The Adventures of Hacker Girl on Murder Island

We Are All Totally Scoping Out Her Tattoo. Wait, This Is The Poster For "Daniel Craig Bags A Hot Goth Girl"!

Adaptation isn’t easy. Remember way, way back when we were little fishies who tried to get up out of the primordial ooze and had to suddenly grow some lungs? That was pretty hard as I recall. It was an awkward phase. We didn’t know what the heck to do with the new lungs. But soon we were breathing, then fancy-breathing (you know, panting, sighing, gasping in shock), then smoking. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a book that had to turn into a movie somehow. And it was awkward and painful too, like all adaptation.

Now, as some of you may know, I like to see sweet-ass cool girls in my popular media because it is fun for me to be like, “wow, that character is doing cool stuff while having boobs!” I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher) on Christmas with my family. It was not very merry or family friendly. Then I read the book, because I felt like I was missing a lot of key dragon-y ingredients, like why it was called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when you only see the tattoo like one time and no one ever talks about it. The book didn’t answer my question (I think they should have called it The Adventures of Hacker Girl on Murder Island), but it was fun to see the differences between fishie and lung-fishie.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the book (Steig Larsson) is a lot more pro-lady.  A big difference was hacker misanthrope protagonist Lisbeth Salander’s relationship with her guardian, Advokat Bjurman (so Swedish). Now, I’m a lady, too, so when I describe some of the not family friendly aspects of the story, I’ll do so using Swedish euphemisms. In the first really disturbing part of this relationship, Lisbeth Salander has to eat Bjurman’s Swedish Fish. In the book, he really crams it in her mouth, but in the movie she doesn’t want to but sort of does it anyway so she can get money for a computer. Later, in the movie Bjurman bork borks Salander with his Swedish chef, whereas in the book he just uses something from IKEA. Movie Bjurman is Swedish meatballs deep in her Stockholm for several extremely unsettling minutes (especially if you’re sitting next to your dad and little brother in the theater on Christmas) and it’s sort of perversely from Bjurman’s perspective. The book presents it through Salander’s experience and there is much less time devoted to it, but you go through the painful bloody after-effects and recovery with her. Also, in the movie she goes to his house for this scene seemingly to get more money, whereas in the book she goes for the express purpose of setting Bjurman up on camera and it gets out of hand.

Still, movie Salander (Rooney Mara) is the highlight of the movie. I discovered about myself that I am not particularly fascinated by Swedish financial reporting, and that even Daniel Craig cannot make that occupation sexy to me. The murder mystery plot in the film was uninteresting and muddled as well because twenty billion characters get introduced and then one of them turns out to be the murdererduhsnooze. The who-dunnit is never as interesting as the why-dunnit, and in this case, the why-dunnit was sort of “just because”. Larsson’s book version was more interesting, but the Blomkvist (Craig) parts were still not nearly as cool as the Salander parts, even though in the book he is much, much, sluttier. (Why, movie, did you make Blomkvist less of a prostitute and Salander more of a prostitute? It better not be because of what kind of underwears they need.)

It’s not just Salander either. The movie makes an important kick-ass Australian business maven into a wimpy, fearful, travel agent or bank teller or something, and a complex long-term sexual friendship into a promiscuous lesbian hook up. Also, book Salander falls in love, which is a critical step for her character’s personal growth. In the movie, she just gets naked and then jealous.

In the book they drink a hilarious amount of coffee, and there is a description of what an iPod is (“a device the size of a matchbox that could hold her entire CD collection”).

At the risk of editorializing in this totally objective review, I realize that things need to be adapted in an adaptation. I’m no jive turkey. I’m just disappointed that the ladies lost out in the adaptation of a story starring a fresh, captivating, strong female. The result was a disturbing smoking lung-fish with Daniel Craig’s face. Do better, movies!

Aside from that, it was pretty good and I liked it.


Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Drama


That’s Good Leche

A Cat You Really Want to Curl Up With In Bed

Have you ever spent almost two hours surrounded by children and trying moderately hard not to be aroused by a cartoon cat? I have. I’ve seen Puss in Boots…3D! It was especially difficult to resist Puss (Antonio Banderas) because we have so much in common: we both are fantastic dancers, we have both been framed for robbing a bank, and we both are irresistible to amorous female cats (to the dismay of my boots). Puss in Boots 3D is proof that cartoons have become higher resolution than real life itself. Firstly, because every single cat hair has its own team of animators and a little person in a green suit to simulate the natural motion of cat hairs when they are on a cat who is in the middle of a sword fight. Secondly, because real life is a little blurry.

However, as erotic and fiber-optic as this explosion of hyperbright CGI was, it just didn’t move me like the flat, two-dimensional musical cartoons of my increasingly distant childhood (I can feel myself dying, slowly, very slowly). Part of my disappointment is due to the fact that I am very gay. Not gay in the homosexual sense, but gay as in I enjoy singing and dancing and other gay stuff, which, if I have learned anything from the way college boys talk, is a usage of the word that apparently is not offensive to anyone. Because Antonio Banderas can sing (remember EVITA, anyone?) I am personally outraged that Puss never burst into song. This cartoon is not gay enough.

Also, Zack Galifiniakakakas was in the movie. As everyone knows, the dude is funnier than a giant banana peel slipping on a smaller banana peel. The role he played in Puss and Boots though was entirely serious. He was the least funny part of the whole shebang. If you’re going to break into serious acting, Zacky boy, don’t do it in a cartoon. Just some advice from someone who’s tried (see “Wacky Bucky’s Zany Zoo”, which failed to win me an Oscar).

Puss in Boots was super fun though, and, spoiler alert, I almost got killed by the giant goose at the end. It was that 3-D.


Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Comedy


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Moneyballs: Don't you see? People are ALL just numbers. You, for instance, are a big, fat zero! (Alternate dialoge found scribbled in Aaron Sorkin's diary)

Moneyball (dir. Bennett Miller) is about a guy named Moneyballs (Brad Pitt) who is the handsomest boss of a baseball team in the land. His team, the A’s, is so destitute that they can only afford one letter of their desired team name, the fightin’ Antidisestablishmentarians. Because his bake sale cookies taste like ground up meal worms, Moneyballs has no cash to spend on fancy luxuries like hiring guys who are good at baseball. He has to hire guys who are bad at baseball but he still wants them to beat the rich teams with the good baseball players and monocles.

Moneyballs decides to listen to a brainy nerd (Jonah Hill) who thinks that math can be applied to real life instead of his chief baseball scout with 35 million years of experience (Huffy McWobblejowls) whose white blood cells show up as tiny baseballs under a microscope. Remember screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s last movie? It was about a guy who invented a social network but had no friends. Moneyballs likewise, has no money. But he does have…ahem. You know. Heart.

Aaron Sorkin is actually a really good writer for a man. However, like many men, he does not appear to be that familiar with the rules of baseball. Por ejemplo, he makes a big gigantic deal out of this cute injured family man, Hoffmussen or someone, and how Moneyballs and his pet nerd want him to play first base even though he’s never played first base before. Then, when the A’s manager (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) says, “That’s so stoopid!!!!!!!” (paraphrasing) and doesn’t play Hoffmusser at first, Moneyballs gets really mad. Finally, Hoffmuncher saves the day when PhillipSeymourHoffman finally plays him…as a pinch hitter. That means he CAN’T have been playing first base, for you boys who don’t understand baseball. So, like, PSH was all like, PPPPSSSHHH! to Moneyballs, but it was still okay, so I guess Moneyballs was just freaking out over nothing and isn’t as great as he thought.

Speaking of not as great as he thought, Moneyball: the Movie claims that Moneyballs and his mathwhizz changed baseball foreverandeverandever because now everyone only uses economics to pick players. Beep boop bip. But, I’m pretty sure baseball is still pretty similar to the way it was before 2002, The Year of Moneyballs. That’s what my dad says anyway. At best, in the movie at least, Moneyballs changed the A’s, who continued to be unable to afford more letters to add to their name, and the Red Sox, who went on to win the World Series. So hey, that’s still pretty good.

Still, it’s a good movie. Especially if you like underdog sports stories but don’t like to get emotionally involved with the players on the team.

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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Uncategorized


Give Me Money Because I Am Sad

Dear Scholarship Application Selection Committee,

In addition to the financial need demonstrated by my enclosed 1040 tax form, I would like to detail to you the extreme adversity I have borne and overcome during my relatively short lifetime, which I hope you will take into consideration when you elect the winners of your graduate school scholarship.

You see, I was born with no teeth. For a significant portion of my life, I could not enjoy the simple pleasures of a fresh ear of Iowa corn, nor indeed any solid food. My smile was grotesque at best and this, I believe, led me to spend much of my formative childhood friendless. I cried all day and all night. Only my parents would talk to me, and when they did it was in garbled, nonsense syllables. Even they knew I was too stupid to understand even the simplest of sentences. I could not talk. My motor skills and bodily functions were erratic and unpredictable: not within my control. I had no money to my name. I was unemployable. I was bald. It was a sad and inauspicious beginning.

I struggled to learn. I was determined to soak up the knowledge I would need to make it in this big, harsh world. I set myself small goals at first: learn my name, learn to grasp, learn to sit up by myself. Then I progressed to larger goals: learn to talk, learn to walk, learn to dress myself. Yes, it took me many years, but eventually I was able to read, write crudely, and wear big-girl panties. By sheer willpower, I grew hair and teeth, and where I once weighed a mere 8.8 lbs (due to a genetic deformity, not, as many have suspected, an eating disorder) I was now over a whopping hundred pounds.

Then, tragedy struck once more. Around high school I began another monstrous transformation. I became a giantess at 5’9″. I was taller than most of the males my age, but still weighed only 120 lbs. I stalked the hallways like a spindly praying mantis; a hideous fun-house mirror image of a girl. Once again, I needed special undergarments; this time, oddly enough, for my upper torso. The emotional and psychological damage was worse. I suddenly became contemptuous of all authority. I read Camus’ The Stranger and was hurled into an existential crisis of apathy and hopelessness as I realized the crushing realities of reality. It was hell.

I survived. Barely. I even made it to college, but again the fates steered my life’s ship into a storm. I was surrounded by alcohol abuse. Many weekends during the year, my so-called friends would gather at my house and drink. Beer. Vodka. Gummy bears soaked in rum. Anything they could afford to buy at the liquor store down the street. They would use any lame excuse. “Our school’s football team is playing football on tv,” they’d say. “It’s New Year’s Eve,” maybe, or “St. Patrick’s”. It was pathetic, but I got sucked into the dark underworld of casual social drinking.

I realize now that things have to change. I sincerely pray that my body and psyche are stable and undamaged by my tumultuous past. Because of all of my horrible adversity, I am determined to fill my limited brain with fiction. Literary fiction. Non-fiction is too brutal. Perhaps if I pursue my graduate degree in Creative Writing I can at least imagine a world in which I am normal, beautiful, and sane.

Thank you for your consideration,



Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Other


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Hi guys. I can’t watch movies because I’m in Delaware where talking pictures are a sin. Now that I’ve seen a little more of the world, I can tell you one thing: Midwesterners are polite. Iowans especially. As evidence, here are three interactions between Iowans in their natural habitats. They are real. I witnessed them.

On the Ped Mall in Iowa City

Guy in Hoodie: Pardon me, ma’am. I DO hate to bother you, but…well…

Older Lady: What is it, dear?

Guy: It’s just that I have this little gun and a financial problem. I hate to trouble you, but I would rather not shoot you, especially considering it could muss up your darling cardigan. What is that, wool? Anyway, I digress. May I please have all the money you may happen to have with you?

Lady: Oh, Sweetheart. It’s no trouble at all. I was just going to spend this wad of cash on a silly de-humidifier.

Guy: I’m so sorry about this and I really appreciate your co-operation.

Lady: No, listen, we’ve all been there, darling. Life sometimes hands you a lemon and backs you into a li’l old socio-economic corner, and goldarn it (pardon my language) if it doesn’t make you reach out to your neighbors.

(takes off Rolex)

Guys: No, please, just cash is fine. I hate to put you out like this as it is.

Lady: Here. It was my grandfather’s. This is what neighbors are for, Honey Pie.

Guy: You are TOO kind, really. Thank you very, very much.

Lady: Now you be careful with that gun, you hear? You don’t want to go and put someone’s eye or brain out.

Guy: I will, ma’am. Cross my heart.

Lady: That’s a good boy. Run along now.

At the Strip Club

Man: Pardon me, miss, but…well…

Stripper: What is it, dear?

Man: Could you…Would you mind shaking it, baby?

Stripper: Oh, of COURSE not, Lambchop. Is this okay?


Man: Yes, that’s lovely, miss. Much obliged. Please accept this small token of my gratitude.

(puts dollar in g-string)

Stripper: Well aren’t you just a doll! Thank you very much! You have very kind eyes, sir.

Man: Oh, stop. I’m blushing.

Stripper: Would you like me to touch-dance with you?

Man: It would be my honor.

(makes to stand)

Stripper: Please, don’t get up! Sit, sit! Make yourself comfortable. I will just sit in your lap and dance.

Man: Golly. How accommodating. You are the salt of the earth, miss.

Stripper: We are all God’s beautiful children.

(begins lap dance)

In the Army

Drill Sargent: Forgive me, good soldier, but might I trouble you with a small request?

Soldier: Oh my, yes. Anything for you. You have been like a father to me. And indeed to all the men and women in our unit.

Drill Sargent: Gosh, you kids. It’s just… well…

Soldier: What is it, dearest Sargent?

Drill Sargent: Would you be so kind as to drop and give me 50?

Soldier: Come, now. For you, I’ll do 100.

Drill Sargent: No, no, please. 50 is all I ask.

Soldier: If you insist. But I get to do them one-handed, and I won’t take no for an answer. ONE! TWO! THREE! Are these to your liking, sir?

Drill Sargeant: I couldn’t ask for nicer push-ups. Well done, my friend.


Drill Sargent: Hey, you scamp! I said fifty!

Soldier: Those extra ones were my gift to you. You would do the same for me. Please, if there’s ever anything else I can do for you, don’t even hesitate to ask.

Drill Sargent: Well, now that you mention it… No, nevermind. I can do it myself.

Soldier: Please, sir. Let me ease your burden. It would be doing me a kindness to not have me stand by idly while there is something that you need.

Drill Sargent: I DO need the latrine to be scrubbed with a toothbrush, but…

Soldier: Sarge?

Drill Sargent: Yes, soldier?

Soldier: I woke up early and did it as a surprise for you. You have a really lovely day, and remember…anything you need, just holler.

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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Other


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Norway: Unsurprisingly Troll-Infested

Trolls: Less Hairy, More Attractive Than Your Ex-Boyfriend. (You Know Who I'm Talkin' 'Bout)

Drop whatever stupid thing you’re doing: surgically removing a ganglion cyst, breast-feeding your infant, piloting a trans-atlantic flight, whatever. Watching TrollHunter (dir. Andre Ovredal) is infinitely cooler, and therefore more worthwhile, than any other possible activity. Believe me. I have a blog, ergo; my opinion matters.

This beautiful little number out of Norway, the sunshine country, has exactly the right combination of mockumentary wit and oh-my-god-they’re-gonna-get-eaten-RUUUUUNNNNN!!!!. You will be gasping for air from a smooth Columbian-brew blend of alternating (and sometimes simultaneous) laughter and terror. You will remember the night you watched this movie as being better than all of your major life events, which will seem to you afterwards sickeningly devoid of troll mayhem. Example: Troll Hunter, a.k.a. “Hans”, calmly eats breakfast and shows the amazed camera crew his very ordinary, beaurocratic paperwork that he has to fill out for the government after every troll extermination. Ha ha ha it’s like real life, but there’s trolls, you guys.

People get eaten, goats get eaten, trolls get eaten probably, and American audiences learn a critical international lesson: “Trooooooolllllllllllll!!!!!!!!” is the same in Norwegian as it is in English. (Who knew?) The trolls look like gigantic nightmare versions of Sweetums (from the Muppets). The actors look like pale, blonde versions of people (from the live-action parts of the Muppets, and also from real life). There’s a scrappy documentary crew who thinks there’s a bear-poaching problem (but it’s NOT! IT’S TROLLLLLLLLSSSSSS!), a crotchety loner dude who’s mean at first but then turns out to be a hero (duh), and more slime than you could shake a troll at. The movie even does the courtesy of offering a semi-reasonable pseudo-scientific explanation of why trolls blow up or turn to stone in the sunlight.

See it, or forever be mis-informed about the state of trolls in Norway. That would just be irresponsible. As a citizen of the world, it is your duty to stay informed.


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Dan of Green Gables

A Champion With a Tear-Duct of Gold

If you’re like me and have attended a public university in Iowa, or if you’re unlike me and know stuff about sports, then you have heard of Dan Gable, the wrestler/coach/beefydude extraordinaire. Yes, well, apparently he was awesome and amazing and beat everyone at everything ever except this one time that haunts him to this very day. Duh. Ok. So there was a documentarian/Gablehead who followed Gable around and documented him and made his documentations into a documentary which I watched at the Landlocked Film Festival. It was called “Freestyle: The Victories of Dan Gable” (dir. Kevin Kelley).

It’s true that as a “somewhat” bookish, flimsily built lady who knows less than your average household domesticated canine about wrestling, or indeed about sports in general, I *may* not have been the target demographic for this film (see use of the word “indeed”), but you know, my Hawkeyes inspire the drunken blood-lust in me that froths the whole city into a soupy piranha tank in heat on certain Fall Saturdays. I mean, I’m a nerd, not a corpse. My point is that I love men savagely injuring one another in front of large cheering crowds. The more vicious the better. Like, give them maces or bear-traps, please.

So I have this to say about the documentary: wrestling needs to allow people to hit and/or kick and/or bite and/or stab because apparently it is more boringer than my old U of Iowa gen ed class,  “The History and Calculus of Etiquette”, which was taught by Dr. Penny Cilin, PhD, who was literally mold.

Speaking of mold, The. Pace. Was. So. So. So. Slow. I actually grew a beard. The film outlined your standard Wikipedia facts about Coach Gable and I guess ran out of time to cram in any interesting information. Even though the filmmaker had followed his idol around like the unshakable awareness of our own mortality that dogs every adult into a terrified paralysis on a daily basis (or is that just me?), he captured exactly zippo of his supposed passion for this sports legend, nada of Gable’s intimate personal feelings, and found zero common thread to shape his narrative except the very lame “victories” thing.

By the way, I KNOW that Gable HAS intimate personal feelings because he was there at the screening and read a tear-jerking letter from his late mother to the audience, fighting off his swells of heaving emotion with every breath. Even super-jocks have feelings…possibly even super-feelings. These gentle giants have athletic hearts that allow a greater capacity for weeping. The guy is waaaaaay compelling, dude! So, NO EXCUSE! THIS MOVIE SHOULD HAVE BEEN INTERESTING! Shame on you, heartless director! What happened? I’ll tell you: you got too caught up in the riches and glamour of the independent documentary game and lost sight of your roots, lost touch with your soul! Shaaaaaaaaaaame!

Also, Go Hawks!


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