Wednesday, December 27, 2006

All the Trailers That I Have Seen

1. Nancy Drew.

Thanks to Veronica Mars, a modern-day Nancy Drew movie was probably inevitable. But a Nancy Drew movie directed at the type of people who hate Nancy Drew? Something tells me the producers are going for the same satiric effect produced by The Brady Bunch Movie -- which manages to be both a homage to and a parody of the original TV series. But I'm probably being way too kind.

2. Shrek III.

I am still not sure that Shrek II was that great an idea. And I loved the original Shrek.

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Heretical Christmas Thought of the Year

Personally, I've always thought odd that the same people who made such a fuss about whether certain stores encourage their employees to wish people “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” don't make an equal fuss about the number of American Christmas ornaments made in China. Granted, there are a lot of Chinese imports out there, but for some reason, the symbolism of a Christmas ornament made in China -- a country known for using slave labor and persecuting Christians -- seems especially obscene.

What's next? A Nativity set made with King Herod's seal of approval?

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That Other Talking Pig Movie

Babe is very easily one of the best talking animal movies of the last twenty years. So it's no wonder that my girlfriend couldn't help thinking of it the first time she saw a TV ad for the new live version of Charlotte's Web. After all, there are quite a few similarities between the two movies. Both movies are set on a farm, both feature talking pigs, both use abundant humor and both refuse to gloss over the darker side of farm life.

At times the film almost becomes too obvious in its refusal to gloss over the pig's possible fate. (There's one scene in which the film switches from a view of Dakota Fanning vowing to defend her pet to the sight of cooking bacon.)

Nevertheless, the film manages to be both touching and humorous. Will it become the next Babe? Too soon to tell, but it certainly doesn't suffer from such a comparison.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Feliz Navidad, Y'all!

I actually got Christmas Day off this year but I still have to work Christmas Eve. And mi novia already has plans for me and her to do things on my last day off before Christmas.

Still I'll try to update this site next week if I can.

Happy Holidays y all that jazz, y'all.

And if I don't post something next week, Happy New Year...

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A Few More of My Favorite Christmas Songs

1. “Christmas Wrapping” -- The Waitresses. Another Christmas song for the single folk. Especially for the non-church-going, non-present-buying single folk. As well as those of us who see Christmas not so much as a religious holiday or a celebration of materialism as simply an excuse to get together with either loved ones or potential loved ones. Besides, the lead singer's voice is kinda sweet and I love those opening jingle bells.

2. “Feliz Navidad” -- Jose Feliciano. Latino corn, but I like it. Even though they do tend to play it way too often on the radio.

3. “Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer” -- Elmo and Patsy. My generation's answer to “White Christmas.” No, seriously. Just as “White Christmas” seems to be the one Christmas song every American in my father's generation knew by heart, “Grandma Got Run by a Reindeer” seems to be the one Christmas song every member of my generation can sing. Which is a scary thought when you think about it.

4. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” -- John Lennon. My sister used to cry every time they played this song on the radio back in 1980 -- the year John Lennon was shot and killed. Which is a shame because I would rather have only happy memories to associate with this song. But I don't. And since it is an anti-war song thinly disguised as a Christmas song, that's probably just as well.

5. “It's So Chic to Be Pregnant at Christmas” -- Nancy White. This song is not meant to be a slap at the Virgin Mary but rather a bouncy reminder by Canadian singer Nancy White that the winter holiday season is not always as family-friendly as we'd like to think. Especially when pregnant women are involved. Consider it if you will a sequel to “Christmas Wrapping.” (And wouldn't a conversation between the protagonists of those two tunes be interesting?)

6. “Mr. Grinch” -- The Whirling Dervishes. I always had a weakness for the theme song for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And this very easily is the best cover version of it that I've heard thus far.

7. “Rockin' Little Christmas” -- Carlene Carter. Interestingly enough, a country song which apparently celebrates religion and family life. Apparently, “rockin'” has a different meaning in Carlene Carter country.

8. “Rockin' Little Christmas” -- Deborah Allen. Not to be confused with the Carlene Carter song of the same name. Not quite as family-friendly as the Carlene Carter tune, but just as fun. I've always loved the instrumental version of “Auld Lang Syne” that begins the tune and Ms. Allen's bouncy singing is a hoot. If David E. Kelly had a favorite country Christmas song, it would probably be this one.

9. “Rudolph the Manic Reindeer” -- Los Lobos. A Tejano version--or at least pseudo-Tejano version (Los Lobos is, after all, a Californian group) -- of the traditional Christmas song about a red-nosed reindeer. Quite fun to listen to but way too short.

10. “Talkin' Christmas Goodwill Blues” -- John Wesley Harding. One of the few -- very few -- tunes to give a shoutout to those of us who work Christmas shifts. It's about time we got recognized.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

A Few of My Favorite Christmas Songs

1. “All Alone on Christmas” -- Darlene Love. An excerpt from the Home Alone Christmas album but a good one. Uplifting yet moody -- just like I tended to be in times past.

2. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” -- Mariah Carey. One wag on the Net described this as a modern-day version of a Phil Spector song and indeed, it is not hard to picture this song turning up on Phil Spector's Christmas album. Not so much a cover of the Vince Vance song of the same name as a variation on the same theme.

3. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” -- Vince Vance and the Valiants. No, I don't know why the lead singer of this group -- Lisa Layne -- is a female, much less why she isn't named Vince Vance. And it is hard to say which of this group's album covers is weirder: the one in which the whole group looks like a bunch of coneheads or the one in which the only person to be seen is a mysterious blonde who may or may not be Lisa Layne. However, the song itself is pretty sweet and it's always nice to see a reminder that not everyone sees Christmas as just an occasion for presents.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Death in the Family: Parte I

I wrote a piece this morning for this very blog which I was going to post today. It was a list of my favorite Christmas songs.

Then I checked my E-mail and discovered a letter from my father's oldest sister. In the letter, she told me that one of my older cousins had passed away yesterday from heart failure. Suddenly, I lost all heart for blogging. Especially any blogging concerning cheery subjects.

Maybe next week I'll post something.


If not, then I wish a Merry Christmas to those few of you who read this blog. And I wish you a Happy New Year as well.

And enjoy the company of your loved ones now because you never know when they'll not be around anymore.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Favorite Actress of 2006

Idina Menzel played Vera Rivkin in director Robert Towne's Ask the Dust (2006). It's not an especially glamourous role nor does it help that she has an unflattering nude scene as well. But she does manage to not only make the role seem believable but to make it seem sympathetic as well. Indeed, despite sharing the screen with the likes of Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek, Idina is very easily the most memorable cast member of Ask the Dust -- and one of the few reasons I don't consider that film to be a disappointment.

Sadly, Ms. Menzel hasn't had the chance to play any memorable parts since then -- and it's especially odd to see this actress -- who has earned major praise for her singing roles in such Broadway musicals as Rent and Wicked -- to be missing from the cast of an animated musical like Happy Feet.

Perhaps she'll get a chance at a similar project in the future. Or maybe she'll get a chance at something better.

I hope so.

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This Year's Contender for Most Dubious Line in Romcom Movie History

Last time we met, you were covered in afterbirth.
--Jude Law, Music From Another Room (1998)

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Leopard Seals...I Hate These Guys

Okay, this sounds as ethnocentric as hell, but I didn't really get into Happy Feet until after the appearance of the Latino penguins. True, they were shameless ethnic stereotypes but at least they were entertaining stereotypes. And compared to the Latino stereotypes I've seen in other movies and TV shows this year, they actually seemed quite positive.

There were other parts I liked too: the leopard seal chase, the fight with the seabirds, the awakening in the aquarium, etc. Ironically the one part that I didn't like all that much--or at least as much as I thought I would -- was the singing penguins. At first, it was entertaining but after a while it got tempting to borrow a line from Animaniacs and start shouting “Enough with the singing already.”

However, I did like this movie -- flaws and all -- more than any other animated movies about talking animals which I've seen this year.

Of course that ain't saying much. But still...

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All the Things That I Have Seen

1. Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series.

Very easily the best TV series made thus far about life in the late 1970s and early 1980s. For that matter, one of the better series made about high school life in any era. The final episode is not quite as emotionally satisfying as one would like, but the story arcs show promise, the characters are more complex than they seem to be and the writing is actually pretty funny. And it's nice to see a show about young love that makes the rather obvious point about being careful what you wish for without being way too obvious about it.

2. The Office: The Second Season (US).

This show is still pretty much in the shadow of the original UK series but it does show promise. The most interesting scene thus far: a brief scene in “The Client” that suggests that Steve Carell's Michael Scott character can actually be an effective salesman when he wants to be and that there is often a method to his frivolous madness. Unfortunately, the fact that Michael Scott has the skills to make a good sales rep doesn't necessarily mean he has the ability to be a good boss. Stay tuned for further details.

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Movie Quote of the Week

And take care, cousin. The liberals you encourage for your own ends... may destroy you for theirs. Good morning.
--John Barrymore, Marie Antoinette (1938)

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TV Quote of the Week

Jesus is not a zombie. All right. Man, I shouldn't have to tell you that.
--David Boreanaz, Bones, “The Man in the Morgue”

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

This Week's Excerpt from The Book of the Incredibly Obvious

You are not your shoes.

Nor are you your khakis.

Nor are you your Ipod, your laptop, your website or your blog.

You are not your stuff.

Perhaps a character in Stephen King's Cujo said it best: people who merely buy stuff aren't necessarily better than people who can actually make stuff.

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Movie Quote of the Week

Perhaps the great loves come with tears.
--Norma Shearer, Marie Antoinette (1938)

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas Wishes

To C... that she finds a good job -- if she hasn't already....

To mi mejor amiga... that she recovers from her recent surgery and proves healthier than ever...

To N... that her daughter recovers from her most recent illness...

Pray for them if you can.

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The Angel Atop My Tree...

Currently has short brown hair and a perky Anglo-Saxon nose.

Last year around this time the angel had shiny blonde hair.

In the late 80s, she was a Latina brunette.

In the mid-80s, she was a Southern white non-Hispanic brownette.

So I'm almost tempted to say I'm back at square one.

But it doesn't feel like square one.

And I have the feeling that this angel is going to stay...

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