Pop Culture Princess
Thursday, April 30, 2009
American Idol's Rat Pack week had more of a traditional approach to the material,with Adam Lambert showing off some swagger with style as he performed "Feeling Good." Simon's only criticism was that he was being theatrical again,but hey,this is the Rat Pack we're talking about here. Not for nothing,but those fellas really loved to showboat on stage.
Why Adam was in the Bottom Three is baffling;he and Danny had the best performances of the night. Allison did alright with "Someone to Watch Over Me" but Kris was back to his usual boring self and Matt,ehh! What he did with "My Funny Valentine" was far from funny or sweet.
Well,Matt finally got the boot and it's about time,people! The guy is not untalented but his personality on stage is the perfect remedy for insomnia,that's all I'm saying. Good luck,buddy and take this Sanjaya award with you on the way out:
YOU DON'T MAKE ME SMILE
THE TALENTED MR. DAMON DOES IT BETTER
Heroes completed their recent plot arc,which had Sylar deal a fatal blow to Nathan and have his plan to impersonate the President foiled by Peter(a very sweet scene there),who now has his shape shifting ability.
I'm rather forgiving of the storyline set-ups on this show,but the solution to the Dead Nathan problem(not a problem for me,since he's been a rather self serving son of a bitch since Day One)is not the smartest one,folks. Angela and HRG persuaded Matt to brainwash Sylar into believing that he's Nathan and even burned the body of the shifter who died while still in Sylar mode in front of the remaining heroes to prove it.
The obvious flaw in this secret plan is in thinking that Sylar can be safely suppressed for long. Why not have Peter pretend to be his brother instead? He took that little hat trick from Sylar and knows Nathan the best,not to mention that Peter doesn't have a lot of ties to the outside world at this point(whatever happened to that Irish girl from Season 2?)and his disappearance from public view wouldn't cause too much of a fuss.
I get why the writers did this-it's a way of having their killer cake and eating it,too. They get to kill off a character but not toss him out entirely,plus keep Zachary Quinto on the back burner for awhile to give him some movie making time off.
That's cool but I wish this had been thought out a little bit more,guys. This scenario just doesn't seem too savvy coming from Angela and HRG,not to mention more secret keeping from Claire and Peter(yeah,that's not going to make them mad later on,no!). Some of this may also be a throwback to the possible dark future idea planted in Season One but judging by the hint of things to come next season,this plan is destined to blow up in their faces,big time:
Masterpiece Classic will be wrapping up their Tales of Charles Dickens series with a new film version of The Old Curiosity Shop,starring Derek Jacobi as the Grandfather who forces Little Nell(Sophie Vavassuer)to hit the road with him in order to escape the vile wrath of Daniel Quilip(Toby Jones),one of the most sinister creations in Dickens' rogue gallery.
This salute to Dickens has really given us some great TV time;Little Dorrit was a true treat to follow(thank you,Andrew Davies and company)and it was fun to see Daniel Radcliffe and other Harry Potter alumni again in David Copperfield. The retake on Olivier Twist was nicely done as well and hopefully,Old Curiosity Shop will do the book justice. Another successful showcase for one of the great writers of the world:
BEA ARTHUR TRIBUTE: Another Golden Girl has gone from our midst. As many of you know by now,Bea Arthur passed away on Saturday. Her career was a long and fruitful one,taking her to Broadway,Hollywood and true TV icon status for her ground breaking sitcom Maude as well as her stint as Dorothy,aka "Pussycat" on Golden Girls.
One of my favorite Dorothy episodes was the one called "Journey to the Center of Attention",where Blanche tries to get her out of her dateless slump by bringing her along to the Rusty Anchor,a regular man hunting spot of Blanche's. Dorothy doesn't feel comfortable at first,but her singing ability proves to be more of a lure to the guys at the bar than Blanche's sexy hijinks.
Bea Arthur did get to sing at various times on the show,but her rendition of "What'll I Do" is truly touching and the main cause for me to stop and watch this episode whenever it's on. That tender little moment,in my opinion,is a pitch perfect salute to Arthur's life and times. She was a real one of a kind lady and will be missed by one and all:
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The theme of this week's American Idol,songs from the Rat Pack,got me to thinking about musical styles over the decades and how the way some things change yet certain bits of business never completely go away.
For example,the performances last night(which I'll expand upon more in my TV Thursday post)were mostly trying to keep true to the original way those songs were sung,unlike the disco numbers from the other week that were given all new twists and turns.
Was it respect for the music or simply wanting to showcase their vocals in a more commercial way that lead to those choices? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle,but it does make me wonder which is harder;to sing a standard selection in the expected way or to create an original song with themes based on works of the past?
While the first option is a matter of technical difficulty,the second one is a slippery fish to fry. It requires through knowledge of that musical time period as well as the talent and creativity to make something altogether new from it. Let's check out a few examples and see how well they were done.
Xanadu tackles this challenge pretty well,not only by having Gene Kelly in the cast but using his skills as a song and dance man to full advantage. This charming duet with Olivia Newton-John,"Whenever You're Away From Me" even has a tap dancing section in it that recaptures some of Kelly's former glory days:
Phantom of the Paradise went thru several musical genres in the course of the plot,not only as a passage of time gimmick but to satirize the worn out cliches and the devious marketing ploys used to push this compromised artistry onto the listening public.
The first target on the hit parade was doo-wop groups,the equivalent of boy bands mixed with the showboating style of Sha-Na-Na. The hero of the piece,Winslow Leech, tries to make his creative voice heard over the loud and lyrically crass Juicy Fruits,who ultimately pay a price for having Winslow's work being stolen for them by their evil music master:
The satire in Chicago was more focused on the celebrity culture of crime,but it was helpful to have a character who was already in show business there. Thelma Kelly's cynical style of established success on stage played off Roxie Hart's desperate wannabe attempts to claw her way into the spotlight. The two of them hooking up together was inevitable in the end:
Dreamgirls retold the rise of Motown and the not so thinly disguised story of The Supremes. While Beyonce fancied herself the star of the show,it was Jennifer Hudson who ultimately came out on top. Even in the battle for excellence with new songs written solely for the movie,Hudson reigned supreme:
Some may feel that it's more like cannibalizing the past rather than making the best of the old and new come together in harmony. In my opinion, the only way to really judge such a thing is in the execution. Many try to pull it off,but only a few really get to reach the heights of greatness with their megamix:
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The latest flick to catch up on for me this past weekend,courtesy of Netflix,was The Spirit. Based on the classic Will Eisner comic book and directed by graphic novel auteur Frank Miller,the hero of the piece is Denny Colt(Gabriel Macht),a policeman brought back from the dead who now uses his strangely acquired powers of fast healing and resilience to fight crime.
The Spirit's major target is The Octopus(Samuel L. Jackson),who when he's not checking the profits on his massive drug cartel or creating cloned henchmen,is plotting to become immortal by stealing an ancient artifact and using it's contents to make himself a god. Aided by Silken Floss(Scarlett Johansson),The Octopus is determined to destroy The Spirit and vice versa.
As exciting and promising as this match up is,the end results are rather a mixed bag. For one thing, Macht is rather bland as a leading man and while a decent actor,he doesn't have the personal charisma to hold his own against a powerhouse like Jackson(who camps things up at the drop of a hat here).
While I get the need to have a non celeb in the role,a stronger cast choice might have made all the difference. The ultimate let down of the film can't be totally placed on Macht's shoulders;the sinker is the mix and the match of the story telling style.
Based on the early trailers for the film,you might reasonably be inclined to expect a visually enhancing,gritty noir romp that Miller is best known for.
While the look of the film is outstanding,the tone is a blend of the occasionally corny humor from the original comics and slightly modernized but heavily period piece influenced plotting of Miller. The uneven tones don't quite gel together,making certain scenes meant to be darkly humorous off putting and characterizations becoming flatter than cardboard.
The strongest part of the film is the flashback to the childhood romance of The Spirit and Sand Saref(the grown up version well played by Eva Mendes)and if the movie had been able to maintain some of the sincere tone,things could have turned out better.
While I don't regret seeing this movie,it's doubtful that I would be willing to watch it again. The Spirit makes for a good rental but don't give up hope for Frank Miller as a director just yet,folks. As the Octopus would say,you need to break some eggs and a few heads before you make an omelet that won't get a glob on your face(I know that sounds weird,but it makes sense if you see the movie,sort of).
Anyway,here are the Top Ten things that you can learn from The Spirit:
10) Sometimes it's best to just shut up and bleed.
9) Two out of three goons agree that Silken Floss is the most beautiful woman ever.
8)Idiotic henchmen are not worth talking to for very long.
7) You can tell if diamonds are real or not by the way they catch the light.
6) There's strange women and then there's Plaister of Paris.
5) An Elektra complex is like an Oedipal complex,only for girls.
4) The Angel of Death won't be denied forever.
3) Bad guys may have guns and knives,but that's no match for having the city as your weapon of choice:
2) Working for an archvillian is a great way to pay for your Ph.D:
1) The love of your life may wear that token of affection you gave her long ago every now and then,but that doesn't mean she's your girl:
Monday, April 27, 2009
Summer reading season is fast approaching and judging by the hot weather hitting us,way sooner than expected. Nonetheless,there is plenty of time to start stockpiling some good reads to help you keep your mental cool. So,without further delay,here's a look at the May flowers and June blooms for you to pick up:
A DOUBLE SHOT OF CAREY
Jacqueline Carey,best known for her Kushiel titles,is releasing two new books this season,one of which is the launching pad for an all new series set in modern day. Santa Olivia is a secluded border town,where orphan girl Loup Garron is determined to avenge the death of her mother and seek justice for the locals oppressed by the nearby military forces by forming a vigilante group.
Loup not only uses the identity of the town's namesake saint,she also has werewolf like abilities from her father,a genetically enhanced soldier now on the lam. This hybrid of super hero and werewolf mythology sounds like a winning combination to me(May,paperback).
Naamah's Kiss is set within the Kushiel world that most Carey fans are familiar with, only this time,there's a new leading lady driving the narrative.
Moirin comes from a long line of mystics whose great powers have dwindled over the years,due to a vow being broken by an ancestor. Even with the small amount of otherworldly abilities passed down to her,Moirin has always sensed that she was meant to do and see more.
After her coming of age ceremony,Moirin is called upon by the gods to go forth upon a quest and use her skills to help fulfill an unknown destiny in lands far from her home. Should be another excellent adventure in Terre d'Ange,indeed.(June,hardcover)
This sounds like a journey I'm willing to take and joining me will be the receiver of my Birthday giveaway extra copy of Naamah's Kiss is SONGBIRDZ! Congrats,and please send me your mailing address at email@example.com and I will ship the book out to you ASAP.
Whether you're a new or a long time Jacqueline Carey fan, these back to back releases are bound to make you as giddy as a schoolgirl:
ARMCHAIR TRAVELING AT IT'S BEST
Several years ago,author Carlos Ruiz Zafon dazzled readers worldwide with Shadow of the Wind,a novel about the mystery and intrigue surrounding a set of pulp fiction works being hunted down and destroyed,with only one copy left in the hands of a bookseller's son,who rescued it from Barcelona's Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
In The Angel's Game,Zafon returns to that world,only earlier in time. Set in the 1920s,a young writer is commissioned to create a novel by a reclusive French editor with the intent of shaking up the ways of the world. He is promised a large fortune as payment but gets more than he,or anyone else around him,bargained for.(June):
A BEVY OF BLOODSUCKING BEAUTIES
A couple of new entries in two popular paranormal series are cropping up just time for beach reading. In Undead and Unwelcome,Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor has plenty of social dilemmas to deal. If taking the body of her werewolf gal pal to Cape Cod wasn't hard enough without worrying about the reception she'll get from the Wyndham Werewolves,things back home are getting too hot to handle.
Seems as if Betsy's half sister is truly coming into her own and becoming the literal hellraiser she's destined to be. Maryjanice Davidson is on Book 8 of this series and the hits just keep on coming.(June)
Speaking of hot stuff,Charlaine Harris has a new volume to add to her Sookie Stackhouse books and more fuel to the fire set off by the successful HBO series,True Blood.
This time,Dead and Gone deals with the coming out of the supernatural closet of shapeshifters and were beings. Things seem to go well at first,but as it was with the outing of the vampire nation, deadly complications ensue.
Dead and Gone is due to arrive in May and with the new season of True Blood on the way,both readers and viewers are in for quite a bit of excitement:
HE SAID,SHE SAID ABOUT THE PAST
Eula,Idaho,in the year 1986, appears to be just another sleepy small town with not much to talk about,but the joint is jumping,especially for a pair of boys decide to use an odd occurrence in Cameroon as the basis for their science project. They are curious to see if the bizarre overnight wipe out of all living things around Lake Nyos is something that might happen to their hometown.
Lake Overturn is a debut novel by Vestal McIntire that delves into the lives of several characters whose lives interconnect one way or another via this scientific inquiry and whose personal history may or may not be doomed to be repeated. Think of it as a more grounded version of Peyton Place,if you will(late April,early May).
Kate Walbert goes on a generational journey with A Short History of Women,which begins in England of 1914 with the death of Dorothy Townsend,a suffragette who died for her cause and reaches all the way to modern day America,as her great grand daughter deals with the stresses of a post 9/11 Manhattan.
This look at the development of women's place in the world as well as the emotional growth and/or slump each of the characters goes thru over time is certain to be a great book club pick that will generate some stimulating discussions come September. Even if your group meets before then,this is sure fire brain food that will keep your literary appetite alive during the lazy,crazy days of summer.(June)
There's still a number of great books coming out this summer but hopefully this preview will give you some ideas of what to take on your vacation(or just read while relaxing at home). When back to school time starts,it would be better to have some fictional drama to share with the class rather than the reality show kind:
Friday, April 24, 2009
Tomorrow is my birthday,folks,and I intend to have a nice quiet family celebration to mark the occasion. However,I would hate to leave any of my blogger buddies out of the fun,so here is a list of must have items to make up a great birthday bash,with several pop culture clips to illustrate my points and hopefully provide you all with some amusement and a special surprise(more on than to come):
INVITATIONS: It's hard to have a good party if no one knows about it. Whatever style you choose for the invites,party planners should give a heads-up to the birthday girl about the guest list,just in case someone she's not particularly fond of is included:
CAKE: A birthday cake is the most essential element here,and selecting one that suits the guest of honor is key. If you have the time and the budget,the crew at Ace of Cakes would be a great choice to make the ultimate b-day cake;they can create damn near anything,from a Exorcist inspired sinister sweet treat to this amazing Hogwarts replica made for the premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
It was not only good enough to eat,but would easily be a perfect prop for the next film in case of emergency:
ENTERTAINMENT: This is usually set up for children's parties,but I suppose a grown-up might like to indulge their inner child on their special day. Hiring a clown could be very amusing,unless you wind up with the clown prince of crime:
Puppet shows are always a kick,regardless of age. They're also good for distracting evil villains while you sneak off with the object of power that they need to take over the world. Risky for the puppeteer,but well worth the price of admission:
MUSIC: Tunes that get the party started right are tricky to select;you have to consider the taste of the crowd,along with the birthday guy or gal,and find something to get everyone on their feet willingly. Keep in mind that something with a good beat is usually a safe bet:
BEING THE LIFE OF THE PARTY
BIRTHDAY CARD: Despite what Hallmark tells you,the card that you give can be more creative than the traditional fancy bit of cardboard. Your card can be made of anything on hand,even Mallomars. Of course if you do go down the edible route,it is perfectly reasonable to replace a cookie eaten from the greeting with one from your cupboard:
BIRTHDAY GIFT: Gift giving can be hard but sometimes it's better to give than receive. Speaking of giving,the good folks at Grand Central sent me an extra review copy of Jacqueline Carey's upcoming June title called Naamah's Kiss and since this is my birthday,I would like to give it to one of you.
Just wish me a happy birthday in the Comments section over this weekend and I will randomly select someone(within the U.S.-sorry to any international Carey fans out there,but until bloggers get some of that bail out money,my shipping costs have to stay local)as the lucky recipient and make the announcement of who that is on Monday.
Naamah's Kiss is set within Carey's Kushiel series world,but is a completely new story line with a different set of characters so this book would also be a good intro for anyone who hasn't read her work before. So,as ABBA would say,you can take a chance on it.
Hope you all have a good weekend and thank you in advance for your well wishes on my birthday. If you are shopping for a present for a loved one,try not to get too overwrought about it. Rants are fun but they take the joy out of gift giving:
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The Disco Night theme on American Idol this week wasn't as bad as it could've been,but it wasn't the best that the contenders had to offer. Once again,Adam was the standout of the show,with his torch song version of "If I Can't Have You",while others such as Danny and Alison floundered about on stage.
Not shocked to see Allison in the Bottom Three this time;she did try to be original with her slowed down version of "Hot Stuff" but it was lukewarm at best. Also not a shocker to see Lil go home(they did dismiss her rather quickly there)and even not Anoop. I like Anoop but he needs to wean himself off of ballads for awhile.
So,now we have a Top Five and the theme next week is Songs from the Rat Pack. I'm sure that Matt is happy about that,since he seems to think that wearing a hat gives him a singing style. For his lackluster take on "Staying Alive",Matt gets another Sanjaya award to put on his mantle:
YOU CAN TELL BY THE WAY HE SINGS THAT MATT CAN'T WALK THE WALK
LONG LIVE THE LEGACY OF THE BROTHERS GIBB
Heroes was not subtle this week on who would be the central focus of the episode;Sylar's new shapeshifting ability took quite a toll on his psyche and even had him doing a Norman Bates routine with his deceased stepmother(kudos to Ellen Greene there).
I was worried about Micah's attempts to convince Sylar to become an ally(plus,it looks like the kid gave him a wonderfully awful idea there,unintentionally)but fortunately he got out alive. Not so for the other folks in Gabriel Gray's path to whatever twisted glory he's seeking:
Next week is supposed to be the season finale and it looks like Sylar will be a major player in the events yet to come-sounds great to me!:
Tensions ran high on last Sunday's leg of The Amazing Race,as Margie and Luke got into physical confrontations at the clue boxes with Keisha and Jen that lead to a very ugly verbal throwdown at the check in mat.
In my opinion,both teams behaved poorly and needed a serious time out. While I don't think that Keisha and Jen were laughing at Luke's sign language(it was just nervous,inappropriate laughing that many people do during arguments),they should ease up on the aggressive approach to every challenge. You don't need to use a boulder to crush an ant hill,ladies.
Also,Margie was just being instigating by letting her son know about the "bitch" comment right away(she should have waited until later to deal with that)and being way too defensive and overprotective of him. Yes,Luke is deaf but that is not an excuse for him to act up and lose control. Funny how Victor and Tammy started off as the dysfunctional duo and now,they're the good kids on the block!:
LEGEND OF THE SEEKER: Five more new episodes of this funtastic sword and sorcery series are coming our way,starting this weekend. My birthday is this Saturday and one of the gifts I'm looking forward to is watching this new one called "Mirror",which seems to hold quite a few surprises indeed:
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Canela Guerruero is discontented with her life for many reasons;her work as a journalist has been constantly undermined over and over again due to not following the political flavor of the month and her family is less than thrilled about Canela's breaking her engagement to a very eligible doctor(especially her controlling mother and gossipy aunts).
Plus. the recent death of her favorite cousin and best friend Luna just puts the dark cherry on top of Canela's despair cake.
With a need to get away from it all,Canela takes a trip to Paris(her intended honeymoon spot)and decides to stay for awhile. In need of finding new purpose and an extended visa,she enrolls in one of the city's most respected cooking schools,Le Coq Rouge. Cooking has never been a passion for Canela,due to growing up in a household where the best food was to be prepared and served up with style only to the men.
Yet,she starts to find some real joy in the culinary arts and gets to indulge in more than one spiritual and sensual awakening during her time in the City of Lights. All of Canela's problems are not magically solved,but she starts to see more than one side to the situations in her life and more confidence in seeking out solutions to them.
Josefina Lopez is best known as the screenwriter of Real Women Have Curves(which debuted the pre-Ugly Betty talents of America Ferrara)and her writing skills here are as sharply focused here as they were for the film.
While Hungry Woman in Paris does have some sweet sections about Canela's cooking school experiences,it also offers a few bitter tastes of reality via encounters with prejudice and sexism both in the US and France.
However,the mix of emotions help to bring the narrative to a savory simmer,which leads both the reader and Canela to truly understand how turning something that was always a chore into a vibrant expression of love towards the people in your life:
In Alberto Ferreras' debut novel,B as in Beauty,his leading lady B(short for Beauty) is also troubled about many obstacles in her path to happiness,most of which she blames on her weight.
B's worst fears are confirmed as one day at work,she happens to overhear Bonnie,her boss from hell,tell a confidante that despite all of the extra time and effort that she's put into her job,B will never be given a shot at a promotion. That,along with striking out in the love department,B is on the brink of just throwing in the towel on life.
The opportunity to get a new outlook on things comes unexpectedly,during a late tax filing. B is offered an unusual sideline job by her tax preparer,a mysterious Russian woman who insists that she doesn't run a prostitution ring,rather a "comfort provider" service that caters to men who like big women to fulfill their offbeat fantasies.
B tries it out,as a lark and while the men she meets do have some weird requests,she is not asked to sleep with them at all. In fact,some of the encounters start to give her a growing sense of confidence,which not only helps her out with the office politics at work but gives B the courage to take a real shot at love.
Ferreras takes a much lighter tone than Lopez with this material but his tone is just as compelling and down to earth as her book is. The humor and the chick lit style of storytelling makes the plot hum along with ease. One of Ferreras' former jobs was as a creative consultant for HBO and you can see how these characters would be well suited to a smart,sassy TV series.
B as in Beauty is a delectable delight and it's a true joy to watch as B grows to appreciate her full name and discover her own personal la dolce vita as well:
While both of these books share a lot in common,being first time novels that focus on the social struggles of Latina women,the strongest connection between the two is a universal one. The pair of them deal with the perception of heavy set women by not only the media and thin folks,but by women themselves. It's a positive plus for both of these titles that the message of accepting yourself before anyone else can do so is encouraged and that real women should embrace their curves:
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The theme for American Idol's Top Seven this week is disco,which makes me as a child of the 1970s as giddy as a chocoholic let loose in Willy Wonka's factory. Yes,some of those songs were silly(what musical generation doesn't have it's equivalent of "Disco Duck",honestly?)and/or prone to cheesiness,but that's the joy of disco.
Disco delights in excess and celebrates the gaudy,shiny side of life. While it would be a tad much to have sparkly goodness on a daily basis,indulging in such musical mirth once in a while does no harm. In fact,with all of the current stress and worry over the state of things,perhaps a little bit of this non cloying merriment would be welcomed by some with open arms.
With that in mind,I pulled together a few of my favorite tunes from that time where polyester ruled the clothes racks. To start us right,take a listen to Amii Stewart's "Knock On Wood". I like this song for two reasons:1) the chorus refrain is a truly infectious ear worm in the best sense of the word and 2)Amii's outfit is awesome. She looks like she just stepped out of a Flash Gordon episode:
Since it is Disco Night,one of the contestants will no doubt attempt to do a decent version of a Donna Summer song. Guys,take my advice on this;it can't be done. No matter how well you do it,you will always be seen as falling short.
If you decide to go for it anyway,give yourself a fighting chance by not picking one of her big signature numbers and go for something like "The Wanderer." I love this song for it's slow yet steady hum of the lyrics with the synthesizer music and the sultry take she gives to it.
The judges may give you grief for selecting a lesser known song,but if you can make it work for you,the hell with them(especially Eve Harrington,aka Kara)!:
Now,no look at disco would be complete without a mention of Saturday Night Fever or the Bee Gees. Saturday Night Fever was so popular that the studio wound up putting out a PG rated version in theaters, right along side the original R rated one,in order to accommodate the younger fan base clamoring to see it hassle free. Some of that was due to Travolta but a good chunk of it can be credited to the Brothers Gibb as well:
I also consulted my younger sister for a couple of her picks;while her taste in disco is more international and far flung than mine(not to mention that she's a gal born in the early eighties),Steph does have great appreciation for the old school. Her first choice was "Ring My Bell" by Anita Ward,which shares a similar hard to resist catch line with "Knock on Wood":
Her other pick was a song by Cheryl Lynn,best known for "Got to be Real",called Star Love. It's a tune that I wasn't familiar with at all and after listening,I wish that I had known about sooner. Why this lady didn't have a bigger music career is totally beyond me:
If I had to choose just one disco song as my all time favorite,it would have to be "I Love the Nightlife" by Alicia Bridges. Not just because it's great,that song also has the distinct honor of being an integral part of why vampires fascinate me so.
Along with Frank Lagella in Dracula,1979's Love at First Bite imprinted on me a taste for romantic vampire lore. LAFB was the first vampire flick that I ever saw which didn't make the bloodsucker the automatic bad guy in the love triangle(in fact,he was certainly preferable to the obsessive shrink that flaky fashion model Cindy was sort of seeing in a non professional manner).
A major moment in the movie and the love story is when Vlad takes Cindy out on the dance floor and trust me when I say that the scene is more effective with ILTNL as the background music(the song is not on the DVD edition,for some strange reason):
Please feel free to share with me any of your personal disco favorites and let us all hope that we will get a good performance from one of American Idol contenders tonight whose name isn't Adam. I adore Adam and look forward to hearing what ever he plans to sing,but it would be nice for someone else to be able to make a strong splash forward here(especially those lagging behind lately,like Anoop and Lil)so that the audience will be transported to a true boogie wonderland:
Monday, April 20, 2009
While your movie going budget may be slim this season,there is always the two for one bargain of "read the book/see the movie" that can sway your decision over what to do for fun this summer that's available at a reasonable rate.
A couple of the big magillas heading for the multiplex are already known as big bestsellers at the bookstore near you. First up is Angels and Demons,the follow-up film to The DaVinci Code which is really a prequel(think of it as Dan Brown's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)and has Tom Hanks back as Robert Langdon,with Ron Howard still sitting in the director's chair.
While I haven't read either one of the Dan Brown books,I did catch DVC on DVD and really enjoyed it. The critics may have had issues with it,but audiences didn't and the same rules will no doubt apply here:
The other heavy hitter is,of course,the sixth Harry Potter film which was pulled out of the fall film circulation due to worries over Twilight raking in some of their target audience. A little peeving,but then again,good things come to those who wait,as they say.
A lot of high expectations are attached to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,especially for a certain plot point that not even an Unforgivable Curse would induce me to reveal here. Based on the promos,it looks like both readers and film followers alike will not be disappointed at all. Rather,they'll be clamoring for Part Seven as soon as possible,like yesterday:
There are other literary screen adaptations on the way that so far been given less fanfare but will draw folks into the theaters,nonetheless. One of them is My Sister's Keeper,based on Jodi Picoult's novel,which stars Cameron Diaz as a mother of a cancer stricken child who chose to have another daughter via artificial means in order to have a well suited organ donor on hand.
Little sister(Abigail Breslin)is tired of being used as spare parts,so she hires a lawyer(Alec Baldwin)to sue for the right to make her own health decisions. This may be the first time that a Picoult novel has been adapted for other than the small screen and with any luck,it may not be the last:
The teen comedy I Love You,Beth Cooper is based on Larry Doyle's acclaimed YA novel about a graduating high school senior who boldly declares his love for the most popular cheerleader in his class during his valedictorian speech. Beth then shows up at his house party that night,seemingly willing to get to know him better.
This is starting to become a trend in Hollywood,taking well written teen novels such as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and giving them the big studio treatment. Hopefully,this will be one genre train that stays on track:
One summer movie that I am really looking forward to is Julie & Julia,based on Julie Powell's memoir about her year of trying to make every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking and her online chronicling of that massive culinary experience.
Amy Adams plays Julie and Meryl Streep plays Julia Child . I just saw both actresses in Doubt over the weekend and it's too bad they won't actually be doing a scene together here(the two women never met in real life,but there are sections of biography about Child blended into the book) .
This film means quite a bit to me,since the book inspired me to start my own blog and gave me more of an interest in the art of cooking as well. There isn't a trailer for the movie just yet,but check out this excerpt from the book and you'll get a sense of the savory sweetness of the story:
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a beautiful written novel about a couple's struggle to keep connected that is made particularly difficult by the husband's genetic ability to spontaneously go back and forth thru time. Talk about the film version has been going on for awhile but now folks may finally get to see Henry and Clare on the silver screen.
Due in August,Eric Bana plays Henry and Rachel McAdams is Clare who may not be every reader's ideal casting(Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were set to do this at one point)but perhaps they can pull it off. Again,no trailer but we may have found a good choice for the movie's theme song from these fellas:
Summer movie watching and summer reading are great times for entertainment and when both can be mixed together,the ultimate levels of fabulousness are within reach. However,please amuse yourself responsibly. If a book or movie title warns you about scary creatures popping up in unexpected places,you need to heed the warning,folks!:
Friday, April 17, 2009
With the dog days of summer coming sooner than we think(especially the blockbuster movie season which starts on May 1 with the Wolverine film),there's no time like the present to start planning your beach reading,even if the beach in question is just a DVD of your favorite fun in the sun flick.
As some of you may know,I am a sucker for sagas,those huge hunks of literary goodness that are like catnip to the avid novel reader. Currently,I am awaiting the arrival of two paperback books(which I did not buy from a certain vendor,due to their "ham fisted" error which still needs to be cleared up and properly explained there),each of whom fulfills my need for a Sexy or a Steadfast read.
First on deck and bringing the Sexy back is Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon. This is actually the twelfth book in Kenyon's Dark Hunter series and normally I am a very completionist person in regards to long running series,the type who feels she must begin at the beginning. However,rigidity can be hampering as well as helpful,so I'm willing to dive on into this epic look at the background of one of the most popular characters that Kenyon has created.
The set-up for this series is a blend of paranormal and fantasy elements;Dark Hunters are former mortals who are given a chance to avenge their betrayals by the goddess Artemis and must repay her by eternal service in ridding the world of Daimons(supernatural bad guys under a curse by Apollo). Acheron is their leader,but unlike the others,he was never fully human to start with:
Since I've been getting more into fantasy books lately and still crave some paranormal sweetness, the Dark Hunter books are right up my alley. I have been reading one of the earlier titles,Seize the Night(which was being handed out at the NYC Comic Con at Sherrilyn Kenyon's booth-she even signed it for me),and her style is easy to get into,plus she certainly knows how to create strong and sassy female characters.
The Dark Hunter books are just one of the many series that Sherrilyn Kenyon puts out-included in her pantheon of imagination is an Arthurian themed set of novels,sci-fi,shapeshifters and historical fiction written under the name Kinley MacGregor. She certainly seems like one of the hardest working authors in the business,that alone makes her work worth checking out:
For my Steadfast fix, Anna Lee Waldo's 1978 historical novel Sacajawea amply covers the waterfront. Waldo spent ten years doing research and writing the novel,which covers the life and times of the legendary lady who guided Lewis and Clark,and it's a rather lengthy read to boot,clocking in at 1,424 pages.
Based on the feedback given by folks at such literary websites as Good Reads and Shelfari,this book gives a very through and engaging look at Sacajawea,providing the reader with a reasonably accurate dose of history and insight into Native American culture of the time period.
It may take longer than the few months of summer to finish this one,but the entertaining education aspect of the book is worth the effort. Goodness knows,there's been far too many less than factual takes on this subject from Hollywood alone to warrant a better painted portrait of such a major player in our history:
These two books aren't going to be the only ones on my TBR list,particularly with two new Jacqueline Carey novels coming out back to back in the next couple of months(more details will be forthcoming in my May/June book preview post)but they will be headliners on my personal hit parade this season.
Even with the big summer movies on the way,I suspect that more and more folks will turn to books for an inexpensive yet richly satisfying source of escapist entertainment.
Just don't be ashamed of what you choose to read for fun and feel that you have to hide your page turning pleasures behind closed doors. Better yet,if someone tries to get your goat by goofing on your book,get theirs first or last. Turnabout is fair play,after all:
Thursday, April 16, 2009
American Idol's Songs from the Movies wasn't the cinematic songfest that I was hoping for(with the exception of Adam,of course)-most of the tunes chosen were ballads back to back. Talk about your lack of balance,people,geez!
Adam rocked the joint with "Born to be Wild" and was the only one to keep things moving,in my opinion. While Kris Allen's rendition of "Falling Slowly" almost made me fall asleep,Judge Kara woke me up with her comment about it being an "obscure song."
As Kyle's mom would say "WHAT,what,what!" Hello,that song won the Oscar last year! Need to be up on your game there,honey. They finally used the much talked about Judges' Save last night,which means that two people will be leaving next week. Why they had to waste it on Matt is beyond me-he's incredibly boring and the show will not be enhanced by his presence on Disco Night(which suits Adam perfectly-Adam and disco go together like milk and cookies).
Well,Matt may have been saved by the judges for another round,but he's not safe from the Sanjaya award here at LRG:
HAVE YOU EVER REALLY,REALLY EVER NOT BORED AN AUDIENCE?
TELL HIM THAT THEY REALLY LOVE HIS SONGS ON AI
Heroes went into flashback mode this week,as Angela tried to reconnect with her long lost sister Alice(nice bit of casting with Diana Scarwid there)who was thought to have died with the rest of the empowered internees at Coyote Sands back in 1961.
I suspect that this story line was part of the intended plot for Heroes:Origins,the prequel set of shows that were nipped in the bud. Glad to see some of the character background stuff resurface somewhere,not to mention getting a gander at how the future founders of The Company met up for the first time:
While I haven't watched My Life on the D List,I do enjoy checking out Kathy Griffin's stand up specials on Bravo. Last night,her newest one,charmingly called "She'll Cut a Bitch" ,came on before the A List awards and it was good enough to make me miss most of the Idol results show.
Bravo will be replaying it plenty over the weekend,so be sure to see it for yourself. Kathy rips on celebrities like no one else can and still worships at the altar of fame unashamedly. That's what makes Kathy the killer queen of comedy that she is:
HELL'S KITCHEN: The set of chefs on deck is getting smaller and smaller,but the level of cooking is still on the slippery slope there. I hope that the next person to get chopped is Andrea,since her so called leadership skills haven't amounted to much more than fighting with her fellow contestants and acting like she's the big boss. How do you expect to run a big time restaurant in Atlantic City when you can't even keep track of the incoming orders in a way more scaled down version here?:
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