OK, the social media revolution is complete. I joined Twitter.
I’ve been reading too many articles lately in which some newswire is relaying news – typically celebrity news – based on what the celebrity in question has just tweeted. So, I figure, why not use Twitter as the news source it has become? I do not ever intend to tweet (I’m already on Facebook, and I honestly can’t see a reason to be on both, unless I’m caught in a real life, hashtag-worthy event…). Rather, I plan to use Twitter as a kind of “Facebook of the Stars,” in which I can read about what various celebrities are telling the world without having to catch up on them through E! Online or Yahoo! Gossip or some other aggregator that has worked an exclamation point into their name.
So, at the advice of a friend, I googled “Most Twitter Followers,” which led me to this site – a list of the one thousand most popular tweeters. Of the thousand I found there, I “followed” 59 people. Here they are, sorted in order from most followers to least:
|1) Lady Gaga||21) Al Yankovic||41) Hugh Jackman|
|2) Justin Bieber||22) Larry King||42) David Blaine|
|3) Britney Spears||23) Wil Wheaton||43) Drew Carey|
|4) Barack Obama||24) Lindsay Lohan||44) Lea Michele|
|5) Kim Kardashian||25) Penn Jillette||45) Miranda Cosgrove|
|6) Katy Perry||26) Bill Cosby||46) Craig Ferguson|
|7) Ellen DeGeneres||27) Dalai Lama||47) John Hodgman|
|8) Taylor Swift||28) Brent Spiner||48) William Shatner|
|9) Oprah Winfrey||29) Alyssa Milano||49) Steve Martin|
|10) Justin Timberlake||30) Kevin Nealon||50) Sarah Palin|
|11) Ashley Tisdale||31) Nick Swisher||51) Seth Meyers|
|12) Ryan Seacrest||32) Yoko Ono||52) Tina Fey|
|13) Paris Hilton||33) Sarah Silverman||53) Roger Ebert|
|14) Demi Moore||34) Neil Patrick Harris||54) Bill Maher|
|15) Jimmy Fallon||35) John Cleese||55) Joan Rivers|
|16) John Legend||36) Dr. Phil||56) Pamela Anderson|
|17) Al Gore||37) Barbara Walters||57) Miley Cyrus|
|18) Conan O’Brien||38) WikiLeaks||58) Jessica Simpson|
|19) Dr. Drew||39) Michael Moore||59) Howard Stern|
|20) Stephen Colbert||40) Kathy Griffin|
In terms of actual entertainment, I am fans of some of these folks and not of others, but they all looked like they might produce interesting tweets, which was my only criteria here (and thus concludes the story of how a Twitter user came to follow both Michael Moore and Sarah Palin on the same day. If only I had a way to share this exciting news with everyone I know. Oh yeah, that’s right: Facebook).
Anyway, first impressions of Twitter as news source:
- It works. In the first fifteen minutes, I learned that Ellen Degeneres had sat down with a seven-year old paleontologist, that Justin Bieber has raised over $7 million for a clean water charity by asking his fans to donate to it in honor of his upcoming birthday, that Roger Ebert hated the Oscar telecast, that Kathy Griffin is going to appear on Glee, that Lea Michelle had pasta with Tom Hanks after the Oscars, that Matthew Morrison has a new single out (quick review: Yuck), that Britney Spears has a new single out (quick review: didn’t bother clicking the link), that Barack Obama will work with anybody! ANYBODY! to improve Health Care Reform, and that Seth Myers wrote a clever line about Charlie Sheen (“Post-Oscars, when I say “The King’s Speech,” I’m referring to stuff Charlie Sheen said.”). Not bad as a quick (and mindless) news source.
- In the time it took me to read 1,000 names and click on 59 of them, 13 people followed me. One is an “online dog community,” one is extremely profane, one describes herself (forgive me for assuming the gender here) as a “Justin Bieber fan.” All thirteen are total strangers to me and likely not even real people. Regardless, all thirteen will be significantly disapointed when they notice that I never tweet. Not even once just to try it. Ever. Seriously.
- Wikileaks releases new, “shocking” information every hour or so. I honestly didn’t realize just how shock-jock they were about their information. I haven’t removed them from the feed yet, but they’re the only ones I’m considering removing at this point.
- And finally, I knew right away this was a mad, mad world when I followed President Obama and saw these two things pop up on my screen:
Yeah – this is gonna get weird fast…
A hospital in Spain has completed the first ever full face transplant:
The patient now has a completely new face from his hairline down and only one visible scar, which looks like a wrinkle running across his neck, said Dr. Joan Pere Barret, the surgeon who led the team. “If you look him in the face, you see a normal person, like anyone else we have as a patient in the hospital,” Barret told The Associated Press on Friday.
He declined to name the patient or give details of the accident five years ago in which he lost his face, saying only that he was a Spaniard between the ages of 20 and 40 and is recovering well. He cannot yet speak, eat or smile, but can see and swallow saliva.
So here’s my question: now that he has a new face, does he look more like Nicholas Cage or John Travolta?
Short version: Avatar is a formulaic story with under-developed characters portrayed by good (but not great) actors. None of this matters a single iota. Because Avatar, you see, is not a movie at all. It’s a working prototype. A hugely successful demo of what blockbuster movies will look like in the future. And like most successful demos, it involved a huge investment of time, money and creativity to produce something that the viewer simply cannot take his/her eyes off of. The future is here, folks, and it is Avatar.
Longer version (WARNING: Spoilers lie ahead, although I’m pretty sure I’m the last one on the planet to see the film, so it probably doesn’t matter. Just in case, though, you’ve been warned):
We took the kids to see Disney’s A Christmas Carol last night (super-quick review: an intense telling of the story, Jim Carey could legitimately win an Oscar for it if he isn’t careful, the 3-D is so good that I can’t imagine it not being the future of all movies, but way too scary for the kids – especially the seven-year old. Consider this your Parental Guidance). Anyway, during the previews (most of which were also in 3-D, by the way), there was an ad for something called FathomEvents.com.
The idea here is to bring special events into movie theaters for one-time only or limited-run performances. They have operas performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, old-time movies that get eviscerated by the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000, special on-location news reports by Elizabeth Vargas, and the like. Pretty cool idea, if you ask me. But then there’s this: “Glenn Beck’s The Christmas Sweater – A Return To Redemption.” From the website:
Before a studio audience, Glenn will tell you about the real life events that inspired him to write The Christmas Sweater, and he’ll share stories of the overwhelming response he received about how the tale’s message of redemption literally changed people’s lives, bringing many back from the brink of collapse and restoring family relationships. Then, Glenn will show a re-mastered and exclusive version of The Christmas Sweater taped live during his 2008 cross-country tour. Afterward, Glenn will introduce you to some of the people who were touched by the story and you’ll experience their intimate journey of transformation through the simple gift of redemption.
This incredible Christmas celebration will be simulcast to HD movie theatres all over the country. Join Glenn for the next evolution of The Christmas Sweater and see for yourself why critics and audiences alike are heralding it as a new American classic.
OK, seriously. Who let this guy out of his cage? What’s next? Rush Limbaugh Sings the Classics?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I have something in my eye…
(Hat tip: Kushol Gupta)
Perhaps the only thing wrong with Pixar’s latest movie, Up, is that it’s a Pixar movie, and as such, parents of young children might expect a light-hearted romp with a mild morality lesson at the end like Cars or Toy Story. What they get instead is somewhere between Finding Nemo and Hamlet (OK, a lot closer to Finding Nemo, but make no mistake – this is heavy stuff).
Our story concerns a young boy who is painfully complacent. He watches movies and newsreels about great adventurers and their adventures, but his idea of an adventure is jumping over a crack in the sidewalk or pretending his helium balloon is an explorer’s aircraft. He meets other kids who are more daring, and although he desperately wants to be like them, it’s just not inside of him. Most of the time, he can’t even bring himself to speak. He just watches life go by.
The young boy eventually grows up, marries a nice girl, and lives a dull, ordinary life as a balloon salesman at the local carnival. In his elder years, his wife dies, leaving him all alone in their tiny little house with nothing but his memories of her and his regrets about all the “adventures” they never got to take together.
A real family fun-fest, huh?
From there, we have a bit more of what you’d expect from a Pixar movie. The man decides to go on one honest-to-goodness adventure before he dies, so he rigs his house with thousands of helium balloons and flies it to South America (obviously, one of his lifelong regrets is never having taken a high school physics class, but I digress). Turns out a boy scout is on his porch when he takes off, and along the way, they run into a pack of talking dogs, a giant, multi-colored bird, and one of the adventurers of the man’s youth. The ending is satisfying and touching, and I won’t ruin it for you here.
Up is excellent film making in just about every way. The characters are multi-layered and expressive. Good acting, except that they’re all animated, so there isn’t any acting at all (at least not physically). The story is well written, although there are a few “why did that happen?” moments, but nothing I couldn’t forgive for the greater good. And, of course, the movie looks fantastic. Pixar is truly Disney’s high-end brand now, and Up is no exception. I saw the 3-D version, which was understated enough to enhance the movie without distracting from it (if you have the opportunity to see it in 2-D, go for it – I don’t think you really miss much in this case).
As for the heavy stuff, yes – it is a bit stark, but no more so than Nemo’s mother or Simba’s father dying in Finding Nemo and The Lion King. As long as you (and your kids) know what you’re getting into, I don’t think there’s anything in this film that would be off-putting or inappropriate.
And if they get a little scared? Just tell them to wait for the talking dogs.
With Angels and Demons, Ron Howard and Tom Hanks take on another Dan Brown novel that deals with high drama in, around, and about the Catholic Church. Like The DaVinci Code before it, Howard and Hanks turn out an excellent movie – gripping in its drama, engaging in its many action sequences, and satisfying in its ability to wrap up all the loose ends with a satisfying “reveal” at the end. This is one of those movies that seems to end soon after it started, until you look at your watch and find out that more than two hours have flown by. It’s the kind of movie where you walk out of theater talking to your date/spouse/friend about the intricacies and implications of the plot.
Especially if you’ve read the book.
Seeing this movie after reading the book is like reading the Fodor’s book about England cover-to-cover and then getting off the British Airways flight in Rome. It’s like being hit in the face with a bucket of cold water, drying off, and then having it happen again. Like walking into your favorite Chinese restaurant and finding out that the special of the day is Chicken Parmigiana. Like whiplash, only with popcorn.
I realize I’m a little late to this party, having finally acquired a babysitter and convinced my wife to go, but I just returned from seeing the Star Trek movie. My first order of business (aside from paying the babysitter) was to finally read both Ilya’s review and Jason’s pre-review, review, and post-review, all of which I’ve been saving for this moment.
We’ll start with my thoughts on the movie, and then move on to my thoughts on my friends’ thoughts. Before I even begin, though, I can see how this will take a while, so I offer a page-fold for those who don’t have the time nor the interest to go further.
And oh yes, there are spoilers. Lots and lots of ‘em. Trust me – if you haven’t seen the movie yet, just move along.
Jason got me again. That’s what I get for not ducking…
1. Pick one film to represent each letter of the alphabet.
2. The letter “A” and the word “The” do not count as the beginning of a film’s title, unless the film is simply titled A or The, and I don’t know of any films with those titles.
3. Return of the Jedi belongs under “R,” not “S” as in Star Wars Episode IV: Return of the Jedi. This rule applies to all films in the original Star Wars trilogy; all that followed start with “S.” Similarly, Raiders of the Lost Ark belongs under “R,” not “I” as in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Conversely, all films in the Lord of the Rings series belong under “L” and all films in the Chronicles of Narnia series belong under “C,” as that’s what those filmmakers called their films from the start. In other words, movies are stuck with the titles their owners gave them at the time of their theatrical release. Use your better judgement to apply the above rule to any series/films not mentioned.
4. Films that start with a number are filed under the first letter of their number’s word. 12 Monkeys would be filed under “T.”
5. Link back to Blog Cabins in your post so that I can eventually type “alphabet meme” into Google and come up #1, then make a post where I declare that I am the King of Google.
6. If you’re selected, you have to then select 5 more people.
Here’s Step #1-#4:
- Apollo 13
- Back to the Future
- Dead Poets Society
- E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
- Finding Nemo
- Good Will Hunting
- Happy Feet (because picking a Harry Potter film is too easy…)
- Independence Day
- Juno (because I was watching it on cable late last night…)
- King Kong
- Lethal Weapon
- Men in Black
- National Treasure
- Ocean’s Eleven
- Pretty Woman
- Q: The Movie (only movie on the list I haven’t seen. Someone’s gotta make some more “Q” movies)
- Shakespeare in Love
- There’s Something About Mary
- Van Helsing
- Wedding Crashers
- You’ve Got Mail
- Zapped! (because I couldn’t think of a “Z” and then Scott Baio popped into my head)
Step #5 is taken care of above.
Step #6 is always a problem for me. I simply don’t know 5 bloggers well enough to tag them with memes (especially when the meme comes from one or more of the bloggers I do know. So I’ll unceremoniously tag Jeff Porten, and leave it at that.
If you haven’t been living under a rock lately, you know that this weekend marked the debut of High School Musical 3, the third installment in the wildly successful Disney series. This was the first of the three that debuted in theaters (the other two living exclusively on The Disney Channel until, of course, they made their way to DVD). With two children in my house, ages 8 and 5, it was mandatory viewing this evening (my kids happen to be boys; if they were girls it would have been mandatory last night after school, or at least this morning – which is why I saw several neighborhood Brownie troops heading into the theater this morning when I went to buy advance tickets).
Asking a G-rated movie aimed primarily at pre-teen girls to live up to this kind of hype is asking a lot. It’s a true credit to this film to say that it handles the task admirably, although there are most definitely some flaws. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
First, the plot: the gang from HSM1 and HSM2 return for their senior year. Unlike the other two movies, this edition starts with the East Side High Wildcats basketball team winning it’s championship game. With that neatly out of the way, the group begins considering their future. Some, like Troy (Zac Efron) and Chad (Corbin Bleu) have obvious default choices – the University of Albuquerque (the local U. and Troy’s dad’s alma mater) already have their lockers picked out. Others, like Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) have selected their college, but have more complex choices to make, like whether to attend a college honors program that pulls her out of high school early enough to miss the school’s spring musical and it’s senior prom. These two events (but really the musical, as per the title) become the focus of the movie. The musical’s theme, “Senior Year” serves as a multi-faceted plot device that allows each character to consider his/her future through what he/she performs in the show, etc. In fact, in a scene that bends reality a bit [NO SPOILERS HERE - I PROMISE], the musical’s finale actually consists of the school’s drama teacher revealing each student’s plans for the following year, sometimes to the complete surprise of the student himself/herself.
In terms of a review, the best I can do is this: this movie constantly teeters on the brink of ridiculousness, but never actually crosses the line, leaving audiences (even the parents) feeling good at the end. Enough so that we forgive quite a bit of forced dialog, awkwardly wedged-in song cues, and the occasional bout of over-acting. The actors do a fine job with what they’re given, although quite a few of them have grown up significantly since the last movie, a fact that is conveniently ignored throughout the film, of course. The leads, Efron and Hudgens, are clearly being groomed for other, non-Disney roles, as they appear much more grown-up and edgier this time around. And the music? The music has become a genre of it’s own. It’s the kind of music you could hear totally out of context and say to yourself, “that sounds like a High School Musical song.” Surprisingly, it took the writers untill the graduation scene in the third movie to actually write a song called “High School Musical,” and it’s title is so jarring that even the kids winced a bit when the cast launched into it.
But whatever flaws the movie has are very much beside the point. When the lights went down at the beginning of the picture, the audience in the theater burst into spontaneous, anticipatory applause. The applauded after several of the musical numbers as well. And my kids? In typical Disney fashion, my kids’ reaction was exactly what Disney was hoping for. The older one sat mesmerized throughout the film, memorizing every detail and pointing out subtleties in the plot (“Mommy, if Gabriella goes to college in California and Troy goes to college in New Mexico, they won’t get to see each other so much anymore”). The younger one smiled ear-to-ear throughout the film and then, as if struck by lightning, turned to me during the finale and said, “Daddy, is this the last High School Musical movie ever on the entire earth?” Well, son, they’ve graduated now, so unless someone’s writing “College Musical 1,” then yes – this is the end. His reaction: “Can we buy the DVD tomorrow?”
Bottom line: if you (and/or your kids) enjoyed the first two films, then this truly is required viewing. It’s Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith without all the complicated whining about how the writer/director didn’t satisfactorily tie up all the loose ends. You will leave the theater tapping your toe, feeling good, and satisfied that the story reached a proper conclusion. Then, you’ll get in your car and realize that it’s High School Freakin’ Musical music that you’re humming, and immediately click over to your hard rock playlist to clear your palette.
Or at least, that’s what I did…