Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New blog!

The new podcast now has a blog! From now on, all updates will be at the TMI Chicago blog. Please update your bookmarks accordingly. Daily posts will continue over there.

If you're reading my blog on Facebook, you can ignore this one.

A Commencement Speech I'd Like To Hear

In addition to Memorial Day, this was a big weekend for me as I graduated from college on Sunday. When I graduated from high school, it was quite chilly. At my high school, the men wear suits and the women wear white for graduation (instead of caps and gowns), and I was glad that I had decided to go with a white pantsuit instead of a sleeveless dress like a lot of the other girls did. On Sunday, I had the opposite problem. The temperature hovered around 90 degrees, and we were all in black graduation robes. I did have a water bottle, but I didn't want to drink too much because there was no way to take a bathroom break while they read all of the names.

We didn't get anyone exciting as our commencement speaker; it was an alumna of the college who was being honored with an honorary doctorate. Hers was the last speech in a long line of speeches I'd heard during the pre-graduation baccalaureate and the graduation ceremony itself. It struck me that the people who write commencement speeches don't remember their own commencement and how much they wished the speaker would be DONE already. With that in mind, here is the type of speech I think many graduates would like to hear.

"Class of (insert year here), congratulations! As you sit here on this (hot/cold/rainy/sunny/etc) afternoon, there is one quote that I believe we should all keep in mind, from William Shakespeare: Brevity is the soul of wit. Rather than giving advice you will not remember, or share personal stories that you cannot relate to, or attempt to pass on some profound message, I shall simply say a few words. Here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you."

In other news, I'll have a review of Iron Man 2 up either tomorrow night or Thursday morning.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Trailer: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

I had never heard of this movie until I found the trailer posted on Kung Fu Monkey. It looks...really different. And amazing.

In other news, happy Memorial Day! Take a minute to think of all of the brave men and women who gave their lives fighting for our country, and those who are currently serving in the military. To the veterans past and present: Thank you for your service.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Meta-post: A blog about blogging

So the new podcast will debut in the next couple of weeks. One of my goals is to have a good number of people who listen. I'm doing the daily blog posts as part of getting more listeners and followers. But I'm not really sure how to draw more people in.

I looked at the blogs that I read regularly, and they fall into 2 broad categories: blogs I started reading because of the content, and blogs I started reading because of the person writing them. Of course, they all fit both categories to a certain degree, but it follows that if I want people to read this blog I need to fit those categories for other people.

The author-oriented blogs are mostly from well-known people (like Stephan Pastis or Neil Gaiman). They write about what's going on in their lives. They're interesting and funny. But, to be honest, if I had never heard of Stephan Pastis, I probably wouldn't have started following him online.

The content-oriented blogs can be summed up pretty easily. Cake Wrecks, for example, shows what happens when cake decorators fail. The Comics Curmudgeon has daily snark about newspaper comics. It doesn't matter if I've never heard of the person writing the blog, because I like what they write about.

I'm not well-known enough to sell the blog because of who I am. I need a gimmick. Still trying to think of one (suggestions are welcome).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

News + Blind Date Hoedown!

Here's something different: I'm doing a blog today! Monica and I have been busy at school, plus I have finals coming up soon, so major bummer there. However, we hope to get our new show up and running after that... except I'll be taking summer school also... but whenever we get it running, expect something exciting!
And no, we won't be doing an exciting finale like we were hoping for, because frankly, we couldn't think of any darned thing to talk about.

In other news: Gary Coleman died in the hospital at age 42. He will be missed majorly and, like Michael Jackson, jokes made about him are not really all that funny after Coleman's death. However, certainly they'll at least be a little funny in about a year or so (I'm sorry, but jokes about MJ just aren't funny yet).

In comedy today, a hoedown from Whose Line is playing in my head: one about a blind date. Just hilarious (that's what the video is).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Instant streaming from Netflix rocks!

This is not meant to be an ad for Netflix; I'm not getting anything from them for promoting their service. They just took a great idea and made it work really well.

All right, so I was re-reading some of my older entries and I found one from last summer about watching TV shows online. I concluded at the time that none of them were perfect, but I liked iTunes the best because of their selection. The thing that I didn't like about iTunes (and still don't) was that you have to buy the episode before you watch it, and if it turns out you don't like it you can't get your money back. Also, the files take up a lot of space. I envisioned a service where you could pay a monthly fee and watch anything you wanted...which sounds exactly like what Netflix does. I dismissed their online streaming at the time for not having a very wide selection of TV shows.

Well, my friends, that has all changed now. The Netflix instant streaming selection has grown EXPONENTIALLY, and now there's more TV than I can watch. It all started when I decided to start watching Doctor Who, after multiple recommendations. They have all three seasons with David Tennant (who is ridiculously talented...and I have a TV crush on him) as well as some of the classic Who serials. Tom Baker is hilarious, and now I want to knit a twelve-foot scarf. Anyway, from there I decided to see what else they had to offer, TV-wise. I discovered that now you can stream Mythbusters and Heroes and Leverage and Dexter. And Buffy the Vampire Slayer. All seven seasons.

Pardon me while I go and do my happy dance. Seriously, you can't find anything from BtVS past season 2 online unless you're shelling out $50 for a DVD box set. And now I can watch any episode, any time, for free. Well, not exactly free, since I have to pay the monthly subscription fee. But there's no extra charge, so it feels like it's free.

Oh, and to top it all off now I can even watch it on my TV instead of my computer, and I didn't have to buy the hundred-dollar box. The latest way to stream movies is through the Wii, with a (free) disc that I requested in the mail. I'm constantly amazed by how easy to use everything from Netflix is.

My one complaint is that the video quality isn't that great when I'm watching on my computer, but that's probably the fault of my Internet connection more than anything else. It looks great on the TV.

In conclusion: It's good I have a life, because otherwise I'd sit and watch Netflix movies all day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody [Original Version]

I found this on YouTube the other day, and I couldn't stop laughing. It's hilarious! Just watch.

So if the Muppets are awesome, and Queen is awesome, then this video must be awesome SQUARED.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Leverage update!

Leverage is one of the best shows currently on TV. I cannot say enough good things about it.

Never heard of it? Read all about it here (on the TNT website) or here (CAUTION: This is a link to TV Tropes. TV Tropes is highly addictive and may lead to a significant decrease in productivity. Viewer discretion is advised).

Also, read the Kung Fu Monkey blog (by one of the show's writers himself) for behind-the-scenes info!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thoughts on horror.

My mom and I are alike in a lot of ways, but when it comes to taste in books we're basically polar opposites. She will happily read a history of post-millenial religions, or the importance of salt in international sea trade, or an account of the early 20th century flu epidemic. And I'm not making any of those up.

I, on the other hand, tend towards lighter and less realistic fare. Something like a story about a possessed car, or an angel and devil working together to prevent the Apocalypse, or a vampire-turned-rock-star. And I'm not making any of those up, either.*

*For the curious: Christine by Stephen King; Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett; and The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice.

Occasionally, however, our interests will overlap. I loaned her memoir from a woman named Carolyn who escaped from the FLDS (the offshoot-Mormon polygamist cult) with her eight children. It's a fascinating read, but reading about some of the things this woman went through made me sick to my stomach. For example: Carolyn's husband wanted her to manage a hotel he owned in another town. This continued even after a shady-looking man came around and began stalking her. The husband refused to call the cops on the stalker. It's like he wanted her to end up getting raped or killed. And the worst part of this is that it actually happened. That is terrifying, and not in a fun way.

I do like to scare myself sometimes by watching something creepy on TV or reading a horror novel. But the horror is self-contained, and I know that no matter how creepy the monsters are, when I turn off the television or close the book, they're gone. I also tend towards media where the monsters are limited by clearly defined rules and weaknesses. One of the things that makes vampires so fascinating is the paradox that they are powerful (super speed and strength, immortality, near-invulnerability) and, at the same time, powerless (depending on the author, they will run away from crosses, mirrors, or seasonings, plus the whole deal with sunlight). Sure, they can tear your throat open to drink your blood, and turn you into a soulless demon, but only at night and only if you're not wearing protection (in the form of a cross necklace).

In my mind, the most effective horror takes something familiar and makes the audience look at it with new, suspicious eyes. That's one of the things that makes Doctor Who so creepy: previous episodes have managed to make viewers terrified of broken clocks, statues, and shadows.*

*For the curious: Girl in the Fireplace; Blink; and Silence in the Library.

It's Too Hot

I'm posting this song for several reasons:
1. Spent 6 hours on the second floor of a building with no air conditioning, and found a new appreciation for the sentiment of this song.
2. The song includes the lyrics "endothermic organism." Find another song with THAT phrase. I dare you.
3. Hank Green is just generally awesome.

DFTBA (which, if you didn't know already, stands for "Don't Forget To Be Awesome." As coined by Hank and his brother John over on their channel).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Whose Line: Greatest Hits, Wayne/Jeff's Opera Songs

Today's post is from one of my favorite shows: Whose Line is it Anyway? Give these guys a topic, and they'll make up a sketch for you on the spot. Hilarious!

This video combines the two times when Jeff and Wayne (the most frequent singers among the group of rotating comedians) were asked to sing opera. The first is from "Songs of the Motorcycle" and the second is from "Songs of Norway" (the basic idea in the game is that they need to create an infomercial for a Greatest Hits CD, based on a topic from an audience member). I just love their expressions and how much they get into character, in addition to how good the songs are. I could not stop laughing the first time I saw this video.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ten-word summer 2010 movie preview

Some of the hot movies coming out this summer, and which ones I'm most excited for (in exactly 10 words):

Shrek Forever After (this weekend): Major sequelitis, though alternate universe premise shows promise. Overall: Maybe.

Sex and the City 2 (May 27): Never watched the show or first movie. No plans here.

Marmaduke (June 4): Unnecessary movie for unfunny comic. Waste of George Lopez's talent.

The Karate Kid (June 11): Will watch the original and this one, then compare them.

Toy Story 3 (June 18): Toy Story rocks. Pixar rules. Cannot wait for this movie!

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (June 30): Probably going to suck. Probably going to see it anyway.

Despicable Me (July 9): Annoying yellow henchman...things...in commercials killed any potential interest.

Ramona and Beezus (July 23): Loved the books. Trailer looks cute, fluffy. Maybe too fluffy.

Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (July 30): Loved the first one. Should be good, clean, stupid fun.

Wow. Out of all those movies, the only original concept is "Despicable Me." Of course, these are just the movies that I know something about. I haven't been to the theater since Johnny and I saw "Avatar" so I haven't seen any previews aside from the ones I decided to track down on YouTube.

What movies are you most excited for? Leave a comment or e-mail us at videorevue@gmail.com.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Daily posts starting today!

That's right. Beginning today, start looking for something posted here every day. Post lengths will vary; today's is pretty brief. With that in mind, here are some quick laughs.

Today's Pearls Before Swine. I love PBS. Don't we all feel like Rat sometimes?

Today's Irregular Webcomic! Little bit of background info: IWC has about 20 different story lines going at once. This is from the "Shakespeare" theme. Shakespeare lives in modern times and works in an office. He's currently writing a fanfiction prequel to Lord of the Rings. Also, here is the first appearance of the time machine. Expect it to pop up in a bunch of stories and possibly destroy the universe.

One more: What happens when nerd guys don't remember the words to lullabies? They make up their own! Here's John Green singing an incredibly creative version of "Hush, Little Baby" to his son.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The blog is not dead!

Last post published on March 9? Yikes. What can I say? Stuff happened. Life. School. Existential crisis (just kidding). Still, though, I can't believe it's been more than two months.

The school stuff will be over for me soon. I am officially one week and three days away from my college graduation! Once school is officially behind me, I will try and post something every day (possibly taking one day a week off).

The podcast will be returning in June, once my brilliant and talented co-host has finished school for the year. We've got big things planned, including a name change, a new format, and of course no more three-month breaks.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Video Revue returns...briefly

We've ducked out of our hiatus to discuss some TV shows that were canceled shortly after they premiered. I count down my ten favorite short-lived shows; Johnny discusses five that should have gone longer and five that...shouldn't have. Our original idea was to limit our list to shows that had less than 22 episodes, but a few ended up having more.

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

This is the penultimate episode of Video Revue (for those of you not in the know, "penultimate" means "second-to-last"). Our updating schedule has basically been: One month with shows every week; skip two weeks; make another episode; go on hiatus. Lather, rinse, repeat. For two and a half years. So we are going to do a grand finale for Video Revue and then return this summer with a brand-new show we're tentatively calling "TMI Chicago" (TMI standing for, naturally, Television, Movies, and Internet).

Have comments or questions about this week's show, or anything else? Email us! You can contact Monica and Johnny at videorevue@gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On hiatus. Again.

Okay, so I'm going to explain this one this time: my dad locked my computer for a while (that is, he changed my password), then put it in the basement (no detail here, so don't ask). Shortly after, Monica started student teaching, which she heard is going to make her really, really tired. So far, so good, but... we don't want to take any chances. And therefore, we are on hiatus again.
That's also why we haven't been doing any episodes of the podcast recently (our dad said we could use his computer if we wanted; Monica didn't want to). So, be patient; we will be off hiatus by March, at the earliest (I hope). So, hang in there!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Resolution Revue: X-Men

I am not a comic book geek by any stretch of the imagination. However, I love the Spider-Man films (well, loved the first 2; liked the third) and I'm a fan of superheroes in general. I added the X-Men movies to my resolution list for three basic reasons:
1. RandomGuy's videos feature a ton of X-Men characters and I'd like to be able to identify them all.
2. Hugh Jackman. Shirtless.
3. Patrick Stewart.

The first X-Men movie introduces us to some of the most important characters, including Wolverine, Rogue, Professor Xavier, Storm, Cyclops, and Jean Grey. On the bad guys' team, we have Magneto, Mystique, Toad, and Sabretooth. The movie revolves around Wolverine (Logan) and Rogue being found and taken to the Professor's school/high-tech undergound lab as Magneto plans to turn all of the world's leaders into mutants.

Overall, I really liked this movie. The acting was fantastic all around. When looking at the cast list on IMDB, I was surprised by (a) how many names I recognized and (b) that it had taken me so long to finally see this movie. Halle Berry is fantastic as Storm, if a bit underused. Though the scene where she comes out of the elevator, floating in midair, hair whipping around her, was almost cool enough to make up for her lack of screen time. Almost. Anna Paquin, whose name I recognize now because of her starring role on HBO's True Blood, does a fine job as Rogue. Johnny thought she spent all of her time whining. While I will concede that she's not the most calm and collected of the heroes, she is just a teenage girl who hasn't learned to control her powers yet. And her power is pretty freaky.

On the X-Men team, I liked everyone, but especially Storm and Professor Xavier (and not just because he's played by Patrick Stewart). Personality-wise, he reminds me a lot of Professor Dumbledore: always looking for the good in people, optimistic (to a fault?), and powerful enough that you REALLY don't want to be on his bad side.

Magneto is an interesting villain; if you look at his arguments the right way, you might almost agree with him. And Mystique is a good villainess, because you never know where she'll turn up or who she'll be. And she appears to be pretty unkillable, so I hope to see more of her (or her pretending to be someone else) in the next movies. I was glad to see Sabretooth and Toad go. Especially Toad. They were both just kind of gross, and not all that interesting.

Overall, I'd give X-Men 4.5 stars/5.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Video Revue: Providing "Leverage"

January is Geek Month as we welcome in the Age of the Geek! This week, we discuss one of our favorite geeky shows: Leverage!

"Leverage?" you might ask. "What is Leverage, and what makes it geeky?"

"Well," I would answer, "First of all, Leverage is a show on TNT that combines the heists and intrigue of Ocean's Eleven with the techno-geek gadgets of Mission: Impossible and the steal-from-the-rich ethics of Robin Hood. If that's not geeky enough, a recent episode had Wil Wheaton guest-starring as a hacker referred to by the US government as the Kobayashi Maru."*

Also, Leverage was the show that gave us the line "Age of the Geek."

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

For all the insider Leverage info, be sure to check out the Kung Fu Monkey blog.

Questions, comments, and spam forwards should be sent to videorevue@gmail.com.

*"Are you sure Kobayashi Maru is spelled correctly?" you might ask.

"No, I'm not. You are therefore geekier than me," I would reply.

"Thank you. Wait, what?"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Leonard Nimoy on the Spock "Star Trek" Vulcan Salute

The real origin of the "Vulcan" salute. I think this is the coolest thing ever.

What Would Captain Picard Do

Hank of the Vlogbrothers wrote this song about Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is fantastic.

Oddly enough, I think I've seen most of the episodes he references in the song.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Video Revue: The Final Frontier

It's the Age of the Geek! All month long, Video Revue delves in to some topics to appeal to the geeks and nerds (which is kind of what we do already, but what the hey). This week, Johnny and I take a somewhat long-winded look at Star Trek as we discuss the original series, Next Gen, and movies 2, 3, 4, and 11.

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

For a more in-depth discussion of the 2009 Star Trek movie, here is our review from last May.

Questions, comments about the show, and spam forwards should be directed to videorevue@gmail.com.

Coming next week: Leverage! If you haven't yet familiarized yourself with this fantastic show, you can check it out on the TNT website.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Resolution Revue: Star Trek IV--The Voyage Home

Monica here with my first movie review from my New Year's resolution list! The Voyage Home finishes off the movie "trilogy" started with Wrath of Khan and continued in The Search for Spock as the Enterprise travels from the 23rd century back to the 20th. It's like Back to the Future with starships! And whales. And minus Christopher Lloyd (who, oddly enough, was in ST3 as the Klingon leader).

The movie begins with Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew about to head back to Earth to face court martial in a Klingon ship for all the crazy stuff they pulled in Search for Spock as they attempted to reunite Spock's body with his "katra." The Enterprise has been destroyed, Spock still isn't his old self, and they're all in deep trouble. However, their problems pale in comparison to what is happening at the Starfleet headquarters on Earth, where a mysterious alien probe is vaporizing all of the Earth's oceans. The probe appears to be sending a message, which the Enterprise crew determines is aimed, not at humans, but at humpback whales. The only problem here is that humpback whales have been extinct in the Trek 'verse since the 21st century, so the Enterprise crew heads back in time to find some. Despite all of the advancements in technology that humanity has made in 300-odd years, apparently time travel is still an inexact science. The time travel involves some complicated equations and launching themselves at the sun, only to turn right before they vaporize. Or something like that.

All of this is a complicated excuse for answering the question, "What if the Enterprise crew could walk around San Francisco in 1986?" Not that I mind. One of the things I enjoy the most about the original Trek was their focus on placing the characters in all sorts of odd situations just to see how they would react (and, oddly enough, that is also one of the things I like about Pinky and the Brain). Anyway, this movie does not disappoint. Kirk and Spock go to find the whales being held at an aquarium, Uhura and Chekov go to find some "nuclear wessels" which they can use to power the Klingon ship back to the future, and Scotty and McCoy find supplies to build a tank to house the whales.

I really liked this movie. For once, I thought the story between Kirk and his love interest was pretty good. Usually, I think Shatner comes off as pompous but here he was kind of adorable. Maybe because he was telling the marine biologist the absolute truth and she still didn't believe him. Maybe it was because he wasn't hitting on someone who could have been half his age (squick). I loved Spock, as always, especially the ridiculous robe he was wearing. And the headband to cover his Vulcan ears. He did, indeed, look like someone who had done a little too much "LDS" in the sixties. Other favorite scenes included Kirk and Spock on the bus (especially Spock giving the Vulcan nerve pinch to the obnoxious teenager) and McCoy in the "modern" hospital ("The doctor gave me a pill and I grew a new kidney!"). And, of course, Scotty's attempt to talk to the computer in the scientist's office (a similar gag was used in an episode of 3rd Rock--but, as usual, Star Trek did it first). All in all, it was fun and exciting and a great time.

Overall: 4.5/5

Spock's White and Nerdy

Because he is.

Our Star Trek episode is coming soon!

Star Trek episodes guide song

This song has the title of every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And it rhymes.

And I thought "Nations of the World" was impressive. Watch this and be amazed.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Video Revue: New Year's Movie Resolutions!

This year, we here at Video Revue resolve not to take two weeks off without any updates...sorry 'bout that.

We also resolve to WATCH MORE MOVIES! Specifically, Johnny and I have each made a list of ten movies we resolve to watch in 2010. Surprisingly, as much as we sometimes overlap, this time we only had one movie in common...sort of.

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

Oh, and this year we also resolve to post every episode here to the blog...here is our Christmas special. Whoops.

Incidentally, if you subscribe to us on iTunes, you'll get the show every week whether it's posted here or not.

Comments, questions, and spam forwards should be sent to videorevue@gmail.com.

Coming up next week: Our "Age of the Geek" month kicks off with an overview of Star Trek!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My new blog!

I have a new blog, everyone! Yay! Isn't it exciting?
What's it about? Well, I'll tell you: it's where I blog-ify about all of the books that I am working on. Currently, that would be one, but hey!
It can be found here.

Be safe, have fun, and spoil your dinner!
-Johnny Swanson