Monday, December 31, 2012

Guest Review: "The Breakfast Club"

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It would be difficult to say whether detention changed Claire, Brian, Allison, Andy, and John. The first thing we are force-fed through the costuming as well as the script is that these students represent different strata in their high school's social order, sort of a microcosm of the real world. The nerd looked like a nerd, the jock looked like a football player, and the prep looked like a prep. It mystifies me that this was a film of wide acclaim and furthermore, that it has survived several decades.

This was an early movie for Emilio Estevez (who played Andy) and we got to see how many different expressive faces he could pull off. We also saw the start of his tradition of playing characters that are leaders. Andy was interested in what the others were "in for" and insisted they all get along.

Molly Ringwald, who played Claire, was so bored that she did a makeover with Goth girl Allison. Goth girl Allison consented and both girls were wildly excited about the outcome. I was convinced that Allison looked better, but not so convinced that Claire would've been so happy to play second fiddle to the weird girl...especially since Allison expressed interest in Andy the jock.

John Bender, the criminal dude, had no redeeming qualities at all. He was just throwing away his life and blaming everyone but himself for his problems. True, the deck was stacked against him, but the nerd and all the others had issues to overcome too.

The nerd Brian was the opposite of his father Carl the school janitor. Brian was ashamed of his father's occupation, but Carl seemed content with it.

The characters find themselves in detention together for an all-day Saturday "retreat." They are asked by Principal Vernon to write an essay on who they think they are. Between dancing, singing, pranks, and lunch, there wasn't much time to do the essay.

Andy and Allison had the most bizarre lunches. Andy had a full grocery sack and seemingly ate most of the contents. Allison's weirdness emerged in the form of a white bread, Pixie Stix, and Captain Crunch sandwich. Her discarded, gently tossed bologna landed on a statue the library was decorated with. The others ate in a somewhat normal fashion.

Lunch was where this diverse group started to come together. By afternoon's end, the group of high school students, diverse as they are, have drawn us into the age-old trap: "We'd all get along so much better if we would just get to know each other and give love a chance."

The Breakfast Club is cheesy, predictable, and saved by that talented guy Emilio Estevez. He rises above the less-than-inspired script and pulls the whole cast up with him. I didn't appreciate Emilio's talent or his position as a comeback-kid until I saw The Breakfast Club. Then I knew this guy is more brilliant than anyone has given him credit for. If he can take us there, he can take us anywhere.

Monday, December 24, 2012

2 Days 'Til Christmas: Most Memorable Gifts

I know it's better to give than to receive, but I have so many great memories from Christmases past. Some of these are heartwarming; others are just downright funny. Listed them as best as I can remember.

  • Being 3 was an interesting year. About half my gifts had something to do with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the other half were Beauty & the Beast. What can I say? I've always had eclectic taste. This Christmas is on home video and upon opening every package, I cried, "Just what I've always wanted!" For months afterward, my favorite place to hang out was my play tent that looked like the castle from Beauty & the Beast. It's a miracle I didn't wear out the VHS of Ninja Turtle episodes I got.
  • My late grandmother, God rest her soul, always loved to watch figure skating on TV. Her absolute favorite female skater of all time was Michelle Kwan. When I was 4, she got me a pair of white figure skates, maybe thinking I'd be twirling out on the ice one day.
    While Mom and her visiting best friend went to post-Christmas sales, Dad babysat me along with his youngest brother (who was dating my mom's best friend at the time). They saw no problem with letting me stay up to watch ER with them. At some point in the episode, a 5-year-old girl with blond hair and blue eyes was brought to the hospital screaming in pain; her parents explained she fell down ice skating and broke her arm.
    I fit the little girl's description and was traumatized, figuring the same fate would await me. I mysteriously felt bad whenever Mom wanted to take me to the rink and the little white skates were eventually given to Goodwill. I didn't tell Mom about the ER episode until about 10 years later and I remained so terrified of ice skating that I never tried it until I was 20.
  • My mom's best friend and her boyfriend used to visit for a few days after Christmas. They were into motorcycles and my Christmas gifts from them always included Harley-Davidson T-shirts. When I was about 12, I decided I needed something to wear over them: a tough-looking black leather jacket. My grandma combed all the department stores looking for one small enough. (I was a runty kid and now a very small adult). On Christmas morning at Grandma's, I found a giant, heavy box under the tree. I shrieked with excitement when I saw my dream jacket inside. The best part is it's been 10 years and that leather jacket still fits.
  • Some of the best memories I have of Granny involved us bonding over TV shows, like when I stayed over at her house just so we could watch the wedding episode of Walker, Texas Ranger together. My preteen self thought Gage was dreamy and that Chuck was pretty kick-ass for an old guy. I was also in love with Walker's hat. When I was 10 or so, Granny gave me a black cowboy hat with a silver-studded hatband.
  • When I was a senior in high school, I helped build the choir's Homecoming float. It was themed after the carnival scene from Grease and won the prize for Best Club Float. I was so proud and for Christmas that year, my mom got me a musical ornament that plays the Olivia Newtown-John version of "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee."
  • Freshman year of college, I reunited with my 2 best friends from high school for an annual Christmas party. We're all obsessed with Johnny Depp. It wasn't planned out, but we all ended up getting copies of his newest-to-DVD movie Public Enemies. 
  • My aunt and I share the same dark, twisted sense of humor, love of obscure/purposely bad movies, and TV crime shows. She also knows of my weakness for firemen. She doesn't have a lot of extra money, but managed to give me DVDs of Justified's latest season, Analyze This, Analyze That, Summer School with Mark Harmon, and FDNY's charity calendar last year.
  • I have a little (okay, big) obsession with movies. I've lost count of how many DVDs I own, to the point where I ran out of room on the family shelf. Last Christmas, my mom and stepdad put together a  bookshelf just for my movies, which I thought was really sweet.

3 Days 'Til Christmas: Guest Review--"Dead Bang"

Author's Note: Yes, these next 2 posts are a little late, but I've had a lot of last-minute prepping to do.

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Don Johnson stars as a Los Angeles County homicide detective named Jerry Beck. The movie opens with a shot of a seedy bachelor pad replete with a stack of unpaid bills. Jerry also has the unexpected Christmas gift of a restraining order to stay away from his kids' school, courtesy of his ex-wife.

That night, a black convenience store clerk is shot during a robbery. As he lays dying, he manages to give a description of the person who did it. A few blocks away, an L.A. County deputy stops a young man walking down the street because he fits the profile. The young man is pleasant at first, but then ends up gunning down the deputy in cold blood. Jerry is assigned the case.

Jerry soon comes to believe that whoever killed the store clerk also killed his homicide victim (the deputy). He does a computer search for people who have recently been paroled for armed robbery that fit the now-dead clerk's description. Bobby Burns, a known white supremacist, becomes the prey of this sleep-deprived, depressed detective.

Jerry tries to drown his sorrows about not being able to see his kids at a Christmas Eve party thrown by the sheriff's department. There, he meets Linda. He beds her. Later in the movie, Jerry learns that Linda is married to the murdered police officer, though the two have been separated for several months. Linda claims that she slept with Jerry to get him to hunt down and kill whoever murdered her estranged husband.

It becomes apparent early on that Jerry has anger issues and a drinking problem. After spending the night with an equally drunk Linda, Jerry goes into work hungover on Christmas Day. He breaks his telephone and scrambles up the office after he calls his ex-wife Gloria and she denies him permission to come over to give their kids the Christmas presents he bought them.

Jerry has been in touch with Bobby's parole officer, Webley, because he can't search Bobby's belongings for evidence without a parole officer being present. He drags P.O. Webley to a Hell's Angels hangout where Bobby is staying with his mother. Bobby isn't there, just his brother John who's home from New Mexico State University on Christmas break. One fight scene later, Jerry has chased down and puked all over a fleeing suspect who doesn't match the photo of Bobby.

The Coyote, a Mexican bar in Cottonwood, Arizona, is the next stop for Jerry. Bobby and his Klansman-eqsue buddies had tried to rob the place, but only found a gun and some pesos. They shot all the customers and the staff. There's a shootout.

After only just cheating death by automatic weapon, Jerry ends up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Because white supremacy literature was found in both Los Angeles and Arizona, an FBI agent named Kressler joins Jerry. They both think Bobby is their prime suspect. They were led to Oklahoma by maps and notes found in Arizona. The local police chief is entirely unhelpful with severe leanings in favor of the Aryan Nation Church of Christ, which Bobby also belongs to.

Jerry comes close to getting thrown off the case after parole officer Webley, Kressler, and others complain about his anger issues, etc. Jerry ends up threatening the psychiatrist he is sent to. After throttling the shrink, he is free to go after Bobby Burns again.

Kressler and Jerry follow the clues to a small town in Montana, where the Aryan Nation Church has set up a compound in the woods. They're about to stage a huge meeting with other white supremacist groups in order to unite and form a single power structure. This is an idea that Kressler has been scoffing at all through the movie.

Jerry and Kressler are joined by black policemen and they raid KKK Ranch. They have a great big underground firefight and kill all the Klansmen. The FBI agent and the homicide detective hope to find Bobby. They do. After Jerry is forced to shoot him, he learns that Bobby's brother John actually killed the convenience store clerk and the sheriff's deputy. FBI agent Kressler gets the credit for busting the big Klan operation. Jerry Beck presumably returns to his life of drunken obscurity in Burbank.

The highlight of the movie (or low point, depending on your perspective) was a scene that shows a hungover Jerry barfing on a suspect following a lengthy foot chase. It was splendidly disgusting!

Friday, December 21, 2012

4 Days 'Til Christmas: Christmas Film Festival

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Time to finish shopping, wrapping the gifts, and getting the house ready to entertain friends and/or relatives. I've compiled this list of movies and TV specials to help get your guests into the holiday spirit.

  • It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown! This one can be a little hard to find, but it's worth the effort. There are multiple plotlines in the special: Sally is cast as an angel in the Christmas pageant and worries that she'll forget her lines; she's also busy writing to Santa Claus. In the same pageant, Peppermint Patty is cast as sheep and jealous that Marcy gets to play Mary. Charlie Brown is in search of the perfect gift for the little redheaded girl.
  • A Muppet Christmas Carol. Watching this movie on Christmas Eve has been a family tradition since I was a very little girl. It's still great to watch as an adult. The Muppets' wit, charm, and signature musical numbers put a fun spin on Charles Dickens' classic tale. Michael Caine absolutely steals the show with his portrayal of Scrooge.
  • "Santa's Village of the Damned." This was the first Christmas-themed episode of Two and a Half Men. Alan is dating a charming woman with Martha Stewart-esque cooking and decorating abilities. Charlie tries to warn Alan that she's too clingy, but Alan doesn't listen. Next thing you know, Alan's girlfriend has moved into Charlie's house and buried the interior in Christmas figurines.
  • Home Alone. No Child Left Behind...unless you're the McCallisters. They accidentally leave their youngest son, 8-year-old Kevin, in Chicago when they leave for a Christmas vacation in Paris. Little do the parents know, the neighborhood is being targeted by a pair of burglars known as the Wet Bandits. Now it's up to Kevin to defend his home. It's not quite Christmas Eve if my family and I don't watch this one.
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It's rare for a sequel to top the original, but this one does. Due to a mix-up at the airport, Kevin boards a plane to New York City while the rest of his family is on a flight to Florida. But don't be too worried. Kevin is resourceful and finds a way to make the best of the situation. I love this movie even more since I've seen the splendor of New York City's Christmas decorations with my own eyes.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The 1960's animated version, not the live-action atrocity with Jim Carrey. It narrates Dr. Seuss's classic story with a few songs thrown in. Fun Fact: Thurl Ravenscroft, who sings "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", also was the original voice of Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger. 
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Again, I refer to the 1960's version. Yes, the technology is primitive by today's standards and I admit that some of the critters are a little freaky looking. But when  all is said and done, Rudolph is all about being proud of who you are and not letting teasing stop you from reaching your full potential. It's like a Christmas version of The Karate Kid. 
  • Lethal Weapon. I know this isn't technically a Christmas movie, but try telling my local TV stations that. One of them has been showing it in constant rotation all month. I think the station should throw in Don Johnson's Dead-Bang and the original Die Hard while they're at it for a Christmas action movie trifecta.
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. If you think your family's Christmases are disastrous, you'll feel a lot better after seeing what happens to the Griswolds. The Christmas tree is too big for the living room. Cousin Eddie shows up and so does senile Aunt Bethany.
  • The Ref. A cat burglar played by Denis Leary is on the run from the law after breaking into a house on Christmas Eve. To escape detection, he kidnaps married couple Caroline and Lloyd and ends up holding them hostage in their home. Little does he know, Lloyd and Caroline have just left their marriage counselor's office and are on the verge of divorce. Hilarity ensues as he tries to maintain his sanity. This is my favorite black comedy. Warning: Do not watch with anyone under the age of 14.

5 Days 'Til Christmas: "All Alone on Christmas" by Darlene Love & The E Street Band

Apologies for not publishing this yesterday.

5 years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting New York City and admiring the city's famous Christmas decorations. (Sadly, the Rockefeller Center's tree had not been put up yet). I've always loved this song from the Home Alone 2: Lost in New York soundtrack. Now that I've seen most of the mentioned landmarks in person, it holds an even more special place in my heart.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

6 Days 'Til Christmas: "You Better Watch Out"

Last night, I gathered around the TV with my family to watch the annual NCIS Christmas special, which has become an anticipated family tradition. As was the case last year, the murder-of-the-week plot was overshadowed (at least for me) by all the holiday shenanigans.

This year's hijinks took the form of Tony DiNozzo Senior, who arrived in town to spend Christmas with his son. We get the sense there's some tension between the two by the fact that Tony always refers to his father as "Senior." When Senior arrives, he declines his son's offer of a hotel suite; he wants to stay in Tony's apartment. Tony's protests that the place is a one-bedroom "the size of a Habitrail" fall on deaf ears. Turns out Tony actually has a pretty nice place. He kindly agrees to sleep on the couch and let Senior stay in his bedroom.

By the time Tony gets home from work the next day, Senior has decked the halls, complete with a large pine tree. Tony goes all OCD because Senior moved his piano to put up the tree. He isn't even placated by Senior's homemade snickerdoodles (Tony's favorite Christmas cookie).

When Senior's efforts to get his son in the holiday spirit, he decides to give himself a little Christmas present by (SPOILER ALERT) sleeping with the older lady across the hall IN TONY'S BED! Tony is understandably angry.

Part of the reason Tony is so upset by his dad coming from Christmas, it turns out, is because of a present he didn't get. The DiNizzos hand down a signet ring from father to son on the son's 21st Christmas. Tony never got the ring for reasons unknown.

Christmas Eve rolls around and the crew, including Ziva, gathers to watch It's a Wonderful Life. Tony opens a box he found under his Christmas tree, which of course, turns out to be the ring. No explanation is given as to why he's finally getting it about 20 years too late. Abby brings Senior in and father and son reconcile.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

1 Week 'Til Christmas: Rudolph Re-Dubs

Like most children in America, I grew up watching the stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special from the '60s. It still holds a special place in my heart even though I'm now an adult. When I was a sophomore in college, my best friend, a Marine, sent me the following video and I couldn't stop laughing.

Watching Hermie and the gang spew profanity from Full Metal Jacket amuses me more than it probably should. I recently discovered a Rudolph video that pays tribute to one of my all-time favorite movies: Goodfellas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Payphone (Mark Sanchez Style)"

About a week ago, I ran across this Jets-themed parody of Maroon 5's hit song "Payphone." I think it's grossly unfair to be picking on Tebow. He's barely seen any playing time since the preseason, so quite honestly, he's the least of the team's problems at this point. Mark Sanchez has been an absolute embarrassment, especially since his infamous Thanksgiving Day "butt fumble" against the Patriots.

I was inspired to rework the parody's lyrics. Please be aware that I take absolutely no credit at all for the original version by Maroon 5 or the parody video above.

"I'm just a Jets fan
Watching Mark Sanchez
Hoping that he gets pulled from the game
Where has the ball gone?
He's playing all wrong
I sit on my couch cursing his name

Yeah, I-I know that we all remember
The Jets big controversy
It's getting real hard to figure
Why Sanchez is starting QB
He calls himself the "San-chise"
Why does Ryan still try?
And 'cause of the games that he wasted
Playoff hopes are about to die

Tim is benched on game nights
Mark's under the lights
And I'm paralyzed
Just waiting for him to mess up again
And swear loudly when I am right

I'm just a Jets fan
Watching Mark Sanchez
Hoping that he gets pulled from the game
Where has the ball gone?
He's playing all wrong
I sit on my couch cursing his name

If justice in football did exist
Ryan would be benching #6
Tebow haters are so full of it
One more interception, I'll be sick

It's gotten really depressing
Sanchez keeps blowing games
They give him the ball to run with
But Mark just gives points away
You can't expect me to be fine
Why doesn't Rex seem to care?
15 is glued to the bench now
Why won't they just let poor Timmy play?

Tim is benched on game nights
Mark's under the lights
And I'm paralyzed
Just waiting for him to mess up again
And swear loudly when I am right

I'm just a Jets fan
Watching Mark Sanchez
Hoping that he gets pulled from the game
Where has the ball gone?
He's playing all wrong
I sit on my couch cursing his name

If justice in football did exist
Ryan would be benching #6
Tebow haters are so full of it
One more interception, I'll be sick"

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Name That Quote #1 Answers

I'm slightly disappointed that no one really responded to this feature. However, I'll keep my word and post the answers to last week's questions.

  1. "Oorah, Class 5506!"-The Guardian
  2. "Average foot speed over uneven ground, barring injury, is 4 miles per hour. That gives us a radius of 6 miles. What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, doghouse, and outhouse in that area."-The Fugitive
  3. "I'm the thing what lives beneath the stairs."-The Devil's Own
  4. "These people aren't a ragtag buncha yahoos that drink beer and run around in sheets on Saturday night. They've got money behind 'em. They've got strong pockets of community support."-Dead Bang
  5. "Sarge, you got any advice on how to stay alive in Vietnam?"
    "Yes, I do, Private. Don't go."-Tigerland
  6. "What are you doing? You've burned all the food, the shade, the rum!"-Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
  7. "You throw me idol, I throw you whip."-Raiders of the Lost Ark 
  8. "Ladies, this is supposed to be history class, you know. Not sex education."-Kidz in the Wood
  9. Character 1: "So you guys usually pick up girls in the supermarket for fun?"
    Character 2: "Usually, I throw 'em over my shoulder and carry 'em down a ladder."-Ladder 49
  10. "Sonny and my father always said when I got older, I'd understand. Well, I finally did. I learned something from those two men. I learned how to get love and give love unconditionally. You just have to accept people for what they are. I learned the greatest gift of all. The saddest thing in life is wasted talent and the choices you make will shape your life forever."-A Bronx Tale
  11. "Any thug can kill. I need you to take your ego out of the equation."-Casino Royale (Daniel Craig version)
  12. "Do not kill, do not rape, do not steal. These are principles which every man of every faith can embrace."-The Boondock Saints
  13. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."-Apocalypse Now
  14. "Strike first, strike hard, no mercy, sir!"-The Karate Kid (1984 version)
  15. "Look at my driver's license. Expires 1987. Look at my birthdate for cryin' out loud. I haven't even been born yet."-Back to the Future
  16. "Come on! We're men; we're not pinatas. And we're really hungover."-Shanghai Noon
  17. "I can't stand him. He gets an idea in his head, he can't get rid of it. If I stay with him much longer, I'm gonna be a stiff in a photograph. The only chance I have is to get hellbent for leather now."-Young Guns
  18. "Water is for cowards. Water makes you weak. Water is for washin' blood off that uniform and you don't get no blood on my uniform. Boy, you must be outside yo' mind!"-Remember the Titans
  19. Bill: "What the hell did we do to deserve this?"
    Chris: "Maybe it was that stripper we sent the captain on his birthday."
    Bill: "I told ya we shoulda sent the woman!"-Stakeout
  20. "If she screws it up, she can always fix your hair so your ears don't show."-Grease

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Name That Quote #1

Testing out a new interactive feature for my blog. Listed below are random quotes from 20 different movies. Comment with your guesses. Answers will be posted a week from today!

  1. "Oorah, Class 5506!"
  2. "Average foot speed over uneven ground, barring injury, is 4 miles per hour. That gives us a radius of 6 miles. What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, doghouse, and outhouse in that area."
  3. "I'm the thing what lives beneath the stairs."
  4. "These people aren't a ragtag buncha yahoos that drink beer and run around in sheets on Saturday night. They've got money behind 'em. They've got strong pockets of community support."
  5. Character 1: "Sarge, you got any advice on how to stay alive in Vietnam?"
    Character 2: "Yes, I do, Private. Don't go."
  6. "What are you doing? You've burned all the food, the shade, the rum!"
  7. "You throw me idol, I throw you whip."
  8. "Ladies, this is supposed to be history class, you know. Not sex education."
  9. Character 1: "So you guys usually pick up girls in the supermarket for fun?"
    Character 2: "Usually, I throw 'em over my shoulder and carry 'em down a ladder."
  10. "Sonny and my father always said when I got older, I'd understand. Well, I finally did. I learned something from those two men. I learned how to get love and give love unconditionally. You just have to accept people for what they are. I learned the greatest gift of all. The saddest thing in life is wasted talent and the choices you make will shape your life forever."
  11. "Any thug can kill. I need you to take your ego out of the equation."
  12. "Do not kill, do not rape, do not steal. These are principles which every man of every faith can embrace."
  13. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."
  14. "Strike first, strike hard, no mercy, sir!"
  15. "Look at my driver's license. Expires 1987. Look at my birthdate for cryin' out loud. I haven't even been born yet."
  16. "Come on! We're men; we're not pinatas. And we're really hungover."
  17. "I can't stand him. He gets an idea in his head, he can't get rid of it. If I stay with him much longer, I'm gonna be a stiff in a photograph. The only chance I have is to get hellbent for leather now."
  18. "Water is for cowards. Water makes you weak. Water is for washin' blood off that uniform and you don't get no blood on my uniform. Boy, you must be outside yo' mind!"
  19. Character 1: "What the hell did we do to deserve this?"
    Character 2: "Maybe it was that stripper we sent the captain on his birthday."
    Character 1: "I told ya we shoulda sent the woman!"
  20. "If she screws it up, she can always fix your hair so your ears don't show."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Best Military Movies

6. Windtalkers (2002). Branch Represented: Marines
This movie is based on the true story of WWII's "windtalkers," Marines of Navajo descent who used their native language to send coded radio messages on the battlefield. Nicolas Cage and Christian Slater play Marines who are tasked with defending the windtalkers with their lives. I enjoyed this movie, although I felt Christian's character was too similar to the one he played in Young Guns II.
Quote: "This is no democracy. This is the Marines."

5. The War At Home (1996). Branch Represented: Army
Emilio Estevez wrote, directed, and starred in this drama about 20-something Vietnam War veteran Jeremy Collier. Following 2 tours of duty overseas, Jeremy returns to small-town Texas to live with his parents and younger sister. The movie depicts Jeremy's struggles to re-adjust to civilian life while his family tries to cope with drastic changes in Jeremy's personality. It's a powerful reminder of the unseen scars that millions of American veterans live with.
Quote: "The final battle of Vietnam was fought along an unrecognized front, far from the shellings and the smell of napalm and the sound of planes and guns. It was a battle my brother Jeremy fought when he came back."

4. The Guardian (2006). Branch Represented: Coast Guard
Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) is among the Coast Guard's elite: a decorated rescue swimmer and a legend in his own time. One night, a rescue mission goes horribly awry; a helicopter crash results in the deaths of the entire crew, including Ben's closest friend. Faced with no other option but forced retirement, Ben reluctantly becomes an instructor at "A" School, the starting point for all rescue swimmers. He butts heads with a cocky recruit named Fischer and attempts to teach him what the title really means: "These things we do so that others may live." Be sure to have tissues for the ending.
Quote: "I don't care who you are, where you're from, or where you're going. I care about one thing and one thing only and that is the future victims you'll have to save."

3. A Few Good Men (1992). Branches Represented: Navy and Marines
At the Marine Corps base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Private Willy Santiago is found dead in his barracks. Two Marines in his unit are the prime suspects; both are arrested and charged with Willy's murder. Navy JAG lawyers, Daniel Kaffee and JoAnne "Jo" Galloway, are assigned to their defense.
Quote: "I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4,000 Cubans trained to kill me."

2. Uncommon Valor (1983). Branch Represented: Marines
Colonel Cal Rhodes' (Gene Hackman) world was shattered when news came home that his son had been taken as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Even as years pass with no word, he never loses hope that he will see his son alive again. The government declares it will no longer be searching for still-missing P.O.W.s, so Cal assembles his own team of Marines, all but one of whom served in Vietnam. They go to Saigon on a dangerous mission to liberate a camp in the Vietnamese jungle. This movie features an outstanding early performance by Patrick Swayze. It's equal parts action-packed, humorous, and genuinely moving.
Quote: "Most human problems can be solved by an appropriate charge of high explosives."

1. Platoon (1986). Branch Represented: Army
This is rightly regarded as one of the best war movies ever made and received an Oscar for Best Picture. The cast reads like a current who's-who of Hollywood: Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, Johnny Depp, and Forrest Whitaker. Platoon takes us into an Army infantry unit known as Tropic Lightning during the Vietnam War; its story is told through the eyes of its newest member: Private Chris Taylor. A shocking incident in a village divides the men into what Chris calls "a Civil War in the platoon." Things only go further downhill from there.
Quote: "They come from the end of the line, most of 'em. Small towns you never heard of: Pulaski, Tennessee; Pork Bend, Utah; Wampum, Pennsylvania. Two years of high school's about it. Maybe if they're lucky, a job waitin' for 'em back in a factory. But most of 'em got nothin'. They're the poor, they're the unwanted, and yet they're fighting for our society and our freedom."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Songs I Heard Too Young

Though I'm only 22, I recognize more classic rock songs than modern ones. My parents almost always listened to our local classic rock stations whenever we went anywhere in the car and I quickly developed a love for the genre.

It's only in recent years that I've realized how many dark/sexual messages I was exposed to that I didn't really understand. I have great parents, but sometimes I wonder what they were thinking. Here are some songs that sparked funny and fond childhood memories:

  • "Walk This Way" by Aerosmith. I was in first grade when this song was in heavy rotation. Because of the "hey-diddle-diddle" chorus, I thought it was a nursery rhyme. I wound up getting busted for singing it on the school playground.
  • "Lady Marmalade" by Patti Labelle. I thought it was sophisticated because of the French lyrics. I could pronounce them all pretty well for a six-year-old. My maternal grandmother was French-Canadian, spent 3 years living in Quebec, and could speak French. I decided to impress her by singing it one afternoon. Needless to say, she was horrified, but she refused to tell me what the French words meant.
  • "Only the Good Die Young" by Billy Joel. I became a Billy Joel fan after seeing the Disney movie Oliver & Company (he was the voice of Dodger). I went to Catholic school for second grade, so I was put under strict orders not to sing it in public. What made it an even bigger no-no is that I live in the South, where Catholics aren't too popular to begin with.
  • "Ramblin' Man" by The Allman Brothers Band. Is there anything more adorable than a freckle-faced 8-year-old girl singing about a man being killed over a gambling debt, babies being born on Greyhound buses, and womanizing? I don't think so.
  • "Hotel California" by The Eagles. Not sure how I old I was, probably elementary school. I'd go into like a trance whenever this song came on the radio. When I couldn't sleep, I'd slip out of my room, take my parents' Eagles album, and put it in my Fisher-Price tape player. It and "Desperado" were my lullabies.
  • "In the Ghetto" by Elvis Presley. I was about 7 and taking a dance class. Everyone got to pick a song to perform an interpretative dance to during the last class and that was our recital. I was listening to Elvis with my grandma one afternoon and when the tape got to this song, I said, "This is my dance song." She tried to convince me to pick one of my favorite Disney songs instead, but I was a stubborn little kid. When it was my turn on recital day, I stood up and proudly danced my routine. Pretty much everyone thought I was nuts.
  • "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC. Pretty much self-explanatory.
  • "Fat-Bottomed Girls" by Queen. Or as I like to call it: the original "Baby Got Back." When I was little, my mom would turn off the radio every time this song came on. I would cry because the opening guitar riff sounds a lot like the one for Elton John's version of "I Just Can't Wait to Be King." I now understand she didn't want me asking questions about the implied pedophilia in the first verse.
  • "Renegade" by Styx. This was my favorite song for several months when I was in about first grade. I'd wear my dollar-store cowboy hat, go to whatever room my family was in, and put on this "concert" for them. The other songs in my set were "Midnight Rider" and "Ramblin' Man."
  • "Centerfold" by J Geils Band. While Riverdance was popular, I used to love copying their moves and I thought this song sounded Irish. If I wasn't in the car when this song played, I'd dance the Highland Fling to it. My mom caught me one day; I didn't know why she was so upset. A couple years later, in 5th grade, she sat me down and explained what the song was about. It's a miracle I can listen to it now without feeling embarrassed.
  •  "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" by AC/DC. Ah, the interesting discussions this song produced. "Mommy, why would people wear shoes made of concrete? And what's cyanide?" I remember hearing the word "neckties" as a small child and thinking, "Why are they singing about getting dressed up?" I was in middle school when I finally figured out it was about murder-for-hire.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Guest Review: "Hocus Pocus"

A young Sean Murray, who plays Agent McGee on NCIS, is a featured actor in this made-for-Disney Halloween film.

The movie opens in 1600s Salem, Massachusetts, where a widower is raising his two children. The widower doesn't take his parenting responsibilities or his other duties very seriously. His son Thackery tries to be responsible and manage the adult duties on his own while his father drowns his sorrows at the local pub.

One day, Thackery's little sister Emily is playing in the woods, where she stumbles upon a dusty old cottage. Three witch sisters live there. They capture the young girl, intending to use her spirit in their potion (well, kill her, really). Thackery becomes concerned when his sister doesn't return home. He goes to look for her, finds the witches' house, watches through the windows, and sees Emily inside.

Thackery attempts to rescue his sister by climbing through an attic window and distracting the witches by shouting. Although momentarily thrown off, the witches recover. They kill Emily and turn Thackery into a talking cat who will live forever. The witches are subsequently hanged by a mob of townspeople, torches and all. The sisters vow to come back from the dead.

Cut to the 1990s. Max the California surfer dude is new to Salem. He gets stuck taking his little sister Dani trick-or-treating while their parents ignore them and get trashed. They go looking in the witch shack with Max's hottie female classmate. Max lights a magic candle; he's a virgin and it's Halloween night so the witches are able to return. Thackery has been wandering through Salem for the past 300 years, witnesses the witches' return, and decides to help the kids send the witches back where they belong.

After a prolonged drama, the witches are defeated by sunlight. Poof! Into dust! Thackery the talking cat who longs for death has his wish granted and rejoins his sister Emily.

The movie was terrible but worth watching. It was great to make fun of! It was interesting to see Sean as a much younger actor. However implausible and drawn-out the story was, I would rate it as 3 cauldrons full of sludge for the fat, old hags.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Pitch Perfect"

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This weekend, I rounded up 10 of my closest sorority sisters to see Pitch Perfect. I knew from seeing the trailers that this could go either way: a couple of hours of mindless fun or of me constantly checking my watch to see if it was almost over.

The plot is paper-thin, but I'll explain it anyway. Punk girl Beca is starting her freshman year at Barden University, but what she really wants to do is move to Los Angeles to become a music producer. Her father, who teaches comparative literature at Barden, has secured a scholarship for Beca and says she can drop out if she sticks out the year but finds college isn't for her. Part of the bargain is that Beca has to get involved in at least one club on campus.

Beca goes to the student activities fair and is recruited to join the Barden University Bellas, an all-female a capella troupe that hasn't updated their set list since the '80s. Barden, it turns out, is home to 3 other a capella groups: the coed High Notes (stoners), the all-male Treblemakers, and the coed Bu Harmonics. Beca thinks the Bellas need to shake up their routine a bit if they want to have a prayer of landing in the national finals. She also breaks one of the Bellas' cardinal rules when she falls for Jesse, a member of the Treblemakers.

It definitely succeeds as a comedy; my sisters and I could barely stop laughing. Fat Amy and the quiet Asian girl absolutely stole the show. Not to mention the Treblemakers deluding themselves into thinking they were genuinely cooler than the fraternities and athletes. That isn't to say I'd turn down a date with one of the a capella boys from my school.

As a former high school choir nerd, I found an element of Pitch Perfect that related closely to my own experiences. Sopranos at my school, like the ones in the Bellas, tended to be VERY snobby and rude to anyone not in their section. Beca is singled out by the lead soprano, Chloe, for bullying just because Beca is an alto. I could commiserate with that. I was listed in all our concert programs as an alto, but I was also a "utility voice." When we only had 4 boys in choir for our Christmas concert, I sang tenor on a few songs; if we were short on mezzos (soprano IIs), I was drafted by my teacher to fill in.

I was inwardly cheering that altos were featured so prominently in the movie. When I was in choir, we tended to be ignored. For the most part, we were stuck singing the same 4 notes while everyone else's parts were a little more challenging.

If you enjoy musicals in general, you can't go wrong with Pitch Perfect. The cast is very talented. Expect a lot of modern pop and rap. There's spectacular versions "No Diggity" and "I'll Make Love to You" during an a capella "riff-off."

FUN FACT: My college actually does have an a capella troupe called The Treblemakers, only ours is all-female.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chicago Fire: "Pilot"

Or as I like to call the series Backdraft Lite.

I knew this show couldn't possibly compare to Denis Leary's masterpiece Rescue Me, which ended last fall. I was wary of the previews, a scene in which blatantly rips off one of my all-time favorite movie moments: the "You go, we go" scene from Backdraft. But I had I high hopes for Chicago Fire, helmed by Dick Wolf, creator of Law & Order and its spin-offs Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent. It took roughly 10 minutes for Chicago Fire to ruin my hopes. Why?

  • The opening scene of the episode is almost identical to the beginning of Backdraft with two minor exceptions. 1) Both firefighters trapped in the building die as opposed to Axe surviving. 2) A firefighter's youngest son does not witness his father's tragic death and wind up on the cover of Time magazine.
  • The crew operates out of Firehouse 51, the same house designation that was used way back in the '70s for the show Emergency! Did Dick really think nobody would notice that?
  • How unprofessionally the firefighters behaved during their station tour for an elementary school class. Guarantee these kids won't wanna grow up to be firefighters.
And these are just the general things that annoyed me. I'm friends with a lot of firefighters and EMS personnel. I've had some firefighter training myself and I'm a licensed EMT, so I noticed a few things that other people might not.
  • Where on God's green earth did the props department find masks that old? Long glass in the front, "elephant trunk" style hose...Oh wait, I know, probably leftover from, you guessed it, Backdraft. The most laughable part is that they were hooked up to NEW model Scott Paks. Most likely, the hoses would be incompatible.
  • This also goes back to the equipment issue. This show is set within the CHICAGO Fire Department. Even the most underfunded volunteer departments in small-town Kentucky have late-model Scott Paks and masks. (It's actually required by law in order to run calls, but I digress).
  • The female paramedics wore their hair down with just their Chicago FD jackets and matching T-shirts (which fit more like baby-doll shirts). Even in my mid-size college town in Kentucky, our county EMS requires everyone to wear uniform shirts. And it's general practice in most lines of work that if a girl's hair is past her collar, she has to wear it up.
  • More on the humorous side, every EMT or paramedic I've ever known keeps a stethoscope handy around their neck. These women did not.
  • This one was the last straw for me. The female medics, both department veterans, respond to a shooting and Chicago PD is already on the scene. They tell the police officer to leave the apartment so they can treat the patient. No one knows where the shooter is but the cop leaves anyway. Guess what? The gunman pops out of the closet, holds the medics at gunpoint, and threatens them. The medics now have negotiate themselves out of the situation.
I know it makes for good drama, but drama should have a hint of realism. Let me tell ya, something like what I described would NEVER happen these days. The number one thing they preached in my EMT class and continue to in my paramedic school classes is scene safety.

The police should (and in most cases must) clear the scene of a violent incident before EMS personnel are allowed inside. In my state, this became standard practice after a very tragic and very public incident where a female paramedic was killed in the line of duty while responding to a shooting. The police officer certainly would not leave the room while the shooting victim was treated in case he got violent.

I don't plan on finishing the episode or watching another one. If I was Ron Howard, I would sue for copyright infringement. If I were a representative for Scott Paks or American Lion turnout gear, I'd reconsider their current product placement.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Top 10 Quotes: "Remember the Titans"

This coming Saturday (October 13th) is my college's homecoming, which has put me in a football kind of mood. My favorite football movie is Disney's Remember the Titans, so I'm reposting this entry from my blog's previous incarnations.

  1. Blue: (reacting to Alan's country music) Does the term "cruel and unusual punishment" mean anything to you?
  2. Coach Yoast: There's a fine line between tough and crazy and you're flirtin' with it.
  3. Julius: Attitude reflects leadership.
  4. Louie: I'm roomin' with Blue, sir, and I noticed that he wears those leopard-spotted underwears. Bikini-style, sir!
  5. Coach Boone: You will wear a jacket, shirt, and tie. If you don't have one, buy one. If you can't afford one, then borrow one from your old man. If you don't have an old man, find a drunk and trade him for his.
  6. Coach Yoast: This is a time for reflection and for prayer...
    Gerry: Coach. I'm hurt. I ain't dead.
  7. Sheryl: I hate playin' with dolls.
    Nicky: I'm not playing. I'm accessorizing.
  8. Blue: Coach, we need a water break. We been out here all day.
    Coach Boone: Oh, you need a water break? Water is for cowards. Water makes you weak. Water is for washin' blood off that uniform and you don't get no blood on my uniform. Boy, you must be outside yo' mind!
  9. Coach Yoast: We want them to remember forever the night they played the Titans.
  10. Coach Boone: We're gonna take a little run through the woods. If you get lost along the way, don't bother comin' back to camp. Just hitchhike your hindparts on home.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

21 Jump Street: "Pilot (Part 1)"

Today I'm showcasing a post from my newer blog The Chapel Files ( I've made it a little project to watch and critique every episode of the show that made Johnny Depp a household name, costarring the funny and very attractive Peter DeLuise. Enjoy! And feel free to check out The Chapel Files.

The episode begins with the show's do-it-yourself theme song with Holly Robinson (who plays Judy Hoffs) on lead vocals. The backup screams of "JUMP!" are provided by Johnny Depp, who plays Tom Hanson, and Peter DeLuise who plays Doug Penhall. Holly's not a bad singer at all, but I'm a bit curious as to why they didn't have somebody else perform the theme song. Budget issues probably had something to do with it...

We move on to the first scene. A preppy, wealthy family (the Weckerles) is getting ready for dinner: Mom, Dad, and their two teenage children Noreen and Kenny. Noreen's discussing a classmate's dad getting busted for drunk driving. Mom sniffily scolds her "Criminals get busted; Mr. Baumler was...arrested." Kenny announces he's turning boredom into an art form via playing clarinet. Mom serves the family meatloaf.

This Leave It to Beaver moment is interrupted by two black teenagers breaking into the house through the dining room window. They're looking for Kenny, who owes them $6,000. Kenny tearfully promises the money if they give him more time. The larger boy, Waxer, demands the keys to Dad's Jaguar. Dad is reluctant. "Give us the keys or we take little sister here to the prom!" sneers the other boy.

After the boys leave with the keys, Kenny's dad heads to the kitchen to call the police. Kenny flips out and doesn't want the police called.

Cut to a diner, where a painfully young-looking Johnny Depp is sitting in a police cruiser talking to his partner Charlie. Charlie is the classic "6 months left 'til retirement and don't wanna risk my neck doing police work" cop. Johnny, AKA Tom Hanson, asks Charlie if that's what he was taught in the academy. Charlie responds with: "30 years ago, there wasn't any academy. You rode in the backseat of a black-and-white for a week and a half." As a criminal justice student, I found the attention to detail regarding the history of policing to be a nice touch.

Charlie makes it clear that he doesn't really want to ride with Tom. Tom's previous two partners ended up with broken noses due to his tendency to charge headfirst into situations. Tom and Charlie peel out of the diner parking lot with the food tray still attached to the window; they're responding to a domestic disturbance call at the Weckerle residence. Dad recounts the story of the break-in while Noreen eyes up Tom. "Are you sure you're old enough to be a cop?" she asks. "You look just like that kid in Pretty In Pink."

The cops discover that Kenny is a band geek and nobody in his family has a clue who these kids were or why Kenny owes them $6,000. Charlie suggests kicking in the kid's door and beating the answer out of him. Tom chuckles nervously. Kenny speaks up from another room, trying to act tough. He fails miserably when he complains that he was grounded from a Eurhythmics concert for failing gym and says to Tom, "I don't have to tell you spit."

Tom and Charlie leave, agreeing to hand the case off to Juvenile. Charlie becomes suspicious of a car that stops for a green light and learns from the radio that the car was seen leaving a convenience store robbery. A chase ensues with Hanson driving erratically, flying down a one-way street. A pit maneuver ends the pursuit.

The suspects are ordered out of the car. They begin to taunt Tom about his baby face. Tom gets angry and ends up in a physical scuffle with them. Charlie comes over and tries to break it up. Tom's wild swing catches the older cop in the nose.

The next morning, Charlie is shown in the police locker room with  tape covering his broken nose. One of Tom's previous partners says he thinks Tom is a liability. Charlie disagrees; the kid's a good cop who doesn't like being picked on about how young he looks. Tom comes in and Charlie lets him know that the captain wants to see Tom.

On the way to his office, the captain complains to the rookie about the Vice detectives. "All they wanna do now is wear pink sportcoats and drive Ferraris." Freeze! Miami Vice! The subject turns to Tom as they sit down. The captain tells Tom he's not intimidating to suspects and nobody wants to ride with him anymore. He suggests Tom is too young. Tom thinks he's being fired and complains: "6 months at the academy and now I get to go manage a doughnut shop. Or maybe I could be one of those rent-a-cops who checks proof at a teen club."

The captain tells Tom that the department has a secret undercover program called Jump Street Chapel, which got its name because it's run out of an abandoned chapel on Jump Street. The program involves sending young-looking officers undercover in local high schools. Tom is initially uninterested, calling it "Fast Times at Bust-Your-Buddy High." He tells the captain that he hated high school the first time and lists his reasons why. The captain delivers an ultimatum: It's either Jump Street Chapel or driving a desk at Parker Center (the department's administrative building) until he looks old enough to be a cop.

Tom goes home to think about it, mournfully playing his saxophone in front of a framed picture of himself as a little boy with his dad Tom Hanson Senior. Tom Senior is in a police uniform. Tom plays an answering machine tape of what is presumably the last time he talked to his father, which was clearly a long time ago since the two discuss Tom Junior fighting at school.

Next we see Tom pulling up to an old church in a beauty of a '60s-era Mustang: blue paint job with black leather interior. He's wearing his patrolman uniform. The church's windows are boarded up and the surrounding neighborhood is also in disrepair. There are a few other vehicles near the church, notably a faded yellow van, a green roadster, and a blue-and-white motorcycle that looks like it could be a Harley-Davidson. 

Tom walks up into the loft of the church. It initially appears empty. Suddenly, he's ambushed from the side by a tall, heavyset cop with long curly brown hair and a pierced ear. It's Peter DeLuise. He looks over Hanson's attire and quips, "Guess nobody told ya this prom ain't a formal." He introduces himself as Doug Penhall. An Asian police officer played by Dustin Nguyen appears behind Doug. His name is H.T. Ioki.

Tom asks if he's in Jump Street Chapel, to which Doug replies "only if you're Catholic." This leads Doug and Harry to discuss  their respective lineage. The dialogue is delightfully politically incorrect. Doug reveals that his mother is Jewish, "which only means I get to celebrate both guilt and hell." Harry clarifies by saying that Doug's father used to be a priest and adds: "So don't play bingo with this guy; he's a killer."

Doug tells Tom that Ioki's initials stand for Harry Truman Ioki and asks him to guess what year Harry's parents immigrated to the United States. Harry deadpans that he's "named after the guy who dropped an atom bomb on my house."

Tom says he needs to talk to Captain Jenko. Doug turns and bellows "YO! JENK!" over his shoulder. Tom looks stunned that somebody would be summoning their superior in this fashion. A middle-aged man with long, stringy black hair makes a grand entrance by sliding down a yellow-and-red-striped fire pole. And I'll be damned, the actor is Frederic Forrest, AKA "Chef" from Apocalypse Now! He's wearing jeans and a leather bomber jacket  with a picture of Jim Morrison on the back.

The guy tells Tom that he's "been a Deadhead since Woodstock." Tom says he didn't go because he was only 5 years old and asks again where to find Jenko. Tom is shocked that this guy turns out to be Captain Jenko. He's equally confused by Jenko's hippie slang. He asks if he has time to get an omelet.

Jenko gives him a look. "When was the last time you saw a teenager have a cup of black coffee and an omelet for breakfast? From now on, it's potato chips, sodapop, pizza, and French fries." He tosses Tom a can of Coke and a bag of potato chips from his desk and cries, "It's the Pepsi Generation, sport!"

Jenko tells Tom that the rest of the undercover unit is several weeks ahead of him and Tom will have to be rushed through some of the training. He says he'll pair Tom with Officer Hoffs and shouts for Hoffs to wake up. Judy Hoffs, played by Holly Robinson, enters this office. It's obvious from the look on Tom's face that he thinks she's cute. "Run this cat down to wardrobe," Jenko instructs. "And for God's sakes, do something about that Jack Kennedy haircut."

Jenko leaves. Tom and Judy shake hands. He offers her a chip. A montage of Tom trying on clothes, getting a haircut, hanging out at an arcade with Judy, and buying records. By the end, Tom is clad in tight acid-washed jeans, boots, a black T-shirt, and a black leather jacket. His hairstyle is similar to James Dean's and he has a pierced ear.

At night, Tom has his first field training assignment, posing as Penhall's cousin. Jenko gives him firm instructions to buy drugs from the target, a kid named Jace, but not bust him. Tom and Jace head into an alley. Tom is visibly nervous. Jace gets suspicious and puts a gun to Tom's head. Tom tackles Jace and arrests him. Jenko tears into the alley and jumps out of his yellow van. He discovers that there were no drugs in the plastic bag, just a pair of smelly socks.

Jenko gives Tom a thorough ass-reaming in the street. "Now I gotta pull Penhall out!" he yells. "'Cause now the creeps who were hanging with Jace are gonna make him faster than Elton John in a hat shop!"

In the wee hours of the morning, Kenny leaves his parents' house on his motor scooter. He rides to what looks like downtown and starts delivering newspapers. He spots some watches on display and smashes the store's front window. He shoves them into his newspaper bag and rides away.

At Jump Street Chapel, the gang is gathered around a table for roll call. Doug is annoyed with Tom for blowing his cover. Judy is earning good grades and Jenko warns her "Honor students don't usually hang out with felons." Jenko tells Tom that he's been sent to Amherst High as a disciplinary transfer. Nothing is really going on at Amherst that the department knows of; it's just a chance for Tom to get his feet wet.

As Jenko dismisses them, Doug pounds on the table and lets out a loud wolf howl. Jenko mutters that he's glad Doug's on their side, giving us the hint that the big guy may be a little unstable.

In the Amherst parking lot, Tom makes the mistake of pulling into a parking space that's normally occupied by a red Ferrari. The luxury car belongs to Waxer, the guy who broke into Kenny Weckerle's house. The disagreement quickly turns physical. A teacher breaks it up and sends both boys to the principal's office.

Jake Schaffer, Amherst's principal, has a tedious conversation with Tom and Waxer using football metaphors ("completion record," "10 minutes into the first quarter on a Monday morning", etc). Tom learns that Tyrell "Waxer" Thompson is on probation. 

A short time later, Tom is in the hallway at his locker. With a jolt, he recognizes the guy a few lockers down; it's Kenny Weckerle. Kenny shouts for Waxer to leave him alone, but it's not Kenny that Waxer's interested in this time. Instead, Waxer approaches Tom.

"You gonna like it here at Amherst, boy. You gonna like it a lot if you like dyin'," Waxer threatens.

TO BE CONTINUED...flashes across the screen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Guest Review: "Robin Hood--Prince of Thieves"

My aunt Sharon is a very funny lady who loves movies as much as I do. I've decided to occasionally feature some of her reviews on my blog. I'm kicking it off with the 1991 classic starring Kevin Costner and Christian Slater.

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Great movie!

Robin Hood's brother Will Scarlet is an odd sort of dude who carries a grudge against Robin dating back to their childhood. Robin, typically, didn't like the intrusion of a potential stepmother following his own mother's death. Will felt wronged because he was the resented half-brother; Robin managed to get their father, Lord Locksley, to prove his love for his first son by leaving his peasant lover. Will was left as an illegitimate child with only his mother to raise him, which wasn't a good thing in those days.

The lovely lady Marion was not so lovely. Neither member of the Robin/Marian couple seemed young enough, judging by the standard of their day, to entertain the idea of having a family.

The Sheriff of Nottingham and his witch mother were every bit a person's worst nightmare. The Sheriff's sycophantic cousin Guy got what was coming to him.

Marian and her lady-in-waiting are probably portrayed in a realistic way! They probably needed to be prepared to fight for their own lives and virtues if the men wouldn't or couldn't defend them. This much is still true today. A lady can have a wonderful, supportive, and protective man in her life, but she still has to be prepared to defend herself if necessary.

It was refreshing to see the guys cat-fighting for a change. A good example of this was Nottingham's revenge on Robin--a facial scar for a facial scar.

Will's childish song underscored his place as the younger brother. His long-lasting grudge toward Robin was heightened when Marian chose Robin over him.

One question. If the Muslim dude was so much smarter and had so much more wisdom than Robin and the others, why on Earth did Robin have to rake his bacon out of the fire? Azeem pretty much created the debt that forced him to follow Robin to England in the first bloody place.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My First NFL Game: Jets vs. Bengals

This past Friday, I went with my parents to watch the New York Jets take on the Cincinnati Bengals in a preseason game. I was most excited about seeing the Jets #15--Tim Tebow. I've followed his football career since he played for U of F. Just like Tebow, I was homeschooled for the majority of my childhood. I'm not particularly religious, but I admire the way he stands behind his Christian beliefs. It's hard to find a good sports role model for kids these days, but Tim's one of them. He doesn't drink, commit crimes, or have tantrums when he loses.

As predicted, Paul Brown Stadium was an absolute sea of orange when we arrived. However, I wasn't the only one with Tebowmania. I'd say about 75%-80% of the female Jets fans I saw were wearing a Tebow shirt or carrying a sign related to #15. We were early enough to watch the team warm up. I stood by the rail and watched the heartwarming scene of Tim making a seriously ill child's day.

I'm trying to focus on the positive, but I think the Bengals fans have to be some of the most obnoxious I've ever encountered. And that's saying a lot considering I used to be friends with a diehard Yankees fan. Thankfully I didn't have to listen to the "Bengal Growl" or the equally terrible "Who Dey" chant very much. The attitude of most of the Bengals fans is especially confusing to me because the team hasn't won a Superbowl since before I was born and they're consistently one of the worst-performing teams in the entire NFL. Even their cheerleading squad has a D-grade name: the Ben-Gals. Why not the Tigresses?

I ended up having no voice on Saturday because I spent the majority of the game cheering. I'm not terribly knowledgeable about the game of football, so I can't really comment on Rex Ryan's strategy. I think people really need to stop making jokes about Tebow's passing because the Jets third-string quarterback is infinitely worse. The Jets didn't win, but at least it's only preseason. I have faith that they can bounce back in the first "real" game. J! E! T! S! JETS JETS JETS!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Top 10 Quotes: "Jaws"

Posting this in honor of Discovery Channel's 25th annual Shark Week

1. Hooper: I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass!

2. Mayor Vaughn: It's all psychological. You yell "barracuda," everybody says, "Huh? What?" You yell "shark" and we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.

3. Quint: Front, bow. Back, stern. Don't get it right, squirt, and I throw your ass out the little round window on the side!

4Brody: You're gonna need a bigger boat.

5. Polly: We've got a bunch of calls about that karate school. It seems that the 9-year-olds from the school have been "karate-ing" the picket fences.

6. Hooper: It doesn't make much sense for a guy who hates water to live on an island.
Brody: It's only an island if you look at it from the water.

7. Hooper: This was not a boating accident! It wasn't any propeller. It wasn't any coral reef. And it wasn't Jack the Ripper.

8. Quint: I don't want no volunteers. I don't want no mates. There's too many captains on this island. $10,000 for me by myself. For that, you get the head, the tail...the whole damn thing.

9. Hendricks: Mrs. Kintner must've put her ad in Field & Stream.
Brody: Looks more like The National Enquirer.

10. Quint: You know, the thing about a shark, he's got...lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'...until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No Love for Chris Brown's New Album

Found this courtesy of my long-time favorite blog List of the Day!

Check it out here:

Chris Brown Review

Kitchen Adventures: Orange Juice Cookies

I'm a typical college student in that my cooking repertoire consists of Easy Mac, frozen pizza, and various things you can prepare in a toaster. I've become determined as of late to change that, but wasn't sure where to start. My mom gave me a copy of Eat This: You'll Feel Better, Dom DeLuise's first cookbook, for my birthday. She had seen reviews that said his recipes were easy to follow, plus I've always liked Italian food.

Trying to cook an entree was intimidating to me, so I figured a dessert recipe was a good baby step before trying something else from the book. After all, I've been helping with baking (and later doing it on my own) since I was about 4 years old. I chose his recipe for Orange Juice Cookies because we already had all the ingredients on hand.

As I set to work, I thought I had read the book wrong because the recipe said to mix the wet ingredients in a blender. I frowned curiously at the page. Yeah, it definitely said "blender."

"Well, you were the gourmet, Dom," I said fondly. He'd been one of my grandma's favorite celebrities; his voice had more or less been the soundtrack of my childhood via classic cartoons like Oliver & Company and An American Tail.

Once the dough was mixed, it had to be kneaded by hand. I stand an impressive five-foot-even, making this task a little difficult. I had dough almost the way up to my elbows when I realized it needed more flour, because it was incredibly sticky. Not surprising since there was orange juice in the batter. Now I just had to figure out how to add more flour without getting this goo all over the entire kitchen. Eventually, I was able to put the flour in and make the dough the right consistency.

I rolled out the cookies and popped them in the oven. The second issue I encountered was that I ended up having to bake them a lot longer than the time listed in the recipe. I had no trouble making the orange juice glaze to dip the cookies in once they were baked. They tasted slightly chalky, probably because I ended up adding too much flour. Overall, though, they were pretty good.

Friday, July 20, 2012

You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive, Part 2

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Downtown Harlan


Coal Miners' Memorial

You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive: A Photo Essay

 I have been a huge fan of the show Justified ever since the premiere of the pilot. I can empathize with Raylan Givens's feelings toward his home state of Kentucky, seeing as I'm also a lifelong resident. I was quite excited to hear that an exhibit of show props and memorabilia was coming to Harlan. My dad has never seen the show but wanted to go see what the exhibit was like. He took the day off work and we made the 2 1/2-hour drive to Harlan. Below are just a few of the pictures I took.

"In the deep, dark hills of Eastern Kentucky..."
"...That's the place where I trace my bloodline..."

Harlan during its heyday as a coal town

A Furby that met an untimely end during Season 2

Family portrait of villainess Mags Bennett

Poster autographed by Timothy Olyphant *swoon*

Harlan County's #1 bad boy: Boyd Crowder

TV's favorite U.S. Marshals: Art Mullens, Tim Gutterson, Rachel Brooks,
and, of course, the man himself--Raylan Givens

Rockin' my souvenir T-shirt

Dad and I also explored some of the other local landmarks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Magic Mike"

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Let me begin by saying that I wasn't a huge Channing Tatum fan going into this movie. In fact, the only things I'd ever seen him in up to that point were 21 Jump Street and an old episode of CSI: Miami (although I didn't know it was him at the time). However, the trailers that prominently featured his perfectly sculpted abs were enough to convince me that this was a movie I could not miss.

I've gone to movies by myself before and I have no problem doing so, but I felt this experience would be best shared. I brought my mom and long-time best friend with me to the theater. The place was incredibly crowded for a Sunday afternoon matinee. Not surprisingly, the audience was almost entirely female. My best friend and I counted a total of 4 guys. There didn't seem to be one single target demographic for the fairer sex; I saw girls that were definitely too young to be at an R-rated movie all the way up to little old ladies.

The movie follows the life of Mike (Channing Tatum), a male stripper in Tampa, Florida. His dream is to own his own business designing and building custom furniture, but he can't get a start-up loan because he has no credit. In an effort to make his dream come true by earning the cash to get the business off the ground himself, Mike has several day jobs, including one as a roofer. One day on a roofing site, he meets a new worker named Adam (Alex Pettyfer).

Adam ends up being fired on his first day because he took an extra Pepsi from the cooler at the job site. Mike gives him a ride home. He feels bad about the guy losing his job, so he decides to take Adam out and show him a good time. He has to sneak Adam into the nightclub since Adam is only 19. Once inside, they run into a group of sorority girls, one of whom is celebrating her 21st birthday; they think Adam is just adorable. Mike slips the girls a promo flyer for the Xquisite male dance revue and invites them to attend that night's performance. He promises them that Adam will be there.

Mike takes Adam over to Xquisite, which is run by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). When Dallas finds out Adam is under 21, he initially wants him out of the place for fear of losing his liquor license (and therefore his business). Mike says they can just stick Adam backstage, let him run props for the night, and give him a cut of their tips. One thing leads to another and Adam actually ends up stripping onstage under the name "The Kid." At first, he's desperately uncomfortable. He quickly changes his mind at the end of the night when Dallas informs him that the dancers get to keep every dime of the considerable tips they make.

When Mike drives Adam home, he meets and immediately develops a crush on Adam's older sister Brooke. Everything seems to go fairly smoothly for a while, but the darker side of the business catches up to Adam. Not satisfied with his income, he teams up with the club's DJ Tobias (played by Gabriel "I'm not fat, I'm fluffy" Iglesias), who deals ecstacy on the side. It isn't long before Adam becomes a drug addict. Brooke blames Mike for her brother's new-found problems.

The drug plotline came as a bit of shock to my entire group. It comes in at around the halfway point of the movie. Up until then, it's a fairly light movie about male strippers. We discussed it afterwards and none of us cared for that part of the movie. It probably would've been a different story if the trailers had even hinted at the subplot instead of making it look like a "stripper with a heart of gold" romantic comedy.

Speaking of the stripping, two words: Oooh, Lordy! Channing Tatum actually was a stripper before he became an actor and it shows in the way he takes command of every dance scene. Matthew McConaughey didn't do too bad himself during his solo numbers. However, I was disappointed by the caliber of the dance moves displayed by every other stripper in the revue, particularly Adam Rodriguez. I always loved him on CSI: Miami and figured there was no way I could be disappointed seeing him shirtless in a movie...well, I kinda was. I couldn't help thinking the producers or somebody figured that with a real ex-stripper in the movie, they didn't have to bother teaching anyone else how to dance. Alex Pettyfer's performance can be forgiven since he was playing the new guy.

I also really enjoyed the way that the dance sequences were filmed. The camera angles made me feel like I had a ringside table at Xquisite. I almost reached into my purse for some singles once or twice (haha). Having never been to a male strip club, I would have to guess that songs like "It's Raining Men" and "My Pony" are pretty appropriate for the setting. The original number "Ladies of Tampa" performed by Matthew McConaughey bare-chested in leather chaps was really funny too.

Part of what makes a movie fun for me is the way the audience experiences it. Magic Mike had without a doubt the rowdiest crowd in my movie-going memory. My best friend and I kept looking at each other and saying "Oh my God" every time a stripper routine came on, our jaws dropped to the floor. Pretty much every woman in the crowd shrieked audibly at least once, usually when Channing Tatum started doing his thing.

Overall, I'd give this movie a 7/10. It's a lot of fun and very sexy for us ladies, but I took points off for the drug dealing B-plot and some of the poorer dancing by the cast. Definitely recommend it! Great girls' night bonding experience!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Top 10 Quotes: "Young Guns II"

This was another popular post from the blog's previous incarnations:

1. Billy: I'll make ya famous!

2. (Chavez has just recited one of Doc's poems)
Doc: I never wrote that. I always meant to tell ya. William Shakespeare wrote it.

3. Arkansas Dave: (says variations of this line throughout the movie) You do know who I am, don't ya? I'm Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh. Ever hear of me? I killed 65 men, not countin' Mexicans and Indians.

4. Brushy Bill Roberts: I had small hands and big wrists and that has saved my life more times than Colonel Colt's Equalizer.

5. Jane: Patrick, I'm gonna part with a nasty secret. You used to make me hotter than a June bride sittin' bareback on a depot stove. But I don't share my bed with the law.
Garrett: And I don't keep with whores no more. So ain't we both content?

6. Chavez: (about Billy) The villagers say he's diablero, can change into a coyote, disappear, never gets killed. Me? I just think he's the luckiest white-eye in New Mexico.

7. Garrett: I've shot everything in the world 'cept you and you still wouldn't go below. This hurts, Kid, but I'm in a place I can't get out of.

8. Tom: What's "scum"?
Billy: Well, Tom, that's bad types. Politicians, bankers, cattle kings...scum.

9. Ash: Garrett! Get me off this animal! I have to have a movement!

10. Doc: You rode a 15-year-old boy straight into his grave and the rest of us straight to hell. Straight to hell. William H. Bonney, you...are not...a god.
Billy: Why don't you pull the trigger and find out?

Top 10 Quotes: "Young Guns"

This is was one of my most popular posts on my original blogs, so it seems fitting that I repost it. These quotes are in no particular order of awesomeness:

1. Dirty Steve: Did you see the size of that chicken?

2. Billy: See, if you got three or four good pals, why, then you got yourself a tribe. There ain't nothin' stronger than that.

3. Chavez: Many nights, my friend...many nights, I held a blade to your throat while you were sleeping. Glad I never killed you, Steve. You're all right.

4. John Tunstall: We're congregated here to learn to read and write. You'll need more than skill with a firearm to succeed in the new world, Billy.

5. Billy: You have to test yourself every day, gentlemen. Once you stop testin' yourself, you get slow. And when that happens, they kill you.

6. Dirty Steve: (repeatedly about Billy) He ain't all there, is he?

7. Charley: You sent a lamb into the slaughter and he walked out a king sheep.

8. Doc: Trouble? You think I look like trouble? I'm a poet, carrying flowers, of all things.

9. Billy: Reap the whirlwind, Sheriff Brady. Reap it!

10. Charley: We work for Mr. Tunstall as regulators. We regulate any stealin' of his property and we're damn good, too. Mr. Tunstall's got a soft spot for runaways, derelicts, vagrant types. But you can't be any geek off the street. Gotta be handy with the steel, if you know what I mean. Earn your keep.

Did I miss your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Overhaul Notice

This blog was once called "Cinema Passion" and penned under the screenname Aspiring Ebert. Because of college classes etc., I woefully neglected that blog for almost two years so I decided to start completely from scratch under its current name. I tried blogging on tumblr, but it wasn't the same at all. I missed the more interactive nature of Blogger.

Once again, life happened and my blog fell by the wayside. They say the third time is the charm and I'm determined to make it work this time.

I will be redoing my most popular old postings as well writing new things. The pop culture content and my snarky commentary will not change.

Happy reading!