Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I think I'm supposed to indicate that I paid money to see this, due to some FCC rules or somethin'. (do I only have to indicate if I got in free?)

Also, spoilers.

There was a lot of pre-Sundance buzz about Hesher - well, at least in my circle. Lots of people asked me if I was going to see this one - and since I'm nothing if not a slave to buzz, I said "Well, I'll try."

Here's the synopsis from the Sundance website:

Hesher is the story of a family struggling to deal with loss and the anarchist who helps them do it—in a very unexpected way.
TJ is 13 years old. Two months ago, his mom was killed in an accident, leaving TJ and his grieving dad to move in with grandma to pick up the pieces. Hesher is a loner. He hates the world—and everyone in it. He has long, greasy hair and homemade tattoos. He likes fire and blowing things up. He lives in his van—until he meets TJ.
Hesher is that rare film that manages to be a completely original vision, a thoroughly entertaining story, and a provocative metaphor. Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings the character of Hesher to life with anger and angst, and Devin Brochu makes quite a splash as the young boy dealing with both the loss of his mother and an unwanted houseguest. Cowriter/director Spencer Susser crafts a multidimensional, darkly humorous film that exhibits an immensely talented storyteller at work.

Except here's the problem: "completely original vision?" Not so much. It seemed like the entirety of this story was something I had seen before. Kid with a dead mom? Check. Bearded dad dealing with his emotions through sleep and pills? Check. Frumpy, sonsy grandma who takes the path of least resistance? Check? Long-haird weirdo who drives a black van? Check. Awkward girl with a dead-end job and unfortunate glasses? Check. Do you want me to keep going? 'Cause I could. The acting was quite good, particularly the little guy who plays TJ, but I think all the cast did a remarkable job with what they were given - which was incredibly trite, overly formulaic, and spelled out like the audience was full of dummies. Another example: if you have any sense of cinematic storytelling, you knew that the dad was responsible for the mom's death, and that the kid was there when it happened. So why, WHY did they director/screenwriter feel the need to show us in a flashback? Ridiculous.

You know who's going to love this movie? People who don't have a lot of imagination.

Hesher - C-

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sundance Update

Here's another reason why the world is so amazing: I am sitting in a theater RIGHT NOW, waiting for my next film to start. Wireless technology is awesome!
So I'm at the Sundance Film Festival. Nestled in the Wasatch Valley in Park City, Utah, Sundance is the grandfather of independent film festivals. OK, probably not. This is only the 26th year. Maybe it's the glorious winner of independent film festivals. Everyone knows about it, and everyone thinks they know what's going on. Well, I'm here to tell you that Sundance is basically a game, a game you can only win by packing appropriate footwear and bringing a stopwatch. My buddy from another theater says that seeing five films in a day means you win, and seeing six films in a day means you're a superhero. I assure you that I'll only see up to four in a day.

Gotta run!

Sundance so far - B+

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shut. Up. SHUT UP!

If I were good at photo shop, I would have added Dr. Horrible to this picture - because word on the street is, Neil Patrick Harris is going to appear in an episode of Glee... directed by Joss Whedon! 


Seriously, I'm super excited.  It's slated to air during sweeps week in May.  NPH could sing three notes and I'd be happy.  Squeee!

NPH and Glee - A+

(and here's a bonus pic for you Dr. Horrible fans:)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Utah

Technology is awesome. I took this picture (well, had this picture taken of me) yesterday, and look! Here it is on the Internet already!

I'm in Utah right now. I'm acting as the conference manager at the Art House Convergence - the boss at my real job is the conference chair, so he brought me along to register people, make sure all the tech needs are taken care, fix any small problems that crop up along the way... basically, do my regular job, but in Utah. So that's fun! I've never been to Utah before. Then, I'm going to a few days of the Sundance Film Festival. If I see anything truly awesome, I'll let you know.

In this picture, you'll see a crazy ice hose sculpture castle. I don't know what to call it, exactly, but you can see more truly incredible pictures here. It's out of this world - and totally worth the $2 admission!

Utah - A-

Monday, January 11, 2010

Viva Pinata

Holy crap. This game is AWESOME! When my friend tried to explain it to me, I really didn't get it, so I don't expect you to get it, either, but here goes: you get this garden, and based on what's in your garden (good soil, oak tree, daisies), different pinatas are attracted to your garden and come to visit. And if they really like your garden, they move in. When you get two of the same kind of pinata, you can romance them, and then they'll make more pinatas. Sometimes, bigger pinatas will eat smaller pinatas (last night, a Syrupent ate a Mousemallow), and sometimes, evil pinatas will drop bad candy and pinatas will get sick. If a pinata is 100% happy, it can go to a party, which is ultimately what all pinatas want... yay!
OK, you don't get it, do you? You'll just have to trust me that this game is super cute and stupid fun. So sorry if you don't see me around for the next few days - I'm getting my pinata on.

Viva Pinata - A

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Welcome to the latest feature of NaiveHelga: Point/Counterpoint. Each week, my friend Jjack and I will blog about the same subject and discuss our differing opinions on said subject. In a perfect world, we'll watch the same movie or TV show, read the same book or listen to the same album - we don't have all the deets worked out yet, but I have a vision that I'll pick one one week, she'll pick the next week, and so on. Also, it could probably more accurately be called Point/Point - we tend to think alike. And I'm hoping Jjack comes up with a sweet graphic we can use for each Point/Counterpoint topic. Good luck, J.

First up: bowling! Who doesn't love bowling!? Nate doesn't, that's who. We've never been bowling together. Bowling in and of itself isn't that great. The balls are heavy, the shoes possibly filled with fungus. But the sports within the sport are awesome. Drinking cheap beer out of plastic cups is always a good time. Selecting crappy tunes from the jukeobox is also fun. But best of all is the people watching. The last time I went bowling, I watched the mating rituals of twelve-year-olds. Basically, White Shirt was trying to put the moves on Red Polo, but Antlers (it was during the holiday season, not a girl with actual antlers) totally keopt cock-blocking her. Plus, Sweater was trying to mack on White Shirt when Red Polo was up to bowl. Not to mention the Ethiopians bowling in the lane right next to us. They were funny.

Bowling - B+; head on over to The Jackson Update to see what Jjack has to say!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Movie Madness: Star Trek

Finally got around to watching Star Trek the other night. It probably would have been better on the big screen, or at least a bigger at-home screen... with surround-sound. Anybody want to get me a 50" flat screen?

I really liked this version of Star Trek - I'm a sucker for origination stories. And Chris Pine and Zach Quinto were great as Kirk and Spock! Maybe too much sexual tension... and I really liked that there was some plot to this movie. It was an action-driven story, to be sure, but there was in fact a story. Good times!

Star Trek - A-

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Cannonball Read - One Last Post

Here's a quick recap of the best books of my year:

World War Z by Max Brooks
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
The Gates by John Connolly
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood

Add them to your reading lists!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Cannonball Read: From One Who Almost Made It

The age old question goes like this: how do you measure a year? Some believe you can measure in sunsets or cups of coffee; me, I think a year is best measured in books.

On January 1, 2009, I embarked on a major undertaking: read 100 books in a year (for you non-math majors, that averages out to two books a week). And for a while, I was right on track. The first quarter was the easiest - I finished 22 books in three months, just a tiny bit behind. But then I started to slip. By October, I had only read 75 books - leaving me two months to read 25 books, when the most I had read in any given month was nine. But I wouldn't quit - and I wouldn't change my self-imposed rules. I almost punched my husband in the face this weekend when he said I wasn't "in it to win it." He clarified by saying that, if all I wanted to do was read 100 books in a year, I would have chosen ALL young-adult books, or ALL books that barely cracked the 200-page minimum, or I would have re-read some of my favorites so that I could skim. So he was right - I wasn't just in it to win it, I was in it challenge myself, to STOP reading some of my perennial favorites, and to read things I had always wanted to, no matter the length (case in point: Middlesex, one of my favorite books of the year, coming in at 544 pages; in fact, my best-reviewed books of the year were all over 400 pages). But as recently as December 28, I thought I might make it. 8 books in 4 days? I could do it... but I didn't. And that's OK. It was about the journey, and the awesome books I read this year. I will wrap up 2009 having read 94 books - not too shabby.

I'll probably never get to get up onstage and thank a bunch of people for helping me along the way, so allow me this indulgence:
- Shannon, Mark and Sarah; Charlie and Kevin; Pat, Nat and Elliott (twice!); Bill & Justina, for living far away and allowing me a visit - those train and plane trips made for lots of uninterrupted free time to read
- Brian Prisco and AlabamaPink, the original Cannonball Readers - you inspired me
- all the 2009 Cannonball Readers, particularly the lovely Mrs. Figgy Lockwood-Figueroa - a little healthy competition never hurt anybody

- the Ann Arbor District Library - word up!

- anyone who loaned a book, gave a book as a gift, or recommended a book - I couldn't have done it without you

- the Natester - for all the uninterrupted time on the couch, and for not talking to me during dinner

What did I learn from this challenge? Reading is AWESOME. Seriously. You should read more! I've also learned that I need quantity isn't as important as quality. Some of these books I gobbled down; I didn't get to savor nearly enough of them, and I plowed through some excellent books just to have time to read some not-so-great books . So for my final six books of the challenge, in 2010, I'm going to go back and re-read some of my all time favorites, as well as the three A+s that I gave this year.

Cannonball Read - A-