I have nothing to say that’s not a major spoiler, so everything is after the jump. Proceed with caution. Or reckless abandon. Whatever. Follow your heart.
I have nothing to say that’s not a major spoiler, so everything is after the jump. Proceed with caution. Or reckless abandon. Whatever. Follow your heart.
If you know me, you know that I have an obsession with food that borders on the unhealthy. I am always hungry. I know you’re thinking that I’m exaggerating and that there is no way that I could be hungry immediately after I eat, blah blah blah, but I’m here to tell you that it’s a thing that happens. Everyone here can vouch for this. My friends know that I need to be fed every 2-4 hours or serious hanger sets in. I lose all of my charm when I’m hangry. When I used to have a real job, my boss knew that a meeting had been going on too long when she looked at my glazed expression and realized that it was time for me to eat again. Basically, food is my favorite. That’s why I knew that Jim Gaffigan’s Food: A Love Story might be my spirit animal.
Jim and I share a lot of food opinions. For instance, we agree that both sushi and salad, while perfectly acceptable food items, do not count as meals, although our reasoning is vastly different. Here’s mine: how can it be a meal when I’m hungry again in 30 minutes? This is just a snack or an appetizer. THIS IS NOT A MEAL. STOP TRYING TO CONVINCE ME THAT SUSHI WILL KEEP ME FULL. I never thought I’d quote Dolores Umbridge, but this is a lie. I’m happy to go for sushi, of course (it’s food, after all), but you should be prepared to take me for more vittles less than an hour later. Sushi is really just a warm-up for whatever I’m actually going to eat for my meal. The same goes for salads. I keep trying to eat salad as a meal. It always looks so healthy and refreshing, but I don’t understand how people can survive on this. I’ve heard all of the propaganda about putting more stuff in there (“Add chicken! It will totally keep you full!” More lies.), but at the end of the day we’re still talking about a bowl of lettuce. Salad-as-a-meal really only works if it’s one of those late night meals that you eat right before you go to bed. By the time I’ve brushed my teeth and put my pajamas on, the salad is fully metabolized and will not be sticking around to give me crazy Cliff Huxtable dreams. These rules don’t apply to taco salad, of course. Jim and I agree that the taco salad is the king of salads and the only acceptable salad meal. The fried tortilla bowl has a lot to do with this.
Be warned: reading or listening to this book is going to make you hungry. It’s like when you get sucked into watching Diners, Drive-ins & Dives on Food Network and start grazing on whatever you can find in the kitchen while you fantasize about the shrimp sandwich that that guy is making on the beach in Key West and start checking out plane fares to see how feasible it is to have that sandwich in your immediate future. Not that I was doing that yesterday at all. This book has chapters praising the wonders of bacon, barbeque, french fries, cheese, cheeseburgers, and cake just to name a few. (There’s also a chapter about a guy who is drinking a cup of KFC gravy, but that one actually didn’t make me hungry. Just awed at this man’s dedication. It’s possible that he’s trying to join The Church of Bloggessianism where there is extra gravy for everyone.) Even Jim’s complaints about seafood don’t make me not crave it. Instead, I start thinking about how it’s actually better that he doesn’t like fish or shrimp it because it leaves more for me, and then we’re right back to looking at plane fares to Key West. I’ll trade him all of his seafood for all of the hotdogs and McDonald’s that the universe has allocated for me. I think we’ll both be happier this way.
A few weeks ago a friend and I tore ourselves away from the thrill ride that is legal scholarship to check out the new(-ish) movie version of The Mortal Instruments. (Sidebar – I just realized that we have never reviewed this series, which is weird since we’ve all read at least some of them. We’ll put it on the to-do list. I know you’re clamoring for our opinions on all things YA fantasy.) The usual spoiler alerts apply.
I was hoping this movie would be good because the books lend themselves to the screen, but I had heard that it was mediocre at best, so I both braced myself and girded my loins for disappointment. The critics were right. This was not life-changing cinema. Some things were good – I thought that Simon was perfectly cast, and Clary fit the description, too, although she looked very different from my imaginary Clary. HOWEVER. Casting FAIL for Jace and Valentine. Jace was too old and he didn’t have the right swagger and he’s not exactly the panty-dropper that Cassandra Clare described. Maybe this is all just personal taste, but I was not buying it. VALENTINE, though. Jonathan Rhys-Myers will always have a special place in my heart due to his role in the seminal film Bend it Like Beckham, but he is not right for this part. For starters, he is only ten years older than the kid who plays Jace, and since both of them look their age, it was not believable at all that they would be father-son. But what I really want to talk about is the look. The hair, the makeup, the costuming – it’s like they were trying to make him into a Mortal Instruments Jack Sparrow, but something went horribly awry. The lesson here is that you can’t even be a good imitation of Johnny Depp. Johnny is a special snowflake swathed in scarves, and it’s pointless to think that other people can achieve the Johnny Depp-ness of it all. JRM’s PR people are good, too, because I can’t get the internet to cough up a decent picture of this travesty. Picture Jack Sparrow, but settle for JRM. There’s a weird braid-ponytail weave at the back of his head. Leather vest, no shirt. Leather pants. (All of the Shadowhunters dress almost exclusively in leather, and no one made ANY jokes about it. Missed opportunity.) Kohl around the eyes. Addled in the head. You get the idea. If I hadn’t already been choking back laughter after the Clary/Jace kiss, this would have been the trigger. And speaking of said kiss, we should discuss it. The setting: a weird CGI rooftop garden. I can let this setting slide because I know they need to spend their special effects money elsewhere for this movie, but there is no excuse for the score and the love song. I have tried to think of a good analogy or a witty quip, and my vocabulary fails me. I can’t do it justice, so instead I’ve provided a link so that you can experience the scene and accompanying music in all its glory.
Someone wrote this song for a 90s teen movie, surely. I can’t think of another reason that we would have this epic piece of music.
Overall, I will say that this movie is worth it for the unintended laughs, but if you want a legitimately good movie, you will want to steer clear. This would be perfect for airplane-viewing.
Spoilers ahead. I’ll put most of them beyond the jump, but be ye warned.
No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes.
Bright baby blues make all of the Mackeys instantly recognizable. Behind Frank Mackey’s blue eyes is the memory of Rosie Daly. Hope springs eternal that she’ll show up on his doorstep one day or drunk dial him at 3am or get picked up for hooking so he can go visit her in jail. Rosie was supposed to elope with Frank back when they were 19. They had big plans to start over à la Livin on a Prayer, but she never showed up for their great escape. Instead, Frank found a note that suggested that she had left without him, and he has spent his life thinking that that she had changed her mind because his family is batshit insane. Louis Grizzard really said it best: she tore out Frank’s heart and stomped that sucker flat. Continue reading
It’s still summer in Aldenland. I think it’s been the same summer for about 4 books now, and we’ve only made it to July. I want to say that it was the end of summer back in Mountain Top Mystery, but I can’t really remember, and honestly, continuity errors are the least of our worries these days because the mysteries are getting more and more ridic. Just wait. This book opens with the four kids and their grandfather whining about how hot it is. They’re sitting in the yard under the trees because it’s the coolest place they can find. I suspect that they’re wearing their usual color-coded wool sweaters and this is playing a large part in why they’re sweltering. I also wonder why they’re not sitting under ceiling fans like regular people do. Or installing air conditioning and a swimming pool like rich people do. I’d think it would be especially appealing to a fabulously wealthy tycoon who wants some quality time to himself without a herd of kids yammering on about how hot it is, but what do I know? Anyway, of course it’s Benny who has the brilliant plan that they should ride around in the car to cool off because no one else ever has an idea. They just sit around and wait for Benny to come up with something for them to do, passing the time by daydreaming about cooking supper (Jessie), rambling on about college (Henry), and looking for something that needs hemming (Violet). Everyone agrees that a car ride is the most brilliant idea since sliced bread. Jessie says (I shit you not), “Let’s ride until it gets cooler. The weather report says this heat is going to last for a week.” Did she just suggest that they ride around in the car for a week? I’m still reeling from her stupidity when Violet declares that this family has the BEST ideas. Seriously, Violet? You could achieve the same effect with an oscillating fan and you wouldn’t have to get into a car that surely feels like an oven inside. When Jessie chimes in to agree with her (“Things always seem to happen to this family when we don’t expect them. I was thinking I’d never feel cool again.”) I want to beat both of them with a stick for subjecting me to this inane conversation. It’s really unsurprising that Grandfather is always drunk.
Jessie doesn’t like to let Henry have too much fun, so she makes him drive slower. Good thing too, because otherwise they wouldn’t have noticed the houseboat and we wouldn’t have been subjected to this wondrous bit of literature.
Of course the Aldens have to do a full inspection before deciding that a houseboat adventure is their cup of tea. Is there room for storing milk and bread? Is the water cold enough? Done deal. Strangely out of character, Grandfather points out that none of them actually know anything about boats and maybe this might not be the safest idea. I am shocked, SHOCKED that Grandfather is concerned about such inane things such as ‘safety’ or ‘experience’ needed to pilot a boat. Luckily for all of us Henry spent some time with a ‘friend’ on his ‘boat’ and so he knows all about trimming the jib or tacking the sail or starting an engine. I don’t believe for a moment that Henry has friends, or any boat experience, and I’m even more dubious that if this was true, that his fellow Aldens wouldn’t have heard this story ad nauseam for weeks. After expressing their surprise (and underlying doubt) over his story, it is unanimously agreed that they should start out tomorrow.
Once again we find ourselves in the eternal summer that exists in Greenfield. I honestly don’t remember the last time it was a different season. The Aldens are codependently sitting on the porch when Benny casually mentions that his rent-a-friend Max has bet Benny that even the Alden family won’t be able to find an adventure in the sleepy little fishing village where his family vacations. I do enjoy how this is preceded by Benny ‘thinking,’ which consists of him sitting stock-still staring into space for hours before coming up with this simple sentence. I think Gertrude is really spot on with her character analysis in this case.
Max’s status as Friend clearly doesn’t give him the necessary clearance in the Alden Conglomerate to know that Grandfather orchestrates these elaborate schemes to keep his grandchildren entertained and out of his hair. Also, it’s a fair guess that Max is a figment of Benny’s imagination–we all know Mike is Benny’s token friend. What happened to Mike, Grandfather? Max very suspiciously never makes an appearance. It’s sad that the others don’t even have pretend friends. Only the cold comfort of one another. Continue reading
You all saw the cinematic opus Catch Me If You Can, right? Leonardo DiCaprio portrays a cheeky teenage con artist, charming his way through a number of amusing capers all while trying to impress an increasingly depressed Christopher Walken, who is likely suffering from a severe lack of cowbell. I know you saw it. It was super fun. Also, it’s on TNT/TBS/USA all the time, so it’s hard to miss. And why would you? It’s DELIGHTFUL. Here I was thinking that Steven Spielberg had just made a movie about Frank Abagnale, Jr., but thanks to my habit of browsing obsessively at the library I now know that the movie is based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name from 1980 that I have just finished listening to. I was all excited that I was finally getting the true story, and then Wikipedia told me that the whole thing is totally ghostwritten and based on four interviews with Frank. This must be true since the internets never lie and also because there is a statement on Frank’s website about how the writer and editor made it more exciting by not recounting things exactly. I wanted to give you this information up front so that you won’t be disappointed about the possible lack of truthiness, too. The book is still fun, but I would still like to know what ACTUALLY HAPPENED. Perhaps I should go see the stage show for yet another interpretation. The good thing about the ghostwriter tidbit is that I can now blame him for the not-infrequent use of words like “broads” instead of Frank, who I choose to find charming instead of offensive, despite several instances of asshattery. Also, this was written in 1980, and I don’t know that political correctness was a thing then. I can’t provide good intel on the subject since I wasn’t around in 1980, but perhaps those of you who were can discuss it in the comments.
The main lesson of Catch Me If You Can is that a teenage boy will do just about anything to get a little tail. Preferably a lot of tail, but any amount of tail will do. Frank Abagnale, Jr. discovered girls around the age of 16, and his libido led him straight into a life of crime. You see, he needed money so that he could show the ladies a good time so that they would in turn show him a good time, and the easiest way to obtain the funds for everyone’s good time turned out to be credit card fraud. Which his dad was on the hook for. And paid off. And forgave him for. This is how Frank learned that crime totally pays. Soon he figured out how check fraud worked, too, and he was on his merry way to stealing $2.5 million while masquerading as a pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, a professor, and possibly one or two more professions that I’m forgetting. His dedication to his craft is impressive. I doubt that many high school dropouts would figure out how the banking system of this country works just so that they could take a girl or thirty somewhere nice. He makes very good use of his local library in whatever city he’s in (a quality I appreciate in a man), learning things like what all the little numbers on the bottom of your checks mean or perusing medical journals so that his fake pediatrician credentials will hold water just a little longer. He’s also an excellent con artist, which helps more than anything. He has confidence in spades, and it gets him out of more than one tight spot.
Unfortunately for Frank, he’s up against a determined FBI agent who is working with law enforcement worldwide to catch him, and the noose closes one day while he’s hiding out in France after deciding to give up his life of crime. It seems that all of the rumors that we’ve all heard about French prisons are true. Frank is incarcerated naked in a dark cell so small that he cannot stand up in it. It is furnished only with a bucket. His extradition to Sweden is the best thing that could have happened to him.
Frank really hit the genetic jackpot by looking much older than his 16 years. If he was still a scrawny kid solidly in the awkward phase, he couldn’t have passed himself off as a 26 year old pilot (or doctor, or professor…), and the whole thing would have fallen apart before it ever began. I also don’t think that the stewardesses would have given him a second look, and the girls were a major draw for choosing this particular profession. It didn’t hurt that pilots could cash checks all over the country, taking his check scam to a whole new level. It was a perfect storm of fraudulent goodness that worked out really well for him until the whole naked-in-French-prison scenario. An excellent read. Or listen. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that you’re going to actually know what happened. Whatever, Frank. I know that THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.