Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Entertainment-Related" Stuff

(Think I have a shot at next year's Blogger's Choice Award for "Blog with the Most Boring Blog-Post Titles"?)

I've put off writing this entry, and written it in such bits and pieces, that now I no longer really care whether it gets written or not. But since I'm this far along, I might as well finish it. (Now I know you're filled with anticipation. (g))

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Engrish on Flickr--

I could've sworn I'd already written about this (in this entry), but I can't find it, now. It must've been accidentally deleted. . .

If you're a fan of Engrish.com, you really ought to take a look at the Engrish "group" on Flickr. Some of the photos are things you'll already have seen on the other site (if you're a regular visitor), but most of them are worth another look, anyway. There are nearly 7,500 photos in the pool-- enough to keep you busy for hours.

Of course, there are other Engrish groups on Flickr, too, some of which claim to be better than the one I've linked to above. (I leave it to you to look and decide. Myself, it'll take me weeks to look through all the photos in just that one group.)

As a matter of fact, there are so many groups on Flickr that maybe I'll share just a few more that I find amusing and/or interesting:
  • Strange and Funny Signs-- Photos of strange and funny signs. (Never would've guessed, huh?)
  • Grocer's Apostrophe-- Signs illustrating the sad decline of the apostrophe. (Warning: This may cause irritation and high blood pressure in "Grammar/Punctuation Police" types.)
  • Pyrex Love & Calling All Corning Ware Lovers-- Did you know that vintage Pyrex and Corning Ware are hot items for collecting, these days? I saw several pieces (and patterns) in these groups that brought back memories of meals at my mother's and grandmothers' tables. . . :o) (And I'm guessing this is a large part of why they're collectible. People in my general age range want a set just like Grandma or Mom had.)
  • Foodie Craft!-- Food-themed crafts. I don't know why, exactly, but these things are just fun to look at, I think.
  • Dogs Eating Potato Chips-- You may be asking, "Why? Why a group devoted to dogs eating potato chips?" The answer, obviously, is because they can.
  • The Candy Shop & Candy Blog-- Photos of candy. I wonder why I'm suddenly so hungry. . .
  • Garden Junk vs Garden Art & Bowling Ball Art & Weird Yards and Gardens-- I think you've got the point, right?
  • Vintage Advertising-- And if you scroll down that first page, you'll find links to lots of other related Flickr groups. Truly, Flickr has more vintage ads and "stuff" than you ever wanted to see in one place!
  • Here's one for Halloween: ***Looks HAUNTED to ME!!!***
And before I move along (finally) to the next topic, here are a few specific photos that made me laugh:
  • "Hot Diggity Dogger" -- It's a toaster-esque machine that heats two buns and hot dogs at a time. Donald had heard of this before, but it was all new to me. This seems like the quintessential "buy it and use it exactly twice before it goes into storage/is given away or sold" kitchen gadget. I'd have to eat a whole lot of hot dogs to justify the counter space one these babies would take. . . (That said, we have our toaster out all the time, and yet we eat toast maybe once a year. Maybe that often. We're not big toast-eaters, even though I do like it on chilly days like today.)
  • "Tell Me Truth!!!"-- Maybe you'll think I'm a weirdo, but I find this absolutely hilarious. The "put your paws up, or else" pose-- the crazy juxtaposition of a kitten and a gun-- the caption. It's so bizarre!
  • "Cell World" & "Cell World 2"-- I've seen some hideous figurines in my time. I guess anyone who's wandered through a dollar store has seen some strange things. These particular uglies transcend the ordinary. They are exquisitely tacky.

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Songs most likely to be stuck in my head, lately:
  • Brandi Carlile's "Have You Ever"-- (A couple of the photos in that video are. . . odd, if you ask me, but the song's beautiful.)
  • Patrick O'Hearn's "Adagio from 'Fantasy for a Gentleman'"-- (Sorry about the tiny clip. It was the best I could find.) My brain has had this on repeat for a day, now. This song has such an eerie atmosphere to it. For me, it conjures images of a rain-wet cobblestone street in an oceanside town about a hundred years ago. Each stone has a little curve of golden light, reflecting from a partially clearing sunset sky. The "gentleman" from the title is seen from behind, closed umbrella in hand as he walks towards the ocean. That picture may not seem to "go" with the spooky feeling of the music, but it's what I see when I hear it.
  • Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights"-- What a weird voice! But it's a weird story, so it fits, somehow. . . Oh, and I can only endure this particular version of her singing this song. The other (more common?) one grates on my nerves, because she sounds (even more) like a witch. (shudder) (Help! I'm addicted to parentheses!!)
  • "Arioso" (a.k.a. Concerto for harpsichord, strings & continuo No. 5 in F minor, BWV 1056 Arioso, by J.S. Bach), as played by Tracy Silverman and Thea Suits Silverman-- Not much to say. It's just a nice, soothing melody.
  • A handful from The Alan Parsons Project that you can listen to here, including "Sirius", "Eye in the Sky", and "Mammagamma". Also, from the same group, "Time" (which I linked to not too long ago) and "Don't Answer Me". (Incidentally, I just saw the video for that song for the first time and. . . yuck. I just don't get the appeal of the comic book format, and I don't have much sympathy for the girl. Why is she dating the mean guy?)
  • Ray Lynch's "The Oh of Pleasure" and "Falling in the Garden"-- Two more that I linked to recently, but here they are again, because they're still "new favorites".

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Berkeley Square--
I've finished watching the first (and only) season. It was entertaining, but it did seem to get more and more soap opera-ish as the story progressed.

Serious spoilage to happen immediately.
Read at your own risk.

Ok, it was kind of soapy before-- especially with the baby switch-- but then there was the "oops, I accidentally shot my father" bit, the "oops, I buried the dead baby right where the city needs to come through and dig" thing ('scuse me while I roll my eyes), and so many similarly soapy incidents that before I knew what was happening, I was up to my nose in bubbles.

Still, it was enjoyable enough that I was disappointed to see it come to an end-- particularly since that end left so many things unsettled-- or very conveniently "temporarily" settled. It's obvious that they were planning/hoping to take the show into another season. Too bad that didn't happen! (So I guess it wasn't much better than a typical soap, in that regard, either! At least there were no children who went away for a month and came back seven years older. Also, no sickening incidences of every male in a family having a romantic relationship-- ok, at different times, but still-- with the same nasty woman. And of course the clothes, sets, writing, and acting were still about a thousand times better than a regular soap opera.)

A few tidbits to just get off my chest before I put this series aside:

  • Mrs. Simmons, apart from being a horrid, horrid woman, looks like a goose. No, I mean it! I know she can't help what she looks like, but-- a goose!
  • Hannah's baby switch was such a stupid idea! Sure, she didn't want her baby to live so near a typhoid outbreak, but how did she think the baby switch was ever going to work out? Worst case scenario-- She's dismissed for some reason and has to abandon her child, confess (and likely go to jail or be executed), or "kidnap" the child and go on the run. Best case scenario-- She gets to keep her position well into old age, but she may never be able to tell her son his true identity, and she'll have to stand by helplessly when her emotionally-distant employers return and make all the important decisions in her child's life.
  • Pringle seems so familiar to me, but it must just be my imagination, because I didn't recognize anything else she's done (according to IMDB).
  • The cheating wife (and frankly, her husband, for the most part), the cheating officer/whatever-he-is, Pringle, Mrs. Simmons, the parents who go away and leave their two children for months, "Lord Hugh", and I'm probably forgetting someone else-- oh, yes, the spoiled debutante girl. As far as they're all concerned, I'm glad to leave them behind. They can remain stuck in their unfinished storylines for all eternity, as far as I'm concerned.
  • The whole Matty/Ned thing was nice, but I think Lydia and the butler (what was his name, though?) made a sweeter story (even if Lydia is a little bit too clueless and eyes-bulging-in-shock sometimes).

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I finally finished reading To Say Nothing of the Dog. I paused lengthily before reading the last fifteen or so pages. I guess I felt that the story was pretty much finished at that point, so I wasn't compelled to pick it up again. That doesn't sound very flattering, but I did enjoy the book. If you're a fan of stories involving time travel-- or humorous references to Victorian-era literature-- this might be for you. The romance part was just ok. Not at all bad, but it definitely isn't primarily a romance. Also, I suspect that the fact that it's all told from a male point of view-- crammed in amongst so much other stuff-- had something to do with my dissatisfaction. As far as the mystery component of the book goes, I was able to guess the solution to at least one "puzzle" almost immediately. Still, all in all it was a pleasant read.

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(Older) Movies:

Donald and I watched Halloween for the first time ever, a few weeks ago. We watched it with the RiffTrax commentary, which was probably an improvement on the original. I don't know what I was expecting, but not what it turned out to be. I think I thought it would be quite a bit more frightening-- and gory-- than it actually was, though listening as the RiffTrax guys poked fun at everything obviously ruined the atmosfear. (Get it? Atmosfear? Ha ha ha. . .)

Actually, I found all the partial nudity more surprising than the scary parts of the film. (Yes, I'm an American prude. Sorry, but I can do without all the shots of bare-chested women. Thanks anyway.) I wondered if this was just a 70s thing, that they "couldn't" include much gruesome horror, so they chose to include the nudity instead for some extra shock value. Then again, considering some of the other movies made in the 70s, probably not. . . Not that I'm really complaining about the lack of show-it-all horror. I don't enjoy excessive blood and gore in movies (or in real life, for that matter!).

Watching it these days, at first it's hard to see what all the fuss was about this movie. But I suspect that seeing it back when it was new (and when I didn't keep thinking "seen that gimmick before. . . and that"), in a darkened theater. . . or later on, on TV in an otherwise empty house would be a different experience. . . And now I've decided that, no, I wouldn't want to watch this (RiffTrax or not) in an empty house at night.

Side note: I hadn't realized that saying "totally" was a "thing" in the 70s. I'd totally assumed that was a totally 80s thing. Totally.

Troll 2--
This is another we saw with RiffTrax commentary. With the commentary, it was agonizingly bad, in a "please let this end soon" way. Without it, I know for 100% certain I would never have sat through the whole thing. Wow, it was bad.

I can't believe what gets made into movies. How did anyone look at this script and think it was a good idea? Stupid, stupid movie, with some amazingly bad acting. Seriously. When I watched this, I kept thinking, "How dared that #@^& acting teacher to give me such trouble when these people have actually been paid to act, despite the fact that they should never be in proximity to a defenseless audience?!" And yes, I'm referring to that oft-mentioned college acting class yet again. Why, no, I don't have the least little bit of trouble letting things go. Why do you ask? I know I'm not destined for fame on stage or screen, but I think I should win awards, compared to some of these poor actors.

Or in other words, only watch this if you're a glutton for punishment and/or actually like incredibly awful movies. :o) On a more positive note, there were a few things that reminded me strongly of my youth in the late 80s/early 90s.

The Fifth Element--
I wasn't impressed. At all.

I like to check out the IMDB.com page for movies after viewing them for the first (and often only) time, just to finally find out the name of that actor/actress who looked so familiar, etc.-- and also to see what people have written about the movie. (Kind of silly, considering that so many of those commenting seem to be mind-bogglingly stupid. I'm sorry if that sounds "ugly", but it is so, so true.) Anyway, I saw that there are apparently many people who absolutely adore this film and say that the problem with the rest of us is that we're trying to take it too seriously. Of course, those were probably the same people who thought that the irritating-beyond-words, please-someone-make-him-shut-up cross-dresser-guy was hilarious, so. . .

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Donald and I have been watching John Adams through NetFlix. It's an interesting show, but I'm ashamed to admit that my memory of history class isn't good enough for me to judge its accuracy. Besides, there's no way historians could know some of the particulars included in the show, anyway, so there must be a fair bit of artistic license taken.

A few comments on the program (and yes, there will be **SPOILERS**):
  • How could they both have left their children behind for so many years, while they lived an ocean away? I can't imagine how I would have felt if my parents had done that to me and my sisters. . . No wonder one of their sons was resentful. I would've resented that, too!
  • The smallpox vaccination scene? Disgusting, horrific, yuck yuck yuck.
  • John is supposed to be somewhat annoying at times (I think), but what about Abigail? Because the fact that everyone has to comment on how important she is-- the wise woman behind the man, etc., etc.-- is also irritating after a while.

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Donald asked what I was writing about and I was answering. . . blah blah blah. . . He asked if I'd mentioned To Say Nothing of the Dog, because he's now reading that novel. I answered that I didn't think I'd spoiled anything in what I'd written. "But," I added, "you might want to skip"-- and I almost said "that chapter".

"You might want to skip that chapter!"
It's so funny-- because this entry is going on forever and ever-- and. . .

Yeah, I tend to ramble. Sorry about that. But, you know, you don't really have to read all this stuff. Even you loyal readers. ;o) Please don't feel bad about skipping paragraphs or whole entries. Otherwise, I'll feel obliged to make this stuff interesting for other people, which would put a huge crimp in my style.

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And with that, I think I'll let that be the final "chapter" for this entry. And, believe it or not, I'm leaving some things out that I'd planned to include. (I don't blame you if you doubt my honesty, even though it's absolutely true.)