Saturday, April 30, 2011

Here Comes The Bride

What began at the University of St.Andrews was sealed with a balcony kiss yesterday. It took just over an hour but shortly after midday the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – and future king and queen – emerged from Westminster Abbey.

The couple emerged to the cheers of thousands of wellwishers and waved to crowds before stepping into the open-topped 1902 State Landau to make their way to Buckingham Palace.

A guard of honour made up of forces personnel lined the route out of the Abbey as William and Kate emerged.

And hundreds of thousands of people lined the couple’s mile-and-a-half route which passed through The Mall, Whitehall and Parliament Square. Not to forget the viewers all around the globe.

The new royal couple were to travel in the same horse-drawn carriage used by Charles and Diana on their wedding day 30 years earlier.The world got their first look at Kate’s dress as she made the nine-minute journey from the Goring Hotel to Westminster Abbey. She beamed with delight for the enthusiastic crowds.

As many had predicted, Kate had her hair down and wore a tiara. Completely coming out of the shadow of the standards set during Lady Diana's wedding to Prince Charles.

After the three-and-a-half minute walk down the aisle, it looked like it had all been worth it as Prince William was seemed to say “you look beautiful” as he turned to look at her for the first time. William, 28, and his brother Prince Harry, 26, who is his best man, arrived at the historic 1000-year-old church at 10.15am. 

The groom looked resplendent in red, wearing the famous scarlet tunic of an Irish Guards officer, rather than an Air Force uniform. The Queen wore a primrose dress with matching hat. While Kate’s mother Carole chose a sky blue silk dress. Huge cheers and applause erupted from the crowd as the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were driven from their official residence at Clarence House to the Abbey. Charles wore his most formal military uniform, his blue Royal Navy ceremonial dress. Camilla looked elegant in a timeless Anna Valentine champagne silk dress. Tension and excitement had been mounting throughout the morning as guests filled the Abbey from 8.15am. Friend happily greeted friend as if this was Royal Ascot or Wimbledon rather than the ancient Abbey.

Thus, she may not have any blue blood, but Kate Middleton's fairy-tale wedding once again ushered in a new era for the usually conservative royalty. Three decades back, a princess-y 20-something Diana walked down the aisle to her Prince Charming and she won hearts instantly. Kate brings in a fresh whiff of youth to the royal family, just like the People's Princess had.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Baby I'm "Born This Way"

After a highly criticized episode last week Glee returns with the another lesson....not in a bad way but balanced. This week's episode titled "Born This Way" did just that. Although I'm not entirely convinced we needed "Born This Way" stretched out to 90 minutes. Though an entertaining episode, there were a few moments that weren't entirely necessary. Still, for a series that often feels like it's spinning its wheels, telling similar stories in slightly different ways, there was enough forward momentum in Tuesday's episode to not be bothered by the fact that, once again, we're being reminded that it's absolutely okay to be different.

Spontaneous songs were back! I don't care if you are a Jackie or Marilyn, Peggy or Joan, Rachel and Quinn's I Feel Pretty/Unpretty mash-up was amazing. The choice of songs was made even more spectacular when we later learned about Quinn's past life as Lucy Caboosey. 

The crux of the hour and a half was centered around Rachel's debating on whether or not to get a nose job. It was one of those pointless debates that you already knew the answer to (of course she wouldn't), but the episode built enough around it with almost every character in glee club to make things interesting. Schue's idea to use Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" was a little too… um… on the nose, as it were, to the point where his "aha moment" about the song was a bit cringe-inducing. But moving on from there, the episode gave us many entertaining viewpoints of self-love and self-loathing. 

What I liked most was the fact that the episode wasn't trying to give us one easy answer. It wasn't saying that the right thing to do is love yourself no matter how you were born, and that doing so is as easy as deciding to do it. Sure, it was easy for Finn, but Tina,Santana, Emma and others had their dilemmas. Though I'm still undecided about the revelation that Quinn has changed her appearance (and name), I do like that she decided to do itbecause she liked herself, not because she didn't. It was a needed counterpoint to Rachel's nose issue. The closing performance of "Born This Way" could have easily been a triumphant celebration with everyone accepting the thing about them that was different (and for many, it was), but the episode was smart to have Santana sit the song out. It's not easy to accept your perceived faults, and I'm happy the episode didn't pretend it would be.

Kurt killed it in the Flash Mob scene at the mall and looked smashing in that USA tank from Toddland that has gotten so much press. His real moment of course came as he belted out Barbara's "As If We Never Said Goodbye." Seriously, the first word that came to mind was Emmy! If that performance didn't scream Emmy I don't know what would. All this just days after the 50th anniversary of Judy Garland's famous performance at Carnegie Hall. Kurt returned home from over the rainbow in a sense and will never again be alone. We will continue to watch him fly and teach the world new ways to dream.

As for forward momentum, I was happy to see something happening with Kurt's situation. It was even better that the whole thing was just an elaborate scheme conceived by Santana in an attempt to become Prom Queen. Except for the running storylines about gearing up for the next singing competition, many episodes of Glee are very standalone. So "Born This Way" succeeded in continuing existing storylines and setting things up for future episodes in ways the series often ignores doing.

As for the 90-minutes, I feel Kurt's return to McKinley was overdone. His rendition of "As If We Never Said Goodbye" was great, but a bit more dramatic than his fairly expected second coming had actually earned. And hearing one less song from the Warblers this season wouldn't have bothered me at all. But "Born This Way" delivered a believable message of the difficulty of accepting one's self, and it did so with smarts and laughs. Hard to knock it for squeezing in an extra number or two in the process.

Lastly the shirts, all of them, Amazing!!!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries: #2 Bloodlust

After a tantalizing read that serves the prelude for the Stefan's Diaries a.k.a the beginning for the Vampire Diaries through the eyes of Stefan, I now proceed to the next book in the trilogy #2 Bloodlust. And it was I dare say even better than its predecessor. 

Here is how the summary for the book goes like:

A new beginning . . .When Stefan Salvatore's first love turned him into a vampire, his world—and his soul—were destroyed. Now he and his brother, Damon, must flee their hometown, where they risk being discovered . . . and killed. The brothers head to New Orleans, looking for safe haven. But the city is more dangerous than they ever imagined, full of other vampires—and vampire hunters. Will Stefan's eternal life be forever damned? Based on the popular CW TV show inspired by the bestselling novels, Stefan's Diaries reveals the truth about what really happened between Stefan, Damon, and Katherine—and how the Vampire Diaries love triangle began. 

After going along the ride with the Salvatore brothers as they fall in love with Stefan and Damon and destroy their perfectly calm and peaceful lives in book 1. Vol. 2: Bloodlust, leaves off just days after Stefan and Damon Salvatore are murdered by their father and awaken newly undead.

The book is bloody. Right away it’s bloody. And while that is the only way I like my vampire stories, this time it was a bit unsettling. Our darling Stefan Salvatore, a century and a half away from becoming the hoodie-clad martyr we’ve grown to know and love, is thirsty. And in this time and place a bunny just will not do. The first of his victims we meet in this telling is a girl he once crushed on. It is easy to picture a sinister leer behind his sweet smile as he callously flirts with her before ripping open her jugular. It was enough to give me chills and cause an audible “yikes!!” to escape my mouth. Watching Stefan take his short walk down the human blood path after the events of Let The Right One In left me ill-equipped to witness the kind of vampire Stefan is capable of being. This Stefan Salvatore is truly terrifying.

Unfortunately Stefan’s old flame is not the last of his unwilling and quickly dismissed victims as he and the still death wish-laden Damon make their way to New Orleans. As an avid watcher of The Vampire Diaries television series, it is disconcerting at best to know that there was a time when Damon not only abstained from drinking, nearing the point of starvation, but asked Stefan not to as well. Not that Stefan listened. (Why does this sound familiar?) And after watching Stefan spend his first hours in New Orleans draining as he pleases, Damon has had enough and leaves Stefan to his own thirst.

And while this is all, as I said, unsettling, it is also very exciting. It is our first peek into this part of the brothers’ lives. Not a bit of it had even been hinted at on the television series, let alone shown in flashbacks. Not yet anyway. My favorite part of the story comes not long after Damon takes off on his own when Stefan comes face to face with the girl who will become his best friend: Lexi. Although we don't see Lexi as the same way in season 2 Let the right ones in, when Stefan accounts to Elena that Lexi came to Mystic Falls not the other way round. 

It was thrilling to read how she helped Stefan get his bloodlust under control, teaching him how to exist in his new life, much in the way Stefan has done with Caroline in season 2 of the series. Seeing this through Stefan’s eyes makes it that much more heart-crushing to know that she is eventually taken from him. She was written well, her tone and movements easy to envision being brought to life by Arielle Kebbel.

Another character written exceptionally well was Damon. I found it to be highly believable that being captured and kept as a caged animal would put him over the edge in his hatred for Stefan. Having to fight for survival at the hands of barbarian humans could make anyone ready to unleash the monster within. His biting sarcasm and devilish smirk came across as if being watched on screen rather than read from the page. And while savage and violent, the cold-blooded way in which he murdered and drank Stefan’s latest love felt very in character for the Damon we first met on television in the Pilot.

It really tugged at me to see him still dreaming of Katherine and feeling lonely without her despite his hatred for what she had done to him and his family. Yet while feeling it was a great deal more shallow than his falling for Katherine, his quick love for Callie was a strong reminder that even though now a cold-blooded killer, he is also still a 17-year old boy. His end statement after losing Callie that he would never again fall for a human girl made me both squeee and groan.

Stefan goes through a lot of character development in this book. He starts off as a monster, but because of what happens during this story, he changes and grows. Stefan is in a new city, and is forced to face a myriad of new challenges. Damon goes through his own tough times, but his character doesn't grow much. And don't go thinking that you could go through a whole Vampire Diaries novel without any romance, oh no there is plenty in this book.

Even though L.J. Smith isn't the true writer of these books, nor is Kevin Williamson or Julie Plec, the ghostwriter for this series is doing a tremendous job. I like to think of Stefan's Diaries as a separate entity from the show or the original novels by Smith, and I advise anyone interested in this series does so as well, if you are looking to enjoy them fully.

Bloodlust has a very interesting storyline. Within New Orleans, readers get to experience the nightlife of the city, a circus that may just be the end to the Salvatore brothers, and a house filled with vampires. Suffice to say, the story was quite unlike anything I've read before.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries: #1 Origins

Now we all know how The Vampire Diaries tv-series and the novels are different from one another.....with major proportions so yes this book that i'm about to write about i.e., #1 of the Stefan's Diaries: Origins is actually a prequel for the show not the books.Stefan's Diaries trilogy comprises of these following books in its catalogue - #1 Origins, #2 Bloodlust & #3 The Craving. Interesting enough the Stefan's Diaries trilogy does not mention an author on the cover page just "based on the novels by L.J. Smith and the tv series developed by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec". Who knows who the writer is but I definitely devoured this book.

So without much further ado this is how the summary goes like:

Set during the Civil War, against a backdrop of grand estates, unimaginable riches, and deadly secrets, three teenagers in Mystic Falls, Virginia enter a torrid love triangle that will span eternity. Brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore are inseparable until they meet Katherine, a stunning, mysterious woman who turns their world upside down. Siblings turned rivals, the Salvatores compete for Katherine's affection, only to discover that her sumptuous silk dresses and glittering gems hide a terrible secret: Katherine is a vampire. And she is intent on turning them into vampires so they can live together-forever. 

TV show tie-ins can often be hit or miss, especially if they don’t stay true to cannon or the spirit of the characters. However, “Origins” manages to do both. We’ve seen bits and pieces of Stefan’s birth as a vampire throughout various flashbacks on the show, but this new book really fills in the blanks. A lot of familiar characters also appear throughout its pages, including Damon, Katherine, Jonathan Gilbert, Stefan’s father and vampires Pearl and Anna. A bit of the history of Pearl and Anna is also revealed. There are a few inconsistencies between the show and the details in the book, but they’re not really glaring enough to detract from the enjoyment.

Although a large number of errors can be found in the book if one decides to look but overall a great work of literature by the 'ghost writer'.......we don't really know the writer for this trilogy so its not exactly against the rules to give an obvious name to the one who penned it. The book gives us the backdrop or more specifically the origins of the series........of how the Salvatore brothers who were notably inseparable but were driven apart for the love of the mysterious and elegant Katherine Pierce. 

Origins details out Stefan's history. Prior to becoming a vampire he had been forced into an engagement to a woman named Rosalyn by both of their fathers. He didn’t love her, but wanted to follow his father’s wishes, no matter how much he wanted to rebel like Damon did. The book takes place over several weeks (possibly even a few months), where Katherine arrives in Mystic Falls and starts getting under Stefan’s skin, even with his engagement. When tragedy strikes, Katherine is there to ease Stefan’s pain. Because the story is told from Stefan’s point of view, the story between Katherine and Damon is somewhat limited. We only really know what Stefan knows. 

Going over some of the errors some would think that this series will not appeal to the fans but I believe  that this new series could easily stand on its own (as I believe L.J. Smith’s original series does) and be heartily enjoyed by those not even watching the show.

Despite its errors there were a few question that kept popping up. 

What happened to Emily Bennett? Was she playing both sides throughout the events of 1864 or was Katherine aware of/insistent upon all she did to help the Founders entrap the vamps? Somehow her grimoire ended up in Giuseppe Salvatore’s coffin who, according to the book, was buried a week after the death of his sons and the fire at the church. Did she die shortly thereafter? Did those she help with taking down the town’s vampires kill her and take her book by force? Where were the children Damon swore to protect?

Where on heaven or Earth did “Uncle” Zach Salvatore come from? I had hoped that this book might hint at another relative either in Mystic Falls or residing somewhere else. Though he’s been gone from our TV screens for at least a year, I can’t stop wondering about him (and the other “uncle” they mention being killed in 1953). Perhaps this is something that will be explained later with the construction of the Salvatore Boarding House.

While all this is completely mind-boggling to comprehend , there were enough things done right to make me jump up and down with impatience and excitement, waiting for the next installment. And, as a tried and true member of Team Stefan, I could not help but smile throughout as his voice was so true to character that it felt like Paul Wesley himself was reading the book aloud to me. The love doesn't end there, of course. In Bad Moon Rising, we heard Stefan tell Caroline a bit about his human self in an effort to explain the way one’s personality becomes more pronounced when he or she is turned. In Stefan’s Diaries, we get to see first hand why in present day he can hardly go more than an hour without a bit of self-flagellation. Evan as a human he was prone to send himself on long and torturous guilt trips over his feelings for Katherine, his perceived duty to his father and, though mutually exclusive, his struggle to remain loyal to both his brother and his town.

Another highlight as I have already mentioned above was finally getting a peek inside Stefan’s head while in the act of what I believe to be one of the most cringe-inducing moments on the show thus far. The book allows the reader to not only watch Stefan walk home to his father in mid-transformation but to walk with him – to feel his desperation as he begs his father for understanding, to feel his hurt and anger as he learns the truth of his own murder. And, finally, to feel his bloodlust as he gives in to drinking his father’s blood right from his own hands. Truly chilling and heartbreaking at the same time.

While I don't believe it is the best book I have ever read, as a fan of the Vampire Diaries series(i actually find the tv series much more appealing than the original series). I loved reading the details of how Stefan and Daemon became what they are in present day Mystic Falls.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pendragon: #4 The Reality Bug

The forth Pendragon installment #4 The Reality Bug proved to be the ultimate sci-fi future or more specifically the ultimate vault of virtual reality where the human mind is so caught up in the imagination that it does not want to process reality.

So here is how the summary goes like:

The territory of Veelox has achieved perfect harmony. Fifteen-year-old Bobby Pendragon arrives on this territory in pursuit of the evil Saint Dane, but all is peaceful on Veelox -- because it's deserted. The inhabitants have discovered a way to enter their own personal dream worlds, where they can be whoever they want, wherever they want. Their bodies lie in stasis while their minds escape to this dream realm. Fresh from his battle with Saint Dane in 1937 Earth, Bobby is confident that they can defeat whatever Saint Dane has planned for this world. But once Bobby enters the virtual world will he be able to resist the lure of the ultimate in escapism?

Like the 3 previous books of the series that happen on a different dimension.....oops sorry territory this one takes place on the territory called Veelox. Veelox is peaceful. There are no wars on Veelox, because it is totally deserted. Almost everyone is living in their own virtual reality, which is a lot like a very long, perfect, dream.

People don't communicate with real people anymore, they're too busy living inside their own heads and creating characters to act in their own personal dramas. Nothing is happening. Nothing is moving forward. Nothing is real. Veelox is dead. Prophecy about our own future? Possible if we are not to careless. Description of what happens to a world that is so engrossed in their own fantasies that reality is ignored and the world deteriorates. Definitely a dystopia.

So, Saint Dane has definitely outdone himself on Veelox. Aja Killian, the Traveler from Veelox, believes she has the answer to defeat Saint Dane and resents the appearance of Bobby who we find out in this edition has been designated the "lead Traveler"........okay so one question that I had raised at the end of my last post for the Pendragon book 3 review"why must Bobby flume to all the territories to maintain the peace?" Aja is very smart, but she is also arrogant and naive. A bad combination when you have to fight the ultimate evil.

Veelox is a world in neglect. The inhabitants spend their lives "jumping" into a fantasy world within their minds using a technology called "Lifelight". A jumper lies down in a bed of sorts, is connected to Lifelight, is fed via electrodes attached to their skin and enters a perfect world of fantasy where all their dreams can come true. The perfect fantasy is something everyone wants and gets. It is also something Saint Dane has been planning to use to bring down his first territory. When everyone is jumping, there is no one to fight a takeover.

To fend off Saint Dane, Aja realizes that she must make the fantasy world a little less appealing so that people will jump less and return to their deserted homes and back to reality. To do this, she has developed a "reality bug", a software program that injects just a bit of reality into every jump.

They agree to load the reality bug and, hopefully, save Veelox. Unfortunately for them, Saint Dane is not only evil, but, he is patient(often setting up the path to destruction years and years in advance) and clever. Once the reality bug is introduced into Lifelight something terrible happens. The bug is far more dangerous and lethal than Aja meant for it to be (...........guess who had a hand in helping Aja design it?). Fantasy crosses over into reality. The reality bug feeds on the jumpers fears and grows into a monstrous killer as it is fed by millions of jumpers. 

While Bobby, Loor, and Aja struggle to save Veelox, Mark and Courtney on Second Earth find out that they have been pre-ordained (Bobby's journals are sent to them) to be acolytes (people who help the Travelers by providing clothing, food and other assistance in each territory). And Gunny has followed Saint Dane to Eelong to try and head off his attempts to bring down that territory. 

Although I'd say it again this series is not meant for my age group but so far i had only like the #2 & #3 books of the series but yes their is some room for improvement that is definitely needed in the series to make it much more interesting but yes what I like about this book is that Pendragon isn't the superhero that everyone expects, being able to save each and every territory like other authors would have done. It makes him feel more real as a person to me.


Friday, April 22, 2011

"Klaus" proves to be much more twisted than we knew!!!!

Is it just me or does the vampire diaries keep getting better, devious and creepy with all the twists and turns each episode? Well yes now that I have just seen this week's titular episode "Klaus", i'll certainly say one thing WOW. This episode unloaded a lot of information upon us viewers......a whole bunch of secrets, and of the important element mythology without seeming forced and definitely did not feel like a letdown.

Writers Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec focused a lot of the episode on Elena's independence and ability to think for herself, qualities that make her so likable as a character. Nina Dobrev is great at bringing Elena's strength to the forefront, yet keeping her vulnerable at the same time. She was excellent as present-day Katherine also, yet in the opposite way. Imprisoned by Klaus, Katherine found herself to be vulnerable, but her undercurrent of strength was always present. Not only Elena but Incorporating flashbacks without diminishing the drama playing out in the present, and revealing secrets that, incredibly, made Klaus seem even more dangerous and hard core, this may have been The Vampire Diaries' best episode to date.

So this week we not only see the truth behind Klaus' obsession with the doppelganger but also the debut episode of Joseph Morgan a.k.a. the real Klaus and well as Daniel Gilles' return to the living world (at the end of the last episode). Non-permanent death has become something of a staple on The Vampire Diaries, and when Elijah was taken out of commission a few episodes ago, I wondered why Stefan and Damon didn't take extra steps to kill him in a way that might stick. This episode answered the question of why the writers didn't have Elijah killed, although it didn't quite explain why Stefan and Damon didn't get rid of him in a more permanent way. 

No matter the reason Elijah was left lying around, it was good to have a chance to see more of Daniel Gillies and to learn about Elijah and Klaus's relationship. Flashbacks to 1492 showed a pre-vampire Katherine being introduced to Klaus and Elijah, with the revelation that they are brothers. That would have been interesting enough on its own, but it was disappointing when it was added that Klaus and Elijah were in conflict over Katherine. The brothers-fighting-over-a-girl storyline is being covered quite thoroughly with Stefan and Damon already; it seems unnecessary to add this to the storyline with Klaus and Elijah as well.

That being said, both Gillies and Joseph Morgan as Klaus were convincing in their roles as centuries old vampires. Gillies showed an Elijah who was much more easygoing back in 1492, while he was understandably aloof and reserved around Elena in the present. Morgan's Klaus, on the other hand, was refreshingly power-hungry and evil both then and now, not an ounce of angst to be found.

What made it so amazing was that unlike some shows, the buildup to these revelations proved worthwhile. Seemingly impossibly high expectations were met. After last episode I called "Know Thy Enemy" a game-changing episode. It was a good one, yes, but I can only laugh now, as "Klaus" was the mother of all game-changers.

Let's break down the secrets Elijah revealed that not only altered the entire scope of the show, but made us more interested in TVD and its increasingly complex characters than ever.

Klaus and Elijah are brothers. Interesting way to start the long list of secrets to be spewed upon us.....the loyal viewers. Their mom had seven children, and are basically the First Family of Vampires. Every vampire came from them. Although he didn't delve into the matter about how one family became the family of original, i.e., the family of the oldest vampire to walk this Earth but this means there are five originals more, that alone is startling and to think we are just getting started.

The Sun and the Moon curse is totally BS. Yup you all heard it the one curse that has our resident mystic falls townies on their toes is not even the real deal. Klaus planted the Sun and the Moon curse and how it originated from the Aztecs, but it's not even true. Just part of Klaus' master plan. I loved this because even though it undid so much of what we learned so far, it actually makes more sense. Why would Klaus care about the Sun and the Moon curse so much? Vampires are doing quite well as it is (especially the originals). His agenda had to be bigger, and it turns out it is. The sun/moon thing is just a deeply-rooted, clever diversion. He wants all vampires and werewolves on the lookout for the doppelganger, because she WILL reverse the curse ... the real curse, which is way worse and impacts only Klaus, since ...

And wait for it the most important and the creepiest detail of all in an Underground-esque way Klaus is a hybridNow I know you all wanna know what does this mean with Klaus as a hybrid....well he is not only a vampire but also a werewolf......he is both half and half........Klaus is practically an abomination of natureSeriously. Elijah reveals a stunner: his mother had an affair and Klaus' real father was a werewolf, making Klaus extraordinarily dangerous. The witches wouldn't allow such an all-powerful supernatural being to exist, so they placed a curse on Klaus (and only Klaus) and his werewolf half has been kept dormant. This is what Klaus is hell-bent on undoing, so that he may realize his true power and create an entire race of ... whatever he is. Basically, the whole world hangs in the balance. Again, with all the mystique surrounding Klaus before we met him, it was a tall order for TVD to make him live up it, but last night accomplished that and then some.

Klaus must die during the sacrifice. The dagger covered in white ash won't work on him. A witch has to do the job during the sacrifice when he's at his most vulnerable. 

However, because Elijah was in love with Katerina, he says he knows a way to perform the ritual without killing the doppelganger, too. 

That's obviously good news for Elena, but on top of his history with Klaus, Elijah definitely harbors some resentment toward Katerina, and it's unclear what his endgame is.

These bombshells not only increase the pressure on Elena and Elijah to take him down once and for all, but also with her newfound or should I say renewed alliance to drive a wedge in between Damon and Stefan. The riveting Elijah/Klaus backstory would have been plenty for this episode, but it was woven in perfectly with the already-escalating tension tearing the Salvatores apart. Differing views on whether they can trust Elijah was ostensibly behind the feud, but then Stefan put it all out there: Damon is in love with Elena, but he'll never have her. Stefan adds that he has something Damon never will: Her respect. This understandably hit too close to home, sends Stefan flying across the room after Damon uncorks a vicious uppercut, and nearly ends in Andie Star becoming dinner. Damon barely has enough self-control to stop. Amazing. Was Stefan right? Does Elena not respect Damon? Jealousy of his brother is one thing, but this really set him off.

In another shocking moment, one that has been a long time coming, Aunt Jenna finally found out about vampires and everything else that has been going on around her for the past two seasons. Poor Jenna found out in the worst way possible – by seeing Stefan's vampire face as he fought off her boyfriend Alaric who was possessed by Klaus. Similar to Matt who recently learned the truth about vampires in Mystic Falls, waiting to see how Jenna will deal with this makes her character more interesting and relevant than she has been in a long time.

Finally, the real Klaus shows up in Mystic Falls in a thoroughly creepy coffin-like box (the man knows how to make an entrance) as his entourage de-possesses Alaric. One last twist here that was practically glossed over? Greta (Luka's sister) is part of that witch entourage, and seems happy as can be. Wonder how long that will last.

Overall, a stunning episode. Between the vampire lore and the Salvatores' feud boiling over, I don't know what more it could've offered. A mythology-heavy installment like this could have fallen short so many times, but it used the characters so flawlessly and if anything, the secrets raised the stakes. 

So now next week is the episode "THE LAST DAY"


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"A Night of Neglect"

After their month long hiatus that felt like eternity Glee is back on air and what better way to open up than with focusing the screen time on the neglected characters of the musical comedy. 

But don't forget the guest stars  Gwyneth Paltrow, Charice, and Cheyenne Jackson. I can’t blame you if you had completely forgotten about those last two – after Sunshine Corazon and Vocal Adrenalin coach Dustin were introduced in the season premier, they pretty much disappeared. So I guess it’s appropriate that they returned in “A Night of Neglect.” 

Here we were introduced to the Brainiacs and their clever ode to Nerdom handshake. With the cost of their trip to Detroit added to the Glee Club's fundraising goal, Will postured like the Nino Brown of salt water taffy. Not since Nipsey Russell tried to sell the last of the peanut brittle to buy new uniforms for the Central High Wildcats had I seen a more pathetic idea. Luckily the notion of a benefit concert was born and with it an amazing display of the many talented members of New Directions. 

Gwyneth’s guest stint as substitute teacher Holly Holiday had to come to an end eventually, but I’m still sad to see her go. She brought a fun energy to the show and I liked how Holly helped Will get his groove back after his relationship with Terri. With Holly leaving for Cleveland and Dr. Carl getting an annulment, it looks like everything is in place for Will and Emma to finally get together (yay!). But before I get ahead of myself, Sue did tell Terri that, “your time has come.” Uh oh, I think that could mean more trouble for Will.

Before the singing started though, we learned Brittany had a quirky knack for obscure trivia. She ripped through those Cat Diseases like Rosie Perez named foods that start with the letter "Q" in White Men Can't Jump. The League of Doom was a failure, but Sandy got my spirit award for his colorful costume complete with a custom made, Pink Dagger hat. Holly finished a close second for her portrayal of Madam Man Hands, Wallace Simpson. Almost had to declare her the winner after she referenced the scandalous death of Catherine the Great.

Sergeant Handsome deserved a bump in rank after his bevy of amazing one liners. While Dustin failed to woo Holly, Will's chances with Emma got a little brighter as he learned she no longer had a full house after Carl (John Stamos) cried uncle and had their marriage annulled. 
Sunshine returned and despite showing off her freakishly amazing voice yet again, I sort of wished she had waited until she was actually, all by herself, to sing that song. Mad respect for Shawty though, for having over 600 twitter followers. Preach! Last time I checked, I had 43....which is a pretty good one for me.

Sunshine's eventual no show did nothing but leave more stage time for the host of amazing performances by the regular cast. Tina absolutely killed it as she performed Lykke Li's, "I Follow Rivers." Despite getting cut short by the Heckling Club, I think she delivered my favorite performance of the night. Mike Chang was sexy plexi as he danced to Jack Johnson and executed a routine that would have landed him right on Mary Murphy's, Hot Tamale Train. I didn't much care for Mercedes' diva antics, but I did appreciate Lauren's suggestion to ask for a bucket full of green M&M's. It was a nice nod to one of the most classic and notorious musician rider requests which has been chronicled back to Aerosmith's earliest days. Mercedes more than made up for her behavior with her performance of Aretha's "Ain't No Way." Rachel although doesn't feature singing this episode which I might add doesn't go well in my books but it showed us a mature side of the diva and i definitely like it,.....maybe Rachel will finally get over Finn(come on he's just pathetic). 

Although the scene with her(Mercedes) and Rachel in the car was one of the more poignant ones of the season as she expressed her frustrations over her club mate's stardom. Santana's claws were never sharper than they were tonight as she threatened Karofsky. He'll probably now join the masses of other cowards who hide behind screen names and Internet handles while spewing their hate filled slander. 

Glee has always done an amazing job of addressing their critics while tackling relevant issues at the same time. Tonight's episode did well to address the continued problem of bullying while also shining the spot light on some characters who have not gotten their fair share of the fame.  I applauded the writers for not neglecting some of the more supportive roles and allowing them to have a moment to shine on their own.

While I enjoyed the performances, I don’t think the episode was perfect. Mercedes’ diva act was just silly (though she had a good point about Rachel always getting the solos). Sue’s League of Doom—including Pink Dagger, the Honey Badger, and Sergeant Handsome—started out pretty funny and then fizzled. On the plus side, Brittany and Artie on the “Brainiacs” Academic Decathlon team was brilliant (they were all over “Cat Diseases,” “White Rappers,” and “Hermaphrodite Nazi Sympathizers”). And the preview for next week’s 90-minute “Born This Way” episode looked fantastic!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


So, the new genre of dystopian romance is here to stay. Apparently, paranormal romance formula I-can't-be-with-you-cause-I-might-kill-you is getting old, so now we will be bombarded with trilogies showcasing new formula I-can't-be-with-you-cause-this-bad-dystopian-world-is-tearing-us-apart. Delirium by Lauren Oliver definitely fits this new genre of Dystopian Romance. 

Here is how the summary goes like:

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

I am loving dystopias, this is the next I've read after The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Wither by debutante author Lauren DeStefano (which wasn't really the greatest dystopian setting if compared to the hunger games besides the concept of the story) and I love how authors take current social and political trends and extrapolate them into future showing to us what can happen if these trends persist. The versions of future envisioned by Margaret Atwood built upon consequences of excessive genetic engineering or Paolo Bacigalupi's - upon global warming and exhaustion of natural resources - are plausible and horrifying(i have yet to read their works but have already come across a lot about them to state these facts). Lauren Oliver's dystopia is based on a premise that love is considered to be a serious, life-threatening sickness, and thus outlawed. Outlawing love, apparently, solves all world problems. Apparently Love is supposed to much more dangerous and lethal than disease like cancer.

The one great quality for this book was the articulated prose construction by the author. She writes like seasoned pro. I read her sentences and thought that here is a woman who was truly born to write. Some of the best portions of the novel were the chapter epigraphs relating propaganda, children's rhymes, and 'banned material' from the actual society within the book. Here's an example of one I loved, mixing prose and horror into a perfect example of the fears and stigmas of this society: 

Mama, Mama, help me get home I'm out in the woods, I am out on my own. I found me a werewolf, a nasty old mutt It showed me its teeth and went straight for my gut. 
Mama, Mama, help me get home I'm out in the woods, I am out on my own. I was stopped by a vampire, a rotting old wreck It showed me its teeth, and went straight for my neck. 
Mama, Mama, put me to bed I won't make it home, I'm already half-dead. I met an Invalid, and fell for his art He showed me his smile, and went straight for my heart. 

The nursery rhyme shows what the society fears most of all: love and its power. The problem was that I didn't feel the fear myself, just the aftershocks of what Lena was going through. Thus, it felt rather so-so to me. 

The entire story follows Lena as she very gradually comes to terms with the realities of her dystopian world. This is to be expected. It is the first book in a dystopian trilogy, so naturally the first book is the "awakening" part of the story. It may just be me, but I often find these books boring. I want to get to the action! I want to see the main character fight against the dystopian society. I don't want to spend an entire book watching them hesitate back and forth between the-world-is-good/the-world-is-bad when I the reader already know the world is definitely bad (hey, it's a dystopian!). 

Especially when they do this over the course of 400+ pages. Despite the fact that the writing is beautiful to read, I felt like screaming at Lena to figure it out already. There wasn't any question that Lena would eventually turn against her society (she has to; there would be nothing to write in the rest of the trilogy if she just went along with things), so it was especially frustrating to spend so much time reading about her indecision. I also had a hard time liking and connecting with Lena as a result of this.

While there were a few truly shocking and notable scenes (particularly the spectacular ending!), by the end of the book, we know very little that we didn't already know from the jacket description. I just don't think that should be the case in such a lengthy book. To me, that indicates that the book could have been shortened considerably, and I think I would have enjoyed this book more if that had been the case. 

Now, I can buy a world where strong emotions are suppressed. People in such world would be subdued and docile, and thus lack drive for power and violence. But love? Really? The characters in this book cured of love, still get aggravated, annoyed, worried. They just don't love their spouses and kids. And retain almost all other emotions.

And the "horrible" consequences such premise brings about - neighborhood patrols, segregated (by sex) schools, arranged marriages, the horror! If, according to the author, this society is so constrictive, why is it so easy for teens to avoid curfews, to have parties with alcohol, to meet up in abandoned houses for some schmexy times, to fake being "cured" of love, to breach supposedly guarded borders? What is written to be scary and menacing in the Delirium's society just isn't. As a dystopia, this novel fails completely. The only aspect of the setting that is interesting is that how author twists Christian mythos to adapt to the love-is-a-dangerous-sickness premise.

The power of the story itself lies in the love story -- of course there is supposed to be one! -- and even that felt lukewarm to me. I get teenage love, seeming so invincible and unquenchable at first, but -- again -- the love story seemed too easy. I like my conflict and angst, but they weren't really present here! I felt as if I were in a boat rolling gently downstream when I had expected the boat to meet crashing waves and swirling whirlpools. Basically, the love story let me down. 

Love, the deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't. 
But that isn't it, exactly. 
The condemner and the condemned. The executioner; the blade; the last-minute reprieve; the gasping breath and the rolling sky above you and thethank you, thank you, thank you, God. 
Love: It will kill you and save you, both. 

Overall, I would recommend this book more to people who like love stories than those who love dystopians. Though I really adore dystopians like The Hunger Games, I could never rank this one among them. I will be reading the sequels to find out what happens in the story, though, so I guess that's saying something. Delirium just seems destined to be a book that will make readers feel emotions all over the spectrum.


Sunday, April 17, 2011


It seems that Hollywood been following a trend of fruitful results of adapted screenplays from bestseller books. Limitless is another case. Adapted for the book The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn it has an intriguing concept – and while it’s not explored as deeply as it could have been, the film still delivers a satisfying ride.

There’s plenty of visual flare, but it feels more like distraction than thoughtful support for its story.  Lead actor Bradley Cooper tries to make the most of his performance, but he lacks the everyman charm that would provide his character with some much-needed sympathy.  Undercut by poor writing, miscasting, and simplistic directing, Limitless may center on a brilliant mind but it lacks a convincing tone.

Eddie Morra (Cooper) is a struggling writer who has lost his girlfriend and is about to be kicked out of his apartment.  Walking down the street, Eddie has a chance encounter with his sketchy former brother-in-law, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth).  Vernon says he’s working for a pharmaceutical company and offers Eddie a clear pill known as “NZT”.  Vernon explains, “You know how we only use 20% of our brains?  Well this pill lets you use all of it.”  Instead of explaining that the brain doesn’t work in a matter of capacity but rather different lobes handle different functions, Eddie simply takes the pill, becomes super smart for about 12 hours, bangs his landlord’s wife, cleans his apartment, and finishes half his novel.

The scene in which this first happens is done very well, with director Neil Burger (The Illusionist) effectively putting us in Eddie’s place not only experiencing the revelation of what’s happening but the process of him putting everything together on the fly, smoothly and seamlessly. Burger does a lot of interesting stuff in the film – some might call it gimmicky.

We get to go along for the exhilarating ride for a while, but soon things get ugly and it becomes clear that other people not only know about this drug, but will stop at nothing to get it. Eddie secures a finite supply and commences transforming his life on turbo charge. As you can imagine, in addition to the fact there are others who want the drug, the benefits don’t come without a down side.

The film rests almost completely on the shoulders of Bradley Cooper and his charm, and he manages to do the job fairly well. He’s so affable and good looking that you can’t help but cut the guy slack when he’s on screen. On the other side of the spectrum we have Robert DeNiro being Robert DeNiro (I love when he does that). In a small supporting role we also have Andrew Howard as a Russian mobster not to be messed with, and his character and performance are also one of the more enjoyable things about the film.

There are interesting ideas swirling at the edges of Limitless.  The film has the opportunity to satirize our prescription-drug, quick-fix culture, or even take an easier route by making the story about a high-functioning addict.  But Limitless ignores these opportunities and never builds to anything thoughtful or provocative.  Instead, Burger’s imagination into Eddie’s hyper-intelligence extends to over-saturating the color palette and a few clever visual effects.

Throughout the film, I couldn’t help but compare the direction of Limitless to the TV show Burn Notice.  Burn Notice is not the smartest show ever. But the show features intelligent protagonists and it carries itself like a smart show.  The narration is professorial, which in turn casts the viewer as the student.  Since students usually considering their professors to be smart, the show looks smart as a result.  It’s a clever way to deliver a tone that’s not inherent in the script.  Limitless lacks that cleverness and creativity and as a result we’re not drawn into Eddie’s story.  Instead, we’re constantly seeing its silliness and shallowness.

This is more of a popcorn movie than I had expected – I went in hoping for something with a bit more substance and perhaps commentary and consequences regarding the use of a fantasy drug that many of us would probably not turn down, but while there was surface level attention paid to that, it didn’t really dig into it. The ending was a bit pat but kind of expected based on the tone, but not unsatisfactory. The film was slick and fairly satisfying, it left me wanting something “meatier” throughout the viewing besides I haven't read the book to compare it. In the end I’d say if you go check this out in the hopes of being entertained that it will do the job for you.

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