Friday, September 26, 2008

Yogurt + Yummy Flavors=Richard Simmons?

Last night, I allowed myself to indulge in a TV marathon, as the season premieres of both Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy were tonight. Three uninterrupted hours of television. It was great until Grey's got ridiculous, but the commercials were almost as good as the shows [you know, except for that time when Christina and Meredith and Izzy did that ridiculous thing at Seattle Grace]. My favorite:

Richard Simmons: fitness guru, 80s icon/relic, butt of countless jokes. The man just doesn't stop. I was really surprised to see him in this commercial because Yoplait doesn't usually resort to insane devices and because, well, come on. It's Richard Simmons. Where has he been? What has he been doing? Whatever it was, he's been doing it with all the free yogurt his abs, buns, and thighs can handle.

The Caffeine-free Chronicles, pt. 2

Day 4 of my mission to kick the caffeine habit, at least until the 15th. No terrible headaches today but yesterday was brutal. I was worried that today would be really tough, though, because I had to go to work [I'm interning at a publishing house] and sit in a room reading all day. Nothing is better for an impromptu nap than having to sit still. Luckily, I got to read a manuscript that was actually good and the other interns are a hoot. I'm hoping to get enough sleep tonight to make it through another full day of interning and a club party starting at 11ish.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Caffeine-free Chronicles, pt. 1

NB: This has nothing to do with the subject of this blog, though as the series continues, I may throw in some historical background and interesting facts.

Sunday, I drank a Red Bull and felt only slightly less tired than I had before [again, paying for that night of revelry]. Apparently, my dreadful summer internship has left me with something other than a nice nest egg: I now have an insanely high tolerance to caffeine. Day after day, I had to fight the urge to snooze as I waited for my wheedling, inept supervisor to find things for me to do. I started sucking down iced coffee and then Red Bull to cope. Now, I'm screwed. I don't want to get to midterms and have to chug enormous amount of caffeine to stay awake because I'm scared of what will happen. Besides, at $2.99 per Red Bull, caffeine's an expensive habit much like gambling or porn. I decided on Sunday after a big, fat yawn that I would lay off caffeine for a month [egads!] to lower my tolerance [my caffeine strike is probably good for my body as well, but that's beside the point]. I realize now I'd best modify that statement: I will not have caffeine until October 15 unless it's in chocolate. That's about when my midterms start. Wish me luck. Monday was the first day with my new resolution in place and I was floating in and out of consciousness during 2 of my classes. What's worse is, I know I can get coffee from the carts on the various street corners for 85 cents should Red Bull not be in my budget. I pass the carts and it's so hard not to cave. Enjoy a grande caramel macchiato with whole milk for me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My 99 Cents: Freaks Come Out at Night

Hello. Hope everyone is enjoying what's left of summer. I am. Sort of. I'm cranking out assignments and looking out the window because I have to pay for this weekend's shopping and partying. I spent Saturday night dancing to all manner of mashups, house, and hip-hop wearing tons of eyeliner and a fabulous sequined miniskirt that turned the men's heads, straight and gay alike. That's why it seems appropriate that this week's 99 cents is 'Freaks Come Out at Night' by Whodini. Whodini was a big rap group of the 80s, delivering fun lyrics over funky beats for the pickiest breakers. My favorite verse:
Now when freaks get dressed to go out at night
They like to wear leather jackets, chains and spikes
They wear rips and zippers all in their shirts
Real tight pants and fresh mini skirts
All kinds of colors runnin' through their hair
And you could just about find a freak anywhere
But then again, you could know someone all their life
But might not know they're a freak unless you see them at night

I couldn't make one of my nifty mixtapes for you, so here's the YouTube video.

I love the Vocoder towards the end. A nice twist, but it's not abused the way it is in T-Pain songs. Don't get me started on T-Pain. Oy. Have a wonderful day, and remember to let your freak flag fly.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"The Most Gripping Comedy Since 1380"

After years of searching, I've finally found it: the complete Blackadder series for under $100. Ah, yes. "Blackadder", the crowning achievement of Rowan Atkinson's career, though his work as Zazu in The Lion King is a close second.

"Blackadder" is a British sitcom, or "britcom", written by Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis that started its run in 1983. In the first season, called The Black Adder, Rowan Atkinson stars as Lord Edmund, Duke of Edinburgh. In this version of history, King Richard III wins the 1485 Battle of Bosworth Field, is accidentally killed by Lord Edmund, and then succeeded by Richard IV. From here, we see cowardly, useless Edmund try all manner of schemes to wrest power from his more kingly father. In the process, he gives himself the name the Black Adder, hoping to seem scarier.

The rest of the series follows Lord Edmund's similarly dissatisfied descendants through the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the late 18th century, and World War I. It's during Blackadder II that we meet the Blackadder we love: devastatingly sarcastic and smarter than everyone around him. In Blackadder III, watch Hugh Laurie in powder, hose, and a ridiculous wig playing Percy, the idiot Prince of Wales. His first appearance, however, is in a second season episode as the German Prince Ludwig, whose sadism is comically undercut by a speech impediment. Laurie is hilarious. More hilarious on "Blackadder" than on "House," you could argue.

When I started watching Blackadder in the 7th grade, I caught it on PBS at about 11:00 on Friday nights. I immediately fell in love with Rowan Atkinson's deadpan delivery of some of the most biting insults I'd ever heard. Of course, now that I'm older I love it--and understand it--that much more. He has a unique ability to poke fun at the British, other Europeans, and life in general in just the right ways.

In June, Digitalspy reported that Rowan Atkinson turned down an invitation to do special interviews for the 25th anniversary DVD, with a friend saying only that Atkinson is "a private person". How you do a special edition without the main character who's still alive is beyond me, but I guess BBC knows what it's doing. There's also a rumor that the show may come back in 2010.

I'll leave you with a clip for now. Here, Edmund holds two parties in his house at once. One for his Puritan relatives and one for a more lively bunch.

I couldn't find a place online to watch the episodes, but if you know of something, please let me and other fans of the show know. It's a shame the show isn't more popular in the States, but then again, look how well people like Adam Sandler do at the box office.

Blackadder on Wikipedia
Episode guides, background, etc. on BBC

Sunday, September 14, 2008

'Rock Me, Sexy Jesus' and other sacrilegious items

Back from my hiatus to confirm that Hamlet 2 is a movie worth seeing. Not only is it a great way to hold on to the last vestiges of summer and its movie season, it's irreverent good fun starring Steve Coogan [also seen in Tropic Thunder, a laugh-til-you-cry movie] for anyone who's had to endure high school drama from either the audience or in rehearsals. Rotten Tomatoes gives Hamlet 2 a 63% rating, but I think that's a bit harsh.

Hamlet 2 is the story of a failed actor turned drama teacher in Tuscon, Arizona. As school budget cuts threaten Dana Marschz's theatre program at the local high school where he's decided to work in order to support himself and his wife, played by Catherine Keener, the love interest in The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Dana's stage adaptation of hits like Erin Brockovich are consistently panned by the audience and the incredibly school paper's astute 12 year-old critic. The way to save drama? Write an original musical. From the depths of Dana's soul, we get Hamlet 2, a musical where a time machine and Jesus help Hamlet go back in time to save all the characters.

Steve Coogan's performance is hilarious; he plays the drama teacher in all the exaggeration and emotional imbalance I came to love [and fear] in my insane high school director. The supporting cast was great as well. None of them are famous, with the exception of David Arquette and Amy Poehler, but that may change soon. Joseph Julian Soria plays the pain in the ass Latino high school student you see in every hackneyed 'Dangerous Minds' remake but with a twist and he's gorgeous. Delightfully kissable lips.

The thing about Hamlet 2 is that we don't actually get to see very much of Hamlet 2. Throughout the movie, we get references to all the twisted things Dana Marschz puts in his play but we never see it in all its ridiculousness. Suffice it to say, though, that the idea of a Hamlet 2 is absolutely ridiculous and after the original and 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead' there's really nothing left to be done in the way of Hamlet. Another classic work may have been more ripe for spoof and ridicule [Catcher in the Rye, perhaps? God, Holden Caulfield is irritating]. Outside of the play within the movie, the film is constant laughter with one racist, sacrilegious, sexist, or just plain vulgar moment after the next. All of this was underscored for me because I made the mistake of taking a Catholic to see it. Oops. Like a good Christian, she forgave me and we're still friends.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Food for thought...


I Heart Audrey!

I know it's been a bit since I've updated, but now that I'm back in school, things will slow down a bit. If you don't see anything new in two weeks, it means I've died in the library. Most of my posts will probably be like this: in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping or doing work. I'll do my best, to post with some modicum of regularity, but bear with me and tell your friends!

Recently, I had a wonderful evening with my friend where we stayed in, ate to the point of bursting, and watched Funny Face. Funny Face (1957) is a darling movie musical starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Audrey Hepburn plays uptight bookshop worker Jo Stockton who gets dragged kicking and screaming into the world of modeling by a photographer with an eye for offbeat beauty, Fred Astaire's character Dick Avery. It all begins with the women's magazine Quality searching for its Quality Woman: a smart woman with "pizazz" and, ironically, not much interest in clothes to model [and buy] the collection of a famous French couturier. Dick presents the idea to the editor who reluctantly agrees, and gets Jo to go along with it by promising her the chance to attend a lecture by her favorite philosopher. Shenanigans and romance ensue.

I loved this movie for a bunch of reasons. First, it's a musical! It also poked fun at avant garde/Beat culture with the bizarre [read: drug-induced, but Hollywood was too polite to say it at the time] dancing in Jo's favorite Paris cafe and the self-important philosopher who we all know is really full of crap. It goes without saying that Audrey Hepburn did an incredible job and that she looked absolutely gorgeous. She has the unique ability to be both conventionally and oddly beautiful. Of course, I loved the clothes; the collection Jo models is stunning and even in her dressed down, bookish attire, she looks great, with the exception of those hideous loafers. You can see why the Gap used her in their Skinny Black Pant campaign a while back. The loud, blue eyeshadow was hilarious to see on the editor Maggie Prescott and her flock of minions , but I'd love one of those tiny hats. Oh, the dawn of the 60s!

One drawback, perhaps. We know from the outset that Funny Face is a feel-good love story. But it seems that in the end, when Jo has swallowed her pride, she gulps down some of her values as well. It's fine that she sees she can be beautiful without throwing away everything she stands for, but it's whoosh! out the window for the fairytale of floating down the river on a raft in a fabulous wedding gown with Dick Avery. It seems to say that being smart will ultimately do you no good, as men will only see your body, that happy endings and smart girls are mutually exclusive. I think I may be rehashing an episode of Sex & the City as well as countless other discussions, but tell me your thoughts.