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?