I have a new style icon.

And potentially, a really easy Halloween costume for next year. The top half of the image, not the bottom. (I'm weird, but I'm not that weird.) She's brave with those bangs...and wouldn't it be nice to rock a nightgown all the time?

Changing Portrait of the Cat Lady - The Haunted Mansion
Walt Disney World

Then again, I could always be all gender progressive and stuff and go with Seymour Skinner's "Catman"... 

Yes, it's December and I'm talking about Halloween costumes. When you're inspired, you go with it. 


Guillermo Del Toro's "Haunted Mansion" Movie Finally Happening?

When Ain't It Cool posted this little tid-bit today, I got pretty worked up. What are the odds that this project is Del Toro's long rumored, and at one time definitely confirmed, Disney Haunted Mansion film?

With Favreau doing his "Magic Kingdom" movie, it seems like Disney is placing bets on high quality directors with ultra-specific visions. Here's hoping Del Toro is still on board. At the very least, we know he loves the haunted house genre enough to re-visit the theme often.

Portions of the "Hellboy" movies play out like little haunted vignettes. (I'm thinking of those pesky little tooth fairies, the labyrinth at the end of the first movie, etc.) Then there was, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark", which was another classic example of the story structure. 

Haunted house stories, if you didn't know, sprang from the period of gothic literature. When the idea of outdoor adventure was considered taboo or for the lower classes and certainly not acceptable for women, an entire genre was concocted that brought the adventure indoors. 

I wrote a really long obnoxious academic paper about it HERE on Yahoo.


George "Broyhill"

You know you're a geek when every time you pass a furniture store called "Broyhill" you start thinking of all things "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". (Which remains in my permanent top ten, by the way.)

If you're a film nerd, you get that.

If you're not...what are you doing here?


All Caught Up on "The Hobbit" Pre-Premiere Goodies?

Photo Courtesy: TheOneRing.net - Friend them on
facebook, visit the page often. They will have the
best and most detailed coverage of just about everything.
You should be! The big event approacheth! In case you missed anything, click on the links below. And just so you know, I fully expect you all to read the book (Again, I trust.) before you see the movie. Until then...

Check out photos from the premiere in Wellington on TheOneRing.net's Facebook page!

Watch all of the Production Diaries on Peter Jackson's YouTube account!

The premiere streamed live from Wellington, but stick close to TheOneRing.net, they may have edited video from the premiere available soon. 


My Year As A Theme Park Correspondent

I'm thinking of a quote. It's very lofty and intellectual-from a movie called Tommy Boy. It goes, "Let me tell you why I suck as a salesman."

Except replace "salesman" with "theme park correspondent".

For a year, from July 2011 to August 2012, I wrote, directed and edited for a local theme park TV show in Orlando, Florida. Every once in a while, I had to fill in for one of our professional hosts. You can often see my discomfort, but I still had fun!

What I Could've Said Was This

I seem to write a ton of blogs where I'm just sort of mentally meandering, trying to justify the fact that I'm STILL wrestling with what I want to be when I grow up. But I probably could've summed it up by just posting this:


Potentially the Most Important Website of All Time!

So last weekend, I'm watching "Cowboys and Aliens" for the first time. My Dad sent it to me in the mail along with "Prometheus" and I was instantly invested in the movie. I love sci-fi, Jon Favreau and westerns. So, this was a very happy cinematic trifecta for me. There was only one problem. The dog.

I have a major over-sensitivity to violence against animals in movies and television. Or, you know what? I'm just gonna say it. Maybe I have the correct amount of sensitivity to it and the rest of you sickos are the freaks who can stand watching that kind of stuff without getting upset. But one misplaced horse whinny, dog squeal or cat yowl in a flick and I'm out. SO. Then I find this:

Here's what I love about it. 

1. It doesn't spoil the movies! I've ruined many a horror film for myself trying to skim through spoilers over at themoviespoiler.com just to see if there is any violence toward animals.

(Or too much violence toward people for that matter. I can do creepy and monsters and ghosts and what-not, but not torture or stalking or murder. Unless of course, it's a mystery. In which case, murder away. Magnum P.I. Poirot will take care of business.) But this website has a simple icon system. There are three cartoon dog faces. 

Happy looking dog = no violence at all. 

Frowny faced dog = Violence toward animals, but pet ultimately lives. 

Dog crying = At least one dead pet. 

2. Oh...uh, I guess that's pretty much it. 

I'm telling you, this website changes my life. My whole life, I say!!!


I like this.

I like it very much.

I could use a little Eowyn in my life right now. Ooh! Put that to the tune of, We Need a Little Christmas, and you'll have a super weird song running through your mind all day.



Disney World's New Fantasyland is Literally a Wish Come True

A gargoyle guardian of Beast's castle.
A little over two years ago, I wrote THIS BLOG ENTRY about wishing that there was a walk-through enchanted castle from Disney's animated "Beauty and the Beast".

Guess what I got to walk through last weekend?

The new Fantasyland isn't technically open to the public yet, but we live a whopping half hour from the Magic Kingdom and we're just nerdy enough to have annual passes.

When a friend texted to tell us that the new Fantasyland was in a Dress Rehearsal (meaning that you could go in, ride rides and see sights with the expectation that there might be technical difficulties here and there) we hot footed it over there.

And the pictures we got that night were pretty exciting. Click on READ MORE below to see all of our photos.


What Your Top 5 Movies Say About You

Headlines like the one I just wrote usually make me gag. In this case, I'll suffer through the clickbait cliche, because it's a decent description of the process I'm about to walk you through. I had a film theory teacher in my undergrad years who taught us to rewrite our top ten lists annually. Why? Because our choices tend to reflect something about where we are in life.

If you're the type who likes revealing self-help exercises, I'd pause to do this now. Grab a scrap of paper and a pen. Write quickly. Don't think too hard. Because once you learn what the trick is, there's no way to do it without cheating.

So do it! I'll wait. Just click through below when you're done...

Disclaimer: No actual technical difficulties are ensuing...I
just like this as a "Wait a Minute" picture.)


"Lord of the Rings", "Beauty and the Beast" and Igor Stravinsky

When TheOneRing.net posted the above image to their facebook page, it really really inspired me.

I followed the link to the page from whence the stunning image came, Geek Art Gallery, and I really fell down the rabbit hole. I love the style of the image and the way that it has that kind of Mary Blair-like whimsicality and the specific stained-glass style that reminds me of "Beauty and the Beast". 

I also got a bug about searching down specific filming locations that I love. I've always had this dream vacation in mind where I go across the country just visiting my favorite filming locations from movies that I love. I think it would make a smashing documentary, providing that the characters along for the ride had a good secondary storyline going on. 

So I Googled some of the locations from "Return to Me" (a movie I ADORE) and found the following blog that I also spent a couple of hours on. It's called "It's Filmed There" and it's packed with good stuff. I particularly enjoyed the Chicago section. 

"My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the chains that shackle the spirit."

                                                                                             Igor StravinskyPoetics of Music


Tobolowsky Talks!

I love character actors. Any time I get the chance, I fill my projects with them. All the way up to the brim.

You love character actors too, by the way. Even if you don't know it. You love the guys and gals who pop up in small cameos and tiny colorful roles in all of your favorite movies.

The lady behind the car rental counter in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (Edie McClurg), Fred Astaire's constantly baffled straight man (Edward Everett Horton), and of course, everyone's FAVORITE, Ned the head, Needlenose Ned, Ned Ryerson from "Groundhog Day". The insanely prolific and versatile Stephen Tobolowsky.

WHO, as it turns out, podcasts.

AND writes with clear prose and warm memories from his decades as a working actor. (And he's still quite young, might I add.)


Fundamental Life Truth brought to you by David Bowie in Jim Henson's "Labyrinth"

The illusion that anyone in this life has any kind of negative power or control over you is just that, an illusion. The second you decide to break that and say, "You cannot tell me what to do, how to feel, what to think or how to proceed with my life." everything will change for you.

Especially when you are willing to accept the consequences of your independence, even if those consequences are that you now have to think for yourself and work harder to accomplish your OWN goals.

That's it, one simple decision for yourself, to go against any guilt or fear people may try to instill in you and tell them, "You have no power over me."

(Except don't actually TELL them. Or you'll sound like a crazy person. More like, just tell yourself and then start making healthier decisions.)

Cheesy, but true. Be brave, do your OWN THING! I know Jim Henson meant this movie to be primarily for children, but the lessons he was trying to teach them with allegory still seem apply to me...


How "The Mindy Project" Won Me Over!

I just watched the pilot of "The Mindy Project" and I have to say, I'm pretty psyched. Between "The New Girl", "Up All Night", "30 Rock" and so many others, it's a really good season to be an awkward lady. Finally, we have representation in the media! And lots of it.

True story, spit flew everywhere when I read that part aloud to proof it. Gross. But also, totally proves my point.

"The Mindy Project" was a really solid show. Here are a few reasons why I'll keep watching, and why you should give it a chance. Remember, in this day and age, if you don't support a pilot you enjoyed, network executives will yank it faster than...I can't come up with a punchline for this right now. Just know, they'll cancel it if you don't support it.

1. It's different. Everything from the format to the lead character offers something unique. Mindy's lead character isn't quirky in that "look how QUIRKY our lead is, she's so quirky that she weighs 100 pounds, is pageant-beautiful, and she falls down sometimes" way.

She drunk bikes herself into a pool and has a conversation with a Barbie doll underwater in the cold open. So...yeah. This character has actual flaws. Cloudy judgment. So there will actually be something to watch as the season unfolds. Actual things will happen.

2. I dig that the show is braving the medical genre. I'll admit, I balked at the thought initially. This isn't another "Scrubs" and it isn't trying to be. But they probably knew that setting the show in and around a hospital was a risk. And I like that they took it.

I don't know about you, but I'm a little burned out on hospital shows right now. However, the true genius of them taking that risk is that it makes our leading lady highly intelligent. She's a doctor. This brings balance to the force. A messy personal life? Sure. But don't write her off yet, because again...doctor. We know she has the potential to pull it together.

3. There's some serious John Hughes-ian heart in the writing. The montage of Mindy watching romantic comedies over the years...that was ME. All I did my first year of college was stay locked in my dorm room watching movies while everyone else partied. That tugged at my heart.

The very beginning, the few lines right before the title faded onto the screen...kind of made me emotional. And there's a really interesting surprise ending to the episode that opens our leading lady up to some serious judgment from viewers. Like I said in point number one, a lot of shows fall into that trap of trying to make a "quirky" character but really just making them sickeningly perfect with a couple of cutesy habits. That's not quirky. That's sheltered. That's predictable. But like a good John Hughes movie, the really interesting bits of character development almost always center around dysfunction. I like that this show isn't backing away from that. I'll definitely watch.

Relevant Anecdote: I used to stalk the Half-Price Books in Indianapolis. I was there so often the summer between my two years in grad school that I'm surprised they didn't start shooing me out with a broom like one of those sad birds that somehow gets trapped indoors. I camped out in the memoir section because that's where all the books of funny essays by hilarious ladies were. Tina Fey, Laurie Notaro, Rachel Dratch, and yes...Mindy Kaling.

I half hated those books, because I felt like they were stealing my life. My anecdotes. My stories. I wanted my chance to tell funny stories and it felt like they were beating me to the punchline.

But I also loved them, because as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, they made me feel understood. Represented. Like there was hope for this total lame-o after all. And "The Mindy Project" is sort of like one of those books popped off the shelf and came to life.

And that's a really good thing. I just hope the "funny stories by awkward women" boom doesn't end before I get my stuff together and figure out what to do with my stories.


Happy Birthday Christopher Lee

When I was a kid, I used to sneak out of my room at night, grab a VHS off of one of our many shelves of movies (Specifically, a tape containing a collection of vampire movie trailers.) and be absolutely terrified by your portrayal of Dracula. Especially in "Dracula A.D. 1972" in which you killed a plethora of hippies.

That collection of trailers lead me to Hammer Films, which were so different than the Universal classics I had known up to that point. So, thanks.


Post #501 - Turn and face the strange...

Sing it with me now, "CHANGES!"

If I would've had any time to think ahead at all, I totally would've joined the 501st and blogged about it for my 501st entry. But that would've required time. And I have none of that at present. But my life is changing a fair bit at the moment. So hey, you can't go wrong with some good-old-fashioned Bowie to celebrate.



Four Tanks and a Kickstarter: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Support Independent Artists

So there's this guy...Larry Longstreth. I've blogged and kind of raved about him before. I fully support him. I'm also more than a little jealous of his chutzpah. If only we could all dig our heels in on the idea of filmmaking.

Amid his many ideas and projects, Longstreth is also working on an animated series about an MMORPG game. There's nifty concept art and clever writing and for crying out loud, it's been backed by theonering.net. But to create an entire season, the project needs backers. That's where you come in.

Four Tanks and a Healer now has a Kickstarter account. CHECK IT OUT!

Look at the link. Make a donation, even a small one.

Avengers, ASSEMBLE! (Movie Review)

Remember that time I used to be a professional writer? Every once in a great while, I still do that. My Avengers review has posted over at the Orlando Attractions Magazine blog.

And hey, since you have nine billion other reviews to choose from, I'd like to suggest you read mine instead. Okay?



"Lodged right in this region here."

I CANNOT get this music out of my head for the life of me. And you know what? Of all the music to have stuck on repeat in your brain, this is not so very terrible to have to suffer through.The "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" soundtrack is tasteful, well thought out, thematically perfect and hey...it's orchestration, which not many soundtracks (especially not comedies) use anymore.


Where is Marsha Lucas?

George and Marsha in a cutting room, when
there was still actual cutting to be done.
I admit, I'm sad I missed those days. 
That question ran through my mind last week while I watched the Star Wars special features on a lunch break. (Ah, the glories of working from home...)

I've seen black and white pictures of this lovely phantom. I knew she was an editor, that she was integral to the success of Star Wars, and that she was once just as connected to Coppola, Spielberg and Kubrick as her legendary husband.

But after one black and white still of her popped up in the hours-long documentary about Star Wars, I took note of the almost dismissive nature of it. "Yeah, yeah...she was there too and stuff. We guess."

I've heard Lucas talk about his divorce on the "Temple of Doom" special features. He said it was a terrible dark time in his life. But all of the sudden it hit me. Where did she go?

So I Googled "Where did Marsha Lucas go?" and THIS WAS THE TOP RESULT. A fascinating and in-depth article about just exactly where she went on a website called Secret History of Star Wars. And can I just tell you, my heart sort of sank as I read. Here was this woman, independently doing what she already loved to do and being rewarded for it on her own, and in some ways, really personifying the "woman behind the man" idea.

And she has essentially been erased. Can you blame George? I guess not. It's his empire. Or is it? She was there too...but then again, according to the article all she ever wanted was a normal life. So maybe that's what she got. Exactly what she wanted, to be excluded from the empire she saw amassing before her eyes. I'll certainly watch the story of Anakin and Padme unfold in a different way now.

So, that's Marsha on the left holding an Oscar...
for editing Star Wars. Yet she's never in any of the
Special Features. Again, maybe it's by choice. But I
wish I could hear her talking about making the movies too.
I still love George as if he were the distant uncle who forgot all my birthdays or something. (You don't pretend George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are your uncles? Oh...me either.) I mean, who am I as a fangirl to judge whatever happened in their personal lives? Nobody, that's who. I've never been a big fan of the "Let's all hate George Lucas for doing as he darn well pleases." crowd. That would just be ungrateful. The man brought us Star Wars, let him add whatever he wants. I'll be happy to go see it in 3D and Real D and whatever other dimension he wants to release it in.

I just...all of the sudden I feel as confused as Sally Draper. I guess more than anything else, I want to know more about Marsha Lucas. So I guess I just feel kind of...robbed of the history? Yeah, I guess that's it.

Also, I had a doll named Marsha when I was a kid. So maybe it's subliminal...who knows? Just read the article. It's fascinating. And for a woman like me, I
guess a little terrifying.


Captain Picard, Meet Dr. Who

Q's V-Day Tip. And is it just me, or is John De Lancie
looking quite a bit like Nathan Fillion here??? 
So, you just know I love crossovers.

And this amazing bit of news popped up on facebook tonight and gave me something to look forward to. (Something to which I can look forward? Eh...I'm almost 30, I guess I can end my sentences with prepositions when I want to. Look I did it again!)

Just this week I was watching a random episode of Buffy while cleaning the kitchen and Buffy was talking to Giles, Riley and Xander saying, "You're like my fairy Godmother and Santa Claus and Q all wrapped up into one. Q from Bond, not Star Trek." It really got my wheels turning on crossovers that I would love to see happen in comic book form.

I mean, comics are unlimited. You can do whatever you want with them. It's what makes them the perfect format to use when you need to bridge time periods in fictional universes. (Countdown, anyone?)

If you could create a crossover, what would it be?

One of my big dreams was always to write a Next Gen/Sherlock Holmes crossover novel. (I have kind of a problem writing about Star Trek, in that I've never been able to stop doing it.) I always wanted more holodeck shenanigans with Dr. Moriarty. In fact, it's one of the reasons why I went to grad school. (There's even a really terrible copy of my first stab at it floating around the internet still! Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to self-publish.) Whether you had an agent or not, you used to be able to pitch your ideas and back in the day, (2008)  having an M.A. in creative writing was like having a free ticket to get your pitch heard.

You will never know the epic facepalm that happened when I saw that the publishing company no longer accepted unsolicited pitches by the time I earned my degree. Worst. Day. Ever.


What Makes the Indiana Jones Special Features So Special?

My sister and I always talk about how the special features are the best part to any box set or movie collection. But I think that needs a qualifier. As with anything else, not all special features are created equal.

For example, I hate the features that just show clips of the movie spliced with interview footage and all the interview footage contains is an actor or director talking about the plot beat by beat. I know what happens dummies, I watched the movie...

So scratch "special features" that are really just junket footage.

Then there are special features that show us how green screen works. We got it.

I want depth. I want those blood, sweat and tears stories. Take "The Return of the King" behind-the-scenes for example. Nobody is spared and at times, the documentary-level details paint Peter Jackson in a far less than flattering light. They show the stress the crew is under as Jackson makes constant changes they can't keep up with, the lack of sleep that generates a cloud over all involved and the painstaking side of excruciating makeup and prosthetics processes that could easily lead anyone having to endure them to a nervous breakdown.

For my money, I guess I'd be legally required to say that the LOTR features are technically the best because of their length and unprecedented access to the deep, dark corners of filmmaking that most productions try to hide. I'm sorry to have to tell you this everyone, but the production business, even on the lowest of levels, is 80% unpleasantness. It's pain up until the moment of delivery, where all you can do is hope against hope that some glimmer of joy or intention shines through the months of hard work and awkwardness on set or clashes with the crew. And I do love the LOTR special features so so much. For Pete's sake (literally) I've wept over them.

BUT. They're my second favorite.

To me, the best special features of all time have to be the ones that come in the Indiana Jones Trilogy box set. (I don't own the quadrilogy as a box set, but I do have KOTCS separately. And that's an entirely separate blog.)

There's a reason why the Indy special features are my favorite and it has nothing to do with the fact that "the Indys" are probably my most-loved movies. It's that the features themselves echo the stories, the making-of shows a grueling, hands-on practical process that made these stories happen...


We Need To Talk About Anjelica Huston

Huston in "Smash"
Anjelica Huston onscreen is one word. Power. The preview for "Smash" popped up in my Hulu queue recently. Musical theater? Check. Marilyn Monroe? Double check. Anjelica Freaking Huston? CHECK.

"Smash" is a new NBC series that follows the creation of a Broadway show based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. I pressed play without hesitation.

But this isn't a review of "Smash". Though I would highly recommend you watch it. The show has an ease of pace and that goosebump-inducing goodness that only a great show tune can bring.

But it also has something else...Anjelica Huston. Just the sight of her literally makes me sit up and pay attention. There's a shot in "Smash" of her defiantly walking down a hallway and it gave me instant chills.

Her character on the show is Eileen Rand, a soon-to-be ex-wife whose husband is trying to shut her down and shut her up. Specifically, he wants to prevent her from producing a "My Fair Lady" revival on Broadway. But Rand is determined to produce something, so she secretly sets all the gears in motion on the Marilyn musical. Watching Huston portray a character who is so good at what they do is exhilarating.

Every second she spends onscreen is captivating.

One of my mentors, writer Jill Christman, used to approach inspiration from a psychological standpoint. Her theory was that us creative types tend to obsess and fixate. Rather than fight that, we should indulge it and try to get to the root of our obsession so we can channel that energy into something productive. (Think of the fanboy and fangirl lives this theory could change...can you imagine a world where every fangirl was productive? There might be world peace in three weeks.)

So what is it with me and Anjelica Huston? Let's ponder just a few of her memorable roles...


Parody Rock and Mikey Mason's "Impotent Nerd Rage"

Ah...parody rock. The true cornerstone of any healthy marriage.

No wait, that's not right...

To parody anything well, you must first be good at the actual thing you intend to send up.

Yes, that's the thing.

Imagine a Mel Brooks movie that was poorly edited, had a sloppy script or was miscast in some way. Try to picture "Young Frankenstein" with a confusing plot.

Humor only plays when fine-tuned and delivered in a specific format that the audience can understand and enjoy. If they have to ask questions about it along the way, then what's the point? And I know all of this amazing academic sounding stuff about humor because I am an expert at messing up jokes.