Monthly Archives: September 2009

Heads Will Roll

OK, so I’ve had a crazy busy month what with it being the busy season at my day job and me spending all my free time putting up a two hour long sketch/stand-up show (it went up last weekend thank you very  much).  So, I haven’t been paying enough attention to this blog.  I try to get one entry up per week, but I’m lagging and it’s the last day of September.  So, I have to make this one a quickie as I’m desperate to stay within my goal markers of four entries per month.  Apologies here for giving you guys a bit of a cheat, but today’s great think is going to photo-based.  Mind you, the subject is really hot… so stop your bellyachin’!

101.  Anne Hathaway preview pics from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland


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Worthy excuse for being at loss for words...


I think Hathaway is super dishy AND I’m a big Tim Burton fan.  (I even rented Frankenweenie after first viewing Edward Scissorhands–which is one of my favorite films ever).

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Even that mouse thinks she's hot.

I feel a bit like I’ve missed good old Tim Burton lately.  When was the last time we were really enmeshed in his world?  Oh right…2007’s Sweeney Todd.  But doesn’t that seem so very long ago?  Burton is overdue.  The only reason he gets a pass is because his films look like they take a really really long time fussing over the art direction.

Doesn’t Hathaway look absolutely ace as The White Queen?  Shine on, brunette eyebrows!  I seriously can’t wait for this pic.  As if the mega-cast and director status weren’t enough, the stills from the film are beautiful.

Here’s the teaser trailer, in which Helena Bonham Carter has a giant head and Johnny Depp continues to kick people’s faces off with his awesomeness.

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To close, a still of what’s likely to be my second favorite character/visual in this film–the eternally cool embodiment of the trickster…The Cheshire Cat.  Grin on you maniac…grin on.

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Why so serious?

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Our Underwater Ally

Since this is the one hundredth entry to this blog o’delights, I figure that this one better be pretty big.  And, as I’ve already covered blue whales AND Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in these cyber-pages , what’s left that can amount to the gargantuan challenge?  What about one of my longtime favorite mythic creatures?  Oh yeah.  Try Nessie on for size:

100.  The Loch Ness Monster

As a kid who loved loved loved dinosaurs when I was growing up, Nessie always held a special place in my heart.  To this day I want to believe that there is a  plesiosaur in Loch Ness.  A plesiosaur best fits the description that most Loch Ness monster enthusiasts picture:


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Plesiosaur

Nessie, was first sighted in 565 AD when it was written that St. Columba encountered a sea creature in the massive loch.  Since then, hundreds of reports have been filed.  Unfortunately for cryptozoologists, most have been disproved as hoaxes.  Sigh…still, it’s cool to think that there might be a surviving family of giant prehistoric beasts up in Scotland…kind of like the Anastasia Romanovs of monsters.  I should, at this point, geekily point out that whilst these creatures lived in the same period as the dinosaurs, they are not technically defined as such.  They are referred to as Mesozoic reptiles.

Besides the obvious resemblance, the fact that fossilized remains of plesiosaurs were found and identified in the UK region only fuel the fire of the Nessie=plesiosaur theory.

Again, buzzkills are quick to point out that there are a multitude of reasons that disqualify the Nessie=plesiosaur theory:

-The time line of the creation of the lake/extinction of the animal don’t overlap

-The water’s too cold for a cold-blooded reptile

-A plesiosaur would have to surface several times a day, providing ample opportunity for spectators to be granted a peek.

Stop yucking my yum, science!!!

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All hail Pope Nessie!

Still, whether Nessie is down there or not…even thinking of the diving teams going down into that Loch sends a chill up my spine.  The murky, freezing cold depths where there ARE reputedly giant eels amongst other scary aquatic life.  I mean, it’s a big-ass, cold, fog covered lake in a remote and mountainous area of Scotland.  Imagine diving down there.  Eek!  You can probably barely see two feet in front of you.  That gives ample ‘sneaking’ distance to creatures that live to freak you the hell out.

I also like to think about the accredited scientists that might be still hunting Nessie.  Getting laughed at by the local pub-patrons…  Sure the Aberdeen fans at The Old North Inn might be ridiculing him now, but Professor Hamish MacPhee will have the last laugh when he finally uncovers irrefutable proof of the existence of history’s most sought after beast!  Then maybe that girl at the office will notice him…

Along these lines, one of the most famous Nessie-hunters, Robert Rines, has officially retired.  Sad, yes–but after 30 years in the game AND capturing that famous ‘flipper’ picture–I guess the guy deserves a break.  Retiring Nessie Hunter article:  WWII Vet calls it a day…

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The flipper...

Speaking of recent events in the world of all that is The Loch Ness monster, there was a most recent sighting (August 2008) via Google Earth.  This report, which contains the quotes:  “Veteran American monster hunter Bob Rines thinks environmental conditions in the Highland loch have changed and can no longer sustain the elusive reptile.” and “Gary Campbell, of the monster’s official fan club, said: “I’m concerned. There have been none of the normal sightings that verify that Nessie and her family are still alive and well”, reminds me of the clip from Napoleon Dynamite wherein he details the adventures of our ‘underwater ally’ as his classroom report.

Here’s the full article:  Nessie on satellite

But, perhaps the best link to click in this blog entry is this one here, which is to Nessie’s official homepage.  nessie.co.uk

The coolest thing about this page is the opportunity it presents you to ‘contact Nessie’ via e-mail.

“What would that go like?”,  you might be wondering.  What would I actually say to Nessie given the exciting opportunity to communicate with her?  Well, here’s my recent correspondence.  Maybe it will inspire you to get in touch as well.

Dear Nessie,

I think you’re a big dinosaur.  Do you have a Scottish accent?  Let’s be friends.  Can I ride on your back?

Love,

Kate McCabe

Manchester

If I get a response, I’ll update this blog!

No tribute to Nessie would be complete without mentioning the ‘tree fiddy’ bit from South Park.  Chef’s parents, who–inexplicably–live in Scotland describe their encounter with Nessie.  Enjoy:

Long live Nessie!  Also, word up to Ogopogo, the OTHER lake monster.

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Tina Fey Wouldn’t Stand For This!

Like most, when I heard that SNL was going to be hiring more women, I thought “Great, with these additions, the cast will almost be an even-steven men to women ration”.  But, instead of that and to make room for the new ladies, they’ve actually shitcanned two female cast members that barely even got to serve six months time on SNL last year–Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson.   Now, I’m not saying these newbies won’t be good.  I hope they are.  Also, at least we’ve only taken a step sideways and not a step back in the female to male ration on SNL.  But, this is still pretty craptastic news.  So,  I’d like to honor one of those fallen cast members with today’s great thing:

99. Michaela Watkins

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not unmoved by Casey Wilson’s termination.  I think she kind of had an unfair shake on that show.  It’s like they didn’t know quite what to do with her ever and she was rarely offered a time to shine.  One sketch that she did stand out in, for me at least, was the one where Zac Efron is a soldier on a train going off to war.  Casey plays the doggedly determined girlfriend that he is leaving behind.  She was great in it and it’s one of the only occasions that I can recall where she was a lead in a sketch instead of just part of a pleasantly curvy backdrop.  Casey, wherever you are going, I hope you are received well!

But, as bad as I feel for Casey (reportedly a very nice person), I’m outright angry about Michaela Watkins.  I suppose it’s because it’s so unexpected and soooooo very underserved.  She’d been so prominent in her short time on the show.

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Watkins as Ariana Huffington

She was a wonderful impressionist–playing repeat performances of Ariana Huffington, Ann Coulter, Hoda Kotbe, and Barbara Walters.  The View sketches and Kotbe/Gifford sketches were especially popular.

The thing about Michaela that I really liked was that she knew how to play a scene.  Much like Kristen Wiig, she could find comedy in even the small bits but much like Jane Curtain, she could also expertly play a straight woman.  She’s a woman who has slogged away for many years in pursuit of comic performance.  She studied acting at Boston University, had a stint with the highly respected LA based improv troupe, The Groundlings, and even did her time in regional theatre including stage productions in Portland, OR.  Her dismissal from the show makes this interview from when she was first hired that much more depressing:

The Apiary

So, yes, I’m looking at this firing as a huge loss for fans of good comedy.  Her Angie Tempura character was one of the best original creations to come out of last year’s season.  I’d even go as far to say that it was one of the most topical and nuanced–yes nuanced–characters to ever recur on Weekend Update.  Did you ever notice how she’d start to say one word and then awkwardly change it up?  For example:  “Nice shir–tie, Seth”.  Hilarious.  I loved her interaction with Seth Meyers.  Some loyal fan even started a bitchpleeze website!:  angietempura.com Check it out as it features a recent interview with Michaela about her dismissal.  For that whole EW article, click here.  It’s a crime worth reading about:  Entertainment Weekly

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Angie Tempura, we hardly knew ye...

Man, I am supremely bummed..her catch phrase was so accessible.  “Bitch pleeeze” is a suitable for response for just about anything I can think of!  For example:

Some interloper–  “Hey Kate, how’s that soup?”

Me– “Bitch pleeze”.

See?  It’s easy.

More importantly, come on SNL.  You can have more than four women in the cast at one time.  I’ll never figure this firing out.  I’m left to wonder if this is actually Lorne suffering signs of dementia.  Because unless there’s a reason that we don’t know about, this shit is crazy.


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A funny actress is for life, not just for Christmas!

Anyway, let’s end this on a happy note.  Here’s an Angie Tempura clip:

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Now please, somebody in film and/or television give this woman a job.

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Now That The Hurt Is Gone…

Though he’s probably one of the easiest characters to use when introducing new readers to comic-books, Spider-Man has been around long enough now (since 1962) that he’s had pleeeeeennnnty of time to develop mind-achingly dense continuity.  Like any good soap opera, it can be a bit much to follow sometimes.  Over the years he’s:

-Become a superhero

-Had a girlfriend get killed

-Encountered hundreds of supervillains–including his best friend as one of many in the Goblin legacy of baddies

-Threw in the towel and stopped being a superhero

-Been cloned

-Revealed his identity

-Married MJ

-Lost his and MJ’s Spidey Baby

-Separated from MJ

-Been the victim of possession by an alien symbiote in the form of a costume

-Had his Aunt May killed/resurrected.

-Had his powers altered by a mythic spider-entity

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Classic.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  But, that’s what you get isn’t it?  A character around for that long HAS to go through changes lest he/she become stale, right?  Right?!  Well–maybe not, most recently, in a storyline called “One More Day”, he was faced with the choice of whether to save Aunt May’s life (again!) or sacrifice the existence of his marriage.  MJ convinced him that saving his Aunt May was the right thing to do.  So, in making a pact with Mephisto, Peter Parker  essentially wiped the continuity-slate clean.  He’s not married to MJ anymore, he’s back to having mechanical web-shooters, Harry Osborn is his buddy again, and no one even really remembers that he un-masked himself during the “Civil War” storyline anymore.  Understandably, readers were kind of pissed off at this giant Deus Ex Machina.  As a fan, I wondered why had I bothered to collect and read Spidey books for over fifteen years if they were going to just pull the rug out from under his continuity? Even worse, there were rumors that J.M. Straczynski, the writer at the time–was being bullied into shaping this story against his will.  Marvel EIC Joe Quesada reputedly hated the idea that Spider-Man was married and it was his intention to reverse the decades old plot development.

It’s the result of this controversial storyline “One More Day”, that–much to my amazement–led to today’s great thing:

98. Brand New Day storyline from Amazing Spider-Man

As I’ve stated, when it was first announced that Marvel and Spidey editorial staff planned to put what amounts essentially to a ‘reset’ button on the web-slinger, I felt more than skeptical, I felt gypped and betrayed.

But, now that the smoke has cleared.  I feel I have to admit that I’d suffered through one of my favorite characters having to undergo several unsuitable shifts in tone throughout the years.  One thing about Spider-Man that his fans seem to value above all else is his ‘everyman’ appeal.  Yes, he may have the proportionate strength of a spider and be able to stick to walls but when he’s not slugging it out with supertools, he’s dealing with the same daily rigmarole that we are.  He’s got relationship troubles, money troubles, family issues, and his boss is out to get him.  When you read a Spidey book, you know that it’s possible to be a complete and total loser but also a hero at the same time.  Plus, no one is better with a quip.

But, what had been the adventures of  a sass-mouthed, every-day guy from Queens who gained superpowers and tried to do the best he could with them had, over time and in the hands of a multitude of writers, become other things.  He’d suffered through changes of direction that would make him sometimes too angst-ridden, sometimes too supernatural, too cosmic, too mournful, and not so funny anymore.

What I had to cop to, as a Spidey reader, is that Marvel was right to want to take the reigns in this way.  Because at least they recognized that they had finally put the guy through the wringer and needed to fix it.  Spider-man is Spider-Man and when you open his book you should feel like that’s the world that you’re entering.  It’s not a Hulk book (he shouldn’t be sulking all the time).  He’s not in the Fantastic Four and he shouldn’t be jetting off to the stars every other day and he’s not Dr. Strange (he shouldn’t be too enmeshed in magic and myth).

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Though he's making a similar web-shooting hand gesture, Dr. Strange is definitely not Spider-Man.

I would say, however, that there are other ways that this could have been achieved.  Did we really have to give a retcon this extreme?  No.  Unfortunately neither of the big two comic publishers, both Marvel and DC, are know for handling continuity changes with grace or aplomb.  Final Crisis, anyone?  Character reboots are seldom appreciated at the time.

But, comics can be more difficult to follow than the most complicated of soap operas and sometimes you need the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and regardless of HOW “One More Day” did it, the subsequent story-lines under the “Brand New Day” banner have been pretty good.  It kind of feels like how Spidey must have felt to readers in the sixties–simple and fun in spite of all his day to day trials.

In addition to the continuity-cleaning exercise, “BND” has also the eliminated extraneous Spider-Man titles.  Where we used to have “Sensational Spider-Man”, “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man”, and plain old “Spider-Man”, which sometimes intersected and other times didn’t, we now have the one flagship title “Amazing Spider-Man” and it ships for three weeks out of the month.  So, it doesn’t feel like we’re getting LESS Spidey, just more consistent Spidey.

I’m not saying that all story-lines since this re-boot have been world class.  I find new supervillain “Freak” to be uninspired.  I also thought the unmasking of new Goblin-type villain “Menace” to be a bit of a cheat.

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You'll never guess who I am!...nor should you, really.

But, overall, I’ve been hugely satisfied not only with MOST of the story-lines but also with the general tone of Spidey’s world again.

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How come MJ's top is as tight as superhero lycra?

Plus, Black Cat is popping up soon.  I’ve always liked the sexy threat that Felicia Hardy posed (even if she is a thinly veiled copy of another more famous cat lady…).

What are other Spidey readers feeling now that the worst is over?

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