Barenaked Ladies' new single!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's gonna be a long one...

Okay so life got busy. But that doesn't mean I stopped reading and watching movies, oh no! Just means I didn't remember to write about them. Here's lots!

Blake Edwards' S.O.B. (1981, Julie Andrews and some other people :D): Dude, what a random-ass movie. I watched it on recommendation from Kevin Smith's twittering (@ThatKevinSmith), found in multiple parts on YouTube (I love that there are movies available this way, it's so '00s). The only thing I feel I can really say about this movie is that if you want to see Julie Andrews' boobs, and hear her say "shit" and "boobies" - this is the movie for you! Other than that, man was it random. Good, I guess. I mean, I kept watching. Don't rent it. Watch it on YouTube.

Stephen Fry in America (Stephen Fry): Great book, especially for those of us who aren't American and haven't visited many of the states in the U.S. I really like how Stephen Fry writes, and I'm sure it was an excellent TV series. I missed it, unfortunately, but the book has beautiful full colour pages with lots of pictures to make up for that fact. I got it from the library, which is quite possibly the best way to get books such as these that you know you're only going to read the once. Might make a nice coffee table book though. Basic gist: Stephen Fry drives to every single state in the U.S. in a U.K. taxicab and comments briefly on his stays in some key towns. Pretty funny in parts, pretty nifty in others.

Mary Poppins (1964, Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke): To juxtapose Julie Andrews in her more wholesome persona, we watched this at work on my urging because my boss keeps trying to get kids to spell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Needless to say, I have spelled it far too many times in the past couple of weeks. I never really realize just how freakin' long that movie is... we started watching at 3:30ish and by 5:00 (when I leave work) we hadn't even gotten to the bank scenes or Feed the Birds or any of that. I think as I was leaving she was singing "Stay Awake". Thankfully we did see the laughing scene and the supercali-etc scene, so that was good. It is a VERY long movie, but seriously, I never even notice when I watch the whole thing. I'm never thinking to myself "Well there's far too many hours of my life I'll never get back" I'm always thinking "OOH THIS PART IS COMING UP NOW!" and get all excited. Sad I missed "Chim Chimney," I might have to borrow the movie from my sis sometime and re-watch without all those children bugging me. I mean... I love kids! Now go watch this movie.

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci Vol. I (Diana Wynne-Jones): The first two books in the Chrestomanci series are Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant. I freakin' love these books and could re-read them a million times. The next few books will be reviewed in upcoming blog posts, I'm sure, but for starters... These two books are great. If you like kids' books, read 'em. If you are a kid, read 'em. If you have kids, read 'em. Just give them a chance. They're well-written, have interesting characters and plot developments, and there's lots to them. And for some reason, I feel accomplished after finishing them because these two books in one volume in paperback form makes for a hefty spine width. Basic gist: there are alternate universes in series, and in one of the universes just one off from ours, there is a world much like ours but they have magic. There are hedge witches, sorcerers, warlocks and etc., all the way up to enchanters, the most powerful of all magic-users. The most powerful of all enchanters is the Chrestomanci, a nine-lifed enchanter who polices magic use in his world. In the first two books, there are stories of two different young nine-lifers who don't realize what they are and are sent to live with the current Chrestomanci for training, being groomed to be the next one. And hijinks ensue! (Really I just wanted to use the word hijinks, I love it.) Just read the books, okay?

It's Complicated (2009, Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin): I LOVED THIS MOVIE! The entire theatre was in stitches for a huge portion of the movie. It was hilarious. The dialogue was great, the situations were believable but out-there, the characters were fun - okay, so my parents and I had a hard time getting into the mindset of the characters, as we are part of some very together families, no divorces here! - and the plot was interesting. Rent it, go see it, buy it, do whatever you have to do, but WATCH THIS MOVIE. It might be fun to watch with your parents, if you're from my generation. I certainly found it so. I liked getting their opinion on in afterward, too. Gist: divorced couple (one remarried younger woman) begins to fall in love (lust?) again and has an affair. HIJINKS ENSUE! And don't listen to those idiots who say it's a bad movie 'cause of the pot. THE POT SCENE MAKES IT HILARIOUS. And Yes, folks, you can smoke The Dope without there being awful nasty consequences. Shove it, conservative anti-drug people. Oh and PS? John Krasinski is MINE! MINE MINE MINE! I love him and I want to marry him. He's only 6 years older than me, that's TOTALLY do-able. Okay so he's engaged to Emily Blunt who I also adore. Damn, I would totally steal him away from anyone else. But I can't do that to Emily, I love her too. Anyway, his character in this movie is pretty much exactly what I want in both a husband and a future son-in-law.

Last Words (George Carlin): Basically, an autobiography/memoir of George Carlin, published posthumously by another comedian-guy, Tony Hendra. Hendra and Carlin had been working for several years on the memoir in interviews and suchlike, and Hendra compiled it into book form after Carlin died in 2008. Boy, did that guy have a hard life... stressful job, stressful marriage, lots of drugs, lots of heart problems, lots of crazy shit went down. But what a genius. Man has a gift with words. Even if some of them are dirty :D Made it better, in my opinion. Bit of a heavy read though. Comedic, yes, but also makes you kinda go "Whoa. Better someone else than me, man." Note to self: no cocaine, 'kay? No heavy drinking, no heavy drugs, period. And don't try to be a controversial comedian, sounds like WAY too much work. Rest in peace, Georgie my boy. You've sure as hell earned it. Read it if you think you can handle it. But don't if you like happy reads. It isn't happy. Interesting, sure. But not happy.

I'm working on Stephen Fry's Paperweight at the moment. I don't know if I'll finish it before it's back to the library, so I'll just briefly note that this is a book you should get out of the library or own for a while - it's a collection of radio bits and articles and stuff from Fry, and not to be read in a sitting, or even two or three. I'd recommend it as a bathroom reader, actually. Nice short bits for reading in short increments of time. Some good stuff, some dull. Some dated. But it's part-skippable, if you feel it necessary, and you can read it pretty much in whatever order you choose. So as I say, bathroom reader.

Thanks for reading, if you have been. If you weren't, well then you're not here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Moab is my Washpot

Just finished reading (yesterday, but whatever) the first twenty years in the life of Stephen Fry, titled, incomprehensibly, Moab is my Washpot. I still have yet to find out what that's supposed to mean. *Looks it up on Wikipedia* Oh, it's a biblical reference. But it is never referred to in the text of the book, so I guess one would have to be slightly biblically aware in order to understand it. Well anyway. I'm a big fan of all things Stephen Fry, so it's no wonder I enjoyed the read. There's a lot of autobiographicalness to his book The Liar, which I had read previously, so I occasionally felt like I was re-reading. Generally, there was a lot touching on the British public and prep school system (where public = private, I know, it's very British of them, isn't it?), which I found quite interesting - it being a completely different world than anything I have or probably ever will experience. It's neat to read about such things. Plus, of course, I really enjoy Fry's way with words, and unapologetic use of his extensive vocabulary.

Must say, some bits of the text were occasionally hard to follow. Fry has a tendency to hop around on tangents in the middle of a particular bit of story, which makes for a bit of a brain-mushing read, if you're not paying close enough attention. Which, sad to say, I have an occasional tendency to do. This was one of the first books I've read in a while where I felt like I had to carefully read each word of a paragraph in order to get the whole meaning of it. In many books I have the ability to skim things quite quickly and still get the message into my brain.

Anyway, verdict is that you should read it only if you're interested in a look at the British public school system in general, and Stephen Fry in specific. I found it fascinating, but generally autobiographies of funny people are quite to my taste (read Bill Bryson's stuff, too!).

Friday, January 8, 2010

Listen to this!

Hey all, the Barenaked Ladies are coming out with a new album!!! Win!!! Go to to listen to the new single "You Run Away" and if you sign up for their email newsletter, you might be one of ten people who win a copy of the single FREE before it comes out on iTunes at the end of this month! And be sure to keep your eyes open for the new album when it comes out. It's called "All in Good Time."

I <3 BNL, you should definitely check them out.

Okay, so I watch a lot of movies, it appears...

I probably should have written about my Tuesday escapades before Wednesday happened, but as it is, now I have four movies to talk about instead of three. I'm moderately ridiculous, I'm aware. One of the movies I watched as my job, okay?

1) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009, Bill Hader, Anna Faris, and some other voice actors): DUDE this is an AWESOME movie! I simply love the fact that working at an after school program means that I get to watch kids' movies on a weekly basis. Okay, SOMETIMES I simply love this fact. I'd love this fact all the time if my boss picked better movies (like this one!) on a regular basis. As it is, I've been forced to watch some pretty crappy stuff. BUT THIS WASN'T SOME OF THAT! I only vaguely remember the book, reading it as a child - it was pretty much a picture book, with not so much by way of plot or anything, as my sister tells it - but I was highly amused by the plot they chose to inject into the movie script. Basic gist - wacky inventor creates machine to turn water into food (programmed by choice), it blows up and gets stuck in the sky and starts precipitating the food. Too many requests for different foods come in, and the food starts mutating into GINORMOUS food and threatens to squish the town. Wacky inventor and romantic interest weather girl must save the day. There were a lot of random silly bits that I'm pretty sure I was the only one in the room to get - example, one of the ports on the side of the machine is the "Welcome to Moose" port. FYI that was a supposedly terrible movie (never watched it, never could be bothered) that had Ray Romano in it, and it was filmed in Uxbridge, ON, which is where one of my university roomies was from - hence why I know about it. Also during a scene with an ice cream snowball fight, the monkey character is seen to be participating by throwing "chocolate ice cream" snow balls. Ha. Ha. Get it? Nobody but me did, until I groaned audibly in a disgusted manner :D ANYWAY. Watch this movie, I don't care if you think you're an adult. It's awesome

2) Did you Hear About the Morgans? (2009, Sarah Jessica Parker & Hugh Grant): This was a silly fluffy romantic comedy movie - exactly the type I love! Basic premise, separated couple get together for an evening and accidentally witness a murder, then need to go into protective custody to get away from the murderer. They end up in Middle-of-Nowhere, Wyoming, and are brought back together by being forced to live together in a happy, friendly little town. Vaguely reminded me of the premise for For Richer or For Poorer with Kirstie Alley and Tim Allen - except that involved Amish folk, I think. Anyway, I really enjoyed this one, and you will too if you're into that romantic comedy stuff. SJP is a bit annoying, but I always find her a bit annoying, and Hugh Grant, to quote his character from Love Actually, looks "increasingly like my aunt Mildred," with the sad, kicked-puppy-dog eyes and lack of backbone in general, but I will always love him anyway. Happy ending, not to spoil it or anything, but some people like to know these things about romantic comedies. Watch it 'cause you know you want to.

3) The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009, Christopher Plummer, Heath Ledger [et al.], & Lily Cole): by et al., I mean that this was Heath Ledger's last film before he died and, in fact, he died before it could be completed, so a bunch of other actors (Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell, to be precise) stepped in to be his character in different Imaginarium scenes. Basically, this movie is a huge drug trip. I think that by watching this movie (and by continuing to watch movies of its type, like the upcoming Alice in Wonderland), I have assured myself of never needing to do LSD or other hallucinogenic drugs. I'm not entirely sure that it made sense, and yet it did. I think that I came out of it with a better understanding of what it was about than when I came out of watching I Heart Huckabees, for example. But man, was it trippy. Loved it, absolutely loved it, and of course I love watching all those pretty, pretty actors, but whoa. Basic gist, Doctor Parnassus makes too many bets with the devil, and is scrambling to undo his last bet (which would cost him his firstborn child, the lovely Valentina) by making another bet... you see where this is going, perhaps. The Heath Ledger character is an interesting tie-in to it. I will say no more, because I think you should watch the movie for yourself. Quite worth seeing it in theatres, by the by.

4) Fast & Furious (2009, Vin Diesel & Paul Walker): My sister picked up this movie, actually thinking that it was its own predecessor, The Fast and The Furious, mainly hoping for a killer action movie to try out the pretty new TV I may have mentioned in a past post. Driving movies are awesome. We watched it, and it was only about a third to halfway in that we actually figured out we were watching the new one that just came out. I've never actually seen the first one. Or second one. I saw the third one, which doesn't have any characters the same, really, 'cept maybe one? But my sis had seen the first one, and when I figured out that this one was the new one she said, basically, "I was wondering why the plot didn't seem familiar..." :D So I guess the movies are pretty interchangeable and the plot doesn't matter all that much. I didn't really feel like I missed THAT much by not seeing the first couple of movies. I suppose now I have to go back and watch the first two in the series just to see what I was missing. AND of course to watch some awesome driving movies. I do love driving movies. Anyone remember the show Drive that was on TV for like, four episodes? I loved that show. Somebody who lives in the US needs to buy the episodes 5 and 6 that appeared on the US iTunes store, and burn them to disc for me. Random side note. Um... watch this movie if you like driving action movies and don't give a crap about plot lines. In fact, it might be well worth your while to fast forward the attempted plot bits. They're not that good. There were some good driving and fighting scenes. I liked it, certainly better than I liked Jumper.

Phew, that was a lot of movies. Don't worry, I am reading a book at the moment, so my next post MIGHT actually be about a book. But no guarantees, I also just got a Blockbuster coupon in the mail for rent one, get one free :D

Monday, January 4, 2010


The other night, in order to test out the quality of my sister's new TV (which was pretty cool, although apparently our MacBook adapter is just SLIGHTLY different from the adapter needed to plug in to the TV - argh), we watched Jumper (2008, Hayden Christensen & Rachel Bilson) - figuring that an action movie would be best to try out the exciting new wide screen, having failed to be able to watch the movies we WANTED to watch, which were on my MacBook and unpluggable. WELL. Was THAT ever a big mistake!

Now, this movie had been on my watch list for a while, because the books (Jumper, Reflex, Griffin's Story) by Stephen Gould are AWESOME. So go read the books, because they're great. Griffin's Story is technically a bit of a movie-tie-in, because Griffin is a character from the movie, and is not in the original Jumper book, but I read it without having seen the movie, and it was just a good read. The books are way, way, WAY better than the movie. Apparently the author had something to do with the movie script itself, but he must not have had much say or else he should stick to his novel-writing gig, 'cause it stunk.

Fair enough, the main actors were terrible. I hate Hayden Christensen a whole lot. I think he couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. And Rachel Bilson should never have gone on to movies from her stupid OC role. They were just awful. But even Griffin - whose bad lines ought to have been saved by his cute Irish accent - was becoming completely intolerable after a few scenes. They even had Diane Lane - someone I *usually* like to watch in movies - and made her suck. Samuel L Jackson was playing... well... his I-am-the-villain-but-I'm-still-Samuel-L-Jackson role. But his lines were terrible and the premise of his character (basically a religious fanatic "YOU ARE AN ABOMINATION" and stuff) was godawful.

Verdict: DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY ON THIS MOVIE!!! Seriously, it was terrible, terrible, terrible - even the action scenes couldn't save it. GO READ THE BOOKS they are so much better.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I love watching movies...

I watched three movies in the past... day... I will keep my reviews brief, so as to not overwhelm myself, but I do want to stick to my goal of keeping track of this kind of thing.

First, I watched Drive Me Crazy (1999, Melissa Joan Hart & Adrian Grenier). I felt the need to get in touch with my inner teen (okay, so I was 12 when it came out.. but it has high school characters...) and watch something from my past. I bought it on the cheap at some point last year when I was having a craving for things like that and She's All That and Girls and Boys and that kind of thing. I had a remarkably difficult time finding DVD copies of such drivel, actually :D And much as I love to call it drivel, it's totally my favourite genre of movies that I will watch and re-watch ad infinitum just 'cause I can. I particularly love the fact that this one has Melissa Joan Hart of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch fame - I was highly addicted to shows of that calibre being played on ABC's TGIF 4-show set. I was very disappointed when that died, because it meant I really had nothing to do on Friday nights. Going back to the movie... watch it, if you're like me and love that horrible genre of teenage romantic comedies.

Next, I watched My Life In Ruins (2009, Nia Vardalos & Richard Dreyfuss). Leaping ahead a decade, it was... another romantic comedy. But more comedic, more adult, very Greek (always love, see my post about Gods Behaving Badly), and highly entertaining. I enjoy Nia Vardalos a lot, I really liked her Greek wedding movie, and I think she's quite funny. I wouldn't recommend this to someone who takes their movies too seriously. It's fluff, no doubt, but that's what I tend to look for in movies, really. Watch it if you're looking for a good romantic comedy with a little bit of heart-string-tugging. Also, one of the TRAILERS before the movie made me cry, which I really don't think has happened to me in a while if ever... so I must add Adam with Hugh Dancy to my list of movies to see. It looks like awesome sauce.

Finally, I watched An Ideal Husband (1999, Rupert Everett, Cate Blanchett, Minnie Driver, Julianne Moore, and Jeremy Northam). I had been meaning to watch this movie ever since I saw the play at Stratford in 2007 - I believe I posted something on the original incarnation of this blog about how I would love to see a movie version of this to see if I loved it more than The Importance of Being Earnest. Well, I discovered that there already was a movie version of it, AND it had Rupert Everett in it (he is also in the movie version of Earnest), so when I saw it at Blockbuster it was a bit of a no-brainer. I love love LOVE Oscar Wilde and should really read his books/plays sometime this year, because he's a GENIUS of words. I absolutely adore the dialogue he has in his plays, and the premises for plot are quite interesting. Needless to say, I loved the movie. Rupert Everett does Oscar Wilde SO WELL. I kept thinking I knew Jeremy Northam from something, but turns out I don't think he's been in anything else I've seen. Ah well. He was quite good as well. And I love Minnie Driver. Absolutely. Watch this movie, ESPECIALLY if you like 19th century British politics and people. But really, just watch this movie because I think more people should appreciate Oscar Wilde.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Gods Behaving Badly

Next book finished this year: Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips. Actually my second reading of said book - I originally got it out of the library when it was being offered as an express read. I happened to see it on the shelf while looking for books to read and thought "why the heck not?" and read it again. You'll note it doesn't take me long to read these books...

The basic gist of the story is that the ancient Greek pantheon of gods (Artemis, Apollo, Zeus, etc.) are living together in a house in London in modern times, dwindling in their powers - they think because of old age but really turns out it was because of their lack of believers (that's not really a spoiler, it's a pretty standard premise for gods - the more followers they have, the more powerful they are). Aphrodite gets mad at Apollo for something and makes Eros (aka Cupid, her son, for those un-initiated into the Greek names for these gods) shoot him with one of his arrows to make him fall in love with a mortal woman who will not love him back. Hijinks ensue, and said mortal woman and the mortal man who's in love with her are needed to help save the world.

It's a fun premise for a novel, especially for me, as a good part of my childhood was spent reading various forms of Greek mythology (mostly D'Aulaire's) and maintaining an interest in the whole pantheon and myths for ages afterwards. I was put off taking anything to do with Greek history in university by an awful first year professor who spent the first couple of lectures talking about weather and trading patterns in ancient Greece. I was underwhelmed, and dropped the course. Unfortunate, because I probably would have liked taking some of the upper-year courses. Ah well.

I really enjoy reading this book, and will probably purchase it in the relatively near future, so as to be able to re-read at leisure and force-lend it to people on occasion. It's funny, interesting, and more than a little bit bawdy (how could it not be, considering what some of those Greek gods got up to in their spare time?), and all-in-all enjoyable. Slightly more than your basic fluff lit.

Final verdict: Read it, and buy it if you like Greek mythology.

The Scarlet Pimpernel

First book finished of the year: The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy. Historical fiction, a genre that I feel like I haven't delved into in a while. I remembered watching the play, back in about 2003 or 2004, when the Stratford festival put it on, and it was really good, although apparently not hugely memorable - I had vague ideas of who the characters were and what happened plot-wise (although not much of the plot) - but as I read the book I realized that either the play was done differently from the book quite significantly, or I was mis-remembering things.

It was a bit odd to be reading it with the knowledge of who the Scarlet Pimpernel was, because the first half of the book was entirely from the point of view of people who didn't know who he was and were trying to figure it out. There were minor clues as to his identity, but I don't know whether I would have caught them or not if I hadn't already known. It's hard to say. In any case, it was nicely suspenseful and action-filled, although I found myself often wanting to slap Lady Blakeney for her naïveté and sheer 18th-century-woman-ness. I mean, she's supposed to be this clever woman, most intelligent and well-respected, and yet she's a complete frill half the time. It irks me, but I suppose that's just how she was written in the time (1903 or 5 depending on if you mean the play or book).

I think I would definitely read this again. It was good enough that I would enjoy the story a second time through, and I do have this terrible habit of skim-reading things as I read them the first time through, just to find out what happens next without truly reading each word and getting the full depth of the novel. I'm sure I would be able to find things I had missed or read too quickly to remember them properly if I read it a second time.

Final verdict: Read it, if you like historical fiction anyway, if you like French Rev-era history, or if you're just looking for a good read and don't particularly stick to genres.