Archive for July, 2013

29
Jul
13

July was Jake Johnson month

Yes, I had seen Safety Not Guaranteed, and thought he was pretty good. I don’t really remember him from 21 Jump Street. And I had no idea that he starred as Aaron Burr in one of my all-time favorite internet sensations, the Drunk History video about Alexander Hamilton. (Seriously, this is Michael Cera’s best work ever. When he calls his family on his flip phone? I die every time.).

And then, at the beginning of July, Netflix added Season 1 of New Girl to its streaming library.

I hadn’t watched it before, because Zooey Deschanel really bugs me. Really. I despise that commercial where she asks Siri if she can order tomato soup.

But I gave it a try and loved it. I watched Season 1 in a few days, and then happily paid to download Season 2 from Amazon.

And now I am an unabashed Nick Miller fangirl.

Over the weekend, we rented two new movies: Coffee Town and Drinking Buddies.

Coffee Town stars Glenn Howerton from IASIP and Ben “Jean Ralphio” Schwartz as two buddies that hang out in a coffee shop, blah blah blah, it was kind of funny. Jake Johnson had one line (and third billing?) and a very strange subplot. But it was nice to see Howerton play a somewhat normal romantic lead, as opposed to the horrible Dennis Reynolds we are used to seeing.  Supporting roles were played by Adrianne Palicki and Josh Groban.

Drinking Buddies stars Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Olivia Wilde, and Ron Livingston. It was great. Johnson and Wilde play best buddies who work at a brewery together, and Kendrick and Livingston are their significant others. No script, but a great story, very well done. Johnson and Wilde have terrific chemistry. While Coffee Town made me want to drink coffee, this movie made me want to drink some really good beer. So much beer is imbibed during this movie.

Long story short, so glad to discover Jake Johnson. Thanks, July.

 

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22
Jul
13

Comic-con rehash

I’ve never been to Comic-Con in San Diego, and I never plan to attend. But every year I enjoy reading about it and checking out some photos. These are some of my favorites from this year.

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And, of course,

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22
Jul
13

Bunnybean’s #CBR5 Review 7: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

UnknownI listened to this audio book on the way to our family’s beach trip on Cape Cod. Its the second book about a boy named Percy Jackson (I already reviewed book one of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Lightning Thief), who goes on a quest to save his beloved camp, Camp Half-Blood. Percy is the son of Poseidon, and Camp Half-Blood is a place where all of the children of the Greek Gods can live in safety.

Thalia’s magical tree that protects the camp’s borders from monsters is dying, and the magic is slowly fading away. And that means that there is no safe place for the half-bloods anymore. Percy and his friends Annabeth and Tyson (as well as Percy’s enemy Clarisse, daughter of Ares) go on a dangerous journey to save their old friend Grover, who knows where the famous Golden Fleece is. The Fleece is the only thing in the world that can cure Thalia’s magic pine tree.

Luke, a villain from the first book, is the one who poisoned the tree. He’s also trying to raise an army to destroy all of the half-bloods and the Gods on Mount Olympus.

Meanwhile, Polyphemus, a terrible cyclops, has captured Grover the satyr. Grover needs help and can also lead his friends to the Fleece.

While on their quest, the demigods face many terrible monsters, such as the hydra, the sirens, and Charybdis and Scylla. They travel on many different boats, and all of the either got lost, blew up, or sunk.

In the end, the get the Fleece and save Grover. The Fleece cures Thalia’s tree, and turns her into a regular girl again (she is the daughter of Zeus).

I really liked the new character of Tyson, a baby cyclops, who turns out to the Percy’s baby brother and new friend. I also liked Annabeth, Percy, and Chiron the centaur who helps to save Percy and get back to the camp.

I liked this book a lot and am already reading the third one!

20
Jul
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 27: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Unknown-2When I was really little (I think I had just learned to walk. Really little.), rumor has it that one of my favorite things to do was watch the theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show with my parents when they were settling in on Saturday nights to watch. I would run in to the living room with a hat and throw it up into the air at the end, just like Mary. I had no idea what the show was about, but I loved throwing my hat in the air. Love at first sight, sort of.

Over the years, I discovered the show on Nick at Night and other syndicated reruns (Channel 56 in Boston!), and it quickly became one of my favorite shows of all time (in case you are curious, I’d also add The Dick Van Dyke Show, Soap, Rhoda, WKRP in Cincinnati, and maybe MASH to that list of classic shows). I loved watching Mary at work with Ted and Lou, laughed at all of Mary’s terrible dates and even worse parties, and her friendships with Rhoda and Phyllis. And of course, “Chuckles Bites the Dust”.

But I didn’t know much about the show, other than it was the model for pretty much every other successful sitcom that came after it.

So it was with much joy that I tore through Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted. The book tells the history of the show, from the end of Moore’s previous show (Dick Van Dyke), until the present day and its influence on shows like New Girl and Veronica Mars.

The details in the book are amazing — I had assumed that it was tough for women in Hollywood in the 1960s and 70s, but really, was shocked at the difficulties that many faced when trying to get their foot in the door of comedy writing. If your name wasn’t Carol Burnett or Elaine May, Hollywood wasn’t interested. Until two guys named James L Brooks and Allan Burns came along, and shook the sitcom world upside-down. They hired any woman who showed a knack for writing or comedy who was interested. They gave chances to talent who might never have been given opportunities otherwise. And they followed their instincts and put their faith behind a show about a 30-something, single, career woman (which NOBODY in television wanted to see).

I loved reading about the relationships between the actors and production team, and even between the show and its fans. I’m glad to know that Cloris Leachman is as ridiculous in real life as Phyllis and that Ted Knight was a lovely man.

If you are a fan of the show, or of television history in general, I highly recommend this book.

07
Jul
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 26: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

UnknownThis book has been everywhere lately. Best of summer reading. Best YA of the year. Best best best.

I thought it was good, but not the best.

What I really liked about The 5th Wave was the way that Rick Yancey made his heroine something of a badass without making her a bitch. But at the same time, the heroine’s story line was not my favorite, and bored me at times. Conundrum.

Aliens come to conquer Earth and wipe out billions of people within weeks. The remaining few humans begin to fear and kill each other — as it seems that the alien race appears human. See a stranger? Kill him. Better than letting him kill you. Cassie — our badass — was luckier than most. She survived the first four waves of the invasion — an electromagnetic pulse, an enormous tsunami, a deathly plague, and the emergence of alien/human assassins called “silencers”. Along with her dad and baby brother (and his teddy bear), she finds herself at a military refugee camp which seems safe. The military whisks her brother and a busload of kids away to “safety” and promises to return for everyone else. Cassie promises little Sammy that she’ll come for him soon.

And if the story had just been about Cassie trying to find her brother during an alien attack, I think I might have stopped reading it. I found the first 100 pages or so somewhat slow-going. Which, in an action-packed story, isn’t great.

But then.

Then the book turns and does a 180. We get a new narrator — a completely unexpected one — who brings a fresh voice and perspective to the story. And I was back in.

The middle chunk of the book flew by for me. I enjoyed flipping from narrator to narrator — but preferred Cassie to have shorter sections than others — and was pleased with the tricks and turns the story was taking.

However, the ending didn’t do it for me. Why does every YA novel have to be so open-ended? Is there a law that if a book is branded as YA that is has to have the potential for a sequel, or the dreaded TRILOGY? Can’t a story just be a story that has an ending that actually ends? Such a pet peeve of mine.

Regardless, I enjoyed Yancey’s writing style and skill. While I didn’t 100% buy him as the voice of a teen-age girl, he’s clearly a talented writer who did a lot of research. If there is actually a sequel, I’ll definitely pick it up.

 

 

 




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