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.