Saturday, May 2, 2015

Weekly Buffet: Fan Girling

Besides Serial, the podcast world has yet to entirely explode on the national level. This form of entertainment is not as much a part of everyone's day to day, the same way that radio, television, or the internet has become engrained in our culture.

Devotees of podcasts would find this hard to believe. Just speaking for myself, I am entirely absorbed in the podcast world and had always assumed that everyone on the planet was just as obsessed. Yet, it is not true - everyday I speak to more people who don't listen to podcasts than those that do.

But isn't there like a zillion podcasts? With such a vast amount of content, wouldn't it follow that there must be at least five zillion unique listeners?

Well, I guess not and that fact continually blows my mind, because my interests over the last couple years would be completely different without them. I talk about things I've learned from podcasts so much, that I'm not sure I would have much else to bring up in conversation these days.

There is nothing better than finding a podcast that speaks your language - it could be run by people who share your same interests, or a certain one might feed your need to be inundated by facts, or another one could just be a half hour of hilarious people cracking jokes. Just through the various podcasts I have on a regular rotation,  I am able to keep up on what's happening around the globe and also get  endless recommendations for crazy sounding movies and interesting books.

Just yesterday, thanks to the Nerdist podcast, I learned that The Village People have a movie. I could have lived the rest of my life and never known that - travesty averted.

This week as I've been listening away to my usual's, each episode seemed to have influenced my life in some way. So much so, everything that I have been adoring over the last couple days are things that were directly inspired by my obsession with podcasts. Well, and one side exciting thing that lead to me spinning into full "fan girl" mode.


After listening to an episode of the podcast How Did This Get Made about the movie Con Air, something deep inside you just calls out with a need to actually watch something starring  Nicolas Cage. Since Con Air isn't on Netflix, I had to settle for the next best option (other than The Wicker Man) - Face/Off

As far as this gal is concerned, when speaking about movies that involve faces being cut off, there is not one better than Face/Off. 

Oh, you betcha - this movie has a deep title which can have multiple meanings. Don't be fooled thinking that this is a traditional action  blow out, where the "Face Off" is just a reference to the good vs. evil fight embodied by John Travolta and Nic Cage. No, no, no - faces are also LITERALLY being lasered off and swapped between bodies. Hence, this movie could also be called Trading Faces. I don't know though, that title just doesn't have the same ring to it.

There is a lot of science going on here too, which...well, at least they tried to explain the high tech face swapping technology. One thing that doesn't work is a huge plot point. Here's the set up: Cage's face is put on Travolta's body and vice versa, but that's just the face changing, not the hair/head shape/or body. Cage and Travolta, at this point in history, have somewhat similar body types, but not really. Miraculously though, these scientists are able to sculpt the rest of the body to match that of the other person as well, so the switches completely transform these people! Thankfully they had also developed highly skilled cosmetic surgery and have excellent beauticians on hand who can mimic hairlines. And then in the end (Spoiler Alert) when the faces get put back on their rightful owner, their bodies and hair just bounce right back to normal too.

I totally buy cutting faces off, because that just makes sense, but the rest of that technology is pure hooey, even for a sci-fi flick. Really though, who cares? Nobody watched this movie hoping it would portray accurate science. It is just one enjoyable and nutty flick showcasing Travolta and Cage in all their glory.

Cage's character is the over the top psycho villain, where Travolta plays the more toned down and serious FBI agent who is hunting him down. Since their characters switch faces, the actors eventually get the chance to play both the crazy and serious role. When we ignore all the science mumbo jumbo, it's just like any actor who has been in a body swapping movie (aka Freaky Friday).

Watching Cage and Travolta switch roles is extremely fun to watch. It was essential to have the characters be entirely different, because when the actors switch, the audience can tell who is who based on personality and sweet dance moves even more so than by the way they look. Cage and Travolta are able to show off their acting range, something that used to be their movie star calling card. Oh, and don't even get me started about all the really creepy face touching between Travolta's character, his wife, and their son.

This movie may be bonkers, entirely too long (at least one hour could be cut out), but in all honesty Cage and Travolta are the reason this works. That is a statement that would never be heard today.

Winter's Tale

It used to be that people read books just for enjoyment. Although, as time has progressed, there can be different motivation, like those who want to read a certain book just because the movie adaptation is being released. Now it has even gotten to the point where people read books, to see the movie, to then listen to the podcast about the movie.

Oh wait - is that just me?

I wouldn't go through these three steps for every book that has been written, but I definitely put extra effort for certain books that I want to read without anything being spoiled. Which lead to the book I picked up this week.

Winter's Tale has been on my list of must reads for years, but ultimately the main push for finally reading it is that I'm getting really tired of skipping over the How Did This Get Made episode about the "allegedly" terrible movie adaption. It seems obvious now that a lot of the culture I bring into my life is regulated by HDTGM.

I can't attest to the movie, but I can say that so far the book is lovely. Less than a hundred pages into it and I am completely enraptured with the authors writing. It is entirely vivid and so much focused on great language that I can already tell this would be a doozy to film and get right. Capturing the essence of a book, even with the likes of Colin Farrell leading the way, is often why movie versions turn out to be flat out bad.

Right now I'm reading instead of watching, but already anticipating the movie and podcast. Especially, if it was actually included in the movie, what June Diane Raphael has to say about a baby being stuck in a model ship and sent floating in the ocean. Too much to explain, you'll just have to read it too.


Who doesn't love Paul F. Tompkins and his dapper attire? He does make TV appearances and is the star of a show, but he is mostly known for being featured on every single podcast that has ever existed. With such a stylish look, it is a wonder that he has become the king of audio instead of visual. Oh right, besides the clothes, his popularity is due to the fact that he is endlessly hilarious, can spin a yarn better than the rest, and has quite the talent for interviewing people in an interesting way.

In the last month he has released something that combines all his talents together, except we still can't see his fancy blazers and/or bowties. The king must continue his rule of the land, so of course Tompkins came out with a new podcast!

Spontaneanation is a celebrity interview show combined with improv. If you like any of those things, I say give it a listen. To speak to the amount of funny, I'll mention that I can't even get through an episode of this while at work. I have been brought to fits of non-stop laughter and tears too many times to attempt it again. Boy does this one make car rides fun though!

The items listed above were great additions to making this week a hoot, but it was one exciting bit of news that blew all of the rest of that stuff out of the water. Former child star (see Troop Beverly Hills, The Wizard, and an episode of The Golden Girls) turned songstress, Jenny Lewis, will be performing not just in Seattle or Vancouver, but in my hometown, Bellingham, Washington!!

I thought I had entirely gone into full on fan girl mode before (as in, the time my friends and I almost swooned to the ground listening to Zach Hanson sing, "Oh, Darlin' "), but nope, the news of this concert is what finally did it. After a friend's late night text message alerted me of the show, I felt like running around my house. But instead I just had to attempt to go to sleep like an anxious kid (or, let's get real, me still) on Christmas Eve

When you live in a smallish city, it's not everyday (or every year even!) that one of your favorite musicians comes to perform at a local venue. First it was Neko Case and now Jenny Lewis is adding to Bellingham's street cred.

With tickets purchased yesterday I can now relax knowing it didn't sell out.

Lewis is literally playing all over the country from now until the end of summer. Seek her out.

Until next time.

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