Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, Reading Books, Traveling to Places, Watching Movies

So…What Happened to 2015?

Well, I made it through the entire year of 2015 without blogging once. Don’t worry, I’m not touting this as a good thing. In fact, I’m downright ashamed about it. Blogging was my thing, the one way I held on to my love of writing that spawned over 20 years ago…and I just let it disappear.

 

I could sit here and blame a list of things for my lack of writing: no ideas, no time, etc., but it wouldn’t justify anything. I had ideas. I had time. I just got lazy. It became easier to just post on the many pointless social networks I belong to. In fact, basically all I did in 2015 was post to social networks that I don’t even like because I kept changing my mind about which one I wanted to use and didn’t want to use and it was enough to drive me crazy.

In fact, it DID drive me crazy. Crazy to the point where I decided that in 2016 I need to get back into long-form blogging and ENOUGH WITH THE SHIT OF SOCIAL MEDIA.

But I’m not here to discuss all the things that are wrong with social media in 2016. I’m here to tell you that I’m back and that this year will be much different than last year. It HAS to be.

So before I officially make my blogging return, here’s a quick run-down of the things that happened in 2015 just so you know that it wasn’t ALL social media.

• I realized that I liked other genres of books more than young adult. That’s right! 2015 was the year where I sort of broke up with YA and embraced historical mysteries and middle grade. Of course middle grade isn’t exactly new to me, but some of the best books I read last year were from the middle grade genre. And I absolutely tore through the Maisie Dobbs and the Beatrix Potter mystery series’, thus giving the British Cozy Mystery genre a new fan.

• I saw some movies in 2015! Even some in the theater! See, I’m not getting old just yet. A couple of stand-outs were Pixar’s Inside Out (which made me cry like a 15-year-old me watching Little Women), Cinderella (which was just PERFECT), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which is so freaking fabulous I may need to write a separate post about it).

• It’s no surprise that I listened to a ton of music this year, mostly film scores. Unlike YA books, film music will ALWAYS be my thing and I’ll never outgrow it. Highlights: Patrick Doyle’s Cinderella, Junkie XL’s Mad Max: Fury Road, Debbie Wiseman’s Wolf Hall, and DUH John Williams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

• Speaking of music, I finally got to see One Direction LIVE AND IN CONCERT in July. I went by myself, like all cool 36-year-old moms do, and had a freaking blast. Seriously, it was tons of fun. And hot as hell since it was like 95 degrees, but still tons of fun. After seeing New Kids on the Block in 1990, ‘NSYNC in 1999, I’ve finally come full circle. No more boy bands in my future.

• Oh, let’s not forget TV! Of course these days I usually only watch whatever my daughter watches (which isn’t bad at all), but last January brought the return of two of my favorite shows, Sherlock (Series 3) and Downton Abbey (Series 5). And then in May my other favorite show, Glee, finally came to an end after 6 seasons. Again, talking about that show and its ending will require a separate blog post.

• In terms of traveling, the only place we went this year was California to visit the in-laws. Despite the fact that my father-in-law’s health was fading during our summer visit, we managed to have some fun at Disneyland and my first trip to Universal Studios. We had to return to CA in October for my FIL’s funeral, which was sad, and doesn’t even count as a trip since it was literally for two days. This year, however, is a biggie when it comes to travel. In March we head to Japan for two weeks with my mother-in-law and brother-in-law in what will definitely be the most interesting and fascinating trip I’ve ever taken. You can bet there will be post about that!!

2015 was definitely an interesting year, with both the good and the bad. But it’s time to move on…time to remember the good, get past the bad, and welcome the new.

HERE’S TO BLOGGING IN 2016!!

Advertisements
Posted in Catching TV, Reading Books

November, We Meet Again

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost halfway through November.  Like…really?  How did we get from September to the middle of November in what seems like a matter of days?  Is this what getting old is like?

Okay, so I blinked and October disappeared into bits of school activities and Halloween parties and weddings and sicknesses.  I’m serious – my daughter will sniffle one day, and the next day my husband and I feel like we’re dying of the plague.  Ah, parenthood.  It’s lovely, it really is.  And so are weddings!

1383689_10151793778912713_1999946997_nThe lovely bride and me.

On the plus side, Thanksgiving is only 16 days away!  Thanksgiving is super fun because of food, and that’s about it.  It’s also the unofficial start of the holiday season (though some retailers use Halloween as the unofficial start…crazy town, if you ask me…), which means I’ll start listening to Christmas music and decorating the Christmas tree the day after I eat turkey and watching holiday-ish movies with the fam.

XmasClass-01Namely this…

And okay, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t sneaked a few Christmas songs into my daily listening already.  But it’s been really cold (it was 12 degrees this morning!!), and I made myself better by playing some Manheim Steamroller.  So there.

51iJ3T7qgfLNamely this…

In between all that stuff, all I’ve been doing is reading.  Honestly, it’s, like, all I do these days.  And I couldn’t be happier.  As usual I started my annual Harry Potter Read-a-thon.  And this time around I checked out the new paperback editions from the library just because they’re brand new and I’m totally in love with the covers.

Harry Potter SeriesDrool…slobber…love…

Of course I only got through four books before some new young adult stuff beckoned me over to their side.  But I fully intend of finishing up the Harry Potter series before the end of the year…after I get through some more YA stuff.  Seriously, I just checked out the new edition of Order of the Phoenix and it’s in line, just waiting to be read.  Promise.

newsImg1101Fancy pants Potter…

But I’ve been hitting the YA jackpot lately when it comes to really good books.  To write about them all would take up another ten pages, so I’ll just make a list of the ones I recommend for some excellent stay-home-because-it’s-too-cold-outside reading:

  • The Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson (one of the best high fantasy series I’ve read since the Graceling trilogy)

Untitled-2

  • The Benny Imura series by Jonathan Maberry (perfect for Walking Dead fans with excellent writing)
  • The False Prince and The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielson (so much fun, that’s all I can say.  Can’t wait to read the third and final…)

Triligy

  • Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano (a new series from one of my fave authors that will leave you begging for the second book
  • Just One Year by Gayle Forman (finally we know what happened after Just One Day!!)

So those were some highlights over the past month.  I’m currently reading Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, which is perfect since I’ve been on this high fantasy kick lately.  Like how last year it seemed that all the good books were historical fiction, this year it’s high fantasy.  Love it.

New-PB-CoverComplete with kick-ass cover

Am I watching TV?  Not really, unless you consider spending endless hours watching THE SCARIEST SHOW ON EARTH, “Lazy Town”, with my daughter watching TV.  I’m serious, that show is horrifying.  I’d tell you to watch it just so you know, but I don’t want to subject you to that horror.  Just take my word for it.

54846298_1382468994I…just…can’t…

I have been keeping up with Glee, though, because even though it’s not like it used to be, I still feel rather devoted to it.  And yes, like how last season was different, this season is even differenter (made up words are fun), mainly because NO FINN (cue sadness).  When critics say that “there’s a cloud hanging over the Glee cast this season”, they’re not just making up silly stuff like they usually do.  They’re actually kind of right.  Everyone on the show seems…off.  But that’s to be expected.  And I’m okay with that, considering things.

S5CastCloud…

One bright spot this season is the addition of Demi Lovato, bless her awesome little heart.  I’m totally not ashamed to say that I have been a Demi fan ever since Camp Rock, people.  She’s got a flipping amazing singing voice, and she’s a strong supporter of eating disorder education (sadly close to home for me) and she’s just plain awesome.  My favorite song so far on this season of Glee has been her Beatles duet with Santana when they sang “Here Comes the Sun” and Demi sounded…hmm…I don’t know…kinda perfect.  Please, Glee Peeps, have Demi sing more.

glee-season-5-demi-lovatoFinally…some sun

I HAVEN’T SEEN ANY MOVIES SO DON’T ASK.

The rest of the year looks to go just as quickly but be just as fun.  Here’s a run-down on some things to look forward to:

  • An exciting list of books on request from the library, including Vicious by Victoria Schwab and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman.
  • The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special on November 23!
  • The new One Direction album released on November 25!  Because admit it…you secretly kinda sorta love the song “Story of My Life” just a teeny little bit maybe yes.

one-direction-story-of-my-life-lyrics

  • After being on the library wait list since September 17, Season 3 of Downton Abbey is finally almost available! (I’m patron 8 out of 221).
  • And speaking of Downton Abbey…and Sherlock…new seasons to premiere in January!!!!!
  • The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug in theaters December 13!!
  • My office holiday party on December 14!  Okay, not exciting.  Sorry.

That’s about it as far as my goings-on goes.  What’s new with the rest of the world?

Posted in Catching TV, Watching Movies

Crushable, Swoon-Worthy, and…Animated?

A couple of years ago I wrote a post called “Crushing on Fictional Characters”, in which I wrote about…well…fictional characters in books I was crushing on.  Duh.  There have been many literary books that come to life on the pages and make me fall in love with them, and that all comes with excellent writing.  If I like a boy in a book, the author has done their job.

But what about the boys (or girls, whatever) that are in TV or movies but aren’t…real?  As in, not real people?  As in…ANIMATED??  (Please don’t say cartoons.  PLEASE.)

That’s right, I have totally developed crushes on animated characters.  Whether it’s a Disney prince or an evil anime boy, it’s happened.  And that’s all thanks to the brilliant animators and writers behind some of these shows and movies.

So what animated boys leave me crushing?  Here’s a handful of swoon-worthy hand-drawn or computer animated characters that have stolen my real, beating heart.

Prince Phillip (Sleeping Beauty)

Prince-Phillip-sleeping-beauty-6473752-318-266

To this day, Phillip is the only Disney Prince who has made me swoon (though Flynn Rider comes close).  Why is that?  Is it the Gothic-style animation?  Is the color of his glorious golden brown hair?  Is it his personality?  Is it the way he climbs up the stairs to find a sleeping princess and looks at her like she’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen?

Sleeping-disneyscreencaps.com-7189

Well, I suppose it’s a little bit of all of that.  And plus, there’s the fact that he can dance.  Remember that scene in Gilmore Girls when Rory and Lorelei are making Dean watching Sleeping Beauty and they say that Phillip is the best Prince, and Dean says, “Because he can dance.”  He claims it’s because he has a little sister that he knows this, but we all know it because it’s totally true.  Prince Phillip can awake me from a 100-year sleep any damn day.

Lion-O (Thundercats)

745px-Lion-o_richie1

If I’m honest, I’m not really talking about the original 80s version of Lion-O.  I mean, he was okay, I guess, but nowhere near the 2011 reboot Lion-O.  Damn, that man-lion thing is sexy.  One thing that changed from the original, and in term helped out Lion-O’s sexiness immensely is instead of being a boy trapped inside a man’s body (because that’s just annoying), now Lion-O is a misunderstood teenager.  Which means lots of brooding looks and stuff.  Which people like.

00-ThunderCats-2011-Lion-O-and-the-Sword-of-Omens

Not to mention he’s got waaaaay better hair now.  Or mane.  He is a lion, right?  Whatever.  I would probably date him, were I also an animated cat-like humanoid android.  If he wasn’t so hung up on Cheetara.  Even though she’s totally hung up on Tygra.  Oh, the drama!

Tuxedo Mask / Darien Shields (Sailor Moon)

Tuxedo-mask-sailor-moon-25225153-498-370

Ah, Darien Shields.  AKA Tuxedo Mask.  AKA Mamoru Chiba / Tuxedo Kamen, if you’re staying true to the original Japanese version.  Whatever you want to call him, you have to at least call him sexy.  Because basically Darien Shields / Tuxedo Mask is like the anime version of Bruce Wayne and Batman.  And that, my friends, is glorious.

images

I used to watch Sailor Moon every morning before school (we’re talking high school, people), and my favorite episodes were always the ones with Tuxedo Mask.  After losing his parents when he was a child (like Bruce Wayne), he eventually develops a dual-identity, unknowingly turning into Tuxedo Mask whenever Serena Tsukino (Sailor Moon) is in trouble.  So he’s always saving the day in his mysterious way, and I eventually developed a teeny little crush on him, even though I wouldn’t have admitted that to anyone back in high school.

Now I really don’t care what people think, and I’m proud to belong to the Tuxedo Mask fandom.  Because you never know when he might come and save you!

Prince Zuko and Jet (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

Zuko_fights_Jet

The only reason I’m lumping these two guys together is because they’re from the same show.  Other than that, they’re totally different.  But both sexy.

Prince Zuko is the misunderstood (there’s that word again) teenage Prince who’s been banned from the Fire Kingdom by his own father, which means Zuko has a TON of issues.  Mostly regarding his family – his mean dad, his missing mom, his crazy evil sister, and his wonderful uncle – but still.  He’s got every right to be angry and pissed off and depressed and upset.  And it’s all those things that make Zuko so lovable.  Seriously, I just want to punch him in the face, tell him it’s all going to be okay, and then hug him.  Forever.

4171889_orig

Oh, but then there’s Jet.  Jet only appeared in two or three episodes throughout the whole series, but he made such an impact that he’s got fangirls up the wahzoo.  First of all, he plays a rebel.  And every girl likes a rebel.  He has a total grudge against the Fire Nation, and rightly so.  The Fire Nation is evil.  Jet does some pseudo-crappy stuff, but it’s all in the name of fighting against the Fire Nation.  Kind of like Robin Hood.  And he’s so suave and charismatic about everything that it’s impossible not to think that everything he’s doing is right.

Jet

Luckily for Zuko, he has a happy ending.  Jet?  Not so much.

Mako (The Legend of Korra)

character_large_332x363_mako

From the same world as Avatar: The Last Airbender but 70 years later, we have Mako, a firebender (but not the evil kind like there was before) who’s described as “dark and brooding”.  And there, my friends, are the magic ingredients for crush-worthy animated characters.

Mako also happens to have great hair (as did Zuko and Jet), which is hard to achieve when it’s animated.  Which just goes to show you that these Airbender animators are HAIR MASTERS.

Mako may be dark and brooding, but he’s also a really good guy, and so far has been a pretty good boyfriend to Korra (oops, was that a spoiler?)  He’s the kind of boyfriend you want to take home to your parents AND have a little fun with.  If you know what I mean.

Korra_and_Mako_kiss

YES I KNOW HE’S ANIMATED.  I’M NOT TOTALLY CRAZY.

What also helps Mako, as well as Jet and Zuko, is their voice.  And that all comes down to the voice actor.  Mako has a sexy voice (thank you, David Faustino).  And just listening to him talk – whether he’s arguing with Korra or telling her he loves her (SWOON), it just works for him.

Ah.  I love Mako.  And his silly scarf.

Prince Shining Armor (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)

300px-Shining_Armor

Okay, I know he’s not even a person.  Like, at least Lion-O was humanISH, right?  But I don’t care.  I love Twilight Sparkle’s older brother, Shining Armor.  Why?  I don’t really know.  Is he cute?  Hard to say, as he’s a pony.  Can ponies be attractive?  Well, let’s see.

Um, yes.  I think he qualifies as attractive.  For a pony.  And he’s in uniform!  A Royal Guard!  Every girl likes a man – er, pony – in uniform, right?  And he’s in love with Princess Cadance.  Which automatically makes him pony hot.

tumblr_m6zi6hCbuY1r81vpao1_500

So it’s okay to think he’s attractive.  Don’t worry.  You won’t be the only one.

Marshall Lee (Adventure Time)

Screen_shot_2011-07-27_at_11.52.00_AM

I can’t talk about animated crushes without mentioning at least one person from Adventure Time, since I pretty much have a crush on the whole damn show.  I’ll always have a soft spot for Finn, but when I first saw Marshall Lee…oh damn.

In the amazing episode “Fionna and Cake”, all of the characters switch genders.  Finn becomes Fionna, Jake becomes Cake, Princess Bubblegum becomes Prince Bubblegum, and so on.  But my favorite gender switch came from my favorite character, Marceline the Vampire Queen, who became Marshall Lee the Vampire King.

Marshall Lee, like Marceline, can sing and play the guitar (sexy).  He’s 18, slim, has black hair, and dresses like a hipster.  And he’s just a little bit evil.

Marceline_x_marshall_lee_by_jennahuskie-d49402a

He’s only been onscreen for about seven minutes, and he’s got more fangirls than Edward Cullen.  I think this vampire has a pretty good future ahead of him.  Even though he’s dead.

So there you have it, my crushes on animated boys with really good hair.  Have you ever found yourself crushing on an animated character?  Or am I the only crazy one?

Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, Living Life, Reading Books

Where Have I Been???

Instead of making up excuses as to why I haven’t written a blog post in OVER A MONTH, let’s just jump right into the middle of September and talk about things that I’ve actually accomplished over the past five weeks!

And yes, I get that in doing that is also kind of giving excuses as to why I haven’t blogged in so long.  But hey, it’s not like I’ve just been sitting on my ass looking at Adventure Time Tumblr GIFS.*

marcelinelol_zps89f93ecfOkay, so maybe I have.  A little.  Maybe a lot.

Writing!

So just because I haven’t blogged in a millennia doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing.  No, siree.  I’ve actually dug up a couple of good ol’ stories I’ve started in the past and have never been able to finish.  And guess what?  I still haven’t finished them.  But that’s okay!  I managed to completely change the plot of both of them and delete a bunch of stuff and write a bunch more that I probably will end of deleting as well.  But all that takes time, yo.

tumblr_ls7095kkiU1qhqibno1_500I’ve also been pretty committed to my other blog, which I have to do every day or else I get behind and then the whole thing is screwed up.  But it’s so much fun to write, and embarrassing and scary and hilarious to read these old journal entries from twenty years ago, especially when all of it is still so vivid in my mind.  So go read it!

Reading!

Oh my goodness, I’ve read books!  And despite the two week period where I barely read a thing (writing, people!), I’ve done a very decent amount of reading since the beginning of September.  Eight books in two and a half weeks, actually.  Feel free to be impressed.  And what’s even better?  Most of those are probably some of the best books I’ve read so far this year.  Seriously, I’ve been on a good streak when it comes to young adult fiction these days.

Le Highlights:

Shadow and Bone / Siege and Storm (Books 1&2 from the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo)

grisha-leigh-bardugo-shadow-and-bone-siege-and-sto1

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

6931344

Unravel Me (Book 2 in the Shatter Me series by Tarereh Mafi)

13104080

All of these books got 5 stars on my Goodreads page, a rating I usually only reserve for JK Rowling books and Betsy-Tacy books.  And the occasional young adult contemporary that managed to knock me onto my ass.*

I’m referring, of course, to Gayle Forman’s Just One Day which is so incredibly divine that I want to have it for dessert every night.

Watching!

I told myself this year that when my daughter was spending four weeks at Camp Grandma, I would find a new TV show to get into and WATCH ALL THE EPISODES.  Last year it was Supernatural, and it was well worth the time.

My-baby-s-supernatural-15201351-1152-864DUUUUUH.

To be honest, I didn’t think it was going to happen this year.  My husband and I found ourselves obsessively watching every episode of The Amazing Race on Hulu (seriously, there are 20 seasons streaming on it right now), which does not qualify as a new show in my world.

Finding a new show didn’t happen until the weekend my husband flew to CA to pick up our daughter and I had the place – and the TV – to myself.  I decided to watch the first episode of Teen Wolf – a show I had been mildly against since its inception – and…WHOOPS I ACCIDENTLY WATCHED THE ENTIRE FIRST SEASON IN ONE NIGHT.

teen-wolfWhoopsies?

So yeah, I ended up kind of liking it.  Loving it.  Oh,hell.  LURVING IT.  It’s easily comparable to The Vampire Diaries, but you know what?  I like it better.  Even if you try to shove Damon and Stefan in my face, with all their prettiness and sexiness and whatnot, THEY ARE NOT STILES STILINKSI.

Dylan-OBrien-teen-wolfMarry me.

Seriously.  I watch Teen Wolf for Stiles.  And maybe a little bit for Derek’s chest.  Okay, and for Jackson’s freckled nose.  Fine…and Alison’s clothes.  Whatever.  I just really enjoy the show.

I’m also a teeny bit pissed I didn’t stick around for the Teen Wolf panel at Comic Con this year.

Because Stiles.

tumblr_m7ds24p8Rq1qmge0i

Listening!

Okay, so near the end of August I somehow developed this weird, kind of obsessive “thing” for One Direction.  I know, I KNOW…sounds totally weird.  But seriously, I COULD NOT stop listening to their music, it was so addictive.  And Harry Styles?  HOLY MARY I thought he was the end-all be-all of my world.  Gorgeous, funny, and a sexy, gravely voice to boot!  Never mind the fact that he’s, erm, 15 years younger than me.  I dare – nay, CHALLENGE you to find a woman my age who wouldn’t admit that, yeah, okay, she MIGHT want to do things to him.

Harry-styles-2013-one-direction-34365165-1193-1600Um.

I even went and saw the ID movie in 3D.  By myself.  AND IT WAS FUN.  So what.

Luckily (for me and my poor husband who had to endure this two week obsession of mine) the obsession has faded a bit.  I’m listening to all things on my iPod now instead of just the 31 One Direction songs that currently reside there.  I’m not checking Harry Styles’ twitter feed every hour to see if he’s said something quirky.  And I’m not watching ID videos on You Tube with my daughter every night.  Things are back to normal.

one-direction-introIt’s alllll good.

I’m still kinda excited for their new album coming out in November, though.  Suck it.

Parenting!

In between all this nonsense, I am still first and foremost a parent.  Yes, really!  I spent the last part of August getting said child ready for Kindergarten, which has proved to be both stressful and weird and fun and stuff.  I don’t remember bringing home this much paperwork when I was  five years old – seriously, all I brought home from kindergarten when I was a kid was sticky glue fingers – but I guess that’s just what’s up with kindergarten these days.  Paperwork and pseudo homework.

But it’s all good.  My daughter gets out of the house for a full day, which makes everyone happy.  And that’s another thing I don’t get.  These moms who cry and get all depressed because their kid is leaving the house for a few hours.  Like, really?  How can this be a sad thing?  Don’t they remember how annoying summer is when your kid complains about how bored they are and both of you get annoyed with each other because it’s just you and her and she wants to go play somewhere and you want to stay home and read in silence but you can’t because you have this thing in your face begging you to take her to the park even though it’s 100 degrees outside with 99% humidity??

kindergarten-countdown 2

Sorry.  I love my daughter, I really do.  But she needs time away from us, just like we need time away from her.  I shed no tears when she has to leave for school.  Because school is awesome.

STAY IN SCHOOL, KIDS.  Your parents want you there.

So that’s about all that’s been going on in my world.  A lot, but not a whole lot.  I promise to try keep up again with this blog and give you all the odds and thens from the pop culture world via MY BRAIN.

So get ready, world.

Posted in Catching TV, Geeking Out

Mid-Year Report

Did June come early this year?  Seriously, did we skip a couple of months and decide we needed it to be June?  Because I swear to God I was just celebrating New Year’s Day, like, last week.  Honestly.  June?

Anyway, yes.  It’s June now.  June is a great month because it’s half spring and half summer, and it holds the promise that it’s going to be a great summer.  Remember when we were kids and June not only meant “SUMMER!” but it also meant “WE STILL HAVE TWO MORE MONTHS AFTER THIS!!!”?  Well, now that we’re adults now and have these things called “full-time jobs” there really isn’t such a thing as “summer” anymore, but June is still lovely.  Especially if you like flowers.

images-1

June is bustin’ out all over.

I really have nothing topical to write about today, but since I have the time to write and really do want to write every day, I’ll just update you all on what’s been going on in my world.  You know, now that’s June and all.  Consider it to be a mid-year report on all the Odds & Thens that happen around me.  Also, prepared to be a little bored because my life isn’t exciting at all.  Sorry.

So, remember how I was going to challenge myself to watch at least five new movies a month because last year’s movie-viewing was so lame?  Well, I’m going to be honest with you.  I haven’t seen a new movie since February.  Well, with the exception of one, and that’s Wreck-It Ralph, and that’s only because my daughter thinks it’s awesome.  But apart from that, I haven’t been interested in watching any new movies.  As usual, I find comfort in my favorite go-tos:  Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.  Also, it tends to be that when I’m home alone and have the time to watch a movie, I also want to clean the house (sorry, I love to clean.  I really do.), and so I usually put in a movie that makes good background noise.  Hence, a movie that I’ve seen a kajillion times.

two-towers-badasses

Time to clean!

I haven’t really watched any new TV, either.  I finally got all caught up with Glee which, unfortunately, never really won me back at the end of the season.  It’s sad, really, when I think of how much I loved the show two years ago, to now when I actually have to force myself to watch it.  Methinks I probably won’t see much of it next year, but who knows.

Ever since discovering that all the seasons of The Twilight Zone is streaming on Netflix, I’ve been watching about three episodes at a time when I’m able to.  Man, talk about a great show.  The stories, the writing, the way it plays on people’s fears…it’s all so great.  And it’s fun to see old actors in what was probably the very first thing they did.  If for some odd reason you’ve never watched the show before, I suggest doing that right now.  This second.

tumblr_lwvcx2IvOw1qd1naf

That’s not fair!  There was time now!

To be honest, the shows I’ve seen the most these past couple of months are Justin Time and Adventure Time which, I’ll be honest with you, I LOVE.  I’m serious.  I love these shows.  They’re shows my daughter loves, too, which is why it’s so awesome that I like them as well.  Justin Time is about a kid who travels to different parts of the world with his imaginary friends Squidgy and Olive (at least I think they’re imaginary….), and Adventure Time is about…well, I can’t describe.  Seriously, I’m not even gonna try because I’ll end up sounding totally insane.  But it’s so much fun to watch.

Adventure_Time_Chibi

So much awesomeness.

I’m also in the process of mentally preparing for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, which takes place on November 23, 2013, and also leads up to the departure of my first and favorite Doctor, Matt Smith.  It was just announced this past Saturday that he’ll be leaving the show after the Christmas episode, and while Doctors leaving is the nature of the show (duh, they regenerate…that’s why there have been 11 so far…), watching Matt Smith leave is going to be really difficult to do.  I may have watched the first series reboot with Christopher Eccleston back in 2005, but my heart was never in it.  I decided to give it another chance when Matt Smith came on back in 2010, and I’ve loved every single second of it.  I’ve since gone back and re-watched Eccleston, and also came to love David Tennant as the tenth doctor, but Matt Smith will always be my first and my favorite, and I will be truly sad to see him go.

Doctor-Who-Matt-Smith

Trust me.

That being said, I’m VERY excited to see the 50th anniversary episode, mainly because Smith will be joined by David Tennant and the once companion Rose, and it’ll be interesting to see how their characters will collide.  And obviously I’m curious as to who will be the Twelfth Doctor.  Everyone’s got their speculations, but we’re all going to have to wait a while before that answer comes.

images-2

I hope he’s ginger!

And speaking of mentally preparing, we’re only 44 days away from San Diego Comic-Con which, of course, my hubby and I will be attending this year.  It’ll be our sixth year attending, and it’s going to be just as insane and crazy as it always is.  Last year’s con took so much out of me, physically and mentally (no sleep, Firefly reunion), and I told my husband that we should “take it easy” this year.  Of course I say that every year, and of course we always find ourselves getting into line for Hall H panels at 2:00 in the morning.  And this year I know there are going to be some big panels that I won’t want to miss:  The Hobbit (part 2), Doctor Who, Supernatural, Thor 2, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Ugh, just thinking about all of it makes my stomach get all flippy.  But I can’t wait.

xmen229013201326

Gaaaahhhh….

In between all that, I’m also learning how to “garden” (in pots out on my balcony), I’m getting my daughter situated for kindergarten next year (no, that’s not stressful at all), and I’m trying to understand why my cats insist on doing my hair while I try to sleep.  Either that or they’re giving me the worst head massage ever.  Seriously, cats are effing weird.

I have a feeling this summer is going to totally fly by, so enjoy the weather and the opportunities while they’re hot.  And don’t forget to have fun!  Because summer – whether you’re in school or have a full-time job – will always be “SUMMER!!!!”

Posted in Catching TV

TV Worth Crying About

Guess what, folks?  There’s nothing wrong with crying.  In fact, studies have shown that crying once in a while (just not all the time) is a healthy way to release emotion.  And what better way to release that built-up emotion than in front of a good TV show?

A couple of years ago I wrote about certain moments in TV that have made me cry, but I barely touched upon what is out there.  So I’m back to share with you some more moments that will probably make you shed some tears as well, given you’re not a some kind of cyborg who feels NOTHING.*

*You know who you are.

The TV show:  Doctor Who

The Episode:  “Vincent and the Doctor”

The Moment:  The Curator’s Speech

Of all the weepy moments that Doctor Who has thrown at my face, this one probably produces the most tears.  In this episode The Doctor and Amy have gone back in time to the age of Vincent Van Gogh who, at that time, was just a struggling artist who no one knew or appreciated.  Knowing that Van Gogh later ends up committing suicide, Amy thinks that they can change Vincent’s fate by take him back to the future to visit an art institute where his works are prominent.

doctor-who-vincent-van-gogh-e1305009078131

While there, Van Gogh overhears the curator (played beautifully by Bill Nighy) talk about Van Gogh’s impact on the world, which brings tears to Van Gogh’s eyes (and mine…like now…as I’m typing this).  In that moment you think – as does Amy – that because now that he knows this, he won’t end up killing himself.  He knows his worth, and that’s worth saving.  But despite that, nothing changes.  Van Gogh still ends up committing suicide, and we’re all left in a pool full of tears.

Vincent14

“He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty.  Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world…no one had ever done it before.  Perhaps no one ever will again.  To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world’s greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.”

The TV show:  Supernatural

The Episode:  “All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1”

The Moment:  Sam Dies (For the first time)

News flash, everyone.  We don’t watch Supernatural for the demons and ghosts.  We don’t even watch it for the music which, admittedly, is awesome.  No, we watch Supernatural because of Sam and Dean.  It’s their relationship that has made us laugh and – duh – cry, and it’s their relationship that keeps us going.  And because this show is only second to Gilmore Girls in terms of amount of tears shed, I had plenty of sad moments to choose from.  In this particular one, part one of the two-part season two finale, brothers Sam and Dean are in what is rumored to be the most haunted place in America.  A bunch of stuff happens – a bunch of stuff that will take way too long to explain (just watch the episode, people), but in the end Sam ends up dying.  Of course I use that term loosely, because if you know that this show has been on for 8 seasons so far you know that Sam doesn’t die, but still…this is the first time he dies and it’s one of the hardest to take.  Mainly because of Dean.

Supernatural 2x22 0701

Dean isn’t what you’d call “emotional”, but he sure nails it during this scene.  He’s holding his dying brother in his arms and basically telling him everything he’s been meaning to say ever since they were kids.  It’s touching and depressing and totally real, which is why this show makes me frickin’ cry all the damn time.

samdies

“You know when we were little, you couldn’t have been more than five, you just started asking questions. ‘How come we didn’t have Mom?’; ‘Why do we always have to move around?’; ‘Where’d Dad go?’. He’d take off for days at a time.  “I remember I begged you to stop asking. Man, you don’t want to know. I just wanted you to be a kid, for just a little while longer. I was trying to protect you. Keep you safe. Dad didn’t even have to tell me. It was just always my responsibility, you know? It’s like I had one job. That one job. And I screwed it up. “I blew it. And for that I’m sorry. I guess that’s what I do, I let down the people I love. I let Dad down…and now I guess I’m just supposed to let you down too.  How can I? How am I supposed to live with that? What am I supposed to do? Sammy…what am I supposed to do?  WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?”

 The TV show:  Sherlock

The Episode:  “The Reichenbach Fall”

The Moment:  Sherlock’s “Death”

As with Supernatural, the main focus of this show is the relationship between Sherlock and John Watson.  We love these two guys together, and we’d hate for anything to break up what they have.  Which is why the end of The Reichenbach Fall is so hard to watch.  Just after we’ve eaten up every word the wonderfully evil Moriarty has said to Sherlock on the rooftop of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, ending with Moriarty’s shot to his own head, our thoughts turn to Sherlock and what he’s going to do next.  Deep down we know, and deep down it makes us want to throw up.  He calls Watson, the only person in his life he probably truly loves, and says his goodbye.  Watson says no, we’re saying no, no no no no no no no no no.  And then Sherlock looks down.

sherlock-roof

The next thing we know Sherlock’s bloody body is on the ground and John is kneeling next to him and we’re balling our eyes out.  By the time we see John at Sherlock’s grave telling him “don’t be dead” we’re such a mess that we almost miss the fact that SHERLOCK IS STANDING RIGHT THERE BEHIND THAT TREE.

WTF??????

To be continued whenever the hell Series Three is going to bloody air.

reichenbach

“Um. Hm. You… you told me once that you weren’t a hero. Um. There were times that I didn’t even think you were human. But let me tell you this, you were the best man and the most human…. human being that I have ever known, and no one will ever convince me that you told me a lie. And so… there. I was so alone and I owe you so much. Please, there’s just one more thing. One more thing. One more miracle, Sherlock, for me. Don’t be… dead. Would you do that, just for me? Just stop it, stop this.”

The TV show:  The Walking Dead

The Episode:  “Pretty Much Dead Already”

The Moment:  Sophia Is Found

The first half of season Two of The Walking Dead was pretty much devoted to finding Sophia, the little girl in their small group of survivors that had disappeared in the first episode of that season.  And like the survivors, we viewers sort of lost faith that Sophia was ever going to be found because, well, you know, because of the WALKERS and all.  And then one afternoon on the farm where they had found refuge they discover that the barn is filled with hundreds of walkers.  Scary, right?  And Shane, who is totally insane to begin with, goes nutso and shoots the lock off the barn door because WALKERS AREN’T PEOPLE and he needs to get rid of them all.

walkingdeadprettymuchdead

But what do you suppose is the first thing that comes out of that unlocked barn door?  That’s right.  Little Sophia.  But it’s not Sophia anymore.  She’s a walker now.  We should have expected that, but honestly we didn’t AT ALL, and we’re like, “Oh, crap, they’ve been looking for her for months and it’s SOPHIA and you just can’t kill her…”  But we all might as well have shut up then because with barely even a thought Rick pulls out his gun and shoots Sophia in the head.

618_ustv_walking_dead_dead_already_01

This scene – as fast as it actually happened – was so hard to watch, and so hard to listen to because all you really hear is the sobbing of Sophia’s mom when everything else is silent.  And then it’s just pure shock.  It’s…just…ugh.  Tears.

The TV show:  Gilmore Girls

The Episode:  They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They

The Moment:  Rory and Dean Break Up

I wrote about a sad Gilmore moment before, but since it’s my favorite show of ALL TIME, I have to write about it again.  This time we go back to when Rory and Dean were my favorite couple in the world and I never wanted them to break up.  Seriously!  I thought they were ADORBS.  And then JESS had to go f*** everything up.  Jess with his crappy attitude and his books with the notes written in the margins.  UGH.

3-07-They-Shoot-Gilmores-Don-t-They-rory-and-jess-6495064-1024-768

Rory and Lorelei are participating in the annual Stars Hallow Dance Marathon when all of this nonsense occurs.  Rory has tried not to fall for Jess, but clearly she’s failed and she can’t deny it anymore.  Dean ultimately knows this but doesn’t want to admit it, either, until it’s obvious he just can’t be second best anymore.  So Dean snaps and announces to the whole dance crowd that Rory and Jess like each other and that he’s D-O-N-E with being Rory’s boyfriend.  And that’s when I start shedding the tears.  Rory starts crying and runs to her mom, and of course whenever I see Rory cry, I have to cry.  I know, I shouldn’t get attached to these characters, but I’m attached to Rory Gilmore and that girl can make me cry like no other, like she’s my own daughter.  I’m kind of a mess as the episode ends and the credits roll.  Damn you, Jess.

3x07-They-Shoot-Gilmores-Dont-They-gilmore-girls-9747055-720-480-400x266

“Everyone can see, Rory! Everyone. And I’m tired, but I’m over it, so go ahead, go. Be together. There’s nothing standing in your way now, ’cause I’m out.”

The TV show:  Avatar: The Last Airbender

The Episode:  “Tales of Bai Sing Se”

The Moment:  The Tale of Iroh

Oh, you didn’t think animated shows (or cartoons to some of you people) could make you cry?  Well, you’d be wrong.  Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the greatest shows, like, EVER, and while it was fun and adventurous and funny, it was also really heart-wrenching at times.  In Book Two (season two) there is an episode of mini-episodes, or vignettes.  And one of those vignettes is called “The Tale of Iroh”, which is about everyone’s favorite Uncle.  It’s all nice and sweet until the final scene when Iroh builds a shrine for his son’s tenth birthday – Lu Ten, his only son who died in the Siege of Ba Sing Se.  Iroh confesses that he wished he could have helped Lu Ten but that his death helped him become a better person. Iroh then starts singing a horribly depressing song called “Leaves from the Vine”, but he can’t finish it because he starts crying.

RM1Yb

Um, yes.  It’s totally sad.  Iroh is such an awesome character, and to see him at his weakest moment is absolutely heart-breaking.  Oh, and the kicker?  The tale was dedicated to Mako, the Japanese actor who provided the voice of Iroh, who had passed away two months prior to the episode airing.  Snot and tears all over my face.

tumblr_m2mkxdzqxC1qk7fomo1_500

“Leaves from the vine/ falling so slow/ like fragile, tiny shells/ drifting in the foam/ Little soldier boy/ come marching home/ Brave soldier boy/ comes marching home.”

Posted in Catching TV, Living Life, Writing Stuff Down

Get the Funk Out

Reader, I’m in a funk.  You know that feeling where you want to do stuff but you just don’t want to?  Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m going through right now.  Granted things have been a little more stressful than normal, between my daughter’s kindergarten screenings (she’s a supershy introvert, so you can imagine how well those are going) and just everyday life, but I haven’t found the inspiration to do anything that I feel like I need to do, like blogging and reading.

lazy2This is more like it.

I’m currently reading L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon, which I chose because it falls under the “I’m slightly stressed and need comfort reading” books.  But I’m not getting very far into it – not because it’s not good, but because my mind keeps saying things like, “You should check Pinterest” or “Go see if your Ruzzle opponent has taken their turn yet” or “I wonder if Nathan Fillion has tweeted any words of wisdom lately.”  Distracted by useless technology?  You betcha.

212091463671018158_jiANUQiO_fHappens to the best of us.

I tell myself that I’m going to read that list of YA books I’ve been wanting to get to, but let me tell you, those Betsy-Tacy, Harry Potter, and Laura Ingalls Wilder books have been looking awfully tempting lately.  Comfort reading at its finest.

And you know how I’m trying to watch at least five new movies a month?  Well, it’s March 22 and I have yet to watch a new movie this month.  However, my reason isn’t as lame as you think it might be.  I’ve actually been cruising through a bunch of TV I’ve been wanting to watch, mainly because I haven’t wanted to commit myself to a two-hour movie.

Of course I have no problem with watching six straight hours of Downton Abbey, but whatever.

tumblr_m7jouvOalP1r1ult6o1_500

In addition to catching up on season two of Downton Abbey (although I’m still a season behind), I caught up on Supernatural, Glee, Doctor Who and watched the first two seasons of Sherlock.

Side note:  I fracking love Sherlock.  Seriously.  Probably my favorite show of the year.  And I’m including the rest of the year in that statement, because I know I won’t see anything better (save maybe Doctor Who).  I have a “thing” for Benedict Cumberbatch, and when I say “thing” I mean HE JUST MAY BE THE BEST THING EVER.  And I just want to hug Martin Freeman and never let go.

b018ttwsI am _ _ _ _ locked.

Downton Abbey was my go-to when I was feeling super stressed out.  Why?  Maybe because it’s so far removed from my life that I was able to escape with no problem.  Or maybe it was just because I love hating Mary Crawley.  Seriously, when does that chick NOT have a stick up her skinny English bum?  She’s awesome in such a horrible way.  I must find a way to watch season 3 even though it’s no longer available on PBS.  Any suggestions?

downton-abbey-maryAll I do is sigh.

And even though things are starting to fall back into place life-wise, I still don’t have an urge to watch a movie.  Maybe it’s because our TV is broken (my lovely daughter innocently cracked the screen with a necklace, and now it’s dead) and watching a movie on the laptop isn’t the same.  Or maybe it’s because it’s been so long that I’ve been caught up on my TV watching that I’ve come to realize that I can start a brand new show, which is just as exciting as starting a new relationship.  So many shows to pick from!  Do I choose Mad MenRoswellAmerican Horror Story?

Well, since I’m not sure I want to commit myself to a show that already has five or more seasons under their belt, last night I started watching Twin Peaks, a show I’ve been wanting to watch for about 15 years now but never got around to it.  But since it’s on Netflix and only has two seasons, it’s the perfect show to get into.

David-Lynch-is-Said-to-Have-Met-With-NBC-to-Discuss-Reviving-‘Twin-Peaks’-01The Douglas Firs smell amazing.

And guess what?  After just two episodes, I’m kind of addicted.  Actually I was addicted after about two minutes, but whatever.  It’s one of those shows that would never work in this day of television.  The premise would, but the style of filming is so different and odd and slow that people wouldn’t be able to wrap their brain around it.  Oh, and it’s David Lynch.  Lots of people are afraid of David Lynch.  Which is why it’s such an awesome show.  Can’t wait to go home and watch the rest.

twin_peaksMainly because of Kyle MacLachlan

As for my writing funk, well, I’m writing now, so I consider that to be an improvement.  I look for inspiration in everything, and it seems that whenever I go on the site Hello Giggles, I get inspired to blog my ass off.  Not only do I want to be one of their contributers – because let’s be honest, I WOULD FIT RIGHT IN – but I want to start my own site that’s just like theirs.

Unfortunately I’m not best friends with Zooey Deschanel, so it might be a tad bit more difficult for that to happen.

204612_140262869380020_100001889240714_243895_7785533_o

Another place I find inspiration is Felicia Day’s The Flog (Felicia + blog = FLOG), which is her five minute (give or take) long YouTube show.  It’s basically just her talking about her top five random things.  Whenever I watch it I always think, “Now, that’s something I could totally do.  I want my own Flog.”  Of course I wouldn’t call it my Flog, and I wouldn’t even try to combine my name with the word “blog” (dlog?).  But I could come up with something loosely based on her model.

The-Flog

So last week I came up with a concept for a YouTube show called “Odds and Thens” which would focus on 80s and 90s nostalgia.  Find something relevant to a random year, like Rainbow Brite, or the banana clip, and introduce it to a brand new generation.  Each show would be a different topic:  movies, music, TV, toys, etc.  And then I thought I could do special section where I read random passages from my middle school and high school journals.  Because that’s some funny shiz.

Of course this is all just in the brainstorming phase, and of course I’m terrified to actually be on camera (do I have to do my hair?  Make-up?  Do I have to wear cute clothes?), so who knows if it’s actually going to happen.  I like to think that someday it will.

In the meantime, though, I’ll continue to find inspiration whether it’s from Hello Giggles, Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, Instagram and on the rare occasion, Facebook, though I’ve been feeling quite uninspired from the ‘book as of late.  To be honest, peeps, the future of social networking is on the Path app, but since everyone I know is on FB, I pretty much just talk to myself the whole time.  Which is sometimes okay.

unnamedStill a better social network than FB.

By the way, another thing that really helps is a good support network of real people, not just the ones on the interwebs.  Bottom line?  I have some pretty awesome friends.  You peeps know who you are.

How do you get through your funks?  What inspires you to keep calm and carry on?

Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, Reading Books, Watching Movies

The Awesome That Happened in 2012

Another year has flown by, and it’s time to take a look back at 2012 and all the awesome stuff that went down.  Books, movies, TV, music…and all the other stuff that gets us by on a daily basis.   I can probably count the number of movies I saw on one hand, but it was a record year for me in terms of number of books read – 97 – even though I came up short in my goal of 100 (I can thank a bout of the flu at the end of the year for that).  I lost touch with a couple of TV shows, but learned to love new ones.  And I came to realize that pop music is still alive and stronger than it has been in over ten years and something to be embraced, not shunned.

one-direction-5Don’t deny it.

So here we go.  My list of the Awesome That Happened in 2012

BOOKS

In between re-reading all the Harry Potter and Betsy-Tacy books this year, I read a good mix of young adult and children’s books (but mostly young adult).  Turns out some of the best paranormal books these days aren’t about vampires or werewolves, but angels, as both my picks for best paranormal books are about angels (yet still completely different from each other in their own awesome ways).  And as someone who is usually underwhelmed by a lot of contemporary young adult, I did come across two that blew me away.

Dystopia still manages to catch my attention despite the fact that a lot of them are starting to sound the same.  My two faves this year broke out of that dystopia box, though, and made things fresh again.  And although young adult fantasy is sometimes hard for me to get into, when I do get into it I usually love it, which is what happened with my fantasy picks.  One made my heart pound, the other completely broke my heart in two.

And finally I started dipping a little bit into historical young adult books, which isn’t a super popular genre but one I believe we’ll be seeing more and more of.  My picks both happened to take place during World War II, and as a result made me even more hungry to learn about the past.

Best YA Contemporary

9961796

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Runner Up:  Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Best YA Paranormal / Supernatural

9780061996160

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Runner Up:  Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Best YA Dystopia

10507293

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Runner Up:  Divergent by Veronica Roth

Best YA Fantasy

12680907

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Runner Up: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Best YA Historial

collectionitembook_image_ZiZNtMVh1mdl_251x381-preserve

The FitzOsbornes at War by Michelle Cooper

Runner Up:  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

TELEVISION

As the mother of a four-year-old girl, I’m usually stuck watching such shows as Phineas and Ferb, The Backyardigans, and Dora the Explorer (and when I’m lucky, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic).  But every now and then I get to watch one of “my shows”.  Of course this year was different than any other year before since it’s the first time we’re relying solely on streaming television through Netflix and Hulu.  Of course a lot of the shows I used to watch like Castle, The Vampire Diaries, and The Office are still available through those services, but the urge to watch them just isn’t there anymore.

My love/hate relationship with Glee contines.

However, thanks to Netflix and a 45-minute-long panel at Comic-Con, I dove into a show that’s been on since 2005 and watched all seven seasons in the course of just a few months, thus cementing  it as one of the best shows of the year.  It’s a show that will scare you to pieces one minute, have you laughing on the floor the next minute, and then crying your eyes out soon after.  And it’s managed to do that for seven seasons.  The only other show that’s been able to do that for that long is Gilmore Girls.  And a certain sci-fi show.

This sci-fi show premiered waaay back in 1963 and then sort of unofficially ended in the mid-90s.  Then the show had a sort of “reboot” in 2005, starting with Series 1 and still going strong today with the premiere of Series 7 this fall (in Britain a “season” is called a “series”).  This summer I watched all the series with all its “regenerating” characters, and I quickly realized that no sci-fi show since Firefly gives me The Feels the way this one does.

And what can I say about animated shows that hasn’t already been said?  Some of the best shows on TV are animated, yet they get a reputation for being “kids shows”, therefore not getting the respect they deserve.  This year’s best animated show is more than a companion show to Avatar: The Last Airbender.  It’s a beautifully animated and brilliantly written story that conjures up more emotion than any primetime drama you’ll ever watch.  And when I want to laugh, I know all I have to do is watch the show that makes me laugh more than any other show that’s on TV today, and it’s probably the most realistic comedy show since Friends and The Office.

Best Drama Series

Sam-Castiel-Dean-supernatural-16744455-1280-800

Supernatural

Runner Up:  Downton Abbey

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series

images

Doctor Who

Runner Up:  Once Upon a Time

Best Animated Series

the-legend-of-korra-600x454

The Legend of Korra

Runner Up:  My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Best Comedy Series

the-new-girl-500990cbecc2e

The New Girl

Runner Up:  Anything I can find on YouTube starring Catherine Tate

MOVIES

Like I said before, it was a pretty pathetic year for movies in terms of actually seeing them, but luckily I do have a few to write about.  One is pretty obvious, since I’ve been waiting for it to come out since 2004, and one was one of Pixar’s best since The Incredibles.  As excited as I was for The Hunger Games, it didn’t come close to the book, although I did find it entertaining to watch.  And even though I loved The Avengers, I chose another masked man as my top action pick for 2012 solely due to the emotional punch it threw at me.  And since most of the movies I watched this year were picked out by my daughter, I decided I should pick my “unofficial favorite” just for the hell of it.  Because at least this one is Disney, and at least the main character is pretty awesome.

Best Sci-fi/Fantasy

00-hobbit-gandalf

The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey

Best Animated

brave-hd-movie

Brave

Best Action

the-Dark-Knight-Rises-Wallpaper-batman-24171592-1600-1200

The Dark Knight Rises

Best Movie that My Daughter Made Me Watch

Tinkerbell-and-The-Great-Fairy-Rescue-01

Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue

MUSIC

2012 was a fun year for music just because of how much we’re being exposed to so many different kinds at a higher rate than we ever were before.  The three main songs of the year:  “We Are Young” (fun.), “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Gotye), and “Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen) were all huge hits yet all sounded completely different.  Adele continued to ride the high she got from The Grammys, yet we’re all patiently waiting for a follow-up album while still listening to her 21 album.  And another boy band hit the scene in a big way, proving that catchy pop music will never die.

Best Song(s)

220px-Loveyoulikeselenagomez

“Love You Like a Love Song” – Selena Gomez and the Scene

“Some Nights” – fun.

“Without You – David Guetta ft. Usher

“Domino” – Jessie J.

“I Won’t Give Up” – Jason Mraz

“Starships” – Nikki Minaj

Best Album(s)

Stronger-album-cover-kelly-clarkson-25141790-1500-1500

Stronger – Kelly Clarkson

Red – Taylor Swift

Some Nights – fun.

Up All Night – One Direction

Unorthodox Jukebox – Bruno Mars

In terms of all things entertainment, 2012 was a pretty good year.  But I expect 2013 to be even better.  I’m going to see more movies (Star Trek!), branch out into different genres of books (romance?), and see if I can find a new TV show to love and obsess over (Sherlock…).  I hope 2012 gave you as much joy as it did me – and I hope 2013 is your best yet.

cumber-batch-star-trek-into-darkness

Posted in Catching TV

The Rise and Fall of “Glee”

For the past couple of years, Glee has pretty much been my favorite show on TV.  Ever since those kids belted out “Don’t Stop Believin’” in the pilot episode back in May of 2009, my heart has belonged to Glee, and I never did stop believin’.

Until now.

We’re about halfway into season four, and my issues with the show have been piling up quicker than the snow outside my window.  I guess I should have known this would happen – shows that are on for longer than two years have to stay fresh somehow, and the only way to do that is to change things.  Some shows do it successfully – Gilmore Girls, The Office, Supernatural, etc – and others not so much.

Glee is one of those shows.

glee-full-cast-season-4

The previous three seasons have focused on the characters in high school.  They’ve added a few new characters here and there, but we’ve always had the same core group to cheer for.  And yes, I realize that you can’t keep the characters in high school forever.  Yes, they have to graduate and move on.  Which is what characters like Rachel Berry, Finn Hudson, Kurt Hummel, Santana Lopez, Quinn Fabray, and Noah Puckerman have done.  Whatever, that’s fine.

But where the problem lies is the fact that the show is trying to tell the story of SO MANY PEOPLE.  We have the people who have graduated and moved to different parts of the country.  We have the people who are still in Glee club at McKinley High.  We have brand-new characters that we’re suddenly supposed to care about when all we’re trying to figure out where the hell Quinn is.  Honestly, it’s just hard to care about any of the characters anymore.

Finn-and-Rachel-3-finn-and-rachel-29103848-500-520Oh, don’t act so surprised…

There was a time in Glee Land when these characters meant the world to me.  These characters brought out The Feelings.  I would watch the show with a smile plastered to my face because I just saw Darren Criss perform his ass off singing “Raise Your Glass” with the Warblers.  I would spend an hour crying because Kurt’s dad had a heart attack and the only way Kurt could express his feelings was by singing a heart-wrenching version of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”.  Or I wouldn’t be able to stop laughing because Brittany would say things like “I think my cat has been reading my diary.”

Things like that made me love the show.  It was about these characters – over the top in some ways, a little stereotypical, but still completely realistic.  These characters made us feel like we weren’t alone.  They brought something magical to television that hadn’t been there before.

gleebestMagical, I say!

But something began breaking down towards the end of season three.  I don’t know if it was because the writers suddenly knew that certain characters had to graduate but they didn’t want to write them off because they didn’t want to lose viewers, so they created all these crazy story lines that would somehow tie into a completely revamped season four, but things got messy.  And now we’re trying hard to follow – and care – about the story lines and the people of season four, and we’re just not.

Rachel is now in New York attending NYADA and trying to deal with her bitch-of-an-instructor played by Kate Hudson.  I’ve never been a Kate Hudson fan, but I admit I was semi-impressed with her singing ability as she performed a mash-up of Lady Gaga’s “Americano” and Jennifer Lopez’s “Dance Again”.  I thought I was going to like the whole “Oh-this-is-just-like-Fame-and-Step-It-Up” Rachel storyline, but I for the life of me cannot get past Lea Michele’s fake tan and eye makeup.

rachels-black-tweed-peplum-top

I understand that we’re witnessing Rachel’s whole “coming out” story.  She was shy and awkward and crazy and dramatic and a total dork in high school, but now that she’s a “grown-up” in New York she suddenly has to wear slutty clothes and wear tons of makeup and have hot guys attracted to her?  I’m all for character development, but seriously…I don’t believe this one.  This is Rachel Berry we’re talking about.  She thinks Barbra Streisand is God.  She knows every word to every Broadway musical in the history of the world.  She wears sweaters with animals on them.  And yeah, so she doesn’t have to wear the geeky clothes anymore.  But this new Rachel Berry doesn’t even remotely resemble the Rachel Berry that we used to know and love.

At least Kurt’s development seems to be more realistic and consistent with his character.  Since the beginning of the show, Kurt has probably shown the most character growth, but it’s been taking place over the course of three years, not overnight like Rachel.  Of course I think I’ll always care about Kurt – and of course Blaine (even though they broke up, which they were totally not supposed to do), but having him away from his friends with only Rachel and Sarah Jessica Parker (his new boss at Vogue.com who, by the way, has the SCARIEST BICEPS EVER) to keep him company makes me miss his old life.

Kiki 408The whole thing just freaks me out.

There are about four new major characters at McKinley, and after three months I still only know one of their character names.  Marley Rose, the pretty girl who comes from a poor family whose mom is obese and works in the cafeteria.  She’s got a fantastic voice, something I quickly realized after she sang “New York State of Mind” in her first episode, but I’m having issues with her character…probably because I have no idea what kind of character they’re trying to make her be.  Oh, and of course now she has an eating disorder because the new Quinn wannabe is actually making people adjust the waistbands on Marley’s clothes to make her think that she’s getting overweight like her mom.

407glee_dynamic_duets_scene12_0174Because that’s totally how eating disorders start.

I don’t know how I feel about the two new boy characters, Whosit and Whatsit.  They haven’t made much of an impression on me, at least not the way Blaine Anderson and Sam Evans did when they first appeared on the show.  They have good singing voices, but they don’t have that spark that the original cast had at the beginning.  And Rachel’s new love interest, Brody?  Well, he’s no Finn.

And speaking of Sam Evans, why don’t the writers know how to write his character?  His character has been all over the place since the end of season TWO, like they just can’t seem find a box that he fits into.  And suddenly he’s with Brittany?  What happened to Mercedes?  And does he still live with Finn and Kurt’s family?  Is his family still poor?  When did he become so stupid?  Remember when he was the cute guy who proposed to Quinn?  The guy who played his guitar and sang songs like “Lucky” and “Billionaire”?  Sam Evans, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?

789Too many slushies, perhaps.

And remember when there used to be actual adults on the show?  Remember when Will Schuester used to be an actual character and not just someone who says one line per show?  And he was supposed to get married to Emma Pillsbury?  And Sue Sylvester was the villain?  What happened to all these people?  Do the writers think that young kids who watch the show have no interest in characters who are not 17 years old?

I’m actually okay with Finn sort of taking Mr. Schuester’s place as the person in charge of Glee.  In a way it actually makes sense, kind of like a full-circle type of thing.  But you know what?  I can still see Will’s face in that very first episode of Glee when he was about to leave the school to take a job as an accountant until he sees his tiny little Glee club sing “Don’t Stop Believing” – that look of pure joy and love – and I realize how much I loved Mr. Schu and what he did for those kids.  I’m sorry, but it’s not Glee Club without him.

glee_schuester_cryingClearly he’s very upset as well.

Oh, and the Glee kids who haven’t graduated yet – namely Artie and Tina – have such a teeny part of the show now they may as well have graduated, too.  Artie has a reputation for singing some of my favorite Glee songs, but he has yet to sing a song this season.  What??????

Which brings me to the music.  The music on Glee has always been its redeeming quality, and some of the show’s best moments have happened during those music performances.  And while there have been a few stand-outs this season – Blaine’s “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, the cast’s “Some Nights”, Rachel and Marley’s “New York State of Mind” – I’ve been slightly underwhelmed by the songs.  This is coming from a girl who used to buy the Glee songs the second they became available on iTunes.  Now I’m so far behind on buying them that I don’t even care.  I’ll probably buy the ones I’ve mentioned, but unless I come into a lot of iTunes gift cards for Christmas, it’s not really worth the money to get them all.

1140905_1352520449099_fullAt least I can always, always, always count on Blaine.

I realized that my feelings for Glee officially changed during the Thanksgiving episode a couple of weeks ago when the “old characters” came back to their hometown for the holiday.  I suddenly realized how much I missed having these old characters together, and when they’re not together and these new people are trying to taking their place, it just feels so OFF.

And therein lies Glee’s weakness this season: their inability to create a cohesive show with a cohesive and meaningful storyline with cohesive characters.  It’s just all over the place, and I’m afraid that if they don’t pull it together, the whole thing will go bust.  And maybe it should.  Other shows in the past have quit while they were ahead, and it was always for the better (usually).  That’s the thing about on-going TV shows:  Sometimes there’s just no more story to tell.

So time will tell on the future of Glee.  Who knows – maybe the second half of the season will blow me away.  Or maybe it’ll be such a rollercoaster that I’ll simply stop watching the show.  At least I know have three other seasons that make me happy.

etc_Glee1_306434_HOGleeing it old school.

Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, Reading Books, Watching Movies

Remember, Remember, Another November

Oy.  November.  I can’t remember the last time a month kicked my ass so much.  For some reason this month felt exhausting, and I’m actually glad it’s coming to an end.  That and the fact that my husband can finally SHAVE OFF THAT DAMN MUSTACHE/BEARD/NIGHTMARE he’s been growing out this month for “Movember”.  I’m seriously counting down the hours to when I can see his silly face again.

ABOUT_3

In between dentist appointments and flu shots and getting together with friends, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to sit down and blog.  Things have been busy at work, hence the whole not being able to blog at work thing going on.  And don’t worry, being busy is a good thing.  The other girl in my department was transferred, so it’s just me doing these returns, and it’s keeping me busy for a full eight hours.  So, yes, I can’t blog as much during the day, but at least my days are zipping by fast.  And by the time I get home, I can’t think of anything to blog about.  But since the month is over, let me sum up what I’ve been able to get accomplished.

Ever since I got back into reading YA fiction again at the beginning of the month, I have been reading pretty much non-stop, which is another excuse for my lack of blogging.  I’ve been SCORING at the library when it comes to books I’ve been looking for (except for Kiera Cass’s The Selection, which I’m convinced I’ll never find), and it’s been so much fun.  Here’s a list of the books I’ve read this month alone:

imgharry potter and the half-blood prince2

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince :  This was the last HP book I read before getting back into YA (see my previous post), and I forget how much I loooooove this book.  Honestly, I think it might have edged up in front of Goblet of Fire, which has been my favorite one for ten years.  But I also think that whenever I read Prisoner of Azkaban, so who knows.  Oh hell, they’re all my favorite.

2012-11-09-the-fitzosbornes-in-exile-and-the-fitzosbornes-at-war-by-michelle-cooper

A Brief History of Montmaray / The FitzOsbornes in Exile / The FitzOsbornes at War: It’s been a long time since I’ve read a complete series of books where I absolutely loved all of them, and loved the final book the best.  But that’s how I felt about the Montmaray Journals trilogy by Michelle Cooper.  Seriously, people…if you want to read good YA literature that’s NOT a paranormal romance or post-apocalyptic thriller, read these books.  Amazing.

11235712

Cinder: This retelling of Cinderella was also fun to read, and I enjoyed the Firefly-inspired world the story was set in.  It didn’t pack the emotional punch that other YA books I’ve read have, but it was still a great story, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

12680907

Bitterblue: The book that came before this one, Graceling, was one of my favorite books of 2011 (or 2010…can’t really remember), and I had Extremely high hopes for this one.  And luckily the author Kristin Cashore didn’t disappoint.  I still think I like Graceling better, but I thoroughly enjoyed all 563 pages in a matter of one weekend.  It also made me realize how much I love fantasy books that sound like they could be actual history, sort of similar to Shannon Hale’s Bayern series.  Highly recommend.

UnderTheNeverSky

Under the Never Sky: The more dystopian YA books I read, the less and less they affect me.  I don’t know if it’s because The Hunger Games set such a high standard that no one else can come close to (except for Lauren DeStefano’s Wither and Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, which were both AMAZING), but I find myself feeling almost disappointed when I’m reading dystopia these days  because they’re all starting to sound the same.  But you know what?  I really liked Under the Never Sky.  It didn’t kick me in the gut like The Hunger Games did, but I was intrigued by the world that Veronica Rossi had created.  Now onto the search for the sequel…

12640578

Team Human: I’d heard lots of good things about this book when it first came out, and I was excited to find it at the library.  It didn’t realize that it was a humorous book that sort of made fun of the whole vampire phenomenon, so I wasn’t very emotionally invested in it.  However, it was light and fun and took me just a day to read, so if you need a break from the heavy stuff, it’s a good recommendation.

11735983

I’m currently reading Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, which is the sequel to last year’s Goodreads’ book of the year Divergent, which I loved.  I’m only a quarter of the way through right now, but things are good.  Can’t wait to delve back into it tonight.

Speaking of The Hunger Games, I FINALLY saw the movie a couple of weeks ago.  I liked it – I thought Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect Katniss and Liam Hemsworth was the perfect Gale, though I’m still having issues with the whole Josh Hutcherson as Peeta thing.  Peeta is sort of sacred to me, and I felt something was missing.  But they covered pretty much everything in the movie that was in the book, and it was entertaining, even though it wasn’t the emotional rollercoaster ride that the book gave me.

Hunger-Games-Movie-Pictures-Jennifer-Lawrence2

Because of all the reading going on, I’ve been lacking on any TV or movie watching.  I’m still on season seven of Supernatural, and I’ve fallen behind on The New Girl, Castle, and Once Upon a Time.  I’ve been watching a lot of my daughter’s shows, though I’ve managed to get her to watch only shows that I enjoy as well.  Thanks to Netflix we can now watch The Moomins for the first time EVER, which is awesomeballs, and I recently checked out season one of The Smurfs from the library, which I could watch all freaking day.

moomins01_group

I’ve also been watching season two of Downton Abbey in preparation for season three, which premieres on January 6 here in the states.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, Downton Abbey is like the world’s best soap opera but with better writing, better acting, better accents, and better clothes.  Of course I just happened to stumble upon a total SPOILER that will happen in season three involving my favorite character, but whatever.  I got over Joss Whedon killing Wash, Tara, and Fred, and I’ll get over this.

downton_mirror.co_.uk_

The only show I’ve only been actively keeping up with is Glee (and I use the term “actively” loosely because I keep having to play catch-up), but I’m finding it difficult to get super excited for it the way I used to.  But I’m having issues with this season of Glee, all which will be addressed in a later blog.  It’s just too much to talk about here in this already-too-long blog post.  But you’ve been warned.

Glee-Season-4-Premiere-Pictures

As for music, the Christmas music season finally began on November 23, when I added 765 Christmas songs to my iPod.  It seems like a lot of songs, but when I play my iPod on random at work, I’m lucky if I hear five Christmas songs during the course of eight hours.  I haven’t bought any music in a long time, even falling behind on my Glee songs from iTunes, but I noticed yesterday that the two-disc soundtrack to The Hobbit is now up for pre-order with a release date of December 11.  And you know I’m not going to wait until Christmas to buy that one for myself.

TheHobbitSPECIALSdtkCover90

So November is over, and December is just a few hours away.  Stayed tuned for an End-of-the-Year blog post spectacular (re: year in review) and a final 2012 wrap-up of Hot Tea, Hot Books.  For now…take a breather.  November is over!

Posted in Catching TV

Ron Moore’s Risky Business

Television producer Ron Moore is a busy guy these days.  Not to say he hasn’t been busy in the past – I mean, this is a guy who worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation from 1988-1994, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from 1994-1999, and the awesome reboot of Battlestar Galactica from 2004-2009.  But since BSG ended three years ago, we haven’t heard much from him.

We’ve hardly seen ye.

Well, it looks like 2013 might be his year for a comeback – that is, IF HE DOES IT RIGHT.

Ron Moore has decided to take on two huge projects – one for which fans have been waiting for twenty years, and one that fans were like, “HUH???” when they heard the news.  Both could make or break his career.  Here’s why:

First on the list is OutlanderOutlander is a series of books written by Diana Gabaldon starting back in 1991 that can only be described as romance/historical fiction/time travel.  They’re about a Scottish woman during WWII who accidently steps through a ruin of standing stones and ends up traveling back through time to Scotland in the year 1743.  Because of these magical stones, she’s able to go back and forth between the two worlds.  Romantic hijinks ensue.

Fans of these books are very devoted to these characters, and they’ve wanted at the very least a movie to be made, if not a series of movies based on the seven (so far) books.  But because of the success of book series-to-television shows like True Blood and Game of Thrones, they’re going to get a whole series.  Which actually makes more sense, since there’s so much material to get through (seriously, each book is about 1000 pages).

Of course the curse of turning such a beloved series into a TV show is getting the damn thing right.  We’re talking casting, story-telling, cinematography – the people who know these books inside out already have set expectations in their heads, and if Ron Moore changes it just a little, there’s going to be hell to pay.

He could take a page from the graphic novel…

But if he takes his time and gets the look and pacing just right, the show could be awesome.  I’ve read the first three books, and they’re great.  The show will be on Starz network (which means they won’t have to water it down for prime time TV), and it will be a great opportunity to get something completely original on TV again.  I think it could gain a whole new following of fans.  But it all lies in Ron Moore’s hands.  So we’ll just have to wait and see.

His other project is, well, questionable, and I’m still having a hard time coming to terms with it.  For Mr. Moore has signed on to turn one of my favorite movies of 2001 – A Knight’s Tale – into a TV show.

A FREAKING KNIGHT’S TALE.

See how confused he is??

Although the movie wasn’t a huge hit – critically or financially – it scored a hit in my heart (haha).  It stars Heath Ledger (R.I.P.…weep…sob) and a handful of other relatively unknowns at the time (like Alan Tudyk, Mark Addy, Paul Bettany, and Shannyn Sossamon).  It follows the tale of a squire (Ledger) named Will Thatcher who impersonates a Knight, which allows him to compete in such medieval sporting events like sword-fighting and jousting.  He starts winning all the events and gains a huge following (as Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein), not to mention the love of a princess, and finally learns to “change his stars”.

sigh………….

Anyway, it’s great movie and just loads of fun to watch.  But in all honesty, I can’t imagine it as a TV show.  For one thing, you’re going to have completely different actors play these characters that are so awesome in the movie.  Who will be as knightly as Heath Ledger?  Who will be as funny as Alan Tudyk?  Who will be as enchanting as Shannyn Sossamon?  These are big shoes to fill.

And is the show going to start when Will is still just a squire?  Will it follow the same events as the movie?  Will it pick up after the movie ends?

How the hell are they going to do this???*

*Side note:  I just remembered that they also turned an old Heath Ledger movie – 10 Things I Hate About You – into a TV show for ABC Family a few years ago.  What’s with people turning Heath Ledger movies into TV shows??  What’s next, Brokeback Mountain: The Dramatic Series?

Airing this fall right after Fox News.

As you can see, I have issues.  Also, this show is going to be on ABC.  There’s nothing wrong with ABC, but ABC = MAINSTREAM, and sometimes mainstream is just too mainstream for me.  The reason for this is most likely due to the success of fantasy TV series Once Upon a Time.  Now, I like Once Upon a Time.  I love fairy tales, and this show is full of fairy tale surprises.  It’s also written by Jane Espenson, who has worked on a number of my favorite TV shows.  However, I still feel that it doesn’t get down to the nitty-gritty like I want it to.  They have to write for the general audience, which means a lot of things are, well, blah.

The movie version of A Knight’s Tale had a soundtrack filled with classic rock songs ranging from David Bowie to Queen, and apparently the TV show is going to do the same.  Which makes me think…oh my God, are they going to turn this into GLEE???

Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.  The show might not even get picked up.  Or if it does, I might end up loving it.  Who knows?

It’s all in Ron Moore’s (hopefully) capable hands.

So say we all.

Posted in Catching TV, Learning Things, Listening to Music, Watching Movies

My Streaming Life

If you were to tell me ten years ago that in 2012 I wouldn’t have TV, radio, a CD player, or a membership to Blockbuster, I would have thought you were nutso.  How would I watch all my favorite shows?  How would I listen to music?  How would I get my news?  How would I rent movies?

HOW WOULD I BE ABLE TO SURVIVE?

Well, thanks to that wonderful thing we call technology and the interwebs, I can do all that without having to have all the junk.  Now, I know some of this is old news to some of you.  You might be thinking, “Well, duh…I haven’t listened to a CD since I got my iPod eight years ago.”  Or, “What’s Blockbuster?”  And yet some of you might be thinking, “Wait, you don’t have television?  How do you watch TV?”*

*Which of course I’m reminded of the scene in Back to the Future when Marty is having dinner at Lorainne’s house and they ask him if he has a television set and he’s all, “Well, yeah, we have two of them” and the mom is all, “Don’t be silly, nobody has two television sets.”  Haha.  But I digress.

I was inspired to write this blog from a friend and fellow blogger who also wrote about not owning a TV and how she gets by in life.  And thought it may seem like the end of the world, it’s actually quite easy.  Let me explain.

When we moved from California to Minnesota, we were pretty wiped out in terms of money.  We carefully went over what we needed and didn’t need and decided – quite bravely, I might add – that we would forego getting television.  Oh, we have a TV set, just no channels.  We figured that by just continuing our Netflix subscription, we would save over $100 a month.  And friends, let me tell you…it has been pretty awesome.  Netflix has loads of TV shows that we watch, plus loads that we’ve always wanted to watch but never got the chance.

Edwardian awesomeness streaming on Netflix

And here’s what’s even more awesome:  no commercials (take that, politicians!), and most shows in HD on our TV.  And they stay on Netflix for a really long time.  It’s like buying the entire series of a show without having to spend all the money on the DVDs.  The downside, of course, is not being able to see new episodes.  You have to wait a while before new episodes get on Netflix.  But like I said, if there’s that show you’ve wanted to watch but missed when it originally aired, and now you have to catch up on seven seasons (like me and Supernatural), Netflix is the answer.

Finally get to watch you, boys

But what about that show that you just have to see that you can’t wait a year to see on Netflix?  Well, that’s where Hulu Plus comes in.  We just recently decided to suscribe to Hulu (which is $8.99/mo just like Netflix) because they’ve finally partnered up with Apple TV (which we have), which means we can watch Hulu on our TV.  Of course you’re not going to find every show you want on Hulu, but I’ve been lucky with a couple of my shows.  I still can’t watch the show live (but who can these days?), but I can watch shows like Glee, Supernatural, Castle, The New Girl, and Once Upon a Time the day AFTER they’ve aired.  Which, if you have a DVR, is when most people are able to get to their shows anyway.  So it works out.  I still feel like I’m connected to the real world by seeing new episodes of my shows.

Keeping up with the fairy tale

Of course there’s going to be the one show that’s not on Hulu but you have to see.  For me that’s Doctor Who, and the way I solve that problem is iTunes.  Yes, I’m going to have to spend a little money.  But it’s Doctor Who, and I love it, so I’ll pay to buy the season in advance.  It goes into my iTunes, which I can watch on my TV, and new episodes are downloaded the day after they air (technically they download at midnight, so you can stay up and watch them and feel like it’s still the same day).  But I’ll only put money into the shows that I really, really, really want.  Other than that, Netflix and Hulu are pretty damn amazing.

Must…watch…the…Doctor…

I also turn to Netflix and Hulu (well, more so Netflix) for movies.  Netflix has hundreds and hundreds of steaming movies, and I can always find one to match my mood.  We still watch our DVDs and Blu-Rays, of course, because Netlflix doesn’t have any Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc, or any Disney animated movies (which are all we watch when it comes to movies), but everything else is pretty much watched on Netlflix.  Even some that we own on DVD we’ll watch on Netflix because it’s easier (sometimes I get lazy and don’t want to put a DVD in the DVD player), and the picture is better (Netflix=HD, DVD=not HD).

Every day is Thor’s Day on Netflix 

And if for some reason we want to watch a new movie, we don’t have to rent it from Redbox or any other place that rents movies.  We can just rent it from iTunes (for usually around $5 in HD) and watch it until it disappears a few days later.  We don’t usually do this, though, because of our hook-up with someone who rents blu-rays from Netflix (my dad) who lends us the movies when he’s done.  So again, we’re still connected.

But what about music?  We all know that iPods revolutionized the whole music industry ten years ago, sending CDs into oblivion.  I haven’t listened to a CD since I got my new car four years ago that came with an iPod adapter.  I listen to my iPod in the car, at work…pretty much everywhere.  But sometimes I need something new.  I can listen to the radio in my car, but what about when I’m not in a car?  I don’t have a radio at home.  But I do have an iPad, and I can stream music through that.

This should be on everything

We’ve all heard of Pandora Internet Radio, and that’s all well and good, letting us make our own playlists based around one artist (I once caught my husband listening to my Lady Gaga Radio playlist and still make fun of him for it).  But I recently discovered Songza, which is all about the playlist.  They actually create playlists for you based on your mood.  For example, when I got ready for work this morning I went to my Songza app and the first thing it did was say, “It’s Wednesday morning.  What are you in the mood for?”  and then listed playlists called “Waking Up”, “Working Out”, “Reading the Paper”, “Singing in the Shower”, and “Feeling Confident”.  I picked “Waking Up” because, well, that’s what I had just done.  Then after I selected that, it went even further by asking me what genre I wanted: Bright & Happy Pop, Timeless Pick Me Ups, Indie Pop & Rock, Hip Hop & R&B, and Country.  I picked Bright & Happy Pop, and then it listed three different playlists to choose from.  Since it was 4:45 in the morning I didn’t want anything too bright and happy, so the playlist “Soft Pop” was perfect for getting ready.

I find that I like Songza better than Pandora because not only are there no commercials, but I have an unlimited time limit.  With Pandora you can only listen to so many hours per month.  Of course since I’m usually listening to my iPod I’ll never come close to reaching those hours, but Songza is just more fun to play with than Pandora.  So that takes care of my music listening.

This post has become a lot more long-winded than originally planned, but I guess I had a lot of information to share.  Basically what I’m saying is that if you have the right tools (internet, tablet/smartphone) it is very possible to get what you want and stay connected to the world without breaking the bank.  It’s just coming to terms with cutting the cord that’s the hard part.

But it’s 2012.  You can do it.

Posted in Catching TV

When Nickelodeon Ruled the World

Okay, yes, I realize that might be a somewhat bold statement.  I don’t think the kids TV station Nickelodeon ever ruled the airwaves, let alone the world.  But back in the day Nickelodeon was pretty much the only channel devoted strictly to kids, making it super important to borderline Gen-Xers and Gen Yers like myself.  This was before The Disney Channel was available in every cable package, before Noggin was even a blip on the radar.  If you were between the ages of 6 and 16 in the early 90s and had cable TV (hey, not everyone did back in the day), you probably watched a good dose of Nickelodeon shows.

I know this may sound bad to some people, but I was an avid TV-watcher when I was a kid.  I’m not saying I had a horrible upbringing – I also read and wrote everyday and did all my homework and played sports – but I did probably watch more TV than the average kid.  And a lot of the shows I watched were on Nickelodeon.  At the time I thought these were the best shows in the world.  But looking back…well…some of them are questionable.  Let’s reflect.

The World of David the Gnome

This show was about tiny gnomes who lived in the woods and had all sorts of fun and dangerous adventures.  The main character, David, was voiced by Mr. Cunningham from Happy Days, narrated by Captain Von Trapp, and the theme song was an awesome 80s synth-pop masterpiece.  Seriously, I think I watched the show just to hear the theme song.  Well, that and the cute gnomes and their cute house in the woods and their only means of transportation, a red fox named Swift, who got his leg caught in a trap at least once per episode.  So yes, I guess you could say that I watched the show because it was kind of awesome.  And still is.

Hey Dude

This is one of those shows that if I were to watch it now I’d probably wonder what was wrong with me when I was 13 years old.  It’s a show about teens who work on a dude ranch and all the troubles and tribulations that come with that job.  And even know I’ve seen every episode about twelve times each, the show wasn’t very good.  The acting wasn’t very good (sometimes painful to watch), the plotlines were embarrassingly predictable, and there were ZERO cute guys on the show.  So why did I watch the show so much????

Noozles

I’m still puzzled as to what the hell this show was all about.  Straight from Japan, this anime show was about a girl named Sandy and her alien koala friends Pinky and Blinky who hailed all the way from Koalawalla Land, aka outer space.  For those of you who want to know everything there is to know about Noozles, there is a VERY detailed summary about it on Wikipedia.  I, however, will just give you the basics.  When Sandy wanted to play with Pinky and Blinky, she would give them “Noozles”, or something like an Eskimo Kiss, by rubbing her nose against theirs.  They traveled back and forth from Earth to Koalawalla Land and had all sorts of crazy fun.  The end.  Still confused.

Salute Your Shorts

Unlike Hey Dude, this show was actually good.  It’s theme song was the BEST (“Camp Anawana, we hold you in our hearts”), and it was funny.  It was about kids at a summer camp, but not your typical summer camp that you usually see on kids shows.  This camp actually looks kind of crappy, and the characters on the show are just one motley crew of weirdos.  It’s the characters that separated this show from the others, showing people that kids can be unique and different and far from all stereotypes.  Oh, and there was a cute guy on the show – Blake Soper (who’s name is actually Blake Sennett and is currently a member of the awesome band Rilo Kiley) – which gave this 14-year-old even more reason to watch the hilarious summer show.

Fifteen

This show came onto the scene right around the same time that Beverly Hills, 90210 hit its prime, and it’s obvious that the Nickelodeon producers were after the same viewers.  It was a supposed “teen drama” – and oh, was it full of drama.  These Canadian kids were having problems like alcoholism, divorce, and dating.  Heavy shiz, man.  It was hard to take the show seriously, though.  Sometimes it felt like it was trying way to hard to compete with 90210, and I found myself laughing during the episodes because it was so ridiculous.  But you know what?  I loved the show.  I loved it because it was so ridiculous (unlike Hey Dude).  It was entertaining to watch these kids try to pretend that they had these problems, and it was fun making fun of their Canadian accents.  (“Ashley, what are you talking aboot?  I don’t have a drinking problem, eh.”).  AWESOME.*

*For more on this show, check out this hilarious post from Nostomanic.

Roundhouse

This was probably the best show Nickelodeon ever did, and probably one of the most unknown.  It’s format was similar to that of The Mickey Mouse Club, where a bunch of uber-talented teens perform skits and songs in variety show style in front of a live studio audience.  The main reason why I started watching the show was because there was some Newsies alumni on the cast, and then I just grew to love the whole show.  It was edgier than The Mickey Mouse Club, dealing with more issues that teens have to deal with, but in an extremely entertaining and even funny way.  And damn, were these teens talented.  I even found this article from Huffington Post from 2009 that tells me I’m not alone…

So even though Nickelodeon has hits like iCarly, Victorious and The Legend of Korra, it just can’t compare to the days when NICK was all you got.  And it was pretty damn great.

…and don’t forget these guys:

  • Clarissa Explains It All (the fourth wall!)
  • You Can’t Do That on Television (Alanis!)
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark? (the campfire!)
  • The Adventures of Pete and Pete (Petunia!)
  • G.U.T.S. (the Agro-Crag!)
Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music

Back When MTV Was “Music Television”

Once a person hits a certain age, they start to partake in what I like to call “The Nostalgic Lament”.  The lament usually starts off with the words “Back in my day…” and then what follows is a long and drawn out story about how things were better back when music was vinyl and clothes were polyester.

The older I get – and the more time I spend around “the young crowd” (which was more prevalent when I used to work in retail) – the more I hear myself falling into The Nostalgic Lament.  I’m not saying that I prefer cassette tapes to iPods or French-rolled jeans to boot-cut jeans, but there are certain things that were indeed better in the 1980s and 1990s.

Like MTV.

Kids these days may not realize it, but that channel where you watch those shows about teens being pregnant at 16 and privileged girls shopping in Laguna Beach?  That channel used to play nothing but MUSIC VIDEOS.  Yeah, you know, like really short movies set to songs.  Or as Wikipedia puts it:

 “Modern music videos are primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings. Although the origins of music videos date back much further, they came into prominence in the 1980s, when MTV based their format around the medium.”

Oh, wait…did you catch that?  They mentioned MTV!!!  PROOF that music videos were once the main format of MTV.  Besides the occasional game show (“Remote Control” anyone?), one reality show (“The Real World” started in 1991…back when it was really real), and a show about how to dress (Cindy Crawford’s painfully hosted “House of Style”), all MTV did was play music videos.  And in MTV’s heyday, the video was inconic.  The video was more important than the actual song.  To this day, when people think of certain songs (like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”), they think of the video first.

I started watching MTV (and then VH-1 when I didn’t like the video MTV was playing, even though back then VH-1 was geared toward the older crowd) when I was about nine years old.  To some that may seem young, but “back in my day” in the summers it was just me and my older brother, and watching music videos was just what we did.  I mainly watched to see videos from people like New Kids on the Block, Debbie Gibson, and The Jets (yep, those were my faves back in 1988).  You want to know how weird I was?  I would turn on the radio (my dad had a pretty sweet sound system back then [re: ginormous]) that was programmed to my local pop music stations KDWB and WLOL, and then have MTV / VH-1 on mute so if I saw a video I wanted to see, I could put the radio on mute and watch the video.

Yes, I started multi-tasking when I was nine years old.  I was a very advanced child.

But you see, back then we weren’t able to just turn on the computer and go on iTunes and find the song we want to hear at that particular moment.  If I wanted to hear the new Debbie Gibson song before her “Electric Youth” album came out, I had to sit and wait for it to miraculously come on, either via radio or TV.  You had to be determined to get the things you wanted back then – there was no instant gratification that we now all demand.

Yes, I am part of the Electric Youth.

As I got older – I’m talking around 11 and 12 years old – I began branching out when it came to music taste, so I would actually sit and watch pretty much every music video that came on.  I didn’t watch TV shows back then.  My TV shows were music videos.  When I think of my childhood in terms of music, I think of some of my favorite videos.  Videos like George Michael’s “Freedom” (the supermodels!), Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” (the animation!), Madonna’s “Borderline” (the beret!), Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted” (the sexy dancing!) and A-ha’s “Take on Me” (the EVERYTHING!!!).  Pretty much everything I learned about music I learned from watching the video first.

Take me on…

As time went by and MTV began to start playing more shows as opposed to music videos, my viewership went down.  I began to get involved in other shows on TV and I began to lose interest in music television.  Not because I didn’t like the actual videos, but because they were getting more and more difficult to catch on TV.  Every time I turned on MTV, there was some other weird show on instead of music videos.  Pretty soon it seemed that they only time I was able to watch a lot of videos at one time was at my annual New Years’ Eve party where my friends and I would have on MTV’s Top 100 Videos of the Year countdown.

Apart from that, it had seemed like MTV and I had broken up.

We briefly got back together in the late 1990s when MTV brought back the video countdown with “Total Request Live” (aka TRL).  Of course this was during much-needed revival of pop music, and also during the whole Backstreet Boys/’N Sync/Britney/Christina obsession that the world was going through at the moment.  Suddenly music videos were hot again, and I watched Carson Daly count down those videos every afternoon during a portion of my college years.

I am so, so guilty.

But even that didn’t last long.  TV shows once again took over music television, and even VH-1 was jumping on the reality TV show wagon.  So I did what any girl would have done in my situation.

I stopped watching music videos altogether.

Seriously, I went years without seeing a single music video.  I didn’t even bother turning the channel to MTV because I knew it wasn’t worth it.  It was like the term “music videos” had fallen right out of the dictionary, never to be found again.  It didn’t even make sense for MTV to have their annual Music Video Awards anymore because, well, what would they award?  Worst impersonation of a music video television channel?

I grew resentful and angry at the MTV I used to know and love.

Luckily now we have something that we didn’t have “back in my day”.  The internet.  And that means instant access to sites like You Tube, and even the sites for MTV and VH-1 where you can actually chose what you want to see (like music videos!!).  And if you have expanded cable TV packages, you also get channels like MTV2 and VH-1 Classic (among others) that tend to play mostly videos.  So even if CEO’s MTV and VH-1 aren’t playing the videos, at least their Regional Managers are doing their part to bring the video back to us.

I’m dedicating this one to you, MTV.

And recently I’ve discovered an awesome new app for my iPad called Vevo, which is just like Pandora Radio with its playlists, but instead of just songs you get music videos.  For instance, I just told my brother (also a music video fan) that this morning I typed in Paula Abdul and got a totally awesome early ’90s dance song video playlist that included Adbul’s “Forever Your Girl”, Martika’s “More Than You Know”, and Jody Watley’s “Real Love” (and then I had to go to work).

The playlists also show you what videos are coming up, and you can actually skip ahead to certain ones if you so chose.  The app has thousands of artists to chose from, even people like Amanda Palmer (who my husband and I spent most of last Saturday night watching live perfomances of via Vevo), and it seems the videos are never-ending.

The golden era of MTV may be over, but if you look in the right places, you can still get your music video kicks – and now complete with INSTANT GRATIFICATION.  No more sitting around all way waiting for the “Hangin’ Tough” video to come on (that was a very long day).

So here’s to another 30 years of MTV – er, other music video outlets (ovmo?)!

Here’s to OMVO!

And just for fun…here are some other music videos that have stuck in my head over the years…

  • “November Rain” – Guns ‘n’ Roses (the church!)
  • “Jeremy” – Pearl Jam (the boy!)
  • “Smooth Criminal” – Michael Jackson (the lean!)
  • “Rush, Rush” – Paula Abdul (the Keanu!)
  • “Baby, One More Time” – Britney Spears (the dance!)
  • “Janie’s Got a Gun” – Aerosmith (the crime!)
  • “Enter Sandman” – Metallica (the head-banging!)
  • “Cradle of Love” – Billy Idol (the apartment!)
  • “Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor (the face!)

…and so much more.

Posted in Catching TV

What Is This Show and Why Is My Kid Watching It?

As parents, we have to sacrifice a lot for our kids.  No more going out every weekend, no more waking up whenever you want to, and no more running errands in peace.  These days a trip to Target by myself is almost as good as taking a vacation.

But the one sacrifice I’d like to highlight today involves TV.  Yes, I know we shouldn’t let our kids watch too much tv, blah blah blah, let alone any.  But show me the parent who doesn’t put their kid in front of the television so they can do something as simple as taking a shower, and I will eat my hat.  Or whatever.

My kid doesn’t watch hours and hours of TV a day, but she does watch.  And sometimes even I benefit when she wants to watch something like My Little Pony or Phineas and Ferb because I actually really enjoy those shows.  Like, really.  Seriously.  They’re kind of awesome.

What can I say…I’m awesome!

But a lot of the time my lovely daughter wants to watch shows that I would rather not spend my time looking at.  We don’t have cable TV anymore and rely solely on the shows we get streaming through Netflix, or the DVDs that are tucked away under our coffee table.  And sometimes that means watching the weirdest and most annoying shows out there.  Of course she watches Dora the Explorer and Little Einsteins and other popular but not very awesome shows.  But there are some more unknown ones that you may not know about yet.  Let’s talk about a few, shall we?

Bo On the Go

I had never heard of this show until my daughter saw it on Netflix and decided she wanted to watch it.  I’ve seen pretty much every episode now, but I still don’t really understand it.  I think it’s supposed to be a show about getting up and moving around and being active, which doesn’t make any sense since the kid is just going to want to sit on their butts and watch another episode.  Here’s how Wikipedia describes the characters:

Bo is “a 10 year old positive, energetic, and inquisitive young girl who has blue hair, and wears blue shoes, blue socks, red pants, and a purple shirt. She encourages children at home to go on adventures by actively joining her in a variety of movements that assist her on her quest. Bo faces challenges and obstacles and receives small rewards and achieves victories along the way.”

Okay, that’s cool.  Whatever.  I’m glad she’s super positive and energetic and has blue hair.  But you know what?  Still kinda weird.

And then there’s Dezzy the Dragon…

Dezzy is a pink and green dragon, and lives in the castle with Bo. Since he is younger than Bo, he sometimes needs a little help with things.”

My daughter tends to laugh at everything Dezzy says, and that’s either because she thinks dragons are hilarious, or she think his need for help is hilarious.  Which, coming from my daughter, is probably closer to the truth.

Pinky Dinky Doo

I actually used this show to divert my daughter from Bo on the Go (since begging for My Little Pony didn’t work), which was actually pretty easy given the word “Pinky” in the title and my daughter’s obsession with pink.  The show is about a girl named Pinky who lives in The Great Big City with her brother and their pet guinea pig, and whenever a problem arises (as it does in every episode), Pinky tells a story about it using her “Story Box”, which is just a cardboard box.  They also focus on a Great Big Fancy Word, kind of like the Word of the Day on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse but way less cool.

Well, if you dye your hair pink, you’re kind of asking for it.

So basically the show is about teaching kids to use their imagination by telling stories and solving problems and beefing up their vocabulary.  And you know what’s funny?  Pinky Dinky Doo hates the color pink.  I say “funny” because the whole pink thing is the only reason why my daughter watches it.  Oh, the IRONY.  Anyway, it’s slightly more tolerable than Bo On the Go, but I’ll still try to find something to clean while it’s on so I don’t have to watch it.

Noonbory and the Super Seven

This is the latest discovery we made on Netflix, and probably the most frightening – and by frightening I mean, “Oh my God, I can’t look away”.  Seriously, this show is CRAZY.  In a good and bad way.  There are seven characters who are based on the five physical senses – hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch – and two on mental senses – common sense and nonsense.  They’re considered superheroes, while the villains on the show are a band of weird-looking pirates, and a snowman who shoots snowballs out of his hat.  They all live in the world of Toobalooba (a word my daughter loves to say).  And who is Noonbury?  Well, see if you can make sense out of this:

Noonbory is a 11 year old and is the leader of the Superbory pack. He uses a helicopter device (wind bike) to fly across vast distances in addition to using a shield that can stop things in its track. Noonbory usually says “let’s make super sense of this” before they sensitize, or sometimes after they sensitize. “Hurry Scurry” is another catch phrase of Noonbory. There’s a little yellow Bory (Mamby) who is Noonbory’s sidekick. Mamby can transform into anything, like a parachute or a mattress. Noonbory occasionally wears headgear in the shape of Mamby.”

I know, my head hurts just thinking about it.  This show is like the cast of a Super Mario Brothers game.  Which kind of makes me wish there was a Noonbory video game.  Because I would totally play it.  But let’s just keep that between you and me, okay?

The Fairies

The Fairies is an Australian live-action show about two fairies named Harmony and Rhapsody who live in Fairyland and have friends named Elf, Barnaby, the Bizzy Buzzy Bee, and Wizzy the Wizard.  We follow along with them on a typical fairy day, from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed.  And it seems like the show is pretty popular in Australia, because you can buy party decorations with The Fairies on them.  Seriously, why didn’t I know this when my daughter had her birthday party?  Mail order, people!

Anyway, the show is semi-tolerable, but there should be a warning preceding the show about how easily the songs get stuck in your head.  They’re not super annoying songs – I actually find myself singing along to a couple of them – but once they’re in your head, it takes a lot to get them to leave.

Harmony and Rhapsody are two very Australian girls, probably in their early 20s, and have lovely voices.  My daughter likes the one in the pink – Rhapsody – and apparently I like Harmony, who wears purple.  They seem like nice girls, and I’m sure they’re friends in real life.  But while I’m watching the show I like to imagine that they hate each other and fight all the time when they’re not filming.  It makes the show much more entertaining.

Really…can’t…stand…each…other.

The most entertaining thing about the show, though, isn’t the Fairies.  It’s Wizzy the Wizard.  Not because he’s funny or amazing or smart or magnificent.  It’s because you can totally see his boxer briefs under his costume.  And it makes me laugh.  Every.  Single.  Time.

So yes, I sacrifice precious time to withstand these shows, because that’s how much I love my daughter.  That and I figure after a couple episodes of her weird shows, she totally owes me an episode of My Little Pony.

Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, The Awesome 13

The Awesome 13 – The Songs of Glee – Season Three

The third season of Glee was an interesting one.  After a Top-40-heavy season two, the creators of the show wanted to concentrate more on showtunes again as a way of bringing the show back to its roots.  Unfortunately that didn’t go over too well with viewers, so after the first half of the show they began to add in more Top-40 hits.  That being said, season three has probably the most variety of songs than any other season.  But is it a coincidence that the majority of my picks for the best songs from Season Three come from the second half?

Probably not.

Look, I love Broadway, and I love showtunes.  But none of the ones they did this past season – which included pretty much the entire West Side Story songbook – stood out to me.  I’m more of a pop music fan, especially pop music from decades past, and we got a handful of some great ones in season three.

13.  “What Makes You Beautiful” – Joe Hart, Rory Flanagan, Artie Abrams, Sam Evans and Mike Chang

The episode “Prom-A-Saurus” had a spattering of good songs, but it was the remake of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” that was the most fun.  Now I’m not a fan of One Direction – this is the only song of theirs that I know – but for some reason when a group of guys sing together and sound good, I can’t help but love it.  And what made this song so fun was that the Glee’s usual male stars – Finn, Blaine, and Kurt – weren’t in it, so we got to see the background players have a shot at the spotlight.  And ya’ll know I’m a little biased towards Sam.  I’ll like pretty much anything he does.

12.  “Summer Nights” – Sam Evans and Mercedes Jones (with whole cast)

Speaking of Sam Evans, I was thrilled when the writers decided to delve more into his storyline with Mercedes and giving them the perfect song to sing in one of my favorite episodes of the season, “Yes/No”.  Since the two of them had a summer fling, it only made sense for them to break out into “Summer Nights” from the movie Grease, and the filmmakers brilliantly staged it shot-for-shot with the original scene from the 1978 movie.  It’s so much fun to watch, and Sam and Mercedes fit those Danny and Sandy roles perfectly.  It’s too bad they couldn’t have remade the whole movie, too.

11.  “Red Solo Cup” – Sam Evans

Okay, I promise this is the last time I’ll being up Sam in this post.  I, like others, was really sad to find out that Sam wasn’t coming back for season three.  So you can imagine how happy I was when the creators decided that was a crappy idea and brought him back, starting with the episode “Hold on to Sixteen”, which aired right before Christmas.  The song he sings is ridiculous, but for season it fits his character – mainly because Chord Overstreet has a strong country voice that we rarely get to hear.  I’m not a country fan, but it was a nice change from him and an awesome welcome-back to the show that took way too long to happen.

10. “First Time I Ever Saw Your Face” – Rachel Berry, Tina Cohen-Chang, Santana Lopez and Mercedes Jones

Despite the fact that every American Idol hopeful tries to sing this song as Dionne Warwick, it rarely happens.  But the Glee girls definitely came close to it in “Yes/No” when they chose this song as their assignment for Mr. Schuster in his attempt to find the perfect love song for Emma.  The words to this song already make me weepy.  Every time I hear it.  So when I saw these girls sing those words with every drop of emotion they have their bodies like they truly meant it, I was blown away.  Anyone who gets through that song without at least a lip quiver is not human.

9.  “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” – Rachel Berry

If we’re talking about difficult songs to sing, no one should attempt this particular song unless your name is Celine Dion.  Or, in this case, Lea Michele.  In the episode “Nationals”, after Rachel completely screwed up her NYADA audition, she figures she has nowhere else to go but up.  So when she sees the NYADA admissions judge (played wonderfully by Whoopi Goldberg), she sings one of the hardest songs out there – not as if her life depended on it, but completely free, with nothing in her way.  She’s not singing for anyone during those four minutes but her herself.  And it pays off in the end.

8.  “Cough Syrup” – Blaine Anderson

Come on, you didn’t think I was going to make it through the list without a Blaine song, did you?  Of course not (this is his first of three songs on my list).  The episode “On My Way” was a tough episode to watch.  Not because it was bad, but because my heart ached the entire time.  We find out what’s been going on with bully-turned-tortured-closet-gay Dave Karofsky, only to see him attempt to kill himself.  It’s a difficult scene to watch, and when paired up with Blaine singing Young the Giant’s “Cough Syrup” it makes it even more haunting.  I hadn’t heard the song before this, but I quickly loved it – not just because of the painful lyrics, but because Darren Criss sounds freaking amazing on the vocals.  But that’s no surprise.

7.  “Survivor / I Will Survive” – The Troubletones

This is my first of three mash-ups on the list.  I love when Glee does mash-ups because they seem to find two seemingly different songs and making them sound like they were meant to go together.  In season three we’re introduced to the newly formed, all-girl group The Troubletones, headed by Santana and Mercedes.  And in the episode “Hold on to Sixteen” during their first competition together they perform a mash-up of Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” – two already amazing songs by themselves but made even better as one.  How do they do it???

6.  “Paradise By the Dashboard Lights” – Rachel Berry and Finn Hudson (with the Whole Cast)

Sometimes all it takes is one song to remind why I love the show so much.  Even when the plot tends to drift off into oblivion, I’m dragged back by one awesome performance.  And this season one of those performances was “Paradise By the Dashboard Lights” which New Directions performed at Nationals.  It’s such a fun song that makes you want to get up and dance, and you’re just reminded why Rachel and Finn are the stars of the show.  It also makes you wonder what’s going to happen in season four when they’re not around anymore…

5.  “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” – Blaine Anderson

The Glee kids performed a lot of Michael Jackson songs this season (there was a whole episode devoted to the King of Pop), but my favorite one of the bunch came from Blaine, of course, when he opened the episode with “Wanna Be Startin’ Something”.  We all know that the man can sing his butt off and sound better than everyone else on the show, but it’s during this performance where we get to see the man dance his butt off.  Seriously, that guy is far too talented for nature.

4.  “Hungry Like the Wolf” – Blaine and Cooper Anderson

Glee took a six-week hiatus this season between Christmas and February, so by the time it finally came back on the air, we were ready for something amazing.  That came in the form of the episode “Big Brother”, in which we get to meet Blaine’s older brother Cooper.  Glee has seen a lot of amazing guest stars in the past, but Matt Bomer as Cooper is one of my favorite.  He plays the vain, wanna-be actor so well that you actually believe that he’s that stupid.  But it’s when he and Blaine do their duet mash-up of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio” that makes the episode really worth watching.  For one thing, it’s hilarious.  And both sound great.  I seriously think the two of them should record a Duran Duran tribute album.

3.  “Without You” – Rachel Berry

This really has more to do with the song itself than the actual performance on the show, though Lea Michele’s performance of David Guetta and Usher’s hit song made me actually like it better.  2011 saw a lot of great music released, but this song is one of my favorites of the year.  And I didn’t realize that until Rachel performs it for Finn in the episode “Yes/No”.  She usually shines while singing showtunes, but she sounds great here, and we really understand exactly how she feels about Finn no matter how self-centered and crazy she may be.  It’s one of the few dance songs that’s actually filled with heart and meaning, and I absolutely love it.

2.  “Rumour Has It / Someone Like You” – The Troubletones

Well, you can’t go wrong with Adele, and certainly not when Naya Rivera and Amber Riley are involved.  Santana, Mercedes, and the rest of The Troubletones perform this song in the episode “Mash-Off”, proving to be one of the best mash-ups the show has ever done.  The girls sound great, and the two Adele songs blend so seamlessly into each other that when I hear the individual songs now I think something is missing.  And because we so rarely get to see Santana show actual emotion, it’s a treat to witness her break down in front of everyone because of her love for Brittany.  Apparently only Adele has the power to do that to someone.

1.  “We Are Young” – The Whole Cast

Halfway through the season, a lot of us thought that Glee had lost its way.  The songs they had been performing hadn’t been that memorable save a few.  The plot was all over the place.  And we wondered whether we would ever get back that feeling we got when the group first opened their mouths to sing “Don’t Stop Believin’” way back in the pilot episode.  Well, I got that feeling  back at the end of the episode “Hold on to Sixteen” when the group performed a fairly unknown song at the time but soon became an anthem for a generation, Fun’s “We Are Young”.  Yes, the song was probably a little overplayed on the radio (but that’s why we don’t listen to the radio, people!).  But that doesn’t take away how great of a song it really is.  In the course of four minutes the show seems to suddenly come back together, like all the scattered pieces of a puzzle are now one complete picture.  It was the first step in the show getting back on track to a more cohesive second half, and the first step in winning back the hearts of us all.

Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, The Awesome 13

The Awesome 13 – The Songs of “Glee” – Season Two

A few weeks ago I posted my list of 13 awesome songs from the first season of Glee, which was pretty easy to do.  I’ve been dreading season two, though – not because there weren’t any good songs, but because there were so many.  In season one you pretty much had the same few people singing the songs so it was easy to pick out your favorites.  But in season two you suddenly have the addition of Blaine and the Dalton Academy Warblers, Sam Evans, plus solos from secondary characters like Kurt Hummel, Santana Lopez, and Brittany S. Pearce.  Suddenly the field is just that much wider.

But I think I’ve been able to narrow down the list of 100+ songs to 13…an awesome 13.

13.  “Raise Your Glass” – Dalton Academy Warblers

I pretty much loved every song Blaine and his Warblers sang during the season, which is why they show up more than once on this list.  From the episode “Original Song”, this particular performance takes place at Sectionals about halfway through the season, and it’s just one of those songs that makes you feel so happy.  Darren Criss, of course, nails it like he does every time he sings, and makes you feel like this song was written for everyone in that audience.

12.  “Don’t You Want Me” – Rachel Berry and Blaine Anderson

In the episode “Blame It On the Alcohol”, we get to see Rachel and Blaine sing together for the first time.  During a party at Rachel’s house, everyone gets drunk and we’re not surprised when the karaoke machine gets pulled out.  Rachel and Blaine sing an awesome rendition of Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”, making me like this version more than the original, and – surprise – Darren Criss kills it.

11.  “What I Did For Love” – Rachel Berry

I like that Glee tries to keep a good balance between popular songs and showtunes, and in an episode filled with current pop songs (“Audition”), it ends with Rachel singing one of my favorite showtunes of all time from the musical A Chorus Line.  Lea Michele sounds best when she’s singing Broadway, and she’s able to channel her character’s pain and reasoning as she sings, which makes for a surprisingly emotional way to end the first episode of the season.

10.  “Le Jazz Hot” – Kurt Hummel

We knew from Kurt Hummel’s (Chris Colfer) performance of “Defying Gravity” from season one that he could sing, but we really didn’t see how well he could command a performance until the episode “Duets”.  In an almost protest of having to find a duet partner, Kurt decides to sing with the only person he sees best – himself.  He performs a song from Victor/Victoria dressed as half man, half woman, and sings both of those asses off.  How he hits that note at the very end is beyond me.

9.  “P.Y.T.” (“Pretty Young Thing”) – Artie Abrams

Although Glee has an entire episode devoted to Michael Jackson, one of the first MJ songs they performed was this one in the Valentine’s Day episode “Silly Love Songs”.  Kevin McHale does an awesome job of any R&B song he tackles, but this one was really amazing.  He seems to have channeled MJ in his performance – not just him, but Mike Chang (Harry Shum, Jr) as well as he shows us why he’s the best dancer in the entire world.  The entire performance from the two of them – singer and dancer – is awesome enough to give you chills.

8.  “Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again” – Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel

Another song from the “Duets” episode, this one happens at the very end of the episode after Rachel and Kurt are given a second chance to do the duet assignment after Rachel and Finn purposely tried to lose and Kurt sang with himself).  Lea Michele once again brings out her inner Babs while Kurt just sounds like a frickin’ angel, and magic ensues.  Plus the two songs together sound like they were meant to be mashed up, reminding us all to just be happy.  And that’s how that performance makes you feel.

7.  “Never Going Back Again” – Artie Abrams

I was really excited for the Fleetwood Mac “Rumours” episode, and the Glee cast definitely did not disappoint.   The one performance that stood out for me, however, was when Artie sang “Never Going Back Again”, a song with one of the best guitar riffs I’ve heard.  Artie sings it to express his love/hate feelings for Brittany, and yet it’s a song we can all relate to because we’ve all been in a situation like that one time or another.  But the best part of that performance was the choral of guitars in the background playing so beautifully that the song sounds absolutely perfect.

6.  “Valerie” – Santana Lopez

Naya Rivera has one of my favorite singing voices on the show, and she showed everyone why in the episode “Special Education” during Regionals.  It was a competition in which the usual background performers came out to the front, giving them a rare opportunity to shine.  And in this case, Santana singing Amy Winehouse blew everyone away.  She sounds so good that you can’t help but wonder, “Why doesn’t she just sing every song?”  Yeah.  She’s that good.

5.  “Billionaire” – Sam Evans

I immediately liked the character Sam Evans from his very first performance from the season two opener “Audition”.  I wasn’t sure what to think of this guy with his guitar – typical cute, blond type – but the second he opened his trouty mouth to sing, I – along with millions of other people – fell immediately in love.  His voice is sweet and boy-bandish, but that doesn’t take away from his talent.  Give this guy more songs, please.

4.  “Somewhere Only We Know” – Dalton Academy Warblers

The original version of this song by Keane is one of my favorite songs of all time, so I was a little nervous when I heard they were going to perform it.  But I also knew I could pretty much trust anything Darren Criss does, and when he and his Warblers started singing, I knew they had done the song justice.  In fact – given it’s a cappella tone – the song actually sounded better.  It’s beautiful and haunting and, well, kind of depressing because it’s intended to be a song of farewell.  But I listen to it on repeat anyway.

3.  “Forget You” – Holly Holliday

Glee has had on some memorable guest stars, but none quite so awesome as Gwyneth Paltrow as substitute teacher extraordinaire Holly Holliday.  As an audience we’re so used to seeing Gwynnie in period dramas or serious movies, so when she suddenly breaks out with Cee-Lo’s “F*** You” (“Forget You”, edited for content), we’re all shocked.  Suddenly this new version of Gwynnie emerges in front of us, and we can’t stop laughing.  I wish she could always be this fun! (re: Goop).

2.  “Thriller/Heads Will Roll” – Glee Cast

Some mash-ups are good, and some are amazing.  And some mash-ups are just plain awesome like this one.  The mash-up between Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Heads Will Roll” is one that makes total sense.  They sound great together, and the performance just heightens the whole thing.  With the cast dressed as zombies during halftime of a football game, the whole shebang just reminds you how much fun this show is.

1.  “Teenage Dream” – Dalton Academy Warblers

I think we can all agree that when we first heard Darren Criss sing, we knew he was going to be someone awesome.  Usually when a show introduces a new character, they’re received with generally good reception.  But I don’t think anyone expected people to love Blaine as much as they did when he appeared in the episode “Never Been Kissed”.  And who didn’t swoon along with Kurt while watching him perform with the Warblers?  Not only did most people like this version better than the original Katy Perry version (seriously, I can’t even listen to her version anymore), but this was the first Glee became the first Glee single to top the Billboard Digital Songs chart.  Because it’s awesome.

Posted in Catching TV, Geeking Out, The Awesome 13, Watching Movies

The Awesome 13 – Comic-Con 2012

Well, another Comic-Con International has come and gone.  And as usual, it was full of fun, craziness, and no sleep.  And what better way of recapping my experience than with an Awesome 13 list?

So here it is:  13 awesome moments from Comic-Con 2012!

13. Fringe Tears

I’ve never seen the show Fringe (it’s one of those shows that I really wanted to watch but never had the time), so there’s no reason to be emotionally invested in it.  However, that all changed after sitting through the Fringe panel on Sunday.  During the audience Q & A, the cast was asked to name their favorite scene from the first four seasons of the show that they weren’t in.  One of the actors Jasika Nicole began to describe a scene with fellow actor Anna Torv, and she starts crying.  Then Anna Torv starts crying.  Then actor Lance Reddick starts crying.  You can hear people from the audience of 6500 people sniffling.  I’m crying, and I don’t even know why.  But it’s just a testament to how much this show means to them, how hard they’ve worked to stay on the air for four years, and how this final season will make everyone cry even more.

12.  A Korra Read-Through

We all know how much I love the show The Legend of Korra, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally put faces to the voices we hear on the show.  At this panel on Friday, the voice actors came out and did a read-through from various scenes throughout the season with the help of voice instructor Andrea Romano.  It’s so bizarre hearing these voices you know so well coming from actual human beings, but you start to realize why these actors were hired, why their voices match their character so well, and it doesn’t take anything away from the magic of the show.  And after a rough-cut of scenes from Book 2 of The Legend of Korra, I’m more excited than ever for it to start again.

11.  Superman Superfan

The Q & A portion of any panel is always interesting, but every now and then you get a fan that truly encapsulates everything a fan should be.  On Saturday during the Man of Steel panel, a fan came to the microphone in tears.  Cloaked in a Superman sweatshirt, it was obvious this man is a huge Superman fan, and after seeing the very first footage of this upcoming movie directed by Zach Snyder, he became overwhelmed to the point where he could barely get his words out.  The moderator of the panel Chris Hardwick (more about him later) then jumped down from the stage and ran up to the man to give him a huge hug, telling him that he represented everything that true fans are, and that it was totally cool to cry about it.  It was just one of those things that show you how passionate we are at Comic-Con and how much this stuff really means to us, and for two minutes this guy was the star of the whole panel.

10.  The Train and Felicia Day

This year at Comic-Con was definitely a year of firsts for us, one of those firsts being taking the train from Los Angeles to San Diego.  After four years of driving to SDCC, I highly recommend taking the train instead.  It’s much more relaxing, you have free wifi, and if you sit in business class like we did, you get unlimited snacks.  You also might run into a celebrity or two like we did on Sunday on our way back to LA.  Now Felicia Day might not seem like a celebrity to most people (most people don’t know who she is), but to the people of Comic-Con she’s a goddess.  She also happened to be at the train station on Sunday afternoon.  She was waiting in line like the rest of us, and since I knew I probably wouldn’t have this opportunity again, I went up to her and told her how much I enjoyed her web series The Flog.  She smiled and said thank you, and again after I told her that my daughter is now obsessed with unicorn poop (you have to watch The Flog to understand that).  I didn’t want to seem like a scary creeper, so that’s all I said, even when she sat two seats behind us on the train.  I had my moment, and it was kind of awesome.

9.  Robert Downey, Jr.’s Entrance

It just wouldn’t be Comic-Con without Robert Downey, Jr.  He loves Comic-Con, and Comic-Con loves him.  Every time he’s there he makes some kind of awesome entrance, and this year was no exception.  Right before the Marvel panel on Saturday night, the lights suddenly went out and the song “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross began playing over the speakers.  And before we knew it, Robert Downey, Jr. was dancing down the aisle of Hall H while 6500 people were cheering.  He obviously had security all around him, but it didn’t take away from the awesomeness of it all.  Because when it comes to RDJr at Comic-Con, it’s “never too much”.

8.  The Lines

Most people hate lines.  And for 51 weeks out of the year, I hate lines, too.  But lines are a huge part of Comic-Con.  No matter what you do, you’re waiting in a line for something.  In the past we’ve always gotten up early to get into lines for Hall H and Ballroom 20 where the big panels are going to be.  But this year was the year of camping out.  The panels this year were so big that people camped out overnight to secure there spot in the hall.  For example, on Friday we got in line for Ballroom 20 at 1:30am (mainly because of the Firefly reunion panel, which wasn’t until 12:30pm).  On Saturday my husband got in line at 10:00pm (I joined him at 2:00am) for Hall H (mainly because of the Warner Brothers panel, which wouldn’t start until 2:30 pm).  And on Sunday we got in line for Hall H at 2:30am, which actually proved to be late due to the 1000 people ahead of us in line (mainly because of the Doctor Who panel at 12:30pm), but we still got a decent seat in the middle of the auditorium.  It takes experience and planning to get a good spot in line.  I saw so many people come to the line after 7:00, thinking they were there early, only to discover that they probably weren’t going to get into the panel.  As the saying goes, “One hour early at SDCC means 12 hours too late.”

You just become accustomed to waiting ten hours in line at Comic-Con.  You find stuff to do.  You make friends with the people around you.  And you make those lines part of your overall awesome experience.

7.  Warner Brothers Surprises

Everyone knew going into the Warner Brothers panel that it was going to be a big one, especially with movies like Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, and The Hobbit on the schedule.  But what we weren’t expecting were the little surprises they had in store for us.  The first one was the expanded screens.  Instead of the usual one screen in front of us, the screen extended to both side walls, giving us three screens of awesomeness.  Then in between Pacific Rim and Man of Steel, they surprised us by showing a teaser for the movie Godzilla and then bringing out the director (looks awesome, by the way).  And then in between Man of Steel and The Hobbit, they once again surprised us by bringing out Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis to talk about their upcoming movie The Campaign, which was hilarious.  And who doesn’t love surprises, especially at Comic-Con?

6.  Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

This refers to an upcoming episode of Doctor Who, and is just a sliver of how much fun the entire Doctor Who panel was on Sunday.  Writers Stephen Moffat and Caroline Skinner were there, along with actors Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill to talk about the show, as well as show footage from the upcoming season, like dinosaurs on a spaceship.  This is Karen’s and Arthur’s last season on the show, leaving about halfway through, though we don’t know how they’re going to go out, so this was a little bittersweet for everyone, as their characters Amy and Rory are hugely popular.  Chris Hardwick, who knows more about Doctor Who than I ever will, moderated the panel, and it was just fun to watch everyone interact with each other, especially when Karen and Arthur did impressions of each other (hilarious).  Season seven can’t start soon enough!!!

5.  Chris Hardwick, Comic-Con Extraordinaire

Chris Hardwick is the host of the podcast “The Nerdist”, which my husband and I are avid listeners.  During Comic-Con, he’s one of the busiest guys there.  He moderated five panels at the convention, as well as attending his own panel and hosting a live podcast of “The Nerdist”, which we attended on Friday night.  Why do I like Chris Hardwick?  Well, for one thing, he’s hilarious.  He’s a great host and moderator, and always knows exactly what to say at the right time.  He’s also worked his ass off to get to where he is today.  You may remember him from the 90s as the co-host of MTV’s Singled Out with Jenny McCarthy and, if you listen to his podcast, you’ll know that he didn’t exactly enjoy it.  He became an alcoholic, drinking up to 14 beers a day, and gained a bunch of weight until he finally got his life together.  He stopped drinking, he got in shape, and he created this podcast with friends Matt Mira and Jonah Ray.  Like Felicia Day, he’s become hugely popular in the nerd world, getting just as much applause at the panels he moderated as the stars themselves.  He’s truly an example of proving that you can be successful by working hard and doing exactly what you’ve wanted to do your whole life.

4.  John Barrowman Reveals All

If you were to watch John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and his spin-off series Torchwood, you would never know how hilariously crude and awesome he really is.  John Barrowman was the guest at the live “Nerdist” Comic-Con show on Friday night that we attended, and I honestly don’t think I’ve laughed that much or that hard during any two hours of my life.  I won’t go into everything that happened (edited for content and all), but John Barrowman has absolutely no shame when it comes to his love life (gay and proud), and his bathroom habits (poop), and he will kiss and fondle total strangers without any kind of consequences.  The live show is now up on their podcast to listen to, but it was definitely one of those “you had to be there” moments that I will never forget.

3.  A Visit from Joss Whedon

It was early Friday morning (early as in 3:00am) and we’d been waiting outside in the Ballroom 20 line since 1:30am.  Mostly everyone in line was asleep – that is, until word got out that Joss Whedon was at the front of the line signing autographs.  That was pretty exciting, but we figured that he probably wouldn’t make it down to our part of the line.  We were in front of a lot of people, but we definitely weren’t in the front.  But a half hour later, we spotted him making his way down towards us.  He was signing autographs, people were getting their picture with him, and Joss himself was actually waking people up who are sleeping.  My husband was determined to get Joss to sign his SDCC badge and a picture, and guess what:  he did!  And I got to take the picture!  It was such an exciting moment – this man who had created some of our favorite TV shows and directed the third most successful movie of all time, taking the time to come out at three in the morning to greet his fans without any security, showing how much he appreciates us, and proving why we appreciate him.

2.  Thirteen Minutes of The Hobbit

Excluding the Firefly reunion panel, the thing I was most excited to see was the panel for The Hobbit.  They had promised it was going to be big, and they did not disappoint.  Peter Jackson was there, along with writer/producer Philippa Boyens and actors Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Ian McKellan, and Elijah Wood.  They started off showing a video diary of the end of filming, and that was all exciting, of course, but nothing compared to the 13 minutes of actual movie footage that was shown.  I don’t think I breathed the entire time.  We saw new faces, plus old faces like Galadriel, Legolas, and Elrond.  It all looked seriously…amazing.  And we only have to wait five months to see the entire thing!  Hell, we’ve already waited nine years to see it, so what’s another five months?

1.  Firefly’s Shiny Moment

By far, the most anticipated panel of the entire con was the Firefly reunion panel on Friday.  There’s a reason why so many people were camped out to see it.  Even though the show wasn’t even on for an entire season, it has achieved true cult status, its fans some of the most loyal and passionate of any.  The minutes leading up to the panel were tense – you could practically feel the anticipation in the air.  It was the first time I’ve witnessed an audience begin to clap in rhythm before a panel has even started.  Not all the actors could be there, but when the ones who were walked on stage, the place exploded.  Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, and Adam Baldwin were all there, plus producer TIm Minear and writer Jose Molina, and, of course, Joss Whedon.  The panel was awesome, of course, but the moment that we’ll all remember was the final question of the audience Q & A when Joss was asked what the show’s fans meant to him.  He couldn’t answer – not because he didn’t know, but because no words could describe.  He got choked up, then Nathan got choked up (seriously, there were tears), and the entire crowd of 4000 stood up and gave Joss the biggest standing ovation I have ever witnessed in my life.  I don’t think a dry eye was in the house – audience or on stage.  It’ll definitely be the moment I will always remember from Comic-Con 2012.

Posted in Catching TV, Teenage Obsession

Teenage Obsession: Soap Operas

I read an article this morning about how soap actress Eileen Davidson was leaving her role as Ashley on The Young and the Restless and going back to Days of Our Lives where she had played the character(s) Kristen/Susan (one being the evil doppelganger, of course) back in the 1990s.  And while this may not be huge news to anyone, it reminded me of how much I used to love The Soap Opera.

My first exposure to soap operas was back when I was kid and I would hang out my friend’s house during the summer.  Her mom would come home for lunch every day at noon and watch All My Children.  This was back in the day when Kelly Ripa was on the show (circa 1990) as Hayley, the troubled party girl.  Yes, I realize that was a long time ago.  Shut up.

But I didn’t really start getting into soaps until two years later when the same friend and I began watching The Young and the Restless.  It was on earlier than the other soaps – 11:00am – and fit perfectly into our slightly obsessive TV-watching schedule: The Price is Right at 10am, Y &R at 11am.

I loved Y & R because it had cute guys on it (I was 13 years old and this stuff was important to me).  It had Michael Damien as Danny Romalotti (who had a hit song “Rock On” from the movie Dream a Little Dream two years earlier, which I realize no one probably knows but me).  He was my favorite, and my friend’s favorite guy was Ryan McNeil, played by Scott Reeves (married to other soapie Melissa Reeves, who played Carrie on Days of Our Lives).

Danny was married to Cricket, and Ryan McNeil was married to 16-year-old Victoria Newman, who was at the time played by Heather Tom.  She bugged the hell out of me with her whining (but it’s a soap, so I guess they have to whine), and all I wanted was Ryan to realize that he loved Nina, who was slightly overweight, but way more normal than Victoria.

I watched Y & R that whole summer of 1992, and then recorded it (on videotape!) as often as I could.  And then as I got older (15) and started writing more stories, I started watching more soaps as inspiration for my own writing. I went back to watching All My Children (even though everyone else at the time was watching Days of Our Lives because of Austin, Carrie, and Sammy) and General Hospital.  When I started watching GH Ricky Martin was on as Miguel, and he had super long hair.  Like down-to-his-butt long hair.  Don’t believe me?

Once I got to college, though, I stopped watching GH – not only because I didn’t have to time to anymore, but because the storylines got boring for me.  I watched Y & R when I could, and because I had a break every day from 12-1, I could still watch AMC.

But when I moved into a house with three of my friends, I slowly switched from AMC to Days of Our LivesDays was a soap I had purposely not watched before simply because it was the one that everyone else watched (I was a soap hipster).  But one of my roommates was an avid Days watcher, so I found myself jumping on the Days soap wagon.

I found myself loving Days – not because it was good, but because it was HILARIOUS.  Y & R had always been on the more realistic side when it came to soaps (re: no one returning from the dead), so I saw Days as a nice change.  I knew they weren’t going to deal with any serious, depressing topics.  It was like watching a sitcom without a laugh track.  Possessed Marlena?  Ridiculous.  John’s facial expressions?  Priceless.  Hope and Bo and their flashbacks?  Nauseating.

But I couldn’t stop watching, that’s how bad it was.  And it was the perfect lead-in to the brand new soap that came on in the summer of 1999, Passions.

I could write a whole post on how crazy Passions was – I actually wrote an article about it in my college paper at the time – but I’ll just throw out some words that sort of describe the show: witches, talking dolls, Mexican stereotypes, Princess Diana’s best friend, Martin Fitzgerald, Martimmies.

The show was ten times worse than Days but ten times more fun.  It unfortunately came to an end in 2008 after only nine seasons, thus ending all the “I Killed Martin Fitzgerald” drinking games that I’m sure took place around college campuses everywhere.

Which brings me to a depressing topic:  The Unfortunate Demise of the Soap Opera.

In the past five years, at least five soaps have ceased to exist: Passions, One Life to Live, All My Children, As the World Turns, and Guiding Light, which was the longest running anything in media history, starting way back in 1937 on the radio and then switching to TV in 1952.

Now only four soaps remain on daytime television: Young and the Restless, General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, and The Bold and the Beautiful, though only time will tell on those.

It’s sad, really, given the fact that most of these shows started before I was even born (B & B is the only exception, starting in 1987).  These shows have history.  Some of the writers and actors have worked on the show since its first episode.  Jeanne Cooper, for example, has played Katherine Chancellor on Y & R since 1973.  But because of ratings, the changing dynamics of television, and the economy – it’s a lot cheaper to produce a daytime talk show than an hour-long scripted show – their demise is inevitable.

There’s even a theory that blames their demise on O.J. Simpson – that their shows were preempted so much because of his trial that soaps fell off the radar and never recovered.

So until that day comes when not a single bubble remains and kids don’t know the meaning of the words “soap opera” (actually I’m sure a lot of people don’t know why they’re called soaps – it’s because when they used to be on the radio they were sponsored by soap companies), we can only enjoy what we’ve got.

I don’t watch them nearly as much as I used to – I used to have time to TiVo Y & R and watch it after work, but then my DVR got too full and Y & R didn’t make the cut – but I still appreciate their place in this world.  When I moved to LA in 2001, I suddenly found myself having random run-ins with soap actors, which was slightly bizarre to me.  I ran into Heather Tom (first Victoria) at Trader Joes, and she looked slightly homely compared to her character on the show.  When I worked at The Coffee Bean I made a drink for Sharon Case (who plays Sharon Newman on Y & R, and she remains the only “celebrity” I ever said something to in all my years in LA (I said “I really love your work on Y & R”, and she seemed genuinely happy about it).

And also made a drink for some young 20-something guy on Days of Our Lives, but he was super cocky.  I wanted to say, “Dude, you’re on a soap opera.  Get over it.”  But I didn’t.  Because I didn’t want him to think that I thought he was someone.  Ha ha.

Despite all this, soaps are an important part of television history, and hey, you never know…we just may see a resurgence of soaps one of these days, where they’ll continue to entertain the women and men (come on…you know there are some men out there who watch them) who need them to get them through their lunch hour.

And maybe they’ll bring Passions back.  The aggressive letter-writing campaign begins now…

Posted in Catching TV, Geeking Out, Watching Movies

Comic-Con 2012 – A Wish List

With Comic-Con 2012 less than a month away, there’s lot of speculation of who and what is going to be there.  Which studios will bring their most anticipated movies of the coming year?  Which celebrities are going to make an appearance?  How early am I going to have to get up to possibly see the one panel for which I’ve been waiting a lifetime?

We’ll have all these answers in the days leading up to the convention, but for now all we can do is wait and play the guessing game.  It’s a good way to get ready and excited for Comic-Con – as long as you don’t get your hopes up about a certain person who will most likely never make an appearance at Comic-Con.

Yes, I’m talking about you, Christopher Nolan.

For those of you unfamiliar to Comic-Con, read my blog post from last year.  Or here’s a quick run-down for you:  Comic-Con is a four-day convention that takes place in San Diego that celebrates the popular arts: movies (mostly of the sci-fi/fantasy genre), TV (same deal), comic books, pop art, and CosPlay.  Movie studios, television studios, artists, and writers come together and put on panels for the lucky 100,000+ people who get to attend Comic-Con to show off their hottest upcoming releases, or to talk about what we as an audience love the most: the popular arts.

It’s an exhilarating, tiring, and exciting event that my husband and I have attended for the past four years (minus the one year I was due to give birth on opening day), and each year is different.  But will still manage to have an awesome time on practically zero hours of sleep and live to tell the tale (seriously, if you ever go, don’t plan on getting more than three hours of sleep a night). 

Of course the one thing that most people anticipate is the schedule for Hall H.  Hall H is the room that is mostly reserved for the big movie studio panels because it holds the most people – 6500 – but don’t let that number fool you into thinking you can just come and go into the hall as you please.  If you want to get a spot for ANY of the panels on that particular day, you have to get there early.  REALLY EARLY.  We’re talking “before the sun comes up” early.

There are actually people wrapped around this whole body of water…just waiting.

So until the official Comic-Con schedule is released, here is my official Comic-Con 2012 Wish List.

The Hobbit Panel

The word on the nerdy streets of San Diego is that Warner Bros. Studio has reserved a three-hour block for Saturday.  Do you know what that means?  THE EFFING HOBBIT.

There are already rumors that this is going to happen, given that it’s WB’s biggest movie this year and that Peter Jackson hinted about it when he made an appearance last year.  The Lord of the Rings movies are my favorite movies of all-time, and to see be able to see the cast of its sequel will be huge for me.  I’m serious.  There might be tears.

Iron Man 3 Panel

Getting to see Robert Downey, Jr. in any panel is pretty awesome (I saw him at the panel for Sherlock Holmes three years ago), and after the insane success of the first two Iron Man movies and The Avengers, everyone is anticipating a huge panel.

Also, since I’ve missed the two other Iron Man panels because of pregnancy or other CC events, I would love to see Gwyneth Paltrow make an appearance.  Maybe I’ll ask her a question about GOOP and what kind of organic food she recommends I eat.

Star Trek 2 Panel

 I’ve read two conflicting rumors about J.J. Abrams upcoming sequel:  a) Star Trek 2 is going to be big at Comic-Con, and b) Paramount isn’t coming, therefore no ST2 panel.  I hope the first rumor is true, because I freaking loved the first movie (I’m not even a Trekkie), and I love J.J. Abrams.  I got to see him and Joss Whedon speak together at CC two years ago, and I’ve decided that J.J. is pretty much all kinds of awesome (and okay, I might have a total nerdy crush on him, but whatevs).  So I would love to see him talk about the sequel, I would love to see the cast (Chris Pine), and I would LOVE to see footage.

So please, Paramount, make your presence known at Comic-Con this year and BRING STAR TREK 2!!!

The Legend of Korra Panel

Since this is my new favorite show of the year – and a sister show to another fave Avatar: The Last Airbender – I would love to see it make another appearance at Comic-Con.  The show came to the convention last year to a sold-out panel, and it wasn’t due to air for another year.

But now that the show is on and it’s completely awesome, I would love to see them come back, along with all the voice actors this time.  And possibly a fire-ferret.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 Panel

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, and shut up.  It’s about 99% sure that Twilight will be there for their final film this year.  They’ve never missed a Comic-Con, and this is their big finale.

That being said, I’ve never gone to any of the Twilight panels.  We’ve always been at a different panel during that time, and besides, the Comic-Con Twi-hards kinda freak me out.  But I would like to experience it just one time, and this is my last chance to do that.  And maybe Jacob will take his shirt off…?

The Vampire Diaries Panel

Okay, here’s where the real “wishing” comes into play.  I wish I could be in two places at once.  I know for sure that The Vampire Diaries will be at the con this year.  It’s already been announced.

However, as what happens a lot at the con, it’s during the same time as another panel…that panel most likely to be The Hobbit.  And I’m sorry…Stefan, Damon, I love you…but I cannot miss the chance to see a bunch of Dwarves and Elves and Kiwis on stage.  I’m sorry.

Doctor Who Panel

Last year the Doctor Who panel was on Sunday, and for the past four years we’ve never stayed at Comic-Con through Sunday.  Sundays used to be the quiet, non-eventful, do some last-minute shopping days that never got much attention.  But now Sundays are becoming big in their own right, proving that last year when the Doctor (and Castle and Glee) showed up.

No word on whether they’ll be there this year, but hopes are high (as are the rumors).  And since it’s the last season for companions Amy and Rory (I’m crying just thinking about it), I’m sure they’ll want to make one last appearance.

The Dark Knight Rises

Yeah…it’s never gonna happen.

And just for fun…

Firefly Tenth Anniversary Panel

Because you never know.

Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, The Awesome 13

The Awesome 13 – The Songs of “Glee” – Season One

The Awesome 13 – The Songs of Glee (Season One)

I really hate the term “Gleek”.  Yes, I am a big Glee fan.  Ever since I saw a commercial for the first episode back in the spring of 2009, I knew this was going to be a show that I liked.

But don’t call me a “Gleek”.  I hate the word.  Also isn’t that what you call it when you spit through your tongue?

Like many other fans of the show, I’m in it for the music.  Yes, the characters are fun and the stories are interesting (even the plots that suddenly disappear from the storyline), but I probably wouldn’t watch the show if it wasn’t for the music.

The kids on Glee have performed over 300 songs over three seasons, and to have to pick 13 of those that I like the best would be like the worst Sophie’s Choice ever.  Well, probably not the worst.  I think the choice Sophie had to make was probably the worst Sophie’s Choice ever.

Anyway, I’ve decided to break it down by season.  Still not the easiest thing to do, but at least this way gives some songs a little more of a chance.  This week we begin with Season One.

13.  “Maybe This Time” (April Rhodes and Rachel Berry)

Kristin Chenoweth is hilarious as the always drunk character April Rhodes, and we get a taste of what she’s like when she performs this song from the musical Cabaret in the episode titled “The Rhodes Less Taken”.  She sings the song concurrently with Lea Michele’s character Rachel Berry, and the song reveals a lot about the goals and regrets of each character.  It’s a powerful moment for both – we’re left to wonder what April could have been and what Rachel will be.

12.  “Hello” (Jessie St. James and Rachel Berry)

In the episode “Hell-O” we’re introduced to one of my favorite characters of season one, Jessie St. James (played by Jonathon Groff), the leader of rival school Carmel High’s Vocal Adrenaline glee club.  We know he shouldn’t be trusted, and we know he’s absolutely ridiculous.  But when he sits down at that piano and starts singing Lionel Richie’s classic love song, we fall in love with him just like Rachel does.

11.”Don’t Stand So Close to Me / Young Girl” (Will Schuster)

When glee club director Will Schuster did a mash-up of The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap in the episode “Ballad”, I was in awe. Not only does Matthew Morrison’s voice sound amazing, but the magical people behind the songs of Glee put two songs that shouldn’t go well together and made it work.  Oh, and the scene is hilarious.

10.  “Jessie’s Girl” (Finn Hudson)

Finn Hudson, played by Frankenteen Cory Monteith, is the unofficial boy leader of the glee club, and by 18th episode of the season, “Laryngitis”, we’ve seen him do lots of solos.  But with the addition of character Jessie St. James and new threat to Finn, I think everyone was just waiting for him to perform this song.  Normally I’m not the biggest fan of Cory Monteith’s voice, but I became a fan after this song.  This type of music – as opposed to pop/r&b – definitely suits him, and the performance finally started to flesh out his character.

9.  “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (Rachel Berry)

I’ve always been a fan of this song, so I wasn’t surprised how much I enjoyed the Glee version.  It appears in the episode “Bad Reputation”, which features songs that people love to hate.  Songs that are so bad they’re good.  Set against an impromptu ballet rehearsal, Rachel sings this song to the three guys in her life – Jessie, Finn, and Puck – and powers through it like a true ballad diva.

8.  “Don’t Rain On My Parade” (Rachel Berry)

When the glee club sectionals arrive and the New Directions perform for the first time in the episode “Sectionals”, we know it’s a big moment for the glee club.  So when disaster strikes and they realize they can’t perform their songs because the other schools stole their set list, we know they need something huge to get them through it.  That something huge is Rachel Berry singing her ass off while performing “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from Funny Girl, in what was probably one of the biggest moments of her life, and her biggest moment in season one.

7.  “My Life Would Suck Without You” (Whole Cast)

Even though I will always like the Kelly Clarkson version better, this is a pretty awesome moment of season one.  It comes at the end of the first half of the season after sectionals in the episode “Sectionals”, and to show Mr. Schuster how much they appreciate all his help, they dedicate this song to him.  Of course what’s even better about this performance is that we get to see Will finally realize how he feels about Emma Pillsbury after going through a horrible separation from his wife.  The combination of the students performing the song and Will’s realization is perfect, and leads up to the cliffhanger we were all waiting for.

6.  “To Sir, With Love” (Whole Cast)

The season finale of Glee’s first season “Journey to Regionals”, is still one of my favorite finales of any TV show I’ve seen.  Lots of amazing things happen during this episode, including Quinn Fabray going into labor during regionals.  But the part that caused me to well up and get all emotional was when the group sings “To Sir, With Love” to Mr. Schuster.  At this point the group thinks it’s the last time they can sing together, since the deal was that if they don’t come in first at regionals, glee club is finished.  This makes for a pretty emotional performance of an already emotional song.

5.  “Dream On” (Will Schuster and Bryan Ryan)

Glee has had its share of guest stars, but the appearance by Neil Patrick Harris is hands-down my favorite, as is this episode “Dream On” directed by Joss Whedon.  NPH stars as a glee club has-been who believes dreams are just another thing that will bring you down.  But Will tries to get him to believe again by telling him to audition for Les Miserables, so he does – and so does Will.  They end auditioning with the same song and performing it together, Aerosmith’s classic “Dream On”, and it’s one of my favorite moments in all three seasons of the show.  Matthew Morrison proves he can sing more than showtunes and adult contemporary, and NHP continues to show us how ridiculously talented he is.

4.  “The Safety Dance” (Artie Abrams)

In another song from the episode “Dream On”, we get to see what paraplegic character Artie dreams about, and that is to get up and dance.  This is the first time we get to see Artie get out of his wheelchair and perform, and we also get to see what actor Kevin McHale can really do.  The performance, which is Artie’s fantasy of a flash-mob at the local mall to “The Safety Dance”, is both awesome and heartbreaking, because we – and Artie – know that it will never happen, and is something that can only be dreamed of.

3.  “I Dreamed a Dream” (Rachel Berry and Shelby Corcoran)

There’s a reason why the episode “Dream On” is so awesome.  It was just filled with awesome songs.  My third one from that episode comes from Rachel and her newly-found mother, Shelby Corcoran, also the director of the Vocal Adrenaline glee club of which boyfriend Jessis is a member.  She hasn’t wanted to meet her mom, but when she hears a tape that Shelby makes for her, singing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables (and one of the best songs ever written period), it’s one of the most touching moments of the season.  It turns into a fantasy duet in Rachel’s head, the two of them – looking very much like mother and daughter, I might add – singing the song and sounding they were born to sing it together.

2.  “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Jessie St. James and Vocal Adrenaline)

I’m usually underwhelmed by performances of other glee clubs on the show.  I love the members of New Directions, and I watch the show because I want to see them perform.  But that’s not the case during the season finale “Journey to Regionals” when Vocal Adrenaline comes out and knocks my favorite Queen song out of the auditorium.  This is mainly due to the power of Jonathon Groff’s voice – a close second to Freddie Mercury himself – and the simultaneous scene of Quinn going into labor.  For some reason that song fits as the perfect soundtrack for that moment, and for six minutes we can’t look away.

1.  “Don’t Stop Believin’” (Whole Cast)

I kind of have to put this song at number one since this is the one that started it all.  It’s not until the end of the first episode where we see New Directions really singing together for the first time, and it happens at a time when Will is about to give up on everything – quit teaching, quit glee club – until he sees the potential his glee club has, and he hears the words they have to say.  It’s one of those moments where you want to think it’s cheesy, but you can’t.  Not when you don’t want to stop believing, either.

Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, Teenage Obsession

Teenage Obsession: The Mickey Mouse Club

Ever since I moved back to Minnesota, my parents have slowly been giving me things that have been hiding in storage at their house for the past 15 years that they want to get off their hands.  The most recent box my mom gave to me contained something I completely forgot I ever had.

The Binder.

Sometime around the middle of 1993, I realized that there was a void in my life.  My Newsies obsession had ebbed, as had my obsession with swing music and Stephen Dorff.  I needed something to fill that void besides afternoon reruns of Salute Your Shorts and Hey Dude.

And then came The Mickey Mouse Club.

Back in the day, The Disney Channel was a premium channel, which meant that you had to have a subscription for it just like HBO and Showtime.  I was lucky enough to have access to The Disney Channel, even though I didn’t watch it very often.  That is until I was flipping through the channels one day (this was back when you had to flip through to see what was on – you couldn’t just look at a menu – and chances are you had no idea what you were watching anyway because the name of the show didn’t pop up on the top of the screen) and I landed on The Disney Channel and saw a music video by a group called MMC.

Now, I was in the know enough to figure out that MMC stood for The Mickey Mouse Club and that this must be some kind of spin-off group the show created, the same way they had created the music group The Party (I had a friend who was a fan).  Normally I would have just moved on from the channel to something else, but something caught my eye.

CUTE BOYS.

Since I was 14 years old, cute boys were very important to me, and I tended to notice them everywhere.  Right away I noticed two of them, and although I didn’t know their names, I was determined to find out more about them.  And this is what I found out:

The Mickey Mouse Club had indeed formed a group called MMC, which was made up of seven of the members from the show.  They were getting ready to not only release their first studio album, but also getting for their national tour to various Target stores, aka FREE CONCERTS WITH CUTE BOYS AT TARGET.

An actual newspaper clipping from the event that I pasted into my journal.

I was so going.

So I told my friend Kate about it and she was totally on board because we were way in sync (hahaha….no pun intended….) when it came to cute boys.  MMC was performing at the Arden Hills Target Greatland on October 3 AND WE WERE GOING.  Because we were totally convinced that the boys from MMC were going to fall in love with us.

The boys I’m referring to were Tony Lucca, JC Chasez, and Matt Morris.  The Disney Channel showed enough behind the scenes clips from the making of their album and the upcoming season of The Mickey Mouse Club for us to know all about the show before we went to the concert, and to get us excited about being able to see these cute boys when the show started.

Well, the concert was awesome.  My mom drove us and I think we were all surprised by how many people were actually there.  Turned out other girls thought those boys were cute, too.  During the concert they threw out t-shirts and patches to the crowd, and my mom was cool enough to grab a patch that had fallen on the ground before some stupid chick was able to grab it.  Yay, mom!

After the concert we had a chance to get autographs, but they split the group up into two tables opposite from each other, which meant two long lines, which meant you had to pick which table you wanted to stand in line for.  And OF COURSE Tony and JC were on opposite tables.

Seriously had a Sophie’s Choice moment.

Kate and I decided, however, that JC had our heart, so we waited in JC’s line while my poor mom waited in the other line to get Tony’s autograph for us.  I’m sure she hated us that day, but I’m pretty sure I thanked her at least once.

The Autographs

From that moment on, Kate and I were DIE-HARD Mickey Mouse Club fans.  We loved the concept of a teen variety show where the members put on funny skits and performed covered songs and made music videos.  It was like the Glee of its time.  The show was on Monday-Thursday, and each day had its own theme.  For example:

Monday:  Guest Day – a lucky fan gets to meet a celebrity of their choice and spend the day with them.  I wonder what the girl who met Jonathan Brandis is doing now.

Tuesday:  Music Day – a singer or group visits the MMC set and performs two songs.  My least favorite day, because it took time away from the MMC members.

Wednesday:  Anything Can Happen Day – um, where anything can happen.

Thursday:  Party Day – the best day of the week.  The group always performed their best songs on this day.

This particular season of The Mickey Mouse Club also had the addition of its newest and youngest members, four boys and three girls.  Those people were Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, Tate Lynch, TJ Fantini, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Nikki Deloach.  You may have heard of some of them.  I was personally not a fan of Christina and made fun of her and her hand movements while she sang all the time, and I hated Nikki Deloach because she was a THREAT to me (don’t ask).

Kate and I were fond of Britney because we thought she was a hilarious dancer.  Kate was partial to Justin because he was adorable, and I was partial to Ryan because we was hot, even as a 12 year old.  And just as I had done with Beverly Hills, 90210 and flip-flopped between Dylan and Brandon every week, I flip-flopped which MMC guys I liked.  JC/Tony/Ryan/Matt…they all had their turn.

When the season ended, The Disney Channel began playing reruns of older seasons, starting with 1991.  This was back when Tony and JC and others like Keri Russell and Marc Worden were first on, and we were full-on obsessed with this show.  I recorded every single episode (which I still have somewhere in my parents house), and since this was way before iTunes, we had no way to have the songs they performed (which were awesome), so we would use this huge boom box stereo thing of Kate’s, put a blank tape in it, press record, and hold the damn thing up to the TV while the performance was on.

You can imagine how time consuming this was.  But we recorded every single song from every single episode, and the best part is that because we were recording LIVE, you can hear us laughing during the songs, usually when Christina would sing or when Keri Russell would flip her ginormous hair.

For about two years, MMC was our life.  Kate and I even taped our own episode (written and directed by us) which, looking back, was a little horrifying.  We lip-synced to the MMC’s version of Ace of Base’s “The Sign” while wearing white t-shirts and black spandex shorts, and choreographed the whole, embarrassing thing.  You’d never know by watching that Kate went on to become a professional dancer (though it was totally obvious that I lacked any kind of dance ability).

And don’t forget about the MMC Quiz I made…containing only 254 questions.

You fail, you suck.

When the 1994 season began, the show took on a whole new look – a more mature look to attract an older teen demographic.  They began to perform all their songs live (before that it was always pre-taped), and the entire set of the show changed.

And the boys got cuter!

The same cast was on, minus the two adult hosts Fred and Terri from previous seasons and minus Keri Russell because apparently she wanted to do real TV (whatever, like that was going to work out), and they brought back an old member from The Party, Tiffani Hale.  They continued their “show within a show” called Emerald Cove, which starred various members of the show old enough to have love interests (which meant Ryan and Justin and the young’uns weren’t on it) which, unlike past “shows with a show” that The Mickey Mouse Club did (My Secret Bodyguard anyone?), I really liked this one.  Mainly because Tony was the main guy on the show, and he was the hottest guy on the planet according to me.

Keri actually remained on Emerald Cove even though she wasn’t on MMC anymore, and I’m pretty sure it’s because Tony was her real life boyfriend at the time, and it was their chance to spend time together.  Aw, how cute.

Hated her.

Kate and I always had these love/hate relationships with the girls on The Mickey Mouse Club.  Basically we hated any girl who was pretty because they posed a threat to us.  Keri, of course, was on our hit list, as well as Mylin Brooks and Ilana Miller, even though I totally wanted to be Ilana because she was short and had long hair like me.  We loved Britney because everything she did was hilarious, and it didn’t even matter that she and Justin were a thing.

Despite the show’s efforts to become trendier and edgier, the ratings were crap.  The thing that sucked for this show was its timing.  In 1994, no one over the age of 13 was listening to sugary pop music anymore.  Grunge ruled the airwaves, and teens no longer had an interest in cheesy variety shows.

So the show was dropped after the season ended in 1996.  And to be honest, I wasn’t TOTALLY heartbroken.  I was 17 now, and even I had started to move on.  And a few of the cast members were hitting 20 – they were definitely ready to move on.

Thank God this guy moved on…

But I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for the show and the people to show introduced me to.  I mean, seriously…look at where some of these people are today.  Ryan Gosling is uber hot and has been nominated for an Oscar (but not for Drive, which is totally jacked up).  Tony Lucca was a finalist on The Voice, which Christina Aguilera is a judge.  Keri Russell won a Golden Globe for her role on Felicity.  Matt Morris is now an awesome songwriter and has worked with a ton of singers, having recently just collaborated with Sarah McLachlan.  Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez were members of ‘N Sync, both went solo, and now Justin has a huge music career AND acting career.

Britney Spears needs no introduction.

Other members have gone off to do smaller things, all of which I’m now aware thanks to Twitter.  And the awesome thing is that they’re all still close and still support each other in their careers.  Even though Christina was a witch to Tony on The Voice, she was just jealous that he was getting all this support from his old MMC friends and her contestants weren’t.

Just think:  if it hadn’t been for this little show on The Disney Channel 20 years ago, we might not know who any of these people are.  I might not be listening to a Britney Spears song on my iPod right now.  I might not have ever seen Ryan Gosling’s abs.  I wouldn’t have gone to see Tony Lucca perform at random bars in LA ten years ago.  And I definitely wouldn’t have gone to that ‘N Sync concert back in college.

So thank you, Disney Channel, and thank you, MMC for giving us these awesome gifts.  That I can’t even watch because they’re all on tape and I don’t have a VCR (who does????).

Happy watching (if you can find them!)

Posted in Catching TV, Watching Movies

Need a Good Laugh?

There are very few things that make me laugh.  No, let me rephrase.  There are very few things that make me really laugh.  Out loud, and not just to myself.  Laugh so hard that tears come out of my eyes and I have to run to the bathroom.  I know that if that happens, I’ve either had a few drinks…or I’m watching something extremely rare:

True comedy that lives up to its genre.

I’m really picky about comedy movies and TV shows.  I’ve always preferred sci-fi/fantasy and musicals because to me they’re more visually entertaining.  I have to be in the right mood for a comedy.  For a comedy to be entertaining, it has to be good.  Really good.  And it has to be more than funny – it has to be smart.  I’m not one for gags or slapstick.  For me it’s all about the writing and the delivery.

And, well, sometimes it’s about how many drinks I’ve had.  But whatever.

So I’ve compiled a list of scenes from movies or TV that have made me REALLY laugh.  If you ever have a really crappy day and need a good laugh, well, this one’s for you.

Movie:  Airplane! (1980)

Laugh Attack:  The Jive Lady

I’m actually laughing just thinking about this right now.  In this scene an elderly woman passenger offers to translate the “jive talk” between two African American passengers, and what comes out of her mouth makes me laugh.  Every.  Single.  Time.

“Cut me some slack, Jack!  Chump don’t want no help, chump don’t GET da’ help!”

Watch the Scene Here (it starts a minute in)

Movie:  Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Laugh Attack: Family Counseling Speech by Dr. Evil

Well, pretty much every line in Austin Powers makes me laugh, mostly due to Michael Myers as Dr. Evil.  He had the best lines in the movie, and his speech during group therapy about his life growing up is hilarious.  It’s not just the writing that’s funny, it’s the delivery.  If I were to say it, it wouldn’t get a laugh.  But when Michael Myers says it?  Pure comic genius.

“The details of my life are quite inconsequential… very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we’d make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds- pretty standard really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum… it’s breathtaking- I highly suggest you try it.”

Watch the Scene Here

Movie:  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Laugh Attack:Cameron Frye Contemplates

This is in the top ten of my favorite movies of all time, and pretty much every scene and line in this movie is gold.  But the one scene that still strikes me as hilarious after 25 years is when Cameron is trying to talk himself out of going over to Ferris’s house after learning he’s playing hooky.  Again, the best part isn’t the actual lines themselves, it’s Alan Ruck’s performance.  Totally underrated.

“He’ll keep calling me, he’ll keep calling me until I come over. He’ll make me feel guilty. This is uh… This is ridiculous, ok I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go. What – I’LL GO. S***”.

Watch the Scene Here

Movie:  The Jerk (1979)

Laugh Attack:  “That’s all I need.”

You want to laugh hard for more than a minute?  This scene with Steve Martin where he’s talking to Bernadette Peters about his possessions always makes me laugh because, well, it’s Steve Martin.  And I think we’re all kind of like Navin R. Johnson in a way.

“Well, I’m gonna go then. And I don’t need any of this. I don’t need this stuff and I don’t need you. I don’t need anything — except this, this ash tray, and that’s the only thing I need is this! I don’t need nothin’ but this – just this ash tray, and this paddle game. The ash tray and the paddle game – and that’s all I need, and this – the remote control. The ash tray, the paddle game and the remote control, that’s all I need. And these matches. The ash tray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball. And this lamp. That’s right. This paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp and that’s all I need. And that’s all I need too! I don’t need one other thing. Not one – I need this – the paddle game and the chair and the remote control and the matches, for sure. Well, what are you looking at? What do you think I am, some kind of a jerk or something? And this. That’s all I need. The ash tray, the remote control, and this paddle game, and this magazine and the chair…I don’t need one other thing, except my dog.” *The dog growls at him* “I don’t need my dog.”

Watch the Scene Here

TV Show:  Freaks and Geeks (1999)

Laugh Attack:  Bill’s Confession

Martin Starr, who played Bill, had some of the best lines on this amazing and unfortunately short-lived series.  You never knew what innocent yet hilarious line was going to come out of his mouth, and this “confession” of his is one of those lines I have to rewind every time he says it because it makes me laugh so hard.  Yet another underrated actor of our time.

“Remember that time in civics when I had to fart, and it came out, well, a poop? And I had to flush my undies down the toilet? Do you think I wanted to tell you that?”  

Watch the Scene Here

TV Show:  The Office

Laugh Attack:  Jim vs. Dwight: Battlestar Galactica

Jim Halpert is always playing jokes on Dwight, and they’re hilarious every time.  But this one in particular cracks me up because a) Jim is HILARIOUS and b) I feel Dwight’s pain.  There’s nothing worse than someone getting their information wrong, especially when it’s regarding something you love.  God, I love this scene.

Jim Halpert:  Hey Andy, by any chance did you see Battlestar Galactica last night?
Andy Bernard:  No, I didn’t. Is it any good?
Jim Halpert:  Actually not. It was really so-so.
Dwight Schrute:  Okay…
[Jim threatens with the stopwatch]
Jim Halpert:  I mean like all the crazy monsters and stuff, you know like Klingons and Wookiees and all of that…
[Dwight turns to respond, but Jim shows the stopwatch again]
Jim Halpert:  I’m sorry, Dwight, did you want to say something?
Andy Bernard:  Was that anything like the original Battlestar Galactica?
Jim Halpert:  You know it’s weird, it’s practically a shot-for-shot remake.
Andy Bernard:  Really? Huh… that’s cool.
Jim Halpert:  Yeah, and the story is kinda bland. It’s about this guy, Dumbledore Calrissian, who’s got to take The Ring back to Mordor.
Andy Bernard:  Really? That doesn’t sound right.

Watch the Scene Here

TV Show:  Friends

Laugh Attack:  The One Where No One’s Ready

Friends was one of those shows where I can honestly say I laughed during every episode.  Yes, the show was huge and mainstream, but it was truly funny and smartly written.  I could probably write an entire post devoted just to how hilarious this show was.  Chandler and Joey always shared my favorite exchanges on the show, and this one is just one of the many, many laughs that they got.  The set-up?  Joey is wearing Chandler’s clothes.

Joey:  Okay, buddy-boy. Here it is: You hide my clothes, I’m wearing everything you own.
Chandler:  Oh my God! That is so not the opposite of taking somebody’s underwear!
Joey:  Look at me – I’m Chandler! Could I *be* wearing any more clothes? Maybe if I wasn’t going commando!
Chandler:  Ugh UGH!
Joey:  Phew! I tell you, it’s hot with all this stuff on. I better not do any – you know – lunges!

Watch the Scene Here

Movie:  Spaceballs (1987)

Laugh Attack:  Combing the Desert

This is a Mel Brooks movie, so obviously I had a lot of scenes and lines to choose from.  But the one scene that makes me laugh out loud every time I see it is when the stormtroopers are out “combing the desert” – with a gigantic Ace comb, of course – and when they’re asked if they’ve found anything yet, the one trooper yells back:

“We ain’t found s***!”

(I think this line has become part of my everyday vocabulary.)

Watch the Scene Here

Movie:  Back to the Future (1985)

Laugh Attack:  Dinner at Lorraine’s

Another top ten favorite of mine.  The cast and the writing are perfect, as shown in one of my favorite scenes when Marty has fallen out of the tree and is staying at Lorraine’s (aka Mom’s) house for dinner.  The whole exchange between the family and him at the table is just an example of the awesomeness of this movie.  Set-up:  after they’ve talked about how no one has two television sets and what a rerun is, Marty finally has to leave because his “mom” is grabbing his leg under the table.

Marty: I gotta go, uh, I gotta go. Thanks very much, it was wonderful, you were all great. See you all later, much later.

Stella: He’s a very strange young man.

Sam: He’s an idiot, comes from upbringing, parents were probably idiots too. Lorraine, if you ever have a kid like that, I’ll disown you.

Watch the Scene Here (sorry the video is horrible; it’s the only one I could find)

TV Show:  Family Guy

Laugh Attack:  The entire episode of Wasted Talent

The episode is a parody of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and every single moment of it is hilarious.  If you’re a fan of Willy Wonka, you will LOVE this.  It after 12 years, it’s still one of my favorite episodes.

“Chumba Wumba, gobbledy goo. Life isn’t fair, it’s sad but it’s true. Chumba Wumba, gobbledy gee. When you poor legs are stiff as a tree. What do you do when you’re stuck in a chair? Finding it hard to go up and down stairs? What do you think of the one you call God? Isn’t his absence slightly odd? Maybe he’s forgotten you. Chumba Wumba gobbledy gorse. Count yourself lucky, you’re not a horse. They would turn you into dog food. Or to Chumba Wumba gobbledy glue.”

Listen to the Song Here

There’s a lot of funny stuff out there, but like I said, sometimes it’s hard to come by.  What are some of your favorite funny moments?

Happy laughing!

Posted in Catching TV

An Unsettling Discovery

The morning is a time for me to relax, have some cereal, check Facebook/Twitter/email/Smurfs Village, and watch about twenty minutes of TV before I start my day.  I usually watch some old cartoon on Boomerang because old cartoons seem to be better in the morning and don’t require me to really think.  But I recently discovered that Saved By the Bell was just added to Netflix streaming.  So I thought, “Hey, I haven’t seen this show in forever!  I think I’ll watch an episode.”

So I watched the first episode of the first season…you know, the one with the different cast and the British chic from The Parent Trap?  Yes, it’s easy to get confused.  The kids were only in eighth grade then, so I guess we’re to assume that between eighth and ninth grade some new kids came to school – Kelly, Slater, Jessie – and some kids left – Mikey and Nikki.  Apparently “Season One” of the show was actually a different show called Good Morning, Miss Bliss and aired on The Disney Channel before NBC eventually picked it up and made them cast new, equally as attractive for the early 90s, teens.

So anyway, I start to watch the show, giggling at the clothes and the hair styes, which I suppose were kind of cool in 1988, and then I slowly start to realize something.  I find myself knowing what the characters are going to say next.  I know what kind of looks the characters will have on their faces thirty seconds from now.  I know that right after Jessie spins, she’s going to do a high kick!    Have I become some sort of Saved By the Bell psychic??  How did I gain this magical knowledge??

And then it hits me.

I’VE SEEN SAVED BY THE BELL WAY TOO MANY DAMN TIMES.

Saved By the Bell was never one of those shows that I sought out to watch, like Full House or Clarissa Explains It All.  It was just ALWAYS ON.  Seriously, I think there was one point in time when SBTB was on at the same time on three different channels.  I would just have to watch the first five seconds to know which one I preferred to watch.

Oh, come on…you KNOW you never skipped this one.

Saved By the Bell was not by any means a very good show.  It was cheesy, predictable, and, well, kinda ridiculous.  But as I’ve spent every morning for the past two weeks watching it, I’m starting to think that it’s probably one of the best shows ever made.  Think about it for a second:  these kids got to do every single thing you WISHED you could do in high school.  They got to have dance contests, make music videos, form a band (um, still waiting for a Zack Attack album), and go to, like, a kajillion school dances without all the 90210 drama.  No one ever got killed or raped or started on fire or hooked on drugs – well, um…maybe Jesse partook in slight substance abuse, but that’s only because she had to make a Pointer Sisters video and wanted to get into Stanford).

We all tried to hate Kelly Kapowski, but you know you didn’t because it’s totally impossible to hate someone you want to BE.  Admit it – you totally wanted to have her mini-shirts and Keds shoes and winged hair, even though she was totally poor and couldn’t afford to go to the Prom.  But duh…like Zack was going to be a jerk and leave her at home with her 56 siblings.

But seriously, what’s up with Slater?  Was he cute back then?  Did girls find his jheri curl attractive?  And why was he such an ass to Jessie?  Clearly the girl was stressed out to the Max – no pun intended, for those who get it – and yet he still tells her to “Be a woman and get in the kitchen and cook”.  And studio audiences screamed every time he flexed his muscles.  It must have been the spandex.

And then there’s Screech.  I mean, clearly in real life this guy would have never been friends with Zack and Slater, and Kelly, Jessie, and especially Lisa would have never even looked once at him.  But here’s why this show rocked:  no one gave a s*** about high school social ranking.  Kelly was way poor but the most popular girl in school.  Jessie was a freakish giant who only cared about school, yet she was besties with Kelly AND kind of dating Captain Spandex Pants when she wasn’t taking drugs.  And Lisa, being the only African American on the show, well, she really didn’t have much of a choice.  And she’s been hanging out with Zack since they were on a different show in eighth grade, so she was kind of stuck.

The great thing about Saved By the Bell, though, is the fact that when it was on, it was the only one of its kind.  It started a trend of cheesy Saturday morning teen sitcoms, but it’s the only one that has been engrained in people’s minds.  People like me, who apparently can recite an entire episode without even having to turn one on.  It’s even going strong today, thanks to people of my generation who are keeping it alive.

Hopefully now that the show is on Netflix it’ll attract a whole new audience who will appreciate its cheese and corn, and hopefully it will stick around for another one hundred years.  Because no matter how fast they run, they will never be able to escape their past.

Happy viewing! 

Posted in Catching TV

Awesome Cartoons You’re Not Watching (Because You’re an Adult)

Ever since I learned how to turn on the television on Saturday mornings, I’ve been a fan of cartoons.  It started with Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks, then made its way to The Disney Afternoon with Gummi Bears and Duck Tales, found a path towards anime with Sailor Moon, and dropped me off at Cartoon Network as a college student where I relearned to love Scooby-Doo and discovered some amazing animation talent.  Cartoons, it seems, have always had a huge presence at every stage of my life, even today as a 30-something mom.

Even they are shocked.

Most adults today pass cartoons off as silly and childish, and something they only watch because their three-year-old needs something to entertain them.  But there are some cartoons out there – some I will watch after my daughter goes to bed that are so good, so entertaining, that they’re much better than the majority of live-action television that’s being produced today.

Not all cartoons are worth saving to your DVR, but there’s a handful out there that I highly recommend you see.  Some are current shows, some are older, but they’re all available and accessible.  So no excuses.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

I was a fan of the old My Little Pony cartoon of the 1980s, back when Sandy Duncan did the voice of the only girl who lived in Ponyville, or wherever it was they lived.  It was a pretty good show, and if I were to catch an episode today, I’d probably sit down and watch it for old time’s sake.  But it doesn’t even come close to its reincarnation.

This show is currently on The Hub, and it is probably the most entertaining cartoon I’ve seen since my college days (more about those in a bit).  The animation style is whimsical and wonderful, and the writing is funny to kids and witty to adults.  It’s just an all-around awesome cartoon, and has even reached cult status, with its popularity among guys, or as they’re known, “Bronies”.

But one of my favorite things MLP: FIM does is their reenactments of famous movie or television scenes.  They’ve done one of the famous chocolate factory episode of “I Love Lucy”…

…and of course the awesome billboard…

Let’s just face it.  Everything about this show is awesome.

The Powerpuff Girls / Dexter’s Laboratory / Samurai Jack / Clone Wars / Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends

These cartoons were created by the genius mind of Craig McCracken way back in 1998 and through much of the first part of the new century.  Most of McCracken’s shows were on Cartoon Network and animated by Genndy Tartakovsky, whose animation style sort of changed the entire world of cartoons.

And once again the day is saved, thanks to…The Powerpuff Girls.

Craig McCracken was probably the first cartoon creator who actually realized that adults could be a core audience.  Sure, the kids liked the shows, but what studio would ever even think of putting your most popular cartoons on Friday nights – for the college crowd?  Many of the jokes on The Powerpuff Girls whiz by kids heads and go straight to adults ears, making them giggle with surprise and delight.  And if you sit down and watch an episode of Samurai Jack, with its beautiful animation and lack of dialogue, you wonder if the show was even meant for kids.

Before there was the current Star Wars: Clone Wars, Genndy Tartakovsky created the non-CG, hand-drawn animated Clone Wars series.  The style of the show was similar to Samurai Jack, with it’s “look is more important than dialogue” approach, and it worked.  The shows came in 15-minute episodes, which were obviously much too short for me, because I could sit and watch a full-length Star Wars movie drawn by Tartakovsky.

Where Padme is finally awesome.

And of course there’s Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, which is probably McCracken’s most tender-hearted cartoon.  The characters on the show are memorable and funny, but it’s Foster, the heart of the cartoon, who makes us all yearn for our childhood again, who makes us never want to grow up.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

If you saw the live-action movie without ever seeing the animated series, I’m sorry.  Do yourself a favor and forget all about the movie, run to Netflix or the internet or wherever you get your TV from, and watch all three seasons of this series from start to finish.  You will realize that not only is it probably the best animated series to have ever been made, but that maybe you should have skipped that movie.

So much potential…

I first started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender on Nickelodeon back in 2007 when it first aired.  I was baby-sitting my nephew, and told him he could watch whatever he wanted.  He picked Airbender, and after one episode I was hooked.  It’s considered an “action/adventure” cartoon, with all it’s water/fire/air-bending, kung-fu, martial arts influences, but it’s the characters and story that make this show special.

Aang, the title character – our last hope for a united nation of benders – is obviously the heart of the show.  He’s the one we’re rooting for, the one whose future we care about.  Katara is the one holding everyone together, a strong female character who manages to stay positive whenever things take a turn for the worst.  And Sokka is our funny guy, the one who’s sense of humor gets the others – and us – through the episode without completely falling apart.

Of course there are a handful of supporting characters, all equally memorable and awesome.  There’s Zuko, the tortured soul who’s been banned by his father, his evil and powerful sister Azula, and her gang of followers, and then there’s Toph, the earth-bender who may be blind but sees better than all of them by feeling the earth’s vibrations through her feet.  She also has some of the best one-liners on the show.

Avatar: The Last Airbender has made me laugh, cry, and swear with excitement.  It had more going for it in its three-year run than any other show on TV (excluding anything by Joss Whedon – he’s always the exception).  If you are a fan of any kind of animated show, or if you’re simply a fan of great writing and story-telling, then you need to watch this show.  I’m serious.  Or this girl will kick your ass.

With fire.

Some honorable mentions that are totally worth watching:

– Phineas and Ferb (for the inside jokes and songs)

– Strawberry Shortcake Berry Bitty Adventures (for the frickin’ cuteness of it)

– Bubble Guppies (for the educational songs that are totally catchy)

– Thundercats 2011 (for the fact that it’s Thundercats)

Happy watching!

Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music

The Grammys: A Retrospective

The Grammy Awards are a funny business, don’t you think?  Ever since I can remember, I’ve never been a fan.  I’m not saying I wasn’t a fan of music, but back in the day it seemed that the Grammy Awards never represented the music I was listening to.  Of course I was always the odd one out when it came to music – I never really listened to what was popular, and that’s pretty much what the Grammy Awards represent.

I used to think the Grammys was just one big spectacle of over-paid singers who use the opportunity to show off pyrotechnics and dance moves while they lip-sync to their own songs.  And that’s still a big part of the show.  But after watching the awards show last night, something was different.  I found myself actually enjoying it.

Some people may not think so, but this was a big year in music.  Granted I probably kept up with music more than I ever have before, which made me more aware of the music world, but a lot of great music came out this year.  Katy Perry released Teenage Dream, which churned out so many hits that she actually tied Michael Jackson’s Bad record of five number-one singles from the same album (she’s desperately trying to get “The One That Got Away” up there just so she can beat him).  And Adele is on her way to beating Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard soundtrack’s 20-week reign at the top of the charts (Adele’s 21 is currently at 19 weeks).

Amazeballs.

 So much great music came out this year that I was excited to see some recognition at the Grammys.  After going through all the nominations I realized that for the first time ever, I was totally in the know when it came to all the nominees.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I used to be all up on the Academy Awards when it came to who and what was nominated.  But now it’s almost as if I’ve switched parties.  I own practically all the music that was nominated last night – something I definitely can’t say about the Oscars.  I realized that these music people?  They’re my kind of people.

There were some typical moments you’d expect at a music awards show, but here are the parts I found myself enjoying, the parts that made me realize how much I love music and it’s effect on my life.

1.  Bruno Mars Lights Up the Stage

The Grammys opened on a somber note, a prayer by awesome host LL Cool J to honor the late Whitney Houston, who suddenly passed away the day before.  But what followed was an amazingly upbeat and kickass performance by one of my 2011 faves, Bruno Mars.  He sang his song “Runaway” from his album Doo-Wops And Hooligans.  He got everyone on their feet, literally telling them all to “get off your rich asses” and celebrate.  He then channeled James Brown with his suit and dance moves and proceeded to blow everyone away with his performance.  Great way to get the show going.

2.  Dave Grohl Tells It Like It Is

When the Foo Fighters won for Best Rock Performance, frontman Dave Grohl let everyone know how he really feels about today’s music industry, basically telling off any artist who’s ever used autotune while creating music.  Why is this important?  Well, it’s important because there are some truly talented musicians out there who can sing their asses off, yet the ones who seem to get the success are the ones who are singing someone else’s song in a studio with no real talent required.  His words:

“To me this award means a lot because it shows that the human element of music is what’s most important,” he said, as members of the audience began to applaud. “Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that’s the most important thing for people to do.  It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about sounding correct. It’s not about what goes on in a computer. It’s about what goes on in here (points to heart) and what goes on in here (points to head.)”

3.   Bon Iver Wins Best New Artist (And Gives An Awesome Shout-Out)

Bon Iver, aka Justin Vernon is one those artists that only Hipsters know about, as they will be the first to tell you.  He’s very indie, recording his Grammy-nominated self-titled album deep in the Wisconsin woods, and relatively unknown to fans of Katy Perry and Rihanna.  But he managed to beat out newcomers like Nicki “I Exorcised Myself” Minaj and The Band “No Relation To Katy” Perry to win Best New Artist, and while people were trying to figure out who the hell this guy was, he gave a shout out to his hometown Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he attended college…wait for it…AT THE SAME TIME AS ME.  Awesomeness.

4.  Adele Sings the S*** Out of “Rolling in the Deep”

When the world first heard that Adele had throat surgery, many wondered if she would ever be able to sing again.  Then we wondered if she was going to be able to perform at The Grammys.  And then we wondered…well…what is she going to sound like after having throat surgery???  She sounds so amazing in the studio recording, how will she ever sound that way again??

Well….she pretty much killed it last night at the Grammys.

Adele doesn’t need people dressed up as animals doing flips behind her on stage.  She doesn’t need a dance crew.  She doesn’t need to roll around on the floor to get people’s attention.  All she needs to do is open her mouth and sing.  She is an absolutely amazing singer and deserved all six awards she received.  Fank you, Adele.  Fank you.

Coulda had it all.

5.  Jennifer Hudson Makes Me Cry Like a 13-year-old Girl

Since the passing of Whitney was so sudden, literally happening 24 hours before the Grammy Awards, the academy knew they had to do some sort of tribute despite not having any time to do it.  They kept it simple, having ex-American Idol, ex-Dreamgirl Jennifer Hudson sing Whitney’s biggest hit, “I Will Always Love You” (even though the song really belongs to Dolly Parton, who is probably in some bar somewhere going, “Hey, wait, um…that’s my hit!”).  J Hud could have easily belted out that song like the Dreamgirl she is, but whether it was nerves or emotion or respect, she kept it low-ley.  Which was probably the best and only way she could have done it.  She sounded great, and when her tears came at the end, well, I turned into mush circa 1992 all over again.

All in all – and even though Chris Brown won a Grammy and Bruno Mars didn’t – it was a good show.  It made me realize that although the music industry has changed over the past few years, it’s stronger than ever, and I’m so excited for what kind of music I’ll discover in 2012.  See you next year at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards!

Happy listening!

Posted in Catching TV

Hey, Whatever Happened to…(TV Edition)

There have been hundreds of TV shows that have come and gone throughout my 32 years of life, many of those lost and never to be thought of again (because who else has really heard of “The Young Riders” besides me?) And lost among all those shows are the forgotten actors. Some went on to bigger and better things, but where are the rest of them?

Well, I have the answers to some of your most burning questions. Well, maybe not yours. Mine, actually. But maybe you’re interested in them, too.

Maureen Flannigan

Then: This name probably doesn’t ring a bell, but if I throw in the words “alien father” and “Earthling mother” and “touch your two pointer fingers together”, then maybe you’ll remember. Maureen played the character Evie Garland on the show Out of this World, a show about, well, look at the words above. The daughter of an alien father (whom we never saw, just heard through some weird crystal cube) and an Earthling mother, and who was just trying to get through middle school with her crazy, mixed-up alien powers, which included freezing time by touching her two index fingers together. She was, no doubt, the coolest girl in the world. For twenty-two minutes.

When the going gets tough, just freeze time with your fingers.

Now: Despite popular belief, Maureen Flannigan is NOT Kristen Bell. After attending the University of Southern California, Maureen had a recurring role on the show 7th Heaven, followed by other random roles that nobody really saw. But she’s still active in Hollywood, and even has her own Facebook page which currently has 1,811 fans. Good for her. Hope she makes it someday. If not, I guess she always freeze time and, well, just sit there and be cool again.

Ami Foster

Then: As Margaux Kramer on the totally awesome show Punky Brewster, Ami Foster was that girl you just loved to hate. She was a total b, but you still wanted to watch her anyway. The spoiled, upper class friend of Punky who was never seen NOT wearing a freaking pink ruffly dress, was nowhere near the coolness factor of Punky, and it was obvious Margaux was way jealous of that fact. Which, you know, explains all the bitchiness.

Now: Unfortunately it seems that Ami has totally fallen off the radar. She appeared in the movie Troop Beverly Hills in 1987, and then various smaller roles after that. Her last known role was a 1995 episode of CBS Schoolbreak Special. There’s absolutely no information on her on the web, so let’s just assume that she married a doctor, had a bunch of babies, and now lives in a large house in southern France which she’s named Chateaux de Margaux.

Douglas Emerson

Then: So, you remember that guy who played that one character on Beverly Hills, 90210 who accidentally shot himself with his dad’s gun? You know, Scott Scanlon, the best friend of David Silver who always wore that ugly cowboy hat? That was Douglas Emerson, and he didn’t actually shoot himself. He was probably just written off after two seasons because he just wasn’t as cute as the rest of the guys on the show.

Now: Well, Douglas apparently had absolutely no interest in living the Hollywood life after 90210. He attended Pepperdine University and then joined the U.S. Air Force. In 2002 he became a staff sergeant and was stationed in New Mexico, and then a year later he moved to Denver with his wife and two daughters. Hopefully he keeps guns out of the house.

Ryan Gosling

Then: Back when I was in college there was this slightly addicting show on called Young Hercules, which was about – you guessed it – a young Roman God, and was mainly a cheesy way of showing off hot guys’ muscles. That hot, muscular Roman God? His name was Ryan Gosling. You may have heard of him.

Now: Apparently he’s in movies and stuff. I just wanted an excuse to talk about him.

Larisa Oleynik

Then: So, I was way jealous of this girl. As Alex Mack on The Secret World of Alex Mack, which is eerily similar to Out of This World except that instead of being half-alien, Alex Mack just has the unfortunate luck of being splashed with some weird chemical and thus obtaining some weird powers. Not sure if she could freeze time with her fingertips, though. But despite her weird powers, she was totally cool. Like way cooler than I’ll ever be in my lifetime.

Now: After appearing on the popular show 3rd Rock From the Sun and in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, Larisa took some time off and attended Sarah Lawrence University, which means she’s not only cool, but she’s got the smarts as well. She went back to acting in 2005 and since then has been doing bit parts, including an episode of Mad Men and numerous episodes of Hawaii Five-O. I wonder if she has secret powers on those shows, too.

Scott Weinger

Then: This all-American boy played Steeeeeeeve, DJ’s boyfriend on Full House. Seriously, that’s how Candace Cameron would say his name on the show. Steeeeeeeeve. She had to draw out that long “e” for as long as she could, am I right??? Anyway, in addition to playing Mr. DJ Tanner, Scott also did the voice of Aladdin in the movie of the same name. Did you know that the animators used the likeness of Tom Cruise to create Aladdin? And do you know that Scott Weinger looked nothing like Tom Cruise?

Now: Unlike some of his co-stars, Scott Weinger seemed to disappear after Full House cancelled in 1995. But you’d be all sorts of wrong to think that. He may have disappeared from the camera, but he continued to be a part of Hollywood by writing for television, including the show for rubberneckers What I Like About You and the gone-too-soon Privileged.

There are still thousands of once-stars we don’t know what happened to, and I will get to them in a future Part 2 post. Until then, I leave you with this…

Whatever happened to Martika?

Music Edition Coming Soon!

Happy viewing!

Posted in Catching TV

TV for Rubberneckers

The term “rubbernecker” is usually used when talking about car crashes.  It refers to the drivers who can’t help but look at the carnage left from an earlier car crash, “craning their neck to get a better view” (Wikipedia).  It’s human nature; we all do it.  There’s usually nothing to see, but you get the urge to look anyway.  It’s our morbid curiosity.

Rubbernecking can also refer to watching TV.  You know what kind of show I’m talking about.  It’s not good, it’s definitely not funny…yet you can’t help but watch.  These aren’t guilty pleasures, but people usually enjoy guilty pleasures.  These shows just exist to satisfy our morbid curiosity, because we can’t help but tune in.  Every time it’s on TV.

Two shows stand out in my mind as being a) not funny, and b) highly addicting.  Let’s discuss.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch

This show was on from 1996-2003.  Now before we go any further, let’s take a look at that number for a second.  Seven years.  SEVEN YEARS.  That’s four years longer than Firefly, Freaks and Geeks, and My So-Called Life COMBINED.  And that’s INSANE.

Even Sabrina is confused.

Anyway, you probably know the story.  Sabrina, a high school girl played by Clarissa Explains It All, discovers not only that she can’t and shouldn’t dance in the opening sequence of the show, but that she’s a witch and lives with her two evil witch aunts.

Okay, well the aunts aren’t really evil.  They’re just really annoying, which in a way makes them evil.  Sabrina lives in Boston, of course, because that’s where all the witches live, and has a boyfriend named Harvey, who would probably be cute if he wasn’t such a doofus.

This guy.

Sabrina also has a cat named Salem who – get this – freaking talks.  But he only talks because he’s actually a 500-year-old warlock who was sentenced to be a talking cat.  The show often played the laugh track after every time Salem spoke because he was always some kind of witty pun or snarky one-liner.  They weren’t funny, which is why they needed the laugh track, because they knew they needed to make the viewer think the line was funny.

Hilarious!  Um, I think.  Actually…I don’t know.

After Sabrina graduated from high school, the show followed her to college, where she ditched her old friends and got new ones, like Punky Brewster and that mean girl from Clueless who wore the designer imposter body spray.

Suddenly Sabrina was supposed to be cooler because she lived in a house with roommates and no more aunts.  Well, she still wasn’t cool, still couldn’t dance, and couldn’t hold a candle to Punky Brewster, whose talent was unfortunately wasted on this show.  She also got a new boyfriend, who used to be Blossom’s boyfriend, but he left her to go to Prague.  Where apparently there are no witches, only vampires.

What I Like About You

This quirky show was on from 2002-2006.  AGAIN, that’s one year longer than the aforementioned shows COMBINED.  It starred Kelly Taylor from Beverly Hills, 90210 and Nickelodeon comic genius, Amanda Bynes.  They played sisters on the show – Kelly Taylor as the older, wiser, OCD freak, and Amanda Bynes as the younger, obnoxious delinquent.

The show was set in New York where the two girls lived in Kelly Taylor’s GIGANTIC apartment.  I’m sure she was only paying $500 a month for that, right?  Because I heard rent in NYC is super low and the spaces are huge.

Kelly Taylor worked at PR firm until she got fired, and then she was unemployed for awhile, and then finally decided to open a cupcake shop with her annoying bestie Lauren.  Amanda Bynes worked at like fifty different places, but because she’s so clumsy and quirky and adorable, she couldn’t hold a job to save her life.  She would rather hang out at the The Max (oh wait, that’s Saved by the Bell) with her obnoxious friends and wear really tight clothes than be RESPONSIBLE.

Oh, but she’s just so gosh darn funny.

Amanda Bynes had two boyfriends on the show, Henry and Vince, and sometimes both at the same time.  Of the two Henry was most interesting because he was actually smart and nice, as opposed to lady-player Vince who delivered packages on his bike and was supposed to be hot.  Of course Amanda Bynes dumped Henry for Vince because nice guys always finish last.

It was hard to get the 90210 Kelly Taylor out of my head every time Kelly Taylor was on screen.  I kept expecting her to be a selfish bitch with a drug addiction, when in fact she was just a stressed out, neurotic cupcake maker who couldn’t hold a relationship.  She dated a chef, a fireman, and an old high-school flame who was already getting married to someone else.  Oh, snap!

So here’s where the rubbernecking comes in.  I can’t NOT watch these shows.  Seriously…every time they’re on, I watch them.  I think there was a time post-baby when I actually had What I Like About You set as as season pass on my TiVo.  I’ve seen every episode of these shows at least three times, and while I don’t think think these shows are very good at all, I need to watch them.  I’m driving on the freeway and see remnants of a car crash, I slow down a bit to take a look.  I’m flipping through the channels and see that Sabrina is on?

You best know that I will stop flipping and watch the damn show.  Just not during the opening sequence.  Because I just can’t stand to watch Clarissa dance.

Happy viewing!

Posted in Catching TV, Geeking Out, Listening to Music, Reading Books, Watching Movies, Writing Stuff Down

Giving Thanks

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment to acknowledge all that I’m thankful for in this world.  Of course I’m thankful for my family and friends and the health of my loved ones, but I’d like to give thanks to the little things in my life, the little things that make my life just a little bit better everyday.  So a big THANK YOU to:

1.  The Rolling Hills Starbucks for always getting my drink right.

2.  Glee, for giving me a reason to watch TV on Tuesday nights.

3.  Britney Spears, for coming back better than ever.

4.  M&Ms, for being evil and amazing at the same time.

5.  My car, for understanding me.

6.  Meg Cabot, Suzanne Collins, Lauren Oliver, Lauren DeStefano, Carrie Ryan, Shannon Hale, and Cassandra Clare, for writing books that I LOVE.

7.  J.K. Rowling, for being determined to get Harry Potter published even though hundreds of publishers turned you down.

8.  Suri’s Burn Book, for making me laugh out loud every single time I read it.

9.  Team Umi Zoomi, for making my daughter obsessed with counting and measuring things.

10.  Apple, for creating the iPod ten years ago and letting me love music even more.

11.  Peter Jackson, for creating three movies that changed my life.

12.  Sweden, for being awesome.

13.  Facebook, not for being a huge time-waster, but for keeping me connected to friends across the miles.

14.  Christian Bale, for existing.

15.  The iPhone app Flower Garden, for giving me the excuse to say, “I need to water my flowers.”

16.  Nathan Fillion, for being Captain Mal, and for putting your hand on my shoulder.

17.  Disney, for keeping fairy tales alive.

18.  My daughter, for being just as much of a smart-ass as me.

19.  Bacon, for your wonderful smell.

20.  Angry Birds, for making me ANGRY.

21.  Kelly Clarkson, for belting it out.  Every.  Single.  Time.

22.  IKEA, for furnishing my entire apartment.

23.  Twitter, for turning me into a young adult lit author stalker.

24.  Doctor Who, for Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.

25.  Comic-Con, for the chance to be around 100,00 people just like me for five days.

26.  The clouds, for making it rain every now and then.

27.  Krista Huot, for creating some of the most beautiful paintings I’ve ever seen.

28.  Target, for always having what I need…even when I don’t need it.

29.  The Walking Dead, for making me hope that a zombie apocalypse will NEVER happen, no matter how entertaining it is to watch on TV.

30.  Everyone who’s ever read this blog, because it’s nice to know someone is listening.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Posted in Catching TV

What I Didn’t Know About the Show “Full House”

Whatever happened to predictability?

That line pretty much sums up what the TV show Full House was all about: predictability.  Week after week from 1987-1995, millions of Americans could count on this show for being wholesome, heartwarming, and predictable every Friday night on ABC (well, until it moved to Tuesdays).  I spent a good chunk of my childhood watching this show, not only during its first-run, but in countless of reruns on various cable stations (thank you, ABC Family).  People may call the show “cheesy” or “ridiculous” or “offensive”, but unlike all the other shows I grew up with, I learned valuable life lessons from the Tanner clan in San Francisco.

We all know the premise: After Danny Tanner’s wife is killed in a car crash involving a drunk driver, he’s left on his own to raise three daughters.  So he invites his best friend Joey Gladstone, comic extraordinaire, and his brother-in-law Jesse Cochran (who mysteriously becomes Jesse Katsopolis after a couple of episodes) to come live with him to help raise these girls.  As you can imagine, hijinks ensue.

As do mullets.

But after 192 episodes, there’s still some things I don’t know about this show.  Was there ever an episode of “E! True Hollywood Story: Full House“? Because I must have missed it.  So after doing some intense Googling, I can now share with you what I have learned.  Be prepared to be amazed…this may be the most important thing you read today.

1.  The producers tried to hide the fact that the character of Michelle was being played by two actors, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, until they became so popular that they decided to exploit that fact. However, it’s still a mystery as to which one actually did the acting on camera because, well, I refuse to call what they did “acting”.

A newborn could do this.

2.  Although a shot of the San Francisco Painted Ladies appears in the opening credits, the Tanner’s didn’t actually live in one.  They actually lived in Bakersfield in one of these:

Hey, at least it’s painted.

3.  The original title of the show was called “House of Comics” about three comedians living together.  Unfortunately no one was thrilled about the cast: Carrot Top and his two CGI identical brothers.

4.  Despite having dated Alanis Morissette and being obsessed with hockey, Dave Coulier is not Canadian.  He’s Japanese.

And a moose.

5.  Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen nearly left the show after the first season because their real-life mother was concerned about them missing out on having a “normal” childhood.  She wanted to enroll them in the circus instead.

6.  During the final season, both Mary-Kate and Ashley had to wear fake teeth because they began to look different.  And they had to hide the fact that Mary Kate is actually a vampire.

Case in point.

7.  Contrary to popular belief, John Stamos is NOT a member of The Beach Boys.  He’s actually a member of Insane Clown Posse.

8.  Jodie Sweetin didn’t have to audition for the part as Stephanie.  She did, however, become a meth addict.  And yes, I realize that none of that is related.  Or so we think.

9.  Although the character of DJ Tanner liked to say “Oh Mylanta”, we never actually see her taking the antacid medication.

10.  Andrea Barber, best known for her role as annoying best friend Kimmy Gibler, has not, in fact, disappeared from the fact of the earth.  I know this because I follow her on Twitter.

She has not, however, tweeted in many months.

11.  Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen were chosen for the part of Michelle because they were the only twin babies that didn’t cry at the audition. They did, however, cry every day after that.  And they’re still crying today.

12. Creator Jeff Franklin said that the scene that got Full House on the air, was the scene where Uncle Jesse and Joey change Michelle’s diaper.  It’s also the scene that got the show cancelled eight years later.

13.  In the episode titled “Honey, I Broke the House”, Jodie Sweetin didn’t actually drive Joey’s new car through the kitchen wall.  She did, however, become a meth addict.  And again, I realize that none of that is related.  Or so we think.

14.  There are over 550 Full House fan-fiction stories on FanFiction.net, most of them involving Danny cleaning the house, Stephanie talking back, DJ suffering from an eating disorder, Joey playing hockey, and Jesse playing the bongos.  Naked.
15.  John Stamos is kind of hot for being almost 50 years old.
Ahh Ahh Ahh Ahh…Chity Chi bob botta!
Happy viewing!
Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, Reading Books, Watching Movies

There’s No “Guilt” in Guilty Pleasure

Everyone’s got a guilty pleasure.  Even if you think you don’t, I guarantee that you do, hidden somewhere in there amongst all the things you consider to be okay to like.  The official Wikipedia definition of a guilty pleasure is “something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. The “guilt” involved is sometimes simply fear of others discovering one’s lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes.”

So basically, people are afraid of what people will think of them if they found out they secretly have posters of Justin Beiber up on their wall.  And they’re NOT 12 years old.  It’s understandable why someone would feel guilty about that, right?

But why should we feel guilty?  What’s wrong with liking something that you enjoy?  Just because someone likes to watch Make It Or Break It – and they’re male – should not make them feel ashamed of themselves.  This is a free country.  People should be able to enjoy what they want without ridicule.

There are some people out there who will claim that they have guilty pleasures like Star Wars and pizza.  First of all, let’s get one thing straight.  Star Wars is NOT a guilty pleasure.  While there are people out there who aren’t into it or haven’t even seen them, Star Wars is so overwhelmingly popular that it can’t be a guilty pleasure.  People who are fans of it don’t try to hide it.  The same goes for pizza, or all junk food for that matter.  Have you ever met someone who was embarrassed for eating M&Ms?  Highly unlikely.

Bottom line:  Guilty pleasures are usually accepted as things that don’t follow the fold, things that aren’t super popular, but popular enough for people to feel embarrassed about it.  And that feeling of embarrassment needs to stop.  We live in a world of automatons who lack originality, only liking things because it’s widely accepted as cool.  People who are proud of their guilty pleasures, or people who don’t even use the word “guilty” are the interesting ones, because they’re not afraid to like something different.  And they’re not afraid to be themselves.

For example, I’m not afraid to admit that I still like Debbie Gibson, or that I love the movie Point Break.  Debbie Gibson remains the youngest female to write, record, and perform a No. 1 single to date, and, well…there’s Kee-ah-nu.

And Christian Bale is great as the Dark Knight, but have you seen him in Newsies?  That movie is AWESOME, and most people who’ve seen it are too afraid to admit it.  I mean, come on…the boy does THIS:

High kick!

My favorite movie of ALL-TIME is The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.  Am I embarrassed to tell people that?  HELL NO.  The movie was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, for pete’s sake.  And Return of the King won Best Picture!  So I’m obviously not “weird” because I like those movies. But I like a lot of movies that aren’t considered to be the norm when it comes to what people like, especially for my age.  Is it so wrong that I love Disney animated movies?  That Sleeping Beauty is still one of my favorite movies of all time?  That I have seen the movie Babes in Toyland no less than two billion times?

And speaking of Annette, I’m not afraid of telling anyone that in high school I was Obsessed – with a capital ‘O’ – with The Mickey Mouse Club, aka MMC for the cooler, hipper crowd.  While other kids my age were listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam, my HS bestie and I were busy pretending we were MMC members, recording every episode and having MMC marathons and recording songs from off the TV onto a cassette tape (archaic, I know), and even filming our own episode.  I’m sure people thought we were insane – well, maybe we were a little – but did we care?

If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I’m a huge fan of young adult lit, especially of the paranormal, dystopian kind.  And lots of people are, even my age.  But I know a lot of other people of all ages who look down on my reading choices.  And to them I say, “Well, show me what you’re reading right now”, to which they usually come up empty.

Just because I like – yes, I really do – like the Twilight series does not mean that there’s something wrong with me.  Do I think Stephenie Meyer is the greatest author ever?  No.  But I do enjoy her stories, as I do most all vampire stories.  It’s entertainment, people.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be entertained.  So don’t roll your eyes at me when you see me reading some book about an angsty teen faerie.  I don’t make fun of the mainstream James Patterson book you’re reading, so don’t make fun of the supernatural love story that I’m reading.  Which is probably way better than your crappy book anyway.

So the next time you’re about the make fun of someone for liking something that’s considered “uncool”, take a look at yourself in the mirror and think about your guilty pleasures.  How many times have you put in your Hanson CD in your car and sung along to EVERY WORD, secretly wishing you could roll down your windows and let the whole world know?  Or how about that time you had a bad day at work and put in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, not because you like whales, but because you think it’s the best damn Star Trek movie of the whole series?

Think about that.  The next time a co-worker of yours announces that she’s going to go home and watch Degrassi, don’t just roll your eyes and mutter, “Lame.”  Just remember that Hanson CD sitting in your car, and remember that every one of us is different.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Or something like that.

To Each Its Own.  Just remember that.

Posted in Catching TV, Watching Movies

Need a Good Cry?

Well, originally this particular post was going to be about books that have made me cry…until I realized that only two books have made me cry, and that’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Dumbledore dies) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Snape dies).  So I really can’t write a whole post about only two books (well, I suppose I could, but that wouldn’t be very exciting for the reader…unless of course those two very same things also made you cry).

So I’ve decided that since more movies and TV shows (yes, TV…get over it) have made my eyes well up, I’ll write about that.  Plus I’m sure more readers can relate since more people have seen movies than read the books I’ve read (though I don’t want to meet the person who hasn’t read Harry Potter).  And I promise you I will NOT mention The Notebook or any other Nicholas Sparks movie because, well, they’re just obnoxious.

Movie: Dead Poets Society (1989)

Tissue Moment: As with most movies that have made me cry, there are more than one defining moment.  But you’d have to be a robot if you didn’t at least tear up when Ethan Hawke, in his most defining moment ever, stands up on top of his desk and says “O Captain, My Captain” to just ousted teacher Robin Williams.  You’re waiting the entire movie for Ethan to grow a spine, and when it does, it’s perfect.  And when the rest of the class joins in on top of their desks, well, just hand me that freaking tissue.

Movie: Moulin Rouge (2001)

Tissue Moment: Yes, it is sad when Satine (Nicole Kidman) dies at the end (spoilers!).  Even though we knew the entire time that she dies, it’s still pretty depressing.  But that’s not what made me cry.  No, I blame all my tears on Ewan McGregor and John Leguizamo.  There’s a scene where Christian (McGregor) has pretty much given up all hope ever since Satine told him that she didn’t want to have anything to do with him.  He’s sitting in bed, looking horrible, and Toulouse (Leguizamo) sits on his bedside and says:

“You may see me only a drunken, vice-ridden gnome whose friends are just pimps and prostitutes.  But I know about art and love…if only because I long for it with every fiber of my being.  She loves you.  I know it.  I know she loves you.”

And then Christian tells him to go away.  Yells it, actually, and you can see the pain in Toulouse’s face.  It’s heartbreaking.  The whole freaking scene is heartbreaking, and it makes me cry every single time.

Movie: Field of Dreams (1989)

Tissue Moment: At the end of the movie, after Kevin Costner has come to grasp the fact that old, dead baseball players are playing baseball in his cornfield, his dead father appears in his old baseball uniform.  If you’ve been paying attention to the movie, you know that Kevin Costner’s character didn’t have the best relationship with his father, and that he always regretted not have that one moment with him.  Well, that moment has arrived.  His father – not knowing that he’s talking to his future son – asks Costner:

Is this heaven?”

No.  It’s Iowa.”

And maybe you giggle a little when he says that.  But then as his father begins to turn away, you think, “Wait!!!  You have to say something else – that’s your father!!!”  Well, don’t worry, he does.

“Hey…Dad?  You wanna have a catch?”

“I’d like that.”

OH SHIT GIVE ME A GODDAMN TISSUE.

*Side note:  I just watched this scene again on You Tube, thinking I could handle it.  Couldn’t.

TV Show: Friends

Episode: The One the Morning After (1997) aka “The One Where Ross and Rachel Break Up”

Tissue Moment: Friends has undoubtedly made me laugh all the time during its ten-year run.  I watch reruns now and still laugh.  But it’s also made me cry like a freaking baby.  Like when Ross and Rachel break up.  The episode has lots of funny moments, but the great moments come from the amazing acting and dialogue by David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston.  The rest of the cast is “listening in” on the breakup in the other room, and we the audience get to witness it firsthand, and it’s so real that it actually feels like these two are breaking up right in front of us in real life.

“I can’t imagine my life without you…without…without these arms…and this face and this heart…your good heart…”

No…I can’t.  You’re a totally different person to me now.  I used to think of you as somebody who would never, ever hurt me.  Ever…it’s just changed everything.  Forever.”

It’s rare when you find yourself caring about TV characters that much.   It doesn’t happen that often, but after that episode I felt horribly depressed. Thanks, Friends.  Thought you were a funny show.

Movie: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Tissue Moment: Did I mention Dumbledore dies?

*Side note:  He does.

Movie: Little Women (1994)

Tissue Moment: Well, duh.  Beth dies.  That part is really sad, and yes, it makes me cry most of the time.  But it’s Laurie, played by Christian Bale, that makes me cry the most.  He’s just told Jo how he feels about her, that he loves her and wants to marry her, and Jo stupidly turns him down. Laurie is obviously hurt by this, and while tries to hold his tears back, he says this:

“Someday you’ll find a man, a good man, and you’ll love him, and marry him, and live and die for him. And I’ll be hanged if I stand by and watch.”

Man, that’s such a good line.  And it’s Christian Bale.  Crying.  Of course I’m going to cry along with him.  While I’m yelling out, “Forget Jo!  She’s an idiot!  I’ll marry you!”  Sniffle sniffle.

TV Show: Gilmore Girls

Episode: The Incredible Shrinking Lorelais

Tissue Moment: We’ve all had meltdowns, but I loved the honestly of Lorelai Gilmore’s meltdown to will they/won’t they friend Luke Danes.  In this episode, best friends/ mother & daughter Lorelai and Rory haven’t spoken to each other in days, and if you know this show, that just doesn’t happen.  The lack of contact has taken a toll on both of them, but it’s Lorelai’s moment that really makes my heart hurt.

“I just thought I had everything under control, but I didn’t and the inn is just falling apart. This has been my dream forever and I have it and it’s here and I’m failing and I can’t handle it, I just spend every minute running around and working and thinking and I thought I would have help but Sookie has Davey and Michel has Celine and I’m… I can’t do it all by myself! And I don’t even have time to see my kid anymore, hell forget see her, just even talk to her and I miss her. And I sat there in my parents’ house just listening to my grandma basically call me a charity case and I couldn’t even argue with her, I couldn’t even say anything, because I am, I’m running out of money! And I was going to ask you for $30,000 at dinner tonight, that’s how pathetic I am.”

*Side note: Gilmore Girls is my favorite show of all-time, and there are tons of sad moments in it.  This doesn’t do it justice.

Movie: Good Will Hunting (1997)

Tissue Moment: Matt Damon cries.  A lot.  All because some hairy guy named Sean (Robin Williams) forces Will (Damon) to admit that none of what’s happened to him during his entire, crappy life is not his fault.  This causes Will, after trying to act cool about the whole thing, to bawl like a newborn, along with everyone else that’s watching the movie.

“It’s not your fault.  It’s not your fault.  It’s not your fault.  It’s not your fault.  It’s not your fault.”

Movie: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Tissue Moment: The Beast dies.  Granted this movie has a happy ending because the Beast comes back to life as a human, but at that moment before that all happens, just watch Belle’s face.  She’s devastated.  She comes to realize that she’s totally in love with the Beast, only to have him die in her arms.  And that music you hear in the background?  It’s so beautiful and haunting and sad that it ties in perfectly to the scene.  Amazing.

Movie: Serenity (2005)

Tissue Moment: In this movie spin-off of the amazing TV show Firefly, Zoe’s husband Wash, in true Joss Whedon “I-love-to-kill-off-favorite-characters”, has just been impaled by a massive spike that shot through the windshield of the ship he was piloting.  Normal people would break down and cry and scream if this happened to their husband.  But not Corporal Zoe Washburne.  Being a true soldier, she keeps a straight face and continues on, as they’re all currently being attacked by reavers.  She knows that if she stops for one moment it puts her and the rest of the crew in danger.  It’s so true to her character and heartbreaking at the same time that my throat always closes up during the scene.

“Zoe, are you here?”

“To the job, sir.”

Movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Tissue Moment: Frodo realizes he must go on without his friends.  He’s standing at the edge of the lake, holding the ring in his hand, and he hears Gandalf’s voice in his head, which is sad, because he thinks Gandalf is dead.  When he realizes that he has to continue on his journey to destroy the ring but he doesn’t want to put his friends in danger, he tries to leave without anyone seeing.  Until good ol’ Samwise Gamgee spots him and runs faster than he ever has in his life to catch him, even jumps in the water even though it’s well known that Hobbits are afraid of water, and swims to catch up to his best friend and master.  Frodo tells him to go home, Sam refuses, and then almost drowns until Frodo grabs him and pulls him up into the boat.  Lots of crying is happening.

“I made a promise, Mr Frodo.  A promise. ‘Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee.’  And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”

Oh, geez.  They’re crying, I’m crying…it’s just a big ol’ mess.

So if you’re ever in need of a good cry, here’s some options for you.  Just make sure you have a big box of tissue with you.

Happy crying!