Thursday, October 29, 2009

Horror Classics

With my love of vintage, and possibly the reason for my love of vintage, is my absolute adoration of old vintage movies. Vintage being Golden Hollywood stuff. From the cheesy, sing-songy, synchronized swimming romances of Esther Williams to the dark and somewhat misogynistic James Cagney mob thrillers, I love them all. Included in this wide range of vintage movie options, and particularly at this time of the year, I absolutely love old horror classics. Certainly some of them like Creature from the Black Lagoon and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, albeit entertaining to watch, walk a fine line between Classic and B Movie. What makes them classic is that they were the first and B horror movies are ripoffs of these. Then there are the very original German inspirations for the Hollywood horror classics such as the silent movies The Cat and the Canary and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari that are ridiculously creepy to this day, even though they still seem a little silly just because they are sooooo old. To us now, characters like Dracula and Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and The Mummy, are staple horror characters that we have known about since we were small and are mostly just overdone costume options. (though when I use the genre Horror I am being broad- these ones would probably more specifically be classified as Creature Features)

These days horror movies come out all the time, but what would it have been like to have gone to the theater in 1931 and seen Frankenstein brought to life for the first time, when having special effects at all was a ground-breaking art for movies and horror was a completely new and revolutionary movie genre? My Anniversary Edition of Frankenstein has a fantastic documentary about the origin of the horror movie and it is fascinating to hear some of the people talk about how honestly shocked and horrified they were when they saw Frankenstein and Dracula the first time, even though no one would really be scared of those version now (except for very small children (see my random Sharlie the Lake Monster story) and people named Jessica Jane Doxey Plowman (love you girl! ;)) The movie industry has come incredibly far in the last eighty years concerning special effects, but you have to respect the old horrors for being the first of their kind and for the effects they were able to accomplish with oddly-colored lighting and shadows and music without the graphics of today. For being released in 1933, I will forever be impressed by the smooth effects in the scene in The Invisible Man when he finally sort of goes crazy and unwraps the cloth from around his head as he rants and cackles wickedly and we finally see the nothingness beneath...

I know its cheesy, but try to think of it from the perspective of the time it was made. I always try to do that with old movies, and it makes the experience so much richer.

Even today we don't see a lot of original horror figures- certainly if you want to call Freddy Kruger and Michael Meyer modern classic horror figures that is your prerogative, but they lack the mythology and the pathos for their former humanity that the real classics have. What we mainly see are retellings of the staples. So, as All Hallows Eve approaches, I would like to declare my respect and appreciation for the Hollywood horror classics. Without them, the 31st of October would not be what it is today.

In parting, as we learn from The Wolf Man:

Even a man who is pure in heart
And says his prayers by night
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms...
And the Autumn Moon is bright!

Happy Halloween ...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters

So I just finished reading Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters. It definitely wasn't as good as Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. It was sort of a poor man's version. With PPZ, it was really the authors pet project and he was so thorough and though there were additions to the story, obviously, it really was just like an alternate reality to the original. The way he wrote the characters, you could really imagine that is how the Jane Austen characters would have acted had their world been invaded by a plague of the undead. With SSSM though, the book company just hired an author to write it, hoping to bank on the PPZ phenomenon, so it wasn't really this guys project, it was just a paycheck.

It was still an amusing read, but almost too over-the-top. With PPZ it was supposed to be funny, but at the same time he took the story very seriously. With this one it felt a little forced, and there were just some oddities and changes that didn't ring true. I know that may seem an ironic thing to say about novels that put monsters into distinguished literary classics, but somehow PPZ pulls off a certain grace that SSSM does not. So, I didn't hate it, but it was just okay. I would still definitely recommend PPZ though.

Now what will be next, you may ask? Perhaps, Emma Meets the Wolfman, or possibly, Mansfield Park: Space Invasion? Well, looks like what is next is a prequel to PPZ called Dawn of the Dreadfuls. Its another new writer, and this time, as a prequel story, it is only based on Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice characters and isn't actually taking any lines from a real story of hers. We'll see how it goes, but it may have been best to just stick with the originality of the first. Zombies are just funnier than Sea Monsters though, so I will probably still give it a shot.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Comical Vintage Posters

As should be clear by now, from various postings and my choices of header pictures, I dig vintage. I love a lot of vintage things, Golden Age of Hollywood era stuff mainly, but I particularly enjoy vintage posters and prints. Some of them just look so iconic and classy, but then there are others that are just plain funny... not usually on purpose as most are just a curious reflection of the times and make you shake your head and realize how much things have changed. I maybe have a quirky sense of humor, but in this case, 'funny,' to me, means a number of things, including cringy & awkward, sorely outdated, blatantly misogynistic and just plain goofy. Here are a few of the vintage ads that never fail to provide me with a good hearty chuckle:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Just A Charming Autumn Weekend...

Haha, I love how that poster is the first thing you see after the whole 'charming' thing. I crack myself up. Know what else cracks me up? Horror movies. It's hard to find people to go with me because most people I know get freaked out and hate them, but I like that cringy feeling of mystery in the theater and I like the creepy anticipation of what's lurking around the corner, but mostly I tend to just get a kick out of how hokey and predictable they are. I don't like the Satanic ones or the teen slashers that are more unnecessary nudity than mystery, but I do love a good thrill. I particularly enjoyed Shawn of the Dead, the British spoof on zombie movies. So funny, though I do have the edited version ;) Well, this past Friday night my friend Adam and I went to the new movie Zombieland, another horror spoof. I don't go to a ton of Rated R movies, but I don't really mind when its for violence, like action or war movies, or in Zombieland's case, for "horror violence/gore." I'm not squeemish. On top of being funny and gory, I was happily surprised to find that the movie actually had some tender moments and endearing characters. Also, there is an amazing cameo in the film that I did NOT see coming! I seriously laughed my head off in this movie. Adam is jumpier than I am, and so there were a couple of times that he was crouching a little in his seat, along with the majority of the audience, and I was just guffawing away. I think he thought I was a little nuts for not being horrified like a normal person. Maybe he's right, but I just can't be scared of zombies. I mean, I am sure that there are some scary zombie movies, but the traditional zombie, you know, with the goofy limpy walk and making unintelligible shrieking noises and with their negative IQ's... I just can't find it in me to be afraid of those dummies. So, if you have sense of humor for the outrageous and bizarre, are cynical and slightly desensitized and find amusement in the silly undead like I do (zombies are the new vampire), then you will like this movie. If, on the other hand, your soul is far more pure than mine, I would still suggest finding an edited version of this to watch in the future.

On Saturday, (beautiful, clear, seventy degrees Saturday, perhaps the last of its kind for the year, grumble grumble) it was the final day for the downtown Farmers Market that comes every summer. I met my friend Kirsten and, as usually ensues when Kirst and I get together and there are fresh wares to be purchased, much eating ensued:

Yummy tamales!

This was our favorite store- the woman takes these vintage book covers and puts in blank pages and makes them notebooks/journals...

She also makes these sweet light switch covers. I would have gotten one but the light switches in my apartment aren't the traditional shape.

Fresh fruit pies...

...We could NOT resist getting one. Look how cute and small! It was like a Cup Pie from Pushing Daisies!

I bought some fresh noodles that I made into a stir fry for lunch on Sunday- yum, yum, yum, deliciouso!

Kirst buying some fresh basil (bets on how long it stays alive? J/K Kirst... sort of ;)

Mmmm, cherry honey from a tube.

Then we shopped around at The Gateway for a bit trying to find Kirst a good Winter coat. Sadly no luck- it may still be a tad early for that.

Audrey Hepburnesque coat that I loved (but didn't buy, sigh)

Trunk set that I loved (but again, didn't buy. Prolonged sigh)

We loved these! I bought a couple of the napkin sets and Kirst and I both bought the mug that says, "Funny... I don't recall asking for your opinion." Ha!

Sunday was another gorgeous sunny day, so I went walking and enjoyed the Fall colors and the leaves blowing across the streets. Later that day I went and saw my cousin Heather who should be having baby cub Jack today or tomorrow! She is sooooo ready to have the kid, and I am so ready to meet him!

Friday, October 16, 2009

♪ New York, New York, It's a Wonderful Town ... ♪

So I went to the Big Apple this past weekend to visit my friends Elisabeth & Tyler and to go to some shows. I have always enjoyed going to NY and in the last several years my visits have become more frequent and I seem to be taking annual trips now. I just love that city and I've become a little obsessed with trying to get to see the Original Broadway Casts of musicals. Elisabeth's sister Jordan came too and we had such a great time. Ty and Elisabeth moved to NY this past spring for Ty to do a year of Grad School at Columbia University and their apartment is right by the school.

We had some wind and rain the first couple of days, but it was mostly the perfect temperature and we were just moving the whole time. Jordan and I were on different airlines but both got in at 6pm on Thursday, hopped on the bus and met Ty at their apartment at 7pm to drop our stuff. Then we headed downtown and met up with Elisabeth, had dinner at a yummy restaurant called Cosi, walked around for a while and then went up the Empire State Building. It was a clear night, so we had a great view of the lights of the city, and it wasn't nearly as crowded as it can get up there. Jordan had never been to NY before, so it seemed like a good first-night-in-NY thing to do.

On Friday, while Ty was at school and Elisabeth was at work, Jordan and I headed down to South Street Seaport to get Saturday matinee tickets for something at the TKTS booth there. We ended up deciding to just wait until Saturday and wing it in the hopes of getting student or rush tickets. so then we walked around South Street, walked over to see the progress on Ground Zero and then walked over to Battery Park to get a view of Lady Liberty. Then we, a little awkwardly because I had never been before, made our way to China Town for lunch. We picked a place that looked pretty big and prominent presuming that would be a better chance of having waiters that spoke English. Not so much. It was this huge room of tables and they seat you wherever there is space so we were at this table with these two girls speaking purely Chinese. There were carts rolling around asking if you want any of the food on them and after about ten minutes of not really knowing what to do, we tried a couple things and then finally, with lots of apologetic smiles and hand gestures, sorted out how to order a chicken and noodle dish. It was all very good and quite the authentic experience ;)

After that we went uptown and browsed the Metropolitan Museum for a couple of hours and then met up with my friend Brian in Central Park. (Brian had just gotten engaged to his lovely Isa the day before! Yay! He got her a Tiffany's ring. Always the way to go if you can make it happen.) We then went to play in the amazing toy store FAO Schwartz for a while (made famous by the giant floor piano scene in the movie Big). I was excited to see that they have this new section that is like Build A Bear except its Muppets!! Then we headed to Times Square and met up with Ty & Elisabeth for pizza and went to The Lion King. Through all of my years of show-going, I had somehow never seen it. It wasn't the best-show-ever like some say, but the costumes and puppetry and the creativity of some of the scenes really is incredible and definitely worth seeing. I maybe cried during the opening sequence... and when Mufasa dies... and maybe again at the end.

On Saturday we went straight to Times Square and got tickets for the matinee of Burn the Floor, and then we headed up to my beloved Serendipity for lunch, which is one of my NY traditions. The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate (no, that is not a misspelling) is the main reason to go there, but the food is also extremely unique and delicious. We also stopped at the adorable little boutique Laila Rowe by Serendipity and got a couple of fun accessories. Then it was back to Times Square for Burn the Floor. Though the show is technically on Broadway, it isn't a storyline with a plot, it is a fast-paced dance show, mostly Latin and Ballroom. It was really good and I especially loved it because Pasha and Anya, who were contestants in Season 3 of my beloved So You Think You Can Dance, were in the show so it was fun to see them.

Then Ty came down to meet us and we went over and tried our luck to win tickets in the Wicked lottery they do every night because neither Ty or Jordan had seen it yet, but it is always sold out, so unless you buy your tickets months in advance for full price or want to pay like $250 for Premium tickets, this is the way to do it. Sadly, no such luck. So then we were sort of down to the wire with what shows still had tickets available, because we had been hoping on Wicked, so we frantically ran around to the box offices of different shows and ended up getting tickets to Shrek. We had dinner at Stardust, a burger place where the waiters sing and dance on the tables, and then hustled to the show. I sort of went into Shrek not expecting a lot, but it turned out to be very funny and the sets were really impressive.

Here's the thing. Show Tune people. I am one. Its like meeting other Mormons random places or other Americans in a foreign country- there's an automatic kinship. Unlike other trips trips I have taken to see shows in NY (like when I went to see Thoroughly Modern Millie or Jekyll & Hyde or Wicked or The Light in the Piazza or In the Heights...) there wasn't one particular show that I was willing to give my left arm to see (and that is saying something, because I am left-handed, you understand ;). There were plenty of shows that I wanted to see, but nothing I was bursting my heart out about. This was a little disappointing because I love the anticipation of knowing that I am finally going to experience/witness/enjoy something that I have been looking forward to so much. On the other hand, it was kind of nice to not be so stressed out about making sure I got good (and always expensive) tickets to one thing especially.
That being said, after Lion King, Burn the Floor and Shrek, although they were all entertaining, I still hadn't been to something that really, really affected me. So, on Sunday (which was our first fully sunny day), we went to Sacrament at 11am with Ty & Elisabeth and then J and I went to Times Square and I got a ticket for the 7:30pm show for that night for Next to Normal. This is a show that came out early this year and won Best Actress and Best Score at the Tony's in June and I own the soundtrack of. I had really wanted to see it, but I didn't push that we all go because I wasn't sure that it would be for everyone. (Like Jersey Boys- completely incredible, but sort of a lot of language. call me desensitized ;)
We headed back to Ty & Elisabeth's apartment and met up with them and packed lunches and spend the afternoon strolling beautiful, ginormous Central Park. Then I split off from them and headed down to see Next to Normal. Wow. I mean, its really a pretty simple set and not fancy costumes or anything- its a family drama where the mother is bi-polar and has depression and hallucinations and how it affects her family. The music was rock style and there are only six people in the cast, with no ensemble, giving it a very intimate feel. the whole cast was so amazing and the story was so tragic and moving and hopeful. I don't know how these actors can handle doing it every day- it must be soooo emotionally draining! I was very glad I ended up going though, because it was my 'wow' show for the weekend. The one that stays with you after you exit the theater. I wish I had gotten to see Elisabeth more, but all in all the weekend was a great success!
* Too many pics to intersperse them within the post, so here they are in a slide show (and even these ones I narrowed down a bit ;) -

Now, of course, my head is whirling around with the potential of another NY trip next year!There are a few musicals starting in the next several months that interest me very much:

SPIDER-MAN Turn Off the Dark - For real. The music was written by Bono & The Edge and it is directer by crazy-yet-talented Julie Taymor who made the movie Across the Universe and the extremely affecting movie of a Shakespeare play Titus with Anthony Hopkins. (If you know me, you know I get a laugh from horror movies and I love thrillers, but that movie really got to me.)

The Addams Family - Well, I guess if they can make musicals of Young Frankenstein and Shrek, then why not? Plus, Gomez & Morticia are being played by Nathan Lane & Bebe Neuwirth, so that should be pretty entertaining ;)

Ragtime (Revival) - It will be a poor man's Ragtime without Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra MacDonald, but I've never seen it.

Dreamgirls (Revival) - You may not know that the 2006 movie was based off a 1981 Broadway musical that won six Tony Awards that year, including Best Musical. I would looooooove to here some of those belty ballads live. Maybe they can get Jennifer Hudson to reprise Academy Award winning movie role ;)

And then of course I would still like to get to Billy Elliot, but it is likely to stick around for a few years, and it isn't one that I feel strongly about needing to see the Original Broadway Cast of. I guess I'll have to get it sorted out and maybe this time it can be with the Mama cause the fam comes home this summer!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

30 Rock... You Make Me Soooo Happy

30 Rock Season 4 premieres tonight and I just thought, in my joyful anticipation, that I would peruse the Top 5 reasons that I adore this show (though there are many more):

5: The Guest Stars- This could have said 'Salma Hayek' as she has definitely been my favorite of the guests so far. Who knew she had such amazing comic timing? Some of her lines, all the better for how she delivered them, were my favorite part of last season. Like when she comes into Jack's office wearing a tee shirt that says, 'What the frack?' (A Battlestar Galactica reference) and she is telling Jack about her sordid past and, in total seriousness, in her beautiful Mexican accent, says, “I am so sorry to tell you such a dark tale while wearing such a silly T-shirt." Ha! I'll admit that a couple of the guest stars storylines were a tad over-the-top, but part of 30 Rock's charm is it's outrageousness.

4: The Shameless Plugs & Societal Cliches- It has sort of become a joke on 30 Rock to make fun of other shows, and themselves, by having very obvious plugs for their sponsors, like Snapple. Dialogue example:

Pete: Wow! This is Diet Snapple?
Liz : I know, it tastes just like regular Snapple doesn’t it?
Frank: You should try 'Plumagranate'. It’s amazing...
Cerie (the token hot girl, while looking directly into the camera): I only date guys who drink Snapple.

One episode was entitled MILF Island, which is the name of a (fake, obviously) reality show that is cougars (aka, hot older ladies who dig younger men (in case you didn't know, Mom ;)) and underage teens stuck on an island together and pushed into situations where hanky panky will inevitably ensue. Of course there is no way that this show would ever be approved in real live, but I love that they make fun of our society's obsession with reality TV and how far networks push the boundaries for the sake of 'entertainment.'

3: The Witty/Intelligent Writing- Majority of contemporary comics, please watch this show and see that you don't have to go for the bathroom/racy jokes to get a laugh. Quit being so lazy! Watch 30 Rock or watch old episodes of The Carol Burnett Show or The Cosby Show and come up with something original. There are so many clever jokes in this show that you really have to be paying attention to even catch them all. There is a lot of random humor as well, which I love. Most things are predictable these days and so a sure way to stay interesting is to come out of nowhere. Also, I love how many geeky references there are, since I get them all ;)

2: The Cast- The whole ensemble is fantastic, but major kudos to the four main leads, Jane Krakowski in particular, who plays crazy diva Jenna: I first fell in love with her because I was a huge fan of the quirky lawyer show Ally McBeal that she was in. Now she of course is best known for 30 Rock and I have to say, I think she is the funniest part of the show. The way she just throws herself into the most insane and slapsticky situations and can be so vain and insecure and horrible and likable at the same time is just amazing. In 30 Rock they sort of make a joke out of Jane's singing because she is such an attention hog, (Like when Kenneth the pageboy is making everyone laugh in the elevator and she hates the the attention is away from her so she starts singing Wind Beneath My Wings really loud in everyones face! Ha! Also, awkward) but the girl really can sing and has theater credits to her name, which makes me like her all the more. Tracy Morgan is also amazing- it has got to be real talent to act that random and idiotic, and there is no one in the world who can deadpan like Alec Baldwin. As for Tina, she is just plain likable and for starting out a writer, not an actress, I think she gets better as the seasons go on. (Also, in real life her husband is a composer and wrote the goofy/catchy 30 Rock theme music which is one of my favorite ring tones.) Way to be a sexy geek, Tina.

1: The Bromance (sort of)- 30 Rock reminds me a lot of its brilliant predecessors Seinfeld and Arrested Development in that unlike some other funny sitcoms (Friends, The Office, How I Met Your Mother...) you don't get too emotionally attached to the romances of the characters. It stays unsentimental and there aren't ever really any big aaaaahh moments and you don't get really anxious for people to be together, but not so much that you don't care. The main couple of the show is Jack and Liz, though they will never ever really hook up romantically and I wouldn't want them to. Liz may technically be a woman, but what she has with Jack is a beautiful bromance.

So, basically, best said in the words of Liz Lemon... I want to go to there.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Birthday T

Today is my big sister Torry’s birthday. It's the perfect time of the year for it because she loves the Fall and loves Halloween. T is the Christopher Robin to my Winnie the Pooh. I don't mean in an I’m-her-fat-stuffed-animal-friend-who-only-comes-to-life-in-her-imagination-because-she’s-actually-a-repressed-British-schoolboy sort of way. No, no, no. I mean that to me, T has always brought the world to life. I know that sounds melodramatic, and certainly I don't revere here in the way I did when I was younger, but a part of me still retains this idyllic sense about T- she is the person to be like, and a person who's opinion matters sooooo much to me. She is creative and motivated and good, and probably shaking her head at my praise right now. (So I guess she's humble too, snicker snicker ;P)

Here's T & I: The Beginning:

I miss this blanket. Mom, what happened to this blanket? Also, I am glad I only have memories of cute, all-animal stuffed toys, and not of this oddly creepy monkey-human baby thing T is clutching.

We were always dressing up. T was such a damsel poser, just like her daughter Eva is now. Look at my face in the green dress. Not happy. I'm like, 'Where is my eye patch? Where are my chaps? Why am I wearing a costume that suggests I need rescuing? Give me a flippin' whip and a fedora!'

Funny how fashion comes full circle. Like, if I could find it in my size, I would totally wear that jacket now. Maybe not in that color so much.

First trip (of many) to The Happiest Place on Earth. I was so happy I guess it tuckered me right out.

T, I love this picture because it is the only one where its you who kinda looks like a boy instead of me ALWAYS looking like Boo Radley or something while you look like an exotic princess. In this one you look like a little Indian boy. From India ;)

Aaah, we love each other. And I guess this proves that we were style trend-setters from the start.

Though anyone who knows us well could tell you I am the one in the family who tends to play the typical protective mother hen role, even to my elder sibling T, she has always been a great big sister. Neither of us were really girly girls, but I was a major tomboy and did a lot of playing with G. I. Joe’s and geeky comic book role-playing with my brothers while Torry was off doing her own thing in her eldest child way. Nevertheless, when I got to that scary, Middle School/High School age, and Torry was already the perfect, popular girl, she never ignored me and always invited me to things. We had rooms that were connected by a bathroom and I remember many a night of tiptoeing through to her room and chatting on her bed into the wee small hours. She would tell me about the boys in her life, boys whose names I still remember though she doesn’t, and every secret she told me, however unimportant or silly it was, I cherished.

I remember having friends with older siblings that were two years apart like T and I and they were relieved and excited when their siblings went off to college and they got to inherit their room or something. I was devastated and missed her something awful and visited her at College a lot her Freshman year. Her Sophomore year of college was my Senior year of high school when my whole family was in Zimbabwe. I did correspondence to finish up for graduation and T sorted out doing correspondence through BYU for a year so that she could come over with us. After the year T and I headed back to the States for college while the rest of my family stayed in Zim for another year, so the only place that made sense for me to apply was BYU, because that was where T would be. She has since married an amazing guy who it feels like has always been my older brother, (believe me, he would have known if I didn't approve of him- I was the scary one to meet when it came to T, not my dad ;), and has provided for me a sassy, beautiful niece and a jovial, mischievous nephew, though they have all selfishly moved away from me ;P

I suppose that its inevitable that T will be demoted to a slightly lower pedestal one day when I have a husband and family of my own, but its awfully hard to imagine. T is someone I would be in awe of and want to be friends with, related or not. T is someone who I can spend hours of doing nothing with and the time happily flies by like minutes. T is someone who I can have a meaningful conversation with in a single expression or glance. T is the person I have more inside jokes with than anyone (seriously T, why is that test tube wearing a mustache and glasses?) When T is sad then I am sad, and nothing makes me happier than her happiness. Not even Fred & Ginger movies, and that's saying something.

Now T, don't be getting a big head and thinking you are going to be getting a post like this every year. My goodness, how spoiled you are. Nobody loves you like I do. Happy birthday.

If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.