Monthly Archives: January 2014

Top Ten John Hughes Movies

I was in a John Hughes mood tonight, and I wanted to highlight my top ten favorite movies. It was a very sad day when this man passed. I will be forever grateful for what this man has added to my life growing up, and I hope that someday I can achieve something that is close enough to its equal with my own writing.  Whether he wrote it or directed it, he practically ruled the 80’s comedy with one tiny finger. He is one of my favorites and his contributions to film will be forever missed.

  1. The Breakfast Club – Hands down, my absolute favorite movie of all time. I don’t care that the movie was clearly filmed in the 80’s. This movie is untouchable and generations of high school students to come will always be able to find themselves in one of these characters. The richness of the writing and the reality put into this film make it a yearly watch in my books.
  2. Sixteen Candles – This is one of the funniest teen romance comedies that I have ever seen. Though I don’t really know what Sam saw in Jake Ryan beyond his dreamy looks, it doesn’t matter. I am along for the whole ride, cheering for her when he shows up at the wedding. I am a hopeless romantic at heart, and I will just eat this mess up.
  3. Weird Science – This is the movie that gives all geeks and nerds hope that when life fails them, they can just build something and make it better. I just don’t think anyone else has successfully created a woman who can change reality at a whim. The bar scene is in today’s world is terribly not PC, but it is probably one of the funniest things I have ever seen Anthony Michael Hall do.
  4. National Lampoon’s Vacation – It one of the best comedy’s ever made, spawning sequels that aren’t as equal, but still entertaining, the exception being the Christmas sequel. While the Griswolds suffered through several plights and hijinks on their way to Walley World, I think every one of us wanted to be a part of their family even for a little bit.
  5. Ferris Beuller’s Day Off – Every kid in high school dreamed of skipping school after seeing this film. Unfortunately, we all quickly realized that we lacked Ferris’s impeccable preplanning skills and general mass appeal to ever pull off the day he managed. We will just have to settle for living through Ferris and his sheer epicness.
  6. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Yep, it is so good that it deserves its own spot. I have a lot of movies I would like to watch during the holiday season, but there are only a handful that are absolute necessities. This is one of those few. It just isn’t Christmas without it. It actually makes you feel a little bit sorry for Clark. He may come off as being goofy or idiotic, but the man is truly a hard worker and good father. He is the man that allows us to deal with every annoyance of the holiday with humor and at the same time reminding us of the spirit of the holiday. Wow, who knew there was something deep in that movie? Surprised me too.
  7. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – This is my traditional Thanksgiving watch. The hilarity in this comedy of these two unlikely companions is comedy genius. We have all had some kind of experience that poor Neal has in this movie. When he loses it with the car rental associate, everybody feels some kind of internal relief. We have all wanted to go off on somebody like that. Even though it is full of shenanigans, it again has this heartwarming story about not judging a book by its cover. People can surprise you, and sometimes you can find a best friend.
  8. Home Alone – This may not make everybody’s top 10 list, but I was a kid when this came out. Trust me, you are all lucky that Beethoven didn’t make this list, because that movie spoke to me as a child. Putting Macaulay Culkin’s current, sketchy lifestyle aside, this movie is still powerful enough to overshadow it. What kid didn’t want to have run of the house especially when you have so many people dictating what you can and cannot do. This was every kid’s dream. Not only did Kevin make us feel like we could take on any criminal with resourcefulness and mad Erector Set building skills, but he reminded us that even though it can be fun, we still need our family.
  9. Pretty in Pink – While this was a total chick flick, this is one of the few romance dramas that still conflicts me to this day when Andie makes her choice. Sometimes I’m Team Duckie, and other times I’m Team Blane. Every once in a while I dismiss either one of them and stare dreamly at bad boy Steff. This was a good look for James Spader. The point is that every girl wants both a Duckie and a Blane. Sure Duckie may not have had the money or the looks that Blane did, but the man was devoted. Regardless whether Duckie ended up with Andie or not, I don’t think she appreciated his loyalty and friendship the way she should have. But that’s love huh. Sometimes it isn’t meant to be.
  10. Mr. Mom – Michael Keaton stole my heart here long before he put on the Batman suit. This is a great movie about the family dynamic, not to mention a great tutorial about how some things cannot be winged when it comes to children. We learned not to give babies chili, not to overdo it with detergent in the washing machine, and that housework and childcare is just as hard and exhausting any other 8 to 5. Oddly enough, this movie has had a lot more meaning in today’s world then it did in the 80’s. With the recession and improving gender role equality, this is happening more and more in today’s world.

Tapping My Nose at S.H.I.E.L.D.

My Tuesdays were to be exciting this year with the announcement that Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. and Supernatural were going to be airing on the same day. I am just glad that New Girl is online, but I was willing to make that sacrifice for Whedon and my boys. I haven’t been this excited about a Tuesday, since they aired Angel right after Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But alas, I am now firmly planted upon the fence that sits between love and loathe when it comes to Whedon’s newest television endeavor.

Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. is kind of a radical concept in film and television. We have had television shows before that were adaptations of a film or simply spinoffs or continuations of one. This show stands out, because it sits outside of the normal film to television construct. It is a spinoff choosing to focus on one of the more important aspects of the Marvel movies that has yet to be fully explored. The presence of S.H.I.E.L.D. is in every Marvel movie that has been made, and now we simply get to learn more about them. But why is that so unique? The world that the show exists in is the very world that the Marvel movies exist in. What happens in this show can effect what happens in Marvel movies to come, and vice versa.

I have yet to see any kind of ripples from the show make it into the movies, but that is okay for now. It isn’t a device that should be taken lightly or overused. It will take away from making the show its own. What the series is currently developing into its own is what I am having issues with. Being that it is the first season, which can be rough for any new show, and that it is a Whedon production are the only two reasons I am honestly sticking around to see what happens.

When any new television show is being introduced my first question to ask is could this show be interesting for five seasons. It doesn’t mean that a show will get five seasons, but it has to move forward. This question only needs a yes or no answer and should be found in the very first episode. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. clearly defined its intentions in its first episode as a specially assigned group of people out to find the extraordinary, a concept vague enough to be answered in hundreds of ways throughout five seasons.

Then we have to have people to care about and connect with, a reason to continue to tune in weekly. We already have Coulson, a beloved character from the films. His familiarity brings us in along with the question of his mere existence, since the last time we saw him was his death scene. Unfortunately, one man cannot do the show by himself. He has to have some kind of support, which comes in the shape of his chosen team.

Now we have a cast that is mostly new to fans and needs to be developed. We also have a beloved character whose questionable existence cannot be answered immediately or the draw of the show will be lost. We also have well known superheroes that exist in the world and could very well pop up. Everyone would love to have Tony Stark constantly barge in and irritate the S.H.E.I.L.D. agents, but how would we get a chance to care about the show and continue watching it on the episodes he did not. While I assume and hope that these characters will make appearances in the show it will be rare and only for exceptionally big events. Outside of quick cameos by Maria Hill and Nick Fury, cameos that honestly couldn’t really be avoided too long considering their place in the organization, the show has only made well placed comments or dealt with connected issues concerning the characters and movies like the quick opening scene cleaning up the mess in England left over by Thor after the events in the second film.

 

The show has really done a great job not leaning on these easy tactics that would guarantee instant viewers. It has been focusing on building the characters. Unfortunately, that is all it has been doing, and we only really know half of them. The problem I have with the season so far is a clear overall focus. Yes, we have had to track down relics and stop them from getting into the wrongs hands in each episode, but there is yet to be a clear pull that we are looking forward to being resolved or flipped over by the end of the season. Not only is it unclear, but there could be more than one avenue they choose to follow from what has been aired so far. Being halfway through the season, we should have some idea by now.

Does this mean that there is no hope left for this show? Absolutely not. It could very well be suffering from common first season afflictions, where shows test out characters and plot devices trying to latch onto those that work and remove that which does not. We as an audience play a massive role in what happens, because believe or not writers and creators do listen to the audience. They are not going to give you full creative control, but they are very aware that if you don’t watch, they can’t keep making the show. We are very powerful when it comes to our favorite televisions shows. If they didn’t listen to us, Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Castiel from Supernatural would have only been in one or two episodes. We are the reason they had many more.

What I am hoping for in the last half of this season is a direction of what is going to carry us to the end. If this happens, then I guarantee one hell of a cliffhanger that will force us back for season two’s premier. I want this show to succeed. As a comic book fan, S.H.I.E.L.D. was everywhere, meaning this show has so many stories to tell. It is not closed off to one teenager’s hard realizations about responsibility. They have full access to all of the possible stories from the comic world as well as being completely believable with anything new they come up with. Because of this, there is no reason for this show not to succeed. As a Marvel fan and a Whedon fan I will probably hang on regardless of quality till the end, because I am loyal. I just don’t want that to be the only reason.

 

Computer Love (Not the kind you think)

In 2005 I was 23. Having spent ages 19-21 out of my mother’s house in a different town, I had come home. I was looking to go to school, and have a better future rather than living paycheck to paycheck as I had been. I wasn’t born with a silver (or mother of pearl) spoon in my mouth, so I knew the only way this was going to happen was if I went to school.
There were a few problems with this. The main one being my lack of transportation: I come from a small city that had no public transportation. If you wanted a cab, you better know to call a day ahead; otherwise you would spend a good portion of your day waiting on one. In order to get a car, I needed a job. I had a job, working for a popular clothing company, whom I love to this day. I was not full time, so I needed a second job.
Because I was depending on my family to get me back and forth to work, I had to be careful about where I found another job. Because the clothing store was in the mall, I applied to other jobs within the mall. I briefly worked at a bookstore. I was so excited. Being a bookworm, I figured that working at a bookstore would be in my top 10 jobs. This job was not for me. Everyone who worked in the store was depressed, and it had a way of dragging my mood down as well. The manager that seemed to be on duty every time I worked did not have a car, yet would have to take a deposit to the bank daily. The final straw was the day she belittled me for not having a car to take her to do the deposit. I asked her if she could hear herself. She sputtered and huffed off. I was done. The general manager thanked me for my honesty as I left.
While I kept the clothing store job, I found another job at a daycare center. It was a 20-minute walk from my house, so it was perfect.
In the midst of working two jobs, and saving up for a car, I was lonely. I had friends, but my friends were off doing their own thing. By that age, most of my friends were engaged, had been engaged, and had popped out a kid or two. I spent a lot of time on my own.
Growing up in a typical black family, your geeky experiences are few and far between unless you seek them out. I was a bit of a black sheep in my family (still am), so I was hesitant to let my geek flag fly. One thing my family did not know is that quite often, I used to Internet to talk to and meet people. If my mother would have known, she would have clutched her pearls and screamed about Internet predators. Plus the Internet let you open up to people that you rarely would have. It’s how I slept with my school mascot 6 years after high school (don’t ask). With the loneliness and boredom, I decided to dip my toe into online dating.
After putting up a profile on OkCupid, I browsed the profiles. And that is how I met Dax*. Dax and I hit it off instantly online and decided to meet up for a date. The problem was I was in the middle of moving the rest of my belongings home, and accidentally stood him up. I felt horrible, and composed a long heartfelt apology. Dax accepted and we were going to try again. As a gesture of good faith, I was going to him. I borrowed my mother’s car and headed that way. It was a decent date, one of the better ones that I had been on at that time. As a result, we fell into a relationship with one another. We spent as much time as we could together. That was primarily weekends as he had a full time job, and lived in Indianapolis, and I had two part time jobs and lived an hour away. I also didn’t have a car, so he was gracious and would pick me up on the weekends.
Things were going really well, until I met his family.

(…To Be Continued)

*Dax is not his real name.

That time I went on Twitter and met my geeky soul mate.

Twitter is an amazing thing. I follow a random group of people. From Awesomely Luvvie to Anderson Cooper. I am all over the place. I have varied tastes, so of course I am going to follow a multitude of people.  I am a fan of Star Trek. Deep Space 9 and The Next Generation are my favorite. I have had a crush on Brent Spiner since I was 6 years old. Because of this, I follow the casts of both on Twitter. I happened to be on one day and Brent Spiner tweeted the best thing I have ever seen in my life:

data

In case you cannot tell, It is Data naked with Spot and Geordi brandishing his violin. 

Oh. My. God. 

After some investigative work (Read: bugging the shit out of anyone that retweeted the picture) I found the creator of the picture and she shared some more of her incredible artwork with me! I had to ask her for an interview, and she complied. 

Everyone, meet Christine Parisi!

 

What’s your name?

Christine Parisi, although I have been thinking about adopting a pseudonym for my new found fame. I’m considering the name Alanis Morrisette, since that is a totally original name that I made up. It won’t be confusing at all. Or maybe I’ll just use my initials as to avoid sexism like J.K. Rowling and go and the ambiguous, C.M. Parisi.

Where you from?

Chicago, IL. Although I actually grew up in the burbs. Big surprise that my art is not really addressing any heavy social justice issues.

Tell me what you do?

clip_image002 I was a high school art/English teacher for many years. I got cut like so many other teachers in Chicago, and now I am trying to be a full-time artist. I substitute teach to supplement my income. I love being a substitute. It’s so easy. I did this watercolor Chewbacca while I was subbing the other day because I read Girl with a Pearl Earring the day before.

What kind of geek are you?

I’m a cool geek. Like, I know it’s “cool” to be a geek now. But I’m pretty sure I was always cool. Below is a picture of my boyfriend and I in our matching WOLF sweatshirts. See? COOL! (Leslie Note: You are totally awesome and the shirts prove it)

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Are you a total trekkie?

clip_image006I really can watch it forever. I think we should teach it in schools. I flipped out when I found this drinking vessel at a thrift store the other day. Also, I’ve been Star Trek characters for a few Halloweens. Below is my borg costume. It had a working mechanical arm that I’m not wearing in the picture. I used an erector set for the motor and had different attachments, like forks and stuff. So, I don’t know if that means I’m a total trekkie. (You are the best borg. You should know this)

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What series of Star Trek is your fave? For the record mine is a tossup between TNG and DS9.

TNG hands down. I had to stop watching DS9 but I did go back to it. Bajorans just annoy the S&%# out of me. I really liked Voyager except that episode where Q is romantically interested in Janeway. That’s totally unrealistic and would never happen. (Bajorans can be a bit….much.. BUT THE SISKO!!!)

Tell me about how you got started making your art.

clip_image010I was trying to master acrylic portraits and I found myself lacking subjects. I was painting these kind of dark, punky, sexy girls (see below) because people really like them and I wanted to practice painting bodies and faces. However, I also wanted to sell art, and I thought, “ who is going to be interested in a picture of a person unless it’s either a sexy-ass person or a celebrity?”  So, I just did a Data portrait and someone bought it immediately. I started feeling like I was getting really good at capturing a likeness from a photo, so I started mashing things up and getting more confident using my imagination. It’s hard to create realism and light if you don’t have a photo of the exact thing you are painting. So, once I started getting REALLY good I felt ready to do the Venus of Data, for which I had to combine photos from different sources. Obviously Brent Spiner didn’t pose nude for me, so I had to imagine the male body, using the female from Titian’s Venus and Manet’s Olympia as a template for shading. I don’t feel like I have mastered any styles or even fully developed a style of my own, but it’s getting there. I think a humorous or sci-fi angle will tend to incorporate it in my future work, but I also want my technique to catch people’s eye. There are SO many talented portrait artists out there and I want to find a way to set myself apart. I’m still experimenting. That’s where I’m at right now.

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How did it feel when Brent Spiner (Le Sigh) retweeted your pic?

Oh my god! I was freaking out. I was not a twitter user. I made an account and jumped in there and posted a better version of the painting like “Me! I did that! Me!”. I don’t know who took the photo or how it got to him, but the buzz was awesome. The next day, Spiner sent me a PERSONAL MESSAGE!!!!! Virtual degrees of separation between me and Brent Spiner=0. (I AM SO JEALOUS AND I MUST NOW HAVE YOUR HAND THAT TYPED TO HIM #NOTCREEPYATALL)

Where can we see your art at?

Right now I have a lot of work hanging at GMAN tavern in Chicago. The show has been up since Oct. Since it is next door to the Metro, an excellent music venue, I have sold art to Amos Lee, Cults, and Three Floyd’s Brewery. That coupled with the Spiner thing, I’m kind of on cloud nine with all the famous people buying my art. The Venus of Data is there next to a print out of all the tweets. It has not sold yet.

How do we purchase one of these awesome pieces?

www.facebook.com/christineparisiart Message me through the page or my email and I will give you details on specific prices for prints. The prices for the originals are listed on the FB page.

What kind of crossover television show would you love to see and why?

Star Trek TNG SVU!!! Why? Because Picard would not stand for space rape. (YAAASSSS!!!!)

Head on over to Christine’s page and let us know in the comments which one is your favorite!