Time Vampires Blow!

I know it appears I have been neglecting my blog-y duties, but I would like to make it clear to everyone that it is not my fault I have missed two out of my last three posts. I really did try to write a post for Friday. In fact, I did write a post for Friday, it’s just I kept falling asleep while writing it. The third time I woke up in front of my computer and realized it was 3am, I decided no one was going to be up to read it anyway. I intended to get it posted early the next morning, but then there was cooking that needed done and…

Sunday, Downton Abbey kicked me in the shins. Hard. And I still posted. Sorta.

Tuesday, oh Tuesday. I know bad weather has been a time vampire before. I’m fairly sure tornado warnings have even made an appearance. What I don’t think we’ve talked about before is tornado warnings in fucking January! I was running late on writing my post, for various reasons, but I was just about to pour myself a glass of wine and sit down to write it when my phone starts making a godawful noise. My roommate came down to see what was going on and I checked it. It was a fucking tornado warning. I knew we were under a watch from the front coming through, but a warning is a different thing.

Now we know I have an underdeveloped self-preservation instinct. I’m not going to lie, my planned course of action was to bring my laptop downstairs, pour my wine, and write my post (way safer than doing it from my bed upstairs). But when I noticed roommate getting out the cat carriers I realized she had other plans. To my credit, I followed her lead seamlessly enough I think she didn’t notice I was not planning to run from the tornado.

We got the cats in the carriers, threw on some shoes, and went to the basement of the building next door. Said basement is composed of two rooms—the laundry room and the room full of storage lockers. Roommate decided that the latter was safer, so we trudged in there. There we discovered some neighbors we have never met and their kitty. Four humans, three cats, one narrow little passage. Nothing but a hard linoleum floor to sit on. And nothing to do but sit. And wait. Awkwardly. For the next hour. One hour of thinking, “Why didn’t I grab a sweater? Why was tonight the night I washed my hair? Uh oh… I think you can see my nips through my pajama top… Forget the sweater, why didn’t I grab the wine bottle?” And there we sat till 2am. Ugh.

So no, after all that I didn’t write a blog post. Truth be told I chugged my wine and went to bed.

What’s a Girl Gotta Do for Some German Schlagermusik around here?

I don’t have a particular song recommendation this go-round because I’ve been becoming acquainted with my new Claudia Jung album, Alles Nach Plan?  It’s been so long–probably 4 years–since I’ve had new CJ musik that I’m taking my time and savoring this (especially since the imported CD cost me over $40….ridiculous).

Now, I know there’s a kind of cheeZy ridiculousness that I’m taken with this particular musical genre, but that’s not the point here.  Whacky preferences aside, it just should NOT be this hard to get my German Schlagermusik fix–not in this day of Amazon clouds and iTunes music stores–but it is.  Whatever kind of licensing deal needs to happen hasn’t come through yet, and so as long as I’ve got a US address and a US credit card, all I can do is what I’ve been doing since about 2004: writing to iTunes and submitting requests to have them add Claudia Jung’s albums to their catalog.  Every year, at least once a year, I’ve submitted this request with all the success of Remember WENN fans trying to get AMC to release DVDs.  I’d really hoped Amazon’s MP3 store would pick up the slack and fill the gap, but I’ve been checking them for years now, to no avail.

I’m reduced to ordering physical CDs.  This does have some benefits–I like having my favorites on a hard medium, and Claudia Jung has been a favorite since I first stumbled across her “Wenn Es Morgen Nicht Mehr Gibt?” clip on her website when I was still in college (it was a German cover of “If Tomorrow Never Comes”–Kristy had to listen to me squee about there being a German chick singing Garth Brooks songs for a while there). She’s like my German Reba McEntire and I still buy Reba on physical CDs, too.  Also, this means I get liner notes, which is doubly helpful since my German is rusty these days and even though I’ve always found it easier to understand CJ, it helps to read the lyrics.

But, even getting the physical CDs is no easy task.  Amazon doesn’t always offer the CDs on their US store (and when they do, they’re expensive).  Once I put in the order, was told it would be on back order and 3 months later Amazon just cancelled the order from their side.  Still don’t have that particular album.  And, yes, I’ve tried places other than Amazon.  There are some sketchy online importers with high prices.  A few of the European shops may be willing to ship to the states–but between the exchange rate and the shipping its usually more than even Amazon.  Some of the smaller retailers want a German credit card.

So I muddle along.  I guess one upside of this eternal struggle to locate this music is that when I DO finally wind up with a new album, it’s such a total treat.

Now, excuse me, I’m going to groove in my totally Germans-can’t-dance way to “Im falschen Film”

Movie Review: Chori Chori

Title: Chori Chori – 2003
Director:  Milan Luthria
Starring: Ajay Devgan and (wait for iiiiiiiiiit) Rani Mukerji

First, the highly truncated, Cammy-fied summary of this film:

Rani Mukerji is surprisingly funny acting opposite stuffed monkeys.

That oughta get your attention.  Truly, this film is loosely based on the American movie Housesitter with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn.  Orphan Khushi (Mukerji) is a happy-go-lucky nut of a gal, living on her own in Delhi and fibbing her way out of work whenever possible.  Ranbir (Devgan) is an architect who was building a dream home in the mountains for his love, Pooja….who refuses him and his house saying that he’s too much of a dreamer and not serious/financially responsible enough.  A depressed Ranbir is doodling the unfinished dream home on a party napkin on the one night when Khushi apparently decides to show up and do her job at the hotel hosting the event.  Good thing for her, too, because the next day her boss decides that her efforts at the party weren’t enough to make up for all the other days she’d made excuses not to work.  He not only fires her, but evicts her from the one room flat where she lives with her roommate and constant companion, stuffed monkey, Jonathan (no, not making that last part up.).  With the napkin sketch in hand, she sets off and takes up housekeeping in the half-finished dream home in the mountains (and if you’re thinking some of those mountains look like Switzerland, you’re right…Bollywood is obsessed with shooting stuff in the Alps, just roll with this), faking to Ranbir’s family that she’s his fiance.  He shows up, and plays along, hoping to make Pooja jealous enough to return to him.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, it’s Bollywood romance, so you kinda know how this one ends.

So you know the plot isn’t complex.  It is, in fact, cheeZe with a Z, much like other B-wood movies I’ve reviewed.  But what about the acting?

Remember when I said that Mukerji is acting opposite stuffed monkeys?  Plural?  One of them clearly, is Jonathan, the literal stuffed monkey she totes around the entire movie.  The other is Devgan.  Totally sorry to his fans, but while the man is decent enough to look at, and seems to be good for the quiet, brooding type…he just isn’t dialed in for most of this movie.  It might be the script and an attempt to show a contrast between Ranbir and Khushi, but I’m not sure that’s all of it. I–no lie–actually recall more scenes with Khushie interacting with Jonathan than with Ranbir.  I’ve seen way worse couplings, but this pairing is not going to have the chemistry of a Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol or Rani Mukerji-Saif Ali Khan flick.

Mukerji, on the other hand, brings it pretty well.  I mean, she manages to make me adore scenes where she’s conversing with a stuffed animal enough that I went out and bought the DVD and I’ve watched the damn thing 5 times.  Khushie as a character has the potential to be so saccharine and unreal that she’s detestable (I was actually very afraid of this when I read the summary of the film), but somehow, at least for me, Mukerji manages to make the character nutty and endearing and does what I find to be a great job with her first comedic role.  Her performance makes the movie (well, her’s and Jonathan’s.  Actually, I’m giving most of the credit to Jonathan because while she’s funny enough, the fact that she’s talking to a stuffed monkey is what makes hilarious).

The film has some other problems, but I found out after watching that the producer died in the middle of the film and the final release was delayed over a year.  I can only imagine how much didn’t get done that could have been better without issues.  Smoother scene transitions, a little more build up on the romance, clarity on some of the shots (some seem fuzzy).

While not a Bollywood classic, or anything deeply meaningful, it’s a fun, easy-to-watch film.  I find it a good one for a Sunday afternoon, or as background noise while puttering around in the evening.  It’s also a really nice gateway drug to Bollycrack for westerners who may not be ready for anything too over-the-top.  At 2 hours, it’s shorter than some of the other introductory Bollywood options available, and with a simple story and lots of humor

So, to sum it up in Kristy style:

Things I liked:
-Jonathan, the stuffed monkey
-Khushie’s lonely-but-upbeat Dilwali
-Khushie’s conned meal
-Mukerji proves hands down that she’s good for more than weepy drama
-Did I mention Jonathan, the stuffed monkey?

Things I didn’t like:
-Some of the subtitles in a few places just didn’t make sense!
-Lack of build up of the romance
-Romantic lead participates less than Jonathan
-Poor scene transitions/seemingly missing background info

All told, I’ll give it 3 and a quarter jars of peanut butter.

Portrait of a Time Vampire Part II: The Camera Returns

While I know I’ve acknowledged this time vampire before, the pesky little thing has come back around again–with a vengeance.

Last time down I bonded with a koala I named Lloyd.  This is not Lloyd.

Last time down I bonded with a koala I named Lloyd. This is not Lloyd.

In the wake of my huge holiday trip, I have pictures.

Lots and lots of pictures.

I am ashamed to say we’re talking not dozens, not hundreds but…thousands.  Of which I’m anticipating maybe 12 will be any good (when you don’t have skills, you wind up hoping the quantity will yield at least a handful of shots of quality).

Of course, to find those 12, I have to sort through the whole lot.  It took me a month to take all these things, but this time vampire of sorting through them promises to take a lot longer.  This is only a problem because I still have people I work with who are asking when I’m going to bring pictures to share.  I’d kinda thought the requests would taper off–after all who really wants to see anyone else’s vacation photos?  They’re just being polite, right?  Apparently not.  And I’m a little worried about what people are going to think when I don’t hurry up and bring something for them to see…

If you only know how many photos of New Zealand I had like this, you'd understand why I have no clue where on the South Island this was...

If you only knew how many photos of New Zealand I had like this, you’d understand why I have no clue where on the South Island this was…

Since I wasted too much time tonight on battling this time vampire (at least two hours of deleting just the total crap images–out of focus, over or under exposed, and I just barely started sorting the “readily viewable” from the “need cropping/touch up”–oh and the “WTF was this?!?” set), you may have noticed that I have once again attempted to distract you from the short length of this post with (semi) pretty pictures.

(Did it work?  Are you distracted?  No?  Yeah, well, consider having looked at this post a time vampire all your own.)

Lots of local school kids were out learning to wind surf right before they got out for December break in the Aussie town where I spent most of the holidays.

Lots of local school kids were out learning to wind surf right before they got out for December break in the Aussie town where I spent most of the holidays.

 

Miercoles Musical: “Five Dollar Bill”

As mentioned on this blog repeatedly, I maintain that musicals are the perfect road trip music. I stand that assertion while conceding that sometimes on road trips you want to listen to something else. And for driving around town often musicals aren’t great. While in town I rarely drive more than three miles, and that doesn’t give you much time to get into a plot. I have a few nonmusical CDs in my car, but I made an additional one before my latest road trip and one of the songs on that is the topic of this post.

It is and it isn’t surprising that I like Corb Lund’s “Five Dollar Bill” as well as I do. Musically, it’s not exactly in line with my tastes. It’s not completely outside them—I like that it’s peppy. But it’s a little… well I don’t know a good term for it, but it’s what my mother refers to as “that really twangy stuff.” But I don’t find it offensive in this case and I think it’s because there’s something about the instrumentation and performance that gives it more of an “Old Time” vibe. It steers far clear of what Cammy calls “Nascar Country.”

I think what I like most about it is that it’s a ballad in the folklore sense of the word. It tells a story. And even though Cammy is incredibly wrong in her belief that all I do as a folklorist is tell stories*, I do like a good story. And it’s a good story. A classic trickster story about the Canadian farmer making money off the foolish Americans with their stupid Prohibition. And then pulling one over on the guys who come to get revenge for that (only to be pick pocketed, hence the song.)

Add to that the fact that the song is written in witty lyrics, delivered at a rapid pace to a catchy tune, and you’ve got me hitting repeat ad nauseum whenever it comes up on the playlist.

 

*To be fair, I think her last statement on this subject was something along the lines of “Oh I know you do more than that. I just don’t care about anything besides the pretty stories.”

My Irregularly Scheduled Programming

Between what I am now realizing was a very extensive period of extreme work stress, travel, and my decision to cut off my satellite because I just didn’t have time to watch $80 worth of TV a month, I found myself getting way off schedule with the shows I watched regularly.  I’m not a complete spoiler-phobe, but I do get kind of anal-retentive about watching things in order, even if I’m spoiled for what’s coming.  In this case, I’ve avoided spoilers (pretty easy when you’re buried in work or on another continent), and I’m finally at a place where I can start to catch up.

As I type this, I’m finally watching season 4 of Chuck.

That would be the 2010-2011.

Yes, I managed to get two whole years off (for the record, I am still highly amused and I still kinda wanna work at the Buy More).

Psych hasn’t fared much better.  Even the show I would have picked above others–and the one for which I managed to stay on schedule the longest–Bones–is over halfway through a season beyond that which I’ve seen (and because of the way their DVD release runs in comparison with the start of their seasons, I’m kind of concerned that I may have another Chuck situation where I’ll only ever really be able to catch up if the show actually comes to an end.).

So at this point, everything I’m watching is–at a minimum–a year off schedule.  Except Downton Abbey.  E-mail reminders from my local PBS station and lots of twitter chatter keep me from ever forgetting that one (also, PBS doesn’t fuck around with the time slot–Sunday nights are sacred so I don’t have to worry about some stupid schedule change).

This comes with other strange side effects:  because I’m a year behind and working solely off DVDs, I have no idea what other shows may be going on (other than on PBS–totally know what’s up on next week’s Nova and that Antique’s Roadshow coming to us from Corpus Christi next time).  Were there any new shows this season worth looking into?

Of course, even if there were something new, right now?  It’d only be something else I’d be behind on.

 

Flying Coffee!

Would we drink coffee with Karl Wallenda?

Kristy: Yes. Now, I might have some explaining to do before we can sit down and enjoy our coffee. I’m a slack rope walker (slacker) and I might have mentioned a time or two that anyone can walk on a tightrope, it’s walking on a slack rope that takes skill. I’m not willing to retract that statement entirely, I do want to make it clear that I don’t think just anyone could do the things on a wire Karl Wallenda used to do. But I would love to ask that man what life was like in an early twentieth-century circus. I’d like to know more about his family history–every source I’ve read indicates his family had been doing circus for centuries, but they aren’t clear what they did at the circus. He seems to have learned rope walking elsewhere, so what field was his family in and how did they feel when he went elsewhere? I’m sure he has more than a few great stories about raising a family on the road with the circus. I’d like to know what he thinks it was that drove him to stunt wire walking rather than the typical big-top style performance. It’s a delicate question, but part of me wants to know about his final walk. When his great-grandson Nik was getting ready to walk across Niagra Falls, I was horrified that the channel kept showing footage of Karl’s final walk (they didn’t show his death, just the fall). For me, that’s something that people don’t need to see, but I wonder if Karl would agree with me. He was a lifelong showman, you kind of have to think that if he died giving a performance, he would want people to see it. I’d also like to know his opinion of the more modern style cirque shows. I know a lot of old school circus types that hate them because they say the “show” takes away from the actual acts, but I know there are also many who love them. What does he think?

Cammy:  Once again, I had not a single clue who this guy was until Kristy mentioned him above.  While I’m kind of interested in hearing about his family background (circus family for generations?  Now that’s kinda awesome), I’m a little leary of hearing about his actual high-wire daredevil stunts–I find the idea terrifying.  So I might be at the table for part of the conversation, and then retreat to far side of the bar over by the jukebox so my imagination doesn’t kick in with paralyzingly horrifying images as he describes any of his stunts.

Obligatory Downton Gushing

It being Sunday night, aka Downton Abbey Night, and me having resisted this temptation in previous weeks, I’m going to take the easy road and devote a post to Downton Squeeing.

Big developments this week?  I found myself, for the very first time, actually kinda liking Branson.  Granted, he’s still a dolt who makes some really poor choices, but his admission to feeling bad watching that family’s house burn made me think more of him than ever before.  Of course, he undoes a lot of this by, y’know, running off ahead of his pregnant wife and not having told her about attending meetings where violence was planned (not to say I’m not sympathetic with the Irish cause, just sayin’ that not letting your wife in on the details is not cool).

I’m also strangely not annoyed with Isobel these days, which is a welcome change from last season.  I greatly appreciate her holding her tongue regarding Ethel’s choice (thinly veiled though that cover was).

Then there’s Ethel herself.  It’s not that I don’t feel bad for her situation, but I’d feel it more keenly if I’d liked her more to start with, which I didn’t.  So.  That said, her kid is going to be in for a world of therapy unless his fabulous Grandpapa succumbs to heart disease and leaves him with only the influence of his wimpy Grandmama.

I’m still basking in relief about Mrs. Hughes’s all-clear on that cancer scare.  Last season I was complaining about her not getting screen time, and I think that cancer thing was aimed at me to stop complaining.  Needless to say, I’m more than happy to have that woman in her room futzing with a toaster.

Not liking the new footman.  He’s smiley and carved outta cream cheese.  However, even with that, I don’t wish him the evil about to befall him being the object of Thomas’s attention.

That leads to my comments on Mr. Carson:  he should have sold the steady-capable guy a little better.  His giving in to every whim of Lady Mary is what brings us Smiley who will only bring chaos downstairs and we all know it.  And this after I thought he had it all together doing that remedial spoon training session.

Daisy needs to look outside the estate for a date.  Really, why feel bad? It’s not that she isn’t getting attention from a footman, she’s just avoiding getting Miss O’Brien as an in-law.  Doesn’t Mrs. Pattmore have some eligible nephews lying around somewhere?

Of course, back above stairs, I’m kind of waiting for Edith to just start, I dunno, shooting things?  Building bombs?  Something crazy.

Mary’s a bit on the dull side this week, as is her mother.

Matthew?  Well, when has someone performing an audit ever been that interesting.  The place is run inefficiently?  NO!  REALLY?!?!?  He shouldn’t have had to sift through the books to find that one out.

Lord Grantham was also not super exciting this week, but, let’s face it, when he is super exciting, it’s usually a bad deal for others (affairs with maids, losing the family fortune….).  Maybe he can get a toaster like Mrs. Hughes.

Of course, The Dowager Countess was in her characteristic fine form.  I had my phone out to tweet some her zingers, but when I had about three in a row from her and couldn’t choose one (though her telling Edith “Stop whining!” was probably the best as far as I’m concerned), I gave up.  The woman makes a great show to a fantastic show.  When are they going to sell What Would The Dowager Countess Do? T-shirts?

And that leave me with Anna and Bates.  Of course, they have never really stopped being my favorite couple, but they returned to the top of the melty-adorable-squee pile with their letter reading this evening.  So many things happen within just an ep or two in this series (Edith’s engaged, Edith’s at the alter-oh-wait-she’s-jilted; The Crowley’s are losing Downton, oh-wait, now there’s Reggie Swires dinero to bail them out…), how the hell come is it taking so long to FREE BATES?!?!?!?!?

 

Rewatching BSG

After I finished rewatching The West Wing I decided to rewatch Battlestar Galactica. I’d been itching to rewatch it, and my roommate has the entire series (just to be clear, we’re talking the EJO reboot, not the original), so it seemed the perfect arrangement. Season 1 was just as good as I remember, but I’m currently stalled in the middle of Season 2. It’s not that it isn’t good—it’s still damn fine television. But it’s a very different experience than rewatching The West Wing and it’s very different than watching this show for the first time.

I think it comes down to knowing the ending. In the case of West Wing, knowing where it’s going makes some of the rough spots easier to cope with. I know CJ and Danny wind up together where they belong, so I can live through Fishboy’s absences and CJ wasting her time with Charlie Banks (OLTL ref!) and having one night stands in Dayton. I can stomach Donna’s stream of Republican boyfriends and Josh fooling around with Amy, because I know they end up together. I know Santos wins and the Bartletts work out their problems. I know, even when the show reaches its low points, that there is still hope.

BSG, as good as it is, doesn’t leave me with all that much hope. I watch the adorableness that is Dee and Billy, knowing she’ll throw him over for a pretentious jack ass with Daddy issues who doesn’t even have a debate team ring. And then they’re both going to end up dead. Encountering the Kara-Anders-Dee-Lee quad, which I was so sure at the time was just going to be a means to force Kara and Lee to admit their feelings for one another, is so much worse now. I know it’s going to drag on till the bitter end. Lee and Kara are never going to get married and have ten thousand babies that need lots of therapy. She’s going to go *poof* because the writers could not ever figure out how to write that girl happy. (Yes, a lot of it comes down to shippery stuff. Don’t judge!) I know Momma Roslin’s miraculous healing is only temporary. I know that all that time I kept demanding they give Gaeta a storyline finally pays off—in the most painful possible way. I know that the “secret of the opera house” is a giant disappointment.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this show. Always will. But I didn’t love the ending. I’m not saying it wasn’t well written or acted or directed or edited or anything. But it’s not the happy little Christmas present the ending of The West Wing was. And no, things don’t all need to have happy endings. I even love a depressing ending from time to time. But they aren’t *fun*.

And consequently, even though I enjoy rewatching it, it’s exhausting. And not in a good way.