Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (1/23)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Cassandra Peterson with her Monster High “Skullector” doll of ‘Elvira’ (circa 1/23)

– Mattel released an exclusive Monster High “Skullector” doll of Elvira… which is cute as hell, but maybe a little *too* exclusive for many collectors, who were complaining that it sold out in the blink of a newt’s eye!

Anna Kendrick got high on hot sauce, while enduring her Hot Ones interrogation.

– Despite having been a “fan” of Sandra Bernhard since my early teens, and listening to her album Excuses for Bad Behavior (Part One) (1994) on a weekly basis back at uni, for some reason I’ve only just become aware that she released a video for “Manic Superstar” (1994), back in the day. The song is a glorious mash-up of “Everything’s Alright” from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar with “Manic Depression” by Jimi Hendrix, and the suitably-“schizophrenic” promo looks incredible, even if it is just a low-res rip from an old VHS tape!

Joy Sunday gave Seventeen magazine a surprisingly emotional show-and-tell, explaining the stories behind some of her most treasured possessions/mementos. Turns out she’s kind of a “dork” (her words, not mine!), with a longstanding love of Fantasy fiction, and an ambition to be cast as a live-action-Anime (?) heroine!

Geraldine Viswanathan as ‘Freya Exaltada’ in “Miracle Workers” (S4) (2023)

– Somehow I was able to watch the first ep of the new (fourth) season of TBS’s Miracle Workers, even though the actual air-date has been delayed. I really enjoyed the post-apocalyptic “End Times” setting, and was simping hard for Geraldine Viswanathan‘s aggressive/intimidating goth-punk warlord ‘Freya Exaltada’… even if Jon Bass did steal every scene he was in as her dog-like sidekick, ‘Scraps’. I hope the rest of the eps get released soon… the jokes are kinda “out there” and often in “bad taste” (we first meet Daniel Radcliffe‘s Mad-Max-esque ‘Sid’ gnawing the dry flesh off a human arm-bone, for example), but the cast have such great chemistry/charm.

Meg Tilly posted her first “Cozy Tea Time” chat in several months, after a break from social media for health reasons… but she seemed to be in high spirits here, and had plenty good news to share!

Sadie Sink made an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, discussing the high-points of her career so far.

Anya Taylor-Joy revealed the mildly terrifying contents of her “Lady Dior” bag, for the official YT channel.

Jenna Ortega as 'Wednesday Addams' in "Wednesday" (S1) (2022)

– I finished the first season of Netflix’s Wednesday series, after rationing myself to one ep a week (which I always watched on Wednesday, obvs), and have rather mixed feelings about the experience overall. Jenna Ortega is absolutely incredible as the eponymous uber-goth, and totally deserves some sort of award (or two) for her unblinking commitment (and iconic dance moves). Gwendoline Christie, Hunter Doohan, Riki Lindhome, Emma Myers, Christina Ricci, and the aforementioned Joy Sunday were also a lot of fun in their respective roles, so no complaints there. But, as I said in a previous post, the premise and plot-line of this season were just too similar to Monster High: The Movie (2022) for me to fully enjoy and engage with… I kinda felt like I was watching a premature remake, where I already knew whodunnit and why! Sigh… hopefully the second season will bring something fresher to the table…? If it somehow turns out to have the same story as the forthcoming MH sequel, I’m going to be mightily suspicious/upset!

– Meanwhile, Ryan George‘s “Pitch Meeting” for the series did a great job of nailing/expressing the concerns I also had over the slightly inconsistent characterisation at the heart of its premise… i.e., Wednesday has always seemed like the sort of girl who’d fight *alongside* a murderous monster, not against them!

Aubrey Plaza hosting “Saturday Night Live” (ep #48.10) (2023)

Aubrey Plaza hosted ep #48.10 of Saturday Night Live, kicking off her reign by demonstrating her “impersonation skills” (and maybe some other skills as well, wink-wink) to Chloe Fineman in a promotional skit,* followed by one of the (very) few host/guest-announcement vids I’ve ever actually laughed at. As for the show itself, my highlights were Plaza’s opening monologue/set-tour (link), the “Miss Universe” pageant (link), the “Film Noir” parody (co-starring Sharon Stone!) (link), the increasingly horny “game night” (link), and the Black-owned “White Lotus” spoof (link) (which gave Ego Nwodim another chance to shine, and Fineman the perfect excuse to break out her officially-approved Jennifer Coolidge impersonation). This was probably the first ep in recent memory that I’ve watched from beginning to end without skipping one-or-two sketches, and that’s solely because of the awesome/intense star-power of Plaza!

– Perennial faves include Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!

———–

* It took me a while to adjust to seeing Plaza as a blonde… and Fineman as a brunette… the whole world’s gone topsy-turvy!

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P.S.A.: Holocaust Memorial Day 2023

Annelies Marie Frank (1929 – 1945)

In the run-up to HMD, various news-sites published survey results suggesting that successive generations are becoming more forgetful/sceptical about what happened 80 years ago… which is pretty dire considering how easy it is to access this information via most computer/online dictionaries:  

“The Holocaust: The mass murder of Jewish people under the German Nazi regime during the period 1941–5. More than 6 million European Jews, as well as members of other persecuted groups such as Romani, gay people, and disabled people, were murdered at concentration camps such as Auschwitz.” … “Concentration camps: A place in which large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities, sometimes to provide forced labour or to await mass execution. The term is most strongly associated with the several hundred camps established by the Nazis in Germany and occupied Europe 1933–45, among the most infamous being Dachau, Belsen, and Auschwitz.”

Incidentally, there’s a fascinating documentary series on the BBC’s iPlayer at the moment called “The US and the Holocaust”, which (among other things) explores how and why “the land of immigrants” resisted granting asylum to Jewish refugees like Anne Frank and her family. Not that the UK was much more welcoming, of course… “we” would’ve only accepted the children, and not their parents, apparently…!

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Rant: “Wednesday” S1 vs. “Monster High: The Movie” (2022) [SPOILERS!]

Jenna Ortega as 'Wednesday Addams' in "Wednesday" (S1) (2022)

I don’t believe anyone really needs to read this, but I desperately need to write it, so here goes! Having enjoyed the live-action Monster High movie a couple weeks before I started watching Netflix’s Wednesday Addams series, I couldn’t help being distracted by the striking similarities between them:

1) They both begin with the lead character (a teenaged female “monster”/“outcast”) freaking out a bunch of human/“normie” boys, and being sent away by their parent(s) to a secluded boarding school (which their mother also attended, back in the day), to be among their own kind.

2) They’re quickly befriended by a seemingly-sympathetic bespectacled teacher (the only one we spend any real time with, or actually see teaching a class), who’s also a relatively recent arrival at the school, and turns out to be the secretly-evil villain of the story.

3) The heroine’s unique blood-heritage is vital to unlocking a crypt/coffin, to further the villain’s nefarious scheme. In both cases the girl’s hand is used, though that wasn’t strictly necessary in Wednesday’s case.

4) The villain is intent on destroying the school, to avenge an ancestor they believe was ill-treated by the monsters/outcasts.

5) The heroine flees the school after receiving a cryptic warning regarding the danger she supposedly poses, before returning to help save the day.

Miia Harris as ‘Clawdeen Wolf' in "Monster High: The Movie" (2022)

6) The villain’s plan involves a gawky guy turning into a beefed-up “Hyde” monster… though in Wednesday they’re more of a henchman/attack-dog*, while in Monster High the evil teacher is also the Hyde.

7) The heroine is aided by a loyal friend with stitched-together “Frankenstein” flesh, who’s revived using electricity.

8) A sub-plot involves an insecure-but-upbeat werewolf-girl with colourful hair romancing a gorgon-boy who conceals his head-snakes under a knitted cap…. though again, in Monster High they’re both main characters, while in Wednesday they’re side-kicks.

None of this is to imply that Wednesday’s creators, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, ripped off Monster High… I’m a firm believer in “simultaneous creation”, having seen plenty coincidences like this crop up in my own life as a writer, and of course there are countless differences between the two**… I just needed to vent my frustration over how one unrelated mystery-based production inadvertently spoiled the other for me!

———–

* Incidentally, as soon as Wednesday started talking about a hidden Hyde, I guessed it was probably ‘Tyler’ (Hunter Doohan) the barista, because he looked the most like Jason Flemyng, who played ‘Dr. Jekyll’/‘Mr. Hyde’ in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). Not sure if that was intentional or not, but once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it!

** For one thing, Monster High had much better LGBTQ representation than Wednesday, despite ostensibly being aimed at a younger audience…

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (12/22)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Odessa A'zion as ‘Riley McKendry’ in “Hellraiser” (2022)

– After spending several weeks sampling various wholesome Hallmark-y holiday flicks, and invariably tapping out after the first few corny scenes, I somehow ended up spending Christmas evening watching the 2022 Hellraiser reboot/remake, starring Odessa A’zion. I can’t remember the last time I saw the 1987 original, but I definitely enjoyed this version more, and got quite hooked (pun!) into all the lore, even though I was flinching/looking away during the gorier parts! The performances were great, and the scenes of the “real world” intersecting with the Cenobites’ dimension were very unsettling… I mean, on a conscious level I know it’s not very spooky for a film-set to split apart like a film-set, but the sound design, direction, and acting really sold it to me. Meanwhile, the casting of trans actress Jamie Clayton as iconic villain “Pinhead” inspired LGBTQ Nation to explore the character’s more “androgynous” appearance in the 1986 source-novella The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker (embarrassingly, I didn’t realise he was gay until I read this article… even though he’s been out since the 1990s!).

– “Weird Al” Yankovic discussed some of his most “Iconic Tracks” for GQ… though sadly he didn’t explain how “Dare To Be Stupid” came to be included in The Transformers: The Movie (1986) during the Junkion chase-scene, which I was fully obsessed with as a kid. “Bah-weep, grannah-weep, ninny-bong!?”

– Paramore released their timely new single “The News”, which deals with doom-scrolling-induced-despair, accompanied by an appropriately anxious/off-kilter video.

Cent Chihiro Chittiii for Bish’s “Zutto” video (2022)

– Bish completed their epic endeavour to release twelve consecutive singles over the course of a year, before their scheduled break-up in 2023 (sniffle). The video for their new track “Zutto” features several flashbacks to previous promos, as if to say “sayonara” to us all, but is very upbeat and colourful overall. They also posted the now-expected dance-y version, and a surprise behind-the-scenes video too! Meanwhile, Elle Japan coaxed members Cent Chihiro Chittiii, Lingling, and Ayuni D into revealing “What’s In [Their] Bag[s]” (the descriptions/explanations were in Japanese, and therefore incomprehensible to me, but the onscreen captions identifying the items were in English (or French, as applicable) so I still gained some insight from it).

– Lizzy Caplan appeared on Conan O’Brien’s “Needs A Friend” vodcast, where she (gently) mocked the host’s fascination with “real” British pubs (link), discussed the weirdly confrontational way that some people approach famous actors (link), gushed over Jesse Eisenberg (link), analysed the enduring appeal of Mean Girls (link), learned what a killjoy Conan was back in college (link), lamented the transitory nature of film-set friendships (link), and suggested that “celebrity wealth” websites might not be 1000% accurate (link).

Nova Twins with their “band of the year” issue of “Kerrang!” (12/22)

– Kerrang! anointed Nova Twins as its “band of the year”, and put them on the cover of the December issue, which also included some great full-page photos to accompany the interview celebrating all of their recent accomplishments.

– The YT channel Dust debuted a sweary sci-fi-comedy-short called “Eureka!”*, starring Karen Gillan as a “couch-surfing” slacker who’s contacted in her dreams by an impatient alien muse claiming to have gifted her with a brilliant idea several years ago, that she’s just been sleeping on this whole time. Hilarity (and hastily-animated copyright-infringement) ensues! Also co-starring Jon Bass as the human incarnation of her extraterrestrial benefactor, Jillian Bell as her disappointed-but-financially-supportive sister, and Betsy Sodaro as the leader of a sobriety support group that gets guilted into helping out.

– Izzzyzzz took a very entertaining (and informative) “deep dive” into the history of the Monster High doll line, though sadly it was posted prior to the release of the live-action movie and new animated series, so they weren’t covered.

– The Letterman YT channel dusted off a vintage clip of “Sandra Bernhard’s First Appearance With Dave” (on his “Late Night” show), which was recorded shortly after the premiere of The King of Comedy (21/2/83).

Pom Klementieff as ‘Mantis’ in “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” (2022)

– Disney+ desecrated the holiday season with a surprisingly subversive Guardians of the Galaxy special, in which the hilariously clueless odd-couple of ‘Drax’ (Dave Bautista) and ‘Mantis’ (Pom Klementieff) erred towards becoming terrifying super-villains, as they drank, brawled, and thieved their way across Hollywood, intent on abducting the actual Kevin Bacon as a “present” for ‘Peter’ (Chris Pratt)! Despite all the overturned cop-cars, it’s ultimately a very heart-warming story, with plenty big laughs, and even a couple tears at the end, dammit! Oh, and the soundtrack was great (as usual) too, with seasonal tracks from The Pogues/Kirsty MacColl, Hanoi Rocks, Low, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Little Jackie… as well as an original song co-written by James Gunn and Old 97’s (“I Don’t Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here)”) which has proven to be a very infectious ear-worm!

– And if you’re curious to see what Klementieff’s real human face looks like when she’s doing comedy, she appeared in a Funny Or Die skit back in 2016 where she tormented her agent (Sheila Carrasco) with a series of (belated) self-tape auditions for inappropriate roles!

– I dug up an old-ish video on the Nickelodeon channel from June 2022 (aka “Pride Month”) in which Ceci Balagot (billed as “Frankie From Monster High”) chatted with “Tik Tok Dancer” Conrad Rocha about gender expression, casual representation, “coming out”, and the importance of being yourself, in-between learning funky new dance moves!

Ceci Balagot, Nayah Damasen, and Miia Harris for “Monster High: The Movie” (12/22)

– This then led to me bingeing a bunch more MH clips, including one where the main cast (Balagot, Miia Harris, Nayah Damasen, and Case Walker) talk about inclusivity (link), one where they relive their auditions (link), one where they introduce their characters (link), one where they sing acoustic “unplugged” versions of a couple songs from the movie (“Three Of Us” / “Trust”) (link), and one where the extended cast (including Jy Prishkulnik and Marci T. House) play a punny word-game (link).

– Perennial faves include Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!

———–

* As far as I can tell, this actually premiered at the Tribeca Festival back in 2019, and is listed on IMDb as the pilot for an anthology series called “neurotica” that never came to be!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (11/22)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Sandra Bernhard as 'Masha' in "The King of Comedy" (1982)

– Sandra Bernhard generously answered every question Vulture had about Martin Scorsese’s “uncanny cult classic” The King of Comedy (1982), which remains one of my fave films of all time, and certainly my fave Scorsese flick (though Taxi Driver is a close second, no question).

– Sarah Nixey released her bleakly beautiful, scathingly satirical new single “Lies of the Land” via Bandcamp.

– Jenny Nicholson finally unleashed her epic exposé of Evermore, aka “The Theme Park That Wasn’t”. Apparently she originally planned to dash off a quick, half-hour travel-vlog about the place, but during her research she stumbled down a deep, dark rabbit-hole of deception, disappointment, and despair! At this point it’s already racked up nearly 3x million views (that’s roughly 1 million per week!), despite its epic length.

I dug up an old-ish video (from 2019) in which Miriam Shor chats to Playbill about how she was first cast in the off-Broadway version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and considers the show’s legacy.

I celebrated “Life Day” by re-watching The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special (2020), which is set sometime after “the sequel trilogy”, but involves ‘Rey’ (Helen Sadler) using a magical McGuffin to travel back to the “original” and “prequel” eras, in order to study past Jedi master/padawan dynamics, while her friends attempt to put a Wookiee-worthy feast together. It’s very silly and “cartoon-y”, but I really enjoy it … and ‘Rose’ (Kelly Marie Tran) gets more dialogue in this 45-min cartoon than she did in the whole of The Rise of Skywalker, so that’s a big plus in my book!

Ashley Eckstein meditating in "Mindful Matters: Breathe, Just Breathe" (2022)

– Meanwhile, SWE tipped me off to the existence of a Star Wars Kids channel, offering almost an hour’s worth of animated seasonal (Winter/Spooky/Summer) shorts, as well as “mindfulness” vids fronted by Ashley Eckstein (the voice of ‘Ahsoka’ in various animated series)! Yay!

– Chloë Grace Moretz took the Wired Autocomplete Challenge, answering “the internet’s most searched questions about herself”, and also offering a totally unprovoked critique of her own name!

The Monster High channel posted another behind-the-scenes clip from the live-action movie, this time giving a glimpse into the soundtrack recording with the cast.

– Bish posted a crazy, colourful collage of a video for their new single “Datsu Kisei Gainen” (De-conceptualisation?), followed over a week later by the customary dance version. Phew! Then for #YouTubeMusicWeekend (!?), they shared the first half-hour (7x tracks) of their latest live show, the “Colonized Tour”, which is due to be released on DVD/BR on December 21st (for the Solstice?)!

– Lupita Nyong’o broke down 13x “looks” for Vogue, from a student production at Yale School of Drama, all the way up to the new Black Panther sequel, Wakanda Forever. Then she answered a bunch more questions about that movie for Elle.

– Perennial faves include Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!

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Rant: “Andor” S1 (2022)

Faye Marsay as ‘Vel Sartha’ in “Andor” S1 (2022)

The first season of the Star Wars: Rogue One (2016) prequel series Andor came to a chaotic/violent end this week, with various characters and factions converging/clashing at a riotous funeral. I wasn’t expecting much from this show initially, but it proved to be a very enjoyable and engaging spy-fi thriller, with a vaguely Kubrick-ian sense of humour, and plenty call-backs/forwards to other entries in the franchise. Diego Luna absolutely rocked the title role of selfish-rogue-turned-Rebel-spy, but he was ably supported (and occasionally overshadowed) by a stellar cast, including: Genevieve O’Reilly as sympathetic Imperial Senator ‘Mon Mothma’ (reprising/expanding her role from Revenge of the Sith (2005)), Fiona Shaw as the hero’s daring adoptive mother, Faye Marsay as the ostensive leader of a felonious Rebel cell, Andy Serkis as a gruff prison “floor manager”, and Forest Whitaker as the increasingly unstable (scene-stealing) ‘Saw Gerrera’.

Apparently viewing-figures were pretty low compared to swashbuckling space-western The Mandalorian, but that isn’t really surprising, considering how much “darker” and “slower” this series was by design. I don’t think that’s a bad thing… a wider variety of styles, tones, and sub-genres should strengthen the franchise overall, and I for one appreciated this gritty “ground-level” view of the Empire’s rise, and look forward to the second season.

Meanwhile, my appreciation for the themes/imagery that recurred throughout the series has been greatly enhanced by the weekly reviews/breakdowns posted by Star Wars Explained (link) and New Rockstars (link).

P.S. You also have to give them credit for introducing an upfront LGBTQ couple who can’t be edited out of the show… even if their relationship had to be sacrificed (paused?) for the cause…

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GothWatch: Draculaura

Nayah Damasen as ‘Draculaura' in "Monster High: The Movie" (2022)

Hopefully I’ll be able to move on from Monster High at some point, but not before I give a shout-out to ‘Draculaura’… I mean, you can’t get much gothier than a vampire who [SPOILER?] also practices witchcraft, can you? As a newbie/casual fan, I’m totally ignorant about the characters’ various backstories and lore, so I find it a little odd that some of them have surnames (such as ‘Frankie Stein’), while others don’t… I know they’re just meant to be fun puns, and I shouldn’t overthink it, but if they’re all students at a high school, don’t they need to have full names established at some point for report cards and such…? Apparently Draculaura is Count Dracula’s (adopted?) daughter, so it’s not inconceivable that her legal name is “Draculaura Dracula”… which I kinda like, personally. Either way, I really dig her slightly-snobby-princess-with-a-heart persona, pink/black colour scheme, and bat-themed aesthetic.

I thought Nayah Damasen really shone in the live-action movie, and I’m glad to see she could feature even more prominently in next year’s sequel, if [SPOILER?] they follow-up on the first instalment’s cliff-hanger ending. Damasen also contributed several songs to the soundtrack, as a member of Nickelodeon’s in-house “girl group” The Good Newz Girls, who have a bunch of Christmassy vids up on YT, which I’ll have to check out once I’m past my self-imposed “No X-mas music before December 1st” embargo.

Meanwhile, Draculaura is voiced by Courtney Lin in the new cartoon series, and has her own animated theme song music video, “Here for Life”.

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (10/22)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

'Frankie Stein' in “Monster High” (circa 10/22)

– Still on a Monster High kick, I discovered that Nickelodeon has started airing a new cartoon series, and that the first couple eps (“Food Fight” (link) and “Unfinished Brain-ness” (link)) are available to watch for free on YT. I thought they were pretty entertaining, despite being a little too frenetic for my ageing brain to follow at times… and it’s cool seeing ‘Frankie’ (voiced by Iris Menas) using their electric powers and replaceable bionic limbs to fight baddies! There’s also a music video for Frankie’s theme song, “Sparked To Life”!

Kristen Schaal appeared as a contestant on a chaotic ep of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune (#3.3), competing against Kevin McKidd and Ron Funches for charity… then in ep #3.4, Nikki Glaser faced off against Tig Notaro and Thomas Lennon. Both clashes were prefaced by backstage interviews, courtesy of Maggie Sajak (link and link).

Bailey Meyers blessed us with a new Goosedrunks reading, this time tackling “The Haunted Mask”, just in time (to get tipsy) for Halloween.

Garbage re-upped the (mildly sapphic) spy-fi video for their bombastic Bond theme “The World Is Not Enough” (1999), in the wake of performing at The Sound of 007 concert at the Royal Albert Hall (which also boasted Skin covering “Live and Let Die”, and Paloma Faith covering “Goldeneye”)! A couple weeks later the band released Anthology, a (2-disc) greatest hits collection featuring various remastered “hit singles and fan favourites”, including the above… so that all worked out nicely, dinnit?

Melissa Bonny in Ad Infinitum’s “Upside Down” (2022)

Ad Infinitum posted a flashy/fiery video for their new single “Upside Down” (from their not very forthcoming album Chapter III – Downfall (due March 31st 2023!)). Sadly they seem to have dropped the old-timey aesthetic/theming from their previous albums, but Melissa Bonny is still a total metal-goddess, so I’ll allow it.

Sandy Honig directed a very amusing music video for Nnamdï (“Touchdown”) which begins with a skit starring Sarah Sherman, along with fellow “Debras” Alyssa Stonoha and Mitra Jouhari!

Bish delivered an oppressive/apocalyptic/euphoric video for their new single “Kanashimi yo Tomare” (“Stop Being Sad”?), followed swiftly by a more down-to-earth dance-y version.

Taskmaster heralded the arrival of its 14th “season” with another batch of contestant interviews, including my personal faves Fern Brady (link) and Sarah Millican (link)! Then, to celebrate their YT channel attracting a million subscribers, they shared an “Unseen Tie Break” task, which was apparently used across three separate “seasons” (#11-13), so we get to see Victoria Coren Mitchell, Bridget Christie, Sophie Duker, Sarah Kendall, Judi Love, Charlotte Ritchie, Morgana Robinson, and Mike Wozniak all (unknowingly) competing against each other!

3rd Secret shared a video of “Somewhere in Time”, recorded live at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) back in March.

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Times (link), Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!

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Rant: “Monster High: The Movie” (2022)

Ceci Balagot as ‘Frankie Stein’ in "Monster High: The Movie" (2022)

After seeing the trailer a couple months back, I thought this might make for a fun Halloween-y watch… and despite being kinda corny and “childish” (considering it was directed by Todd Holland, who helmed 50x eps of The Larry Sanders Show, and 26x eps of Malcolm in the Middle), there were some entertaining song-and-dance numbers, a smattering of a jokes I lol’d at, incredible costumes/make-up across the board, and several ideas I’d like to see explored/expanded on in a more mature project… mostly concerning the character of ‘Frankie Stein’, a “non-binary” monster who introduced themselves using “they/them” pronouns. I thought this made a lot of sense, since their stitched-together body (including a patchwork brain) is supposedly composed of both male and female parts, collected from various deceased “donors”… but it’s when they started identifying the exact provenance of these organs, that things started getting dicey for me…

At one point in the story Frankie deciphers a secret diary, and claims that a bit of their cortex came from Alan Turing (“He cracked the German code in World War II and saved the world. He was awesome!”)… which is a pretty “deep cut” for an otherwise fairly lightweight musical-fantasy based on a line of fashion dolls, and also kinda disturbing if you actually think about it for a minute. I mean, obviously the idea of a reanimated jigsaw-puzzle-person is inherently ghoulish and unwholesome, but by name-checking Turing specifically, they’ve established that Frankie’s “parents” dug up the corpse of a tragic British war-hero (who was disgraced/prosecuted for his homosexuality, “accepted” chemical castration as an alternative to imprisonment, and eventually poisoned himself with cyanide), then cracked open his skull so they could cannibalise some of his grey-matter for their unholy experiment! Hasn’t the poor guy suffered enough? Eeesh! I’d much rather they’d kept all the “donors” anonymous (Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Frida Khalo suffered a similar indignity), and just said “a World War II code-breaker”, or something vague like that.

Ceci Balagot as ‘Frankie Stein’ in "Monster High: The Movie" (2022)

On a more positive note, I really enjoyed Ceci Balagot’s performance in the role (especially their jerky movements in the first big routine), and their punky outfits were cool enough to make me consider buying the doll… until I saw how much those things sell for! Eep! If you’d asked me beforehand which character I was most likely to fixate on, I would have guessed it’d be the glamorous goth-y vampire ‘Draculaura’ (Nayah Damasen), but instead I fell/felt for the smiley, heavily-scarred Frankie, and their sweet, socially-awkward optimism. Bless ‘em.

P.S. There are also a bunch of “Boo-hind the Scenes” vids (their pun, not mine!) on the official MH channel, including a set tour (link), a dance “tutorial” (led by Balagot) (link), and an insight into the lengthy make-over process that the main cast members had to endure (link).

P.P.S. A couple days ago Nickelodeon announced that they’d greenlit a sequel, which will begin production in January 2023, and presumably premiere this time next year…?

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (9/22)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Aina The End unboxing her "The Zombie" (2021) and "Kisou Honnou" (2022) DVDs/BRs (circa 9/22)

Bish posted an extremely-sparkly video for their new single “Up To Me”, followed shortly thereafter by the dance-y version (choreographed by Aina The End). Meanwhile, over on her own channel, Aina unboxed the DVDs/BRs of her solo concerts “The Zombie” (at Osaka’s Orix Theater (2021)), and “Kisou Honnou” (at Osaka-Jo Hall (2022))… again, I have no idea what she was saying, but she seems really happy with how they turned out!

– In the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, Vulture asked Scott Thompson to reflect on portraying (and paying tribute to?) the iconic monarch via Kids in the Hall, while John Oliver once again filled in as a “royal correspondent” for Late Night with Seth Meyers, to give an ex-pat’s take on the “10 Days of Mourning” that followed.

Band-Maid posted the video for their new single Influencer, taken from the Unleash!!!!! EP, which was “unleashed” a couple days later. Although there weren’t nearly enough close-ups of Akane for my liking (she always looks so happy when she’s drumming, and it warms my cold grey heart), it does boast some very dynamic swoopy drone shots, and gorgeous geography.

Lauren Ash appeared as a contestant on Celebrity Family Feud (ep #8.9)*, facing off against Natasha Leggero, who brought in several famous chums to help her out, including husband Moshe Kasher, and fellow comedian Chelsea Peretti!

Kate Berlant in “Cinnamon in the Wind” (2022)

– Hulu aired Kate Berlant’s “intimate, absurdist” comedy special Cinnamon in the Wind, which was apparently filmed all the way back in 2019 (happy days!). I hated the way it was edited for broadcast (especially the way music drowns out her encore), but Berlant is total dynamite, as always. She also appeared as a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers, talking about Cinnamon, as well as her current live theatre show (simply titled “Kate”), and the TV version of A League of Their Own. Fun fact: According to an insightful article about Berlant on the Vulture site, her mother (Helen Méndez Berlant) “created the miniature Stonehenge for This Is Spinal Tap” (1984)!

Nova Twins performed a couple tracks for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge, including their own “Choose Your Fighter” (link) and a cover of Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul” (link), complete with angel-voiced backing-singers!

– A couple members of Death Valley Girls (Bonnie and Rikki?) guested on Boyfriend’s latest single “There’s A Place”, and also appeared in the highly amusing video… which was filmed in Walt Disney World for maximum production value!

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Times (link), Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!

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* Or ep #9.9, depending on who you believe.

Posted in Rants about Music, Rants about Politics, Rants about Stand-Up, Rants about Theatre, Rants about TV | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (9/22)