Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, August 31, 2012

Bad Movie Month takes a tour of Sex and The City 2

Before we begin our final look at the last film in our TV Remake Madness line-up for Bad Movie Month this year,I must make a confession; I was never a fan of the HBO series Sex and the City and actually disliked it wholeheartedly.

I watched a couple of episodes(also never read any of Candice Bushnell's work,on which the show was based)and frankly was less than impressed by it. I do enjoy chick lit or what I prefer to call female friendly material in both books and film plus even the "shoes and shopping" sub genre can have it's charms for me. However,SATC just wasn't my cup of fancy dress tea.

Despite that predisposition,I was willing to give Sex and the City 2 a chance and no,I didn't see the first movie. Granted,my expectations were rather low and my dread levels were high due to this sequel being two and a half hours long. Yet, I figured that if I could handle sitting through the likes of Battlefield Earth,this should be a piece of cake. Sadly,I underestimated the full on foot dragging pace of this epic ode to shallowness:

The story line of SATC2 takes place two years after the first film,where three out of the four gal pals-Carrie(Sarah Jessica Parker),Miranda(Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte(Kristin Davis)-are somewhat happily married while good time Samantha(Kim Cattrall) is doing what she can to keep up appearances in the youth and sex drive department.

They all meet up to attend a gay wedding for two of their friends in which Liza Minnelli is the one who marries the couple,mainly so that she can perform a cover version of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" at the reception.

Now, this could have been a fun spin on the even then overplayed hit song but instead,what we got was eerily similar to watching Pat Boone doing an Elvis number on the Lawrence Welk show:

After the wedding,the married members of this giddy group reflect upon their life troubles(Charlotte has trouble dealing with her kids despite a live-in nanny and Miranda wants to change jobs)but the one who feels most in distress is Carrie.

Her big problem? Dream husband Mr. Big(Chris Noth)would rather stay home with her at night instead of going out to fancy restaurants and attending movie premieres,oh the horror!

Mr. Big seems like quite a pushover as he flips over backwards more than an Olympic athlete during finals to please his moody wife. The guy is happy to either cook dinner or pick up takeout,gives Carrie a TV for their bedroom as an anniversary gift so that they can spend more time together in bed(hello!)and is fine with Carrie taking off for a couple of days a week to spend at her old apartment on a regular basis.

Does this make her at all happy? Nope!At one point she asks him "Is this because I'm a bitch wife who nags you?" and my loud answer was "YES!"

She complains about him not having "sparkle" for her after two years which in Carrie speak must mean "treating every moment we're together as if we're still dating." I kept waiting for Mr. Big to tell her to grow the hell up but he never did.

I was feeling so sorry for this guy that at a later time in the movie(which feels as if it won't end until Armageddon),Carrie calls long distance to let her hubby know that she's just kissed an old rival of his and I was yelling at the screen "Leave her!" Alas,no,he winds up buying her a black diamond ring which,yes,Carrie,is as dark as your narcissistic soul.

She's also a bitch to her friends,too. During the trip to Abu Dhabi that the gals take together,Charlotte advises Carrie not to have dinner with the former ex-lover that she winds up kissing and telling about to her husband afterward. Carrie reacts like a snotty teenager and slams her friend,with a crappy apology later on but still she is way too old to be playing high school games with anyone there:

The trip to Abu Dhabi(which was actually filmed in Morocco)is arranged by Samantha,who is being courted professionally by a luxury hotel chain that wants her PR firm to promote them to Americans.

It's pretty hard to believe that Samantha has the skill set to run a business of any sort ,except for maybe a brothel, since she spends most of her time chugging down a slew of natural and otherwise dubious hormone pills to "trick' her body into staying youthful enough to maintain her cougar lifestyle.

Mind you,I have nothing against older women enjoying their sexuality but Samantha's mission in life seems to be all about her love life and not much else.

A good number of the cringe worthy scenes in this movie belong to her as the one where Samantha is sitting in her glass walled office(that also has large windows with an unobstructed view of Times Square) with her panties around her ankles to apply estrogen cream on a certain area. She even conducts a phone conversation that ends with "I have to pull up my pants now!"

I swear that I would rather watch a three day marathon of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo than see any of Samantha's moments of passion on screen again,which are damn loud and disturbing on many levels.

During the Abu Dhabi trip,she frets about losing her vitality when her meds are confiscated at the airport and hopes to find a "Lawrence of my labia" to revive her lust. She has no trouble getting the right man but does wind up offending the locals with her less than subtle ways of courtship despite being repeatedly told to do so by Miranda,who seems to have not much else to do in this film:

Miranda and Charlotte don't have much to do other than worry about their easily solved problems but they do belt down a few drinks to share their doubts about motherhood and wonder how people "without help",meaning nannies and sitters,manage at all. Gee,it must be hard to deal with children who don't respect your vintage clothes that you wear to bake cupcakes in!

This entitlement essence swarms over the whole film as the ladies are mainly impressed by the glamorous surroundings of their hotel in Abu Dhabi,with each of them given a car and man servant to attend them even at three in the morning to heat up milk if they can't sleep.

Lip service is paid to how women are regarded in the Middle East but it's mostly seen as an inconvenience(especially to the ever horny Samantha).I know this is supposed to be a comedy but it's hard to laugh when Carrie and her crew are watching a woman in a burqa eat french fries like it's a spectator sport or marvel at being able to buy fancy shoes at a marketplace for only twenty dollars.

Also,the fact that the four of them sing a karaoke version of "I Am Woman" in a nightclub with belly dancers all over the place and not strike one note of irony while doing so is a crime against humor,in my opinion.

SATC2 was proclaimed one of the worst films of 2010 and earned several Razzie nominations,with three wins in the Worst Actress(all of them shared that nom),Worst Screen Ensemble and Worst Prequel,Remake,Rip-off or Sequel categories. Never was such a honor more well earned there,folks!

Sorry for being so lengthy with this write-up but the deep hurting that this movie induces is not easy to sum up quickly. Thank you for checking Bad Movie Month 2012 and hopefully I will have recovered enough from this decadent debacle to do this again next year(pretty sure I will):

Thursday, August 30, 2012

True Blood's Pam and Tara reunion and miniseries to look out for this TV season

The season finale of True Blood was beyond amazing,with plenty of plot lines being tidied up for now and a host of others set up for next time around. To start with,Tara joined Eric's crew of rescuers to free both Pam and Jessica from the clutches of the Authority.

That merry band consisted of Eric,Nora,a rescued Sookie(more on that in a moment)and Jason,who is now seeing and hearing what appear to be the ghosts of his parents encouraging him to embrace vampire vigilantism. That's going to become more of an issue with Jason next season,I'm sure,but for the time being,his gun-ho attitude was very useful in breaching the Authority stronghold.

As soon as Tara was able to release Pam from her silver lined cell,the two of them shared a somewhat unexpected show of emotion(with Jessica being able to brag how she knew it all along)and that was a lovely surprise,indeed:

Meanwhile,so many other things were going down as Alcide took over the wolf pack with the help of his disgraced father and some V plus Andy witnessed the birth of a quartet of fairy baby girls with instructions from fairy baby momma Maurella to make sure at least half of them reach adulthood(how very maternal of her!).

Also, Sam and Luna's rescue of Emma wound up taking a very startling turn that could raise the stakes for an approaching vampire/human war.

Speaking of rescuing,Eric has been a busy boy as he arrived in time to save Sookie and her fairy friendsfrom being devoured by Russell and then setting forth to not only break out Pam but convince Bill to come to his senses.

Unfortunately,Bill had already gone over the deep edge of the abyss by tricking Salome into drinking silver laced blood and preparing to ingest the true essence of Lilith himself. No matter what Eric or Sookie said,he was determined to see this ultimate death wish out to the bitter end.

I have to say that Bill's transformation was excellent and I'm not just talking about his death and resurrection as a new incarnation of the blood goddess. For such a lost soul to find purpose in such a dark place was truly stirring and right up there in my book with Buffy's season six Dark Willow arc. Bill gave one of the best villain speeches ever and my hopes for next season are definitely next level here:

With the remainder of the week on TV being devoted to reruns and political coverage,I thought it would be best to highlight a few of the upcoming miniseries that will be making the rounds soon.

This Labor Day weekend,A&E is showing a two part remake of Coma,based on the 1977 Robin Cook medical thriller which was turned into a 1978 feature film. Lauren Ambrose stars as a med student who uncovers a gruesome conspiracy to obtain organ donations in an easier fashion than ever before.

Ellen Burstyn,James Woods and Geena Davis are also on board,so if you're looking for a scarier version of the healthcare debate,this should keep you at night:

Arriving in October on the Reelz channel is the adaptation of Ken Follett's World Without End, the follow-up to his epic historical novel Pillars of the Earth(which was also turned into a made for cable miniseries).

Much like POTE,the cast of WWOE includes rather well known actors like Cynthia Nixon,Miranda Richardson and Ben Chaplin along side newcomers such as Tom Weston-Jones and Charlotte Riley.

The story takes place during the start of the Hundred Years War and once again involves the town of Kingsbridge into political dealings far beyond it's borders. Add in some forbidden romance,a dangerous secret or two and the Black Plague and you have quite a bit of must-see melodrama on hand:

Some viewers,however,will be more than content to wait upon the third season of Downton Abbey,set to air in January of 2013. One of the newer members of the cast is Shirley MacLaine as Lady Cora's mother Martha,who will attempt to engage our dear Dowager Countess in a battle of wits yet I have no doubt of Violet getting that last good quip in:


HELL'S KITCHEN: The season finale is almost here and the one thing we know for sure is that Barbie is not going to be one of two contenders left standing. That's a shame since she did a great job for the most part and caught a lot of undue flack from her competitors. Yet,this time on the show may do more for her career than actually winning the whole shebang:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Make room in your back-to-school shopping bag for these September/October reads

As these last few days of summer dwindle away,plans for the fall season are being made with one eye towards the purse and the other to when it'll be best to start stocking up on notebook paper and heavy sweaters.

Whether your seasonal shopping includes back to school,back to work or just back in gear for autumn,there are some amazing books lying in wait for you to discover. As a fun and friendly reminder,here's a look at the pick of the September crop and an eye towards the October harvest as well:


One of the most highly anticipated sequels of the season is The Twelve,the second title in Justin Cronin's The Passage Trilogy. The adventures of eternal girl child Amy and her remaining set of friends as they seek to reclaim the world from the vampiric mutants who have overrun humanity are becoming even more dangerous as the collective enemy is now aware of who is after them.

With even more tension,terror and new characters joining the struggle,The Twelve should be a welcome addition to your reading pleasure and hopefully increase the desire for the final chapter to arrive in a timely manner(October):

Speaking of timely manner,just as some folks are finishing up Ken Follett's Fall of Giants(due out in paperback soon),he brings the second volume of his Century Trilogy out on the town. Winter of the World takes the five families from the previous book into the heart of WWII with their intrigues and troubles along for the ride.

With the miniseries adaptation of World Without End about to air in the UK and in America(on the Reelz channel)this fall,more interest in Follett's magnificent historical epics should follow and if the new TV shows are a disappointment,this book surely will be a truly welcome refuge(September):


Many fans wondered what would J.K. Rowling have to write about now that her internationally famous Harry Potter series was done with and I suspect that the last thing they expected her to tackle was a novel meant for adults.

The Casual Vacancy is set in a small English village which is not as tranquil as it seems. The opening spot on the local town council,due to an unexpected demise,is just the spark that could light a fuse that threatens to put everyone in uproar. There may not be wizards afoot here but the magic of Rowling's words promises to cast a stirring storytelling spell indeed(September):


Louise Erdrich's The Round House is set in 1988,where Geraldine, who works and resides on a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation is sexually assaulted and questions regarding which authority(state,federal or tribal) should pursue the matter only heightens the horror of the situation.

Geraldine's thirteen year old son Joseph decides to find the perpetrator himself and recruits some of his friends to help his mother,as well as his people,receive the justice he believes is deserved. That search opens quite a few unexpected doors for Joseph and he learns more than perhaps he was ready to know.

Erdrich is no stranger to compelling family drama and this novel blends both familiar and new themes as insights into the Ojibwe community help to expand the emotional stage set here(October):

Witty mystery writer Marshall Karp teams up again with James Patterson for another romp into the New York crime scene called NYPD Red. Detective Zach Jordan works on a special unit that specializes in keeping visiting Hollywood types safe from harm and the pressure to be perfect is always on.

When a major film producer suddenly dies during a power breakfast,Zach winds up working with his ex-girlfriend,Detective Kylie MacDonald,to find the killer. However,this turns out to be the first in a string of murders that quickly overwhelms the entire unit and puts a white hot spotlight on Zach and Kylie to catch the maniac before things get even worse.

Karp and Patterson have proven to be a winning combination with their first collaboration,Kill Me If You Can,and this one should be a gold medal champion as well(October).


In Telegraph Avenue,Michael Chabon introduces us to Archy and Nat,the co-owners of a vintage record store,Brokeland Records,whose idyll existence on their street in Berkeley is endangered by the development of a chain store music emporium run by a former football star.

As the partners do their mellow best to hold their ground,a secret from the past and a surprise visitor threatens to make that stance harder to hang on to. Chabon is a true master of literary pop culture remixes and this novel should be a real conversation starter for readers and music fans alike(September):

Emma Straub's debut novel,Laura Lamont's Life In Pictures,focuses on Elsa Emerson,a Midwestern girl who takes off for Hollywood with another acting hopeful to achieve silver screen stardom.

For awhile,her dreams are on hold due to marriage and children but a chance meeting with movie mogul Irving Green launches Elsa into a new life and name. This look into the Golden Age of Hollywood offers more than the usual overnight sensation story and some inner drama to match the outer theatrics of the heroine's path to film glory(September):


Sean Howe brings a lively cast of real life characters to the forefront with Marvel Comics:The Untold Story. His chronicle of the fortunes of the comic book company that brought such heroes as Captain America,Thor and The Fantastic Four to the pop culture world is just as compelling as any of the action packed crises that these fictional icons faced.

Much like their comic book creations,behind the scenes folk like Jack Kirby,Steve Ditko and the undisputed showman of the bunch,Stan Lee are showcased at their best and worst times,making the mutual effort to turn this once fledgling company into a major multimedia force to be reckoned with all the more engaging. Whether you're a die-hard comic book fan or a casual observer,this top notch tome will make you a true believer(October):

It's good to have such a line-up of smart and snappy reads to enjoy during this hectic time of the year. Perhaps one or two of them might give you a welcome respite from the typical show-and-tell stories that many families have to sit through this season,some of which might be telling more than they want to be shown:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Breathing old movie life into new TV shows

With September only a few days away,taking a whiff of the new TV shows for the fall season is right on schedule yet unlike a new car,a few of these series have a rather familiar scent to them.

In fact,each of the major networks has a fresh hour long program that feels as if it was inspired by a major motion picture of the past which could be promising but that all depends on whether the popcorn premise presented tastes stale or fresh.

What got me on this train of thought was ABC's 666 Park Avenue,starring Vanessa Williams and Terry Quinn as the sinister owners of a fancy NYC high rise,eager to make their new tenants,a young and impressible couple hired to be co-managers of the place,feel right at home.

Naturally,real estate this good(especially in New York)comes with a price that's rather dear and in this case,may involve selling your soul as a down payment:

Watching the promos for 666 Park Avenue put me in mind of the 1997 horror movie The Devil's Advocate and there are quite a few similarities there. A small town couple looking to make their fortune in the big city get the chance to do so and live in an insanely luxurious apartment in Manhattan to boot,with both husband and wife being corrupted by their new set of peers lead by a charming older man with a dark agenda,need I say more?

How well this bodes for the series,I'm not sure. This could be a surprise success like American Horror Story or better left off as a movie idea. My best guess would be the latter but then again,I underestimated the appeal of Once Upon a Time which is returning for a second season with a strong fan base. Perhaps it is as they say,the devil is in the details:

CBS is pretty much the top dog when it comes to crime shows not on cable these days and their upcoming drama Vegas has a lot going for it. For one,the show stars Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis as adversaries in Las Vegas during the 1960s.

Quaid plays a rancher turned into a reluctant sheriff,with his main target being Chiklis,a new gangster in town ready to set up shop. Subplots involving their allies and foes abound.

The characters are based on actual people from the time period,which gives a nice bit of gravitas to what can quickly be seen to some as another take on the standard cops and robbers theme:

Now,it's not too much of a stretch to say that this show reminds me of 1995's Casino,since one of the writers attached to Vegas is Nicolas Pileggi(who also worked on Goodfellas)but that is not the only reason to feel this particular vibe.

By having a pair of movie star level actors as the leads and sharp cinematic touches in the visuals,Vegas may not be on the same plane as a Scorese production but this show might really have a edgy flair that could win audiences over to it's corner. Time will tell,yet I am actually forward to checking Vegas out:

NBC decided to throw their hat back into the sci-fi/fantasy ring with Revolution,set in a future where all technology was mysteriously switched off,forcing humanity to return to the days of basic living and localized authority.

A young woman makes a perilous journey to deliver an object to her never before seen uncle,an item sought after many due to it being a possible key that could restore the power to the grid. I can't get a good bead on this show's chances of survival in the ratings battle but it does have cool sword fights,a check in the plus column for me there:

There are a lot of movies that fit this fantasy bill,with the most current of them being 2010's The Book of Eli. You have a mystery man being hunted down by a variety of dubious forces who are intent to possess the book that he's taking to a special location in order for it to be used to bring order back into a chaotic world, which is pretty much like Revolution only without the likes of Denzel Washington or Gary Oldman on board.

Part of me doesn't want to get too caught up with this show,seeing how off the rails the network went with Heroes after a certain point. Nevertheless,Revolution will have a fair shot at making a last impression as well as keeping up those sword fights:

Having films inspire television,even inadvertently,can be the swift kick in the creative pants that regular network fare needs to stay ahead in the ratings game. Not to mention being able to offer viewers more than the usual set of doctor/detective/lawyer shows that even the basic cable channels can produce themselves,so hopefully we'll all be winners instead of sore losers this fall season:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bad Movie Month plays the Best Songs from Bad Films

It turns out that we have a spare slot in our Bad Movie Month schedule,so today's topic will be a playlist of tunes from my personal selection of guilty pleasure music from bad films. Speaking of guilty pleasures,Once Bitten is an all time favorite of mine not only for it's awful blend of vampire cliches and sex comedy tropes but for the songs attached to the soundtrack as well.

Most of the fans of this film fondly recall "Hands Off",which plays during the infamous dance battle sequence(the main reason to see this movie,folks)but I also adore the theme song performed by the band 3 Speed.

The lyrics and the beat are a perfect match for a funky vampire movie of the eighties,too bad it wasn't given a better forum. Maybe some group out there can do a cover version for The Vampire Diaries or True Blood,stranger things have happened!:

Next,we have Bobby Brown's contribution to the sorry sequel Ghostbusters 2,which is a catchy little number that includes a brief synopsis of the plot in rhyming refrains. Now,it turns out that Brown didn't write the song "On Our Own"(that dubious honor goes to L.A. Reid, Darryl Simmons and Babyface),otherwise a good joke could be made about how easily Brown managed to make "evil" rhyme with "legal".

The video is noted for it's numerous celebrity cameos,which included Christopher Reeves(well before his accident),Donald Trump and SNL alumna Jane Curtin. Hey,why was Jane Curtin good enough for a bit part in this video but not for any of the Ghostbusters flicks,huh,guys? Then again,maybe that was for the best:

Now,I didn't see the 2009 disaster flick 2012 but I think Adam Lambert's video for the movie's theme song "Time For Miracles" may be far more entertaining to watch.

In this performance piece,Adam casually strolls through the devastation as he sings his awesome power ballad like he's the little brother of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who wants to get his last lyrical two cents in. As much as I like Lambert,not even the amazing high notes that he can reach were enough to save the world from this massively mediocre film:

Yet,this wasn't the first time that the producers of 2012 went to bat for a monster of a movie. In 1998,a remake of Godzilla was unleashed on the public with the soundtrack's main song being a powerhouse tune by Puff Daddy aka P. Diddy aka whatever name he goes by these days.

"Come With Me" received some negative PR due to the song basically being a revision of Led Zepplin's Kashmir but since Jimmy Paige was credited(and appears in the video as well),I don't have that much of a problem with it.

What's hilarious about the whole thing is how the video is like a mini action film starring Puff Daddy whose music is strong enough to defeat even a transplanted monster roaming the city streets. Sorry,man but I think I'm rather have Mothra at my back,with or without an entire orchestra on call:

Last and possibly least in our line-up is "Far From Over",the title track to Staying Alive,the Sly Stallone directed sequel to the '70s disco classic Saturday Night Fever. I mention Stallone only because his brother Frank got the gig for this tune,which was actually nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.

This pumped up theme has had an extensive shelf life,with the instrumental version being used for the pro wrestling series Starrcade and several sports shows to boot. As over the top as it is,this song can't be any worse that any of the numbers from Spiderman:Turn Off The Dark,which makes the Broadway show in this film(Satan's Alley)look like Stephen Sondheim in comparison:

We have to shut down the jukebox for now but tune in next time,when Bad Movie Month treads with caution towards Sex And The City 2. Please say that you'll be there:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

True Blood's Pam protects her girl,A Bunheads finale and Face Off gets a Star Wars starting point

As we get closer and closer to the end of this season of True Blood,things are unraveling quickly as Sam and Luna use their shape shifting abilities to find Emma at the Authority headquarters,Alcide goes home to his checked out daddy and Bill is having seriously dangerous visions of Lilith which are not exclusive to him.

Meanwhile,Pam is worried about the fallout of Tara's killing obnoxious sheriff Elijah and uses her Marker control to keep her progeny silent about the incident. Jessica then pops into Fangtasia,needing a place to hide after her fake plan to turn Jason makes her a fugitive.

Pam doesn't want to help but Jessica offers to tell her where Eric is. Along with that info,Jessica tells both Pam and Tara about what's going on at the Authority and Pam sees the whole thing as a bad case of vampire nesting. Fortunately,Eric has taken advantage of some of the crazy and made his way out of there(with a disillusioned Nora in tow)already.

Hopefully,he'll be able to save her from the Authority,since that sheriff turned out to be a progeny of Rosalind who arrested Pam for his murder. Jessica was reclaimed as well,so it will be up to Tara to set up some kind of rescue mission:

On the fairy front,Sookie was granted an audience with an Elder who was rather loopy but did know something about the mysterious deal between Warlow and the Stackhouse ancestor who signed that deal for ownership of our Miss Stackhouse.

Before she was about to get into more details,Jason arrived to warn Sookie about Russell,which got all of the fae in an uproar and they devised a plan to bring him down. Unfortunately,the crux of the plot was way too reliant on the Fae Elder taking care of Russell,once he and Steve Newlin were lead to the hidden fairy nightclub by Jason(who let himself be captured as part of the plan).

Here's a handy tip,magic folk;don't let the one amongst you whose concentration is the worst lead the charge against the enemy,even if she has seniority. That way,you won't be vulnerable when her blood is drained by the evil master vampire who can now see exactly where you're all hiding! Here's hoping that someone comes along to help save the day,even Warlow,in the finale because Sookie can't rely on her blood drinking beaus this time around:

Bunheads wrapped up their first season with Sasha returning in time to take the role of Clara in the annual summer production of The Nutcracker and for a while there,it seemed as if Michelle was finally starting to fit in with the scene in Paradise.

That promising notion was shot to hell when she inadvertently took down the entire cast of the show by mistaking pepper spray for hairspray. Michelle also happened to kindly interfere in Fanny's love life,causing yet another bridge to be burned and her only option appeared to be hitting the road.

Despite her dramatic leave taking at the end of the episode,all is not lost here. Bunheads will be returning in winter 2013,so Michelle and company should be back on track by then. I know this opening season has had a few ups and downs but it's been a fun ride for the most part and a nice surprise for those of us who persisted in watching by granting a second shot to this show:

Season three of SyFy channel's make-up artist competition show,Face Off,began this week with an out of this world challenge. Everyone had to work in teams of two to create an original character that would fit into the iconic cantina scene from Star Wars.

There were quite a few good creatures pulled together here but the hands down winner belonged to Rod and Roy,who made an entire body suit for the small sneaky con artist that they made.

Rod in particular looked like a very nice guy(he helped out another team that was struggling)and it was great to see him win.

Next week,pirates are on deck and it may not be smooth sailing for all concerned. If you haven't seen this series yet,I urge you to do so,especially if behind the scenes magic is something that's right up your alley:


RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE ALL STARS: The competition is set to begin this October with plenty of fan favorite contenders such as Latrice Royale,Pandora Boxx and Mimi Imfurst in the line-up. Rooting for just one diva to take the win will be hard but well worth watching,I'm sure:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Jonathan Tropper's One Last Thing Before I Go has a great beat that you can read to

Author Jonathan Tropper's latest novel,One Last Thing Before I Go,has at it's center a rather hapless hero,Drew Silver,who never quite got over the brief bit of fame he once had as a drummer in a one hit wonder rock band called The Bent Daisies. The group scattered when their lead singer took off for a career of his own,leaving all of his former friends in dust.

Ten years later,Drew is divorced and barely living off the royalties of the hit song that he wrote in an apartment complex overrun by other lonely men in similar situations. In addition to playing a few gigs at catered events,Drew has a crush on a singer who entertains kids at a local bookstore,always looking and listening but never daring to talk to her, even about who he once was:

With his beloved ex-wife Denise about to remarry and his estranged eighteen daughter Casey showing up to announce her unexpected pregnancy,Drew's opportunities for reconnecting to his family or a more meaningful life are slim at best. However,a major medical incident in his life doesn't allow Drew to just keep going through the motions of a downward cycle.

A tear in his heart's aorta,which could be fixed by his former wife's fiance,causes Drew to rethink his entire existence and if he really wants to live at all. While mulling over his mortality and delaying the surgery that could save him,Drew makes a list of things to accomplish: be a better father,be a better man,fall in love and of course,die.

Getting the first three items done there is no easy feat,since Drew is irresistibly attracted to letting whatever happens happen and due to a mini stroke,now has the habit of reciting his inner monologues aloud without realizing it at the worst possible moments:

Despite his flaws and insistence on leisurely pursuing a death wish,Drew's family and friends do push him to make a life affirming choice,especially Casey who is also reconsidering her pregnancy options. Drew wants to mend his meandering ways but his time to do so is running out fast.

This may sound like a sad,serious story but Tropper keeps the pace light and quick with snappy dialogue and quirky humor that puts everything into proper perspective. He also manages to steer the plot lines out of what could be maudlin waters and guides both characters and situations down a sure and steady path that satisfies yet doesn't spoon feed sentiment to the reader.

What this novel is really about is a man falling back in love,not just with a new woman or his family but with life itself. The emotional notes that Tropper strings together for this mirthful melancholy melody make the prose sing right off the page:

Back in my bookseller days,I was fortunate enough to do a signing with Jonathan Tropper for his first book,Plan B. That novel was a fun read and I was able to tell him so,which he greatly appreciated.

It's been wonderful to see his work progress over the years with well received titles like The Book of Joe and his breakout novel,This Is Where I Leave You. Sometimes,the nice guys do finish first.

One Last Thing Before I Go will be on sale tomorrow and I hope that everyone who loves a funky good read will tune into it. Drew Silver may be a lonesome loser but like the rest of us,he still keeps on trying which makes him a real winner in the end:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bad Movie Month becomes Lost In Space

Today's installment of Bad Movie Month tunes into Lost In Space,the 1998 version of the classic campy sci-fi TV series. Now,I actually saw this one when it originally hit theaters,due to being a fan of the show that was playing in syndication by the time I was watching it so I was really looking forward to seeing a big screen version.

Sadly,I would've been better off renting the DVDs of the old show. LIS packed in a lot of well known names to play the Robinson family such as William Hurt,Mimi Rogers,Heather Graham and Lacey Chabert(from the teen angst drama Party of Five),plus the likes of Matt LeBlanc as Don West and Gary Oldman as Dr.Smith,one of my favorite characters. You'd think that line-up would be great,right?

Instead of clicking together like the pieces of a pop culture puzzle,this bunch was truly off in their own orbits acting and otherwise in a plot that mixed ecology issues and bad parenting metaphors:

The Robinsons are meant to recolonize a planet since all of Earth is in dire pollution straits and in addition to that mission,Dad wants to bond more with his loved ones but that backfires big time,as we will soon see.

Meanwhile,the lack luster plot allows the actors to reveal just how mismatched they are for this film family. Heather Graham gives extra emphasis to her lines in order to make it look like she's not reading them off a teleprompter, Lacey Chabert plays Penny as a whiny little goth girl(not much different from her Party of Five character)Hurt and Rogers seem to think they're doing a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie judging by their low energy levels.

As for Matt LeBlanc,he plays his part as if Joey from Friends had this role which is not a good thing,folks. Joey wasn't a very good actor to begin with and when a robot can give a better performance(the original voice actor from the LIS series,Dick Tufeld was able to reprise his role),that doesn't bode well for anyone here,especially Joey:

Now,on to Dr. Smith. Gary Oldman is to science fiction movies what Christopher Walken is to action flicks;an odd yet welcome addition. His quirky wicked ways did make the character fun to watch but the screenplay made the not-so-good doctor a lot darker than the original series did.

Dr. Smith was always a weaselly character who was more of a coward than an out and out bad guy,which made his bond with young Will Robinson strangely endearing on the show. Here,however,Smith is working for a terrorist group called Global Sedition and is out to kill the Robinsons,if he can. He does manipulate Will into releasing him from custody but turns on the boy in a more vicious manner than LIS fans would expect.

At one point in this story,Dr. Robinson and Don West stumble into a dimensional bubble(don't ask for more details,I beg of you)where they find a grown-up Will who has been raised on a hostile world with only a mutated monster version of Dr. Smith as his surrogate parent. Danger,Will Robinson,Daddy Issues!

The Spider Smith has evil intentions for Will's time travel device,which the moody young man has been building for years in order to prevent his family from taking that trip into space which destroyed them all. This whole plot line has such a weird flavor to it,like peanut butter and mouthwash,that makes it hard to take seriously unlike the characters trapped in this family therapy from hell warp.

Normally,I wouldn't mind such a twisted reinvention of a character but the CGI used to make Spider Smith makes that Voldemort puppet seen in the opening ceremonies at the London Olympics look incredibly realistic:

The movie wound up with a Razzie nomination for Worst Remake or Sequel(it lost in a three way tie between Godzilla,Psycho and The Avengers,a pretty formidable pack of clunkers)and not even the cameo appearances of the show's original cast such as June Lockhart,Angela Cartwright and Marta Kristen could make this Lost In Space ship fly.

Next time on Bad Movie Month,we'll be doing a special music soundtrack salute and yes,Sex and the City 2 is still on the far horizon. Until then,remember that's there is plenty of space to get lost into!:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

True Blood's Tara takes a stand,a Bunheads battle rages on and checking into Hotel Hell

Things are getting even crazier on True Blood,as the TB factory bombings are making both humans and vampires nervous,not to mention affecting business at Fangtasia. New sheriff Elijah is full of terrible suggestions on how to improve the profit margin and has a new mandate from the Authority;turn at least 30 humans into vamps by the end of the year.

Pam is less than thrilled with this new regime and suggests to Tara that the two of them make like a tree and leave. However,Tara has had enough of the cut and run so she pulls a ruse on Elijah that allowed her to take him out Ned Stark style. Pam was certainly surprised but not altogether unpleasantly there,in my opinion:

Meanwhile,Sookie and Jason do a little more investigating and discover an ancient scroll hidden beneath the floorboards of Sookie's bedroom. After taking it to a local linguist,who can confirm that it is at least a couple of hundred years old but not in any language known to man,they head over to the fairy bar to ask Claude if he can translate the writing.

He can't but one of the residents of the fairy bar can. Maurella,who I think is pregnant by Sheriff Andy from their brief encounter last season, tells them that a Stackhouse ancestor promised the first female fae of his line to Warlow and guess who that happens to be,folks! Well, this more than likely means that Warlow will be coming to claim Sookie soon,especially since we only have two episodes left for this season and hopefully,that showdown will be worth the wait:

On Bunheads,Sasha and Fanny are still on the outs,with Fanny driving everyone mad by her nonstop auditions for a Nutcracker Clara and Sasha acting as if cheerleading is a real relief from ballet.Granted,Fanny's strict standards do make that argument easier but clearly Sasha is not as thrilled with her new social circle as she tells her friends.

Michelle did take some time out of her campaign to get the new supermarket open(mainly to avoid dealing with the town's quirky barrista)to encourage Sasha to make amends with Fanny,which should occur next week during the summer season finale. I know this show is a little awkward at times but it does deserve a second season to show what it really can do:

Gordon Ramsay's new makeover show,Hotel Hell,debuted this week and frankly,I wasn't sure about this one but wow,what an opener! It was a two part episode that featured a place called The Juniper Hill Inn,a huge estate where the employees had to practically beg for their paychecks while the owners were more interested in stuffing as many "antiques" as possible into the building.

At one point,Gordon got a tour of the stash spots and it was close to Hoarders territory,let me tell you. Not to mention that when an auction house assayer came in to price some of that stuff(as a means of making up for the wasted amounts of money),it was worth way less than what they had paid for. Plus,the suite that Gordon was first put in reeked from a broken toilet that hadn't been fixed yet and that was just the tip of the iceberg,folks:

Gordon managed to get that house in order,for awhile at least,and despite my initial doubts,this series appears to be worth watching. Kudos to Ramsay and company for finding a new venue for him to showcase his gentle methods of persuasion:


GET WELL SOON: to Mayim Bialik, currently seen on The Big Bang Theory as Amy Farrah Fowler,who was injured in a recent car accident.

Fortunately,she is expected to make a full recovery and was able to let her fans know that she'll be okay and back to work soon. Best wishes on a speedy healing process,Mayim,and happy to hear that you'll be able to strum Amy's harp strings once again:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Joys of Julia's Cooking

Today is the 100th birthday of the woman who made both culinary and pop culture history with her determination to share her love of French food with all,Julia Child. With her legendary cookbooks and groundbreaking TV shows,Julia made the realm of French cuisine seem truly accessible to the average American audience and inspired countless others to follow in her foodie footsteps.

In honor of this special day,let's take a look at those folks who are still holding up the brûlée torch to keep the spirit of cooking French food alive and well done in our world today. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,they say,so by that standard Julia has been highly praised for years:

Most of the younger generation know of Julia Child via Julie Powell,a blogger who appointed herself the challenge of making every recipe in Mastering The Art of French Cooking within a year. Powell then wrote a memoir about that experience,Julie and Julia which was later turned into a film starring Meryl Streep as Child.

Granted,Julia Child was not happy about Powell's blog but I think she would've enjoyed the movie since it was partly based on her own memoir,My Life in France,plus Nora Ephron's delightful merging of both books into a lively script and elegant direction(it happened to be Ephron's swan song)showcases the love of this cuisine splendidly:

The current queen of cooking French cuisine on TV these days is Laura Calder,whose Canadian series French Food at Home is viewable in the US on The Cooking Channel. She's also been a judge on Top Chef Canada and Iron Chef America as well as an Canadian reality show,Recipe to Riches.

French Food at Home won a James Beard award in 2010 and Calder herself has received top honors from the French government. One of my regrets in not yet having The Cooking Channel in my area is getting to see such an inviting instructional show as this:

Even a brash Brit like Gordon Ramsay appreciates the art of French cooking and during his 2010 competition show,Ramsay's Best Restaurant,one of the top contenders was a French place called Winteringham Fields.

While it didn't win the ultimate prize,both Winteringham and it's earlier competitor represented their take on French food respectably enough:

What people adore the most in French cuisine are the desserts and putting those together is a serious business as the documentary Kings of Pastry displayed in theaters. The film follows the nationwide competition that sixteen chefs undertake in order to be considered the finest pastry maker,a lifetime achievement for many in that field.

The contest takes three days and every edible item has to be made from scratch. While Julia Child herself wouldn't have been able to enter(being born French is one of the qualifications),she certainly would have loved taking a ring side seat for this ultimate bake-off or at least an aisle seat at this film's premiere:

Happy birthday,Julia Child and may your delicious legacy be served for another hundred years. Plenty of us out there in our TV kitchens are still ready and willing to wish you a hearty Bon appétit! as you prepare your loved ones a splendid spread in Paradise: