Crazy Random Happenstance

Billy: So good... Hey, this is weird. I ordered one frozen yogurt and they gave me two. You don't happen to like frozen yogurt, do you?
Penny: I love it!
Billy: You're kidding? What a crazy random happenstance!
-Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

And May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor.

There is something about loving a book series that makes me so happy. It's a great feeling to get lost in a world unlike your own, whether it be for a few minutes or a few hours and become truly connected to the characters within it. I have such respect for the people who can write genuinely creative, smart, good stories. Suzanne Collins did that with The Hunger Games series. I've written about this series before, so you all know that I was hesitant to read it at first but then absolutely fell in love with the books as soon as I began reading them. It should come as no surprise then, that I was very, very excited for the movie to come out.

Here is your SPOILER ALERT. Please, please believe me when I tell you this is a wonderful story and if you have any urge whatsoever to read the books, then stop reading my blog right now. This is truly a story where you do not want to be spoiled. You want to experience everything for yourself with fresh eyes and not go into it knowing everything that is going to happen. Trust me.

So again... SPOILER ALERT.

Ok, if you are still with me and you don't plan on reading the books, the movie (The Hunger Games) is based on the book of the same name. It takes place in a post apocalyptic future, where the world (Panem) is divided into 12 districts and The Capitol (which is where the President resides). As a way of reminding the world of the rebellion which caused the apocalypse in the first place (and a warning not to start another one), one boy and one girl (ages 12-18 and known as Tributes) from each district are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, which is a televised fight-to-the-death battle that takes place in an arena for all the world to see. The names are chosen at random and when 16 year old Katniss Everdeen's 12 year old sister is chosen, she volunteers to take her place. The movie shows what she goes through to prepare for the games, how she endures the games and how she unknowingly starts a rebellion. That's a real short and quick description for you.

I went to see the movie with my 13 year old niece, Emily and my two brothers, Dennis and Jay. All of us have read the book and love it. The theater was pretty full but not overwhelmingly so and that was nice. To say Emily and I were excited would be an understatement. We drank our 12oz, $3.75 (absurd!) slushes while impatiently sitting through the previews (though I was very happy we got to see a teaser for Breaking Dawn Part 2 and a teaser for The Host) and when the movie started we were riveted. District 12 looked exactly how I pictured it in my mind. They completely captured the poor, run-down, starving feel of it and Jennifer Lawrence is so perfect as Katniss. She looked the part and played her so, so spot-on. I was really impressed with her.

Let me give you a list of my favorite things about the movie:

- The behind the scenes stuff with Seneca Crane. I absolutely loved being able to see how they operated things for the games. You don't get any of that when you read the book. I found it absolutely fascinating.

- When Peeta touches Katniss's braid as they are about to eat the Nightlock Berries. It was sweet and it was simple and it stuck with me.

- Caesar Flickerman played by Stanley Tucci. This character in the book just seemed like a silly fella to me. I didn't like him, I didn't dislike him, he was just part of the story. Stanley Tucci brought such life to him that I beamed every time he was on screen. He was so entertaining. I thought he was phenomenal.

- Elizabeth Banks as Effie. She "got" the nature of the character. Her ridiculousness and her "Capitol-ness" were played flawlessly and exactly how I pictured it in my mind.

- The flower bed that Katniss made for Rue. The whole scene was done exquisitely. Emily and I cried and cried during that entire part. So much so, that she had to ask me for more napkins, haha.

- I loved that the Tracker Jackers looked normal and not like giant, mutant wasps (which is how I pictured them when I was reading them). I also loved how they explained them to the audience. It was so clever.

- The Reaping scene. I know this book is an emotional roller coaster but I didn't expect to get as emotional as I did watching the movie. The entire Reaping scene was so well done that it had me holding my breath, trying to hold back tears. If I had been at home by myself watching it, I would have been a mess.

- The Capitol was perfect. The colors, the people, the absurdity of how nice it was, it was perfect.

- Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. The girl can act. The girl can shoot a bow. The girl is kickass and beautiful to boot!

- The shot of all the Tributes on their platforms as they are counting down. It gave me goosebumps.

And now, a few minor criticisms:

- No bread from District 11 for Katniss. Yeah, they showed them uprising (which I thought was brilliant) but I thought that was such a sweet moment in the book. It would have been nice to see.

- I wanted more of the Cave Scene. That is such a big part of the book and truly where Peeta and Katniss's relationship blossoms. We got a tiny portion of it in the movie but I wanted more. I wanted the flirting and the lamb stew with dried plumbs and her tricking him into drinking the sweet syrup, so she could get his medicine from the feast. It may be silly, but I wanted it all.

- I wanted more Haymitch. I get that there is only so much you can cram into a 2 1/2 hour movie but why wasn't he at the Reaping?

As with any book to screen adaptation you lose some of the magic of the story. Jeff hasn't read the books, he has just listened to me prattle on about them for months so I was excited for him to see the movie. We went to see it last night. He said it was okay but he felt like it was missing something. I had to explain some things to him because I knew the background information from the book but overall he said it wasn't bad. I really loved it and was so happy with it. I think It captured the emotion and the heart of the book and you can't go wrong with that. Yes, it's a story about children killing children for entertainment and adults cheering them on but underneath all that, is a story of hope. It's a story about being able to stand up for what's right in a horrific situation and it's a story about courage... With a little bit of a love story thrown in.

Now that the spark is set, on to Catching Fire!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thoughts & Things & Such.

Just some stuff that has been floating around my head the last few weeks:

- One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Scrubs (2001-2010). It was a half hour medical comedy with a little bit of drama thrown in, created by Bill Lawrence and starred Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, John C. McGinley, Judy Reyes and Neil Flynn and it originally aired on NBC (it moved over to ABC in it's 8th season). The show focused on all the employees of Sacred Heart Hospital and was usually seen through the eyes and silly daydreams of J.D. (John Dorian) played by Braff.  I loved that show the second it aired. It was silly, it always made me laugh and it was heartwarming. I was constantly trying to get my family and friends hooked on it as well (I wanted everyone to love the show as much as I did) and I am proud to say that I was pretty successful in my campaigning. With as great a show as it was, they still needed the network behind them to help promote it... to get it out there, so people would be aware of it. Instead, NBC tended to move the show all over the schedule and frustrated fans because they never really knew what night the episodes were airing. Sometimes it was taken off the air for a few months at a time and people thought that it had been canceled all together. Thankfully, once it moved to ABC, they were able to end their run in a very, very satisfactory way. I still watch reruns of it and reminisce about it.

Why am I going on and on about a show that has been off the air for a long time now? Because Bill Lawrence created it. He also created Cougar Town (ABC Tuesdays at 8:30pm). It's a show starring Courteney Cox, Christa Miller, Busy Phillips, Ian Gomez, Dan Byrd, Brian Van Holt and Josh Hopkins. It's about friendship, family and drinking wine. It's not a show about Cougars, the animal or Cougars, the mascot or Cougars, the slang term for older women going after young dudes. It's a funny show with good storylines and good actors. I'll admit that I haven't watched the show as obsessively as I watched Scrubs. I would try to catch an episode here or there if I remembered and that was that. Until I saw the determination of Bill Lawrence to keep the show on the air. If you aren't following him on Twitter (@VDOOZER), you should be. He connects with his fans, keeps them updated and is always, always taking what his followers say into consideration. He's a talented dude with real passion for his show(s) and his fans and I love that. I respect him so much for it that I started a series recording for Cougartown on my DVR because of it. I am asking you, my friends to check it out as well. Especially if you are a Scrubs fan. Sarah Chalke and an array of other guest stars have made and will be making appearances. What else do you have to do on Tuesday nights at 8:30? Help keep a quality show alive!

- A couple weeks ago, Natalie and I went to see One For The Money. It's based on the book by the same name, written by Janet Evanovich and it stars Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum. I was really, really hesitant about KHeigl playing Stephanie. She's not at all who I pictured in my head as the first time bail bonds agent but I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised with her performance. They followed the book almost exactly (with a few exceptions, as always) and I was very happy with the film. Jason O' Mara who played Joe Morelli was great but my only complaint is with Ranger (played by Daniel Sunjata). In the book, he's supposed to be quiet, reserved and super mysterious. The Ranger in the movie, was real chatty. Overall though, I enjoyed it and will totally see it again.

- I really love New Girl (FOX Tuesdays, 9pm). I know people are kind of sick of Zooey Deschanel right now but that show is so funny. Those boys; Max Greenfield (Schmidt), Jake Johnson (Nick) and Lamorne Morris (Winston) are incredibly funny and play off of each other so well. I love when they bicker and I love discovering new quirks about each of their characters. That show makes me so happy.

- I feel like Jessica Simpson has been pregnant for 47 years.

- As much as Jeff being unemployed sucks (money-wise, uncertain future etc.) it has been absolutely wonderful having him home every night and especially on the weekends. If anything good has come from him losing his job, it's that... and that the laundry is always, always done.

- Why don't people say goodbye when they end a phone conversation on TV? They just hang up. Does anyone in real life actually do that?

- FYI: Vampire Diaries returns next week, March 15th. I love that show so much. Never have I wanted the bad guys in a show to stick around so much. Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Elijah (Daniel Gillies) are so wonderful. It's pretty impressive when two guys, other than Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley can keep me so entertained week after week.

-I am in love with the Gotye album, Making Mirrors. I could listen to "Somebody That I Used To Know" on repeat, all the live long day. I. Love. It.

- I tried to make Snickerdoodles the other night and didn't realize until I had everything mixed together that I didn't have enough flour. I baked them anyway (I really, really wanted some Snickerdoodles). They turned out real bad. Sad.

- I watched GCB (ABC Sundays at 10pm) starring Leslie Bibb and Kristen Chenoweth and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I will continue watching.

- I'm looking forward to the new season of Dancing With The Stars. Mostly because of Gavin Degraw but I'm real sad that Lacey Schwimmer won't be on as a regular. I heart her.

- I'm very, very much looking forward to the Hunger Games movie (March 23rd, the day otherwise known as my niece, Emily's 13th Birthday. 13!) and I am absolutely thrilled with the fact that almost my entire family has read or are currently reading the books (and loving them).

-I've been obsessed with watching the 2004 movie version of The Phantom of the Opera, starring Gerard (eat-my-own-face) Butler and Emmy Rossum. I've seen it before and I have also seen the play a couple of times but HBO has been showing this version quite a bit lately and it sucks me in every time I notice that it's on. It completely captivates me. I made C watch the sword fight between The Phantom and Raoul in the cemetery with me and he said: "I like sword fighting! It's cool! Why are these people only singing? Why is nobody talking?" and then he was bored with it and went about his business.

- I tried sushi for the first time a couple weeks ago (thanks, Dawn and Adam!) and it was so delicious. So so good. I couldn't even tell you specifically what I had but it was awesome and they brought it out to us on a giant wooden boat. I want to go again. Soon.

- The last book I finished was Wildwood by Colin Meloy. I should have loved this book. It had magic and animals and fantasy, all things that would make up a book that I would love but it fell flat for me. The story is very clever but the pacing was off and a lot of things seemed very repetitive. I was disappointed with it. I hate when that happens.

- I am currently reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I am very much enjoying it.

- One complaint: If unemployment is so bad right now and all these companies are looking for employees, why don't they call back the people who submit resume's?! It's infuriating and frustrating and makes me want to yell. But I won't. I'll just quietly complain to you guys.

What has been on your mind lately, readers??

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Daydream Believer

I have a very vivid memory of being at our old house in Inkster and dancing with my brother, Dennis to The Monkees "Cuddly Toy" in our basement. I think he had on a little top hat and was dancing with a cane, to mimic Davy Jones in the video. I remember laughing and having so much fun at the time and thinking that The Monkees were the greatest thing ever.

 I bring this up because it's the first thing I thought of when I heard the news that Davy had passed away at the age of 66 from a heart attack. When I say that we loved The Monkees, I truly mean that we LOVED The Monkees. We grew up in a rock and roll household. My parents were always, always playing music and it was a given that you would find Dennis, Jay, Natalie and I dancing our little butts off on a Friday or Saturday night (I'm sure there are videos to prove it!). Inspired by their music, for Christmas, Dennis got a guitar from Santa and I got a keyboard (so I could play like Peter Tork).  I like to think that The Monkees are what planted the seeds in our minds that music is awesome and so much fun.

We adored the television show. From 1986-1988, Nick at Nite played reruns of it and we watched obsessively. The show was silly and corny but we thought it was fantastic. I loved that every episode had their music in it. Whether it was incorporated into the storyline, or just a music video thrown in, I thought it was so much fun. Davy was the one who had stars in his eyes and fell in love in practically every episode, he was the one all the girls swooned over, he was the one who would talk in the middle of a song and profess how much he "loved you girl", he was the baby faced cute one and he was real good at playing the tambourine.

In 1987, my parents took Dennis, Jay and I (Natalie was too little) to our first concert, featuring The Monkees (with special guest, Weird Al Yankovic) at Pine Knob. I remember being amazed at how loud it was and even more astounded by the fact that the guys who I watched on TV obsessively, were down there, in person (albeit, looking a lot older than how I saw them on TV), on stage, singing all the songs that I loved. At the end of the show, my Uncle, raced Dennis down to the stage so he could try to get a high-five from one of the guys. We were ecstatic. The picture over there, is Dennis and I after the concert, wearing our extremely over-sized concert t-shirts. Can you tell we were a little giddy??

Now, we don't listen to The Monkees every day and obviously we have moved on to other bands and different kinds of music throughout the years and our tastes have changed a bit, but The Monkees have always been in the back of my mind as a kind of driving force as to what music means to me. They remind me of really great times as a kid, dancing and singing in my pajama's and friends and family singing "cheer up, Sarah Jean!" to the tune of "Daydream Believer" when I was sad.  They were the first band I loved and every single member, Davy, Mike, Peter and Micky left their mark in my music mind separately and together in one way or another. 

On Tuesday night, I found out that Peter Tork was going to be at the Motor City Comic Convention in May. I was real excited! I immediately sent Dennis a text to let him know. Needless to say, I had planned on going to the comic convention anyway, but knowing that a Monkee was going to be there was like icing on my nerdy cake. The next afternoon we found out the news about Davy. The very next day. So weird. That same afternoon, Dennis sent me a text about his passing and said "so strange that our last two texts were about The Monkees." SO strange. And with that, it brought back a multitude of happy, great memories.

I am honestly surprised (and delighted) by the outpouring of love and affection that critics, bloggers, celebrities and fans have shown for him since the news broke. Not that I don't think he was well respected but I know a lot of people thought The Monkees were just a made for TV gag. Each of the guys tried really hard to prove that they were all talented in their own ways and it makes me happy to see that people do appreciate that. I will continue to honor Davy and the rest of the guys by introducing Charley to their music and to the TV show. I will forever cherish those memories of dancing to Davy's voice and watching all the guys on TV and on stage. So join me and break out those old records and bask in the memories of some FUN music.

I'll leave you with the classic "Daydream Believer" because that is the most popular choice. I love the beginning when he's playing the piano next to Peter: