I only ended up taking one sick day after my vacation week ended, and since then I’ve been back at work dealing with periodic coughing fits while my body knits itself back together.  The only good thing (and I mean the ONLY good thing) about being sick is that it gave me the opportunity to catch up with movies and TV while I was lying around the house, too listless and tired to move or to read.  Over the last few weeks I’ve watched:

Misery Loves Comedy – This is a great documentary by Kevin Pollak about comedians and the darker side of comedy.  Lots of awesome interviews with famous and funny people.

Mike Tyson Mysteries – I’ve always been a big fan of Norm McDonald, and his tour de force performance as Pigeon did not disappoint.

Wayward Pines X Files meets Twin Peaks meets Eerie Indiana meets Persons Unknown meets any number of weird and “out there” shows that I’ve enjoyed over the years.

The Comedians – This series with Billy Crystal and Josh Gad took a little while to grow on me, but I enjoyed it more with each episode.  Oh, and they also snagged some impressive and hilarious celebrity cameos!

Jupiter Ascending – Okay, I love bad movies, but MAN, was this dumb!  And just to be clear, this wasn’t “good” bad.  This was more like “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?” bad.  The only reasons I could possibly see for recommending this film are if you love Mila Kunis, if you love Channing Tatum, or if you love explosions.  If you don’t fit into any of those categories … well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Advertisements

One of my Valentine’s Day presents to my boyfriend was a pair of tickets to attend the Good Spirits food and cocktails event last night.  We had some excellent food and some lovely booze.  I had two fancy gin and tonics because I didn’t want to mix my liquors, but my boyfriend had a wide variety of drinks.  I kept watching him when we left for the subway afterwards to make sure he didn’t keel over, but he was perfectly fine.  I told him that if I drank what he drank, I would have walked into a wall.  Still, though, the food and drinks were DELIGHTFUL.  And, you know, FANCY!

Brooklyn Gin and TonicThis would be my Brooklyn Gin & Tonic made with elderflower tonic, black cherry bitters, juniper berries, a slice of blood orange, and a sprig of rosemary.  Woo-Hoo!

In the curious interactions with library patrons department, I got an unusual comment from a lady after I’d helped her find some information online: Thank you for your niceness!  But Betsy got yet another creepy comment (surprise!) from the Creepy Old Flirt: After telling her to “stay warm” he ONCE AGAIN mimed offering a hug and said Don’t forget, there IS the old-fashioned way! which he then followed up with I guess it wasn’t written into your contract that you’d have to deal with people like me!

*shudder*

I’ve been watching the HBO documentary series The Jinx lately, which led me to reserve the feature film All Good Things, which is how Robert Durst and director Andrew Jarecki first connected.  I thought it was odd enough that Durst contacted Jarecki to tell him that he liked the film … about how he probably killed his wife … but now I see that Durst and Jarecki did one of the commentary tracks on the DVD (?!?!)  My boyfriend and I watched the film tonight, and while it was mostly awesome but sometimes straining credulity, I need to hang on to the DVD a while longer to watch all the extras and listen to that commentary track.  At which point I guess I’ll see if it’s more or less alarming listening to Durst’s voice if I’m not watching him blinking … and blinking … and blinking …

Also, Leonard Nimoy died today.  Did you know that?  I didn’t find out until I got home, and it made me really sad.  Or, rather, it made the little girl deep inside of me really sad.  The girl who was convinced that Mr. Spock would be her boyfriend someday because HE would understand her, not like those idiot boys in her class who would only show that they liked her by hitting her and then running away.

Boys were idiots, but Mr. Spock was cool.  HE would have appreciated me for my mind!

Anyway, while I was cruising the internet looking for some Nimoy-related stuff to put up on Tumblr, I found a couple of awesome things, including Leonard Nimoy Reads Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt” and a tribute to his appearances on The Simpsons.  Of course, since I’m a big Columbo fan (and since my boyfriend bought me the entire series on DVD for Christmas), I’ll also have to give a shout-out to his Columbo appearance that we watched just a few weeks ago:

Leonard Nimoy on ColumboFor all the True Detective fans in the house, there’s some semi-spoilery news about season 2.

And for all the House of Cards fans, I found a very cute video that is a spoiler-filled recap of the first two seasons to get you ready for the third season!!!

20 Amazing Musical Numbers From The Muppet Show

Yes,

yes,

yes,

GOD yes,

oh Lord, I’m just going to be here crying in front of my computer for a little while …

Favorite comment: “If you can watch this without getting choked up, you are a monster.”

First off, you should know that this all started because I’ve been rewatching classic Star Trek episodes.  Why are you not surprised?

Okay, so I’ve been re-watching classic Star Trek episodes on Netflix as I’ve been listening to the Mission Log podcast, and in each episode of the podcast they discuss one episode of the series.  Recently, they (and I ) watched the 3rd season episode “And the Children Shall Lead,” and the podcast hosts discussed guest star Melvin Belli.

And here is where I took my first step down the rabbit hole.

You see, when I watched this episode as a kid I had no idea who was playing the “space angel” character.  I just knew that he was an old guy in a sparkly muu-muu kind of outfit:

Melvin Belli on Star Trek

Then I watched it again recently, and I still didn’t know who he was, but at some point over the last year I’d heard that he was some kind of lawyer.  So I listened to the podcast and looked him up online and — WOW!  He was a CELEBRITY lawyer!

My Life on Trial

His clients included Mae West, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Tony Curtis, The Rolling Stones, Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, and … Jack Ruby???  He wrote lots of books, did stuff in the courtroom that set precedents for future generations of lawyers, he stirred up controversy, he received a letter from someone who probably was the Zodiac Killer, and he had a huge FBI file … hmmmm …

So I went through my library catalog to see if I could get a copy of his autobiography but there weren’t any circulating copies available.  However, I DID find my way to … his FBI file!  Woo-Hoo!

So now I’ve spent several hours reading through these documents, and I’m not even halfway through.  There’s a lot of quaint phrasing here — people are contacted “by airtel” and “telephonically”, one of Belli’s wives used to work as an “air line hostess”, he defended a judge who was accused of offering “leniency for love” to several women, and there’s mention of a client — a 17-year-old girl who was referred to as Errol Flynn’s “protoge”.  Um … protoge?  Really?

So then I had to look up Errol Flynn and the then 17-year-old Beverly Aadland who was with him when he died of heart failure (?) at age 50.  Anyway, there’s a LOT of stuff available on Errol Flynn online, including a great article from The Hairpin:

Scandals of Classic Hollywood: In Like Errol Flynn

(Speaking of rabbit holes, if you read one of those “Scandals of Classic Hollywood” articles, you’ll want to read another, and another, and another …)

If you look up Beverly Aadland online, you can read an interview with her in which she admits that she lost her virginity to Errol Flynn when she was 15!  Aigh!  And it really wasn’t consentual!  Aigh!  But afterwards he apologized profusely, and she forgave him, fell in love him, and promised to marry him.  So … that’s okay, then?

Beverly Aadland and Errol Flynn

Oh, and FWIW, I happened to hear on the Stop Podcasting Yourself podcast (which is based in Vancouver, where Errol Flynn died) that he ACTUALLY died in a whorehouse there but his body was moved afterwards to try to preserve his reputation.  I have no idea if this is true or not; I’m just throwing it out there.

Okay, so now I have to finish reading the Melvin Belli files.  Then I have to check out Gimme Shelter (Belli appears in the film because he was the Rolling Stones’ lawyer during their disastrous concert at Altamont) and re-watch Zodiac (I saw this film already, but totally missed how the TV host who’s about to interview Belli about the letter he received from the Zodiac Killer mentions the Star Trek episode that started my research rabbit hole).  I also have to read the Errol Flynn autobiography that I just reserved online, and … hmmmm … I wonder if Errol Flynn has an FBI file?  Hey, whaddya know, he does!

And OMG, the rest of the old FBI files I could read could keep me reading for the rest of my life … talk about losing myself in research!

Since it was too hot to do much of anything yesterday (up to and including going downtown, going shopping, or even getting dressed), I spent my free day in my air-conditioned apartment catching up with a bunch of stuff on my Netflix instant queue.  Here was my day’s entertainment:

Small SoldiersSmall Soldiers

I hadn’t planned to watch this film, but I was listening to the latest episode of the Film Sack podcast and I enjoyed their discussion about whether this film was awful or had some redeeming qualities.  When I learned that the film was available on Netflix, I decided to check it out.  And my final verdict is … it doesn’t actually suck!  Okay, there were some doofy and annoying elements, and it was kind of dark and violent for a PG-13 film.  That being said, I kept expecting it to be jaw-droppingly awful and instead I found myself impressed by the special effects, Kirsten Dunst and the late great Phil Hartman, and the eye-rolling humor.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s JourneyBeing Elmo

So, this was a strange viewing experience.  I’d actually had this movie in my queue for a very long time; in fact I think I’d had it in my queue since it first became available on Netflix (before Kevin Clash’s recent sex scandals).  I wanted to see this film both because I’d admired Clash’s book My Life as a Furry Red Monster and because the film had been reviewed so well.  Well, this film is very well done, and if you enjoyed Clash’s autobiography you’ll love this film.  But then again, seeing this film with modern eyes there’s the additional “yeah, but …” aspect.  It’s one thing to watch a film portraying someone as a great human being when you know that he’s really an ordinary human being but the film is playing up his positive side.  It’s another thing to see someone portrayed as a hero when you know that his personal life was not so heroic, which in fact cost him the job which is the focus of the film.

Punching the ClownHenry Phillips

I’ve been a fan of Henry Phillips for a while now, primarily because of his appearances on podcasts like The Todd Glass Show.  I would describe him as a “musical comedian,” but in this semi-autobiographical film he describes what he does as “satirical folk music.”  The experience of watching him is similar to listening to him, in that there’s a slow quiet conversation that builds, and builds, and builds … and then WHAM he whacks you over the head with something hilarious.  If you’re into deadpan humor, you should watch this movie, listen to his podcast appearances, and check out his YouTube channel.

House of CardsHouse of Cards

Oh.  My.  God.  Okay, so the first thing you should know is that I don’t care one iota about politics.  Political conversations tend to bore me or go sailing over my head.  That being said, this Netflix TV series about the Majority Whip (played by Kevin Spacey) who pulls the strings behind the scenes of US politics is FRIGGING AWESOME.  This series is filled with great actors you’ll recognize from other TV series and movies, and it’s really superbly done.  We’re five episodes into the series now, and I’m finding myself thinking about the show at all hours of the day, thinking about which way the plot might turn even while I’m going to sleep at night.  The first season is up on Netflix now, and season 2 is coming out in 2014.

The RevisionariesThe Revisionaries

To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of this documentary until I read this post on NPR’s pop culture blog listing some amazing films from 2012.  But when I saw that it was about how the textbooks that were selected for Texas schools influenced the textbooks that would be available to the rest of the country, I knew that my boyfriend would love to see this movie.  He’s been an educator for years, and while he was the kind of teacher who tended to use everything EXCEPT textbooks, he’d discussed this Texas-centered phenomenon with me before.  Oh, and I also wanted to see this film because a major focus of the film was about the argument over whether or not the theory of evolution should be taught / embraced / discussed / debated in schools.  And because my boyfriend and I are both big fans of Inherit the Wind.  Anyway, this film was amazing, frustrating, and amazing.  I found myself yelling at the screen at several points when someone was promoting an especially stupid view.  My basic reaction to this film can be summed up like this:

Oh my God!  What the hell?  WHAT THE HELL?  Why do they think … Why would they expect … WELL, FOR GOD’S SAKE!  NOBODY’S STOPPING YOU FROM PRAYING!  Did he just say the earth was 6,000 years old?  What the hell?  Okay, Honey, I want you to buy me a plane ticket to Texas so I can go over there and kick that guy in the shins!

That being said, every thinking person should watch this film.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Well, in case any of you were thinking of checking out the new Ken Burns documentary The Dust Bowl on PBS, I give you fair warning: have some tissues handy.

Okay, let me put it this way … if you’re the kind of person who cries once or twice a decade (like my boyfriend) (who when he reads this will probably be ticked off that I’m implying that he even cries THAT often), then you probably won’t cry.  But if you’re a more sensitive person (like me) who cries while watching 30-second Youtube videos of soldiers coming home to their families, while reading “Harrison Bergeron,” or while watching Hallmark commercials designed to tug on the heartstrings, OMG get the tissues ready!  I cried FOUR TIMES while watching this documentary tonight, and this is just the first half!  Tomorrow will probably be just as cheery.

Oof.

Photo by Arthur Rothstein – A car is chased by a “black blizzard” in the Texas Panhandle, March 1936.

That being said, as with Ken Burns’ previous documentaries, this film is really well put together and very informative.  I probably learned more about the Dust Bowl over the last two hours than I learned over the last decade.  And that’s in spite of the fact that I kept dragging my eyes away from the TV screen on purpose to look at my Angry Birds Star Wars game instead, either because I felt like I was about to cry or because my boyfriend warned me by saying things like, “Oh, I’ve seen what happens with the rabbits.  You’d better not look.”  This being an educated guess from a man who has spent over a decade watching me cry over Hallmark commercials.  And yes, the fate of the rabbits was one of several things that made me cry in this incredibly moving film.

So, hey!  Part two is coming up tomorrow night!  Get ready!

Ever since I bought some DVDs from the Warner Archive Collection I’ve been on their email list, and I always enjoy learning about the cool and unusual videos they have to offer.  I remember when I first saw that Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose was available, I was both intrigued and bewildered.  Not intrigued and bewildered enough to actually BUY it, but enough to plant the idea in my brain that I might want to watch this movie sometime.  Last week, I saw it in a stack of DVDs that a patron was returning to my library, and I decided that sometime was now. (more…)