Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I’m ENGAGED!!!!!!

As many of you know, Matt and I were seeing each other last year while he was in Washington for Foreign Service Officer training. He'd prove his love by sitting through 7th Heaven episodes with me.

He left for his post in Bogota, Colombia, in February, and we tried to take time apart. I dated some good guys and a few dinks, but none of them were anything like Matt. He dated a few bimbos that I am forever going to giggle about. We talked things over when he arrived on Wednesday, and we officially got engaged on Friday, July 18.

Because of Matt’s career, the entire thing is going to be untraditional and out-of-order. That’s the fun part. He’s back in Bogota, and will give me a ring next time we see each other (we all know how picky I am, so points for Matt for getting my input first). That'll be Labor Day weekend, in Los Angeles. We’ll have a courthouse wedding, most likely in Washington at the end of the year. The State Department will need a a month or so to process me once we have a marriage license. Then I pack for Bogota, most likely in February. Our honeymoon will be the Galapagos Islands in the spring. (In honor of Darwin, we’re going to push the weaker passengers off the boat.) We’ll be in Bogota for a year, where I will either work for the Embassy or attempt to pick up some freelance work. We don’t know yet where we’ll live after Bogota. We return to the U.S. in February 2005 for a small church celebration in Alabama. So, engagement then ring then marriage then moving in together then honeymoon, and last of all, the wedding. Awesome.

So, since the TV season hasn't started up yet, I'll regale y'all with marriage polls.

Lots of love to you all,


Shannon and Matt are Getting Married!

First Reactions?

You people are FREAKS!

I think you crazy kids can make it work

How romantic! *swoon*

Current Results

PS - I chose "freaks"

Monday, July 07, 2003

The Laws of Deception

After weeks of only slightly bad offerings from the WB Weekend Cinema, our local affiliate came up with two doozies in one weekend. First, For Love Alone, which is sort of a biography of Ivana Trump and mainly an excuse for Rev. Camden (Stephen Collins) to get naked with the Ivana-be Astar. However, repeated Reverend Camden quivering-lip sex scenes at 11 on a Sunday morning just wasn’t going to happen. So, instead, I will review the fine film The Laws of Deception, which aired Saturday afternoon.

The Laws of Deception is the greatest trash film ever: It supposedly takes place over about 25 years, but no one ages and fashion doesn’t change in the least. The cast includes 80’s washout C. Thomas Howell, 90210’s Brian Austin Green (who unfortunately did NOT play keyboards or dance in this film), and Amber Smith, whose IMDB listing gives her bra size as 36D and whose other credits include "Hot Redhead" in Tomcats. The “law school” scenes were blatantly filmed at a junior high school (the "law school library" is smaller than my apartment). Also, C. Thomas Howell always addresses the camera rather than the person he’s supposedly talking to. I kept expecting someone to break character and yell, “Hey! I’m over here!” Best of all, C. Thomas Howell (Evan) and Brian Austin Green (Cal) have a tight, fiercely homoerotic friendship. I counted 3 top of head kisses, twelve full hugs and 13 arms draped over shoulders. It's almost as sexy as Smallville.

Random question: what do C. Thomas Howell’s friends call him? C? Thomas? Or Howell? I also wonder what L. Ron Hubbard was called by his friends.

The film begins at Christmas, with Evan at age 5 (which is supposedly 25 years in the past, but the clothing and technology in the house are entirely modern – someone even got a DVD for Christmas). Evan’s entire family is murdered in the living room as pseudo-opera plays. You can always count on a mob film for pseudo-opera.

Cut to twenty years later, as Evan and best pal Cal are studying in the shockingly miniscule law library. They have a boring conversation about how justice is Evan’s only love, and then a hot chick named Elise starts looking at Evan. You know, if I saw Brian Austin Green and C. Thomas Howell at the same table, I’d stare too, but only because I’d be wondering if Corey Haim was going to join them. Elise asks Evan out on a date, and shows up at the restaurant in a see-through mesh outfit. She’s HOTT.

So, Elise and Evan prance in their 1998 fashions, although it’s supposed to be 1988. A love montage begins: sitting on a blanket together, having sex while making French toast, and more sex. This movie has enough C. Thomas Howell sex to last a lifetime. Elise and Evan snuggle in bed together and drink eggnog from champagne glasses. Mmm, mucus. Evan’s dial-a-quirk is that he drinks eggnog and listens to Christmas music year-round. I can’t get behind that at all: Christmas music annoys the crap out of me even in December. Do I really need to hear 19 versions of “Come All Ye Faithful”, two of which are performed by kittens?

Evan tells Elise that he is obsessed with Christmas because his parents were murdered, and that he was raised by his Mafia uncle. Elise responds by saying, “So, what’s Cal going to do after graduation?” Which, when you think about it, isn't a very nice thing to say when your boyfriend starts talking about his murdered parents. Also, although I can’t claim a lot of dating prowess, “Mafia uncle”, “murdered parents” and “obsessed with Christmas” would all set off alarm bells in my head. We’re also treated to an extraneous scene of a Western-theme bar owner’s hand being “tenderized” by thugs, and a recipe for chicken-fried steak. This whole movie is like a CD player set on “shuffle” – and I also get the feeling that the script was handed to the actors 3 minutes before filming so none of them could say, “What the hell is this?” They never look at each other, which implies to me there's a Teleprompter or cue cards off to one side.

Of course, Everything Falls Apart: Elise is caught going through Evan’s things, Elise turns out to be a stripper, and Evan gets beat up by her mob boss/strip bar owner boss, Carlucci. Evan recognizes Carlucci as the man that murdered his parents (although, I must mention, Carlucci hasn’t aged a bit in the last 20 years). However, he doesn’t do a damn thing about it. Elise and Evan break up.

Cut to 10 years later (although, again, fashion and technology haven’t changed a bit). Evan is now a hotshot attorney, and in the B-movie world, that means he slicks his hair back and smarms a good bit. Elise comes to Evan’s office and says that she has been accused of murdering her husband, Carlucci. The movie devolves (as if that had been possible) into a pseudo-noir whodunit with many twists and turns, all of which involve Elise’s 36D boobs. Here we go: Evan destroys three rental cars in a bizarre attempt at comic relief, Cal returns to say that Elise is trouble, Elise and Evan make the beast with two backs, Elise says that Cal is stalking her, Evan encounters a private detective who says that Elise is into S&M, and a sheriff with the fakest Texan accent ever insults Evan. All of that took an hour, thanks to loads of generous shots of Evan and Elise looking at each other, Evan driving very slowly down empty streets, aerial shots of Miami freeways (Lord knows, freeways are novel and exciting!).

The film’s climax (if we can call it that) involves a motel room. Evan meets Cal, who waves a gun at him and says that Elise ruined his life. Then why doesn’t he wave a gun at Elise, instead? Oh, whatever. Cal says that Elise was paid by Carlucci to date Evan. That must be the real reason the Mafia is in decline: mobsters are stupid. Carlucci spent 30 years of his life supervising Evan. Why not just put a bullet in Evan’s head and be done with it? I think someone needs lessons in Total Quality Management. Cal shoots himself in the head and blood spatters everywhere. Cal-Gone, take me away!

Evan turns on Elise because she's done him wrong, and Elise is convicted of murder as Evan sits in the courtroom and smarms. However, because every bad film has its twist (and every rose has its thorn, and every cowboy sings a sad, sad song), the final scene clues us in that Evan actually murdered Carlucci and framed Elise for it.

Scorecard: Intentional humor: 2 Unintentional humor: 9
Subtle, Confusing or Sledgehammer of a Plot? Confusing. So, the bar owner's hand got tenderized because he borrowed Evan's hair gel? Do the whuh how?
Damage to My Liver: Minor. Every time I'd take a drink, something stupid would happen and everything would shoot out of my nose.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Fame: Beyond Thunderdome

For those of you missing my television recaps, I’ve done a wonderful thing: suffered through an hour of summer “original programming.” Unfortunately, NBC’s reality version of Fame chucks originality and plunges headlong into the bizarre.

The charming hosts are Debbie “Please take ‘In The House’ OFF my resume” Allen and Joey “I was in Rent! Please forget N’Sync” Fatone. The “celebrity experts” include producer Johnny “BritneySpearsPDiddyNameDrop” Wright, Carnie “Stomach Stapling” Wilson, and JoJo Stupidhair, a DJ I had never heard of and never want to hear from again.

Not only is this a very weird show, it’s also very cruel. All of the kids are lined up on the stage, and told one by one if they’re advancing. If you advance, you have to perform then and there, so two kids every week prepare a whole performance just to be sent home.

First performer to advance: Allyson Arena. Allyson has curly red hair, and whenever she straightens it I forget who she is entirely. She has a high, twangy, vibrato-laden voice, that’s great for Broadway but doesn’t make a damn bit of sense on this show. And I was a big Clay Aiken fan. Allyson showcases her talent by picking the worst songs possible. Last week? “Material Girl” This week? “We Are Family”, which sounds positively idiotic when you’re up on the stage by yourself. “I’ve got all my sisters with me,” my ass. Allyson wears the first fur vest Mad Max getup of the evening. The funniest part of the performance is when they show her friends…all three of them. I guarantee that if my friends had the chance to be on national TV, they’d come running. And at least one of them would show up in just underwear to guarantee more camera time (my guesses are Heath, J.B. or Mike W.). Debbie cackles and swings her boobs onto the stage (they visibly swing when she walks), Joey says it was a fantastic performance, a celebrity judge blows sunshine, and Allyson thanks God. All of them do that every time. I should really hope that God has better things to do than call in votes on a bargain-basement, low rated reality program.

The next performer to move forward is Justin Jacoby, and Joey announces that he is “going to perform an original rap.” Justin is an obnoxious teenager who can’t sing, can’t dance, and can’t even rap to a beat. His raps include original lines like, “If all dogs go to heaven, when’s my chance to bark?” What? Seriously. Out of curiousity, and due to my abiding hatred of America, I voted for Justin at the end of the show. His personal message is a rap, including an attempt to rhyme “dope” and “vote.”

Next up is Serena Henry, who settles into a chair and performs the talent-show staple “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Serena is one of those singers that has to perform vocal loop-the-loops, whether they fit the song or not. “Look at me! I’m talented! No, really!” She also shakes her chin around and chicken-flaps her elbows so America knows how talented she really is. The judges eat it all up, because they’re imbeciles.

After Serena performs, all the kids do a group performance of “America” in honor of the Fourth, with cane-dancing lifted directly from Nickelodeon’s Roundhouse. Everyone wears red-white-and-blue skimpy outfits, which I’m sure does our Founding Fathers proud. Some of the performers are less coordinated than others, so several smack into each other or hit their neighbor with a cane. After the performance, Debbie tells the audience they’ll be right back, so “Get your chicken wing.” Debbie says these things all the time, and I don’t know whether she’s trying to be chatty, or if she’s sending coded messages to the Trilateral Commission.

After the break, Alex Boyd is told he made the cut. Alex Boyd is blandly cute, over-gelled, and from McLean, Virginia: Where Real Estate Value is King. Alex wears the second Mad Max vest of the evening, which is totally wrong for performing Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke”. Alex, as a NOVA native, can’t enunciate worth a damn and even stumbles over the spoken jazz musician shout-outs. So he recovers by giving McLean a shout-out in his interview segment. He also says that his performance “is all for God.” God snorts, shuffles a bit on his cloud, and hurls down a lightning bolt. Not really, but that would have been awesome.

The next contestant to advance is single-name Moy. She’s got a blond pixie cut, tats, a gap in her teeth, and perennially high heels. Because I’m a reality ho, I know who she is straight off: I’ve seen her on both Popstars and American Idol. She’s made a career of being a reality show runner-up. Her real name is Petagay, which is the funniest name ever. Right now, in your offices, I want all of you to yell “Petagay” and see how many people stare at you or laugh. Moy sings “Let’s Stay Together”, and it isn’t good, it isn’t bad, it isn’t even interesting. The judges practically hump her leg when she’s done, however.

Harlemm Lee is up next, and he’s just awesome. Sure, he can sing, but the best part is just looking at him. He’s tiny, he’s bald, he’s 37, and his eyebrows move independently of one another. He’s not human. Harlemm sings “Greatest Love of All”, because he had to out-pageant Serena Henry. There’s lots of dramatic lighting and arm-tossing so we know he's Really Singing.

Once it’s down to the final four, the kids are split into pairs. One is told they’re advancing, the other gets an Assboot. First pair: Shannon Bex advances, Raymond Lee (who really, really couldn’t sing anyway) get the boot. Shannon is a leggy blond “virgin until marriage” (which is none of my business anyway) who wears the third Mad Max vest of the night. She sings some Christina Aguilera tune that even I haven’t heard of, flops about, and shakes what her mama gave her. I get eerie flashbacks of Britney Spears pole-dancing at the VMAs. Afterwards, Shannon thanks God, then thanks the troops. Meanwhile, all the other contestants smack themselves on the forehead and say, “Dammit! Why was I thanking God when I could have thanked the troops? Bitch!”

The next pair: Brandon O’Neal, a skinny cornrowed teenager, advances. Jamisen Tiangko, who erroneously sexed up every song from “Black Cat” to “God Bless the Child,” gets the boot. Brandon performs “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” and it’s good, and I really don’t care because I tune in for the awful and the surreal.

Fortunately, Debbie Allen serves up the surreal by introducing Tyse something-or-other, the “spoiler” contestant. Tyse was chosen by NBC to “shake up” the show, as in “maybe NOW someone besides that sarcastic bitch in DC will watch.” Tyse really dishes up the surreal. He runs down the line of contestants like he’s on The Price is Right, and bounces up and down between Joey and Debbie. He yells something about a shout-out to Brooklyn, twitches uncontrollably, sweats, yells about Brooklyn again, says he’s ready to compete, and sweats again. The other contestants glare at him in mute horror. Debbie reminds all of us to vote, then tells us that Tyse will perform next week. I can’t wait.