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February 2011

John Williams is the man

I really didn't want to come back from the brief hiatus with a YouTube post, but this was possibly the best geek tribute I've seen in years. I was reduced to helplessly covering my face with my hands as I giggled like a little girl.

That, and John Williams really is the man.




Note: I am not responsible for your keyboard. Or the funny looks from your co-workers.

Snow White and the Seven Movie Adaptations

Okay, it's not seven - at least not yet. But there are currently three (3) movie adaptations of the classic fairytale Disney made famous on their way to us right now. Seriously, Hollywood, you couldn't spread that out a bit?

Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Twilight's eternally-pouting Kristen Stewart as the one so fair. In this version, the Huntsman who takes pity on her (Viggo Mortensen) ends up chained to her for part of her (their?) escape. If Viggo has to kiss the SparkleBait, I may weep. Not that I hold Twilight against its stars, but I have yet to see evidence that Stewart can act. And with Charlize Theron as the Wicked Queen, this would otherwise be a neat idea.

The Brothers Grimm: Snow White pits a rebellious Snow banding with the dwarfs to overturn the Wicked Queen who killed her father and destroyed the kingdom. Tarsem Singh directs with Julia Roberts as the Wicked Queen, a thought that fills me with glee, though it looks like they're branding it as a dark comedy, which lessens my fun.

• Not content to let anyone steal the poisoned apple away, Disney is planning a live-action version set in China and starring Natalie Portman as the lovely princess. Wait, what? Snow and the Seven, directed by the guy who wrote Toy Story 3 and the production designer of Memoirs of a Geisha and the Pirates movies. A 19th-century English girl returns to her Hong Kong home upon her father's death and faces the plots of her evil stepmother. Instead of dwarfs, we have seven "international warriors." Bonus: directed by Francis Lawrence of I Am Legend, so we can expect two-thirds of a fantastic movie and a finale of what the hell was that??

It's not that I mind Hollywood mining the ancient tales for material - heaven knows it beats yet another CGI talking-animal flick or a lame attempt to bring a dead TV show back as a comedy. Every once in a while they manage to make the old new again - witness Drew Barrymore's Ever After, which set the Cinderella story on its side with a delicious yet believable Wicked Stepmother in Anjelica Huston.

But lately, it seems all we get out of the fairytales are more Twilight knockoffs. Witness Red Riding Hood, directed by Twilight's Catherine Hardwicke and recasting Red as a young woman in a medieval village torn between two lovers, one of which is a werewolf. Even Julie Christie and Gary Oldman can't save that from being the utter rip-off it seems to be.

And that would be a shame, because setting aside the high-pitched soprano of Adriana Caselotti and undeniable 1930s sexism of the First Princess movie, Snow White is a pretty awesome tale.

Go with me here.

Snow White is an emotionally abused, neglected child who still manages to hold together her sanity and good nature despite being robbed of her birthright and, apparently, any love or attention from her spineless father and cruel stepmother. She escapes a murder-for-hire and goes into hiding, building allies who help her escape the repeated attempts on her life. She's not nearly as dumb in the fairytale as in the animated movie - after narrowly escaping the staylaces and the poisoned comb, she won't take the apple until the disguised Queen cuts it in half and eats the safe part in front of her. So much for the "wishing apple."

Sure, it takes a prince to rescue her from the third attempt - by accident, as he thinks she's dead just as the dwarfs do. But in the fairytale, she faces off the Wicked Queen on her own at her wedding, and wins. In a particularly grotesque fashion, as only the Grimm Brothers can do.

The Queen herself is one of the most awesome villains - even though her motivation is an annoying beauty complex (just get some Botox, lady), she's relentlessly evil in a way few villains can match. I am reminded of the Disney movie in which she transforms herself, then passes through a dungeon in which a skeleton lies reaching for a long-empty pitcher.

"Thirsty?" cackles the queen, and kicks the pitcher into the bones, scattering them as a spider runs out. "Have a drink!"

Man. That's hardcore horror right there, and in a 1937 children's movie. Awesome stuff.

Snow White. Jealousy. Palace intrigue. Assassination plots. The power of grief - both for the unseen king and the prince. Class struggle. Attempted murder. Lovers separated by fate and even death. Magic and adventure and gruesome comeuppance. Not a bad way to spend an evening, eh?

Alas, all we're likely to hear as these movies go forward is "Someday my prince will come..." and a lot of teen-drama angst. I look forward to seeing Roberts and Theron take on the Wicked Queen, and hope that someone hired an awesome screenwriter for at least one of these. We deserve some dark fantasy that isn't someone's wish-fulfillment bad-boy complex tossed up like a teen girl's fantasy, but an adventure into the darkness of the human heart that reflects the awesome power of the original Grimm tales.

I'd take a bite of that apple.

SuperCommercial Bowl: Wrap-up!

I literally missed the end of the game. I had to ask who won. Spud buried her face in her hands.

First of all, the six out of seven people using electronic devices in the room (welcome to the 21st century) report that the Klingon Tron Cheerleader Half-Time Show cost $15 million, and one of our non-electronic-device-using compatriots declares they should be mailing checks to everyone who had to watch it.

Second of all, boo to Apple for burying a Verizon iPhone ad in the background of the last two minutes, and what the heck is Terra Nova? It looks like Land of the Lost remade.

Also, I’m no prude, but I’d like to smack the people who made the commercial about the woman breaking up with her trainer because she likes her shoes. It’s the first time ever I’ve had to tell my son to cover his eyes during a Super Bowl commercial. Nice.

Also also, Joan Rivers was the new GoDaddy Girl was totally undercut by the second GoDaddy ad, which was right back to the same stupid nonsense. GoDaddy, I was almost back in love with you.

And now to wrap up...

The best movie trailers were… okay, all of them. It was the Cowboys and Aliens Super Bowl, not just the movie trailers (which were nearly all sci-fi) but half the regular ads as well. Cowboys and aliens seem to be the pop-culture theme for 2011. Not particularly fringe anymore, is it?

Beyond the universal love for Pirates of the Caribbean and universal dismay at the prospect of Transformers 3, we were divided on the trailers. I chose Super 8. Spud chose Fast and the Furious 45 (wait, that number means something else. CultureGeek Jr. could not choose between Thor and Captain America.

Also, all the Twitterverse is infuriated with Groupon for the Tibet ad, and I will have to find the thing on YouTube to figure out what I missed.

Then I polled the folks in the room and took a quick glance at the talk on Facebook, so with this decidedly unscientific poll, it looks like the best ads were:

• Eminem’s real-life appearance, geography notwithstanding.

• Lifesaving beaver is lifesaving.

• The eTrade baby (there’s always someone who likes him.)

• Doritos resurrects Grandpa (everyone liked it but me).

With extra credit to:

• Millionaires in Jail (“Hit ‘em with the Kenny G”)

• Kia’s Epic Ride (spoofing action movies)

• Border Patrol Coke (someone send a case to Egypt!)

• Adrien Brody (my movie boyfriend) and Vin Diesel (Spud’s movie boyfriend). I see a buddy movie coming on!

The runner-up for best ad was the guest appearance of the Clydesdales delivering beer to the Old West saloon and inspiring a breakout of “Tiny Dancer.”

But the best ad was leaked well in advance. Congratulations to Kid Vader, king of the geeky ads and the one that made every parent grin, because that’s exactly what we’d do/did do to our own kids.

And the best laughter came from the box-heads in the halftime show. My sides literally hurt.

Here’s hoping you enjoyed this liveblog of the SuperCommercial Bowl more than you enjoyed the halftime show! Drive safe, and I’ll see y’all tomorrow. How long until baseball season?


SuperCommercial Bowl, Part 8!

I just realized that we’ve reached the third quarter and I haven’t had any alcohol yet. How did that happen? Fortunately Mr. Spud is a heck of a bartender. I should know – he bartended the book release gala for my third novel. Bravo, Mr. Spud.

There’s a Chrysler commercial being nice to Detroit, but as has been pointed out, most of those cars are made in Smyrna, Tenn. However, Eminem reappears in real life, and Wil Wheaton tweets that the previous appearance (in which he claims he does not endorse products) was animated and therefore non-canon, just like Star Trek.

TwitterQuote: “Thanks to that halftime show, no matter who loses the Super Bowl, the Dark Side wins.” -- @deathstarPR

TwitterQuote: “Only event of the night worth mentioning: Darth Vader car commercial. That’s it, kids… come to the Dark Side.” -- @Lord_Voldemort7

NFL house ad splicing together old TV shows was awesome except for a brief appearance of Family Guy and Urkel. I could live with Urkel’s three seconds if I must.

Local ad is annoying.

Jack in the Box is back! I remember two years ago when we were watching him get hit by a bus. Team Bus! Team Bus! This year it’s Team Fire, as we all root for roundhead to die! The only one who ever roots for Jack is Spud, for reasons passing understanding.

Lifesaving Beaver is awesome. Go Bridgestone. He is an exception to my dislike of CGI animals.

VW Beetle is cute but does not win an exception.

ME: Am I the only one sick of CGI talking-animal movies?

MR. SPUD: She hates them.

SPUD: No, I hate the real ones.

ALL: …

MR. SPUD: Because animals… talk?

ME: Hon, they’re all CGI.

SPUD: … I need a break.

ME: We love you, Spud!

SPUD: And I know that’s going on the internet!

Damn straight. Invite CultureGeek to your home at your own peril.


Note: I am informed that the Chrysler plant is in Spring Hill, Tenn. and the one in Smyrna is Nissan. Also, Volkswagon is building in Chattanooga. CultureGeek regrets the error.

SuperCommercial Bowl, Part 7!

Oh God, we’re back to the ETrade baby. Who has gotten slightly older and no more interesting.

And it’s the rejects from the halftime show in the Justin Bieber technology commercial talking about the cool stuff you kids can get at Best Buy, redeemed by Ozzy saying, “What’s a Bieber?” HA.

TwitterQuote: “I wish Ozzy would have bitten off Justin Bieber’s head just then.” -- @Aaron_Sparrow

I’d also like to point out that #BBJJ is trending – Bring Back Janet Jackson.

Pirates 4 – Oh yes. My yes. The kids went nuts and the adults grinned. Please, oh please, do not suck.

Car ad: “Plenty of room to cram.” You know, nothing else needs to be said.

Dear ad people: Violence against babies is never funny. Test baby = fail.

TwitterQuote: “That halftime show did more to crush the morale of the rebellion in 30 minutes than I ever did.” -- @darthvader

TwitterQuote: “I do not like these Peas or ham. I do not like this,” -- @MarlitaH

I love Twitter. I no longer have to write my own jokes.

ME: Holy crap, look at the emails. All those comments.

SPUD: You love the attention.

ME: As long as they buy my books. I would stand on my head and twirl the Black-Eyed Peas on my toes if they would buy my books.

SPUD: We’ll tape it and put it on YouTube.

MR. SPUD: Write that one down.

Kaleidoscope of cars, body parts, brains and… it’s an Elantra. “To quote the raven: nevermore,” says Mr. Spud.

Timothy Hutton, why are you doing Groupon commercials? Someone called it offensive, but somehow I missed what was offensive. Just boring.

Border Patrol old school, and Coke creates greater understanding and peace. Also silliness. I love it.

Adrien Brody! Adrien Brody! Singing to his beer and all the women are swooning, I love it. LOVE it. Okay, Brody is my movie boyfriend, and he’s clearly lampooning his own new status as an offbeat leading man, but I don’t care. I WAS swooning. Spud is unimpressed, because he is not Vin Diesel.

And I was so swoony that I missed the 1950s CarMax commercial. No great loss.

SuperCommercial Bowl: Halftime Regurgitation!

If nothing else, the halftime show was great for Twitter humor.

TwitterQuote: “Wow, Tina Turner looks great in this half-time show.” -- @RobertKirkman

TwitterQuote: “That half-time show is the reason Al-Qaeda hates us.” -- @lukehofmann

TwitterQuote: “Dear NFL: Call Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson and beg them to come back next year.” -- @ariedana

TwitterQuote: “The halftime show has made all of us sterile. I blame the terrorists. Goodbye America.” -- @newscoma

TwitterQuote: “Remember this moment. Your kids may one day ask you where you were the day the music died.” -- @producermatthew

I tell you, one thing the Tron Halftime Show has done is increase the humor level of the Super Bowl. When I saw the box-head people come out I laughed more than I have laughed in years.

Still, I have to agree with Twitterer @sparkysgirl: “Can we rewind back to 2002 and have U2 do the halftime show again?”

SuperCommercial Bowl: Halftime Tron Show

Did you enjoy Klingon Cheerleaders Do Tron – I mean, the halftime show?

TwitterQuote: “Now is the time that we can put aside our political, regional and religious differences and agree that the Black-Eyed Peas are awful.” -- @thesarcastro

“It’s Slash! He’s either going to save the Black-Eyed Peas or kill them. Either way I’m good.” – Mr. Spud.

TwitterQuote: “When did they kick Dr. Teeth and Animal out of the band?” -- @stevehuff

SPUD: I don’t think adding people to this show is going to help.

MR. SPUD: Axl Rose helped.

SPUD: You’re drunk.

(He’s not. He’s just wrong.)

TwitterQuote: “So they brought Usher in to save this? Swear to God if Bieber shows up I’m punching something…” -- @TVDoneWright

TwitterQuote: “This Super Bowl halftime event looks like the talent show from Revenge of the Nerds.” -- @SethMacFarlane


And then…




It takes a certain level of drugs to put Usher and Fergie singing “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” as men with boxes on their heads dance around and I have an utterly hysterical laughing fit at possibly the Worst Halftime Show Ever.

No kidding, Spud passed out boxes and there was brief box-head dancing in the middle of the living room. I wish I were faster with my camera.

TwitterQuote: “Why are neon sperm dancing on my TV?” -- @gilgamark

I’d like to thank the Black-Eyed Peas and whomever designed that halftime show for all the great laughs.

SuperCommercial Bowl, Part 6!

Twitter tells me that the guy whose car talked to him was checking the Facebook feed. Yes, that’s a good idea, especially when texting is illegal in several states.

TwitterQuote: “I want a car that gives me Facebook status updates as much as I want a car that gives me gonorrhea.” -- @jasonpinter

YouTube is posting the ads as they air, in case I write about one you missed and you absolutely positively have to see it right the hell now. In which case…. man, you gotta get yourself a life.

TwitterQuote: “Are we really going to get a car that reads Facebook before a car that drives itself? This is not how you’ll win the future.” -- @ezraklein

And it’s halftime already! Little Vader is winning the commercial race so far at the House of Spud.

In case you were wondering, former President Bush II is at the Super Bowl. The current president, however, is hosting a Super Bowl party at the White House, and they’re serving brats, cheeseburgers, deep-dish pizza and buffalo wings. The president is downing Hinterland Pale Ale, Yuengling Lager and White House Honey Ale tonight.

First we have a house ad for American Idiot. Then a local furniture ad reminding us that the best seat in the house is at home. (We knew this.) A boring Ford truck ad… ah, we’re off the national spots, aren’t we? Once a Charter Internet ad comes on, I’m done.

See you after halftime! Enjoy the Black-Eyed Peas.

SuperCommercial Bowl, Part 5!

TwitterQuote: “Best Super Bowl ad so far? That creepy one where Cameron Diaz feeds A-Rod popcorn.” -- @WillieGeist1

Snickers beats up whiners (including Richard Lewis) and makes us all laugh. Roseanne Barr was the woman who got knocked over at the end, I am told. Totally didn’t recognize her.

Guy in car is trapped by chimpanzees who park too close. Another chimp scraps the hell out of it. reminds us what it’s like to work with monkeys. Actually, monkeys would be an improvement for some of my friends. (Not me. I love my co-workers. Especially if they’re reading this. Hi, guys!)

The end of the world from Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, with plenty of drama and explosions. It’s titled Super 8 and okay, it has my attention

TwitterQuote: “George Lucas has announced a special edition of the VW commercial released in 2012 in which the car shoots first.” -- @abiteofsanity

FacebookQuote: “I vote for any commercial that takes down Roseanne Barr.” – Tom Meserole

“Yeah, and after she gets knocked down she still won’t shut up.” – Jerry (in real life).

TwitterQuote: “That Cowboys vs. Aliens movie better not suck. And by that, I mean that the only female characters better not be damsels or hookers.” -- @sandykidd (Yeah, good luck with that.)

Girl kisses boy at end of date. He drives home all confuzzled. “Best first date ever,” the car tells him. All squee-y, but still not making me buy a Chevy. (It was a Chevy, right?)

TwitterQuote: “Oh my god America you DO NOT NEED A CAR THAT BLOGS.” -- @dceiver

Captain America made CultureGeek Jr. stand with jaw dropped for five minutes, then run in the other room to jump up and down and squee like a little baby. It was amusing to watch. I pretended we aren’t going to see it and I got stinkface. It’s a good year for preteen comic geeks.

TwitterQuote: “How can there be a Captain America movie when all the patriotism got used up in the pre-game?” -- @Ali_Davis

CarMax annoys me. Enough said. Hey, there's a football game on.


SuperCommercial Bowl, Part 4!

The horrors of “reply all” hits a geek, and the funniest part of it is “do not attempt” at the bottom of the screen while he goes through bizarre calisthenics to stop his co-workers from reading his email. Alas, I had to go look up what they were selling. A car or tires? I forget.

The wonders of electricity wake up the Chevy Volt. This had my attention for a minute because of the historical aspect, the various uses of electricity through time… I’m too much in a History-Channel mood for this year’s commercials.

Did GoDaddy get my memo? Joan Rivers is the new GoDaddy girl. Once they’ve moved on to mocking their own commercials, it could be the beginning of the end! “And Viagra sales jump,” says Mr. Spud.

TwitterQuote: “I didn’t know there was enough Photoshop in the world to make Joan Rivers look like that.” -- @ariedana

TwitterQuote: “That was the first GoDaddy commercial that didn’t make me cringe. Bravo!” -- @KRADeC (Keith R.A. DeCandido)

Kudos to my friend and colleague David Sheets, president of the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists, who is watching the Super Bowl at work tonight and gets paid to do it because he’s a sports editor. It’s a tough life, David.

TwitterQuote: “We can’t afford Betty White Now. Estelle Getty? Dead. Florence Henderson? Won’t do it. Joan Rivers? Win!”

The Clydesdales are back! They were missing last year. Delivery to a Wild West saloon causes singing “Tiny Dancer,” giggles abound. “I think there was something besides alcohol in that bottle!” This is one of my favorites so far.

Soulful geek sends flowers with the card, “Your rack is unreal.” Much laughter, and you know, I think I might almost be charmed by the earnest honesty in that card. Go Teleflora! And two minutes later, everyone remembers the name of the company.

Transformers 3: The Apology. “For a second I thought it was another Honda commercial, and with all the destruction I was hoping.” – Mr. Spud.

And an utterly forgettable assembly-line commercial for BMW. As much as they charge for those cards, they can afford a better commercial.

Creepy 1984 guys in white suits watch guy with iPad not fit in. Pretty girl gets his picture of flowers and is moved to take out her earbuds. It’s the Motorola Xoom. The room was quiet, but the consensus is: if your product is an iPad knockoff, your commercials shouldn’t be.

Cars rattle along with exhaust choking the word, as “Ch-ch-changes” heralds BMW again.

TwitterQuote: “Coming in July: Transformers 3: Shit Blows Up Real Good.” -- @KRADeC

Coke: Enjoyed by dragons everywhere. “Happy Chinese New Year!” – Mr. Spud. Bonus classical music.

Thor with no shirt is just fine by me.

The Kid-Vader commercial that we all saw online days ago. There are cheers and applause! So far it’s the best commercial of the day. And everyone knows it’s a Passat, so awesome job, guys.

TwitterQuote: “Worst news of the Super Bowl so far: apparently there will be a Transformers 3. #NOOOO” -- @VictorMilan