Monday, December 19, 2011

Guest Back in Time Review: Basic Instinct (1992)

by Izzy Woods

This movie was meant to shock you and wasn’t for the faint hearted. From the opening scene where a woman murders her lover with planned precision, you know you’re going on a roller coaster ride that will be more than a little uncomfortable.

Behind the Scenes of 'That Scene'
Looking back over history now, the one scene that has taken up 99% of the talk over this movie isn’t even agreed upon by the two people involved. Director Paul Verhoeven said that actress Sharon Stone was ready for the scene where she would cross her legs, giving her interviewers and the audience of millions opportunity to wonder if she was wearing any underwear. She wasn’t, but this must be the most replayed frame by frame scene. Some still aren’t sure after a dozen viewings.

Though there’s no doubt that it has placed her in the vaults of must-see movies, Sharon Stone tells a different story. She said she didn’t know anything about the director’s choice of how to play the scene until it was too late. Ms Stone said she didn’t mind the nude scenes in the movie, but was disturbed by the murders, not just because of the numbers of murders, but the way people were killed, as though voyeurs were watching.

The crew confirmed that body doubles not used for the many nude scenes. That didn't ruin Ms Stone’s reputation as she appeared to lose her clothing regularly throughout the movie, a fact not lost on her new found male and female fans.

Interestingly, Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone were nowhere near the top of the list to play the leads for the movie, but after seeing the screenplay, most well known names of the day refused to sign on.

Lesbian Controversy
This brings us to the argument over whether the movie portrayed lesbians as evil killers or just killers who happened to be lesbian. Lesbian and gay activists tried to disrupt during shooting of the film in San Francisco and enthusiastically demonstrated wherever the film opened in theaters.
Paul Verhoeven had to back down and revert to the original screenplay as he tried to make the portrayal of the actresses ever darker. Writer Joe Eszterhas had a collection of hits under his belt when he was contracted to write Basic Instinct. The writer was paid $3 million. The director removed him but then didn’t agree with the second writer (over the explicitness) so they went back to the original Eszterhas version.

The Story
To center on the controversy is wrong. The movie is quite brilliant. The writer slaved over every word and none are out of place. The movie may require a second viewing just to check who did commit the murders. It’s easy to miss the clues and though it appears to show the audience who was guilty, it isn’t actually confirmed, so it could be open to interpretation.

The movie tells the story of a writer and a killer. The killer acts out the murders from the writer’s back catalogue. The writer is so manipulative that the detective investigating her falls for her not knowing if she is in fact, the murderer. Not only does she keep the detectives on a leash, but the audience too.

The sex scenes are quite graphic, erotic for many, leaving nothing to the imagination. Writers are taught to show and not tell their story. It feels as though the audience is in there with the copulating couple.

Box Office Success
The movie was an outstanding success. It took almost $400 million at the box office (this is around twenty years ago) and became one of the top DVD sellers of the decade. Interestingly, as Sharon Stone was new to top salaries, her half a million dollar check was just a small part of the $50 million budget, but this movie alone quadrupled her salary overnight, giving her plenty of capital for going on World Cruises on vacation.

A Disappointing Sequel
You had to wait 14 years for Basic Instinct 2, which really wasn’t worth the wait. Only Sharon Stone returned from the first movie and she hadn’t lost anything in the intervening years. The movie didn’t get good reviews, although if you can get through to a third viewing, it will grow on you. However, there is no doubt that it cannot match the heights gained by the original, which stands in history as one of the great movies to see. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back in Time Review: Waynes World (1992)

Wayne's World / Wayne's World 2It's probably because I'm of a certain age, but I have Wayne's World codified into my brain. We turned it on tonight and even though we haven't watched it in five to ten years we still use upwards of 90% of the dialog in our conversations. (Quite often I have to keep myself from using asking "Did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played a girl bunny?" at inappropriate times. Although when that would be appropriate I'm not sure, but there are at least people who expect me to ask it periodically.)

My favorite sub-plot is Glen, the manager of the donut shop who always seems on the edge of a psychotic breakdown (which edge of it you're never quite sure).
Glenn: I'd never done a crazy thing in my life before that night. Why is it, that if a man kills another man in battle it's called heroic; yet if he kills a man in the heat of passion, it's called murder?
The movie is also filled with dorky fun references to 70s and 80s pop culture, like a complete reenactment of the "Laverne and Shirley" TV show opener. And a Gremlin (the car, not the movie creature). Plus lots of rock, including the best Bohemian Rhapsody scene ever, at least the best one to not include Freddie Mercury.

And remember: I love you, man. No, I mean I really, really love you, man. (Just say thank you.)

The Commander's Rating: Five out of five Vulcan salutes.
Pros: Silly and quotable script, although it's possible you had to "be there" in 1992 to really enjoy it like we do. But to me the scenes with "If you think you have to spew," "No Stairway," and "We're not worthy" would be funny to anyone.
Cons: Corny, if you don't like that. And 90s rocker hair. 
Recommendation: Goofy fun, excellent for a late night. And these days there is a pretty good risk you'll just go ahead and start your own Wayne's World type show, even easier now in the age of the internet than with the local cable broadcasts from the movie.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tonight by Allie Goertz

What a great Dungeons and Dragons tribute song by Allie Goertz, it's like Lisa Loeb meets the Dead Gentlemen. We can only assume she plays a Bard.

via @MattStaggs and Kotaku

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What If Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from Commercials?

 Something I've noticed over the years is that I'm very happy that the world isn't like it is in commercials. You'd think that they would want to show us everything we WANTED, but when I watch most commercials my inner-Sue yells, "DO.NOT.WANT!" Why? Well, here are the top three offenders from the land of ads...

Men Are Idiots and Women Are Shrews
Have you noticed this? Every commercial with two adults of opposite sex, especially if they are represented as being married, has this dynamic. For fun I try to imagine the roles reversed and then I am teleported to the 50s.

Children Only Come in Two Versions: Annoying Smart-Asses and Cute Idiots
Seriously, those are my only two choices for progeny? An eye-rolling, tart-mouthed punk or an angel with the I.Q. of a turnip? No wonder I haven't had kids yet.

Pets Are the Only Ones Who Really Love You, But You Will Probably Screw Something Up and Kill Them
Pets are usually represented as sweet, smart, and wonderful. But the undertones of almost all the ads is that you are currently doing something wrong, or about to do something wrong, that will take away Fido and Fluffy's love forever.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

He Only Eats Wookie Cookies

You'd rather kiss a Wookie? I can arrange that.  on Twitpic

Thanks to @ZacharyLevi for the pic. 
(Click on image to see larger on TwitPic site.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Favorite Book of 2010: Immortal

by Gene Doucette
Genre: questionable

When Gene Doucette said he was taking Adam on a 2011 Blog Tour I knew I had to sign up. As I mentioned on my writing blog, my accidental new avocation includes "book reviewer" and that means that my reading habits have been bumped up from voracious to almost incomprehensible (since not even I'm sure how many books I read last year). But my favorite book of 2010, and really even the decade 2001-2010, was far and away Immortal.

Reading is a very personal thing, so you are now wondering if you will also like this book. To quote Sean from Psych, "Are you a fan of delicious flavor?" Alright, that was still a subjective answer. So let me tell you what it is and what it's not, then give you a taste of that delicious (to me) flavor.

Part of what Immortal is... is difficult to describe. It is a first-person account of the recent happenings for an immortal man and since the action takes place in our current world the best genre description would be contemporary fantasy. The main character, Adam, has pretty much been around forever, at least since before the creation of language, and we spend the story inside his head. It is an important caveat to note that at times the book can be rude, crude, and salty so you are forewarned that it may offend your delicate sensibilities, if you have any. The book has elements of mystery, thriller, and urban fantasy but doesn't fit in any of those boxes. It has vampires but fortunately none of them are sparkly. Adam is the ultimate cynic because he really has been through it all and some readers have interpreted this mean that Adam is a bit of an ass, but I don't think he is. We could all only hope to be half as upbeat and forgiving after thousands of years of exposure to humankind. He has lived through various periods of slavery, the Inquisition, and the Dark Ages.

So what is it not? It is definitely not a romance, at least not in the classic Jane Austen style. There are relationships, sex, and romantic yearning but not combined in a way that would make the typical romance reader at all happy. It is also not a simple book, for all that it is fast-paced and thrilling. I love books that make me think and this one definitely does. It is not a book you should expect to read casually because it is engrossing and will make you lose sleep since the stakes are very high and you never know what might happen next.

Among my favorite parts of the book is simply Adam's voice, exemplified by this passage early in the book:
I'm a pretty sad example of what one should do with eternal life. I've never reached any higher level of consciousness, I don't have access to any great truths, and I've never borne witness to the divine or transcendent. Some of this is just bad luck. Like working in the fishing industry in Galilee and never once running into Jesus. But in my defense there were an awful lot of people back then claiming to be the son of God; I probably wouldn't have been able to pick him out of the crowd. And since I don't believe there is a God, I doubt we would have gotten along all that well anyway.
The underlying message of the book is both heartening and disturbing. People are people. Thousands of years of living will give you some perspective but it won't alter your underlying humanity (provided you started with some). It won't make you all-knowing or all-wise. So in many ways the underlying philosophy beckons me in the way that existentialism always did. We're here, it's now, and that's ok. Well, except for the part where Adam is being hunted by an international cabal and running up against vampires, demons, and other supernatural creatures. I don't remember Camus having anything like that.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: House (1986)

House: Limited Edition (20,000) includes House IIYou may have picked up already that I love me some comedic horror and this is probably my favorite of all horror comedy movies. Maybe because it was one of the first ones I saw. Maybe because it has a ton of 80s TV stars. Maybe because hubs and I still quote it.

The main character (played by William Katt of Greatest American Hero fame) is an author still grieving the loss of his son, the divorce from his wife, and the death of his aunt from whom he just inherited a giant, and creepy, Victorian house. Throw in a few Vietnam flashbacks from his service in the war and you get a plot where we wonder whether he is really seeing the supernatural or just completely losing his grip on reality. Expect a few suspense moments and plenty of over-the-top gore and thrills similar to Peter Jackson's Dead Alive.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Ghost Ship (2002)

Ghost Ship (Widescreen Edition)We rented this the same night we did Below. What a night. While Below was all subtle creepy scare, Ghost Ship started right off with some gory action. Then it delivered a creepy yet action-packed adventure following a treasure-hunting crew trying to recover an old cruise-ship that had been adrift in the Atlantic for decades.

I don't think I'll be giving anything away when I say BAD THINGS HAPPEN. A chest of gold and a dead girl get involved and you just know that THAT isn't going to go well. Definitely recommended for a dark and stormy night with a bowl of popcorn.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Frequency (2000)

Frequency (New Line Platinum Series)This is a fabulous gem of a movie if you haven't seen it. Jim Caviezel plays John Sullivan, a disgruntled cop living in the house where he grew up. One night he gets out his father's old short-wave radio and ends up talking to another short-wave radio operator...who identifies himself as Frank Sullivan. The same name as John's long-dead firefighter father. Against probability it seems an electric disturbance has allowed them to talk across time. What follows is an exercise in the dangers of changing the past. I won't say more because I don't want to ruin it for you. Let's just say that if you can willingly suspend your disbelief (talking across time) it is a very enjoyable thriller that contemplates the importance of family and the factors of chance.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Enchanted (2007)

Enchanted (Widescreen Edition)Although more recent than most of my "Back In Time Reviews," I couldn't pass up a quick word about this movie for the letter E. In some ways Disney was lampooning themselves with Enchanted. The premise is, "Let's take a fairytale girl with no worries, who believes in true love and can talk to animals - then let's drop her in dirty, gritty reality and into the arms of a cynic." Well, go check out that quote at the top left of the page. (For for RSS readers, it's "Most cynics are really crushed romantics: they've been hurt, they're sensitive, and their cynicism is a shell that's protecting this tiny, dear part in them that's still alive." ~ Jeff Bridges)

So while Robert (Patrick Dempsey) is teaching Giselle (Amy Adams) about "reality," she is in turn nursing that tiny, dear part of him that he thought he had lost. Thus while partly a lampoon, it is also the most meta Disney movie ever. It's Disney demonstrating that they *get* what Disney films do for their audience. And because they get it they include a rockin' musical number in Central Park. What's not to like?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Deliver Us From Eva (2003)

Deliver Us From Eva (Widescreen Edition)This is one of my all-time favorite romantic comedies with one of my all-time favorite actresses (Gabrielle Union). If I had been born first instead of last I'm sure I would have *been* Eva. The IMDB summary says "Eva Dandridge is a very uptight young woman who constantly meddles in the affairs of her sisters and their husbands." That is putting it quite mildly.

Eva is so meddlesome that she is driving her sisters' men (one husband, one fiance) over the edge and they know they need to find a way to distract her. Her sisters don't quite understand how dysfunctional her influence is because she practically raised them and they think of her as just being herself. Sweet, funny movie that will resonate with anyone from a dysfunctional family - which I assume is pretty much everyone.

You can watch it on Amazon Instant right now for $2.99

Monday, April 4, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Captain Ron (1992)

Captain RonOh goodness gracious do we love this movie, mostly because on one of our sailing trips in the Bahamas we met a man almost exactly like the Captain Ron of the title. And yes, someone had left him in charge of a boat.

This is definitely a movie where you need to disengage your brain, but it is a lot of fun. Martin Short is endearing as middle-aged Martin Harvey, desperate to make his family connect. After inheriting a sailboat he jumps on the opportunity to have the family sail it to a boat broker in Miami. Since the Harvey's don't really know how to sail, they end up hiring Captain Ron, played by Kurt Russell. Goofball comedy ensues.

An excellent pick to watch before a beach or sailing vacation. Then no matter what happens you can say, "Well at least we didn't have [event from movie] happen to us!"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Below (2002)

BelowThis might be the best little horror movie that you've never seen. It's very subtle but sooooo creepy. To start with we have one of the ultimate (and fairly much untapped) environments for a haunting - a submarine. The time period is World War II and the sub has taken on survivors from a sinking ship. But not everything is what it seems...

We were surprised that we didn't see the actor who played Wally again for awhile because he was very entertaining and engaging... and then we all saw him everywhere. (Yes, you'll have to watch to find out who it is.) Rent it tonight!

Back in Time A to Z: Aliens (1986)

Aliens (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
Chick Flick
To meet the deadline for the April A to Z Blog Challenge these will be micro-Back in Time Reviews where I will do short write-ups of favorite movies. Some of them may come back for full reviews later.

Aliens is one of my all-time favorite chick flicks. Why do I say that? You can keep your Sex in the City, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is the kind of woman I can relate to. Because while Ripley has her issues, she kicks some serious butt and takes a whole list of names. All while trying to tell people not to be idiots.

Cult Classics Presents: Classic Alien Action Figure
Alien Butt Prime for Kicking
In case you're not familiar with the series, the first movie is Alien - a creepy horror flick set in space that had the now-famous slogan "In Space No One Can Hear You Scream." Ripley lived through that harrowing experience only to come back in this sequel with people wanting her to return to the planet where they found the nasty critters in the first place. Although she'd prefer to avoid the whole thing she knows that she can't. So off she goes to face her fears with a whole ship full of Space Marines. That sounds safe, right? I don't want to ruin the movie for you if you haven't already seen it but, um, things happen.

Start Raining on My Parade (Goal Achievement Strategies)

In my Life Away From Keyboard (LAFK) one of my greatest interests is the area of personal leadership, which is a quick way of covering the areas of goals, achievement, personal growth, etc. From my first reading of How to Win Friends and Influence People at the age of 15 I was hooked and looking for more books with advice on how to improve your life. A lot of those books focus on creating positive visualizations in order to achieve peak performance so I was quite startled when the PsyBlog posted an article this week on 11 Goal Hacks: How to Achieve Anything and it advised being more negative.

Negative? I spent years learning NOT to be negative. But I'm willing to try anything at least once, especially in this particular area, so I will be actively looking for ways to rain on my own parade and see how it works for goal achievement and attainment.

I'll start now by admitting to myself that maybe five people will read this post and no one will comment on it. Do I feel more motivated to achieve my blogging goals now? Not really...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Don't Miss the Immortal Blog Tour!

Gene Doucette kicked off his April Blog Tour for his book Immortal today (no foolin!). I loved his book so much that I signed up for three stops on the tour (on three of my blogs) starting this Sunday.

On April 3rd the blog Writing Insight will have a Feature Article on Gene and Immortal. He was a Blooming Author back in July 2010 and we want to report to our readers on his excellent reviews and other publishing news.

On April 13th this blog will have a write up about why Immortal was my favorite book of 2010.

On April 23rd one of my characters will have a chat with Gene's character Adam from Immortal and that will be posted on my blog by Sue London.

Enjoy the blog tour! And don't forget to buy the book - a sequel is coming out soon!

Sue Gets Around

Didn't feel like putting it in the map format, but noticed that I've been to a few new states since I posted the original list back in 2005.

bold blue the states I've been to before, bold red the NEW states I've been to since 2005, underline the states I've lived in and italicize the state I'm in now, and highlight states I definitely want to go to. Tell me if I should add your state to my goals list - and why!

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

5e D&D: What About the Children?

Fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons, released today (, proves that if I had been born a few decades later I never would have been a gamer. Honestly, it makes me question whether I want to bring children into this world. Sure, we could play classic D&D at home but when would they begin to be exposed to this travesty? Kindergarten? First grade? Attending gaming conventions would be straight off the list because you never know when a stray comment in an elevator or on the convention floor would trigger curiosity. And what if our son or daughter became a 5e gamer? We wouldn't be able to allow them in the house. It would be terrible for something like that to tear a family apart.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Back in Time Review: Cutthroat Island (1995)

Cutthroat Island [Blu-ray]It really bothers me that Cutthroat Island is considered one of the biggest box office flops of all time because it has the same sensibilities as Pirates of the Caribbean. Was it a box office failure because the main character was a strong woman? Was it just because it didn't have the same Disney brand and backing that POTC did? Does it really all come down to Johnny Depp being wacky? In my mind the Morning Star and Black Pearl are sailing the Caribbean seas together with a very similar sense of place and goofy, witty banter.

In Cutthroat Island we are following the story of Morgan Adams, a pirate captain played by Geena Davis, as she and her crew adventure to find a treasure hidden by her grandfather. The map to the treasure is in three pieces. Morgan inherited the first piece from her father but her pirate uncles hold the other two. As you might expect in a pirating family, trust runs low and double-crossing runs high. Morgan purchases a slave, the educated con-man William Shaw (played by Matthew Modine), to help interpret part of her map that seems to be in Latin.

Since I think that this is an eminently quotable movie and IMDB does a poor job of highlighting that, a few of my favorites:

Shaw, during their escape through the streets of Port Royal: A ship! I find myself being fired upon by an entire ship!

Morgan, watching Shaw's swordplay: Very pretty, Mr. Shaw.
Shaw: Thank you, ma'am! I had the good fortune to study with a Grand Master in Vienna.
Morgan: Now, stop diddling and kill the man.
Shaw: Kill him? Bless me, we never got to that.
Morgan pushes his elbow so that the sword runs through the man.
Shaw: I see.

Morgan, while Shaw is digging a bullet from her hip: Clumsy squab. I was supposed to torture you!

Morgan, upon proof of Shaw's duplicity: Since you lie so easily and since you are so shallow, I shall lie you in a shallow grave.

The Commander's Rating: Five out of five Vulcan salutes.
Pros: Piratical hijinks. Geena Davis at her toughest (she's one of the few actresses I take seriously when she throws a punch). The good-looking Matthew Modine (much like Val Kilmer, he has a variety of looks). A likable cast of pirate side-kicks on the Morning Star: Mr. Glasspoole, Mr. Blair, Bowen. And the always entertaining Trotter (we still call out "Trotter" in the house sporadically).
Cons: Corny puns and jokes. Some of the dialog is stilted. Some logic flaws, the kind that are typical for action movies. Frank Langella was a bit too over the top, mostly scripting issues not his acting.
Recommendation: We think this is a fantastic movie for when you are hanging out on the weekend or on vacation. It is family friendly and goofy fun. We actually played our VHS tape until it broke, have played the dvd endlessly, and look forward to getting the Blu-ray soon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shower Songs: Sue Sings "Crazy"

Spent the first part of the my work-at-home lunch hour singing to the pets and realized I could share it with you. This is my first adventure with GarageBand and it could probably be better with some autotune, correct timing, a different singer, etc. Yes, I'm trying to say it sucks but in the spirit of the modern age I'm sharing it anyway.


You can also get the far superior Patsy Cline version (MP3 download).

Patsy Cline - 12 Greatest HitsI own this album. And I love it. Don't judge me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Funny Women of Twitter

When Kristina Martin (@quickmissive) asked if I'd like to do a guest post (A Very Serious Thing) over at her blog Ten Minute Missive I jumped at the chance to work with her. Kristina is a funny lady and March is women's history month, so I thought what could be better than to write about the history of funny women? Make sure to head over there and check it out.

This companion post is an attempt to collect a list of women who are funny right now in that great big improv room known as Twitter. Not trusting that I would know all the funny women (who could?) I crowd sourced to compose the list. Please add more in comments and I will update the list. You can also follow them on my twitter list Funny Women of Twitter.

Funny Women of Twitter (alphabetical by first name)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Back in Time Review: Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?

The first rule of Fight Club is "don't talk about Fight Club," so I'll assume that Brad Pitt or Ed Norton will come to beat me up promptly after this review posts. In case you haven't seen this movie I'll try to avoid any spoilers because, well, discovering the plot is at least half the fun of the movie.

As I already said, the movie stars Edward Norton (the "good" guy) and Brad Pitt (the "bad" boy), plus Helena Bonham Carter and Meatloaf. The write-up on IMDB says, "A ticking-time-bomb insomniac and a slippery soap salesman channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy. Their concept catches on, with underground "fight clubs" forming in every town, until an eccentric gets in the way and ignites an out-of-control spiral toward oblivion." (Apparently IMDB is also willing to flaunt in the face of the first rule.)

We didn't see this movie in the theater and honestly I was a bit skeptical about renting it because it was so popular. See, that's the way I roll - diametrically against the flow of mass popularity. But within the first ten minutes I knew this was one of the times that the masses were absolutely right. It's a bit too violent for us (which is saying something), but overall a great, intense, intelligent movie.

As a caveat, I did have a friend read the book before seeing the movie and, as usual, that greatly diminished the enjoyment of the movie. Hollywood changes things on you. So if you're planning to both watch the movie and read the book - either watch the movie first, or be prepared to be disappointed about the things that changed. (I can understand wanting to get all the twists and turns in the book first, but that means the movie will probably always be in second place for you.)

Fight Club (Widescreen Edition)The Commander's Rating: Four out of five Vulcan salutes.
Pros: Well executed movie with drama, action, and some interesting twists and turns.
Cons: It could be a little more violent than you like. 
Recommendation: If you haven't seen it before make sure you can devote your full attention to it the first time around. If you have seen it before then you know that you'd like to pop it back in the player and see it again. Because, seriously, this one is never getting old.

Thanks to @jeffekennedy for suggesting a review of Fight Club. The movie is available on dvd, 2-disc Collector's Edition dvd, and bluray. You can also get the book on