Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Twilight: A guilty pleasure, indeed

I readily admit, I got sucked into the "Twilight" craze, too. A friend recommended the books two summers ago, and I think I had the first three read within two weeks and waited very impatiently for the fourth, which I had read in two days.

The movies have been sort of "eh" for me. It's one thing to read romantic junk, and it's another thing to hear and see the romantic junk on a giant screen. Hearing those ridiculous, cheesy lines of dialogue out loud gets tough, and I'm sure "Eclipse" will be toughest of all, considering half the book could be summed up with these lines:
"You're hot. I love you. Have sex with me." -Bella.
"No, I can't. I'm virtuous. Marry me and then maybe." -Edward.

So, I must admit, it's been kind of fun to read all the terrible reviews before each movie comes out. They're always quite scathing, especially the 40-something men who leave the theater dazed and annoyed. And I find myself agreeing with a lot of what they're saying, yet, I know full well that I'll be there in the theater with millions of other Twihards on opening weekend. It's hard to pinpoint why that is. The "Twilight" saga is definitely one of those phenomenons that only girly girls seem to understand. There's something about love and longing that we can't get enough of. But either way, it's good to recognize that this is very much a guilty pleasure. Here are a few funny reviews of "Eclipse."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Compassion equals good reporting

This post doesn't have much to do with entertainment, but neither does my job when the weather gets bad.

When there's a big story at The Free Press, beats cease to matter. The entertainment writer can easily turn into the tornado-chaser or the crime reporter if something big happens, and I'm the only person available when we hear about it. Weather seems to be the most frequent catalyst. And, you know what? At first it's fun. Somebody like me, who writes about ballets and plays and music, gets that old feeling again when it's time to pitch in on actual news. It's that little rush, knowing I've got a very limited amount of time to go where the action is, talk to as many people as possible and hound police for as many details as I can before deadline. The pressure is exciting. Your job suddenly feels very important.

I had that feeling Friday as I sat home watching the weather deteriorate outside my window. Hail pelted windows on all sides of my house. It was pitch black. The cable and internet were out. The electricity was flashing on and off. And on my radio, I was listening to all kinds of callers reporting damage on the roads and funnel clouds dipping down. I knew when the weather let up, I might need to head to work to help out. One reporter can't be expected to cover the entire region, so volunteers are needed when the destruction is so wide-ranging.

When I finally got through to someone (The Free Press phone system was out for a while), I headed where I was needed. A house in upper North was struck by lightning and caught fire, and it sounded pretty bad. Getting there was tough. Lookout was completely flooded, which I didn't know until I was on the off ramp with six other vehicles, and all of us had to figure out how to turn around and head the wrong way on the off ramp and try and rejoin traffic on the highway. I took the long way around, losing precious time. You always get that feeling in your stomach that if you take too long, you'll miss the flames and the action. The owners will have left. Your story will be gone.

When I got to Rolling Green Lane, I had to park at the end of the blocked-off street. The other end was completely flooded. Firetrucks and hoses were scattered everywhere. Looky-loos were lining the sidewalk across the street, but no one knew who owned the townhome, which was completely destroyed by fire. I could see the fireplace of the front room because the roof was completely gone. The car was still in the garage, completely covered in debris.

At this point, it's still a rush. As a reporter, you're taking all of this in so you can set the scene. You're noting the location of the house, any peripheral damage, you're sizing up people standing in neighboring yards, asking yourself if they look distressed enough to be the owners of the house so you can go get the scoop. At this point, you're still a reporter. You're the job.

But then I found them. I crossed the road, walked past hoses and firetrucks, parted a crowd of people and asked a woman if she knew who lived there. She pointed me to the woman who was standing next to her, the one who was staring with disbelief at what was once her home. And the one next to it was her parents' home. And on the other side was her sister's home. And the last damaged townhome belonged to her friends.

This is when the job starts to strip away a little bit. The rush of the big story is replaced by empathy and sadness. You ask the questions you know you're supposed to ask, but you find that they're not at all mechanical. You want to ask them how they feel, if they have a place to stay. You want to know they're going to be OK. And, even though they're strangers to you, you want them to know that you care and that you're sorry this happened to them.

You hear a lot about objectivity when it comes to being a journalist. Objectivity is very important. We mustn't be biased in our reporting. But when it comes to tragedy, we must also be able to convey hardship in a real and honest way. And I can't imagine how one would do that without empathy and compassion. I am a reporter, but I'm human first. And when I feel for someone who has suffered great loss, it only helps me write the truth about the tragedy.

It's funny how you can be a reporter for eight years and still forget that chasing after the big story is fun at first until you're confronted with reality. Then it's not just "the storm story." It's people in the midst of one of the worst moments of their lives.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

To infinity, and beyond!

I would just like to give two very enthusiastic thumbs up to "Toy Story 3" and recommend you go. All of you. Kids or no kids, doesn't matter. Go.

Pixar really takes the movie to an adult level at one point that I've never seen it go before, and at the end be prepared to weep openly in the theater, but the rest is what you've come to expect from Pixar: touching, funny and full of adventure. Fits perfectly with the other two movies, and if the end hadn't felt like a kick to the gut, I'd go again. As such, I think I'll save fellow movie goers my blubbering and wait until it comes out on video.

You might enjoy this website that lists 60 "Easter Eggs" found in "Toy Story 3." These are little inside jokes and references to other Pixar films and things.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hollywood has gone too far: claymating Smurfs is heresy

What the WHAT!?
Hollywood has ruined a great many cartoons with terrible remakes: the Chipmunks and Garfield, to name a couple.
But nobody -- I said NOBODY -- should be allowed to touch the Smurfs. Who are these idiots! You can't claymate Smurfs! Check out this terrible, terrible trailer, and then scroll down and watch the actual cartoon. Why not just re-release the wonderful cartoons or something?

Are you a board-game family? Call us!!!

Remember board games? Clue, Monopoly, Battleship, Taboo?

Some people still gather the family around these non- electronic games for a night of family fun. If this is you — call us!

Our Country Living issue of Mankato Magazine in August will take you back to a simpler time.

And, as such, we want to feature families who choose Cranium over XBox, Blokus over Wii, Sorry over Playstation.

E-mail Nicole Smith at nicolere­, or call Amanda Dyslin at 507-344-6388, or comment on this blog post.

Monday, June 14, 2010

EXTRA! EXTRA! Lemon-raspberry scones back at Hag!

A few weeks ago I informed you that the lemon-raspberry scones would not be available at the Coffee Hag for a month and that I would inform you when they were. Dear readers, I have failed you. Sometime in the interim, the best scones on Earth made a quiet return to the Hag. When I went in the other day and asked if they had been back, I was horrified to learn I had missed them.

This lead to swift action. Upon learning that the lemon-raspberries were being frozen, while other flavors enjoyed their day in the limelight behind the glass case, I special ordered a half-dozen.

For all of you lemon-raspberry addicts like me, it's important you know this is an option. Special order a half-dozen, keep them frozen, and dole them out to yourself as needed. Your only other option is to keep checking into the Hag every couple of days, praying you don't miss them. The choice is yours.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The origin of the family dish

I'm the fifth generation of woman in my family to own this glass dish. There's no engraved label or logo, no company name, no date. I'm just wondering if anyone has something similar and might be able to give me a clue as to the company that made this and the approximate date. I'm very curious.

I'm mighty "Blood" thirsty

Tonight (Sunday!) is the night! The "True Blood" season 3 premiere. I cannot wait. Five hours left.

My sister has been trying to get me into the mini-sodes released by the studio in advance of the new season. They're these two- or three-minute episodes about each character, but they're pretty boring. They don't seem to say anything to further the plot.

I posted one below. The first video below is the season 3 extended trailer. Very exciting. And the second video is the mini-sode for Jason Stackhouse. I have a new appreication for Jason since I saw him on a couple of talk shows. The guy who plays him, Ryan Kwanten, is actually Australian and wears glasses and is quiet, smart and seems kind of arrogant. He couldn't be anymore different than his character, Jason, who is dumb as a bowl of noodles and loud. Now that I know what he's really like, I'm admiring the acting more.
Anyhow, for all you "Blood" thirsty viewers out there, I hope the show is everything you hoped it would be tonight.

Ultimate Fan Season 3 Preview

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Salma Hayek officially a giant weirdo

OK, between this and breastfeeding a random orphan, Salma Hayek has apparently taken the torch from Tom Cruise for biggest weirdo.
Watch this whole clip. You won't regret it. My favorite part is how she practically tramples her co-star to save herself ... from a snake ... on the ground ... snakes don't jump three feet in the air, by the way.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rocking to tons of summer TV ... Mmmmm, Mad Men

In May I get sad. I love TV, and in May, network TV ends its seasons of shows, and I'm left with the warm outdoors to entertain me. Boooooo.

Just kidding. I do love this time of year, and I do love taking my dogs for walks and to the park. But, sigh ... TV. It's been a love affair since birth. Literally. My mom was quite young when she had me. Just 21 years old. And a new 21. My birthday is exactly two weeks after hers in December. So, as a young mom, the TV was always on and was often tuned into MTV. In the early 1980s, MTV was brand new, and my mom was their target age and audience.

My mom discovered early on how to keep me occupied. She put me in my chair swing, cranked it up, set me in front of the TV and let me swing and watch, swing and watch, etc., etc. My first complete sentence was "Coke is it," the slogan for Coca-Cola in 1981-82. That should give you a good idea of how much I watched.

...Incidentally, guess what I'm doing right now, at the age of 29? I'm sitting in a rocking chair -- addicted to the things my whole life -- and watching TV. Not much has changed in 29 years.

So, I have been mourning the lack of good programming lately. I like watching reruns of Food Network shows like "Ace of Cakes," or any house-hunting/repair kind of show on HGTV. But it's not the same as a good drama you can follow from week to week, wondering what will happen next.

That's why I was so psyched today when I realized a ton of summer shows are about to kick off on the premium channels!!
Here's what we've got coming up:

Sunday -- "True Blood," HBO. When we left Bon Temps last, Bill had just been kidnapped, oh my! Right before he was about to propose to Sookie!!!

June 16: "Top Chef," Bravo. ...OK, not a drama, but still good TV.

June 27: "Entourage," HBO. Will Vince be riding Hollywood high this season, or back in Loserville, a ala post-"Medellin"?

July 25: "Mad Men," AMC. Dear god, where to begin ... We ended with a total cliffhanger. A new firm, a divorce, a completely new ballgame. Can't wait.

Aug. 18: "Weeds," Showtime. OK, well, I don't know. I'm sort of excited, and I will watch this season, but "Weeds" has gotten so out of hand. Remember first season? Mary Louise played a suburban mom selling pot to feed her family after her husband dies. Simple, intriguing and funny plot line. Now, her son just killed somebody, she's married to a Mexican drug lord who wants her dead, she had his baby, and her brother-in-law is in love with her. It's just so far out there. But, as I said, I will still be watching.

Gah! So excited. What shows are you psyched for this summer?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Goonies never say die!

Gooooonies!!! I loved that movie when I was a kid. Still do! There was a Goonie's reunion, and it was super fun to see what the cast looks like now -- especially Chunk. I posted his pic to the right here. Can you believe that? The boy who was once capable of the Truffle Shuffle? He couldn't do it now if he tried. ... sigh.

Read all about the reunion here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tenacious D dude on 'The Five Count'

From Dustin Wilmes, 89.7 FM:

This Saturday, The Five Count will feature an interview with Kyle Gass. In addition to appearing in films like Elf, School of Rock, and Shallow Hal, Kyle is also one-half of the greatest band in the world, Tenacious D! He's currently on tour with his other band, Trainwreck.

Tune in at 11 p.m. this Saturday (June 5th) to hear KG on The Five Count!