Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Three Days and Counting...

Ah yes, just three short days until my intrepid teammates and I journey to NYC for our game show audition. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm damn excited and have been studying for the big event around my work and moving schedule for a while now. What is more interesting than the tidbits I've actually LEARNED are the tidbits I've learned I already knew. Some examples? Let's see...

- Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy, is the European world-leader who covered up recent hair plugs by wearing a white scarf around his head during a visit with Tony Blair in 2004

- Rod Stewart used to be a gravedigger

- David Lee Roth is the former Van Halen member who began training to become a paramedic at the ripe old age of 50

- I can identify a visually obscured headshot of Antonio Sabato Jr. in record time

This is simultaneously why I'm a good potential game show contestant and an enormous, enormous nerd. FYI, If you'd like to see how my friends Pat and Jeff did at their audition, check out Pat's blog.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fearsome things...

Found this on the internets today with the following caption:

"The only thing more fearsome than a shark, is a bear holding a shark."

Thank you fark.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The "Thai Kitchen" is Closed

I'm not normally one to review food items, but today I'm going to make an exception. Usually, I cook my own food from unprocessed ingredients...I'll bake up a chicken, cook some green beans, bake a potato and voila...lunch and/or dinner. Yesterday, on a trip to Whole Foods, I decided to get a little creative and try to get on board with this whole "convenience trend," so I bought a product called Thai Kitchen Noodle Cart Single Serve Size Thai Peanut Instant Rice Noodles & Sauce. Let me tell you, this whole convenience thing is WAY overrated.

Though the picture is small, behold lovely rice noodles in a delicate peanut sauce. You can practically hear the squeaky wheels of a Thai noodle cart just by gazing at the box. Unfortunately, although I more or less followed the directions, the noodles soaked up so much water that they instantly turned into a white, congealed gooey mess. In fact, when I opened the microwave I saw that a few brave noodles had even tried a daring escape, veritably leaping out of their included plastic microwaveable tray. Sticking with my experiment, I added the oil and seasoning in a vain attempt to create the "sauce" of which this product boasted. Instead, I ended up with a white, congealed gooey mess studded with tiny peanut chunks. Yum.

I thought to myself, "Maybe this is merely a cosmetic difference...maybe it will TASTE just fine." No. I'd like to proclaim here and now that it did not "taste fine." It in fact tasted like starchy, plastic-y noodles covered with peanut bits...a point I confirmed with three co-workers willing to substantiate my findings. Thanks guys.

I could widen this review into a modern-day fable by pointing out that "You get out of something what you put into it" and "In life, there are no shortcuts." Instead, I'm thinking of complaining to the Thai Kitchen people. Maybe I'll get coupons or something.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Beware the Syph

I'm going to go ahead and review another movie I'm pretty sure no one cares about, but which gave me nearly an hour and a half of hysterical laughter and joy...She's Too Young, care of the Lifetime Network.

For my money there is nothing, NOTHING more unintentionally funny than the movies shown on Lifetime. I feel as though Lifetime programming executives concoct all of their plots from a menu of characters, situations, crises and ailments. For instance, complete the following plot synopsis by circling one option on each line....

Kidnapped/Raped/Murdered/Otherwise Maimed, Attacked or Molested/Harassed/Turned on to Drugs/Turned on to Prostitution/Infected with Something
By a
Bad Husband/Jealous Boyfriend/Otherwise OK Boyfriend/Male Stalker/Creepy Boss/The Captain of the Football Team/Man

There, I've described every film in Lifetime's movie schedule for the next three years. You're welcome.

Anyway, She's Too Young is a doozy. It stars Marcia Gay Harden (a good actress! Where's Lindsay Wagner when you need her?) and Alexis Dziena of TV's Invasion as Trish and Hanna Vogul, a mother and daughter duo living in nowhere American suburbia (The dad barely does ANYTHING in this entire film except look concerned, therefore this is the last time you'll be hearing about him). There's nothing special about the family or their nondescript hometown...which is why it's supposed to be super frightening when 15 year old Hanna gets...duh Duh DUNNNNN...syphilis.

It is at this point that I'd like to bring attention to the movie's tagline, "To fit in, you've got to put out."

Yes, poor Hannah has contracted the dreaded syph, and her entire school is abuzz with speculation as to the givers and receivers of said VD. You see, lots of people at Hannah's school have been turning up with many that the school nurse has sent out an all points bulletin to the entire school warning them that perhaps, if they too have been dirty little freshmen, that they should get tested for syph. This of course gives the nurse ample opportunity for lengthy monologues all about syphilis and how it is spread. The "Principal," yet another completely ineffectual male, also gets an earful of teen sex statistics once there is a looming outbreak. Thanks, buzzkill.

Hannah is pretty quiet about her affliction, at first sharing the news only with her nerd-with-a-heart-of-gold-friend-who's-a-boy-but-not-her-boyfriend-friend. The others...well, they're more vocal about it. In one PRICELESS scene Nick Hartman, star athlete and all-star syph-spreader, tells the nurse (and everyone in the waiting room) that if he's got syph she'd better test everybody, because he's been banging A LOT. Awesome.

Eventually, Hannah's erratic behavior clues corporate executive Mom in to the fact that there may be a problem (By the way, kids with stay-at-home Moms never catch VD). Inevitably, there is a mother-daughter confrontation, during which 15 year old Hannah eventually yells "I have SYPHILIS...OK?!?!" at the top of her lungs. It was at this point that my roommate walked in, and my love of Lifetime...Television for Women was discovered. Anyway, Hannah explains that all she did was go down on Nick Hartman, and only to fit in and be cool. Hannah sweetie, that trick only works in COLLEGE.

Mom is horrified and proceeds to talk to everyone in town about how her daughter got the syph, even going so far as to set up a town meeting for parents to talk about their kids' syph-catching ways. Additionally, she holds personal meetings with other parents to talk about syphilis, including ones with Permissive Hot Mom, Deluded Christian Mom, and Rich Disaffected Mom (who happens to be the mom of Patient Zero, Nick Hartman). This of course horrifies Hannah, but too bad...this working Mom's gotta take care of business...her daughter's lady business that is. Sorry.

At this point in the film, we also get to see what kinds of pressures girls face these days just to "fit in." Boring, except for the fact that the daughter of Deluded Christian Mom is of course banging everything in sight.

Hannah's been ostracized at school, fondly referred to as "that chick with VD and the crazy VD-obsessed Mom." Of course, her friend-who-isn't-her-boyfriend has been seeing her through this whole crisis, and in a sweet high school moment admits his love for her. They kiss. Awwwww...then Hannah mounts him and goes STRAIGHT FOR HIS CROTCH. I kid you not. Of course, in TV Movieland, nice boys like him tell girls that waiting and taking it slow is a great idea...they have forever to get to know each other "that way," so why don't they just cuddle blah blah. Hannah responds with what might be the greatest line of dialogue in the entire film, "It's ok, it's been two weeks...I don't have syphilis anymore." Ah, young love.

Mom meanwhile is just SURE that her daughter is off playing hide-the-salami with more members of the football team, so she uses her IM account to find out where the party at and heads off on what would soon be a very revealing fact-finding mission. Seriously, this high school party was 1,000 times more exciting than anything I ever went to, and I'm pretty sure things haven't changed THAT much in 10 years. What's the coup de grace you ask? Drinking? Drugs? Oh they're there, but they're just the warm up. How about a girl pulling a train in the spare bedroom? Choo choo! I mean... ding ding ding!

Mom is suitable horrified and tears out of there in a panic. Meanwhile, Hannah has taken her friend's desire to "take things slow" as rejection, and in a nonsensical subplot heads to the very same high school party in search of her friend, the Christian Soldier (who happens to be busy with a three-way in a parked car...seriously). Since it wouldn't be a Lifetime movie without the threat of at least one rape, she gets attacked by a lurking predator before being saved by the camera phone-armed friend-who-is-now-her-boyfriend. He takes her home to Mom, the syph has been cured for dear Hannah, and everyone has learned an important lesson...namely, do NOT go down on Nick Hartman. That guy is DIRTY.

Of course this movie was followed up by the obligatory public service announcement about syphilis, which was only missing the "The More You Know" banner. On a side note, I have to add that I was creeped out in general by Hanna's mounting and probing of the friend-soon-to-become-her-boyfriend. The actress (Alexis Dziena) has a seriously weird Lolita vibe about her on Invasion too, and I couldn't put my finger on it until I looked her up on IMBD. It turns out that she's actually 22 but looks MAYBE 15. Mystery solved!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Alright you Freshman Bitches!

For those of you NOT in Washington today, you are truly missing one of the greatest things about this town...the randomly unseasonable weather we occasionally get this time of year. It's sunny, breezy and about 75 degrees and I couldn't have a worse case of spring fever right now if I wanted to. Of course, this has set my mind wandering back to my favorite film rite-of-spring, Dazed and Confused.

I love this film. It's in my top 10 personal favorites list (a list I will work to publish here sometime in the future). It's got well-known actors prior to their "big breaks," funny dialogue, quotable lines and not one but TWO count 'em TWO awesome soundtracks (Any soundtrack featuring "Summer Breeze" by Seals & Croft automatically gets the "awesome" tag, FYI). There are hot guys for the girls, hot girls for the guys and vice versa for all my gay friends. Additionally, it is set in the 70's with prodigious displays of 70's men's fashion. Ben Affleck also gets a bucket of paint dumped on his head, and young Mitchy gets drunk, high and makes out with an "older girl" all on the eve of his high school career. It's a glorious ode to summer, and one which makes me wish I had a "party at the moontower" to attend this evening.

I'd also like to note here that for the record, in high school I was very much like the red-headed nerdy girl who ends up getting hit on by a skeevy Matthew McConaughey. Except I didn't have a car.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More Thoughts About Oscar

Now that I've recovered from Crash's big win, I thought I'd wax philosophical on another part of the Oscar experience: the pre-show. First of all, I'd like to say that I hate Billy Bush with an unrivaled passion. He's a horrible interviewer and the king of awkward-but-not-awkward-enough-to-be-funny moments. Secondly, he just seems like a smug little prick, and I was glad to see him fired from DC radio years ago.

I would like to commend Vanessa Minnillo on her red carpet skillz, however. She actually managed to avoid embarrassing herself, looking as though she actually has done some research in her life as a journalist. For instance, asking Jake Gyllenhaal whether his parents, who are both "in the biz," help him choose his film roles was a decent question, and we were all thankfully spared another question about man-on-man kissing scenes. Although her interview with Paul Giamatti ran a touch long, overall I give her props. Good work Vanessa.

Next, Cynthia Garrett appeared to be channeling Zena Warrior Princess. If only I could find a screencap to prove it...

Good lord. Do NOT do a Google image search for Zena.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Paging all Racists...

Sorry for the long "hiatus." This past week or so has been what my friend Erin named "the week your whole life exploded and was then quickly put back together." Not a bad description.

Anyway, I started this review pre-Oscars, and I'm finishing it now... not that my opinion of it has changed. I saw all the nominees for Best Picture this year, with Crash coming in just under the wire as my Saturday night viewing choice. Honestly...I can't understand people's fascination with this film and I certainly don't understand the Best Picture nod. There were definitely some worthwhile performances...Don Cheadle and Terrence Howard stood out to me particularly. But as I said to friends of mine watching it with me, it played like a character study in racist douchebags. Just a parade of after the other. Most of them weren't even complicated racists...just your garden variety insulated-from-humanity jerks.

Perhaps that's the point. But ugh. That's the overriding feeling I got from the movie. I had my first "ugh moment" when Don Cheadle said his bit about all of us crashing into one another to truly feel something. Can someone say "pretensious philosophy major poetry assignment?" Ugh. It was then that I realized that I wasn't going to like this movie. It's pretty easy for me to take a judgemental view early in the viewing of a movie, but it's also pretty easy for a movie to change my mind. This one didn't.

I agree with other reviewers who have said that there were just simply too many characters for many of them to be developed really fully. Perhaps that's why Don Cheadle and Terrence Howard stood out...I think they had the most meat on their bones of any of the characters in the film. I also agree with reviewers who didn't appreciate the point of the movie being bludgeoned into them over and over, particularly when the bludgeoning was being done care of completely over-the-top characters. I'm looking at you, traffic stop fondling Matt Dillon.

Additionally, I didn't feel like some of the "redemption" scenes played well either, at least not for me. Sandra Bullock's character is an angry, bitchy racist hag and her friends are too. She falls down the stairs, only to find that the only person willing to help her is her hispanic maid. She hugs her, they share a moment, *tear.* The end. Your friends are horrible and self-centered and you don't realize it AT ALL until one of them won't interrupt their MASSAGE to come and get your hurt ass off the floor? Bludgeoning accomplished.

Althogether, I think the film took a really simplistic view of a really complicated topic and made their VIEW complicated by throwing every ethnicity, stereotype and character actor in Hollywood into the movie. I just didn't think the flick was nearly as deep and meaningful as it clearly wanted to be...which led me to view it as a trite "ensemble piece." Again, ugh.