Monday, June 9, 2014

The best awards show... JE

It has been way too long… but something has come up that requires a blog post.  

The Tony’s

I am probably repeating myself, but I strongly believe that the Tonys are the best awards show.  I mean, how can you possibly go wrong with a bunch of people who perform live 8 shows a week?  This year, it was hosted by Wolverine, er, Hugh Jackman, who hopped his way into the auditorium.  He was hopping for several minutes straight.  It was nuts.  And then we went right into the first performance.  I didn’t know much about the new musical nominees, but the first one was After Midnight, and it opened with Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight, & Fantasia, so I was pretty much immediately sold.  And then Dule Hill was there for the 2nd song of the medley, so that was clearly going to be hard to top.  Of course then the cast of the Les Mis revival came on to sing One Day More, which reminded us that while the movie was very well done, nothing can hold a candle to the power of that musical.  Sorry Hugh, but you know it is true.
The performance from Aladdin was pretty good, but I was a little distracted by Aladdin’s abs.  I mean, I don’t want to objectify him, but they’d doing Friend Like Me, so he’s basically just there to be observed. Shirtless.  Well, in his Aladdin vest.  I’m pretty sure this is the same genie that I saw when the show started in Seattle and he is very talented. He just busted into a Menken/Ashman medley mid-song (I wonder if that is something they added to the show… with Part of that World, Under the Sea, & Beauty & the Beast), and then back to the main song and a great tap sequence, and a finale that included some fireworks.  Can’t lie, I am always a fan of fireworks.  And everyone else seems to agree that the genie is the star of the show because he won a Tony.
They showed a clip of Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair between as they went to a commercial break.  Way to embrace the joke on you Clint, and then come out and kind of ramble a little.  It’s possible he is getting too old for this, but I still totally want to see Jersey Boys.  I can’t help it, I love that Frankie Valli/Four Seasons music.
Jonathan Groff introduces Idina Menzel.  And makes a little nod to John Travolta’s screw up at the Oscars with how he says “wickedly talented”, but of course pronounces her name right.  She is singing from If/Then.  I need to see this musical.  This woman really can sing like no one else.  Or at least very few others.  And most of them are in that room.
The scene from Rocky that they did was really not my thing, but Alan Cumming’s Cabaret is a thing of beauty. Alan Cumming is amazing.  
I am very intrigued by A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and they didn’t even really highlight the guy who plays all the different roles in the performance, only the intro.
But really, let’s just talk about how amazing Neil Patrick Harris is.  In those heels. climbing all over everything, dancing on his adorable husband.  Sorry to all other Hollywood couples, but NPH & David Burkta are the most adorable couple in the business.  I love Hedwig, and while the song selection, Sugar Daddy, isn’t my favorite song (I really like it, but it’s no Wig in a Box or Origin of Love) from the show, it was 100% the right choice for the night’s performance.  
I tried not to cry during the Wicked performance, but For Good gets me every time.  I’m glad they picked that to celebrate 10 years on Broadway for that amazing show.
All in all a solid year at the Tony’s.  I feel it will be hard to top NPH’s intro from last year, but Hugh held things together nicely and I cannot wait for these new shows and revivals to tour.

Sarah is binge watching Orange is the New Black and…. Teen Wolf!  Because I made her watch the first few episodes and now she is hooked.  Because Stiles is Seth Cohen.  And for other reasons, but mostly Stiles is Seth Cohen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Post spring break TV catch up…and holy-cow-it-must-almost-be-season-finale-time…KE

Europe was fabulous…as I knew it would be. Rome, South of France, Paris. Not a shabby life style. Now back to reality and teaching the young ones for another 2 and half months before returning home- FOR GOOD. And of course I had to play TV catch up since my return. So here are my thoughts... I don't think there are spoilers because you too are already caught up. 

First I had to watch HIMYM. Let’s not even talk about it… it was a little disappointing…although there were some parts I enjoyed. But more than anything I think I’m just sad that it’s over. I could have watched Lily and Marshall for about 10 more seasons.

Then I had a little spontaneous Glee catch up… last I had watched was just after the start of LAST season and they were trying to make New York and Lima work. Now I see they have quit trying to make New York and Lima work and decided to move everything to New York. I did a little internet reading…watched a few musical numbers and then watched the saying good bye to the Glee Club in Lima (double episode). I couldn’t watch the Quarterback episode… I just watched a few of the musical numbers and was already like:

But them saying good-bye to Glee Club Lima and Puck and Quinn ending up together that is a good enough ending for me.

Just this last weekend I watched Once Upon a Time episodes. Very sad…with (SPOILERS) Bay dying and everything. There was more:
And I love that despite everything…. Captain Hook is still hanging out lookin’ like a pirate. It’s just so fitting. 

Let’s talk Captain America/Shield…. First off for those of that didn’t know… the first Hydra episode of Shield should have come with a warning about having to see Captain America first… but then I guess I would have known what was going to happen in the Shield episodes. Your review is pretty much right on… and as you mentioned to me when we talked- where is Hawkeye in all this? I’m assuming he has some sort of secret mission that he is completing and an explanation well be given later (by which I mean in the next Avenger movie.) Banner and Stark are easier to excuse away… but Hawkeye?

I’m a little mad about agent Ward…

Although it has given him a little more depth. But even if he does decide to save Skye… she’s NEVER going to forgive him… and he doesn't act like he’d rather be helping the good guys… he seems to be right where he wants to be.  It’s all around not going to end well and there was lots of drama. And we’ll be tuned in for every second.

So after Captain America and the latest Shield, it was time for …Orphan Black!!!! Let’s just say it wasn't really a low-tension afternoon.

Seriously the best show on television.  I feel like this show is just getting started. So many roads to travel down and questions unanswered. LOVE IT.

That’s really all the highlights now… Parks and Rec- Leslie and Ben have triplets? A little strange… but love that show…

OH I almost forgot… the Blacklist! That is getting a little...intense. So now Lizzie knows the truth about her husband and the player is getting played… except you get this creepy feeling that maybe he knows that she knows but isn't going to let her know.

Something tells me the finale is going to be big time.  My hope is that husband dies… the partner guy that I didn't really like before has totally grown on me.

Okay…I know there's more... but that's my catch up for now.

Sarah has returned from Neverland with a mysterious injury. Her ankle is injured and she she has been sidelined from her adventures for the time being. She won't say exactly what happened but keeps muttering about "filthy pixies". 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Comicon, SHIELD, & General Nerdiness

Ah, Comicon (Emerald City, of course). Such a lovely weekend. I think I had it figured out this year.  Despite being a weekend in the middle of complete work insanity, I managed to do 3 days without being completely wiped out. I think the 3 day pass, without actually spending the full 3 days there is ideal. There is enough time to prioritize the panels you care about attending, try something new, and really explore the floor (which seems to have gotten even more massive than the last time I was there). Here are some highlights:
Friday Night discovery:
Friday I got there after work, so the only main stage panel I attended was the live broadcast of Welcome to Nightvale, which was the late event (8pm) and was followed by a showing of the Thrilling Adventure Hour. More on that amazing discovery in a second. Have I told you about Welcome to Nightvale? Or maybe you've seen Maureen tweet about it? It's a podcast, and it's a little hard to describe, but it is well worth the effort. The host, Cecil, is a local radio host who gives small town updates about a highly unusually town in a manner that indicates that a mayoral race between Hiram McDaniels (the 5 headed dragon) and The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home is perfectly normal. The live show was brief, but great. Molly Quinn who plays Alexis on Castle made a guest appearance as the voice of another local radio station that reads numbers 24 hours a day, but has gone through a recent change.  So that was great and I definitely recommend the podcast. What came next on the screen (the podcast was live) is something that I need to explore further, but let's see if I can describe it. The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a radio show in an Old West style. There is an acting troupe that are the main players, and in this particular special (and I think most of their shows) amazing special guests: Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Busy Phillips, Josh Malina, and more I don't even know because it was getting late and it was time to go. I believe they are releasing this special to purchase or stream or something soon, and we'll be watching. Because there were cowboys and robots and Martians and singing. It was amazing.
So that was Friday, and I didn't even mention Adult Origami or wandering around on the floor.
Saturday: main stage and gaming
I was texting you from the floor on Saturday morning, so you already know about the peak of nerdiness, voice actors performing scenes from Empire Strikes Back in their iconic voices. Bart Simpson as Leia in the classic "you're a scoundrel scene" is pretty unforgettable. That was followed by Stephen Amell from Arrow, who was charming and engaging and as hot as he is on TV. I took a break after that, wandered, ate, and headed back to catch Mark Sheppard and Alan Tudyk. Mark Sheppard is as awesome as you would hope the guy who plays all those brilliant characters on all those nerdy fandom generating shows would be. And he was certainly almost as snarky, while being genuine in his appreciation for the career he's had where he gets to work on these shows that have such a powerful fan reaction. He was also the only person I saw who didn't have a moderator. The King of Hell obviously doesn't need that. Also, he was pretty clear that he wouldn't say anything true about what is coming up, so I was only subject to mild Supernatural spoilers.  For Alan Tudyk, the hall was packed and almost all the questions were about Firefly.  Because the Browncoats come out in droves for their people. He was pretty amazing overall, but my three favorite things were:
1) Learning that he did the voice for King Candy in Wreck It Ralph and the Duke of Weaselton in Frozen, and listening to him periodically do the voices.
2) His bag of shit.  Not actual shit, just miscellaneous crap he probably took off a desk/counter at home.  He kept pulling out boarding passes, script pages, and some video games from a friend, signing them, and handing them out to whoever asked the question, saying each time, “have some shit!”
3) The final question was from a young kid who was dressed as Wash, complete with two dinosaurs that a very smart parent had tied to his pants, who was invited up on stage so they could re-enact the “curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal" scene.  It was pretty amazing.
Post panels it was off to the gaming area to learn Fluxx (which you will learn when you get home, the parentals are hooked, Mom texted me today to make sure I bring it home this weekend) and Munchkin (which you & Sarah & I are going to play, it’s a little more involved, and infinitely nerdier, but I think the parentals could get it after a bit).  Both of which I bought, obviously.
Sunday - Work, work work
So I went into work that day, but then I went back, ready to make my purchases and a final loop on the floor.  I love buying things straight from the artist who is so excited to ask “would you like me to sign it?” and they all draw pictures with their signatures.  It was awesome.  The day ended with the adorable and hilarious (and I’ll say it, adorkable) Karen Gillan.  Lots of super cute little kids asked questions, which was highly entertaining.  The best was a very earnest little boy who asked if she played the 9 year old version of Amy Pond as well.  She kept it together very well to answer, and then said that it was actually her cousin that played young Amelia.  They were having trouble finding a ginger with her “weird accent” and she said, well, I have a cousin?  And that was that.
All in all, a very successful comicon weekend.  

TV things have been happening, although I’m a little behind.  Are you current with New Girl?  I was concerned going into this week, but I think it was one of the funniest episodes in a while.  Once Upon a Time is continuing well… but I am nervous about who else they are going to kill off.  But really, let’s get to what is all happening… SHIELD.  Or, the TV show formerly known as SHIELD?

I am continuing on assuming you made it to Captain America AND watched this week’s episode.  If not, spoilers will follow.

We good?


Okay. Totally was sure about Fury.  Nobody really dies.  Well, some people.  But not really.  They can always come back.  It’s like a soap opera, but with magic/science.  My gut reaction to Ward, was hostility, but it didn’t last.  I actually think it works really well.  His character was definitely lacking something before, and this explains that very well.  Plus, I think it was his feelings for Skye, which are definitely real despite whatever else his issues are and why he is loyal to Bill Paxton, that had begun to give him some depth.  I think they will continue to do so.  I love Agent May, so I hope that they get that all figured out.  I think Coulson’s inability to forgive her really shows how much his character has changed over time (in a way that makes sense with all that has happened to him), as a pre-Tahiti Coulson (or even an early in the season Coulson) would have been much more understanding of the whole “following Fury’s orders” thing.  But it’s a whole new ball game now.  Bill Paxton is a great bad guy.  He was a good addition before he was the bad guy, and now it’s perfect. I think that the woman who was following the Clairvoyant that they busted out of prison could be turned.  She has respect for Coulson, and she was definitely put off by the whole lack of a Clairvoyant. The money guy was easy to turn back around with a powerful toy, but I suspect the woman will be more complex. As always Fitz & Simmons are my favorites.  Just can’t wait to see what happens next!  And for more movies!  And all the things!
Captain America review?  I thought it was really good, and not just because of how it all tied into the show, I think they did a good job.  I was initially skeptical about this whole multi-movie sort of connected thing, but they (and let’s be honest, Joss) have really managed to make movies that stand alone, but make you want to watch them all and see them come together in the Avengers and the show.  I still haven’t watched Thor, but it’s coming to one of my 8 million premium channels soon, so I will.

Sarah has run off to Neverland with Captain Hook to fight Peter Pan.  When she gets back, we’re going to make a Fairy Tale version of Munchkin, because it should be a thing.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

European Vacation...KE

I had to watch Frozen to make myself feel better after watching that Game of Thrones episode. And I just haven’t brought myself to watch the next episode. I needed a break after watching so much this weekend…. And Teen Wolf in addition to that… yikes.

So I am leaving on Saturday for a little 2 week European vacation. I know- life is tough. A few days in Italy… a few days in the South of France…then a few in/around Paris.  Since you cannot be with me… I am inspired by Sarah’s amazing birthday email to me to give you a brief play by play of how I expect the trip to go:

First stop Rome where I will have to find my hotel after a 5am flight.
Then I will be off to see the sights.
I will definitely do some of this….
And this too…

I’ll drop in to say hello to the Pope.
And visit the Colosseum to try and find some gladiators.
Then I’m getting on a train to the South of France!
And everybody in France will be like this…
I will do some more of this:
And this:
And then back on the train to Paris.


I’ll visit a museum or two…or 10.
And see some gargoyles.
But hopefully none of these…

Make a stop in Disneyland Paris.

And of course enjoy the local cuisine.
Then I will have return to Abu Dhabi.

And I'll probably be tired.

The End 

If you haven’t guess I have decided to start incorporating more gifs into my post… just to make sure you are getting the full effect of what I’m saying. It’s a bit time consuming but lots of fun.

The Muppets tell Sarah that Gonzo needs her help to rescue Camilla from an evil chicken farmer (played Christopher Walken) ... and then they will help her build an ice castle. But first they must travel by map...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Random thoughts and favorite lyrics (I know, that came out of left field)... JE

Oh, Frozen.  I have watched it 3 times already.  I started it for a 4th time today, but it was nap time and somewhere near the beginning my internet went out, so I gave up and slept during some basketball instead.  I mean, of course I loved it.  It's a wonderful Disney musical with great music (written by the guy who helped write Book of Mormon and his wife), some of my favorite actors (especially those selected for their musical backgrounds, and extra impressed with Kristen Bell as I had no idea she had those kind of musical skills), but most importantly... it's about sisters.  That is going to win just about every time.

I can't even with Teen Wolf.  I mean, I knew she was going to die (dammit Tumblr, and Twitter), but still, Lydia's reaction just destroyed me.  And if they had given Mr. Argent just a tiny bit more time to react, I'd probably still be in the fetal position.  I am pretty nervous for whatever Mr. Davis and company have in store for the finale tomorrow night.  

But enough about my TV related trauma.  You watched the Red Wedding.  With no idea what was coming.  I'm sorry.  Like I said, it was traumatic for me to watch, and I already knew.  The show makes you care about Robb so much more than the books (like I said, he is never a narrator, at least as far as I have gotten, but since he's dead, I doubt he'll start narrating in the future.  But you never know), which is kind of cruel.  I hope you are doing okay.  New season in like 2 weeks I believe.

So we generally focus on TV here, but I have random thoughts about all kinds of things.  The other day I was walking to the bus listening to some music and my favorite Cat Stevens song came on, I've Got a Thing about Seeing my Grandson Grow Old.  And I was trying to figure out why this was my favorite song, of all his brilliant songs.  And it really comes down to one line, "I've got no time for silly chitter chatter."  That's it.  That one line makes the whole song for me. This led me to think of what other lines make the whole song for me.  So here is my off the top of my head at the time list:

- "Why am I so soft in the middle when the rest of my life is so hard?" - Paul Simon, You Can Call Me Al - This song (and actually the entire album, and most of Simon's songs) is fully of really great lyrics.  But this one is both hilarious and completely relatable. 
- "I'm sorry if my heart breaking ruined your day" - Jewel, Sometimes it Be That Way - I know, I know, it's Jewel.  But it's such a great F-you post-break-up line.  I don't want to analyze it too much, I just like it okay?
- "If we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane" - Jimmy Buffett, Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes. This is a completely true statement.
- "I want to be your absolute ultimate" - Mike Doughty, Unsingable Name - I used to think this was my favorite Mike Doughty song, but it's just this opening line.  It's a good song all the way through, just not my favorite(my favorite is I Hear the Bells).  And I think that's because it falls short of the opening.
- "I heard a few heads say that hip hop was dead, no it's not, it's just malnourished and underfed" - Blue Scholars, Southside Revival - I'm not really cool enough to have this on my list (I mean, come on, look at the rest of the list), but whatever, I like it.
- "Now that I've met you, would you object to, never seeing each other again" - Aimee Mann, Deathly - This is off the Magnolia Soundtrack, which is a wonderful soundtrack, filled mostly with Aimee Mann songs, but this line is the best.  If I'm not mistaken, it's actually from the movie somewhere.  
- "I'm so into you, but I'm way too smart for you" Jonathan Coulton, Skullcrusher Mountain - Okay, so technically this is a line from a mad scientist to the woman he is holding captive, but I think it has broader applications.
- "I am gonna make it, through this year, if it kills me" - The Mountain Goats, This Year - Not that long ago I purchased The Sunset Tree by the Mountain Goats and I like it a lot better than the other albums I had listened to a little.  This song is a big part of why.
- "She only smokes when she drinks, she only drinks now and then, now and then when she's tired of being let down by men" - Joe Nichols, She Only Smokes when She Drinks - What, can't I have some ridiculous country music on my list?
- "If I'm in the mood it will not be with some dude who is whistling cause he has nothing to say" - In the Heights, okay, adding something from a musical is kind of like cheating.  Especially because it could have just been "anything from In the Heights," but this particular line stands out to me.  It's clever and funny, and sassy as hell.  

Honorable mentions to the opening line from Some Nights by fun. (some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck, some nights I call it a draw), and the chorus from The Wire (but I fumbled it when it came down to the wire)

So that's what I got today.  Zags are down early to Arizona, but there is lots of time so I'm going to focus on them.

On her ice castle quest, Sarah has met up with Muppets who have invited her to join them on their next caper.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Late Birthday Post and Animated Movies ...KE

Ah! 11 days have come and gone since your post and I have been slackin’.  Especially since during those 11 day it was your birthday!!!!!!
And when we spoke on your birthday (with Sarah) you were preparing for quite the day… part of it included finally watching Frozen (Sarah’s fifth time watching I believe). Please tell me you loved it… because I loved it.

Actually when I was thinking about how much I liked it, I was trying to think about why I like it. What makes a good animated movies?
Oh course I came up with some thoughts…..

Sassy, strong female lead...and this isn’t a new idea. Even when they are princesses they aren’t just damsels in distress. Well some of them are… but most of them aren’t- Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Ariel (Little Mermaid), Tiana (The Princess and the Frog), Anya (Anastasia), Merida (Brave), Jasmine (Aladdin). I could go on, but you get the idea. All these female characters are strong, independent and don't just stand by helplessly. 

Excellent music. Do I really need to elaborate? Even if the characters don’t sing, the music should be there.  (Toy Story)

Bright and shiny. The visuals themselves need to be good quality. Even the classic animation like Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Lion King have the excellent scenery and details. But these days animators really have to bring their game with all new advances in technology.

A story that is about more than just a romance. I always appreciate the classics like Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. But what I really want are movies about more than just getting rescued.  They’re about acceptance, friendship, non-traditional families, standing up for what is right… you get the idea. Things that appeal to my bleeding, liberal, feminist heart.

An excellent supporting cast- mainly the goofy sidekick. Think about Nemo… if the movie was just about Nemo and his dad… major yawn.  Throw in Dory, a cast of fish tank friends, some friendly sharks, and some sea turtles and bam! You’ve got an awesome, entertaining ,fun for the whole family movie.  I mean where would good animated movies be without the comedy relief. They would pretty dark and sad.

Okay, these things seem like “no brainers”… but I know some animated movies that fall short. Maybe the comedy relief tried to hard or wasn’t funny enough… the animation wasn’t all that impressive… the female lead wasn’t that impressive... or the story was lame. Usually this is in the case of sequels that are trying too hard. But anyways Frozen had all these things and more. Totally a major winner.

Also just to recap on some TV watching these past few weeks- Teen Wolf…..Holy f@%K! This show just gets crazier and crazier. I mean…now there are 2 Stiles? What?!
One behind on Shield- but that is cookin’ up too. But sometimes I just hold my breath because it is Joss and you never know who is going to die.
Finally catching up on Supernatural… one episode into season 7 and I needed to google the “Leviathan” which apparently is most commonly a sea creature term… but it of course is up for interpretation as are most things mentioned in the Bible.

That’s all my thoughts for now… trying to have a quiet weekend in… which means TV catch up! (Maybe out to see a movie too)

Sarah has begun a new quest… to build an ice castle... included with a talking snowman that doesn't melt. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Oscar Post... JE

Before I get into the main purpose of this post, my Oscar nominee reviews, some responses to your post:
So glad the Rolling Stones were fantastic.  I wouldn't say I was overly impressed with their Super Bowl stint a few years back (compared to say, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, or this year's impressive showing by Bruno Mars), so I am elated to hear the old guys can still strut their stuff.  Cause it's all about the strut. 
Totally understand on Game of Thrones.  It's an incredibly well done show.  I think maybe you're on to something with the Mortal Instruments.  I can see two options.  If it's Showtime or HBO, a faithful retelling of the series, because we know they aren't afraid of incest, so almost incest that turns out to not be incest should be fine. Alternatively, a CW show that takes place in the Shadowhunter realm, perhaps with a (recast, after your review) Magnus as the lead.  They could spin off of the short stories that Cassandra Clare wrote with Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan, which I still need to read for obvious reasons.  I wonder if it is available in book form yet?  I think that was the plan once they were all released.  It's almost my birthday, in case you needed an idea.
And I look forward to your drinking game submissions.  I feel like Gilligan's Island would be another good one for a drinking game with so many basic plot elements occurring in the majority of episodes.

Okay, on to the main event.  I can't live blog the Oscars tonight because I have people coming over and I feel that would be a little rude.  But I will certainly give a review with highlights, especially any Ellen dancing, next week.  For now, I did manage to see all 9 best picture nominees.  I watched Gravity on iTunes last night to wrap it up.  Honestly, I really wanted to watch Frozen, but I can't rent it yet and it was like $20 to buy on iTunes.  Which is likely worth it, but I had to factor in that I would probably be buying the soundtrack right after finishing the film, so I'll give it another week and rent it on iTunes instead.   Anyhow, I've ranked the nominees in reverse order from "thanks for the nomination" to "better walk home with the little gold guy."   I tried to balance the merits of the movie (acting, directing, writing, technical stuff) and my feelings about it (enjoyable, characters I cared about, did I cry, did I feel the story was important etc).  Here is the list:

9. Her - Please don't read this and think I didn't like Her or think it worthy of a nomination.  I believe the Academy got it right this year as this is an impressive, although depressing, collection of films.  The screenplay for this is fascinating and definitely deserves the Oscar.  I expect to see Spike Jonze on stage tonight for that.  Joaquin Phoenix is fantastic (and deserved a nomination except that category is already tight... maybe he deserved it over Leo?) and Amy Adams is great in a supporting role.  It would be a great film for a book club like discussion group (along with Nebraska, which I was surprised I liked as much as I did) to talk about society and human relationships and how much technology has will continue to impact that.  But I was a little bored at points.
8. Gravity - This squeaked by Her based on technical merit.  I waited to fill out my guesses until I had watched it, and immediately checked it off for all the production/technical categories.  The acting is great, Sandra Bullock gives an incredibly believable performance and I'm not science-saavy enough to know how much they got wrong (Neil DeGrasse Tyson said it was a lot, and I believe him, but he did also say he enjoyed the film)  This and Captain Phillips go in the 124 Hours (Franco sawing offf his arm) category for me, brilliant lead performances and innovative filmmaking, but not my thing.
7. Captain Phillips - I listened to an interview with Tom Hanks and the director, Paul Greengrass, on NPR and I think it enhanced my appreciation for the technical aspects of this film.  It definitely benefited from them shooting it on the sea instead of in a studio somewhere, and Greengrass' background in documentary filmmaking has a positive and distinctive impact on his movies.  Again, Hanks is great, and this gets an added boost (over Gravity) for two things.  First, the incredible performance by Barkhad Abdi as the lead pirate.  Second, for its ability to make me anxious despite my knowledge of the story's outcome due to it being a recent major news event.
6. The Wolf of Wall Street - Not to take anything away from the genius of Martin Scorsese, but I think this beats the last 3 on the list for me simply due to enjoyability.  In a year of low key and depressing films, this is a big, funny, obnoxious film about excess.  It is exactly what you imagine the worst of Wall Street to be with giant bonuses and lots of blow and misogyny. DiCaprio is brilliant in how his character transforms over the course of the film. It is both a significant transition, and yet you can tell that at the end he is who he was meant to be.  I don't know if that makes sense, but maybe after you watch the movie it will.  Jonah Hill is great and perfectly cast, but the real scene stealer is Matthew McConaughey.  McConaughey is only in the film briefly at the beginning, but if you watch only his crazy chest thumping restaurant scene, it's worth the price of admission.  He is completely insane, but it kind of works.  This movie probably could have been bumped up even higher if it had about 30 minutes less boobs and blow, but where is the fun in that?
5. Nebraska - I was very hesitant to watch this, but then I cried at the end.  As I mentioned, this goes into the book club movie group for good discussion, only this would be about family and parental relationships and what we learn and understand about our parents as we get older.  Despite the fact that my relationship with my parents is nothing like what is portrayed in the film, there was a universal feeling about this family.  It was both funny and surprisingly heartwarming, although in a very subtle and understated manner.  I have been, of late, hesitant about over-hyped indie films, but I really should trust Alexander Payne, since he made Sideways which I absolutely love.
4. Philomena - It was kind of impossible for this to not make it high on my list.  Touching and heartfelt, based on a true story, Judi Dench, and an awkward stuffy British lead character played well by Steve Coogan.  I cried several times and was enthralled throughout.  I don't really know what else to say about it.
3. American Hustle - I think this suffered from hype, and I've giving it the spot above Philomena because I don't want to punish it for it not quite living up to my ridiculous expectations.  It was a very good movie, although not as good as the director's offering last year, Silver Linings Playbook.  The acting is on an elite level.  Apparently Cate Blanchett is the favorite in the best actress category this year, but I put my check mark next to Amy Adams anyhow because she is perfect in this film.  Christian Bale delivers his usual brilliant performance and the fact that Bradley Cooper makes me so irritated that I kind of wanted to punch him, is an impressive feat.  Jeremy Renner is well cast as the likable politician who really does want to improve his community and Louis CK has a small roll as Cooper's FBI supervisor, and is probably my favorite character in the film, or at least the most likable. And of course, there is Jennifer Lawrence, who steals every scene she is in, except perhaps when she is opposite Adams, where they appear to be on equal footing.  Director David O. Russell knows how to get brilliant performances from his actors.  It didn't live up to the hype because I was a little bored in the middle.  I thought the plot worked to showcase the talents of these actors, but the story in and of itself didn't draw me in as much as I had hoped from the previews.
2. Dallas Buyers Club - Here is a movie that again has brilliant acting, from McConaughey and Jared Leto, both of whom should walk home with gold statues, as well as Jennifer Garner, whose work hasn't been as appreciated, but who really grounds the movie and gives a solid performance.  However, it also has a compelling story that draws you in and keeps your attention.  Almost the number one pick.  Almost.  Because I cried, but I didn't sob.
1. 12 Years a Slave - I sobbed.  This is a difficult film to watch for all of the obvious reasons, but it is an important film to watch and worthwhile.  Lead actor, Chiwetal Ejiofor, takes you with him for the entire 12 years of horror, every moment when he is close to giving up, every time he thinks there could be hope. One of the things I think was well done was its ability to highlight the various participants in the hierarchy of the horrific institution of slavery, from Paul Giamatti as the sleazy and opportunistic slave trader to Benedict Cumberbatch as the "nice slave owner" highlighting the degree to which the "nice" was irrelevant.  Nice or not, he was still a participant in the crime.  Michael Fassbender is horrifying as a deranged, likely psychotic slave owner.  His nomination is well deserved in a brilliant supporting actor category.  Lupita Nyong'o's performance as Patsey should win her an Oscar (despite steep competition from Ms. Lawrence, who could steal it, like she did all her scenes) as it is heartbreaking and transcendent.  This movie has all of the standard elements of a great movie and gives a larger audience to the important story of Solomon Northup that otherwise many would have never heard.  

Whew, made it.  I changed order a few times on that.  Other predictions for tonight:
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity.  All are deserving, and maybe Spike Jonze should be in there, but Cuaron's technical achievements push him over.  Russell could end up with it if the voters give more weight to the actors' performances than the overall production.
Best Actor: McConaughey - The man is having a year, and I can't wait for his speech.  Ejiofor could possibly surprise here, but I doubt it.
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett - But I am still checking Amy Adams because I haven't watched Blue Jasmine yet. And with all the Woody Allen backlash, that could impact the voters.  And Amy Adams was amazing.
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto - He's been cleaning up at the award shows, and deservedly.  Way to take a 6 year acting hiatus to focus on your band and come back to a role like this.  How far you've come from Jordan Catalano.
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o - But Jennifer Lawrence should wear a dress and shoes she can walk in, just in case.
Original Screenplay: Her 
Adapted Screenplay: Philomena - This is a bit of a toss-up.  Could easily go to any of the nominees.
Animated Feature and Song to Frozen, even though I haven't seen it.
All the technical/production awards to Gravity
Score: Her - I am disappointed to not see the score from Nebraska on here as I thought it was incredibly well done and well-suited to the movie.  But I think the score for Her is impressive as well.
Costumes to American Hustle (although perhaps Gatsby will upset there) and Makeup to Dallas Buyers Club (because seriously, move snob moment, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and The Lone Ranger cannot win an Oscar)
I haven't seen any of the documentaries, foreign films, or short films, so I'm skipping that here, but I did make wild guesses.

Alright, we shall see how I do after the show tonight.  For now, it's on to cleaning and prepping some snacks. 

Sarah will be staging her own award show tonight in lieu of watching the Oscars.  There will be categories such as Best Matthew McConaughey performance of the year and Most likely to fall on the stairs this year (it's not really a fair competition as Jennifer Lawrence is always the favorite here).

Friday, February 28, 2014

Rockin' Old Men and Game of Thrones.... KE

Who knew that 70 year old men would put on the best concert EVER. I knew I would enjoy it and appreciate getting a chance to see the Rolling Stones live, but the energy level (mainly from Mick Jagger) and the quality of music was outstanding. Mick Jagger had a catwalk that he would strut up and down and Keith Richard even moved a bit with his sparkly headband. I mean we’ve seen some pretty great old guy concerts… Bon Jovi, Elton John and Billy Joel, Tom Petty…. all which are hard to top… but I think this one topped those.  (I would have to say Elton and Billy are a close second- only Mick Jagger can hit all the notes still.) I’m going to go see Justin Timberlake in May too. As sexy as he is going to be….he’s got a lot to live up to now.

Buzz Feed Joss Whedon which heroine are you- I got Dr. Horrible's Penny.

So I’ve given up on completing the books first and started watching Game of Thrones. The books are good- just a bit thick to get through and I have not been a very progressive reader lately. (My new years resolution is not going so well). However, I am finding that because the show covers pretty much everything in the book, I’m actually anxious to find out what happens after the point I have to read in Book 2. There have been times where I have been watching and actually wished I didn’t know what was going to happen because I think it would be more intense. That’s not usually how I operate either. Usually I want to read books first because when I watch the movie I get more out of the movie. But a book in a TV format (and an awesome TV show at that) I’m feeling reading spoils the TV show a bit (that's a slightly awful notion... but it's what I'm feelin').

Mortal Instruments conversation continued: Simon was probably the best part… and actually beside Magnus Bane being lame and not loving the casting for Jace… the rest of the casting was pretty good… just not enough to save the movie. There was very little character development and all of a sudden they seemed to know each other really well. Again- too much going on in such a short amount of time. MAYBE it should have been a television show too! That’s my new thing- complex book series as TV shows.

And because no blog would be complete without some Buzzfeed:
I got Mr. Feeny… It might have something to with the fact that I chose “I am the teacher”

Also…  yesterday a friend of mine and I were reminiscing about old sitcoms. Then we decided to make Growing Pains into a drinking game. Then we also discussed how to make watching Golden Girls into a drinking game (she owns all the seasons on DVD). So turning 80s/90s sitcoms into drinking games might become a thing I do… stay tuned for that.

Sarah is pleased the concert was rockin’. So pleased in fact that she is inspired to start her own rock band. Step one- find a sparkly headband to wear. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I don't have a title today... JE

What I wrote right after reading your blog, but before watching the new episode this past week:
So much is happening on Teen Wolf, I almost forgot about Scott's dad having a secret. Almost. Do you think that there is a connection to what happened to Stiles' mom or is that link superficial, something that the evil thing (gitsune? I don't really know what they are saying, it moves so quickly) uses to hide itself or throw people off? I kind of feel better that Derek is back in a "I am going to help you and be a good guy" way. He will help save Stiles and the fandom will swoon and dream. (I still don't really get that, at least not like I get the Dean & Cas fans). And yes, Scott & Kira are adorable, although her mom is going to try and kill his best friend, so that is awkward. And I am totally about Alison and Isaac. I love Isaac in general as just he cracks me up. Also, much like in Supernatural, I am in constant fear that someone will die. 

After this week's episode:
AHHHHHHHHH!!!!jnfjnesln.gdkdsnvdksnv.dksnvkdfsn  There were sparks and tricks and you are a father and kaboom. I don't even know how to predict what is going to happen and if people are going to die over the next several episodes.  I think there are maybe 4 more?  Just madness.

Anyhow, I liked your post.  I don't know if you saw this piece from a Texas sportscaster on Michael Sam (it went pretty viral right after he did it), it's pretty awesome:   I like that he gets just a little political at the end.  And I completely agree with your reaction to Ellen Page's speech.  What was so brilliant is that is was just a great speech aside from her coming out during it.  She spoke so well about the important work that HRC does, and then made it even more powerful by demonstrating how inspiring she found their efforts.

Of course, we (as a country) take a couple steps forward with things like marriage equality in more states and Kansas and Arizona lose their shit.  So, Kansas went first, the state house passed a bill that allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT people if it offends their religion, or something like that.  But the state senate killed it, so that's good.  Not to be outdone, the whackadoodles in the Arizona legislature (I think we remember them from their "we can pull you over if you look illegal" legislation) passed a similar bill, allowing people to refuse service if it "puts a substantial burden on their sincerely held religious beliefs."  They are legalizing discrimination against anyone who is LGBT and declaring it is to protect religion.  So, can I discriminate against the bigots because that offends my personal religion?  I really can't even handle this. 

I can't say I'm surprised about the Mortal Instruments, but still disappointed to hear that.  How was Simon?  That actor is pretty adorable, and I enjoy Simon, so I'm hoping he was okay?  I guess I'll just wait patiently for the final book.  

Buzzfeed quiz:

I got Inara.  I mean, I love Inara, but I was a little unsure about that, until Joss Whedon tweeted that he got Inara.  Maybe I'm still a little unsure, but I will embrace the awesome.

Finally, in honor of Jimmy Fallon's first week hosting the Tonight Show, I leave you with this:

Sarah, like me, is waiting to hear a full review of the old men concert that you attended this week, which was apparently amazing.  She is frozen with anticipation.  Which reminds I still need to see Frozen.  But I think I can rent it on demand or iTunes next week.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Love, the NFL and Bad Movies... KE

In honor of Valentine’s Day being recently…Let’s talk about exciting happenings in the world of love. In the last 2 weeks there have been two public “coming outs” that have earned headlines. And although, really, who you choose to love (or just have sex with) should be no one’s worry but your own… because of the state of the world it is important to note why these are significant.

First… Michael Sam.
Okay NFL… time for you to shine. Time for you show the world that this doesn't and shouldn't matter when draft day comes around. This guy was the SEC’s defensive player of the year. ESPN reports “He finished the year with 48 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, two pass breakups, nine quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. That led to a long list of honors, including SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and he was a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy and the Lombardi Award. “  That’s it… that’s what matters. If his sexuality is a factor of how he treated as a football player then the NFL needs to re-evaluate their priorities.

Why it is courageous for a celebrity to stand up proudly for who they are, I actually like this more because this is just a really, really awesome speech. She never made it about her, but rather what incredible work the Human Rights Campaign does and how it inspired her. It was honest. She doesn’t bash on being a celebrity or says “whoa is me” because she is one, but rather states simply that it does affect who she is sometimes, but she’s working on it. I have to give major props and I am glad that it made the media splash that it did.

On a completely different tangent-  I watched the Mortal Instruments................(pause for heavy sigh)......... it was like more than Percy Jackson bad. Except, it stays pretty true to the book but there is just WAY too much happening. I think the reality is that it just didn’t translate very well into a movie. Jonathan Rhys Meyers could have been an excellent Valentine… but he just wasn’t… at least there wasn’t any build up to him, so he didn’t seem very threatening. Also I try to watch these movies from the perspective of someone who hasn’t read the books and that just made it like 10 times worse and I imagine very confusing. Especially with the weird ending. But I think the most disappointing factor was that Magnus Bane was only in the movie for like 2 seconds and he was AWFUL. I’m usually pretty tolerant of movie adaptations of books because I get things are going to be lost in translation… but this was just an all-around bad movie. I can see why the sequel is so questionable.

And OMG- STILES! I’m Teen Wolf caught up and kind of freaking out a bit. And definitely crying a little during the latest episode. This is how you take the funny side-kick with no special powers and turn him into the center of the plot. And what is Scott’s dad’s secret? (And please Scott kiss the cute Kira girl, because as much girl power as Allison has I’m so over her for you.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It's your birthday! JE

Happy Birthday!  Okay, it's not technically your birthday yet at my house.  But it is well into your birthday at your house, so I feel it is appropriate to say woohoo, yay, and ready or not, you have entered your final year as a twenty-something.  Don't worry, I've been at this thirty-something thing for a while and you have nothing to fear.  

I am SO glad that you have finished Supernatural season 5.  I won't tell you how far I have gotten into season 6 because it's your birthday, but since season 5 is behind us and it is (so far) my favorite, I wanted to give it some time.  Because of it being my favorite. Like if I had known that I was going to like it this much when I was starting season 1, I would be finished now. First of all, as we have discussed, there is Cas.  How can you not love this guy?  From his normal, awkward, angel who can't help but kinda love the humans self to future Cas in his hippie free love drug phase.  How amazing was that?  And I love that Sam & Dean had to communicate with him over the phone after he hid them from the angels.  So funny.  I was also a big fan of the twist with the trickster being the angel Gabriel.  I liked the episodes with him in general because they were such a good balance of humor (when they were the CSI guys I was in hysterics) and real, serious danger due and lack of control, and then the added element that he was an angel was very well done.  And because because every show needs a bad guy that you love to hate and hate to love, we get Crowley.  I have never seen Mark Sheppard in a role that he does not just knock out of the park.  Romo on Battlestar, Badger on Firefly, Canton on Doctor Who, the director of the Ring on Chuck, Valda on Warehouse, etc.  Elated to hear him talk about all these things at Emerald City Comicon.  And I would be remiss not to mention how much I loved the appearance of Ash in heaven.  Because his take on heaven was so perfectly in character, up to and including the fact that he had hacked the system.  This season gave us so much in the field of old character development and new characters.  Including our main duo and Bobby, who would could be my favorite.  However I think my real favorite is Chuck the prophet.  First of all, I am a total sucker for all things meta, so the whole thing where there are books about their lives that have a obsessive fandom is brilliant.  Then fitting it into the whole angel storyline and having him be a prophet was perfect.  Plus he was completely endearing.  Per usual, my love of a show is completely character driven.  I mean, I like this storyline this season.  I think I was drawn to it because it was a different kind of apocalypse than anything on Buffy, which steered clear of the traditional biblical world end and stayed in its own world with all things hellmouth.  But angels and demons and Lucifer, plus the four horseman (Death was great, terrifying, but then he also likes a good meal.  Even though rational and chained to Lucifer, he is still formidable and demanding of the respect that comes with his roll.  Definitely the best horseman), that is just all kinds of crazy fun.  I do worry about getting too attached though, as they clearly have no trouble killing people off.  I mean, it's no Game of Thrones, but certainly on par with a Whedon show.  

I also just caught up on Teen Wolf from last night.  Um, holy, all the things batman.  I don't even know what to do with this season, but I love it.  Although I am terrified.  But they won't kill off _____ (name redacted to prevent spoilers), will they?  When you get caught up, I'm going to need you to reassure me that there is no way they would kill ______.  You'll know.

Oscar news!  Idina Menzel is going to perform Let it Go from Frozen!  So exciting.  Which means I really need to see that movie.  Also, I don't know if you saw the video clip I reblogged on tumblr the other day of Anthony Rapp singing a song from the new musical If/Then, but I cannot wait to see clips of that at the Tonys.  It comes out in March, so I assume that is plenty of time?  And if not, then definitely next year. Because it is written by the guys who did Next to Normal (which is amazing) and stars Rapp and Menzel.  A-freaking-mazing.  I don't even care what it's about, I just want the soundtrack.  And the ability to apparate to NYC and obtain tickets for opening night.  

I haven't watched a ton of the Olympics.  But I did see that adorable boy from Canada win the gold in that skiing competition I don't understand.  But he won it in Vancouver (and was the first Canadian to win a gold at home), and this was a repeat victory.  They ski down a hill with lots of little bumps, very quickly, and there are two jumps where they do a flip in the air and try to be kind of fancy, but the speed matters too.  And of course, not falling is important.  Anyhow, I saw that, and he was adorable again.  I also watched a little of the team figure skating.  The Russians were obliterating everyone.  There was a tiny Russian girl whose free skate was brilliant, Tara Lipinski & Johnny Weir are doing the commentary and they were gushing over this performance, and also throwing in a bit of a "I have thought she was the dark horse to win this for months."  Yeah, yeah, you're smart, but see no one else was watching this months ago, no one cared then. And apparently Shaun White did not win a medal today.  Did he cut his hair before the last Olympics?  If not, then my theory is that all his power was clearly in his hair and the haircut took it all away.

Okay, well, I think that's about all I've got for now.  Hope that your birthday is spectacular!!  

After her impressive, buzzfeed influenced efforts creating your birthday message, she has returned to marathoning West Wing and counting the days until her new job.  But there are sure to be more magical adventures soon.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I don’t know about you… but I am not feelin’ 29…KE

So this is a “oh my God I’m turning 29 this week” blog… because well, I am. I always take a bit of comfort that you are a bit older… and my age has never really bothered me… but wow. 29. Not feelin’ so great about it.

You posted this a few weeks… 29 awesome things about being 29.
And many of these things ring very true… And many that don’t ring so true… so let's review...
#1- I don’t really give a shit a lot of the time.
#2- 11pm has always and will always be a socially acceptable bed time in my book. Because I don’t really give a shit if it isn’t.
#3- Most my friends here are in their 20s and then I am old and wise… at home many of my friends are a bit older and I’m the young one… it’s a win either way….
#4- Craft beer has always and will always be delicious… this is not an age thing… it’s just been what can I afford.
#5- They were never soul crushing acts of sadism. Life lessons yes…but I was never that damaged.
#6- I love to gossip and it’s true… I don’t feel as guilty about it as I once did.
#7- There are no foamy pillows in my life- just cheap ones from the department store. And I sleep fine.
#8- I have never felt the need to join on the social network sites… and yet I belong to more than others my age… so in that way I am rather youthful still.
#9- I’m a teacher… I hang out with teachers… of course we’re all tired. Age has little to do with that.
#10- Is calling someone out on something really a sign of age or just personality?
#11- I order white wine when I want… because again… see number 1.
#12- I am hip when it comes to music and I know who Avicii is.
#13- Friends is in syndication on like 10 different challenges… I am young enough that I wasn’t alive when I Love Lucy was on… but I know what it is. Friends is known by people much young than me.
#14- It does not take me 5 minutes to get ready… that is just false.
#15- Money conserving is definitely becoming my sure sign of age.
#16- Like Jess said- “Cause it Can”
#17- This has always been true… as a matter as fact when I was younger I was required to dress up as often as I am now… so I dismiss this one.
#18- I prefer the term “Youths”.
#19- True, true, true. In all my traveling lately this is one that I know as a sure sign of age. 16 person dorm rooms at hostels just don’t cut it for me anymore.
#20- Um…. Again this is more about personality, because I don’t do this.
#21- Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking in early 20s. But then again if I hadn’t done that… I wouldn’t be here.
#22- I don’t think I ever lied about seeing books and movies… and I usually have at least seen more movies than other people… so I’ve got that going for me anyways.
#23- I still like to plan out some sightseeing when I vacation. But MAYBE I’ve slowed down just a bit.
#24- I think this is a repeat of #1… just generally not caring about some things… a total sign of age.
#25- Save the drama for your mama…
#26- Oh man… this really dates me… but I bring this up often and I still get quite excited when I can find a music video on VH1.
#27- No. I don’t do this. I can go to dinner on my own… but not usually just sit at a bar. I usually drink alone in private.
#28- Kids are pretty awesome.
#29- I can pretend to be Beyonce fabulous… but 30 does freak me out a bit.

So in conclusion... ack... I'm still turning 29. I'm not as poor as I once... I like nice things... and I work more. But I guess I just shouldn't give a shit. :) 

You’re points about the Harry and Hermione thing were very good and well said. JK should have just left it alone. I love Ron and so does Hermione.

The Olympics are hard to follow with no TV and not living in a country that is participating in them. I’m sure they’ll be on in some places though. Just keep me updated on anything exciting.

And my TV viewing goals weren’t reached this weekend. I watched a little. But instead I actually ended up leaving the apartment, going for a walk and then watching a movie with friends. So no new TV thoughts and updates. However I need to begin the Supernatural once again as I am worried you will lap me and then we won’t be able to watch together this summer.

Stay tuned!

Sarah is snowed in...and drunk.