Netflix Penance: 6 Classic Movies You Never Knew You'd Love

Explanation: I asked my husband to use Photoshop to
create a picture of a Scarlet Letter-type pilgrim woman,
but in place of the "A" for adultery, I wanted the "Toddlers
and Tiaras" logo. He said, "I Googled 'Pioneer Woman'
and this is what came up. Also worth noting, it was
attached via email by the name "Pioneer and Toodlers".
I share this terrible confession here in the virtual public square because I know that when my weak moment comes again, I shall remember my shame and not repeat it.

While browsing around Netflix this weekend, for a brief moment, no more than a minute I swear, I started to watch "Toddlers and Tiaras".

I know. Bad monkey. BAD!

I turned it off, quickly took a shower of shame, then cleaned my house for a couple hours. Alas, all the sparkly tiles and folded laundry in the world couldn't make me feel clean. I knew what I had to do.

Netflix Penance. With all that crazy-eyed, bedazzled evil still lurking in my frontal lobe, I had to take immediate action. I had to neutralize the damage by watching some of the many classic films that Netflix has available. For two reasons:

1. How would my snob self explain its presence in my queue? What if I had a surprise guest and they wanted to watch something on Netflix and saw the show in my "Recently Watched"? The horror.

2. I had to wash the filth out of my mind. If you should find yourself tempted by "Keeping up with the Kardashians" or "Bridezillas" or even the dreaded show whose name shall not be spoken (Except for the fact that I wrote it in this blog earlier.), take comfort in the fact that YOU TOO can undo the damage and refill that sassy little thinking machine of yours with high-quality content.

I am, of course, mostly kidding. A little reality TV never hurt anyone. It's like a nap for your brain. I watch "America's Next Top Model". But still. Balance is good. You can use the following movies to cleanse your cinematic palate next time you need to do some Netflix Penance of your own. You'll be glad you did.

1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - 1969 - It's not just a Western. It's a buddy comedy. It's a comedy comedy. It's a road movie. It's part musical. (Sort of.) And it's also a study in excellent screenwriting and formalistic film technique.

2. Sabrina - 1954 - Even I'll admit, the chemistry between the lovely and otherworldly Audrey Hepburn and the slightly older and curmudgeonly Humphrey Bogart isn't exactly setting the screen ablaze. But Audrey is enough. The humor is enough. And that gorgeous black and white footage is enough.

3. Duck Soup - 1933 - It's easy to dismiss old movies. "Sure, that was funny back THEN," you might say. Watch this movie. And laugh with reckless abandon. Rapid-fire punchlines. Perfect physical shtick. Behold...the silliness.

4. The Producers - 1968 - There's Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel and a musical about Hitler. 

5. The African Queen - 1951 - This is the kind of movie you show to a classroom of students and at first they're all like, "Psht! This dumb old thing? This is so booooo...hey are those Nazis? Did that older missionary lady just suggest building a torpedo? Wait a tick...is this a river adventure?"

That's the true test of a good movie. Can it survive the cynicism of college students? Let me tell you. It does my friends. It does. 

6. Chaplin: The Movie - 1992 - Yes, this movie is a little heavy-handed. Yes, the score will make you cry before you're invested enough to know why. But anyone who loves the wonderful genius movies of Charlie Chaplin will be stunned at the dedication and physical prowess of a young Robert Downey Jr. 

This is somehow a sad biography film AND a glitzy escapist jaunt. It takes you back to the glamour days of early Hollywood when Mary Pickford (in her early diary writings) described it as a vast and open country that smelled overwhelmingly of oranges. It takes you back to a time when there were hundreds of movie studios because the art form was brand new. You even get to visit one of Errol Flynn's swinging chandelier parties. 

Lovingly crafted by Sir Richard Attenborough, the movie will make you pine for those good old days that weren't even yours. Afterward, you'll go watch some Chaplin. Some "Modern Times", a little of "The Kid", maybe even some of his shorts that are (Guess where?) on Netflix. 

And THAT is never a bad thing.

You could do worse as far as punishments go...I'm just saying. 


In Defense of Peter Jackson and "The Hobbit" - Is Peter Jackson the next George Lucas?

I am about to full-on fangirl out (A process similar to hulking out, but with less muscles.) and just straight up non-objectively argue with all of the lukewarm and cold reviews I've been scanning for "The Hobbit" this morning.

Note: I am fully aware that neither Peter Jackson nor "The Hobbit" need a crazy fangirl's overly-intense and bloggy defense. The box office has spoken. But still...it's what I do. Hooray for self-awareness!If you really want to support something, you do so with your purchasing power. So I'll be seeing it again for sure.

I sat at our kitchen counter this morning, drinking my coffee and becoming increasingly frustrated from the stance most of the negative reviews are written from. (Get over it, I end my sentences with prepositions. "I'm a loner Dottie...a rebel.")

Yes, all movies should stand alone. (Right? Hmmm...) You should be able to be Johnny Anybody and walk in off the street, plop down and totally be able to follow the whole movie.

Put a pin in that. I'll return to it.

There is a low but audible accusatory thrum beneath almost all of the reviews.

Essentially, this careful accusation goes, "Peter Jackson did 'The Hobbit' to rake in the dough. That's why he turned the much shorter source material (shorter than LOTR) into another trilogy. That's why these movies are so long."


How to Beat Text Alert iPhone-Based Anxiety

I have a problem with my cell phone. I wonder if a lot of other people experience something similar. Sometimes it gives me anxiety.

I was a late adopter. I'll stick with a piece of technology, a car, a ratty old sweater...anything at all until I really feel like I've gotten the good out of it. Or until it explodes. Even then, I try to find someone who needs it. Lots of people use explodey-things. Evil scientists, Hollywood prop houses, Looney Tunes.

But the gift of my iPhone for my attaining my graduate degree a year and a half ago ushered in a new era for me. I love that thing. I named it "My Precious" and my husband has to pry it out of my busy little raccoon paws constantly while I check IMDB, read emails, look up song lyrics that I can't remember and take WAY too many pictures EVERYWHERE I go.

Exhibit A:

A snail I met at The Contemporary Resort last Saturday.
I named him Manheim...

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. 


Fundamental Life Truth brought to you by "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring"

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.



Cabaret Inspirations

Soooooo...I'm finally doing an open mic night/cabaret at the end of February.

Song selection has proven far more difficult than I thought it would be. Mostly because it's been a hot minute since I was in a show or doing any kind of singing for performance. 2008 was my last show, the Hot Jazz Cabaret. (Which was a TOTAL blast and I got to dress like Liza herself from "Cabaret" proper.)

But all of the songs that I really want to sing are duets or ensembles, out of my range, require staging or are really random topically-speaking. So I'm still picking songs that I like, but I'm playing it sort of safe and giving myself an easy start.

BUT. If I had to issue no disclaimers and I had a partner who would sing with me and more space to use, I'd do the following...

And hey, while I'm dreaming, why not imagine a free rehearsal space opens up and I can start rehearsing with a group of dedicated volunteers to recreate famous dance numbers from movies I love? I'd do Bob Fosse's "Rich Man's Frug".

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 a couple of years ago, definitely confirmed, Disney Haunted Mansion film?

With Favreau doing his "Magic Kingdom" movie, it's seems like Disney is placing bets on high quality directors with specific visions. Here's to hoping that Del Toro is still on board! 

At the very least, we know that Del Toro loves the haunted house genre enough to visit and re-visit it's themes and scenes time and again. 

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.) 


Too Much Galadriel Make Homer Something Something

Disclaimer: The word
"ravings" is in my blog
title. So you asked for it.
I have a Galadriel problem in my life. I KNOW, how could that be? The words "problem" and "Galadriel" don't go in the same sentence together, right?

My issue is that I have too many reasons to reference her. I can rattle off the ol' Gally references like Steve Martin can rattle off nose jokes in "Roxanne". Bam! Obscure 80's movie joke! Right out of the gate! 

Also, what do you mean you don't have pet names for a fictional character? Whose the weird one NOW?

Examples: When I turn on a flash light, I can't resist doing, "Let it be a light for you in dark places."

Every time I decide not to do something, "I will dimish and go into the West and remain Galadriel."

Except, truth time...I've been saying that quote incorrectly for years. So what I really say is, "I shall go into the West and diminish."

Sometimes I make my own terrible Groucho Marxist joke when people are leaving. (Yes, I did that on purpose. Marxism. Get it?) I hold up one hand the way she does when the Fellowship floats down the River Anduin away from Lothlorien and I say, "Galad to see ya!"

I even do those scary eye flashes that she does that are sort of Morticia Addams-ish just to make myself laugh. The making myself laugh thing is another issue altogether probably.

The point is, the references are spinning out of control. Even for me. As "The Hobbit" approaches, I think I might be driving my husband nuts with these references. Is there a movie reference intervention service?

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. 


Famous Movie Sweaters and other cold-weather nonsense

I was in Indiana last weekend. I'm so spoiled by the gorgeous Florida weather that I forgot you need, what are those called again? Oh yeah, COATS in the Mid-West.

So we stopped by Old Navy and Dad and I went halfsies on a heavy-duty sweater I could use as a coat. Seems normal enough, eh?

Not a giant Old Navy store. Photo taken in airport before departure.

 I bought it for two reasons.

1. It was nice and warm and on sale. You know, normal people reasons.


2. It looked like a hybrid of,




So, I guess I have early nineties fashion coming back around to thank for my cozy giant fluffy sweater?

I once saw, I kid you not, an exact replica of the Dude's sweater. Patterning and everything. It was in an upscale clothing boutique at Downtown Disney. It was WAY too expensive. But movie prop-wise, I couldn't believe that of all places, it was in a WOMEN'S clothing store and that I found it at Downtown Disney. But it was crazy expensive. Too expensive, we decided, to actually buy.

Then I went home and looked for it online and found that the price we thought was too high was actually pretty low for Dude-sweater replicas. But still...who can justify spending that much money on a movie replica of something? (Me someday if I win the lottery. AFTER charitable donations and buying everyone in my family a private jet, of course.)

Either way, I have a comfy new sweater and a brain that won't quit. So that's neat.


God, Perfectenschlag and Piano Drops

"The Shrutes have a word for when everything in a man's life comes together perfectly."

I'm a little superstitious about saying so, but I may have accidentally started to orbit around "perfectenschlag" myself. (The first definition.) Which I have to say, is a brand new feeling for me. I used to think of God as the great Looney Tunes animator in the sky, always waiting to drop a piano on me the second I thought things might be going okay. I even had a pastor in college tell me once, "You have got to let go of being so superstitious, God doesn't work like that." 

But I was raised by a clown. Which complicated things in the BEST kind of way. Comedy brain is totally different than regular-person brain. Comedy-brain is always waiting for the punchline and will create one even when it's not there. 

So it's not that I ever thought God was out to get me specifically...I think there's another, more medical term for that. It's just that I really lived by the Yiddish proverb, "Man makes plans and God laughs." 

It kind of became an excuse to self-sabotage. "If God laughs while I make plans, why make any plans at all?" Ot at least, why make any that are actually attainable? How about just wallowing in that warm and comforting, fangirl-crazed, early-eighties, "You can be anything!" nostalgia instead of taking small steps and moving forward? 

But I know better now. 

See, that would be the piano-drop moment. right after you declare that you have it all figured out. 

(Have you read Tina Fey's "Bossypants"? She has a great anecdote about a fire on a cruise ship. Amidst the chaos and life jackets, there was a lady asking for a Diet Coke instead of a regular from a steward passing out drinks and how if God had any sense of humor, the ship would've blown up precisely the moment after the woman asked for the diet instead. But I digress...) 

Things are actually going really well in my life right now, despite some ups and downs. If I don't record what's happening, the moment may pass without me acknowledging it. I have a long and delightful (to others) history of obliviousness. 

I am the girl who accidentally walked in front of a parade at the Magic Kingdom for like three minutes once, as though I was some disoriented, plain-clothes parade marshall. It didn't even occur to me that the music was really loud and there were people lined up on the sides of the street. What did I do? I just sang along and kept on walking, thinking everyone around me was just being really positive and life-affirming because everyone at Disney World is really happy to be on vacation.

So you'll forgive me if I list for the sake of record-keeping...


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.

Have you ever wondered, "Can Audrey apply her own makeup, do her own hair, or act like a normal human being for any decent stretch of time?" Stop wondering. The video evidence is here. And the answer is no...but I sure had fun trying.

And I know...we're all our own worst critics. I'm sort of half joking about thinking I'm the worst. Performance sometimes comes naturally to me, I just don't see myself as a leading lady, main host type. Maybe I would've felt better if I had hair and makeup people. I consider myself more of the best friend/sidekick/character actor/ugly-herself-up-for-a-joke-on-SNL archetype.

If you've ever had to sit through watching yourself on video, you understand the auto-cringe function in my brain. I'm actually super proud of the year on this gig and wouldn't change it for the world.

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:

If I am Script and Tape, what are you?

I've been trying to quit journalism cold turkey. It's tough. The allure and sheen of pitching a piece, scheduling an interview, conducting it, transcribing it, drafting it, re-drafting it and ultimately seeing it on the shiny magazine page (or hearing it on the radio) is a tough habit to break.

Slapping together an 800 word editorial piece where you get to be quippy and funny and topical is addictive. You can mold it and shape it for a few days, zap it away and feel GOOD about yourself.

"Look what I did. I did that. That's me. I belong in this book store, at the magazine rack. I am a gear in this beautiful, book-smelling, coffee-filled, nicely organized-by-topic machine." I used to wander the Barnes and Noble and the Borders Bookstores of the Mid-West.  I'd count the magazines I was in all at once. But to me, that was something. To me, a 400-word piece about the death of Ben Chapman or musings on the burning of an animatronic King Kong and I was practically Sir Arthur Conan Doyle celebrating his first story in The Strand.

So why would I ever quit?


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 tri-fecta 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.

My husband has taken to censoring what I watch because of it. I once saw news footage of a baby lemur drowning at a zoo and I was LITERALLY useless for over twenty-four hours. Just sobbing and sobbing like Rita Wilson and Meg Ryan in "Sleepless in Seattle.

Because really, WHO puts something like that on the news? Why did we all need to know that? Where they afraid we'd all let our pet lemurs too close to the bathtub?

Because of this malady of mine, I have had to skip some movies that I know for a fact I would've otherwise loved. For example, I have yet to see the remake of "True Grit". And for a Western fan I have to tell you, that's a major sacrifice.

So imagine my surprise when at the very minute an adorable Australian Shepherd appeared onscreen, I paused the movie, grabbed my phone and Googled "Does the dog die in Cowboys and Aliens?" and THE FOLLOWING MIRACLE CHANGED MY LIFE...


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.



How NOT to Make a Short Film

How Not To Make a Short Film from Audrey Brown on Vimeo.

There's a story behind the "film" above. (I hesitate to call it that since it's not film at all, but you get the idea.) A story that starts further back than you might think and involves more than me turning a failure into an educational short for a filmmaking website I work for in California.  

The year I started college (2000!) I had an idea for a short film. I was in a heavy Charlie Chaplin phase at the time and I wanted to make a silent film about the woes of dating. I scribbled down a few notes for it. I thought on it time and again as the years went by and while I worked on other things.

For a brief period of time, I tinkered with the idea of a short film about the impact human beings have on each other just by proximity alone. It was called "Complex" and it was set in an apartment complex and inciting incidents happened only via overhead conversations through walls and on balconies. 

(There's a double meaning to the word "complex", get it? I was Captain Obvious.) Well, now there's a TV show identical in concept but totally different in execution and and I regret not doing it my way first. If I were to produce that short now, people would think I was copying that concept... 


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". And guess what I got to walk through last weekend?

You guessed it! Beast's castle.

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

So 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.


For Homesickness...

Morning light, soft and bright,
Wobegon reveals;
Early frost lies across
Farm and woods and fields.
Coffee done, I'll have some.
Step outdoors alone.
Look around, sit me down
On a slab of stone.
By the barn, cattle turn
Murmur in the pen.
Strong and pure cow manure,
I know where I am,
I know where I am.
I am home again.

Precious Lord, by our word
Simple gifts are blest
Creatures all, great and small,
Heav'nly love express.
Love and faithfulness.
Let the promise of salvation
Come by daily observation
In this farmyard, Lord. Be with us.

My old dog takes his walk,
Sniffing ev'ry tree.
Ev'ry smell seems to tell
His biography.
Chickens dash 'cross the grass,
Cats patrol the yard.
Seven geese marching east
Form an honor guard.
Then a small trumpet call
Ringing to the skies.
Three loud barks—ARF, ARF, ARF!
Wake up and arise.
Be in paradise,
Be in paradise. 


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 image on the right to their facebook page, it really really inspired me.

All of the sudden lately, I find myself attracted to concentrated artistic endeavors. I've been a jack of all trades, master of none for so many years now that I think my attention is being captured by people and artists who have a singular focus and an easily identifiable outlet for that focus.  

I followed the link to the page where the stunning image came from, 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 done by the comedic genius Bonnie Hunt) 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, I really love that city and some of the most inspiring moments of my life have happened there. 

I think what's going on is that it's time for me to get more specific than I ever have and to treat what I do as art. The danger in making a living as a creative professional is that if you aren't careful, you look up from your laptop one day and business has taken over your entire life. You aren't doing anything for fun anymore. Everything is about money somehow. So I'm making some adjustments. Trying to schedule out time for new artistic adventures. Trying to work in new formats. Getting out of my comfort zone. Putting the "business" of creative business back where it belongs...in the second half of that phrase. 

And I'm intentionally not going to talk about it on this blog. I have a nasty habit of talking about the things I want to do and then NEVER doing them. So I don't want to blog about any of this stuff until it has manifested in such a way that I can take a picture of it once it's underway or SHOW you a final product. 

"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 one's self of the chains that shackle the spirit."

                                                                                             Igor StravinskyPoetics of Music


Heather Talks about The Calming Effect of Ninja Turtles

It has come to my attention that yet another old cartoon is getting a face-lift and being presented to a new generation. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are coming to Nickelodeon  this month! Now, our kids will be able to experience for themselves the things we knew and loved!
It's genius, really. Nostalgia kicks in, and the parents are off running to buy themselves—er, their kids—the latest overpriced merchandise. But what are they really selling us? Lies, I tell you! Lies!
Think about it. The these turtles were teenage ninjas back in 1987. Even allowing that they were as young as fifteen back then, that makes them at least forty, people! Teenagers? I think not. 
This is the thought that ran through my head last weekend as my son as had five stitches placed in his finger. That's right, folks. My thirteen year old son was going through a traumatic experience, and instead of offering him words of love and comfort, I distracted him with aging turtles. And guess what? It worked! Now who's the genius, eh? 
As the nice ER doctor infused the wound with lidocaine, I dubbed the boys in green the “Midlife Crisis Ninja Turtles” and asked my son how this would differ from the original version. Five stitches later, we had righted the wrongs of the animated world. 
Our turtles hadn't fared so well. They were all either divorced or cheating on their spouse with a younger woman. (You know, the hot young thing they picked up in their new red sports car.) By some miracle of nature, their bald heads had sprouted enough hair to create nifty comb-overs.  They spent too much time at the gym, drank lots of Gatorade, and tried to fit in with the hipper new MMA crowd. Their new “friends” thought they were a big joke.
Thank god the doctor was quick with a needle. I shudder to think what we may have done to the poor Scooby Gang!


Heather Cichos is a writer of the highest order (supersize those fries, please!) and speaks in fluent Moviequotish. She finds Jay Baruchel strangely attractive, but is unimpressed by George Clooney. (Exception: back when he was in “The Facts of Life”. Yeah, she's that old.) She is also a staunch supporter of shrink-ray technology. Isn't everything cute in miniature? 


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.)

David Bowie's "Underground"

This is the beginning of the third week in a row that marks my obsession with this song. I love the movie "Labyrinth" very much, as well as "The Dark Crystal". I'm a giant Jim Henson fan. But I don't know why this song in particular has lodged itself so persistently in my psyche. But I'm not complaining.

When I searched for it on YouTube, I discovered a wonderful little gem. A music video for the song I'd never seen. I assumed it would be a clip montage from "Labyrinth". But no, it's some of my all-time most favorite characters coming to life in a brand new way. And I never even knew it existed until this week. Hooray for wonderful surprises.

Enjoy the song and the video...


I'm only twenty years away from my Sally O'Malley-themed birthday party!

Photo by Jenny Anderson for Broadway.com
It happened. I turned thirty.

Ah, birthdays. The day you get to pat yourself on the back for managing to stay alive. As much I already want to don the red pantsuit, I guess I'm still about twenty years away from that.

But that didn't stop me from annoying the ever-loving pants off everyone I saw on my birthday by yelling, "I'm THIRTY" just like Molly Shannon as Sally O'Malley. (Followed by lots of kicking and stretching.)

On my actual birthday, I really wanted to get some work done in preparation for my week-long "stay-cation". (Which I am currently in the middle of.) When you live in Orlando, you pretty much don't have to go anywhere to have fun. You just have to find the time to do all the stuff you want to do. And so I did...


Say, "Hello" To My Little Friend

You know her already, as she has been sending in contributions to this blog for a few years now. She is a fangirl of the highest order and she has some seriously major books in the works. (I can't tell you any details, all I'll say is that one of them already has a celebrity attached in a very unique way. And they approve!)

Heather Cichos will now have her own regular column here titled, "Wake Me When the Death Star is Operational." You will know her columns by this image, which will appear at the top of all of her contributions.

She'll also still be tagged as "Heather", so you can find all her contributions that way in the topic guide in the left sidebar. Though I won't be taking on any other regular contributors at this time, I will reconsider it in January! I get some requests from time to time, so if you are one of those people, wait until January and I'll announce more details about it then.

Until then, enjoy Heather's upcoming blogs! She brings an irreverent sense of humor and her writing often centers around the obsessive-compulsive nature of fangirling, as both a positive and a negative in her life. She talks about parenting her little geeklets. She talks about finding geek inspiration for the holidays...you could almost think of her as the Martha Stewart of fangirls, for all of her craftiness and attention to detail.

To you a formal welcome Heather...

yIghoSDo'! - which is of course Klingon for "Go onward with fortune"


The force is strong with this one...

My niece sent me the following video and photo. I got a pretty big kick out of both of them. Of course, I'm pretty slow in "teh internets" (Exhibit A. is that I still think it's funny to say "teh internets".) these days, so pardon me if this is already super popular and I'm just way late to the party. Either way, Saturday night geek dance party! (Yeah, I'm talking to you, get up and dance!)

There was also this...gave me quite a chuckle.

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.


Dress to Impress...and Imitate Movie Characters

Though money is tight in the Williams' household these days, my sweet husband wanted to take me out to buy a few things for my birthday which is coming up on August 30th. (I'll be 30 on the 30th this year. Isn't that magical or something? Enchanted? What do they call that? There's a word for it...)

Anyway, I spotted a vintage-looking number on sale at a very fancy boutique called Chez Tarjay. (That's Target to you those of you who simply must pronounce things in the traditional way.)  Though twenty dollars is still pretty steep, I loved this dress, so I snatched it right up.

But I admit to having a different motive. Though it doesn't look like much on the rack, when I tried it on in the dressing room, it reminded me very much of these dresses that left an impression on a certain young movie geek back in her childhood...

A layer of lace over fabric is oh-so-very 1950's. I've never seen a dress like that in a modern store anywhere before, let alone for such a steal. I've done a lot of things because they looked really appealing in movies. Splash is responsible the first time I tried lobster when I was nine, I tried to tear into that sucker with my teeth.

I can safely report, this has been a much better experience so far.

Ever bought a piece of clothing because it reminded you of a costume from a movie? (My husband has a handful of very Dude-like shorts and sunglasses because of this little inspirational-buying-streak problem I have.)

MILESTONE! It's a milestone birthday. Not a magical one.