Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Live and learn about Evolution,Me & Other Freaks Of Nature

Mena Reece is having a harder time starting high school than most kids,due to being kicked out of her church and shunned by her former friends for unintentionally exposing the truth about what they did to another classmate. Her parents are furious with her as well,giving Mena the cold shoulder at home. The only bright spot in her school day is science class,where Ms. Shepard,a brilliant and challenging teacher,gets Mena hooked on a subject that was usually dull as dishwater to her.

Mena is made lab partners with Casey Connor,a smart and quick witted guy,who is a true science whiz and has no idea why Mena keeps getting hassled by her fellow classmates who form a protest group against Ms. Shepard when she begins teaching a unit on evolution in class.

The kids,known as The Back Turners,are encouraged by their local minister,Pastor Wells(who even gets to make a statement in front of the class,against Ms. Shepard's wishes),who insists on intelligent design,aka Creationism,being taught side by side with Darwin. Ms. Shepard would rather teach the facts about science and encourage her students to think for themselves, which is a concept that makes Mena nervous but curious as well. Her friendship with Casey and his family is kept in cloak and dagger style since her parents wouldn't approve of her being friends with a boy,especially one who is into Lord of The Rings movies.

Mena winds up getting involved in the evolution debate secretly,thanks to Casey's sister Kayla who writes for the newspaper and has Mena set up a blog that mixes religion with science called BibleGrrrl.com. As Mena's feelings, not only about evolution but her relationship with Casey as well,start to stretch out beyond her limits,there are some tough choices and revealations that she has to make.

This is Robin Brande's first novel for young adults and her depiction of a religiously inclined teenage world is skillfully portraited without stereotyping or over the top dramatics. Both science and religion are given respect and praise,even by the very teacher who wants to give her students the full facts on evolution. An open minded view that suggests that you can accept Darwin and Jesus without one canceling out the other is presented and frankly,that's a viewpoint which should be included in adult discussions on this subject,too.

Evolution,Me & Other Freaks of Nature will be out this August at bookstores everywhere and please do check out her blog(which is linked in my sidebar)for more info,plus she has quite alot of funny,interesting things to say on a daily basis. You can also check out the BibleGrrrl site created for the book by clicking the title link above. This book should be a hot topic upon it's release but the story and characters are just as engaging and entertaining as any others you'll encounter in teen fiction. Perhaps even more so than the rest.

Robin's the one who first told me about the documentary Jesus Camp(that I just recieved from Netflix and will be reviewing later this week)which gives you a glimpse into the diehard Christian right and how they're training kids to be "warriors for God". When I was reading EM&OFON,another movie came to my mind,Saved!,which stars Jena Malone,Mandy Moore and Malculay Culkin as teens in a Christian high school dealing with the realities of life.

Evolution is not a key part of Saved!,but it's a good companion piece to Robin's book,atleast until there's a movie adaptation of it,hopefully soon. Evolution,Me & Other Freaks of Nature not only shows how Mena grows as a person but lets her keep true to what she believes in her heart to be right. A good lesson for anyone at any age.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fantasy casting for Justice League Movie

Warners Bros has commissioned a couple of fellows to write a script for a Justice League live action film;this has quite a few fanboys and girls feeling rather giddy as you can imagine. Who would be cast in this movie,given the new Superman/Batman and upcoming Wonder Woman projects,is a tricky wicket to figure out. However,in the grand tradition of fantasy football,I have picked my preffered players from the past and present of DC comics adaptations that would make the perfect ensemble:


As much as I adore Christian Bale's take on the Dark Knight and even have a fondness for Adam West's hokey ways,Michael Keaton was the first onscreen version of Batman that I ever saw and he still rules the role. Keaton was a controversal choice back then due to his strong comedic style but when you look back at his work in the Batman films,you can see the dark edges of the character nicely defined. This is one of my favorite scenes in the original Batman,where Bruce Wayne lets alittle of his alter ego slip into his daylight hours(also,if there's a Legion of Doom for the new JA film,Nicholson's Joker must be in it):

My understudy for this part would be the Batman from Batman:The Animated Series,voiced by Kevin Conway(yes,animated versions are allowed here). The series was greenlighted due to the success of the Tim Burton films,so it's fitting.


Some of you are saying"How can you not pick Christopher Reeves?!" Because EVERYONE would pick Chris Reeves,that's why. A few would even go with George Reeves,from the old school TV series or Dean Cain from the newer Lois & Clark. Tom Welling is one of the main reasons that Smallville works;he's only believable as Clark Kent but brings a refreshing humanity to the character. He's also not afraid to change things up abit. To demonstrate,here's a clip of Clark stepping to the bad side(thanks to a Red K ring) and having to be taken down by Pa Kent:

I would,of course,love to have Chris Reeve and Brandon Routh's a decent Man of Tomorrow but it would be cool if there was a Smallville movie. If the X-Files can get big screen treatment,why not?


Big shocker,not! There are not many live action versions of Diana Prince to pick from and as much I like the current animated WW on the Justice League series(she seriously kicks ass),Lynda Carter is the standard upon which Princess Diana of Paradise Island is set. She never played the character in a condescending way nor turned her into a cardboard cutout. Lynda also worked well with others,as seen in this clip with Wonder Girl as the two of them attempt to save some actors in trouble:


Yes,this is another Smallville pick but Kyle Gallner is spot on as the Fleet Footed Wonder and even tho the character was called Impulse in his latest appearance on the show,he's the go-to guy for this character. John Wesley Shipp's early 1990s primetime show attempted to breath life into the Flash but Kyle has achieved that in only a few episodes,making him a brash young punk with some good intentions:

My second runner-up here would be Flash from the current JA animated series,whose voice is provided by Smallville's Lex Luthor,Michael Rosenbaum. See what I mean about how great a Smallville movie would be?


Static Shock: He's a newer superhero, Virgil Hawkins,a kid given electrical powers due to a chemical explosion in his hometown that also made a slew of superpowered bad guys as well. Teamed up with his tech buddy Richie,the two of them try to keep the peace and a regular high school life. Guy's got a way with words and heroics:

Aquaman: The Sea King's a classic character,can't really do a Justice League movie without him. The Smallville version of him is okay and I'm sure that Justin Hartley would've made an excellant Arthur Curry if the CW had given that show a chance,but I still dig the Superfriends version:

Black Canary: This is one DC superheroine who deserves a reboot,a sweet looking gal with a "Canary Cry" that can be the last thing you ever hear. She's been in the DC world for a long time and there are few versions of her outside of the printed page. The only live action one I've seen was on the short-lived series,Birds of Prey,as the mom of one of the characters. Lori Loughlin,of Full House fame,played BC and she would totally rule the roost of a JA movie:

I could go on and on but as Judge Judy says,I've got other fish to fry today. If and when this Justice League movie gets off the ground,I hope that the best of the current crop of DC all-stars are recruited. This could be another X-Men or a new Mystery Men,depending on what calls are made.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Cleaning up the Oscar aftermath

Well,we've survived yet another night of Oscar and while this year's wasn't perfect,it was certainly better than what has been done in the past. Here are some highlights,low points and suggestions for tighting up the running time:


While it was expected that Martin Scorsese would finally take home the Best Director award that's been long overdue to him,many did not think The Departed would follow suit with a Best Picture win(particularly me!). My pick was Little Miss Sunshine,which sweeped the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday. It was a pretty open race this time out and I'm happy to see both Scorsese and his movie get the gold.

I was sadly shocked to see Pan's Labyrinth lose the Best Foreign Film to The Lives of Others;yes,PL did get several awards,including Make-up,Score and Cinematography but that was the big one for the movie and it was total HIGHWAY ROBBERY! No,I didn't see The Lives of Others(or any of the other nominated films in that catagory)but Pan's Labyrinth clearly stood out in that crowd. Guess all that extra critical attention TLOO has been recieving lately paid off. This got me so mad that I actually booed in my living room at the TV screen.


Thank goodness Jennifer Hudson won because I would've happily joined folks in the street in the riot that could have erupted if she had lost. They made us wait forever and a day to hear her sing but it was worth it.

She and Beyonce played nicely together,which was good. I loved Jennifer's dress but that jacket she wore on the Red Carpet didn't flatter her at all. Glad she took it off before they announced her win. For anyone who still doesn't get what the big fuss is all about,here's a side-by-side comparison of Holliday and Hudson doing "And I Am Telling You" from Dreamgirls. Hudson is not a one trick pony in my opinion. I think we'll be seeing more of her hopefully sooner rather than later:


One of the main reasons that the Oscars are such an annual delight is the parade of fancy dress that celebs adorned themselves with for the their stroll on the Red Carpet. While there wasn't a major mistake such as the infamous Bjork swan dress or a total stylish knockout,there were plenty of hit and misses to choose from. I know many admired Penelope Cruz's gown but the bottom half of that sucker looked like she was dragging a Muppet pelt around her all night.

Cameron Diaz appeared to have found a seamstress willing to take a piece of sailboat canvas to wrap around her. A little trim could've helped,that's all I'm saying. Jessica Biel's outfit was nice but I don't recommend keeping that cropped hair look. Speaking of hair,did Phillip Seymour Hoffman have a serious case of bedhead or what? Dude,a quick comb thru would've fixed you right up there. And what was up with Nicole Kidman? That huge bowtie thing on her collar was pretty much strangling her there.

Cate Blanchett was truly stunning,in a gorgeous metallic number that was very old school refreshed. Jennifer Lopez tried to glam it up with the metal but she sort of looked like she was auditioning for HBO's Rome. Some of the best looking ladies on the RC were Reese Witherspoon,Rachel Wiesz and Emily Blunt. Emily and Anne Hathaway presented the Best Costume award,which was appropiate due to their team efforts in the Devil Wears Prada but all that giggling they did during that bit wasn't. Have the slumber party after the show,girls,really! Marie Antionette won that prize,btw.


I knew that Big Al would be there to get the Best Documentary prize and cheer on Melissa Etheridge(who won the Best Song catagory,aceing out Dreamgirls) but a little of him goes a long way. That whole routine with him and DiCaprio praising how eco friendly the show was this year and Leo's "Hey,Al-do have you have a announcement to make-nudge,nudge,wink,say no more" bit just dragged the show on even longer.

It wasn't the worst time waster by far but I didn't tune in to see an Al Gore lovefest,folks. I was waiting for Jennifer Hudson to get her Oscar and sing! You want to impress me with your environmental awareness,then get a solar paneled house like Ed Begley,Jr. there,okay? I've seen his show on HGTV and even tho I don't have the patience to bike ride a generator just to make my toast,I respect the guy for practicing what he preaches.


Hey,Academy,want to know how to speed things along and keep a better running time for next year's show? Cut down on the needless tributes and fillers. Some things can not be snipped,of course,like the tribute to the dead and the Honorary Oscar but all of those clip montages of "the writer in Hollywood" and "Foreign Films of the past and present" truly butcher time. I know you have to throw in some razzle dazzle and all of that can't be dumped onto the shoulders of the host(Ellen was okay)but if you're going to do so,take a moment to put some real effort into it.

It doesn't have to be pricey or over the top;that musical skit with Jack Black,Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly was excellant. More of this,please:

That was way better than those shadow puppet people anyday. Whose idea was that?"Oh,let's hire some guys to form movie logos behind a screen! That'll be fun!"...NOT!


And to end this Oscar talk off right,here is a classic bit of Academy Award cheese. May I present for your viewing displeasure,the Snow White & Rob Lowe opening number that was a quite a show stopper in it's day. All praises to the YouTube!

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Amazing Race All-Stars,Top Design and A.I. voting begins

The Amazing Race All Stars edition started last Sunday,which brings back great teams from past seasons like Unchenna and Joyce and the Coalminer couple,David and Mary(Yah!). But,it also has folks that I couldn't stand,like the Beauty Queens and Rob & Amber(Boo!). The first leg of the race had teams going to Ecuador and most of the struggle was in finding the right airline. I was worried that Dustin and Kandace would resort to their usual line cutting tricks but they didn't get the chance.

Since I've only watched a few seasons of TAR,a good number of the teams are unfamilar to me such as the couple who got eliminated,John Vito and Jill. I do like Kevin & Drew from season 1;those guys are very New York and hopefully will give Rob and Amber a run for their money:

The challenge this week for Top Design was to create a living/work space for interior design students,using items bought at garage sales. The prize for the winner was first pick of a carpenter to work with for the rest of the competition. Carisa clashed with the person she had selected,particularly over a large rolling desk for the room that didn't work out and since she won the challenge,I don't think she'll work with that gal again. It was a good room even tho it didn't have enough of the storage space the client wanted.

Felica got dismissed for her take on colorful,which consisted of a grannie looking afghan and necktie fabric pasted to the wall. Speaking of Granny,Michael has such little old lady taste;the colors he used to create a"bright,happy"room looked exactly the way Judge Jonathan Adler described them-"Grape and banana"!

Ryan really deserved to be kicked to the curb,not only for his room which looked like something from the set of a bad indie movie,but his whole attitude. When he went before the judges to discuss his design,he sneered at those who would use fabric swatches and paint chips(key tools of the trade)and answered the question"do you really want to be a designer?" by saying"Only if I can make my own rules!".

Dude,if you want to be an avant garde artist,be an artist. A good portion of interior design work is creating a look and feel that's pleasing to your clients. If you want to just take off and do your own thing,there's a place for that. Just not in a field where people would actually have to live everyday in the environment you put together straight from your weirdy brain. Not everyone lives in a Tim Burton world,buddy boy!

The voting began on American Idol and the girls wowed the crowd this week while the boys went to sleep. Gentlemen,you need to step up and bring your A game here! That goes for you,too,Chris Sligh and Sanjaya. I'll give Sanjaya abit of a break,due to his age but only so far:

It was hard to chose from the ladies who was best but Lakisha Jones ended the night on a high note with her take on"And I Am Telling You". Simon was right,she totally threw down the gauntlet:

Four contestants were knocked off this week and Vote for The Worst is doing it's best because Antonella should've been sent home for that godawful rendition of "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing" and Alaina's version of "Brass in Pocket" was a complete and utter trainwreck. She didn't have the voice or the attitude to carry that song off at all. Song choice is important,people. Here's a direct compare and contrast for your listening pleasure:

Alaina's Attempt

The Way Brass in Pocket is Supposed to Sound

Musical AI guests for this season were announced and we're getting the likes of Diana Ross,Gwen Stefani,Barry Gibb and Tony Bennett to help the contestants out. No Abba,as some had hoped due to a chance remark by Simon during an audition. That would have been cool. Speaking of Simon,his quips are really in top form this time. Telling Amy Krebs that she had"the personality of a candle" would be too harsh if it wasn't a teeny bit true. Ryan Seacrest's wardrobe choices are getting as weird as Paula's. That night when the guys sang,I looked at him and said"Justin from Ugly Betty called-he wants his vest back."

Random Notes:

Heroes: Now that Peter is getting in control of his abilities,he's becoming a force to be reckoned with. I hope that Claude will return for some more tutoring sessions because as guest star Stan Lee(in his usual quirky cameo) would say"With great power comes great responsibility." Simone found that out the hard way. I was watching this episode with my mom and this scene had us both saying at the same time"Cool!"

I really hope Mohinder catches on that his new partner is not all that he seems. Dude,the two of you meet up with a lady with UberEars who tells you that she first had headaches when her powers first started and the next day,she's dead meat on the floor and your buddy"Zane" is in desparate need of Excedrin. Connect the dots,la la la! We may get some answers out of Mr. Bennet next week with Matt and friends raiding the family homestead.

The Riches:I've been seeing promos for this show for awhile now(mainly because I'm still watching Dirt,why I am for the life of me,I really can't say)and may not bothering getting into The Black Donnellys since both show will be sharing the same timeslot. Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver star as the driving force of a con artist family who may have bitten off more than they can chew by stepping into the wealthy home and life of a dead man who had moved into a new neighborhood before his demise.

Here's the newest one-see for yourself and decide if Monday nights at ten should be spend at NBC or F/X this March:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ain't no party like a RHCB party!

This morning,I went to a preview of summer titles for kids at Random House. The higlight of this soiree was getting to meet Robin Brande,whose first YA novel,Evolution,Me and Other Freaks of Nature,will be out this August. She was the one who got me an invite to this shindig and my thanks to her. It was quite an experience,especially since it was the first time I've ever been in a major publishing house(or any publishing house,for that matter!).

So,what was it like,you may ask? It was interesting and actually fun. Basically,the editors from each imprint presented the new and revived books(such as a Hilary Knight title long out of print called The Circus is Coming)and even tho they had prepared speeches,you could see the gleam in their eyes and hear the pride in their voices as they talked about the books. It's not every day that you can see someone who truly loves what they do in action,let alone a whole roomful of them.

We also had plenty of laughs,thanks to the current scrotum controversy. If you haven't heard this one,hold on to your hats,folks. The newest Newberry award-winning book,The Higher Power of Lucky,has some librarians refusing to stock it,fearing the wrath of irate parents. Seems that in the first chapter,the main character(a ten year old girl)overhears a neighbor tell someone that his dog was bitten in the scrotum. The girl then wonders what "scrotum" means. That's it.

One librarian was actually qouted as saying this book must of had a "Howard Stern" influence. Unless there was a mention of Butt Bongo,I don't think so. Maybe it's me but since when is proper terminology a bad thing for kids to know about? Not to mention that most of us have had that same experience when we were young. Plus,no one reported any complaints from parents and The Higher Power of Lucky has been out since November! First they pick on the gay penguins and now,it's open season on dog scrotums. Does PETA know about this?

The Higher Power of Lucky is not an RH title but they are carrying the audio edition,which was a welcome surprise in our gift bags at the end of the presentation. Robin was the closing act and she was great;she told a really amazing story from her life that lead to the writing of the book(I'm sure she has it on her blog,so go there to find out. I can't do that tale justice). We got to meet for a few minutes after her talk and she signed my reader's copy. Really nice to meet an internet friend without worrying about Chris Hanson from Dateline NBC showing up. I'm kidding,I swear! It was cool to meet her and if she comes to your town on her book tour,make it a point to see her and get your hands on her book. I started reading it on the way home and it's a real page turner.

If you click the title link above,you'll see the official Biblegrrl website for Evolution,Me and Other Freaks of Nature. I did grab up a few other cool books,like this one written by Michael Scott(I know it's not by Steve Carell from The Office but I can't help picturing him trying to pass this off as his in a book store)called The Alchemyst:The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. This is book one of a series of six that already has been pre-sold in about thirty countries to date. Could this be the next Harry Potter? We shall see.

This was a great experience and my only regret is that I didn't get to compliment one of the Golden Books editors on his tie. He had the game board from Operation on it. I didn't know they made those. Too cool for school,seriously.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oscar,Oscar,who's getting an Oscar? My money's on...

Oscar night will soon be upon us,in all it's glory and hype,and for many folks,this is the Pop Culture Superbowl of Cinema. There are plenty of betting pools out there for this occasion but this year is a rather tricky one to gauge the odds. Here to give any gamblers some tips(plus a chance to shoot my mouth off),are the Lady T Official Oscar predictions for 2007. Fasten your seatbelts because hopefully it'll be a bumpy night.


The only safe money you could place on any Oscar nominees this year would be for Forest Whitaker as Best Actor,Helen Mirren as Best Actress and Jennifer Hudson for Best Supporting Actress. Whitaker is going to get the gold mainly because this is his year;much like Julia Roberts winning one for Erin Brockovich or Denzel Washington for Training Day,the stars have aligned in all the right places and it's a done deal. I didn't see The Last King of Scotland but Whitaker's paid plenty of dues and it's nice to see a solid character actor get some props:

Mirren's been practically annointed by most of the major awards show. That woman's got a monopoly on playing royals,I swear! She does deserve the respect,however. Jennifer Hudson is scheduled to perform at the Oscars(along with Beyonce and Anika Noni Rose)and it'll be great to hear her sing as well as get her award:

Other noms with a strong shot at winning are Pan's Labyrinth for Best Foreign Film(I've found in that catagory that the one film you've heard most about usually wins.)and Best Makeup,An Inconvenient Truth for Best Documentary(If Gore had campaigned as hard for the presidency as he has for this flick,we might not have needed a recount) and Cars for Best Animated Feature.


I would've put Eddie Murphy in the Sure Bet column but it's hard to tell at this point what his chances are. He won the Golden Globe,which is a good sign in his favor,but with a sure fire piece of crap like Norbit coming out just before the ceremony almost gurantees to sink him. However,Norbit made a huge opening box office($33 million) that's astounding for this time of year. So, will he or won't he?

He's up against Alan Arkin,Jackie Earle Haley,Djimon Hounou and Marky Mark. Arkin could get a Little Miss Sunshine buzz but a win is iffy. Blood Diamond and Little Children really aren't getting much love so those fellas have slim chances and Wahlberg was decent in The Departed but it's not a real strong showcase for him. So,Eddie has the best shot and if I had to pick someone,he'd be it. But,you can truly say that it's anyone game here.

Best Song is a real puzzler;Dreamgirls dominates the catagory but all of the tunes up for it are not the signature pieces the show's known for. My best guess is that Patience has the best chance of winning from the three. It's a pretty positive number and a group sing-a-long,which keeps folks from picking between Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson. Give a listen:

Of course,they may go for the safest choice which is Our Town from Cars. Really wish that this catagory had more gutsy choices,like this infamous South Park ditty:


That would be Best Picture. Tough call but my instincts are saying that it's Little Miss Sunshine. Let's look at the other films up against it. The Departed is a great thriller and there's no question in my mind that Martin Scorsese will get Best Director for it. It used to be that Best Director and Best Picture wins went hand in hand but that's been shot to hell more than once. The Departed is a worthy nominee but it doesn't resonate as a winner.

The Queen has gotten much love from critics and good word of mouth from audiences but this is a British film about the British way of life and it's mixed feelings towards the monarchy. I don't think that many folks will truly connect with this film due to that and feel that Mirren getting an award will more than satisfy any recognization due to it.

Clint Eastwood is a smart and sophiscated filmmaker but Letters From Iwo Jima has a very History Channel vibe to it. I would rather see that than his earlier release this year,Flags of Our Fathers,but not by much. Babel does have some Hollywood love for it but it's pretty much this year's Crash and after the reception Crash got after swiping the award away from Brokeback Mountain(which it did,in my opinion),voters may not be inclined to go that route again.

Which leaves Little Miss Sunshine standing tall and in the lead. It has the best of both worlds,a heartfelt family film with strong indy sensibilities and no sap factor whatsoever. Also,this key scene in the film has the feel of a classic(if you didn't see LMS,don't watch this clip because it will ruin the show for you. You have been warned):

Okay,that's my two cents on this topic. Come Monday morning,I hope to be both right and wrong about the winners and losers on Oscar night. If you have any picks or predictions,please feel free to share!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Take a sidetrip into Mark Twain country with Finn

One of the trickiest things to do with a novel is to take up the threads of a classic story and weave them into an original design of your own that not only exhibits your talents well but pays a respectful tribute to the one who has gone before. Sometimes you get a wonderful surprise like Ahab's Wife or a "why did they even bother" clunker such as the infamous Scarlett.

Happily,Jon Clinch's Finn is best suited to stand along side of Ahab's Wife and the likes of The Wide Sargasso Sea,with well earned pride. The Finn of the title is the father of Huck Finn,one of Mark Twain's most famous creations(next to Tom Sawyer) and the story not only slips into the timeframe of his appearances in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but fills in some backstory as well. Finn is the drunken black sheep son of The Judge,whose harsh disclipines and vicious bigotry have driven more than one wedge between them yet in many ways,they are sadly alike.

One of the straws that nearly breaks the camel's back is Mary,a young slave girl handed over to Finn as thanks for preventing a riverboat hijacking. Mary is held in captivity by Finn at first but eventually their relationship develops into something more intimate. The Judge barges in on them one night and demands that his son give up her,which he promises to do but that vow is as honored as much as any of the other lies Finn's told over the years.

The only one of his family that bothers to have anything to do with Finn is his brother Will,who is as bound to The Judge as much as Finn is not. The timeline of the plot skips back and forth,between the days before Huck was born,and into some pretty scary places such as a nasty late night raid on a cabin by Finn and a fellow drinker with more than whiskey on his mind.

Jon Clinch doesn't whitewash the true nature of "Pap" Finn,but rather makes him a more understandable,if not pathetic and somewhat sympathic,obstacle to himself and others. At times,it's almost as if Clinch is channeling Mark Twain;he takes up the reins of Twain's literary nuances with the ease of one who seems to have been doing so all of his life.

Finn is a heartfelt journey into the essence of what is considered by many to be the Great American Novel and gives us a compelling read that makes for a splendid bookend to that tale. If you would like to know more about this book or it's author,please click the title link above to visit the official Finn website.

It's one of the best interactive book sites I've ever seen that does more than just promotes the book;there are sections with info on Huck Finn,Mark Twain and a few quizzes to test your word power(the Mark Twain qoutes game is particularly fun,I've done decently on it). Clinch also has a blog called The Horsehair Couch that has some interesting insights on having your first novel published. Don't wait until this book has gathered up the heaps of praise that it deserves,go get it today!

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Departed: Top notch thriller or a collection of Martin Scorsese's Greatest Hits?

I watched The Departed on DVD this weekend and had such a good time that my only regret was not seeing this movie on the big screen. Since it's a big Oscar contender this year,with five noms under it's belt,I was hoping to see if I could gauge it's chances of winning better after seeing it.

However,I also read EW's Oscar prediction issue as well and one of the features has voter insider buzz(given anonymously by folks in the biz),which doesn't bode well for The Departed. One of the participants called TD"a tv movie with a great cast" and another said it was"s Scorsese leftovers taken out of the refrigerator and put into the microwave.''

Pretty harsh there,guys. You could say that's just their opinion and what does it matter but I suspect that they're not the only Oscar voters with that mindset. Let's examine The Departed thru glimpses at Scorsese's other films and see if any of their arguments have merit.

Sidekicks: Many of the best known Scorese films have memorable supporting roles,such as Cathy Moriaty's Vicki LaMotta in Raging Bull(which landed her a Best Supporting actress nom),Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York as Bill The Butcher or even Robert DeNiro in Mean Streets. Mark Walhberg is up for Best Supporting Actor in The Departed and while he does a great job,I don't know why he was selected. Especially over Jack Nicholson,who plays his part low-key(for Nicholson,that is)in the same movie. Not to mention that Wahlberg's barely onscreen for most of the film.

Nothing against Marky Mark but a supporting role in a Scorsese flick is a pretty sweet deal for any actor looking to strut their stuff. Joe Pesci made his movie bones in films like Goodfellas and is a prime example of this:

The Beatdown: Any good Scorsese film has a couple of really memorable beatdown scenes(even Age of Innocence,only it's done without phyiscal bloodshed)that make you stop and watch the movie if it's on TV,even if it's only for five minutes. The Departed does have a few,with DiCaprio taking on a couple of guys shaking down a convience store owner,which had me going "whoa!":

Not bad,but let's look a few other classic Scorsese smackdowns,like this one from Casino,where Joe Pesci settles a dispute over a pen:

The opening scene from Gangs of New York,which sets the tone of the film nicely:

And no discussion of Scorsese fight scenes would be complete without a look at Raging Bull,which sets the standard for all others to follow:

The Love Interest

Some would say that men get the best roles in a Scorsese film but let's not count the ladies out just yet. From the previously mentioned Cathy Moriaty to a pre-Sopranos Lorraine Bracco in Goodfellas down to Sharon Stone's memorable turn in Casino,strong women have not been sight unseen. Vera Farmiga joins their ranks as Madolyn,a shrink who winds up romancing both men who mirror each other in more ways than one. She does a nice job of it:

One of my favorite Scorsese films has the toughest gals in it,The Age of Innocence. Winona Ryder recieved a Best Supporting Actress nom that year for her role as May Welland(one of her top performances as an actress on film,in my opinion)and Michelle Pfieffer really should've been nominated as well for her work in AOI. You may think this is some artsy PBS version of a Lifetime channel movie but you would be seriously mistaken. This story has more cutthroats than any pirate movie with or without Johnny Depp:

So,is The Departed a retread or what? While it is loosely based on the Hong Kong film"Infernal Affairs" and does take a page or two from the usual Scorsese film playbook,this is a film that can stand firmly on it's own two feet. It's well worth the watching and should hopefully get Marty that Best Director Oscar that's been long overdue to him. I don't think it'll get Best Picture but it does deserve to be right up there with the rest of the usual suspects for 2006.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pop Culture Tag

I was tagged by Robin Brande to reveal five little known facts about myself. It's a blog game and while I did confess abit on her blog(which is amongst my links,so check it out by all means),I figured that I could share some pop culture related lesser known factoids here as well. So,here for your amusement,are my Five:

1) I like this damn Backstreet Boys video! The song's catchy and I'm a sucker for horror movie monsters,especially the old school ones. Take a look:

Also,I did buy a cassingle of Britney Spears'"Baby,Hit Me One More Time". Yes, it was for me.

2) I have a small collection of popcorn bags. The kind that are mini movie posters. I've eaten the popcorn and saved the bag. Some of ones I have are:The Relic,Titanic(with the original summer release date on it),Beavis and Butthead:The Movie and Little Women(Winona Ryder version). Recently,I used a Superman Returns bag to make a small college that's framed. It's the centerpiece of a Superman display in my room.

3)There's a huge Vanity Fair movie poster,signed by Reese Witherspoon,over my dresser.I entered a VM film related contest,hoping to get the Grand Prize of a trip for two to England. Instead,several months later(long after I forgot all about the contest),I recieved this in the mail. Since I like Reese,I just hung up it up on the wall.

Then,I read Kevin Smith's Silent Bob Speaks,where he mentions that he despises Reese(she was rude to one of his friends)and that he refers to her as "Greasey Reesey". For some reason,I've had an irrational fear of Kevin Smith coming to my house and discovering that poster. The odds on that are as good as my finding a pot of gold on my doorstep but still....

4) I own DVD sets that I've either never watched or only half seen. For example,I have a collection of Ed Wood movies and have only watched two of them(Bride of the Monster and Plan 9). I also have the second half of the Forsyte Saga,unviewed and a set of Indy Jones flicks in the same status. I have seen all three of the Indiana Jones films before but have never cracked open one of the DVDs since I bought the set. Also have a few movies on DVD that have never been viewed,like Ripley's Game and Love Actually(which is really shocking due to the fact that Colin Firth is in LA and I love me some Firth in the worst way!).

5) I once showed an author a bad drawing I made in one of his books. I have this habit of always putting my full name and the date I bought/recieved a book on the front inside cover(I don't do this for ARCs). Occasionally,I've added a little sketch along with this(all my Harry Potter books have one)and when I met Christopher Golden at Horrorfind and asked him to sign my copy of Pretty Maids All in a Row,he saw my attempt at drawing Freyja's Strand(a magic necklace that Drusilla wants in the story).

He was cool about it,I'll say that for him. Someday,I hope to have James Marsters sign this book as well and I just pray that he doesn't find my artwork too heinous.

So,that's all,folks! Guess I should tag someone else but if anyone wants to volunteer and unlock their vaults,feel free.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Grammy Night,American Idol in Hollywood and Top Design gets beachy

This week's Top Design challenge was a team effort,with a group of three creating and building a beach cabana based on a popular resort locale:Miami,Tahiti and St. Tropez. Michael managed to work well with others this time out and Team Tahiti put together quite a swanky shack. It was very much in the right style without being too obivious but I do agree with the judges that it needed a roof. They did intend to put one up but decided at the last minute that the open framework on top was more pleasing to the eye. Maybe so,but for someone like me who burns easily in the sun,a little shade is always welcome.

Erik,who won immunity during the last round, was on Team Miami with Elizabeth and the two of them dominated the design and color choice. Too bad Matt didn't speak up more because the judges hated the colors("it looks like paint that you buy on sale" quipped Judge Kelly)and while they appreciated the indoor/outdoor approach,it really sunk the team. Personally,I would've added some Cuban style to the design. Miami has a prominant Cuban community and if you wanted to break away from the usual pastel hues(which Elizabeth did),that would have been the way to go.

Team St. Tropez had the most feuding and fussing. It started off with Ryan insisting on doing the furniture shopping(certain tasks were assigned to one team member only)despite the fact that Carisa's a set decorator and clearly the most qualified person to do that. She was stuck with buying the fabrics and while her palette was too dark for the beach,Ryan's furniture was worse. It didn't click with the structure designed by Goil at all and looked very cluttered.

Ryan thinks that he's more creative than Carisa but this is a guy who created a little girl's bedroom that was a giant pink catwalk! The catwalk was not a bad idea but it was like a huge freeway and that easel he made was crap. I've seen a good number of artist's easels in my life and can assuredly say that a few planks of wood slapped together does not an easel make!

Team Tahiti won and Elizabeth was dismissed,due to her colors that were more suited to Pee-Wee's Playhouse than a beach house. Ryan is on my "must-go" list,along with Michael(who may get a reprieve for good behavior-we shall see). I really like Carisa so far. She had a good grasp on the concept and in another team challenge,may get a better chance to shine.

The Grammy awards were given out on Sunday and while there weren't too many surprises,I do have a few questions. For example,why have Prince come onstage just to introduce Beyonce? What a waste! Why couldn't anyone find an excuse to let Jennifer Hudson sing? She was already there to present and had on a great dress to boot. Guess Beyonce didn't want direct compare and contrast that night.

The Dixie Chicks cleaned up nicely(really thought that Mary J. Blige was going to have more of a sweep but she did pretty well there)and I was glad to hear that Lewis Black won Best Comedy Album. Saw Hillary Duff on the E! Red Carpet pre-show and her outfit practically screamed disco whore. Looks like Ryan Seacrest agreed with me:

American Idol has finally selected their Top 24 and voting will begin next week. Who are some of the front-runners here? Let's take a look:

Sanjaya auditioned with his sister,who didn't make the the next to last Hollywood cut. Simon thought he was way better than her and while I think she wasn't half bad,her baby brother does have a sweet set of pipes on him:

Chris Sligh aced his audition with "Kiss from a Rose" and in Hollywood,he and his whole group put on the best performance during the group sing. Rudy Cardenas joined Chris in the T24 as well:

Lakisha Jones is a mom with a three year old girl and can sing like nobody's business:

Melinda Doolittle's been a backup singer for awhile but she will be getting her moment in the spotlight here:

And now for the one that I hope gets the boot first:Antonella. She went into Hollywood week with her BFF Amanada and the two of them undermined a much more talented singer,Baylie Brown, with their antics. Amanda got cut before the T24 culling but Antonella will be on the stage show next week. She must be stopped as soon as possible,people. She took Baylie's spot,in my opinion:

Random Notes:

Heroes: Sylar teaming up with Mohinder to hunt down more super powered folks is dangerous in more ways than one. Not surprised that Clare's Firestarter mom would not only hit Nathan up for hush money but cheat Clare out of her full share of the hundred grand there:

Clare's other mother is totally losing her marbles;remember that bit in the Men In Black movie where Will Smith asks Tommy Lee"How many times have you flashy-thinged that poor woman?". That could easily be rephrased to inquire about the number of times Mrs. B has had a visit from the Haitian Sensation.

Ugly Betty: Anyone else not too shocked at Mother Meade's fessing up to killing Fey? I suspected her from The Lyin',The Witch and The Wardrobe episode. And just as Walter is finally getting out of the picture,Henry's old girlfriend has to show up and delay the ment-to-be romance between Betty and Henry. I still have hope for those two crazy kids to hook up:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day is for book lovers

Completing the last,yet not the least,list of romantic pop culture picks,we arrive at books. I decided to use the old wedding adage of "something old,something new,something borrowed,something blue" as my layout. I don't intend to go in exactly that order(logic and love don't always mix)but if you're caught in a nasty ice storm like I am at the moment,these titles should keep your heart and mind warm.

In the "Something New" catagory,we have a debut novel:The Perfectly True Tales of a Perfect Size 12 by Robin Gold. The story takes place during a Fourth of July weekend as Deliah White joins her friend Sofia for her family's annual celebration to unwind from the stress of competing for a top producer position on the popular show Domestic Bliss with archrival Margo Hart.

Unfortunately,Margo decides to accept Sofia's invite at the last minute and even tho a truce is declared,sneak attacks are launched against Deliah in more ways than one.One of those ways involves Jack,a cousin of Sofia's who has an eye for Deliah and their budding romances hits a few bumps,thanks to Margo. As the title indicates,Deliah is not a skinny minnie but she's not overconcerned with that fact and is even quite proud of it at times which is nicely refreshing. Perfectly True Tales is a perfectly charming read for any day of the year and hopefully we'll see more from Robin Gold very soon.

For "Something Old",The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is one book that I'm sure will be heralded as a classic someday. Thanks to Robin Brande's Tuesday Book Club,I have been rereading this delightfully bittersweet story of Henry DeTamble,who was born with the power to time travel within his own lifetime,and Clare Abshire,the girl he meets up with during his travels who becomes the love of his life.

This romance is indeed rocky;Henry has no control over his abilities,which occur spontaneously,and causes health/emotional probelms for Henry. The story is told in such a realistic way that you wouldn't be surprised if this was truly happening to someone,somewhere. A film version of TTW is being made as we speak but this is one book you'll want to read before the movie,to really enjoy it all the more.

Thanks to Booksfree,my "Something Borrowed" is "Angel With Attitude" by Michelle Rowen,which I devoured in one sitting. The angel of the title is Valerie Grace,who finds herself yanked out of Heaven and landing on earth in a very Darryl Hannah Splash style. She's determined to reclaim her ethereal home but the quest for a missing Key to Heaven that's fallen into very wrong hands,plus Nathaniel,a wickedly handsome Tempter Demon,on her heels,keep her hopping away from that goal.

Rowen peppers her tale with loads of fun characters like Reggie,a fellow whose jealous witch girlfriend turns him into a literal rat,a bratty little girl psychic and a friendly demon who writes romance novels for a living. Rowen's first book was Bitten and Smitten(which will have a sequel entitled Fanged and Fabulous out this summer)and ever since that book,I've added her to my list of paranormal writers to keep track of. AWA is one tasty truffle of a book that won't make you feel guilty for gulping it down with gusto.

As for "Something Blue",well...we all have our own idea of what is sexy and I find old school sagas of strong women keeping family dynasties together rather steamy,in a Masterpiece Theater/Ugly Betty kind of way. Penny Vincenzi keeps this wonderful tradition alive and well,particularly in this first half of the Spoils of Time trilogy(yep,this is a trilogy,ladies-swooning starts now!). We start our story with Celia,who marries Olivier Lytton,a humble beginnings sort of man who creates a major publishing house in England that Celia eventually becomes a key player in.

There's plenty of romantic intrigue amongst the many characters in this soap opera setting but none of them come across as cardboard cutouts. You get just as involved with their comings and goings as you would any other multi-faceted and well plotted show on television. The other two books in this series(Something Dangerous,Into Temptation) are available in the US in paperback and other Vincenzi titles are arriving here as well,like Sheer Abandon due this May. If you're looking for a luxurious book to sink into,Penny has plenty for you to chose from.

Have a Happy Valentine's Day and whatever you're doing today,enjoy it to the fullest!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Maureen Dowd is shocked,shocked!,to find chick lit in bookstores

I do read the NYT online but I don't have a subscription to the Times Select(pesky thing,budgets)but fortunately,the good folks at Galleycat found a blog which has kindly reprinted Maureen Dowd's Sunday piece about her latest trip to the bookstore.

Seems that it's been awhile since she did her own book buying:

" I was cruising through Borders, looking for a copy of “Nostromo.”

Suddenly I was swimming in pink. I turned frantically from display table to display table, but I couldn’t find a novel without a pink cover. I was accosted by a sisterhood of cartoon women, sexy string beans in minis and stilettos, fashionably dashing about book covers with the requisite urban props — lattes, books, purses, shopping bags, guns and, most critically, a diamond ring.

Was it a Valentine’s Day special?

No, I realized with growing alarm, chick lit was no longer a niche. It had staged a coup of the literature shelves. Hot babes had shimmied into the grizzled old boys’ club, the land of Conrad, Faulkner and Maugham. The store was possessed with the devil spawn of “The Devil Wears Prada.” The blood-red high heel ending in a devil’s pitchfork on the cover of the Lauren Weisberger best seller might as well be driving a stake through the heart of the classics.

I even found Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” with chick-lit pretty-in-pink lettering."

The horror,the horror! Maureen felt that she had discovered uncharted territory lurking on bookstore shelves. She brought"three dozen" of these strange new books(image the luxury of being able to buy that many books at one time...*sigh*..)and went home to explore this vast new region of women's literature:

"Giving the books an even more interchangeable feeling is the bachelorette party of log-rolling blurbs by chick-lit authors. Jennifer “Good in Bed” Weiner blurbs Sarah Mlynowski’s “Me vs. Me” and Karen McCullah Lutz’s “The Bachelorette Party.” Lauren Weisberger blurbs Emily “Something Borrowed” Giffin.

I took home three dozen of the working women romances. They can lull you into a hypnotic state with their simple life lessons — one heroine emulated Doris Day, another Audrey Hepburn, one was the spitting image of Carolyn Bessette, another Charlize Theron — but they’re a long way from Becky Sharp and Elizabeth Bennet. They’re all chick and no lit.

Please do not confuse these books with the love-and-marriage of Jane Austen. These are more like multicultural Harlequin romances. They’re Cinderella bodice rippers — Manolo trippers — girls with long legs, long shiny hair and sparkling eyes stumbling through life, eating potato skins loaded with bacon bits and melted swiss, drinking cocktails, looking for the right man and dispensing nuggets of hard-won wisdom, like, “Any guy who can watch you hurl Cheez Doodles is a keeper,” and, “You can’t puke in wicker. It leaks.”

You can read this entire little ditty by clicking the title link above,but I must throw in a qoute from Maureen's good buddy,Leon Wieseltier,an editor at The New Republic about this chick lit coup:

"In the 19th century in America, people often linked the reading of novels with women. Women were creatures of sensibility, and men were creatures of action. But now, Leon suggested, American fiction seems to be undergoing a certain re-feminization.

“These books do not seem particularly demanding in the manner of real novels,” Leon said. “And when we’re at war and the country is under threat, they seem a little insular. America’s reading women could do a lot worse than to put down ‘Will Francine Get Her Guy?’ and pick up ‘The Red Badge of Courage.’ ”

Way to condescend,Leon! I,for one,read The Red Badge of Courage in high school and guess what? It was boring then and it's still boring now! That's just my opinion but hey,the funny thing about a democracy is that we get to have our own opinions about things and not let folks who think they're the sole arbiters of intellectual thought bully us into thinking and reading what they deem proper.

Also,Leon,you might want to do some pop culture history research there. See,it's usually in times of strife and social turmoil that escapist entertainment is most in demand;the musicials of the 1930s,screwball comedies that lingered on thru the early 1940s when the US was getting into WWII,the sci-fi horror films in the 1950s. Before you say"Yes,but those are films,not books!",check out some of the best selling titles during the 1960s-sure,folks were reading Howl and In Cold Blood but plenty of others were devouring Valley of the Dolls and James Bond adventures. Gee,wasn't there a war around that time period,too?

Maureen,you're rather late to the party,dear. Reading this piece is like turning on a music show on MTV and hearing the host declare"Hey, did you know there's this new sound called hip-hop?" Most of us in the know would respond"And where have you been for the past decade,dude?" I think Hall and Oates can put this in the proper context for you,Maureen:

Snobbery is a sad thing to see,really-it severely limits your mental horizons. Also,I wouldn't freak out about a Sylvia Path cover that has pink lettering. It's one of those visual gimmicks by the marketing people that are meant to catch your eye and by your reaction,it worked like a charm. You've had books published ,Maureen,with less than subtle artwork on the front cover,geez! They should put copies of The Bell Jar in Hot Topic,with a cover like that. Bet it would just fly off the shelves there,mark my words.

Shame that we still have to debate this subject yet again,but perhaps some of the authors mentioned in the Dowd article will get a boost in sales,thanks to this exposure. That would be a sweet slice of literary justice there.

Monday, February 12, 2007

This Valentine's Day,discover that Love Is a Mix Tape

One of the most romantic and heartbreaking books I've ever read is Rob Sheffield's Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss,One Song at a time. Sheffield's a writer for Rolling Stone and has appeared on alot of those MTV/VH1 countdown shows,giving his mocking take on pop music hits. He's almost like a character out of a Nick Hornby novel,a passionate music fanboy who expresses his emotions best thru the making of mix tapes for friends and family.

Rob met up with Renee in the late 1980's and married her in 1991. Renee was his soul mate and polar opposite in many ways but the two of them shared an intense love for music. Renee was outgoing,hip and very much her own person. She was also a writer who did interviews with bands like L7:

The two of them hooked up together thru mutual appreciation of Big Star(Rob's first mix tape to Renee was really just a copy of their albums Sister Lovers and Radio City) and later on,they both fell in love with Pavement:

Unfortunately,like the David Bowie song,Rob and Renee only had five years together. Renee died suddenly,of a pulmonary embolism at the age of thirty-one. Part of the process of grieving for Rob was going over the many mix tapes the two of them made during their relationship. He also spent time going thru the motions of living his life alone,feeling like a faker by still wearing his wedding ring,eavesdropping on couples in public places to catch the rhythms of married people's conversations that he could no longer have with Renee and missed so much.

This may sound like a too sad to read book,but it's not at all. Sheffield doesn't shy away from the pain he went thru and still has alittle of,in his heart. His experiences as a widower are relatable,even to those who haven't experienced that kind of loss and even to those who have in different circumstances. I talked about LIAMT with my mother,who was married for nearly forty years and has been a widow for about four years this coming May. She totally agreed with the title,that love is a mix tape"it doesn't always run on the same groove."

Sheffield also talks about mix tapes and the many reasons folks put one together;to party with,take a road trip,impress a new friend/lover and do chores with. There's plenty of reminisces about the early 1990's,the trends and the impact of bands like Nirvana. The death of Kurt Cobain resonated on that generation strongly and Sheffield's take on "Heart Shaped Box" is interesting. HSB always stuck me as a damn strange song with morbid lyrics but Rob saw it as a young husband talking about his fears of being married and so devoted to one person. Certainly a new way to rethink that tune for me:

Love is a Mix Tape is a great love song to life and having the love of your life,even for a brief moment in time. It's also full of good memories and a touching tribute to a lady I wish that I had had the chance to have met. If you would like to know more about Rob's book,please click the title link above and check out the official LIAMT website. This is not only a wonderful read for Valentine's Day,it's one of the best books of the year. And like any decent mix tape,here's a finale song that hopefully wraps this review up well:

Friday, February 09, 2007

Video shopping for Valentine's Day viewing

Continuting my theme of romance based pop culture delights,we head on over to movies. Romance films get a really bad rap for sentimental storylines, overdone acting and weird premises like falling in love with dead(or nearly dead)people. These movies,however,are my own personal picks and may strike some as a tad weird or sappy but hey,we all have different takes on affairs of the heart-why else do they make boxes of assorted chocolates for?


This movie just came out on DVD and if you have not seen this yet,please do so. You won't regret it. Amy Irving stars as Isabelle,an upscale bookstore clerk hoping to be the love of a snooty writer's life but her grandmother has other ideas. She consults a local matchmaker(played with cackling glee by Sylvia Miles)who arranges a date between Isabel and Sam( Peter Riegart),the neighborhood pickle man.

Isabelle finds the whole notion of matchmaking to be absurd but goes along with it to please her Bubbie,who turns out to have a good eye for a decent man. The movie is a sweet low key but charming film(based on a stage play)that doesn't wrap up the plot in a neat little bow but gives you a good idea of where it's going. A sweetheart of a sleeper film.


Julia Roberts is the current queen of the romantic movie scene and while Pretty Woman gets tons of kudos,I prefer this quirky flick instead. Hugh Grant is one of the few big name actors in the world who can pull off a regular guy type of role believably and his stint here as travel bookstore owner William Thatcher is so endearing. Roberts does a nice job of playing someone like herself not as a send-up or a cartoon but as a real person,just a "girl,standing in front of a boy,asking him to love her."


A movie written by Quentin Tarantino,directed by Tony Scott,with a plot about a comic book store clerk and a hooker on the run with a cache of stolen drugs may not sound like a film to snuggle with your honey on the sofa to watch but,trust me,this is a love story for the ages. Clarence(Christian Slater)and Alabama(Patrica Arquette)are the sweetest couple you'll ever want to meet. They hook up at a Sonny Chiba double feature and instantly connect. Even with all the gunplay and major league showdown action,the love between those two is the real heart of the story.


This vampire comedy from the late 70's is fun for many reasons; Artie Johnson is a brillantly demented Renfield,most of the jokes are still snappy and this is the first vampire romance I've ever seen that doesn't end with the leading man getting staked for his troubles. George Hamilton and Susan St James make for a lovely couple and Richard Benjamin as a modern day Van Helsing rocks as the third wheel.

A word of warning to those who have already seen this movie;for some reason on the DVD,the song"I love the nightlife" that plays in the key dance scene between Hamilton and St. James has been replaced by a generic tune. Why,I don't know-the song can be heard on the original trailer for LAFB,which is a bonus feature. My advice is to mute the sound during that scene and have your IPod or CD player play the song instead.


Gotta represent the old school and there's no better example than Casablanca. Bogart,Bergman,"The Germans wore grey,you wore blue",As Time Goes By,"I'm shocked,shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!",the "hill of beans" speech,....is there really a need for me to go on?

Casablanca is the perfect pic for a Movie Night with your significant other but I would be alittle more flexible on the rules than Lorelai is with Luke: