Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 Wrap Up

At the end of the year, many publications and individuals enjoy making Top Ten lists to encompass everything they enjoyed this entire year. As I have a terrible memory (a sore liability were I in any other field other than the "make stuff up!" industry), I can't remember ten whole things I did this year, yet alone ten movies I saw or CDs I downloaded or games I played. So here are my Top One lists for 2009:

Top One Movie
1. Whip It!  - Everyone expects Ellen Page to be Juno for the rest of her life, which is unfortunate. Juno would never join a Roller Derby league, you guys. But you know who would? All of the fine ladies in this smile-ear-to-ear little gem sweater of a movie.

Top One Book
1. Dark Places  - Gillian Flynn is a relatively new voice in the suspense/thriller genre, one I welcome with open arms. She has some trouble with endings (bringing everything together too fast/too conveniently), but the journey she takes you on is always uniquely enthralling.

Top One Comic
1. Runaways - It didn't come out this year, but I discovered it for myself this year so it counts. I devoured this thing. Someone make the first arc into a movie, please. I will buy you donuts. Please?

Top One Music
1. Sainthood - Tegan and Sara. More synths, more pop, more delightful. Doesn't quite match the emotional landscape of The Con, but it still finds heavy rotation in my iTunes list.

Top One Video Game
1. Rock Band 2 - I know it isn't a new game, but it is still the best way to waste an afternoon. Tip: don't play after ten pm, for the sake of your neighbors.

That's it!  If I think of any more Top Ones, I'll edit this entry to reflect that. Perhaps movie reviews will return next year, but I make no promises. See you in 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Mary's Waltz" to be Published in January Issue of Collective Fallout

Sorry I have been away from the blog for longer than usual. I've been really busy with choir.

Remember when I ranted out some superfluous advice as an unpublished writer last entry? Well, those days are over, my friends. Now I can dish out disposable wisdom as A Writer Who Has Officially Been Published At Least One Time! I am having medallions made up with that very inscription. T-shirts available next week.

Here is a Long Tale About a the Journey of a Story from Concept to Publication

Well, first, here is a BRIEF SUMMARY OF EVENTS. Collective Fallout is a relatively new literary magazine focusing on publishing sci-fi/horror/fantasy- and queer-themed fiction (the content must fall under this umbrella, not necessarily the author). They publish two issues of their print journal every year, and the first issue of next year (January) will include a story of mine entitled "Mary's Waltz" (the story I have alluded to in previous entries). This is my first publication outside of my undergrad lit mag, and I am really excited about it! You can read an excerpt of my story here, and check out some of the other works as well!

If you're interested, here is how "Mary's Waltz" came to be (warning: if you don't want to be bored by disorganized thoughts on the writing process, go here instead):

Last year a friend of mine introduced me to PARSEC, an annual sci-fi/horror short story contest. What drew me to this contest was the fact that there was no entry fee, and even if you are not selected as a winner (I think there is a cash prize, but money should never factor into why you write or you will very quickly become a bitter, bitter person) you receive a brief written critique of your work with your rejection letter. A free critique without the awkward and intimidating immediacy of a workshop? Amazing. I couldn't pass that up. There is also a different theme or motif each year that must play an integral part in your story. In '09 this theme was Black Glass.

My friend told me about the contest about a week before the story was due. I banged out a very rough draft of what is now "Mary's Waltz" and what was then "The Girl, The Scorpion" in about three hours, proof-read it once, and sent it out the next day, knowing full well it was not going to win. But writing for a solid block of three hours felt exhilarating after not writing for so long; writing a new short story after spending over a year on my undergrad novel felt even better. (Short story writing and novel writing are completely different crafts, but I'm sure I'll dive into that in more detail at a later entry.)

With "The Girl, The Scorpion," I took an existing idea and tried to fit it into the theme, or the theme into it. My favorite band Over the Rhine has a song called "Mary's Waltz," about a blind girl who sneaks out of her house at night to dance. This image captured me. A couple of years ago, I was exploring various dorm buildings with a friend of mine on Antioch's campus, and we came upon a door with an incredible amount of locks on it. What purpose, these locks? People always ask where storytellers get their ideas, well here it is: What if? That is what we start with. For me it was, "What if there is something behind a door that desperately wants you to come in? What if this something is sinister? What if you struggle and toil and finally open the door and before you can celebrate......" Wait, what am I going to put behind the door? That was less of a concern than Who will I get to open the door? Why will this person be able to open it and what will it mean for them? Would it mean something else to someone else? So these were the questions that propelled me to begin, and then of course I plopped some lesbians in there because that's what I do, and I made Mary blind because of the song, and her blindness in the rough draft had absolutely no significance but I found it later. The door also had very little significance (one of the story's many problems, as pointed out in my generous one-paragraph critique), and there was no connection between it and either of my main characters. (P.S. This is why guidelines for short story submissions - as well as your creative writing teachers - will always implore you NOT to send a first draft. They are very wise.)

But where was the Black Glass? The Black Glass was the door handle, but it was also the scorpions. Man, the scorpions was the best idea I never had. It comes from the nonfiction memoir Don't Tell Mom I Work on the Rigs by Paul Carter. For recreation during one of his oil rig tours in some jungle, Carter watches the natives construct a cage small enough for this scorpion so that it will lose a fight to the death with a mouse. (Also interesting note about scorpions, if you put them in a pan and set a fire under it, they will puncture themselves with their own stingers to avoid burning to death.) So this insane image of mouse besting scorpion stayed with me and all I had to do was wait for the best place in a story to use it. (Incidentally, it was also the one thing about my first revision of this story that my workshop class considered too unbelievable.)

So where do storytellers get their ideas? They ask themselves What If, and then they steal other people's life experiences. Done and done.

Anyway, I of course got my rejection letter which included a helpful critique that influenced some of the changes I made in my first revision of the piece. I turned this revision over to my workshop group at SF State and fourteen separate minds helped me fine-tune the thing. I revised one more time and then I sent it out. Really, it is a fluke. I was indexing places to send stories to use at a later date (thinking to revise "Mary's Waltz" at least one more time) when I found Collective Fallout and realized their deadline was in like a week. So I thought, what the hell? And here we are. (For the record, I still think the story could benefit from a stronger ending [the one thing that has been retooled the most], but there tends to be a fine line between tinkering just enough and tinkering too damn much. Gotta move on.)

Gosh, I really love the writing process; how much a single story transforms from your mind to the page to the reader's mind. Fascinating.

So what have we learned, kids?

A) Writers steal all of their ideas
B) Real life is stranger than fiction
C) You should send your shit out cuz someone else will want to read it

Please do not literally send out your feces. But if it simply can't be helped, here is the address of my high school bully:

Billy Henderson
1236 Westfield Drive
Springfield, IN 56340

The left image is the photo of him I used to project the image on the right, which is probably what he looks like now.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Unsolicited Advice from an Unpublished Lady

Tip #1:

Do not write about vampires. (Or werewolves.) This theme is dead; it may be popular among the kiddies right now, and you may want a piece of that over-baked pie, but seriously, honey, if you ain't got nothing new to add to the goth make-up of your alluringly pale protagonists, just put down the keyboard and back away slowly.

This isn't (only) my personal bias talking. Recently I have been researching horror and speculative fiction literary magazines (through the wonderful resource of duotrope, thank you for asking), and nine out of ten sites make mention of vampires somewhere in their submission guidelines, in the form of DO. NOT. WANT. But they say it much more literarily.

Seriously, people, there are so many other, fresher, less trampled metaphors to be plumbed out there. Mmmm plums. For instance, my story is about a blind girl who sees through the eyes of spiders due to some unspecified magical thingy, who then steals the tongue of another girl in order to stop seeing with said spider eyes (by way of magic, again). It's a metaphor for abusive relationships!

It's true that your idea does not have to be an original one (we're running out of those...maybe?), but the spin you put on it, the style with which you write it, the voice in which you tell it, the characters you move through it - those things have to be unique in order to get noticed. My philosophy is, write what you want to read. I haven't seen many stories about sense-swapping teenage lesbians and magical doors to magictown in mainstream fiction (I haven't seen many teenage lesbians in mainstream fiction, period), so I decided to write my own. (You wake up in the middle of the night with a craving for creepy blind girls, what else are you gonna do but write it yourself. ...What? We all have needs.)


1. Joss Whedon. Look, my unhealthy obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer not withstanding....oh, who am I kidding, that particular obsession influences everything. Joss Whedon tinkered with vampire mythology and managed to make it broodingly enticing (yes, a little cheeseball too, but like a fine brie, no empty calories). He can do whatever he wants.

2. Fan-fiction. You can write whatever the crap you want on fan fiction boards. Someone will invariably like it, and then ask you to read their slash, and you'll be all "what is sla--ohdeargodwhyareEdwardandAngelDOINGTHAT!!?!" But it's cool. (Angel is the top in this scenerio, obvs.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We can't all be famous strippers

Clearly, I have lost interest in the self-imposed format of this "movie review" blog. Remember when Diablo Cody was just a small-town stripper and she posted about her adventures and America (or at least, one of its publishing companies) fell in love with her and she got a sweet book deal? All I have to do is find a job in the sex industry and blog about my struggles with objectification, personal shame, lack of medical insurance, and the blurred line between sexual abuse and "work place hazards"! Hmmm. Maybe that's not exactly how Cody did it.

Perhaps I am not posting very often because going over old movies is essentially living in the past. A past filled with multiple viewings of mediocre comedies, dramas, and horror flicks, while I stayed in on Friday nights and ate my feelings. Perhaps it is time to move on, to find something I can truly believe in, a cause I can get behind. A gospel, a theology. A creation story that makes as much sense as any other.

You Say Blasphemy Like it was a Bad Thing

So there was God.

God was quite alone, being God and all. God did not entirely know how God came into existence, but God saw no reason to question it. Who would God ask anyway? It just seemed pointless. So God simply went with it.

It was quite some time before God realized what awesome powers God possessed. Of course, since God was the only thing in existence, God not having figured out yet that God had the incredible ability to bring other things into existence, the concept of time was not yet constructed, so God did not get too bored waiting around to discover God’s powers.

The first thing God created was pronouns. Instead of referring to God as God, God now referred to God as himself. Other forms of this included he, him, or the possessive, his. Things went considerably smoother after this. Until, of course, God created Man and Woman, and there was much confusion with pronouns, which ultimately led to questions of gender, identity, and power dynamics. But that is skipping ahead.

So there was God, and pronouns.

Pronouns were little comfort for God. He could not talk to pronouns; he could not be very entertained by pronouns. So he created a planet, and seeing that it was pretty much a success, he created several more planets, then billions of stars, and suns, and moons, and a red squirrel. Yes, God created a red squirrel, and by his sheer will it floats about the universe, simply for his amusement. Every once in a while, even to this day, he catches a glimpse of that furry little rodent in the corner of his ever-watchful eye and he chuckles.

God selected the planets he had just made and, one by one, filled them up with various objects, some of which he so graciously endowed with a consciousness similar, yet far inferior, to his own. God had a great sense of pride and a good deal of forethought; he figured that if he granted anything the great consciousness that he possessed, everything would want to create their own things, but not also having his abilities of creation, they would become severely depressed. Instead, he gave various things varying levels of consciousness and eventually the things who considered themselves of a higher consciousness asserted dominion over the things they considered to be of a lower consciousness, and the things that were considered to have a lower consciousness (who did not at all agree with the other things) fought against this oppression and chaos and turmoil ensued and prevails even to this day. At least that severe depression was cleverly avoided.

What sorts of things occupied each planet are, of course, too numerous to name. God enjoyed each planet in an equal but different way, shifting his attention from each as a human would one day change the channels on an as yet invented television set.

God cannot recall the exact point at which things started getting difficult on one particular planet of his. Yes, the concept of time had been created, but even so, God paid little attention to it, time having been created not for him but for certain beings of a certain consciousness. Anyway, things really started getting confusing for God the day a couple of humans found out about his existence.

At first, God was taken aback. Then when he really thought about, he figured he had been quite an egotistical fool to think he was the only thing in existence to have such an awesome consciousness. The only way some other entity could know about God and his creation process was if they had seen him. A little searching proved God right: there was another being who had been in existence as long as him, and that being called itself Devil.

So there was God, and pronouns, and a universe, and planets, and things existing on the planets, some possessing consciousness and some not, and some who knew of God, and Devil.

God decided the best way to deal with this situation before it became too volatile was to hold council with Devil. They met above planet mars because it was not quite so drafty there. God was surprised by Devil, for, aside from his initial shock at discovering a consciousness as great as his even existed, Devil was quite handsome, inasmuch as a consciousness can be handsome.

God and Devil began their meeting with small talk, which quickly led to gossiping about the goings-on of particular planets, which, in turn, led to the dissolving into giggles on both their parts. It was a long while before the issue they had met to discuss was even brought up, God and Devil were having too much fun relishing in each others company.

But the time came to discuss the issue. God did not want anyone to know he existed because he thought it would complicate things. Devil calmly explained to God that no one would really know God existed, not for absolute fact, just that some would believe and some would not. God countered that this too would lead to complications because those who did not believe would argue with those who did believe, and both sides would never cease to question until they did find out for an absolute fact whether or not he existed. Devil told God he thought too much, and besides, no matter what the consequences, wasn’t it fun to watch all of the drama unfold? God conceded that Devil was right, it was quite entertaining, and after all, isn’t that the reason God created everything in the first place?

A consensus having been reached, God and Devil parted ways amicably. God became for the first time in his existence rather nervous when Devil contacted him later for another rendezvous. They met this time in a star cluster which was very pretty that time of year. This meeting went superbly better than the last meeting, and God and Devil continued to meet many more times afterward, and eventually moved in together.

So there was God, and there was Devil, and if they had hands to entwine and a sunset to walk into, we would only ever see their backs.

(2/06 - crap, still living in the past)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Movie Review: Better Off Dead

My favorite thing about high school (aside from that time I had to kill all my classmates in order to progress to the tenth grade - sorry, guys!) was skiing the K-12 against this Ken-doll jerk who stole my girlfriend and totes winning her back, only to be all "Suck it, Beth, I gots me a new supercute French exchange student girlfriend who not only digs my sick saxophonin' skills but also taught me how to fix my wicked vintage Camero in only ten quick montage-frames, yo!" Yeah, high school woulda been pretty perfect after that, if only I could figure out how to get the paperboy to leave me alone about his damn two dollars!

Listen, Better Off Dead is clearly not a movie for everyone. If you don't like things that are funny, I mean, just don't even bother. Rent  Grandma's Boy instead or something. The thing I love so much about eighties teen comedies is that they were so much more clever than most of today's hypersexualized fare. These days, if someone tried to make a movie involving claymation hamburgers singing a duet, a young man trying to off himself in increasingly comical ways, a mildly retarded shut-in attempting to seduce a foreign exchange student through masculine displays of snorting jello up his nose, random street races against Asian sports-announcer wannabes, and popularity-defining ski competitions, it would get shut down in the twelve minutes it takes those seven dudes to write Not Another Teen Movie Part Two.

I mean, if the woman you exchanged black-and-white headshots with suddenly dumped you after six whole months of going steady, just because she wanted to date someone more popular, you'd pour yourself a mighty tall glass of paint thinner too, right? If only life were as simple for Lane (John Cusack) as it is for his younger brother, who builds spaceships out of the toys he buys from the offers on the backs of cereal boxes. Thank goodness for cute exchange students (Diane Franklin) and two-minute montages set to uptempo pop ballads! Besides, everyone knows if you really want to kill yourself, you might as well ski the K-12. Even Olympic medalists won't tackle that snow-capped rock.

Man, I just summarized this movie almost exactly the same way three times.

Here is a clip:

Next Up: Black Sheep! (Not the Chris Farley movie.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Flash-Fiction Breakdown :: Vampire Pirates in Space

Suddenly, the vampire pirates found themselves in space.
    “Great,” said Olnurk upon waking. “Who are we going to find to eat out here?”
    Inrika slapped him. She was a bovineterian. “That’s all you ever think about.”
    The ship drifted along in the blackness. The vampires gathered on deck and stretched. Frederick looked at his watch and saw it had stopped at five o’clock. It must be morning on Earth, he thought, and smiled to be standing outside in the day time.
    “Well, look,” Minerva began. “We might as well adapt if we are going to be here. We’ll have to start by rationing. Inrika, gather the blood bags from below and count ‘em up.”
    Todd meekly raised her hand. Minerva glared at her and nodded.
    “Um, well, um, it seems,” Todd stuttered. Finally she looked at her feet and was able to gather  her thoughts. “Well, the atmospheric pressure and loss of oxygen seems to have had a negative effect on the hum--I mean, blood bags.”
    “What are you saying?” Minerva asked.
    “Well, they’re dead.”
    “What about the cows!?” Inrika was pulling at her hair.
    “I’m sorry, they’re dead too.”
     Todd tensed her shoulders as she felt Inrika gearing up to kill the messenger.
    “I knew it,” Olnurk said. “I knew we’d have nothing to eat out here.”
    With no sunlight to bother them deep in space, oxygen being nothing any of them missed, and the subzero temperatures feeling like nothing more than a light breeze, all the vampire pirates had to worry about was their ever-present hunger.
    On their second day (or night, who could tell?), Minerva discovered that she could steer the ship by rotating the wheel as if the abundant nothingness were an ocean. Olnurk climbed the lookout and stretched his telescope. He spotted a flickering light in the far distance and Minerva charted their course.
    “What about gravity?” Todd asked shyly.
    “What about it?” Inrika was busy huddled in a corner on deck, hugging her knees and rocking back and forth, trying not to think about how thin she was becoming.
    “Well, why doesn’t it effect us? We have mass. Why don’t we just…fly away?”
    “Why don’t you just fly away,” Inrika snarled, and went back to her rocking.
    An extremely long and painful time later, many sleep cycles after Inrika had foolishly tried to feed off of Olnurk in his sleep, Frederick spotted land.
    “Planet, ho!” He yelled.
    Minerva instructed everyone to tie off the sails as she steered them into the planet’s ionosphere.
    After landing, the vampire pirates disembarked the ship onto hard and dusty ground.  There was no light here, and in fact it was almost as dark as space, but of course the vampires could see fine. They could see a green-tinted town not far off, smoke rising from it, indicating some form of life.
    In the town, they found its citizens. Small, many-limbed creatures who possessed wide foreheads, below which sat only a nose and two mouths. The vampires disrupted some kind of festival or town meeting, as the creatures were all lying on their stomachs in the dust while one creature in the center stomped around and clicked with one mouth while whistling with the other.
    “Okay, mates,” Minerva addressed her group. “Let’s see if these little guys bleed.”
    The little guys did bleed but only a little, and it was bitter and dissatisfying. But the vampire pirates had to eat. They soon discovered that ten of the creatures, consumed in succession, would get them through the day (or night) at least feeling energized enough to round up the next day’s meal.
    “I see you’re not a bovineterian anymore,” Olnurk observed of Inrika.
    “If there were animals here, I’d eat them,” Inrika responded, licking blood off her teeth. “Anyway, what are these things? They’re not human. They live in dirt and lay around all day. They can’t even talk.” The drooping creature in her arms whistled and stomped one heel lazily against the boards of the ship.
    Even though they couldn’t communicate, Minerva eventually organized a sort of treaty. If the creatures would increase their birthrate, the vampire pirates would decrease how many of them they ate every day. It was a win-win. Meanwhile, she sent Frederick and Todd, with a hearty supply of blood bags, to scout for other towns, and hopefully, tastier creatures.
    “This is better than our old home,” Minerva remarked. “Nothing in our way. Nothing against us. Paradise.”
    Each sleep cycle, while the vampire pirates lay in their coffins aboard their ship, the creatures lay on their stomachs in their homes, listening to the stomping of their neighbors’ feet, their whistles and clicks carried on the wind like secrets.

[Original Assignment: Write a two or three page story that includes the fantastic, some kind of fantasy elements, and some kind of social or political oppression. 

Professor's sole comment: "Appealing in a random kind of way."]

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I realize I am a good four years behind with this, but I just discovered Runaways by one of my favorite comics writers, Brian K Vaughan (not to mention incredibly talented artist Jo Chen doing covers). Three hardcover volumes came into the store (p.s. I work at Half Price Books, where my employee discount allows me to buy shelves and shelves of things I will never have enough time to read or view) and I geeked out. What I am saying is, snappy movie "reviews" will return to form in a few days when I am finished with this set of books. I only have room in my schedule to shirk homework for one distraction at a time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Movie Review: Bend It Like Beckham

While I am tempted to sum up this movie in one line (Two beautiful young women playing sports: 'nuff said!), I think I can eek at least three paragraphs outta this deal. First, though, in an effort at full disclosure, I must admit something to you all: I am a twelve year old girl. At heart, I've never outgrown my love for movies about angsty teenagers or fun sleepover flicks (just wait until I review She's the Man. And Bring It On! And Legally Blonde, oh god!). So you'll have to bare with me while I gush over movies like this one about cheeseball female friendships and grrrl empowerment.

Jess (Parminder Nagra) is an Indian girl living in England under her family's traditional, yet mostly lenient and supportive, control, and all the poor girl wants to do is play soccer! Luckily Juliette (Keira Knightley) spots her serious skillz at the park one afternoon and invites her to try out for a girl's team. The head coach is dreamy Mr Jonathan Rhys Meyers (with an Irish accent!), whom the girls fight over a bit, and Jess ultimately snags/snogs. (No worries though, there's still plenty of lesbian subtext between these friends for you to cling to.)

Really, it's an hour and a half of watching ladies in short shorts kick a ball around and hug and shop for sports bras. But you know, in this world where all young women seem to want to do is grow up and "be famous" (without doing anything, of course, like reality TV has taught us all is painfully possible), where we're forced to settle for people like Lady Gaga and Shayne Lamas and post-Mean Girls Lindsay Lohan as role models, it is  refreshing to pop in this flick and watch women who are actually doing something, and who might encourage/inspire the viewer to get off their bum and do something too.  Not that you should go out and try to play soccer; no one really plays that outside of grade school. Maybe try baseball or something. Anyway.

Here is a recipe for beans on toast:

1. Cook up some baked beans
2. Butter some toast
3. Spread beans on toast
4. Don't burn yourself!
5. Throw that rubbish away and replace with peanut butter and jelly.

Next Up: Better Off Dead

Monday, November 9, 2009

Movie Review: Battle Royale

Remember when you were fourteen and about to embark on your first day of high school? Remember how nervous you were, picking out an outfit the night before, making sure your mom knew not to kiss you in front of the other kids when she dropped you off, writing in your diary how you just knew this was going to be the best year ever! Then you got to school and your entire class was kidnapped and relocated to a remote island where you were forced to kill each other with a variety of useful-to-what-the-fuck-is-this "weapons" until only one of you survived because somehow this was going to help rejuvenate the socioeconomic infrastructure of Japan? Ah those were the days.

Battle Royale is like a reality show on steroids before satirists realized what an easy target reality shows made. Granted, there are no Big Brother cameras on the killing isle, but everyone seems to know the rules and the media crams its dirty fingers into the action before and after the battle. The rules are thus: one randomly selected ninth grade class must fight it out to the death; each individual is equiped with a surplus army bag containing a randomized weapon (god bless the kid who gets "tuning fork"); the island is separated into zones which "close" on an hourly basis, leaving any kid caught in the zone with a bad case of exploding head syndrome (each kid sports a nifty tracking collar laced with TNT). And watch out for the transfer students! Go for the glory, nubile youths!

You see, this government implemented annual killing spree is necessary to win back the respect of the Youths. The Adults are losing ground! Must save face! Youths are running wild, attacking teachers, not even bothering to show up for classes. Who do you think pays for your Reboks, kid? Get in the kitchen and mix Daddy a drink! 

So, listen, all you really have to know is, while the movie's premise is deliciously absurd, the action, cartoonish death scenes, and the heightened emotions of so many scared-shitless young go-getters is superb to the nth power. Old playground rivalries finally come to their intensified and permanent - some might say inevitable - conclusions. Allegiances are formed, enemies are everywhere, betrayal waits patiently in the wings, eating Grippos and tallying the dead. If you enjoyed any part of Kill Bill at all, you have to see this movie. Gogo Yubari kicks some serious ass in this movie, too!

Critics have called this movie a cross between Lord of the Flies and A Clockwork Orange. I call it just plain genius.

Tomorrow: Bend It Like Beckham

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Movie Review: Alien Quadrilogy

I bought this box set after watching a program on AMC or TCM or somesuch called DVDTV, where they play snippets of extras during the run of a feature film. They showed Alien, and during an interview, the producer or writer or director or someone (I am the best movie reviewer ever) says that when plotting Alien, he wondered what could be the most frightening thing for a man to experience? The answer: penetration. But not only that, but penetration from the inside out. So he wanted to have the alien first rape the man, thus impregnating him, then the baby alien exploding from his chest, reverse penetration-style. Effed up.

So everyone at this point has seen at least one of the Alien movies, yes? I think this is safe to assume. I am going to assume it so I don't have to lay out intricate plot details (these movies are all PLOT PLOT PLOT Sigourney Weaver PLOT PLOT) . Here is a brief synopsis of all the movies: some peeps trek out to the wild black yonder, discover aliens, aliens go on feeding/killing spree, the humans never learn, but Ripley (Weaver) lives to see another day (or her clone does, whichever).

I will admit right off the plate that  I have completely wiped Alien 3 from my memory. Universally acknowledged as the worst movie in the set. Universally acknowledged by my mature and credible sources on IMDB. Also, I have an inordinate amount of appreciation for Alien Resurrection because Joss Whedon, my personal Lord and Savior, penned the script. Let's start there and work backwards.

Ripley is reanimated as a superhuman clone like a bazillion times! Somehow, each time, she also has the alien fetus inside her chest. So the scientists are basically cloning her so they can experiment on the aliens (because humans never can leave well enough alone), and Ripley has gained some weird powers and connection to the aliens through this process. I forget why the team of misfit soldiers is there, but hey, there they are, as quirky as any team assembled by Joss Whedon. You can clearly see the makings of Firefly's gun-happy Jayne in Ron Pearlman's Johner:

Also, I think everytime there is a movie idea floating around with a supernaturally strong, weapons-toting lady (usually of the teen persuasion), Whedon sheepishly raises his hand: "Can...can I do it?"

Back to the plot! The scientists taunt the caged aliens, having seemingly overlooked the ability of said aliens to BLEED ACID, so one alien sacrifices itself to the other two, who then escape through the giant hole his acidic body has made for them. Team Misfit pursues. It's a like a scratch-off McDonald's contest: Many will enter, few will win. Winona Ryder plays a mousy android whom Ripley distrusts because of previous dastardly deeds done by one such droid in Aliens, but some weird scene where she cuts all up in her droid arm to get a door open or something causes them to fall in love get along. (Clearly, I do not re-screen these films for review. I do have some kind of life.) Later, Ripley discovers her tragic failed clones, and also that she is kind of the mother of an albino alien, who's all  like "...Mommy?" and they have a gross sentimental moment before she shoves him out an airlock. The world is safe again!

In Aliens, Paul Reiser annoys us for the first ten minutes but luckily it's all a dream! Ripley heads back into space, and they land on a planet overrun by the aliens! A little girl has somehow survived (how this did not turn into an "actually I am an eggsack for the aliens and now I betray you all" moment, I will never understand), to whom Ripley becomes maternally attached. A bad, bad android man who bleeds milk doesn't want Ripley to kill the aliens because the humans on Earth want to study them (maybe?). They fight using those machines from Xenogears, and Ripley wins. The world is safe again!

In Alien, a group of spacemen discovers the aliens and one of their troop is face-hugged by a spore and after a couple days in his belly the alien infamously explodes from his chest cavity! Now everyone is stalking this mean-ass bitch alien, as this mean-ass bitch alien stalks everyone else. The kitten survives! Ripley makes it back to Earth in nightmare-free cryo-sleep. The world is safe again!

There are too many extras on the box set for anyone who has anything else to do (such as eat food, take showers, or sleep) to ever get through them, but they all sound very interesting! Documentaries and interviews and Director's Cuts, oh my!

This review counts as three reviews, but I shall still return tomorrow. And also, I am considering changed "review" to "overview," which seems more accurate.

Tomorrow: Battle Royale

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Movie Review: Adventures in Babysitting

This is the most fun you will have watching an 80s movie. Ever. And yes, I am including Better Off Dead in this generalization.

Adventures in Babysitting is an award-winning opus by director Chris Columbus. Oh wait. That's a lie. But Columbus did direct it, and it stars Elisabeth Shue, Keith Coogan (who was everywhere in the 80s teen movie scene), and everyone's eventual favorite straight AIDS-free videoographery Anthony Rapp. But enough with the technical details: to the meat of it!

Chris Parker (Shue) is a seventeen year-old girl who wants what every seventeen year-old girl wants: to sing and dance along to the Crystals' "And Then He Kissed Me" in her bedroom wearing only an overly long t-shirt. And also, to have the perfect date with her perfect mature boyfriend, who has just canceled on her because his kid sister is sick (alarum bells!). So instead of a dreamy date, Chris gets the dreary task of babysitting for the Anderson's. Brad Anderson (Coogan) is 15 and crushing hard on the exotic older woman Chris, and his kid sister is obsessed with Thor. Then the undersexed, overlustful bestfriend shows up, Chris's bestie runs away to a bus station downtown and freaks her shit, Chris drags the kiddies along to rescue her, and long story short, they end up stealing something vital from the mob and wackiness ensues!

Guys, I mean, at one point, they literally have to sing for their lives!

Also, Vincent D'Onofrio is Thor: 

And so young! Just swoon over those golden curls for a minute.

This movie is so spank-your-grandma fun that you will want to watch it every year on your birthday. It's a family film (well...except for the gang fight on the subway, maybe. "Don't fuck with the babysitter!") that avoids mushy sentimentality even in its touching scenes (don't worry, it's mostly unrealistic, almost cartoonish wackiness throughout).

I'd say you have the next movie for your Netflix queue, my friends!

Tomorrow: Aliens Quadrilogy

You gotta start somewhere

I'm starting with movie reviews!

And I'm starting tomorrow.

I've made the questionably foolish decision to write a brief (or verbose, depending on how impassioned I get) review of all of the movies I have in my collection. That's hundreds! One a day should keep me going for a year. I can count! Oh man.

Some day, when I have mastered this thing called the "Internet", I may post things about my website (p.s. this is my website until I learn what the eff I'm doing; how am I supposed to live without you, geocities!?!?!) and goings-on in my (considerably slight) writerly world.

Until then, movie reviews, and lots of 'em! In alphabetical order! Sometimes when I'm drunk!

First up:

Adventure in Babysitting

Can't wait!