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

Don't forget, May 1st is Buy Indie Day.
Shop Indie Bookstores

April 27, 2009

Quick Notes

I hope to take Buttercup and Beanpole to see BATTLE FOR TERRA this weekend. Keith Calder (follow him on Twitter), a friend of mine, is a producer for the film. Here's hoping for a big opening weekend.

* * * * *

Click here to check out my guest review of Vision In White by Nora Roberts at Katiebabs' blog.

* * * * *

Don 't forget, May 1st is Buy Indie Day. If you can't make it to your local bookstore, you can still support them by ordering through IndieBound.


How I review

I started this blog for my own amusement. I don't solicit free copies and I don't get paid for my reviews. Unless stated otherwise, I purchase all the books and DVDs I review for this blog. While I do my best to provide honest commentary on why I like or dislike a story, my comments are strictly my opinion. I try to identify specifics (such as originality, plot and character development, quality of performances and writing) whenever possible.
Grade A: Love it. Highly recommend it. A definite keeper.

Grade B:
Like it. Would recommend it. Probably a keeper.

Grade C:
An average read. Might recommend it, but probably as a library read. Likely headed to the used bookstore (if a book or DVD).

Grade D:
Didn't like it. Wouldn't recommend it. Headed to the used bookstore.

Grade F:
Finished it but wished I hadn't. A waste of time and money. Definitely headed to the used bookstore if it doesn't end up in the trash.

Not rated because I did not finish. It could be it wasn't my kind of thing or might be so bad I just couldn't finish it.
Opinions are by nature subjective and any number of outside factors affect mine, including but not limited to the weather, my mood, Daylights Savings, or the quality and amount of caffeine and/or wine I've had recently. I do not moderate comments on this blog. If you don't agree with my opinion, feel free to let me know. Yours is just as valid as mine.

April 19, 2009

Found on Twitter

To misquote Forrest Gump, Twitter's like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. Here are some links from this week that I thought were interesting.

Silk & Shadows » Blog Archive » Dark heroes wanted: Wimps need not apply
A look at what Joss Whedon can teach us about dark heroes.

seanan mcguire: Attack of the unstoppable TOILET SHARK.
A must read for anyone who lives with a kitten. Or puppy. Or small child.

Lindsay Lohan's eHarmony Profile from Lindsay Lohan and Eric Appel
Lindsay shows off her sense of humor in a self-deprecating eHarmony ad. (video)

ABC News Romantic Readings: 60 Years of Harlequin
George Will, Cheryl Hines and others read from Harlequin romance novels (video)

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
Alan Rickman reading Sonnet 130. *swoon* (downloadable mp3)

P.S. Sorry about the problems with commenting. I have corrected the errant settings. Comment to your heart's content!

April 18, 2009

The Geek Quiz

82% Geek

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Sites

Monsters vs Aliens

We took the kids, Buttercup (13) and Beanpole (10), to see Monsters Vs Aliens this week. It was nice to see a movie aimed at 12-year-olds and their parents. So many kids movies seem to be aimed at 4-year-olds. While I understand and respect the 4-year-old audience, my kids and I have both outgrown those types of movies.

Sometimes known faces make lousy voice actors. But the cast of MvA works well. Reese Witherspoon's voice is perfect for the spunky Susan. Seth Rogan is spot-on as the mindless blog. Stephen Colbert voices a scene-stealing president that looks suspiciously like Tek Jansen. Hugh Laurie reminds us of his comic roots as the cockroach/mad scientist. And Rainn Wilson is perfectly over the top as the evil alien, Gallaxhar. And who else but Kiefer Sutherland could voice the hard-nosed military leader?

MvA is Susan's story and it's great to see a tween movie with a female protagonist that isn't' pink, girly fluff. As an added bonus, the movie doesn't beat you over the head with a moral message. This movie never takes itself too seriously and pays homage to its B-movie roots with a soundtrack that features fun tracks like "Planet Claire", "Wooly Bully", and "Purple People Eater". There are explosions and fart jokes, plus enough pop culture references to keep parents laughing. We will definitely be adding this one to the DVD collection.

Final grade: B

April 12, 2009

It's a matter of choice

Almost every site that reviews books links to Amazon. It makes sense. Amazon has a great interface, provides reviews, and their affiliates program allows reviewers and bloggers to earn a little money off of their clicks. I also signed up for an affiliates account. But Amazon's new policy has me rethinking that decision.

In his recent Live Journal post, Mark Probst explains that his YA book, The Filly, was stripped of it's Amazon sales ranking because they considered it "adult" material. The Filly features a gay romance. Hundreds of other gay and lesbian books have also been been stripped of their sales rankings, along with many erotica titles. Books like Playboy Centerfolds, The Complete Collection seem unaffected by this new policy. Meta Writer has posted a collection of links about the topic. You can also follow the discussion on Twitter with the #amazonfail tag. Booksquare has issued an open letter to Amazon in response to this policy change.

I can't support this hypocrisy. To that end, I have decided to switch to an IndieBound Affiliates account. I realize my small protest won't change the world. It probably will not even be noticed by Amazon. It's also unlikely that I will make money from IndieBound links. Most people will still head over to Amazon for their purchases and I'm ok with that. IndieBound doesn't have a nifty ereader or One-Click check out. They do, however, support local bookstores. I like that idea. And honestly, it's not about the money. It's a personal choice.

As long as I am on the subject of independent bookstores, I should also mention that May 1st is Buy Indie Day. The idea was first proposed on Twitter by Joe Finder. From Joe's site:
"Please support your local independent bookstore. Buy a hardcover, paperback or audio book on May 1, 2009 at an indie near you. Join the "Buy Indie" Facebook group for more info."
Shop Indie Bookstores

April 10, 2009


Welcome to my new blog. Here, I plan to discuss my love of story. Movies, television, music, streaming video, podcasts, books of any kind. I love them all.

To kick things off, you can check out my review of Larissa Ione's Passion Unleashed at Katiebabs' Babbling About Books blog.

Here's a peek at what kinds of stories I'm into at the moment.

Currently I am reading the following books:
In the Bleak Midwinter
Pleasure Unbound
Kitty and the Midnight Hour

The Mentalist, Castle, Dollhouse and Lie to Me are part of my regular DVR rotation. I'm anxiously awaiting the return of Dr. Who, Dexter, and Leverage.

The last movie I saw at the theater was The Watchmen, which I thoroughly enjoyed. My most recent DVD purchase was Ironman.

The podcasts on my iPod include Billybud Baddings, Wormwood, and Writing Excuses (because the craft of creating story is just as interesting to me as the stories themselves).

I love recommendations of any genre or format. What are you watching, listening to, or reading?