Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Thursday, June 30, 2005

30 Days-F/X has some pretty wild stuff

So I finally watched Morgan Spurlock's new show 30 Days last night(being meaning to from show one but kept missing it)and it was rather interesting. It was the Muslim show,where All-American Dave from West VA,goes to Dearborn,Michgan to live life as a Muslim. The guy did give it a fair shot-the biggest hurdle was the traditional prayer given five times a day but he made the extra effort to learn some Arabic and find out more about Islamic beliefs. Also liked Spurlock's man in the street interviews about people's preconceptions about Muslims.

I'm not a big fan of Supersize Me(sorry,but not shocked about the fact that too much fried,greasy food can make you sick and corporations are out to protect their interests)but Spurlock is a damn likable fella and does make some good points about things,so he's okay in my book. Only F/X would have his show on-alot of the original programs are more raise-the-bar than regular network fare,if you ask me. Caught the first episode of Rescue Me,where Dennis Leary's fireman character gets so mad at a vendor selling 9/11 cookies that he trashes the stand and gets literally pissed off at the cookies. Now,that's something you won't see on Desperate Housewives(an over-rated show,IMO)! I don't watch F/X on a regular basis but when I do catch a show like Nip/Tuck(with the creepy serial slasher storyline) or The Shield(missed the Glenn Close season),it does grab your attention and pins you to the wall.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why I refuse to see War of the Worlds and the summer of Alcott

"War of the Worlds" opens tommorrow and I'm not seeing it this weekend for the following reasons:(a)sick to death of Tom "Crazy" Cruise and his media rantings and (b)am no longer impressed by Steven Spielberg. The Tom Cruise thing,I'm not alone on(pretty sure)-the man can believe that all shrinks are evil Nazi people bent on addicting the citizens of the world to bad,bad pills,that's his right as an American. But,when you pick fights with morning talk show hosts,that's just career suicide,IMO.

Calling Matt Lauer glib on the Today show is like going on the Macneil-Leher Hour and calling the host"brainy"-a big old DUH! right at ya,fella. I don't even watch the Today show or most morning news program(F/X shows repeats of Buffy for 2 hours,which is a much healther way to start the day,even if you only watch 40 minutes worth)but for folks promoting their big summer movies,that's your bread and butter you are knocking off the table.

Also,Spielberg and big action movies just don't have the same popcorny flavor they use to-granted,Spielberg is not as far gone as George"The Ultra-Revisionist" Lucas but going thru the motions is the theme I get from having seen the WOTW trailer so many times. For a long time,Spielberg was chasing that Oscar gold and now that he's achieved it,he seems over and done with the razzle-dazzle. Hard to put it in words but this weekend,I'll just see Batman Begins for the second time(gonna watch in IMAX,a new experience for me)and wait for the Fantastic Four(which really should've been released for the July 4th but guess the studio didn't want to be too obvious).

One of my Summer Reading goals(yes,I'm one of those people who make reading lists but don't always complete them)is to read Lousia May Alcott in the new Library of America edition. This is the third copy of Little Women that I own and you may well ask"Why do you need 3 copies of the same book?" I don't need 3 but each copy has it's differences and special meaning to me. My first copy of LW was given to me for Christmas in 1977 by my Aunt Sharon(I remember the date because she inscribed the book to me which is how I learned about inscribing)and it's an Illustrated Junior Library copy. I sell this edition at my store and have told potential customers how well it holds up. My copy is abit worn out(just added glue to the binding after looking into it a few minutes ago)but still in readable condition. The color plate illustrations are pretty but not too sticky sweet and yes,it is the "whole book". Folks see the Junior Library label and think it's some watered down version(which many people do look for).

My second copy is a Modern Library paperback-I tend to read books about books and many times,I'll come across someone dissing Modern Library editions. I don't know why-perhaps they were not up to par at one time but the ones I have are really nice and I love the paperbacks(yes,I have a complete JA set in Modern Library paperback). The paperbacks have commentary or rather,essays about the author from scholars of the period(the ML Dracula has a Sigmund Freud essay). The ML Little Women has commentary from G.K. Chesterton,Katherine Fullerton Gerould and Madeline Stern,who discovered Alcott's though- to- be- long -lost thrillers and helped them get reprints. I must confess that I didn't read A Long Fatal Love Chase or The Inheritance,despite the press and good reviews-at that time,Louisa May was still just the author of the March girls,in my heart.

I reread LW after 9/11 and it was comfort food for me then. Atleast it wasn't the mental version of Doritos (use to abuse those suckers)-Little Women is like going home to a Sunday dinner of roast beef with potatoes(no gravy,I hate gravy). It's good old fashioned fare and some might find it dull but not every roast beef is same . One of the joys of reading is catching the nuances that you missed the first,second or tenth time out.

This Library of American copy I'm reading now helps me to see that. I find that many of the scruples passed down in the storyline are actually pretty good advice,even for today. For example,Meg has trouble at home,shutting her husband out of her life with their twins,Daisy and Demi so much that he goes over to his friend's house after work most of the time and feels unconnected to his family. Meg starts to get lonely so she asks Marmee(hard to believe that kids called their mother such a name but then again,Jo would probaly balk at the term "Mom"as not respectful and any faithfull reader knows how unconventional she was at times)what to do. Her advice? I'll let the lady speak for herself(slightly abridged):

"This is just the time,Meg,when young married people are apt to grow apart and the very time when they ought to be most together;for the first tenderness soon wears off,unless care is taken to preserve it;and no time is so beautiful and precious to parents ,as the first years of the little lives given to them to train. Don't let John be a stranger to the babies,for they will do more to keep him safe and happy in this world of trial and temptation,than anything else and through them,you will learn to know and love one another as you should."

Marmee also encourages Meg to take interest in life outside the home by keeping up to date on things and going out with her husband for an evening once in awhile. Now tell me that the SuperNanny,The Nannys 911 or Dr. Phil don't give the same type of recommendation to parents today! Feminists may cringe at such happy homemaker pep talk but it does work-later in the chapter,John takes over putting his reluctant son to bed and I got shades of many a Nanny 911 episode. No,I don't have kids but I do watch these shows with my mom(a no nonsense but good natured,down to earth lady)and wind up agreeing with the nannies many a time.

Homespun wisdom is not why I bought a new copy of LW;this one has the follow-up books Little Men and Jo's Boys included,which I've never read. I tend to read several books at a time and usually put them in the following catagories: Fiction,Nonfiction,Classic ,Reread and Brain Candy. The Alcott trilogy fills two slot for the price of one-Classic and Reread. LOA editions are well made but I find the covers to be drab;jet black with a mugshot picture of the author. You're not supposed to judge books by the cover but I find that a cover can really make or break a book.

Most modern covers are uberdesigned to attract the eye but many are misleading(particularly with chick lit titles,all that pink and shopping /cartoony imagery can make you sick to your stomach) or project an image that's intimidating(compare the American cover of Ian Mc Ewan's Saturday to the British one and you'll see what I mean). In terms of style,the Modern Library paperbacks look prettier(the hardcovers are similar to LOA,only with golden brown background color instead of the basic black) -that doesn't make them better,of course.

Anyway,before I go off on another tangent,let me just say that LW is the grandmother of chick lit(ok,great grand-mother) and should not be written off as a morality tale or kiddie fare. After all,it's the story of four sisters trying to figure out life,love and how to achieve true happiness while dealing with the harsh realites of the world-tell me that those themes aren't in many of the female friendly novels of today and I will just duck as your nose grows longer and longer.

Love to all,
Lady T

Monday, June 27, 2005

Greetings and Salutations-if you know what movie that's from(and own it on DVD in a Special Edition Pencil Box,like I do),hopefully we're on the same wavelength. Alright,first things first-what makes this blog any different from all the others out there and why should I give a damn to read this thing?

Well,bascially I'm a frustrated writer with too much imagination but not alot of actual writing put down on the page-I'm an independant bookseller who has done blurbs for various books(even publishers have used them for advertising-my most recent one was for The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova)and people always tell me"You should write a book!" I've tried to write a book(the title of it is now the name of this blog)but only got about three chapters done. More than most people,but not by much.

Anyway,I've been reading about blogs(particularly in Bookmark Now,edited by Kevin Smokler-don't know the guy but like what he has to say)and decided to create one to express my views on pop culture. Relax,this isn't going to be some annoying college thesis expounding on the Surrealist iconic imagery of reality shows or any pretentious crap like that. I'm just going to talk about books,movies and tv shows(I don't watch many of them but am a diehard devotee when I do latch on to one)and occassionally,give a rant about pop culture stuff that annoys me(and hopefully,you too!).

What kind of stuff do I like? The best way to describe my tastes is to tell you about the altars of worship that I have at home(no blood sacrifices,I swear)-one is for Jane Austen,the other is to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Jane Austen,I didn't read until my late twenties-I was one of those kids who ALWAYS had a book in my hand which made teachers happy(so much that they really didn't focus on me since I wasn't causing trouble)but warded other people off. Anyway,the first Jane Austen novel I read was Persuasion. The BBC film version(with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds)was out in a theater not playing near me and all the reviews were so good,I felt I should atleast try to read it. Well,it made me a JA fan on the spot(even before reading Pride & Prejudice,which every JA fan adores)-I could relate to Anne Elliot,a much put upon woman,neglected and taken for granted by her family yet renewed thru reconnection with a long-ago suitor. My family is nothing like Anne's(they would be likely to tell the snobby Elliots to fuck off)but I have had the same type of feelings and JA is smart,funny and romantic without being sappy. So,what does this "altar" look like?

The top of one of my bookcases(yes,have more than one)is devoted to JA-a display made of postcards from three of the novels(got them in England when I went on a JA tour)and a calendar page honoring JA in collage form-old calendars are great for decorating,btw-and a small picture of Jane in a mini frame. There is also a Hermione figure(there are JA references in Harry Potter so it's appropiate)as well as the soundtrack to Sense & Sensibilty(Emma Thompson version),DVD of P&P(Colin Firth version),a CD of readings from JA by Helena Bonham-Carter(she does a hell of a Lady Catherine),a pile of JA related books that I've not yet read,two sets of chocolates with kings & queens of England and illustrations from Austen novels(actually,just the wrappers-had to eat the chocolates),a Jane Austen qoute cube(similar to a puzzle cube,fold it in different ways and you get various JA sayings and a picture of the woman herself),a Jane mug,holding pens and a actual lace fan. There's also a Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast(the only Disney heroine I know of who's best trait was her love of reading)holding a small bag of letters that spell"Emma". I also have more than one set of Jane's novels(mostly in paperbacks but a few hardcovers)and several other books about her books,life and film versions of the books. Not too into her,am I?

However,if you entered my room,the Buffy wall would definately catch your eye. It's not as scary as the photo wall in One Hour Photo(I felt like an amateur after seeing that sucker)but pretty darn extensive. Buffy was a show I didn't get hooked on right away-the WB repeated the early episodes so I caught "Welcome to the Hellmouth" and "The Harvest" and thought,hmm not bad. I had seen the original Buffy movie(hard to resist the title)and enjoyed it,despite the lightweightness of it. I've always been a vampire fan-never was into Bela Lugosi,my dad and I were big Boris Karloff fans. Dracula,Salem's Lot and Interview with the Vampire helped me get hooked on vamps(as well as watching Frank Lagella in the '79 Dracula and later,Kiefer Sutherland in Lost Boys). By season two,when Spike & Dru first hit the small screen,I was in like Flynn.

Joss Whedon's take on reality as seen thru a former cheerleader turned monster hunter and her friends has been one of the best shows ever on television(a modest claim,I know)-I have all the seasons on DVD and also all the seasons of Angel(must confess that I never got into Firefly but will see the big screen version this fall) and for the record,I prefer Spike to Angel. No, I have not written any gross fanfictions slashing him with anyone(did think of doing one with Spike and Doppleganger Vampire Willow,but taste prevailed)but have many pictures of him adoring my walls.

The Buffy wall is made of magazine photos and various screenshots taken from many fansites(for my decorating purposes only-my HTML skills are particularly nonexistant)and doesn't quite reach the ceiling but takes up a good portion of the room. Some posters from the official Buffy magazine are part of it and some non-Buffy stuff is mixed in to offset the madness(the centerpiece of the wall has a Bridget Jones poster surrounded by Wonder Woman calendar pages). Spike & Dru,Buffy & Angel,Willow & Oz and Willow,Oz and Tara(Willow is one of my favorites)are represented with posters,trading cards and screenshots.

I also own several of the dolls-the best figure I have is a Season Two Spike(looks like he's from the "What's my Line" episodes),complete with wire base. The main probelm with some of the dolls is that they were not made to really stand up in their bases. The newest addition to my collection is a "Book of Vengeance" Anya set-comes with Anya in the Magic Box,Anyanka and D'Hoffyrn(love shopping at Suncoast sometimes).

Anyway,that may or may not give you an idea of what kind of person I am-if anyone cares,I'll be posting some reviews soon. Most current film I saw was "Land of the Dead". Not a big zombie fan but this movie was pretty cool. The main reason I 'm not into zombies is due to lack of personality-I like villains with pizazz. Eugene Clark as Big Daddy,the zombie leader,made the story intriguing for me(also liked Dennis Hopper screaming"You have no right!" at the invading zombie army).

Oh,and yes,the title of this blog is from the Rob Zombie song,Living Dead Girl-but I'm more of a fan of the song than of him. Particularly,in the beginning of Bride of Chucky(Seed of Chucky was so bad that I had to apoligize to my sister for making her watch it with me. Then again,she still owes me for American Pie 2).

Love to all,
Lady T