Saturday, December 31, 2011

In With the Old

Yo. Happy New Year (a tad early)!

In many ways 2011 was pretty awesome. Sure, for most of it I was unemployed, (and still am), but because of that unemployment--the longest time I have been without a job since I started working in earnest, mind you, so about 20 years--I was able to do a hell of a lot of nothing, and a hell of a lot of fun stuff. I traveled somewhere different once a month for five months straight; I stayed up until four in the morning, reading, or watching TV, or Internet-lookin', for more nights than I care to admit to. And I basically took a much needed break from IT.

You know what IT is. We all do.

But 2012 is a new year. (And if the Mayans are right, the last year.) I still plan on having tons of fun, but since fun needs funding, I'm going to have to find a new job, and probably pretty damn soon. Wish me luck.

But along with job searching, I'm hoping to do some more writing in 2012, and towards that goal, I am starting up a new blog.

Musty TV will remain the source for all things TV-related, (and Rain-related), but my new venture--Mulling Movies--will be a fond look back at the year 1982, and my birth as a genuine movie dork. Please check it out, add it to whatever you use to keep up on such things, and join in on the discussions therein.

Here's to a terrific New Year!

November Round-Up - 2011

Happy New Year!

Let's talk about November.

Yes, as is tradition on Musty TV, when the end of a month approaches, I talk about the end of the month before. Screwy, I know, but that's just how I roll.

In actuality, November, and Thanksgiving seems like it happened yesterday; the end of the year always comes too fast. And I suppose I should save my year-end reminiscing for December's Round-Up post. (Which I might try to publish before the end of January, just to change things up.)

But I will let you know that I've got some things in the works for 2012. I'm hoping some will be entertaining, for both you and me, and if they aren't, well, the world is supposed to end in 2012 anyway. We won't have to deal with the disappointment for too long.

On with the Round-Up.

Movies Seen: Ten, with three in a theater. Here are links to my reviews of those three (though to sum up, "The Artist" is the only one really worth seeing):

"A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas"
"Into the Abyss"
"The Artist"

None of the DVDs I saw are really worth mentioning, though I guess my favorite of the bunch was Errol Morris's "Tabloid."

Books Read: Eight. Click through to read my brief reviews, where applicable, (though, again, to sum up, "Among the Porcupines" was the most enjoyable read):

"The Prince the Showgirl and Me," by Colin Clark

"My Story," by Marilyn Monroe

"Among the Porcupines," by Carol Matthau

"Rules of Civility," by Amor Towles

"The Night Strangers," by Chris Bohjalian

"The Walking Dead – Vols 9 and 10," by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

"The Visible Man," by Chuck Klosterman

Fancy Dinners Out: Only one dinner, at Harris' Steakhouse. We sat in the bar area, the food was great, and there was a jazz pianist playing. Pricey, but a good experience!

Also had fancy tea at the Top of the Mark.

Live Shows Seen: None, unless you count my annual visit to the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, which is always a hoot and a holler.

Shoes Bought: I am pretty sure I bought no shoes in November!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

October Round-Up - 2011

Christmas is fast approaching, but it seems like October was just yesterday. Seriously!

No. Seriously.

But I can't dwell on that. I've got Thanksgiving food to continue to digest, and a holiday to plan. On with it!

Movies Seen: Fourteen, with five in a theater. Here are links to my reviews of those five films.

"The Ides of March"
"My Week With Marilyn"
"The Thing"
"In Time"
"A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas"

Of the DVDs I watched, I think I most enjoyed the latest adaptation of "Jane Eyre," this one starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. And I probably least enjoyed "A Little Help," which was just a meandering and meaningless mess.

Books Read: Six. Click through to read my (often brief) reviews!

"The Internet Is a Playground," by David Thorne. (No review, but if you want to read the best parts of this book, just go to the guys site here.)
"My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me," by Hilary Winston
"This Is the Zodiac Speaking," by Michael D. Kelleher and David Van Nuys
"Popular Crime," by Bill James
"A Stolen Life," by Jaycee Dugard
"Record Collecting for Girls," by Courtney E. Smith

Fancy Dinners Out: Nothing too fancy this month. Had tea at Lovejoy's, (I think I prefer Crown & Crumpet), and dinner at Garcon, a small french restaurant in the Mission. Ate at the bar. Had a steak. It was good, if served a little on the cold side.

Live Shows Seen: Actually did make it to one show, the Dukes of Hamburg at Bottom of the Hill, as part of the Budget Rock Showcase. Hadn't seen them in some years, and it was as fun as always.

Shoes Bought: One pair, these American Rag t-strap pumps, which were on sale at Macy's. I love the color, and they have a hidden platform, giving height without the obvious look of a platform heel.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

State of TV - Fall 2011 Edition!

A few years back I wrote a series of posts called "State of TV," which basically took a look at my viewing habits for every day of the week, post the premiere of the Fall TV season.

This year, I've done something similar for the San Francisco Appeal, taking a day-by-day look at how the new batch of TV shows are faring, and by "faring" I mean whether or not I am still watching them, and what I think of them.

So go check those posts out, won't you?

Appealing TV: Monday, Monday, Can't Trust That Day

Appealing TV: I'll Love You Till Tuesday

Appealing TV: You Won't Give a Damn By Wednesday Week

Appealing TV: Thursday Has Its Own Peculiar Way

Appealing TV: Gotta Get Down On Friday

Appealing TV: Everyday Is Like Sunday

Monday, October 31, 2011

September Round-Up - 2011

Nearing the end of September, I realized it would be the first month since April that I didn't spend at least a few days out of town. And that would just not do. So a friend and I decided to take an overnight trip to the Madonna Inn, with a stop at Hearst Castle. I hadn't been to either since about 2004, and there were changes to both: At Hearst Castle, you can now wander around the grounds all you want after an indoor tour, which means if you want to hang out on a lounge chair by the pool for hours, you can. (Can't go into the pool, of course, but still...) And a pool was also a relatively new addition to the Madonna Inn. And a really, really nice pool, at that, complete with a fake rock waterfall and two hot tubs. The fact that the place has existed for years without it is kind of amazing since it is now, to me, the main reason to even go there. (Along with the pink steakhouse, of course.)

But oh my goodness, it is Halloween night, and it's almost coming to an end, so I should probably get this round-up over with!

Movies Seen: Eight, with five in a theater. Click through to read my reviews of "Contagion," "Moneyball," "I Don't Know How She Does It," and "Killer Elite."

None of the DVDs I watched was memorable in any way, good or bad.

Books Read: Six. Click through to read my brief thoughts, where applicable: "Love Sick" by Sue William Silverman. "A Paper Life" by Tatum O'Neal. "Walks With Men" by Anne Beattie. "Found: A Daughter's Journey Home" by Tatum O'Neal. "The Walking Dead – Vol. 8" by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. "Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shtyeyngart.

Fancy Dinners Out: Five! Living large! I finally went to the House of Prime Rib, after many, many years. In fact, I think I was a kid the last time I went. I love it, especially how the meat is wheeled around the room in a silver zeppelin, but have to say, I was a little disappointed with my prime rib! I ordered it medium rare, which is how I always order it, and it's done me well in the past, but this time, it was just too well done. Not pink and slightly bloody as it should be, but pretty much cooked through. The sides were good, including the awesome salad that they spin tableside, so that almost made up for it. Almost.

Ironically, I had the same problem at the Gold Rush Steakhouse at the Madonna Inn, once again with prime rib. (Michele ordered a New York steak, medium rare, and it arrived perfectly cooked, so I'm not sure what the issue is! Other places I've ordered prime rib medium rare has always been fine, so, I guess I was just cursed this month.)

Meat was also on the menu at Absinthe, where I had the burger. This was perfectly cooked, and perfectly delicious.

I also had dinner at Jaspers Corner Tap, which isn't particularly fancy, but is relatively new, so on the list it goes. Stuck to smaller bites, with some mac and cheese, deviled eggs, sausage bites, and a chopped salad. Deviled eggs won the evening.

Finally, had one of the best Caesar salads I've ever had at Nizza La Bella in Albany, along with some very good French onion soup.

Live Shows Seen: None, unless you count the swing dancers that were performing at the Madonna Inn the night we had dinner.

Shoes Bought: One pair, these vintage "lizagator" pumps, found for under 20 bucks on eBay.

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 31

Happy Halloweeeeeen!

I can't believe an entire month has already gone by! It sure has been fun being a part of the Countdown to Halloween, and I thank all those who have stopped by. Be sure to knock on the doors of the other sites taking part in the Countdown, as they have plenty of treats to offer you today!

There's no lack of the scary on TV today and tonight, I hardly know where to begin. Of course, TCM continues to be the one-stop-shop for the spooky, so be sure to check out their entire line-up here; lots of monsters, vampires, ghouls, and ghosts!

My top pick would have to be "Night of the Living Dead" at 6:30 P.M. It's been a Halloween staple since the early 80's, when MTV used to show it on Halloween night every year. It's kind of become a Halloween version of "It's a Wonderful Life" in that way...

Another perennial favorite is "The House of the Devil," which I first watched on Halloween night in 2009. It's on in the wee hours of the morning (very soon, in fact!) at 4 A.M. on MTV. (I guess it's replaced "Night of the Living Dead" on that network!) The film's opening credits are what really sold me on it the first time I watched it; SO much like a 1980's horror flick, it's uncanny.

Finally, there's one of the most ridiculous horror movies ever made, "Blacula," which you can watch on TVONE (whatever that is!) at 9 A.M. (The sequel, "Scream Blacula Scream" is on much later at midnight, on the same channel.)

However you spend this Halloween, I hope it is filled with frights, fun, and lots and lots of treats.

Here's to next year!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 30

Once again, all you need to do today is turn it to Turner Classic Movies when you wake up, and leave it on that channel for the rest of the day. You can view the schedule here. They'll be re-running most of the movies that have been a part of their horror-filled Mondays, with some added classics thrown in, such as "Them!" at 4 P.M...

...and "Forbidden Planet" at 6 P.M. (And for the record, "Forbidden Planet" is a movie I will always associate with Halloween merely because it makes a cameo appearance in the movie "Halloween."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 29

Oh boy. We're nearing the home stretch, aren't we? Since Halloween falls on a Monday, I imagine the majority of this year's tricking will happen tonight, with a few treats thrown in here and there... the 1964 movie "It's Alive!" No, not the one about a monster baby. This one is about a crazed farmer who kidnaps tourists in order to feed them to his pet dinosaur. REALLY. He also terrorizes them with whistles and rats served for dinner.

Seriously, this movie is the best. It's on the MGM Movie channel at 10:55 A.M, a channel I didn't even know I had until recently. But! If YOU don't have it, no worries. You can watch the entire movie right here!

[Edited to add: Whoops! Look like a made a mistake! This is actually on Sunday morning. Doesn't change your ability to watch it above though!]

Friday, October 28, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 28

"How To Make a Monster" is superfun for any fan of 1950s horror movies, particularly the "I Was a Teenage [fill in the blank]" ones. When a movie studio vows to stop making horror movies, their resident special effects make-up guy gets his revenge, via monster make-up of course!

In black and white and color! Watch it at 4:45 A.M. on AMC.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 27

Finally! "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" is on at 8 P.M. on ABC. I have been waiting in the pumpkin patch for the past week, hoping for its arrival, and at last, it is here.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone dressed up as Charlie Brown's holey ghost for Halloween; seems kind of obvious, and yet, nope. Guess this year's costume dilemma is solved! Although, I'll need to be prepared to carry a bag full of rocks by evening's end.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 26

"The Bad Seed" is on TCM at 2:45 P.M., and it's the mother of all evil children movies. Alas, my favorite scene isn't embeddable, (it involves a calm discussion of shoes), but you can watch part of it here.

The trailer is surprisingly lame. There are so many great moments in the movie, and very few of them are actually featured in the trailer!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 25

Technically, this one's on tomorrow, but it's in the wee hours of the morning, so if you just stay up really late, it'll be like you watched it today. Got it? Good.

Anyway, it's "Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster," and according to "The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film": "Don't miss. It's the worst."


Monday, October 24, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 24

Just turn the channel to TCM at 7 P.M., and leave it there for the rest of the night, as their Monday's-are-a-horror marathon continues. This week, it's films from the 1960s, starting with the AWESOME "Carnival of Souls."

The equally low-budget and weird "Dementia 13," Francis Ford Coppola's first non-nudie directing effort, follows at 7:30 P.M.

Joan Crawford and her terrifying charm bracelet star in "Strait-Jacket," at 9 P.M.

Then we get some Poe horror, starting with Roger Corman's "The Pit and the Pendulum" at 10:45 P.M.

It's followed by "The Masque of the Red Death" at 12:15 A.M.

Finally, to end the horrifying evening, we have "The Devil's Bride", (AKA "The Devil Rides Out"), starring Christopher Lee, at 2 A.M.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 23

I don't know what channel 32 is, but it doesn't seem to be a channel that would normally show a horror movie from the 1970s, so take this pick with a grain of salt. SUPPOSEDLY, at 8 P.M., they will be airing "Horror Express," a 1972 Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing vehicle about an alien entity let loose on a Tran-Siberian train in 1906.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 22

"Cry of the Werewolf," from 1944, is the first full-length movie to feature a female werewolf. And man, is she a bitch! Watch it at 10 P.M. on TCM.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 21

"The Gamma People" is a Cold War science fiction flick about an Eastern European dictatorship attempting to create a generation of geniuses via gamma rays. Problem is, not all of the kids turn out to be geniuses. 11 P.M. on TCM.

It's followed by "The Wild, Wild Planet" at 12:30 A.M., a "space horror" movie about...well, I'm not really sure what it's about, but the trailer is pretty great.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 20

"The Brain Eaters" are here, "twisting the emotions of women" and "distorting our men!" Sure, those brain eaters may look like harmless tribbles with antennae, but don't be fooled! They're INUNDATING OUR WORLD!

Speaking of tribbles, Leonard Nimoy is in this, though I bet you won't recognize him. Watch it at 4:45 A.M. on AMC

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 19

I always get the movie "Blood of Dracula" confused with a Hammer Dracula movie, or Andy Warhol's "Blood FOR Dracula." (IMDb seems to have the same problem, since right now their entry for the movie has the wrong poster up.)

But then I remember that this movie is basically "I Was a Teenage Vampire," and it all becomes clear. Watch it on AMC at 9 A.M., or on the 23rd at 6 A.M.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 18

This post comes early because today's pick is on early. At 2 A.M. on TCM, to be exact. It's Roger Corman's "A Bucket of Blood" and it's one of his best, starring Dick Miller in his first Walter Paisley role, as a pathetic waiter in a beatnik coffee house who desperately wants to be an artist, but due to a complete lack of talent, can't pull it off. Until he accidentally kills something, that is...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 17

Tonight's TCM horror movie offerings are from 1958 and 1959.

At 5:00 P.M. it's the first Hammer Dracula movie, "Horror of Dracula." And this Drac ain't a glittery emo kid.

Then we have two William Castle movies. First up is "House on Haunted Hill" at 6:30 P.M. Castle's gimmick with this one was "Emergo," AKA a plastic skeleton that floated above the theater. "More startling than 3D!"

Finally there's "The Tingler" at 8 P.M. Set your cell phone on vibrate, stick it under a seat cushion, sit down, and have someone call you at the appropriate times to replicate the "Percepto!" gimmick that accompanied the flick's original release...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 16

Never heard of the 2006 serial killer movie "Horsemen," starring Dennis Quaid as a detective who might be dealing with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Yeah. I never had either. It's on at 4:15 P.M. on IFC.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 15

Peter Lorre stars in the haunted hand movie "The Beast With Five Fingers" at 6:30 A.M. on TMC. Oliver Stone remade it as "The Hand" in 1981, starring Michael Caine, but this version is better, not the least of which because Luis Bunuel helped direct some of the creepy hand sequences...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 14

"Science fiction becomes science fact" in "Kingdom of the Spiders," starring William Shatner. Yes. William Shatner and thousands of tarantulas. Now THAT'S entertainment! Watch it at 1 P.M. on IFC.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 13

"The Village" is on AMC at 1 P.M. It's a bad, bad movie, and I am only including it because the first post I ever wrote on this here blog was back in 2004, and it was about "The Village," and I'm feeling nostalgic. Read it here.

Poor M. Night Shyamalan. Actually, no. He has no one to blame but himself. So, instead of anything from "The Village," here is a scary trailer for Shayamalan's next movie:

And one of the only funny things "Tosh.0" has ever done:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 12

"Borderland," which came out in 2007, looks to be a horror movie in the torture porn/foreign-countries-are-scary vein, with Mexico being the scary country in question. Frankly, it doesn't look that great, but pickings today are rather slim. It's on IFC at 5:45 P.M.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 11

I was happy to see that when IFC aired "The Shining" on Sunday, they did not cut out the naughty bits, as it were. They still air commercials, which is a bummer, but hopefully you've got a DVR, or Betamax, and can just record and skip that nonsense.

Because tonight's movie is something that, were it to be censored, would just be silly. It's David Cronenberg's "Shivers," (or, as it was known in the U.S., "They Came From Within"), and it's basically a horror movie about sex and a killer venereal disease. So. Yeah. With the naughty bits cut out, it would just be a bad 70's movie set in an ugly Canadian highrise. Watch it at 10:30 P.M. on IFC.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 10

Another Monday, another night of horror movies on TCM. Tonight's focus is on horror films of the 1940s, beginning with 1941's "The Wolf Man" at 5:00pm. Poor, poor Larry Talbot...

The 1944 thriller "The Uninvited," starring Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey, follows at 6:15 P.M. I do not like the voice of the Uninvited!

The great anthology horror movie "Dead of Night" is on at 8 P.M.; scary ventriloquist puppet alert! (Can't find the trailer, so here's the first 10 minutes instead.)

"I Walked With a Zombie" is always a must-see. Watch it at 10 P.M. "All the weird black magic that the white man seldom sees!"

Finally, we have "Cat People" at 11:15 P.M., and the odd but wonderful sequel, "The Curse of the Cat People," at 12:45 A.M.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 9

I'm a little apprehensive about including "The Shining" here, which you can watch at 5 P.M. and 11 P.M. on IFC, only because IFC now has commercials and often edits for content, and watching that scene in the bathroom, where Jack makes out with the naked woman, is just silly when edited, since her naughty bits tend to be covered by some well-placed bathroom steam.

But, I will list it, because it gives me an excuse to include this making of documentary, (which, yes, is available on the DVD), that was filmed by Kubrick's daughter Vivian.

You can also see the whole thing with Vivian's commentary here.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 8

Today's pick, "House of Wax," is on super early this morning at 6:30 A.M. on TCM.

Of course, you won't be able to watch this in its original 3D, which will make some of the scenes seem kind of silly. But personally, I'm of the opinion that every movie that's presented in 3D should, by law, include a scene involving a paddle ball.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 7

"She Freak" is basically a sleazy remake of Tod Browning's "Freaks," from the producer of "Blood Feast" and "Two Thousand Maniacs."

Which is to say, it looks pretty awesome. It's on at 11 P.M. on TCM.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 6

"George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead" is probably my least favorite of Romero's zombie pictures, mainly because while it's supposed to be a comment on the use of personal video, YouTube, and the Internet, it just feels like it was made by someone who doesn't really understand how most of that works. But still, it's a must see for any Romero, zombie, and POV horror movie completest. It's on IFC at 6:30 P.M. and 9:30 P.M.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 5

Director John Carpenter is a guest programmer on TCM tonight, introducing and talking about some of his favorite films. You can read more about it here. Of course, three of his four picks are scary flicks, and they include "The Thing From Another World," (natch), at 5 P.M.:

"It! The Terror From Beyond Space" at 6:45 P.M:

And "The Curse of Frankenstein" at 8 P.M. (But instead of the trailer for that, I'm including a favorite clip from the original "Lolita," in which Humbert, Lolita, and Mrs. Haze watch said movie at the drive-in...)

"The Curse of Frankenstein" in "Lolita"

FILMSERTS | Myspace Video

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 4

From what I can gather, the 2002 movie "Darkness," starring Anna Paquin, is pretty forgettable, but horrific pickings are kind of slim today, so it will have to do. That said, there are a few moments in the trailer that look kind of spooky. And Lena Olin is in it, and she can be great. How come she's not in more movies?

Watch it at 12:45 P.M. on IFC.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 3

No Halloween month would be complete without at least one viewing of the original "Frankenstein," now would it? It's on TCM at 6 P.M. (And you should just leave it on TCM for the rest of the night, as there are many other Tod Browning goodies being shown afterwards, including "Freaks" at 7:15 P.M., and "Mark of the Vampire" at 11:15 P.M.)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 2

I imagine if I were a dude, the horror movie "Teeth" might be a little tough to sit through since it is, after all, about vagina dentata.

But I'm a girl, and thus found it kind of awesome and hilarious. Watch it on IFC at 7:30pm.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 1

David Fincher's "Zodiac" is a movie I didn't totally take to at first, but it has turned into something I watch almost every year (around the Fourth of July, to be exact). It's not really a scary movie, per se, and is really more about journalism than it is about the serial killer, but the fact that it has Mark Ruffalo, and some terrific San Francisco-in-the-70's scenes, and a terrific soundtrack, means it's one of those movies that just kind of...comforts me.

Yes. A movie about a serial killer who was never caught brings me comfort. And that is why October is one of my favorite months.

Watch it tonight at 11 P.M. on IFC, (and hopefully in widescreen).

The trailer's below. I can't embed one of the best moments from the film's opening, (the use of Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" is weirdly brilliant), but you can watch it here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Are You Ready? You Better GET Ready!

Once again, for the entire month of October, I will be partaking in the great bloggy Countdown to Halloween. This will be the fifth year in a row I've participated, and that in itself is something to be celebrated, methinks!

So, starting tomorrow, be sure to check in here daily for a recommendation of something Halloweeny to watch on TV. Most of the time it will be some kind of movie, but sometimes it might be a Halloween special, or some other kind of spookiness. (And note, all air times will be PST, and sometimes local San Francisco channels might be listed.)

When Halloween stuff started showing up in stores at the beginning of September, I found that a little annoying. But I think the entire month of October is open season for all things Halloween, so from here on out, I say BRING IT.

August Round-Up - 2011

In August I took a brief trip to Las Vegas, which you can read about here. Being able to take off on a spur of the moment trip is totally awesome, let me tell you.

But there were other bits of entertainment to be had in August. So let's look back at those now, shall well?

Books Read: Six. I found "Full Dark, No Stars" by Stephen King, a collection of short stories (novellas?), a little hard to get into at first because the opening story was a slow start. But eventually it kicked in, and I got through the collection quickly, as tends to be the case with better King.

Another edition of "The Walking Dead" (Vol. 7) was followed by two memoirs about love addiction, "Love Junkie" by Rachel Resnick and "Desire" by Susan Cheever. I read an article on the subject that was kind of interesting, and then looked into some books about it, and those were at the library, so I checked 'em out, and read 'em...Unfortunately, neither were that compelling.

Jenna Jameson's "How To Make Love Like a Porn Star" seems like a natural follow-up, doesn't it? But really, it was a bit of a coincidence. I borrowed it to read in Vegas because it seemed like the perfect combo.

Finally, there was "Summer and the City" by Candace Bushnell, the second in her series about Carrie Bradshaw in her younger years. This one takes place in the early 80's, and I have to say, young Carrie Bradshaw is a lot more tolerable than later Carrie Bradshaw ended up being...

Movies Seen: Eight, with five in a theater. Click through to read my reviews of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes;" "Final Destination 5;" "Conan the Barbarian;" and "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy."

Fancy Dinners Out: Three. Two of those dinners were in Vegas, and the other was at the bar at the Big 4. (Chicken pot pie. Mmmmmmmm.)

Live Shows Seen: One! Adele at the Greek Theater. So much about this show was just pissing me off. First, it was supposed to be at the Warfield at the beginning of June, which was great. I can walk there, and I got first row balcony seats. But then her album was released, it was huge hit, and the show was moved to the Greek Theater in Berkeley. I hate the Greek Theater. It's hard to get to; it's uncomfortable; and it's too big. But fine. They were going to reserve a section for people who had reserved balcony seats, so that was good, even if it still meant we'd have to get there early and wait in line to guarantee a good spot.

Since the show was the first weekend of June, that meant my trip to New Orleans would have to end by a certain date, even though it would have been cool to be able to stay longer. So, of course when I got back to SF, the show was rescheduled because Adele got sick.


Luckily, it was rescheduled for a day I was actually in town, and in the end, we had good seats, and it was a fantastic show, but man. Such rigmarole!

Here's one of my favorite moments from the evening:

Shoes Bought: Two pairs. One are this pair of vintage brocade pumps, bought on Haight Street. The other are these fake TOMS called Bob's, in blue. Sketchers pretty much ripped off the TOMS concept and released their own version, but whatever. They were cute, comfortable, and cheap!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

July Round-Up - 2011

July July July. Oh, how I miss July, mainly because I spent a week of it in Palm Springs, and I am still pining for it.

So let's look back on that magic month, shall we?

Movies Seen: Six, with two in a theater. Click through to read my reviews of "Cowboys and Aliens" and "Crazy, Stupid, Love." (You might be surprised to find out which one I liked more.)

The best DVD viewing of the month was definitely "Source Code." Why wasn't that movie a bigger hit?

Books Read: Nine. I wanted to get one more "Little House" under my belt before departing for the desert, and it ended up being "The Long Winter," which is the total opposite of a summer read. Although, I suppose it could help to cool you off by reading about months of relentless snow...

My first poolside read was "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" by Janelle Brown, which was really silly, but a perfect thing to read by the pool. It kind of reminded me a bit of "Valley of the Dolls," both because of it's kinda bad writing, and because of its subject matter (rich white ladies with drug problems).

Of course, a trip to Palm Springs would not be complete with reading at least one Sookie Stackhouse book, which I did: "Dead In the Family." And if you were to ask my right now what the story was this time around, I would not be able to tell you! Memorable!

Once I got back from my vacation, I just had to check out "Bedtime Stories of the Legendary Ingleside Inn" by Mel Haber from the library since we had a memorable couple of nights in his restaurant. The book is a hoot, mainly because most of the stories he tells are about how he's an easily conned rube.

I actually ended up reading more books after my vacation than on, probably because I just didn't want to leave the house and face the reality of being back home! So, add "The Psychopath Test" by Jon Ronson to the list. I sat down to read the first few pages as I was getting to bed one night, just to decide on what to read next, and I ended up reading it for the next 30 minutes, it was that engrossing.

"The Illumination" by Kevin Brockmeier, was a little less engrossing, and some of the stories within (as it is more a series of stories than a novel) were better than others. Still, I just didn't really think the whole "illumination" conceit worked, or at least, was I wasn't able to get why it needed to be in there at all...

I had been meaning to read "Starting Out In the Evening," by Brian Morton, ever since I saw the movie, and for whatever reason, finally got around to it. It was probably the best book I read in July.

"Ant Farm" by Simon Rich is a series of comedic vignettes, some very, very short, and some funnier than others. Kind of reminded me of Steve Martin's first book, "Cruel Shoes."

And finally, I ended the month with another "Little House" book, this time "Little Town on the Prairie" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've only got two more left, and I think I am going to savor them...

Fancy Dinners Out: Five, and most of those dinners were in Palm Springs.

Once again we ventured to Las Casuelas Terraza, not once but twice. I wish I could find somewhere around here that does a chicken ranchero like theirs!

On our second night in town, we ventured to Melvyn's at the Ingleside Inn. Now, I know we had talked about going there in years past, but we never really knew where it was, and never really bothered to look. Turns out, it's a five minute walk from where we stay every year, and it's worth the walk. Totally old school, with great service, tableside prep of things like steak Diane, and crepes suzette, a bar straight out of the 70's, complete with a piano player and a dance floor. We went back two more times (to the bar) and will definitely make it a regular stop on all Palm Springs trips.

We also went to Citron again, where the drinks are always a little better than the food, and the Falls, which also has great (smoking) martinis, and steaks.

The San Francisco dinner was at Zuni where we had the awesome roasted chicken with bread salad. Da-ROOL.

Live Shows Seen: Two! One was at Kimo's to see a friend's band called Complaints and the other was...Dolly Parton! DOLLY PARTON! Enough said.

Shoes Bought: I think only one pair, these espadrille wedges by Calypso for Target, which I found at the Target in Palm Springs, the last in my size, for only nine bucks. See! Palm Springs really is magic!

Monday, August 29, 2011

What I Learned on My Las Vegas Vacation

I took a (relatively) spur-of-the-moment trip to Las Vegas last week with Michele, so we could, once again, bask in the blistering heat of the desert. And blistering it was: It averaged about 105º when we were there, which was pretty awesome, because when it's that hot, you don't even sweat.

I didn't actually learn that much while there--Vegas is for playin', not learnin'--but it did leave me with a few thoughts worth bullet-pointing.

* The Paris Hotel and Casino has the French thing down pat, but not in the way they probably want. The service is rude and sucky--just like in the real Paris! When we arrived at the hotel, they had a line for check-out, but didn't have anyone checking people in. Granted, we were there in the morning, before the official check-in time, but jeeze. You're a hotel. Get your shit together! So we, and about a dozen other people, had to wait, and wait, and wait until ONE person opened up a check-in counter.

The Paris also advertises that they don't charge a "resort" fee, thus making you believe their rates are good. Thing is, they charge for EVERYTHING aside from the room, so, essentially, you have to pay that "fee" anyway. The gym costs 25 bucks a day. Want to use the Internet? No such thing as free wifi there! They charge 15 bucks a DAY for in room Internet only. Meanwhile, across the street at the new Cosmopolitan, they have free wifi in the entire freakin' casino. (Also, upon check out, we saw they tried to charge us twice for that Internet, and then when I got home, I saw that they charged my credit card AND Michele's for it. OMFG!)

The night before we were leaving, I called and requested a later check-out, which they granted, giving us till 1pm. That didn't stop the maid from pounding on our door 12:15pm telling us we were supposed to be out of our room. There went her tip!

In the past, I've had a fine time staying there, and being able to sunbathe under the Eiffel Tower is still a hoot. But I can't see myself staying there ever again.

* If you want good service, you need to get the hell off the Strip and head to Fremont Street, or other parts of old Vegas. The Strip is never going to lack in customers, so they don't have to bother with things like "fast" or "friendly" service.

For our first dinner, we went to Hugo's Cellar in the Four Queens on Fremont. This place is seriously old school. They give roses to all the female guests, prepare salads table side, give you a palate cleansing sorbet between courses, and complimentary chocolate-covered strawberries with a bowl of whipped cream for dessert. The cocktails are also huge. It's pricey, but worth it!

Our second dinner was at the Golden Steer, an old steakhouse off the strip on Sahara. It was kind of dead the night we were there--which I certainly don't mind!--but I can imagine the place would be a ball when the bar's hoppin' and the piano is being played. It's your standard steakhouse, but we did get another flaming dessert, the preparation of which you can see below!

* Everything in Las Vegas costs money, even the free stuff.

* Las Vegas is a mixed bag. It's always a hoot, and I will never turn down a trip there. But it's not really a place to relax, so Palm Springs will remain my go-to-desert destination.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Very Happy Birthday to THIS

Just realized today is this here blog's seventh birthday. Seven! I have officially been "blogging" for seven freaking years.

Did you know that seven years ago, Facebook and Flickr barely existed? YouTube was a year away from existing? And Twitter was two years away? Take a look back at my first full month of posts. No pics; no videos; nothing but words words words that really looks more like a Facebook News feed than an actual blog, but whatever!

This blog has gotten less attention over the years, but it's still the only place I can come to when I want to spout off about really stupid stuff, and can't limit it to 140 or 420 characters, and for that, I will always love it.

Here's to year eight!

June Round-Up - 2011

Wow! I'm actually posting this Round-Up on time! As we come to the end of July, (I can't believe August is already upon us!), let me try to remember June. I know the first two days were in New Orleans, and that the remainder of the month was basically me counting down the minutes until I could leave for Palm Springs in July. Still, there was some fun to be had in those intervening days...

Movies Seen: Ten, with five in a theater. The best of those five was "Super 8," which I didn't get to see in advance and review, so instead saw on opening day. I loved it, both because it's a fun movie, and because of the nostalgia it brought up...

I reviewed three of the other movies, so click through to read about "Green Lantern," "Bad Teacher," and "Larry Crowne." (There's also a small blurb about "Trollhunter.")

Books Read: Eight. Four books, and four graphic novels. Of those graphic novels, three were more volumes of "The Walking Dead," and the other was "Mr. Wonderful" by Daniel Clowes, which I really liked, even if it was ultimately kind of depressing, as his books tend to be.

The book-books included "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua. Yeah. I guess it was a little weird for someone without kids to read a book about extreme parenting, but it was at the library, and so many people have talked about it, that I had to read it. Indeed, her methods are a little frightening at times, but I think it's a lot funnier than her critics realize...

You can click through to read what I thought of the last two books, which were, "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, (my re-reading of the series continues), and "Candy Girl" by Diablo Cody.

Fancy Dinners Out: Three. A Dine About Town evening at the Big 4, (had chicken; it was fine); a post-movie meal at Brenda's French Soul Food, (OMG those biscuits; THOSE BISCUITS); and a Father's Day dinner at Town Hall, (and I can't remember what I had. Doh!).

Live Shows Seen: None!

Shoes Bought: One pair. If you know me, you might know that I hate flip-flops, both because I hate their ubiquity, (especially in any setting that is not at the beach or by the pool), and because I hate to have anything betwixt my toes when I am walking. HATE IT. So, it was with much happiness that I was able to find some cute flip flops that DON'T have that toe thing. They're by mel, and they're red, and they have a bow. Perfect!...Almost. After wearing them I realized that the between-the-toe thing is kind of necessary to keep your feet from sliding forward in front, giving you tremendous shrimp cocktail toes.

Whatever. I'm still not going to wear real flip flops.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What I Learned on My Palm Springs Vacation

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you're probably sick of hearing about how great my trip to Palm Springs this past week was. Well, suck it, because here's a post about it!

I'll make it brief, though, and follow a format I utilized following my trip to New Orleans, and provide a list of things I learned while basking in the desert.

* I don't understand how the human body works if a room set at 75º can feel chilly when the outside temperature is 95º, but feel warm when the outside temperature is 58º. Which probably explains why I never got higher than a C+ grade for any science classes I took.

* On the one hand, I want to tell you where I stay every year to help give the place some free publicity. But on the other hand, I don't want anyone else to go there and make it crowded and gross. So, if you want to know where to stay, you'll just have to ask me...

* Some people go on vacation and dress for comfort. I think taking the opposite approach is better. Dress up and you stand out from the crowd, and you're also likely to get better service because everyone is sick of having to look at other people's feet in flip flops.

* That said, no matter how good those shoes may feel when you first start out for the evening, heat and bare feet are a recipe for blisters. Bring a spare walking pair.

* Being able to get into a pool in the middle of the night, and then step out and not feel a bit cold is total heaven.

* I think being on vacation prevents hangovers because you can't waste any time dealing with it, so your body just skips over that part.

* Roadrunners in real life don't look anything like the cartoon, but they are bigger than you'd think they are.

* Vacationing in a place popular with the retiree set is a sure way to make you feel young.

* Most of the time when I watch Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel, I just get jealous. But I can easily say that I had MUCH more fun in Palm Springs than she did. Watch these two videos, one of her at Melvyn's at the Ingleside Inn, and one of me and Michele dining at the same place, and you tell me who had a better time...

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

May Round-Up - 2011

My last round-up was delayed because of a trip to New Orleans. And now this one is delayed because I am about to leave for another trip, this time to Palm Springs. I wonder what will delay the next one?

Movies Seen: Seven, with four in a theater. Of those four, I covered two for the SF Appeal: "Bridesmaids" and "Hangover 2." I saw "Another Earth" at the tail end of the Film Festival, and will probably have a review of that when it opens nationally. The fourth was Terence Malick's "Tree of Life." I saw it at a screening (the same day it played at Cannes, coincidentally) but left for New Orleans before I could review it. Not that I really think I could review it, as I'm still not entirely sure what I though of it. It certainly didn't capture me immediately like "The Thin Red Line" did when I saw it in a theater; I didn't leave looking forward to seeing it again. In some ways, it should have been shorter, (the Sean Penn scenes are the weakest in the movie), but in other ways, I could see an eight-hour version being even better. (And rumor has it, a longer version does exist, and may make it to DVD). Also: dinosaurs. There are dinosaurs in it. For real.

Books Read: Eight. Reading the terrific "The Wilder Life" by Wendy McClure, which is about her obsession with the "Little House" books, and her visits to the historical sites associated with the books, of course got me hankering to re-read the series again, which I indeed began to do, getting though "Little House In the Big Woods," "Little House On the Prairie," "On the Banks of Plum Creek," and "On the Shores of Silver Lake" by Laura Ingalls Wilder in a matter of weeks. (I'm up to "The Long Winter" now, in July...)

All that reading about prairie living compelled me to re-watch the PBS series "Frontier House," which in turn made me realize I had actually bought the companion book when the series was first on, but had never actually read it. So I read that too.

And in between I also got through volumes two and three of "The Walking Dead."

Fancy Dinners Out: One at Commander's Palace in New Orleans. And let me tell you, if you are ever in New Orleans, you have to do this. It's a very famous, old, and popular restaurant, that, unlike some other New Orleans mainstays, actually has fabulous food. Dinner there can be pricey, but the lunch is worth every cent, especially since you can get martinis for 25 of those cents. Yup, 25 cent martinis, of various flavors. I partook, oh yes. A melon martini, as well as a cosmopolitan, to go along with my trio of soups, and entree of cochon du lait with crawfish boudin and corn chow chow. Dessert was bread pudding souffle. I am currently drooling just thinking about it.

Live Shows Seen: One, the San Francisco Ballet's production of "The Little Mermaid." It was intense. They advertise it as not being for younger viewers, but that's not because of anything overtly adult about it. It's just a very intense and kind of depressing version of the fairy tale, and a very well done one at that. PBS will be airing a taped version of it sometime in the fall, I think as part of "Great Performances." Be sure to check it out when it does.

Shoes Bought: Two pair, both at DSW for super cheap. I could not possibly resist these bow-tied flats by Coach. Striped bows!! The other pair are the Meg flat by LifeStride, in navy blue. They were very comfy when I wore them in S.F., but gave me blisters in New Orleans. Synthetic material shoes and humidity just don't mix.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

April Round-Up - 2011

Holy crap. Since I was out of town at the end of last month/beginning of this month, my Round-Up completely slipped my mind. And I'm under a week away from having to do one for May as well, so I'd better just put this one up now, half-assed as it may be.

Movies Seen: Seventeen, with five in a theater. I reviewed a bunch of those movies, so if you want to know what I thought of the following, click on through!

Your Highness
Scream 4
Stake Land
Meek's Cutoff
Miss Representation
Fast Five
The Selling

Books Read: Four books, and three trade comics. Follow links to read reviews, where applicable.

"Zombie Spaceship Wasteland" by Patton Oswalt.

"Faithful Place" by Tana French.

"Stephen King's N."

"Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer.

"The Walking Dead – Vol. 1 and 2" by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore.

"Bossypants" by Tina Fey.

Fancy Dinners Out: None!

Live Shows Seen: Technically, none, but I did go to WonderCon for all three days of its ridiculousness.

Shoes Bought: None!

Thursday, June 09, 2011


I saw a crazy street person the other day, (in San Francisco? Really?!), and it totally reminded me of this moment from "Dr. Katz."

Sunday, June 05, 2011

What I Learned on My Southern Vacation

Last week, I was in Baton Rouge and New Orleans visiting family. Here are some things I learned while there.

* Junebugs may have a cute name, but they are disgusting.

* Sweet tea is readily available in Baton Rouge, but not in New Orleans.

* San Francisco is an incredibly segregated and white city.

* Any time is the right time for beignets.

* Cheap shoes and muggy weather do not mix.

* Just try and find the bathrooms in the Ye Olde Original Dungeon. I dare ya.

* Baton Rouge is a maddening collection of endlessly long streets with no signs that change names indiscriminately.

* It's not the heat, it's the humidity.

* That said, it's kind of refreshing having to go outside to warm up.

* The French Quarter is like Disneyland for drinkers.

* The South loves its salt.

* Boudin balls are delicious balls.

* Balls of the testicular variety tattooed in your armpit are not so delicious, even if you are a cute female bartender.

* New Orleanians do not believe in turn signals.

* If you drive to the New Orleans Airport in the middle of the night, you will for a moment think you have taken a wrong turn and are actually driving on the tarmac, and are about to get hit by a plane. Stay calm. It's only an illusion.

* Lunch at Commander's Palace, with 25 cent martinis (of various flavors), is an awesome deal.

* Off-street parking in the French Quarter is highway robbery.

* New Orleans cab drivers might very well take you for a ride, but it will likely be an entertaining one.

* It's hard to find a real New Orleans accent in the French Quarter.

* I miss my Southern kinfolk, but am glad I live where I do.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

March Round-up - 2011

Let's pretend it's actually April 30th, since I kind of forgot to get this post done in time. As such, it will also have to be short, which is ironic since I actually accomplished a lot in the entertainment realm in March. Oh well...On with it!

Movies Seen: Fourteen, with six in a theater. All of those six were reviewed for the San Francisco Appeal, but the only good one was "The Adjustment Bureau."

Of the DVDs watched, the most disappointing was probably "Morning Glory." The best was easily "Winnebago Man." See it. Now. I said NOW!

Books Read: Nine. Nine! I can't possibly write about all of them, when I already have, for the most part, on Good Reads. So, instead, I will just list the titles, which include links to my comments.

"What the Dead Know" by Laura Lippman.

"Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M." by Sam Wassons.

"Bad Mother" by Ayelet Waldman.

"Manhood For Amateurs" by Michael Chabon.

"Being There" by Jerzy Kozinski. (Nothing to link to, but I re-read this in one evening after re-watching the movie during the same evening.)

"Going In Circles" by Pamela Ribon.

"The Fashion File" by Janie Bryant.

"Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn?" by Pamela Keogh.

"True Grit" by Charlies Portis.

Fancy Dinners Out: One. At Town Hall. Again.

Live Shows Seen: Two! One was a punk rock show at the Li-Po in Chinatown, but I can only remember the names of three of the bands: Paper Bags, the Complaints, and Neighborhood Brats.

And what pairs best with a punk rock show? Ballet, of course! I saw what is perhaps the only comedic ballet out there, "Coppelia," as performed by the San Francisco Ballet. It was very lovely and pretty and colorful and like cotton candy. Loved it.

Shoes Bought: One pair, these ruffled flats from Target.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Don't Have a Gun

I don't know what's wrong with me, but I watched "The Voice" tonight--I guess all the incessant pop-up ads that played during EVERY SHOW ON NBC worked? Maybe? It wasn't that great, but neither is "American Idol" this season, so it's no worse than that, and I actually think there were a few good singers. And I like plushy Christina better than skinny Christina, so there's that.

But I just have to point out something about the chick that sang "Smells Like Teen Spirit." All the judges praised her on how original the arrangement was, and how she really made the song her own and blah blah blah. Except she was basically just doing Tori Amos's version of the song. Here:

I'm not even a Tori Amos fan, and I knew this, but none of the judges seemed to, which seems kind of crazy to me. I remember a similar thing happening on "American Idol" a few seasons back. One of the contestants did a unconventional version of a song, and the judges loved it, but it had been done before, and this was never mentioned...but it's late and I can't remember what it was. Maybe it will come to me later.

And yeah, this is in no way a big deal, but it's 2am and it's bugging me, so hence we have this here post.

Good night!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

February Round-Up - 2011

In February, I continued to enjoy my freedom, and also started my movie review gig for the San Francisco Appeal. Books, movies, fun. No complaints!

Movies Seen: Ten, with one in a theater. That one was "Hall Pass," which you can read about here. Of the DVDs I watched, "The American" was my fave. Yes, it was slow, and some might consider it boring. But sometimes I don't have a problem with slow and boring. Especially when George Clooney is involved. The most disappointing was probably Woody Allen's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger," which I found utterly pointless.

Books Read:
Six. And I joined Good Reads, and started to post brief reviews there, so take a look. And friend me!

"I'd Know You Anywhere" by Laura Lippman was a good crime yarn, and the first in a series of Lippman books I will be reading. She's a former writer for the Baltimore Sun, and is married to David Simon, creator of "The Wire" and "Treme," and so far, I like her stuff. I have a feeling many of the books will be similar, but for now, I'm OK with that. (And really, aren't most mysteries pretty similar?)

"Everything Is Going to Be Great" by Rachel Shuckert is a comedic travel memoir, and it had its moments. Especially everything to do with Holland and the weirdness of the Dutch.

I read Portia De Rossi's "Unbearable Lightness" because I have a morbid fascination with celebrity eating disorders. And the book did not disappoint on that front.

"Room" by Emma Donoghue is a complete page-turner. I read it in just over a day, and couldn't put it down. During some moments, my heart actually started racing. So good!

I was a little let down with Heather Havrilesky's "Disaster Preparedness," because I am such a fan of her Salon stuff, and I don't think it lived up to that. But I still like her a lot, so I will say no more than that.

Lastly was "Half Empty," by David Rakoff, a writer I was unaware of until his appearance on an episode of "The Daily Show." Definitely will be reading more of his stuff.

Fancy Dinners Out: One, at Delfina. I think when I first picked the restaurant, I thought it was Farina, which is a few blocks away. Not that it was a bad choice, as it's pretty famous, and the dinner was very good. They didn't have the pasta dish I wanted (pork ragu, I think?) so I got chicken, which came with this side of olive oil mashed potatoes which were OMGAHHH.

Live Shows Seen: None!

Shoes Bought: None...that I can remember.