Infernal Devices

Tylenol bottle with label doctored to read 'Devil Tylenol from Hell' with small image of red Satan holding pitchfork, against flaming background / Contains acetominophen, brimstone / not approved for anything

As faithful readers of this blog know, I’ve adopted Mark Evanier’s practice of using a Campbell’s soup can to symbolize a break in new content.

I don’t always owe a hiatus in posts to lack of time, however, except insofar as technological glitches make blogging more time-intensive than it’s supposed to be. Sure, I’m a bit of a control freak, and I find it harder to write than I used to, but once something’s written the essential selling point of various blogging platforms is ease and simplicity of virtual publishing — Blogger most of all, which is why I chose Blogger, yet Blogger couldn’t be more successful at frustrating me and driving me away if it had tried.

Swan Dive

I’m unsure of how to discuss Black Swan, or even my expectations of it, without possible spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Poster of Natalie Portman in tiara and black dress, one arm raised high and the other below her bathed in deep red behind the movie title but over the small print at bottom

Just about all of the essential ingredients of Black Swan show up right away, from the main character, Nina, to the central action, dance, to the recurring motif of mirrors and the intermittent diversions into fantasy and/or delusion.

Here’s the basic plot for those who haven’t seen the film — helmed by Darren Aronofsky, whose career spans such respected work as 1998’s π and 2008’s The Wrestler — but decided to read on:

All That Glitter

The 2011 Golden Globes was a live show hosted by Ricky Gervais, populated by celebs drunk on camaraderie, self-congratulation, and in some cases even alcohol. Hard for a pop-culture maven to pass up.

So I did watch this year’s telecast, albeit (due to a migraine) not in real time. Which is just as well since there’s plenty to fast-forward through — film clips, ads, folks walking to the stage. And like other gluttons for punditry I found it, perhaps appropriately for a show affiliated with The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.

Gervais was off to a running start with jokes about Charlie Sheen, the HFPA’s WTF nominations for the apparently totally mediocre film The Tourist, and other hot-button topics. His material felt rushed, though, bereft of the breathing room and segues that usually make his stand-up and talk-show appearances feel so compellingly relaxed; even when Gervais cracks himself up, which is frequently, it’s acceptable because he acts as if he’s just realizing what he’s saying as he says it. I’d hoped for redemption later in the evening, but Gervais popped up rarely and not for very long, less to comment on the proceedings — a shame, as the Greek-chorus element of hosts who choose to embrace that aspect of their duties can be the best part of the Oscars and the Emmys — than to get in some would-be zingers at the few presenters he announced by mentioning their more infamous or obscure endeavors or highlighting the disparities of a given duo. His overall contribution, while certainly not abysmal, was a bit like that old Catskills joke about the food: It wasn’t particularly good... and the portions were small.

Grit Expectations

I’m behind on moviegoing, let alone writing up reviews, but I saw True Grit on Saturday and like everyone else I was blown away by Hailee Steinfeld.

Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn looking at Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross

Robot Chicken

Panel 1: 'Hey, Dave, Why did the chicken cross the road?' asks skeleton in tuxedo. 'I dunno. To get to the other side?' says large beetle the skeleton dangles on a string. 'Nope...' replies skeleton. Panel 2: Giant man/chicken/machine cyborg in the street of an Old World town below word ballon '... to get revenge!' Caption at bottom: 'The End'.
Script, Pencils, Inks: Mike Mignola. Colors: Dave Stewart. Letters: Clem Robins.

I often grab pics available online for a post. Even when I’m reviewing a book I have
on hand, my scanner may be boxed in by stacks of stuff, leaving virtual drag-&-drop the path of least resistance. Such was the case with Mike Mignola’s excellent The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects, which I wrote up last month.

Wait for It

Like most viewers, I was punched in the gut by last Monday’s How I Met Your Mother.

Marshall, holding a bottle of ketchup labeled 48, speaking with Lily
Screencap from How I Met Your Mother 6.13 “Bad News” © 2011 Twentieth Century Fox.

But while I did realize that something awful was about to happen moments before it happened, based on the big, fat hanging fastball of dialogue, unlike most viewers I wasn’t expecting any surprises good or bad before that moment — at least not based
on the apparently instantly infamous visual cues.

The Vampire Slayer Diaries

'Buffy' poster with Kristy Swanson on her knees, holding a stake, in blue sweatpants and green top exposing midriff that shows orange shirt underneath

As I noted last week, I’ve taken a fresh look at Buffy the Vampire Slayer — the original film. My impetus was Nikki Stafford’s rewatch, now underway, of the WB/UPN TV series that the movie spawned. (I suppose what actually spawned the series was the movie’s script, but we’ll get back to that.)

Curls on Film

I’m not entirely sure why, but not only didn’t I expect to like Disney’s Tangled
— I almost didn’t want to like it.

Rapunzel, wide-eyed as paper lanterns flood the night sky above, standing in boat rowed by Flynn with castle and setting sun behind them

Much to my surprise, however, it was one of my favorite movies of the year.


famed self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh in green coat and fur hat, smoking a pipe, with right side of head bandaged after self-mutilation, and stylized text reading 'Happy No Ear!'

I wish you all joy, contentment, and good health in 2011.

Thanks for reading Blam’s Blog... And stay with it for more reviews, purported humor, and complaints over the next 365 days!