12/16/17

3 More Must-See Movies For After You've Seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Your year in film doesn't have to end with Jedi!

Oddly enough, I haven't seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi yet. The force is indeed with me though, because I've managed to avoid even a single spoiler.

But what about those inevitable post-Star Wars blues that kick in once I have seen it? Am I the only one who gets those?

Sidebar: This time a couple years ago, I was knocking around Lucasfilm in San Francisco and seeing The Force Awakens at The Presidio. (Unfortunately, I was too busy to blog during one of the seasons of my life that made my inner geek the most happy. Maybe I should write about it someday?)

Anyway, between Christmas parties and finishing a couple small freelance assignments, I'm experiencing a lot of film anxiety. Why? I have three more must-sees and not a lot of time. As something of an obsessive compulsive, I really feel like I need to see them before the year ends and I officially declare my Movie of the Year 2017.

Here are my three remaining Must-See Movies of 2017:

1. The Shape of Water

This movie makes me feel like Stefon from SNL. To me, it has everything I could ever want: an old-timey setting, lauded character actors, Doug Jones as a gillman, Del Toro directing, and the Jewish Dracula Sidney Applebaum.

Well, okay...not that.

But still. I gleefully trip to the theater for all things Del Toro. As someone who shares his fascination with monsters, it's nice to go to the movies and see someone getting them right when 90% of the time, people miss the entire point. *cough cough* Tom Cruise's Mummy *hack cough*



2. The Phantom Thread

For me, this is another ideal combination of talent and director. Method man Daniel Day Lewis is back with Paul Thomas Anderson. The preview makes the film look beautiful and taut. And I love a script that has something significant to say. This one seems to hint at themes of ownership and ego within the creative process. 

I'm assuming there will be meta undertones as well, due to the fact that Daniel Day Lewis has announced his retirement. A movie about a master being undermined by his gifts, the same things that have allowed him to soar at his craft? Perfect. 

Anyway, I wonder if he'll go back to cobbling? If you haven't heard the famous story, read this Rolling Stone article from 2003.


3. I, Tonya

When the director was trying to crack his way into Tonya Harding's story, he visited several of the real people from the infamous Olympic scandal. When they gave conflicting accounts of exactly what happened, he didn't see that as an obstacle. He saw a structure.

If the previews are any indication, Margot Robbie's performance looks to be intense, comedic and joyous to watch.

Sidenote: I'm old enough to remember the Nancy/Tonya debacle unfolding in real time. How about you? I look forward the warm fuzzy nostalgia this will inevitably ignite for the early nineties. *cross fade into a montage of neon scrunchies and that's it*

FYI, all the smoking and glorious Allison Janney lines make me want to run to rewatch Drop Dead Gorgeous.


What's left on your movie list? Anything from months previous that you just never got around to seeing in theaters? Are you the same kind of weirdo as me, where you feel like you must finish your film watching homework before the ball drops?

P.S. The Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal is responsible for one of my all-time favorite Chris Farley sketches. Enjoy!


P.P.S. How much do you still love Tim Meadows? I'm thrilled he's appearing semi-regularly on The Goldbergs. He made one small line about a Pop Tart into one of the funniest moments of this week's episode. #underappreciatedcomedictalent

12/13/17

Fifteen Years Ago, Star Trek Nemesis Premiered

I was there. (Well...a week later.) And I have the very nerdy receipts by way of Instagram below. I came home from my sophomore year of college to see it with my dad, because we see all the Star Trek movies together. Because nerds who nerd together nerd together. Or something like that.

I was certain Picard would sacrifice himself. The marketing campaign hinted very strongly that this would be the end of our beloved Captain, which was a brilliant move. I actually spent time preparing for his demise. I felt ready.

When they pulled the old switcheroo, I cried so hard into my popcorn napkin that Dad handed me a handkerchief instead. My dad is just cool like that. He always has a handkerchief and a pocket knife and he knows a hundred ways to kill a man with a writing utensil.

Good times.


A post shared by Audrey Brown-Williams (@audreyscleverusername) on

12/9/17

My Top 3 Most Played Super Nintendo Games from Childhood

Desperately Wants To Be Cool, the photograph.
Hiya. Long time, no blog. I'm gonna give you some quick catch-up first, then I'll share my Top 3 Most Played Super Nintendo Games from Childhood. I'd love to hear yours in the comments.

I'm also going to be needy and ask you a personal question at the very end. I genuinely need your opinion and I hope you'll reply.

Over the last few years, I've turned into a real grown-up. I've been busy working and traveling. But I've also been feeling really out of touch with my actual self this year. I thought visiting friends and family in Chicago, Indianapolis, Muncie and New York might just be the trick.

I returned home from NYC on Tuesday. I've been playing catch up ever since, feeling that post-travel malaise. It's like, I was a free little bird. Now I have to stay in A PLACE?

Then I woke up to a non-Christmas miracle this morning. I live in Florida, but a cold breeze was blowing through my open bedroom window. The sky? Overcast.

I, for one, love a cloudy day. Maybe it was all those Tim Burton movies I watched growing up. Maybe it was the way the cotton skies seemed to muffle the clatter and chaos of the outside world. Maybe growing up in the Midwest just makes you a stay-in kind of girl. I'll take blankets, fuzzy socks, and a VHS marathon over a trip to a water park any day.

Another day of bad weather? Better stay inside, watch movies, and play video games.

9/25/17

Good Geek Stuff - Monday, September 25th 2017

It's Monday and I'm back in my office. How about you? Next time you need a break, check out these three bits of Good Geek Stuff.

1. Wes Anderson's latest movie finally has a trailer!


2. Karen Hallion's Kickstarter for her Celara calendar has 43 hours left! Go donate! Her Patreon is also well-worth following. In 2007, I had this really vivid dream that I was Han Solo's daughter. I had gone into the Sarlacc pit to retrieve Boba Fett's jet pack and I was using it to fly around be an awesome smuggler/wild card of justice.

When I initially saw this piece of art done by Hallion, it felt like seeing an image from my dream. Her art encompasses the spirit of lady geekdom with vivid colors and imaginative clarity. 
3. My favorite local coffee place is getting a brick and mortar in my town! But if you aren't lucky enough to live in central Florida, Coffee Shop of Horrors also sells online. They create intensely flavorful, aromatic blends with unique and beautiful art on their packaging. Because of their attention to quality and detail, all of their products honestly make great gifts.* (They aren't paying me to say any of this, it's just how I feel.) Especially for the film and tv fans in your life. I picked up my seasonal favorite on Saturday!



4. And speaking of artists, my sister has finally put out her own internet shingle! You can visit Random Fandom Geek Boutique to see her paintings, miniatures and pumpkins. You can even place an order yourself! She does a lot, but her specialty is fast becoming geek portraits. Below you'll find the early stages of a young Slytherin in progress. 

To me, this is still so beautiful, even in all it's unfinished glory!


What else is good in the world of geek right now? Let me know in the comments! And remember to follow all these artists via social networking and...

Shop Local. Shop....S...local. Eh, you get it.


*It's very important to read anything that sounds like advertising copy in the soothing voice of Karina Longworth from You Must Remember This.

9/21/17

3 Times Star Trek Met Pop Culture


"And I hate you, and I BERATE YOU!"



Trailer Reaction to the new Tomb Raider - Oh...I'll give you a (naval-gazing) reaction, alright.


I just watched the new trailer for the Tomb Raider reboot. What did I think? Before I tell you that, I have to tell you some other stuff. Some really dorky other stuff.

I still have my ticket stub from the first movie. That night in 2001, I drove to the theater on backcountry Indiana roads. Fireflies lit up the cornfields like Christmas trees. It was my first summer home from college. 

Not long after, I picked up the PC game. My muscle memory adapted quickly to rescuing Lara. The directional keypad, shift and enter were so over-used, their lettering wore off.

I bought the soundtrack too. I jogged to it almost every day. This was the era of portable CD players, ancient things you had to hold flat in your hand to prevent the tracks from skipping. Back then, it looked like runners everywhere were carrying small dinners on a tiny serving trays.

Later, when I'd watch the VHS, my brain still thought it was gaming. If Lara needed to run in the movie, I'd instinctively press the imaginary alt button. After a lifetime of films, suddenly there was a physiological connection between myself as a passive viewer and the active hero on the screen.


4/30/17

Yo

Sorry I haven't been around as often. April was a weird month. At the end of March, I found out a very dear friend passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I also had a big work project I needed to travel to D.C. for and with all the stress in my personal life, I ended up sadding myself pretty sick.

Quickly, I wanted to share a few articles that have been published while I was away.

1. DC by Her Universe Activewear Round-Table Review at FangirlBlog.com

2. 10 Ways To Help The Environment on Earth Day at HelloGiggles.com

3. 8 Movies and TV Shows To Help You Feel Brave at HelloGiggles.com

I also found out I'll be on the editorial staff at an upcoming magazine! So yay! I'm also focusing on some life changes that will help me feel closer to my authentic self, a lot of which have to do with my career.

But I'm also still pretty sad. So, boo. How are you?

3/28/17

My Interview with Ashley Eckstein (and how to judo-throw your fandom into a career)

Ashley Eckstein of Her Universe.
I've got a theory. I think most people have a secret wish when it comes to meeting their favorite celebrity. Whether it's at a convention, or by happenstance on the street, many people run that scenario in their minds.

In fact, in our entertainment-obsessed culture, I think a lot of hopes and emotions are tangled up in our fandoms in really complex psychological ways.

FYI, I'm not judging you for that. That would be a pretty serious pot/kettle situation.

In fact, as a former spaz in recovery, I think I can help you learn how to translate those feelings. By answering four simple questions, you can learn how to judo-throw your fangirl prowess into a career doing what you love.

Did you know that if you have passion for a fandom, you can channel some of that energy into a related career? How do I know? I've done it.


3/17/17

Marilyn Monroe's Journey to Blonde (and how it reflected the male gaze)

Monroe in 1948, when she was still
relatively unknown.
Everyone knows Marilyn Monroe as the most iconic blonde in film history. But how many people know the journey she took to get there? What we don't know about celebrities, like Marilyn, can pose a real problem.

I learned a lot of what follows from my favorite podcast, "You Must Remember This", which is currently running a series of episodes titled "Dead Blondes". The topic brings context to many of the women who, ironically, still symbolize glamour (something very different than beauty) as something aspirational.

It also sheds light on the juxtaposition of many of their harsh and untimely deaths...which are not at all unrelated to their carefully constructed images.

For better or worse, I spent my entire childhood watching hours and hours of classic film. One memorable summer, sometime in the early nineties, my oldest sister made it a point to rent classics from the library every weekend. She used VCR to VCR editing to dub her own private collection. (Video piracy. Shocking, I know.)

That was the year I saw my first Marilyn Monroe movie, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". (On Netflix now.)


We were more of an Audrey Hepburn/Judy Garland household. All I knew about Marilyn was what I heard over conversations at the dinner table. How Madonna copied her in the video for the song "Material Girl". How she was beautiful and tragic. Like so many others, I knew Marilyn's image (via Andy Warhol's art) long before I knew the identity attached to it.

"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" surprised me. Monroe was smarter, funnier and far more talented than I was expecting. Her character and performance very directly addressed her image. She was as much a reflection of the desires of American men as she was anything else.

I hope this blog does two things:

1. Convinces you to listen to "You Must Remember This" and watch one of the classic movies it deconstructs.

2. Makes you think twice about who you idolize, why and how you came to idolize them.

Stop Number One: The photo below is of Marilyn Monroe in 1944. It was taken years after she was first surrendered to an orphanage, years after she was passed from guardian to guardian and just a few years after marrying the son of a neighbor at the age of 16...yet again for the purposes of transferring legal guardianship.

This was when she worked in a factory during World War II.

3/16/17

MegaCon, Deep Field & MST3K

Hey Nerds,

It's been a busy week for me work-wise. So I wanted to share a few geeky inspirations that have been carrying me through.

1. I got my Megacon ticket yesterday! Huzzah! Are you going? I train for Megacon like normies train for sportsballing or Ninja Warrior. By that time, my first comic will be complete and my second comic will be live on the interwebs!

2. My husband recently introduced me to a 20-minute original symphony composed by Eric Whiteacre. His inspiration? Many of the images from the Hubble telescope. It's quite beautiful and really takes off around the 12:00 mark.


3. MST3K returned to Netflix yesterday in honor of their upcoming reboot. Naturally, our first pick was "Space Mutiny". A movie so bad, I used to show it to my creative writing students so we could break it down and talk about what not to do when writing a script. 


Roll Fizzlebeef is my favorite alternate name for David Ryder. Are you ready for the new MST3K series? (I am!)

How's by you, intenet?

3/10/17

Happy Anniversary, Buffy!

Did you know I wrote a free 12 week creative writing course centered around Buffy? You do now! If you're a writer or an aspiring writer, what could be better than an excuse to watch Buffy for 12 weeks in a row? Nothing. Nothing, I tell you.

And now for a Buffy Gif party!










3/7/17

Thank You, Robert Osborne

I'm very sad to hear of the passing of Robert Osborne. Like so many others, I grew up watching him on TCM.

We couldn't get cable in rural Indiana in the late eighties and early nineties, so my aunt from Louisiana sent us VHS after VHS of Osborne's movie marathons. Using his signature voice and his extensive knowledge, he taught me all about Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth and so many others.

I have a special affinity for anyone who takes the time to teach, curate or entertain. Osborne did all three simultaneously for years and years. He's one of the biggest reasons why classic film has become such a significant part of my life. I even minored in film studies in college. Those courses felt like an extension of my childhood. There wasn't a single classmate of mine who didn't know and love Osborne too.

All those years spent studying with Osborne, then later in college, eventually turned me from a fan to a writer. I spent years as a professional film critic. I've sold two screenplays, made a few short films. So much of that is because of what he, and my professors, taught me. Not just facts, but how to analyze film. How film can impact the world. What film teaches us about time, place and culture.

Thank you for everything, sir. Godspeed.

Here's TCM's memoriam page.


3/5/17

Talk About A Cult Classic...

I'm obsessed with documentaries. I love how they can reveal and dismantle carefully constructed artifice. Some of my favorites are "Roger and Me", "Young at Heart" and "American Movie".

Documentaries are frequently ignored by "Coming Soon" and "New Release" pages on movie sites everywhere. So it's important to keep an eye on your local arthouse or independent cinema. Mine is The Enzian. Do you know yours?

So I wanted to take a minute to issue a friendly reminder, Louis Theroux's latest documentary "My Scientology Movie" releases in the U.S. on March 10th...


P.S. Brilliant use of "Brazil", don't you think?

3/4/17

3/3/17

2 History Podcasts That Will Make You Re-Think Media


Do you get irritated when you're standing at the gas station waiting for your tank to fill and you find yourself assaulted with that obnoxiously loud tv built into the pump?

Do you mute the commercials when you're watching tv at home?

Do you want to scream every time you hear those three little letters...t...m...z?

Because I do. I want to scream a lot.

I've got a theory. I think Americans, in particular, and maybe people all over the world, are suffering from the side-effects of an over-exposure to media. Not just media addiction. Not just unparalleled access to the endless flood of content on the internet. I'm talking about the ever-increasing white noise pollution of advertising.

I recognize it's entirely possible I feel this way due to "kids today" *shakes fist* syndrome. I'm 34 now. Having grown up in that strange shadowland between Generation X and Millennials, myself and my comrades were the last to know a childhood without the internet. We were practically strangers to the gladiatorial conflicts consistently shoved down our throats via reality television.

And yes, I'm sure the people who came before Gen X probably decried the presence of cable and satellite television. Whatever your age, whichever stats you quote, you can't deny that the presence of advertising and dumbed down television in our lives has doubled...tripled even.

If you're like me and the world is getting a little too Orwellian for you, how do you begin to undo the intellectual damage in your every day life?

There are two simple steps:

3/2/17

It's March

Go slay some metaphorical vampires!


I'm Talking Trek for Fangirl Blog

Read it here or check out the excerpt below:

"As my rewatch began to unfold, I noticed an unexpected side effect, a healing, calming feeling. 

For every lighthearted episode – “Data’s Day”, anything with Q – I’m finding even more that don’t shy away from serious cultural commentaries. 

Star Trek has always imagined a better future, but it’s never asked us to buy into one where problems don’t exist. Instead, it shows the problems and how diplomacy, compassion and intelligence can solve them."

P.S. Here's some super nerdy Next Gen fanfiction I wrote. I always wanted a follow-up to the Moriarty episodes where a Holodeck Sherlock showed up instead of Data fulfilling the role.


2/28/17

I Just Discovered Another Geeky Audrey Online

Because sometimes the universe gives with both hands. I hope you'll visit her at Geek Girl Authority.
I also hope we meet someday. If we do, I expect it to go exactly like this...

2/27/17

Nerdwriter's "Leitmotifs in Lord of the Rings"

Do you remember how "Lord of the Rings" made you feel? Do you know why it made you feel that way? How? The science of emotion and art can't always be so easily broken down and analyzed. But when it can, it allows us to recognize art as craft.
Many people will tell you that great art is lightning in a bottle. It's a series of coincidences and chance meetings knitting together to create something meaningful. Something fate-breathed. Bologna.

Great art is education and effort. It is the repetition of effective technique applied to a specific format for a particular purpose. A lot of people don't want to believe that because it somehow feels "false" to them. They want to believe that art is magic. And it is. And magic is just an illusion performed by a disciplined artist.

Listen, relax and give your brain something wonderful to start the week... 

There's a lot to love here, but the script for the video itself is incredibly well-composed and frankly, a delight to hear. Of course, it's always a joy to revisit Howard Shore's masterful score. Sidenote: If those last four words don't sound like an elocution exercise from "The King's Speech", I don't know what does.
My friend Marc shared this video with me via email. I appreciate both he and Nerdwriter giving me the excuse to start my week with those familiar and pleasing strains from "Lord of the Rings". I'm new to Nerdwriter, but it looks like his YouTube channel is chock full o'thorough, intelligent film and cultural analysis. Go visit! 

2/23/17

Let This "Melting Toht Candle" Be Your Gateway to Indiana Jones Fandom

My friend Eric messaged me to let me know this exists over at Firebox.com. It's the perfect gift for the fellow film geek in your life.


The thing about the Indiana Jones fandom (my number one, by the way) is that there aren't a lot of related collectibles. There are a few prop replicas here and there. You can always cosplay. But there aren't a lot of tchotchkes associated with the brand. 

In fact, as a minimalist, that's one of the many things I love about the Indiana Jones stories. The value of wealth and objects is always situated below the value of people. (Look back, it's a theme in every single movie.) Anyone who tries to flip that worth system in the Indy universe usually (nay...always) ends up dead.

That's what makes this candle a kind of Matroyshka doll of thematic significance. Honestly, if I wanted to...I could go even further than I have with the significance of a Nazi character being reduced to ash by the fury of a righteous God. But that's dessert talk.

If you're like me and you love to spend time at the intersection of real history and fictional film, this article offers a nice starting point. But there's so much more. If you've always wondered why Indy and Marion can't look at the light released from the Ark of the Covenant, there are fascinating reasons as situated from a historical text perspective that the film actually got very correct. They even got the ceremonial Ephod almost right that Belloq wears in his final scene.

Embarrassing Bonus Round: For career day in first grade, I dressed up as Indiana Jones. I've maintained that interest in historical archaeology my entire life. I was the nerd who signed up for a Dead Sea Scrolls class during college orientation. There were five students in the class. Proud nerds, one and all.

I've yet to see a really good show or doc that delves into that aforementioned cross section instead of skimming the surface in a more tourist-minded fashion. If you know of any, include them in the comments!

2/20/17

Hey Internet, We Need To Have A Good Week

So, let's say it's going to be good. Let's make it good. Let's cultivate our health, emotional strength and our energy. Pardon the cliche, but dig deep this week. Focus on the people you love. Think about others who may need your help.

When you can't think positive, at least speak positive. Set some measurable, achievable goals and then smash them with a hammer! I believe in you. 

Let's get a hold of ourselves...


What say you, internet?

2/19/17

Today is the 25th Anniversary of Army of Darkness

Thanks to Today in Movies on Twitter, I saw that today is the 25th anniversary of the cult comedy classic "Army of Darkness", the movie that introduced me to Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi.

Kudos, fellas. Thanks for one of the best movies ever.


Did You Know There's A Band Called The Molly Ringwalds?

Well, now you do and you need to see them live.

To be honest, I didn't even know they existed until a facebook algorithm saw fit to bless me with a revelation on Wednesday. I bought tickets immediately. For a girl who has U2, David Bowie, Queen and Prince on just about every Spotify playlist, this was an easy sell. (Oh yeah...Prince is back on Spotify as of last week. FYI.)

What's even cooler? I saw them at House of Blues Orlando on Friday night, exactly one day before the real Molly Ringwald's birthday. Which is apropos of nothing, I guess, but felt serendipitous. Serendipity adjacent at the very least.

To be transparent, I've been struggling with keeping my chin up in the wake of a lot of our national news. It's been really challenging to stay informed, involved and not get depressed or overwhelmed.

I dragged my feet getting ready for the show. I felt guilty walking from the car to the venue. Who can justify getting dressed up and going to a show when there's just so much work to do to try to make the world a better place?

Yes, I'm a Pollyanna. Stuff it. I mean...I guess Pollyanna wouldn't tell you to stuff it. I'm just used to people rolling their eyes at me when I talk about calling your senators or saving injured farm animals or using less plastic. I have Do-Gooder Defensiveness Syndrome.

Our ongoing history of "worst couples costumes"
continues. He wanted to be James Spader,
I was going for Jeanette from The Chippettes with
an ode to  my favorite, Pee Wee Herman.
But you know what happened when we finally arrived? The night was magical. It was everything I wish my eighties prom had been! That I never had. Because my prom was in the year 2000.

For starters, the band is crazy talented. I've heard a lot of cover bands. The Molly Ringwalds are vastly superior. They sustain encore-level energy for the whole show. Each one of them can sing and sing well. They regularly switch out on lead vocals according to each of their vocal superpowers. One of them raps, one of them belts, one of them has crazy range. They're basically the Planeteers of 80's power ballads.

Going to a concert where everyone is allowed to sing along is another happy bonus. I'm usually the girl belting it out and getting dirty looks. I get it. They paid to hear the band, not me.

But here? No shame. It's a very inclusive experience. It's kind of healing to stand in a room full of hundreds of strangers and be able to share something like a song. Or twenty songs.

Their set list plucked all the right heartstrings. They kicked the show off with Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" and they played "Under Pressure".

When they started U2's "Pride", I fully admit to crying a little bit. Two big fat tears, one from each eye. Not creepy super-fan crying. These were the tears of the spiritually moved. These were the tears of a pent-up, stressed out, sensitive girl who really needed to feel safe for a night. What's safer than nostalgia? What's safer than remembering a childhood of cassette tapes and life before the internet?

The Molly Ringwalds aren't just a band, they're an anti-depressant. While you're figuring out how to see them live, have a dose of this. Just in case you need it...

2/17/17

I'm on Twitter...

...being way too transparent. Et tu?

2/14/17

10 Gifs from Underrated Love Stories to Celebrate Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Let's celebrate with some of the unsung couples from film history, couples that might not immediately spring to mind.

No snark. No sarcasm. No negativity about a holiday that's all about love. Just glorious cinema at its finest. It's okay to love love. And movies about love. And characters in love.

Curating this list was difficult. Did I miss one of your favorite couples? Let me know in the comments.


1. Shall We Dance
Fred and Ginger shared the screen together ten times, yet they are seldom mentioned on Valentine's Day. Until now!



2. The Breakfast Club
I know their relationship was barely actualized...and if it had been, I imagine it would've been pretty dysfunctional. But...these two. This moment. 




Bollywood Movies on Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime

Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in the song Gerua from "Dilwale".
Let's say you're deep in the throes of a Bollywood binge. Maaaaaybe you've even been struggling with your TMD and migraines so mightily for the last couple weeks that you're pretty much man-down at this point. (Or maybe you're not me and you're just having a nice, chill day off.)

You're in bed...or on a couch...or on the chaise. When your medication is actually working and it doesn't set fireworks off in your brain to look at a screen, the only thing that makes you feel better is the magic of Bollywood. But two of the three video streaming services you use DON'T HAVE ANY. What's a Bollywood fangirl to do?

I have good news and bad news. 

The good news? I found a website and a Twitter account that lets you know what movies are on which service and it looks to be updated pretty frequently. It's called Access Bollywood and it's free! You can also follow the person who runs the site on Twitter @kathyfgibson. (Thanks for everything you do, Kathy!)

The bad news? Only one of the three major streaming services seem to be carrying any Bollywood movies right now, and it's Netflix. What gives, you guys? Bollywood is one of the most popular genres in the world and you don't have...any? That seems a little odd.

Before I complain, it's probably temporary. I watched several Bollywood movies on both Hulu and Amazon this summer the last time I needed a fix. I bet someone behind the scenes is negotiating a new streaming deal. (She says, hopefully.)

In the meantime, Netflix continues to offer a FANTASTIC selection of Bollywood films. They also seem to regularly rotate what they feature, as the selection is very different from what they offered this summer. (And someone wisely released two huge SRK blockbusters right before Valentine's Day.)

Whether you have a migraine or not, I hope you take some time for self-care, rest and of course, Bollywood!

2/13/17

5 Netflix Shows To Revive Your Depressed Brain Cells

Image via RawStory.com
Watching TV lately has become the best and most convenient way to kickstart a good-old-fashioned panic attack. I just want to watch "New Girl" as it airs, I think.

Bee-deep-beep-ba-deep-boop-beep! BREAKING NEWS! EVERYTHING IS FALLING APART! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES OR AT LEAST STOCK UP ON PAPER GOODS AND BOTTLED WATER!

How does a geek stay positive, entertained and prepared in today's world?

It's not just the scary news that gets me down either. The content that depresses me has been slowly overgrowing the things I love for years. Like some kind of evil ivy. Or maybe it's poison? Oh, wait...

I can't tell my brain it's wrong and elitist to hate reality tv. I can't stop it from comparing the way news was reported in my childhood to the horror shows and pancake makeup of today. It just feels how it wants to feel. If that makes me a snob, I guess I need to deal with that and move on so I can cope in today's media environment. (But I don't think I'm a snob and I'm not the only one lamenting the changes.)

For the record, the world changes. It always has and it always will, hopefully for the better, sometimes for the worse. Not everything is for me. That's totally okay. Honestly. But it still bums me out when I check Entertainment Tonight every few months and it's still "news" about celebrity scandals instead of film set reports and director interviews.

No matter how I try to perk myself up and talk myself down, it still feels like we're moving closer and closer to Idiocracy. Even when I feel like I shouldn't feel that way.

So how do I break this cycle of negative feelings, stay informed on the news AND check out every now and then with some good old-fashioned entertainment? 

I'm gonna touch on how to handle the recent changes in news in another blog. For now, let's tackle the entertainment angle. Because yes, what we consume matters. Not just to us personally, but to the way media outlets spend money and churn out content. But again...that's another blog for another day.

If your brain needs a tall, cool drink of water, if you need content that adds to your life instead of taking something away, (like...oh, say...brain cells or precious hours you can never get back), consider these 5 shows currently on Netflix that will allow you to check out without feeling like you're adding to the problem.

Is it May 19th Yet?

"They alive, damnit!" I'm so ready for season three!

2/9/17

Film Friday: Happy New Year and Dilwale with Shah Rukh Khan

I'm obsessed with Bollywood movies. They take all of the most wonderful, fundamental aspects of genre film and expand them simultaneously. They are the orange juice concentrate of cinema.

I tend to go on Bollywood Binges a couple times a year. I mean, just imagine if romance, action and adventure were a combined genre. Now make it a colorful musical. So colorful and formalist, Baz Luhrmann would be jealous. Now make it three hours long.

For a film fan, that's basically heaven. It's pure escapist fun and I don't know about you, but I've had to escape a lot lately. (There are culturally significant reasons why film has evolved this way in India that have to do with class and economy, but I'll save that for a rainy day at the Diogenes club.)

Just today, I was dealing with some bad news. So I decided to take a break from my work and check out Netflix. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear? A movie I've been trying to find since 2014! Happy New Year!

It has everyone's favorite leading man, Shah Rukh Khan. It also features an all-star cast of well-known Bollywood stars in a mashup heist/love story/musical comedy. It's equal parts The Full Monty and Ocean's Eleven. It features Deepika Padukone, who is about to make her big screen debut stateside in this summer's "xXx: Return of Xander Cage".

Check out the preview, then go watch "Happy New Year" on Netflix!


Oh, and by the way. The director? Farah Khan? She's a woman. She's done a handful of huge blockbusters in India. Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, right?

P.S. I found out "Dilwale" is now available too! I think someone wisely decided to put both on Netflix just in time for Valentine's Day! Thanks, someone!

Let Your Inspiration Lead The Way. a.k.a. How Film Score Can Help Animals

UPDATE: I've since gathered my thoughts more coherently on this topic for Hello Giggles. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Here are a couple of truly magnificent bits of score from Disney's "The Rescuers Down Under". I'm not ashamed to admit that flight, especially, makes me cry. It's okay to stay sensitive about the things that matter to you. Please let the art you love lead to actions, but let's start with the art...



I've been thinking of that scene so much lately. Something about it inspires me and reconnects me to my childhood self who wanted so desperately to help animals. I blame my wonderful parents and Star Trek IV.

If you followed your geeky passions to their through line, where would they lead? What do you love and why and how can you use that to impact the world around you? (I've done some more brain work on this one too.)

Here's a little secret. When humans work together to help animals, the humans benefit as well. We're sometimes told a false narrative that we need to help humans before animals, when the truth is, we can do both simultaneously! Working together to make a healthier eco-system for animals has massive benefits for nearby communities, affecting everything from water supply to food availability to jobs.

I feel such a strong connection to animals and I always have. As a kid, I started an activist "company" (those are air quotes, in case you were wondering) in my basement for dolphin safe tuna. My mom let me talk to managers at grocery stores if they didn't sell dolphin safe tuna, I made posters and wrote whaling companies about dolphin safe nets and even got the neighbor kids involved! It's time to find that spirit again. I deeply regret ever losing it.

First, check out this astounding video about how a pack of wolves changed the course of a river...trophic cascades are active in every part of the world. If we can work together to restore that balance, everyone wins! After that, I'll talk a little bit more about the human part.


There are so many organizations that need your help right now as protections for animals, the environment and humans are being eradicated day after day. We, as citizens, are not powerless. We can pour into existing organizations that already have a working knowledge of how to help.


And there are always local rescues who desperately need your help. Google animal shelters in your area. One of my favorites in Orlando is A Better Life Pet Rescue.

Poaching is one way impoverished people can provide for their families. Very often, they don't want to poach, there is simply a lack of alternatives. In places all over the world, on top of anti-poaching laws, there are also programs that work to help transform poachers into guardians. This helps the impoverished take care of their families and protects the animals. 

This video is so important and I want to encourage you to watch it. It begins with a heartening rescue of a baby elephant, by ex-poachers. After that, there is some disturbing material, so if you're sensitive like me and already informed, you may want to turn it off. If you're still not convinced that changes can be made to benefit humans and animals simultaneously, I beg you to watch this. Afterward, you'll be rewarded with more Disney!



But seriously, remember when we were kids and the whole world was telling us that it was okay to care? Well, it still is. Find the part of you that watched this as a kid and felt something. Just try...


And stay educated. PBS, in particular, has some really wonderful programming. Nature is my fave! They're doing a series right now called "Spy In The Wild" that sheds new light on animal behavior.


What do you watch, listen to or read to remember your heart? What are some of the best nature programs on TV right now? What organizations do you partner with? Please share in the comments!

2/6/17

I Am Having A Monday

Harper Voyager, With Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Launch the Ultimate ’Out of This World’ travel sweepstakes

kennedyspacecenter.com
This February, Harper Voyager is celebrating space by teaming up with Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR and B Resort & Spa to give one reader the chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime, space-age adventure.

From now through February 17, enthusiasts can enter The Ultimate “Out of This World” Sweepstakes. The prize package is a trip to Florida April 13-16, and includes passes to a popular fan convention.In addition to tickets for that event, the trip includes tickets to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex which features a VIP tour, an on-site meet and greet with bestselling author and space enthusiast Becky Chambers, and a complete library of Harper Voyager books, including a signed copy of A Closed and Common Orbit

Winners will enjoy deluxe accommodations for two at B Resort & Spa in Lake Buena Vista as well as $500 toward airfare for the trip to Orlando. To enter, visit http://harpervoyager.hc.com/starwars/.

The Ultimate “Out Of This World” Sweepstakes is sponsored by HarperCollins Publishers, 195 Broadway, New York, NY 10007.  Must be legal U.S. resident 18 or over. Sweepstakes begins January 17, 2017, and ends on February 17, 2017, at 12:00 p.m. (ET). Offer void in Alaska, Hawaii, Rhode Island and all U.S. territories and possessions, and wherever prohibited or restricted by law.  NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. For more information and Official Rules visit http://harpervoyager.hc.com/starwars/

Check Out More Info About The Prizes:

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program, offering a full day or more of fun, inspiration and educational activities, including its newest attraction, Heroes & Legends, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, presented by Boeing, which opened November 11, 2016.  Other highlights include the Kennedy Space Center Tour featuring the Apollo/Saturn V Center with an actual Saturn V moon rocket, Space Shuttle Atlantis®, Shuttle Launch Experience®, IMAX® A Beautiful Planet 3D and Journey To Space 3D films, Astronaut Encounter, Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted, Science on a Sphere®, Rocket Garden, Cosmic Quest, and many other exhibits. Only 45 minutes from Orlando, Fla., Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m. with closing times varying by season.  Admission is $50 + tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers annual passes starting at $75 + tax for adults and $60 + tax for children ages 3-11. For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

As the most discerning, up-to-the-minute voice in all things travel, Condé Nast Traveler is the global citizen’s bible and muse, offering both inspiration and vital intel. Condé Nast Traveler is the most trusted and celebrated name in travel with 6 National Magazine Award wins and 26 nominations in its 28-year history. Advertising Age named Pilar Guzmán Editor of the Year in 2014 and CNTraveler.com attained 4 Webby Awards since 2015. www.cntraveler.com    

AFAR is the multi-platform travel media brand that inspires and guides those who travel the world to connect with its people, experience their cultures, and understand their perspectives. Its platforms include the award-winning AFAR magazine; AFAR.com, recently named a Top 10 site That Makes Travel Easier; the non profit foundation Learning AFAR; and immersive travel series AFAR Experiences.

B Hotels & Resorts® has defined and established the new generation of Lifestyle Hotels, inviting guests to revel in Self-Expression Hospitality™ and to tailor experiences how they want them to B.  Our DNA - D (Destination) / N (N’vogue) / A (Approachability) - defines the identity, character, and programming of every hotel - with no two B Hotels & Resorts being alike.  Working in synchronized rhythm, the brand and hotels generate a fresh, approachable setting that welcomes today's business and leisure travelers.  Core B Signature Elements further define and enhance offerings, services and our guest-centric culture igniting a genuine emotional connection to our hotels and the brand itself.

ABOUT HARPERCOLLINS:
HarperCollins Publishers is the second largest consumer book publisher in the world, with operations in 18 countries. With nearly two hundred years of history and more than 120 branded imprints around the world, HarperCollins publishes approximately 10,000 new books every year in 17 languages, and has a print and digital catalog of more than 200,000 titles. Writing across dozens of genres, HarperCollins authors include winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Newbery and Caldecott Medals and the Man Booker Prize. HarperCollins, headquartered in New York, is a subsidiary of News Corp (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV) and can be visited online at corporate.HC.com.

2/3/17

A Patch of Fog: Movie Review

A Patch of Fog is a series of echoes, an engaging literary meditation on what is sent out and returned. It's a film that manages to be both genre and literary, though the latter becomes dominant.

I love genre, but there's something restful about character-driven films grounded in reality. British films seem to do this particularly well, partially because they're willing to attempt it more often than the American film industry right now.

Watching a realistic story about human behavior unfold feels relaxing in a world currently dominated by sequels and blockbusters. I'm not complaining about that! It's just a nice break.

The main character is Sandy Duffy, an author famous for a novel based on a true story from his childhood. Sandy, played with verisimilitude by Conleth Hill, has parlayed the success of his novel into a career teaching writing to undergraduates and a steady side gig as a TV commentator. 

As a boy, he once wandered away from home during an intense fog. This forced his agoraphobic father to make a choice between facing his fear to search for him or trusting that the boy would find his way home on his own. Learning what choice his father made certainly informs the rest of the narrative.

One day, Sandy gets caught shoplifting a small item from a store and the security guard, Robert, threatens to have him arrested on the street. That is, unless, Sandy will go out for a beer with him.

Stephen Graham plays Robert and provides a new and unsettlingly authentic take on the boundary breaking acquaintance. He brings an uncomfortable vulnerability to the role that pairs well with Hill’s unpredictable and occasionally hysterical reactions and overreactions. We’ve all met someone like Robert at some point and we’ve all wondered how far they'll go and why they’ve chosen us. There’s something eerie and familiar about the plot.

From this point forward, the film’s tension escalates...

2/2/17

It's Groundhog Day! Time for the Groundhog Day Gif Parade!

Usually I would post a Bill Murray quote or something. I mean...it's the only Bill Murray-related holiday of the year?! Well, except for Christmas. And the Fourth of July. Eh, who are we kidding? Every day is Bill Murray day.

Anyway, I'm drafting something new for Hello Giggles today and doing lots of research and scheduling for a few upcoming interviews. I even have a few movies reviews to write and post. I'm running a bit behind, that's for sure. But it's been so difficult to focus.

One writer on Twitter summed up exactly how it feels to attempt to focus on freelance assignments here in the beginning of 2017...

Mary Ann, you hit it right spot on. And one million bonus points for referencing the fabulous British sitcom The IT Crowd. (Seriously, go watch it.) Ah well...maybe this will help...it's worth a try.






You know what? That did help a little.

2/1/17

This Dad Is Definitely Magical

This was created by Action Movie Kid's dad. The simplicity of it, the way it so accurately shows how we view the world as kids...it's a beautiful thing, isn't it?


All Right, February...

Don't give me any guff, and we'll be square. Ya hear? Just making sure you know who's boss.

1/31/17

Lord of the Rings Links: Plus, Aragorn, Legolas, Frodo, Merry and Pippin Reunited and Why You Should Become a New Zealand Fangirl



And if you still need a fix after that, you can visit:


But wait, there's more...

Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar - 1/27/17



After I posted the pictures from Disney Springs yesterday, a couple people asked for pics from Jock's. So there are several below. Frankly, it's the perfect date night for a couple of geeks in love. The fictional narrative it presents offers us a new storyline (so nerds like me aren't nitpicking or scanning for perfect location recreations). But it does offer us plenty of props and all the right vibes.

The food there is so delicious and they always modify the menu for us because we're vegan. They're extremely cool about it too and never make us feel bad, which is honestly so wonderful compared to how some other restaurants react when you ask them to make modifications.

Anyway, here's to vicarious living through pictures! They're nothing fancy, I just took them with my phone, but I hope you enjoy!

1/30/17

Come on, Tuesday!

Let's GO!

Have You Called Your White House Today?

Call 202-456-1414 and tell them whatever you want.

We're some of the luckiest ducks that ever did duck to live in America, a country where we have the right to use our voice. I wish I would've been calling the White House and my representatives from the time I turned 18 until now.

If you're like me and you've been complacent in the past, ditch the shame spiral in favor of peaceful, responsible actions.

So what are you waiting for? Make the call!





Happy Monday. "Now let's get out of here!"

Right. All of us.

Checking Out the Her Universe Merchandise at Disney Springs - Star Wars Galactic Outpost and Marvel Superhero Headquarters





My husband and I went to Disney Springs Friday night to hang out at Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar. I don't get to Disney Springs very often anymore. Unless we have company in town. It's kind of a fun touristy thing to do. After Jock's, we decided to take a lap and cruise the stores.

Of course, I always keep an eye out for the latest Her Universe Merchandise. I'm not much of a fashion connoisseur (It's something I hope to change and I'm currently working on it!) but my friend Kay is quite the expert and you can read her articles about Geek Fashion, and lots of other cool stuff, here.

But...

1/27/17

Friday Vibes

Today is the day I: 

1. Clean the house from top to bottom while listening to music that soothes my soul but creeps out my housemates.

2. Grab my pull list from Heroes Landing and let's see, what else was there?

3. Ah, yes! Fight the creeping existential dread constantly threatening to overtake my soul by calling my senators. (Also, I cleaned the jets in our jacuzzi tub, filed our taxes and made a vegan cobb salad.)




Happy Friday!