12 April 2011

Desperado: Deep Greens and Blues are the Colors I Choose

So, you guys remember that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine dated a guy who absolutely enamored with the song "Desperado" by The Eagles? He'd make everyone stop talking and sit in reverence until it was over. I love that episode, for many reasons, but I especially love the part where Elaine tries to come up with a song that she felt that strongly about. She chose The Eagles' "Witchy Woman," which is an awesome song, but he looked at her like she was crazy for feeling so strongly about this song.

Everyone has these songs, though. Songs that you will always, always stop for on the radio. Songs that you will never ever skip when they come up on your iPod. Songs that get an automatic five-star rating on iTunes, or an automatic thumbs-up when your Pandora stations are brilliant enough to play them. Thus, we begin a new feature here at Daily Word Allotment: highlighting songs that deserve the reverence that Elaine's boyfriend paid to Desperado. (This was just going to be one post, but then I decided it was more fun to break them up, and also easier to reference later if necessary.)

So, our first Desperado song - James Taylor's "Sweet Baby James." You're all surprised that I'm not leading off with a Billy Joel song, aren't you? Well, too bad. This song makes me happy. Every form of it, every lyric of it, the entire melody, and the way that my Pandora stations have all been trained to play every version of it that there is.

I've loved the song for years, but my love was further cemented when Jay Leno had Taylor as a musical guest on his last episode hosting The Tonight Show. Well, the first last episode - had I known then what I know now about that whole fiasco, I would've been a lot less sentimental about it. But I was sure when Leno said Taylor was there, he'd come out and play "You've Got A Friend" or something sappy like that. But he didn't, he played Sweet Baby James, and Leno said he had specifically requested it because it was on the radio a lot the year he moved out to LA and reminded him of that time in his life. So not only did he pick an awesome song, he had a good story about why he liked it. (Too bad he turned out to be a jerk to Conan, which is grounds for immediate and complete shunning in my book.)

I wish I could find a video of him performing it on The Tonight Show for you, but alas, in all the wide reaches of the internets, I have had no luck. So instead, I give you this lovely old live performance to enjoy.

08 April 2011

The Entertainer, Volume 17

Title: Death At A Funeral

Notable Actors: Lots of British people. And Alan Tudyk.

Why?: I watched the American version and thought it was OK. A coworker told me I should watch the original, British version, which is far superior.

Thoughts: Said coworker was correct. This was hilarious. I don't know if it's the fact that I like British humor (or should I spell that "humour"?), or if it's that it came first, or what, but it felt so much more natural and less forced in this version. And also, I laughed out loud multiple times. Alone, in my living room. I very rarely laugh out loud at films when I'm watching them alone. I'd recommend it as long as you're not scared of the fact that everyone has British accents. And even then, Alan Tudyk runs around naked. So there's that incentive too :-).

Title: Sex Drive

Notable Actors: James Marsden, Seth Green, and Clark Duke are among the more recognizable.

Why?: A coworker recommended it. (A different coworker than the one who recommended Death at a Funeral.)

Thoughts: This was...better than I expected. Definitely some quotable and funny parts, even if the plot is kind of stupid. It fits solidly into the R-rated boy comedy genre, so if you like those types of movies, go for it. I do have a feeling it would get better upon rewatch, so I might give it another try someday when I'm in the mood for that - it was a free streaming movie on Netflix, so it'll be easy to get ahold of.

Title: Sweet Valley Confidential

Author: Francine Pascal

Why?: Because of my great, great love for young adult literature, and also for epilogues.

Thoughts: This was...well, it kind of felt like a giant book full of fan fiction. Random pairings of people, lots of drama that results in a happy ending for everyone, lots of references to characters that barely made an appearance...and I didn't care. I loved it. If you ever read a Sweet Valley book, read this. It will make you happy, flaws and all.

Title: Arthur

Notable Actors: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner

Why?: I liked the original. And I worship the ground upon which Helen Mirren walks. And this one was showing at a time that fit well into our schedules.

Thoughts: I hope I'm half as awesome as Helen Mirren when I'm her age. Hell, I hope I'm half as awesome right now. That being said, while she did a great job in this role, the role itself was nothing compared to the original. Actually, that pretty much applies to the whole movie - fine, harmless, definitely funny in parts and Mirren and Russell Brand do a nice job, but it kind of just made me want to watch the original. That, and The Tea Shop Song (as Mary and I call it after an incident with a CD and the Spirit Shoppe) was sadly underused. Bottom line - when you get lost between the moon and New York City, the best that you can do is stick with Dudley Moore and Liza.

Title: I Know I Am, But What Are You?

Author: Samantha Bee

Why?: I like Samantha Bee. She's a Daily Show correspondent, for those of you who are not familiar.

Thoughts: Really funny, although some of the stories toward the end of the book dragged a bit. She reminded me more than once of David Sedaris if he discussed more feminine topics. I particularly liked the story about her religion, and also the one in which she discussed learning about sex. I'd highly recommend the book, but at the same time, I didn't like it enough to keep it, so you're on your own for finding a copy ;-)

Title: The Good Wife: The First Season

Notable Actors: Carol Hathaway, Mr. Big, Logan Huntzberger, Cybill's friend Mary Ann. (I don't care how many awesome things Christine Baranski does. She will always be Mary Ann to me. Except for maybe her exceptional role in Mamma Mia!, which was glorious.)

Why?: Because apparently, it's awesome. I did not know this, and assumed it was your standard cookie cutter legal drama populated by familiar actors.

Thoughts: This is a pretty darn awesome show. Where so many legal dramas become predictable and boring, or worse, contrived and sensationalistic, this one is a lot more intelligent. I'm really annoyed that I can't get the whole second season On Demand or on Netflix yet, because I keep seeing commercials and I want to catch up!

Title: Handle With Care

Author: Jodi Picoult

Why?: I was trying to diminish The Stack, and I can plow through one of her books in a weekend.

Thoughts: This one's about a kid with a bone disease whose parents sue for wrongful birth. It's just like all the others - really, really melodramatic and fairly predictable. But it's also just like all the others in that it's very difficult to stop reading once you've started. I swear this lady puts crack in her books, they're so addictive. I maintain that if you've read one, you've got a good handle on what's going to happen in all of them. But at the same time, they're enjoyable (if not exactly fun), and highly readable.

30 March 2011

The Entertainer, Volume 16

Title: Love and Other Drugs

Notable Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Hank Azaria

Why?: I like Anne Hathaway. And I like drugs. (Not like that.)

Thoughts: I...really enjoyed this. I have very little patience for insipid romantic comedies, and less patience for movies where the womanizing man-whore is won over by some pretty girl who must have some magical powers or whatever. That being said, this one was still pretty endearing. Part of that is my great love for Anne Hathaway, and the fact that the plot was related to the pharmaceutical industry helped. I'd be interested to read the book upon which this one was based, too, because apparently it's more about the drugs and less about the romance.

Title: Fair Game

Notable Actors: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts

Why?: Because I saw a commercial for it and remembered that it existed, and it was at the top of my Netflix queue because it had just come out.

Thoughts: This one is an interesting spy story, based on what happened to Valerie Plame Wilson. Both actors do a good job, although I kind of thought Naomi Watts was a bit too delicate to believe as a CIA agent. The plot is easy enough to follow, and the film's not too long, which means it doesn't have the problems I've encoutered in similar films. Interesting, and the fact that it's true makes it that much more so. I'm going to try to hunt down her book, so stay tuned for a report on that (although if you've seen the size of The Stack in my living room, it may be awhile before I get to it).

Title: Hot Fuzz

Notable Actors: Half of England

Why?: It'd been on my Netflix queue for awhile, but a gentleman friend is a fan of the film and was appalled that I hadn't seen it, so that helped get it seen sooner.

Thoughts: Rather enjoyable, as long as you're a fan of British comedy. The characters were amusing, as was the plot, and while the ending dragged a bit, it was still pretty awesome. Definitely worth watching. (And it's fun to play place-the-British-actor-in-the-British-movie while you watch!)

Title: Due Date

Notable Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis

Why?: Because Downey and Galifianakis are awesome.

Thoughts: Pretty awesome...not the best I've seen from either, but definitely a good representation of the genre. I wouldn't recommend it if you're not a fan of the R-rated male-focused comedy, but if you are, this one's worth it. Definitely funny, and while ridiculous at times, it doesn't stray too far from the plot or become too stupid. At least, in my opinion...like I said, if you're not into the genre, you may disagree. (That being said, every time I watch Downey in a comedy, it just makes me want to watch Tropic Thunder again. I maintain that if Heath Ledger hadn't died, that Oscar race that year would've been a lot closer.)

Title: To Be Or Not To Be

Notable Actors: Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft

Why?: Because Mel Brooks = awesome. We were discussing our favorite Mel Brooks films the other day at work, and a coworker mentioned this one and I'd never seen it and felt like a failure.

Thoughts: A good representation of his work, set against the backdrop of World War Two. Which was even more fun given that one of my favorite Brooks films is The Producers, and there were numerous references and repeated/similar lines throughout this one. Don't be stupid, be a smarty, and add this to your Netflix queue.

Title: Vanity Fair's Tales of Hollywood

Author: Lots of people

Why?: I saw it advertised in Vanity Fair a year or two ago, and it finally made its way to the top of my Paperback Swap wishlist.

Thoughts: This is a collection of Vanity Fair articles discussing specific films between the early 1940s and mid 1980s. They hit some of my favorites (The Graduate, specifically), as well as a few that I'd not seen but will be adding to my Netflix queue (The Magnificent Ambersons and The Sweet Smell of Success). Definitely an interesting book if you're a movie nerd like me, although I have a sneaking suspicion that you could find most of the articles archived online somewhere.

22 March 2011

The Entertainer, Volume 15

Author: Sara Gruen

Why?: Because I saw the trailer for the upcoming movie and wanted to read the book first. The fact that the movie comes out soon, and that numerous friends have read and enjoyed it, moved this book to the top of The Stack.

Thoughts: I blew through this thing in under three hours. To be fair, I was on an airplane for the vast majority of it, so it had my undivided attention. But I didn't even drink, and for a book to distract me from airplane drinking, it must be good! Then, of course, I finished it before my flight was over, and all of my other books were in my checked luggage, so I turned into that chick who's watching stupid movies on her laptop and drinking airplane wine.

But I digress. This book was delightful - just indepth enough, and a story just engaging enough, to drive you through it quickly but not so much that it's forgettable. Don't worry if you think circuses are creepy - I do, and yet, I loved this book. I'd recommend it. And stay tuned for my movie review at the end of April.

Notable Actors: No one, really, except maybe Jennifer Lawrence, who got an Oscar nomination

Why?: A coworker had told me it was good, so it was already on my Netflix queue when it got its Best Picture nomination. The nomination is what moved it to the top (although I did fall short on my goal of seeing all ten before the awards. But I knew neither True Grit nor James Franco Cuts Off His Arm had a prayer of winning, so I wasn't really stressing about it either).

Thoughts: Coworker was correct - it was definitely good, and Lawrence's performance is laudable. I found the characterization and cinematography to be very accurate and effective, at least from the perspective of this girl who's never set foot in the Ozarks. That being said, it was extremely depressing, although I do suppose it has a happy ending. I'd highly recommend it, but be prepared.
Title: Cedar Rapids

Notable Actors: Ed Helms, my beloved John C. Reilly

Why?: John C. Reilly. Whyever not?

Thoughts: This one? Pretty good. I'll have to rewatch to determine just how quotable it is, but after one viewing, I approve. It didn't have as much of the zaniness that, say, The Hangover had, but the characters were decently developed and the plot fairly self-contained. I'd recommend it.

Notable Actors: Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin

Why?: Because it takes a lot for me to break up with a show once I'm this far in, even if it did annoy me as much as the fourth season of this one did.

Thoughts: It just kept right on going with the annoying...going into the series finale, I could count on one hand how many characters were left who I didn't want to punch in the face. That being said, I really enjoyed that final episode. There were a number of nostalgic and/or poingnant moments, and while it didn't redeem most of the characters, it did remind me why I didn't always want to punch them. And then the last two scenes wrapped everything up really nicely. And that is all I will say about that because I don't want to ruin it for everyone. Just don't break up with it when it gets bad unless you, at the very least, skip ahead to the finale.

Title: Dinner for Schmucks

Notable Actors: Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, both of whom are so, so much better than this swill and who I hope got paid very handsomely.

Why?: Honestly, I don't even know. I might've been blinded by my love of Paul Rudd.

Thoughts: I watched half of this on a Wednesday, and it sat in my DVD player unfinished until I got home from Happy Hour on Friday. You would think the residual alcohol would help me enjoy the last half. You would be wrong. This was just...stupid. And not in a good way. Just look at Carell's expression on that poster and you'll see what I mean. Oh, and Paul Rudd's expression is pretty much how I feel. That being said, I've heard the French film upon which this was based is excellent. Stay tuned to see if I ever wind up watching it.

09 March 2011

That's What She Said, Installment 6

This isn't a That's What She Said so much as it is just an unfortunate arrangement, but either way, this is not suitable for the children's decor aisle at Target. They might just have some baby stuffed turtles running around soon...

Would You Like To Take A Survey?

As you all probably know, I like to read other people's blogs. A lot of these are written by strangers, so I don't comment and don't follow them publicly or list them in that pretty sidebar over there called "My Friends' Blogs". Everyone listed there is someone I know personally, ranging from my brother who never updates, to one of my oldest family friends whose blog about living in Italy makes me jealous every time I read it, to about a million different friends from college. (And if you have a blog and don't see it listed, tell me and I'll add it!)

Anyway, one of those blogs belongs to Ali, a classmate of mine from Hood. Her
roommate was Tricia's little sis, and they both lived in the same dorm I did. Ali writes a spectacular blog about healthy eating. As you all know, I am a big giant carnivore, but if ever there was something to make me want to eat vegetables, it would be Ali's blog. Today, she had a fun survey posted in addition to talking about food. And now, I am stealing said survey, because surveys are fun and I have decided that I need to post more than just a million installments of The Entertainer. That, and this allows me to quote a movie and talk about zoo animals. So, here we go.

A. Age: 29

B. Bed size: Queen, although the full-sized one in the guest room is more comfortable

C. Chore you dislike: Most of them. I really hate dusting, as evidenced by the condition of the bookshelves in my living room. And, strangely, I really like doing dishes as long as no one tries to help me.

D. Dogs: Holly Bug. Who is mine even if she does live with my parents. And I want one to live with me.

E. Essential start to your day: Diet Coke. Breakfast of champions. I can also make a case for hot tea, because that's what I am - a hotty.

F. Favorite color: Green. Preferably hunter or kelly.

G. Gold or silver: Yellow gold. But silver jewelry's cheaper, so I wear a fair amount of that too. But my Hood ring is yellow gold, and it wins.

H. Height: 5'8". Which can go up to 6 feet depending upon which shoes I choose.

I. Instruments you play(ed): Cello, for five years voluntarily and two more involuntarily.

J. Job title: Regulatory Associate III. And according to my resume, also Aquatics Specialist, which is what Don let me call myself back when it was just him and me running the pool. I never updated it after I stopped doing everything except teaching.

K. Kids: Nope. I have a million of 'em at the pool, though.

L. Live: Frederick.

M. Mom’s name: Terri. Or Therese if you want to be fancy. But not Theresa. Unless you want to make her mad and get a lecture about St. Therese.

N. Nicknames: Le. Pronounced with a long E. Also LeahGia. And the wretched little beasts at the pool where I guarded in high school called me LeahTard, which was actually pretty clever, although I never would've told them that.

O. Overnight hospital stays: None.

P. Pet peeves: People who get in my way - especially at airports, on the highway, or in the aisles at Target - and then aren't considerate enough to realize and get out of my way. People who use improper grammar and/or spelling.

Q. Quote from a movie: “If you can’t laugh at yourself, life is going to seem a lot longer than you’d like,” from Natalie Portman’s character in Garden State. And I'm cheating and including my absolute favorite quote of all time, from my beloved Elaine Benes in Seinfeld: "Here's to those who wish us well, and those who don't can go to Hell." A good motto for all.

R. Righty or lefty: Left-handed people are the best handed people. Although I hate the words "righty" and "lefty."

S. Siblings: David, the aforementioned brother who never updates his blog. (Apologies for the sideways video.)

T. Time you wake up: 6:30.

U. Underwear: Victoria's Secret. And that's all I'm telling you.

V. Vegetables you don’t like: Bell peppers. I loathe bell peppers. And also celery, which is the stalk of the devil. Other than that, I'm not picky about them. Roasted cauliflower is one of my favorite things in the world.

W. What makes you run late: When Charlie Sheen's spewing crazy all over the Today Show and I want to watch but I have to go to work.

X. X-rays you’ve had: Teeth. And I think I've had a chest x-ray before.

Y. Yummy food you make: See above about the roasted cauliflower. Also, cupcakes. Many, many cupcakes. (I also hate the word "yummy," for what it's worth, but it fits with this letter, so it shall stay.)

Z. Zoo animal favorites: Prairie dogs. And otters, if they're swimming around and not just laying there tanning like The Situation.

So, there you go. And, fun for you! Steal the list and play with yourself! (That's what she said.) And, stealing from Ali's idea again - if you're bored but not so bored to do the whole survey, just post here with your favorite movie quote, because that will make me happy :-).

04 March 2011

The Entertainer, Volume 14

Title: Never Let Me Go

Notable Actors: Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly, Andrew Garfield, a Weasley (which I correctly predicted as such based upon the fact that he is British and has red hair)

Why?: Because I read the book and loved it.

Thoughts: Creepy little story. But ultimately so sad. An excellent representation of the book, if you've read it and are worried about that. Actually, seeing the movie made me kind of like the book more - it was easier to picture everyone, and the plot was closely matched enough that it wasn't troublesome. And also, you guys, I'm kind of in love with Andrew Garfield now. Lots of people were surprised that he didn't get an Oscar nomination for his performance in The Social Network, but now, I'm more surprised that he didn't get any recognition for this - he was heartbreaking. And he used his real accent, so that gives him a bonus point in my book ;-).

Title: Big Love: The Complete Fourth Season

Notable Actors: Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin

Why?: Because I watched the first three seasons, and I'm not about to break up with it now.

Thoughts: Wow...I was exceedingly annoyed with so, so much about this season. Ana. Margene and Ben (and I usually love Margene). JJ. And that stupid Senate plot. I'll keep watching, because I can't really call things bad until I see where the writers are going, but my expectations for the fifth and final season are not high. Oh, and the new opening sequence sucks. I miss The Beach Boys. (This all being said, the first three seasons are great; I'd highly recommend them.)

Title: The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno, and the Network Battle for Late Night

Author: Bill Carter

Why?: Because TV fascinates me. And because I want to read Carter's book about the Conan/Leno battle, and this one had some valuable background information. And also, because I was twelve years old when this all went down and didn't have the internet to keep me informed.

Thoughts: I love TV gossip. Love. This whole Charlie Sheen thing is like crack to me, and not just the crazy, but also the whole feud and how it's affecting the show. And this is the same thing, minus a good bit of the crazy. The book was well-paced, with a ton of detail without seeming tedious. I can't wait to start the one about Conan. Despite the fact that there's a monstrous stack of books in my living room, waiting to be read, I went out and bought it yesterday and there is a very good chance that it's going to be my airplane book for this weekend :-).

Title: It's Kind Of A Funny Story

Notable Actors: Zach Galifianakis, Keir Gilchrist, Lauren Graham (who doesn't do that much but I love her so she's getting mentioned.)

Why?: Because I saw the trailer last year and wanted to see it, and it came out last week and I timed it correctly in returning a Netflix DVD so I got it right away.

Thoughts: I really liked this one - didn't love it, but liked it. It wasn't as quirky/indie as I thought it would based upon how animated the trailer was, but I'm OK with that. It was a nice story, if predictable, and all of the actors did a good job. I'd recommend it, as long as you're not expecting Galifinakis to act like he did in
The Hangover
Title: Youth in Revolt

Notable Actors: Michael Cera, and also briefly Justin Long and Zach Galifianakis. I think my Netflix queue was on a Galifinakis kick.

Why?: Because a coworker recommended it.

Thoughts: This one pretty much comes down to your feelings for Michael Cera. If you like him, you will like this film. If you hate him, you will hate this film. If you're ambivalent, I think there's a decent chance you'll still like this one. It's not my favorite of his films, but I definitely watched the whole thing and enjoyed it. He did a nice job with role.