Thursday, July 31, 2008

SIBLING RIVALRY



Tonight I attended the LA premiere of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. Eric worked on some of the casting, and was invited - plus one - to see his name in the credits of a film for the very first time. I can't even begin to explain how enormously proud I am of him.

Now, I'm a big fan of the first SisterPants movie. I saw it in the theaters, I dragged my boyfriend at the time, and I cried. I won't deny any of this - I love this movie. Sadly, the sequel didn't quite "get me there" the way the original did. One of my biggest problems was the pacing. The first 3/4 of it felt completely disjointed. They cut from girl to girl, story to story, location to location...but it didn't feel as natural or organic as it did before. It felt like they were trying to cram in a lot of backstories from the books without having to fully develop any of them. Thankfully, Rob - being the amazing roommate that he is - has read all of the books and was able to brief me beforehand that the screenplay for SisterPants2 was comprised of plots from the latter 3 books in the series. So right off the bat, there's a lot of ground to cover.


Bridget (Serena Van Der Woodsen) apparently isn't as apeshit crazy for soccer anymore - now she's studying archeology for the summer in Turkey! Lena (Rory Gilmore) still likes to get her art on, and travels back and forth to Greece more than a boat full of oily sailors. Tibby (Joan of Arcadia) is still a bitch, and goes to NYU to force her shitty student films on an unsuspecting public. And last but not least is our narrator, Carmen (Ugly Betty) who has basically become that friend you had growing up that resented you for moving on with your life...while they hung around waiting for you to realize that the entire universe revolved around the friendship you forged when you were in kindergarten. They still have their thing with the pants, but it's made clear nearly from the get-go that at least 3 of the 4 girls are a little tired of the tradition. Fighting ensues.



It's not hard to see some of the action onscreen as believable. Before filming had even started, each actress comprising the sisterhood expressed NO interest in making a sequel. Not exactly a recipe for warmth and togetherness on set. The thing is, I could feel it happening onscreen, that as the characters drifted further apart from each other, the actresses were just trying to get it over and done with...so they could separate themselves from the franchise as well. The end result is sad for fans of SisterPants1 and the books (I'd imagine). Naturally, some friends in life do grow apart. But seeing as how the entire basis for this series is the strong bonds of friendship - is that really the message they should be conveying? It's all wrapped up in a sweet little ribbon by the end, but I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. It's not-so-shocking rhetoric that as all of the actresses have been exposed as monster cunts (except for Joan of Arcadia...I don't think she's in the position to complain about anything) - the sisterhood begins to exhibit some of the same characteristics. Regardless, here are a few of the film's highlights:



- Blythe Danner as Bridget's estranged grandmother, with one of the worst southern-accents ever to grace the screen since Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias

- Hot Black Guy as Leo, Lena's barely-developed love interest (who fortunately happens to pose nude for her art class)

- Kyle McClachlan as Carmen's theater camp professor, who's desire to "put on a great show" did nothing but remind me of his character in Showgirls

- Rachel Nichols as Carmen's theater camp roommate, waxing a little more "Alexa" from Sex and the City than "Rachel" from Alias

Overall, I'd say that I liked it...but certainly didn't love it. There really wasn't a need to get the gang together for another round - especially when no one involved was really interested, with the exception of Warner Bros.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

FRAKKING GRATUITOUS



I took the day off from work today to recover from Comic-Con, and decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to catch up on my Battlestar Galactica. Before I started watching this show, I wanted to hate it...I really did. I wanted to think it was awful, if only because everyone in the universe had gone on record saying how brilliant and incredible it was. Naturally, after watching the miniseries, I was hooked. So after falling behind on my viewing for a while, I just finished watching 5 straight episodes. It's just plain amazing.

There are many, many reasons that I love Battlestar Galactica. Artistically, philosophically, dramatically - it holds its weight against any ridiculous one-hour drama on network television. So now that you know that I'm a legitimate fan, I don't feel so bad about completely exploiting four of my favorite (albeit shallow) things about this show:



#1 - Apollo (Jamie Bamber)
Despite being billed by Robert as "the biggest power bottom on television" - what Apollo may lack in brute force, he sure does make up for with that face and body. So he's a little whiny...no big deal. He doesn't need to talk as long as he's a) wearing a towel, b) in the sleeveless uniform, or c) changing from the towel to the sleeveless uniform.



#2 - Anders (Michael Trucco)
I just finished season 2.0, so he hasn't become super important yet. But as Mary Poppins says, sometimes "a taste is as good as a feast". Those arms! Lords of Kobol, those arms. I didn't even mind that I last saw him frakking Stardyke (who's becoming quite the village bicycle, btw)...Even Sci-Fi Channel knows when shirtlessness isn't just recommended, but required.



#3 - Helo (Tahmoh Penikett)
Fine. So he knocked up an Asian-shaped Cylon. We all make mistakes. Square-jawed Helo may be a little generic in the looks department, but I certainly wouldn't kick him out of bed. I'm glad to have him back on Galactica, especially after watching him stranded on Cylon-occupied Caprica for so long (aka the story arc that wouldn't die). I may be a little sick of hearing him bitch and moan about Robo-Asian and their freak baby, but see #1 above...he doesn't have to speak.



#4 - Six (Tricia Helfer)
Obviously I wouldn't actually want to do penis-in-vagina with her, but come on. She snapped a baby's neck in the first 20 minutes of the miniseries and mindfucks Gaius like it's her frakking job (which it kinda is). When you're that maniacal and can pull off those dresses...well, I'd probably help eradicate the human race, too.

So there you have it. My entirely-based-on-looks review of Battlestar Galactica. I'll be starting season 2.5 tomorrow, and I'm really excited. Until next time...good hunting!

Friday, July 18, 2008

NO RULES, JUST KNIGHT



Let's just call a spade a spade - The Dark Knight has been getting a ton of hype. As James put it, "I expect this movie to cure cancer." But after seeing it at 6:50am today, I'm inclined to say that if this movie tried hard enough - it probably could. Rob and I saw it in the Cinerama Dome at the ArcLight, with a packed house. The crowd was basically a sneak preview of what I'll be seeing at Comic-Con in less than 4 days, meaning there were a few people dressed up in costumes definitely not tailored to their weight/size. But that's the thing about superhero movies: fans of this genre are voracious.

That being said - I truly don't even consider this to be a superhero movie. If you want to call it that, it's easily the best one ever made. But The Dark Knight is a crime drama. It's an epic, sweeping saga of a city, that - as Rachel Dawes #1 (Katie Holmes) says in Batman Begins - "is rotting from the inside out." I can't imagine living there. Gotham City is corrupt, dangerous, and hopeless. Batman isn't a hero to these people. The public sees him only as a vigilante, not necessarily making things better. They bite the hand that protects them, and suffer for it when The Joker comes calling. And speaking of The Joker...



Heath Ledger is not in this movie. There is 100% no sign of him. He has disappeared so deep down into this role, I can barely explain it. When he was on screen, the anxiety I felt was visceral. In this world brought to life by director Christopher Nolan, there is no "good vs. evil" - those concepts are far too simplistic for this film's inhabitants. It challenges the characters as well as the audience to see that we live on a sliding scale, not a moral compass. And it can be tipped - forced, actually - by clever (but convincing) manipulation. One of the major taglines for this movie says it best: "Welcome To a World Without Rules".



The supporting cast surprised me. Maggie Gyllenhaal does the best she can as Rachel Dawes #2, a role which doesn't require a lot of effort but in my opinion was re-cast perfectly after Katie Holmes surrendered to Xenu. Aaron Eckhart as district attorney Harvey Dent / Two-Face adds a welcome sense of depth to a character that was turned into nothing more than "Diet Joker" in the past (sorry, Tommy Lee Jones). Gary Oldman's Jim Gordon is once again right on the money as the good cop in a sea of baddies. Michael Caine's Alfred is back with the snarky wit, sure. But the real scene-stealer of the minor characters was Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, head of Wayne Enterprises. When you see what his character has to contend with (not to mention his reaction to these things), I have a newfound respect for a character that was largely two-dimensional in Begins.

In this film, nothing is sacred. It doesn't play to a formula of what suits and execs think you should see in a Batman movie. In fact, forget everything you know about Batman movies. EVERYTHING. This is gripping, emotional and dark (no pun intended). It doesn't pander to the toy companies, lunchbox manufacturers, or anyone who loved Batman Forever or Batman & Robin. This is not Joel Schumacher tongue-in-cheek bullshit. This is the rawest portrayal of a serious icon in popular culture that had been previously bastardized beyond measure.



Among the fantastic dialogue throughout, there's one line from Harvey Dent still echoing in my mind:

"The only morality in a cruel world is chance."

See. This. Movie.

Monday, July 14, 2008

DEEP-FRIED EVOLUTION

We interrupt your regularly scheduled web-surfing to bring you this special Zip and a Kick! News Flash:

CHEESY MACARONI BITES ARE AMONG US!

Jack In The Box, in their infinite wisdom, have begun serving macaroni & cheese they way you've always dreamed of. No longer will you break into psychotic, violent episodes while waiting for the pot of water to boil! No longer must you scour every nook and cranny in the kitchen for a clean fork! My friends - these little triangles of terrificness are portable, handheld, battered and deep-fried servings of macaroni & cheese. Yes, you read right.

Of the many pioneers in the field of mac & cheese research & development, Kraft will always be remembered as bringing us one of the most significant breakthroughs of the past decade - it was called "Easy Mac". Want that delicious Kraft taste, but simply DON'T HAVE THE TIME? No problem, just stick this little vat of wonder in the microwave for a minute or two, and ta-dah! You've got yourself a quick (but molten) meal. Those who managed to keep feeling in their tongues cheered!



Sadly, there have been few developments in the world of macaroni & cheese since then. Kraft would try to spice things up with different cheese flavors, different macaroni shapes, even attempting to add artificial bacon pieces to the mix. Sadly, it seemed that we had plateaued. There was nowhere to go but down.

I imagine it was around this time a year ago...Kraft - realizing they could not trump themselves on their own - turned to a partner. Someone who could take their exquisite dish to an entirely new level. This partner was Jack.


After making strides in the world of fast food innovation with such radical ideas as "breakfast all day", "the pumpkin pie milkshake" and "2 tacos for 99 cents", Kraft knew that this would be a match made in hot-fryer heaven. And now, on this marvelous day - Cheesy Macaroni Bites were unveiled. For your viewing pleasure, I present you with the official press release from Jack In The Box:

JULY 14, 2008
Jack, Mac and Cheese!

Cheesy Macaroni Bites Debut at Jack in the Box® Restaurants

SAN DIEGO – When it comes to comfort food, nothing beats a bowl of mac 'n' cheese ... that is until now. Today, Jack in the Box® restaurants introduce Cheesy Macaroni Bites, a tasty new twist on the traditional dish.

Jack's new Cheesy Macaroni Bites, featuring wedges of macaroni noodles and real Kraft® cheese enveloped in a crunchy tempura-style coating, are easy to eat on the go and make great snacks or sides.

"Mac 'n' cheese is an American classic that's universally loved," said Teka O'Rourke, director of menu marketing and promotions for Jack in the Box Inc. "Our new Cheesy Macaroni Bites offer the same great flavor of the original dish, but in a unique, finger-food style that's very convenient and portable."

Jack's Cheesy Macaroni Bites are available for the suggested price, excluding tax, of $1.69 for three pieces and $2.99 for six pieces at all participating Jack in the Box restaurants.


I stumbled on them by chance (or was it fate?) while on a lunch run at work, and couldn't resist. We mere mortals can only hope that they remain a permanent menu item. They taste even better than they look, and are probably twice as bad for you as you think. Having just started exercising on my road to becoming more fit...well, I will have to use extreme caution.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

TRUST THE EXPERT

Living in West Hollywood for as long as I have, I'm used to seeing certain things that others might regard as strange. One of my favorite obscure ones dates back to my humble LA beginnings of working the desk at a tanning salon in the middle of WeHo. Being the only full-time employee, I was able to get to know almost all of the clients. Every now and then - while flipping through the classifieds in the back of Frontiers or walking past bars with certain "reputations" - I would see clients in a completely new light. The truth was, all I really knew about them was how long to put them in the UVA toaster for. It always fascinated me to see what kind of much different lives they led...in real life.



I had this experience today, only in reverse. I was clicking through my usual blogs when I came across a post from OhLaLaMag.com, a newer subscription of mine that quickly won me over with daily photo sets of hot, underwear-clad men. What I saw today was the beginning of a new "advice" column called "Ask Aaron". The idea was that a buff personal trainer would respond to letters (e-mails, I would imagine) about fitness/health for readers. I was a little taken aback to see that I recognized the trainer in question...but certainly not from exercise (in the traditional sense, anyway).


You see, I recognized "Aaron" as "Ajay" - a once staple on SeanCody.com. I have nothing to hide: It's porn. I suppose you would call it amateur-style, but the production quality has increased over the past year. Anyway, I laughed at first. I mean, come on - it's pretty funny. I'm used to laughing about the super nice guy's secret life as an escort, or the piano teacher who's also a member of the Falcon Video family. But today I laughed out loud at my desk, because I had just "caught" one of Sean Cody's favorite guys doling out fitness advice and hawking his personal training business. Because once you've seen him like this (use your imagination if you're wondering what I cropped):



It's difficult to take him 100% seriously when you look at the banner on his website, AaronSavvy.com:



But truthfully? More power to him. He probably invested all of his video money to start up his business. And it's not everyday you can tell people that aside from hard work and dedication, your company was built on the nickname "cum-gutters".

Friday, July 4, 2008

BARS, NOT BARBEQUES



Happy Independence Day! For 2008, I've decided to reach back into the archives for a "Lessons Learned" I made on MySpace one year ago. After drinking at The Abbey last night with Emily, Taylor, Andy and Larrison (my new lesbian partner in crime), I was reminded of this particular post. So before I spend the day watching musicals and eating fried chicken/sushi with E and L, I thought I'd share this "Lessons Learned" entry from one year ago today:


Lessons Learned - July 4th @ The Abbey

1) When a man doesn't respond to a gaggle of gays shouting "Raul!" half a dozen times, then it probably isn't his name.

2) Even during daylight hours and with a carnival theme, children under the age of 7 should not be admitted.

3) Holidays are no excuse to bump up the price of booze. That's just bad business.

4) Accosting people in the restroom and demanding an explanation as to why you won't fuck their ugly friends is not good manners. Wait until they've at least washed their hands and done a mirror check. Savages!

5) When having a roundtable discussion "The View"-style, keep in mind that no one wants to be told that they're the Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

6) Members of the service industry (aka "Service Industrians") are good for many things. Psuedo-dating is not among them.

7) Sunglasses at night may be a tad pretentious, but leaving them on your table just tells people that you're a drunk who's been there all day.


8) When a lesbian bartender tells you she's closing out your tab, accept it and move on. To a different bartender.

9) Asking a bartender to "make it strong" actually does work sometimes.

10) You can pretty much get away with anything, as long as you follow your statement / action by saying "It's a holiday!"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

ONLY THE MEEK GET PINCHED - THE BOLD SURVIVE



Last night Rob, Eric and I watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off before (yet another) monumental night of midweek drinking. It was the first time I've watched it all the way through in a very long time, and it's basically perfect in every way. In no particular order, here's a list of this John Hughes masterpiece's accomplishments:

  • Matthew Broderick actually looks sexy; this will never happen again
  • EDIE McCLURG
  • Ben Stein and Kristy Swanson appear in the same scene; this also will never happen again
  • Mia Sara's inexplicable accent
  • Jennifer Grey's inexplicable nose
  • The surprisingly touching scene at the museum
  • Warm-Gummi-Bear-Girl on the bus during the end credits
  • Abe Froman - The Sausage King of Chicago
  • Jeannie: "I'd also like to add that I have my father's gun, and a scorching case of herpes."
Obviously there's so many more to list, and I'm sure I've unintentionally left out some really good ones. My apologies. That being said - do yourself a favor and re-watch Ferris, Cameron, Sloan and (eventually) Jeannie have one of the best days of their lives. You won't be disappointed.