Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Heroes of Cosplay and Face Off - SyFy's Tuesday night line-up

I mentioned earlier in my blogging career what a Star Trek fan I am.  And yes, years ago I attended cons several times around the U.S.  I had a Starfleet uniform, but never participated in the costume contests.  I remember seeing people walking around in elaborate costumes, a gorn, a green female slave, lots of Spocks, Kirks, and once a very credible T'Lar (played by Judith Anderson in STIII: The Search for Spock.)  She scared me a bit she was so into her character.  One lifted eyebrow from her and I knew I wasn't measuring up to Vulcan standards.  But then that ticked me off...Hey, wait a minute, I'm human, not Bite me, T'Lar!!  (Emotional human!)

I have been aware that sci-fi/fantasy/horror/video games conventions are once again in favor.  No longer are they "Star Trek Conventions" - they cover most of the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genres.  The costume contests have grown to the point that many of them offer cash prizes.  People compete who are trying to be professional costumers and prop makers.

SyFy has a series that follows a handful of competitors from con to con, showing how they come up with their costume(s) and the process through which it is made.  Sometimes their ideas work, sometimes they don't.  It is fascinating to watch to see the process from beginning to end.  Often, they make a new costume in the limited time between one con and the next - as little as a week.  They have wonderful ideas and talented hands for sewing and building complicated props.  The contestants range from successful costumers to first time entrants and everyone in between.  Even the newbies can come up with some fun and innovative ideas.  It's a pleasure to watch.

Gee now that I'm older, I could probably pull off T'Lar!  I'm certainly wrinkled enough.  I wouldn't need any latex creases.  What a time saver that would be...

Now that's a quandry to come the older Vulcans get wrinkled like humans when they don't use much expression on their faces?  They're probably all smiling in secret!  I've long thought that was the case.  They'd probably appreciate some botox.

Face Off which leads the evening line-up is in its fifth season.  I've been watching this show from the beginning.  Talented make-up artists are given a challenge each week to create characters out of sci-fi, fantasy, or horror movies.  Usually they are given three days to develop their concept based on the theme they are given, create the make-up (often with elaborate prosthetics), make the costume, apply the look on the model and present it to the panel of professional judges.  The judges are usually from the film industry, known individually for their work.  One of the panel members is an Academy Award winner for her make-up designs.

There are different levels of skill among the chosen contestants, but all are professional make-up artists.  It is surprising how good some of them can be.  Even the ones with less experience can come up with an impressive make-up job and win.  They are competing for $100,000 among other prizes.  So the competition is fierce.

I hate to see people eliminated each week from Face Off, but know the exposure on the show will help them with their careers.

Both shows are enjoyable and riveting if you're charmed by creativity like I am.  I wouldn't miss either.  Too bad they have relatively short runs.

No shark movies listed for SyFy this week....that's a relief!  You need a break from such things.

Hope your weather is turning autumnal.  Ours hasn't quite gotten there yet.  But at least there aren't any hurricanes menacing us from the ocean as yet.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend!  Remember to indulge in pop culture.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

True Blood - Season 6

Can you believe it?  True Blood has been on for six years now.  Sunday night was the season finale of Season 6.  I have to say I liked this one better than Season 5.

BEWARE! SPOILER ALERTS all over the place...

I knew Warlow was up to no good.  I am glad he got his comeuppance.  I am glad Niall was freed from the dimension in which Warlow put him.

I am glad the vamps were freed from the ghastly prison and even glad that the governator met his just desserts.  That's one of the things I like about TB.  The bad guys usually get what's coming to them.  Love that karmic justice!

I am glad that Sookie and Alcide are together, at least for a while.  Neither one of them seems good at maintaining long-term relationships.  (Well, that's an understatement, Miss Thing!)

I am glad that Tara and her often ditzy mother have made up to some degree anyway.  I'm glad Andy's fairy daughter Adalynn has found her light and is learning its uses.

I am MOST glad that Bill is back to himself, that he realizes his love for Sookie again, although she doesn't reciprocate and probably never will.  I always liked the old Bill best of all the vamps.

It's a bit weird to see Arlene as the charitable owner of what was Merlotte's.  I wonder if Sookie still works there?

It's also a bit weird to see Sam as the mayor of Bon Temps.  It's so weird in fact that the first time I saw the final episode, I thought the minister addressed him as "Mr. Mayes."  I thought, "gee, did he change his name?"  But on second viewing I got that it was "mayor."

I'm not worried about Eric.  After all Bill greeted the sun in an earlier episode and survived okay.  I have a feeling Eric may be just fine.  He could bury himself in the snow, after all.  If Eric is truly gone that would be a travesty.  But we won't know until next June.  I'm willing to bet Pam will find a way to help him.  Remember, we don't know where she is.

But I have to say the thing I disliked the most about this season was the fact that Terry Bellefleur died.  He was such a sympathetic character.  He did have a lovely funeral with the most poignant moment being his friend and associate in the kitchen, Big John, singing beautifully at the service.  I am going to miss Terry very much.  The character was wonderful as was Todd Lowe's portrayal of him.

As for the cliff-hanger at the end, well we just have to wait until next June to find out what happened, if the non-infected vamps protect their humans...

All in all, it has been an enjoyable season.  I'll probably buy the dvd set when it comes out...

In a side note, SyFy channel is showing Sharknado YET AGAIN tonight to be followed by their newest shark opus Ghost Shark, which apparently can appear in any water and eat the unwary...

I've got four words for the silliest shark movie of them all - Jersey Shore Shark Attack...I watched that this morning on SyFy during a violent rainstorm.  So there wasn't much else to do.  Actually, it was pretty funny.  I am part Italian after all.  It was a huge farce.  That's not necessarily a bad thing some noted playwrights and writers have written successful farces - anybody ever heard of the infamous Moliere?

Until next time, enjoy pop culture and stay away from sharks...

Oh yes, I'm looking forward to seeing City of Bones, the first Mortal Instrument movie.  I finished the book last week.  It was great!

Also on my list for viewing is The World's End.  I LOVE Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.  They make such hilarious and irreverent films.  This one looks to be wonderful...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

ELYSIAN FIELDS by Suzanne Johnson

Suzanne Johnson's third novel in her wonderful SENTINEL OF NEW ORLEANS SERIES, ELYSIAN FIELDS, has been released.  This novel continues the story of Drusilla Jaco, also known as DJ.  She continues her work protecting the people of the Crescent City from the ever-greedy, ever-hungry preternaturals who inhabit the city along with the mortal population.

In this case, DJ is trying to find a serial killer who murders with an ax.  Though she thinks he's a copycat of an infamous New Orleans murderer from many years ago, she learns he is the original.  So how do you kill an already dead serial killer?  And what if he's "gunning" for you?!!!

Throw in lots of romantic confusion with Alex Warin, changes in his loup-garou brother Jake, and a strange man named Quince Randolph, who doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word "no" and you've got an entertaining story with a well constructed plot. 

It's filled with scary surprises, vivid characters, lively dialogue, and dangerous twists.  I especially like the descriptive settings such as the time DJ spends in the Beyond as the guest of Jean Lafitte. Sigh, he is a gorgeous rogue!

This one is a keeper.  A must-read for fans of the paranormal, it is a good story that will attract readers of other genres as well. 

I know I'll never think of Six Flags in the same way after reading ELYSIAN FIELDS.

Another Brava, Ms. Johnson.



An undead serial killer comes for DJ in this thrilling third installment of Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series....The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi.

New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans. Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren’t random—an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard. Namely, DJ.

Fighting off an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn’t easy. Jake Warin’s loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world’s most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ’s to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte’s pirate wench could be DJ’s best option.


Monday, August 5, 2013

42 - The story of Jackie Robinson

For those of you who may not know, Jack(ie) Robinson was the first African-American to play in major league baseball.  He was recruited in 1947 by a man named Branch Rickey, who owned the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The film "42" about him breaking the barriers in major league baseball was released earlier this year.  It is an excellent film with only a few moments not based on historical fact.

Honestly, I put off seeing it because as a child of the south born only a couple of years after the time frame of the film, I knew what I would see.  I've lived in the south my entire life.  And as I have mentioned before, I was a sapient life form during the turbulent 1960s - saw the civil rights movement take wing, watched a filmed version of Dr. King's famous "I have a dream" speech with the amazing crowds surrounding him.  As a thinking person I turned away from some of my friends when they expressed bigotry and hate.  I have become less tolerant of such things as I have aged.

But back to "42".  It is a "no holds barred" story showing it like it was.  Some of the comments in the film and actions of some of the characters made me uncomfortable.  Some made me downright furious, primarily because I knew it was a realistic depiction of that baseball season when a talented player named Jack Robinson became the first of his heritage to break the barrier.  The movie is the story of his rocky road.  Not only does he have to face the crowds, some of whom are less than thrilled to have him on the team, he has to face teammates who start out not so thrilled, either.  It is a story of growth for most of them as they learn to work together.

As Robinson, Chadwick Boseman, not only bears a physical resemblance to the man himself, but he plays him with dignity, resolve, and a good sense of humor.

Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Rickey is a complicated man who loves the game of baseball and Christianity.  He knows what will happen when the first African-American player joins a major league team.  He searches for the perfect man to be the first, a man who "has the courage not to fight."  Ford gives a surprising performance immersed in a character you have never seen before.  He didn't miss a beat.

Nicole Beharie plays Rachel, Jackie's girl friend who becomes his wife.  She is his anchor and his love.  A beautiful woman, Ms. Beharie brings a layered performance to her character.  Mrs. Robinson founded a scholarship fund in her late husband's name.  You see the strength of character in the portrayal of the woman who did that.

Christopher Meloni, of "Law & Order: SVU" and also last season's "True Blood" plays Leo Durocher, the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Actually, I remember Leo Durocher as an older, frankly speaking man from my childhood.  My dad used to watch baseball on television every Saturday when I was little.  So I saw a lot of the game.  (Later he took up golf and I didn't watch much baseball any more.) Meloni gives a good performance as the brash Durocher.

Andre Holland plays Wendell Smith, an African-American reporter hired by the team to chaperone Robinson and chronicle his exploits on the diamond.  Since Robinson cannot stay in some of the hotels with his teammates, Smith takes him to homes of prominent African-Americans in the towns where they play.

In the film, there is an early incident that takes place in Sanford, Florida.  If that town sounds familiar to you, it's probably because that's where George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin.  In a bit of ironic ugliness, Robinson was staying there and asleep in a prominent citizen's home.  A man came to the house and said other men were coming for Robinson (he didn't call him that) and he'd best get out if he didn't want to get hurt.  So Wendell Smith wakes him up and speeds him out of town finally telling him why they left and why Mr. Rickey instructed him not to tell Jackie the reason.  Rickey was concerned Robinson would want to stay and fight.  Given the time it takes to get a feature film produced and in the theaters, I am certain the recent incident in Sanford had not happened at the time they made this film.  Like I wrote, ironic ugliness.

This film is a salute not only to Robinson, himself, but to all the heroic men and women who broke down barriers to claim their rights and have the careers they wanted.  It is a very real portrayal of the struggles and obstacles faced by this man and all others who broke barriers.

The film is a triumphant portrayal of the indomitable human spirit, but with a liberal sprinkling of the "n-word" as you can probably imagine.  There are also many examples of meanness and bigotry.  But it only makes Mr. Robinson more of a hero.

And why is the film called "42?"  It was Jackie's Robinson's number, the only number to be retired from baseball.  Every April, ALL major leaguers wear number 42 in his honor.

I knew I liked baseball!

Until next time...