Thursday, May 28, 2009

Archie, You Moron

Many moons ago, I owned a "Little Archie" digest that featured a familiar story: Betty lobbies for Archie's affections, and he reacts like a jerk. Because Archie didn't want to walk Betty home from school, he took her through a muddy, meandering route that ruined her outfit and hair. Veronica, in typical mean girl fashion, laughed at Betty when the pair arrived at the Choklit Shoppe.

Archie felt so bad that he offered to walk Betty to school properly the next day, and he even gave her a lock of his hair. However, I was disappointed that Betty let him off the hook so easily and continued to carry a torch for him. I also never completely forgave Archie for being such an asshole, which is probably something to be discussed with a therapist.

Now, there's proof that Archie is an idiot in matters of the heart: CNN reports that Archie will pop the question to Veronica — Veronica! — in a special 32-page issue. The comic will explore the post-college lives of the Riverdale gang, and it's clear from her blog that Betty is heartbroken.

I get that Veronica's wealth, sophistication and overall hotness would be alluring to a 17-year-old boy. But Betty is just as pretty, and I don't recall her once berating Archie for running out of money, driving a piece of shit vehicle or not catering to her every whim. Besides, Archie isn't exactly a Mensa member, so unless his music career takes off, how does he expect to keep Veronica in Gucci and Tiffany? He'll be singing a different tune when he's filing for bankruptcy at 28.

Here's how I'd write that script: Reggie gets his act together, becomes a nice guy (with an edge) and sweeps dear Betty off of her feet. For all his issues, Reggie has always been sexier, funnier and more ambitious than his red-haired nemesis. Living happily ever after with Reggie would be sweet, sweet revenge for Betty Cooper. Archie would be doomed to a life of regret and sending Betty sad e-mails.

I have a theory about why Betty, Veronica and bodacious troublemaker Cheryl Blossom have been fighting over Archie all these years, but I've already said too much.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fingers Crossed For "Glee"

As someone who has a habit of liking critically-acclaimed shows that get canceled, I'm wary of getting too attached to "Glee." It's a funny, quirky show about geeks, one that assumes (correctly) that high school mostly blows. And when has that ever panned out?

But if the pilot episode is indicative of what's to come, I hope "Glee" makes it. Maybe it doesn't achieve the greatness of "Freaks and Geeks," but it's got loads of potential.

When a high school glee club loses its director in a scandal, teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) steps in to keep it going and to reconnect with his passion for song. But even the principal thinks glee club is for losers, refusing to pony up the $40 a month required to run it. But Schuester isn't dissuaded, and once word gets out, the school's aspiring songbirds come forward.

These kids are my people — ambitious nerds who have that "One day you losers will know how awesome I am" gleam in their eye. Rachel (Lea Michele), who is talented but delusional, uploads new performance video daily on her MySpace page. Diva-in-training Mercedes (Amber Riley) declares that she shouldn't be singing backup because "I'm Beyonce, not Kelly Rowland." The only member with any social standing is quarterback Finn (Cory Monteith), a Troy Bolton type who wants to throw footballs and sing show tunes.

But my favorite glee club member, by far, is Kurt (Chris Colfer), who is clearly a friend of Dorothy. He begs the jocks to remove his Marc Jacobs jacket before they toss him into the dumpster, and when he belts out "Cellophane Man" during his audition, he does so with a hand on his hip and an I-do-this-in-my-sleep stroke of his bangs.

Perhaps best of all, "Glee" has the wonderful Jane Lynch, playing a ball-busting cheerleading coach who sees the new club as a threat. No one delivers a put-down quite like Lynch, who, upon seeing one of her cheerleaders flub a move, says, "You think this is hard? Being water-boarded is hard."

My only quibble is that Schuester's Pottery Barn-obsessed wife is a shade too unlikable to be believed. Otherwise, "Glee" has captured my attention in a way network television hasn't for years. When it returns in the fall, I'll be there with my jazz hands ready.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oranges Need To Get Over Themselves

With apologies to the genius blog that is F*ck You, Penguin

I'm over you, orange. You're clinging to your glory days as Florida's official fruit and a semi-exotic foodstuff, but I know what you really are. Common. Cheap. At $1.99 a bag, you aren't fooling anyone.

So the fact that you're so freaking difficult to peel pisses me off. Do you think playing hard to get makes me value you more highly? Look, you're just the pit stop between breakfast and lunch, not some carefully considered purchase from the farmer's market or New Leaf. You're not even organic.

I only bought you because I got bored with apples and grapes, and tangerines weren't available. Tangerines are sweet and easy. They don't put on airs or act like they're too good to be sectioned. You, on the other hand, expect to be labored over and earned. Please. You're not a lychee.

If you think I'm going to waste my time delicately peeling away your layers of so-called complexity, you are sadly mistaken. Say hello to my little friend the sharp knife.


I Knew Craig Ferguson Was Awesome ...

But not THIS awesome!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Following Darth

Among the many things that sucked about the "Star Wars" prequels was George Lucas' explanation for Darth Vader's evil. The idea is that Anakin's losses (his mom, his babies' mama) combined with his anger led him to become his galaxy's Josef Stalin.

That seemed kinda lame. I think evil is more disturbing when its reason for being is essentially unknowable. It challenges our hope that human beings are basically good unless circumstances damage them in some way. Learning that Vader was once a whiny teenager with girl problems takes away from the mystery and the menace. Why does fantasy need a backstory anyway?

Someone on Twitter clearly shares my preference for the iron-fisted James Earl Jones model, and I am hooked. Among the many highlights of "Darth Vader's" tweets:

Mad Sith props to Dick Cheney for his recent whirl-wind media tour. I gain 100+ followers every time he opens his evil maw.

I am altering the oatmeal. Pray I don't alter it further.

Just be glad I don't celebrate Earth Day the way I celebrated Alderaan Day.

If you're stinging from the BSG spoilers on Twitter, maybe this will take some of the edge off — I am Luke's father.

Tony Danza is not the boss. I am.

Genius. To follow Darth — and you will if you know what's good for you — click here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dick Grayson: An Appreciation (Of Sorts)

I know Dick Grayson isn't real and that if he were, he'd be plenty legal by now. But it used to make me feel a tad queasy whenever comics made reference to Grayson's (aka Nightwing) hotness or sex life. I mentioned this to my friend Shag a year or two ago, because I was beginning to get the feeling that Nightwing had either hooked up with every young woman in the D.C. universe or figured prominently in their fantasies. His reply was along the lines of, "Heck, yes. This is why he is a hero among male D.C. readers."

Grayson hasn't been Batman's teen sidekick for years, but being confronted with this is a little like running into the kid you used to babysit and realizing that he's not only a college senior but also incredibly good-looking. And ripped. It seems wrong, if not illegal, to notice.

Oh, well. Artist Nicola Stewart kicked that door down with a fabulously glute-tastic panel of Nightwing in the latest issue of "Secret Six." Dang. I guess fighting crime with circus-honed acrobatics is a hell of a workout. My friend V. confessed that she stared at that particular panel for 10 minutes. A Facebook friend, also female, virtually high-fived my mention of this particular rendering.

I am now of the opinion that Stewart should draw Nightwing, like, all the time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Have A Bad Feeling About This

My husband claims that I'm a movie snob, but I really don't know enough about film to qualify for the label. While my tastes tend to skew Miracle 5, I will not turn down a well-executed blockbuster or mainstream movie. Plus, I own "Twilight," so that's a blow to my credibility right there.

However, there are certain kinds of movies that I almost always refuse to see. Anything overly earnest that beats me over the head with "uplift" is a non-starter. But even worse are movies whose promotional posters might as well say, "You're a chick, so you'll like this." I might make an exception if I really like the actress (Isla Fisher's "Confessions of a Shopaholic" comes to mind), but not even Ann Hathaway could persuade me to see "Bridal Wars." Kate Hudson was in it, and she seems to specialize in the kind of films I'm allergic to.

Which brings me to "My Life in Ruins," a rom-com starring Nia Vardalos of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" fame (Never saw it). My friend M. sent me a link to the trailer with the note, "I dare you not to throw up." Wow. It's like someone put "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," "Under the Tuscan Sun" and "Hope Floats" in a blender and added an extra helping of cliches. I knew it was headed downhill when Vardalos' wacky heroine revealed, "I came (to Greece) to reconnect with my soul. Find my mojo." For real?

By the time the trailer faded out to the strains of Natasha Bedingfield's "Pocket Full of Sunshine," I did feel a little queasy. But this movie will probably make gobs of money, so what do I know?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Messed Up Video Of The Week

I'd forgotten about onetime Chuck E. Cheese's competitor Showtime Pizza Place until my friend H. shared this video on Facebook. Animatronic bears singing Usher's "Love In This Club?" I dare you to look away.

Those Were Your Hubcaps, Batman?

My friend R. took this photo during the Children's Week activities at the Capitol, and I've been meaning to post it. I can't see the looks on the kids' faces, but that is one intimidating Batman.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why "Star Trek" Rocks

Not that the world needs another glowing "Star Trek" review, but the last time I saw this level of excitement about a movie was when "Watchmen" came out few months ago. And that's probably not a fair comparison because a) "Watchmen" isn't as widely recognizable as "Star Trek" and b) audience and critic reaction to "Watchmen" was mixed at best. So far, I've only talked to one person who disliked "Star Trek," and many people — sci fi geeks or not — plan to see it again when it hits the IMAX. People are even going to Burger King just to buy themed drinking glasses! (OK, maybe that's just me.)

Here are my thoughts (WITH SPOILERS) on what made the movie work so well.

1. The story: Sometimes, simple is best. There were no painfully long scenes focused on intergalactic diplomacy and trade federations. Instead, "Star Trek" offered classic redemption/revenge plotlines, witty dialogue and big, shiny things exploding. You know the CGI is good when it never occurs to you that CGI is being employed. And a major high-five for the element of surprise: Spock and Uhura? Didn't see that coming!

2. The supporting cast: Beyond Kirk and Spock, I don't know a whole lot about how the members of the Starship Enterprise are "supposed" to act. But I know a good supporting cast when I see one, and this is it. As Leonard "Bones" McCoy, Karl Urban is grumpy, put upon and very funny. Anton Yelchin is a cuddly, English-mangling Chekov. If there's a more fetching young actress than Zoe Saldana (Uhura), I've yet to see her. Casting Simon Pegg as Scotty was a stroke of genius, and even in a small role, John Cho as Sulu literally kicks ass.

3. Zachary Quinto: I'm running out of adjectives to describe how good Quinto is as the iconic Spock. This is no surprise to people who watched the first season of "Heroes," but I didn't expect him to so thoroughly own the part — even with the venerable Leonard Nimoy in the film. He's kind of a dick in the beginning — the smug prodigy who is never, ever wrong. And I really liked the idea that, as a half-human, Spock's unusual self-control is more of a choice than a biological given. That makes the moments when he's clearly struggling to remain logical much more interesting.

4. Chris Pine: I've never seen Pine in anything, so I had no expectations for his take on James Kirk. The reckless womanizer who doesn't play by the rules is a total cliche, but the likable Pine portrays Kirk with just the right balance of humor and bravado. He's a frat boy to root for, and he never takes the joke too far.

5. Little Spock going all Ron Artest on his tormentors: I don't know how they do it on Vulcan, but on Earth, talking about somebody's mama is asking for punch in the mouth. Played by Jacob Kogan, child Spock metes out some harsh punishment when a peer calls his human mother (played by Winona Ryder!) a whore. I mean, he beats that kid down, and totally without warning. This is the first hint of the rebooted character's inner conflict, and it's a doozy. Best line: "I trust you have prepared new insults for today."

6. Leonard Nimoy: His appearance as an alternate-reality Spock is great because ... just because. It's freakin' Leonard Nimoy. That's enough.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Spock Envy

Watching the excellent new "Star Trek" film, I couldn't help but think of the "Star Wars" prequels and what might have been. Here was a franchise update that was thrilling, funny and even a little sexy. It paid respect to its source material without being enslaved by it. But most importantly, "Star Trek" was fun to watch, unlike the turgid "Star Wars" Episodes I-III. I don't know what die-hard Trekkers think, but as a "Star Wars" loyalist who was always indifferent to their corner of the sci-fi universe, I am so ready for a sequel.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Right Under My Own Roof

I knew these dolls would be trouble when my daughter got them for Christmas. Troy and Gabriella, we have these things called rules in our house. What do you have to say for yourselves? And don't tell me, "It's not what it looks like," because I wasn't born yesterday.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I Give Up

To my so-called friends who encouraged me to watch "Twilight:"

I hate all of you.

You sat back as I made joke after joke about the cheesy dialogue, swooning and sparkling ... and you waited. You knew that my smugness would be no match for Robert Pattinson's perfectly tousled hair and model's cheekbones. Even as I was spitting out my Diet Coke at some of the lines and special effects, it was too late. I was all, "Bwaha! This is so effing ridiculous." Days later, I was all, "Well, that Cullen character was kinda cute. Really cute. Hm. Actually, he is totally striking. What genius casting! I, um ... dammit!"

He's dreamy — OK? I know when I've been beaten.

But I will not, under any circumstances, read "New Moon."

I won't!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Snap Judgment: "JONAS"

When I was around 7 years old, I fell in love with re-runs of "The Monkees," which, in my opinion, never got the respect it deserved. Everyone gets hung up on the prefab band thing (they did eventually play their own instruments) and overlooked the show's pioneering wackiness. Certain friends of mine know that my affection for this show and the band members lasted well into my teen years. (Peter Tork, if you're reading this, you were always my favorite.)

So when reviewers compared the Jonas Brothers' newest vehicle for world domination, "JONAS," to "The Monkees," I was skeptical. Successfully combining comedy with music is harder than it looks, and I was prepared for this show to be about as entertaining as a marathon of "Wizards of Waverly Place." But just as I once underestimated their musical chops, I didn't give the Jonas Brothers enough credit in the humor department. The show is effortlessly likable, and there's a self-deprecating undertone to it.

The singers play slightly altered versions themselves, only they're rock stars who attend high school. The first episode would have us believe that Nick, the "serious" one, is always getting his heart broken. Right. Anyway, there is a genuinely funny song sequence involving a very awkward set of angel wings. Just when you think the show is going down Teen Cliche Avenue, it veers in the other direction. Apparently, one of the "JONAS" directors worked on the short-lived but innovative '90s show "Parker Lewis Can't Lose," and a similar zany spirit pervades this show. I could do without the hyperventilating fan character, but my children thought her scenery gnawing was hilarious.

Let's face it; the people watching this show are the trio's rabid kid-to-tween fans and any parent who happens to be in the room. Those convinced that the band epitomizes The Problem With Youth Today won't be converted, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed "JONAS." I wouldn't put down a good book to tune in, but if I'm just folding laundry while the kids are watching it, sure. Unlike "Hannah Montana," it didn't make me want to flee.

Late Observations: "Twilight"

I tried to finish the first "Twilight" book. I really did. But after the author reminded me for the 798th time of how gorgeous, perfect and Adonis-like vampire Edward Cullen was, something inside me broke. So I passed the book along to a friend's 10-year-old daughter, who has since devoured it and moved on to "New Moon." I'm always happy to support literacy.

I still find "Twilight" fascinating as a cultural phenomenon, which is why I watched the movie over the weekend. If I were a 13-year-old girl, I would be all over this. My walls would be plastered with pictures of adorable Robert Pattinson, and I'd be arguing over minor plot points with my fellow fangirls. That's because "Twilight" hits the bulls-eye of young teens girls' fantasies: that a beautiful, soulful and vaguely dangerous boy is obsessed with you, and only you, and that the two of you will co-exist in a bubble of melodrama and sexual tension ... without having sex.

Pattinson was a great pick for the role of Edward, one of the pasty/intense Cullen vampire kids who keep to themselves at Forks High School. As Bella, Kristen Stewart makes the character much more appealing than she is in the book. Of course, that may be because the movie doesn't allow for the nonstop newscrawl of Bella's internal dialogue. Stewart is part of a long tradition of "ordinary" female characters being played by very attractive actresses.

Like the book, the movie version of "Twilight" never really explains why Edward is so smitten with Bella, other than the unique scent of her blood. But the two actors do have good chemistry, which might explain why their off-set relationship is on the cover of all the gossip rags. And maybe I just noticed this because I'm old, but I thought it was neat that the supporting cast was so diverse. Black vampires? Who knew?! I remember when you could watch a teen film from start to finish and see nary a person of color. (And no, I'm not counting Long Duc Dong from "Sixteen Candles.")

Granted, I laughed out loud a few times, like when Edward informed Bella, "I don't have the strength to stay away from you anymore." The whole sparkling-in-the-sunlight business made me giggle, too, but I realize I'm not the target audience. (Or am I? There seem to be an awful lot of women my age buying the books and swooning over Edward. That's .. interesting?) I'm not hating, though. Overall, "Twilight" is a perfectly serviceable movie that's worth a Neflix rental. On with the sequel.