Sunday, February 27, 2011

This is a filler post

This poor little empty blog ... I'm sorry, Dear Reader[s].  Between the skiing on the weekends, and the fevered re-reading of the Dark Tower series, I've got nothing new for you here.  I will say, however, that I have reached the penultimate volume in the Dark Tower books and this is where it really falls apart, when Stephen King not only has incorporated a major character from Salem's Lot into Roland's ka-tet, indulging himself in a little retconning, but he's about to write HIMSELF in as a character.  As himself, the horror author, who's writing the Dark Tower books.  Things are about to get way too meta and self-indulgent.

I'm also two-thirds of the way through The Strain, co-written by Guillermo del Toro, and I've put up a review of that when I get there.  And I'm nearing the point in S1 of Fringe where I'll start recapping again for here.  So be patient with me, I beg ya.

In the meantime, Oscars are tonight!  I don't know why I care seeing how I haven't seen (I don't think) any of the to-be honored films.  But I've got the DVR set to record the show - which means I can FF through the more tedious bits ... I still like seeing the movie clips and the actors.  Will you be watching?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Movie review: Frozen - in connection with Final Girl Film Club!

This review is part of the Final Girl Film Club over there at the very excellent Final Girl blog.  Please click through and partake of the awesomeness!

I feel I am very well qualified to review Frozen and I'll tell you why.  Frozen is a little horror movie in which three kids - two snowboarders and a skier - get stuck on a chairlift and must fight for their lives; I have been skiing for many, many years now (and will adamantly not admit to just how many, many years).  Frozen is set in New England and gives shout-outs to some local ski mountains, including Okemo and Wachusett; I lived for most of my life in New England.  Frozen was filmed on location at Snowbasin Resort in Utah; not only do I now live in Utah, but I've actually skied at Snowbasin.  Clearly, there is no one better qualified than I!

The story, in a nutshell, is this: Parker, Dan and Joe have taken off from college for a ski day.  Being poor college students, they don't want to pay for tickets and Parker, Dan's girlfriend and perennial thorn in Dan's best buddy Joe's side, flirts with the liftie enough to ride for free.  When they jump on the chair for one last run, none of the lift operators are paying attention and the lift gets shut down with the kids stranded about fifty feet in the air.  They're stuck.  And it's Sunday night, and the little ski resort doesn't open again 'til Friday, so they're screwed.  What are their options?  Jump from the chair, climb the cable to a lift tower or freeze to death.  Oh, and I almost forgot this part: there is a pack of very hungry wolves milling about in the woods below.  I don't want to completely spoil it for you but two of the three options outlined above are explored by the kids, and two of the three characters get eaten by wolves.

I had some nitpicks with Frozen.  There isn't so much foreshadowing as fore-let-me-spell-it-out-for-you when the kids (pre-stranding) discuss what would be the worst ways to die: one thinks jumping from a height would be the worst, while another thinks knowing an animal was coming for you - Jaws is used as an example - would be just horrible.  When Dan insists that Parker wear a helmet because she's a beginner, she whines that "only kids wear helmets" but that is patently not true and, having skied both back east and out west, I would say that probably 80% of skiers/boarders wear helmets these days.  Parker drops a mitten and then spends half the movie holding onto the metal safety bar - I promise you that would never happen: she'd wrap her hand in her hat and stick it inside her parka.  When the chair stops, stranding them, they can still see the lights from the base lodge down the mountain, but when SPOILER Parker finally makes her way to safety, it takes her forever, stumbling through the woods until she comes out onto a road at last - even though the lodge just wasn't that far away.  Pluswhich, I'm not sure it's been confirmed that there are any wolves in New England - and a pack of that size would certainly not go unnoticed.

Picky complaints aside, Frozen is actually a decent little movie.  The focus of the whole film is on these three characters and they acquit themselves pretty well with solid acting and character development.  It's not slashy or gory (although I did shut my eyes when Parker pulled her frozen hand off the metal chair), with all the wolf action taking place off-screen, but the actors' reactions and the sound effects are extremely effective to ratchet up the tension and the fright factor.  I rather liked it (and it's a damn sight better than the last snowboarder horror flick I watched, Shredder - ugh.)

Any skier knows that the scenario in this movie is preposterous, but that doesn't mean that every time the chairlift lurches to a stop, a little voice way back in your head says, "I hope we don't get stuck up here."  And ultimately that's what makes Frozen work.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reading list

It's a good thing that I read pretty quickly because my books are stacking up!  I've been re-reading Stephen King's Dark Tower series and am a third of the way through Book 5, Wolves of the Calla.  I'd forgotten how much I love the billy-bumbler character, Oy; for some reason, this imaginary animal that looks like a cross between a badger and a raccoon and can talk, a little, just caught hold of my heart.  Of course, since this is my second time through the series - and because it's a Stephen King book - I know it won't end well for little Oy (even if I can't remember exactly how) and I'm dreading the turn of each page which brings me closer and closer to the inevitable.

I'll have to take a DT break after this one, however, because the library sent me The Strain by GUILLERMO DEL TORO (I don't mean to shout at you but: Guillermo del Toro!!!) and Chuck Hogan (whoever he is), which was recommended to me by Friend of the Blog, Bill P., and also The Passage by Justin Cronin, recommended to me by Bill P., Dian Q. and Spencer R.  Wait, that's weird: P, Q, R ... Anyway, I'm really excited about these two books and will duly report back to y'all.

I've also got Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 bu David Petersen which I treated myself to with some birthday money.  And since we're inching inexorably towards spring, I've got Waterwise Landscaping with Trees, Shrubs & Vines (Rocky Mountain Region) by Jim Knopf to delve into as I'm hoping to make some changes in the front yard so we don't have to water so much.  Too much to read!  What are you guys reading right now?  Anything I should add to my stack?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mini movie review: Easy A

I wanted to love Easy A, I really did.  I adore Emma Stone - and here she is smart, sweet, kind, funny, adorable and gorgeous, yet completely unafraid to make foolish faces and act like a goofball.  I liked the concept: a retelling of The Scarlet Letter as an outcast high school girl (Stone) courts notoriety to help out those even more outcast than she.  But I just had so many issues with so many of the supporting cast: Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson were too over the top as her coolest-parents-on-the-planet parents (Clarkson was particularly too much); Phoebe from Friends was waaaaaaaaaay annoying as the guidance counselor and loser wife of coolest-teacher-on-the-planet Thomas Hayden Church; Aly Michalka (spelling? who even cares?) was the most annoying best friend a girl could ever have; and Penn Badgely, while working his adorkableness for all it's worth, just in no way looks anything like a high school kid.  And I say this with 16- and 18-year-old girl cousins who look like they're about 30.  Pluswhich, there is absolutely no high school on this planet where a girl as smart, sweet, kind, funny, adorable and gorgeous as Emma Stone would be an outcast with only one spastic bitch friend.

You want a twisted, funny and wicked smart movie about high school kids and sex? Try Saved! with Jena Malone, Eva Amurri, Macaulay Culkin and Mandy Moore.  Even Mr. Mouse liked that one.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I gave up on Fringe in S1: I recapped the first ten or so episodes here, then maybe watched the rest of the season, but didn't pick back up in S2.  And now, in S4 (I think it's S3), everyone [who likes this sort of televisin] says it's one of the best shows going on right now.  Sigh. So now I'm renting it on DVD and rewatching S1 and trying to get caught up.  The good news for this site is that I'll pick the recaps back up.  They may not be as detailed as they once were (my WORD I typed a lot back in those days - my vintage 1997 laptop must have been functioning better back then), but they'll get the gist across.  Fringe on!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Titles Nine - #11 -- Series

Time once again for another riveting installment of the FMS series, "Titles Nine," whereby I go to my many bookshelves and pick out nine volumes to share with you, my faithful reader[s].  Since I'm tearing my way through Stephen King's Dark Tower series for the second time, it occured to me that I must have at least nine book series in my collection, or at least partial series.  Let's see what I found!
  • The Dark Tower series by Stephen King (Books I-III at present)
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (1-11)
  • The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell (complete set: Justine, Mountolive, Balthazar and Clea)
  • Griffin and Sabine, Sabine's Notebook and The Golden Mean by Nick Bantock
  • The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (I used to have the full set but can only find 1-4 at present)
  • The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (1-11 only)
  • The Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (not only do I have all the books but I also have a Little House cookbook!)
  • I Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves (does it count as a series if there are only two in the run?)
  • A Wrinkle In Time, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle (I need to reread these/finish the series)
And since the Robert Graves ones scarcely count, I also have nine or ten Bloom County books by Berke Breathed.  I realize that's not actually a series but I do have a lot of them so it must count for something.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mini movie review: Jeremiah Johnson

Jeremiah Johnson was on AMC the other night and since we're practically Robert Redford's neighbors (not really, but his Sundance Resort is only 40 minutes away and we've hiked all over where JJ was filmed in 1972), we thought we should check it out.  A young and handsome (tho' buried in a hideous red beard) Redford is the title fellow, a former Civil War solder who is looking to live a hermit's life in the Rocky Mountains.  Trouble is, he doesn't really have any mountain man skills and flounders around (he should have died of hypothermia on the first day) until a real mountain man, played by The Waltons' Will Geer, takes him under his wing and teaches him a few tricks.  Then Jeremiah heads into the wilderness, picking up an orphaned boy and a Native American wife along the way.  Then he helps the Army to rescue some stranded settlers and brings the wrath of the local Crow tribe down upon his head.  Then he turns into a kickass Indian fighter.

There's really not much in the way of plot in this movie - it's more of a narrative flow of this happened, then this happened, then this happened.  And Mr. Mouse and I can't decide if Redford ever was a good actor: he's either not in this movie, or he's playing Jeremiah as sort of a lump.  Still, the locations are gorgeous and it was fun to recognize mountains that we've climbed looming up in the background. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Yet another reason why zombies are awesome

Like The Road Warrior, Zack Snyder's remake of Dawn of the Dead is a very excellent movie to watch whilst trotting on the treadmill at the gym.  I've seen it several times before, plus it's a remake, so it's not like I'm going to miss anything crucial if I look away.  It's action-action-action for the most part, especially the last half hour what with the shootings and chewings and chainsaws and exploding propane containers and exploding trucks and exploding zombies.  And the pretty little Mormon girls with their fake boobs and bleach-blonde hair take one look at what's on the screen and scurry far, far away.  Plus, if you start to get tired, just imagine that the zombies are chasing you, and that's good motivation to keep going.  Personally, I've been running enough so when the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse happens, I think I'll be okay if the zombies turn out to be classic shamblers.  It's if we get the newfangled sprinters that I'm going to be S.O.L.  (Well, so won't everyone else, I guess.)