c o l u m b i n a

"by her keen and active wit, she [ is ] able to hold her own in every situation and emerge with ease and dignity from the most involved intrigues." ~ Duchartre

Monday, November 29, 2004

a little light reading...

when I'm supposed to be doing a 1000 and one other more important things. Because I was between books for a millisecond, fanfic has regained its hold and I've caught up some stories I've missed.

First on the list was A.J. Hall's Lust Over Pendle which is shockingly well written and terribly addictive (thanks Tinka for the recommendation). I would have never before believed that Draco could be transformed into Peter Wimsey and I'm glad that I was proved wrong. In fact, I generally make a point of avoiding Draco fic if I can help it (nothing but Snape for me in that fandom, especially Nomad's unparalleled Conspiracy of Silence series and Kaz's slightly naughty Falling Further In) but now I think I'll have to give it a chance. At least with the rest of Hall's work, for now. Also shocking how easy it is to like Draco and forgive him for everything (most likely because I've never liked Harry all that much) and subtle hints of Draco/Hermoine chemistry. (Thank god Hall didn't go with that pairing but still, their odd friendship is so well written that I finally see the appeal of that 'ship. To this extent, my mind was boggled this afternoon.) Anyway, major points for originality make up for any non-canon business and for allowing Neville to be the hero I've always known was in him.

Next, a shocking amount of really awful original CSI fiction featuring G/S that doesn't seem to account for either one of their personalities or any plot whatsoever. (Not to mention a disturbing tendency towards monologuing, spoken and unspoken. Dear God, make it stop.) One expects rubbish from ff.net but the Unbound Forum too? Extremely disappointing. If anyone knows of an archive that has passable fic in this fandom, I would be truly surprised and grateful to hear it.

Lost is finally generating major fiction momentum, not surprisingly. Heaping huge piles of Claire/Charlie fic, and Kate/Sawyer fights it out with Kate/Jack. Best I've seen so far is Comic Book Cliches (K/J), though I haven't been particularly thorough (mostly because I'm no Sawyer fan, and Claire is still undeveloped as far as canon goes-- that peanut butter incident with Charlie a couple eps ago seems to have spawned enough plot bunnies to keep many people busy).

Funnily enough, that led to a great Gilmore Girls fic Any Other Day, my first read in the fandom. And it was pretty darn good, chock full of fluffy goodness a la early Josh/Donna WW fic (think Seasons 1 + 2), not to mention good canon adherement in tone and character (and even as I have only been catching re-runs for a few weeks now, I think my assessment is still valid). Thus another fandom is added to the reading list.

Now that I've got that off my chest, experienced a little bit of guilt that I have at least five stories in various stages of development, some of which I haven't touched in over a year and don't exactly have ideas for further progress for coupled with major plot bunnies for a dozen others that I have no time or inclination to even begin to write, I must go and get some work of consequence done before bedtime or I won't be able to look myself in the mirror later.

Friday, November 26, 2004

jonathan strange & mr. norrell

finally finished the 782-page behemoth yesterday and set it aside with equal parts pride, relief and glee. The phenomenal writing style of Susanna Clarke is what sets it apart from other HP wannabes, and it is a delightful winter read. The twist at the end, if one can even call it a twist, was unexpected and though one hopes for a little more solvency, it finishes well. (Certain individuals had hinted to me that the ending was revolutionary which of course, set my wheels a-spinning. I was convinced for some while that Strange and Norrell would be found to be the same person, just divided, somehow. This, however, is complete bollocks, as is the assumption that the final chapters turn the whole world upside-down.) Anyway, brava Miss Clarke for a heroic and well-written first novel, and I expect to see much more in the years to come.

Friday, November 19, 2004

prepping the next AFI countdown

I admit it: whenever the "100 Best..." movie shows come on, I tune in. I can't help it-- it's almost a compulsion by now. And I cry and raise my fists in the air and shout and make all kinds of fuss at their ultimate decisions-- all amidst reveling in their good pics, especially those that take me by surprise. Via beautiful stuff, the next one is 100 Movies, 100 Catchphrases. The good people at AFI are circulating a list of 400 quotes with good and bad choices for the 100 best. A sampling, with some thoughts:

1. Lots and lots from Casablanca. As well there should be. They've got massive potential for the top spots, especially the top ten: "We'll always have Paris." "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By." "Of all the gin joints, in all the world, she walks into mine." "Louis, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." "Round up the usual suspects." And I can go on, if you like...

2. Equally, several from the Godfather films, the Quote Movie to end all Quote Movies for Guys. "Leave the gun, take the cannoli." "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse."

3. Spielberg gets a couple nods: "ET Phone Home" from E.T. the Extraterrestrial; "Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes!" from Raiders of the Lost Ark; "You're gonna need a bigger boat" from Jaws; "Life finds a way" from Jurassic Park; "Earn this" from Saving Private Ryan. Which is fine, but Hitchcock films are non-existent on the list, sadly.

4. Far too many action-film one-liners. "I'll be back" and "Hasta la vista, baby" from the Terminator movies; "You have to ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" from one of the Dirty Harry films; "Yo, Adrian!" from Rocky; "I feel the need... the need for speed" from Top Gun; and my favorite, and the only ones I give credence to: "Bond. James Bond" and "I'll have a martini. Shaken, not stirred" from the Bond films. It's unfortunate, but I have a sneaking suspicion that many of these will be on the list, and more highly ranked than they deserve.

5. Several from kiddie classic The Wizard of Oz, which could work in its favor, considering the film made the AFI top ten and the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was the #1 movie song: "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too." "There's no place like home." "Follow the yellow brick road." "Lions, tigers and bears, oh my!" "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

6. Similarly, there are a few from the Ultimate Women's Weeper, Gone with the Wind: "Fiddle-dee-dee." "Tomorrow is another day." "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." (Which I think will be number one, or at least in the top 5.)

7. Several I was surprised to see make the list of 400, and I will be genuinely shocked (and ridiculously happy) if they make it into the top 100: Ingrid Bergman's "Because I am mad..." speech from Gaslight; Deborah Kerr's memorable line from Tea and Sympathy, which they ended up using in the pilot episode of Remington Steele: "Years from now, when you speak of this, and you will, please, be kind"; and my favorite, "The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true" spoken by the one and only Danny Kaye in The Court Jester.

8. But most are the token phrases that come up all the time in lists such as these: "Nature... is what we are put on earth to rise above" from The African Queen; Garbo's "I vant to be a-lone"; Reagan's dying "...win one for the Gipper"; "Fasten your seatbelts- it's going to be a bumpy night" from All About Eve; "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" from Network; Olivier's paranoid "Is it safe?" from Marathon Man; "You can't handle the truth!" from A Few Good Men; "I'm having an old friend for dinner" from Silence of the Lambs; James Dean's frustrate "You're tearing me apart!" from Rebel Without a Cause; Brando's "I could have been a contender" speech from On the Waterfront; "If you build it, he will come" from Field of Dreams; Heston's pissy "damn dirty ape speech from Planet of the Apes; "The stuff dreams are made of" from the Maltese Falcon; "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille" from Sunset Boulevard; "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown" from Chinatown; "It's alive!" from Frankenstein and "La-di-da" from Annie Hall.

9. But no list would be complete without the modern movie catchphrases that pale in comparison: "My preciooooous" from The Lord of the Rings movies; "One milliiiion dollars" from the Austin Powers movies; "I'll have what she's having" from When Harry Met Sally...; "To infinity and beyond!" from Toy Story; "We're on a mission from God" from The Blues Brothers; the "Life moves pretty fast..." speech from Ferris Bueller's Day Off; "You talkin' to me?" from Taxi Driver; "I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen" from Say Anything...; and the ultimate "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die" from The Princess Bride.

10. Lastly, this one caught my eye: "Elementary, my dear Watson" from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a phrase that is so integrally connected to the character of Holmes that most people think it comes from Conan Doyle himself and not the movie. Now that is a movie catch-phrase with power.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

more da vinci code nonsense

So I mentioned my, erm, uneasiness with the casting of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. Most fellow bloggers seem to be preoccupied with casting the new James Bond, a horse I've beaten to death in several posts already. (Ioan, Ioan, Ioan. And that's all I have to say about that.) But I decided to use my magnificient hypothetical casting skills and apply them to the task of assigning the roles of Langdon (we're just pretending that Hanks thing never happened), Sophie Neveu, and Leigh Teabing.

Let us begin with some of the choices for Langdon that were circulating prior to this week:

1. Tim Robbins, otherwise known as the protestor who dates Susan Sarandon or Andy of Shawshank Redemption fame. I admit, he's professor material and when he applies himself, has a great deal of charm. But he isn't exactly box office gold, nor does it seem like a project he'd be interested in (has he ever been in a romantic comedy since Bull Durham?). Also, he's pushing the age limit similar to Hanks.

2. Greg Kinnear. An interesting choice from left field. Boyish, all-American charm does not however make up for his previous experience in mostly supporting roles of loveable intellectual doofuses (or is it doofi?).

3. Richard Gere. Another very interesting choice and one with a bit more to ground it than #2. Gere does remarkably well in thrillers (Primal Fear kicked some serious ass), he can charm the pants off anything that moves while maintaining an air of erudition. It's too bad he wasn't given some real consideration.

4. William Peterson. Yep, everyone's favorite grumpy lead CSI was touted by many as a great Langdon. We know that shots of him thinking hard play well on the small screen, but what about the big screen? Quite frankly, as much as I love Grissom (and I do), I can't see it. Maybe if Langdon had a thing for bugs...

5. Gabriel Byrne. I know he was in Stigmata, but just because he investigates one religious thing doesn't mean we should typecast the poor man! (Not to mention he's Irish.)

6. Clive Owen. Perhaps some people are confusing their casting quandaries. He's British, folks. He could be Bond, not Langdon.

7. David Duchovny. I scoffed at first too. But it would work well, I think. He plays best when he's charmingly intelligent and a wise-ass, a la Mulder. He's my favorite option, really.

8. Brendan Fraser. When I was asked months ago to think who'd be a good Langdon, I came back with him. (He's still a great second choice.) He gets short-changed because of the kiddie-animated flicks, but he's a fantastic actor who shines in meaty dramatic roles as well as those more action oriented. If his Rick O'Connell was the Indiana Jones for Generation Y, it fits like a glove. He might suffer from being too young-- though he could always pull off Johnny Depp's aged Corso look from The Nine Gates.

Sophie Neveu is the French leading lady of the book and it has been a matter of debate as to whether TPTB should require that the role be given to a French actress. Some ideas:

1. Rachel Weisz. IMDb's little frontrunner, even though she's British. I could take her or leave her myself; I think it really depends on if she had serious chemistry with whoever played Langdon. And with Hanks as heir-presumptive, well, I think there'd be zero on that front.

2. Sophie Marceau. The other frontrunner, and actually French. I'd say sure, but I'm still pissy about Braveheart and The World is Not Enough. I have no sympathy for her characters- she generally just makes me end up hating them. So... no.

3. Julie Delpy. French-born, not very well known actress whose biggest flicks were the Before Sunrise/Sunset movies with Ethan Hawke (another Langdon candidate). She embodies a sweetness that seems to be just right for Sophie, so for now she's my top choice.

4. Audrey Tautou. Don't make Amelie the go-to girl for every movie that requires an attractive French girl. Just don't.

And lastly, my favorite character of the book, Sir Leigh Teabing, the British eccentric with a library of grail lore, a private jet and a dark secret:

1. Anthony Hopkins. Oh give the man a break already. Not every older British role has to be played by him. He's divine, we all know-- he doesn't need to prove it to us again. He does however have the wicked sense of humor I accredit to Teabing so he might be worth it. Let us just say, I wouldn't complain if he got cast. But really, Mr. Hopkins must be the most mentioned candidate for every book that wants to be made into a movie (I've lost count of how many characters of Dorothy Dunnett's assorted fans want him to play). Get a bit more creative, people.

2. Richard Attenborough. Nice. He could finally play that darker version of Hammond that Crichton had written all those years ago. Whimsy he can do, but can he make a dirty joke?

3. Jim Broadbent. He's perfection in every thing else, why not this?

4. Michael Caine. There's a hard edge to Caine which Teabing lacks (or at the very least, conceals very well). I don't buy it.

5. Patrick Stewart. He played a cripple in X-Men. One is enough for a career, isn't it? The booming voice is definitely a plus, but I haven't seen Stewart do comedy-- can he be funny? At all?

6. Derek Jacobi. Also a nice choice, although equally, I'm not sure about the ability to do comedy. Hamlet didn't really give him chuckle lines, did it?

entertainment catch-all

This morning as I was going through the daily links I realized that there were several small stories over the past few days that I've been meaning to blog about, but blog-malaise or pressing work has prevented it. So, welcome to your hodge-podge Columbina entertainment posting:

Finally, some news on Alias, specifically that the good folks at ABC are moving it to Wednesday nights, thus renaming Hump Day as J.J. Abrams Day. This will no doubt send shivers through loyal Alias fans who now will cringe at the possibility that their beloved show is going belly-up-- never change time slots people!! To console my fellow Alias viewers, I have this to offer: when Mulder and Scully moved from Fridays to Sundays, we X-Philes were very afraid. But it turned out okay for us (at least until the end of Season Seven) and the day and time shift acted as a catalyst to reposition the show for a larger and more enthusiastic audience. So be brave, and think about all the time you'll save since your two favorite shows are on the same night back to back.

Tom Hanks has been cast as Robert Langdon in the movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code. First off, nothing against Tom Hanks, who I think most people can agree is one of the greatest actors to have graced the silver screen, and I would generally say that there are few roles beyond his grasp... but this is one of them. I can't see Hanks walking around a college campus with students calling him "the Dolphin." As someone who inspires the devotion of all his students, a great teacher with a love of "good, clean fun", a thinking man, yes. But Langdon is younger (though not by much), more athletic in appearance, and by the end of the book, he's essentially an action hero. If the book had been written twenty years ago, Harrison Ford would've been a shoo-in. Now, I have grappled with liking the book but disliking its premise and the fact that it is essentially a carbon-copy of every other book Mr. Dan Brown has ever written, but I was keeping tabs on this movie. I'm willing to give Hanks the benefit of the doubt; but all I can say now is that they better get a damn good actors to play Sophie Neveu and Sir Leah Teabing (and they'd better be French and English, respectively!) if they want to carry this off.

Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason has come out into theaters and got itself bashed by critics. Honestly, I don't know what to think. I can't seem to remember over-whelming critical praise for the first installment, which wasn't overwhelmingly awful considering it's such a chick flick. But both of the books have always had a place on my Bookshelves of Shame, otherwise known as Fluffer-nutter Book Central (see Da Vinci Code, above), and the second one especially. There is something heartening in the screwed-up happy-ever-after of BJ's sequel; most of the successful couples I know have gone through those phases/fights where they question what they have, take a breather and act miserably, and then return to the way things were with a greater appreciation of one another. Not only that, but I thought that Bridget's parents finally got to redeem themselves in the second book and prove that amidst all the silliness, they actually care about their daughter and seek out what's best for her (even if sometimes they believe that goes along with force-feeding marriage with dowdy sweater-wearers). Will I see the movie then? Probably, though if things keep up they way they are, most likely it will be on video.

Production Stills are now up for the new Dave Barry movie, "Guide to Guys", based on his very funny book. Fun running commentary and some great pics of John Cleese on set as some sort of researcher. Also, Mr. Cleese's website is finally up and running, though sadly for all of the good bits you need to become a paid member. What is up with this, web-citizens? First Salon.com, then the Readerville forums, and now JohnCleese.com. Free the internet!!

And lastly, though this isn't directly entertainment related, via mirabilis, archaeologists are planning to x-ray King Tut to finally close the book on the eternal question surrounding his demise, murder or natural causes. Which is exciting entertainment for me, at any rate. Maybe good ole Zahi Hawass will do a Fox prime-time special on it-- he hasn't gotten nearly enough screen time lately...

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

crossgen meets the mouse

Disney buys out comic book publisher Crossgen. Very bizarre little piece of business- not a lot of overlap between scantily clad superheroes and tame Mickey Mouse. However, I'm not exactly a Crossgen expert, but the only comic I've managed to read with any consistency, Ruse, featuring Holmesian inspired detective Simon Archard, is their property. Here's hoping management doesn't turn it into a Bruckheimer debacle.

Monday, November 15, 2004

a new lymond site

cornflower, in honor of Alder who's just about done with the exquisite Checkmate. (I of course, reneged on my promise to be good and finish Jonathan Strange and instead re-read the silly thing this weekend, falling into giggly-weeping fits at all the good parts. Bad fangirl!)

I've gone for so long without being able to dish Lymond with somebody in person that my latest correspondence with one of my oldest and dearest friends (as a rule, lots of fun) has entered the realm of the divine. Though now of course that I've force-fed my poor friend with Peter Wimsey and now Francis Crawford, I don't know if there exists a third "blue-eyed, blond aristocrat with a habit of quotation, a widowed and feisty mother, a long-suffering sibling and a sensible, intelligent love of his life, written by a woman named Dorothy." (But of course, I've been told to look and report back-- apparently, I'm a "book recommender for life.") Any reader suggestions?

Just for fun, also from cornflower, a highly questionable meme:

Francis Crawford of Lymond
Congratulations, you're Francis Crawford of Lymond, for a time the Master of Culter. You're the hero and the focal point of everything. You're the quintessential romantic hero: brooding, mysterious, witty, informed, gentle, sensitive and all the rest. You should, perhaps, consider doing the dishes once in a while and speak in your native tongue when possible. In other words, show off a bit less. It won't kill you.

Which Lymond Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, November 11, 2004

pray for me

...St. Expedite, patron saint of nerds, hackers and the impatient, help me get my computer-related dream job in you-know-where soon. Thanks.

via mirabilis.

in-credible, dah-link

a bit delayed, but nonetheless, here it is: your Columbina review of Pixar's latest masterpiece The Incredibles. I saw it Friday night with about 15 screaming birthday parties of highly-excitable youngsters, who went half mad when a projection techinical glitch (broken light bulb) postponed viewing for 45 minutes. (The kids were practically swinging from the ceiling, folks. Most were simply literally swinging off hand-rails, practicing jumping from adult-torso height from a sitting position and their en pointe skills -- boys and girls alike.) As I'm sure most of the world has figured out by now, Pixar can do no wrong. It is a critical and box-office smash, and very few can find faults with it.

No difference here, folks. It rocked. So instead of the usual, good and bad, which would be terribly off-balance, how about some talking points? (Some small spoilers included.)

1. This is Pixar's fifth movie in a row to blow people's minds-- receiving acclaim from the movie going public and the critics. Competition Dreamworks managed to stage a coup with Shrek 2, but outside of that movie and its original, their animation projects have tanked. What gives?

Pixar has some very smart cookies in command. In every last one of their projects, they've stressed the story and the script with equal weight to the visual effects, casting voice talent and not big name stars. Seriously, was anyone desperate to see Renee Zellweger as a fish? No one was truly desperate to see Ellen Degeneres in a live-action movie-- but her voice and her wit can carry a film easy; her stand-up DVDs had done major business. Pixar's priorities are always in the right place. For proof, check out the behind-the-scenes documentaries on the Finding Nemo DVD; the animators are just as much the actors as the voice talent. The creation of characters is not taken lightly or from a one-point perspective; they are not caricatures of their voice-counterparts but stand on their own as beings that we as an audience can sympatheize with, see ourselves and our friends/family as, etc.

2. It's the first Pixar movie with humans in the main roles. 3D animation has been struggling with making people since day one. Recent release The Polar Express has been getting negative reviews for its synthetic and slightly scary looking humans, made through motion-capture technology. Does it work in The Incredibles and why?

First of all, the Pixar people know a hurdle when they see one. According to behind-the-scenes shorts, animators strove for a version of "hyper-real" people. Obviously people as thin as Mirage or as top-heavy as Mr. Incredible don't exist in the real world, but they work in an animated landscape. Also, major attention to lighting effects, especially on skin tones, and on hair. Teenage Violet and her face-obscuring 'do show how these wizards managed to manipulate hair as hair and not simply as a plastic object sitting on top of their heads. It frizzes at its ends and has texture-- thank you Monsters, Inc. fur software. Also, clothes and how they move/cling to bodies was investigated thoroughly. But what makes them more real than Tom Hanks' fifty-so identities in Polar Express? Animation of expression. Pixar has always been hard-core about facial animation and using real human expressions in their characters. Part of what makes Hanks a fantastic actor is the gleam in his eyes and his malleable mug-- that doesn't translate over in Express but Pixar made it work in his round-em-up Woody of Toy Story fame.

3. Omigod! There are major action sequences, featuring cars and trains and planes, and evil guys with guns... that shoot bullets! Wasn't this supposed to be a kid's movie-- and Disney, to boot?

Yes, I was shocked too. No E.T. flashlights, here. The Bad Guys are armed and dangerous. And as John pointed out in the Movie Blog's first ever audio edition, Mom even has a nice sit-down with the kids, "keepin' it real," explaining that they could be murdered on sight. And why not? This movie is not about the kids saving the world, ala Spy Kids, single-handedly and behind their parents' back; this is about a family like any other: Dad's unhappy in a dead-end job, Mom wants Dad to take more responsibility with the kids and suspects he's having an affair, shy teenager Violet melts away to nothingness when the boy she likes walks by, and hyperactive Dash cannot be controlled (or caught) and gets in trouble with teachers. And today's kids, grown up on video games and Cody Banks movies, can discern movie violence from real violence, and are quite acclimated to seeing violence on screen. (And isn't that a whole 'nother can of worms.) To Pixar's credit, no one gets shot-- rather like The A-Team, in point of fact; a lot of bullets start flying but most people are blown up or simply knocked unconscious.

4. So just how gorgeous is it, really?

Effects and eye-popping shots are the mainstay of Pixar. They do not disappoint; there's a fantastic wall of lava, hyper-fast sequences with Dash running, lush jungles as well as an Office Space environment. Though I must say, if you're looking for pretty, watch Finding Nemo again. This movie isn't about a luscious, gorgeous rainbow: there's heavy emphasis on bold strokes of color in a more muted environment, which is inkeeping, I think, with comic books and comic book movies. Visually it still knocks your socks off, but I'd rather eat Marlin's anemone.

5. Comic book movies? Fight sequences? Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

You mean, of the Bond franchise? Of Mission:Impossible? Hell, yes! Our villain comes equipped with a Lair, complete with Rocket Based on Destruction and Assorted Henchmen, on a Secret Island with its own Transportation and Surveillance Systems, a Good Girl on the Side of Evil ("Bond Girl" Mirage), a Personal Beef with Our Hero intermingled with occasional Grudging Respect, and Destruction of City Buildings. All part and parcel of the formula, but so highly and dextrously manipulated that each time you caught a piece of it, it seemed like a huge surprise (the quasi Bond theme musical score, the hero's flirtations with a dangerous woman, the true identity of the villain, etc.)

6. Okay, time to dish. Who's your favorite character and why?

Oh, soooo many!! Of the hero family, I have to say it's a dead-heat between Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl. Mr. Incredible does get major humor points for the Office Space scene with the little old lady and yet also major drama points when he threatens to kill Mirage after his family's apparent demise. Elastigirl similarly gets props for a killer performance by Holly Hunter, especially for the manic plane dialogue as well as for her wifely concern.

Outside of the Parr family, again, a tie: this time between super-hero Frozone, voiced by the ultra-cool Samuel L. Jackson, and Edna Mode, superhero fashion designer extraordinnaire. Frozone oozes cool but unfortunately doesn't get a whole lot of screen time. Edna, however, practically steals the whole movie. Her riff on the dangers of capes was totally wicked, the hoity-toity talk with the hopping walk, the high-security of her home and no-nonsense attitude... dear God, I just think she's the coolest character Pixar's created EVER. (Which of course, is the reason I've been walking around with a German-Japanese accent since Friday-- You repress, you depress, dah-link. To impress, you must express!)

Anyway, if you haven't seen this, GO. Go late at night if the kids bother you. Go now. It's a sure thing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Thomas Crown Affair 2

John over at the MovieBlog provides scoop material again, this time with the jaw-dropping news that there's a The Thomas Crown Affair 2 in development. No news yet as to whether Rene Russo will return, but Pierce, now freed up from the domain of the Broccoli family, seems attached. And they're using Topkapi as their source material!! (At which point, dear Readers, your Blog-mistress fell onto the floor hyperventilating at her new found gift for prophecy. Had never heard of the film myself until a few months ago when I caught it on TCM and was dazzled and annoyed in turns-- they really should of had a leading lady who could speak proper English-- and knew, just *knew* that somehow Pierce would end up in its remake. Ahhh, to be young and right about movie-related things...)

the forgotten films

Kenneth Turan's new book is for all wanna-be cinephiles: it innumerates the greatest films most people never see, such as Carol Reed's The Third Man (the horror!), Ronin (guilty), Proof (guilty again, but totally intrigued now, even if it does have Russell Crowe in it), and many others of dubious cult status.

three cheers for young america!

Michael Moore's recent letter which addresses the phenomenon of the youth vote in the last election and how we are being overlooked by media coverage in the post-election, 4 more years, closer to the apocolypse nation in which we now live. Take that, Mr. Pundit who thinks all those absentee ballots are military Bush supporters!

Moore also gives us 17 reasons to go on living. Handy, especially when you've watched the Falluja bombings on REPEAT forever on CNN. My personal favorite is #4:
. In spite of Bush's win, the majority of Americans still think the country is headed in the wrong direction (56%), think the war wasn't worth fighting (51%), and don’t approve of the job George W. Bush is doing (52%). (Note to foreigners: Don't try to figure this one out. It's an American thing, like Pop Tarts.)


... in Aimee Mann's website with its full-tracks off her new CD Lost in Space which I am so going to have to buy once I get properly employed. In the meantime, thank god for Flash and my grip on patience.

By the way, the site design rocks, as well. The fonts remind me a lot of Issac Tobin's hand-drawn font work recently featured by Foreword. His portfolio is wicked, too-- really working the Constructivist look, especially in the sketchbooks. I will, of course, overlook the whole RISD thing like a good MICAn... *

*You think rivalries are limited the Ivy League? Meet RISD and MICA, art school rivals. Let the spit fests ensue.

Monday, November 08, 2004

shakespeare's lost work

Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter. Inspired by the joke in 1999's Shakespeare in Love, the Mighty Rassilon Art Players created, er, found this long-lost production, complete with songs that smack heavily of Gilbert & Sullivan. Ah, that Shakespeare. Where did he find the time? A very funny script, complete with pictures.

via The Little Professor.

a hopeful message

A friend sent me this fantastic article post-election and it's quite comforting, in an odd way. Canada still looks nice, but it seems there are at least a couple reasons for sticking around the US of A...

Turning the Pages

This is the coolest thing ever and has already sucked a great deal of time away from me (not to mention that it seems to have every intention of continuing to on a semi-regular basis). Cheers to you, British Library, for maintaining this gem of a site. The Sforza Hours are definitely worth a look if you've got time to spare.

via scribblingwoman.

misadventures in world annihilation... with cookies

Hello Cthulhu! Hilarious.

via WoT.

book paralysis

It could happen to you. Certainly's happened to me. Generally comes right before or after a case of Legiostimulus, otherwise known as Bibliophile's Tic, wherein the patient exposed to a large quantity of books feels compelled to consider every cover and read every flap-blurb until sensory overload is complete. Symptoms generally include fingering book spines, assessment of cover typography, the passage of several hours within one place which to the patient is experienced as sheer minutes of time, merging of different book plots, and the ability to know the location of more specific titles than the Borders' restock guy.

Friday, November 05, 2004

a fanfiction rant

Tinka blogged about a recent web article and an on-going blog argument concerning fanfiction. Is it good, bad or illegal? No one has yet to come to a conclusion, but I've been mulling it over lately, and thought I'd send my opinion out into the void.

First of all, I really think that Lee Goldberg of all people cannot possibly get up in arms about this, considering he makes his money writing about characters that he himself did not create. Now, he has (repeatedly) said that the difference, what makes him legitimate and oh-so-much better, is that he does this with the full endorsement, permission, and advice of the original creator of the characters. I would buy that, with the exception that he later points out that he believes that fanfiction of materials in the public domain (Shakespeare, for a notable example) is not illegal, but ill-advised and generally demonstrative of a lack of creativity. (I paraphrase, of course. Lee Goldberg has not called Laurie King a hack directly; he only calls online fanfiction writers of Sherlock Holmes hacks.)

Now insofar as authors who have used plots/storylines/characters of other authors' whose work has now fallen into the public domain, their work is like all other authors of fiction and non-fiction, as well as fanfiction authors for that matter; it falls into Good and Bad and some that's just Awful categories. Can I provide some examples, you ask? But of course.

1. Laurie R. King, author of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series based on Conan Doyle's characters. Now, at first glance, these books tend to smack of the bad-end of fanfiction-- the creation of a female reoccuring character who falls in love with the hero-- a Mary Sue, if you will. What makes the later books in the series good fiction is Ms. King's careful attention to the original: Sherlock does not become a moony schoolboy, he is still more passionate about solving crimes than he is about his wife, and Russell herself doesn't become ridiculous with feats of heroics, or weeping fits and/or longing glances, or motherly aspirations. Not to mention there is considerable attention to preserving "the canon" and historical facts.

2. Susanne Alleyn's A Far Better Rest, a novel of Dickens' character Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities. This, I think, is the best example of a published fanfic because it made me go back to the original text and appreciate Dickens so much more.

3. Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll, a smut book cleverly disguised as a continuation of Austen's Pride & Prejudice-- which oddly enough has several sequels written by modern novelists. Berdoll's book, however, leaves much to be desired, leaving witty reflection, character study and development, as well as historical fact along the wayside while Mr. & Mrs. Darcy, um, become better acquainted in numerous rooms/positions/etc.

4. While I'm at it, the many thinly disguised versions of Much Ado About Nothing in chicklit. And while we're talking about Shakespeare spin-offs, what about Dorothy Dunnett's King Hereafter as a Macbeth retelling? For some reason, Shakespeare remakes (with the notable exception of the chicklit) and stories that feature the great poet as a protagonist abound in fiction. Is this bad? Is it good? Obviously, Shakespeare's in the public domain, so legality shouldn't be a question, but these books provide as great a spectrum on fanfic as no other. A sampling:

Hamlet's Dresser: a Memoir by Bob Smith. Doesn't feature any characters or Will himself, but a great deal of Will's original text as inspiration for an original character's motivation.

Much Ado About Murder, a compilation of short murder mysteries set in the Elizabethan era featuring characters from WS' plays.

A Mystery of Errors and the subsequent series by Simon Hawke, that features WS as an amateur detective with partner Symington Smythe.

Falstaff: a Novel by Robert Nye, which resurrects the character from Henry IV.

The Devil's Bride, a sequel to Much Ado About Nothing by Joan Silsby.

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters. One of my favorite fluff series (freely admitted!), it establishes the four main characters as following in the Beatrice/Benedick and Hero/Claudio fashion.

5. Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, which I have been meaning to read for years, that is based upon an innumerable bunch of literary characters getting all jumbled up (if I've read the descriptions right). However, historically speaking, it has been no great affair that a humorist use cultural or literary references, even as elaborate as Fforde's.

6. Jill Patton Walsh's Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane books based on Sayers' extant notes about her characters' later years, Thrones and Dominations and A Presumption of Death. It has been remarked that Walsh is an esteemed writer, though I must confess I've never read her original stuff. I have read both the new Wimsey books and found them to be a poor substitute for the original Ms. Sayers' work, especially the more recent one. The wit was gone.

Maybe I'm biased-- and perhaps I am, because I've done two works of Wimsey fanfic that were generally well-received. They were terrifying to embark on-- I don't write a lot, nor do I feel anywhere near adequate when I do, much less when I'm trying to synch styles with one of the greatest mystery writers EVER-- but the fact that people have commented positively on them overwhelms me with a sense of pride. It's not that I believe that I can write like Sayers, or that I'm now emboldened to write an entire novel using her characters, but it affirmed things for me. I wrote two "missing scenes"-- and seeing that others think that those occurences I'd dreamed were the most natural thing in the world helped me to realize that I'd gotten them: I've figured out a little of what makes these intense, complex characters in this dense British world tick. And that's exciting from a harmless fan's perspective.

I use this example more to illustrate that not all fic is written by googoo-eyed tweenie boppers who can't get enough of Captain Jack/Will Turner slash fic to the detriment of their intellectual development, (as certain original authors in the debate have implied) but to show that many people endulge in serious fictions as an every once in a while indulgence, not nearly frequent enough to be called a hobby, and not important enough or taken seriously enough to be called anything else.

Anyway, dear Void, that's all I have to say. ;)

Thursday, November 04, 2004

my last political post in awhile

I don't particularly want to beat a dead horse with yet another reaction-based post about the election-- but I promise this will be it, then I will keep mum until the next national crisis.

A lot of us Blue State dwellers feel betrayed by our Red State brethern, who seem to think that having a fool, a liar and a radical lead our country for four more years is a fine idea. But hey, you and I and record-breaking millions exercised their rights on Tuesday and remarkably, Bush got himself elected fair and square (for once). What the international community must now think of Americans, I am terrified to know. I'm ashamed of us. We promised them, it'll be better, we'll be responsible next time around... and we weren't. Sigh.

Republicans now control the House and Senate, with some old nemeses still maintaining offices they don't deserve. The reasons the pundits give for this development? The over-whelming number of voters persuaded by VALUES and the CHURCH. At this, I'd just like to say, wha?? You've got to be kidding me, right? Let's see a "values" issue to me would be something like, is my leader a good role model for my kids? Bush is a man who's lied about his war record, the war in Iraq, WMDs (oh hell, you name it, he's lied about it), he's been a drunkard and a druggie for most of his adult life, he certainly is no shining star of America's education system, and he's displayed behavior akin to temper tantrums on live television.

Now, as far as the Church is concerned, well, I'm a Catholic. I live in Pennsylvania, a Proud Blue State with a large Catholic population. Another Proud Blue State is Illinois, which also has a large Catholic population. As does Jersey (Blue), Massachusetts (Blue), and New York (Blue). I have listened to my fair share of recent sermons advocating Life that I personally disagreed with, but I have also listened to intentions advocating peace in the middle east and prayed for the souls of our dead troops in Iraq and their families. I think other Catholics can relate to these experiences, and the polls certainly show that they didn't think that Bush supported their values. So then which church has the far-fetched values that got Bush re-elected? (Because it wasn't the Catholics.)

Respecting Life, it seems to me, means that one respects ALL life, whether they be unborn, criminal, or our foreign enemies. Now, as I said before, I am Pro-Choice. I believe in the separation of church and state. I believe that no one, not my church, not my government, not my father and not my boyfriend has any damn right to tell me what to do with my own body. I'm open to suggestions, but the ultimate decision is mine and mine alone. That said, I respect Pro-Life supporters... who aren't hypocrites. For example, let's take Bush himself. He is the prime example of a Pro-Life hypocrite that seems to abound in this country. On the one hand, he considers the unborn sacrosanct, to be protected at all costs. Fine, Mr. Bush, you're entitled to that opinion. However, then he feels quite free to ZAP anyone within 10 feet of death row into the hereafter and slaughter hundreds of people in a country half-way around the world who would have rathered we not bring them "freedom" in the form of chaos and military occupation.

To quote the West Wing in its better days: "You can say all you want about the Catholic Church, but their position on life is unimpeachable. No abortion, no death penalty." And I think it's safe to add 'no waging unnecessary war.'

All the spin people say that it was the Evangelical Christians who placed the Texan over the top and if that is true, then all I can say is that those people now officially terrify me. I recently reviewed The Seville Communion, part of which dealt with how radicalism is steadily growing in the modern church, making a new version of the Inquisition seem like a very possible event for our near future. And it's not because people are insane (though it sure seems that way) or because they're directly malicious, but simply a fear-driven violent reaction to modern society. Okay, I realize that statement is not entirely coherent, but my mother assures me that Tony Campolo discusses the whole situation better.

Fear. You remember, it's what Cheney has preached for the past three years. And what I will have for the next four years in regards to my personal rights.

another lost recap! or how i learned to stop worrying and follow some good advice

Gentle Readers, the last time I recapped this show I had kinda hoped that every Thursday we would meet like this. So, I over-estimated a bit. However, here we are, together again, after a particularly... um, fascinating episode and we should take the opportunity to try again. So, let the craziness begin!!

Following in what seems to be the pattern of one episode-one character flashbacks, last night was Charlie's (Dominic Monaghan, otherwise known as Merry in LOtR) chance to shine. And who would have thunk, behind that junkie-rocker exterior lurked a sweet little Catholic boy ashamed of his over-sexed and over-drugged ways, who just wants a little attention and loving support. Awww. In the meantime, Jack dislocated his shoulder as the cave collapsed (SUCH an Amelia flashback it wasn't funny-- if it had been Kate in there with him instead of Charlie I would have wigged out with excitement); Michael proved that he can do useful things aside from eyeing Sun warily and yelling at his kid, which finally gave me a reason to like him; Sawyer continues to prove he's an ass; Boone and his lil' sis continue to irritate (let the monster KILL them already!!); Locke keeps up his oracle-priestly-Great-White-Hunter act that gets creepier and harder to believe with every passing moment (was he watching the Discovery channel every night with his 1-900-number "girlfriend" or something?)


1. Kate and Jack, will they get together before the end of season one?
Who knows? Most television soaps generally go the route of maintaining sexual tension long past the average fan's appetite for it. Yet, JJ, in his infinite wisdom re: Alias, managed to get around that loophole by appeasing the couple-mad, allowing Miss & Mr. to hook up, and then completely mess up the relationship, as secrets come out, new jealousies appear, etc. And if you ask me, television writers really need to understand that the flirting and the tiffs that come with the tension prior to hook-up don't vanish into oblivion the day after: it actually becomes more interesting.

2. Why didn't they realize sooner, like after they made the tunnel perhaps, that only Charlie could go through?
Dudes, it was a Hobbit-sized hole. Charlie is TINY. Michael is tall, Kate wasn't there yet, the Koreans certainly aren't helping out unless absolutely necessary, they weren't going to force the kid to do it and music man is just fat. And yet, Charlie had to make the speech, "I'm all alone, I'll risk death because no one needs me!" to convince them to let him through. This is where a little TWoP advice comes in handy: just drink more alcohol and every little thing, no matter how trippy or unlogical, will seem right as rain.

3. Moths are prettier than butterflies?
The entire moth sub-plot irritated me. Way too heavy-handed. And as I mentioned before, Locke the Spiritualist Hunter gets more and more hard to swallow. In his favor, it's really nice to see his interaction with Charlie. It's a win-win relationship because I think Charlie actually has gotten a bit of guidance from him (the speeches are full of wind, but Locke did instigate the intervention) and Locke seems to need someone who respects him.

4. What is the deal with Sawyer?
He lied about coming out after Sayid and Kate, only to belatedly inform Eve that her Adam was trapped under some big frickin' rocks. But he obviously set off the damn flare when he was supposed to, and turned on the receiver otherwise Sayid wouldn't have gotten all those bars on the transceiver, right? What slightly rankles with me is that they're none-too-subtly turning him into an evil brood-dude ala Buffy's Spike. Now, as a HUGE Spike fan, I can't terribly complain-- I love those kind of characters. But, Spike = hot and Sawyer = not. (I know, I know, totally superficial of me, but it's true. OK, maybe it's not-- not for all of us, anyway-- but the drawl is DEFINITELY off-putting. And Kate will still end up with Jack, even if she's still hell-bent on punishing herself for past sins, because there's better chemistry there anyway.)

5. Who side-swiped Sayid?
I think most were thinking Sawyer, but I say it's the French lady on the transmission. Just a guess, and here's another: next week, it'll be Sayid's turn for a flashback. Can't wait...

Canada 2.0

Funniest blog post thus far on the Big Canadian Immigration, due any minute now. In other news, my immigration research came to an abrupt end yesterday when I realized that to qualify for Skilled Worker status required at least one year of full-time employment. Looks like I have to wait for the Second Big Canadian Immigration (which will probably occur when the Supreme Court starts dying off...) before I can join our brothers and sisters in sanity up north.

via scribblingwoman.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

at least "lost" will be on tonight...

You are Kate. Breathtakingly beautiful, seemingly pure of heart, and you can even sew your own curtains! You listen to Patsy Cline anywhere and know how to work a farm. Your past haunts you. An accused criminal, are you innocent or guilty? The only thing thing we know you're guilty of is not giving Charlie the attention he needs.

Which Lost Character Are You?brought to you by Quizilla

via too much free time.

election 2004 is over

... and so are basic human rights in America. As everyone by now has been made aware, the apocolypse has come. Liberal blogs are in mourning, others wish the fight had been prolonged, and I have been looking for jobs in Canada. Dear god, help us all.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

a message to the undecideds

... in honor of the third season of one of the great television series of all time (that is, until Sorkin left and John Wells sank the ship into the Sea of Sh*ttiness) which comes out on DVD today. (And also because one of its great ep's was on during my lunch hour today with this sage advice: "Decisions are made by those who show up.") GO VOTE.

I know you've heard many people tell you, "Undecided Voter, go to the polls and vote with your heart." Eff that, ladies and gentlemen. Undecided Voter, vote with your HEAD. This election is all over the newspapers, the television, the radio and the internet: somewhere, somehow find out what the issues are and where these two men stand on them. Hell, they even pass out flyers with issues and candidate positions on them in that incredibly long line to reach the polling booths. Bone up while you wait! Then form an opinion using that mind that God, Allah, Jesus or whoever bestowed upon you and vote with it.

This message comes to you from a girl in swing state PA who simply cannot watch CNN anymore because it's making her crazy. Anxiety... it's a killer.

some helpful advice

... for making this election day more palatable and book-filled. Number one, check. Number two, on my list already. And you can bet I'll be watching the Gilmore Girls come 8 o'clock just so that I don't explode in election related anxiety. (Though wasn't Rory supposed to be bungy-jumping or something this week? I don't know if that's exactly a soothing alternative, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, considering it's such a new favorite of mine and doesn't involve Dubya or "Man of Thousand Nasty Faces" Cheney.)

more bunnies!

Jennifer Shiman has done it again. Commissioned by Starz! for three Bunnies shorts for Halloween, she has pulled off some great fun in 30-sec versions of Scream, Freddy vs. Jason, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Check 'em out!

happy election day

Yes, gentle Readers, I have returned. And I have voted in the early morning frigidness for John Kerry. (Hear that, Move On PAC? Please stop calling me now.) It was an experience, I'll give it that. It was my first time actually voting in person, and I was kinda nervous about it. Turning to my dad, I asked him in his infinite wisdom, if he would council me. He simply said, "Hey, if the idiots in Florida can do it, I'm sure you can handle it." (Which was not very nice, as I know some very intelligent people that live in the chaos known as Florida, but it did calm me down.)

Our voting station was the local fire house, which has entirely inadequate parking for the purpose. Consequently, people used their creativity in finding spots for their car to sit while they went to wait in a long, snake-like line that double-backed on itself twice, thus taking up all the room in the *actual* parking lot of the fire station. And no, I was not the only one with a book to keep me company (though I will admit, I think mine was the thickest-- Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell without its slip-cover looks incredibly severe and impressive-- people might of thought I was reading the election bylaws or something or other...) ;P

As a result of the creative parking and creative traffic patterns which ensued, of course, a cop appeared... not to sensibly direct traffic, oh no, but to write tickets for two SUVs. (Yes, he was booed by the masses in line. Republicans and Democrats alike united against this nasty cop. They even told the victims that they would testify against the cop in court should they want to contest their tickets.) Ah, solidarity!

Meanwhile, I froze in line because I didn't bring a jacket. Silly me, I thought the massive line would actually be INDOORS as opposed to the parking lot. But eventually, the deed was done-- and where the hell was my Kerry button? Or at the very least my "I VOTED TODAY" sticker? Four billion dollars in advertising, at least two phone calls a day with people educating me on the issues I already know about and telling me to JUST GO VOTE and I don't even get a damn sticker??? (I swear if I get a single phone call today from any of those people I'm going to call them on that. They'll get an ear-full from me, because frankly, I'm sick and tired of running to the phone in a-flutter thinking that finally an interviewer called back to offer me my first job and instead get treated to a thorough listing of why Ginny Schraeder is very good/very bad for the state of politics in the nation.)

Aside from all my huffing and puffing, seriously, folks: if you live in the US, go vote today.