Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Movies I'm excited for

So it's been awhile since I last posted anything. Prolific I ain't, what can I say? But I've been crawling around IMDB and Apple.com's trailer site and I must say, I'm impressed with the offerings of Hollywood. Sure, there's plenty of crap that's guaranteed to fill seats and sell lots of salty popcorn and icy Coke, but there's also a pretty decent selection of films that, from what I've seen, appear to be decent examples of what movie makers can do when they forget about the bottom line and focus on the story. I like to think that what I've selected as my must sees are not traditional summer fare (with one or two exceptions), but even if they are, so be it. It's hot, and the theaters have air conditioning, something which I (very regrettably) lack. Without further ado, my list of movies I want to see! These are in no particular order, by the way.

6.) Splice - Scientists create human/chimera hybrid and raise it as their own, only to have it turn on them. Sounds to me like every parent's very worst nightmare come true, with a delicious sci-fi twist. I predict that a new trend in hairstyling will sweep the nation after this movie comes out, something akin to the Rachael of the 1990s.

5.) Predators - This is one of the ones I was referring to when I said that my list included a few examples of standard summer fluff. Let's be honest, the Predators are kind of bad-ass (if you forget about the horror that was AVP - Predators should not take pity/mercy on humans. Ever. That's why they're cool/scary. The end.). The mask, the skillz, the super-sized blade on the poster, yes, friends, I'm a bit of a sucker for gratuituous violence. This is not going to break any box-office records, but I think it looks entertaining, and when my brain is melting, that's really enough.

4.) Inception - Would anyone out there think less of me if I revealed that when I saw the latest trailer for this, I drooled a little bit? Yeah, I didn't think so. You all did the same thing. Here's another query: can Christopher Nolan do wrong? Lately, I'm thinking no. This movie looks like an awesome, mind-bending trip that I can't wait to take. From what I gather, it's like they took the idea of Thought Police and just ran with it. Faaaaantastic.

3.) Dinner for Schmucks - Yeaaaahhhh... I'll level with you, the only reason I have any interest in seeing this is because of Steve Carrell's character's fashioning of 'mouse-terpieces', little diorama-esque recreations of various paintings (The Last Supper is the one featured in the trailer). Call me bizarre, call me morbid, call me a fan of miniature recreations of paintings featuring mouse corpses. I'm sold.

2.) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Michael Cera meets girl. Michael Cera falls for girl. Michael Cera must fight, to the death, all seven of girl's evil exes in order to win her heart. Feckin' awesome, says this girl. Feckin' awesome. I've only had someone's ex threaten to punch me while she was drunk as a skunk, but I'm going to choose to view that as a parallel experience, making this movie something like an autobiography for me, told through a male's perspective. P.S. I want a t-shirt with Scott Pilgrim waving triumphantly on it, like he is in the poster. I want to stand on a mountain and, while wearing this shirt, make the same gesture.

1.) Resident Evil: Afterlife: - I feel like I should be tired of this franchise, but I'm not. I think it's due to my secret suspicion that all corporations are experimenting with dangerous materials that, if leaked to the public, would end life as we know it. We all remember the Tickle Me, Elmo debacle, do we not? I shudder at how close the world came to shutting down over those things. Life imitating art, people. I saw people reduced to the most primal of urges while trying to get their hands on those things. Reminds me of a certain stock of villain in the R.E. universe... can't put my finger on which one though...

So that's it for the moment. Plenty of movie watching to last me the whole summer, I think. What say you? Am I missing something? Shanks!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Potato Famine

This is what an encyclopaedia entry for "Potato Famine", as written by me, would look like. You're welcome, brutha.

Potato Famine
: A revolt which claimed an estimated fifteen lives in the first half of the first month of the year 1840. Unsatisfied with their lot in life, the potatoes of Ireland unearthed themselves the night before harvest time. The possibility of starvation loomed large in the populace's mind for the whole of one day. A march was organized by the potatoes, with the intention of forcing the Irish to realize how much their livelihood depended on the potatoes. In the ensuing craziness, a large percentage of the people exchanged the majority of their material goods (what little they had) in exchange for money. A quickly organized slave trade ensured that, for those who could afford them, potatoes could still be had. The treatment of these potatoes was often brutal. Whipping, or mashing, the potatoes was common, after which they poured hot butter and salt on the potatoes, the butter as a symbol of the potatoes' "greasy" or "slippery" treachery, and the salt symbolizing the salty language the potatoes would use to taunt the weak, not-really starving Irish. Finally, the tensions came to a head when the potatoes were defeated by the Irish in the famous battle of Au Gratin. The potatoes, called "taters" by their Irish captors, were sent to Malcolm French, a famous executioner. French sliced the "taters" to bits, then threw the bits into hot oil. A headline of the time were supposed to read "FRENCH FRIES REBEL POTATOES", but the print size was too large, and the headline of several copies (before being corrected due to the unfortunate and unintended meaning) read only: "FRENCH FRIES".

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

L'avocate du diable

Whilst perusing Google News today, I came across an article on the UN's proposed expansion of Iran sanctions. Since this post is titled "Devil's Advocate", you can probably guess the direction I'm going in here. A caveat: I don't claim to know much about this situation, I don't have a solution to this problem, and I realize that this is probably as good an answer as the world is likely going to get. End caveat.

My issue with the idea of sanctions is that someone gets the authority to decide what a country should and should not be allowed. Concern over Iran's potential for building nuclear weapons is the issue at hand in this case. Based on what I've read (which is admittedly very little), it seems that Iran had previously agreed to relinquish its stores of uranium, and it is now attempting to stave off expanded U.N. sanctions by upgrading some of its uranium to medical research quality while trading the remainder with Turkey and Brazil. Apparently, Iran is like a child, and should not be allowed to play with toys like nuclear weapons. The U.S., on the other hand, the only country in the history of the world to have ever used nuclear weapons against another country, has never invaded another country for any reason other than to free puppies and secure the well-being of rainbows, and it certainly would never use flashy weapons against other countries if it did happen to invade.

Sidenote: If it were the case that the U.S. actually learned from its previous misadventures into the murky world of pseudo-colonialism, this might not be such an issue. But it seems to me that time and time again, the U.S. sallies forth into foreign lands, dollar signs glinting in its eyes and guns held firmly. Any prior debacles or scandals or atrocities seem to be forgotten, at least on the surface. Maybe the men in charge think that different initial circumstances will yield different results. I sound like a conspiracy theorist or sidewalk activist or something.

There are, of course, countries which would use weapons against other countries will nary a moment's thought, and damn the consequences that come from this usage. But it seems awfully hypocritical for the U.S. to force the hand of other countries for attempting to play ball with the big boys. I understand that the U.S. has the whole "learn from experience" thing going on. I just still have to think maybe the U.S. should seriously think about refraining from sticking its nose in other countries' business, at least for a little while. I think it's safe to say every generation has experienced hardship due to America's incessant interventions. I don't know where I'm going with this, and I sound like I'm ranting, so I'll conclude with this letter to the U.S.:
"Dear United States of America-
Get off your high horse, please and thank you.

Lastly, this is in no way related to what I was just talking about, but I would like to take this moment to say that I really have no patience for people who leave their windows open in the summer, knowing there's a good chance their neighbors have their windows open as well, and then proceed to yell at each other constantly. Shut up. Also, people, I know you think your $200 speakers from Speaker King are the coolest thing ever created, and I'm sure you think that blaring your tunes for all the world to hear is some sort of musical gift, but trust me on this, they aren't, and it isn't. I sound like such a bitch. I'm really not. Everyone was given a gift at birth. Mine was the gift of passive-aggressive snarking. Can't let these things go to waste.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Scary TV. That's the best title I could come up with.

The Weeping Angels, a.k.a. the Lonely Assassins.
Imagine, if you will, wandering around a large, run down house. Scattered throughout the rooms are large stone statues of angels, angels whose faces are covered by their hands, making them appear to be weeping. Entering a room, you notice one in the corner. You take your eyes off it for a second, and when you have turned your focus back to it, it is an inch away from you, and it is no longer weeping. Creepy shit, that.

I'm melting!!!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Conversations with Dead People".
I was talking to a co-worker of mine who seemed to feel that this episode was not really scary at all. He continued to feel this way until I reminded him of the scene in the Summers kitchen, where the only response to Dawn's queries, "Mom? Are you okay?" and "Are you alone?" were house-shaking two-bang "NOs". That scene alone made me long for a pair of adult diapers, but when Joyce appears on the couch, looking very, very dead, while what the writers at TWOP called a "frogman" crouched over her, I was seriously freaked out. I think the picture of Joyce in all her dead glory should help to bolster my case for this episode.

This is pretty much what I look like when I watch TV, minus the snow-white eyes.

Dr. Who, "The Time of Angels".
Yet another Dr. Who episode featuring the Weeping Angels. The creepiness of these things cannot be understated people. It might sound stupid: an angel statue that can only move when you aren't looking at it, but trust me, it is. This is a Season 5 episode, and I don't want to give away too much lest there be a fan out there who has yet to catch up, but I will say this: being trapped with an angel statue while the light is failing would rank among my least favorite ways to die. Just in case anyone's reading this late and night and is thinking, "Hmm... I don't really want to go another night without a nightmare", here's a clip. Enjoy, my babies! P.S. I don't know why it got cut off, my best efforts to correct this were unsuccessful. Sorry.

That's why you should never sit too close to the TV.

Dr. Who, "Flesh and Stone".
Sigh. I really love the Weeping Angels as a villain. They can't die! They move faster than light, provided no one's looking at them! They are assassins! This episode is marginally less creepy than "The Time of Angels", but any time they show the angels' slow progression towards their intended victims, the result is absolutely brilliant. I'll shut up about the angels now, partly because there aren't any more episodes featuring them.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Hush".
Ah, yes. This episode was, in my mind, fantastic. I was disappointed to find out that the actors actually spoke their lines and the sound was removed later. I would have been slightly more impressed if they had actually done the whole episode how it appears. Anyways, Doug Jones plays one of the Gentlemen, and can that guy do wrong, at least when it comes to creepy-ass thin men? I think not. The grotesque smiles stretched across their faces are so awesome. In a scary way. The scene where Tara sees them zooming towards her from across campus, flanked by their little shackled "Igors" gets me every time, even though I know it's coming. I always get this intense sense of dread whenever I see it.

If you're happy and you know it....

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Forever".
A lot of these episodes only have one or two really spooky scenes, and this one doesn't differ in that respect. The level of spookiness achieved is pretty stellar, and so that's why they've been selected. This episode was actually kind of boring to me for most of it (sorrrrry....), but late in the episode it's revealed that something (likely) wicked the Summers' way comes. I really, really, really, really understand the bargaining stage of grieving. I really understand the intense feeling of frustration that comes with realizing that no matter how much you beg, plead or threaten, what you want most is what you can't have. I get it. But I draw the line when the only way to bring back a deceased loved one is to bring them back as a zombie. It's traumatic enough to see them dead the first time. Having to fight them off as they attempt to relieve you of your pesky, weighty brains is quite another.

This is, obviously, NOT a screenshot from "Forever". It is one of Google's image results, however, and it is rather creepy.

I realize these are all "Buffy" and "Dr. Who" episodes. This makes me think that A) I seriously need to start watching more TV (except that I really, really don't) and B) I apparently harbor a deep-seated phobia of statues. All statues (or very nearly all) kind of give me the heebie-jeebies. And that word, "heebie-jeebies" is way too much fun to say, especially if you say it like King Julian from "Madagascar".

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Seriously, watch these movies.

I'm going to preface this by saying that I don't consider myself to be anything resembling an expert of film. I wouldn't even dare to call myself a movie-phile, or whatever the correct term is and damnit why does my cat insist on cuddling the second he sees my laptop emerge?! He ignores me all day until the laptop comes out, then it's all cold-wet nose rubbies and head butting and trying to help me type. Bleh. I love him to death, but oh mylanta is it annoying. Anyways. My cat is always making me digress. I'm going to digress even further because I am re-watching the first season of the re-vamped "Doctor Who" series. I was confused as to whether or not it's really the first season, and according to Wikipedia, it counts as the first season even though it's kind of a continuation. Anyways, for anyone reading this, it's the season with the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston).
My point, whenever I can get to it, is that companion Billie Piper's mascara is so damned clumpy that I can't focus on anything being said for the first few seconds she appears on screen. I seem to remember that it gets better as the series goes on, but in the first season, it's bloody awful. I refuse to believe that the entire country of Britain was lacking in non-clumping mascara, and even if it was, there exists such a thing as a lash comb. It's nice. It prevents clumpies.
I'd also like to mention that while Ms. Piper is by no means "fat", she is also not the size 0 starlet I, as a habitual American TV viewer, am so accustomed to seeing. I'd like to applaud the BBC for realizing that it's okay to hire girls with a little wiggle in their step (and again, Billie Piper does not have much, but it's enough to make me feel better).
It seems to me that when Hollywood (I'm using the term to refer to the film/television industry at large) casts females, they are either size 0 or plus size. And I would appreciate it if the size 0 cast member pulled a Dodo-bird. It seems that even size 6 is too big for movies/TV (I cite "The Devil Wears Prada", in which the main character is teased for being a monstrous size 6 - she's in the fashion industry, which is intricately connected to media of various forms, so it counts).
Anyways. I know I'm not the first person to comment on this, and I won't be the last, but here's my two cents: size 6 and up is A-OK in my book. Anything smaller is seriously bullshit and I refuse to believe that there are so many women who are naturally that thin. Yeah, I could get that thin, "naturally", if by that you mean, "Throwing up all my food made me super-skinny, NATURALLY!!". Hee. There's a pterodactyl/dragon on "Doctor Who" eating wedding guests, which is exactly how I've always envisioned my wedding day - locked in a church whilst fending off a pack of pseudo-dinosaurs. Ho-boy I've really gotten off track. I'd heard... somewhere... that costumers/designers prefer skinny actresses because they're easier to dress, or because the clothes look better, and on fashion shoots the sample sizes are very very small. My response to the designer: design clothes that aren't fucking ridiculous and anyone will look good in them, because guess what? The women who are buying your designs are probably not going to be 6 feet tall and weigh 100 pounds and your offerings are not going to look good and that really should reflect just as badly on you as it does on them, but I've noticed that people put the blame on the women's figure if something looks bad (which is sometimes the case - women with large shoulders should never wear shoulder pads, for example). But seriously, design clothing that the average woman can wear. For the costumers, what the hell? Are you buying cloth to make each garment and are therefore concerned about keeping total yardage down? Because that's the only reason I can understand why smaller actresses/smaller clothes make sense. For fashion shoots, same reasoning: are you sending the smallest article of clothing hoping to be able to use the smallest box and save money on postage??? What. The. Fuck.
Beautiful plus size women exist. Martine McCutcheon, a.k.a. Natalie from "Love, Actually", is probably one of the most beautiful women on the planet. And she's a bit larger than her cast-mate Keira "Why-The-Hell-Don't-I-Fix-My-Underbite" Knightley.
I'm going to cut myself off now, because like a good tequila, bitching about the rarity of a healthy looking actress in Hollywood is something from which I have trouble refraining.
This post was titled "Seriously, watch these movies". So, seriously, watch these movies: "The Fall", "The Man From Earth", "Princess Mononoke", "Le Planete Sauvage" and "Camille". The last one is, admittedly, kind of trite, but it's entertaining, or at least it was for me. "The Fall" is, for me, almost without flaws. I can't speak about that movie highly enough. I watched it at least once a day, every day, for a month straight once. It's amazing. "The Man From Earth" is on occasion hampered by mediocre acting... actually, the acting is pretty sub-par from most of the actors throughout most of the movie, although it does have a pretty prominent "Hey! It's That Guy!" (tm TWOP) in it. The story is fascinating, however, which is pretty much the only reason I've sat through this movie at least 30 times. The last three are vastly different, and I've run on far too long, so suffice it to say that they are all definitely worth checking out, in case anyone happens to find themselves in the unfortunate position of having nothing to watch on a particular evening. I've told anyone and everyone I know about the genius of "The Fall", and now it seems to me that they have trouble refraining from rolling their eyes when it comes up, so you, online audience, are my new target.
Very. Last. Thing. "The Empty Child" and "Blink" are seriously some of the creepiest television I've ever seen in my life. The first one is because I'd be terrified by a child following me around bleating the word "Mommy" over and over. The second one is because well... it really just is. Check it out sometime. It has Carey Mulligan in it, and she has long hair and looks way prettier than she did at this year's Oscars! Anyone, anyone??

Saturday, May 1, 2010

So I attended an abortion debate yesterday. It was very interesting, as one might expect. I was extremely impressed with both debaters, although David Boonin, who was arguing in favor of the pro-choice argument, really blew my mind (I should admit a little bit of bias, since I am myself pro-choice). His argument was absolutely not what I was expecting to hear. His argument, in a nutshell, was that a fetus has the same right to life (or right to live, whatever) as anyone. What it does not have is the right to another human's body to live. Oh cute: my cat is covering his eyes with his paw. Sorry, I get distracted easily. It's really cute. It's like he's ashamed or something. Maybe he dreamed that he peed and couldn't hide it. ANYWAY! Fetuses! I guess I would say that Boonin's argument centered around consent, in that a woman's consenting to have sex is by no means the same thing as her consenting to have a child. There's plenty of objections to this, one which I myself would argue, but they are sort of not addressing the act of abortion. The objections (use of contraceptives) are really more like suggestions to prevent the need for abortions in the first place, which I think is a perfectly reasonable argument to make. However, should a woman find herself knocked up, I do not think she should be obligated to have the kid. Just my opinion, and anyone who suggests that I'm evil or that I'm saying this because I hate kids is right (at least on the second point).
A few people at the debate went off on tangents during the Q&A portion and didn't really ask relevant questions, which was sort of annoying, though they raised important points. One woman suggested that any woman who actually saw the evidence of the life growing inside them (via a sonogram) would feel differently about having an abortion, and she tearfully objected that life is wonderful, life is sweet, life is soft sand under your feet (she didn't say that last bit). Ok, fine. I don't know what it's like to see proof of the baby in your belly. Never had it happen to me. And she's probably right, it probably would completely change my mind and I would probably rush out and buy sixty thousand diapers and enough formula to feed the entire infantile population of Kenya and what-the-fuck-ever. If I knew I was pregnant, then I knew there was a life inside me. Seeing it might provide a shock, but I don't think it's a sufficient condition to changing my mind. Necessary, bien sûr, but not sufficient.
I should really get the fudge off my soap box now, but this is my blog, so there. I really liked both speakers (honest!), and I think they both made valid points. One of the audience members who went on a little tangent made the point that perhaps people should focus on fixing the world before bringing more people into it, and I have to say that while that doesn't have a damn thing (really) to do with abortion, it's a valid point. The world's overpopulated and rotten with problems which need fixing. The addition of more humans is seriously not helping. In my mind, anything which helps keep the population down (ok, almost anything) is preferential. I'm not suggesting mandatory sterilization or the revival of eugenics, so keep your pants on. Just that perhaps it would be nice to ensure that only people who actually want kids are having them.
Anyone who wants birth control, and effective birth control, should have access to it. Educate people about the consequences of sex. For the people who want kids, throw (legitimate!!!) monetary figures at them so they know how expensive babies are (and not just for them, for everyone and everything [Mother Nature gets a say]). I've heard people saying things like, "How expensive could it be?". Really damn expensive. Education, education, education. I've noticed that highly educated people are always blathering on about education, saying it's the key to everything. And it is. You could cure or destroy the world, all depending on how much you allow people to learn. Enough from me!!!! I'm sick of myself now.
P.S. I got really parentheses happy in this post. Hee!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Banner!

Gots ta give a shout-out to Bee, who created my super new and super awesome new banner! Thanks, B! Couldn't have done it without you! (P.S. That was a "Buffy" shout-out) This blog will get better, friends. I initially had written there the word "batter". I think this blog could be vastly improved with the addition of copious amounts of blueberry pancake batter. Thoughts?