thank you, carrie fisher…

(crossposted from Facebook)

I have a weird relationship with the Star Wars universe. Many of my friends have heard this story, but for those who haven’t…

When Star Wars first came out in 1977, I really didn’t care about it. It just wasn’t on my radar. I was 11 years old, living in El Centro, CA, and deep into the world of the Hardy Boys, swooning over Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson.

That fall (or maybe it was winter), my father took my entire family to see “Star Wars” at the local drive-in. I went reluctantly because, darn it, I was missing the second half of a two-part Hardy Boys episode! I needed to know what happened to Joe!

I’m pretty sure that I watched it, but I pouted the entire time.

Fast forward a couple of years. In that time I became an avid Star Trek fan, as well as Sherlock Holmes fan. I also adored the Hammer horror movies. When I realized Van Helsing/Victor Frankenstein was also Grand Moff Tarkin in “Star Wars,” I thunked myself in the head for being such a pouty girl lo, those several years before. Especially since Tarkin didn’t survive the first movie, so I was going to miss seeing the glorious Peter Cushing again on a movie screen.

Then, in 1980, I got involved with theater at my school in San Diego, where my family had moved to in 1978. I was in my very first play: a one act melodrama called, “Begone, Begonia.” I was the mysterious Madame Naomi Seesall. And my romantic interest in the play was Mayor Hiram Halfcrat, portrayed by Pat Hamill – Mark Hamill’s younger brother. Pat and Mark came from a Navy family, like myself, so it’s not surprising that we all ended up in San Diego at some point.

Pat and I continued to be friendly while I lived in San Diego, but we were never friends, and after my father retired from the Navy and we moved to the Los Angeles area, we never spoke again. (And that’s okay.)

As teens can be, I became vociferous in my allegiance to the Star Trek universe and rather dismissive of Star Wars (though, hey, that Harrison Ford sure is handsome). Eventually I mellowed, but Star Wars never really called to me.

Yet.

I appreciated its role in pop culture and how it brought science fiction back to the forefront. I always thought it was a fascinating universe that was, unfortunately, ruined by George Lucas’ tin ear for human dialogue and emotion. (Thank Lawrence Kasdan, Irving Kirshner, and Richard Marquand for bringing some humanity to the initial trilogy.)

And I deeply appreciated Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of such a strong, badass woman as Leia Organa. She may not have been my role model growing up (I was too busy idolizing Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson, Spock, and Doctor McCoy), but she was a positive role model for so many young girls and women who desperately needed one. I later saw her from afar at my first concert: Simon and Garfunkel Reunion Tour at Dodgers Stadium in 1983. She had just married Paul Simon, so she joined them on the tour and threw wedding bouquets to the audience. (Yes, I wanted to catch it. No, I didn’t have a chance in hell.)

As I got older and heard more about Carrie Fisher, I came to appreciate that she was, indeed, a strong, badass woman in her own right. I appreciated her wit, her blunt manner, and her refusal to bow to Hollywood’s youth culture as she “aged out of desirability” or whatever the fuck it’s called (Amy Schumer’s “Last Fuckable Day” skit comes to mind.)

Ms. Fisher’s openness about her demons of addiction and mental illness made many of us who fight either one – or both – realize that we weren’t “less than” because of our struggles. We may fight against a chemical imbalance, but we are worthy humans. Such openness is invaluable.

In her youth, her portrayal of Leia Organa inspired young girls and women to be badass. In her older adult years, Carrie Fisher inspired young and older women – such as myself – to be unashamed of getting older, of being feminists, of fighting the good fight in our own ways, whatever that way may be.

Her death is sad, especially in a year that has taken so many iconic figures of our youth. But her legacy is forever.

And I will be forever grateful for her time on Earth.

Thank you, Ms. Fisher. Fair winds and following seas to you.

carriefisherforceawakens

like an old friend in a new (to me) dress…

Much as I love listening to music while working out, sometimes I can get a wee bit bored of it. This morning I tried something new: listening to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I had never heard the radio series before. I’m so glad I am now.

While I am very familiar with the novel, I’ve played the the video game and I was one of maybe three people who enjoyed the movie (it was my first real exposure to Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell and Bill Nighy — all of whom I adore, so I can never really diss it), it’s so wonderful to hear where it all began.

If you love The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and you haven’t heard the genesis of Douglas Adams’ brilliant series, I highly recommend that you pick it up. You will not be sorry.

a moment of science…

Last week a gorgeous comic was making the rounds of the interwebs: Welcome to Science. It’s the type of thing that makes me completely and utterly happy. Today the author of the speech upon which the comic is based – Phil Plait (aka The Bad Astronomer) – asked, “What was your moment of science?” I was moved to comment:

I’m not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV, but I’ve always been fascinated by space and the universe. I loved reading from the very moment I picked up a book and was able to make sense of the characters that made up words and sentences and paragraphs. During this very formative time, I read everything I could. Luckily my parents had a series of very simple books that were about the sciences – I was drawn to the one about astronomy. While I read all of those books repeatedly, “Astronomy” was the one that I could never get enough of, no matter how many times I read it. From there I went on to devour everything I could about the space program – it was a truly magical time for me.

Here it is, 40 years later, and I’m working as a staff assistant in the Astronomy and Physics Directorate at JPL, supporting the people who work on all those cool things that help us to discover the universe. It was a long and very circuitous route that brought me here – one that wound through entertainment and politics and furniture manufacturing – but I feel as if I’ve come full circle. Once again, I’m living in a magical time – the magic of science, which is all the magic I need.

So, dear readers, I have to know: What was your moment of science?

the unholy experiment…

Due to a heat wave, very little walking was done this weekend. I walked to CuteFilmNerd’s place Saturday morning (he lives a little over a mile from me), with the intent of us walking to a nearish-by bagel place we’ve walked to before, but the heat did me in during that initial short walk, so we ended up driving to a little vegetarian-friendly cafe for lunch (which I love and he just likes – it’s mostly vegetarian except for the use of tuna and are very vegan friendly). Halfway through our meal an attractive, tallish gentleman walked in and set up within my line of sight. There was something very familiar about him, though it was awhile before I saw his face, which confirmed my initial impression: the lovely and talented John Fugelsang had entered the cafe. Which was very interesting because, not only am I a fan of him from his Friday stints on The Stephanie Miller Show, but CuteFilmNerd and I were scheduled to attend an evening of comedy and spoken word that he was hosting that night. I thought about saying hi, but by that time he was obviously on the phone and I didn’t want to disturb him, though I did sneak a photo:

So off we went, me to my place and CFN to his. Upon checking my Facebook page, I noticed that the evening’s event venue had changed…to my neighborhood. Yay! Although I wondered aloud (aka on the Facebook event page) if Mr. Fugelsang were staking me. His response? A private message asking why I hadn’t said hi in the cafe. Aaawww! I explained my not wanting to disturb his phone conversation and me being a little on the shy side, but promised to say hi that evening. And I did. A very nice, intelligent and way too pretty and funny for one person is John Fugelsang. And I managed to sneak a few photos of the very fun event with the myTouch rather than either of my cameras as I didn’t want to disturb the performers:

The host with the most, John Fugelsang.
The host with the most, John Fugelsang.

Comedian/writer Richard Chassler.
Comedian/writer Richard Chassler.

Kelly Carlin, daughter of the inestimable George Carlin and an excellent writer/performer in her own right.
Kelly Carlin, daughter of the inestimable George Carlin and an excellent writer/performer in her own right.

John Fugelsang and Emmy Award Winner Voice Deity Jim Ward (whom I'm familiar with from Stephanie Miller Show).
John Fugelsang and Emmy Award Winner Voice Deity Jim Ward (whom I'm familiar with from Stephanie Miller Show).

Spoken Word Artist Lisa Thayer.
Spoken Word Artist Lisa Thayer.

(These were the best photos. Pictures of all of the performers can be found here.)

However, Saturday night’s event wasn’t the only unholy experiment happening in the World of Carol. Early Monday morning I was invited to a sooper sekrit vegan tasting event put on by the amazing Doomie’s Home Cookin’, which was a first for me, as I’m never invited to sooper sekrit tasting events of any kind.

I’ve been a fan of Doomie’s food for quite a while and, like most of their fans, was very sad when an electrical fire in the kitchen shuttered the restaurant for a little over two months. They’ve been working hard to get it up and running again and many in the vegan community stepped up to help them out, including yours truly. I wasn’t able to do a ton of work, but I was able to help out a couple of times with cleaning and curtains and such and, to reward those who helped out, the fine proprietors invited us to partake their yummy comfort food. They were actually training the new staff on the plating of the food, with the intent of going through the entire menu, but after several hours and many courses of family style service, we cried uncle, as our tummies could hold no more. It was another fun evening of good food and good company, with many of us officially meeting for the first time, though we’d seen each other in passing throughout the cleaning. I’m so glad I didn’t have to do overtime last night after all.

Amazing food and amazing company. And too full tummies.
Amazing food and amazing company. And too full tummies.

How was that an unholy experiment, you ask? Because trying to stuff that much food into the human stomach, no matter how elastic or how few bites per course taken, must surely be the work of Satan. I think I’m still full.

“i’m gonna pop your cherry.”

When I first heard that Fright Night was being remade, I had definite reservations. I’ve always enjoyed the original, with Chris Sarandon as the handsome vampire next door and the inimitable Roddy McDowell as the horror show host Peter Vincent (named in honor of Peter Cushing and Vincent Price). Then I heard that David Tennant was cast as Peter Vincent. Wha-? And the character was being changed into a magician.

Nonononononono!

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some David Tennant. They say you never forget your first Doctor and, as I stumbled upon the series very late, David Tennant was mine. And, quite frankly, the main reason I was drawn into it (I’ve now seen all the Christopher Eccleston episodes and am avidly following the Matt Smith episodes). He’s a talented actor, seems to be quite down to earth and just a lot of fun in interviews. Not to mention that he IS a very nice piece of eye candy.

But Peter Vincent as a magician? And, as I would much later find out, one in the mold of Criss Angel (who just doesn’t appeal to me)? So very wrong. Having Peter Vincent as a horror show host was a stroke of genius, but they are a long gone breed and I just couldn’t imagine how they could rewrite the character to be appealing.

Now I know. And, thanks to these three scenes, I may have no choice but to watch this new incarnation.

Oh, David Tennant, you are a yummy treat indeed.




dear fans of actors/writers/famous-type people…

…don’t do this:

When we walked out of the SyFy party on Saturday night, a pack of people — probably 12 or 15, I’d guess — appeared out of nowhere, and surrounded me. They shoved pictures into my face, thrust pens at me, and made it so that I couldn’t even move. They separated me from my friends and my son, and, quite frankly, terrified me.

I know my friends are too intelligent and awesome to be this douchey, but I saw this sort of behavior all too often when I would go to various events where CuteFilmNerd was an event photographer. Most celebrities of the non-asshat variety are fine with signing autographs and posing for photos when in the appropriate venue. But, like most of us, they also just want to hang with their friends and family, especially after a long day.

If you’re a mega fan of an actor/writer/famous-type person, learn when it is appropriate to politely ask for a photo or autograph. If the celeb of your fandom isn’t up to it or is just trying to get home because he/she has spent all frakking day on his/her feet (conventions are exhausting, even if you haven’t worked the entire time), respect that and move on. Your life will not end if you don’t get that which you desire. And the chances are that Favorite Celebrity won’t remember you unfavorably. If there’s one thing you don’t want to do, it’s doing anything that could cause another human being (newsflash: celebrities are human beings!) to consider slapping a restraining order on your ass.

In other words: Don’t Be A Dick.

gratitudinal december – tough dames

I am grateful for tough dames.

To be honest, I didn’t know what today’s daily gratitude was going to be. I’ve already written about the main things I’m grateful for. I knew that there were more, but I was drawing a blank.

A few hours after I wrote my earlier post about Bea Arthur, I realized what today’s gratitude was: tough dames.

I am grateful that my way in the world as a fully adult, self-realized woman was paved by strong women of courage, intellect and compassion. I would hope that, had I been born in earlier times, I would possess at least some of the same stubborn and compassionate nature that I have now, but I can’t help but acknowledge that my life is easier and more rewarding thanks to those who have come before.

So a huge thank you goes out to those ill-behaved women throughout the ages.

You rawk muchly.

not completely terrible

On Sunday CuteFilmNerd and I went to see Sherlock Holmes. It was definitely a Guy Ritchie movie – very early on we saw some very stock Guy Ritchie shots that were new and exciting with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Luckily he didn’t go overboard with those shots – just enough to work with the film.

On the whole it was a fun movie. I didn’t cringe as much as I feared I might. Jude Law was an acceptable Watson, one that made sense within the movie, but had his roots in the Canon. I liked the denouement – it made complete sense, even if there were parts of it I had already deduced. I even liked the inclusion of the building of the Tower Bridge in the movie. It showed some sense of history.

However…

Robert Downey, Jr. was fun to watch, with a pretty good English accent, but he wasn’t Holmes. Despite the many nice touches in the movie that showed that somebody had read the stories (Holmes shooting V.R. into the wall, having him box McMurdo onscreen, which was mentioned in Sign of the Four, as well as others touches), I saw nothing of Holmes in his performance.

Still, I didn’t hate the movie. I can deal with that.

you have a grand gift of silence, watson…

…too bad Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg and Guy Richie don’t.

Who are they? The writers and the director of the latest film incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, titled – cleverly enough – Sherlock Holmes, due out on Christmas Day.

Of course I’d heard of the coming film for some time, but hadn’t checked out the trailer until GruvLoungeGoth (who, I’m thinking, needs a new nickname – it’s never quite sit right with me, but I’m too creatively bankrupt to come up with a new one) asked me via Twitter if I had seen the new trailers. His question stirred up an inadvisable curiosity within me that had to be sated. And so I viewed this:

Oh, how painful it was. And how painful it still is, especially for a long-time Sherlock Holmes fanatic like myself. I briefly considered harakiri to erase the memory.

Unfortunately the release date is almost upon us, which means that marketing for the movie has significantly increased. Billboards, bus shelters, sides of buildings have sprung up all over the city, the charmingly weathered visage of Robert Downey, Jr. painfully reminding me of that which is to come. Not to mention such logical tie-ins as:

7-11 breakfast sandwiches
7-11 breakfast sandwiches (though, to be fair, Holmes was known to slap together a quick (cold) sandwich and stick it in his pocket for later when on the trail of a criminal)
7-11 white chocolate caramel lattes (because Holmes and Watson were famous for ordering such drinks when dining at Simpson's)
7-11 white chocolate caramel lattes (because Holmes and Watson were famous for ordering such drinks when dining at Simpson's)

and

scratcher lottery tickets (because if they gambled with their lives for England, surely you can gamble a measly $2)
scratcher lottery tickets (because if they gambled with their lives for England, surely you can gamble a measly $2)

The weird thing about this is, I would normally be excited (though slightly weirded out) about all this marketing if the trailer promised a good movie. I love me some Sherlock and think it would be great for the characters and stories to have another resurgence.

So…what is it about the trailer that has got me so twitchy? Not what you would think.

It’s not all the action. I actually don’t have a problem with Holmes and Watson being plopped into a big budget action flick, as long as the action feels natural to the story and the characters (though, yes, it does feel a bit too action-y). As originally written by Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes was a boxer, fencer, single-stick expert and master of baritsu. It was his knowledge of baritsu that saved him from Moriarty’s clutches at the Reichenbach Falls. Watson was also a man of action, ready with a pistol or a fist when needed, as well as being a veteran of the Second Afghan War. Much as I hate to say it: Nigel Bruce, he wasn’t.

Speaking of which, Jude Law looks like an acceptable Watson to me. A man who spoke of having “an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents” (The Sign of Four) was bound to be handsome (the appropriate Watsonian mustache lessens Law’s distracting prettiness, making him more manly), plus he seems to have a nice bit of non-stodgy gravitas which suits the character, as does the twinkle of intelligence and mischievousness in the eye.

I reserve judgment on Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler. She looks far too tartish, to be honest, and relies on a kick to the groin where I believe Irene would have used her admirable brains, charm and wit. But as this is a re-imagining, I’ll wait.

Okay, so I don’t have a problem with the action or with Watson and am willing to play wait-and-see with the femme fatale of the piece. Just what is my problem?

holmesposter1

Yep. Robert Downey, Jr.

Never mind that, frankly, his nose is too small (so was Jeremy Brett’s, who is my favorite Holmes of all, narrowly edging out Basil Rathbone, who had a proper Holmesian aquiline nose).

What gets me is…I don’t see Sherlock Holmes. I see Tony Stark with an English accent in sloppy Victorian clothes. There’s no real difference between the two characters, except that Downey’s Holmes looks less mentally and emotionally tortured than Downey’s Stark. Also, Holmes was described by Watson to be as meticulous in his personal grooming as he was messy in his housekeeping (I can’t find the exact quote right now, but that was the gist of it). Looking slovenly and unshaven was never something Holmes would be.

Downey just looks…wrong.

Recently CuteFilmNerd and I saw Nine. In the very first scene I was taken aback by how completely Daniel Day-Lewis inhabited his role, as he did in There Will Be Blood and, my favorite film of his, In the Name of the Father. Instantly I remembered the Robert Downey, Jr of Chaplin and wondered where that immersive actor went. Because I sure didn’t see him in that Sherlock Holmes trailer. I’m sure that Ritchie is a big reason for that – he’s known for flip characters and fast action and I will have no problem heaping the proper amount of blame on his head for any Sherlockian misfiring. Still, it would be nice to have Downey be strong enough to overcome the flippancy of his director and the potentially poor writing of one of the men responsible for X-Men: The Last Stand.

Perhaps I should just chill out until I see the movie. And yes, I will be seeing the movie, though I may have to have CuteFilmNerd gag me and tie my hands to the chair arms to keep me from flailing and screaming. As a member of his employer’s film society, CuteFilmNerd can get into a screening of the movie the weekend after Christmas for free. I will, of course, be his guest, for I feel compelled to watch the damned thing but I have no desire to pay my hard-earned money for it.

I just wish that I wasn’t dreading it so much.

“so close. just a few weeks away from a real audible connection.”

So, the last few days have been chock full of interesting things. The least of these was the acquisition of a new phone: Google myTouch 3G. My last phone (Nokia 6133) had been bugging the crap outta me – my first one died in March after less than two years and the replacement was getting buggy. I was surprised because my previous phone was a Nokia 3220, which I got free when I signed up with T-Mobile in 2005 – it was a sturdy little phone that I only replaced in 2007 because I wanted something a little fancier and I’d dropped it a billion times on hard pavement and cement and the reception was finally starting to get spotty. Its replacement was seriously disappointing.

Both CuteFilmNerd and I picked up the myTouch on Satuday. While it’s not perfect, I’ve been thrilled with it so far, while CuteFilmNerd has been a little more frustrated. But, while he loves his toys, he’s less of a tech geek than I am. Once he’s got it all down, I think he’ll be very pleased with his selection.

Here’s my new baby, with all of the accessories that came with it (the only accessory that I purchased was the acrylic case – it even came with a 4GB mini-SD card):

HPIM3657HPIM3666aHPIM3661a

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On Friday, I attended American Cinematheque’s special event The American Cinematheque Blows Up the Internet: Webisodes on the Big Screen, thanks to the auspices of CuteFilmNerd, who was volunteering to photograph and write up the event only because I desperately wanted to go. And why did I want to go so badly? Because they were projecting the second season of The Guild and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. And Joss Whedon and Felcia Day were schedule to participate in a Q&A session. It turns out that they weren’t the only participants: Joss’s brothers Zach and Jed, Maurissa Tancharoen (co-writers on Dr. Horrible) and Vincent Caso, Sandeep Parikh and director Sean Becker (all from The Guild) also sat up on the stage. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I was a bit of a wuss, so I didn’t pose for any photos with anyone (not to mention the place was packed with geeks far more aggressive than me). All wasn’t in vain, however:

2009-10-16-JWHEDON (29a)2009-10-16-JWHEDON (30a)2009-10-16-JWHEDON (34a)

While Joss Whedon was a bit reserved (which is fine – I understand how geek fangirls and fanboys can be sometimes), Felicia Day was such a sweetie. I introduced myself and said hi and as she shook my hand, someone she knew swooped down on her and commandeered attention. I had turned around to leave and suddenly she was right next to me, asking if she had said hi to me. I pulled out my Dr. Horrible DVD, feeling kind of awkward because I very rarely ask for autographs, and she just signed away, then shook my hand before going into the theater. Very sweet.

It was great seeing it on the big screen. And while things didn’t go quite the way I might have liked – at least according to the absurdly high hopes I held – it was still a fun evening. I’m very happy CuteFilmNerd got me into the event and volunteered just because I wanted to go. Turns out he enjoyed the events of the evening too.

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Last night CuteFilmNerd got me into another event that he was working: the 100th birthday celebration of Carla Laemmle. Carla is the niece of Carl Laemmle (the founder of Universal Studios) and uttered the first lines in Dracula (1931). It was a lovely evening and I was fortunate enough to meet a woman who is still beautiful and gracious and whom I hope to emulate when I’m even half her age:

2009-10-20-LAEMMLE (169a)2009-10-20-LAEMMLE (170a)

I relayed birthday wishes from Eric that he had tweeted to me. Her response: “Thank you. That means a lot to me.”

The true definition of a class act.

However, a very unexpected plus for me was meeting Ray Bradbury. In 1985, when I lived in a Northridge apartment, I saw him speak at Cal State Northridge and was very impressed, then again this year at the Forrest J. Ackerman tribute. I’ve enjoyed his work over the years, though I’ve, by no means, have come close to reading a large percentage of his work.

I had noticed him during the after-event reception, when he was on his way out but still posing for photos with various people. Not wanting to be obnoxious, I stood off to the side and took some surreptitious photos:

2009-10-20_CarlaLaemmle_100_B-Day (8a)2009-10-20_CarlaLaemmle_100_B-Day (7a)2009-10-20_CarlaLaemmle_100_B-Day (9a)

Then, as he were definitely leaving, his assistant noticed me off to the side, saw the camera in my hand and asked if I wanted a photo. Not surprisingly, I leapt at the opportunity. While not saying much, he was very sweet and took my hand after the photo.

2009-10-20_CarlaLaemmle_100_B-Day (10)

All in all, quite a fun, geeky few days, all shared with my handsome film nerd:

2009-10-20_CarlaLaemmle_100_B-Day (13a)

I wouldn’t mind having more days like that.