Thursday, October 30, 2008

An irresistable pull.

Oh, no.

It's 2:30am and I can't go to sleep. My usual routine involves watching TV after I've turned off the computer. Then I get into bed and grab whatever I'm reading until I'm tired enough to stop. Taking off my glasses always helps expedite this process.

But every now and then, my reading material turns out to be something I can't for the life of me put down and stop reading even though I know I should because it's already very, very late and I really should just get some sleep.

This time, it's "The Time Traveler's Wife". It's my first book for the Cannonball Read (100 books in a year...I think I've done 50 before). I started it last week and haven't been able to put it down, and now that it's getting to the end I'm getting that feeling of dread in my gut because I don't want to finish it. In this case I also have a horrible feeling that the ending will leave me in a puddle of my own tears and I won't be able to sleep anyway. Sometimes I fucking hate really awesome books.

So even though my eyes aren't that tired yet, I decided to get up and try to make myself sleepy by writing this.

Doesn't work. Dammit. All I keep thinking about is going back to bed and finishing the damned thing already--might as well, right?

Of course right. Stupid book.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another totally random and pointless list:

Top 5 Movies I Will Watch Any Time They're On TV (...and they are on ALL the time):

1. Sense and Sensibility
2. The 40 Year Old Virgin
3. The Last of the Mohicans
4. Grease
5. Independence Day

Yes, I have impeccable taste.

Friday, October 17, 2008

TV Wednesdays: An Ode to America's Next Top Model

Oh, I have fallen behind!

Never fear, the update is here! And boy, do I have a lot to say!


This is one of my favorite nights of the week. Why? One very simple reason: it features what is probably one of the best shows (and by far best in the reality category) in Television history...

America's Next Top Model

That's right. I said it. This is my guiltiest of guilty pleasures, the show that has never disappointed me in my search for the highest levels of ridiculous imaginable; the show that has introduced me to such classic terms as "Fierce!" and "smile with your eyes!" and "Ugly pretty!"; the show that makes me cackle in glee with every episode.

You guys, this is the best show *EVER*.

I know what you're thinking. Let me put it in equation form.

You say....

Models + Tyra Banks + reality show = everything that is wrong with the world.

I say...

Brainless girls (because, come on, none of these girls will ever be a real model, let alone a "top" model) + relentless camp + hilariously bad clothes + Tyra Banks's utter insanity + everyone (but Tyra) knowing this show is a complete joke and pretending to take it like it's the most important show in history = TELEVISION GOLD.

I cannot stress the pure, unadulterated enjoyment I get out of this show. It's a ridiculous hour of television, but everyone involved knows it, and there's nothing I love more than mindless, harmless entertainment. This is one of the things TV was made for You take this show with a grain of salt, and it'll be the most fun you ever have.

Though of course, if you even think about it a little bit, you'll be disgusted (as you probably are reading this) and will try very, very hard to ignore it for the rest of your life. Don't blame you. I used to loathe the very mention of this show until I watched it by accident with my college roomate (we had nothing better to do, ok?) and realized that it was one of the few honest shows in television: it knows it's a joke, it knows it's a circus, and offers nothing more than to give you a good time. It's the one show that never disappoints. There are no bad episodes, because they're all equally hilarious and silly. And it's a pleasure to watch.

Every episode follows roughly the same formula. The girls (14 to start with), who all very seriously believe that this show will get them fame and fortune (even though after 10 seasons not one of the previous winners has even come close to reaching super-modeldom) are given some sort of modeling "class" and "challenge" at the start of each episode. These usually range from learning how to pose with a guy called Benny Ninja, my favorite supporting character who is the most flamboyant gay man you can imagine, to learning how to walk down a runway with coach Miss Jay (a black man who is, expectedly, beyond flamboyant and insane), to learning how to shill cheap Cover Girl products to high-class make-up stores like Wal-Mart. Mmhmm. A challenge winner is chosen and gets some cheap prize, usually consisting of jewelry or ugly clothes.

The second part of the episode is a photo shoot. Tyra picks out some ridiculous concept (natural disasters, "voting is sexy", underwater photography, etc) and the girls take turn practicing what they learned in their "lessons" while having this guy called Jay Manuel (another flamboyantly gay man with orange skin and silver hair, whose job has never been clearly specified) shout out useless instructions at them while they pose. The episode ends with "Panel", where each girl's best photograph is judged by Tyra Banks, Miss Jay, a bitchy british photographer called Nigel Barker and a real, former supermodel (the role has been filled by Janice Dickinson, Twiggy, and this year by Paulina Petriskova [sp]).

Panel is the best part of the entire episode. The girls are SUPPOSEDLY judged by how good their photographs are, but the guidelines for this are very blurry, and most of the time the girls are judged by something outside the photographs; their personalities (because everyone knows that what counts in modeling is how shrill and "crazy" you are in person), how bitchy they were to the photographers, or just how much Tyra Banks likes you. This is where our illustrous host shines. The show is clearly all about Tyra, and she lays down the law over who wins or who gets to go home. She gives out ridiculous advice ("smile with your eyes!" "stretch your neck!") with her insane eyes, and woe to whomever encourages the wrath of the Tyra monster. There was an epic moment a few seasons ago when Tyra exploded in fake yelling at a girl for "not being grateful" that Tyra had magnanimously put her on the show.


In the end, two girls are picked for having the worst pictures, or rather, for not being good enough for Tyra. One is kicked off the show and fades into utter obscurity. And that's the show.

With a formula this simple, it's easy for a show to get repetitive and predictable; but that's not a danger in ANTM. It's completely predictable only because we know how insane Tyra Banks is, but it can't be repetitive because the range of girls chosen is usually highly varied and the photoshoots and challenges get increasingly more insane as the seasons go by.

It's the one show you can watch that will never disappoint you. You can root for one girl or another, but you know it won't make a bit of difference how good a model the girl is, because Tyra will choose whomever will make Tyra look better. Tyra LOVES picking out "firsts", for example, the First Blonde Winner of ANTM, the First "Plus-sized" Winner (who was, hilariously, a size six), and the First Winner To Come Out of Tyra's Model Camp (that's a real thing). She loves pretending that any of this matters, while everyone around her knows that if any of these girls were really meant to be models, they wouldn't have auditioned for this show at all.

In short: you don't watch this show for the realism: you watch it because it's hilarious and insane. Judge me all you want for loving ANTM, I will keep watching as long as its on, and at least I'll know before you do that the moment has come in which Tyra Banks has decided to take over the world.

And who'll be laughing then? HA.


Oh, boy. Do I ever shut up? NAY! There's more!

OK, not really. The only other thing that's watchable to me on Wednesdays is Pushing Daisies , a quirky little show about death and love, that is sadly too formulaic and too over-the-top cutesy for me to watch regularly. It's a visually stunning show, Lee Pace is a total dreamboat and Kirsten Chenowith is hilarious, but, really, it's very twee and too saccharine for my tastes. And I know, I just spent an hour praising ANTM, but if I can't get into a show, I just can't. Besides, it doesn't seem like it'll last very long, so better to not get too attached. As with a lot of other shows, I'll watch the odd episode every now and then, but will usually lose interest halfway through. It's a procedural wrapped in very pretty paper and bows, and not something that'll hold my interest for very long.

Check it out if you like murder mysteries and quirk with a touch of dark, if that's your kind of thing. You might like it.

And that's it. Please give ANTM a chance, and remember: don't feed the models. Or Tyra Banks, because she will eat your hand, and then, THE WHOLE WORLD.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The pit that is Tuesday nights, plus a movie reccomendation





Nothing. I watched nothing at all. Tuesday night is the deadland of the television week; the pit, the desert, the Bermuda Triangle, the North Dakota of the week. It is where bad shows half-heartedly pushed by the networks go to die. It's a night of procedurals and results shows, the night where absolutely nothing catches my interest. Tuesday night is a night of Channel Flipping.

I suppose I could have watched House, but there's only so much of that formula I can take. House is the Corn Flakes of cereal-- bland, unsurprising, repetitive, the thing you eat when there's nothing else in the house, and it might be tasty for about 5 seconds but you'll end up bored by the second spoonful. While Hugh Laurie is fantastic, he deserves something better than this frutrating and stupidly repetitive show, where he is surrounded by annoying characters and increasingly ridiculous plot lines. I'll watch maybe one episode a month, but it's definetely not something I can watch week after week.

The only other choice this night is the Dancing With the Stars results show, and if you don't watch that silly show on the night that matters, why would you watch an hour of 'tense' expectation and filler? Not worth it, even if you do like the competition. Results shows are the pits.

I'm very lucky to have a pretty varied package of channels from our cable provider, so there's always something or other playing that might catch my interest for a while. Last night, for example, I watched "Memento" for about the 6th time, and was again confused because I didn't pay attention for 5 minutes. Oh brain movies, you deserve better than my scattered brain.

Watch this movie. It's trippy and strange and confusing, but with flawless direction by my new hero, Christopher Nolan, and Guy Pearce's freakishly angular yet fascinating bone structure, it's definitely worth a watch. It also features my favorite That Guy!, Stephen Tobolowsky, who makes every movie he's in pretty awesome indeed.

So that was my Tuesday night. Memento, reruns, pointless talking at the tv for being useless, and other such filler.

I'm bored just writing this entry. I'll have something better tomorrow, I promise, for tonight is the night of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures; America's Next Top Model, plus Pushing Daisies, a nice little show I have some thoughts on (oh Figgy, what don't you have thoughts on? Shut up!). I also have to tell you guys about this craptastic Mexican teenage soap-opera I've been watching, whose rampant misogyny and stupidity deserves its own lengthy post. It shall be forthcoming.

This is such a colorless entry. But it's been raining since before I woke up this morning; I can't go out into the garden, I can't play with the dogs, I've been sapped out of all energy to do anything, even write very enthusiastically.

This calls for a video game.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TV Review: What I'm Watching on Mondays

Confession: I watch a lot of TV.


Shocking news, I KNOW!

I won't attempt to justify it or explain myself; one of the things I've pledged to myself in starting this blog is that I'll stop justifying or defending myself for the things I like or don't like. It's my life and I'll do what I want to, etc, etc, etc rousing 80s music. Don't like it, don't read it, go find someone else to lecture on the effects of trash tv on intelligent brains. Talk to the hand cos the fig don't wanna hear it.

Oh, right and I need to be less defensive all the time ;)


So, yeah, I watch TV a lot. And one of the things I'd like to feature on this blawg is just reviews of what I'm watching, listening to, reading, loving, hating, etc at the moment. In the best of cases, I could convince someone to give something new a chance. In the worst of cases, no one will care, but at least I would've written it down, myself. So, win/win. Win. We ALL win!

Well that's all nice and fine, Figgy, but where's the damned entry?

Oh, right! Here it is!


WHAT FIGGY IS WATCHING ON...MONDAY (onday! onday! onday):

Now that the TV fall season is in full swing, my TV watching schedule is finally shaping up, and I've settled on a slew of shows to watch every week. Of course, this is only sustainable until one of four things happens: a) reruns start showing up, b) the times change due to DST ending or starting, c) one of these shows starts to suck and gets the figurative axe in my mind and d) I get a job again and can't stay up til 1am every day. So while I'll have some DEFINITE shows on my viewing ritual, there will also be ALTERNATES and changes. What I'm saying is nothing is written in stone.


Monday night starts with Heroes.

I've been watching Heroes since the very first episode, mostly because I'm a sucker for anything with superheroes in it and will give most of these shows a chance. Smallville fell by the wayside half an episode in, but Heroes managed to hook me completely in the first season. Good characters, lots of good super powers going insane, very pretty visuals, good storyline, not to mention the oodles of man candy prancing around in very little clothing. It all worked really well, and I was easily addicted.

Then came the second season. To put it succintly, it blew chunks. Big ones. The shrinking of the season (because of the writers' strike) apparently shrunk the talents of everyone involved in the show. The plots were either messy or completely uninteresting. New, largely useless and disposable characters were added left and right while older characters became increasingly stupid and annoying while being mired in nonsensical plot lines that never went anywhere. The whole thing sucked, and we went into summer hiatus hoping for an improvement for the next season.

The new season's started (the 5th episode aired last night), and I've been largely disappointed. While the show has somewhat returned to caring more about its lead characters and some interesting plot lines have been set in place (but again, not til last night!), the show has become largely dependant on rehashing plots (visiting the future, saving the world, people making stupid decisions and having to fix them) and very impressive visuals while sacrificing character development and, well, interesting plots. It's become really soap-operaish, and there's no end to the amount of yelling I do at the TV every monday night.

Last night's episode was decent; I'd give it at most a B. While some really annoying characters SEEM to have been taken care of, I wouldn't put it past the ridiculous plot "twists" of this show to bring them back. The writers seem really scared to go balls-out with killing characters or plotlines; they usually settle for predictable and melodramatic, and it wears very thin very quickly. I can easily think of 5 characters (Tracy, Matt, Mohinder, Hiro, Nathan) who either need to be killed off or get some IMMEDIATE revamping before I get completely tired of them. When we've come to the point where I'm completely uninterested in Mohinder's impressive shirtlessness, you know we're in trouble.

While Hiro seems to have made quite a surprising switch-around (though again it might be some lame fake-out), Nathan and Tracy have done nothing but stand around pondering their lives and powers and not making a decision for 5 episodes, and it's come to the point where I get angry when they even show up on screen. And I used to LOVE Nathan and Hiro! And where are Elle and Micah and Monica? If you're gonna hire someone as cute and awesome as Kirsten Bell, have her DO something in your show! And Monica's power was pretty interesting, but she seems to have completely disappeared from the map.

Is there a way out of the hole that Heroes has dug itself into? Maybe. Probably not; by this time in the season thing should've gotten better, you know? But all is not lost yet, and maybe the writers will be clued into the fan's disgust from the falling ratings (between week two and week three Heroes viewership dropped 11%!) to make some necessary changes and bring Heroes back to its first season of awesomeness.

Will I keep watching? Sure. For a while, anyway. The only other option at this time is Dancing With the Stars, and while that might be fun when you need something useless and glittery, it's not something I'll ever get into. It's too repetitive for my tastes.

Oof. That was a long rant. But let's keep going.

Next is Gossip Girl on the CW. Yeah, I know, I can't believe I'm watching a show called 'Gossip Girl', either. But I admit I'm a sucker for clever little teen soap operas with pretty clothes and fun storylines, and this show fills those requirements perfectly. Yes, it's vapid and ridiculous in its depiction of uber rich children in Manhattan, but the writing is surprisingly clever and insightful, and it can be pretty hilarious at times. It's a pretty fantastic guilty pleasure of a show, and it's refreshing to watch a well written silly show every now and then. Plus, you get to see some ridiculous clothes (Oh, Chuck) and outrageous storylines, which is always fun.

After that, my COSMOPOLITAN CHANNEL (yurgh) shows a marathon of Sex and the City from 10-12 (6 episodes) that I watch out of some inexplicable compulsion to make my brain hurt. It's a fantastically stupid and sometimes offensive and insipid show, but every now and then you get a fun plotline and very pretty clothes (none of them involving Carrie, surprise surprise) and some clever writing. I started watching to see what the BFD was, and I got sucked in, and while it's largely annoying and vapid and I want to slap Carrie every time she opens her mouth, I like it enough to watch it after everyone has gone to bed and there's nothing else playing on tv but news and bad movies.

So that's my Monday. If I get annoyed at any of the former there's always some Seinfeld or Friends rerun airing somewhere (it's a truth universally acknowledged that you will find either of these shows, plus Law and Order-which I don't watch- playing on some channel at any time of the day, any day of the week) and I'll watch that while playing a computer game or drawing.

Hey, I also read a lot. So don't give me that look.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's presentation of What Figgy is Watching On Tuesdays. I promise it won't be this long.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A good start to a bad morning:


Who doesn't love baby animals? Who doesn't love giraffes? Who doesn't need a good dose of cute on a Monday morning?

For no reason at all, here is a gratuitious list:

My top 5 Favorite Animals:

1. Elephants
2. Turtles
3. Giraffes
4. Really tiny monkeys
5. Sloths [have you seen them? they're hilarious!]

I will watch just about anything on Animal Planet (except for those shows on chimpanzees, I am just not cool on those). I find myself specially entranced by those shows on the Discovery Channel where they go down to the bottom of the ocean and find those total freak show animals with lots of legs and shiny eyes. Nightmarish stuff, but completely fascinating.

A good start.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The beginning of a beautiful friendship...


So I've decided to start this new, more public blog so as to have a place where I can write about less personal, more general topics and not be worried about who'll get to see them.

Basically, it'll be rants, whines, and other such general "Oh-I-love-to-hear-myself-talk" posts on topics from tv and movie reviews to how cute my dogs are. You know, just general crap not fit for my more sikkrit journal.

*twiddles thumbs*

I'll post something else eventually.