Thursday, January 28, 2010

I want to do some art. I don't know which medium, I'd have to dig through my college stuff to see what paper/supplies I have, and I don't know what I want to draw or paint. I just feel like doing something.

The vaguest entry ever! "I feel like doing something." Yep.

We went out for my mom's birthday last night to an Irish pub. It was really good food - we had curry and chips as an appetizer, then I had a corned beef and braised cabbage boxty with mustard tarragon sauce (after one bite I announced to the table I'd need another bite to be sure, but it was probably the most delicious thing I'd ever eaten), a scone with honey butter, a Guinness, and fried bread pudding. Sarah's a pretty big Anglophile, so she was just in heaven. Our host was in his 40s or early 50s, about six-four and maybe 150 pounds, wearing a tweed suit with slicked-down hair and a John Waters mustache. He had a very delicate, upper-crusty accent and was quiet and very nice. I caught Sarah gazing at him once or twice, her head in her hands; I asked if she was in love. Without a shred of irony, she answered, "Yes."

Marshall didn't go as he had already made plans to visit his girlfriend in Lawrence and couldn't postpone or cancel for his own mother's birthday. My mom shrugged her shoulders, but also vowed darkly that she would not forget.

Holly, where are you in BSG? I was going to put some stuff up for fun but it would be kind of silly it you'd already watched the episodes. I thought you might enjoy the first season soundtrack, though.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Did I, or did I not, call Christoph's acceptance speech for the SAG awards? For his Oscar acceptance speech, I'm assuming that he'll talk about what it means to be a part of an Academy dedicated to film, and how in some ways the cast and crew that made Inglourious Basterds is like the Academy, with Quentin as the president; everyone working to glorify film; etc, etc.

I may or may not have clapped my hands like a toddler when IB won Best Ensemble. That, coupled with Avatar losing the PGA to The Hurt Locker, makes me think IB has a real shot as a dark horse Best Picture winner, and that would be awesome. I haven't had one of "my" films win BP since ROTK.

Other than that, the SAG awards were nearly identical to the Golden Globes just six days earlier, which highlights one of my biggest problems with award shows (my biggest problem is genre bias): what I like to call the "Homecoming Queen" effect. When I was in high school, the so-called popular kids were outnumbered by the geek collective made up of band, drama, and FCA. We could have easily voted for our own when it came to dances, even making concessions to only choose the more popular of the non-populars, the cross-overs, the ones who stood on the boundary. But the super-popular girls always ended up nominated, which meant that the geek collective had to be voting for them, too. Which didn't make sense, because we didn't like them. But when you got your ballot, there didn't seem to be any point to vote for the trumpet player who was really nice or the stage manager who was really funny; they weren't going to win, so why waste the vote?

And I think this is what happens with the Oscars and related shows. Once the probable winners make themselves known on the critical circuit (which in its own way follows the same SOP and barring a few exceptions locks down itself within the first two weeks), everyone else pretty much follows suit. There might be a single acting category that could go either way, but even that is usually confined to an either-or between two candidates. And there's NEVER any feeling that all five are equally likely to win. So I've reached the point, as I do every year, where a lot of the fun is gone because we already know who's going to win 75% of the awards come Oscar night. :(

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just for fun...

Favorite Lolanimals of 2009






No lie, I would say that "Maybe I did, maybe I didn't" is in my top five of all-time things on the internet I've laughed the hardest at. It was two or three days later and I would randomly remember it as I was in the shower or eating or driving and I'd laugh so hard I'd see spots.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This took a lot of time. Not so much with the Photoshop or even with the write-ups, but with finding episode-specific pictures and videos on YouTube, for which I was almost entirely successful (one I couldn't embed, which kind of threw off my overall plan, but it's no big). Here goes!

Favorite Episodes of Television 2009

10. Modern Family - “Run For Your Wife”

I started watching this show because Eric Stonestreet, who plays Cameron, went to my high school, although he graduated six years before I showed up. But it’s a great sitcom all around - I’ve enjoyed it more than Glee (blasphemy!). Funny, entertaining and with characters that - and this is sometimes rare in TV - I actually like. The show was funny before this sixth episode, but this to me felt like when everything really clicked into gear.

9. Star Trek - “Balance of Terror”

In which we first meet the Romulans. The original series is often can be campy, but this episode is deadly serious and tense; I read a review that likened it to a Cold War submarine movie, which is dead-on. Everyone - the actors, the writer, the director - brought their A-game.

8. Deadwood - “Sold Under Sin”

I feel like the appropriate level of praise I could bestow upon Deadwood would be taken as hyperbole, but it’s a fact that the level of quality in every aspect of the show is unlike most else in TV.

7. Big Love - “Come, Ye Saints”

The very large Henrickson family takes a cross-country trip, visiting the most important locations in the history of the Mormon religion as they do so. As one often sees in film, traveling lends an opportunity to strip characters down and allows them self-reflection in a way that can be difficult when trammeled in by their day-to-day lives. A beautiful, heart-breaking episode.

6. Fringe - “Bound”

I didn’t catch Fringe when it started. Then Alyssa wrote an incredibly scathing review of the second episode (scroll down to September 17) and I figured I’d not waste my time. Then, about three months ago, I saw this gif somewhere:

And I was like, I absolutely have to watch this show. So I checked it out from the library, and…this is one of those things where Alyssa and I will just have to disagree, because I love this show. No, the science isn’t real and it doesn’t make any sense, but I love the floating location tags, I love the characters and the actors who play them, I love the mood and the music and the funny. I picked this episode not just because it’s around when the show really started finding its feet - as well as defining its internal mythology - in season one, but also because of what came before it. The episode before ended in a cliffhanger as FBI agent Olivia Dunham was abducted. A lot of shows would have had that female character in peril all hour, finally to be rescued by a man. This show? Olivia rescued her own damn self before the opening credits. Awesome.

5. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - “Self Made Man”

Cameron is a Terminator assigned to protect John Connor. Terminators don’t sleep. So what does Cameron do every night? That’s the premise of this episode. What I loved about this show was how well it was able to expand from its basic premise, which we all know from the films, to create its own intricate and unique universe. While there were a lot of pure killing machines on the show, Cameron wasn’t the only Terminator to be a character in her own right, and watching her investigate with the dogged determination only a computer mind can bring to bear while being forced to interact with illogical humans made her one of my all-time favorite characters.

4. Dollhouse - “Belonging”

There are a lot of Whedon fans who seem to grudgingly watch this show, out of loyalty it seems, who don’t seem to actually enjoy it. It’s pretty common, when reading message boards or blogs about it, to see more complaints than anything else. Which I don’t get. It started off a little wobbly but don’t most shows? I’m very sad it’s been canceled, especially since the second season has brought us stellar episodes like this one, exploring the ramifications of the Dollhouse and how the dolls ended up there in the first place. Visually, this is one of the most stunning thus far. NB: This episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes.

3. Father Ted - “The Passion of Saint Tibulus”

Bishop Brennan asks Father Ted and Father Dougal, priests who have essentially been exiled because of their incompetence to tiny and remote Craggy Island off the coast of Ireland, to boycott a film that the Church has condemned. A film that no one on the island was planning on watching until the Fathers handcuffed themselves in front of the theater with ridiculous signs. I had to pause this episode three times because I was laughing too hard to live.

Video here - I couldn’t find one with embedding enabled. :(

2. Star Trek: The Next Generation - “Cause and Effect”

It’s a fairly straightforward SF premise, really: the Enterprise gets stuck in a time loop that keeps repeating itself, and must figure out how to get out and save the ship. The structure of the episode could have made it even more boring: each act repeats itself, with slight changes as the crew figures out what’s going on, but the basic action is the same. It’s also a bottle episode, so no big battles or special effects. It ends up being so fantastically fabulous that I have to give a lot of the credit to the director: that’s right, Jonathan Frakes! When you’ve got two episodes in my top ten, you’re doing something right.

I also should point out that I made nine icons from this episode. Nine. That means there was some prime Beverly Crusher action going on in here, and you know how I feel about that.

1. Battlestar Galactica - “The Oath” / “Blood on the Scales”

Okay, two episodes, but how could I really pick one? I’m not sure what I need to say about this two-parter. Action, tension, romance, lots of killing and running and even crawling the length of the ship. Roslin and Balter stuck somewhere together, bitching at each other. Starbuck holding her guns in a stupid, improbable way yet still being badass. The music when everyone joins Adama in the corridor. “I am coming for all of you!” Perfection.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

CHRIIIIIISTOOOOOOPH. (Although Laura and I were trying to figure out what his metaphor-driven speech for his inevitable SAG win would be; something about all the wonderful ACTORS he worked with and he was just a simple ACTOR but then he became part of a great ensemble of get the idea.) I was also happy with: John Lithgow, Michael C. Hall ( :( ), Meryl and Sandra, Jeff Bridges, RDJ, Glee, Chloe Sevigny. The acting categories for film seem to have fallen into place, although comedy and drama being split up does nothing to help clarify the Sandra vs. Meryl race.

The one thing that drove me crazy about the Globes tonight? The whole Haiti thing. I mean, it is an absolutely horrific tragedy and everyone who is able to help and feels so inclined should do so. That said, I am so beyond sick and tired of overpaid actors standing on a stage, pretending to be so noble and humble and yet only being pretentious and self-serving, going on and on about how they know "what's really important" and how we should all donate money because they've donated money and obviously we, the common folk, should follow their lead. You know who actually donated a shit-ton of money? Sandra Bullock. Did you hear her say anything about it? No. Because she's one of the few who actually understands that charity isn't just another publicity device. If I had heard one more of them go on and on about dear generous Clooney and his tireless efforts blah blah, my head would have exploded. There was the same exact song and dance after 9/11 and the tsunami and probably something else I'm missing, and it's like, Hollywood? I do not need you to be my conscience. I do not need you to remind me that bad things happen in the world, and you're just an actor and your life is so great but now you've been reminded of how precious it all is and why don't I pick up the phone while I watch you in your $10,000 dress and jewels thanking your "team" as you hold a gold statuette. Seriously, STFU.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Favorite Movies 2009

10. Grey Gardens (1975)

Little Edie: This is the best thing to wear for today, you understand. Because I don't like women in skirts and the best thing is to wear pantyhose or some pants under a short skirt, I think. Then you have the pants under the skirt and then you can pull the stockings up over the pants underneath the skirt. And you can always take off the skirt and use it as a cape. So I think this is the best costume for today.

I checked the original documentary out in preparation for watching the HBO movie with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. While that was a very good adaptation and I enjoyed it, nothing can quite compare to the real thing. Like a truly grisly train wreck, you just cannot look away from these two women, the house, the cats, the corn cooked on a hot plate while still in bed, the raccoon in the attic, the walls falling down around them.

9. In Bruges (2008)

Ray: Ken, I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn't, so it doesn't.

Hilarious. Dark, filthy, and surprisingly affecting, but still hilarious. This movie was robbed last year as far as big, shiny awards go.

8. Death at a Funeral (2007)

Robert: What are you doing in my dad's coffin?!

Seriously, when Alan Tudyk's character starts feeling the drugs in his system, I laughed so hard I had to lie down, and then I missed most of the next few minutes, and my throat hurt, and I had to blow my nose, and I'm not sure, but I may have peed myself a little.

7. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Father Moore: Do not ask it any questions or pay any attention to what it says.
Jason: It?
Father Moore: We won't be dealing with Emily tonight.

I watched this movie for Jennifer Carpenter. I was really worried, because I've still never finished The Exorcist and demonic possession gives me the jeebly-weeblies, but I was quite pleasantly surprised. There's certainly some scary bits, but this was more a compelling court drama than anything else, and it was really nice to see a movie that centered on two women and both were intelligent, interesting characters whose stories had nothing to do with boys. Really outstanding performances all around, but especially from Laura Linney, who elevated the movie to another level.

6. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

Just watch the trailer.

This movie made me sob like a little girl. Which, some people might say, how does that end up being one of your favorite movies? What can I say, anything that can affect me like that is a job well done, and I'm a sucker for catharsis.

5. Let The Right One In (2008)

Oskar: Are you really twelve?
Eli: Yes. It's just I've been twelve for a very long time.

Beautiful movie. Beautiful. I'd read so much hype about this before I finally saw it - "Best vampire movie ever! Will change the horror genre!" - that I was sure I would be let down, but I wasn't. Hypnotic and compelling from start to finish.

4. Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Irene Adler: Why are you always so suspicious?
Sherlock Holmes: Should I answer chronologically or alphabetically?

When I was a little girl, I watched Jeremy Brett play Sherlock Holmes on PBS. He was dashing, witty, smart. I fell in love. When I heard that Guy Ritchie was making this movie, I thought, "That's absurd." When I heard that Robert Downey Jr. was going to play Holmes, I thought, "I love RDJ but that's absurd!" When I saw the trailer I thought, "That looks like fun but IT'S STILL ABSURD." I don't claim to be any SH expert - I still haven't read any of the books or stories other than "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" - I still had definite Ideas about what a Sherlock Holmes movie should be.

It's a good thing I'm adaptable.

3. Star Trek (2009)

Spock Prime: Space - the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life-forms and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Yay Star Trek yay!

2. Doubt (2008)

Father Brendan Flynn: You have no right to act on your own! You have taken vows, obedience being one! You answer to us! You have no right to step outside the church!
Sister Aloysius Beauvier: I will step outside the church if that's what needs to be done, till the door should shut behind me! I will do what needs to be done, though I'm damned to Hell! You should understand that, or you will mistake me.

If this were a Best Movies I Saw in 2009 list, this would be number one. If this were a Best Movies I saw in My Life list, this would probably be on it. Just a flawless piece of filmmaking; there aren't any car crashes or explosions or chase scenes or anything else to artificially build the tension, and yet at the end it's hard to breathe. Stellar performances across the board, a great score by Howard Shore, and gorgeous cinematography by Roger Deakins.

1. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz: Say goodbye to your Nazi balls.

God, how Laura and I love this movie.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Favorite Books of 2009

5. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Stephen King

"The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted."

A nine-year-old girl out for a hike with her mother and older brother falls behind, then decides to veer off the trail to catch up with them more quickly; she ends up lost and alone in the wilderness, and must rely on her own wits to survive. It's bad enough that she's running out of food and water, but now there seems to be something following her... Both a great character study (although her internal monologue is a teensy bit precocious) and some gripping psychological horror, one of my favorite King reads from recent years.

4. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro

"It has been my privilege to see the best of England over the years, sir, within these very walls."

I read this book only after I had watched movie, which I also heartily recommend; both stand on their own, however. Stevens is a butler. This is not just his profession, but instead the word that encompasses all that he is and, more importantly, all that he wishes to be for most of his 30 year career. Stevens finds himself ruminating on that career and whether it was as rewarding as he had thought, especially considering the awkward and indefinable relationship with the housekeeper, Miss Kenton. Of all the books I read this year, without a doubt the most lovely language of them all.

3. Hotel Transylvania, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

"Saint-Germain was there...a quite mysterious gentleman who arrived in Paris only last May...Rameau congratulated him on his work and commented that he had once met a musical man like quite like him in appearance, but that had been a long time ago, in 1701 or 1702, and the man he had seen was then about fifty, whereas this man is no more than forty-five."

The first in a series of books about the vampire Saint-Germain. It seems that vampire/mortal women romances are the hot thing recently, but there's a lot else to recommend about these books. First of all, Yarbro does some serious research, and it shows. Her female characters are smart, assertive and independent. And Saint-Germain himself is a fascinating character, a vampire who doesn't kill to survive and is noble in his own way, but doesn't whine and emo all the time. Plus, you can't go wrong with a book about a vampire battling an evil satanic cult.

2. Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer

"Perfect obedience produces perfect faith."

This book does three things. It provides a history of the foundation of the Mormon church, how the outlawing of polygamy led to the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), and the story of two FLDS brothers who murdered their sister-in-law and her infant child because they believed God had commanded them to. I picked this book up because I was interested in learning more about polygamy because of Big Love, and boy, did I ever. This was an enthralling book from start to finish.

1. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke

"Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians."

But these magicians were theoretical magicians, who merely studied the old spells; no one had performed practical magic in centuries. Not, that is, until Mr Norrell made his presence known: stuffy, insecure, pedantic, nonetheless he was able to conjure real magic. He takes Jonathan Strange as his student, and the two restore England to a world of fairy roads and realms, use magic in the war against Napoleon's France, and find themselves on the trail of the last great magician, John Uskglass, the legendary Raven King. This is a wonderful book - engrossing, detailed, humorous, lyrical. Laura and I own three copies between us, and we both lament the fact that there isn't more book out there for us to read.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Meta Data 2009 Part II.

Number of TV episodes...
...that were one-hour: 331/508 (65%)
...that were half-hour: 177/508 (35%)

...that were SF/fantasy/horror: 254/508 (50%) (EXACTLY)

...that I watched live +7: 152/508 (30%)
...that I watched on DVD/Hulu one week or more after original airdate: 356/508 (70%)

...that originally aired on network TV: 278/508 (55%)
...that originally aired on basic cable: 12/508 (2%)
...that originally aired on pay cable: 77/508 (15%)
...that originally aired on British TV: 66/508 (13%)
...that originally aired in syndication (this is basically how many TNG episodes): 104/508 (20%)

(These numbers don't add up; I have a total of 537 episodes, so I doubled up a few episodes here and there; I doubt it would change the percentages that much, and I am not going through again.)

And, finally, number of TV shows of which I watched at least one episode: 34.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Meta Data 2009.

Number of Books...
...that were fiction: 38/51 (75%)
...that were non-fiction: 13/51 (25%)

...that were graphic novels: 8/51 (16%)
...that were part of a series: 17/51 (33%)

...that were about Ancient Rome: 9/51 (18%)
...that took place during the Napoleonic Wars: 3/51 (6%)

...that were SF: 9/51 (18%)
...that were fantasy: 5/51 (10%)
...that were horror: 12/51 (24%)
...that were horror and about vampires: 9/51 (18%)

...that were either SF, set in Ancient Rome, or were about vampires: 27/51 (53%)

Number of Movies...
...that I saw in the theater: 10/70 (14%)
...that I saw on DVD or VHS: 60/70 (86%)

...that were narrative: 62/70 (89%)
...that were documentaries: 8/70 (11%)

...that came out this year: 15/70 (21%)
...that came out in 2008: 16/70 (23%)
...that came out between 2000-2007: 11/70 (16%)

...that came out this past decade: 42/70 (60%)

...that came out in the 90s: 4/70 (6%)
...that came out in the 80s: 3/70 (4%)
...that came out in the 70s: 7/70 (10%)
...that came out in the 60s: 3/70 (4%)
...that came out in the 50s: 5/70 (7%)
...that came out in the 40s: 4/70 (6%)
...that came out in the 20s or 30s: 2/70 (3%)

...that were comedies: 10/70 (14%)
...that were dramas: 27/70 (39%)
...that were SF/fantasy/horror: 20/70 (29%)

This was more for my own purposes than anything else. I was curious how my entertainment choices broke down. I was surprised by the fact that I watched more straight-forward dramas than I did genre films, that more than half the books I read were in one of three categories, and that I only went to see ten movies in the theater, which is less than one a month.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New December Media.

48. The Road to Mars, Eric Idle. 12-4.
49. Club Dead, Charlaine Harris. 12-7.
50. Dead to the World, Charlaine Harris. 12-11.
51. Escape, Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer. 12-25.

63. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). 12-5.
64. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009). 12-11.
65. The Maltese Falcon (1941). 12-16.
66. Scrooge (1951). 12-20.
67. Little Women (1949). 12-25.
68. The Proposal (2009). 12-26.
69. Sherlock Holmes (2009). 12-30.
70. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008). 12-31.

Television Episodes
480. Glee - 1x12 - “Mattress.” 12-2.
481. Fringe - 1x08 - “The Equation.” 12-2.
482. The Office - 6x11 - “Scott’s Tots.” 12-3.
483. 30 Rock - 4x07 - “Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001.” 12-3.
484. The Tudors - 1x01 - “In Cold Blood.” 12-5.
485. Fringe - 1x09 - “The Dreamscape.” 12-7.
486. The Tudors - 1x02 - “Simply Henry.” 12-8.
487. Fringe - 1x10 - “Safe.” 12-8.
488. Glee - 1x13 - “Sectionals.” 12-9.
489. Modern Family - 1x10 - “Undeck the Halls.” 12-9.
490. 30 Rock - 4x08 - “Secret Santa.” 12-11.
491. The Office - 6x12 - “Secret Santa.” 12-12.
492. Fringe - 1x11 - “Bound.” 12-13.
493. Father Ted - 3x05 - “Escape From Victory.” 12-13.
494. Fringe - 1x12 - “The No-Brainer.” 12-14.
495. Father Ted - 3x06 - “Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse.” 12-14.
496. Father Ted - 3x07 - “Night of the Nearly Dead.” 12-14.
497. Fringe - 1x13 - “Transformation.” 12-17.
498. The Tudors - 1x03 - “Wolsey, Wolsey, Wolsey!” 12-18.
499. Fringe - 1x14 - “Ability.” 12-19.
500. The Tudors - 1x04 - “His Majesty, the King.” 12-19.
501. Father Ted - 3x08 - “Going to America.” 12-21.
502. Fringe - 1x15 - “Inner Child.” 12-23.
503. Fringe - 1x16 - “Unleashed.” 12-23.
504. Fringe - 1x17 - “Bad Dreams.” 12-25.
505. Fringe - 1x18 - “Midnight.” 12-29.
506. Fringe - 1x19 - “The Road Not Taken.” 12-30.
507. Fringe - 1x20 - “There’s More Than One of Everything.” 12-31.
508. Star Trek - 1x26 - “Errand of Mercy.” 12-31.

I ended up squeaking by on books and TV; it was a lot closer than I thought it would be, especially considering how much TV I'd had logged by mid-year. Honestly, though, I find that I'm less interested in trying to reach some arbitrary goal as much as I like keeping track of these things. I don't know why, really; some odd kind of organizational bent, perhaps, or my general love for meta.

I think next year my goal will be to read one classic book I've never read before, and to have watched every movie on the AFI Top 100 of All Time list; I've seen a lot of those already, obviously, but there's still quite a few that I haven't. (OMG, I still have never actually watched Casablanca all the way through from start to finish, although I've watched chunks of it, have read the script, and have written two separate college papers on it.) I don't have any TV goals, heh; clearly I'm on top of TV.