Rest in Peace, Leonard Nimoy

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You were an icon, and you will be missed.

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So, The 2015 Oscars Happened

I should probably have posted my Oscars commentary yesterday instead of my New Orleans recap, but, well, I didn’t feel like it. So you get it today.

1. Let’s talk pre-show first: did anyone else see that hysterically awkward interview with Dakota Johnson and Melanie Griffith? Oh. My. God. Melanie Griffith was so stilted and disapproving, and Dakota Johnson was super passive aggressive, and the whole thing was totally bizarre. Taking your mom to the Oscars is sweet, but when she seems all disappointed in your life choices, I don’t know. Maybe take your BFF instead?

2. But the pre-show awkwardness could not solely belong to the Johnson/Griffith family. After all, John Travolta was present. Between grabbing Scarlett Johansson on the red carpet and weirdly fondling Idina Menzel’s face on stage, John Travolta wins the Oscar for Total Creeper.

3. So, Neil Patrick Harris.

I really enjoyed the opening number — there was a shout-out to Clue! — and a few of the jokes landed for me, but on the whole? Eh. Which is too bad because I really like NPH — I mean, the dude’s likable — but I found the majority of the jokes awkward and the one about Dana Perry’s dress in pretty poor taste. (I mean, I didn’t like the dress either because it was terrible, but the woman had just finished talking about her son who committed suicide. Maybe wait five minutes before we start making fun of her?)

Regardless, I still wouldn’t call Neil Patrick Harris the worst Oscar host ever or anything. I don’t really think anyone’s ever going to take that crown from James Franco. (I won’t include Anne Hathaway in that. I still feel sorry for her.)

4. Although NPH did kind of fail in his duties to keep things running on time. 8:20 comes along and there are at least seven more awards to give, but by all means, dude, keep casually going on with that briefcase joke. (Which mostly didn’t pay off, except the part where he made fun of John Travolta. That made me laugh.)

5. The big showstoppers that everyone was talking about: Common and John Legend singing, “Glory,” and Lady Gaga doing a medley of The Sound of Music.

To be fair to Lady Gaga, I think she did a tremendous job in her performance. Everyone’s been buzzing about her voice, and rightly so. I think my problem has more to do with the timing. “Glory” was such a beautiful, moving, and meaningful song that to put anything after it seemed like a waste. Lady Gaga’s performance itself was impressive, but songs about nuns and whiskers on kittens just don’t have the same kind of weight.

6. As far as the awards go . . . per usual, there weren’t a lot of big shockers. Like Eddie Redmayne getting the Oscar instead of Michael Keaton. A tiny bit surprising, maybe, but it’s not like Steve Carrell won or anything. (Also, Redmayne was pretty adorable.) I’m still annoyed that Birdman won over The Grand Budapest Hotel for Best Original Screenplay. Admittedly, I wouldn’t have picked Birdman for Best Picture, either, but screenplay specifically annoys me because I don’t think the script was all that impressive.

Also — and keep in mind I haven’t seen either movie — but how did Whiplash beat out Boyhood for Best Editing? Boyhood had, like, over a decade of footage to go through. I kind of thought that was a shoo-in.

7. The best speeches of the night were surprisingly political or inspirational. Common and John Legend spoke super eloquently, while Patricia Arquette managed to get the unusual combination of Meryl Streep and J-Lo on their feet screaming HELLS YES. (Everyone wants to see them in a buddy cop movie now, right? I’d watch that. And Streep might as well do it — she’ll still manage to get an Oscar nod out of it. I kid, but only a little: I know it’s not fair because I haven’t even seen Into the Woods yet, but come on. Meryl Streep doesn’t need to be nominated for EVERY single thing she does.)

Still, I think the most powerful speech to me was Graham Moore’s. That was a very brave thing he did, and I was quite moved.

8. I was less moved by the In Memoriam section, unfortunately. Maybe we’d have more time to include actual clips of peoples’ work or, you know, mention people like Joan Rivers if we cut out some of the more annoying, extraneous stuff, like the ongoing briefcase joke or that fucking memorial song. Seriously, screw that song. Over the past few years, the In Memoriam section has come to feel like it’s selling something, and I hate that.

9. Finally, let’s talk fashion. (I know there’s a movement for people asking actresses more interesting questions than “Who are you wearing?” on the red carpet, which I support, but I’m never going to want to get rid of the fashion talk entirely. I like perty dresses. I won’t lie about that.)

THE BEST:

Lupita Nyong’o

I would imagine that pulling off a dress made out almost entirely of pearls would be kind of hard. But Lupita Nyong’o looks pretty damn amazing here.

THE GOOD:

David Oyelowo

I rarely put men on these lists because their suits are usually so boring, but I kind of adored this red number. Good on you, Mr. Oyelowo, for doing something interesting.

Margot Robbie

It kind of looks like a slinky bathrobe, I know, but there’s a whole noir quality to it that slowly grew on me. (I still hate the necklace, though.)

Rosamund Pike

She kept posing with this, like, modified Angelina Jolie leg that kind of drove me nuts. Still, the dress is pretty and looks great on her.

Zendaya

I don’t think I actually know who this is (although I’m pretty sure I’ve seen her on Fashion Police before), but I love the old school white dress with the awesome hair. I only wish the dress was tailored a little better — I don’t think it should be quite as wrinkly.

Keira Knightley

It’s still a little busy for my tastes. (Although for Keira Knightley, it’s clearly tame). But is has kind of a soft, romantic sensibility to it that I enjoy, at least on other people.

THE BAD:

Marion Cotillard

From the front, I actually quite liked this. From the back . . . we have problems.

Jared Leto

Well, I suppose it wasn’t boring, at least. Still. This is pretty awful. Can we forever retire the baby blue men’s suit? Please? And oh my GOD, man, do something about your hair. Pull it back, trim it, something.

Julianne Moore

I think this made a lot of people’s Best Dressed, but wow, not mine. The black spots at the waist seemed really misplaced to me and, anyway, mostly reminded me of mold. Not a fan.

Jessica Chastain

Again, apparently people liked this, but I don’t get it. It’s like two dresses in one: Oscar splendor and Vegas showgirl, which, okay, sounds neat . . . but the execution leaves something to be desired. The dress somehow makes her look really wide (which, yeah, she’s not), I hate the double necklines, and the slit strikes me as too much on an already complicated dress.

Sienna Miller

This dress was already on my worst list because of the multiple bows . . . and then I saw the bottom. No.

WORST:

Gwyneth Paltrow

Oh, honey. The 80’s called and they’d like their prom dress back.

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Mardi Gras, 2015: The Recap

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In Which the Author Goes to New Orleans, Meets Up With Old Friends, Gets Attacked by Flying Toilet Brushes, Drinks Vodka That Smells Like Cake, Watches Movies, Eats Food, and Generally Has a Good Time.

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Coming Soon-Ish: Daredevil, Amy Schumer, and Lots of Strippers

As you read this, I am hopefully on my way to New Orleans to visit friends and go to Mardi Gras for the very first time. Feel free to make your bead jokes now — everybody else already has. More importantly, I won’t be updating the blog all next week, so you’ll have to go somewhere else for your lengthy movie snark and weird clown self portraits. Obviously, plenty of snark and creepy clowns abound on the internet.

But before I go, here are some trailers:

Daredevil

I definitely plan to check this out, but I’m not as into this trailer as the rest of the world. I don’t know why exactly. It doesn’t look bad or anything. Darker than I expected, maybe, but I don’t mind dark, and perhaps that’s keeping in tone with the comics. I didn’t read them, so I don’t know (or much care, honestly). But it seemed like everyone was like DAREDEVIL, YES! when this trailer came out, and I was like, “Eh, okay, I still wanna see it.” On the plus side, I do enjoy the Dread Pirate Roberts look.

Cut Bank

This looks kind of interesting, though I wonder if the trailer doesn’t tell you too much about the unfolding mystery. I guess that depends on how many secrets the small town has. I also can’t help feel that they’re pressing on that whole small town shtick just a little too hard, not to mention that the possibly psychopathic stutterer feels like he’s verging on parody. Still, I like mysteries and the cast is kinda ridiculous: Liam Hemsworth, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Oliver Platt, Bruce Dern, and Billy Bob Thornton. And while the director appears to have worked primarily in TV, he directed some great episodes of Psych. That counts for something, right? (Come on, “Lights, Camera . . . Homicidio” is just the best.)

Trainwreck

Okay, I could watch this. Bill Heder seems like a funny guy (I really haven’t watched him in that much), but I am all about Amy Schumer, and I’m excited that she has a movie. Admittedly, I fear that this is going to have a predictable ending that drags the whole thing down, but I laughed several times during the trailer (even once, surprisingly, at John Cena) and at the very least, it’s kind of nice having the woman being the commitment-phobe for once. Plus, Tilda Swinton and Brie Larson are in this? That’s never a bad thing.

Magic Mike XXL

Okay, I never did see the first Magic Mike. I read a lot of surprisingly positive reviews about it, praising the complexities of the story and saying it wasn’t just a stripper movie. Of course, everybody who I’ve ever actually met said that the story was boring, but hey, at least the stripping was hot. Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll ever see either of these movies, but I will admit this teaser made me laugh. Couple of times, even.

Although, obviously, I’d be excited if there was more focus on Matt Bomer than Channing Tatum. Because that’s who I am.

And finally . . . The Lovers

Oh, wow. This looks bad. Like so, so bad. Time travel romances and coma stories aren’t my favorite thing anyway, but . . . yeah. No.

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The Seven Creepiest Skittles Commercials

The lackluster Superbowl ads this year got me to thinking about the most disturbing of all commercials: Skittles commercials. For you, for science, and for the sake of liberty itself, I decided that I needed to investigate further.

What I discovered is that not every Skittles commercial is downright terrifying — I do, after all, like the Midas Touch one; I mean, I cracked up. “He’ll never see his family again.” DYING here. But most of the commercials are, well. Concerning. I highly suspect that everybody in the Skittles’ advertising department was entirely weaned on LSD and The Island of Doctor Moreau. (Not a completely unlikely possibility. The company has an unhealthy obsession with milking things.)

Here are seven of the creepier commercials I found.

7. “Pigeon People”

This one weirds me out a bit — because, hey, it’s weird — but I’ll admit, for Skittles, it’s actually fairly tame. After all, the pigeons are just abnormally sized and wearing human clothes. The true human/animal abominations come next.

6. “Sheep Boys”

What I want to know is this: after they went home that night, were the actors involved just genuinely grateful for the paycheck, or were they sitting in a dark corner somewhere, weeping through their favorite Shakespearean soliloquies, and wondering, “What in God’s name has happened to my life? I used to have a dream. I used to be an ACTOR.”

5. “Telekinesis”

It’s not really the telekinesis that disturbs me here, or even the hand that pops off. It’s the expression on the telekinetic’s face, particularly near the end of the ad. The other guy is super obnoxious, sure, but the telekinetic dude is just . . . skeevy. I’m sure the actor is actually a very nice man, but picture this dude wearing that “Hey, baby” expression on his face whilst eating Skittles near an elementary school.

Admit it, you just shuddered, didn’t you?

4. “Giraffe”

This particularly Skittles commercials comes from Russia, and while the crazy Jamaican man is supposedly milking the giraffe . . . look, I don’t know where a giraffe keeps his udders, but that’s not a location I associate with milk. (Keeping up with the lactation theme is this more famous Skittles commercial, which is also weird but didn’t quite make the cut.)

3. “Give Momma a Smile”

When I came up with the idea of creating this list, this particular commercial is the one that immediately sprang to mind. I even remember the first time I watched it — it stuck out because I adore Beth Grant in all things, and because I was not yet familiar with the candy company’s penchant for inappropriate touching and sticking unwanted things inside the human body. I personally referred to this as the Bad Touch Skittles ad for years.

2. “Prehensile Beard”

And yet, somehow I think I find this one even more disturbing. The guy’s creepy ass beard is weird enough — like even before he starts to feed himself with it — but then he feeds the woman interviewing him too AND gently caresses her face? Oh my God, I feel violated just watching this.

1. “Hit Me Again, Tube Sock!”

And finally . . . what in the holy fuck is this?

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An Unlikely Story About Clowns

Exciting news today: my story, “Break the Face in the Jar by the Door,” will appear in The Unlikely Journal of Coulrophobia on April 1st. I promise, this isn’t just an early April Fool’s Day joke. The official announcement is here.

I’ve hoped to sell something to Unlikely Story for a while now. Unfortunately, Cryptography was right out (I know my strong suits, and writing about code breaking isn’t one of them) and I didn’t have any specific ideas suited for Entomology, but I figured I could try for one of the theme issues — I was particularly interested in The Unlikely Journal of Cartography. Alas, I couldn’t get the story together in time and missed out. When The Unlikely Journal of Coulrophobia was announced, I knew I had to do better.

I feel like I should be upfront with you: despite the theme, I wouldn’t necessarily describe this as a particularly scary story. Also, it’s in second person again because apparently that’s the only way I can write flash fiction. But I’m pretty happy with it, and way more excited for April Fool’s Day than I ever have been in the past.

Two months to go, people. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this photo series:

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I don’t know when I became such a fan of taking silly themed pictures of myself, but, well. I had a creepy clown mask. I had to do something with it.

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“I Am Turning Thirty Next Week, and I Just Want to Go Home and Grow Oranges!”

A few months ago, I went to San Francisco. I don’t make it out to SF all that much, primarily because I don’t have a car and it’s a long damn bus ride. But when I do go, I usually try to get in a trip to Rasputin’s because, man, I just love that place. On my last visit, I bought a movie for three dollars purely because I knew it’d be fun to review. That movie?

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Oh, Identity. I’m not even quite sure where to begin with you.

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