Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not the Purrfect Gift!

Blondie here! Hope all have managed to finish their Christmas cards, shopping, baking and are now enjoying the wonderful festivities of the Season!

The Blonde One, after a two week jaunt to Paris, is madly scrambling to get caught up in her mad whirlwind of Christmas. To some, I am known as “The Christmas Princess” or “The Tinsel Angel” and to those who are less indulgent of my borderline obsession with Christmas (ok, perhaps not so borderline), “The Christmas Nazi.” Ok yes, I measure and space out the greens for the railing perfectly; have a diagram and measuring stick for picking out the perfect tree; plan the most decorative way to wrap my gifts (Yes, Virginia, presentation counts in far more than just plating one’s Christmas dinner!); have a tote full of “emergency gifts” in case someone brings an extra guest; plan out & cook numerous seven course meals; cover every available inch with decorations of some type; hang such an obscene number of lights that PSE&G sends me a “thank you” note and chocolates every December; and bake cookies until my skin tastes like sugar (or so I’ve been told by my cousin’s strange child who has “Licking Issues.”) I adore Christmas and all the cheesy, sparking, fattening traditions that go with it. Today, however, all my good (manic) Christmas cheer has been dampened by one Christopher Nolan who knocked off my sugar plum halo with a big ole Bat-a-rang of coal… or, more precisely, a Catwoman of coal.

“What,” you gasp, “surely that is blasphemy coming from a self proclaimed Batman fanatic! That trailer knocked my socks off! It’s going to be the best Batman movie ever!” To which I respond with a resounding,” Bah humbug!” Yes, my candy cane darlings, I am one of the crazy comic fans who adores her inked Batman and is unwilling to hop on the “Christopher Nolan is the best Batman director ever” sleigh. While you pull on some new socks (please indulge me and choose the ones
with Snoopy Santas on them) I shall endeavor to enlighten you as to why this highly anticipated HD movie trailer sunk poor Cindy Lou Who’s Christmas spirits down to the bottom of her twinkly toed Who shoes.

Upon repeated viewings (one must be thorough!) of the trailer for next year's The Dark Knight Rises once again the disappointment I felt upon hearing Ann Hathaway was to be cast as Catwoman (my very favorite DC character) rises from the desperately tampered down ashes to angrily hiss and lash out against such a poor choice. It is not a dislike of Ms. Hathaway, indeed she would have made a fine Barbara Gordon, but the total incongruity of her abilities as an actress with the requirements of the character. Just because she can act out the lines doesn’t mean she’s a good choice to play the part. Being a good actress (which she is) and being the right actress for the part are two vastly different things.

First off, Ms. Hathaway has some iconic boots to fill, namely Michelle Pfeiffer and Julie Newmar's kitten heels. And unlike past ladies who donned the cat suit (Halle Barry’s migraine inducing performance aside), there's nothing particularly feline about Ms. Hathaway, not in her adorable face or gait or intonation, even when she’s playing a darker character (i.e. Rachel Getting Married.) Her intonation, as we saw at last year’s unfortunate Oscar debacle, is less villainous than vapid, more charming than disarming. And though she's proven her chops in a variety of genres there's this kind of lovable goofiness to her that's more doglike than catlike. (And as someone who loves dogs, that statement is not intended as a slam. I’m not saying her appearance is at all doglike. Her manner and disposition are the issue, not her universally acknowledged attractiveness.)

She is naturally sunny and slightly goofy, a strange mix of awkwardness and beauty. One moment she's clumsy, the next she's elegant. It has nothing to do with her range; she just doesn't exude sensuality, despite attempts in movies such as Get Smart or Love and Other Drugs. Ms. Hathaway simply doesn’t have that sexy edgy vibe that vixens such as past Catwoman Ms. Pfeiffer did. Catwoman needs to ooze sensuality and move with a feline grace even when grocery shopping. Essentially they needed a Meagan Fox, but one with acting ability. As I’ve perused various boards and threads I’ve seen some awesome, interesting and gross names thrown out there as to who might have made a fantastic Catwoman. Among them are: Eva Green; Jennifer Garner; Kate Beckinsale; Julianne Hough; Megan Fox; Angelina Jolie; Charlize Theron; Rachel Weisz and, I kid you not, Cher!

Now I’m aware Nolan made two very well received Batman films, even though I thought The Dark Knight was somewhat lacking in action, too much angst and exposition. (And don’t lecture me on how angst and The Bat go hand in hand; I’m well aware of my boy’s penchant for brooding.) Frankly, if not for Heath Ledger’s performance the movie would not have received half of the numerous positive reviews it did. I urge you to go back and read those initial reviews; they all revolved around Ledger’s performance and not the movie as a whole. While on our way to a wedding, a friend and I discussed at length whether or not Ledger would have received the accolades he did in his role as the Joker if not for his untimely demise. At the time of this discussion the movie had not been released so no one had seen it yet. We did, however, conclude that the performance, for better or worse, would never be judged solely on the merits of Ledger’s acting abilities. The baggage of death is not easily discarded, especially by one so young. Look at James Dean, the unknown, the “could have beens” and “should have beens” are always an intoxicating mystery. I know many will disagree with my statement that Heath Ledger saved an otherwise “meh” movie and perhaps the protesters will even wear Grinch socks in protest but it’s the truth. When people (especially those who are not well versed in comic lore or anything else that appeals to those of us who make annual pilgrimages to cons) discuss The Dark Knight, listen in and most of the time it is about Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker and how unfortunate it is that we’ll never be treated to its like again.

But I digress. Supporters of the casting of Ms. Hathaway need better reasons than simply “I trust Christopher Nolan on this because no one thought Heath Ledger would be good as the Joker either and he was the best!” Here’s the thing, Ms. Hathaway is not Heath Ledger. Just because Mr. Ledger was successful in his role doesn’t mean she will meet with the same success because the same director cast both parts. Look at Nolan’s past female casting for a moment. He casting of Katie Holmes was nearly disastrous. By far she is the weakest part of Batman Begins. Ditto for the far more talented but equally miscast Maggie Gyllenhaal. Mr. Ledger was a great choice because he completely disappeared into his role. Ms. Hathaway, like Ms. Holmes and most of the other Hollyweird starlets up for this role, always play slightly altered variations of themselves. More often than not she too falls in with those actresses who are cast in anything and everything, even when they don't fit the part on paper in the least (i.e. Katherine Heigl).

But the final problem with The Dark Knight Rises, and this is significant if you know anything about the character, is whether or not (and from the trailer it appears not) the complexity and nuanced relationships Catwoman has with Batman, the police, Holly and everyone else in that world can be properly played out by Ms. Hathaway. The Cat is a natural chameleon, albeit an extremely sultry one, and her ever present shades of femme fatale vary with each relationship. Michelle Pfeiffer understood that and even when her Selina Kyle was the cowed secretary, she still conveyed a sense of tangibly sensuality simmering just beneath the surface.

Christopher Nolan, who claims this is the final installment of his Batman series, can't do powerful, independent sexy female characters, all of which is essential to the character of Catwoman. Nolan’s stories are cerebral parables about men and their choices. Women in his films tend to be butch or asexual (respectively, Hillary Swank in Insomnia and Ellen Paige in Inception). Nominally sexy characters, like Marion Cotillard in Inception or Scarlett Johansson in The Prestige, are treated almost as mere plot ties or eye candy to male viewers. They're gorgeous, but they're buttoned-up afterthoughts. Catwoman, on the other hand, was specifically created way back in 1940 for the purpose of adding sex appeal to Batman’s world. She was made to be seen as a significant foe in the forefront, not simply tacked on to merely raise the pulse of the reader. She’s been driving the big fella crazy for over 70 years now, take away her sexuality and her star power and you take away the very core of the character.

So my little elves, what do you think? Can Ms. Hathaway pull it off? Have my doubts rubbed off on you or were you on the same page as Blondie from the start? Given the choice, who would you have cast as Catwoman? Sound off below and may your Christmas be Purrrfect!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blondie here! I’m taking a much needed break from attempting to hunt down the ever elusive “perfect” thanksgiving turkey. He gave me the slip on Canal Street by jumping the turnstile for the Q but, never fear, I’ll catch up with Major Tom Gobbler before too long. At the moment I'm pretty much convinced that only a Time-Turner will allow Blondie and Bubble T to shake a (turkey) leg and get on with posting our helpful hints, tips and vignettes for surviving the Con*Verse. Of course now that the holidays have arrived, ::cues ominous music:: all bets are off. Life is beyond nuts right now, but we still hope to carve out time for new and thought inducing blogs... before February! :)

Please, Dear Reader, do take pity on the beleaguered Dynamic Duo. ::holds up bandaged hand:: Blondie burnt herself whilst baking half a dozen pies and, on top of that, we’re in the final intense round of training for that glorious, holiday to only the hearty (and, so I’m told, heartily insane), the Chernobyl’s Jacuzzi of shopping events, Black Friday!

What, you ask, is the Blonde One thankful for this year? I am incredibly grateful to have friends who share my passion for all things labeled by society as “geeky” or “nerdy.” I am grateful that I have found these kindred spirits who embrace cosplaying, attending cons, revisiting the eternal DC vs. Marvel argument (DC all the way! Well… except in movies, their movies mostly suck), reading fanfiction, gracing Renaissance Faires with the dubious joy of our presence and, above all, for not giving a flying Fig Newton about what others think of our… oddness.

I am also grateful for parents who thought introducing me to “Star Trek” was as important as introducing me to the Disney Princesses (who, for the record, are also full of awesome!) I’m truly thankful there are at least 14 episodes of “Firefly” unlike the all too brief 9 episodes of my beloved “Mann & Machine” (Anyone?... Anyone?... Bueller?... Bueller?...) I’d be beyond thankful if I could sit down to dinner with Nathan Fillion! I’m eternally grateful to cows for making the heavy cream that creates my soul’s delight; ice cream! I’m thankful to peanut butter & chocolate for making this world a better place by joining forces to create the most important team ever! And last but not least, I’m forever grateful to have found a partner in crime… er crime fighting, Bubble T! What are you, Dear Reader, thankful for?

I hope that you all have a lovely Thanksgiving week. Be sure to keep your favorite geek Thanksgiving episodes close at hand so that you can procrastinate…er… relax properly before beaming into a Thanksgiving feast worthy of a Klingon appetite! As for the Blonde One, I don’t have too much time between feasting and Midnight Maddness thus I only plan on watching:

Gilmore Girls “A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving”

Chuck “Chuck vs. the Nemesis”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Pangs”

I leave you, Dear Reader, with my adored Spike, gracing us with his feelings about Thanksgiving:"I just can't take all this namby-pamby boo-hooing about the bloody Indians ... You won! All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That's what conquering nations do. That's what Caesar did, and he's not going around saying, 'I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it.' The history of the world is not people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story."

Yupma' botIvjaj!

Buy this incredible print from the hugely talented Mark Dos Santos at:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Con*Verse Launch

Blondie and I have been talking about starting up a blog for a few years now.  We've attended a number of conventions, faires, and other social gatherings that pertain to our inner geek and nerd and come across not only some interesting characters, but some equally intriguing stories.

Some of the big name events that we attend span the US from Comic Con, Dragon*Con, New York ComicCon, Big Apple Con, just to name a few.  In addition, we've become well acquainted with a number of renaissance faires, and LARPs. 

Starting out as faire and con-goers a number of years ago we completely recognize how exciting the prospect is to be going to your first convention or faire.  However, we sympathize with everyone else who is starting out and feels terribly confused, as well.  There is the thrill of buying or creating your very first costume to the confidence shattering throws of disappointment at the first wardrobe malfunction or horrifically maimed costume attempt.  We've been through it all! 

Con*Verse was launched as our combined effort to waylay some of the assumptions about events, provide feedback about everything from what you wear down to what type of cleanser you pack, and interject our opinions about overall etiquette at cons and faires.  

We hope our posts are helpful and even if they aren't, they spark discussions with readers.  Please join us on our journey to fight for truth, love, and justice... ok well maybe not justice (our opinions will just have to do).  Maybe not so much the love part either (but we will be providing some surefire tips and tricks to up your game at interacting with the opposite sex and attempting the exciting event of speed dating!) Guess that leaves us with the truth, hm... well we'll work on that one.

For now we'll go with just launching the blog and leave you with a snippet from one of my favorite shows, Venture Brothers (season 1, episode 9), Are you There God, It's Me Dean:

[the Monarch has Brock Sampson right where he wants him]
The Monarch: Release the butterflies.
[Dead butterflies fall on Brock]
The Monarch: Okay, whose job was it to feed the butterflies?