Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween and Congratulations to our Almost Moon Jingle Contest winners!



Alright,people-time is up,put your pencils down,please! It's time to announce the Grand Prize winner of the very first LRG competition,The Almost Moon Jingle contest. To start,I want to say "thank you" to everyone who took the time and mental effort in writing and sending in an entry,plus a special thanks to those who were kind enough to mention this contest and/or link to it on your website. I truly appreciate your help and will let you know if and when I get to hold another one of these things again.

So,without further delay,our Grand Prize winner,who will recieve a free copy of Alice Sebold's The Almost Moon in her mailbox very soon is...Ms. Evelyn League!*pausing for applause and cheers* and here is her winning line:

"Alice Sebold made her Lovely Bones,
with readers both near and far.
Now,with the Almost Moon approaching...
Life's twists become most bizarre."

Congratulations,Evelyn and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. To enrich your victory a little bit more,we here at LRG would like to dedicate this old school American Express ad to you that has a great Halloween vibe to it,plus it stars one of the most popular authors of our time. From one great writer to another,this one's for you,Evelyn!:



Just like the Miss America pagent,we do have a few runners-up who well deserve their moment in the sun. First up is Naomi Shapiro,whose line was "...It's time to up the barre." and her favorite TV commercial is Slinky,a real classic. I think just about everyone has owned a Slinky at one time or another and why not,it's fun for a girl and a boy!:



Our next runner-up I only know as stigay,with the end line of "She's truly a shining star." I did try to find the Pantene commercial with Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" song that stigay likes,but it was rather tricky. I was allowed to make a substitute so,here's some sweets to the sweet,courtesy of Tom Carvel:



Last but not least,our third runner-up is Caroll Crew who offered up this line"Her readers will sail from earth to the stars.". Unfortunately,I don't know what Caroll's favorite TV jingle is but hopes she finds this McDonalds commercial amusing and is not too freaked out by the most terrifying part of the ad,that ticklish Happy Meal! The commercial also features those great trick or treat buckets that Mickey D use to give away,remember those? They really need to bring them back:




Once again,thanks to one and all who did their part in making this contest fun and interesting. Congratulations yet again to all of our winners and as an extra special bonus,here a few more Halloween themed commericals for your amusement:

CHECK OUT THIS BEACH BLANKET BOO-GO!



MONSTER MASH OF A MARRIAGE



IT'S HARD TO KNOW WHAT TO BRING TO A PARTY



HAVE FUN ON HALLOWEEN,NO MATTER WHAT YOUR AGE IS

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Coming this November,it's Classic Comic Strips Month!



You learn something new everyday,folks;I just found out that November is National Classic Comic Strips Month,saluting one of the best and earliest forms of American art.

To highlight some of the collections that are available,Fantagraphics has teamed up with a few of their friends in the same field to put out a cool promo sampler to showcase each company's set of comic strip gems.

The other companies include Checker Publishing,which has Little Nemo,Flash Gordon and B.C. by the late great Johnny Hart,Drawn And Quarterly, who has Walt and Skeezix and Moomin and IDW who has Dick Tracy,plus Terry and the Pirates on their roster. The sampler should be available in most comic book shops and called Comic Strip Masterpieces,with plenty of reproductions of such oldies but goodies like Gasoline Alley,Popeye,Steve Canyon,Dennis the Menance and The Yellow Kid.



Fantagraphics is also promising a follow-up to Unseen Peanuts,which I was lucky enough to pick up during the last BEA. Unseen Peanuts is a collection of never before published and/or reprinted Peanuts strips that Fantagraphics decided to put out for free,as part of the Free Comic Day celebration.

All of this is pretty sweet,in my opinion. One of my family's favorite rituals was for one of us(mainly me,as I grew older)to go out on a Sunday morning and pick up both the Daily News and the New York Times,plus a batch of rolls and donuts for all of us to share. We kids loved the Daily News on Sunday,due to the huge comic strip section which wrapped up the newspaper in a glowing glove of colorful squares filled with faces. Other papers had big Sunday strip sheets,too but not like the Daily News.



One of the strips that I really loved back then was Dondi,about a orphan boy being raised by his uncle Ted,getting into all sorts of dramas and adventures. I recall one of the storylines having to do with Dondi helping a little boy hide out,since he and his family were illegal aliens( some things never change,do they?). Turns out that Dondi is getting the compilation treatment from Classic Comics Press,which should have the first two volumes out by this November. Talk about your perfect timing there!



The comic strip might not seem as glamorous as it's flashier big brother,the comic book(or it's arthouse cousin,the graphic novel)but it is still one of the most important and still vitally creative forms of art being performed today. Comic strips are truly democratic-randomly ask ten people what their first exposure to illustations were,outside of a storybook,and most of them will say the comic strip either in the daily paper or the Sunday(probaly both).

Strips can be easily compared with haikus,which has set boundaries but are not bound by the rules of the format. By looking back at the artists of yesteryear,we can see the paths they cleared for such innovators as Bill Watterson(Calvin and Hobbes),Aaron McGruder(The Boondocks),Patrick McDonnell(Mutts) and Lynn Johnson(For Better or for Worse). It's due to the devotion and artistic energy that folks like these and many others that keep the comic strip alive and well,inspiring people like my sister to go out there and make their own satirical statements on the world. Online comic strips are another avenue of exposure for up and coming cartoonists and hopefully,we'll be seeing the likes of the Original Nutty Funsters in print someday.



So,don't forget to celebrate Classic Comic Strips Month,by checking out not only some of the best of the past but keeping a lookout for the current and future cartoonists at work. You might just be pleasantly surprised at what's out there.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jumpstart your holiday shopping by seeing what's new on the bookshelves this November & December



November will soon be upon us,and while many of us will slowly savor the yummy goodness of Thanksgiving Day,plenty of others will have either bought half of their intended gifts to give in December or are making battle plans for attacking the stores on Black Friday to take full advantage of the holiday season sales.



With that in mind, I thought it would be best to have a two for one book preview to help give a few folks some hints about what to pick from the bookstore for some of those more tricky to please people on their lists. If you're going to take a more leisurely approach to holiday shopping,some of these books will be great for reading while you're waiting on that very long line to the cash register or gift wrap.



FOR YOUR SPY GIRLS ONLY

If you have a person on your list who is still in mourning for Alias and thinks the perfect marriage made in heaven movie is Mr. and Mrs. Smith,there are a couple of books you might want to consider. First off is Yannick Murphy who fictionalizes what the last few days( not to mention cherished memories)would be like for one of the classic female spies of all time in Signed,Mata Hari. This intriguing new novel is due out on November 14 and already has recieved some good word of mouth from Publishers Weekly and Booklist,so you may want to check it out yourself first before giving it away.




If you prefer your spies to be a tad more on the supernatural side,Jaz Parks will be back like the Terminator(only with a much better script than the third movie had) in December with Another One Bites The Dust. This time around,Jaz and her vampire assassin partner Vayl are on the trail of an old school Chinese vampire who has his hands on a nasty piece of deadly biotechnology. However,the most challenging part of this assignment may be their undercover identities as they have to pose as street entertainers for a winter festival,which means that Jaz has to put on her belly dancing shoes and strut her stuff. Maybe she should take a few pointers from Dancing with the Stars..then again,maybe not!



FOR THE GOSSIP GIRLS OF THE GILDED AGE

With Gossip Girl becoming the next big teen show on the CW this season,there's going to be more of an audience for the Lifestyles of the Rich and Fabulously Miserable than ever before. A new entry into that marketplace is Anna Godberson's The Luxe,(November 20)which explores the trencherous realm of Manhattan social life in 1889. The plot focues on two sisters,Elizabeth and Diana Holland,as they strive to be on top of the elite society ladder and to keep down those who would get in their way.

Whether you're hoping to interest a young person into trying some Edith Wharton by slipping them something a bit more familar to his/her palate or indulging a grown-up with their Guilty Pleasure fix,this teen novel might fit the bill nicely.




FOR THOSE WHO LIKE TO GIGGLE DURING GREEK MYTHOLOGY CLASS

One of my favorite subjects to read about as a kid were the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology(which tied in with my devotion to Wonder Woman as well),which made me very eager to get a copy of Marie Phillip's humorous look at these ancient deities living together in modern day London in Gods Behaving Badly. Like regular folk,the former denizens of Mt. Olympus have to go to work to pay the bills-Apollo is a TV psychic,Artemis walks dogs and the goddess of love Aphrodite uses her natural talents in the phone sex business.

This book(due out in December) should be a great gift for humor fans,classic scholars and those who like a blend of both worlds. If you don't believe me,just listen to the author herself who does a very good job of selling her own story here:





A GUIDE FOR THE BUDDING OR BLOOMING SCHOLAR

If you have someone in your life who would want or need a good current look at what works of classic literature to select for their personal library,Michael Dirda's Classics For Pleasure is a slam dunk. Dirda lists about ninety books,doing plenty of genre hopping with recommendations for the likes of Sherlock Holmes,Sappho,Beowulf and Georgette Heyer.

Dirda's guide will be available in early November,giving you plenty of time to grab a good number up to give to those home-for-the-holidays college students and/or high school seniors looking to find a good way to expand their literary horizons. You can also consider it a good gift for reading groups wanting to spice up their selections or any book lover who loves talking about books.

FINALLY, A COUPLE OF IDEAS FOR THE ICONOCLASTS ON YOUR LIST



Looking for something to please that friend or family member who always seems to have such offbeat,non mainsteam tastes? Well, you might like to offer him/her one of these unique takes on the world as we know it. First up is Ethan Clark's memoir of his days traveling around with his bike-punk buddies in Leaning With Intent to Fall. The title of the book comes from an actual listing of a criminal offense that you can be arrested for in New Orleans,one of the places where Clark landed on his travels. The book is due out in November and if that link to the offical website seems to be a work in progress,here's a hint: click on the first photo you see and then keep on going. You'll find an excerpt from the book and info on how to order it directly from the publisher.



Another November release is Chuck Thompson's Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of A Rogue Travel Writer,which is not your typical take on vacationing overseas. Thompson,a former editor in chief for Travelocity magazine,gives you the real deal on what world travel is really like,who has the worst tourists and some drop your jaw in amazement stories of his encounters on the road to researching a travel article.

Here's an example of one of Thompson's tales that should stop you in your tracks on the way to the travel agent's office:

"We’re in a small, dark bar, an Aussie expat hangout. Across the table is my good friend Shanghai Bob, American expat and Old Asia Hand of distinguished order. To the right, a pair of astonishingly wasted guys in ridiculous bush hats (are there any other kind?) are sparking up what is certainly not the first joint of the evening. To the left, a young Thai girl is giving a rapid-fire, beneath-the-table hand job to a poker-faced German who throughout the event swigs his beer with a nonchalance that suggests he’s back in Bielefeld with his loving Schnuckelputz and adorable rugrats Klaus and Liesl frolicking at his feet.

The German looks like he’s in for the long haul and sometime during the girl’s indefatigable ministrations a door opens near the rear of the bar. Out spills a porcine gent, half-a-century old if he’s a day, accompanied by a slightly disheveled teenager modestly hitching up her bright orange halter top. Behind the door one can see into a narrow room, the primary features of which are a naked light bulb swinging from the ceiling and a stained mattress on the floor.

It’s at this point that Shanghai Bob looks at me and says, with utter sincerity, with complete lack of irony, “You want to get another beer here or go some place kind of sleazy?”

Clearly,this is not a travel tome for the delicate reader but if you have a friend who loves to travel and has a well developed sense of humor(not to mention a strong stomach),Smile When You're Lying should be the perfect ticket to paradise.

I hope this preview gives you a helping hand while you make those shopping rounds to the mall or online. Like they say,a book is a gift that keeps on giving and I certainly wouldn't say no to one(unless it's that OJ confession,which deserves to be in the top ten of Worst Gift Ideas Ever!). Happy reading to all and to all,a good read!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ken Follett's World Without End is a book that you never want to end



The year is 1327 and in the cathredral town of Kingsbridge,four children slip away from the All Hallows Eve festivities and find each other in the forbidden forest;two brothers,Merthin and Ralph,whose father is seeking to keep his lands and noble status,Caris,daughter of wool dealer Edmund who is too smart for her own good and Gwenda,who has just been tapped by her father to be the pauper family's pickpocket.

While in the woods,the four of them become unwilling witnesses to an attack on a knight bearing a secret document. The knight Thomas survives,despite his wounds,thanks to Merthin who becomes his secret keeper. Thomas buries the document and has Merthin swear not to reveal it's location until after Thomas' death.



Many years later,the foursome are still connected to one another. Merthin has become a builder,altho not allowed to join the guild due to his refusal to marry the daughter of his mentor who falsely claims that she is about to have his child. His brother Ralph is struggling to become a knight after many years of service as a squire for Earl Roland,the man who stripped his family of what land and title they once held. Caris is determined to help keep her father's struggling business afloat and still find a way to study medicine,a priviledge granted only to men. Gwenda's family is still poor but she pins her hopes and dreams on Wulfric,a simple man who is in love with Annet,the flirtatious daughter of a local landowner.



Their fates(and those of many others)literally collide when the town bridge collapses during the end of the annual Fleece Fair,with many casualities and unexpected opportunities resulting from the tragic event. Some find means of quick advancement,while others hope to make a new life for themselves thru rebuilding the bridge and a few take advantage of the disaster to play sinister strategy games to claim power within the ranks of the cathredral's society of monks.



World Without End is Ken Follett's follow-up to his 1989 historical saga,Pillars of the Earth, and it is just as absorbing and compellingly page turning as it's predecessor was,and perhaps a bit more so. You won't be lost on any of the references here if you haven't read the earlier novel and will no doubt be eager to discover the origins of many of the pivotal families in WWOE.

For those of us who have enjoyed Pillars of the Earth,this book gives you the perfect excuse to not only reread the first part but to happily indulge in the sweeping saga that Follett has presented before us,like a grand feast that has been prepared with skill and love. World Without End is paced like a classic epic film,rich with characterization and period lore yet never lagging when it comes to moving the plotlines forward. You have to force yourself away from the pages to get anything else done in the day,that's how alluring Follett's world is.



So,if you are already bored with this year's crop of new TV shows or find your regular ones lacking in style,I have the sure solution for that problem. Just get yourself a copy of World Without End and spend your nights engrossed in one of the best dramas around. It's like having a bottomless bowl of your favorite chips-you can't read just one page without wanting more. Think of it as the ultimate DVD set of a great series,with characters that you love,hate and anxiously hope for their fates to bring them what each truly deserves. Thank you,Mr. Follett,for giving us such a thoughtful gift of gab.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kristen Bell joins Heroes,A suggestion for the Scream Awards and ANTM's Heather goes face foward



This week on Heroes,we met Elle the Electro Girl who is desparately seeking Peter Petrelli in low places and judging by a comment she made,might be a member of The Company. While many of us are still in mourning for Veronica Mars Season Four,it is great to have Kristen Bell in the cast and a tad amusing to see the former resident of Neptune being able to throw down on the Irish mob in super solo style:




PREVIOUSLY ON VERONICA MARS....





Meanwhile,Matt and Nathan confronted Parkman Sr.,only to be tripped up by the awesome mind games that he used to distract them for his quick getaway(Poppa Parkman reminded me so much of Wormtail from the Harry Potter series),Monica and Micah team up to discover the boundaries of her ability,Mohinder brought a sick Molly to the Company for care and discovered Nikki as a willing prisoner and Peter tapped into his talent for prophecy painting.

My only complaint is that the Ando Reading The Mini Scroll-Postcards of Hiro's Excellant Adventure in Ancient Times scenes seemed to just shoehorn in that particular plotline this week. I know it's hard to keep all of the strings in motion when you have a literally far flung cast of characters(and a budget to adhere to) but please don't stretch this thread out too far or it's gonna snap. Next week,more of Sylar,which always makes my heart sing(wonder if Elle was called off the Petrelli retrieval to hunt Sylar down? They must've realized that he's flown the coop by now).




On ANTM this week,Heather was finally able to give the judges a full facial in her photo shoot,which pleased them very much. The theme was recycling and Heather's pose amongst aluminium cans was one of the better pictures taken. She had a really good week,as her team won the PSA challenge and Heather was randomly selected to have a photo shoot for Carol's Daughter(the beauty product sponsor this go-around)art directed by Mary J. Blige with Matthew Rolston as the photographer. Not too shabby there,Sweetie!

Heather was also voted Cover Girl of the Week,for about the third time in a row. She's really become a fan favorite,due in part to her not being whiny about her photo performances(she does get down but not out) and not being bitchy to the others in the house. Bianca is starting to take notice of Heather's many sucessfull strides and is setting her sights on beating her to the finish line,so someone needs to watch her back bigtime.



On the opposite end,Ebony bowed out of the competition after phoning in her bubble wrap pictures,giving Ambreal an unexpected call from the governor reprieve. Tyra took Ebony's last minute withdrawal rather personally,in my opinion,snidely saying that she was a "quitter" and she doesn't need "quitters" in this contest. Granted the girl crumbled faster than a box of graham crackers doused with milk but geez,Tyra,believe it or not,everything is not all about you. Why was Ebony's audition tape shown at the end of the episode,as a epilogue or futher insult to injury? You make the call,folks.



The Scream Awards were presented on Spike TV this week and I have a serious suggestion for the organizers of this event;you need to ease on the number of prizes given to sexy women. "But our fan base is guys,Lady T,come on!" Yes,but as one of your presenters noticed,there were quite a number of fan girls in the audience and just as many watching at home.

I'm not saying you can't have catagories like Sci-Fi Siren or Fantasy Fox but how about a Sci-Fi Stud or a Dream Man,too? You had three catagories(the third being Female Super Hero)devoted to honoring hot ladies and none for the gents(that Hero award to Harrison Ford does not count!). All I'm asking for is a slice of the eye candy pie,people.

Out of all the twisted trailers on the show,the clip from Repo:The Genetic Opera was the most insane thing I've ever seen and I so want to see this when it hits the theaters. With the likes of Sarah Brightman and Anthony Stewart Head leading this maniac musical cast, Paris Hilton might be worth tolerating onscreen:

MOST DEFINATELY NOT WORK SAFE!!!!



Random Notes:

Kitchen Nightmares: Since this week's episode was not shown due to the World Series(boo!),I thought it would be showcase some of my favorite bits of the series. I loved the initial food tasting/dinner service when Gordon first shows up(which never ends well)and the kitchen inspections,which are scarier than most horror movies.

Let's start with The Old Stone Mill:



The Seascape offers up a menu of mold:



Dillons/Purmina has quite a basement clientale:



The Mixing Bowl is full to the brim with bland:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

They don't make music critics like they used to



I'm feeling a tad nostaglic for the old Beavis and Butthead show that,for awhile,reigned supreme on MTV. The rudely goofy animated antics of those two boys were always alot funnier to me than Ren and Stimpy ever was(I never understood what the appeal of that show was. Yes, the artwork was good but the humor was too surreal for my taste)and frankly,it makes most of the live action programming on MTV today look pitiful in comparison. Who seems smarter,Beavis or the average group of contestants on Next?

What I truly miss about B&BH were the music video segments,where they ripped on plenty of singers and bands as well as show their appreciation for what they considered "cool"(mainly heavy metal). To me,that was the best part of the show. So,here for your viewing enjoyment are some of Beavis and Butthead's music critiques,atleast until they are shut down by The Man:

LIAR!!!!!!

It's always funny when Beavis takes the spotlight and he's at his finest here where he totally drools over Henry Rollins:



TRIPLE PLAY

The guys were champion channel surfers and here,they go thru the Goldilocks routine with Bob Geldoff,Technotronic(remember them? Wow,talk about a waveback machine!)and then feel just right with some G'N'R:



GWAR RULES

One of the bands that benefitted from the mocking exposure they recieved on B&BH was Gwar,a favorite of both the guys. Their videos showcased the bizarre stage shows that the group always put on which gave them a strong underground fan base that no doubt increased somewhat upon getting the Beavis and Butthead blessing:



PREACH ON,BROTHER COOPER

A major complaint lobbed at Beavis and Butthead was that they totally disrepected all forms of authority and paid no heed to anything said by adults. However,as this look at an Alice Cooper video shows,they could pay attention and even listen to one of their elders as long as he spoke to their true concerns in life:




AND FINALLY,THE BEST OF THE WORST

To wrap things up,here is a kickass collection of some of best "sucky" videoes that the guys sat thru,including Yanni,Journey,Poison and The Dead Milkmen. The Milli Vanilli bit is most excellant and speaks volumes subtly:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Want to have a cinematic blood lust binge this Halloween?



The scary movie season is in full force,with this past weekend's top money earner being 30 Days of Night,the very gruesome vampires invade an Alaskan town movie. Normally,I prefer my nosferatu to be more of the tall,dark and deadly romantic type but sometimes it plays off for vamps to be more monster mash.

So,since the next big horror flick coming down the pike this weekend is Saw IV(which means that 30 DON will have to move to a lower position on the B.O. charts),with no other vampire movies in sight,I thought that I would help some of my fellow bloodsucker fans out with a personal pick list of films that have alot more of a bite to them.



A good place to start is John Landis' attempt to do for vampires what he did for werewolves in Innocent Blood,which stars Anne Parillaud(the original La Femme Nikita)as a vampirella who feels better about her night time feeding habits when she goes for "Italian"-mobsters,that is.

During one of her dinner and a date deals,things go wrong and she doesn't get to "finish" her food,making Robert Loggia's Don an instant vampire king who must be dethroned before he converts his whole crew into the ultimate realm of the underworld. There's plenty of humor(Loggia is real damn funny in vampire mode),most of which is slapstick and gore. A good example of that is this bit with Don Rickles,who gets a most unfortunate wake-up call:





One of my true favorites in this genre is this early Tarantino/Rodriguez collaboration,From Dusk Til Dawn. Tarantino co-stars with George Clooney as the Gecko brothers who share a life of crime but not a taste for murdering ladies who don't fulfill their foot fetish fantasies(I don't have to tell you which one is into that,do I?). The boys are on the run and decided to get some reliable wheels to reach their desert rendevous by taking a lapsed preacher(the kickass Harvey Keitel)and his kids hostage in their trailer.

The fellas make the tragic mistake of going to a bar that's a front for an all you can eat vampire buffet. In addition to Keitel,the eclectic cast also boasts Juliette Lewis,F/X master artist Tom Savini(whose character name is Sex Machine),Fred Williamson and Salma Hayek as the sexysinister vampire queen Santanico Pandemonium who brings the house down(and enthralls baby brother Richie) in one of the pre-battle moments of the film:



And during the big fight,she takes on the other Gecko brother as well but with very different results:





Vampire in Brooklyn is Eddie Murphy's tribute to the Blacula films of the seventies and has mixed results with it's mix of humor,horror and romance. Murphy plays the vampire lead and gets to indulge in his love of make-up as his character has the ability to shapeshift into other people(I swear that he's addicted to this stuff-why he and Martin Short haven't teamed up yet is beyond me). Angela Bassett is his intended Bride of Darkness while Kadeem Hardison gets to Renfield things up along side John Witherspoon,who gets some of best laughs here:

AHOY,INDEED!



TO THE 25Th POWER!





To round out this bountiful bloodfest,let us consider the "Wes Craven presents" version of Dracula 2000(a sure sign that you need to lower your entertainment standards is the phrase "So and So Presents",which means "Yes, I threw some money behind this film but no way in hell was I gonna waste my valable directing time on it").

Gerard Butler stars as the Count,who is awaken by a gang of thieves who have plundered the vault of Matthew Van Helsing(Christopher Plummer) and flee to New Orleans,which is convienant since Matthew's estranged daughter Mary lives there and has visions of our leading vampire both in dream and waking life.

This is a tad goofy at times,with dialogue exchanges like this:

Dracula: We are so much more complicated than our names.

Lucy: I was named after the Peanuts character.

Yet,I can't help but like this movie. There's quite a bit of fun to savor as Omar Epps and Jennifer Esposito camp it up as newly made vamps,the plotline holds a Da Vinci Code like secret and Gerald Butler is so smooth and smoldering. The fear factor is pretty good as well,such as this scene where Jeri Ryan's reporter loses her camera man at a crucial moment:



Good luck at the video store and/or Netflix,guys. One word of advice: don't bother with Bordello of Blood,I beg of you. Despite what the ad line says,evil is not the only thing that bites in this sorry excuse for a Tales From The Crypt movie:

Monday, October 22, 2007

What does Rowling's revelation mean? Well,for one thing, that maybe Dumbledore wore Prada.



J.K. Rowling was making an appearance at Carnegie Hall last Friday,as part of an "Open Book" tour where she gives a reading from the final Harry Potter book,and during the Q&A section,was asked by someone in the crowd if Dumbledore had ever had a "true love."

She replied "Dumbledore is gay.",which caused quite a stir there and on the internet communities as well. A good number of folks find this news to be an interesting item for discussion,while some react with a bit of a shrug and others are rolling their eyes at what they percieve to be a publicity stunt by Rowling. Publicity stunt? Oh,please-this is one woman who has had the mother and the father load of public attention for nearly the past several years that would make a rock star stand back in awe and do the "We're Not Worthy" bow and scrape before. I seriously doubt that she made this known to sell more books,which would be pretty damn redundant at this point.



Rowling elaborated abit more about who Dumbledore did love(which I won't go into,in the interest of not spoiling The Deathly Hallows for those who are either still reading or haven't gotten to it yet)and mentioned that she had to tell director David Yates(who is working on the film adaptation of the sixth book,Half Blood Prince) about Dumbledore's sexual orientation to explain why some dialogue about a girl in the Headmaster's past needed to be taken out of the script.

So,what does this all mean,for Potter fans? First off,I have to salute Rowling for her forthrightness in this matter. She could've been ten shades of vague about the issue and tiptoed around the question but instead of dancing a little sidestep,she answered it boldly,with a bit of a laugh about how her critics and the fan fiction writers would take the news. Bravo,Ms. Rowling and Brava,too!



As to the books themselves,to be honest,folks,it never occured to me that Dumbledore had any kind of a sex life. He fit the mythological hero role of Wise Old Mentor quite nicely there(with the humanizing touch of having some dark deeds in his past that brought him to the path of good and hoping to spare his young apprentice the pain of making similar terrible mistakes that will haunt him/her with regret for the rest of their life),walking in the well worn footsteps of Gandalf the Grey,Obi Wan Kenobi and King Arthur's Merlin.

I'm sure many are rereading some of the series to see if they can find any hints of Dumbledore's true inclinations but I don't think they'll find much. Despite whatever personal crosses he had to bear,Albus Dumbledore never faltered in his mission to keep Harry Potter safe and strong enough to take on the terror of Lord Voldemort,a duty that was meant to protect not just wizards or even only Harry but the whole world of Muggles and magicians everywhere. Quite a noble challenge,indeed.



At the risk of sliding down a spoiler slope,Rowling does mention that Dumbledore did love someone who did not return his feelings,which may certainly explain why he was rather sympathetic to another major character thru out the series who,it turns out,was motivated by an unrequited love as well. In my personal opinion,it expands both of those characters,that they both shared a similar heartbreak that ultimately united them towards the same goal,despite their different courses of action in doing so. It also makes a great argument for the universal nature of love,a message that people of all ages can and should be able to handle.

Will this revelation affect the other two film versions of the HP books yet to come? I really don't think so(other than that change in dialogue that Rowling had them make) and hopefully any juvenile snickerings from the intolerant crowd will be firmly but politely ignored as it should be. Both the book and film versions of Albus Dumbledore deserve to be respected and admired by those looking for a good role model to become as they grow up,no matter at what age that may be.


DUMBLEDORE THEN:



DUMBLEDORE NOW, SAME AS HE EVER WAS:

Friday, October 19, 2007

Call me a two dollar costume queen,baby!





With Halloween fast approaching,the mad rush for the perfect costume is getting even more daunting,as the shopping options for grown-ups have increased right along side the legally able to trick or treat young folk. What's even worse,most of the really cool ideas based on pop culture icons,like Ugly Betty(40 bucks just for the poncho!) or Jigsaw($100,for an officially licensed mask),are rather expensive. What is a budget restrained yet lifelong Halloween devotee to do?

Well,folks,have no fear-your pop culture diva is here to give you a few tips on how to whip up a cool,in style costume for less than twenty dollars(cheaper,if you can find some of the stuff you need right at home).




THE BIONIC WOMAN

A good way to select a low budget costume is to pick a persona who basically wears civillian style clothing while saving the world. Whether you're into the old school or the new version of the Bionic Woman,atleast you don't have to find a cape or some star spangled bathing suit bottoms! Just put on a pair of jeans and borrow a black leather jacket if you don't have one hanging in your closet.

If you prefer to get all Lindsey Wagner,just slap on a blonde wig and pull that old jogging suit out of the donation pile for Goodwill(make sure the suit is not yellow,otherwise you might be mistaken for the Bride from Kill Bill). The only tricky high tech prop you'll need is a glowing green eye and if you don't have access to an appropriately tinted contact lens,see if you have a pair of 3-D glasses(with cardboard frames)and simply cut it in half. You should probably get rid of the green half's leftover arm and find something sticky to glue the lens over your eye(something temporary and not meant for gluing paper,of course). Check out the makeup options at your local 99 cent store for help.



MY NAME IS EARL

This is great for a group of friends,who love Halloween but don't have big bucks to spend. If you want to be Earl,just wear a light colored flannel shirt,have some serious bed head and a fake 'stache. Got a buddy with some darker shades of flannel? He can be your Randy! Crab Man just requires a wife beater shirt and for your dates, one gal could be Catalina,if she's brunette,and the other can be Joy,as long as she has blonde hair with a ton of hairspray and some Lee Press On nails.



BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER AND FRIENDS

Now,Buffy is great if you want to embrace the supernatural fun of the holiday and is the queen of casual wear. You will need a few props,such as a stake,cross and a good leather jacket(or any dark one that's not a zip-up). You could be Buffy in Cheerleader mode but you do run the risk of being confused with Claire Bennett from Heroes. Buffy's also worn some pretty cool Halloween outfits herself for those specially themed episodes and if you have a friend that works for a community theater group,you might be able to become 18th Century Buffy,or Red Riding Hood College Buffy.

It's just as easy to become one of the Scoobies-for Willow,some red hair(or a dark wig and pale make-up,if you're Evil Willow)and a nice top,Xander has various options in wardrobe(flannel,Hawaiian shirts,Army fatigues)and if you want to be one of Buffy's vampire dates,some fake fangs and either bleached blonde or dark moussed hair sets you off in style. If you do choose to be Spike,see if you can beg,borrow or sort of steal a duster(that's how Spike got his!).

Another idea and one I actually used in real life,is to just be a vampire slayer. With the final season's spell that triggered all of the potential Chosen Ones in the world, you can be whatever "Blank the Vampire Slayer" you want to be,with the right outfit and props at the ready. If you do want to be particular,Faith only requires a barbed wire arm tat(plenty of temporary ones available)and a funky sleeveless shirt.




REALITY SHOW CONTESTANTS

Last and debatedly least,contestants on reality shows are the Instant Cup of Soup of celebrities out there on the pop culture playing field and perfect for penny pinching costumes. Want to be a Top Chef or trapped in Hell's Kitchen? Just throw on a chef's hat and carry around a ladle or a whisk( a pitchfork would be good for HK).

Want to be on The Amazing Race? Team up with a friend and lug around backpacks with Travelocity stickers on them. You can unearth that old pirate costume of your brother's and claim to be a lost member of the short lived series,Pirate Master. Project Runway,get some fabric samples and a sewing kit. You can even save money on costumes for your children by dressing them up in old clothes and saying they're part of Kid Nation!

Whatever you ultimately settle on,the important thing is to have fun on Halloween. And if you're still stumped on what to be,just take the advice of Wednesday Addams and go as a homicidal maniac. After all,they look just like everyone else!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

BloodTies is back,Heroes heats up and Reaper starts to settle in




Heroes put the Hiro Back in Time/Peter Petrelli-Bourne Identity plotlines on hold this week to give us a shaved Nathan,more of Claire and her flyboy West and an introduction to Micah's cousin Monica,whose ability is to be able to imitate anything she sees on TV which comes in handy during an attempted robbery at work. Talk about your ultimate Fast Learner!:



We also caught up with Wonder Twins Maya and Alejando as they run into Sylar,of all people,and Maya winds up falling under his spell. Credit goes to her brother for having the sense to be somewhat suspicious of their new traveling companion but I'm afraid that the two of them might not realize that even tho Sylar's not up to eating brains at the moment,he is still very capable and willing to bash them out,rather late in the game:





And to cap the episode off,Matt and Mohinder do some digging into who might be pulling a Ten Little Indians on the Original Gang of 12 heroes,only to discover that Molly's "Nightmare Man" is Matt's rolling stone of a papa. Since Molly tracked the elder Parkman down to Philly before she got trapped in the windmill of her mind,perhaps Matt and Mohinder might consider recruiting "Day Man" to help them on their quest,since he is the official "fighter of the Night(mare)Man". Next week,Kristen Bell makes her debut and is desparately seeking Peter Petrelli-so looking forward to that!



Blood Ties has returned to Lifetime,now being shown on Friday nights at 11(some subtle competition for Moonlight there,perhaps?). The opening episode was pretty good,with Vicki having to help an undercover cop find out why he's suddenly a ghost while his body is up and running with a couple of street gangs. Tomorrow's show is all about a shape shifting demon who prefers to take animal form,which is cool,but I would like to see some more vampire action this season. Maybe an old blood sucking babe from Henry's past or a former drinking buddy who'd like to sink his teeth into Vicki(which would really piss off Mike). Just a suggestion,there,writers!



Reaper is becoming a show that I really like,especially with Ray Wise playing the Devil as a friendly evil uncle type there. This week,Sam had to send a murderous magician back to Hell(which he deserved for his lame Criss Angel outfit)and is starting to be proactive in his dealings with Satan by demanding to see the contract that his parents signed,granting his soul over to an eternal civil service job.

I hope they keep that plotline up,since the whole "Sam wants Andi as a girlfriend but doesn't want to tell her about his other job" deal can get old real fast. The vessels can become a easy punchline as well but the dove that Ben bonded to this time around was an amazing special effect when it sent the Magic Man back,good and scary. Speaking of good and scary,Wise seems to be having a ball here and is able to whip out the menace when necessary-as Mr. Burns would say,"Exxxcelllant!!":



Random Notes




Moonlight: Yep,this show's starting to grow on me and thank you for letting Beth in on the big "I'm a vampire' secret this early in the game. It would be too much of a strain on the series' credibility(not to mention the brain power of the character)to keep her in the dark much longer.

The most unintentionally humorous parts of the show belong to Jason Dohring's Josef who constantly seems to play his role as Logan Echolls in vampire mode. I'm not complaining,his bits are part of the fun here,like in this clip where he and Mick are tasting some nightlife in the 1980's-the line "not while I'm eating!" cracks me up every time:



Smallville: Another Superman steps into the ring tonight,as Dean Cain guest stars as a doctor who Chloe seeks out to help her with her meteor freak status. However,looks like the not so good Doc got his medical degree from Hostel U:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

On The Shelf with Jane Porter


One of the rising stars of female friendly fiction is Jane Porter,who has recieved quite a few accolades for her latest book,Odd Mom Out,which tells the story of an independant single mom who wants her daughter to be able to fit in with the somewhat uptight community they've moved to without totally compromising either one's self esteem.

Her other books-The Frog Prince and Flirting With Forty-have introduced her to readers but a good number of them were already familar with Porter's prose from her numerous Harlequin Presents series titles,the newest one being At The Greek Boss's Bidding. She is also a former English teacher who has a Masters in Writing from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelor's in American Studies from UCLA. I consider myself most fortunate to get a few moments of her time to answer some of my questions as she is currently on the OMO book tour.



1)Odd Mom Out has a good deal of talk about how women treat one another in both social and professional circles. Which ones of the characters best represents your point of view on this subject?


All of them! Every woman is unique,just as every family is unique and yet we unfortunately carry around in our heads some impossible ideal
that we've either read about, or seen in a tv show, and instead of
enjoying who we are, and the family we have, we beat ourselves up for not being better...for not being 'perfect'. Yet there is no perfect woman-not at home, or at work-and we can't keep holding ourselves to such impossible ideals, or expect other women to meet these ideals as well.



2)Single motherhood is also a major theme in OMO. Do you think
that the image of single moms in the media has gotten better or worse over the years?



I think the image of single moms in the media has definitely improved. We know single moms can be extremely competent, as well as successful.A vast number of American families are headed up by a single mom and these families flourish.

Unfortunately, despite the improved perception, there is still a stigma
if you are a single mom. In our culture we view being single as a flaw
or failing. Studies show that single moms make significantly less than
married moms, and mothers over all make less than women without
children, and in general, women make less than men. How is that fair? In my need to understand the hows and whys, I find myself asking what if, and with enough what ifs, I have the building blocks for a book.






3)Along with your previous novels (The Frog Prince, Flirting with Forty) you are also the number of a series titles for Harlequin Presents. What are the pluses and minuses of writing both kinds of books-series and stand alone?

Each style of book has a very particular language and code and having the ability to write for two different audiences with two different voices (and themes) keeps the writing fresh and challenging. But switching back and forth between the two is very difficult.

Once I'm immersed in one world, I find it hard to switch to the other. I can't write both styles at the same time and I usually lose a couple weeks to a month between books trying to become comfortable with the other voice and point of view. But once I'm there, I'm happy and excited by the storyline and new
characterization.


4)Who are some of your favorite authors of all time?

Edith Wharton, Henry James, Louisa May Alcott, EM Forster from the
classics as well as contemporary novelists Marian Keyes, JR Ward,
Loretta Chase.



5)If one of your books were made into a film, which would you prefer:big budget Hollywood adaptation or a made for tv movie?



One of my books is being made into a Lifetime movie right now. Sony TV optioned Flirting with Forty a year ago September and I've got the finished script sitting on my desk. I'm really delighted to have my books be adapted to film and Lifetime is a great fit for my books as I write for women and want my stories to reach women without needless criticism and contempt.

I don't know why as a country and culture we're so contemptuous towards women's fiction and women's movies. We don't treat men this way. We shouldn't be so judgmental towards women.

6)Are you planning any follow-up books to any of your stand alone
novels?

Odd Mom Out has a sequel and its coming out in late May. Alpha Mom is Taylor Young's story and we return to Bellevue and the Points Country Club as well as the Points alpha moms and PTA. It was so fun to write the flip side of Marta's story, to get a look at Marta and Bellevue through Taylor's eyes.



7) From books, movies or TV, who is your favorite mother-daughter
team?

I honestly don't have a favorite team. I tend to live in my little
writer/reader cave and curl up with books and ideas. I do admire
mother- daughter teams and am hoping to still have a daughter one day. It'd be wonderful to have a little girl to do girl stuff with.


Although with my luck, my little girl would end up loving trucks and Legos more than dolls and the ballet. But that would still be fun. I'm far from a perfect mom, and I can be a bit of an odd mom, but I love my children more than I can say.

Thank you,Jane,for your time and if you're looking for a smart,heartfelt book this fall,folks,please give one of hers a try. I look forward to the hopefully coming soon Lifetime movie version of Flirting With Forty and more of Jane Porter's delightful works for years to come.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What's your favorite pop culture serenade?

Last week on The Office,Annoying Andy was hitting on Angela(who is in Super Cranky Mode,since the big Dwight break-up)and went the extra mile by serenading her with ABBA and having a couple of buddies do some telephone background vocals. That was one of best bits of the whole episode(I really enjoy these one hour versions of The Office and will be missing them when they go back to the regular half hour format)and one of the sweetest of this show. Andy may be a total jerk but anyone who has the good taste to romance someone with ABBA can't be all bad:



So,inspired by that,I decided to post a few of my favorite serenade scenes from movies and TV,with clips of the original artists performing the song chosen(like this ABBA one from 1978). A little compare and contrast,if you will:




First off,I must warn you that there will be no John Cusack with the boombox clip from Say Anything here. Yes,I like the movie and Cusack,plus the scene is nice but he doesn't actually do the singing. To me,it's more of a romantic risk when you use your own vocals and when the object of your affection is front and center,paying attention to your musical pleas for love. Diane just stays in bed during that entire bit,if I recall correctly. Sorry to be picky but standards are standards,folks!



Let us start off with one of the better Shakespeare For Teens films that were all the rage a few years ago. Ten Things I Hate About You was a high school version of Taming of the Shrew that had Julia Stiles fighting off the advances of Heath Ledger before he even consider climbing that Brokeback Mountain(but just about to become a
Knight's Tale). In this scene,he goes all out on the soccer field to soothe the savage beastly behavior of his intended one:



The song he croons to her is the Frankie Valli hit,"Can't Take My Eyes off of You",which is a pretty classy tune for a modern teenager to take on:





One of the tenderest moments of the seventh season of Gilmore Girls was Lorelai's karoake version of "I Will Always Love You",made even more tear jerking by Luke's casual walk-in during her number. No matter how you feel about the ups and downs of that relationship,you got to give the lady credit for taking that song all the way to the bitter end there. And look on Luke's face..*sniffle*:



As Rory says,that song choice was definately Dolly inspired,so here you go:





Alas,some serenades are rather sinister than sweet. Blue Velvet certainly showcased the dark side of many things,including the use of love songs as an expression of endearment. Dennis Hopper is at his insane best in this film,especially when he explains to Kyle MacLachlan about love letters from the candy colored clown:



Roy Orbison's music is truly haunting in it's simple beauty,which is most likely why David Lynch chose it for the movie:





To leave things on a better note,Ewan McGregor's singing voice is quite amazingly displayed in Moulin Rouge. Yes,it's a musical but musicals count,in my opinion!

While Kidman and company do a fantastic job here as well,McGregor's vocals are truly show stopping as in this scene where he gets Satine to shut up with her phony sexed up hysterics and have her breath taken away by "Your Song":



Take it away,Elton!:



So,those are my picks(or atleast the ones I could get on YouTube). Don't be shy,share your own favorite romantic and/or interesting serenades with us here at LRG. It's for people like you that keep it turned on.