12/30/10

Tom Selleck Knows All

Actually, it's more like some very smart copywriter knows all...but still. This is pretty funny. SyFy's weekly email newsletter "DVICE" strikes again. Read the story HERE. (Even if you're not the subscribing type, I would recommend this one. It's always entertaining and genuinely helpful. This week's email contained info about the most recent net neutrality rulings...scary stuff.)

Random BFG fact, my plea for a real Magnum P.I. movie is the most commented on blog entry here.

I'm still waiting...they don't make movie and television stars like they used to. Selleck is one of a kind. For real.

12/29/10

Man in a Blizzard - Shared by Roger Ebert on Twitter

I love this. It's gorgeous. It makes me want to rethink everything about shooting and editing. It makes me want to scale down and do something beautiful and simple in the new year. I follow Roger Ebert on Twitter, and when he shared this, I went for it without thinking twice. (Because that man knows good film when he sees it.)



Also, it reminded me of this. It's also brilliant and gorgeous. This was done by a friend of ours as he was stuck in an airport overseas...



These videos just make me feel all retrospective and new yearsish. If only I would've had a Canon 7D when I lived in Romania...

12/28/10

How Do You Know - Movie Review

As usual with my reviews, you can click on the "Read More" link and scroll to the bottom for the "Get To The Point" summary review. Or read on from here for the full breakdown of the film. (Minor spoilers throughout, but I don't reveal the ending.)

I saw How Do You Know yesterday with my best friend. We were both excited about it, not because we're fans of any of the actors necessarily, but because we both love the writing of James L. Brooks. (Spanglish is a neo-classic in my opinion, for it's emphasis on modern American culture and it's authentic dialogue and characterizations.)

So how does How Do You Know stack up to his other works? Well, the film has some structural flaws and quirks that may frustrate you, but its flaws almost made it more interesting to me. I found the film to be weird, with a very non-traditional narrative but engaging enough that any plot redundancies didn't bother me.

By the way, this film passes the Bechdel test...just FYI. It's so rare that this happens, but I LOVE it when it does. Here, women can talk about much more than one man. Female supporting players have their own lives. There's a whole female softball team here for Pete's sake...so refreshing...

12/25/10

The Annual Christmas Photo of Ridiculousness - Ode to Charles Nelson Reilly

Last year, it was this picture. For the record...I wasn't trying to make that face. I don't even remember why I was making it or how. I have since tried to duplicate it, which can't be done. At least, not without the help of a lab full of scientific professionals or a large animal attack. I don't remember a feeling of sheer terror sweeping over me for any reason, but apparently it did. (Awkward Family Photos is calling my name.)


This year, it's this one. A bit more pre-meditated and brought to you by one of the best gifts my mother gave me this year. A large collection of over-sized novelty glasses, this pair I choose to call "The Cousin Erics". (For family reasons. Though I guess you're probably smart enough to figure out that I had a Cousin Eric (have) who wore glasses nearly identical to these in the early eighties.)

This pair was my absolute favorite from the collection, a close second goes to a pair I like to call "Sarah Palin's Hunting Goggles", but one thing at a time. Did I mention that these are prescription? Because they are...

What will it be next year? We shall just have to wait and see...by the way, this whole "giant glasses" thing isn't new for me. If you're friends with me on facebook, you know about my long and glorious history of huge sunglasses that appear to be solely for the purpose of helping one's eyes heal after dilation. I kind of have a thing for dressing like an old lady. (I look for knitted cardigans and sweater chains too.)

But it's been a fixation of mine since childhood. Want proof? READ THIS.


I think the ironic glasses movement has a decent chance of beating out the ironic mustache movement any day  now. (I want to spell it "moustache" but spell check doesn't like that.) Though I guess that would make me kind of sad. There's nothing ironic about my love of giant glasses or moustaches. (Suck it spell check.) 

Look, I'm gonna have to end this blog soon. But I just wanted to say, don't be offended because I said "suck it". It's a Liz Lemonism...I'd prove it to you, but when I Googled it to find a video clip, this is what happened. 

 No video results for “liz lemon suck it monkeys” 

So you're just going to have to take my word for it. Happy Holidays!

Happy Merry Everyone!

I kid, but I love the season and the reason. There's no song that best expresses my love than this. Sing it girl...



 I know, I'm one step away from best expressing my feelings via a made for TV monologue...


12/24/10

Christmas Eve Monologue

This is officially the worst Christmas Eve story ever. So naturally, I had to post it. (Pay special attention to Gizmo's face after the big climax of the story. Hilarious!) This movie used to scare the living daylights out of me...




12/23/10

WFCC 2010 Awards Posted

The critics association that I belong to, the Women Film Critics Circle, has posted it's 2010 awards. What excites me is that a lot of my votes were shared by fellow members. Many of the films and actresses I voted for won, though all of the nominations were worthy. I think it was a great year for women in film and I'm happy that as I age, I'm starting to see more varied portrayals of female characters in all forms of media. (The diversification of the action/adventure/comic book genre is also in progress, though progress is a bit slower than indie films, dramas, and documentaries. In all fairness, the genre is newer than drama, so the timeline is to be expected but not accepted. But hey, that's why I write Best Action Heroines.)

Many argue that film criticism is outdated because we don't need people to recommend films anymore. I think we need criticism more than ever. As a society, we will always need consistent analysis of what we are producing as a culture, to create accountability, awareness, to take the creative pulse of modern filmmakers, to investigate commercialism and to make sure that there is at least the effort to represent the voices of women and minorities in all forms of art. If we aren't working as a culture (worldwide and stateside) to do so, we're only going to be allowing misinformation without opposition at best, and promoting stereotypes and bigotry (to younger audiences especially) at worst. I'm proud to be a member of the WFCC. Follow the link to see who we voted for and what important movies you may have missed.

12/22/10

8 Magical Musical Christmas Movie Moments (and a Star Wars bonus)

My way to wish you a Merry Christmas is to give you a list of nine movie clips and a super awesome Christmas website to visit...happy merry everyone! 

Enjoy the movie clips after the jump, or follow the link to Betamaxmas, a website devoted to all things Christmas from  1980's television. (Including commercials, claymation specials, Pee Wee's Playhouse, movie previews, and more!)

One show that didn't end up on the website that should've? One of the many Golden Girls Christmas episodes...



DCA To Do Away With Giant "California" Sign

According to the OC Register, the iconic entrance to Disneyland's California Adventure will be completely remodeled. DCA has been the butt of many jokes over the years for its weak theming, so not many people seem too sad about it. But I'm really glad that I got to see it while it was still intact. Have you seen the DCA sign? What do you think about the remodel?

12/21/10

TRON: Legacy - Relax and Enjoy

Meet "Quorra"
For the short "Get to the Point" review, click "Read More" and scroll to the bottom of the blog where it says, "Get to the Point". For the full review, read on from here...

Full Review

I've never seen the original TRON, so I didn't know what to expect from the sequel. I was hoping for a visually beautiful movie that sounded amazing and gave me those great action-movie adrenaline rushes. I was positive that's what I was going to get when as I heard Daft Punk was doing the film score. On that front, TRON is exactly what I was hoping for and met all of my expectations.

The other great thing about watching TRON? It was a pressure-free viewing experience for me. As a geek, it's more often than not that I head into the theater feeling nervous and verklempt and/or I leave feeling frustrated and angry. Always being worried about whether or not a script will do justice to an original film or comic is kind of awful. Having no sentimental attachments to a movie at all was a welcome relief.

12/20/10

Han and Chewie are Dead (And Indiana Jones is next.)

Harrison Ford and George Lucas
want to slash and burn...
This Saturday, I logged onto Twitter and saw an angry message written by Harry Knowles. It was in all caps, and there was cursing and exclamation points and it was aimed at George Lucas, so naturally, I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Knowles, posted a link to the following video, a snippet of game play from the Star Wars game, "The Force Unleashed 2", in which your character is a Sith Lord. For those of you who don't speak geek, that's one of the bad guys. So you're living all the Star Wars adventures out on the other side of the chess board. We downloaded and played the demo and it was awesome, though extremely violent. But when we played, we were just offing random Stormtroopers. I had no idea what was in store as the game went forward. 



12/17/10

Teleportation? Yes please.


Well, I certainly never thought I'd post anything from FoxNews.com here at Born For Geekdom. But alas, the day has come.

How Star Trek transporters may become a reality very soon.

12/16/10

The Burn Notice Season Finale: Why You Should Watch This Show

I thought I'd throw a link up to a blog where you can find clothing that appears in the show. Some of the items seem fairly out of date, so I don't know how "available" they will still be, nevertheless...

Here's the nifty little blog "Seen On". This link will take you right to the "Fiona" page.


Burn Notice is kind of the Miami Vice of today. Except waaaaay better than Miami Vice. It's fun to watch for a plethora of reasons and I think it will stand the test of time (as far as watch-ability is concerned) far better than the 80's cop show. It's just the fact that it's set in Miami that draws comparisons. Which is fair...but I'm sure it gets old for the show's creators.

If you're not watching the show, you should be. But I'd recommend that you start from the beginning or you may be a little bit lost. (Try Netflix.) I was immediately drawn in by the fact that the show has Bruce Campbell. A no fail casting choice, if you ask me. But we all know I'm a little crazy for Bruce...

12/13/10

Pirates Ahoy! FULL TRAILER: Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides

Aaaaaaand we're off! Let the countdown begin! (And thank goodness...) Redeem the franchise from the depressing ending after the third film? Check. Watch the real star of the franchise swashbuckle in beautiful tropical locations? Check. Delve into mermaid lore? Check.



Man I love these movies...when I got the DVD of the first film as a Christmas gift all the way back in 2003, I remember sitting down Christmas eve night and just watching the special features over and over and over again. Here's to more of the same for the next few years. Huzzah!

Women of Ninja Warrior on G4: Female Empowerment WIN or Feminism FAIL?


Read Jim Henson's Journal

Photo courtesy of www.henson.com 
"In June 1965, 28-year-old Jim Henson started a written log of his activities in what became known as “The Red Book.” He noted down what had happened up until that point (deemed “Ancient History”) and then recorded anything that he felt was worth recording as single line journal entries until the end of 1988."    -             Henson.com

The creative genius behind The Muppets, Jim Henson, was known to keep an expansive journal. And now, the official Jim Henson archivist makes some of his entries available to the public on Henson.com. The official link to the journal is HERE. If you follow the link, you can read all about the premiere of the classic Henson film, "The Dark Crystal", which occurred on this day in 1982. (I was just a little over three months old when the movie came out...)

12/12/10

Belly Up (or out, or sideways...)

I'm learning the joys of false
eyelashes, stage makeup,
and a whole lotta jewelry
It's official, I'm a belly dancer. After a lifetime of watching my mother dance professionally, I finally decided to carry the torch. I've been going to classes for the last five months and just did my first ever performance with my good friend Lauren, who has also been taking classes. We performed last night at a Haffa and today at a recital, and we're already signed up for another class that starts in January.

There's been something incredibly liberating about learning how to belly dance, and this little journey I've been on has had another purpose. It's a chapter in my book that will go near the end of the manuscript called, "Shake What Your Mama Gave Ya...Literally".




12/11/10

Waiting in Line at Disneyland is More Complicated Than You Knew...

I've rejoined the Twitterverse, and because of that, I now get all kinds of fabulous information from the people I follow. Just in case you were wondering, I'm not being sarcastic. I love the way that Twitter helps you discover stories, material, and facts that you would've otherwise missed out on completely. I'm already a little confused about the etiquette of Twitter and I'm just waiting to make my first faux pas, but while I wait to offend someone's social sensibilities, I'm finding cool stuff like this...

"Theory and Practice of Queue Design" - posted by writer Cory Doctorow

First Image of "Super 8" Monster or Sign of an Impending Zombie Invasion?

Super 8 marketing image or unrelated hoax?
So here's the story. The picture posted to the right appeared on a hunting website a few days ago, an anonymous source posted the image which he claims a trap cam shot after his camp was inexplicably ransacked. So this image first appeared on the internet as though it were real. Creeptacular, no?

However, now the image is being linked to the upcoming monster/alien/frustratingly hard to see creature that probably won't get a backstory movie coming out this May, which leads some to believe that J.J. Abrams' and Steven Spielberg's film, "Super 8" may be kicking it's viral marketing campaign into high gear.

Then again, this image of a ghoul-like monster may just be a great Photoshop fake that's riding a wave of accidental publicity. Then again, this could be a trick by producers meant to throw us off the scent of what the real plot of the film will be. (Jurassic Park reboot? Whatever is in the wrecked train from the trailer is big enough to tear through metal like it's foil...I'm just sayin'...) Either way, this is a fun bit of news. But wait...there's more...

12/10/10

Bea Arthur was an "overly aggressive" truck-driving Marine!


This will spread like wildfire, if it hasn't already. My good friend Jen just shared this story with me on Facebook. I have to say, it doesn't surprise me in the least that Bea would A.) Serve her country. or B.) Get in trouble for having a mouth on her. This just turns my admiration for her up way past eleven...

Read the full story HERE on The Smoking Gun. I typically despise this website, but this a really fun little detail that provides some great historical and patriotic context to one of the world's most legendary comedic minds. 

12/8/10

What Happens When You Fall in Love with Bruce Campbell

Bruce Manchu...
Recently, a fellow grad student shared a writing exercise from a book titled, "The Practice of Writing Poetry". The specific exercise is called Twenty Little Poetry Projects.

It gives you twenty prompts for twenty lines that will eventually form a poem. Speaking from a "teacherly" place, writing exercises can generate content you may want to publish later. They can also just jar things loose and get you warmed up for a decent day of writing.

Plus, they're fun. That's always good enough for me. The very silly poem below was my result.

It is, of course, complete fiction. During grad school, I've written a lot about geek culture. It's fun to apply high-minded literary technique to pop culture.


12/7/10

How to Deal with Aggression...the Geek Way

You know, when I'm having a bad day and I feel like exploding, or when I'm busy and feel like the work will never end, or even when I'm stuck on a shuttle bus crammed full of grumpy people talking on cell phones, there's one movie I think of to cheer myself up. Well, okay...two.


12/6/10

When Movies and Comic Books Become A Reality - Space Travel, Mutants, and The Daily Prophet

You know how sometimes you think of something, and then you start noticing it everywhere? It's been that way for me with Richard Branson lately. Jake and I have talked about him a lot in the past, he's one of the world's billionaires that has joined with Bill Gates and others to lead the charge on giving some of that tremendous wealth back to society. I don't know much about him as a person, but he was the topic of some discussion at Starbase Indy, I saw him on the Today show last week, and then again being interviewed with Bill Gates and Ted Turner on MSNBC last weekend. But there are two projects he's working on and each of them makes a movie dream a reality. Legendary comic creator Stan Lee is also up to some interesting stuff...

1. Commercial Space Travel - This has been talked about for some time in the press, but the day is creeping closer and closer where you will be able to buy a ticket into space. Star Trek, Star Wars, and the idea of accessible space travel are going to make the leap from conceptual to actual in a matter of a few years. Branson's company, Virgin Galactic is finishing work on their re-usable space shuttles and even their very own space dock. In fact, they've even sold tickets. Know what the first shuttle is named? The Enterprise...got goosebumps yet?



2. The Real Life Daily Prophet - Last week Branson released a magazine for the iPad called, "Project". Because it's a magazine for the iPad, the design of the magazine involves a lot of moving images, just like the newspaper in the Harry Potter universe, "The Daily Prophet". Check out the first cover as it will appear on iPad screens everywhere. (You can't go wrong with Jeff Bridges, that has to be a good omen for future success.)

                                    PROJECT magazine cover video from PROJECT on Vimeo.

3. Stan Lee's Superhumans - There's a show on the History Channel in which Stan Lee sponsors a documentary-like search for people with real-life superpowers. It's an interesting show that entertains, but also attempts to scientifically break down the abilities of people who dream things before they occur, people who can handle massive amounts of electricity that would kill any normal human, people that can hold their breath underwater for many minutes, and more. Watch video of some of the amazing people the show has found here. 

Meet the man who can cut a speeding bullet in half with a samurai sword...

12/1/10

Frank and Earnest Eulogies - Letters to Irvin Kershner and Leslie Nielsen


“My theory is that the artist is primarily an observer, and one of the problems with modern art is that there’s no observation—the artists observe each other, they observe each other’s paintings. Perception has to be developed, that’s where depth comes in. I don’t see it much with American directors. The reason is we don’t reward it—it’s as simple as that. You do something highly personal, really different, it will either not be understood by the executives it has to go through, or will be considered noncommercial, which is to bring hell down upon you.”
Irvin Kershner, director of The Empire Strikes Back, in a 1999 interview for Salon Magazine.

Dear Mr. Kershner,

I'm really sorry that you're gone. You were awesome. For starters, you must have been an amazing professor at USC, because under your tutelage, a plethora of amazing film directors went on to entertain and educate us with their work. Also, you were brave. When Lucas asked you to direct the sequel to the first Star Wars film and you said to your agent, "Are you crazy?", you could've been right. It could've been a total bust. But you brought heart and gravitas to a franchise that could've easily collapsed in on itself. Thanks for that. 
 I think there was a whole lot of Yoda in you, the way you wanted artists to be themselves and create something original. I just want you to know that for years, I've been really proud to say that I knew your name. I've been happy to correct people when they assumed that Lucas directed all three of the original trilogy movies. I don't know if that counts for anything, but in the brain of a sci-fi geek, like myself, there's a whole lot of information packed away. A lot. And you were never difficult to recall. Not your career, not your associations, and not even your face. Which, for the record, was super cute. You'll be missed. 
Sci-Fi has exploded into something new and fresh as a genre, and any of that goodness is thanks to you in large part. But it's also become kind of an accidental cartoon at times. Nothing wrong with that, but I'll really miss the weight and legitimacy that you brought to a genre, a franchise...an industry. Your thoughts on art are sentiments that I keep very close in times when I feel that I may just be a stupid kid with fluffy obsessions that should go get a real job. You remind me that passion and obsession is something to work at, care for, cultivate, and take very seriously. Even when the world may look at you and say, "You're directing what movie?!" 

11/28/10

Starbase Indy 2010 - The Con in Pictures

Jake and I just returned from Starbase Indy, the best sci-fi convention you'll find in the entire Mid-West.

This year was even better than the last. We've barely had time to process the weekend. We'll be unpacking Christmas gifts from the Dealer's Room, autographs, cards, and flyers for days. My favorite being the advertisement for A Klingon Christmas Carol, happening now in Chicago.

What we can share right now are pictures and a promise that the best coverage of the event is yet to come.

There's a video on the way with interviews from con guests, Klingons, the president of Indy Knights, and the Trek-based band Five Year Mission as well as an inside look at plenty of costumes, panels, and events that took place and some onscreen shenanigans by Ethan Phillips.

We're capturing footage right now, but it'll take a couple of weeks to edit, render and upload, after which I'll post the video here at Born For Geekdom and send out email and facebook messages to all those involved in the filming. Until then, here's a sneak peek at Starbase Indy 2010 in photos. I'll also post a list of businesses we bought merchandise from and some we plan to buy from in the future. Support small business! Especially those run by your fellow geeks.

Jake and Barf. Hands down, our favorite costume of the weekend.

11/25/10

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy some funny moments from the best Thanksgiving movie ever, "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles". I'm thankful for so much this year that I don't even know where to begin. I'm on my way home to spend a little time with my family (watching Harry Potter in theaters, no less) and Jake and I watched this movie last night while we decorated the tree. The parade is on in the background (and they just played the theme from Fantasmic! Coolest marching band ever...) Anyway, God bless you on this holiday and here's to a holiday and a life full of love, family, and plenty of pop culture. What are you thankful for?







I know, I know...I could've picked ETA's snappy remix of movie lines...but that one just felt right this year!

11/24/10

New Details Emerge About Sherlock Sequel - Will Irene Adler Return?

Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Noomi Rapace in a scene from the forthcoming Sherlock Holmes sequel. 
The first official image from the filming of the Sherlock Holmes sequel has been released, but more details are also emerging. The film will feature Sherlock's smarter older brother, Mycroft. Yes...smarter. And a bit more dignified according to author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The part will be played by British character actor Stephen Fry. Also joining the cast this time will be Holmes' ultimate nemesis, Dr. Moriarty, played by Jared Harris. Actress Noomi Rapace will play a gypsy entangled in the mystery.

Part of me is really worried that Rachel McAdams won't be back as Irene Adler. She's listed as appearing in it on IMDB, but it's only rumored and I saw an interview with her while she was promoting Morning Glory, and she was tight-lipped about her potential return. She could be developed into a wonderful action heroine if the writers and filmmakers play their cards right.

11/23/10

No Basement in the Alamo - How Pee Wee Changed My Life

I can quote you every single microscopic second of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  Saying the lines from that movie is like breathing to me. “Is there something you’d like to share with the rest of us Amazing Larry?” I say like the exasperated Pee Wee when I’m stuck in a roomful of murmuring people or a crowd. “A scale model of the entire mall!” I may yell at the end of a grumpy tirade, just like Pee Wee does when he’s formulating a legalistic plan to reconstruct the theft of his beloved flying bike. Aside from spoken lines, I may even give someone a nice long monster-like hiss when I’m feeling particularly cold and miserable, just the way Pee Wee does to a mugger in a dark alleyway. (Tim Burton, the film’s director, made his cameo appearance as the mugger. This was Burton’s first full-length feature and it was a taste of all the whimsy of plot and formalistic design yet to come.)

I didn’t grow up with this movie. I mean, it came out when I was a kid and I watched it anytime it showed up on television on some lazy Saturday afternoon. But I didn’t have the same Rain-Man like devotion to it that I did to Temple of Doom or Aliens. I fell in love with the movie when I was twenty years old and adrift on the sea of early adulthood.

11/21/10

Deathly Hallows Part 1: Why It's NOT Empire (mild spoilers with premiere video)

My family is celebrating Thanksgiving this year with dinner out and a trip to see, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. So I wasn't sure if I was going to see it before then. Of course, I've seen every other Potter movie multiple times, so why would I hesitate this time? Quite frankly, I was worried it would be too sad. (Scroll to the end of this blog entry for a short summary review of the film and to watch the Warner Bros. official premiere video, or read on for an all creamy caramel center of my hugely geeky ramblings about the film.)

BALANCE AND GENRE

Movies make me emotional. Very emotional.

A therapist would probably tell me that I use movies to let out excess emotion. Because movies make me cry for silly reasons. Happy reasons (When Scrooge dances for the first time in A Muppet's Christmas Carol.) and of course, your typical sad reasons. Like, oh say...beloved literary characters dying after you've been with them for an entire book series.

On the way to the theater last night, after we were lucky enough to catch Bohemian Rhapsody on the radio and rock out Wayne's World style, I said to Jake, "This movie needs to have some really cool magic scenes and when it's humorous, it has to be really humorous." My reasoning is that knowing the dramatic ante had been upped in this movie, there would have to be some great humor and really fun magical action scenes to balance that drama out, or it wouldn't be very much fun to watch, even if it was good, per say.

Thankfully, that balance was there.

11/18/10

New Disney Webisode Series Shares Rare Footage

Just in time for Mickey Mouse's 82nd birthday today, a new Disney webisode series is being released. It's called Armchair Archivists and it will satisfy all Disney geeks who happen to be particularly obsessed with behind-the-scenes information. I get all that I can from traveling museum exhibits, Googling and Blue-Ray and DVD special features. But I'm always looking for more.

The first video they share is the last footage Walt Disney himself ever shot on the Disney lot, and it's a film introduction he did when he couldn't be at an event in person. (He says he was busy filming, Blackbeard's Ghost at the time, one of my favorite live-action films from Walt's era.) There's something sad about Disney's apology for not being able to attend in person though...I guess it doesn't really help matters that Walt Disney looks an awful lot like one of my grandfathers, who also happened to be an artist...click on Read More to see the footage.

11/17/10

Your Friendly Neighborhood Star Trek Convention: Five Reasons to Seek Out a Local Con

Oddly enough, Jake and I had run into Derek,
a member of a Star Fleetesque group in real life,
in a bookstore a few months before, not knowing he
would also be at this event.
Last year, Jake and I attended our first ever Star Trek convention. It's called Starbase Indy, and it was everything I ever hoped a gathering of geeks could be. I discovered it by accident. I kid you not, I was  just praying silently like I sometimes do on a normal morning walk, when I literally stepped on a flyer for the event. Then the heavens parted and choir music played through rays of light. (Okay, the music and the heavens parting is a lie, but you get the idea.) So of course, we'll be attending again this year. Last time, we didn't stay at the hotel, not knowing exactly what the convention would be like, we didn't want to fully commit.

Also, the annual event takes place during the entire weekend after Thanksgiving, stretching things like special movie screenings, events, meals, karaoke, and meet and greets throughout your stay. We typically visit with the family that we don't see on the actual Thanksgiving day during that weekend. But last year was so good, we decided to create our very own holiday family tradition for two. Starbase Indy is now officially on our permanent calender. 

This year, we're going all out. (I guess you could say we'll be going warp nine to Starbase Indy? Go ahead...roll your eyes...it's my blog and I can make as many nerdy allusions as I want! *maniacal laughter*) Ahem, anyway...if you are a Trek geek, and you've never been to a convention, there are a lot of reasons to look forward to one of these events and seek them out in your general area. Those reasons are...


11/11/10

Tina Fey Wins Humor Prize and why you should love more funny women

Thank GOD for Tina Fey. Literally. Sometimes when I'm feeling like a gigantic nerd in my office or I'm just out of energy, I'll find some 30 ROCK clip on YouTube and just watch her as lovable loser Liz Lemon. (Though most would argue that Lemon is actually quite a success professionally, but you take my meaning.) Funny women are everywhere, and I've argued that before. But there's a special kind of classic quality to Fey, one that I connect with. Something that just makes me feel like it's okay to be a dorky brunette. Men get a lot of "loser" characters on television, but it's rare to see that same kind of embarrassment-tinged humor for women. Which is changing now thanks to Fey, but has been around since the dawn of comedy and felt like it saw it's last peak in the 80's with the fierce wit of Gilda Radner and the genius of Madeline Kahn. (Lest we forget earler role models of Lucille Ball, Katharine Hepburn, Carol Burnett, etc.)



When TV and Movies Rule Your Brain

One of the greatest/most annoying qualities about being a natural geek are the constant automatic references your brain makes for you. I can't tell you how often an obscure SNL quote from the 1980's springs to mind in the middle of my day and how I have to actively use mental energy not to say it out loud. Because when I give in and say it, it confuses people, and then I have to launch into a five minute story about where it comes from and why I say it. It's just not the always the best way to operate in the professional sphere to be running around saying movie and TV quotes all the time. I mean, not that I stifle myself every time, but if I said every movie and TV reference that came to mind out loud...I'd be quoting probably 50% of the time. Which probably isn't healthy.

I'm even known to quote sounds that people make. A John Candy scream from, "Splash". A Jeff Goldblum giggle from, "Jurassic Park". It just happens...

11/10/10

The Park Geeks visit Busch Gardens Tampa Bay after 20 years away

The latest episode of Park Geeks was a little bit different. We visited Busch Gardens Tampa Bay as a part of an ongoing series Audrey writes for Orlando Attractions Magazine titled, "Retro Orlando". So the episode is something of a companion piece to her blog, that you can find here. Otherwise, enjoy as usual! (This episode came out as a favorite of ours thanks to all the adorable animals we got to visit and photograph.)

11/3/10

Happy Birthday Kate Capshaw!

I miss your face onscreen. Whatchya up to lately?

Anyone who knows me knows I love Kate Capshaw. And in a twist of accidental fate, I had a fiction story workshopped in a class tonight that involved the movie, "Space Camp".

Space Camp was a revelation to me when it was shown to my fifth grade class. A female astronaut who doesn't take no crap from nobody? Yes, please. My heroes were always the brains of the operation. The smart chicks who somehow ended up in danger. Or space.

Perhaps it wasn't accidental at all. Maybe subliminally, I knew there was cause for celebration. When I found out a few minutes ago that it was her birthday, well, I just felt like posting.

The thing I like best about Capshaw is her sass and her intelligence. Watch her in any behind-the-scenes interview and you get this sharp wit reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn.


Oh yeah...and I've also rambled on and on about her on my action heroines blog. She had this fabulous Lucille Ball thing going on in Temple of Doom that I don't think most people fully understand.

Leave Willie Scott Alone!

Anyway, wherever she is, I hope she's having a lovely birthday and I want to see her in something soon. If they make another Indy, and she doesn't cameo...there may be a riot somewhere in the Mid-West. And I just may be holding the bullhorn.

11/2/10

The Hobbit Movies - More Turmoil Than You Knew (with video from NZ)

The version I had growing up...
UPDATE: The movies will shoot in NZ after an agreement between all the parties was reached!  To read about the resolution, click here. To get a better understanding of the dispute and the impassioned opinion of a nervous LOTR geek who lurves her some Peter Jackson and New Zealand as Middle Earth, read this blog...

About this time every year, Jake and I dig into all of the Lord of the Rings movies. We watch the special features, the movies, read some Tolkien, and just generally geek out over the stuff. Maybe it's the holiday atmosphere that begins to arrive once Halloween is over that makes it just the right time to dig into old English material.

All the trades have been reporting problems with The Hobbit movies for over a year now. There were rights problems, Guillermo Del Toro had to finally leave the project as a director because everything had stalled out for so long and he had other contractual obligations. After that, we all waited with baited breath until Peter Jackson himself stepped up to say that he would direct the two films.

So now we know the films will shoot in February, the question is WHERE will they shoot? Why does it matter so much? Perhaps because New Zealand is such a gorgeous and unique landscape that it's the only one physically capable of standing in for the rich fictional environment of Middle Earth. Perhaps because the country's economy has so desperately come to be built upon the film industry there...because if The Hobbit films don't shoot there, chances are other films scheduled to shoot there will pull up stakes too. The reasons are numerous. Most important to this geek living in the American mid-west and having no practical reason to care...I find that the New Zealand film industry and the LOTR films in general have created a kind of hopefulness about film that probably hasn't been felt since the days of classic Hollywood and Chaplin. Peter Jackson, with his renegade style of filmmaking at the local level (his locality, of course) has become a new figurehead for a generation of geeks, dreamers and closet creatives.

10/29/10

Friday Night Videos - All Bill Nighy All The Time (All the time, I say!)

So, one of my side gigs as a freelancer is to write about what movies come out each weekend for a screenwriting website. (I know...what a chore, right? *sarcasm implied since I'm utterly obsessed with movies*)

So I found this movie while writing up the release report for this weekend and I wondered to myself, "Why on EARTH haven't I heard of it before?" It's got one of my all time favorite actors, the incomparable Bill Nighy, the always lovely Emily Blunt, the much beloved and full of potential Rupert Grint, and it's an English comedy, a road pic, and a heist plot. I mean, honestly...if it's an English comedy, you'd might as well just slap an, "Audrey will love this." sticker on it straight away. I always thought Nighy was funny, and he has major geek street cred for his appearance in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (My first ever favorite novel back in junior high. If you didn't like the movie, read the book and then watch it again. It's a whole different experience...or heck rent some of the old BBC series. Anyway, that's all beside the point.) But I truly fell in love with Nighy in The Girl in the Cafe, a quiet little masterpiece of film that revolves around an unexpected love story but ends with global consequences.

Wild Target, new this weekend, stars the singular Bill Nighy (I can work as many superfluous adjectives into this as I want, it's my blog.) as a wayward hit man in this comedy. Rupert Grint and Emily Blunt also star. This is my personal pick for the weekend, and I would suggest that anyone who has a love of English humor, Bill Nighy or films like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels find the film asap, even if it takes a bit of extra work.


10/28/10

Happy Geekoween

My sisters are like Martha Stewarts with better senses of humor and extensive knowledge bases of pop culture. So it was no surprise that one of them (Heather) sent me a couple of images of their Halloween pumpkins, and they looked like this...



I'm amazed but not surprised, this is the super cool sister that has also done THIS and THIS.

Happy Halloween from Born For Geekdom and my super cool sister, who always provides us with plenty of geek-related holiday crafts. She seriously blows my mind. (And just wait until you read her novel...it's a comedy about old people becoming werewolves. Did you head just explode with admiration? Mine did.)

10/27/10

A Very Fun Thing I'll Do Again Very Soon (an ode to David Foster Wallace)

I just got back from a trip on Monday. A whirlwind would be a better word. Most trips are for Jake and I, because we're on a tight budget when we travel. So we typically have to fly in and out the day of whatever we're doing, get a rental car with Paypal money, save up freelance checks, that sort of thing. But that makes it more fun for me, paying in advance, not having to go into debt. Anyway, that's beside the point.

The point is that I was reading David Foster Wallace before and during this trip. Specifically his book, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again", and in that book there's an essay of the same title in which he talks about journeying for freelance work. He went on a cruise. We went to some theme parks. (Which we do a lot if you know anything about us or our webisode Park Geeks...it's kind of our "thing".) His opening chapter even talks about flying over the Mid-West, which I was reading while flying over the mid west, totally by accident.

So this will be a blog structured similarly to Wallace's trademark style, because if there's anything I've learned from Don Hahn it's that emulating things you love is good...and I love Wallace's ability to ramble on and on and cover every angle of a memory or a time period. So I'm going to ramble on and on. My only regret is that I don't have the space for footnotes, which Wallace uses sometimes as over 50% of his books.

Most of this trip will end up covered by our webisode series Park Geeks. So for more info you can visit our website and click on all the links at the top of the page to get updates. I'll also be writing a blog about the experience for Orlando Attractions, so there will be more in-depth coverage later.

10/21/10

Milk Jug Storm Trooper Helmet

My brother-in-law Paul passed this on to my husband recently, and it's just too good not to share for the Halloween costume season. If you're little one is without a costume, and they're a Star Wars fan, and for some unknown reason every Wal-Mart and Target is all sold out...never fear! You can make this yourself. (Which I actually think is FAR cooler than most of those flat plastic masks you can buy.)

Read the full article on its home blog, a super cool craft site called FILTH WIZARDRY. Click on the name of the site to go directly to the how-to blog for this mask.

Before this, all I knew how to make out of a milk jug was a crummy sidewalk luminary...

10/20/10

Greg Nicotero's, "United Monster Talent Agency" and other monster-inspired shorts


I remember hearing about this a few months back and getting so excited that I could hardly stand it. This is a short for AMC directed by Nicotero, a special effects artist and up until this point, a second unit director. But if there's any justice in the world, this will become a full feature! Jake and I have shot some purposefully retro looking stuff, and let me tell you, it's not easy at all. So watch this and...

Marvel at the great Lon Chaney Jr. impression!
Thrill to the original Gill Man costume!
Be amazed by the near perfect recreation of Boris Karloff's mummy!

10/19/10

Overwhelmed - Writing Your Life Can Be "Too Much Birthday"

I'm doing THIS again.

I'm spending way too much time inner-monologuing about how it's totally fine that I'm spending my Thanksgiving weekend at a Star Trek convention and jetting off to spend three days filming a webisode series based on theme parks and playing about an hour a day of Arkham Asylum, even though I definitely don't have the time to do any of those things.

I'm getting defensive and grumpy. With myself. This happens when I get really stressed out, and stress is just a natural part of every day life, but it becomes overbearing sometimes in graduate school. I'm in the home stretch with my thesis...I have five months to polish my book, lots of reviews to put it through, criticism to take, editing to do, and it's just really really hard right now for some reason. Maybe because I'm a Nonfiction writer, so I'm sifting through these really emotional life memories every day. They say that if you are a writer, that you should write the book you need to write first, the one you are just burning to tell...and there's some reason why I need to write this. I think I need to sort through my own childhood before I have children of my own, but that's all beside the point. (Writers sure can whine, can't we?)

True story...that's me.
When I was a kid, I was notorious for shutting down. I would zip myself into a closed sleeping bag and just lay in the middle of the living room floor in broad daylight and just try to disappear when I was worried or nervous. This happened often around holidays, when the suspense of knowing that soon it was going to be candy heaven or that Christmas would finally arrive simply became too much to bear. Yes, I can even get myself stressed out about the good things in life. I was notorious for weeping uncontrollably as a child on happy occasions and holidays, too overcome with emotion to function.  I spent my entire third birthday with my head in my hands at Chuck E. Cheese, crying over my vanilla cake and ice cream, scared of the animatronic gorilla and feeling a general combination of that Berenstein Bears, "Too Much Birthday" stress and twinges of guilt over everyone having to come together to celebrate my existence.

I was the Woody Allen of 1980's childhood.

Who am I kidding, I'm the Woody Allen of my late twenties. My point is, I worry. A lot. If worrying were a public service, I'd be a saint by now. But worrying is also terrible for my creativity. It sucks the life out of me. Stops me in my tracks during the re-drafting process of my book. I worry, am I getting it right? Will anyone be mad at me for what I'm writing? Whose feelings will I hurt? These are all terrible pitfalls of writing memoir.

10/15/10

Disney's Diamond Edition "Beauty and the Beast" Blu-Ray Shows that Creative Work is Still Work

My husband and I been haggling for weeks over what our first Blu-Ray purchase would be. I thought, "Jaws". Jake thought, "Spaceballs". We argued and argued. I love Spaceballs, so it's not that I was against it...but for our first ever purchase? This is a milestone we're talking about.

I thought we needed something with a little more ceremony. Little did I know, he was bluffing, getting a kick out of my baffled facial expressions every time I asked, "Really? Spaceballs?"

We wanted to be able to recall, with fondness, that our first Blu-Ray was a meaningful one. Especially because I make NO plans to replace any of my DVDs in the near future. I plan to keep them for decades upon decades, no matter what leaps in technology are made. People might be watching movies via injection before I give up my DVDs.

10/14/10

Conan Returns...

You're welcome.



The countdown has been on since last July, but now I'm REALLY getting excited.

10/13/10

My Hogwarts, His Haunted Mansion

Hogwart's Enchanted Ceiling makes it's way to my subconscious.
So, I have this reoccurring dream. In it, Jake and I are living in a condo. (One that looks suspiciously like my grandmother's Nashville, Indiana condo that she lived in before she passed away.) It has vaulted ceilings, it's on the second floor, all white walls, and plenty of space.

In this dream, we are having some friends over for a holiday. We are taking Adam and Heidi's coats as they come in the door for a Halloween party. They are the first to arrive. I run off and throw the coats on a bed in our bedroom, and when I come back, Jake is flicking off a lightswitch to show them an illusion we've created in our vaulted ceilings. It is a projection of moving clouds and a full moon, it looks like the enchanted ceiling at Hogwart's Castle, and our friends laugh at us because we've gone to such trouble for such a nerdy cause. (They know us so well in real life, they wouldn't be surprised if this became a reality.)

The Burrow Living Area
In the dream, the condo at that moment starts to fill up with atmospheric objects, but not in a claustrophobic way. It begins to start looking like my grandparent's house in the woods, Frogpatch, a place my grandfather built with his own two hands. A place where they lived together before Grandpa passed away. It was heated by a wood stove, it had floor to ceiling bookcases, murals, dark wood, a grandfather clock, the Henderson family crest on the walls, and plenty of nooks and crannies. It essentially looked like the Weasely's Burrow, but nicer. My grandparents were both artists, and to them, it was natural to live in such organized clutter and inspiration. Their home was filled with purposeful props and it was an enchanting place.

Sometimes my dream ends with my sister and I finding a secret passageway in the apartment that leads to an outdoor courtyard area with stone gargoyles and shingled rooftops and wrought iron weather vanes.  I'm no genius at interpreting dreams, but even I can tell you that this is an allusion to the fact that she and I are discovering the creative life together, sharing tales of our writing work and aspirations...figuring out the "magic" (A combination of my mother's epic creativity, my grandparents art, the animated Disney renaissance and the whimsical eighties, with it's rise of fantasy in pop culture.) that we were raised with and how to make it real. (The theme of my thesis, by the way...)

I know what this dream is about. It's about Jake and I and our quest to build what feels like an authentic life to us, a life that artists live. A home where we can be inspired. A home where Halloweens and Christmases take on the flavor of Harry Potter movies and Haunted Mansion trips.

We're working on it, and so far so good. Our office walls are covered with Indiana Jones posters, our collective college degrees, Star Fleet insignia, nerdy autographs, and framed pictures from all of our theme park visits. We have a Haunted Mansion inspired hallway, a Sherlock Holmes-esque living room, and an Adventureland-themed bedroom (All dark wood, lanterns, photography of Adventureland at night, and anything that matches that aesthetic.) There are song lyrics and bible verses ("Despise Not Small Beginnings") and artist quotes throughout our house. To a lot of people, it's kind of weird. Kind of immature. Kind of ugly.

But to us, it's home. Doombuggies.com shared a link to a website today that made me realize we're not alone in the world with our action figure collections and shelves full of books and DVDs and all manner of geek paraphernalia.  Visit this website and you'll see...some people, people like us, (People like my sisters and mother and aunt.) just have to surround themselves with inspiration. Maybe someday we'll have that enchanted ceiling after all...

http://www.haunt1000.com/MyHauntedMansion.html

10/11/10

Halloween: 5 Ways to Avoid the Gore and Enjoy the Holiday

I love you Gillman! 
I've already waxed philosophical this year about the Halloween holiday, but I've always got plenty more to say about one of America's best celebrations. Personally, I'm just about as big of a baby as you'll ever find when it comes to gore. But I have a strange filter. I can handle Quentin Tarantino's blood spurting sword fights, but the assassination scenes in the Godfather movies make me want to vomit. I know that's hypocritical, but the difference is always in the atmosphere and intention. Naturally, Halloween provides a lot of material for this duplicitous side of my personality to struggle over.

For one thing, I hate true gore, especially when it's done in a realistic style. It's one reason why I almost never go to haunted houses anymore. It seems like every house has a scene of torture and mutilation, almost always against women. Well, I just can't enjoy things like that, because unfortunately, those kinds of things really happen to people in real life. So spare me the scenes of torture horror. They set my feminist radar off like crazy.

On the other hand, the Haunted Mansion may be the most popular haunted house ever created, and it's one of my greatest and most consistent obsessions. But the Haunted Mansion is kid-friendly, gore-free, and once again, all about the atmosphere. This year, Jake and I are doing some Haunted Mansion-inspired Halloween costumes. I'll just give you an image and let you figure it out...and no, I'm not dressing as a chandelier.


So what's to do if you love Halloween, playing dress-up, and spooky ghost stories, but you hate gore and violence? Consider the following...

1. AVOID SLASHER MOVIES and stick with cartoons and kids movies. Every year, ABC Family does something called 13 Nights of Halloween. It features fun atmospheric features that capture the creative spirit of Halloween without the violence and gore. Of course, there are always innocent Halloween classics like Looney Tunes cartoons, Hocus Pocus, and the classic monster movies. But there's plenty to watch if you don't want to be traumatized or go to bed feeling disturbed.

2. EMPHASIZE PLAYING DRESS UP when it comes to costumes. Emphasize with your children, or yourself, that the fun of dress up is not the idea of getting attention for being sexy (Get schooled on Halloween Mean Girls style.) or taking the opportunity to be scary, but it's all about playing pretend! Take cues from the folks at Comic Con and seize the opportunity to become your favorite superheroine or comic book character.

3. REVEL IN THE ATMOSPHERE of the season. This weekend, I played a few hours of Arkham Asylum on PS3, a truly creepy game, and listened to some classic Halloween favorites. This is a great time of year for Pumpkin Patches and Flashlight Tag and cookie-baking! Don't miss out on any fall festive fun just because you're feeling blue about the gory state of what used to be a children's holiday. Just reclaim it! Even if you're Halloween-free for religious reasons, there are still corn mazes and fall festivals and countless autumn activities and classic Disney movies to enjoy. (Blackbeard's Ghost, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, etc. Heck, even Mary Poppins is about magic and shenanigans! Find a way to make the month your own somehow.)

Oh, and by the way...do you know who does the voice of the Joker and has been doing it for years? None other than Mark Hamill! Seriously, watch this...it's like a pop culture explosion.



4. FIND GORE FREE HAUNTED HOUSES. They do exist. There's one I discovered just this morning called, The Asylum House. It's an Indianapolis-based haunted house that prides itself on featuring classic movie monsters without any scenes of torture. The Wolfman may have some blood on his chops, but you won't see any ladies getting sawed in half in here. I almost fell out of my chair this morning as I sipped my coffee and saw that they had an authentic Gillman suit, a Mummy, a Werewolf, and more classic masks and monsters. I hear the house isn't for the faint of heart and is still truly terrifying, but if you're looking for something that's a bit more high-end, this may be the haunt for you.

By the way, I have no affiliation nor have I ever spoken with anyone from The Asylum House, I'm just happy to see someone doing Halloween justice, not just renting an empty warehouse and filling it with scenes of violence and murder. Give me monsters and mayhem dangit! Fake blood and guts is just too easy. For those of us that grew up with the classic monsters, we know that it's about suspense, romance, drama, and say it with me now...atmosphere! Give us foggy castles and a dark and stormy night!

5. ENJOY SOME MURDER MYSTERIES. This is the perfect time of year to indulge in some classic stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. They're the masters of suspense and atmosphere, and they provide you with a literary angle to the holiday. The gore is usually limited to the discovery of a body that usually sets off the first act, but after that, it's all secrets, intrigue, and large roomy manor houses with secret passageways. You stay classy San Diego..I mean, Halloween.

My point is, you don't have to draw the battle lines against Halloween, even if, like me, you loathe all the gore and violence. Just find ways to steer clear of the things that make you uncomfortable and then embrace fully whatever it is that you love most about the holiday. In my case, it's all things old-timey, classic horror, and of course, The Haunted Mansion.

What's your favorite part of Halloween?

P.S. Another fun thing about the season? Special themed episodes of our favorite TV shows. There's the Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror and tonight, there's even what looks to be a special Steampunk episode of Nathan Fillion's, "Castle".