Monday, November 30, 2009

The Post-Holiday 'Blahs'

Its always facinating to me how we work and work and tell ourselves "Everything will be fine if I can just make it to the holiday break"...and it feels completely true until after the holiday is over and we know that its time to go back to work.  Then we get the 'blahs'.  Its like Sunday night depression, only worse because you've had even more time off and you want even more. You go to bed knowing that the next day is not a holiday, but a dreaded work day, and you force yourself to go to bed earlier after being on a much more erratic sleep schedule so that you can get back into the weekday routine.  Oh, and after Thanksgiving and Christmas...you certainly have to get used to eating normal portions again.  There's nothing quite like stretching one's stomach muscles to capacity in just one day...and having to then drastically cut back on what the stomach has begun to consider the norm.  I wonder what the stomach would say about that if it could speak.  I imagine it would sound like a put-upon secretary or wife and it's chief nag would be "Make up your mind!  I can't be both huge and tiny!  I just need nourishment!"  I'm actually rather glad my stomach cannot speak.  I don't need a noisy little reminder that I eat too much and I need to diet.  The physical reminders are horrendous enough.  Also, I'd really hate to hear what it would say on the matter of bowel movements and flatulence...scary.

So yes, its back to work today and in order to ease the transition from holiday to work the district has been kind enough to make today an inservice day in order to allow us to learn to be better teachers and to give us an extra day without the students.  Even though we have to be up early and at work, I actually really like inservice days.  Dress is casual, we're working in different classes, and the day really seems to zip on by.  Then again, I've only done two of these days so far.  Right now I'm in the 21st Century Skills course, the same class where this blog experienced its genesis (yay!) and the instructors are trying to get all the staff logged in and on track.  I've been logged in and I'm waiting for instruction while they work the bugs out.  My generation has an unfair advantage over some of these older teachers who don't 'get' computer and internet technology as well.  I experience both sympathy and puzzlement at this.  Sympathy for their confusion, because no one likes being confused and at the mercy of the computer, and puzzlement because to me this stuff seems so simple.  I guess part of the confusion comes from the quality instruction.  Montgomery, who is co-teaching this course, explains the course in the 'gee isn't this easy?' style and then when everyone is sent off to do the stuff on their own...they have no concept of how or why.  They get confused because they don't know what passwords to use or usernames to do...they get insecure that they aren't doing it perfect (when there is, in fact, no perfect way to do this).  Its a generational gap that only gets wider.  I'm sure Montgomery and I would love to toss a rope across the chasm to help the older generation over...but I think the rope will never be long enough.  Oh well, I'm sure someone in their 20s will be patronizing me on account of technology when I get older.  I dread the day I have to ask someone for help with this stuff...it'll feel worse than going gray or using a walker.

Speaking of getting older, can I give some props to the movie Up?  I mean really, I love how this movie used the concept of aging and life goals going stale to create it's funny and exciting story.  I know that everyone has said just about everything about it...I mean when does anyone not rave (or at least gently praise) about a Pixar movie?  But really, those first 10 minutes are some of the best ever put to celluloid as they show the falling in love, aging, and end to Carl and Ellie Frederickson's relationship using almost no words at all.  Its not often that a movie makes me want to cry that soon, but Up accomplished it.  Its been fun to watch the maturing of Pixar as storytellers from the feel-good comedy of Toy Story and A Bug's Life to the more tear-jerking Wall-E and Up...I suppose the only thing about the studio that worries me is the eventuality that the wave of success they're riding will eventually falter and those hungry negative critics out there will be more than happy to leap on the studio like vultures on a wounded gazelle.  However, right now Pixar is the golden child of the animation world and we should celebrate their triumphs.  For those of you who have not seen Up, I would not dream of doing you the disservice of ruining the story with a synopsis.  You simply must take the time to see it.  I hope it will touch you the same way that it touched the hearts of so many already.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday 2009

It's Black Friday...and its the first time in years that I haven't gone out to the stores.  I must say that, while I don't miss the crowds and craziness (and certainly the earliness) I do miss the activity, the spontaneous finding of deals, and the feeling that I've accomplished the majority of my Christmas shopping.  I will say that, even though I didn't go out, I still managed to do Black Friday the Amazon.com way and I've bought more of my Christmas gifts today than I usually do when I go out to the stores.  They had some really awesome deals today so I took advantage to get perfect gifts for the family.  I still have five gifts to buy, one for my uncle, one for my mom's boyfriend, one for a teacher at school (for secret santa), one for Bond, and one for J.P.  Its kinda funny how we get at Christmastime.  Most months we don't give a thought at all for buying things for loved ones or even what they might need (except maybe at birthdays) but suddenly at year's end we start scrambling around to try and find out what will make the perfect holiday gift.  Just so you know, I'm not going to go on a tirade about how we don't care about each other consistently enough throughout the year or that we are much to material a society.  I'd much rather speak positively about how we are very consistent about how much trouble we (or at least I) go through each year to find something to make our family and friends' faces take on that marvelous look of surprise, joy and gratitude.  Frankly, it just feels good to make someone's day.  We wouldn't spend so much money, give so much thought, and generate so much stress over it if we didn't care.  Sure sure, I know someone will say that you don't need a present to show someone that you care, but that's really irrelevant if someone wants to give the gift.  None of us is obligated by law (or guilt) to buy anyone anything...we do it because we want to...because giving things is a good a way as any to express love to someone.

That being said, I still have to figure out what the perfect gift will be for those five remaining people.  4 of them have a $20 limit...so it can't be anything huge.  That's fine with me.  I'd rather give small, sensible gifts than huge ones.  And you won't see me brainstorming my gift ideas on here simply because I know Bond reads this...J.P. might too.  If there's anything I hate above all things at Christmas, its giving away the surprise.  Bond is gonna be easy to buy for I think...its J.P. who's gonna be the pain.  He doesn't like clutter, he doesn't do DVDs for the most part, he doesn't need kitchen stuff, and he is very likely to not like anything I pick out.  I'm thinking of just getting him a gift card honestly....but that's always a last resort.  I already have my idea for Uncle Mike, and I think its a pretty decent one.  The secret santa gift will probably be something generic.  Those usually are.  Mom's boyfriend always gets something golf related.

So, how many of you watch the James Bond marathons that happen every Thanksgiving and Christmas?  I know we do.  We're the biggest bunch of closet Bond fans in the nation I think.  I came to it late in life...never liked Bond much before I was in college...but now I love the corny, campy, formulaic fantasticness of them.  We've been watching Diamonds are Forever for the last...gee it seems like 6 hours...and its always been an odd adventure for the intrepid spy.  For starters, its Sean Connery's last Broccoli Bond film (after being gone for the less liked On her Majesty's Secret Service) and it features yet another actor playing Blofeld for the first and last time at the same time...this time Charles 'That guy has no fucking neck' Gray.  It also features a convoluted plot involving diamond smuggling and a strange space lazer...which is nothing like the novel it is supposedly based on (I mean, the diamond smuggling is there in the book as are Mr. Kidd and Mr. Went...but the space plot and Blofeld most definitely were not in the book).  However, the Las Vegas setting and the vivacious Jill St. John as Tiffany Case (gotta love those Bond girl names) make the film a helluva lot of fun to watch.  Plus, you get to see Charles Gray in drag!  Enjoy the trailer for it below...I'm glad they don't make 'em like this anymore.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankschristmas

Well, its noon here at the family house...and we're still yet to open the gifts. I get the impression that we are waiting for after dinner before we rip into the colored paper. I can't help chomping at the bit...I've always been impatient when it comes to presents. Is one of them a fun DVD? A Playstation 3? Sock puppets? Who knows what it could be...and I suppose the anticipation is half the fun. Frankly though, I wish my Uncle Mike didn't drag his feet so much in getting things going. He likes to pretend that he's waiting for my grandmother to want to do things, but really the majority of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays is spent with us waiting on him to decide when he's ready to push forth. Its not surprising really, he's a fairly self-centered individual and always has been. I don't mean to say that he's a nasty person or that I don't love him, because both are false...I just mean that he's never had much use for worrying about someone else's feelings (other than my grandparents').

The Thanksgiving day parade was fun for the most part...though I think I had more fun watching it last year. It was awesome to see Cyndi Lauper, Carly Simon, and Gloria Gaynor in the parade and I even enjoyed some of the adolescent bands they had playing. The floats were great too, as usual. Of course, I had the fun of Dad and Uncle Mike griping about this or that in the parade ("It sure is different from when we were kids.....Every float is a commercial...They chose upbeat songs to hide the fact that they couldn't perform"). I'm starting to wonder if cynicism is a disease rather than a mindset. Of course, I'm cynical about things too...but I think its always rude to be such a prat when there are people in the room trying to enjoy something. It wasn't long before Mike switched the television to broadcasting two channels (without asking anyone) and the parade became something that was only being watching in a secondary fashion. I wish we were in my house so I could inconvenience my guests with my whims and fancies. Then I guess I could be the one who acts like a dick.

J.P. called me right before Santa appeared on the screen and wanted to know how I was doing. It was kinda sweet actually and reminded me of when I had a boyfriend and he would call me on holidays. Not that J.P. is a dating prospect...he isn't...we'd kill each other if we tried to date I think. But he's a very good friend and it always feels nice when someone thinks of you at the holidays...someone who isn't your parent or sibling that is. Now that he's off the phone and we're sitting infront of the television again, we've switched to the second family holiday tradition...the James Bond marathon. Right now the featured film is License to Kill which I've always enjoyed.  We're a little more than halfway through now, and its only a matter of time until Timothy Dalton blows up Wayne Newton's complex.  Its also fun to see a young Benicio Del Toro play one of the thugs to the main baddie...especially since he has The Wolfman coming out in a few months.  Speaking of films, I'm surprised that the parade didn't have more film advertising attached.  The only trailers I remember seeing were for Fantastic Mr. Fox, It's Complicated, and The Princess and the Frog and I feel like there are usually more.  Of course, the majority of the advertising is dedicated to Black Friday and holiday shopping ads...and I have to say that the majority of those seem really lame.  Only one HDTV deal stood out to me, and that is the one being featured at Walmart (a Sony 40 inch 1080i for under $600) and the rest are fairly disappointing.  Its beginning to look like a rather disappointing Christmas season...or perhaps its just me.

(Addition at 7:22 pm)...well we did the presents and I got a few fun things just to have things to open, but I'll be seeing all these guys again during the month of December so I'll be getting my real gifts then.  As for what I actually got...I got some cash from Uncle Mike to help me with some bills...which is nice of him considering my student loans become due at the end of next month.  Miss J. got me a copy of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and a few stocking stuffers...and pops got me a stocking stuffer as well.  It was a cute Christmas, and I know that there is more to come later.  Not that getting gifts is what its all about...but we all like getting special things for Christmas.  I need to resume Christmas shopping as soon as possible now, so I can get everyone something again...not that I really have to...but I like giving gifts.  I feel like if I go to a gift giving function and I don't have something for people to open, then I have failed.  Plus, its just nice to see people enjoy what you got for them.  Everyone seemed to enjoy their gifts at this go-around, so I can only hope I'll do as well next time.  Oh, and I can't tell you enough how happy I am that I get two full checks in January to cushion the fall-out from Christmas.  Well, I guess that's it for Thankschristmas...now onward to the next stage of the holidays!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankschristmas eve

Well, we finally arrived in PA this afternoon after 3pm after 7 hours of driving and 30 minutes of heavy traffic only a few miles prior to our exit.  So far so good, we're just doing the family and togetherness thing.  Its always nice.  Dad and I did a lot of catching up in the drive, talking about this and that...and bickering a little as only healthy families can.  I'm a little concerned about my gifts though...they might be too big for Mr. and Miss J to take back home on the airplane tomorrow.  Which means I might have to take them home and have them live with me until deeper into December....NOOOOOO!!!!!!  With all the space I have in my place, you'd think I have room for it but alas...I don't.

I just found out that Miss J is actually going to be here Friday until her flight leaves at 8pm...which means I'm pretty sure that I'll have someone to Black Friday with.  I can't think of anything that I need, but there might be some things I can pick up to get a head start on next month's Christmas shopping.  I'm that guy who likes to get everything done as quickly as possible.  This year that couldn't be more true, because its the first December in seven years that I haven't been on school break the entire month.  I think I can handle it, but it means I won't have nearly as much free time to head out to the stores and buy all the things that I need.  I also have some new friends who are getting gifts this year, and I have no idea what to buy for them.  This may be the year I buy gift cards for lack of a better idea.  At least for once I know what mom and dad want, they are never easy to buy for.

I know it seems that I have nothing good to actually say today, and that might be true...but its all on account of this extraordinarily campy action film that's on TV right now.  Does anyone remember Demolition Man?  Well, its on...and its severely depleting my ability to type intelligently.  I don't know if its the crazy effects, corny dialouge, or the scene chewing Wesley Snipes, but my IQ has dropped for sure.  This is the kind of film that is easy to both hate and to love...you can hate it because it is corny and campy or you can love it for the same reasons...but its definitely one of those movies that makes you dumber by watching it. Another amazing thing about this film is that, even though we all know its awful, no one has turned it off.  Its as if we are hypnotized by it...like watching a train wreck.  I won't give my personal thoughts on it, if only because I'd like to keep a little mystery in my tastes.  The trailer for Demolition Man follows:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankschristmas eve eve

A riddle for you:  When does a Tuesday feel like a Friday?  Why, when its the last day of school before a holiday break of course!  I had forgotten the electric energy that pervades the school halls before Thanksgiving and Christmas...its kinda fun actually.  I wish I had planned more to be done today in class, but the kids don't really care one way or another.  It eases the pain a bit that today is an early release...we all are done at 1:45...less than an hour after lunch.  I'll get to Athens by 3 I imagine...if not earlier.  I'll have time to go running...but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

I'm excited for the week, I've said that already I know...but I'll say it again anyway.  I love Thanksgiving because a) I get to stuff my face and b) its the official start of the Christmas holiday and I LOVE Christmas.  I love the music, the decor, the food, the shopping, and the unwrapping of presents on Christmas morning.  It all makes me feel like a kid again.  Sometimes I wish I still believed in Santa Claus just so that the season could be magical to me again.  Christmas was certainly more fun when I was a believer...it had a quality of mystery and joy that was almost tangible...like a blanket.

Speaking of Christmas, starting on December 1st I begin burning through all the films I have that are Christmas related, so expect a lot of yuletide film reviews and comments in the coming weeks as I go through the classic, the sappy, the hilarious, and the macabre of my Christmas collection.  For those who are squeamish, I suggest you steer clear of the days I discuss Silent Night, Deadly Night and Black Christmas.  Likewise to those who avoid sappy like the plague, ignore my posts on It's a Wonderful Life and Santa Claus: The Movie.  Yes friends, there is a Christmas movie for everyone it seems.

Today I want to give a shout out to a film that not only fed my love of horror/comedies in my youth, but which also spawned an accidental gay icon in the guise of a black widow nanny.  The film I refer to is Addams Family Values.  My appreciation goes out to the first Addams Family film of course, but my heart lies with the second film mainly due to Joan Cusack's scene stealing turn as Debbie Jellinsky, the psychotic golddigger who traps Uncle Fester into a loveless marriage so she can kill him and collect the cash...of course, she doesn't count on the Addams man being as resilient as he is.  Debbie elevates the Addams sequel to a level equal to or even greater than the original film because she is such a wonderfully funny and quotable villain.  Tully and Dr. Penderschloss/Craven from the first film were rather forgettable villains and no one remembers much about them in the long run (and for those of you who do and I have just offended, I am sorry) but Joan makes her character one to remember.  Also, while we're on the subject of quoting her, can I mention how many auditions I have heard (male and female alike) who have used Debbie's closing monologue and how many gay men I know who can quote her word for word?  Debbie has almost become bigger than the Addams Family themselves. Who doesn't remember "Do you know what they got me?  MAL-I-BU BAR-BIE!....They had to go." or "Sorry Debbie, no Mercedes this year, we have to set a good example....SET THIS!"  Of course, lets not forget the great moments that the actual family has.  Don't we just love the Thanksgiving Play at the summer camp ("Eat me!") and little Pubert? ("Pubert...I like it...its filthy).  Christina Ricci herself has some of the best moments out of the entire family.  Oh, and watch for a pre-Sex and the City Cynthia Nixon as a rejected hippie nanny and Nathan Lane as a cop!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankschristmas eve eve eve

Three days till Thankschristmas and here I am...at school...wondering why we're even bothering to have school two days before a six day break for the students.  I mean, the kids are acting lazy, they don't want to do anything, the teachers are equally lethargic, and you can't start anything new because they'll forget it all by the time they get back anyway.  But the state says we have to have a certain amount of days in the calendar, so here we are.  Its so stupid.  What's the point of being here if minimal (at best) instruction and education is going to occur?  The kids even have an early release tomorrow.  I mean, its dumb with a capital DUH.

I'm actually not in a foul mood.  In fact, I'm happy.  I have a nice sized break starting tomorrow afternoon and I couldn't be more pleased to be going to see family, and pleased to be getting gifts from a few people in the process (greed is constant).  Oh, and did I mention that there will be ham?  For those of you who don't know, ham is my holiday Achilles heel.  You can keep your turkeys, chickens, geese, and smoked salmons (though I enjoy them too)...but give me my ham.  Especially the spiral sliced variety.  I'm not sure why I can't get enough of ham, but I can't.  Everything else, I get sick of but ham consistently makes my mouth water.  There's apparently a turkey breast too, but Mr. J and I only care about ham.  I'll eat too much of everything no doubt...so much for doctor's order's to lose weight.

This past weekend ended up being a joyus experience rather than a chore (it did help, however, that I removed the second visit to the Children's play on Sat. night in order to hang with J.P.).  The weekend still passed much too quickly though.  But it doesn't feel bad, mainly because I only have two days this week before the weekend starts back up again.  Gotta love that (no matter how dumb it is).  Bond came over as well.  We watched Unconditional Love based on my blog recommendation and then played Wii for a while.  Then I made J.P. watch Rear Window as he had never seen it (sacrilege!) and both friends enjoyed themselves.  We ate lobster tails for dinner.  Oh, and the chocolate almond cake was delish...but I don't know if I'd make it again.  I want something that's more chocolaty than almondy.\

As for films, I really have no ideas today.  I watched a few this weekend (Titanic, Working Girl, Tremors 2: Aftershocks) but nothing really sticks out in my mind as deserving of a featured post today.  Its interesting how 'blah' can overcome only one aspect of your writing sometimes.  I'm willing to take recommendations for today and the rest of the week as far as featured films go.  I may write about Some Kind of Wonderful tomorrow as I am getting it from Netflix today.  A John Hughes I haven't seen...how odd.

Farewell friends!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Freaky Friday

No, I won't be talking about the original novel, the Disney film, or its two remakes (yes, there were two...IMDB it if you don't believe me) I'm just using the title for dramatic effect.  I'm not even using it to make a comment about this particular Friday being a whirlwind or roller coaster ride of a day.  I guess one could say that that is somewhat of a cheat as far as titles go...rather like someone's ignorance to the title Naked Lunch, which features no nude brown bagged meals of any kind to my knowledge.  And now, I feel guilty about my title and may change it before I finish this blog.

Can we talk?  Well, everyone can talk to me now, thank goodness.  What I mean is that I finally received my replacement phone yesterday and it was like receiving a jug of water after a 3 day trek through the desert.  I still have to re-save all the numbers into it, but that is a minor annoyance compared to not being able to make or take calls or be able to check my messages.  I suppose it ended up not being a problem in the long run...I had only missed two messages (one from my mother) and one text message from my dentist reminding me of my appointment on Wednesday...which I did attend despite not getting the message.  To paraphrase Tom Petty, the waiting was the hardest part.  Want to know how many calls I actually made last night?  Zero.  Sure I had a few people call me and yes I did call my mother back after school...but during night/weekend minute time when I could have called all the people I had wanted to call over the weekend and could not, I didn't dial once.  Shows how much I really needed that phone, eh?  That waiting, however did make for an unnecessarily frustrating week and didn't allow me much de-stress time before the hellish weekend to come.  I have double and triple booked myself you could say.

I'm the kind of person who prefers to do one or two things on a day off, separated by a few hours.  I do not like to squeeze as much as possible into the 48 hours that makes up the weekend so that, by the time I get back to work on Monday...I feel as though I have received no break at all.  This weekend has the earmarks of doing just that though.  Take tonight for instance.  I have a last minute Thespian Club meeting, I'm baking a cake from scratch (just cause I can), and then heading to the Children's Play to support my kids who are in it as well as the parents who are taking their valuable time to sell items during the play to raise money for the Thespians.  Tomorrow I'm getting my hair looked at again by Vegas, my gay stylist, and then my friend Jacques Pablo (this is a humerus reference to the fact that he teaches French and Spanish, we'll abbreviate it as J.P.) is coming to visit after that.  I also need to wrap presents for Thankschristmas (as I have thus named next weekend's holiday collision) and then go to the Children's Play again.  Sunday is all about doing laundry early, seeing JP out, and then driving to Huntington, WV to have lunch with Mr. and Miss J and Mom.  I believe I will return home at 3 on Sunday with enough time to finagle lesson plans and crash....I might have Bond over, I haven't decided yet.

Are you exhausted after reading all that?  Me too.  Oh well, its all for the good of myself and others I suppose.  At least I'm not a hermit like Grumpy is...Grumpy, for those of you who don't know, is my librarian friend.  I'm very excited about Thankschristmas though and I can't wait till school lets out on Tuesday so I can begin my holiday travels.  Its just a drive to Athens, but it feels special.  Dad's doing the bulk of the driving...6 whole hours up to PA.  A lot of travel for only a few days, but its worth it to be with the family.  I think that even if I lived across the country....or the world, I'd still try to make it back here to be with my family at the holidays.

Speaking of holiday travel, I'm going to give a shout out to one of the best Thanksgiving traveling movies ever made (though I don't know if the accolade means much since there aren't that many to begin with...everyone makes Christmas movies but hardly anyone makes Thanksgiving movies...and the fake trailer for Eli Roth's Thanksgiving does not count)...Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  Its probably cliche to mention this movie at this day and age because of the reputation of the film, its stars..John Candy and Steve Martin, and it's writer/director John Hughes...but I didn't discover it until a few years ago...so there (thumbs nose at cynic).  Its a very simple movie about two men, one a selfish businessman and one a cheerful shower curtain ring salesman, who happen to meet on their respective journeys home for Thanksgiving and how they form a bond in order to reach their ultimate goal of getting to their families.  In a way, this 'quest home' story would form the basis for Catherine O'Hara's journey home to her son in Home Alone with the added tension of knowing that the child was there by himself.  Here, the men are just trying to get through the horrid miasma of holiday travel with different motives.  Steve Martin feels he 'has to be there' while John Candy simply wants to be there.  In the end, the object of the story is for Martin to learn to be a better person from Candy and to make us go 'awwww' in the audience...something Hughes had perfected.  Its almost criminal that he didn't direct more films before his untimely death this year.  I think everyone should sit down to this film on Thanksgiving (or in our case, Thankschristmas) and remember the man's great work.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Call ME! On the line! You can call me any, any time...

Or maybe you can't.  Did I mention recently that on Friday night (the 13th no less) I dropped my cell phone in the kitchen sink?  Well, I did and it died poor thing...she was so young and beautiful.  Of course, after a suitable mourning period and a brief attempt at resurrection by burying the phone in a box of minute rice (I won't lie, I actually did have visions of my phone rising from death after the rice burial in the manner of Jesus Christ or a phoenix rising from the ashes...I know I would have sung hallelujah) I called the AT&T phone insurance replacement line.  I was told that I would receive the phone as soon as possible.  That was Saturday...it is now Wednesday and I still have no means of telephone conversation outside of my desk phone at school.  I decided against getting a land line as the cellular phone would be more convenient and less hassle in the long run.  Of course, that means I'm cut off from the world.  I don't know who's tried to call or if there are any messages.  I have a dentist appointment this afternoon after school and I'm really hoping that they haven't tried to call and cancel me.

Oh, I've been rambling on and you're still wondering why I don't have a phone.  Well, the good people at AT&T were kind enough to wait until Monday to process the request as opposed to processing it on Saturday (that must be a lot to ask of FedEX) and so the phone was not shipped until Monday evening.  I expected to get it by the time I arrived home from school yesterday...how wrong I was.  Due to the nature of security surrounding replacement cellular phones, FedEX cannot leave the box on my stoop to wait for me till I get home.  I understand this, I really do, but what I don't understand is why they didn't enquire at the main office as to whether or not they could leave it there until I returned home. The Chillicothe FedEX men know to do this, because I had a package left there for me once.  But since FedEX routed my package through Columbus and not through the Chillicothe package center, the Columbus driver must not have known this...so he drove the package back to Columbus....not to the Chillicothe shipping facilty...Columbus, people.  All I received was a door hanger telling me that the package had not been delivered due to security reasons and sent back to the distribution center.  I had no number to call, no work on where to possibly pick it up, nothing.  I was fit to kill.  Ok, so I could have put a note on my door...but I didn't know I had to.  Previous FedEX men had always known to leave unclaimed packages at the front office for people who were not home to get them...and I assumed if they didn't leave it there that I would be able to pick it up from a nearby processing center.  I would have even been happy to drive all the way to fucking Columbus just to have it finally if they had told me which center it was at (did you know there are at least 50 possible FedEX locations in Columbus?) but instead I had to wait another 24 hours.  So now there is a note on my door...and no indication from the FedEX website that the phone has moved out on any sort of truck today (as of 7am it was just sitting there)...

Now I must breathe...on the upside of things I got all my bills and Xmas shopping done for the month with an attractive sum left over to save for next month (and to finally start paying back Miss J, who was kind enough to lend me start-up money) and I graded all my Caesar tests last night well before bed.  The downside of Caesar is that I'll have Act III tests to grade over the weekend.  Teaching is a real full time job, not the kind of full time job you get to leave at the office when you go home.  Oh, and I treated myself yesterday as well...I bought Star Trek (2009)...easily my favorite film of the summer.

Speaking of films, I thought I would talk about one of my favorite lesser known musicals from the early 1980s.  In a time when musicals were no longer financially successful on film and studios were more interested in Star Wars-like science fiction or Halloween-like slashers, Colin Higgins brought one of the best titled shows of Broadway to the big screen with Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton along for the ride.  Yes friends, I'm talking about The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  Whorehouse you say?  Isn't that a little crude?  Well, of course it is!  But its crude for the purpose of being attention getting.  You pay attention when someone says 'blowjob', 'tits', 'vibrator', or 'whorehouse' because these words are so crude that they are...dare I say it...fascinating to us?  Our society is so puritanical about sex, even today when we have shows like Sex and the City and Queer as Folk...but those shows still treat sex as a shock value kind of thing rather than with the kind of mirthful indifference of the European people (for whom sex is just a part of life like breathing).  The truth about Whorehouse is that it is actually a very warm and satirical look at how society looks at sex and prostitution with very little smut (however don't show it to your kids...its rated R for a reason folks) and will make you laugh and tap your toes to the wonderful country tunes.  The story is very simple...for about 100 years a brothel called The Chicken Ranch (I won't explain the name, its too funny, you just have to see it) has operated and been tolerated by a nearby small town in Texas and Miss Mona (Parton), the madam, has been accepted by the town and even has a relationship with Sheriff Dodd (Reynolds).  However, a television scandal monger (Dom De Luise) has learned of it and is broadcasting it with outrage over the air waves and suddenly people are wondering if maybe the Chicken Ranch should be torn down.  I can't say much more because it ruins the fun, but I highly recommend it as one of the lesser seen comic gems of the early 80s.  Enjoy the trailer (which is a video trailer and not the full theatrical)!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Time Passing By

Ok, do you ever get that feeling that time is passing you by so quickly and you haven't gotten half the amount of work done that you meant to by this point?  I guess we all feel like that sometimes...it kinda drives me a little crazy though because we have so little time in school during the holiday season.  I'm trying to juggle several assignments and projects and yearning to wrap them all up before Thanksgiving and it is really very difficult considering that Thanksgiving is a week from Thursday!  Eeek!  Top that off with getting Xmas ready early and not having done any investigation into taking college course for renewing my theater teaching license and you have one crazed individual blogging for you today.  How did I let time slip away from me?  Ok, I admit that I tend to get lazy in my off time and usually I'm fully within my rights to do that...but sometimes I'm lazy when I really should be putting more things together.  I wish I knew what was the matter with me...I used to be more with it than this....didn't I?  Or is that just an illusion of me that I've made up in my mind?  Either way, I need to really buckle down and start getting things ready for later in the year....oh and I forgot...I have to figure out when I'm going to audition for the variety show and senior class play coming up in a few months....WAAAAA!

Its really rather sucky being a first year teacher.  Work tends to pile up on you and preparation takes much more time than it will when you're more entrenched in your job.  I know that next year will be easier than this one, and the year after that will be easier still...but that doesn't help me when I'm afraid of falling on my face by the end of this one.  I bit off a lot to chew on my first year, agreeing to take on a great deal of responsibility outside of the classroom as well as inside...and its just now really hitting me how little I've actually prepared for what's coming before June finally liberates me for three months.  I know in the back of my mind that I'll get through it and that I'll survive...but the waiting and fearing doesn't go away.  I just hope time will be kind to me in the long run.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Friday, I'm in Love

Actually, I'm not in love...but The Cure is an amazing pick me up at the end of the week.  It seems like only yesterday that I was mentioning that Fridays were magical, and the proof of that came to me this morning.  I really had nothing of value planned for today.  Oh sure, we were going to do things in class today in English, but it was going to be continuing to watch what we already read on the video of Julius Caesar and offering the kids a chance to go ahead and get the Act II test out of the way...we weren't going to progress forward into Act III or otherwise move forward.  So imagine my gleeful surprise when Mr. H, the junior guidance counselor, showed up to do an entire period lecture on college prep.  I was ecstatic!  I couldn't believe that I had completely forgotten that I had agreed to give him today's class time a week ago.  See what I mean about Fridays being magical?  Next week I hope to conquer two acts of Caesar so we can watch the remaining bits of it on the video and finish the play before Thanksgiving.  Can he do it?  We'll have to wait and see!

I actually wish I were in love...I mean love starts to stink after a while because you start worrying if you're good enough for someone or if they even like you anymore (if they ever did to begin with)...but fresh love, new love is like some amazing drug.  I sometimes ask myself why I would keep going back to the dating well time and time again, knowing full well that something is going to send me back here broken and bruised.  The reason is simple of course.  We live for that euphoric feeling of those first few moments, hours, days, weeks, of complete infatuation.  We get all giddy, fuzzy, warm, and goofy inside when were with that new special person that you thought you would never find.  The one who managed to hide for years while you were wasting time with all those other rejects and disappointments.  You don't even have to be involved with the person, you could just have a crush and it feels wonderful.  New love, really is like a drug that we get high from and keep wanting more...no matter how much of a destructive spiral it sends us into and how awful it makes us feel as we come down off the high and realize that the reality of either rejection or a relationship begins to kick in.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes you eventually find that person who keeps the high going and whom you love and who loves you back forever (Mr. and Miss J are proof of that) but its hard work and its no surprise that so many people don't ever make it there.  And after admitting all of that, I still wish I were in love...if for no other reason than I haven't felt that high in a while.  Its not exactly easy to meet eligible gay men in my small town who a) aren't ugly/old trolls and b) who don't come with a huge set of matched baggage.  I suppose I could lower my standards, but I don't think I should have to settle just to get the high (and believe me, too many people have done that).  I don't want to invest my time and energy into a relationship anymore unless I think its going to pay off.  I just hope that mindset doesn't leave me cold and alone.

On the subject of love, I'd like to introduce a little known gem from the film world called Unconditional Love.  This film was released in 2002 from director P.J. Hogan (who also directed Muriel's Wedding) and which starred Kathy Bates, Dan Aykroyd, Rupert Everett, and Jonathan Pryce.  With a cast and director like that, how could it not be a hit?  Well, lets start with the plot synopsis...this is a comedy, drama, mystery, romance, musical which takes place in Chicago and the English countryside.  Following me still?  Ok, Grace Beasely (Bates) wakes up one morning to find two big things have happened to her...she has won a ticket to see her favorite singer, Victor Fox (Pryce), perform and her husband Max (Aykroyd) has decided to leave her after like 30 years of marriage.  To make matters worse, when Grace goes to the performance to see Victor...she finds he won't be performing because he has been murdered by the Chicago Crossbow Killer....still following me?  So she decides while talking to her midget daughter-in-law Maudey (Meredith Eaton...and no I'm not making this up) that she needs to go to England to Victor's funeral because she's never done anything crazy in her life.  When she arrives in England, she reads a poem about unconditional love in the paper that is dedicated to Victor and she goes to discover who wrote it only to find that it is Victor's valet Dirk Simpson (Rupert Everett) who was also his secret homosexual lover.  The two end up bonding and going back to Chicago to bring the Crossbow Killer to justice.  Oh, and there's some singing of oldies tunes thrown in too.  Whew....ok, so that was a long synopsis and sounds completely strange and out there...but it makes for a surprisingly entertaining and touching experience that shows a different side of love as well as what people will go through for the people they love.  However, how do you make a trailer and an ad campaign for such a film?  Its no wonder the movie flopped really...people need black and white trailers for movies they plan to see in the theater.  It has to be one genre or another....not two or three in the same movie.  Heavens no!  But how can you not love a movie that sums up unconditional love in one simple conversation:

Dirk Simpson: I don't believe in unconditional love, I mean, what is it anyway? Cut off my ears, steal my money and I'll love you anyway?

Grace Beasley: Yes, and more.

Dirk Simpson: More?

Grace Beasley: You don't have to love me back.

The trailer (which is terrible) is included below...I recommend just finding the movie and watching it instead:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ready for the Weekend

I cannot wait till this time tomorrow. I expect Friday to go by rather quickly, they tend to do that. I'm not sure why...you would think that with all the anticipation for the weekend and lethargy following a five day work week that a Friday would slowly ooze by until you were stark raving mad from waiting for the clock to finally announce that it is time to go home. However, my Fridays seem to rush by in a wave of adrenaline and euphoria. I guess it comes from knowing that the week has passed successfully and you've got two fun filled (or rest filled) weekend days coming to you like a blessed reward for having worked so hard all week long. In that way, there's something rather magical about Fridays.

Nevertheless, it is Thursday night so I'm not quite there yet...but almost is close enough for my little mind. Especially after staying an extra 4 hours at school this evening in order to participate in parent teacher conferences. I only had one parent scheduled again, but I managed to get a lot done. I graded all my tests and got the next week's lessons planned (I like to stay 2 weeks ahead). Following that, I continued reading The Lovely Bones and am really enjoying the book.  I only hope the film equals the experience.

Speaking of films, tomorrow Bond is planning to come over to show me a film called Screamers which I had heard of before but never saw.  I vaguely remember seeing the trailer at a young age and thinking about how the little screaming things under the sand reminded me of the creatures from Tremors...but I'm sure the resemblance is purely aesthetic.  I'm excited though, because friends rarely wish to show me films I've never seen.  Well, I take that back....friends rarely want to show me films I WANT to see.  I know that sounds a little arrogant and hypocritical...I'm constantly foisting my favorite films on my friends while rarely letting them show me things they like.  Its not that I don't trust my friends, but I've always enjoyed discovering things on my own.  I can't explain it better than that...but I do try to listen to my friends and watch what they like from time to time.  Usually I enjoy what they show me...but sometimes I don't.  Also, its more fun for me to show a friend what I've seen and they haven't...because for me its like seeing it again for the first time since I get to live vicariously through their reactions.  Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing Screamers (and taking advantage of Pizza Hut's $10 any pizza any type any topping deal online) and I hope I have a good opinion of it.  I'll tell you folks all about it once its been watched.  Like always...the trailer is below:

Longest Day Ever (and we're only 2 hours into it)

Ok, so I promised drunk writing Tuesday night and I didn't deliver.  I'm very sorry to all who were hoping for it, but I just lost track of time what with the drinking, movie watching, and conversing.  For those of you who are curious, we watched The Holiday, The Incredibles, and Fantasia 2000.  Its an eclectic mix, I know, but it was all in the name of getting Bond to watch more things.  He's a huge movie addict like me, but hasn't seen as many as I have.  So I take it upon myself to share my knowledge and good taste (something my friend Grumpy doesn't believe that I have because I don't enjoy the same things he does).  We did have a marvelous time, though, and stayed up really late.  I wasn't tired Wednesday morning though, I felt great.  It's always rejuvenating to have a day off in the middle of the week...I think the regular work calendar should include more of them.

As for the day part of yesterday, well that was a little more dull.  I mostly sat around the house waiting to go to the doctor's office (no, I'm not sick...just finding myself a doctor for when I am) and he told me some rather unsurprising things.  One, I need to lose weight.  I've known that for a while, but seeing as I now weigh well over the BMI for healthy people my height and my blood pressure is high, I think I should probably obey.  I don't want to have a heart attack.  He also got me signed up for some laboratory tests to check out what may be going on with my gallbladder, which is also fun.  I hope I don't need surgery and that a better diet and weight loss will alleviate the problem.  Also, he moved me back to prescription strength drugs for my GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) because the Prilosec ain't good enough in his opinion.  Did I mention he was cute?  After that, I went to hang out with Bond again and we just sort of slummed around town and watched funny internet videos on his computer.

Oh, I should probably explain why today is the Longest Day Ever...well friends it is Parent Teacher Conference night again and that means that I get to stay an extra 4 hours after school this evening to talk to parents who may or may not show up to discuss their child's academics.  Last time, I had one parent show up at the beginning and spend the rest of the time grading, doing lessons, and otherwise goofing off.  I wonder how many I'll have this time?  I'm kinda hoping for only a few, as I do have a stack of tests to grade and I'd like to get my lessons written up so I don't have to worry about them this weekend.  Oh, and I have a book to read this time.  It's called The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and it is a great story.  There's a film version coming out this December which will be directed by Peter Jackson, and the trailer for it inspired me to want to read the novel first (which is something I rarely do, as I want to see if the movie can stand on its own before I read the source material) because it just looked so good.  I'm not too deeply into it yet, but it moves well.  Here's the trailer for it below:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Holiday Season is Gearing Up

I've never looked forward to a Wednesday as much as I have been looking forward to tomorrow.  Usually Hump Day is dull and lifeless, but this week it is the day that our school district has decided to celebrate Veteran's Day, so we're off for the day.  I have a doctor's appointment at 11 (you have to wonder why I'd do such a thing to myself on a holiday) but that's really it.  So tonight my friend (Bond, because he enjoys Bond movies) is going to come over and we're going to watch movies and drink.  Sitting at home and drinking isn't the most becoming of behaviors for a teacher, but I need to cut loose a bit.  How often does Tuesday get to feel like Friday?  I guess technically it will again in two weeks when we get out of school for Thanksgiving Break.  We don't get a full week for Thanksgiving, but its close enough.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I would just like to give my personal props to the holiday.  Who doesn't love a holiday that (despite what we know about its history) is completely devoted to eating?  Yes, Thanksgiving is supposed to be about what we're thankful for and for gathering together as a family unit and all that...but everyone really only shows up for the food.  I'm actually sad that this year we won't be at Miss J's home to eat, because she is an amazing cook.  Last year we had a veritable feast that included (but was not limited to) ham, turkey, stuffing, gravy, rolls, casserole, green beans, pie, and wine.  I would like to throw out that I made a special cheeseball for the occasion that was gone rather quickly (we like cheese a lot in our family) and provided the jellied cranberry sauce.  We always expect my sister to out do herself every year, but this year we will be doing a smaller affair at my grandmothers...probobly prepaired by my Uncle Mike who likes to microwave cook.

Sigh...more to come later when I'm inebriated.  Drunk writing is the best.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Call me Scrooge but....

...Christmastime should not start until after Thanksgiving Day has come and gone.  Honestly, I'm already getting tired of Christmas decorations, party platters, and Christmas carols and its only the 2nd week of November.  Maybe I am being a little Grinchy, but I remember back when I was a kid and I didn't see any toy catalogs or window displays until we were eating all manner of turkey leftovers and it made it more special for me.  I know that some of you out there really get into Christmas and just can't wait for it to start (one of you is my ex, we shall call him Ducky).  Ducky spent all summer making a special video to give to his family for Christmas.  Even I can't help but say 'AW', but really?  Starting a gift in the summer?  Don't get me wrong, I'm all about getting my shopping done early.  If its two weeks to Xmas and I'm not done and wrapped, something is wrong.  I usually get my buying done on Black Friday to tell the truth...and only true Xmas aficionados will venture out for that to get all their buying accomplished.  I swear, I love Christmas.  I spend all of December rewatching every Xmas movie I own (and there are a lot of them) and listening to carols and The Nutcracker.  But don't make me start loving it until I've watched Macy's!!!

This is where Miss J would tell me I need to calm the (bleep) down...and she's right.  I guess maybe I'm feeling a little rushed this year.  This Thanksgiving, Miss J wants to have Xmas in Pennsylvania with MomMom, Uncle Mike, and Dad because she and Mr. J (my brother in law...he belongs to her and therefore does not get his own name, poor chap) have to spend Christmas with a friend who is leaving for the armed services shortly after.  Its a touching thing to do and its great that Miss J wants to try and be everywhere and with everyone before New Years...but it does kinda make all the rest of us fold up our own lives to fit them.  Its not her fault, mind you.  She married into a family that consists of two sides that don't get along (divorce...its an epic story of Gone With the Wind proportions) and thus has to split her time accordingly.  And also, in all fairness she has spent the last several Christmases and Thanksgivings with our family and neglecting Mr. J's.  Oh yeah, my point!  I have to have a crap ton of shopping done to be ready for this Thanksgiving/Christmas extravaganza and I'm not sure yet what to buy for Miss J.  Everyone else is easy, but sis is always hard to shop for.  She reads this blog so I won't whine about how she hasn't given me any ideas.  She has, I just don't know which ones would make the best gifts from me.  I know, I know.  I'm being dramatic for nothing.  I just want Christmas to start when I want it to for a change.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Makes Me Want to Sing

I love Fridays, even when we're reading Shakespeare. Actually, most of my kids are doing better with Julius Caesar than I would have expected, though its still a big struggle in the later classes of the day. Do you realize what happens to high school students after lunch?  Its kinda like when mogwais eat after midnight and change into gremlins.  They eat and then when they return to their later periods, they've changed.  They've stopped being reasonable, quiet, and drowsy teenager and have metamorphosed into chatty, rude, and crazed creatures that delight in giving their teachers gray hairs.  6th period, which is our next to last period, is a chore on its own, but it can't compare to 7th.  One wonders why they don't just schedule all electives for 7th period, because at that point (a scant 50 minutes until the end of the school day) the students have decided that the work day is over.  They want to talk, move around, and do anything that does not include learning.  Oddly enough, however, I love these kids...even the ones that inspire fantasies of murder.  I'm going to miss them so much when June rolls around and they go to another English teacher.  Of course, I'll love them a lot more if they would just shut up while we're trying to read Shakespeare.

I discovered that my sister is a fellow blogger on here last night as we were on the phone.  Miss J (which is what I'll call her) runs a blog on Blogger as well.  Hers is a bit more useful than mine (could I be experiencing blog envy?  More on that later) as if offers home decor options to those who are strapped for cash.  I've sometimes wondered why Miss J went into business rather than interior decorating...my guess is that she probably didn't want to have to deal with a customer's opinions on her decor choices.  C'set la vie right?

I didn't get much film watching done last night as I had Miss J on the phone and had a disc of Star Trek: Voyager to watch from Netflix.  I did, however, find the time to pop in a Tom Hanks quickie from 1986 that also had Steven Spielberg attached.  Yes friends, I am referring to The Money Pit.  The film tells a story of a young couple (Tom Hanks and Shelley Long) who are devoted to each other, despite not being married.  They find themselves without a home when Shelley's ex-husband, an insane conductor played by the late Alexander Godunov, returns to take possession of the apartment she had a year to vacate.  Things seem to be looking up when Hanks and Long are taken to see a million dollar house in the country that is going for amazingly cheap.  They don't want to believe that it really is as good as it looks, but they buy it anyway as they feel it might not be too good to be true.  Of course, soon after moving in...they house begins to collapse around them and they must sink even more money into it in order to make it livable.

Its easy to see why people often don't list Pit on their top 10 lists.  Most of the time its actually listed on the bottom tier.  The whole film exists purely as a chain in which to attach all the 'worst case scenario' moments of buying a house on to.  Things begin small, with only the water being bad and the front door falling off.  An electrical short here and there and a sagging mattress in the bed in the bedroom.  But it quickly escalates into the stairs collapsing, the chimney falling down, the kitchen exploding, and much much more.  The film really rides on only on gag...so why do I like it?  To be honest, I'm unsure.  Maybe its because I enjoy the kind of bad-misfortune slapstick that makes up the bulk of Pit or perhaps it is because that, even though Hanks and Long play a pair of dimwitted yuppies, I still like them due to the fact that I like the actors.  Or maybe, its because pathos sometimes makes good comedy, period.  We love watching people get kicked when they're down for the sake of comedy (Borat and Bruno are still proof of that).  At any rate, The Money Pit is just another of those movies I'm not supposed to like...and yet I do despite myself.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Journey That Begins Where Everything Ends....

Do you ever sometimes look at a film that isn't terribly great and think to yourself 'Why?'  I mean, the film came out of a good studio, had good technical and acting talent attached, came out in a decent year for it's genre, and even had a decent script.  So what went wrong?  This happens so often in film that people tend to forget to ask the why and rather, just choose to write of the film as a failure and try to punish it with venomous comments.  Me, I'm a more diplomatic person I guess.  I like to ask the whys and hows and I like to put myself in the filmmaker's shoes and wonder "Would I have tried to make a failure of a film?"....of course not.  No one tries to make a bad film (even the people who make 'bad' films on purpose, like Grindhouse or Killer Klowns from Outer Space because these are supposed to be successful at being entertaining and skewering B movies).  Anyway, what I'm working up to is a discussion of Disney's The Black Hole from 1979.  The film had a decent cast of stars, came from the Mouse House where technical achievements had been pioneered for a long time, and was riding the coat tails of 2001: A Space Odessey and Star Wars.  So why is it such a bore?

The film is rather like an updating of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" with a small spacecraft discovering the long lost Cygnus, a behemoth of a ship meant to explore space for years and years and which has been thought lost for 20 years, parked beside the largest black hole ever seen.  Inside, the crew finds Dr. Hans Reinhold and his robot crew.  He gives them weak excuses as to what has happened to the missing crew and they do some exploring on their own and discover that Reinhold is a madman who intends to take the ship into the black hole to see what is on the other side.  The premise is simple and sounds like a super idea as long as there is plenty of suspense, mystery, and emotional weight to carry it off.  Unfortunately, the powers that be were not able to really capture the potential of the little film.  Its starts weakly, not giving any kind of character introduction to the leads and gives no explanation to the technology they have (or to Kate's apparent ESP abilities) and launches right into Act II (the msytery of the ship) almost right away.  After that point, its pretty entertaining but the mystery and intrigue only lasts a moment before...whoop! It's over.  The film moves almost too briskly and is over after 90 minutes, which is far too short for a sci-fi film like this.  Also, even though Disney made the film at the height of sci-fi and special effects technology (at the time) it still looks cheap and cobbled together.  The film was released in 1979, but it looks like it was produced in the mid to late 60s.  I suppose it has the Disney 70s look to it, but it should look better than that if its going to compete with what other studios were churning out at the time.

Still, I enjoy the story's idea and know there was probably more to it (I have Alan Dean Foster's novelization and it is quite detailed if still a short book) and the score by John Barry is wonderful.  I guess my affection for it and why I still watch it from time to time rests on how it makes me feel on the whole and not as a sum of its parts.  The trailer is attached below:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A quickie today

I'm not in much of a writing mood today so I'll make this short. I'd say I have the typical Wednesday depression that hits everyone when Hump Day rolls around. It must really suck to be Wednesday. No one looks forward to you unless you're a holiday that week and no one likes it when you're around because you're equidistant from the weekend on either side. Thursday is much nicer because you're that much closer to Friday and Friday...well Friday is the party animal. But Wednesday can't even hang out with Monday or Tuesday. Mondays blow, sure, but the relief of finishing one almost makes the 'going back to work' part worth it (and more holidays occur on Mondays). And on Tuesday you're still riding the high of a productive or pleasant Monday evening. Wednesday is just there, a reminder that its still two more full days till the weekend.

I kept up my comedy kick last night (as I watched a lot of horror the last few weeks in honor of Halloween) and I enjoyed a lesser known satire on the viewing of television called Stay Tuned. It stars John Ritter and Pam Dawber (two seasoned tv vets) as a married couple by the name of Knable.  Ritter is obsessed with watching TV and his wife calmly bears it until she is fed up with him and breaks the television set in a rage.  That is when Spike (Jeffrey Jones) shows up to offer Mr. Knable the chance of a lifetime...a free trial of a huge satelite system and a new TV!  Sounds wonderful, but the catch is that once Knable signs the contract he and his wife are suddenly hurled into the television matrix of channels and must fight for 24 hours in order to get out alive.  If they don't, they lose their souls to Hell forever.  Stay Tuned is a very interesting concept for dark comedy made more fun by all the references to the current shows and films of the time.  Of course, its also a bit hollow and two dimensional.  Like Hello Again, Stay Tuned is cute and diverting but something that you're liable to forget in time...that is, unless you're like me and this stuff gets under your skin and stays there.  The trailer for Stay Tuned is included below.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday's Gone With the Wind

Ever have one of those nights where anything seems possible so you set into motion some sort of challenge for yourself?  I had one of those last night.  For some reason, I got to thinking about the film Julie and Julia and I thought..."Whatever happened to my idea to make one of Julia's recipes?"  So I looked up the recipe for her Boeuf Bourguignon last night on the computer and, after wading through the 30+ list of instructions for it, I said to myself "I can do that." So I invited a friend to dinner Saturday night and I plan to serve him my first attempt at cooking the Julia way.  God I hope I don't crash and burn.  Well, if Julie Powell didn't crash and burn, I can do it too.  Thank god its a new month, I can put all the ingredients and paraphernalia on my Mastercard.

Also last night, while I was wading through the mire of complicated recipes a'la Julia, I decided to watch one of my 'movies I'm not supposed to like'.  I love movies like this, because they're like good old friends that you can always depend on to do exactly what you need them too...and no one else ever really calls them.  I suppose I didn't describe a friendship situation there so much as I described a good 'fuck buddy' situation...but who needs to split hairs?  The film was Hello Again, starring the irrepressible Shelley Long in all her cute glory.  I can understand why people don't like the film...it rides completely on ones ability to like and identify with the klutzy and sweet character Long plays and their willingness to believe that she could be brought back from the dead by her batty sister.  If you can't get behind these elements, the film just feels like so much sugary sweet celluloid candy that will rot your teeth if you let it in your mouth...thankfully, I have a tremendous sweet tooth and I love Shelley Long.  For those of you who don't know what its about, it features Long as Lucy Chadman, the klutzy housewife of a prominent plastic surgeon, who is unsatisfied with her life and feels out of place in it.  When she suddenly dies, a year goes by before her eccentric sister can find a magic spell to bring her back from the dead.  When she returns, she finds that her life has changed an awful lot.  It really is just cute, and unashamed of being cute.  There's nothing wrong with that is there?  The trailer is attached below:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Morbid Monday (or the weekend that ate Thriller Thursday and Freaky Friday)

Wow, so its really hard to justify missing two post days last week when I honestly had nothing to prevent me from doing so.  Thursday was a bit of a rush though, as I had decided to miss school on Friday for doctors appointments and had a mad dash after school to put together sub plans and class lists so the sub would not be lost the next day.  I also had to call my thespian club parents and make doubly sure that they really wanted to cancel the fundraiser we had planned for Saturday's Halloween Parade.  Then, since I knew I didn't have to be up Friday morning for school, I stayed out late with a friend of mine.  So, its easy to see how frivolity can really sap your day of post writing time.  That's only Thursday though.  Friday I really do have no excuse, I didn't do all that much.  I just forgot about it because I had Friday evening, and all of Saturday's events on my mind.  I know, I know...excuses, excuses.  But at least I am back with a fresh post for this, the first Monday of November!

My weekend was fairly nice, especially since I gave myself a 3 day weekend instead of a 2 day.  It still went by quickly since I had so much crammed into it.  Friday I accomplished a lot...I got those appointments taken care of, I did lesson planning, got my grades in, got my thespian club list compiled, and ran some errands.  It was a highly productive day.  Then Saturday I drove to the city to have lunch with a friend of mine at Olive Garden (one of my faves) and then went to see Young Frankenstein: The Musical downtown.  I love seeing a live show, and there was an added treat.  The original Broadway Frankenstein, Roger Bart, was playing the lead!  You may know him from his work as Roger Bannister in the remake of The Stepford Wives or as Carmen Ghia in the musical film The Producers.  I was understandably star struck.  Later that evening I drove to visit my father and hung out with him for a while.  I had planned to go out to the big Halloween bash there, but fell asleep before it was time to go (the dang event didn't begin till midnight...I'm old I can't stay up that late with nothing to do).  Sunday had a leisurely morning followed by an uneventful drive back home where I did the grocery shopping and then retired to the seclusion of my home.  To be honest, I'm glad to be back at work.  I was a little bored being away from it on Friday (and felt a little guilty at having to miss) but it all evened out.  I'm just happy I don't feel burned out like I sometimes do after a busy weekend.  This coming weekend should prove to be much less eventful and more like a lazy weekend.  I love those sometimes, especially when I can find a few DVDs at the library to curl up with.

Speaking of films I should give a quick recap to the ones I had planned to discuss Thursday and Friday.  For Thursday, I wanted to discuss a little seen and under appreciated Halloween set film from the early 90s that I remembered fondly and decided to watch for Trick or Treat (and I was so disappointed that I didn't get a single trick or treater at my door...now I'm stuck with all this blasted candy).  The film was a riff on old alien invasion films and used Orson Wells's "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast to tremendous effect.  That film was Spaced Invaders.  No, it is not high cinema or good comedy...but for a holiday diversion, you could do a lot worse.  It tells the story of a group of five lost Martians who, while trying to find their way back to the battle with another alien race, intercept the "War of the Worlds" broadcast and follow it to a small American town called Big Bean where they believe the invasion is actually taking place.  Oh, and it takes place on Halloween.  Its cute, unoffensive, and worth a few chuckles.



The next film I wanted to discuss is actually two films that I always choose to view as one when Halloween rolls around.  They tell two halves of the same story, so I think it is criminal to not watch them together and for me...it simply isn't Halloween without them.  I, of course, am referring to Halloween and Halloween II. Oh, and yes friends, I do mean the originals.  For me, there is something wonderfully traditional about these two films and watching them back to back on Halloween night, especially part II with its more orange tint and loud holiday decor hung around Haddonfield Memorial Hospital.  Watching these two movies takes me back to when I was in junior high and either on channel or another would be playing them back to back as part of a marathon.  For those who don't know the story (is there really someone out there who doesn't?) part one deals with the escape of the psychotic Michael Myers, who murdered his sister when he was 6 years old, from a mental hospital and his journey to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois where he chooses to stalk a pretty young girl named Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis's first big role) and her friends as they babysit some kids for that Halloween nights. Meanwhile, his psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is trying to track him down and stop him.  Part II picks up right as part I ends and finds Laurie being taken to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital while Dr. Loomis continues to try and track Michael down and find out why he was after this girl, following his miraculous recovery from six gunshots.  Michael finds his way to the hospital where Laurie is being kept and begins to hack his way through the staff in order to get to her.  I feel that both films work as an exercise in suspense and fright while also building off each other in order to tell the story of one horror filled night. The trailers for both can be found below.  Happy viewing!