast majority of them had no experience whatsoever in menswear and were pretty much sweating bullets the whole time. They had two days and a budget of $150,which seemed very reasonable to me.
Out of all the so-so outfits(this really was a dull challenge,since panic truimphed over creativity here)that went down the runway,Jack's two piece pinstripe combo was chosen as the winner. Tiki liked it but Nina objected to it being just a two piece number. Heidi,however,pointed out that it was better to have two well made items rather than three or four that were a mess.
Carmen's entry proved Heidi's point as she wound up not having a shirt ready by the deadline and resorted to having her model wrap a big piece of shirtcloth around his top instead. Also,she had to literally sew his crotch in(Yikes!). No shocker that she was the one declared to be "out".
I was concerned about Sweet P,with her oversized collar on the shirt(plus,her model looked like Patrick Bateman after a three day bender) but Ricky's suit was so sloppy and dull that he easily was chosen for the Bottom Two. Next week's challenge looks like it might involve teamwork,so things should be much more lively.
A new gimmick on TAR waylaided Lorena and Jason,courtesy of the Resident Blondes,Shana and Jennifer. It's called a U Turn,which means that if you're tagged after completing one of the Detour challenges,you have to go back and complete the other option before you can get your next clue.
The Detour this time out was a choice between panning for gold or doing a native dance(with your own creative moves)to be judged by a panel. If the panel didn't like your performance,the team was given a ten minute penalty before moving on. Most folks choose the dance and I'm happy to say that the Goths totally rocked the house:
Now,you can argue the ethics of using the U Turn at this point of the game but to me,the worst part about the RB's going for that was that they hampered the wrong team. See,they thought Lorena and Jason were hot on their heels which is why they were eager to hold them up. However,it was TK and Rachel who were behind them! So stupid-hey,girls,next time you want to slow another team down,make sure you've got the correct target in your sights:
So Lorena and Jason were eliminated,of course. They did take the whole thing very well,which I wasn't sure about since Lorena had that freakout about the camel milking the other week. The two of them took it all in stride and left with some dignity,which was nice to see.
Nate and Jen,however,got on my nerves as they were only a couple of seconds behind Azaria and Hendricka at the Pit Stop(making them Team Number Two)and Jen had the nerve to complain about the Brother/Sister Act not"giving" them a turn to be the first team since they had already won that twice before. Are you frickin' serious? Put your money where your mouth is,Jen,and let another team get ahead of you at the Pit Stop,since all of you are taking turns at being Team Number One!
Sad news for Heather fans as our favorite girl was sent packing on ANTM,after her disasterous Go See experience in Shanghai. I have to say that this was a legitimate reason to take her out of the running here,since she was hopelessly lost and only managed to find one of her intended appointments.
Also, out of the three girls who were late to return to the agency,Heather's time was the longest(forty minutes). Time management is key to any professional pursuit and while I'll miss her,it is best that she goes home.
Bianca looked like she could hold back a cheer as Heather was dismissed and while she did have some reason to be pleased about her performance(Bianca won the Go See challenge and had the privilege of seeing her face float by on a huge 2008 Olympics barge),I wouldn't rest on my laurels just yet if I were her.
Saleisha is right behind her,making a good impression on the judges and the designers that she visited. The Final Four will be going to Beijing and from the previews,Bianca appears to be up to no good. Drama!
Heroes: While Peter and Adam got more info about the Shanti virus as Hiro got in Inigo Montoya mode,my attention was riveted to Sylar and Maya,who steamed up the screen with their developing dark side romance. Poor Alejandro's warnings went unheeded as his sister had her "Suddenly,Sylar" moment and he wound up getting a brain bashing for his troubles.
I swear,even without super powers,Sylar is a bad,bad man(which is how I like him). I really can't blame Maya for being taken by his wicked wordplay charms and sizzling shirtless self(ok,need to think unsexy thoughts here!). I just hope Mohinder starts getting smart in a hurry(trusting The Company to do the right thing deducts several points from his IQ there),with those new babysitters for Molly awaiting him at home:
Ugly Betty: Things truly became ugly at Mode,as Wilhelmina took her vengeance upon the magazine(after being fired by the remaining Meade family members)with a vicious computer virus. Marc is right about one thing;at times it does seem like Willi did rise from a cauldron,rather than being raised by regular parents:
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I recently finished reading Ann Packer's second novel,Songs Without Words,and while it was vastly different from her debut,The Dive From Clausen's Pier,there was plenty to enjoy and slowly savor. Oddly enough,after I completed the book,I had a conversation with a friend about the current season of Heroes and it brought to mind a few comparsions with Songs Without Words.
"Are you serious? How in the world can you find any connect between an Ann Packer novel and some TV show about people with superpowers?!" Glad you asked that question,friend and here is my answer: both are follow-ups to previous successes given high expectations by fans who are now complaining about the pacing of the stories,which was considered to be one of it's strengths.
I'm not saying that folks don't have the right to be dissatified with a book,movie or TV series that doesn't give them the same thrill as before. Sometimes,they're right about the quality of the second,third or fourth work that the artist has put out there. However, I do have to wonder at why one of the major bones of contention is one of the things that most people liked about the writing earlier.
The Dive From Clausen's Pier was a book that I discovered during my lunchtime reading at my former bookseller job;it became a regular habit of mine to select a few ARCs to only read during my noon breaks and Packer's novel pretty much knocked me off my feet. It was one of those books that made me love to find and read first novels,so that I could be amongst the first to spread the good word about it to readers and friends alike.
When I heard about Packer having a new book out this year,I was excited about the news and even after some of the reviews were giving it a mixed reception,I still wanted to check it out for myself. Songs Without Words deals with characters much older than the heroine of Clausen's Pier and somewhat darker issues.
It's leading ladies are Liz and Sarabeth,who have been friends since their youth. Part of their bond was strongly formed after Sarabeth's mother committed suicide while both girls were in their teens. When Liz's daughter Lauren makes a similar attempt,the impact of that present action thrusts Sarabeth into inactive despair about the past and startles Liz out of her routine complancy about her family and marriage.
The bulk of the book has the two women mostly apart,as they re-examine their lives and the true basis of their friendship as well as deal with the shock of Lauren's near fatal decision and what that means to them. Alot of those chapters may have seen to be too slow and meandering to some,much like a good number of the plotlines introduced on Heroes this year(Hiro's journey to feudal Japan,Peter losing his memory and wandering about Ireland,Maya and Alejandro's journey to America for answers)but if you really stop and take a step back to look at the big picture,things become more clear and focused as you go on.
For example,even I felt that Hiro was taking too long to return from Ye Olde Japan at first and yet,we did gain some insight into Kensai/Adam Monroe,who was assumed by Hiro and the audience to be a legendary hero. Turns out that he became embittered after discovering that his intended princess was really in love with Hiro(and vice versa) and believed that he had been lead down the garden path,only to be shafted in the end. All of that lead to Kensai vowing revenge against his former friend and spending the rest of his long life trying to destroy the world via manipulating other super powered folks with ties to the one person he hated the most.
It took some time to get there,but now the audience and Hiro are much more invested in Kensai's character and more aware of what his true intentions are. This labored build up of who Kensai is and the motivation behind his schemes will hopefully pay off during the upcoming finale of Heroes next week,along with Sylar's steady hand at corrupting Maya and Peter's attempt to prevent a deadly virus from decimating all of humanity. Yes, it could've been done sooner and swifter but would we really care as much about the end game if we didn't develop some rooting interests during the warm ups?
While many reviewers have appreciated what Packer has done in SWW,some are rather peeved at how long the book takes to get where it's going. I get that,but on the other hand,Packer is a writer of realistic tones and many things in real life take a long time to happen. One of the most memorable sequences in the book to me was when Sarabeth was sick of spending her nights alone and impulsively decides to drive out somewhere for dinner. She can't figure out where to go or what to do and winds up driving out to the middle of nowhere,in search of an old haunt of hers and Liz's. The place is long gone and Sarabeth's dinner out turns into devouring a supermarket rotisserie chicken alone in a parking lot,behind the wheel of her car.
Not a big dramatic moment yet it showcases the loneliness and self enclosed emotional prison that Sarabeth has put herself into,which leads to her being motivated to expand her circle of friends and jumpstart her creativity and life. Packer also devels into Lauren's character,giving her confusion and depression a full form that refuses to make Lauren a Girl,Interrupted cliche and also takes time to recover and refocus her life.
So,while Heroes and Songs Without Words may seem to have as much in common as chalk and cheese,they are actually two great tastes that taste great together. All that's required to fully enjoy both are some patience with the pace of the prose. As the hare found out,slow and steady wins the race.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I know that the year is not over just yet(it's not even December!)but it seems that the tidalwave of Best of the Year lists is now hitting us and you can either jump on the bandwagon or stew on the sidelines.
Since the holiday shopping season is now officially in full effect,perhaps doing a list of Best Books right now might provide a couple of helpful hints for those literary lovers who seem to have read everything,which makes it even tricker to get a good read for them. While there are many good books that I have read this year,these are the ones that I would gladly thrust upon doubtful browsers,wandering about the bookstores and insist that they try.
I couldn't start this list off right if I didn't begin with one of my diehard favorites,Free Food For Millionaires by Min Jin Lee. Her brilliant first novel blends the Edith Wharton tones of upper class New Yorkers with the cultural clash between the older and younger generations of Korean Americans with the skills of a pro.
Granted,I may be biased since I actually met Min Jin in person this past June but even if I hadn't had that privilege,I still would be singing the praises of this enchantingly stylish smart novel. Min Jin is currently working on another novel as we speak and I'm already clearing some shelf space for it in my little library corner of the world.
One of the funniest novels I've read in a long time is Brock Clarke's An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England,a dark satire on the influence of reading. Clarke's book not only hits home on many worthy targets( elitist college professors,trendy memoirs,pseudo Hemmingway style authors)but gives his sad sack of a leading man ,Sam Pulsifer, true humanity and likability,despite his many bumblings thru life.
Sam is to the literary world what Chauncey Gardiner is to politics,except in Sam's case,if it weren't for bad luck,he would have no luck at all.
A good historical novel can truly make you feel as if you are part of the past and Rose MacMurray's posthumously published book,Afternoons With Emily,easily achieves that goal. A main conponent of the story's success is the depth given to AWE's narrator and lead character,Miranda Chase,who has an interesting and challenging life with the dubious bonus of being a member of Emily Dickinson's private circle.
The only sad note here is that Rose MacMurray is no longer with us,to hear how much her work on this book is appreciated and to give folks another splendid book to read and share. I have no doubt,however,that her family and friends are deservedly proud of her lovely novel and that it will become a treasured keepsake to her memory.
Ken Follett's World Without End proves that lightning can strike twice and even zap Oprah into giving Pillars of the Earth one of her Book Club seals of approval. Regardless of that,World Without End is a thumping good read that should sate your need for riveting drama as the writers' strike threatens to slow down the stream of new TV episodes and has a manifold of metaphors about how a community adjusts to political and social changes that bring hope as well as despair.
TOP TEEN READS
We mustn't overlook the up and coming generation of readers and fortunately for both them and us,there are many great books and authors out there. Robin Brande's Evolution,Me and Other Freaks of Nature brings the debate about what to teach young people about in science class,Darwin or the Book of Genesis,a very relatable heroine who only wants to do the right thing without giving up her right to think for herself.
This is another case of me having the good luck to met the author in person and I have to honestly say it was one of the best experiences I've had all year. I know that Robin is in the midst of finishing up two,count 'em,two books at the moment and it's good to see someone who truly earned their stripes get such success.
Jenny Downham's Before I Die may appear to be a depressing book,given that it's about a girl wanting to cram in as much living as she can while she's dying of cancer, but it's actually a real life affirming look at family,love and cherishing even the most mundane of moments.
It's also not a sappy Hallmark Hall of Fame number either. Downham respects her protagonist enough to make her a real teenager who gets cranky,foolish and at times downright rude. She also brings out the wit,charm and tenderheartedness of the character that makes the ending even more compelling,since we won't see the potential amazing person her leading lady could've become.
I know that I give loads of attention to novels,but I do enjoy a good nonfic book every now and then. Rob Sheffield's memoir of how music connected him to his wife Renee and played a huge part in mourning her untimely passing,Love is a Mix Tape,is one of best examples of what the genre can and should be made up of,folks with life experiences worth sharing.
Reading this book lead me to talk over the subject of widowhood with my own mother(my dad died about four years ago)and trying to deal with such a loss. Turns out that alot of what Rob went thru,she understood and related to all too well. I don't think Rob and my mom would agree on music but if they ever did meet,they would certainly come to an accord on what married life is all about.
I was also moved by Deborah Rodriquez's Kabul Beauty School,which not only tells the tale of how American hairstylists went to help Afghani women achieve some financial independance by setting up their own beauty parlors but gets into Deborah's personal experiences in living in Afghanistan. Some of her choices may have not been the most prudent but you have to respect the good intentioned boldness of her heart.
TOP DOG OF THE YEAR
Well,you really can't talk about the year in books without tipping your hat to the final chapter in J.K. Rowling's series,now can you? Regardless of how hip or overhyped you think the Harry Potter books are,it's an exercise in futility to disregard the impact Rowling has made upon the reading world,for children of all ages.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THIS ONE
With all the serial killer series titles out there,you may not be impressed right off the bat with Chelsea Cain's Heartsick,which introduces a most delightful dysfunctional pairing of predator and prey in the form of Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell,but give their first outing a try and I think you'll be intrigued enough to see what else these two tortured souls can get themselves into. Not to mention the other innocent victims that'll be dragged along for the ride into hell.
Ok,that's my two cents on the subject. Feel free to tell me some of your favorite reads of 2007 and we can do some compare and contrast. This was certainly a very good year for books and I eagerly look forward to what's to come for next year.
Monday, November 26, 2007
One of my favorite sections of the library as a kid was where all the books about mythology were-I was a total Greek gods geek and could recap most of the major myths with the same fervor and overwrought attention to detail as any hardcore Trekkie can compare and contrast all of the captains of the Starship Enterprise. So,when I was introduced to Marie Phillips' new novel about the ancient Greek gods of old living in London called Gods Behaving Badly,my nostaglia cup runneth over.
The story begins as the various gods and goddesses go thru their regular routine of putting up with each other and the current state of the world,which no longer believes in them and requires them to go out and work for a living(some of them,anyway). Artemis is a professional dog walker who seems to be the only one who even considers taking any form of responsibility(except perhaps for Eros,who strives to be a good Christian)and is sick of her brother Apollo's standard response to being rejected by mortal women,which is turning them into trees.
Aphrodite(a phone sex operator) is also annoyed with Apollo(for more selfish reasons)and gets her son Eros to deliever some payback on her behalf,by shooting a love arrow at him during the taping of Apollo's new psychic television show. Apollo winds up falling madly in love with the first person he sees who turns out to be Alice,a sweetly shy yet smart at Scrabble girl that snuck into the show as a way of getting closer to her good friend Neil,who sees her as more of a friend.
Alice loses her job and thru Aphrodite's manipulations,becomes the cleaner at the current home of the gods,which is slowly falling apart and filthy beyond belief. Apollo follows her around,determined to make her fall in love with him or atleast sleep with him(made more difficult due to Artemis forcing him to swear on the river Styx not to harm any mortals,which is an unbreakable vow for gods). Neil becomes worried and jealous,which leads to several confrontations and decisions that threaten to destroy all life on earth as well as the gods themselves. Talk about a real clash of the titans,indeed!:
This isn't a fantasy novel that gets way too serious for it's own good;Phillips uses that particular brand of Everyman humor that the Brits seem to have a patent on to enrich the various goings-on and inner workings of her characters.
She knows her Greek mythos backwards and forwards which only boosts her creativity,giving mondern mundane details to the Underworld(which the dead can reach via the Tube) and keeping her gaggle of Greek gods true to their natures while blending in a few touches of humanity into them,mainly Artemis. Running a close second in the strong female catagory is Aphrodite,whose self centeredness makes her the ultimate diva but not quite the villianess that she appears to be at first:
It's Alice,however,who is the heart of the novel and you really root for her and Neil to finally get together at last. Even if you have no clue about who Zeus is or think that God of War only refers to a video game,Gods Behaving Badly can still entertain you and perhaps stir up some interest in Edith Hamilton's Mythology(hey,if Beowulf the movie can get folks into reading it again or for the first time,why not?). At the very least,you'll get a grin or two at the fine follies Marie Phillips treats her readers to.
To further sweeten the pot,I'm holding another contest in which the Grand Prize winner will recieve a free copy of Gods Behaving Badly by writing the best job ad for the Greek god or goddess of your choice. The Gods Behaving Badly Help Wanted Contest starts today,and ends on December 15*,so that you can get your prize in time for the holidays. Just write a brief paragraph(four or five sentences,at the most),that could help Hermes get a delivery man position,Apollo some work at a tanning salon or the goddess of love herself a job that's right up her alley,like this:
"Divinely beautiful woman seeks work as matchmaker. Has vast centuries of experience and many somewhat satisfied clients. Would prefer to work in smoke free environment with handsome men and reasonably ugly women. References available upon request."
Okay,folks,I'm looking forward to your entries which you should send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please DO NOT post your entry in the Comments section,otherwise I can't consider it and it would be a shame to give away your clever wordplay like that. Give it the old college try;after all,if the rat race is hard enough for humans to deal with,imagine what it would be like for a god to deal with office politics:
*UPDATE: The Gods Behaving Badly Help Wanted Contest deadline is now extended,until the end of January 2008. Since this is a busy time of year for folks,it just makes sense to stretch things out a bit longer and if you're in danger of being snowed in,like I am,this should be a fun option to amuse yourself with.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Okay,I'm going to be taking a brief blogger's holiday and not only take off on Turkey Day but the day after as well(which most folks will spend on shopping sprees,both in the malls and online).
LRG will be back on Monday,with the announcement of a new contest for the upcoming novel Gods Behaving Badly,that will grant the winner a copy of the book hopefully in time for the holidays. This contest will have a rather small window of opportunity,people,so don't dawdle!
So,to send you off with a smile,here is my mixtape menu of tunes that should keep your toes tapping at the dinner table. Let's start with the gorgeous gravy goodness of Alicia Keys,whose performance of this song at the VMAs deserved much more attention than Britney's zombie dance routine or the Kid Rock/Tommy Lee throwdown:
Next up is some spiked cider served up with style by Amy Winehouse. Sad to see her so out of it lately yet at every other holiday gathering,there's always someone who winds up serenading the group after one too many,only not as in tune as Amy seems to be,regardless of soberity:
For the turkey,I had to go with Adam Sandler's tribute. Hope you don't mind the slideshow but apparently the good folks at NBC insisted on yanking the original SNL clip of this song. What turkeys! It's still a tasty tune:
You can't have meat without potatoes,so please enjoy the starchy silliness of Weird Al Yankovic's old school gameshow satire:
Vegetables are a necessary component of a hearty meal and what could be more wholesome than Corny Collins and The Nicest Kids In Town?:
For dessert,you have your choice of two savory sweet songs. First up is David Bowie and one of his many songs from Labyrinth,Underground. All of the songs he did for that movie rocked but this is the one that Anya would call a "breakaway pop hit" than a book number:
If your palate prefers richer fare,sink your teeth into Seal's Kiss From A Rose. Batman Forever was a so-so movie but it had a damn good soundtrack:
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
We here at the LRG Executive Committee of Etiquette know that one of the most difficult challenges facing folks during the holidays is one of the most mundane and yet terrifying inactions of the entire season. No,it's not fighting thru the crowds of shoppers on Black Friday or selecting just the right holiday card which has a one size fits all vibe to it.
The biggest hurtle is the Family Dinner,especially at Thanksgiving when it's that one time of year that you have to deal with annoying in-laws,cranky cousins or worry about your moody teenagers spilling some of the family secrets along with the gravy.
To help you smooth over some of those rough edges and avoid certain pitfalls,here are some gentle reminders of what you can do or should try not to,that will ensure a pleasant dining experience for you and yours:
PROPER PLACEMENT IS KEY: When setting up the seating for a family dinner,something to keep in mind are the acoustic levels. Conversations during the meal will flow much more quickly and clearly when everyone can hear each other without resorting to shouting across the room:
MENU PLANNING CAN BE CRUCIAL: Choosing the right foods to serve is just as important to creating harmony at the table as selecting the background music or TV channel. Some main dishes are automatic mood setters,envoking peaceful interactions or spicing up the air with so much friction that arguments are inevitable:
FOOD FLIRTATION IS RISKY BUSINESS: If you are having a more intimate meal,the hazards of using your entree as a means of coy entice include possible choking,greasy hands,tablecloth stains that will be hard to get out later and forgetting to ask if your potential partner has any blood connection to you:
A GOOD GRACE SETS THE TONE RIGHT OFF:No matter what your religious affilation is,saying grace before a meal is a tradition worth upholding. The bonds that bind a family together for better or worse can be truly reaffirmed by the humble asking of a blessing upon those gathered around the table:
BE GOOD TO YOUR GUESTS AND BE A GOOD GUEST IN RETURN: Whether you're having people over to share your holiday dinner or going to one yourself,courtesy must and should be maintained by all parties. Preparing enough food to feed all and informing your company of the dress code expected are important duties of the host.
As a guest,your responsibilities include arriving on time,not being presumptious with the number of others to bring according to the invitation(self invites are a no-no)and flexibility regarding the menu. Unless you have a health or religious concern,there is no need to complain about what's being served:
We wish one and all a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that these helpful hints will achieve a delightful dinner table experience that your family can cherish for years to come. If not, there's always Christmas and dining out is an acceptable option:
Monday, November 19, 2007
On Saturday,my budding artist sister and I attended the NYC Big Apple Con,a small but definately not shabby comic book/sci-fi convention. All sorts of vendors,artists and celebs were there,including a vast number of Jedi engaged in battle(you couldn't turn around without bumping into one). I must say that the Imperial Stormtroopers were very friendly and willing to pose for photos with folks.
It was abit crowded but not as insanely hectic as the first NYC Comic Con was at the Javits that time(since they were selling advance tickets for the next one at one of the booths on the weekend,I hope the spacing probelms have been resolved). A good number of current and former comic book artists were present such as Tim Sale,John Romita Sr. and Sergio Aragones,doing sketches and signatures for those eager to have them.
The main artists that we came to see were Stephen Lindsey and Lauren Monardo the mad genuises behind Jesus Hates Zombies which is now being published by Alterna Comics. The second reprint of the JHZ anthology,Those Slack Jaw Blues,will be available this December at a comics shop near you and it would make a great Christmas gift for your friends and family who possess a wicked sense of humor(my sister is one of the Slack Jaw Blues story contributors,so shameless plug alert!).
Stephen and Lauren were absolutely the coolest people we ran into that day,and I'm so happy that the JHZ series is being well promoted. Michael Bracco,another Alterna Comics artist,was there as well and I loved the design that he made for the official JHZ t-shirts,that I just had to get one(another holiday gift idea,folks!).
There were a number of celebrity signings,the biggest ones being Hayden Panettiere(Clare Bennett from Heroes) and Kristen Bell,our former Veronica Mars and current Livewire of Heroes,not to mention the unseen narrator for Gossip Girl. Since the lines to see Hayden were as long as the one Ralphie and his brother waited on to see Santa(plus,Kristen wasn't appearing until Sunday),I declined to join the throng. I did see her from a distance,which was good enough for me. Other celebs that were more easily available included the cast of What's Happening,several scream queens and wrestlers,along with Val Kilmer,who my sis tried to snap a picture of but was denied.
One of best parts of any con are the dealer tables,which give you plenty to look at as well as buy. The most expensive item I purchased was an autographed photo of Zachary Quinto(mmm...love that Sylar!)and the least would have to be a couple of small Batman Returns figures(The Penguin,under an open red umbrella and Catwoman). Speaking of small,I also grabbed a set of Joker and Harley Quinn DC Mini Mates and I would've gotten a Grindhouse action figure but alas,they had sold out of Cherry Darling. I was tempted to buy a Lost Boys Cult Classic version of David,but I barely have room for all of the vampire related collectables I have now. My vampire stuff also shares space with my Jane Austen shrine,so there you go.
There were plenty of decent giveaways,hawking everything from Beowulf to Lair(a new video game that the promoters kept trying to get random fans to have their pictures taken with the free posters). We picked up three different Sweeney Todd posters,a couple of Saw IV lollipops,I Am Legend hospital wristbands(which are hard to remove from your wrist,trust me),Golden Compass mini posters and a poster for Southland Tales. They were giving out posters for Mister Magorium's Wonder Emporium,but I had no use for that(and movie goers this weekend seemed to agree with me).
All in all,the Big Apple Con was really a blast and worth checking out. It's nice to have a comics convention during the fall(I know summer is more convienant for some but I can't stand the humidity)and in an easy to get to location. Everyone got along and had a good time sharing their mutual love of artistic imagination. Wish more such gatherings could happen more often,the world might be a better place for it.
Friday, November 16, 2007
With so many holiday films overwhelming us,it's a good idea to step back and look towards the future,despite the hovering thunderclouds of a lengthy writers' strike looming upon the horizon.
For starters, coming this February is the big screen version of Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl which has Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson as the sisters who forever changed the court of Henry the VIII,even only one of them was officially recorded as Queen(and the first to die of Henry's many wives):
Another hugely hyped film is Cloverfield,the J.J. Abrams flick about the ultimate monster mash upon NYC,due out in January. Not much info has been released about the plot(the better to lure you into the theater,my dear)but it seems to be a high tech-trying-to-look-low-tech tale of average folks dealing with diaster.
This is the first official trailer for the movie(the second one is alittle hard to link up here,at the moment)and it's very effective,I have to say. Could be an action movie version of The Blair Witch Project on our hands here,folks:
The follow-up to Batman Begins is officially titled The Dark Knight,which will have Heath Ledger as the Joker and Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent in a pre-Two Face role. While this trailer is really more of a teaser,it does get your motor running for Summer of 2008 to hurry up and get here so we can see this bad boy go to work!:
Yep,they made a fourth Rambo movie,gang. This not-long-awaited sequel has Sly Stallone kicking ass in Burma,to save poor Julie Benz and her fellow do-gooders. Are things this bad that we needed a new Rambo? Well,maybe for Stallone's bank account,I guess.
Wonder if this movie does well,will we get more angry warriors-from-the-eighties sequels? Surely Chuck Norris could use some face time in the multiplex:
Last ,but maybe not least,is The Eye,a remake of an Asian horror film(you don't get alot of those these days...NOT!)starring Jessica Alba as a blind woman who recieves a double corneal transplant. She has her vision restored but sees more than she wants to of some damn strange stuff,which of course makes her doubt her sanity. Sounds like a fun film for the whole family...
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Project Runway started their fourth season a little differently this time;instead of having the designers whip out an outfit with wacky materials,they were taken to Bryant Park and allowed to chose high end fabrics from three tents. The goal was for everyone to create an outfit that reflected who they were as a designer.
I immediately fell in love with Rami's Grey Goddess gown,which was simply stunning in it's basic elegance. The judges agreed and gave Rami the win,plus immunity for the next challenge. I also loved Chris March's shimmering purple and gold creation(which was good enough to get him thru to the next round.
When it came to Elisa's dress,Motormouth Mabel says it best-"Papa Tooney,We got ourselves a Looney!". She not only ignored the advice Tim Gunn gave her during the challenge,she declared herself to be "finished"(with two hours left to work)and went off to take a nap! Also,her model nearly tripped over that insane scrapheap of a train(why didn't someone make her change her footwear before the runway walk? Those boots made it even harder for the poor girl and didn't go with the dress at all).
Simone was the one,however,deemed to be Out with her mismatched looking jacket and bland dress combo that Michael Kors said appeared to be a case of "dressing in the dark". I have to concur with that,plus the sewing was truly sub par.
I still would've sent Elisa packing-I don't know what was funnier,the look on Nina Garcia's face as Elisa gave a rambling explanation of what her dress meant to her or Heidi going over her notes during the judge's discussion and reading one that said"The dress looks like it's pooing fabric!" Good one,Heidi!
Round Two of the Amazing Race took the teams to Amsterdam,where no one had time to check out a hash bar or get a Royale With Cheese,as they had to choose between Hoisting five pieces of furniture up to an apartment or Hunt for a pair of matching colorstriped bikes in a parking garage. Ronald and Christina(aka Team Who's Your Daddy)had a tough time,since Ronald decided to become the most annoying parent on the planet and waged a campaign of constant bickering at his daughter.
Early signs of Ronald's nagging showed up as they went online with Kate and Pat(who wound up being Philimated at the end-sorry to see you go,ladies)to find tickets and later at another airport,Ronald got mad at Team Grandpa after watching the younger one being pushy at the ticket counter. Granted,the kid was bothersome,which only made their clerk work even slower(be nice to the clerks,people!)but it wasn't Ronald's place to correct him on that.
I felt so bad for Christina,who went on TAR to better connect to her father and was really being browbeaten for her troubles. It was so bad during the Roadblock that I wouldn't been shocked if she smacked him with that pole just to shut him down. I really hope that things get better between them:
HEY,DAD,WOULD YOU DO ME A FAVOR....
....SHUT THE *$ UP!!!!
Heroes went back into the past,showing us that Four Months Ago,Niki developed a new personality named Gina(who got D.L. killed at a nightclub),Maya's Black Eyes of Death first launched an assault at her brother's wedding to an unfaithful bride and Peter was duped into becoming a willing prisoner of The Company,where Elle was his sinistersexy jailer and Adam was his next door cellmate. Many questions were answered and Kristen Bell was able to spread her wild woman wings as she shared more than her taste for electrically charged foreplay:
No doubt the shippers will be happy with this scenario,and are eager for these two to meet up again. While I'm sure that will happen at some point,the results may not be very romantic,especially since Peter now has total recall of his abilities:
Nip/Tuck: We're up to Episode Three and what has happened so far? Well,Sean is dating an actress from Hearts N' Scalpels who had him give her an extra tummy tuck and who still has a nasty eating disorder that lead to her losing bowel control in a hot tub with him. Julia is in town,with her new girlfriend(Portia De Rossi)who has a slutty daughter named Eden macking on Sean and stomping all over what little self confidence Annie has.
Christian,meanwhile,is getting over sulking about Sean's fifteen minutes of fame by posing for a centerfold spread which gave him some unexpected attention,slept with two Marilyn Monroe impersonators and seduced Julia yet again,after hearing Liz declared she wasn't,in her opinion,serious about being gay. Julia was serious about taking her new lover's advice to "get Christian out of her system" by having another romp in the hay with him,which bummed our dear Dr. Troy out so much that he went along with a lonely woman's confusion of who was her gigolo and performed said services himself.
That covers just about everything..oh,wait,Matt and Kimber are back in the picture and are hitting the pipe together,isn't that sweet? Next week,Rosie O'Donnell shows up and has her mouth sewn shut,which will please quite a few folks there!
Ugly Betty: Glad to see Justin get over his rebel phase and swoon all over the Slater/Meade wedding,which was nearly overwhelmed by Posh Spice's guest appearance as herself stealing all the attention from poor Wilhemina. Thankfully,the ongoing Meade family drama took center stage instead,giving Amanda a chance to demonstrate why her milkshake can still bring the boys to the yard:
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