Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Friday, April 28, 2006

How Opal Mehta's Scandal Got Concluded

Today,Little,Brown announced that they were issuing a recall of the controversal Kaavya Viswanathan novel,How Opal Mehta Got Kissed,Got Wild and Got a Life. The book is no longer in production and booksellers are being asked to send back unsold copies to the publisher. Both Crown and Megan McCafferty are pleased with this and are no longer talking lawsuit. Megan was also qouted as saying that"The past few weeks have been very difficult, and I am most grateful to my readers for offering continual support," she said. "In my career, I am, first and foremost, a writer. So I look forward to getting back to work and moving on, and hope Ms. Viswanathan can too."

This seems like a happy ending of sorts-McCafferty gets justice(and was very gracious about it,in my opinion)and Kaavya has a chance to start over without getting bitchslapped in court. Of course,the real story is the behind the scenes stuff. There's been quite abit of talk about Alloy Entertainment's role in this deal. Alloy is what they call a "book packager"-they shape and market titles to the teen audience such as The A-List,It Girl,etc. Alloy was bought into the mix early on by Kaavya's William Morris agent and interestingly enough,Alloy owns half of the copyright to Opal Mehta. There's denial all around about the possibility that maybe Opal Mehta might've been creatively monkeyed around with, but something smells fishy to me.

Even if some backhanded re-tooling was done to the book,it doesn't let Kaavya off the hook-as I've said before,I'm not ready to run her out of town on a rail here but she is old enough to know that plagarism is wrong and that some things need more than an "I'm sorry" to make it right. Book packaging is nothing new in the industry but what bugs me is that part of the probelm is lack of respect for the reader. It's really not hard to image a publishing person saying to a reluctant client"Look,these kids aren't Rhodes scholars here,okay? You really think they can tell one book from another-look at MTV,all those bands look,sound and act the same. That's what they like,that's what they're comfortable with and that's what they will buy. Giving people what they want is the name of the game and if you want to do well in this business and actually make some money,you'll see that I'm right."

There are plenty of authors writing books for teens that don't intend to be some disposable trendy object to be tossed out once the hot new item hits the market. There's nothing wrong with entertaining literature but there is something wrong about assuming that it truly represents the mind set of any audience. Marketing is a neccessary evil in publishing but the industry should use it as a means to an end,not as the end itself. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to take a better look at what you're selling instead of just how to sell it. Hopefully,that will be the real lesson learned from this bit of shenanagans.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another Thursday round-up

Ok,as the week draws to a close,let us reflect upon the good,the bad and the WTF? that hopefully we all share. The reviews for Lestat on Broadway have been as mercifull as Simon Cowell's been to everyone on AI this season. You know your play's in trouble when the NY Times says it's the best sleeping pill since Ambien came on the market. Also,there was a write-up that called the lyrics"demented diary entries of a Goth teenager"(maybe Bernie Taupin likes to hang out at MySpace,who knows?). Despite this reception,plans are under way to put musical versions of High Fidelity and Legally Blonde on the boards sometime next year. This madness must end-read my lips,Broadway people,not every movie can or should be a damn musical! Whatever happened to producing original material? Sure,Hollywood cranks out remakes and movies based on video games and Tv shows but those guys have such things as DVD sales and cable/network broadcasting rights to fall back on. It's no excuse but it makes a hell of a lot more sense than making a Lord of the Rings musical!

TV has been tricky this week:Veronica Mars has once again been pre-empted on the East Coast for basketball but the episode will not be replayed until the weekend. Apparently,two hours of America's Next Top Model(one hour of which was a clip show!)is more vital to UPN than actually supporting an intelligent and witty show. Tyra Banks must be spreading the love over there,somehow. Stay strong,Mars fans!

American Idol has finally give Kellie Pickler her walking papers(after that horrible rendition of UnChained Melody,even Pick The Worst couldn't save her) and next week,we have double theme night. The contestants have to do a song From The Year You Were Born and Current Top 40 Hit. Paula's crying jag over Elliot's song has convinced me that she's mixing pills with her booze(come on,you really think there's Coca-Cola in her onstage cup?). I'm not sure who will be the winner but I don't want to see Paris in the Bottom Two again-the girl is way too talented to be last place!

On the Amazing Race,Fran & Barry(the token older couple)took their leave and things are heating up between the Hippies and Team MoJo. Joseph and Monica seem like such spoiled brats so I'm all about the Hippies. Top Chef finally knocked Snooty Stephen out of the running(should've helped out more in the kitchen there,buddy!) and next week,it'll be down to three. Things always get interesting when it gets down to the wire and with May,the major Sweeps month looming over the horizon,we should have some fireworks.

Oh,and South Park's riff on Al Gore was so realistic that it was almost scary. "I'm being serial!" sounds like a hot new catchphrase to me. For a moment there,it looked like the show was going to parody The Village(a vastly underrated movie,in my opinion) with the whole "Manbearpig" bit but it zigged instead of zagged. Fine with me,Cartman crapping out treasure was totally worth it.

On the movie front,most of the reviews for United 93 have been positive-Rotten Tomatoes so far has only found three that were not. I'm not surpised,this is the kind of movie that many people may be hesistant about giving any thing but praise to. It may be a well done film but it's the subject matter and how people will feel about seeing it that will determine it's financial success.

I was hoping to catch Hard Candy this weekend but sadly,it's not going to be playing near me,even tho it opens up tommorrow in more theaters. Just as well, I recieved the fourth volume of Batman:the animated series for my birthday and there are plenty of episodes that I didn't see. The only complaint I have about the B:TAS sets are the lack of episode synopsis. Every DVD set that I've bought of a TV show has plot descriptions of the shows in a booklet or printed on the box somewhere. Batman and Superman don't tell you jack about the episodes,just the titles. True,you can guess what villian is featured by the title sometimes but why not help a fangirl out? Not asking for an essay here,just a couple of sentences will do it.

I also got a couple of books as b-day gifts;Geraldine Brooks' March(which looked like someone was trying to hide the last two copies on the display table. There were two different paperbacks covering up March-good thing I checked the spines) and Jane Austen in Scarsdale by Paula Marentz Cohen. Cohen also wrote Jane Austen in Boca(think Golden Girls doing a production of P&P) and Much Ado About Jesse Kaplan. Her new Austen tribute uses the plotline of Persuasion(which is the most popular JA novel to modernize,after P&P) and there's another novel coming out with the same theme in early May. It's called Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz and I may do a doubled up review of the two. This doesn't look like a Kaavya situation here(the storylines are very different,despite the JA tone),thank goodness.

On a final note,anyone else find this exchange of dialogue in the commercials for "Stick It" to be strange? Bad enough this movie has such a vulgar sounding porn title but these lines are odd to my ears:
Girl(to boy outside):"Call me!"
Boy:"Stalk you!"

What the....? I'm sorry but if some guy said that to me,his head would be spinning from the smack I'd give him across the face. Must be getting old. Then again,it's not like I'm the target audience here. I'm grateful for that!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How Opal Mehta got caught,got in trouble and got herself in hot water

There's been quite a little literary scandal brewing this week;Kaavya Viswanathan,author of How Opal Metha Got Kissed,Got Wild and Got a Life,has been accused of plagarising passages from Megan McCafferty's novels,Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. Viswanathan's a student at Harvard and it was the Harvard Crimson that first broke the story which has been taken up by Galleycat and the rest of the media. Even Publisher's Weekly had this whole mess as the topic of their website's Talkback Tuesday. Kaavya has since come forth and apologized(there were denials in the beginning) and her publisher has promised to put an acknowledgement to McCafferty in future editions of the book.

However,McCafferty and her publisher are not happy with that and may actually pursue this matter further. I can't blame them-I read a list of the compared passages listed by the Harvard Crimson(linked in the title above for your perusal)and they really are too close for comfort. It's like reading a book report where you know the kid didn't even try to read the assignment and just reworded the description on the book jacket or cribbed from Cliff Notes. The number of stolen lines has gone up from 13 to 45(The Crimson only found 13 to start with) and with McCafferty having a new book out,I think that Ms. Viswanathan may want to invest in getting a good lawyer.

A number of the folks at the PW Talkback either want to hang her out to dry or cut Kaavya a break due to her being young and unexperienced. I'm sort of in the middle here-I'm not buying her claims of being"unconscious" in these acts of scholarly shoplifting. I've been a reader all my life and unless you go into some hypnotic trance that allows you to memorize whole sections of a book and be able to rewrite them to suit your needs,this is baloney worthy of Oscar Meyer. Not to mention that she first said"I don't know what you're talking about." one day and the next,it's all
"I just hope she believes I would never, ever intentionally lift her words,... "The last thing I ever wanted to do was upset her." Nice performance,hon.

Someone at the Talkback suggested that people miffed at this are just jealous of her being a well-to-do young lady at Harvard who struck it rich with a juicy book deal. Maybe so but that doesn't excuse her-if you're smart enough to attend Harvard,you should be mature enough to know when you've done wrong and pay the piper. I wouldn't send her to the gulag but her publisher also shares some responsibility here. Granted,McCafferty's works as not as well known as say,Stephen King and it's impossible to have read every current book in any genre but something tells me this could have been nipped in the bud before Opal Mehta even got to the galley stage.

Hopefully,the two publishers in question(Little,Brown & Crown)can settle this hash without having another DaVinci Code style courtroom battle. One advantage to both parties in that lawsuit was having it tried in England. Taking a case like this to American courts could really hinder Ms. Viswanathan's future rep and credibility. She should be held responsible but I have no burning desire to see her crushed like a bug,unless she and her publisher get arrogant and foolish. Make the proper amends here,Kaavya-don't just do press junkets saying how sorry you are. Go to Megan and eat some humble pie. She's more than entitled to have you give her a personal apology.

Sales of both Opal Mehta and McCafferty's books should increase with all this publicity but does the reader really benefit here? I'd like to be able to pick a popular title based on its' own merits,not just due to the notorious press swirling about it. Almost makes you want to say"Aw,the hell with this-what's on TV tonight?"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Having a Pop Culture Birthday

Today is my birthday(no punches,please)and I thought it would be cool to go over some of my favorite birthday moments in books,Tv and film. I've known for years that I share my b-day with Al Pacino but it turns out that Jason Lee and Renee Zellweger are also entitled to their fair share of cake and presents today as well. Nice,since Renee rocks and even tho Jason Lee named his kid Pilot Inspecktor(no misspelling here,sad to say),he's still aces in my book. So,let's get this party started,right!

Movies: Many of my generation look to Sixteen Candles as their big John Hughes fix but frankly,I find it to be rather overrated. Yeah,sure,Samantha gets ignored at first but she winds up with her dream guy,who of course was into her all along. Make me gag!

I'm more of a Breakfast Club girl-good mix of stock teen characters,plus Judd Nelson was harsh(gotta agree with Jay and Silent Bob on that one). Also,is it just me or did Molly Ringwald pretty much played high maintence chicks in all those '80's teen movies?

Anyway,it's scary what comes to mind sometimes-the first movie birthday thought that popped into my head was the poster from Happy Birthday To Me,a horror flick with Melissa Sue Anderson(Mary,the older sister who went blind on Little House on the Prairie) trying to break out of her good girl image. She did a much better job of that in a made for tv movie about witches called Midnight Offerings. Back to the HBTM poster,it's quite memorable-not too often you see a guy take shish kebob the hard way. I did actually see the movie on cable a couple of years after it's release and the ending is rather cheerful,if you have a sick sense of humor. Ah,the early '80s!

For a more pleasant birthday bash,one of my favorites is Bridget Jones' feast of "blue soup,omelette and marmalade" that wins her a toast from her friends(and Mark Darcy,aka the gorgeous Colin Firth) who"love her just as she is." Now,those are true blue buddies,in my opinion. Also,the festivities end with two men fighting over the birthday girl and how can a lady resist that?

TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer tended to have rather risky birthdays-if she wasn't losing her virginity to her vampire lover which turned him evil,she had to deal with her kid sister's coping with the fact that she wasn't Buffy's sister or even human to begin with. Even Spike at one point asked her"Even consider not celebrating your birthday?" Man had a good reason to bring that up,since they and the rest of the Scoobies were trapped together with a wall hiding killer demon. Let the good times roll!

Even Cordelia Chase got wacked with the birthday whammy in Season 3 of Angel when she awoke from her mind shattering vision coma with shiny new demon powers. One of the highlights of that episode was seeing the sitcom that could've been "Cordy!". On the DVD set,you can see some extra scenes that were filmed for that bit of alternate reality-worth checking out,I swear!

South Park's had some birthday fun as well-the episode where Cartman tricks Butters into hiding out for a week in an elaborate scheme to join Kyle on his birthday trip to Casa Bonita(which is a real place,believe it or not!)is rather outstanding. But,if I'm choosing an animated show with a b-day theme,that honor goes to Batman:the Animated series for Be A Clown. It's a Joker episode,of course,and Mark Hamill has such great lines as " They don't make straightjackets like they used to. I should know."and " It's a candle Einstein, except this one blows you out." Love that Joker!

Books: Harry Potter and Buffy both have birthday war stories to swap-his are abit more on the positive side but still,... One of my all time favorite booklover's book and film is 84 Charing Cross Road. For those who don't know,it's a collection of letters between Helene Hanff,a New York writer for theater and Tv in the fifties who had a love of English Lit and the staff of a used and rare bookshop in London,mainly Frank Doel,one of the managers. Helene and Frank became overseas pen pals who never got the chance to meet up-Frank died before Helene ever got the chance to go to England. This sounds like a love story but it's only the love of books that they shared(Frank was married,with kids and his widow became good friends with Helene).

One year,the staff of Marks and Co. sent Helene a book of Elizabethan poets as a gift-she had been sending them care packages of food,since at the time,Britain was still recovering from WWII and rationing was the order of the day. Helene's thank you to them suits the occasion:

April 16, 1951

To All at 84,Charing Cross Road:

Thank you for the beautiful book. I've never owned a book before with the pages edged all round in gold. Would you believed it arrived on my birthday?

I wish you hadn't been so over-courteous about putting the inscription on a card instead of on the flyleaf. It's the bookseller coming out in you all,you were afraid you'd decrease its value. You would have increased it for the present owner.(And possibly,for the future owner. I love inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins,I like the comradely sense of turning pages someone else turned and reading passages some one long gone has called my attention to.)

And why didn't you sign your names? I expect Frank wouldn't let you,he probaly doesn't want me writing love letters to anyone but him.

I send you greetings from America-faithless friend that she is,pouring millions into rebuilding Japan and Germany while letting England starve. Some day,God willing,I'll get over there and apologize personally for my country's sins(and by the time i come home,my country will certainly have to apologize for mine).

Thank you again for the beautiful book. I shall try very hard not to get gin and ashes all over it,it's really much too fine for the likes of me.

Yours,Helene Hanff

If you have not read 84 or seen the movie(nicely done and starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins),by all means do so at once! I must be off,to start making merry and getting some goodies. One treat tonight will be American Idol's Love Songs night(oh boy,oh boy-should be some ear bleeding for certain)and a spanking new Veronica Mars. What more could a girl ask for that's inexpensive and not illegal?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Lestat On Broadway:will it suck more than blood?

This week,Lestat the musical opens on Broadway and if advance word is to be believed,this show could sink faster than the Titanic. The plot combines the first two of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles(Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat) which means,yes Virginia,we get to see Claudia sing"I Want More" and then later,turn into a crispy fry in the sun. Not sure what kind of dance number that'll be that won't make the audience bust out laughing there.

Also,Lestat sings a song entitled"Sail Me Away" as he is perched on a ship's helm. Look,I read the books and know that there's quite alot of boat travel but how do you expect me to buy that Lestat would give a big coming to America number,Yentl style? Other song titles include"Crimson Kiss","Make Me As You Are" and "The Thirst". Yep,a bunch of toe tapping tunes to hum all the way home!

One of the major probelms here is that it's hard to mix horror and music together without adding some whimsey to even things out. Would you really be scared of a vampire coming towards you in the dark,singing and dancing as he did so? It doesn't have to be as campy as say,a Little Shop of Horrors or a Rocky Horror Picture show,but it can be done. Just look at what Joss Whedon accomplished in the "Once More,With Feeling" episode of Buffy. One of his inspirations was the Brian DePalma cult classic,Phantom of the Paradise,which still holds up well today.

Part of the success of POTP is Paul Williams,who not only wrote all the music and songs but starred as the main villian,Swan. Williams has a delightfully dark edge in his work which the likes of Elton John don't match up. Elton John and Bernie Taupin work well together,no questions about that,but that's fine if you need a songwriting team for a Disney animated singalong not a uberGoth vampire series. Anne Rice has given her approval to this project(she's in the promotional photos,anyway)which means that they'll be taking her words as seriously as she does. Have we not learned from such mistakes as Carrie:The Musical,Dance of the Vampires and letting Sebastian Bach star in Jekyll & Hyde?

I haven't seen many Broadway shows(did catch "Cats" twice)and wouldn't mind seeing this sucker just for the hell of it. However,those ticket prices are abit too rich for my blood so I would probaly be better off renting Queen of the Damned for some laughs or just watching Once Bitten again. Lauren Hutton may look goofy biting off Jim Carrey's buttons but atleast she doesn't sing while doing it.

Friday, April 21, 2006

What's your favorite book on film?

Over in jolly old England,The Evening Standard has put out a list of the best adaptations of books to film It's a list of about fifty titles,with such obviously good choices such as The Godfather,Pride & Prejudice,One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Remains of the Day. This is not a stuffed shirt selection;other picks include Fight Club,Sin City,American Psycho and Trainspotting. Of course,this is a Brit list so some of the films/books mentioned might not be familar to most folk(I'm a big English Lit gal and even I've never heard of A Kestral For A Knave. Sounds like a good title,tho).

This is a pretty good line up but I would like to submit the following for your approval to be considered as very good cinematic versions of books:

The Accidental Tourist:Anne Tyler is not one of your big drama queens-her stories are small but succinct slices of ordinary people in the day to day lives who decide to wake up and look about at where they are in the world. Hard to get that across onscreen without boring your audience. Fortunately,Lawrence Kasdan and William Hurt chose to team up again(they had worked well together in Body Heat) to put Tyler's novel on film and with a great supporting cast,plus a great script(co-written by Kasdan) made the story sing. It's also notable as the movie that gave Geena Davis a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing Muriel,the wacky dog trainer who falls in love with Hurt. A really sweet movie-worth seeing if you haven't already done so.

Cold Comfort Farm: I'm surpised this didn't make the list,given that it's based on a classic English novel featuring one of most eccentric literary families, the Starkadders whose most interesting member is Aunt Ada,who keeps to her room and refuses to let anyone stray from the homestead and whose reply to anything objectionable is"I saw something nasty in the woodshed!" Kate Beckinsale starred in the 1995 film version as Flora,the young low on cash but rich in good natured probelm solving socialite who comes to Cold Comfort to improve the Starkadders' lives and gain some life experience for her future writing career along the way. Ian McKellan is also in the movie and one of my favorite lines is said by his character,a rather zealous preacher type who warns his congregation that "there's no butter in hell!"
So damn funny,if you love english humor,you must see this!

Master And Commander,The Far Side of the World:This is actually a combo of two of Patrick O'Brian's novels in his Aubrey/Mautrin series(hence the really long title). When I saw it in theaters,it felt to me like the first time I had a reading experience in a group setting. The film is what I would image it to be like if one could just walk into the pages of a book and live in that world. Chris Rock was right about Russell Crowe: if you can't get him for a period drama,wait! I wasn't the only one who had that feeling-the whole audience was drawn in and even clapped at the end.

I must confess that I haven't read the O'Brian books(did treat myself to the boxed 5 volume hardcover set a couple of Christmases ago)but will do so,mainly to appreciate this film more and to hope for other adaptations just as well done.

I could go on and on but ,as Judge Judy says,I have other fish to fry today. So,don't be shy-let me know what's your favorite book made into a film and what books would or wouldn't be good movies. Enquiring minds want to know!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Everybody's watching for the weekend

So,as another week draws to a close,what can we look to for entertainment until Monday? It's too late to play Guess The Wacky Celebrity Baby Game: with the arrival of Suri Cruise and Grier Shields(quite a coincidence,those two kids being born around the same time-perhaps one of them is destined to face the other in mortal combat or atleast play the latest XBox version of Mortal Combat together within the next decade),you know that David Spade has plenty of material for his ShowBiz Show tonight!

Books: The Pulitzer Prizes were announced this week and the fiction prize went to Geraldine Brooks for March. March follows the wartime service of the father of Meg,Jo,Amy and Beth from Little Women and is considered a literary sequel of sorts. Brooks is well known for her first historical fiction novel,Year of Wonders,about a town struggling thru The Black Death. I wish I had kept a ARC of March that I borrowed last year-wound up returning it unread*hangs head in shame*.

Oh,well-gives me an excuse to buy the book now,doesn't it? I know I won't be alone there,winning a major award is as good as Oprah approval when it comes to book sales. Congrats and kudos to Ms. Brooks and to those of you sniping about how Doctorow should have been the "real" winner,please take your sour grapes with you when you go out back to Gripers' Field for the pity party,okay?

Movies: Silent Hill and American Dreamz open up this week and the one that could topple Scary Movie 4 off the charts is Silent Hill. There are no "official" reviews yet but that movie looks damn disturbing and the fact that folks seem to enjoy drawing mouths on the lipless little girl in the posters tells me that there's a buzz going on. American Dreamz(that "z replaces s" thing is annoying and played out)might be good but looks pretty cheesy and obvious in it's humor.

TV: Thankfully,Veronica Mars was replayed this week(got kicked out of it's new Tuesday timeslot this week due to basketball-isn't stuff like this the reason that ESPN exists?) and I find it hard to believe that the whole bus crash mystery will be conclude in just three episodes. So many suspects to choose from and plenty of red herrings piling up all over Neptune. My money's still on Mayor Woody being involved here-they wouldn't waste a former '80s film star like Gutenberg in a go-nowhere part. Also,is it just me or was Butters quite the bold one for asking Mac if he needed to get them a hotel room for after the prom? This is particularly their first date,for goodness sakes! I'ld rather see Mac back with Beaver but something tells me those Casablancas boys are heading for deep trouble.

South Park's take on the James Frey/Oprah scandal was strange,to say the least. It seemed more like a insider joke than a real riff on the whole mess. Afraid to think about it anymore,so let's move on,shall we?

HBO will be airing part one of Elizabeth I,starring Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons, on Saturday with the conclusion being shown on Monday night(guess they don't want to mess with their Sunday night block of Sopranos/Big Love). Helen Mirren has always been cool in my book ever since her role as Morgana in Excalibur-so damn evil,sexy and mega Brit. The EI website(linked in the title above) is interesting,with loads of behind the scenes stuff and a matchmaking game that shows you all of the Virgin Queen's many suitors and why or why not they were rejected. All of us Anglophiles will be cosying up to this miniseries and pre-ordering the DVDs by Tuesday,mark my words.

That's all for now-I'll keep it in touch so you'll be in touch.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Top Five Tasty Men on TV

Recently,Dionne Galace(formerly of It's Not Porn and It's Not Chick Porn,now safely merged into dionnegalace.com)has declared her love of all things Nathan Fillion. I can relate-one of the reasons I went to see Slither was to check him out. I wasn't a big Firefly fan but after watching Serenity,mmm....hello,salty goodness!

I did first see Fillion on season 7 of Buffy as Caleb,the literal lady killer priest allied with the First Evil(and what a breath of fresh air he was,after quite a few SMG lectures and that horrid all Andrew episode that I even refuse to rewatch on my DVD set,ever!). Since he's no longer on TV,alas I can not add him to this list of fine lookin' fellas who grace my small screen with their prescence but there are plenty to choose from,believe you me.

1) Michael Rosenbaum(Lex Luthor,Smallville): Yes, I like my bad boys to be very bad and Superman's Number one nemesis is tops in my book. Not alot of guys can look good being completely bald but Michael certainly can! Also,his acting style is one of the strong points of the show-he works so well with the other actors and makes even the hokey plotlines seem plausible. He's also one of the reasons I really would love to see a bigscreen Smallville movie.

2)John Glover(Lionel Luthor,Smallville):Many of his fans called his character "Magnificent Bastard" and,boy does Lionel live up to that! Whether he's faking blindness to lay a guilt trip on his son,hiring hitmen to eliminate Chloe before she can get him charged with murder or most recently,macking on the Widow Kent,Lionel has such smooth sinister style that it's hard not to root for him,just a little! I also dug him on the short lived Fox series Brimstone,where he played Satan-a part that fit him like a glove(no pun intended,I swear!).

3)Julian McMahon(Dr. Christian Troy,Nip/Tuck): I know most of you discovered him first on Charmed but since that show is about to go off the air(finally)and is damn lame to boot,let's just focus on Julian's Rhett Butler-ish persona on Nip/Tuck. Yes,you heard me-Rhett Butler. Rhett and Christian have many things in common: being in love with women who are unavailable due to marriage,speaking their minds bluntly and looking sharp in suits. Also,acting nobly when least expected-a guranteed way to make the ladies melt with forgiving lust.

4)James Marsters(Milton Fine aka Brainiac,Smallville):Even without his sweet Spikey blonde locks.Marsters is still easy on the eyes and melts in your mouth like a bag of M&MS(I used melt again in a sentence,please forgive me-I'm a shameless fangirl). If there's ever a scene on the upcoming episodes of Smallville that has JM,MR and John Glover all in the same room at once,I may need an oxygen tank!

5)Scott Patterson(Luke Danes,Gilmore Girls): With all these evildoers,I had to throw in one nice but not wimpy man into the mix and that niche rightly goes to the long suffering Town Grumpy Gump with Soul,Luke Danes. I know his character's had a major change of pace this season,with the long lost daughter plot mucking up the waters of Stars Hollow but since I'm not watching the current season(still catching up on ABC Family),my judgement is on hold at the moment. Besides,Luke's entitled to have some circumstances that have to be adjusted to,with all the crap he's taken from Lorelai's parents and Christopher,not to mention Lorelai herself with her ultra needy control issues(sometimes,she gets alittle too Emily there).

Okay,I've indulged my giddy girlishness here. Hope some of you enjoy it and to the rest,be glad I didn't post any the hot nakked pics that would so embarrass you at work. Just doing my part to make your workday a little less stress free.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Top Chef vs. Celebrity Cooking: sweet or sour viewing?

I'm not a foodie but do enjoy a good meal(or a half way decent snack)and can enjoy a McDonalds' menu as well as a Applebees. Any gourmets reading that statement are probaly rolling their eyes at my plebian tastes but I wonder if they would agree me with about the latest competitive cooking shows on Bravo. Top Chef is only on Bravo but NBC's Celebrity Cooking Showdown is replayed on Bravo and even advertised at the Top Chef website(which is linked above for your perusal). Celebrity Cooking Showdown is a one week event,which has various(and dubious)celebs racing to prepare three course meals in fifty minutes in front of a screaming audience and Alan Thicke who gives blow by blow commentary like it's the Qourmet Special Olympics.

The celebs are mentored by three chefs-the best known one is Wolfgang Puck. The judges are Colin Cowie and Gael Greene,who dresses like Phyllis Diller on a acid trip. The thing that bugs me about this show is that I can't find out what the winner gets at the end of the whole thing-is there a trophy or something given to charity? What gives? Also,I called some of the celebs dubious because I have no clue who the hell they are-Patti La Belle and Tom Arnold I know and have heard of Cindy Margolis and Gabrielle Reese but Ashley Parker Angel? That name makes him sound like an evil male doppelganger to one of the Olsen twins.

I may watch some more of this wackiness but for really tasty viewing,it's all about Top Chef. I've been catching it over the weekends and am truly invested in seeing either Miquel or Harold win. Stephen and Tiffani are my least favorites-the two of them are too damn snooty. I enjoy some of the challenges the contestants have been given such as making a meal using only items bought at a gas station convience store,creating microwavable dinners with style for working moms and serving up monkfish to kids. Pretty interesting and down to earth stuff. The judges can be pretty tough on them,especially Tom(who looks quite capable of kicking some ass).

Some of the chefs don't know why they get what they consider dime store duty*cough*Stephen & Tiffani*cough* but a great chef should be able to prepare excellant food no matter where they are or what's on hand. The tension is really heating up now,with most of the even tempered folk in the group being eliminated such as Andrea,the health advocate(too crunchy granola,plus in my opinion,healthy is nice but flavor is king,baby. You catch more flies with honey) and Lisa,the mom(Lisa was a real sweetie,too bad she had to go).

So,for your dining pleasure,may I suggest a generous serving of Top Chef with your meal and if you must satisfy your craving for primetime turkey,a small portion of Celebrity Cooking Showdown is recommended but be sure to keep some antiacids on hand.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Am I the Mistress of my Literary Domain?

I have quite a few books that I'm currently reading(some of which will be reviewed for this blog)and plenty of books piled up like cars plowed into on the highway. As much as I try to go thru them all and weed out the excess,the piles keep getting larger. Not complaining but do wonder if this has the makings of a nifty little horror story that I can sell the direct-to-video rights to.

I tend to group my reads in certain catagories(yet another sign of my madness),such as Classics,ReReads,NonFic and Relaxers. I'm not rereading anything at the moment so let's start with this:

Serious Stuff: basically,literary fiction. I'm midway thru Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen(Algonquin,May)and it's such a joy to read. The story is told as the rememberance of a nursing home patient,Jacob,who during the Depression era quit his medical college and joined the Benzini Bros. circus as their vet. Jacob also falls in love with Marlena, the top trick rider of the show who is married to August,the tempermental animal trainer. Gruen captures the atmosphere and tone of circus life so brilliantly that you can almost smell the cotton candy and hear the roar of the animals being prepared for showtime as you turn the pages. Another bonus is the inclusion of archived photos from circuses of the 1930's that accompany the opening of each chapter.

Relaxers: Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong and Saffron Skies by Lesley Lokko.

After reading Armstrong's contribution to the Dates From Hell anthology,I decided to try some of her books. I recieved both Industrial Magic and Haunted from Booksfree(a book and audio CD lending service that works like Netflix) to start with. I really should've started with Dime Store Magic but it wasn't available just yet.

Industrial Magic is Book Two featuring Paige Winterbourne, a witch dating the half demon Michael Corleone-ish son of a major head of a Cabal,Lucas Cortez. Paige gets to met with her boyfriend's family when a string of teenage runaway murders affects all of the Cabals and brings up more than one skeleton in the closet. Armstrong has a good readable style and has a strong plotline that is not as oversexed as many other current writers in this field. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Saffron Skies,I bought from QPB as one of their"International Book of the Month" selections. It has the tone of an old school glam read with some savvy smarts thrown in for flavor. The story follows Amber Sall,daughter of major powerhouse Max Sall and her half sister Paola who wind up competing for the affections of Tende' Nidiaye,an up and coming politician from Mali. Lokko creates some great supporting characters and glitzy surroundings that enhance rather than overwhelm the reader. She'll soon be available in the U.S.,thanks to a publishing deal and it'll be great to have easier access to her other novel,Sundowners.

Classic: I got the Count of Monte Cristo right after watching V for Vendetta and am amazed at how quickly the prose moves the story along. It's a pretty long book(over 12 hundred pages,not counting the notes and introduction)so I don't intend to speed read my way thru it but the words flow so beautifully that it's hard to slow down.

My tastes in classics run more towards England but I've had some good experiences with the French,Madame Bovary and Cousin Bette being top on my list. Balzac sounds like one of those drunken uncles who you don't mind hanging out with at family functions since they're more than willing to spill the beans on any sibling secrets and tell you what they really think of Aunt So and So. I've tried Hugo twice but he comes across as very long winded-makes you want to yell"Get back to the damn story already!". Dumas,however, has that excellant storyteller's flair-he can expound on a minor point that doesn't feel like it's sidetracking away from the main plot. He also sets up the heroes and villains of the piece in a basic but not simplistic way. I've only read condensed children's versions of his books and am glad to truly enjoy Dumas as an adult.

NonFic: I try to always balance my fiction reading with atleast one nonfiction title and this book just called out to me from the shelves. The Believer Book Of Writers Talking to Writers has such interesting parings up like Zadie Smith with Ian McEwan,Jonathan Lethem with Paul Auster and Tayari Jones with Chris Abani. I'm not a big McSweeneys' gal(I have this aversion to wanting to be in with the in crowd,a knee jerk high school reaction) but there are alot of talented folk represented here and it would be silly of me to deprieve myself of some great literary conversations. I've already added a novel to my Booksfree list based on one of the interviews(The Divine Husband by Francisco Goldman)and will probaly check out a few more more.

For Review: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife/Darcy & Elizabeth:Days and Nights at Pemberley by Linda Berdoll

Linda Berdoll is rather notorious amongst Jane Austen fans and readers of JA sequels-Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife was originally self published under the title The Bar Sinister and considered to be NC-17 reading,by the standards of JA lovers anyway. Sourcebooks republished it with a new title and has recently released a follow up to it called Darcy & Elizabeth. I was just going to review D&E but it soon became clear that it was best to read MDTAW first,so it'll be a back-to-back write-up.

So far,it's not as bad as I feared-Berdoll openly admits that she was inspired by the Colin Firth BBC P&P miniseries and some of the sexy undertones of that are apparent here. I am fond of some JA sequels and if I can read about the various were being/vampire/fairy couplings that dominate the works of Laurell K. Hamilton without flinching,Berdoll's lusty prose should be a tasty piece of cake.

I also plan to give a full review of Water For Elephants,so watch this space! Think I have too much on my plate? Maybe but there could be worse things that I could do,like counting down the days to TomKat's baby. Perish the thought! Hope the rest of you have just as much good reading to sink your teeth into.

Friday, April 14, 2006

HGTV: not just TLC's kid sister

TLC gets alot of viewer love with shows like What Not To Wear,Trading Spaces,Tuckerville and Clean Sweep(Eric,the carpenter,is uberdreamy in my book!) but there's plenty to be said for the Home & Garden network(best known as HGTV),too. They have some shows that are not just rejects from the TLC slushpile but some fun little diversions.

One of my favorites is Sensible Chic-the whole premise of the show is to remake a dull room into a replicia of a high end decorated one for way less money than the "inspiration room"(as it's called). One of the strong points is that SC is short and sweet,with only occasional tiffs between the host,Brooke and the quest designer who oversees the look of the makeover room. Most of the time,the makeover room looks a hell of a lot better than the original. I particularly love the "Sensible Shopper" segments where they have a lady named Mollie who goes out to buy a tough to match item for the room. Mollie is so damn chipper,she's like one of the those 1950's sitcom moms who can solve any crisis with a plate of cookies and a smile.

I also dig Debbie Travis-she has two shows,Painted House and Facelift. She's an English woman with one of the most soothing voices on the planet(both shows are Canadian or atleast,sponsored by a Candian company)who makes doing elaborate paint jobs on walls and major floor designs seem like a stroll in the park. I watch these shows with my mom(Mom's a crafter in her spare time,what little she gets of it)and she always shakes her head during one of Debbie's demonstrations on putting trim on ceiling panels or some other such minuite detailing and says"Too much work!" Mom's more of a get-'er-done type.

Mom's favorite HGTV show is called "That's Clever!"(it used to be called "Crafters from Coast to Coast" but the name was mysteriously changed). The show picks three crafters from different parts of the country to show off and demonstrate the best of what they do. The show's producers seem to be fond of wacky behavior which is encouraged quite abit-I've seen women dress up in tiaras and feather boas to make handbags,men who dance around with their pets while waiting for things to dry or bake in kilns and many people who do that SCTV 3D House of Pancakes impersonation with their creations. Not a dull moment there,folks!

True,they have alot of programs about house fixtures and outdoor designs(which I find not so thrilling) but sometimes you can learn interesting things,like you can actually buy hand blown glass bathroom sinks with diamond studded rims. Maybe it's a new trend,bathroom bling! You gotta have something to match your diamond and platinum mouth grill,after all-no sense in not being in style when you're washing up.

If you're in the mood for some non stressful but practical tv watching,give HGTV a try. It's certainly better than sitting thru Full House reruns or such delightful fare as Date My Mom or the Real Housewives of Orange County. Even if you just need some background noise,HGTV is certainly less toxic than So NoTorious! Trust me on that.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

TV Time Round-up

So,what's doing on the boob tube so far this week? Let's start with American Idol and yes,Queen week was as bad as we expected. Not a total crash and burn(which I really thought was going to happen with Kellie Pickler's rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody")but not one of the better AI nights this season. The worst over all performance was Ace's "We Will Rock You"-he practically castrated that song,with his verbal running around like a chicken with it's head cut off style and annoying falsetto.

He really should've been kicked to the curb but,alas,poor Bucky was made to go. Pick The Worst is doing quite a good job at keeping Pickler on the show-she might have to hire them as her PR people once AI's over. Next week's theme is the Great American Songbook,with Rod Stewart as celeb advisor. Wonder if he'll be as bored as Queen seemed to be with many of the contestants. They sure didn't like Ace-one guy looked like he wanted to kick his ass in the parking lot.

On the Amazing Race,Lake and Michelle were Philiminated,which is just fine with me. Lake's been such a mean spirited jerk,he might as well have been wearing a T-shirt that said"I'm a walking,talking Jeff Foxworthy punchline". Not to mention calling his wife a bitch(she should've given him a smack upside the head for that one-for some reason,Michelle only got miffed when he said "damn" a few times at her),not cool,Zeus! I'm rooting for BJ and Taylor,those guys keep their heads togther,even when things look bad for them. They cut it close with that 15 minute penalty,whew!

The bus crash mystery on Veronica Mars is getting more focus,now that the whole Logan business is resolved(but it looks like Veronica's gonna confront Weevil on that next week). I love the way dream sequences are handled on this show;not too trippy and very revealing,plotwise. Keith's multi-dates weren't developed fully enough but glad to see it was tied into Veronica's chance to get the Kane scholarship. Sincerely doubt that she'll be on the Stamford campus next season(that whole episode at Hearst looked like a blue print for College VM to me). Also,nice to have more Wallace time on the show that doesn't involve Jackie. That girl is too high maintence and controlling to boot-mark my words,she's not going to have a happy ending this season.

Speaking of ending,Black.White aired their last show yesterday. I was glad to hear Rose's poem(she totally knocked one out of the ballpark there) and have some hope for Nick,who might start to drop the tough guy act and do better with his life. His folks are good people,so there's more than a good chance at that there. Bruno wins the award for Most Pathetic Particpant:didn't learn anything and didn't want to learn anything. Atleast Carmen tried to gain some knowledge(she still should've admitted she was wrong to call Renee a bitch). I don't know if F/X will do this again but despite the awkwardness of the set-ups and the not-so-convincing makeup,it was quite interesting to watch.

South Park did have a part 2 of "Cartoon Wars" and one of the best bits was Cartman and Kyle having a slap fight showdown. It's a strong point of the show that Matt and Trey have no problem with openly mocking themselves with the fake out "Terrence and Philip" opening and the repeated line about being preachy and message orientated. Damn good season so far,fellas!

Well,tonight's Smallville episode has been directed by Tom Welling and has some Lex and Lana action,so I'm all set. The Office is a repeat but I don't believe that I have seen this one and an Office rerun is better than a first run episode of Teachers anytime. I only gave Teachers a chance due to Buffy semi-regular Kali Rocha being cast as the principal but her talents are being wasted here along with the viewer's attention span. Whatever you're watching,have fun and don't forget to change the channel when those commericals for RV come on. Bad enough Robin Williams is making cinematic sludge like this,no one needs to suffer thru the promos. No one.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Looking Forward with The Futurist

I just finished an interesting first novel this morning called The Futurist by James P. Othmer;the story starts in Johannesburg where prominent professional trend spotter Yates is to give a major speech at the Futureworld Conference,sprouting the usual sales pitch to the multiple interest groups there that he could do in his sleep. A few factors fall into place that lead him off his path-a note from his longtime girlfriend,telling him that she's leaving Yates for a history teacher,witnessing a nasty soccer riot and then being asked on the best way to spin it for the press and drinking everything in his hotel suite minibar. On the chance remark of a newbie callgirl,he writes the ultimate career-ending speech and delivers up to an unsuspecting audience who doesn't take it very well.

The results of this include being recruited by a shadow agency to fly around and get man on the street info about why America is such a hated country. Yates figures why not? and says yes but his first stop is to Campbell,his mentor,who is so bored with his success that he prefers to live in Greenland,waiting for glaciers to break up while getting it on with the local mafia hitwoman/artist,Magga. That trip only compounds Yates' own inner turmoil(not to mention his anxiety over Marjorie,the call girl who he asks to join him on his travels) so he heads to Milan,where a terrorist bombing and mysterious e-mails from someone calling themselves "Nostadamus" really jack up Yates' situation to much higher levels of trouble.

There's plenty of verbal zingers and sarcasm on hand but the book is not just an elaborate comedy club riff on the dark side of salesmenship;it's an attempt to examine the type of place the world as we know has become,where telling people what they want to hear can become a growth industry. Some will say" Yeah,I've heard that before-so what?" The answer is "You haven't heard it like this before." Othmer is a executive for the ad agency Young & Rubicam and he brings his work knowledge here to not only make Yates as real as possible but to show the thinking that's required to promote greed to seminary students one day and the next,have someone ghostwrite an Op-Ed piece to the New York Times on the death of literacy for you.

Yates is like a slightly more mature Holden Caulfield-he's not the nicest guy around but he's not as bad as others. The Futurist has a Jerry Maguire Goes To Hell vibe about it,you're watching a man have a crisis of conscience who's not even sure that he has one to being with. There's some food for thought here as well as some entertaining moments and regardless of what your politics are,there's plenty of well aimed satire to hit home wherever you live.

The Futurist will be in bookstores by June and if you want to know more about it,just click the title link above. If this is a sign of things to come,we're all in for some good reads this summmer.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Don't let this movie Slither away!

Little Sister and I checked out Slither over the weekend(which has sadly fallen out of the Top Ten Box Office list already),which is a fun little flick for those of you who can appreciate a good,goofy gross-out love story. Elizabeth Banks(The Baxter) stars as Starla,the local high school teacher married to the much older Grant Grant(that's not a typo,folks,really and truly)played by Michael Rooker. Grant becomes the host for a slimy alien lifeform who literally devours worlds but has never experienced love before. When Grant's feeding frenzies get out of control,it's up to the newly appointed police chief(Nathan Fillion) who still holds a torch for Starla,to lead the troops into battlemode.

Most of this is played for laughs but not in a way that negates the gruesomeness of the situation. One of the most interesting scenes has a young teenager being attacked by one of the space slugs let loose during the hunt for Grant having a mind meld with the alien host which gives her knowledge that helps to figure out how to save Starla from her mutanted husband's clutches. There's many great supporting characters(poor Jenna Fischer-she seems destined to play receptionists)who look as local as local gets. The best one is the mayor(Gregg Henry),who gets such fun moments as complaining about the lack of Mr. Phibb to drink while fleeing a slug invasion and such bon mots as "Martian"'s a general term for space fucker!"

It's good to see an old school space monster movie again after all these J-Horror PG-13 remakes and slice n' dice flicks like Hostel. Not to mention that you'll never listen to"You're Every Woman in the world(To Me)" the same way you did before. If it's still playing at a theater near you,try to catch it. Just don't eat anything with noodles that day-you're better off with some pizza,believe you me.

We sat thru quite a few trailers-X Men:The Last Stand(I still think of it as X3)and these charmers:

Too Fast,Too Furious:Toyko Drift-a sequel so bad that even Paul Walker refuses to be in it. "Sorry guys but my rent's paid up for awhile. Besides,I got that meeting about Timeline 2:Back to the Ice Age-we might even get that cartoon squirrel to make a cameo!"

Waist Deep-Tyrese gets out of jail and has to go back to his criminal ways to gather up enough do-re-mi to save his kidnapped son. I agree with Little Sister that it pretty much looks like a hip hop version of Ransom. Definately a catch-it-on-cable movie.

You,Me and Dupree-Matt Dillion marries Kate Hudson and they both wind up with Owen Wilson as the houseguest from hell. This big budget take on "The Thing That Wouldn't Leave" is a clear frontrunner for the title of Worst Thing To Hit The Screen Since White Girls,complete with bathroom odor jokes that actually make you gag. Silent Hill seems like a fun family movie compared to this fresh slice of cinematic torture.

Have a good time at the multiplex with Slither,if you can still find it,and if you're shown any of these trailers,close your eyes and just wait'em out. You've been forewarned which makes you forearmed,as they say.

Friday, April 07, 2006

So,what have we learned today,children?

There's no better day to do a weekly wrap-up than a Friday,I must say(imagine an Ed Grimley voice here)so,let's get started,shall we?

Books:The Dan Brown plagarism case has been decided in favor of the defendant(don't mind me;been watching too many early morning reruns of The Practice lately),which is about as shocking as discovering that rain is wet. The Holy Blood,Holy Grail guys did increase the sales of their book but they may now have to pay court costs just over 1.75 million. Ouch. I'm not a math whiz but that doesn't sound like those boys are going to be giving up their day jobs for awhile.

TV: It's been rough going for some of my reality show favorites-Mandisa is now officially out of the AI running,which is a shame on many levels. I was really hoping to hear her during Queen week but alas,we're stuck with the likes of Katherine McPhee,Kellie Pickler and Elliot Yamin. I'm convinced that some of these people must be using witchcraft or some sort of mojo manipulation-they are incredibly dull yet decent singers who even wow Simon at times! What gives?

The Amazing Race Philimated Dave and Lori,aka The Nerds-there hasn't been a non-elimination leg yet which really would've been great here. I do have a friend who knows Dave and Lori and yes,they're still dating. Apparently,they join up with some buddies and watch the Race at a local bar each week. Good for them,nice to know that real life relationships can hold on,even when the cameras are off.

Smallville and Veronica Mars are starting to heat up-nice to have that "Who killed Felix" thing tied up with a darkly twisted bow(I just know that Woody is behind the bus crash somehow-can feel it in my bones!)and Lana's Kryptonite Crack Whore stint didn't become another FOTW plotline but set up some juicy tidbits for the next few shows. Now that Clark knows that a)Lionel Luthor is in on his secret(great Jonathan Kent scene,btw) and b)that Professor Fine is still lurking about,we should be in for some interesting developments.

It does look as if South Park will really have a part 2 to this week's "Family Guy" episode-I saw a promo for it on Comedy Central last night. Matt and Trey have fooled their audiences before with the Cartman's father episode but I think they've learned from that experience so some of us will just have to switch between that and the season finale of Black.White(Bruno is Cartman's real father,I'm convinced of that!).

Movies:Not much out this week-Beachwarmers looks like another classic of hodgepodge creativity. Add some Bad News Bears,throw in some Revenge of the Nerds characters and toss in a pinch of Napoleon Dynamite,better yet just have that kid from ND in a lead part! Is it just me or Jon Heder have Shaun Cassidy hair now?

Phat Girlz might actually be good,despite the title. Monique is a cool comedian(check out her act in Queens of Comedy)and the commericals for the film are still funny after several viewings. Sounds better than sitting thru Lucky Number Slevin to me. The title alone turns me off-it screams"Look,this is a hip movie,check out the pun!" Yeah,I think I'll pass.

Until next week,folks. Have some fun and don't take any wooden nickels-they give you splinters*cue drum riff*

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Are we ready for this?

This week,an AMC Loews theater in Manhattan decided to stop showing the trailer for Universal's upcoming 9/11 film,United 93. A number of customers were visibly upset by it and one woman in particular stood out in the manager's memory;she was crying and telling him"People aren't ready for this yet."

Is she right? United 93 is set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 25(my birthday,of all things)and to be in wide release on April 28. Universal fully intends to keep the trailer running in theaters,despite the AMC Loews putting the kibosh on it and reports of audience unrest in other states. Their position is that"This film gives audiences a chance to confront events and issues surrounding a day that is seared into our national memory, and its trailer honestly reflects that,... "Just as the movie chronicles what happened that day in as accurate a fashion as possible, Universal will continue to market United 93 in a manner that we feel is truthful and direct so that those who elect to see the film will be prepared for the experience."

Are they right? As a New Yorker who was at work that day and heard most of the news over the radio(it felt like WWII had just begun)and then came home to witness the visual impact for days afterward,I'm siding with that lady at the Loews. Yes,it's a story worth telling and more importantly,an event that should and must be kept alive in history but do we have to have the Hollywood versions now? What's the rush here,people,really? I can't stand this whole speed reading mentality we seem to have for putting out artistic takes on real life events. Some wounds need time to heal before they are fit to be examined thru a filmmaker's lens.

I'm not saying that people should boycott the film or that Universal should scrap their ad campaign,far from it. I just think that maybe someone out there in Greenlightsville should have had second,third or even fourth thoughts before setting the wheels in motion here. This isn't the only film about 9/11 due out for release this year-Oliver"Conspiracy" Stone plans to have his flick(called World Trade Center,starring Nicholas Cage) in multiplexes by August. I just don't see folks going out on a Saturday night with friends and family to check either one of these out.

Some people will and feel that it's a good way to keep the memory of what happened strong-they have a point but I really don't feel that's the intent here. Yes,a portion of United 93's profits will be donated to charity and some of the 9/11 families do support U93 but this just is too soon for me. I would feel like I was being disrespectful to the people who did suffer and still are recovering from what happened that day by paying 10 bucks to sit in a theater,munching popcorn while watching a reenactment of a tragedy that occured less than a decade ago for my entertainment. Sure,I could skip the snacks and treated the whole experience like an educational field trip but what would I really be learning here? I already know more than I want to about what happened and so do the vast majority of Americans. Despite all the talk about the short attention spans of young people,I sincerely doubt that anyone under the age of 18 is not aware of what that day means.

Remember when there were complaints about all those tv-movies-of-the-week about true crime stories that seem to be on every other channel? Those are starting to look rather quaint now. Even the three made-for-tv versions of the Amy Fisher/Joey Buttafuoco story(I do confess to watching atleast two out of the three) look mighty tame-then again,the demand for those types of films died down after the likes of Court Tv became available. The publishing industry has taken up the slack there and I'm sure they'll be a few books out on time for the big screen 9/11 movies,too.

This all comes down to this:it's up to you. Whatever you're comfortable with-to see or not to see,that is the question. Good art allows you to decide for yourself what you get out of it so don't give anyone a hard time about checking United 93 out. Many Vietnam vets felt a sense of release after such films as Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July came out and maybe some folks need to do that here. Then again,those movies were made nearly twenty years or so after the war ended. Anyway,if you're curious about the trailer,you can see it by clicking the title link above. Tough subjects are not like vegetables put on your dinner plate-you don't have to swallow them just because your host decided to put them on the menu. You can try them when you're ready.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Be Open to Sesame Beginnings,people!

There's a new line of children's DVDs from the Sesame Street group designed for kids six months old and up called Sesame Beginnings. Baby versions of Sesame Street characters(Big Bird,Cookie Monster and,of course,Elmo) interacted with parents in song and dance. The programs were developed with a non profit group called Zero To Three,to make sure that the content is age appropiate and promotes good mental/emotional development for the target audience.

But is that good enough for some folks? NOOOOOOOO! Activist groups are already griping about how wrong it is for children under the age of two to even be near a TV,let alone watch these DVDs. One of the co-founders of Campaign For a Commerical- Free Childhood,Susan Linn,was qouted as saying this about Sesame Workshop:""They're a media company in the business of promoting their brand," she said. "They've done some good things for kids and they sell a lot of junk for kids."

Well,Ms. Linn,I have to say this:merchandising is the nature of the beast when it comes to promoting educational programs for kids. Both SW and Zero to Three are non profit groups and they gotta pay their bills somehow. Frankly,I don't see what the probelm is-many children,like it or not,are going to have early exposure to television and I would rather have a kid started off with the Muppets than the Teletubbies or Boohbah,which is annoying and repulsive on so many levels. Don't even get me started on Barney!

I don't have kids but I do have a niece and nephew in this age range that I wouldn't mind seeing these DVDs with. Also,I grew up on Sesame Street and other similar programs that encouraged learning and imagination in a fun,relaxed way. Baby Einstein shoves learning at kids but no one seems to mind that. Yep,let's get a headstart on raising some neurotic overachievers who'll crash and burn before they hit 21 instead of providing a healthy mix of quality and entertainment that might put out a generation of happy people who may not earn six figures but are creative and useful members of society.

If you're interested in what the DVDs look like or want to watch a clip,please use the title link above. I hope that Sesame Beginnings sell like hotcakes and if they do,somebody pass me the syrup!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Another Dean Koontz Movie,only this one might be good!

RH films(yep,RH stands for Random House)has just announced that Dean Koontz's upcoming new novel,The Husband,is on their slate for movie adaptation. No word on cast or director just yet but here's hoping that Dean finally gets a decent mainstream movie for once and not another mess like Hideaway or any of the Watchers movies. Random House has a pretty good rep in publishing(the James Frey fiasco not withstanding) and they seem serious about developing quality films here. My only concern is that they're already planning to market The Husband as another Constant Gardener,which is a big mistake in my opinion.

Granted,both books apparently have the "In Search Of Missing Wife/Husband Unravels Secret" Thriller Plotline #937 but Dean Koontz and John Le Carre are as similar in style and theme as Alicia Keys and Shakira(you decide who's who there,folks). Both fellas give good story but Le Carre has more leisurely pace in his plots while Koontz can get quite sci-fi with his heroes and villians. I'm sure that if the two of them met up in a small cafe somewhere,they would have plenty to chat about and even trade some juicy Hollywood stories. My hope is that Dean's new book/movie is not hyped up the wrong way because that would hurt any chances of any other of his works getting a fair shot at becoming quality films.

My fears are not totally unfounded;a few years back when Miramax's Mansfield Park opened up to mixed reviews and the ire of devoted Jane Austen fans,plans for a new version of Northanger Abbey(with a script from Andrew Davies,well known for the P&P miniseries) were put on hiatus and later canceled. Davies has had no luck in getting his screenplay back since(there's been some hope still of having NA filmed). Part of the probelm was JA backlash but also the quality of the film and the ads which proclaimed it to be "Jane Austen's Mansfield Park" when it was really Patricia Roxema's Revisionist Version of Mansfield Park! Patricia Roxema wrote and directed MP and if you ever want to see JA fans in an uproar,just drop her name in conversation.

Well,fingers crossed and here's hoping that The Husband will become a great film that brings more people back to the bookshelves,eager to read as much Koontz as they can. If any author deserves a good cinematic adaptation of their work,Dean has certainly earned his place in the line.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Medley of Monday morning delights

Ok,another week and another pile of pop culture clutter to sort thru,so let's get started,shall we? First up,several movie studios have announced that they will be selling downloadable films directly to the public thru certain websites such as Movielink and CinemaNow. One catch-these movies can only be watched on a computer. You can burn them onto a DVD for backup purposes but you won't be able to play it on a DVD player due to the encoding. Some folks may not mind that but it could be quite the stumbling block saleswise,not to mention that at some point,a Crafty Cathy might find a way to solve that little probelm of non DVD player usage. Good luck,gang-you're gonna need it!

Ice Age:The Meltdown made $70 million at the box office this weekend while the sad Sharon Stone sequel,Basic Instinct 2:Risk Addiction(sounds like a direct to video Shannon Tweed title,doesn't it?) tied for the number ten spot with Larry The Cable Guy:Health Inspector. You know your movie's dead in the water if it has to fight for space with a Larry The Cable Guy movie. Atleast Slither made it to eighth place,which is a shame-that movie looks totally kickass and with Nathan Fillion in the lead....I think I need my smelling salts*swoons*.

Howard Stern,in his EW interview,complained that not enough of his fans have followed him over to Sirius satellite radio,calling them"cheap bastards". Aw,poor Howard-it's too bad that some of your fans decided to pay their bills instead of doing the March of the Lemmings over to Sirius to make you happy. See,there's this thing about luxury items-there are called luxuries for a reason! I know that it may be a strange concept to you but some people actually have to live on a budget and that may not include satellite radio. You'll just have to make due with 4 million listeners rather than 20. You can do it,buddy!

Scary American Idol news-next week,the Top Eight will have to choose songs by Queen for their performances...why,for the love of all that is sacred and good,WHY?!
Is anyone on the AI staff under the delusion that Constantine's butchering of Bohemian Rapsody last season was acceptable? *sigh* I know that Paris,Mandisa and Chris(or as he's known in my household,Sideburns Stepdad)will do justice to the memory of Freddie Mercury but have to wonder,will anyone pick a song from the Flash Gordon soundtrack?

Well,that's all for now-stay tuned for more merry malarky and hijinks! Oh,and here's a point to ponder: I went to my local video rental over the weekend and noticed that all the copies of Chronicles of Narnia and Memoirs of A Geisha were out but yet,there were quite a few of Peter Jackson's King Kong left on the shelves. What does this mean,if anything? Anyone,anyone,Bueller?