Saturday, December 31, 2005

SUPERMAN returns

I hadn't seen the first SUPERMAN in years, so when it came on TV the other night, I was hooked into it. You know how it goes: you're supposed to be working or doing something important and...ooop--you've simply got to watch this program on TV, no two ways about it! Procrastination at its best (kind of like I'm doing now with this blog).

With these pictures of the new Superman, Brandon Routh, being filtered into the press from the set of SUPERMAN RETURNS, the Christopher Reeve version takes on additional significance for me. I can't help being ultra-aware of the boldy colored 70s costume as opposed to this "newer" darker one with the smaller "S" on the chest. BTW, I like the look a lot, so I'm not even going to get into how many fans are bemoaning the smaller "S." No, instead I want to gush about how great the 70s SUPERMAN is.

First there's the whole epic feel of the story. Even though Supes is an alien, I never doubted for an instant that he wasn't a person, through and through; I give credit to the forty-minute prologue for that. Even though I was getting anxious to GET ON WITH IT, PLEASE, I did appreciate the build-up of his character...the politics of Krypton, the sacrifice of Jor-El as he lets his son go, the meteorite crash, the Kents, Supes in high school, the creation of the Fortress of Solitude.... We see how Superman became Clark Kent, we don't just jump into the action. I love the time the writers and director took to establish this man who flies around wearing tights--something that very well could've been a freakshow curiosity--as a man who could teach a lot of humans about being human.

Second, how excellent was it when Superman really got rolling? His initial string of heroic acts is painted with humor and awe, and I get an adrenaline rush from just watching it. What makes that humor work, IMHO, is that most of it (except for Ned Beatty's Otis) revolves around characterization and Superman "in" jokes (like the telephone booth--AWESOME). When our man of steel comes running out of those revolving doors after that first costume change and that Mac Daddy guy's like, "Hey, whoo-whoo, buddy, that's some dandy suit you're sporting!" and Superman is all serious when he holds up a finger then answers, "Excuse me" like he's going to come back and pop a brewski with the guy later, that's one of my favorite movie moments. I'm serious. I crack up just thinking about that scene. Then, after Superman rescues Lois Lane ("Don't worry, I've got you." "You've got me? Who's got you???" AWESOME.), we follow Supes around as he decides to do a little Metropolis housecleaning. This is really geeky, but something cool happened while I was watching these scenes. We take the fact that Superman can fly for granted--it's no longer a wonderous thing because we've been exposed to so many superheroes and, nowadays, we're probably getting pretty close to allowing men to fly anyway. But while I was watching him wing around the sky, it hit me: DUDE CAN FLY. I'd forgotten how amazing that was.

Told you--geeky.

Also, the John Williams score? So, so terrific. I don't have to say much about it because listening to the music says it all. (And they're incorporating some of the themes into the new Supes movie, so...there you go.)

The best thing about this movie, though, is the introduction of Christopher Reeve. I read somewhere that the powers that be were thinking of casting Robert Redford. Now, count me in as a Redford fan, but can you imagine? It's better than Nic Cage, but...come on. Reeve was absolute perfection. Everything from his I-can-talk-you-into-anything smile to his talent for differentiating Clark from Supes. OMG. We lucked out when he was cast in the part. We really did. He couldn't have done better with each character: Clark parts his hair on the right, has a high-pitched voice, and seems a bit of a pansy, but with just a grin, Reeve was able to show part-his-hair-on-the-left Superman beneath the glasses. He acted with an assurance that never, ever made you doubt that a man who goes around espousing "truth, justice, and the American way" was genuine and not merely priming himself to run for political office one day.

Yes, the opening credits are endless and it takes approximately FOREVER for us to get to the Daily Planet and Lois Lane where the real story "takes off" but, again, I love that the director, Richard Donner, was allowed to show Superman's origins. Also, some parts of the movie haven't aged well: the bell-bottom-and-platform-shoe wardrobes, the romantic Lois and Supes flying scene that's ultimately marred by her cheesy internal dialogue (You know, where Lois starts thinking "Can you read my mind" and gushes out the lyrics to the love theme? Ugh. The thing is, part of me kind of likes when it happens and I hate myself for that.). But, bottom line: this is such a great movie. That's why Bryan Singer has consulted with Richard Donner for SUPERMAN RETURNS; that's why Singer also choose to use Marlon Brando's voiceover for this first trailer--a brilliant decision. Because this is how to do a movie about the most widely beloved comic book hero ever.

I'm really looking forward to next year's return to the franchise because, with a director who pays such homage to something that worked so well the first time, I've got a lot of faith.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Adjustment to release schedule

Remember when I told you all that my next Blaze SKIN DEEP (now called INNUENDO) would be coming out in August? Scratch that. The new slot date is July, 2006, which is all good with me. I love having summer releases because the lazy days of sunshine and beaches are perfect for a fun read.

INNUENDO is going to have a quick turnaround time as far as publishing goes. Evidently, my book was moved up a month because there was a glitch with someone else's deadline. I'm used to my books hitting the shelves about one full year after I turn them in, but that won't be the case with this Blaze. This will be a six month turnaround! Wow. Today and tomorrow, I'm doing a couple of minor revisions so we can get this book into production, which means it'll first be line edited (where a copy editor and an author's regular editor look for continuity, depth, and technical issues). At that point, the author goes over that line edit, addressing any questions the editors had and making any needed adjustments. Then the book is edited again and the author receives an AA (Author Alteration) readout. Here, we're allowed to make pretty minor corrections to whip it into final shape. After the manuscript is looked over again, it's waiting time. And then...the moment of excitement: the actual release date.

So there it is--INNUENDO will be coming to a bookshelf near you sooner than any of us expected!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Rattled by MUNICH

****This contains a few minor spoilers—read at your own risk!****

Punishment, reprisal. When is it just? And at what point does the violence end?

MUNICH, the new movie from Steven Spielberg, delves into these questions as well as many others. On the surface, this is a story about the aftermath of the Munich Olympics (1972), where eleven Israeli athletes were slaughtered by a group of PLO kidnappers. Following the tragedy, a team of men are hired by the top ranks of the Israeli government (incuding Golda Meir) to bring justice to the individuals who were allegedly responsible. One of these team members is named Avner, a former Mossad (secret police) worker, a husband and soon-to-be father. What follows is not so much a visual essay about politics as much as a haunting reflection of what happens when you look into the abyss and it looks back into you.

You really have to pay attention to the details of MUNICH; plot-wise, it’s a spy story complete with double crossings and political agendas. But what makes this movie especially interesting are all the moral questions that the characters crash into head-on. Is vengeance really theirs to take? What good does it do? And are they even exterminating the right men or are they merely “cleaning house” for a shadow agency? You never really know for certain, because this “justice league” isn’t composed of superheroes or ultra-savvy spies. These players—no matter which side they’re on—are shown to be all-too human. As a matter of fact, during the first assassination attempt, Avner can’t even get a grip on his gun. It’s a startling moment that not only ratchets up the tension, it says volumes about this patriot who’s been recruited into a job that is better completed without the burden of a conscience.

Eric Bana, who plays Avner, is at the heart of this film. You might recognize him as THE HULK, as one of the Delta operators from BLACK HAWK DOWN, or as the family man Hector from TROY. If you’ve seen CHOPPER, you know this actor possesses a lot of range that hasn’t been tapped in the mainstream market yet, and MUNICH goes to show you how talented he really is. Bana is perfectly natural in all his roles—after his movies are over, I always realize that he’s such an organic part of the film that it never feels like he’s ACTING. At one point in MUNICH, Avner, who is quickly spiraling into isolation and the loss of his very soul, is talking on the phone with his wife and daughter. When he hears his baby’s voice, his reaction is so heartbreaking that I actually heard a moan of pained sympathy from the audience. I even felt his agony. Add to that a cast of great supporting characters and you won’t be able to get through this movie without relating to their dilemma.

One more thing: this is in no way a movie that will uplift you. It’s sobering, extremely violent, and has an uncomfortable amount of relevancy to today’s world. Just remember to look near the top left of the screen during the long ending shot. (The people I saw the movie with didn’t catch a quiet image that Spielberg inserts into the frame as his own challenge to the audience. I’m not going to tell you what’s there, but it’s a shattering visual that forces you to contemplate our own climate.)

MUNICH is definitely a film that encourages debate and conversation. I highly recommend it, but be ready to be wrung out afterward.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Jingle all the way

Just stopping in to wish everyone out there a great holiday, whatever you might be celebrating! I'm off to eat a lot with my family, listen to Christmas songs, and generally enjoy the nephew and niece as they play with their new toys.

All the best to you.

Friday, December 23, 2005

LITTLE HOUSE Christmas

Urgh. I am not done with my Christmas shopping. I don't even have any idea of what I still need to get. Can you say it with me? Dis. Organized. Or maybe it's just pure, good old fashion procrastination.

My mom and I talk about this all the time, but we'd love the holidays to go back to LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE simplicity. Remember, at the beginning of the year, when ABC aired that LITTLE HOUSE miniseries? This was one based on the actual book, not the NBC ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK takeoff. The miniseries had scary moments and reflected a real pioneering spirit that was pocked with the reality of what this new America was doing to the west that was already in existence. One of the most touching moments in the series was when the Ingalls celebrated Christmas. "Santa" was not able to make it across a swollen river, so it looked as if the girls wouldn't have much for presents. But what they did get they cherished. Simple things, like sugar cookies and a wooden animal that Pa Ingalls had carved with loving care.

Wouldn't it be cool to appreciate gifts that much again? To not expect a whole truckload of presents under the tree but to, instead, adore one gift that was chosen and constructed with heartfelt effort?

Not to say I don't love what I receive, but it's just a thought, a frame of mind that sounds so appealing during the rush that the holidays have become.

All the same, in the spirit of simple wishes, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with cheer and affection!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

STAR WARS dvd geek stuff

Since I had a fellow STAR WARS fan (and friend) from out of town visit me the other day, I finally seized the excuse to sit down and watch the STAR WARS III: REVENGE OF THE SITH DVD. Neither of us had seen the extras, so it was a good opportunity to escape the holiday crowds and enjoy a night at the (home) movies.

Aside from the film itself, my favorite part of the DVD was the deleted scenes. After all, who, out of the legions of SW fans, didn’t want to see Yoda landing on Dagobah? It was such a short clip, but it was sweet, although I understand the reason it wasn’t included in the final cut (Lucas wanted to stick with the ending thread of showing where the twins ended up instead of where all the characters in general ended up.). I can also hang with Lucas’ decision to leave out an action sequence near the beginning of the film in which a Jedi (Shaak Ti) is slain; however, I feel that the interaction between Obi-Wan and Anakin in this scene gave far more insight to their battle bonds than any other. We see both Jedi using hand-to-face signals in a cocky—and almost flippant—way of communicating with each other. Here, they truly do seem to have that brotherhood the entire plot depends on.

There was a grouping of three scenes that I really wish had been left in SITH, though, because these short bursts of illumination would’ve done so much for Padme’s character. In the final cut, it seems as if the formerly take-action senator has turned into a lady in waiting, wandering around her apartment and waiting for Anakin to show up. But in these deleted scenes, we see her meeting with fellow senators (including Bail Organa [Jimmy Smits], who could’ve used more quality screen time, too). This is the all-important start of the rebellion, with Mon Monthma in a cameo, and it rounds out Padme’s character so much more. It just goes to show you how desperate Lucas must’ve been to trim the film because, for a lot of people I know, Padme’s character was a disappointment in this movie. This subplot would’ve gone a long way in developing her.

Still, in the end, this is a proper send off to the prequels. The ending five minutes pack a huge punch—especially when Anakin gets locked into the body of Darth Vader for the rest of his existence. It’s a viscerally tragic image that preys upon any sense of claustrophobia I have. To me, that moment is akin to being buried in a one-way-mirrored grave where no one seems to realize you’re halfway dead beneath the ground. It’s one of my favorite SW scenes, among many, and I’d watch a million “Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo”s to get to it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Happy Holidays, everyone!

I love this recipe. They’re a cross between a pastry and a cookie, and I tend to wolf them down if not properly supervised. Enjoy, and happy holidays!

Magic Cookie Bars

½ cup butter or margarine

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1 6oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 lg. bag of shredded coconut

1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat over to 350 degrees (325 if you’re using a glass pan). Melt butter in 9x13 pan. Sprinkle crumbs over butter. Pour sweet milk evenly over crumbs. Top evenly with remaining ingredients. Press down gently. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool before cutting.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Just an update

New project!

Now that I've taken a bit o'time off from writing that last Blaze (which will be called INNUENDO, with a release date of August, 2006), it's time to start on the next book!

Even though 'tis the season, with all the shopping and celebrating yet to be done, I'm going to be working on chapters for THE PLAYBOY TAKES A WIFE, a Silhouette Special Edition. This one takes place in Mexico and New York City, and I'm intrigued with the hero, who is a "daredevil playboy," according to the tabloids. He's recently realized how superficial he is, and he's determined to change his reputation; this is both for the good of his family's company and their own reputation as well as his own peace of mind. The heroine is a "do-gooder" who is working at a Mexican orphanage. In short, he persuades her into a marriage of convenience, although she doesn't know about the "convenient" part.....

In other news, my first Berkley manuscript for the Vampire Underground has been accepted! This means I won't have to do a big revision, and I'm so happy I could do a Snoopy Dance. Very good news. My editor and I are discussing cover concepts, and we should have a release date and title for that story just after the first of the year.

Just so you know, my next blog will be featuring a recipe for a yummy familyholiday favorite....

Thursday, December 15, 2005

My night with Mr. Isaak

I wore a black velvet bodysuit with spaghetti straps, black pants and boots, and a wild-rose necklace just like the one Erica Orloff and I are giving away for our Web site contest. (I couldn't resist--I bought one for myself, too. And, by the way, get on over to my site if you'd like to see it or win it! plug, plug www.crystal-green.com) Then, crossing my fingers that this...yes, this....would be the night I finally saw Chris Isaak live, strumming his guitar and crooning his heart out, I headed into the Star of the Desert mini-arena at the Nevada-California state line.

Until this point, I'd been unsuccessful in my endeavors to see him. I'd been thwarted by bad timing and cancellations (see previous blog). But that night, as I headed to my seat--which was only about twenty feet away from the stage--I kept my optimism at a peak.

And, damn, was it worth the patience!

If you've never seen Chris Isaak and his band, I urge you to go whenever you have the opportunity. Sure, he's a babe, with his Elvis hair and sexy smile. But forget that. If you're a fan of music at all, this man will entertain you. It was obvious that he's a pure musician--he just loves to play. He and the band didn't only perform his songs, they sat up there and jammed. Johnny Cash, Cheap Trick, Christmas tunes...they were all covered, but Chris Isaak made every note his own. And he absolutely knows how to own a stage: his charm and relaxed rapport with the audience made the concert fly by. Also, there was no lip synching here, thank goodness--there's a lot of talent to back up his recording career.

For years, Chris Isaak has been on the cusp of hitting the big time. With his rockabilly/surf/Orbison/hip TWIN PEAKS vibe, he stirs up the familiar and manages to make his sound original. It looked like he was finally going to be welcomed into the mainstream when "Wicked Game" became a hit, but it didn't quite happen. Then came "Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing," which was used on the EYES WIDE SHUT soundtrack. Still...denied. Then he got his own show on the Showtime network, and...nope. Part of me would love for him to "make it," but I like his music the way it is, and I fear what going "mainstream" would do to him. Yeah, I'm being a selfish fangirl, but you know as well as I do how this industry can eat up the best of performers and spit them back out as a "new and improved" package. I never want to see that happen.

Ultimately, I'm just happy I finally witnessed my Holy Grail of performers. (Excuse me for a second while I giggle like a thirteen-year-old. Oh. My. God. I was twenty feet away from Chris Isaak!)

And, needless to say, when he comes around again, I am so going to be there.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Check out my guest blog at this site.....

Besides being a San Diego RWA member, I also belong to the Orange County Chapter (OCC). OCC is celebrating their 25th anniversary next year, and they're pulling out all the stops. Now, this is a chapter that is known to be one of the biggest and most excellent groups in the nation (You should see the list of published authors!); I've always gotten a lot out of attending meetings and since I've moved, I've really, really missed visiting them. But starting this month, OCC is doing even more for their members: they're making a huge effort to promote their published authors.

Among other things (a facelift for their already amazing newsletter as well as an upcoming podcast program), they have started to post informative blogs. You're going to find lots of tidbits about craft and business if you bookmark OCC's site. I hope my own blog, which was posted yesterday, will shed some light on "branding" and the choice I've made to write for multiple lines and genres. You can read it by clicking here:

http://occsliceoforange.blogspot.com/

Once there, you can check out the rest of the contents, which will include writing classes that are being offered by members of the chapter.

I'll see you soon, when my next blog will cover THE CHRIS ISAAK CONCERT...!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

SUPER SIZE ME: The most effective horror film ever

You all know I love scary movies, so I need to tell you about a film I just saw that’s one of the most horrifying ever. It’s not super bloody (except in one part) and it doesn’t feature any scream queens. It’s actually a “documentary with a point of view” called SUPER SIZE ME.

You’ve probably heard of it because of the splash it made at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as the pressure it put on McDonald’s to introduce some healthier angles to their product lines. This is what the film revolves around: Morgan Spurlock, the young, healthy, lanky creator, wondered if those lawsuits against McDonald’s that were initiated a few years ago had any credence. Remember the ones I’m talking about? Basically, the corporation was sued by two “obese” girls who maintained that Mickey D’s fast food had contributed significantly to their weight gains. The filmmaker decided to record an experiment to see how a 30-day all-McDiet would affect his own health. What follows really rattled me.

Spurlock makes effective use of statistics, interviews, and his affability to show us how fast food has messed with society at large: even as we witness how his body changes on this diet (and how the doctors he has enlisted to monitor him freak out about what he’s doing to himself), we also see what kind of power food companies wield over us.

Sci-Fi writers have always written about future societies that are controlled by drugs, and this movie left me wondering if processed food is the pretty green pill we’ve all been warned about. While SUPER SIZE ME really makes you think about some hard questions that deal with our world as well as our own responsibilities in it, it’s also surprisingly entertaining without being preachy. I pretty much coerced my parents into watching this because I think it’s time well spent. I recommend it to you all, too.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Guest blogger: Erica Orloff!

This is cool! My comrade in TWICE BITTEN vampire shenigigans, Erica Orloff, is guest blogging today! And, as you can see at the end of her entry, I made an appearance on her site, too, today--and it's a blog that won't be published on my site. (Oooo--an extra!) So as I encourage you to go to www.ericaorloff.com as well, please welcome, Erica, my fellow vamp writer!

Hi All! Thanks to Crystal for letting me guest blog.

As you may know by now, Crystal and I are back-to-back authors in TWICE BITTEN. We each have a vampire story. Though I write for Red Dress Ink and Mira and Bombshell, and write as Liza Conrad for YAs, this was my first foray into vampires. I loved it. (So much so, I have the teen vampire book HIGH SCHOOL BITES coming out in January from NAL/Penguin!)

And I have to say not only did I love it, but the number of fans I heard from the first time URBAN LEGEND was released was disproportionately high. Vampire fans are a dedicated group! I thought about the allure of the vampire. Why are we so drawn to him? Or her?

There are, of course, many scholarly discourses on the vampire and what he represents in Freudian and psychological (and erotic) terms. For me, though, I think it goes back to those first scares as a kid. My dad let me watch the Creature Feature on WPIX in NYC when I was little. Somehow, the rather bloodless vampires and gore-less monsters were a “safe” way to get good and terrified. I remember watching “Dracula Created Woman” and my little sister got so scared that night she was screaming bloody murder (and somehow I got in trouble for letting her watch it!).

Well, from then on, a vampire fan was born. When I got the opportunity to write my own vampire book, what I also loved was the fantasy element. I spun a few things about vampires around, and made up some rules of my own. I got to venture into a world not only that I made up—as in all my novels—but one that wasn’t real. That had its own sense of order imposed by the undead.

So, all you vampire fans . . . .Don’t forget to visit my site: http://www.ericaorloff.com/. There you can read Crystal’s guest blog and enter to win our contest!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Out of the Blogosphere!

Hey, all!

This is really exciting. I just joined a paranormal writer's blogging group called http://outoftheblogosphere.blogspot.com/. It features many vampire/futuristic/fantasy/time travel authors that you know and love. It's really cool because, in the future, we'll "tour" together, meaning that you'll be introduced to these authors and their work via this blog.

Why don't you take a gander at the site? I've just posted two entries; they're very basic introductions--nothing you haven't read here before--but there are plenty of other blogs from members such as Gena Showalter, Angela Knight, and Liz Maverick.

Have fun!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Chris Isaak this weekend!

Yay! Guess where I'm going this weekend? To see Chris Isaak. Whoo-hoo! "Wicked Game," "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing," etc. Love him. Still, this is really cynical, but I'll bet it gets cancelled. Do you know why? Well, let me tell you.

Ever since college, I've tried to see this man--a crooner with rockabilly sensibilities--live. But something always happens to thwart me. Either it's something else I need to be out of town for or it's something else that *he* needs to be out of town for. An example: I had tickets to see Bonnie Raitt, and Chris Isaak was opening for her. Cool, I thought. No clashing committments, no barriers, I'm finally going to see the man. But no. Dude cancelled, because he had a little part in FIRE WALK WITH ME, that prequel to TWIN PEAKS. I was bummed. What--a movie is more important than entertaining me? What's with that?

So here I go this weekend, hoping it'll all fall into place. I'll let you know what happens....

Saturday, December 03, 2005

TV report card II

I thought I'd post my thoughts about the TV programs I'm still watching now that sweeps are over....

ROME (HBO) - It's done, and rumor has it that either it's not coming back at all or we'll have to wait until 2007 for the next season. 2007!!! What is this, THE SOPRANOS? But you know what? I'm this program's minion, so I'll totally be back to watch. What a finale. I couldn't get my mind off of it for days. Caesar's assassination--whoa. I haven't seen better acting than what happened during this sequence, unless it was during the rest of the show, especially when Lucius Vorenus's wife committed suicide. Talk about feeling a sucker punch for the characters. Just...wow. I'm really happy that my two guys--Lucius and Titus--lived (I mentioned in a previous blog that I feared for them.), but sometimes living is worse than death, and that's the case with Lucius. Poor guy.

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO) - The finale is tomorrow night. Larry totally bugs, but I like to squirm anyway as he gets himself into trouble with his big mouth.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) - According to the TV message boards I like to visit, there's a lot of discontent with this season of DH. I have to agree that it isn't as interesting as last year, and that some of the characters have strayed from what we once loved about them(er...Bree, why didn't you get some spine with George earlier like you would have in seaon 1?) . I don't know--maybe it's also because there's not a really compelling mystery that's stringing this season together, like Mary Alice's suicide. I'm not that curious about Caleb Applewhite. All I do know is that if I miss an episode, I'm not terribly sad.

GREY'S ANATOMY (ABC) - Can we please get George some action? The guy deserves it, you all, especially since every other person at the hospital is making the beast with two backs. Still, I really like how this series can be really funny one moment (Sandra Oh, you are awesome.), and make my throat burn the next (the man who woke up from a coma only to find that his family had moved on without him? Oh. My. Gosh. I can't even talk about it.).

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (Fox) - Okay, here's where I get on my lil' ole soapbox. Fox, you stink. Not only because you've messed with PRISON BREAK's schedule so that it'll probably die a slow death when it comes back in March (and this is just the epitome of your scheduling ineptitude), but because you don't know how to market one of the funniest shows ever. In case you all didn't know, AD is in purgatory--Fox has cut its orders for episodes this year, but the last I heard, they also hadn't exactly committed to cancelling this show. I ask another network--especially HBO--please, please, please pick up this hilarious comedy.

KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL (Fox) - The last time this was on the air was...hmm...oh, yeah: back when men used their enemies' heads for soccer balls (BTW, thank you, SURVIVOR, for that bit of trivia. It was a touch of TMI that I didn't need to...okay, yeah, I enjoyed hearing it. I'm a freak.). I think I remember kind of liking this series, and I know Michael Vartan will be guest starring, so I'll be tuning in again. Who can resist even one second of an ALIAS hot-guy reunion? Not me. Couple that with food, and I'm so there.

PRISON BREAK (Fox) - See mini-rant above (in ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT's blurb). March? I have to wait until March to see how the guys overcome this latest setback??? Fox, you are my personal enemy now. PRISON BREAK was doing pretty well, and you take away its momentum? Brilliant. I can accept a cliffhanger that I have to mull over during the summer, but this was needless. I only hope the ratings come back stronger than ever for the sake of the show. Anyway, the characters have grown on me (even T-Bag, for heaven's sake) and my adoration for Hottie (Wentworth Miller, you can ring my bell.) knows no bounds. I love that he's, like, Phantom of the Prison, crawling around in all the air vents and secret passages--especially when he saved the doctor that one time. All he needed was a half-mask to complete the illusion.
OMG, I am getting a hottie flash. Bring him back. NOW!

AMAZING RACE (CBS) - I was optimistic about this season back during the first TV report card, but now? Ugh. For so many reasons. But my fuse was blown during the last episode when for the second time in a row there was a "production error" that drained a team's car battery and sent them to last place. I'm sorry, but that's complete BS. And a show that has that much disregard for logic and an audience's patience doesn't deserve my loyalty. We'll see if I continue to watch next season. Right now I'm so disgusted that I don't know if I want to come back.

MY NAME IS EARL (NBC) - Still totally funny! Do you ever get the feeling, though, that most of Earl's bad karma stems from Joy? He's spending a lot of time making things up to her. Not that I'm complaining. She's a side-splitter, that Joy! It should be interesting when this show moves to Thursdays in January. NBC is campaigning to get Thursday nights back.

THE OFFICE (NBC) - Love, love, love, love, love. Yes, the last episode wasn't as funny as most, and that's the one I forced my Thanksgiving company to sit down and watch in an effort to win this show a couple more viewers. But even a less-ROFLOL episode is way more clever than a whole seaon of YES, DEAR. Talk about having characters grow on you--the humor on this show is so engrained in the personalities of the office workers that it feels as if you know these people. What's interesting is that they play merciless tricks on each other to entertain themselves (Jim? Pam? Yes, I'm talking about you two, and I adore you for it.)...yet, in spite of all the aggressive trick-playing, you never get a sense of anyone being mean spirited. That's a tough thing to accomplish in comedy. THE OFFICE...so damned good.

NIP/TUCK (FX) - Ay-yee! The Carver is back! Leave Kimber alone, you psycho! We all know that this is a show that "pushes the envelope," but the last episode outdid anything I've ever seen before on TV. Holy paper bag. I have a theory of who The Carver might be, but my dumb idea would mean that the production "cheated" by misleading us with false points-of-view and flashbacks. Don't read the rest of this if you don't want any speculation: I'm thinking that The Carver is not one person, but two--our "heroes." It just goes along with the whole theme of the guys never being able to separate themselves from each other. It's a totally whacko theory that makes no sense, but then again, this is NIP/TUCK.

THE APPRENTICE: MARTHA STEWART (NBC) - Not a whole lot to say except that I'm still watching every Wednesday. I loved when Jim, the villain, talked Marcela, the sweet heroine, back into the game, and I wonder if the editors are setting it up so that this move bites Jim in the butt. Wouldn't that be awesome?

LOST (ABC) - Still addicted. And I get a lot of flack for this, but I find Ana-Lucia to be a fascinating addition. A lot of people absolutely hate her, but I see her as introducing a lot of conflict to the camp. She's also going to have the hugest redemption arc of any character, unless she turns to the "dark side." Interestingly enough, the writers haven't shown us A-L before the first phase of her obvious Post Traumatic Stress Disorder kicked in, so it's tough to like her. But she's intriguing because of her failings: she's buried under layers of machismo that cover her fear, and she has no idea how to cope in society. Due to her PTSD plus the conditions that the tail-end passengers have had to endure from the get-go (They were instantly attacked by the Others and have been fending them off without a break.), she's become the worst of what the island has to offer. I feel like she's a tragic figure with a heart of darkness, so even though I wouldn't want to be within ten feet of her in real life, I'm completely enthralled watching how she functions from a long distance. And the last few minutes of the last episode? "Dad?"
Ahhhh!

VERONICA MARS (UPN) - Here's another show that just keeps getting better and better. VM is actually as puzzling in its cryptic bread crumbs as LOST is, but in a more sedate way. Like BLUE VELVET, every episode is a dark glimpse under the manicured grass of that lovely lawn you see in front of a beautiful, seemingly perfect house. And things are getting downright creepy in 09er-ville. A little girl in a white nightgown who's being punished by being kept in a closet? A supposed good girl who was the supposed victim of a bus-crash, in a coma and pregnant? What the...? And what's with Duncan? Wouldn't it be great it he really was creepy and evil and there was no convenient excuse for the way he's been acting?

ALIAS (ABC) - As I moaned about in a previous blog, this has been cancelled. Whaa. But Sark is coming back, and that's all I care about right now. It'll be gross seeing him with Rachel, a new character I haven't really gotten behind, but I'll just pretend like one half of my screen is all blond bad boy and the other half is ether (and with Rachel, that's not really hard to do--rimshot, please).

SURVIVOR (CBS) - Now I'm finally getting interested! Can I ask when Stephanie became irritating? She was so great last season, but now...bleh. I really like Rafe and Danni, so my hopes are with them. Unfortunately, Gary Hogeboom got booted just when he started being a real fireball and calling everyone out at Tribal Council. I think two of my favorite SURVIVOR moments came within minutes of each other and were provided by Gary: the comment about all the starstruck players getting Steph's autograph after the show and then when he absolutely, completely mortified Judd about lying re: the immunity idol. Awesome.

EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (UPN) - Always funny with good continuity about character details (Dad and his cheapness, Mom and her "I don't have to take this--my husband's got two jobs.).

THE APPRENTICE (NBC) - Dear, Alla: where did you bite the dust? I thought you were so great before the last episode, when you just imploded into one mass of nattering overkill. Was your evil disguised under a cape of unbelievable effectiveness this whole time? Go, Randal.

REUNION (Fox) - Pretty fun stuff here. Every episode has a neat little twist in the mystery of who killed Sam. Speculation: At this point, I'm wondering if she's even truly dead. The Thanksgiving episode was really good because it showed that disfunctional feasts aren't limited to family gatherings.

MASTERS OF HORROR (Showtime) - At first, I was impressed with that albino-DELIVERANCE-WWF killer who gets the tables turned on him by a supposedly meek woman. But the rest of these episodes have been, "meh." I'm stunned that some of these masters (the best directors in the horror biz) aren't paying attention to the title of their series: Masters of Horror. Being scared out of your gourd isn't always about blood and guts and carnage--it's about dread. I know I've said that often in my blogs and Crystal Says... reviews, but tapping into primal fear isn't really such a mystery. Yes, it's hard to do, but you'd think Masters of a genre would have a handle on this. Kind of disappointing, but since a different director is in charge of every episode, I'll stick with it.

And that's it, for now. Until TV report card III, have a good time slogging though all the holiday specials and waiting for PRISON BREAK to come back....

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Movie catch up

I *finally* got to see HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE! Man, I love this series, and I do believe this is my favorite movie from it thus far. I thought the last one was great, too, but I have to say that the ending--the time travel--was fairly repetitive and got me a little antsy. However, I loved AZKABAN's darkness and the unsettling build up. GOBLET is an excellent transitional installment--the darkness is even blacker, and the low moment--with the rebirth of Voldemort--was creepy and upsetting when it could've easily swayed into utter melodrama. Yes, there are plot elements missing from the movie that were in the book, but for a viewer who hasn't read it, the subplots won't be missed. I'm really curious about the next one though...remember what a pill Harry was in book 5? Are they going to embrace that in the movie? I think Daniel Radcliffe's acting chops have gotten stronger, so he's up to the challenge. And I just know I'm going to hate, hate, hate the most vile character ever to grace the POTTER world (She who shall not be named, and those of you who've read the books know *exactly* who I'm talking about.). Ooooo, I'm already excited!

As a bonus, I saw my first extended preview of THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. Now, you all realize by now that I *love* horror movies; I can watch just about anything. But I'm going to confess something: I'm afraid to see this film. It's true!!! I don't want to cry like a baby when Aslan...well, you know what happens if you've read the book and if you haven't, I sure ain't going to tell you. Can I suck it up and watch it? I don't know, but I *really* want to!

Last, I highly recommend that you go to any number of web sites to see a preview of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2: DEAD MAN'S CHEST. (Try www.aintitcoolnews.com if you don't find it anywhere else.) I'm so excited about it, and my dreamy elf has a line that had me busting out laughing.