Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Michael Vick's dogs given new lives

The current issue of Sports Illustrated has a story on what happened to Michael Vick's dogs. Incredibly, nearly all of them were able to be saved and are living happy, calm lives. Reading the article, I was amazed by the dogs' capacity to recover emotionally from their traumatic experiences at Vick's hands and very moved by the efforts people have gone to rescue them.

Dogs have so many gifts to offer and deserve to be treated with love and respect. They are truly remarkable creatures and besides being loving pets, they can help improve the lives of those around them in many ways. I could not help but think of my dog, Stella, while reading this article and how much happiness she has given me. It is wonderful to know Michael Vick's former victims are safe with new families and have a fresh start in life.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Interview: Philip Seymour Hoffman

I've been a fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman since seeing
Boogie Nights, and am always impressed by his work. This in-depth interview from the New York Times provides an insightful look into Hoffman's work process and his love of acting.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another winner from Andy Samberg

Some purists may argue that the Digital Short doesn't belong on SNL because it's not live, but I don't care. It's reliably one of the funniest things, every week, and I love how Andy Samberg isn't afraid to be weird.

2008: The Year in Review

It's the time of year to look back and take stock of things, and I haven't read a retrospective funnier than this one by the Fug Girls.

I seriously think the Fug Girls and I would hit it off like gangbusters. Their myriad references to Sweet Valley High and Anne of Green Gables, their love of carbohydrates, their enthusiasm for Chuck Bass...we totally need to hang out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hugh Jackman to Host the Oscars

According to People Magazine, Hugh Jackman will host this year's Oscars. I hope this means we'll see him in a tuxedo and also his crazy Wolverine sideburns.

The choice surprised me initially, but after a little reflection I think Jackman could be a very fun host. He's handsome, he sings, he dances, he's comfortable in front of a live audience, and he's done work that appeals to male and female audiences.

Last weekend, I saw his new movie Australia with some friends and while it's definitely a very emotional, over-the-top film I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Hey, I'm a sap. And when Hugh Jackman saves a boat of children during the Japanese bombing of Darwin while wearing a skin-tight wet shirt, well, that works for me. Russell Crowe was originally cast as the Drover, and my friends and I all heartily agreed he would have been terrible. I don't want Russell Crowe to sweep me onto the back of his horse or stun a crowd by appearing in a white dinner jacket. Hugh Jackman, however, could do that any day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shit, it's the cops!

Last night, I rewatched
Superbad and thought about how Bill Hader has had insanely good luck with his movie choices so far. His parts have been smaller, but almost always hilarious. See: Tropic Thunder, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and of course, Superbad. They didn't really give him much to do in You, Me, and Dupree but maybe that's a good thing. I think he is one of the best guys on SNL right now, too.

Being a librarian, I can't help but research anything I'm interested in, so today I did a little research on Bill Hader. Last year, The New York Times published this interview where he discusses his love of sci-fi. He shares his long-time love of Star Wars here, and this is an interesting interview from the AV Club with Hader, Andy Samberg, Kristen Wiig, and Jason Sudeikis when they were all new to the cast of SNL.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Merry Christmas from Bailey the Unknown Reindeer

This is one dog who really loves snow! Stella goes into a whirlwind when it snows and I can't wait to see her enjoy it this winter.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gossip Girl: Who Will Die?

Hey, Upper East Siders.
Gossip Girl returns tonight after a two-week hiatus with a rumored death happening in this new episode, titled "It's a Wonderful Lie." My money is on chilly business magnate Bart Bass going to the big board room in the sky. My reasons? He's an important enough character but not so important that his departure will leave a huge hole in the show or alienate fans. Two, his death would create interesting storyline opportunities, such as how will Chuck cope, what happens with Bass Enterprises, and will Lily and Rufus get together. Third, it's always the distant millionaire dad who kicks the bucket and leaves his screwed up kids behind. See also The OC and Ugly Betty. Oddly, Alan Dale played that part on both shows, and is currently doing much the same thing on Lost, except his character is still alive. Alan Dale and Robert John Burke (who plays Bart Bass) look a lot alike too. Eerie coincidence or typecasting?! You be the judge!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I've been neglecting this blog lately, but in honor of Halloween and my first anniversay as a blogger, here's a clip from an old Disney movie that scared the dickens out of me when I was a kid.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

You charming old rascal, Peter O'Toole

Last night, at the end of a very long week, I watched My Favorite Year. After seeing Peter O'Toole on Charlie Rose a few months ago, I decided I needed to watch more of his movies. O'Toole might just be the most charming man who ever lived and stars in My Favorite Year with Mark Linn-Baker, who I used to enjoy watching in "Perfect Strangers" back when I was a hard living twelve-year-old. This clip is the end of the film, and shows dissolute, drunken actor Alan Swann living up to his heroic on-screen image and saving a fellow actor from being pummeled by gangsters while an unrealizing audience watches and thinks it's all part of the act. My Favorite Year is a very funny and touching piece of work.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's Monday, and that means...

Another new episode of Gossip Girl! I was reading The Daily Intel at New York Magazine for some nuggets on my favorite prime-time soap and saw a link to this interview with Josh Schwartz, the show's executive producer. It's a little spoilery, so don't read if you want to remain completely surprised by the show this season.

Shout out to my friend Lilah Krazinpitski (how'd I do on the spelling?), a fellow fan of the late, lamtented Josh Schwartz show The O.C. Give GG a try, Lilah! It may lack Sandy Cohen's eyebrows, but it makes up for that with plenty of headbands and ridiculously bright outerwear.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A librarian who reads

I get antsy if I don't have at least one book to read at any given time. Currently, I am still slogging through The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, an exhaustively researched, persuasive, but regrettably rather dry non-fiction work by Eric Ives that I started nearly a year and a half ago. Nevertheless, I am determined to finish it, and it shouldn't be long now as I've reached the point where Queen Anne has been imprisoned in the Tower of London.

While attending AALL last summer in New Orleans, I picked up Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America by Andrew Ferguson. I started reading it this week and am enjoying his chatty tour through Lincoln-centric spots in America.

But back to my compulsive need to always be reading...a new resource for book recommendations (new to me, anyway) is Goodreads.com. You post what you're reading, review what you have read, and can see recommendations from friends.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Favorite song right now

I'm loving "Life in Technicolor," the first song off Coldplay's most recent album, Viva la Vida. I listen to it every day as I walk to the subway on my way to work.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Countdown to The Office!

The fall television season is finally starting, and I couldn't be happier. I can't say that last year's writers strike shook me to the core or ruined my life, but I didn't like it much either. The prospect of a full season of brand spankin' new TV fills me with giddy anticipation.

We (i.e., me and my dog) are enormous fans of The Office at my house. The theme song is even the ring on my cell phone. I just saw this New York Magazine interview with Ed Helms, who seems a nice, intelligent fellow.

If you're like me and enjoy whiling away free time with online content, NBC's official site includes Office webisodes, blogs from Creed and Dwight in character, and the opportunity to buy all sorts of Office-themed items. I am dangerously close to getting a t-shirt. Lucky for me, my office is very close to the NBC Experience Store.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't shake this man's hand!

Unbelievable and so hilarious.

I like how he keeps trying to talk after everyone starts freaking out. Sounds like he's saying "Yesterday, yesterday," as in perhaps, "Yesterday I caught The Poseidon Adventure on AMC, and starting thinking about that time on set when I walked in on Shelly Winters in her dressing room trying on new brassieres, and well, my wife wasn't home and one thing led to another. Boom! I live another four days." Or something like that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gossip Girl!

Much to my delight, another season of Gossip Girl started last week. It was a long, scandal-free summer without this show.

One of my favorite things to do during TV season is read show recaps the next day to see what editors and fans were thinking, and if it lines up with my reactions. The most fun Gossip Girl recap is from New York Magazine. Entertainment Weekly finally ponied up a full TV Watch this year. I'm often surprised by how snarky the reader comments are on the TV Watches (the ones for Grey's Anatomy can get especially nasty).

My reactions to last night's episode are as follows: Rufus is still completely uninteresting to me, as much as I loved Matthew Settle in Band of Brothers. Same goes for Vanessa -- she is so annoying, and has no apparent life outside of waiting for one of the Humphrey's to need her for coffee and/or Doc Marten wearing abilities. What purpose does her character serve? As always, Blair was my favorite. I'm enjoying watching her with her new royal boyfriend. He's cute and courtly, but I don't completely believe he's as peachy as he seems. Chuck continues to be improbably sexy.

The craziest storyline is Nate's descent into being a male prostitute! I did not see that coming, although it might have been revealed in the spoiler section of EW's recent cover story on GG. Sweet, nice, slightly stupid Nate, I hate to see you reduced to being a man whore!

Lastly, this little piece of news made me squeal internally. Leighton Meester and Blake Lively (Blair and Serena, respectively) are going to be on 30 Rock!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Marilyn Monroe

Vanity Fair's current cover story is on Marilyn Monroe and a the tawdry, distasteful wrangling over her "secret" possessions. I love Marilyn and always feel a little depressed when reading something like this. Dead celebrities become as picked over as a chicken bone and in her case, I've always felt like no one with an emotional attachment was looking out for her best interests.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I'm late in posting this (and since almost no one reads my blog except maybe my mom, then no one cares) but Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has been pushed to next summer. Maaaaan! I was so excited for November.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Trailer!

I avoided the Harry Potter bandwagon until 2000. In the interview for my first post college job at a then-popular game show, my future boss said that if I had any love of books or pop culture I simply had to read Harry Potter. As soon as I got back to Pennsylvania I ran out to Borders, bought the first three, and immediately fell in geek love.

As the series progressed and deepened into serious examination of friendship, bravery, loyalty, the responsibilities of a government towards its people, and basic human rights (yes, I think J.K. Rowling is addressing all those subjects), Harry Potter came to be one of the most meaninful reading experiences I've ever had.

So while the series is over, each new movie sends me into fandom overdrive. This trailer looks perfectly creepy and scary and makes me oh so happy.

Fun Fact! The director has the same name as my uncle.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Getting serious about pop culture

Today I was talking with my co-worker Mark about the state of pop culture, or more specifically, his interest in what it is and how it affects so many relationships: personal, political, economic, and legal. As much as I love pop culture, I haven't spent significant time lately thinking about is implications beyond my own gleeful consumption and enjoyment thereof. Back in college, I attempted to convince the English department that my proposed honors project on the pop culture significance and influence of Gone With the Wind was a worthy endeavor, but was met with little enthusiasm. I eventually dropped out of the honors course, but continued the project under guidance of the wonderful Perry Lentz, a fellow fan of Civil War literature and accomplished author in his own right. I regret dropping out now and wish I had formed a more convincing argument, or at the very least chosen a different topic and done a better job preparing it for evaluation.

The fact remains that I still find the intersection of high and low brow compelling, and it is even more relevent today as our world becomes increasingly saturated by the never ending flow of pop culture. I work in Times Square, perhaps the most advertizement-filled corner of the United States, and can't help noticing the ever-evolving rotations of ads whenever I emerge from the subway onto 42nd Street. To my eye, these ads are for almost entirely disposable and forgettable things. There is an enormous billboard on my office building that I think illustrates this perfectly.

Cloverfield is one of the lamest and most annoying movies I've seen recently, although that's not why I picked the above picture. Virtually every movie advertized on that billboard since I've worked in Times Square made a little money and then disappeared to no great regret of anyone, except maybe the people who made them: Blades of Glory, The Heartbreak Kid, Next, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I love Indiana Jones, and I know that movie has made a lot of money, but it's easily the worst of the series. I'd rather watch Temple of Doom dubbed in Spanish than see that again.

At the most basic level, I find pop culture compelling because it is popular. When we examine what people like, what we are drawn to, it tells us something important about where we are as a society. What are people scared of? What do they find romantic? What makes them laugh? What kind of a message do we rally behind? For instance, how can we explain what makes The Dark Knight the biggest hit of the summer? It combines so many things. One, it's a political story which parallels our real-life fears about heroism, violence, the right of any one person to make huge decisions that dramatically affect others, and the line between good and evil. A lot of people feel uncertain these days. Two, and maybe most importantly, it has top-notch performances from great actors who make us care about the story. Three, it's well-written and directed.

I enjoy dumb, disposable movies as much as the next girl, but if you really want to make something that sticks with people, it's better to go smart. I truly think that looking critically at pop culture will tell you much more about a society at large than examining this century's operas, although you'd feel better about yourself at a party if you mention what you saw last week at the Met.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!

I'm thrilled any time a Harry Potter movie comes out, but it just feels right when they premiere in the fall. It's the perfect time for a flagon of pumpkin juice and a return to Hogwarts. HP and the Half-Blood Prince will be out this November and I. Can't. Wait!

Thanks to the internet, I can easily find people who are just as nerdy as me who obsess over details in the new trailer. The nice people over at MTV posted this second by second anaylis.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Did you hear about them there podcasts?

Maybe I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I just got to know podcasts. Here, I'll detail what Lost podcasts I like. I started off small with The Offical Lost Podcast. It often has interviews with producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (including the occasional banjo solo), the actors, and some interesting behind the scenes stuff like how the freighter set was built.

But why listen to one Lost podcast when you can have three? From there, I quickly moved on to two which are fan-created. First, The Transmission, which is recorded in Hawaii by married couple Ryan and Jen. Thanks to their proximity to the Lost set, they often have fun spoilery news items to share. They just returned from ComiCon and to the delight of fans everywhere, have posted the audio from the huge Lost panel. And finally, I also listen to The Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack. I think they are a step-father/son combo and have a very entertaining banter going on. While I don't always listen to the entirety of each episode, it's enlightening to hear both shows parse out Lost details and make predictions.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why So Serious?

Since my last post was about The Dark Knight, it only seems right that my first one in almost, oh, three months should be about the same movie.

I saw The Dark Knight this past Sunday night. Even though it had already been out for just over a week, the theater was absolutely packed for the 7:45 show, and this was still with quite a few other showings in the same theater. As luck would have it, I couldn't find a parking space and got inside so late that the only seats left were in the very first row, which is just about as bad as it can get. During the previews, I sat there fuming that the one movie I was dying to see would be ruined by neck cramping. (Does that make me kind of geeky? Afraid so.)

As it turns out, The Dark Knight rocks sufficiently to make any thoughts of neck cramping disappear like bats on a summer's night. (Get it? Oh, ha ha ha.) Christian Bale is back again as the brooding Batman who makes good use of his daytime identity as billionaire Bruce Wayne, pretending to be a shallow dillettante so no one suspects his crime-fighting nocturnal activities. Maggie Gyllenhaal assumes the role of his love interest Rachel Dawes, and Aaron Eckhart is introduced as newly elected Gotham city DA Harvey Dent (and the future Two-Face). Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Michael Caine as Alfred round out the cast as Batman's indispensible right hand men.

The most exciting presence on screen, though, is Heath Ledger as the Joker. He steals every scene he's in, you can't stop watching him. His portrayal is a departure from Jack Nicholson's more gentlemanly take back in the Tim Burton version, and I have to say, it's phenomenal. He's charming, funny, sadistic, unpredictable, and thoroughly scary. I loved it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Dark Knight: New Trailer!

Thanks to my brother, I saw this new trailer for The Dark Night yesterday. While I was never a huge comic book fan, I've loved Tim Burton ever since seeing his interpretation of "Batman" when I was 12, which remains one of my all-time favorite movies to this day. So because of that, Batman is also my favorite super hero.

Why do I love Batman? For starters, he's the coolest. Super-Man can be too much of a corn-fed Iowa sweetheart, and we know Spidey is a huge nerd. Batman is dark, he's brooding, he has a kick-ass mansion with the coolest gadgets, Alfred is always there to back him up, and most importantly (and most cool of all), Batman has no super powers. He becomes Batman through sheer force of will and determination.

I absolutely loved Christopher Nolan's rebooting of the Batman franchise -- its only misstep was having Katie Holmes in it, as far as I'm concerned -- and now that Maggie Gyllenhaal has taken over the role of Rachel Dawes, there is nothing to worry about.

Of course, this movie is also highly-anticipated because it is the last complete performance from Heath Ledger. Just seeing the little bits and pieces of his performance in the trailer reminds me afresh of what a talented actor he was.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Iron Man Kicks Off Summer

Oh yeah, summer is coming and that means one thing: goodbye brain, hello blockbuster!

I kid. I kid because I love. I love sitting down in a dark movie theater on a hot summer day and seeing what big fat spectacle is about to light up the screen. Just because something is geared to the big crowds, like Spider-Man, doesn't mean it's without a soul. I'm hoping Iron Man achieves that enjoyable mixture of pure pop fun which goes beyond the disposable.

My affection for Robert Downey, Jr. goes back to his very charming performance in Chances Are. You can see the trailer on YouTube here. So yes, maybe it is pretty gross that he plays a man who dies before his daughter is born, and then years later comes back reincarnated as a hot young Yale grad who romances her, while snagging a sweet reporting gig for The Washington Post. It came out when I was 12, he's adorable and funny in it, and so there.

I have never read an Iron Man comic in my life and only now do I know anything about the character, but I'm going to see that movie because of my twelve-year old self's love for Robert Downey, Jr. and because I think it's awesome how he's gotten past his drug problems and can now be known for being the gifted actor he is. The New York Times profiles him here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

OMFG - Gossip Girl is Back!

Just watched the return episode of Gossip Girl and damn if it wasn't refreshing like a warm bath. Yay, indulgently fabulously over-the-topishly scripted TV is back! I'm not alone in my love. New York Magazine shares my obsession and goes it one better with this awesome cover story.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ed Norton comments on "Hulk" Controversy

Edward Norton issued his first public statement on the behind-the-scenes drama of The Incredible Hulk. Read Entertainment Weekly's article by clicking on the link to this post above, but here is Mr. Norton's statement:

"Like so many people I've loved the story of The Hulk since I was a kid, so it was thrilling when Marvel asked me to write and help produce an altogether new screen incarnation, as well as play Bruce Banner. I grew up reading Marvel Comics and always loved the mythic dimension and contemporary themes in the stories, and I’m proud of the script I wrote. In every phase of production, including the editing, working with Louis Leterrier has been wonderful...I've never had a better partner, and the collaboration with all the rest of the creative team has been terrific. Every good movie gets forged through collaboration, and different ideas among people who are all committed and respect the validity of each other's opinions is the heart of filmmaking. Regrettably, our healthy process, which is and should be a private matter, was misrepresented publicly as a 'dispute,' seized on by people looking for a good story, and has been distorted to such a degree that it risks distracting from the film itself, which Marvel, Universal and I refuse to let happen. It has always been my firm conviction that films should speak for themselves and that knowing too much about how they are made diminishes the magic of watching them. All of us believe The Incredible Hulk will excite old fans and create new ones and be a huge hit...our focus has always been to deliver the Hulk that people have been waiting for and keep the worldwide love affair with the big green guy going strong.''

In large part I agree with the guy, although obviously I love knowing what goes on with the making of a movie because I write this blog and read about the entertainment industry almost compulsively. For me, knowing the backstage struggles often makes the end result even more magical.

For instance, recently EW ran an article about the making of The Graduate. Anne Bancroft was often hung over or bed-ridden with crippling menstrual cramps. But I'd never have guessed that when watching the film. Her Mrs. Robinson is complex, sexy, provocative...an absolutely iconic role. Knowing the difficulties Ms. Bancroft deal with makes me even more impressed with her work.

Other times, knowing backstage drama can produce disappointment. One of my all-time favorite directors is Billy Wilder, and one of my all-time favorite actresses is Marilyn Monroe. Natuarally, I love Some Like it Hot and The Seven Year Itch. But knowing that Ms. Monroe struggled with her lines and miscarried a baby during filming on Some Like it Hot, as she began the steady decline that resulted in her untimely death, is terribly sad, and I can never watch it without thinking of those things. I suppose there is no way you can create a film with all the scores of people needed to collaborate on it, and maintain complete secrecy.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

I think Edward Norton is an interesting choice to play The Incredible Hulk. He's a chamelonic actor, but doesn't spring immediately to mind when you think "action movie." Maybe he'll create a surprising new super hero, like Tobey Maguire with Spider-Man. The advance buzz on this movie, though, is not good. The CGI is kind of underwhelming, and looks waxy to me.

Please be my best friend, Tina Fey

Wow, here I thought this blog would be a good writing exercise, and lazy me hasn't posted anything since January! With summer fast approaching and the writer's strike finally over, there are all sorts of pop culture delights to be had these days.

Last night marked the return of NBC's Thursday comic lineup, with the first new episodes of The Office and 30 Rock since the fall. As much as I love me some PB&J (AKA Pam Beesly and Jim, Scranton's winsome lovebirds), Tina Fey was the one who had me in stitches.

Maybe it's because we're both from Pennsylvania, both dark-haired, and maybe just maybe I because I aspire to be as smart and witty as Ms. Fey, but I can't help but think that she and I would be fast friends. BFFs for sure! Natually, therein lies a lot of her appeal. You want to hang out with Tina Fey and you're pretty sure she would be nice to you too.

Entertainment Weekly has Tina on the cover of their new issue this week -- click the title of this post for a link.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Arcade Fire - Keep The Car Running (BBC Radio 2 Session)

This is my favorite song from "Neon Bible." I love the urgency.

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible live in an elevator!

How cool is this?! I don't know what the point is, but I don't care either. It's different, and I like it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

First thoughts: Cashmere Mafia

I just finished watching ABC's new show Cashmere Mafia, which premiered last night. This hour-long quasi drama follows the lives of four high-powered Manhattan women balancing demanding careers and personal lives, all while looking fabulous and having great sex. If that's starting to sound eerily familiar, add on Patricia Field as the show's stylist and Darren Star as its producer, and you reunite two of the people behind Sex and the City, a show that Lucy Liu, who plays one of the leads, once guest-starred on. Whew!

So is this just a pale imitation of Sex and the City? For most of the episode I'd have to say yes. There was a lot of running around, hopping in and out of taxis and town cars, sitting in very chichi restaurants and sipping of cocktails. There was even a bitch queen in hot dress slow motion montage, which was about the most ridiculous part of the episode. However: when Miranda Otto (who I love because of Lord of the Rings) icily whispered to her philandering husband that she's going to take a lover, I became more interested. That was a surprising response and it could be a lot of fun to watch her play that out.

For now, I'll keep watching.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

I started this blog with the intention of writing more often. Since I haven't posted since November 27, well, I can see that intention hasn't exactly come through, but I'm determined to keep trying! As much as I procrastinate, I do really like to write.

Pop culture took a turn for the serious and truly sad this week when Britney Spears was hospitalized following a three-hour standoff where she held one of her children hostage. Anyone can see now that Britney is worse off than simply being trashy or having the poor judgment to go sans panties, shave her head, and all the other shit she's done this year. She is clearly very mentally ill.

This is more than just another celebrity scandal, to me anyway. I find it deeply disturbing and I can imagine all too easily what Britney Spears has been like for her children, family members, and friends to deal with. And beyond that, no matter how negligent a mother she may or may not be, or how repellent I found her to be on she didn't ask to be sick and has a life-long struggle ahead of her.