The Future in My Head, or, Repo! The Genetic Opera

If you liked Bladerunner and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, you will LOVE Repo! The Genetic Opera.

The film proposes a future in which an epidemic has created a need for genetically manufactured replacement organs. Enter GeneCo, a company that not only develops these lifesaving organs, but has also developed a painkiller derived from dead human bodies to make the surgeries and recoveries more palatable. This, of course, sets off a trend for elective surgeries to make over your insides (as well as your outsides). But, these surgeries are not cheap, and if you can't pay, well, the repo man comes!

I'll just put out there that, in my head, this is a totally realistic future. Medicine, like anything else, is an industry, and making money has become just as important as saving and improving lives. And I fully believe that there is a place in the future where if you can't afford that new nose job, someone will come to your house in the middle of the night and slice off your nose, leaving you bleeding on your pillows.

The movie is, as the title suggests, a rock opera. But, while some of the singing skills are a bit suspect (I'm looking at you, Paul Sorvino), the music is intense and a bit outside even what one expects from a rock opera. As a slice of background, Repo! was originally conceived of as a 10-minute opera, and from there morphed into a stage show, eventually becoming a film.

The film has a pretty ecclectic cast. It centers around the drama between two families, the Wallaces and the Largos. Rotti Largo (Sorvino) is the founder and president of GeneCo. His three children, the violent Luigi (Bill Moseley), the mask-clad Pavi (Ogre) and the surgery-obsessed spoiled heiress Amber Sweet (Paris Hilton). Rotti is dying, and has no intention of leaving his money and his empire to any of his disasterous children. Instead, he wants to leave the whole lot to Shilo Wallace (Alexa Vega), a 17-year-old girl dying of a blood disease.

But why Shilo? Well, her father, Nathan (Anthony Stewart Head), stole Shilo's mother from Rotti. When she became ill with the blood disease Shilo inherited, Rotti replaced the medication Nathan gave her mother with poison, causing her to die and Nathan to take drastic measures to save Shilo. When Nathan realizes his wife's death was his fault, he is so distraught and so afraid of having Shilo learn the truth, he is conned into becoming the Genetic Repo man, hunting down people who default on their organ payments and leaving them dead in the streets.

The whole thing comes to a head when Shilo is lured out of her home by Rotti and learns from Amber Sweet and Graverobber (writer Terrance Zdunich) that Genetic Opera star Blind Mag (Sarah Brightman) is about to have her eyes repossessed. Blind Mag, as it turns out, was Shilo's mother's best friend, so Shilo, not knowing her father is the Repo Man, begs him to help her find a way to save Blind Mag.

The film is visually stunning, which makes up for some of the more garbled singing, and it's incredibly sexy. But, more than that, there's so much for you to think about in it. The surgery craze, the quest to make even your intestines as attractive as possible, the sense of corruption, the post-apocalyptic morality, the drugs, the sex, the violence. Basically, if you want it in a movie, Repo! has it.

And, if nothing else, when Paul Sorvino turns to Paris Hilton and says, "You're disgusting," you can live vicariously through him.


While nothing could ever truly replace "Chimpanzee Riding on a Segway" in my heart, "Cake" comes close. Of course, we may all have nightmares about singing cats lunging at our faces, but still. I give you, "Cake!"

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Taste has Left the Building

This is wrong.

Nothing like commemorating the first African American president with a terra cotta planter growing a nappy grassfro. I was totally horrified when I saw the ad for the first time. I mean, Chia Pets are something you pick up at the drug store on your way to the office Christmas party because you drew the one person you really don't like in the gift exchange. They're tacky and, having been on the receiving end of one (a clown, from my father of all people), I can tell you that they don't really grow in a lush even coating of chia plant. They grow as more of a spotty, mangy mess. So, instead of a semi-racist afro, you'll end up with something that looks a little like it has some kind of flesh-eating disease.

And, it doesn't even look like Obama! If it didn't have his name on it, I wouldn't have recognized it as anything other than another ugly planter.

So here's my question...does Obama's likeness have to be licensed? Or can you use the president's image in ways that no human being wants to be replicated or represented? I mean, if I was commemorated with a Chia Head, I'd be looking for faces to punch. If you want to use any other celebrity, then you have to ask and pay a fee and whatnot. Now that we're in the position of having a celebrident, shouldn't he have had to give permission and be paid for the misuse of his likeness? And if he did, does he really think he's that weird-looking?

About Doubt...

I still can't figure out how Slumdog Millionaire won the Oscar for best picture. Of course, of the movies it was nominated with, I have only seen Milk, but I can tell you that, were it up to me, it wouldn't even have been nominated. There were far, far better films that weren't nominated, including The Wrestler (which is now out on video, if you didn't see it already), and last night's viewing joy, Doubt.

I have to preface this by saying two things: One, if you haven't seen the movie, don't read any further, because I may well ruin it for you, and, Two, I have a deep and abiding love for Philip Seymour Hoffman. He may have a somewhat cavalier attitude towards grooming, but I have never seen him in anything in which his performance has disappointed me--including films I didn't really care for. Whether he's a washed-up child star who "sharts" at a party, or a lonely man who makes obscene phone calls in an attempt to make a connection to another human being, or a sad, desperate man in love with a porn star, or a failed genius trying to capture his life in a play, or a skeezy tabloid reporter, or a maverick CIA agent, or one of the greatest authors of the 2oth century, the man cannot get it wrong. I insist he is one of the greatest actors working today.

And, in Doubt, he plays Father Brendan Flynn, a progressive Catholic priest who may or may not have had an inappropriate relationship with Donald Miller (Joseph Foster) a 12-year-old black student--the only black student at the school. He holds his own next to powerhouse Meryl Streep, who gives a dynamite performance as Sister Alyosius Beauvier, the strict and traditional school principal. Amy Adams brings in a sweetness and naivete as Sister James, who sets suspicions in motion. Kind of.

The film is not really about whether or not a priest molested a boy, but really brings together issues of tradition and progress, power struggles, faith, tolerance, and race. Prior to any suspicion of wrongdoing on Father Flynn's part, Sister Alyosius is already not a big fan of his, thanks to their conflicting ideas about how religion should be practiced, how education should be structured, and how children should be treated. Father Flynn is far more permissive, and talks to the boys at the school instead of lecturing them. So, when Sister James reports to Sister Alyosius that, when the one and only black student at their school returns to her class following a meeting with Father Flynn in the rectory acting strangely and smelling of alcohol, Sister Alyosius is already primed to believe the worst and seizes the opportunity to possibly have the priest removed.

Doubt is based on director John Patrick Shanley's stage play of the same name, which is a far more sparse production with only four characters...the two nuns, the priest, and the boy's mother, Mrs. Miller. In the film, Mrs. Miller (played by Viola Davis) adds a new layer to the mystery and scandal surrounding her son's relationship with Father Flynn. She reveals not only that her son's own father doesn't care for him, but that she is willing to turn a blind eye to any impropriety not only to give her son a better chance at getting into a good high school, but because if there is any impropriety betwixt man and boy, there's a possibility her son might not be completely innocent.

The film is amazing on so many levels, and Shanley's background in the theater is evident in the way the characters move around one another and the angles from which the camera captures them. For example, in the scene where the accusations come to light, the power struggle between priest and nun is clearly communicated through blocking, action and movement. The scene is set in Sister Aloysius's office. Sister James must be present because the nuns are not allowed to be alone with men, including priests. Father Flynn is superior in position to both the nuns. When they prepare to begin their discussion, which is ostensibly about the Christmas pagent, Father Flynn takes the chair behind Sister Aloysius's desk. The sister is clearly taken aback, so she opens the blinds, which shines sunlight directly into Father Flynn's eyes. She takes her seat next to Sister James, but when Father Flynn gets up to close the blinds, she moves into the chair he vacated, and refuses to stand lest her place be usurped again. Father Flynn, in turn, does not sit down again, re-establishing his superiority over Sister Aloysius by physically standing over her.

The film is not one for people who like their movies tied up at the end with a neat bow and an unnecessary and superfluous Bollywood dance number. Although Father Flynn leaves the school, there is no resolution to what happened between Father Flynn and the boy. Some viewers will believe that the boy was molested. Others will believe that Flynn takes the easy way out, and may or may not be disappointed in him for not fighting the charges. Others will believe that Flynn's decision protects the boy from gaining even more attention in a space where he's already not wanted or accepted by his peers. But, if they are interested in a film that challenges them to think about what they're seeing and are comfortable being made uncomfortable by having their assumptions challenged, then they will all agree that they have seen a phenomenal movie.

It's Raining Gay Men

For anyone who hasn't seen the posting on my buddy Mike's blog regarding NOM's "Gathering Storm" anti-gay marriage ad, you might want to just link over there first, or this might not make a good deal of sense to you. Just a quickie...NOM is the National Organization for Opposite Marriage, a group that is apparently very afraid of gay marriage. Yes, I know it should be abbreviated NOOM, but I've found bigotry and common sense don't go together very well, so there you have it.

Anyway, in the wake of NOM's gathering storm and Miss California's honest response to a question regarding gay marriage legislation, celebrities both gay and straight have created a video parody and have posted it as one of the few funny things on Funny or Die. But, because I like you all so very much, I've posted it here. My personal favorite is the guy who parodies the guy from the NOM ad that clearly doesn't speak any English.

Ninjapocalypse Now

Such a what?

Take a quick look at the picture on the left. Ignore the giant ugly necklace, the asinine tattoos, including tears on the face. Pretend you don't notice that it's too warm for a shirt, and yet cold enough that the pink cammo jacket needs to have its hood on. Look past the pastel boxers to the matching pastel patterned belt. Please note the buckle.

Lil' Wayne is clearly an idiot. How else could you possibly explain a belt buckle that says "RAPE?" Now, the purpose of the belt buckle is unclear (other than that it ostensibly holds his pants around his thighs). Is he in favor of it? Is he asking for it?

I can't answer those questions. But, the buckle might explain something I overheard recently.

I was waiting for the bus, and there were two little boys standing next to me. They were probably 8 or 9 years old, wearing their little school uniforms with their little blue ties on. Boy A, however, was clearly a little bit cooler than Boy B, and Boy B was trying really hard to try to impress Boy A. Unfortunately, B wasn't doing a very good job of it, and he said something really goofy. A gives him this kind of withering look.

Now, let's be interactive for a second. Did A say:
1. You're such a retard.
2. You're such a nerd.
3. You're such a weirdo.
4. You're such a rapist.
If you guessed that A looked at B and said, "You're such a rapist," you'd be correct. A then followed it up by singing at B, "You're a ray-pist, you're a ray-pist!"

Meanwhile, I'm just standing there thinking, "What the hell??" I mean, that's kind of a weird insult. And how does a kid come up with that kind of insult? And does he even know what that means?

I don't want to immediately blame the rap community, because I'd hope that one douchey rapper with an inappropriate belt buckle wouldn't have that enormous an impact. I also don't want to blame the parents, because the fact that they were waiting for public bus instead of on a school bus or being picked up at the school by their parents doesn't mean that the parents aren't paying enough attention to them. It's entirely possible that the parents are huge Law and Order SVU fans and that's where the kid picked up the word. Or that the kids had some sort of safety class at school where they heard the word.

But, I'm still really unsettled by the kids. I just don't understand where any of it came from.

Finally, Good News!

After being offered jobs writing for adult websites, having had my information sold, interviewed for jobs only to learn that they were for positions that might exist someday, and taken a number of icky temp jobs, I've been rescued from jobless hell. One day shy of a full five months of unemployment, I've been invited to rejoin the work force! You are reading the words of the newest sales associate for Aflac.

It's a slightly scary leap, because the job is entirely commission based, but I think I can sell well enough to get myself back into the black. I still need to get my broker's license (so, if that gets screwed up, then I guess I'm back to step one) but I'm feeling really good about this. I'm excited about the possibility of being able to afford brand-name cheese again!

My Number One New Favorite Show

After the disappointing season finale of Big Love (okay, so maybe Joey killed Roman Grant, but other than that, it just fell flat), I was wondering what I would do with my Sunday nights. But then, along came HBO's new series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. I didn't read the books (mostly because I never thought it looked interesting), but following the 2-hour season premier, I am hooked.

In Botswana, where a woman is still culturally insignificant without a man, Precious Ramotswe (American actress Jill Scott) has divorced her abusive husband following a beating so bad she lost a baby. Her father has recently passed away, leaving her a very wealthy woman--in terms of having a lot of cattle. So she sells off some of her cattle and opens her own detective agency.

A woman can't do it all on her own. She hires a quirky, high-strung, totally OCD secretary, Grace Makutsi (Anika Noni Rose, the other girl from Dreamgirls), whose business sense may keep them afloat, even when her weirdo outbursts threaten to scare the clients away. She is also befriended by BK (Desmond Dube) and the local mechanic who is carrying a brightly burning torch for her, JLB Matekoni (Lucian Msamati).

In the first episode, she takes on two cases, that of a woman who suspects her husband of cheating and of a man who thinks one of his employees has filed a false insurance claim against him. She solves both cases, but both of them have a little twist. She proves the woman's husband is cheating by letting him come home from a bar with her and taking photos of them, but the woman refuses to believe he cheats, instead calling Precious a slut who seduced her husband. The man who is scamming his employer is actually a habitual insurance defrauder, but he donates all his winnings to a school for orphans.

She also investigates a witchdoctor's bag JLB finds in a very important person's car, and, in trying to locate the witchdoctor, finds a missing child the nation has been looking for. I think this is a really important element of the program; it shows how Botswana is both becoming modernized and developed and hanging on to its tribal and superstitious traditions. Both worlds exist in the same space, which is leading to corruption, kidnapping and other unseemly practices.

I'm excited to see more of this show. I have a real interest in Africa, in terms of the cultures that exist there and how they're represented on television and in books and films. Who knows, maybe I'll even read the books!

Back in Bad!

Hey readers! Just an FYI...after more than a month, the Bad Movie Blog is back in action. It's not that I haven't seen any bad movies. I totally saw The Wackness, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Vampire's Kiss, and a whole bunch more, but I just didn't get around to writing about them. But, if you check it now, you'll see just how bad Twilight was, and how uncomfortable watching Rachel Getting Married will make you!

Big Gay Glass of Milk

I finally watched Gus Van Sant's Milk last night. It's actually a really smart, well-done film, as anyone who is familiar with Van Sant's work would expect. In case you've been living under a rock, it tells the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to a major office. Milk was a pretty interesting and engaging character (in the sense of a real human being having a character), but he had the great misfortune of living for 40 years mostly closeted and in fear of himself, and only having a few years to really blossom and be himself before being assassinated by Dan White.

The film's plot is pretty man turned activist galvanized the gay community in San Francisco in the 1970s, ran for office several times before being elected and served one year before being murdered, along with Mayor George Moscone, by fellow city supervisor Dan White (who served nearly no jail time, thanks to his now-infamous "Twinkie defense"). But, I think the fact that the plot is so unremarkable is the reason it works; it allows Milk to be a real human being. This is not to say that there were not remarkable events in Milk's life or that he didn't do remarkable things because neither would be true. It's just a very simply told story without any sort of sensationalism.

Van Sant was very careful, since many of the people portrayed are still alive, to use as many of those people who were there as historical resources, even casting some of the more peripheral characters (like Teamster Allan Baird) as themselves in the film, and including everyone they possibly could in the crowd scenes or as extras. I think this prevents the film from becoming an epic, overblown series of mythologies about Milk (see Ray if you don't get what I'm saying) and really grounds the film so you can identify with Harvey Milk. Unfortunately, now that I've seen the film, I can definitively say Mickey Rourke deserved the best actor award and Sean Penn shouldn't have beaten him. I had hoped I wouldn't.

What the film does for me, however, is what so much controversy about gay rights always does; it causes me to wonder why. Why is what other people do so important to so many people? How does someone else's sexuality or race or religion or whatever affect another person so deeply that they have to stop them from living their own lives? Who really cares?

Obviously, this is not to say that everyone should be able to do whatever they want. Murderers, rapists and pedophiles, for example, should probably not be allowed to wander around doing their thing. But how does one person's sexuality affect another person? What business is it of anyone else's if someone doesn't want to marry a person of the opposite sex and have a bunch of babies? Is your morality compromised by allowing other people to have their own moral code? Is your own soul somehow damned if you don't tell another person that your god damns them? It's not as though gay people run around recruiting like the Marines.

I just don't understand. There's no reason for people to be so interested in what other people do in their private lives if it doesn't affect you. And who other people choose to spend their time and their lives with doesn't affect you.

What the freakishly intelligent do with too much time on their hands.

Machines that Almost Fall Over from Michael Kontopoulos on Vimeo.

Blockbuster's New Bad Idea

One of the things that I love about my Blockbuster Online account is that I can exchange the movies they've mailed me for movies in the store, and then they send the next movie in my I'm never without a movie. Except, in their infinite wisdom, Blockbuster has decided to change this policy so now, when I return a movie I got in the mail at a store, I have to return the movie I got at the store before they'll send me a new movie.

This is totally unfair and annoying, and, frankly, defeats the purpose of having the ability to make in-store exchanges. I don't want to wait around, watching the movies I already own when my roommate is too annoying for me to tolerate her presence any longer and I retreat to my room. I might as well just switch to Netflix.

Another problem I have with the whole Blockbuster Online vs. Netflix thing, is that, although both companies offer online rentals for immediate download, Blockbuster makes you PAY for them and it's not available for my Mac. Of course, Blockbuster offers newer titles than Netflix does, but I don't think that I should have to pay for them in addition to paying for my monthly rental fee.

So thanks a lot, Blockbuster. You've taken a great service that worked really well for me and wrecked it. Now it's going to take me even longer to get through the 160 titles on my list!

More Unsolicited Frustration

I just can't take it anymore. If my cell phone rings one more time with an unknown or unavailable number and it's not someone calling to offer me a job interview, I think I will scream, cry, break things and tear my own hair out. Or, if I get one more random email, or find one more unsolicited magazine or catalogue in my mailbox.

Thus far, in the two days since I last wrote about this, I have received:
  • A phone call from Publishers House letting me know that using my credit card has entered me into a drawing for a million dollars, so if I could just tell them which brand of credit card I preferred they'll put me into the final drawing.
  • Three catalogues filled with clothing appropriate only for women at least 20 years older than I am.
  • A catalouge where nothing came with its actual price, but the number and amount of each installment payment it would take to actually purchase the item.
  • Three additional phone calls, on my cell phone, offering to help match me with the best college so I can finally get the bachelor's degree I've always needed to change my life.
  • A phone call from a barely intelligible speaker from a call center in India or Pakistan or wherever letting me know about a prize I had won and I would have to fill out a survey to receive so I should be on the lookout for an email he was sending with that survey so I would get my prize.
  • An invitation to learn more about the graduate programs at Loyola University (this may actually have been a result of applying to UIC, but the timing makes it suspect).
  • A free four-issue subscription to Us Weekly. This doesn't suck right now, but when I get a letter a week asking for payment for a year's worth of more issues, I'm going to be hellamad.
I can't deal anymore. I have my suspicions about which job board it was that sold my information, but, because I can't prove it, I can't name them here. I can tell you it wasn't Monster, Hot Jobs or Career Builder, but a smaller, more specialized one.

Switching gears to more positive news, I think the interview I had the other day went well, and I should be hearing soon about an in-office interview with the company. I well-known reputable company which is clearly in no way responsible for the trauma I am going through with this crazy phone harassment. Keep wishing me luck!


I've now been without a job for nearly four months, and have actually been job hunting for about six. And, frankly, looking for work is almost a full-time job in itself.

When you look at the job boards, like Monster or Hot Jobs, a lot of what you encounter is scams. Companies like Marketing FX, SMI or Work In Sports advertise themselves as marketing firms with big-name clients, but, when you research the companies, you find that they are actually looking for people to go door to door and bring people The Good News of the Chicago White Jehovah's Witnesses, with bumper stickers.

So, before you send out your application, you really have to research the company, and check all the rip-off reports you can find to ensure the one you're looking at isn't on there. And yet, somehow, you can still miss something.

I have applied for a job recently which, instead of calling me for an interview, sold my email address and CELL PHONE NUMBER to companies. I have gotten phone calls from five different companies that want to help me learn how I can finally get a bachelor's degree. They are all under the impression that I asked them for this information. Of course, I earned my bachelor's degree 8 years ago, my master's degree 4 years ago, and expect to receive my PhD in approximately 4 years. So, I guess you could say I have the bachelor's degree covered.

I have also been offered, thanks to this phony job application, the opportunity to subscribe to several different magazines, to start my own business and to test a new mascara not yet available on the market. And these are all offers that have been made via phone. Via my cell phone, burning up my minutes for opportunities I neither want nor requested.

Shouldn't this be illegal? The worst of it is, I have sent out so many applications that I don't know which one might be responsible for making my life even more difficult. Actually, that's not the worst of it. The worst is that every time I see a number I don't recognize, or get a call from an unavailable number, for a moment, my heart soars up into my throat thinking that I'm getting a call to offer me an interview, which is followed by an inevitable crash and a vile knot in my stomach as I want to scream at the person on the other end of the phone to stop bothering me.

But, it's not all bad. Tomorrow, I have a phone interview, so anyone who reads this should send good thoughts or positive vibes or sacrifice a chicken or whatever it is you do to make good things happen!

How To...

Load the Dishwasher.

Step One: Make sure that there are no clean dishes in the dishwasher. One would think this would be an obvious step, but no, apparently, there are people stupid enough to not get it.

As an addendum to this step, if you are putting away dishes that you find in the dishwasher, please ensure that they are actually clean. For example, if there are milk rings on the bottoms of glasses or ketchup stains on plates, they are probably not clean and should not be put away.

Step Two: Scrape and Rinse the dishes you intend to load into the dishwasher. If there are chunks on it, those chunks are not going to magically disappear during the wash. In fact, they will actually be broken down into smaller chunks and sprayed onto the rest of the dishes, which will then have to be rewashed.

If, in the process of scraping them, you discover something burned on (like on a pot or a pan) don't put that in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is not filled with magical elves who scrub the dishes clean while the door is closed. There is only hot water being sprayed onto the dishes, so if something is dried on or cooked on, you're going to have to wash it by hand because it just isn't going to come clean.

Step 3: Organize the dishes properly. Smaller items, such as glasses, should go on the top shelf. Fragile items, like plastic storage dishes, should also go on the top shelf, where the water is slightly less hot and and slightly less forceful. Larger items, like plates, should go on the lower shelf.

Make sure that the dishes are positioned so the dirty parts will get maximum exposure to the water. If the water comes up from the bottom, you shouldn't position, for example, glasses so that the opening in the glass is pointing away from the water. Also pay attention to the natural angles and openings in the dishwasher. The water is on rotating blades, and, frequently, the racks in the dishwasher will be angled so that the dirty sides of the dishes will be facing the water, so it's really best to follow those lines.

Step 4: Load in the silverware. Pointy items, like forks and knives, should be loaded with the pointy ends facing the bottom of the dishwasher. Most cutlery baskets have holes in the bottom, and those holes will help to hold the pointy ends steady so they get cleaner. Spoons should be placed rounded-end up, otherwise the water pressure causes them to nestle against one another and not get clean. Large items, like chef's knives or spatulas will get cleaner if they're lying flat in the top rack.

Step 5: Add the dish soap. Make sure you close the lid on the soap dispenser.

Step 6: Turn the dishwasher on. This seems like a no-brainer, but some people seem to believe that the dishwasher has a psychic connection with you and knows you want it to come on and wash the dishes.

Step 7: When the dishes are washed and the drying cycle is finished, open the dishwasher and check the dishes. If they're still wet, leave the dishwasher open a crack to help them dry. If they're dry, put them away. As you put them away, check them to make sure there's nothing dirty stuck to them. If you find something on a dish, don't put it away. Put it back in the dishwasher or wash it by hand.

Repeat the whole process!

Next time, we'll be discussing how important it is to clean up a mess when you make it. Like when you spill coffee on the floor in front of your roommate's door.

Back from the dead!

So, on Tuesday, the much-anticipated (at least by me) film Dead Like Me: Life After Death came out. Unfortunately, it was released straight to video, which means there's a very good possibility it will be the only film to try to pick up where the program left off.

If you've not seen the television show, you can catch a brief overview here. The film picks up three years after the television show ends, with George, Roxy, Mason and Daisy (played now by Sarah Wynter) still reaping souls. Unfortunately, the story line for the film didn't include Rube (Mandy Patinkin), who was replaced by suave British businessman Cameron Kane (Henry Ian Cusick). Cameron isn't a big fan of Rube's Post-it notes and day planner, or his daily meetings at Der Waffle House (which burned down at the very beginning of the film), so he opts for a standing reservation at a swanky restaurant, Palm Treos, and sexy parties in his lavish home.

But something isn't right. Cameron's corrupt decadence and laissez-faire attitude towards the rules by which all the reapers live soon has everyone breaking the rules...with wild consequences.

The biggest sub-plot to the film deals with George's family. George has always watched her family, but has been expressly forbidden to interact with them. But, through a mess with an incorrect time of death, she ends up trying to reap her sister's secret boyfriend, which brings her and her sister together and she reveals her true identity, causing her troubled sister to try to forge a new relationship with her.

Meanwhile, the other reapers discover that their new boss doesn't have their best interests at heart and embark on a plot to destroy him. But how does one kill an undead reaper?

The film ends with an opening for a sequel, which, if you watch the special features, the director and the stars are all interested in doing. Honestly, the film is a bit more like a 2-hour series finale, with some resolution, but nothing really finalized.

It was nice to see a continuation of the story, but it only left me wanting another movie...or another hour-long episode each week. It was a bit sad to see Rube gone, since he was one of my favorite characters, and the film relegated the other characters more to players in George's story, whereas in the show, everyone had their own story narrated by George. Overall, though, I think anyone who enjoyed the show will enjoy the movie as well...and if you didn't see the show, rent both seasons, then rent the film!

Craziness on Big Love

Okay, so we're a few episodes into the third season of HBO's Big Love, and this season is much darker and heavier than the previous two.

Roman Grant was acquitted of violations of the Man Act, and is now kind of free...he's under house arrest in a hotel. Nicki, who helped to drive off the witnesses against him by infiltrating the DA's office using Margene's identity quit her job but is being pulled back thanks to a flirtation with a lawyer (who actually used to occasionally guest star on Who's Line is it Anyway?). The family married Ana, who, in less than a day, asked them for a divorce because she, like I do, felt the balance of the family worked best with only 3 wives (there's also a sort of religious component to keeping only 3 that Bill's mother mentioned--ideally, a man should have either 3 or 7 wives). And Sarah is pregnant.

But the thing that's making this season so heavy is the level of corruption to which Bill seems to be sinking. At the end of last season, his overwhelming zeal for bringing down Roman Grant had him falling all over himself to steal Weber Gaming and pitting one polygamous group against the other. But this season he's getting in much, much deeper. He's still on his crusade to destroy Juniper Creek, but his determination to maintain Weber Gaming has him pulling some shady deals. First of all, Home Plus is losing money, but he's still ignoring it. Now he's getting into government dealings to prevent a gaming ban from going through, making deals to bring down Alby Grant while making deals with Alby Grant. You can see in his eyes and in the way he drops everything for some shady dealing that he's becoming less of a good man and more of a man possessed by greed and corruption.

The other heavy moments are coming from Sarah and her unwanted pregnancy. Ben wants her to give the baby to her parents to raise, but she wanted to give it away for adoption. This led to a very heavy-handed moment where Sarah, Ben and Heather all went to interview a prospective adoptive couple. Well, the woman had major-league OCD, and the husband was fighting his SSA--same sex attraction. They were actually brought together by a church leader to help "heal one another." This is actually not uncommon practice for Mormons; when I lived in Las Vegas, I had a friend who was both Mormon and openly gay, and he was continually being bombarded by other gay Mormon men who had decided to live as straight men "for their own eternal salvation" attempting to convince him to do the same. These men frequently offered him women who had agreed to (or "been called to") be married to gay men in order to save their souls. This created a weird preachy moment where Ben, Sarah and Heather, who is struggling with her own same-sex attraction to Sarah, discussed the morality of homosexuality and whether it's right or wrong, as well as whether the practice of gays marrying straight was right or wrong.

In the last episode, though, Sarah decided she wants to keep her baby, and she and Heather fantasized about both going to Arizona State University (Sarah got in; Heather would apply to go with her), living together and working together to raise the baby as a family. This opens up a new space to explore Heather's sexuality, and for me to hope Heather will get her own storyline.

As Bill spirals out of control and Sarah's pregnancy may be moving towards a point where she can no longer hide it from her family, the series is getting heavy...and the jury is still out on whether this is a good way for it to go.

Another Turnip on a Fork

So, on GetBack they have a listing of commonly misunderstood song lyrics. It has the old standards on there...Jimi Hendrix singing excuse me while I kiss this guy, one of a thousand different misunderstood lyrics from Rock the Casbah, the famous douche line from Blinded by the Light and a bunch more. Even Beck's line from Loser, "Soy un perdator," which most people think is "So I shut the door," and which I thought was "soy gum predator." Not very creative.

When it comes to people messing up song lyrics, no one tops my sister. Remember Green Day's Time of Your Life? The first line is, "Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road." While driving along one day, she belted out, "Another turnip on a fork, stuck in the road." I nearly drove us into a cliff I was laughing so hard. Why would Green Day be singing about a turnip? A turnip. Really.

J, for ages, thought the lyrics to Ask by The Smiths were "If it's not love, then it's the bond, the bond, the bond that will bring us together." A reasonable mistake, but the true story is that "it's the bomb that will bring us together." The album is called "Louder then Bombs," after all, not "Louder than Bonds."

No one knows the lyrics to Journey's Don't Stop Believing. I personally hate Journey, so the only way I can stand to hear the song is when my friend, who would be mortified if I named her, sings the first line of the chorus "Strangers, waiting, trying to drown a bowl of art." (The lyric, by the way is "Strangers waiting up and down the boulevard."

When I first heard Prince's Little Red Corvette, I thought the lyrics were "Pay the rent Collette." Of course, once I knew the name of the song, I figured it out. And while we're talking about Prince, and there are either 22, 23 0r 24 positions in the one night stand he sings about in Gett Off. I did some digging, and the general consensus seems to be 23. I also thought TLC's Waterfalls didn't say "Don't go chasing waterfalls," but said, "Go-go Jason what a fool."

So tell me, darlings, what songs did you and yours get wrong in a super-funny and creative way?

Why are people so stupid?

So, I got a package in the mail yesterday. That's not the stupid part.

Not only did the mailman not bother to ring the bell to see if I was at home before putting a delivery slip in the box and taking the package back to the post office, but the guy spelled my name all kinds of wrong. The slip was made out to Ellun Donanahney.

Ellen is not a hard name to spell. Donaghy can be a little tougher. However, it becomes much, much easier to spell when you consider that it's written on the package which the mailman has in his hand as he makes out the delivery slip.

You know when else it's easier to spell? When you're my landlord, and it's written on my lease.

Yep, my landlord decided that, instead of checking our lease for the correct spelling of my name to put on our mailbox, he would text message me at 1:30 in the morning, when I was quite obviously asleep.

What is wrong with these people?!?!?

We're Number 3!

Whoo-hoo! On Forbes magazine's list of the the ten most miserable cities in America, Chicago ranks number 3!

Why? Well, for one, we have the rising unemployment rates (I've been out of work for three months now). And, since no one is working, no one can afford the 10.3% sales tax here in the city. And there's the small matter of corruption...Barack Obama may have adopted Chicago as his hometown, but Rod Blagojevich is from here too, along with 358 other public officials who've been convicted of crimes in the last decade. Oh, and though it got up to 65 degrees today (look at the blue sky in the photo I took today), it's really effin cold here for most of the winter, then really effin humid during the summer.

Where did your city rank? Well, Detroit slipped from number one to number seven, just behind Flint, Michigan. St. Louis ranked number 10. Stockton, California, is number one, with only 15% of residents having a college education and unemployment at nearly 15%. Memphis, Tennessee is number two, which proves to me that country music leads to depression. Cleveland is number 4, with Modesto, California, car-theft capital of the U.S., at number 5. Number 8 is Buffalo, New York, which gets 90 inches of snow, but is where hot wings were born, and number nine is Miami, thanks to a housing collapse.

Now, I've lived in both Chicago and Detroit, and I cannot imagine that Detroit is less miserable than Chicago. No way!

A New Meaning to Classic Comic Books

My favorite book is getting a Marvel-ous makeover! Marvel Comics is putting out a five-issue telling of Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice as part of their best-selling novels collection (also included The Stand and The Wizard of Oz). The issue will be available with the April releases, and will sell for $3.99 an issue.

I think Pride and Prejudice has got to be one of the most re-told and re-imagined books ever (not counting the Cinderella story). Authors continue to churn out novel after novel after novel that picks up where the story ends, sharing the details of what happens once the wedding bells stop ringing and Elizabeth Bennet becomes Elizabeth Darcy. There are also novels that retell the story from Darcy's point of view. And who can forget the infamous April Fool's Day joke Pride and Promiscuity: The Lost Sex Scenes of Jane Austen, which had Austen scholars in an uproar trying to verify the authenticity of the writings.

I'll be honest with you, I've never read any of them. And the reason I've so studiously avoided them is because I love Pride and Prejudice so very deeply that I'm afraid, like Kiera Knightley's acting, reading these continuations of the novel will ruin the original story for me. So I'm deeply torn over whether or not to attach myself to the comic book versions.

Fan fiction is funny that way. Someone takes something they love so deeply that they have to keep creating more of it, taking control of the aspects of the story they love and exploring it deeper. But what happens if it ruins it for someone else?

Good News for Harvey Dent

Just when you think medical science has gone to the limits by pulling people's organs out of far flung orifices, someone gets a face transplant.

Although it's the fourth ever to be done, it's the first in the U.S., and the most extensive facial transplant ever. The transplant recipient, who suffered a traumatic facial injury that left her with no nose or palate, and unable to eat or breathe, has had 80 percent of her face replaced with bone, muscles, nerves, skin and blood vessels from another woman who had just died. She now has a new nose and lip.

Although the procedure was performed in Cleveland (Cleveland, people), the woman's identity and whereabouts are being withheld at her request. She, however, is showing no signs of rejecting her new face, and she has said that she had full feeling and it feels just like her old face.

Honestly, I'm glad this woman is able to return to a regular life, but I have to wonder about this whole face transplant thing and what it looks like. I've seen photos of other people who've had partial face transplants, and they mostly look like they've been scarred in a fire. Does this woman look like the person she got the face from, or has it been sculpted to look more like her original self? Obviously, it's not going to look as exact as in Face/Off, but I wonder if it looks like she's just had extensive plastic surgery (like someone with a nose job and cheek implants) or if she looks like a warped version of the deceased woman who donated her face.

And what about the family of the face donor? I mean, I guess if you were planning on cremating your deceased relative anyway, they don't really need their face anymore. But could you imagine walking down the street and seeing someone with your relative's face coming towards you? Especially when you consider that the recipient got 80% of someone else's face, and, from what I read, it sounds like it was mostly the middle part, which might be recognizable. The doctors are also saying that, because the transplant was so extensive, that she doesn't look like someone who's had a facial transplant. But who does she look like?

Although there are ethical concerns surrounding facial transplants (it's a quality of life procedure, rather than a lifesaving procedure), the team that did this woman's transplant is working on further research for the military to explore the possibility of providing facial transplants to soldiers who have been dangerously disfigured in the line of duty.

They pulled a kidney out of her where?

Okay, I'm probably the last person to see this story about transvaginal kidney removal. Although the procedure has only been used about 300 times worldwide and is normally used to remove dead or damaged organs, this is the first time a donor kidney had been removed via the vagina (un-donateable kidneys, gall bladders and apendixes have also been removed via the vagina, anus and mouth). The benefit to transvaginal removal is that it's less painful and speeds healing time, although the medical community does have concerns about the possibility of transplanting potentially hazardous bodily materials, such as stomach acids or feces, with the donor organ. The woman who donated the kidney to her niece was chosen for the procedure because she'd had a full hysterectomy, but it's apparently possible to perform it without compromising a woman's fertility.

But how?

As we can see on our theoretically gender-neutral chart here, the kidneys are way up there with the stomach and liver, nestled on top of the intestines. The vagina, which is also attached to the uterus and ovaries, belongs down there in the bladder area. So, my question is, logistically, how does one navigate all the other viscera to get the kidney first into the uterus and then pull it out through the vagina without doing damage to the baby carriage?

Let's Put our Thinkin' Caps On!

After seeing The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke inspired Andrea and I to develop a program to adopt washed-up celebrities. So, here's what I need from you: If you were going to adopt a celebrity has-been, who would you want to adopt? What celebrities from yester-year do you think are most in need of adoption? We're still hammering out the kinks for how the program will actually work, but we're looking for nominations now. Post me a list in the comments section!

My New Favorite Thing

Okay, so I just came home from my new favorite thing...watching the Windy City Rollers roller derby season opener! In my none too humble opinion, roller derby is the only women's sport worth watching.

For those of you who are not familiar with the sport, here's a little breakdown of how it works. There are 3 basic positions: pivot, blocker and jammer. Two teams play at a time, and there are 5 players on the team: one pivot, three blockers and one jammer. The jammer's job is to skate past all four players on the opposite team, beginning a jam (the period in which points are scored). The first jammer to pass all four players becomes the lead jammer and is able to determine the length of the jam. Each portion of play is 2 minutes long, or until the lead jammer stops play. Depending on how many players the jammer skates past, up to 5 points can be awarded per jam.

This, however, is not easy. The blockers job is to, well, block the opposing jammers and prevent them from passing their players. The pivot also blocks the jammers, but they skate at the front of the defensive pack, serving as the last line of defense against the jammers. There are two main defensive moves, the wall and the take-out. The wall involves the blockers skating close together to prevent the jammer from passing them. The take-out is exactly what it sounds like--the blocker shoves the jammer out of bounds. The blockers also have an offensive move called a whip, where they take their team's jammer by the arm and whip them forward, giving them an extra burst of speed to pass the other team's blockers.

The game consists of two halves (30 minutes long), but, get this: there are two clocks. One clock counts down the amount of time left in the half and the other, the jam clock, counts down the time left in the jam. Since jams don't always last the full 2 minutes, there may be times where the teams assemble to begin a new jam but there are fewer than 2 minutes left on the clock. No worries; the jam clock takes precedence.

The Windy City Rollers are made up of 4 teams: Hell's Belles, The Fury, The Double Crossers and Manic Attackers. Since tonight was our first game, we picked Manic Attackers to root for. Why? Two reasons: their record showed they had never won a game and their captain's name is Beth Amphetamine. Obviously, this is not her real name. The players adopt bad-ass nicknames, like Beth's, or like Ruth Enasia, Belle Diablo, May R. Daley, Karmageddon, Eva Dead, or Psyche O'Sis. And, with us cheering for them, the Manic Attackers won...actually, they crushed the Double Crossers! The only downside to being a Manic Attacker fan is that they wear a turquoise leotard called the Manic Tard.

So, yeah, my new favorite thing is roller derby. Next match: February 20!

Wait, What Idol?

So, I've been watching the American Idol auditions, which aired their last episode this evening. Quite frankly, I could care less about the actual American Idol program...there will never be another Kelly Clarkson. What I do like, though, is seeing the bad auditions, because it's fun for me to see people who sing even worse than I do, and to see them have freakish hissy fits when the judges tell them even though their grandma may have been telling them all their lives that they were the greatest singers known to mankind, they really don't have the slightest bit of talent and were quite honestly inventing their own notes as they went. I know I'm a bad singer, mainly because I can hear myself. Can't these people hear themselves?

This audition round has been a disappointment for me, though, because they've been showing fewer of the bad auditions and the weird auditions...mostly because they're hoping to streamline the process by making sure people like Sex (remember Sex, tried out several times for both American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance) don't turn up hoping to be on television.

Tonight though, they showed auditions from New York and San Juan, Puerto Rico. That's right...they're holding auditions for the next AMERICAN idol in a country that refuses to become a U.S. state and whose inhabitants do not consider themselves to be Americans. Which makes a ton of sense.

Here's the best part: the contestants from Puerto Rico were all made aware that, while they could sing whatever they liked for the auditions (providing that they had prepared at least one song in English), they would be expected to sing only in English on the program. Of the auditions I saw, a lot of the hopefuls sang really well, in Spanish. But then, when it was time for them to offer up their English-language choice, it was a disaster. Their spoken English wasn't strong enough for them to understand what they were singing, and they were concentrating too hard on getting the words right to get the musical part of the singing right.

Of a couple thousand wannabes, nine made it through to Hollywood. Nine. And at least one of those was an American who spoke English with no accent--and the accent was the reason Simon gave for their holding auditions in Puerto Rico!!

Luke Wilson Made Me Cry

Henry Poole Is Here is a crying movie. A sloppy, sobbing, snot pouring from your nose crying movie.

This is one that I think slipped under the radar thanks to a low budget, but it's one I think people should know about and should see. The film stars Luke Wilson (my preferred Wilson brother) as Henry Poole, a man who has lost all hope in life and has moved back to the street he grew up on. Although he is unable to buy his childhood home, he moves into a smaller house down the street and finds that, although all he wants is to be left alone to die, his neighbors quickly insert themselves into his life thanks to a stain on his stucco that may or may not be the face of Jesus, which may or may not be crying tears of actual blood, and may or may not be performing miracles.

On one side is Dawn (Radha Mitchell), an exhausted single mother whose daughter Millie (Morgan Lily) hasn't spoken since the day her father left them. Millie is a little creepy, hiding behind fences and recording other people's conversations, but Dawn and Henry quickly form a bond. On the other side is Esperanza (played by Mexican telenovela star Adriana Barraza), who first spots the Jesus face and draws enormous attention to it as a miracle, much to Henry's annoyance. One of the greatest performances in this film is from George Lopez, who, instead of playing the high-strung comedic role he's so well-known for, plays a very calm and quiet priest.

Wilson's eyes are part of what makes the film so sad. There are a lot of shots of him looking into the camera where he looks alternately sad and lost and angry and overwhelmed, but they're done in a way where you don't feel like an actor is staring into a camera, but more like you're seeing a private moment you shouldn't be. But, what really gets you is the music. With the exception of Blur's "Song Number 2," every song in this movie is completely depressing. Seriously, if you can sit through this without crying, you either have no heart or have never felt lost, alone, hopeless, or afraid.

Wrestling Mickey Rourke

I went to see The Wrestler this afternoon, and I totally think everyone should see this movie. It's probably the saddest film I've seen in a long time, but not in a sit down and cry kind of way. And, frankly, I don't think anyone but Mickey Rourke could have been cast as Randy "The Ram" Robinson.

Here's the basic premise: Randy "The Ram" Robinson was the ultimate wrestler of all wrestlers. In his day, he was the greatest, the biggest star, the most popular...kind of like Hulk Hogan. Flash forward to today, and he's completely broke, living alone in a trailer park, his daughter won't speak to him, his only friend is an over-the-hill stripper, he works in a discount grocery store, and he's wrestling in school gymnasiums, American Legion halls and church basements, and making no money. Basically, he's lost absolutely everything, but he's desperately trying to cling to anything that reminds him of his glory days.

And then, he has a heart attack and his doctors tell him he can't wrestle anymore. His dreams are all shattered and he has to face what's left of his life.

Honestly, it's a perfect vehicle for Mickey Rourke, playing a man who's crashed down just about as low as he can go and is looking for any route to a comeback. Since Rourke thanked his dogs during his Golden Globe acceptance speech because sometimes all a man has is his dogs, I'm guessing he knows a little bit about being a man who's lost everyone and everything he's loved in the world. The saddest part of the film is truly how lonely this guy's existence is--I mean, he's still got fans who turn out at these crappy little matches, but there are no people in his life. The Ram doesn't even have a dog. I can't imagine ever being that alone in life, and I don't know if I could survive it.

A word of warning, the film is mostly shot with handi-cams, so it's very, very shaky and, occasionally, nauseating, and the plot moves very very slowly without ever really going anywhere. But overall, the film is really enjoyable, in a heartbreaking way.

Another New Blog!

Well, boys and girls, since being unemployed, I have been watching a whole lot of movies. So many, in fact, that I have rented pretty much every movie I wanted to see and most of the movies I kind of thought might not be awful. Now I'm just grabbing anything off the shelf--although I am still resisting the call of Gay Bed and Breakfast of Doom and Zombie Strippers.

But, when you watch a lot of movies, you will inevitably cross paths with some bad ones. This week, I've watched 3 bad ones already. So, as a service to you all, I have decided to start a new blog letting you know which movies stink and why so you can avoid them. I'm hoping to score enough good karma that more good things, like a job, will come my way.

So, the first entry is up on The Bad Movie Blog, and it features Razzie Award nomination leader, The Love Guru. Bookmark it, folks, because tomorrow I'll be discussing Space, Where Movie Franchises Go to Die, and what happens when a movie is set in a historic period predating the space program. I bet most of you know what movie that will be!

Of Course the Mechanic can't Drive Stick

Okay, so, as if not having a job and not hearing anything back from the interviews I've been on wasn't struggle enough for me, my car is starting to die in ways that cannot be ignored, especially in the maelstrom of a Chicago winter. Today, I rolled my window down and it wouldn't go back up again.

I was in a parking garage, but, because of the holiday, there was no one there. And when I called the emergency number, no one answered. And then I called AAA, who doesn't cover that kind of roadside emergency. So I called J, and after much struggling and arguing over who was listening and who wasn't doing what they thought they were doing, we got it kind of closed, but it was still a little open. Like you could stick your hand in the car, and since the problem started with someone trying to break into my car in the first place, this isn't acceptable. At this point, I had no other choice but to take it to a garage.

So I call first, since it's a holiday and I don't want to turn up and find that it's closed. So I call, they're open, and I head on over. The guy comes out to take my car, so I get out, and he looks in the car and says, "Oh, is it a stick? I don't really drive stick." What kind of mechanic doesn't know how to drive a manual transmission?? Anyway, I pull into the garage, they take the door apart and tell me that it's just a quick fix and they'll get it done in no time, and it won't be that expensive. Great!

Half an hour later, the guy comes out and tells me he's very sorry, but they thought they had the part they needed, but the one they had was broken, so they were going to have to buy one from another garage. I said okay and asked how long it was going to take, and I'm assured it won't be that long because the other garage is nearby. Unfortunately, they were just going to charge me for the part originally, but now that they have to buy the part, they'll have to charge me for the part and the labor, but it will only be a little more.

Apparently, the part was in West Virginia and they walked there to get it because FOUR HOURS LATER, I asked how much longer it was going to be, and they tell me the guy just got back and it'll only be another ten minutes or so, then I will be all set.

In ten minutes they come back out and tell me that they installed the part, but I will have to come back, because they didn't notice until they were done putting the window back in that another part was broken, and they have to order the other part. I ask how long it will take to get it in, days, weeks, whatever, and they tell me I can come back whenever and they'll just send someone to the garage where they got the other part.

So I go out to the garage part to get my car. The guy opens the door, shows me my window and explains why I need the other part. Now, my window tinting is pretty dark, so when I close the door I immediately notice there's a border around the whole window that's lighter. The damn window is still just as open as it was when I brought it in!!

So I get out of the car and point this out to the guy and he says that the reason it's not staying in place is because of the broken part, but he will call them now and get it over there so that they can put it right in when I come by the next day. In the meantime, I need to have someone hold the window in place while I shut the door from inside the car.

Luckily, the part tomorrow will only cost me $5, but still. If they try to charge me for labor, I am going to take out my wrath on their sunrooves display!

New Big Love Season Does Not Disappoint

Whoo-HOO! The third season of Big Love opened with a bang! Let's see...

Well, at the end of last season, Roman Grant was being arrested for transporting women and underage girls across state lines for the purpose of polygamous marriage. Barb announced to the people across the street that she, Margene, Nicki and Bill were all married to one another in order to prevent Margene from being a surrogate for the neighbor's child. Alby Grant had installed himself as the leader at the Juniper Creek compound in Roman's absence--all while trying to kill his own father. Bill and Don Embry purchased Weber Gaming, a video poker company willing to deal with polygamists. Bill was also struggling with his feelings for Ana in the face of Barb's refusal to even consider a fourth wife.

As this season opens, Roman is awaiting trial for rape, after it is revealed that the women he transported were only transported to state lines, got out of the car to walk across them, and then were picked up on the other side. Alby meets a man for sex in a public restroom, only to have the man try to kill him. Nicki has taken a job in order to pay for the debts she has incurred, and Margene had her baby, a little girl!

But the big news is, as ever, the marriage. With a neighborhood block party looming, Bill's family finds that Nicki is being ostracized by the people on their street because they suspect she is Roman Grant's daughter. Then Bill and Barb's daughter Tansy comes home and tells them the neighbors won't let her play with their sons anymore because she's a "bad influence." Although the people Barb told about them deny having said anything, they suspect the street knows about their four-person marriage.

At the same time, however, Barb is struggling with her own secret: her cancer might have come back! Spurred by this information, Barb goes to see Ana, who, despite his best efforts Bill continues to see (although he refuses to have sex with her outside of marriage). She tells Ana that if she wants to continue to see Bill, she will have to also date Barb, Nicki and Margene as their prospective fourth wife. But Bill doesn't know! And Barb doesn't tell anyone why she's had a change of heart!

Nicki's job, which she claimed was at a county office, actually turns out to be working for the lawyers prosecuting her father. She is replacing another woman from the compound who had been working in the office. And, she's gotten the job using Margene's identity with a driver's license her mother made for her.

Ana is not willing to contemplate marrying Bill and his wives, and, after Bill finally gives in and has sex with her, he comes home and tells his family their relationship is over.

Refusing to bow to the pressure from their neighbors (and a toilet paper attack on Nicki's house), Bill, Barb, Margene and their children go to the block party, where the neighbors awkwardly annoy them. Nicki works on her roof, some of the neighborhood children steal her ladder, trapping her up there. This puts Nicki in a position to overhear everything when the neighbor who refused to allow Tansy to play with her kids comes to tell Barb she caught them together again--and that the bad influence she referred to is that she was charging her sons 50 cents a minute to look at pornographic magazines!

Meanwhile, knowing that the Hendricks are inactive in the LDS church, a neighbor corners Ben and tries to encourage him to rejoin the church and go on a mission. Bill, overhearing it, gets angry and begins shouting with the man in the street. As he is on the verge of outing their family, Nicki proclaims from her rooftop that she is, in fact, Roman Grant's daughter, but lies and says she condemns everything the Juniper Creek community stands for, that she spent her life trying to escape, and that Bill, Barb and Margene were the first people to ever show her any kindness and she treasures them as friends--and nothing more.

The mood on the street lightens for a moment. Phew! But then, Ana shows up and announces that she's there, and she's ready to pursue the relationship on their terms!

How is that for excitement!! And all packed in a single hour!! This is going to be a great season! And Bill Paxton hasn't even shown his wang yet!

Oh, Boy!

The man on the left has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for "gratuitous violence." That is, he falsely imprisoned a male escort, handcuffing him to the wall in his London apartment. Apparently, this was a drug-fueled incident, and the man pictured claims that he only handcuffed the escort because he suspected the escort had tampered with his computer. I'm sure this panicked him, as he is incredibly famous.

Just in case you don't recognize him, the man is George O'Dowd--better known as Boy George.

What happened to our little Karma Chameleon? How did he become a doughy, balding middle aged man?

There's something truly awful about seeing the people we adored in their prime when they've fallen on harder times. And why is it so much worse for some than others? Paul McCartney still looks pretty much the same, as does Mick Jagger. Others, however, don't fare as well. Sometimes, they just turn out to be really weird looking.

For example: Here's a picture of Pete Burns from Dead or Alive:

Never the most masculine looking man in the room. But here's what Pete looks like today:

I wish I were kidding about that. He is, though, actually still a man, at least from the neck down.

They're Back!

After more than a year's wait, Big Love is back! Or, rather, it will be on January 18 at 9 p.m. Yay!

I love this show. No, I'm not a fan of polygamy, nor am I a Mormon (although, from what I read, were I a Mormon I would be somehow obligated to dislike this show, whether I'd ever seen it or not). What I'm interested in is how it portrays relationships.

The Henrickson family, Bill and his wives Barb, Nicki and Margene, have a very complicated plural marriage (and in season three, it looks like they might add a fourth wife), but it's based on the love and respect all four of the adults have for one another. It presents a very interesting perspective on the relationships between husbands and wives, and between women who regard one another as friends and sisters. What's also interesting is the way their relationships were all forged of their own free will, rather than forced upon them by someone else.

Of course, the show also presents polygamy in the way most of us are used to seeing it: abusive constructions arranged by a charismatic cult leader who considers himself a community's link to god and salvation. Bill and Nicki were both raised inside one of these communities and still have ties to this community (Nicki being the daughter of the community's current prophet/leader, and Bill's mother and brother still living there), so there is ample opportunity to see how people are taken advantage of, women are joined to men they don't care about, power struggles are played out, how women are joined as sisterwives despite the fact that they hate one another, and how a 70-something year old man feels himself entitled to a 12-year-old bride.

The best part of Big Love, however, is that it doesn't preach or take any sort of position on the issue of polygamy. It shows how it can be done well, and how it can be disastrous.

New episode, January 18. Be there. Or stay tuned and I'll tell you all about it!

The Guys the Cast of The Pickup Artist Want to Be

VH1 has launched its newest reality show, Tool Academy. The premise of the show is that it turns utter douchebags into perfect gentlemen at the request of their girlfriends. The men were tricked into appearing on the show, as they were told they would be competing for the title of Mr. Awesome.

Okay, anyone who's willing to compete for the title of Mr. Awesome is highly likely to be a tool. And, as you can see from the photo, these guys definitely look like tools with their over-spiked hair and fake-bake tans. And with names like MEGA and jobs including being a stripper and spending the money his girlfriend's baby-daddy is sending her for child support, you know these guys are tools.

But, watching the show, I didn't know who was more in need of help, the douchebag guys or their pathetic, self-esteem-free girlfriends. These girls put up with their boyfriends' ridiculous behavior, allow themselves to be cheated on, yelled at, put down and treated poorly, and some of them have been doing it for years. Every one of them knows in their hearts that these guys deserve to get dumped hard, and yet they've brought them on television to change them.

Okay, girls, listen up. You can't change another human being. If your guy is a tool, he will always be a tool. The only thing that ever makes a man mend his ways is when a woman he truly cares about will not put up with his crap. And not one girl on the show is the sort of girl who's going to make them do that--because if they were, the guys would have already changed.

So there we have it. As though The Pickup Artist, Flavor of Love, and Rock of Love weren't enough, now a show that is putting men on display as complete idiots is making women look completely pathetic and stupid. Good job, VH1.

Sometimes, You Just Feel That Way

Two Miles, Y'All!

Who crossed the two mile mark on her "jog" at the gym this morning? Me!!

Okay, so it's not a real jog because I did it on the elliptical trainer and I couldn't actually run for 2 miles on a surface or on the treadmill, but it's still a big accomplishment for me. And it only took me 22 minutes to get through. My lungs are only a little burny.

So what should the next goal be? I think that, by next Friday, I want to get my time on the elliptical up to 30 minutes. I think once I can get up to the 30 minute mark consistently, I can start working in some actual running on the treadmill.

The bad news, though, is that the harder I work out, the hungrier I am. This makes sense, since, after all, I'm burning up calories my body is used to having stored around my middle, and I'm trying not to replace them (i.e., create a "calorie deficit" to cause weight loss, not to starve myself...although it pretty much amounts to the same thing, I guess), but it's very unpleasant being hungry. And being hungry makes me cranky. I'm just hoping it that, in the near future, my body figures out that it's not going to get any extra food, so it might as well look elsewhere for nutrients. Like my chins.

Great Big Huge Loser

I watched the season premier of The Biggest Loser last night. Nothing makes a fat person trying to lose weight feel better than watching even fatter people losing weight. This is apparently a landmark season because it has the oldest contestant ever, the youngest contestant ever, the heaviest contestant ever, and the heaviest female contestant ever. This is also the first season I've ever sat down to watch.

I'm actually watching it because when I was at the gym the other day, there was a TBL marathon and the show turns out to actually be kind of interesting. And, since I myself am trying to lose weight (fairly unsuccessfully thus far) I thought it might be helpful to see other people going through it.

So, last week, after going to the gym for 5 days and working on portion control (good food is expensive, and I'm still trying to get by on the $300 a week I make on unemployment), I lost 5 pounds. Yay me!

So I watch the show, and the first episode takes in the first week that the contestants are in the program, ending with a weigh in and elimination (of contestants, not of additional calories via vomiting or pooping). I'm feeling good about my 5 pound loss, but I also know that healthy weight loss is 2-3 pounds per week. My feel-goods, however, were quickly squashed when the people on the show get on the scale and are losing double digits worth of weight. The biggest loss for the first week of the program was like 35 pounds. 35 pounds!! I'd be almost done if I'd lost 35 pounds last week!

Granted, these people are all a lot heavier than I am. All of them are over 250 pounds, some of them are over 400 pounds; I'm still weighing in at well less than 200 pounds (but I'm keeping the number to myself). So they have a lot more weight to lose. But seriously, a 35 pound weight loss in a single week...that's like having a baby, and I promise you, the man who lost it, didn't have a baby, unless something about biology is different.

Now I have to wonder what they're doing to these people. Are they making them work out for 12 hours a day? Are they feeding them nothing but lettuce and water? How can any human being naturally drop 35 pounds in a single week and not have some kind of unhealthy reaction to that?

I know whenever I go to the gym, my body panics a little, and I only work out for about an hour and a half. It's like my body thinks, "Ahhhh!! Calories being burned!! Save the nutrients!! Save the nutrients!!" and then it starts grabbing nutrients and calories from anywhere I've been storing them (like around my waist). And then, I poop, presumably because of the desperate grab for stored nutrients. Could this guy have lost 35 pounds through a similar nutrient-panic? Try not to think about a 35 pound poop.

Ridin' the Ho Bus

A fight involving beer throwing and a choke-out.

Girls making out.

A Penthouse pet and a retired porn star.

An acid-soaked Christina Aguilera (during her dirrty phase) wanna-be.

One girl taking shots from another girl's vagina.

Nope, we're not talking about last Saturday night at my house. We're talking about the first episode of Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels.

Just in case this is less obvious than my new favorite song, "Chimpanzee Ridin' on a Segway," the aim of this show is for Bret Michaels to find love, only this time, instead of being in a house, the girls are on tour with Bret, riding on buses around the country.

Oh, holy lord. Each season, the girls get trashier than the girls on the season before, and this is season three. When the Penthouse pet and the retired porn star are two of the classiest ones on the bus, you know we're scraping the bottom of the barrel. And in this version, the girls are not living in a mansion, but are divided between two tour buses. Two moving tour buses, with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide and no where to get away from the crazy Brazilian who's had an entire bottle of tequila.

Here's an example of how classy these girls are, just in case the notes above didn't clue you in: One girl, who works as a DJ, wrote a rap for Bret. Except, instead of memorizing it, she brought the words with her. And it appears that she was working on them while at the free clinic, because the lyrics were on the back of informational sheets about Genital Herpes and Gonorrhea. (Okay, this is also the wanna be and the shot taker noted above, but she got kicked off the show tonight, so I won't get to judge her mercilessly again.) Her parents must be proud.

I'm excited about this season. I think there's going to be drama a-plenty, as well as more opportunities to watch these clueless skanks humiliate themselves without realizing it. Yay!