Thursday, November 30, 2006

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful

Don't you hate it when the weather is bad enough to make travelling to and from work miserable, but not bad enough to actually get work to close down?

I know I do.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I'm Not Dead Yet . . .


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Let's Go to the Mall!

Due to travel and general family-fun time, my posting this week will be spotty, although I definitely have some entertaining Singles stuff I want to get posted soon. But until I get a chance to type some stuff up, please enjoy this musical gem from Canadian pop sensation Robin Sparkles


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rhymes of the Brain Dead Blogger

I've hosts and hosts
Of half formed posts
Which all have died aborning

And I can't keep
Caught up on sleep
A fact I curse each morning

As for my head
My brains are dead
So now you get this warning

That at this time
You will find rhyme
My blog-site all adorning


Now since by the bug of blogging
You, poor soul, have been found bitten
All your time it has been hogging
For with blogging you've been smitten.

You have friends who waste time slogging
Through the mass of crap you've written
You have some who just start dogging --
These big mouths you feel like hittin'

But with words your brain is clogging
And you're typin' and a-sittin'
(When you should be out, say, jogging)
So you're weak (just like a kitten)

All their insults you keep logging
As your teeth you keep on grittin'
So you try some dialoging,
And suggest that what is fittin'
Is your grits they should be snogging
(That means "kissing" to a Briton)

Of course now your mind is fogging
And your audience is splittin'
But a dead horse you keep flogging
Are these rhymes you should be quittin'

Would you please just stop hot-dogging?
It's a life you should be gettin'!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

TV Tues - Award Winning Actresses Getting Punched in the Face? Always Funny. Always.

**Tues Nov 7**

Gilmore Girls (CW 7:00): The show is definitely on an upswing, which is a relief. Always hate to see a stellar show lose its footing. Not back up to the height of the Team Palladino years, but still better than the bulk of stuff on the air.

Veronica Mars (CW 8:00): The execs are still keeping mum about whether VM will be getting a full season order or not, which is bothersome; I'm going to try and focus on the fact that we're getting some quality TV in the meantime and not worry about whether the show will go on past the resolution of the rapist mystery.

**Wed Nov 8**

Jericho (CBS 7:00): I don't care if Grey was right about Hawkins being suspicious, the entire time he was questioning the family I just wanted one of them to haul off and punch his lights out. Man, does that guy rub me the wrong way.

Bones (Fox 7:00): I kept having Angel flashbacks throughout this episode

Lost (ABC 8:00): Well, that wasn't nearly as bad of a cliffhanger as what I'd feared; still stinks that we have to wait until February to see a new ep. On the bright side, the producers have promised that before the end of the season we will definitely (a) learn the full story of The Others, (b) learn how Jack got his tattoos, and, most importantly, (c) learn why Locke was in a wheelchair. So, yeah, looking forward to that.

**Thur Nov 9**

Survivor (CBS 7:00): Wow, actually starting the jury before the merger? That's an interesting twist, and one that could very well come back to bite somebody on the butt. Unless, that is, the final two actually turn out to be the two I want it to be (Ozzie and Yule), in which case, it's a moot point.

My Name is Earl (NBC 7:00): While a part of me applauds them for not making the Darnell's-in-the-witness-protection-program idea a throwaway gag, I'm still curious about how that ties in with all of his family showing up at his and Joy's wedding - - or am i just expecting too much logic from a sitcom? Oh, by the way, if you look closely during the upcoming Christian Slater episode, you'll be able to see my former supervisor's mother in the background as a member of Slater's hippie commune; sure, you'll have absolutely no idea which one she is, but you'll still see her, and that's what's important.

The Office (NBC 7:30): Another strong episode, but I think my favorite part was in the extended online version where Michael yells at Toby for walking so slowly; Michael's irrational dislike of Toby always makes me chuckle.

Supernatural (CW 8:00): I liked the fact that the spirit didn't turn out to be a force of evil this time around; nice that they still play around with their plot structure from time to time. Plus, there were lots of opportunities for Dean to be a smartass, which is always a good thing for the show. The "pea soup" comment at the end just made me groan, though.

The O.C. (Fox 8:00): Amazing how the show has ramped up the gloom and doom, and yet still has managed to recapture the humorous spirit of its first season in so many ways. I think the big difference is that the drama feels much more organic with everyone grieving over the loss of Marissa, as opposed to the numerous plot devices thrown at the characters the last couple of seasons.

Ugly Betty (ABC 7:00): A pretty hum-drum episode over-all, although watching Wilhelmina operating out of her element was fun.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC 8:00): Was very happy to see the return of Kali "Halfrek" Rocha as the perpetually chipper Sydney; was not quite as happy to see Sloan hitting on Meredith. I mean, I know the guy's supposed to be a player and all, but for someone who keeps saying he misses his friendship with Derek, you'd think he'd realize that sleeping with Derek's woman would be the final nail in the coffin.

**Sat Nov 11**

Legion of Super-Heroes (Kids WB): Once again, in terms that only Bubblegum Tate will understand: Tenzil Kem! Tenzil sprocking Kem! Chomping through the Atomic Axe! I now forgive the creators for every other misstep they've made in the creative process for that one crazy cameo.

**Mon Nov 13**

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:00): Man, was that a goofy ep. Some funny stuff, but lots of oddness to overcome.

The Class (CBS 7:30): *sigh* I had been so hoping that it would turn out that Richie wasn't married to Darlene, I mean, Fern, but no such luck. But at least the secret's out in the open now.

Heroes (NBC 8:00): Every time Mohinder appears on screen, I feel the show grind to a screeching halt. But, trying to divine the true intentions of Mr. Horn Rimmed Glasses helps make up for it.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC 9:00): I don't think I mentioned last week how happy I was to see Lucy Davis added to the cast last week; loved her on the BBC's The Office, loved her in Shaun of the Dead, loved her in her Ugly Betty cameo; here's hoping she sticks around Studio 60 for a while. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard, yes, Studio 60 will actually be around for a while, as NBC has given them a full season order, so all of you Studio 60 fanatics out there can rest easy.

**TV on DVD**

Sopranos Season 6 pt.1: Seasons 1 & 2: some of the best TV around. Seasons 3 & 4: horribly disappointing. Season 5: Vast improvement. Season 6 so far? Still going strong. Heck, the entire season was worth it for one thing alone: seeing Lauren Bacall, playing herself, get mugged and punched in the face. Trust me: it was hilarious.

Masters of Horror: Imprint: The infamous Takashi Miike episode of Masters of Horror which was too graphic to air on Showtime finally arrived for me. The final verdict? Yes, it was gross and disturbing; the torture sequence was one of the most brutal I've seen. And the reveal of the true nature of the prostitute was pretty danged creepy, up until we got a close up of her twin, at which point it became incredibly silly. But not as silly as the overwrought and stilted performance of Billy Drago, who apparently felt bad that he was the only cast member for whom English was not a second language and so went out of his way to make it seem like it was. Seriously, every time he opened his mouth, I hoped that some creature would swoop down and rip out his tongue so that we wouldn't have to deal with his horrendous performance anymore. After all the build-up and controversy, I'm afraid the episode just didn't live up to the press.


Monday, November 13, 2006


Wordplay: Documentary about the annual National Crosswords Championships and its founder Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. While the crossword puzzle contestants are nowhere near as quirky as the Scrabble contestants from Word Wars, this was still an enjoyable look inside the culture of crossword fanatics. I particularly enjoyed the sections which showed the crosswords being constructed, as well as the interviews with celebrity crossword enthusiasts such as Bill Clinton, The Indigo Girls, and Jon Stewart.

Freak Out: Very low budget British horror comedy about a horror movie fanatic and his no-good best friend who decide to turn an escaped mental patient into the next Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. First the negatives: the acting is sub-par, the editing and plot are choppy, and the humor often descends into the sophomoric. Then again, most of those complaints could be applied to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and I've watched that one way too many times. I don't think Freak Out is quite as willfully stupid as Tomatoes, but it often comes close. But despite of the lack of quality in many aspects (and perhaps, at times, because of it), I got a lot of enjoyment out of this one. It sent up a lot of different horror flicks, and has its share of laugh-out-loud moments. In the end, The Anti-Cap'n and I agreed that it was worth our time; of course, I have no clue who else I know who would appreciate it.

Mr. Jealousy: Romantic comedy from '97 starring Eric Stoltz as a compulsively jealous man who lies his way into a therapy group in order to spy on his girlfriend (Annabella Sciorra)'s famous ex-boyfriend (Chris Eigeman). This one was written and directed by Noah Baumbach, who, between this, The Squid and the Whale and Kicking AND Screaming is now officially on my "must see anything he does" list. Quirky and off-beat characters with lots of dialogue; right up my alley. Once again stealing scenes is Baumbach's good friend Carlos Jacott as Stoltz's neurotic friend who receives therapy by proxy.

Totally Awesome: This spoof of 80s movies comes courtesy of VH1, and pays mocking homage to such classics as Footloose, Karate Kid, Dirty Dancing, Soul Man and Teen Wolf. As with most spoofs, this one was hit or miss. The leads (including Callie from Battlestar Galactica as the resident "pretty/ugly girl") were pretty likeable, especially Dominique Swain, whose mini-temper tantrums were some of the film's highlights; sadly, there's no clip of the tantrums by themselves out there (yet), but one does pop up in this trailer.
"Dancing is my life; DANCING IS MY LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFE!" Cracked me up every time. I could have done without pretty much any of Tracy Morgan's scenes, and Joey Kern was just a little too sleazy as the uber-popular jock, but on the whole, an amusing piece of fluff for children of the 80s.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

If I Do Reply, You Know the Email's Starting With "Howdy, Y'all!"

One of the things I get to do in my new job is investigate free online resources that librarians want to add to our database to make sure that they're really free with no strings attached. Our legal department requires us to get an official statement from the people behind the resource stating that there's no license agreement involved, so I get to use a very formal form letter (complete with "Dear Sir or Madam") to request these statements, since we have to document everything we do in the process. This morning, I got a response from one such provider which at first blush seemed very polite . . . until I scrolled down and realized that I had originally sent the form letter to a different person, and he had forwarded it to the person who responded to me. And, when she responded to me, she neglected to delete the comments he had made about my request:

Give me a break! And 'Dear Sir' to boot!
I want to email him back soooooooooooooooooooo much.

"Dear Sir: I apologize profusely if my attempts to maintain a civil and professional manner caused you distress; it is obvious from your response that such behavior is against your belief system."

Zinger feels that this approach is too confrontational, and yet somehow I doubt that his suggestion of asking the individual in question to perform improbable physical acts upon himself would go over much better.

At the least I wanted to email the polite lady and caution her to be more careful with forwards in the future, but my boss has suggested I drop the whole thing, so drop it I shall. And I shall look on the bright side; if I hadn't gotten this marginally insulting email this morning, I would have had nothing to blog about.

So, Give Me a Break Guy, I thank you, and my blog monkeys thank you.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Most Awesome Name in the Universe

For those of you who enjoy the adventures of Swarley, be sure to check out his blog and his new web page


TV Tues. - Swarley and the Crazy Eyes

**Tues Oct. 31**

Help Me Help You (ABC 8:30): A nice comeback from last week's less than stellar outing; the whole episode was worth it to see Ted Danson skipping down the street with Inger's life coach. Plus, I got to add several new words to my vocabulary, like "conversate," "hostilizing," and "intuitine."

Boston Legal (ABC 9:00): Wow, really, David E. Kelley? Two possible incest stories in as many weeks? For shame. And what exactly is up with his penchant for writing characters with uncontrollable physical and vocal tics? I kept having Biscuit flashbacks during the Jerry scenes and, while entertaining, Jerry is no Biscuit, I assure you. Still, the show has started to grow on me, and I am now feeling compelled to rent the previous seasons so I can figure out just what all of the character relationships are.

**Wed Nov. 1**

30 Rock (NBC 7:00): Another week with neither hide nor hair seen of Krakowski or Dratch; I might be more put out by that if I actually cared about their characters. But right now, as long as I get a lot of Alec Baldwin and Kenneth the Page, the rest of the cast can go jump in the lake for all I care.

Jericho (CBS 7:00): At the beginning of the episode, The Anti-Cap'n wondered out loud how long before Dale figured out Gracie wasn't all that nice; guess he's a little bit psychic, huh?

Lost (ABC 8:00): There are apparently two types of people in this world: those who liked the smoke monster sequences in this episode, and those who didn't. You can count me among the former. I do hate that tomorrow night's episode will be the last new one until February, partly because I want more Lost now, but mostly because I just know it's going to end on one mother of a cliffhanger.

The Nine (ABC 9:00): VAST improvement over the previous week's installment, even if it didn't move the flashback sequence forward a huge amount. At least it didn't suck my will to live. The show has earned itself yet another reprieve.

**Thur Nov. 2**

My Name is Earl (NBC 7:00): While it's a close toss up between Randy and Joy for my favorite character on the show, there are certain episodes where Crabman steals the show; his concern for Mr. Turtle this time was one of those occasions.

The Office (NBC 7:30): Poor Michael; poor stupid, stupid Michael.

Ugly Betty (ABC 7:00): Not much to say about this episode in particular, other than America Ferrera deserves an Emmy nomination next year; she makes the show.

The O.C. (Fox 8:00): Hate the fact they felt the need to darken Ryan's character again; it's like they took three years of character development and flushed it down the drain. But while the Ryan storyline is groan worthy, the antics of Taylor, Summer, Seth, and the twins, plus the addition of Chris "Bright from Everwood" Pratt as a dirty tree-hugging hippie, help the show rise above its soapy roots yet again. To be honest, the removal of Marissa from the show's equation can't help but make it more watchable.

Supernatural (CW 8:00): While not quite as creepy as the promos made it out to be, the H.H. Holmes story was still plenty creepy.

ER (NBC 9:00): It's so odd seeing Busy Phillips play a character who's not a rebellious and/or promiscuous troublemaker, let alone a devout Christian who prays before even the most minor procedure; almost didn't recognize her without a bottle of booze in her hand. Morris continues to grow on me, while Pratt continues to bore me.

**Fri Nov 3**

Battlestar Galactica (SciFi 8:00): I'm intrigued by the Cylon projecting business, and just what Baltar's connection to it is; I hope they don't drag out that mystery for too much longer.

**Sat Nov 4**

Legion of Super Heroes (CW 10:00 AM): The Phantom Zone ep had its moments, but doesn't quite live up to the promise of the first couple of eps. I find myself constantly shaking my head at the need to jazz up the characters' powers (Imra's a teke, Tinya's stealing moves from Kitty Pryde, and Brainy's a transformer), but I can forgive all of that for one reason if nothing else: an upcoming ep will feature not only Legion tryouts, but The Legion of Substitute Heroes. The freaking Subs, I tell you! Somewhere out there, Bubblegum Tate (and possibly Steve) is nodding in understanding, while all the rest of you blog monkeys are scratching your heads.

**Sun Nov 5**

The Simpsons (Fox 7:00): As usual, the Treehouse of Horror ep is about a zillion times better than the rest of the season, although the first segment felt really rushed.

**Mon Nov. 6**

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:00): Few things have made me laugh as hard recently as the Swarely running gag; the "Norm!" punch at the end just sealed this as one of my favorite episodes of the series.

The Class (CBS 7:30): A so-so ep, but the ending gives me hope that at least one of the adultery storylines will come to a head soon.

Heroes (NBC 8:00): One of the things that I'm enjoying about the show is the shades of grey they've introduced to several of the characters; after all, just because someone's wound up with powers, doesn't automatically make them a hero. Trying to figure out whether Nathan and Nikki are on their own versions of heroes' journeys or merely heading down the road to super-villaindom has me hooked, as does the mystery of just what Claire's dad's agenda is and just how much does he really know.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC 9:00): Mark McKinney’s name kind of jumped out at me in the credits; does the hiring of a veteran of Kids in the Hall and SNL mean that the show-within-the-show will actually become funny? Let's hope so. At the same time, Sorkin's hand is pretty evident in the ep, if for no other reason than the following line: "Why the viola, not the violin? I'm asking your daughter why the viola and not the violin." I swear, for a second I thought Ed Asner had been possessed by the spirit of Jed Bartlett; the cadence of that line just screams West Wing to me. All that aside, how did I rate the episode? By far the best ep since the first two. Yeah, there were a few things that bothered me (Simon's dogged insistence that it was his joint was incredibly artificial and forced), but I felt this episode made better use of the ensemble as a whole than the last several had.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Peanut, Smash! or If I Learned One Thing at the Texas State Fair, It Was This . . .

Don't make Peanut hungry . . . you wouldn't like him when he's hungry.


Movie Mon. - Slow Week

Mission Impossible III: The latest installment in the franchise finds Ethan Hunt returning to field agent status in order to save a former protégé, only to get sucked into a conspiracy within the IMF. Well done action flick that requires quite a bit of suspension of disbelief, but then again, what else is new? A top notch cast helps keep the film engaging, as do all of the over-the-top stunts and gadgets. Sure, you can't help but see most of the big twists coming, they're so well telegraphed, but in the end it's all about the stunts and FX; in that respect, it's a success.

Reds: Sprawling film about the relationship between leftist radicals John Reed (Warren Beatty, who also won an Oscar for Best Director) and Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) during the rise of socialism following the Bolshevik Revolution. Interesting film with an excellent cast which I probably would have enjoyed more if I had sat through it in one sitting; however, since the film was split into two discs, I wound up watching them almost a week apart, which definitely killed the movie's momentum.


And Lo, There Shall Come . . . an Indexer!

As if I didn't have enough on my plate already, I recently signed up to be an indexer for The Grand Comics Database project, which should put my skills as a librarian and my curse of borderline OCD to good use. Plus, it counts towards my "professional development" which means that, in a way, I'm finally getting paid to do comic book related work. Sure, it's not any more than I was being paid before I started indexing, and technically I'm not supposed to spend more than 5% of my time on it, but that's beside the point.

So without further ado, I give you my first indexed issue.

Please, hold your applause.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Cold Shiny Claws Pop Out From My Paws . . .

Yeah, I haven't felt all that bloggy the last couple of days for one reason or another; part of it is due to spending way too much time invested in the X-Men: Legends video game, which of course speaks to the geek in me on several different levels. It's actually made me want to go dig out all of my old X-men comics, which I haven't read in ages. So, in honor of my most recent obsession, I present to you a nice little song parody which wasn't done by the greatest musical genius of our time, but is funny enough that it probably should have been.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"What I Watched" Wed: TV Time

**Mon Oct 23**

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:00): Glad to see Bryan Cranston showing up as Ted's clueless boss; even gladder to find out the character will be recurring.

The Class (CBS 7:30): Ethan as Superman was a highlight of the episode, as was Yonk's inability to detect sarcasm.

Two and a Half Men (CBS 8:00): Charlie dating a copy of his mom was fun, although I would have loved to have seen more of the younger Charlie and Alan doppelgangers.

**Tues Oct 24**

Gilmore Girls (CW 7:00): One of the better eps under the new regime; was glad that they had Rory confront her problems with Logan at the end of the ep rather than dragging it out in broody silence for weeks.

Veronica Mars (CW 8:00): Poor Veronica; so much better at making enemies than making friends. Of course, it doesn't help that the new enemies are stupid and short-sighted fools.

Help Me Help You (ABC 8:30): The first big stumble of the series so far; up until now Bill's super-competitive nature has been more entertaining than annoying, but with the birthday party fiasco I found myself cringing as often as I was laughing. But watching Jere Burns ranting about how great Tom Hanks is was great.

**Wed Oct 25**

Jericho (CBS 7:00): The mystery of why Jake left town begins to clear, but I'm much more interested in the mystery of where he went afterwards.

30 Rock (NBC 7:00): Once again, I can hardly believe how much I'm enjoying this show. I thought the Tina-Fey-choking gag came back once too often (she really should see a doctor about that), but the poker battle between Alec Baldwin and Kenneth the Page was awesome. No sigh of Jane Krakowski or Rachel Dratch this week; anyone else have the feeling the writers aren't quite sure what to do with them?

Lost (ABC 8:00): I would just like to state, for the record, that I still think Lost is great, and that still have faith that the creative team has a plan and knows where they're going. I did think Sawyer fell for the con a little too easily, but after everything they'd gone through it was probably better to be safe than sorry, eh?

The Nine (ABC 9:00): At some point while watching this ep, I turned to PigPen and declared "This show is draining my will to live." The consensus of The Boys of Benjiman Street is that Egan is pretty much the only thing worthwhile about the show, and that the dragging out of the bank robbery flashbacks is already wearing thin. Setting up the possibility that the deceased sister was in on it has bought them another week of my time, but just barely.

**Thur Oct 26**

Ugly Betty (ABC 7:00): Was good to see Christopher Gorham, too bad his character probably won't be back, thought he made a good match for Betty. I'm enjoying the interplay between Betty and the other assistants more now that there's a little more friendliness behind it. The show works better for me when it focuses on the comedy aspects and not on the soap aspects.

Supernatural (CW 8:00): And the mystery of the "special children" deepens in a satisfying way; glad to see that Sam isn't the only one not to have gone evil, it adds a bit more mystery to their potential future encounters.

**Mon Oct 30**

Heroes (NBC 8:00): Have to say I wasn't too surprised that Mohinder's friend was a plant, nor was I surprised the Claire's bio-parents weren't quite what they seemed. The battle between Niki's two sides continues to intrigue me, and the show has quickly become part of the must-see TV or the Boys of Benjiman Street.

**Tues Oct 31**

Veronica Mars (CW 8:00): I'm holding out hope that Wallace didn't actually cheat on his exam, if just because the show has been good about throwing curveballs like that before. Once again Veronica sabotages one of her few friendships with her suspicious nature, and from the ads for next week her relationship with Logan is headed the same way. But at least it all feels natural for her character, which is more than some shows can say. Was good to see Cliff the lawyer pop up again, really wish he had been the one promoted to full-time cast instead of Sheriff Lamb, who more often than not just annoys me with his idiotic refusal to take the Mars family seriously. However, he did score some points this week with his "does not compute" robot dance.

**Random Shows I'm Just Now Getting Caught Up On**

Men in Trees (ABC, Fridays 8:00): This is one of the shows that I enjoy when I watch, but if I miss it, it's not going to kill me. I'm still more interested in the supporting cast than I am in Marin, but the fact that they've allowed her and Jack to actually be cordial to each other has helped me like her character more. It was also nice to see the talented Ever Carradine pop up as her sister; would love to see more of "New Baby" on the show.

Brothers and Sisters (ABC, Sundays 9:00): Had myself a mini-marathon of the first 5 episodes of this show last week, which should tell you that I'm hooked . . . for now. I like the relationship between the siblings, which feels like a real family dynamic to me. I do think they all fly off the handle a little too easily (especially Balthazar Getty's character), but so far it hasn't been enough to sour me on the show.


"What I Watched" Wed: Movie Time

The Prestige: Intricate thriller about two rival stage magicians (Christian "Batman" Bale and Hugh "Wolverine" Jackman) whose feud leads to much death and dismemberment. I don't want to say too much about this right now, since this is one of those films which is enhanced by surprise, but I will say that I loved it. Bale is compelling as usual, and Jackman does a fine job as the obsessive rival. I did figure out one of the big twists pretty early on, but there was another which kind of took me by surprise at the end. Definitely one I want to see again. Highly recommended to those who don't mind having to pay attention when they watch a film.

Pizza: Odd Indie about Cara-Ethyl, a social outcast who, bereft of any friends, attaches herself to a pizza delivery guy (Ethan Embry) on her 18th birthday. This was a strange one, but I liked it. The character of Cara-Ethyl was not your typical teen outcast; she wasn't just one hairstyle change away from being popular. No, it would have taken a complete personality makeover, which is part of the reason I enjoyed this.

Nacho Libre: "Comedy" (I use that word with great hesitation) about a Mexican friar who pursues his dream of being a luchador, or masked wrestler. You know, once upon a time, I thought that Jack Black could make anything funny. Then I saw Envy, and my confidence was shaken. Now, it's been completely shattered. Were there funny moments in this? Sure, a couple here and there. But on the whole, the film ranged from the dull (any scenes between him and the pretty nun) to the bizarre (the fat lady crawling through holes in her house) to the "who thought that was funny?" (too many to count). Painful, painful movie.

American Dreamz: Satire about an American Idol style show focusing on two contestants: a self-absorbed, fame-hungry manipulator, and a reluctant terrorist who is forced into competing in order to make an assassination attempt on the President, who just happens to be a guest judge on the finals. Sound far-fetched? It is, but somehow, it works. Hugh Grant is delightfully smarmy as usual as the show's host; Dennis Quaid is entertainingly dim as the Dubya-analogue; and Mandy Moore is convincingly shallow as the girl who uses her boyfriend's military history as a sure-fire way to get to the finals. My only real complaint with the film is how little time was spent on the American Dreamz show itself; the bulk of the movie is spent setting it up, but then they just zip past the progress of the show in a montage. Sure, putting more time into the show within the film might have broken the flow of the story, but I can't help feeling that I was cheated out of something. Still a good movie; just could have been better.

Monster House: Surprisingly entertaining animated film about a group of kids who discover that the house across the street is actually alive, and hungry for humans. Well-written movie with good voice work from a pretty impressive cast, including Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Kathleen Turner. The animation was pretty good on the whole, except when it came to character facial expressions, which were a bit lifeless. But, even with distracting character animation, the film sucked me in and made me laugh quite a few times, so I'll be giving it a thumbs up.

American Haunting: A "based on true events" horror movie which marketed itself as being an account of the only haunting in American history which had resulted in a death. Slow-moving film which harbors a little bit of creepiness, but mostly just left me bored. I will give them this: I did not see the reasoning behind the haunting coming, at least not fully . . . of course, that's partly because it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Don't think there's enough here to warrant a recommendation.

Mini's First Time: Very dark comedy about a manipulative and rebellious girl who seduces her step-father (Alec Baldwin) and then conspires with him to drive her mom (Carrie Ann Moss) crazy. Fairly well done film, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. Sociopathic Mini is a bit too smug in her Machiavellian maneuverings fro me to be able to identify with her. Some pretty funny parts here and there, especially the scenes where her mom begins to lose it, but in the end, I just didn't care for this all that much.