Monthly Archives: January 2009

Famke? No, Fam-kyoo!

Have I ever featured a ‘something great’ on this blog just for sheer hotness? I don’t think so. I usually try to take the higher ground and speak to other issues. But screw that. It’s the cold, cold month of January and we need a little heat up in here. Therefore, I declare great thing number 69 to be:

69: Famke Janssen

Because, why not?

Look at her.

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Oh, hello.

For more than just high-cheekbones and glossy hair however, do I geek out over Famke Janssen. Here are a few reasons with which to legitimize today’s entry:

1. She was Jean Grey in “The X-Men” film franchise. As a girl-nerd, I find this to be absolute kismet.

2. Furthermore, there are at least two action figures molded from characters she’s played (Xenia Onatopp from James Bond and Jean Grey from X-Men). No, I don’t own them.

3. She’s one of those super-smart ex-supermodels. She studied English and Literature at Columbia University. She also speaks four languages: Dutch (her native tongue), English, French, and German. I don’t speak any languages. I can barely speak English.

4. She’s opted to reside in NYC instead of LA. That’s just good taste.

5. She has a Boston Terrier named Licorice. Dog-lovers are usually good people. When I walked dogs in NYC, I’d always hoped that I’d encounter Famke. What an easy way into a conversation. ‘Oh, you have a dog. I have a dog too. I love dogs, as you can see. I’m walking it right now. That’s a Boston Terrier, right? I love Boston Terriers. In fact, I run a Boston Terrier rescue. I AM a Boston Terrier. We’re actually having a gala tonight. Would you like to come? OK, that’s a lie. I love you. Hey, where are you going?”

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Dogke Janssen

6. She’s a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Integrity. She was appointed to this position after contacting the UN to discuss corruption and the slave trade. Who calls the UN?

7. She did all her own trick-shots as the pool shark in the indie film “Turn The River”.

8. She’s played queer twice. Here she is trying her best to be a dowdy lesbian in “Eulogy”. Nice try, Famke:

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I wear corduroy.

She also played a transsexual on “Nip/Tuck”. To be fair, she really didn’t know that she was signing on to play a transsexual. It was a twist that they pitched to her right before her scheduled final appearance. Still, good for her.

Famke is actually slated to appear in yet a third show with gay sensibilities, the “L Word” spin-off–“The Farm”. She’s due to appear as an imprisoned mastermind and a major player in the LA criminal underworld. This prison-based drama will, hopefully be better than the ultimately disappointing “The L Word”.

Let’s talk about that for a moment, shall we?

Because, let’s face it, “The L Word” hasn’t been the best. We had some good times together but that’s it. Sure, once in a while you got a decent story-line and the chemistry between the players was fun– but it had been, for its entire run, a show without a tone. It went from soapy to supernatural to farce in a single bound. Two words that spring to mind are ‘inconsistent’ and ‘plot-holes’. And you can’t fault the actresses. My favorites were Leisha Hailey, Kate Moenning, and Jennifer Beals. But, even Mia Kirshner was fab. Poor Jenny. It’s difficult to be the character that everyone hates, but Mia’s a quality actress. Just watch her comedic chops in “Another Teen Movie”.

Anyway, as this was the first real lesbian-centric serial on television, it does have value. I put my hand up and admit that I’ve collected the DVDs. (They’re worth the investment for the commentary alone. Leisha Hailey and Kate Moenning ragging on easy-to-loathe rock band Betty is priceless). I’m just praying that the producer, Ilene Chaiken, learns from some of the missteps of this first historic attempt and sorts it out for us lesbians’ second chance to dominate an hour of prime time.

“The Farm”, according to reports, is not as homo-centric. But, as it is set in a female prison, it does have its circle of lesbian players. This is a tried and true sub-genre–the women’s prison. It’s been the subject of so much pulp fiction, several campy films, and a hit British telly show (“Bad Girls”).

So, it’s automatically got potential and pedigree. However, it was rather disconcertingly described in a recent press release as a female version of OZ (good) but with a lighter tone (bad). So…yeah…that sounds like an error in judgement already. It’s gritty–but it’s not dark. What is that? Like dramatic but farcical? To me, this sounds like Ilene Chaiken, again, wants to avoid setting a consistent tone so that she can have her cake and eat it too. It’s like with one hour of programming per week she can sate her desire to write for all genres.

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jailbird

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cellmate

Here they have this gift of a comic actress, Leisha Hailey, and they’re going to try their hand at a mix of grit and glee? Why? Sure, set it in a prison, but go for satire. Even better, go for black comedy. Any strong direction will do. Just do it right. You know what they say? Jack of all trades, master of none. Have an idea and execute it! Focus, woman!

As much as I’m complaining here, let me stress, I WILL WATCH THIS SHOW. Showtime, I’m talking to you. Please pick this up for a full season. I don’t care that it will probably be rubbish and that Ilene Chaiken is destined to let us down. If Famke Janssen is on board, then I WILL WATCH IT. I will even buy the DVDs and the original soundtrack. Damn you Ilene Chaiken! Why must you peddle your smack to such a desperate audience? We lesbians have nothing! NOTHING! You throw us kibble and we devour it like it was chocolate bon bons. Leisha Hailey as the lead is enticing on its own certainly. But the promise of a recurring role for Famke Janssen is enough to make me drink the Kool-Aid. I scream ‘uncle’ to your brutal manipulations of my television viewing. I am owned, Showtime, by your progressive gay and lesbian inclusive programming. But let me make one thing clear, Famke has got to be part of the equation. And it looks like her dance card, according to IMDB, is getting pretty full. She’s got about four rumoured film productions in the works. So, get her on a contract now.

Back to focusing on Famke. Isn’t she great? Let’s close today’s entry with a clip from “The Ellen Show”. It dates back to when Famke was making the rounds to promote “X3”. It combines four of my favorite things: Ellen Degeneres, discussion of super-heroes, Famke Janssen, and animals wearing clothes.

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The New Species Are Here! The New Species Are Here!

In grade-school, teacher after teacher tried to convince us that science was fun. With their ham-handed baking soda volcanoes and electric potatoes, they did their absolute best to instill us with the sense of all-encompassing wonder that science can deliver–you know, those spine-tingling we- are- but- a -speck- in -the- scheme- of -things types of sensations. Sometimes they managed to do that.

Other times, we wound up gagging down ‘mole’-lasses cookies. (Thanks though, Mrs. Trambley for trying to make a lesson about units of particular substance fun). Physics, alas, just isn’t my cup of tea. I’m more of a sucker for wildlife biology. Animal behavior is fascinating. I even wanted to be a vet for a spell (mostly so that I could spend all my days petting doggies).  But what really gets me all wound up and dizzy with scientific enthusiasm is when they (the scientists) release reports of the discovery of new species.  This happening is today’s great thing:

68. Brand New Animals

Why am I bringing this up right now? Because there have been reports on over 1000 new finds in the Mekong region! Holy crap, that’s a lot of new life!

Amongst those discoveries is this adorable striped rabbit.

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Awwwwww...

Here’s a link to a brief article about the recent discoveries as reported by the World Wildlife Fund: Mekong Region Discoveries

One reason for the sheer multitude of undiscovered flora and fauna is because the region has, ironically, been protected by warring factions. It’s remained an unsettled region because of cultural hardships. People, literally saw the tropical area as too close to rival borders. Now, even though it is threatened, it will hopefully remain protected by human conservation efforts.

That’s the downside to finding new species. Another mouth to feed! (Environmentally speaking). Let’s hope that the good people of the Mekong region help to keep the environment pristine.

In addition to all the critters and plants found in the rain forest-like area of the Mekong, there’s been recent discoveries of sea life at the bottom of the Australian deep. Here’s a link to that article: New Sea Creatures

Pictures of these new creatures, regardless of where they are found, usually elicit one of two different reactions: utter adoration or extreme repulsion. Because, let’s face it–not everything can be a striped rabbit or a clouded leopard.

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Pttbbbbbb....

Sometimes you get things that you wish would have stayed in the jungle or under the sea.  Things like:

The Rhinoceros Beetle

Eeeeek!

Eeeeek!

The Yeti Crab

Gah!

Gah!

And the carnivorous Ghost Slug

Blaargh!

Blaargh!

With the new species, you also get some serious Dr. Seuss looking shit.  Check this Zog-Zog (seriously, I didn’t make that up.)

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Horton hears a what now?

Let’s end on some on the ‘adorable’ side of the fence.

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Stiped-Face Fruit Bat

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Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?

Fun fact.  Every year the International Institute for Species Exploration releases a top ten ‘new species’ list.  This combines two of my favorite things:  lists and new animals.  I like.  IISE

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Filed under Hobbies, Nature

Let’s Bring Out Our Bestest Guest

Oh, Amy Sedaris, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Forget it, there are far too many. Plus, I’ll probably be highlighting some of them later in this blog and I don’t want to cheat myself out of another day’s entry. Let’s just say that ever since I saw her in Exit 57, she’s been one of my favorite comedians. She is a master of the ridiculous, queen of crafty camp, and an imitator of the love-ably ugly–never has one woman donned so many fake frontal butts for our amusement. As one of America’s greatest character actresses, she’s likely to pop up just about anywhere from Law and Order to Sesame Street to Dolly Parton music videos. Soon, she’s going to be guesting on TNT’s most tasty cop drama The Closer, which might possibly indicate very very very good news: she’ll potentially be making the rounds on the talk show circuit!

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That's exactly how I feel about it!

This, of course, leads to today’s great thing:
67. Amy Sedaris’ Talk Show Appearances

An appearance by Amy will liven up any old gab-fest. Check out this clip of her on The Martha Stewart Show:


Pretty good, yes? I mean, have you ever seen a Martha Stewart guest joke about selling crack on that show? No. And that’s because Martha Stewart is a white-collar crime program. Great on Martha’s show, enjoyable on Craig Ferguson, a delight on Conan, but more than those, Sedaris has a special rapport with David Letterman. Says Sedaris of her appearances on Late Show:

“I like doing Letterman when I don’t have anything to promote,” says Sedaris. “I don’t like to do things because I have to. I like to do them because I want to”. –Quote taken from ontheinside.info

Maybe it’s because she doesn’t come on just to shill her projects that the interviews on Letterman veer off into enjoyably chatty and goofy segues. Sedaris is also a guest who manages to bleed information out of the notoriously private host. She often turns the tables and starts interviewing him on things she’s curious about, like the decor in his house.

I’ve chosen the following appearance not necessarily because it’s the absolute funniest of her over 15 guest spots on Letterman but because it highlights so many of the things you should expect to see in an Amy Sedaris talk-show appearance:

-An exciting dress

-The employment of her ‘Jerri Blank’ voice

-A legitimately funny observation (the ‘wear it with jeans’ bit in this clip)

-Personal insight into her private life

-A dig at Dave

-A dig at another celebrity

-Discussion of her pet rabbits

-Invasive interrogation of Dave

-The labeling her mug of water as something more stimulating (here she calls it sangria)

Here’s part two:

It’s a credit to David Letterman, I think, that he gets Amy Sedaris. She is an oddball but then again, so is Dave–he’s just a bit more buttoned up–which is why they work together so well. That, and their innocent but adorable flirtation. The fact that he appreciates Amy’s weird sensibilities helps to make Letterman the hippest of the late night talk-show hosts. I don’t think, frankly, that Leno would have known what to do with her and Conan, much as I love him, isn’t as good with funny chicks. I think he gets too skittish.

As I mentioned before, she’s been on Dave’s show over 15 times. So, when you figure in her guest-spots on other people’s shows, there’s a veritable treasure trove available on YouTube with which you can while away your work day.

By the way, she’ll be playing the psychic sister of Brenda Lee’s boyfriend on The Closer. (Brenda Lee is the Kyra Sedgwick character). Though they can never write a character that’s as funny as the real Amy, I’m sure this will be a worthy entry into her resume and well worth checking out.

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A British Snackington

I’ve done a fair bit of kvetching here about delicious American foods that I crave whilst living over here in The UK. So, for this entry, I’m going to put the whimpering on hold and sing the praises of a truly British snack-food.

66. Twiglets

Even their moniker sounds like some A. A. Milne character. And you don’t get more British than Winnie The Pooh. Well…maybe Paddington. But we’re not here to talk about British bears. Actually, the tasty treats are named for their knobbly brown stick-like appearance. The moreish snacks are like a bitter, high-fiber Cheeto. Erm…it’s actually better than it sounds. I don’t normally promote high-fiber or nutritious foods without a good reason to.

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Sparrows live here.

The ‘baked not fried’ delicacy is marketed in Australia as well as the UK. The UK and Australia are also united in their twisted embrace of Marmite (well, at least in a ‘you either love or it you hate it’ kind of way). Twiglets are coated in a sort of marmite flavoring (or ‘flavouring’).

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I’ve never consumed Marmite. I’m a bit too squeamish to try. But I loves me my Twiglets. Marmite in powdered flavor additive form doesn’t seem nearly as threatening as the spreadable menacing kind. It just seems like the kind of food you’d discover by some gruesome accident instead of purposeful intent.

At any rate, they are a food-stuff that I can say I would never have tasted unless I lived on this island of perverted gastronomy that is Great Britain. My stomach thanks you, UK.

The taste is difficult to describe, but it’s been compared to soy sauce in that it activates the fifth taste sensation ‘umami’ (which is a Japanese word for savoury).

More than just something to eat, the product is also a crucial ingredient in this adorable Halloween food-craft:

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The devil's work!

Full ‘how to’ found here: Halloween Craft

I’ve also found an amazing blog donated entirely to Twiglets. awholelotofcrunch
It’s definitely worth a click. This site does a far better job than I ever could in compiling all sorts of Twiglets tomfoolery, including this excellently weird video:

If all this Twiglet-mania isn’t enough for you, there’s also a Twiglet Appreciation Society on Flickr. Visit here if you need to indulge! Appreciation Society

I gotta go now, because I need to satiate my umami craving.

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15 Years Ago, You Might Have Seen This On MTV

I used to have an unquenchable thirst for dance electronica. Ministry of Sound could not release their annuals quickly enough for my needs. I’d troll record label and DJ sites for the best new music–gathering things I could put on a mix disc and fuel my travels around NYC like Armand Van Helden’s “You Don’t Know Me” and Hanayo’s remake of “Joe Le Taxi”. Fun! I’m in my early thirties now and comfortably nesting with my partner of 7.5 years. Perhaps because I’m not constantly on the prowl, going to clubs, or trying to be hip enough to land a girlfriend, I find that I don’t seek out too many dance tunes anymore. But dance music, like other guilty pleasures, is something that I’ll never completely eradicate from my listening diet. And why should I?

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Everyone needs a bit of dance music in their lives. In fact, one of my favorite purchases last year was the debut of disco-tastic Hercules and Love Affair. Dance music is more than just music to cruise to if you’re single. It’s music to work out to, music to clean house to, music that helps you understand iPod commercials.

And dance videos? They’re usually are ten times more innovative and fun than the standard crap you see from top 40 artists. This leads us to today’s great thing:

65. The Video For Sonny J’s “Handsfree (If You Hold My Hand)

You may (or may not– depending if you have a college radio station in your town) have heard Sonny J’s first single “Can’t Stop Movin'”. Sonny J’s real name is Sonnington James III, which is funny because ‘ington’ is what you add to names to make them more English sounding. Like, if I wanted to pretend to be gentry, I could be Kate McCabington of Castlefield. You see? Now you try your name. Throw a fancy location in at the end.

Anyway, the Liverpudlian DJ mashes up loads of samples (mostly throwbacks) to make some pretty sweet ditties. This is his third release and it’s a good one. The song is aptly described by its PR as the following (thanks to Internetdj.com for this): “an effortlessly addictive collage of northern soul, Morricone, and The Fifth Dimension, with an added splash of The Avalanches thrown in for good measure.”

The song is deeply indebted to its prime sample, “If You Hold My Hand” which was recorded by Donna Hightower originally in 1972.

If there’s one good thing about music samples, it’s that it provides exposure for some otherwise forgotten music. Enjoy this blog article here about the buried gem that is Donna: Donna Hightower

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Flipside is I MADE MY BED. Good for you. What do you want, an allowance?

The video, as directed by Evan Creevy who has several other dance videos on his resume, is as delicious a mash-up as the source material. It’s got “Thriller”-style choreography, hot trailer park babes, and Sci-Fi radiation accidents. It’s been rightfully compared to a Quentin Tarantino wet dream. And, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed aspects of Grindhouse, but this thing is really a much better length for that type of homage. Now, enough blogging. Here’s the video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The weird thing is that after I heard this song, I totally and shamefully racially profiled the singer. Doesn’t it sound like some Loretta Lynn style white chick? It shocked me to learn otherwise. It’s a strange sensation but a good one. I like when people don’t look like they sound…except for radio DJs…like when they have great voices but wind up being completely fugly.  Always a devastating disappointment.

Here’s a homemade video from Turkey that I found on YouTube of the original track.

Anyway, back to that Sonny J video.  Why is that chick so hot?  I mean, you can barely see her face.  Is it the short shorts?

I hope they keep their promise and make a sequel for his next single.

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My Cast of Dunces

Happy New Year!  I’m looking forward to 2009 being the most fawningest over great things ever.  With the geek-tastic 2009 film preview mags I’ve seen, 30 Rock soaring in the ratings, and Kristen Wiig getting loads of press for her performances on SNL , we’re off to a great start.  My first celebrated item of 2009, however is going to be a Christmas present that I received from good friend and blog-hater, Ironballs McGinty.

64.  A Confederacy Of Dunces

A big thanks to Ironballs for gifting me this terrific novel which has soared into my top ten favorite books list.  A hilarious cult classic–“A Confederacy of Dunces” has a tragic back-story.  The author, John Kennedy Toole, frustrated in his failed efforts to get it published, killed himself.  His mother and novelist Walker Percy managed to get it on bookshelves. Toole won a posthumous Pulitzer for it in 1981.  Depressing for several reasons, not least the knowledge that there won’t ever be any follow-up masterpieces.

John Kennedy Toole

There’s not much I can say about this book that hasn’t already been sung from the hilltops.  It’s years ahead of its time (nearly impossible to believe that it was written in the early sixties).  It’s laugh-out-loud hilarious.  It’s a book I’ll definitely pick up and enjoy again.

Now, since I have nothing new to add to the literary conversation, I’ll do what I do best:  imagine it as a movie and compile my dream cast.  First though, a very brief history of the failed attempts to bring the book to cinematic life:  In 1982, Harold Ramis was going to cast John Belushi and Richard Pryor as the two leads.  Belushi died and the project fell apart.  In 1997, Stephen Fry was commissioned to write a screenplay for filming.  Lord knows what happened to that.  A more recent version had been slated for 2005 and also held promise–Will Ferrell as the lead and Lily Tomlin as Ignatius’ mother, Irene Reilly.  Coulda been ace.  Steven Soderbergh was writing with Scott Kramer and David Gordon Green of Pineapple Express was directing!  Publisher’s rights within the film studios put the kibosh on this one.   Alas, we cannot dwell for too  long on what might have been.  Fortuna’s wheel spins on.

My dream cast, as it is a dream cast, has actors that are now far too old and in some cases too young to play their roles, but I’m considering them when they were at the appropriate age range (or with fabulous ageing stage makeup).  For example, my pick for the lead character, Ignatius J. Reilly is now in his 50’s.  The character is 30.  So, just imagine him in the appropriate time frame.  I don’t think you’re going to find anyone more physically suited for this role:

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Than this guy:

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Mike Hagerty as Ignatius J. Reilly

You might remember him from such films as Overboard and V.I. Warshawski.  Perfection!  I have confidence that this character actor could nail the righteous, Boethius-spouting, mother-hating sloth that is Ignatius J. Reilly.

Rachel Dratch as Myrna Minkoff

Rachel Dratch lands the coveted role of the grossly oversexed Myrna Minkoff.  Any excuse to see more Rachel Dratch really, but I truly think she could do this role proud.

Dianne Wiest as Irene Reilly

As with Rachel Dratch, any excuse to watch more of the delightful Dianne Wiest.  She’s the squinty-eyed best!

James Caan as Gus Levy

I don’t know why James Caan for this except that the character of Gus Levy kind of reminds me of the Dad he played in Elf.  Though, he needs to be a bit more of a sad-sack.

Will Forte as Patrolman Mancuso

Under-appreciated Will Forte would look great in all of the humiliating disguises that the ineffectual street cop is forced to wear.

Garrett Morris as Burma Jones

As long as he could develop the dialect used in the book, Garrett Morris is the man for the part.

Whoah!

Glenn Close as Lana Lee

Glenn, I think, is of a perfect age to play the abusive owner of the dank Night of Joy bar.

Plus, her villainesses always have that steely sadism that is needed for such a character.

Carol Kane as Miss Trixie

Carol Kane can apply the perfect amount of dementia to the senile Miss Trixie.

Remember her in Scrooged?  “Look Frank, a toaster!” I love Carol Kane.

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Steve Martin as Paradise Hotdogs Owner, Mr. Clyde

There’s always a role for Steve Martin.

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Parker Posey as Darlene

Lookout cockatoos!  (You have to read the book).

Other casting includes Fred Armisen as Mr. Gonzalez and Amy Sedaris as Mrs. Levy.

This film would be directed by Jon Favreau (he’s good at honoring source material) and I’d have a cameo as one of the rough lesbians from the last few chapters of the book.  I think I’d like to play Betty Bumper specifically.  John Kennedy Toole’s  other novel “Neon Bible”, which he wrote when he was 16 and never submitted for publication in his lifetime, actually was made into a film–in 1995.  I can’t really comment on it because I haven’t read the book nor have I seen the film.  But if I get around to doing either, I’ll let you know.  Until then, I’ll be producing the movie of “Confederacy…” in my head.

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Filed under comedy, Literature, Movies