Friday, March 23, 2007

Stuff I'm Watching

I bounced out of bed at a frighteningly early hour (for me) this morning instead of doing my usual thing of lying there for at least an hour after I woke up. You'd think that would make me more alert, but instead, I'm still groggy. It doesn't help that it's all dark and gloomy outside. It looks like it's about to storm like crazy, but the weather guys insist that the most we'll get will be sprinkles. I have work I feel like I should be doing, but part of me knows that there's no rush -- my agent is out of town for a couple of weeks, and I'll be out of town next week, so it's not like it makes a difference when I get something done. I'm seriously tempted to fill the thermos with hot tea and spend the afternoon reading or melting my brain OnDemand. My wrist is kind of hurting, so spending the day away from the computer would probably be good for me (yeah, I can rationalize anything).

I think today's fun topic will be random stuff I've been watching (speaking of OnDemand). I discovered last weekend that I actually get all the HBO channels and not just the main one (it's amazing what you learn when you keep hitting the wrong remote button). I get flavors of HBO I've never heard of. That doesn't make a huge difference, since I mostly watch HBO stuff OnDemand, but it does come in handy. Like, right now, they've got the Star Wars films -- all of them -- in heavy rotation. With about ten channels of HBO, that means that at any given time, I can probably find a Star Wars film on. They make good background noise because I like the music. They're also fun to watch in a meta sense, with full knowledge of everything else that's happened in the careers and lives of the people involved. For instance, finding humor in the fact that Obi-Wan Kenobi was one of the first roles in which Ewan McGregor managed to actually keep his clothes on, while also really wanting him to suddenly burst out with, "My gift is my song ... and this one's for you." (ooh, I haven't watched Moulin Rouge in a while, that could be fun today) Watching Bleak House on PBS last year has given me a new fondness for Wedge in the original films. Having read some of Carrie Fisher's work has made me aware that, as snarky as Princess Leia seemed, she was waaaaay toned down from what she could have been.

There's also some fun with the "what might have been" casting. One of the many weaknesses in the prequels was the fact that Anakin Skywalker as he was portrayed just didn't seem like someone I could believe would turn into Darth Vader. Seriously, could the Scourge of the Galaxy have started as a whiny teenager? Was enforcing the Emperor's reign of terror really just a twenty-year pout-a-thon over people not taking him seriously? While the dialog did suck, part of the problem was that the actor said that lousy dialog with such a pathetic whine and he came across as a rather vapid lightweight. Well, did you know that, apparently, one of the other actors originally considered for that role was Jesse Spencer, currently seen as Dr. Chase on House? I'm sure he would have had to tweak the accent a bit, as Darth Vader was definitely not Australian, but James Earl Jones did give a slight British-like inflection to his voice in the original films. Spencer has an incredibly expressive face (he doesn't get to do or say much on House, but watching him in the background as he acts the hell out of nothing is highly entertaining) and a knack for acting out an entire scene that's not even on the page just through body language. With a script as bad as in the prequels, that ability to act around the script would have been pretty useful. He holds his own with Hugh Laurie in intensity, so he might have been able to convey someone who had the potential to turn scary. So, it's fun to imagine what might have been, except I'm not sure it would have been worth sacrificing House as it currently is, so perhaps it was for the best.

I also caught Take the Lead, the fictionalized version of the Mad, Hot Ballroom story, and I found it disappointing. For one thing, not nearly enough Antonio Banderas dancing. For another, it missed the point and devolved into Standard Teen Dance Movie territory. There was all the talk throughout about how ballroom dancing would teach the kids self respect and respect for others -- and then we get to the climactic competition scene, and the kids end up doing the kind of oversexed writhing around on the floor that they were supposedly learning to move beyond. It wasn't even a tango they were doing. The steps weren't there. Not to mention the fact that they were dancing to music that the orchestra wasn't even playing. Plus, I find the "our improvised, street-smart dancing is superior to what you've spent years of hard work, training and practice developing" message annoying. In general, I'm not a fan of competition ballroom dance, not Dancing With the Stars (though there I'm also opposed to anything with "stars" or "celebrities" in the title) or even the real ballroom competitions on PBS. What I love is social dancing -- participating instead of watching. I definitely don't like the choreographed stuff. I went out once with a guy who'd danced competitively, and I couldn't dance with him. I couldn't find his lead to follow, and I thought I'd completely forgotten how to dance (he certainly acted like it was all my fault). But then they did a mixer dance, where you had to change partners every time they blew a whistle, and I managed to dance just fine with every other man there. I think my date was too used to choreography. He was also too busy checking himself out in the mirrors around the dance floor.

The thing I love about ballroom dancing is that the defined steps give you a sort of common language, so you can dance right away with someone you've never even spoken to before. Then you have to communicate on a non-verbal level, so that the slightest touch or bit of pressure tells you exactly what to do and how to respond so that the two of you can move as one. I love dancing with someone who really knows what he's doing, and then I can let go and totally trust him and follow his lead. I can even close my eyes and still know just what to do. That's incredibly sexy and romantic, and I don't get to do it nearly often enough because there's a shortage of men in my general age range (and sexual preference) who are into that kind of thing, and most of them come with their own dance partners who get snippy if the men dance with anyone else. If only men knew what a total chick magnet that skill was. I'm flat-out turned off by a big, manly SUV, and I roll my eyes at Porsches, but if you can lead me in a really good foxtrot, you've got a decent chance, and dance lessons are much cheaper than Porsches.

Finally, I remain hooked on the BBC Robin Hood. It's kind of campy and anachronistic, and I know enough history to get a few giggles at all remarks about what a great English king Richard was (considering he only set foot in England a few times in his whole life), but I love the characters and it's a ton of fun. I'm also getting hooked on Supernatural. I don't know how I missed it last season (I think it was because it was on opposite The Office), but it reminds me of very early X-Files, but with cute boys. They totally got me last night, and throwing in "Silent Lucidity" was the final straw. Dude, Queensryche! And yes, I'm getting excited about Queensryche in the same post in which I got excited about ballroom dancing. I'm complex. Deal with it.

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