January 14, 2011

Bang Cartoon Radio Hour

The guys at the Bang Cartoon Radio Hour have recently invited me to send in weekly recordings for their podcast. I'm nervous, but excited about it.

If you've never listened to the podcast, I will warn you that it is not safe for work or small children. If you are easily offended, it's probably best not to follow the link.

On the other hand, if you like listening to a couple of foul-mouthed guys make crude jokes about football, you can download my debut here: http://www.bangcartoon.com/podcasts/radiohour/bangcast175.mp3 (NSFW!)

June 15, 2010

Ann Sheridan

I was watching SILVER RIVER (1948) on TCM. Ann Sheridan had an amazing ability to scowl without causing a crease or wrinkle. Pretty impressive in the pre-Botox era. And unlike the frozen faced beauties of today, there was still tension and emotion in her facial expressions. Plus, when the scene called for something stronger, she could still move her face. When a line does appear, you know it's serious business.

July 10, 2009

Buffy vs Edward mash-up

School is out for summer and the kids have been keeping me busy. I will post more regularly after the start of the school year. In the meantime, I had to share this brilliant mash-up video. Not only do I find the concept hilarious, I am also impressed with the editing.

The remix created, Johnathan McIntosh, posted a guest blog about why he made this video at WIMN.

June 2, 2009

Up at the drive-in

Once again, the kids and I found ourselves at the drive-in this weekend. Turns out the drive-in has one irresistible feature. The price. For ten dollars, the three of us get to see two movies. Hard to beat that.

The simple plot is presented in a sweet, elegant fashion that makes it perfect for a family night or a date movie. Ed Asner is fantastic as the grumpy old man. Take some tissues. I was weepy fifteen minutes into the movie. The execution is what makes this film so great. You just have to see it to appreciate it.

Final Grade: A

This weekend's double bill was supposed to be UP and RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN. But when we got to the theater, they had made a change. Instead of Witch Mountain, we had to watch Star Trek again. Oh, darn.

STAR TREK (redux)
I felt this movie held up well under a second viewing. The plot still has the same problems, but it wasn't an issue for me last time, either. The lens flares did bother me, though, which is weird because I hardly noticed them the first time.

The characters are even better the second time around. I'm not sure Chris Pine gets enough credit for being able to pull off the cocky but always irritatingly right Kirk. And the Spock/Uhura thing still works for me. But it always did.

May 28, 2009

Night at the drive-in

The kids and I went to the drive-in this weekend. We go about once every summer, although with only one left in the area, I wonder if this might be the last year. I have mixed feelings about the loss of drive-ins. I have fond memories of going when I was a kid, but nostalgia is funny stuff. As an adult, I don't find the experience nearly as enjoyable. I forgot just how rude people can be in the open air, under the cover of night. To say nothing of the condition of the restrooms. But the kids enjoy going despite all that, so who am I to argue? The double bill this weekend consisted of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN and X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE.

BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN is heavy on the slapstick, much like it's predecessor, but with less plot getting in the way. Some of the gags go too long, which seems to be a Ben Stiller hallmark. The only female character of note is Amelia Earhart. She's a sassy, adventure-loving woman of action. The Roaring Twenties slang gets old pretty fast, but it's hard not to like Amy Adams. Hank Azaria's lispy pharaoh, on the other hand, never found the right balance for me. It wasn't a great movie, but it might inspire more trips to the museum, which isn't all bad.
Final grade: C

WOLVERINE is a jumbled mess. It feels like a story written by committee. It's one thing to break with the comic book canon, but this movie doesn't even fall in line with the previous three X-Men movies. Not even special effects could save this flaming heap. Many of the action sequences inspire guffaws instead of awe. Liev Schreiber and Hugh Jackman do their best to inject some depth into their characters, but they are stuck playing in the shallow end of the pool.
Final grade: D

Click here for my guest review of Katie MacAlister's Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang at Katiebabs' blog.

May 8, 2009

Star Trek

There is only one thing I wanted from this movie. I wanted it to not suck. Given that it is an odd numbered movie, there was already a high probability of sucktitude. There is so much canon and iconicity working against a Star Trek prequel, it was almost guarenteed to fail.

Before I continue with the review, I have a confession: I have been in love with Spock since I was nine years old. I grew up back in the stone ages of television when there were only three stations on the VHF dial, TVs had actual dials, and afternoon programming was filled with afterschool specials and syndicated reruns. I didn't always understand the double entendres or the socio-political messages but I understood one very important thing. No matter how much the show might try to convince us otherwise, Spock was the man who broke all the pretty girls' hearts. And I can report, with great fangirl squee, that the makers of this movie totally get that.

I can't lie. This is not a perfect movie. Some of the characters lack depth. There are plot holes. Sometimes they over-play their hand. But there were so many things they got right that I don't care about the flaws. It was exactly the movie I needed it to be. As soon as it was over, my husband and I wanted to see it again. Even more impressive, the movie was able to keep Buttercup and Beanpole engaged throughout. They spent the ride home quoting Scotty and Bones, which was hilarious.

I'm going to wrap things up here to avoid spoiling any of the plot, details, or surprises. This is a movie I will buy on DVD the day it becomes available.

Final grade: A

April 29, 2009

Kitty and the Midnight Hour

Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn is the first book in the Kitty Norville series. It's a paranormal contemporary story that features werewolves, vampires and other supernatural beings living secretly among humans.

Kitty Norville is a late night DJ at a Denver radio station, KNOB. She is also a werewolf in the closet. One night she comments about the frequency of Bat Boy tabloid headlines and invites listeners to call in if they've seen him. The phone lines light up with calls about all manner of paranormal topics. It was just supposed to be inane radio chatter to fill time between records, until an actual vampire calls to ask for advice. The next day she has stacks of phone messages waiting for her. The station manager is so impressed with the volume of calls, he asks her to do a weekly talk show.

Kitty's show, The Midnight Hour, becomes a late-night sensation. Ratings are so good, it goes into syndication. The problem is her pack leader, Carl, feels the show attracts unwanted attention and undermines his authority over his pack. Kitty, the baby of the pack, is normally the most submissive. But her pride in the show prompts her to offer Carl half the syndication earnings, which is enough to convince him to let her keep doing the show. Unfortunately, the head of the local vampire family, Arturo, doesn't like the show either and hires an assassin.

Arturo, having a flair for the dramatic, gives instructions for the hit to take place while the show is on the air. Kitty manages to keep the hitman talking long enough for the cops to arrive, but in the process reveals her secret to the listening audience. This is great for ratings, but seriously complicates Kitty's life. Her human coworkers and family have lots of questions. She's on the outs with her pack. Arturo still wants her dead. And now the police want her to answer questions about a series of deaths previously thought to be animal attacks.

We watch Kitty grow as she tried to find her place in the pack and outside of it. She struggles with the question of how and when a person should trade security for independence. Freedom can be scary. She also has to deal with the discrimination of being something other than the norm.

The story address questions about how human and supernatural societies could live together peaceably. Does a pack have the right to discipline their own? What would happen if you put a werewolf in the human prison system? It also deals with the psychological issues supernaturals must face. Can a vampire still be Catholic? If there was a cure, would you take it? Is it wrong to want to be something other than human?

To put it bluntly, I loved this book. I am a big fan of genre fiction, especially when it rises above popcorn fare and makes the reader think. This book goes on the keeper shelf. I highly recommend it. I may even buy an extra copy to loan to friends. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Final grade: A

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