Monday, September 28, 2009

Defy authority! Read banned books!!

Quiz time: What do the following books have in common?

-The Giver by Lois Lowry
-Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
-Looking for Alaska by John Green
-The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
-Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
-Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
-1984 by George Orwell
-Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
-Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
-The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
-Forever by Judy Blume
-Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
-The Witches by Roald Dahl
-A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
-Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The answer: In addition to being excellent books, every book on this list has been challenged or banned for some reason. For a comprehensive list of commonly banned and challenged books, you can visit the ALA website. I included just a few here because they are all books that I've read and enjoyed. Some were assigned by my English teachers; some I picked up on my own. The odd thing is that looking over the list I recognize A LOT of the titles.

Why are these books banned? There are various reasons given, usually that the subject matter is not age-appropriate, or that the book includes sex or violence (though sex is listed more often than violence). But the real reason is that someone is afraid of the book. Or, more specifically, someone is afraid of what will happen when people (usually children) read the book. They are afraid of the messages it contains, the characters it portrays, or the situations they are placed in. These books make people uncomfortable.

Which follows that a book must be really good if it is banned. If someone was so afraid of an author's message that they tried to keep other people from reading the book, that book is powerful. The more people read, the more knowledge they will have. Reading should challenge your views on the world. If you read something that makes you feel uncomfortable, good for you. The world is a big place, and everyone sees it differently. We could all stand to step out of our comfort zones more often. I don't exactly want to congratulate these authors for having written banned books, but I would like to encourage everyone reading this blog to go out and pick up a book that someone else thinks you shouldn't read.

And you can laugh evilly in their general direction.

Video Revue: Dollhouse

Johnny and I wrap up Joss-tember with a look at his latest (and still currently running) show, "Dollhouse." It's more of a brief overview than a really in-depth look, because we just had a really busy weekend. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our look at Joss Whedon as much as we did. As always, you can find us on iTunes or Podshow.

Coming up next week, we try and unravel the exciting, in-depth world of "Heroes," and then it's time for our Halloween shows! The third week in October will be devoted to horror movie hosts. If you remember a local or national show that you'd like us to talk about, please let us know! Our email address is

Question for the week: What's your favorite show from Joss Whedon?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fist of the North Star - Japanese Opening

A random video for the blog! This rocks, at least in my opinion.
No, this has nothing to do with Joss-Tember, it's just awesome.
It may get removed eventually, because it's from a DVD, which I am SO going to Netflix soon.
I want MP3 for this so badly!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Joss-tember: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog!

Fire up the webcam! Cue the music! Everyone's favorite mad scientist is on the loose. In the first half of our two-part weekend Johnny and I discuss Joss Whedon's internet musical. The Dollhouse show, which was originally going to go up tomorrow, will probably be late because we just finished recording it half an hour ago. But for now you'll just have to be satisfied with Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion singing about heroism.

As always, you can find us on iTunes or Podshow.

Comments? Feedback? Suggestions? Email us! Question for the week: Would you like to see the continuing adventures of Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer? Or has Joss messed with their lives enough for you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dr. Horrible Mocks the interwebs.

OMG. Now I wish I'd watched the Emmys.

Ah well, the Internet brings it here to us now! And we can watch it any time we want! Mwahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

(For more on Dr. Horrible, listen to Video Revue's special Saturday show coming this weekend!)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Video Revue: Firefly

Joss-tember continues as Johnny and I discuss the world's greatest sci-fi western: Firefly! From the fantastic two-hour premiere to the heartrending final episode, we discuss them all. As always, you can find us on iTunes or Podshow.

Here's the link to the Lego "Serenity" project we discussed towards the end of the show (just scroll down to "Browncoat Central"--he's got 6 different versions!). It's amazing what this guy can do with Legos.

MST3k fans: click here to see his life-sized Lego versions of Crow and Servo!

I'm thinking we should do a future podcast about those great TV shows that have everything going for them but still only last one season. Unfortunately, I seem to discover a lot of them...right before they're canceled. But that's another story for another day.

We'd love to hear from our listeners! To comment on this show, past episodes, future episodes, or anything else, email us at

Also, don't forget to listen to this week's Subject:Cinema! Johnny and I chime in with our thoughts on the Harry Potter books vs. movies, along with TC, Kim, and some of their friends (including Eric and Amber from Cavebabble).

This week's question: If Firefly had lasted beyond the first 15 episodes, what do you think would've happened? Who would have been the first to die? (My vote is on either Kaylee or Simon, shortly after their first kiss)

Monday, September 14, 2009

New from Popcorn 'N' Roses: Mirrorball Mayhem

Do you like "Dancing With the Stars"? Do you know someone who does? If so, you should check out the new podcast from the PNR networks: Mirrorball Mayhem, the first and only podcast devoted to DWTS. It's hosted by TC and Kim, our "pod people" friends in Boston and the hosts of Subject:Cinema.

If you like our show, definitely give Subject:Cinema a listen because they're awesome.

That having been said...I really don't like reality TV. I am apparently in the minority in this regard--even in my own house. But in my mind, every reality show has 3 main components:
1. The gimmick (celebrities dancing; people losing weight; living on a desert island; etc). The gimmicks either work for me or they don't.
2. The competition (a million dollars; a job with Donald Trump; fame; love; whatever). Basically why these carefully chosen people are on the television show in the first place.
3. The drama. I don't think I even have to define this--but it's all the scenes where one person talks directly to the viewers about why he/she hates so-and-so. This also includes the inordinate amount of time devoted to telling people they're fired/kicked out/sent home/losers. Seriously, almost half of the show is devoted to building up who the loser is this week. Even though they're called "reality" shows the drama always seems so contrived. I just don't like the idea of watching people talk behind each other's backs. Basically, even when I like the gimmick, I can't stand the drama.

Having said that, if you like Dancing With the Stars, you'll probably like Mirrorball Mayhem. And if you're like me, I can guarantee that TC and Kim won't be talking about DWTS during Subject:Cinema this year.


ZOMG. Countdown

This trailer courtesy of Kaleb "Twilight Guy" Nation. Read his book! It's amazing! (Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Video Revue: Angel

Joss-tember continues as we take a long, long look at "Angel," the spin-off of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." We discuss some of our favorite episodes from all 5 seasons. We're having a lot of fun talking about Joss Whedon, and we'd love to have some more listener input! Coming next week: the ultimate in cult classic shows, "Firefly."

As always, you can find us on iTunes or Podshow.

I mentioned at the end of this week's episode that we're planning an episode in October on horror movie shows. We'd love to have some input on what you remember growing up, or if there are local shows you watch now. If not, we've got more than enough material to do a whole show on Svengoolie...but it probably won't be that interesting to people not from Chicago. So if you'd like us to talk about your favorite horror host or horror show, please send us an e-mail! Our address is

This week's question: Who's your favorite character from Angel? Favorite episode or season? Is the spin-off as good as the original series?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

TV Show Revue: The Vampire Diaries

From the network that brought you "Gossip Girl"...


The CW's new high school romance/vampire drama premiered tonight. It's based on a (fantastic) series of books by LJ Smith. There are obvious comparisons to "Twilight." We have the hot, mysterious guy who turns out to be a vampire. Said vampire no longer drinks human blood. We have the quiet girl who falls for the mysterious, brooding guy. Oh, and both series are set in high school.

But that's where the comparisons end. "Vampire Diaries" follows Elena, the quiet girl whose parents died in a car accident; Stefan, the Mysterious Brooding Vampire; Bonnie, Elena's psychic best friend; Damon, Stefan's Evil Vampire Brother; Matt, Elena's ex-boyfriend; and Carolyn, Elena's "frenemy." They're all basically the same characters as in the books. Then, just to shake things up, the writers invented a teenage pothead brother for Elena (fans of the books will remember that she originally had a much younger sister) and a teenage sister for Matt and some other characters who are there basically to complicate the relationships and/or die. Oh, and some guy who Stefan claims is his uncle but obviously isn't because he's human and several centuries younger than his "nephew." He knows what Stefan is, though.

As first episodes go, it wasn't too bad. It wasn't spectacular, though. The dialog was kind of flat--except for Damon. He was probably my favorite character. I wish we'd seen more of him. There was way too much of an emphasis on the relationship junk for my taste. I'll watch again next week, and I'll probably stick through the whole season, but so far I'm not overly impressed.

My main criticism is the way they portray the high school. Who provided all that beer for the "back-to-school" party? I find it disturbing that all of the sex and the drinking and the drugs are just assumed as a given. What message are they trying to convey? "This is what high school is like?" Or: "This is how high school SHOULD be?" Neither of those sounds like a good option to me.

When I think of vampire TV shows, the first one that comes to mind is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", which also had the mysterious brooding vampire and high school setting. Even from the first episode, these characters seemed real. They had distinct personalities. The characters in Vampire Diaries, especially the girls, seemed pretty much interchangeable. I don't really feel like I know any of the characters yet--except for Damon. Maybe I'm just biased towards Buffy--the first episode wasn't the first one that I saw--but it is, in my mind, a much better pilot.

And here's the four-sentence summary!
The Vampire Diaries (new series; premiered fall 2009)
The Premise: Hottie brooding vampire moves to small town, followed by hottie evil vampire.
Why I love it: Damon is pretty hot.
If I could change one thing, I'd: get rid of a subplot or two, probably the "drug-dealing-younger-brother" one.
Girl power rating: Too early to tell. Initial score 2/5 for not really developing any of the female characters and making 2 girls vampire victims in the first episode already.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

BTVS: Season 6 finale

Willow really wants to end the world...Xander talks her out of it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Video Revue: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

It's finally here! The first of five different shows devoted to Joss Whedon (evil genius), this week's episode focuses on the iconic 90s show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Johnny and I attempt to condense all seven season into an hour and a half...with mixed results. We'll probably have a slightly different format for next week's show (Angel) and the others.

One note: towards the end of the show, I accidentally mixed up two of the characters' names: in "Conversations with Dead People" it's Willow who is haunted by "Cassie" and Dawn who sees her "mother's" body. Sorry for the confusion--it was a long week and a long show and my brain was kind of fried.

As always, you can find us on iTunes or Podshow.

For reference, here's our schedule for the rest of "Joss-tember":
Sunday, Sep. 13: Angel
Sunday, Sep. 20: Firefly
Saturday, Sep. 26: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (special Saturday show!)
Sunday, Sep. 27: Dollhouse

And coming in October, we have a whole months of Halloween-related shows. This is going to be a big season for Video Revue, so be sure to listen every week!

We'd LOVE to hear from other Whedon fans! Please send your feedback to

This week's question: What's your favorite character or episode from Buffy?