Thursday, December 27, 2007

Movie Review: Sweeney Todd

I have to admit I'm not one for musicals. But with the recent renaissance of films like "Chicago," "Moulin Rouge," "Hairspray," and "Phantom of the Opera," the musical film has made a gigantic comeback to the big screen.

The new Tim Burton film "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" is based upon the Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical. But its history goes well beyond the Great White Way.

The first telling of the murderous barber goes back to 19th Century London. Thomas Prest, a popular writer of the era would pluck true stories from The Times and then have them printed in pennies (magazines sold for a penny). Sweeney Todd could arguably be found in one such publication called "The People's Periodical" in November 1846.

Since then, this macabre tale filled with lore has been made into films and then Sondheim's musical starring Angela Lansbury ("Murder, She Wrote") and Len Cariou which came to the stage in 1979. In 1998, Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley starred in a version that aired on the BBC.

As the story goes, Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) is falsely accused of a crime and sent away for over a decade. During his departure the evil Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) pines for his beautiful wife and young daughter, Johanna.

Returning to London a completely different man, we are introduced to Sweeney Todd, a man with revenge in his heart. With the help of Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), the maker of some of London’s worst meat pies, they devise a bloody good plan to get even with every man who took Barker’s idyllic life away.

The dark, almost monochromatic canvas that Burton uses comes to life with vivid caricatures portrayed by Depp, Bonham Carter, Rickman, Timothy Spall (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”), Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat”) and newcomers to the big screen Jayne Wisener (Johanna), Ed Sanders (Toby), and Jamie Campbell Bower (Anthony).

Depp is at the top of his game after another jaunt as Capt. Jack Sparrow in this year’s earlier hit “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”. Probably one of the best actors of his generation, Depp has only added another successful notch into his acting resume with this exuberant, dark, and melancholy performance that demonstrates his singing ability. Bonham Carter, who is also director Burton’s girlfriend, had the most difficult musical part to play with fast passages and a high soprano key. While none of the key actors have a musical background, it would be hard to tell. Arguably they could jump from Hollywood to Broadway without a second glance.

Rickman’s portrayal of evil continues in this role as Judge Turpin. Looking wearied and in much need of a shave, Turpin imprisons Barker’s daughter with the help of Spall’s character “Beadle Bamford”. Probably the most out of his comfort zone, Rickman seemed strained while singing, of course that could have been the Spandex pants holding him in.

It’s hard to find a bad Tim Burton film going through his resume except for maybe “Planet of the Apes,” which coincidentally is where he met Bonham Carter. “Sweeney Todd” has only put him in the higher echelon of directors with a niche for creative and great film-making. Not for the squeamish or faint-of-heart, “Sweeney Todd” turns the musical genre on its head. And really, “Sweeney Todd” is just a horror flick, but it’s a successful, unconventional slasher flick with a great score and cast that is still amazing audiences nearly two centuries from its dark origins.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

10 Weeks Until the Wedding!

I'm somewhat scared that only 10 weeks are left until the wedding. I feel like nothing has gotten accomplished or that I'm doing stuff completely wrong.

Case in point: I forgot to put on the postage on the return envelopes for the response cards. Thanks Brett for remembering the next day as I'm brushing my teeth. Very helpful.

Today, I'm picking up my dress. I'm very, very scared that it's going to look hideous, well...that I'm going to look hideous. I don't even have shoes picked out yet. I don't know how I'm going to do my hair and make-up. My flowers are kinda set, but I'm worried about those, too.

I just feel that things are whirling out of control very fast. We're trying to find wedding readings that are meaningful to us and our personalities. It's been very difficult finding things that are humorous, yet poignant and loving, and reflect our relationship and time as a couple. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. I've scoured most Nicholas Sparks book, JRR Tolkien, movie quotes, whatever.

please calls...

We also don't have clothes for the groom (and groomsmen) ordered. I just feel like its getting very late and soon we'll hit some point-of-no-return and he'll end up wearing a taffeta tuxedo in lavender with ruffles reminiscent of the late '60s.

I'm trying to maintain my composure and not get all worked up, but I feel that all these people have a certain image of what our wedding is going to be and my image and their image doesn't match-up and they'll be utterly disappointed. It's so hard to change someone's preconceived notions of what a wedding should be and how I or Brett want things to be. It just seems that everyone wants something else for us (all while meaning well), but it's just not what we want.

I wish I knew how to tell people without being mean that I respect their opinion but this isn't their decision to make.

Is it awful that I just want this wedding to be over? I'm having nightmares at night about it. I wake up in a cold sweat over dreams like one I had the other night (I was slugging Brett in the chest with the yellow pages because he wouldn't get married at the courthouse). Then, there's the some nights where I don't sleep at all.

I've never wanted a complicated wedding with lots of people. I want it to be simple and small, which I think, in theory, is what we're doing. But, all these other small details are starting to linger over my head and make it seem like I'm just doing something wrong. Does that make any sense at all, or am I just a crazy bride?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Up Next: Packers vs. Patriots and Christina vs. Brett

Like a good Packer fan, I hope they can make a run for the Superbowl. And the way that it's going for the Patriots, it just might be possible for a SB rematch for the two teams in February.

Well, that would be a week before the wedding.

Pitting a Packers fan against a Patriot fan.

A cheesehead against a, uh, what do they call Pats fans?

A Brett Favre-follower against a Tom Brady-lover.

Good versus Evil.

While I love my future husband-to-be. We agreed within the first month of dating to never talk about sports to each other. We've pretty much staid that course throughout the three years that we have been together. But, now that the stars may align for this monumental event pitting a veteran quarterback and America's Team against the heir-apparent to a GQ cover, this could place the early weeks of our marriage in turmoil.

Yesterday, I piqued the possible scenario to Brett: "If the Packers were to win the Superbowl versus the Patriots, could your groomsmen wear Packers jerseys?"

To which I received a very adamant "NO!"

How dare you woman speak of having Patriots fans wear the Green and Gold? What is this nonsense that you speak!? This is heresy!

I even put out the stipulation: "Well, if the Patriots win, my girls will wear Patriots jerseys."


My brother agrees that this is a creative way to bring the two families together. However, Brett wants no sports near his wedding day.

Deep down...

I think he's afraid that the Packers just could be having a miracle season...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Review: Pepe's Rockn' Taco Shack

You can't go wrong with $2 margaritas during Happy Hour in Milwaukee.

Located a few blocks south of the hussle on Farwell and North Ave., Pepe's Rockn' Taco Shack has invigorated the space that once was Sol Fire in the 2000 block of N. Farwell Ave. on Milwaukee's east side.

Brightly colored pinatas and Corona posters adorn the dining and bar areas, but you'll also find retro prints of Mexican flicks with hombres wearing sombreros and fighting monsters or riding donkeys.

The waitstaff wears t-shirts (available for $16 in men's and women's styles) emblazoned on the back with the phrase: "If it ain't Pepe's, it's crap."

Too often have I gone into a cookie-cutter Mexican restaurant to find bland food from South of the Border. But at Pepe's if you like spice, you'll be in for a real treat. Starting off the K-Suh-Dea's, $5 plain, extra if you order with meat, (or quesadillas for the Spanish-speaking inclined) is filled with monstrous slices of jalapenos peppers, diced tomatoes and onions. Then you can have it with "grilled yard" (chicken) "ground cow" (ground beef), "steak'd cow" (beef steak), or "sea monkey" (shrimp).

One of the trends recently in the area is guacamole freshly made at the table. Habanero's in Wauwatosa is one of my favorites, but it is surely overpassed by the quirkiness of Pepe's version. Instead of having one of their staff mash the avocados, cilantro, onion, garlic, lime and other ingredients, they hand over the tools to the guest to make it a great anger management test.

The dinner menu isn't as diverse as some Mexican restaurants in the area, but it makes up for that with some of it's titles of dishes like the "Chimi...Whatever", $7 for plain, extra for meat. Or, the "O.R.E.," short for One Round Enchilada, $8. The steak version ($2 extra) had potential, but it was served luke warm with only one side of green rice.

The most promising entree seemed to be the "Devil Shrimp," $16.50, topped with diced cucumbers, fiery sea-monkeys, and served with rice. But the shrimp was underdone and reeked of a fishy taste that even the spices couldn't mask.

To cool off after some spicy dishes, we chose the flan, $4, the churros, $2, and my personal favorite -- the Choco Tacos, $3.

I expected the flan to be a little less hard and have more of a caramel flavor. Instead, it was drenched in a syrup and coconut dressing that seemed almost bitter. The churros were the last of the evening, slightly dry, but still sugary and good. And alas, the Choco Tacos weren't served all nice and pretty with whipped cream and chocolate shaving like I would have imagined them for $3, but they were served in the wrapper like I could have received at a 7-11.

Pepe's Rockn' Taco Shack has already surpassed some obstacles. It was forced to change its name from the "Pink Taco," reason for that is still unknown -- my bet is the derogatory nature, other's say that the Hard Rock Cafe's Las Vegas bar with the same name played a part.

The staff seems to be trying hard with great specials every night of the week from $2 margaritas from 4 to 7 p.m. during Happy Hour, or All-You-Can-Eat tacos on Tuesdays for $10-12, or even Sunday Game Days with five Coronitas for $10 or 20 tacos and a margarita pitcher for only $25.

But, it may struggle during the cold winter months if not enough North Ave. bar revelers venture down Farwell far enough to get some late night eats on the patio which is closed for the season. Only time will tell if this Mexican hot spot can outlast in this neighborhood.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The First Oscar Contender of the Year!

I haven't even seen it yet but I'm predicting that Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Sasha Baron Cohen will come away huge at the Oscars in '08.

The Tim Burton-directed flick adapts the Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical to the big screen. Not like your "Hairspray," "Dreamgirls," or "RENT," Sweeney Todd is dark and dreary, and possibly downright gory story of a man (Depp) who's life is taken away by a judge (Rickman). Sweeney returns to England after being sent off to Australia, his family gone.

With revenge in mind, he joins forces with a baker (Carter) to create some meat pies that are all the rave -- but do you really want to know the secret ingredient?

Depp et al. all do their own singing. Be sure to wait around for a duet between Johnny and, Rickman.

Make sure you see Sweeney Todd -- opening in theatres on Dec. 21st. You can watch the trailer here:

X-Files Sequel Release Date Named

For those of you who can just feel my excitement exuding from your computer screens, the sequel to "The X-Files" movie will be released on July 25, 2008.

The film brings back the characters of Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) to the big screen. Shooting begins Dec. 10 in Vancouver according to Fox execs. A majority of the series was filmed in Canada before relocating to LA.

When we last left the FBI duo, they were on the lam after Fox's "abduction" by aliens and Scully's supposed alien-baby birth. We've already found out what happened to his sister, Samantha. So, what could be in store for the next film...?

Fox says that the film will be a stand-alone piece written and directed by the series creator, Chris Carter. It looks to be more of a horror story than delving into the depths of conspiracy in our government -- I guess we get too much of that already in real life, huh?

The sequel's predecessor was released in 1998 and grossed over $189 million. The show ended a nine-year run on Fox in 2002.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Best Cookies in the Air Now Available In Stores!

For all of you loyal Midwest Airlines passengers who can't seem to get enough of those chocolatey cookies, well today is a great day for you!

Starting today, at six area Sendik's stores -- including Wauwatosa, Franklin, and Mequon -- you'll be able to buy packs for 32 frozen cookies for $8.99.

Time to get those ovens rared up for some cookie goodness!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Do I Have to Turn Into Bridezilla?

We get a letter yesterday from Hotel Metro. Mind you, we signed our contract for our wedding and reception over a month ago. They have yet to put our deposit onto our credit card.

Well, the Director of Sales sends us a letter. First, and most annoyingly, he addresses it to Ms. Christina Relacion and Mr. Brian Fiennel.

OK...if you're going to send me correspondence -- get my future hubbie's name right! (Especially if his last name is spelled "Finnell" under the comments area about how we want the signs to read to direct our guests).

Anyways, it states that the price for our deposit which we signed our contract for is no longer valid and that we owe $500.

Did I miss something? Isn't what you sign the contract to "contractually bind" you and the place of business to that said price? Maybe I'm just imagining things, but that's what I thought it meant.

This is already on top of us having our first Event Coordinator MIA for the first three months. Don't get me wrong -- Michelle -- our new EC is absolutely amazing. But...I'm really starting to get scared by the incompetence of this place.

We think we may have to start researching and visiting new places for the ceremony and reception to have a back-up plan. Or, we may be going with a completely alternate plan that I really don't want to have to do -- it involves a court, us getting married without all of our friends, and just having a fun weekend with whoever can come, me not wearing a dress, and then having everyone come to our crazy-cool Disney reception in three or five years (depending on when you think the world is going to end -- if you believe Nostradamus is 2011, if its the Mayan calendar -- you have another year -- longggg story...)

On other kinda happy news, my dress is in. I haven't had time yet to go in and have my first fitting. Who knows if I'll actually need it now...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Can someone answer this T-Ball Question?

Brett was telling me a funny little story yesterday about how he lost his hat during a T-ball game when he was living in Illinois. But, that's not the point right now...

The point is...

Why is there a pitcher's position in T-Ball if you're using tees?

Isn't that sort of redundant? Can someone shed some light on this for me? Maybe it's that I was never on a T-Ball team as a kid (y'know, I went straight into slow-pitch softball...)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dumbledore's Secret

In case you've been living in a cave for the past week, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outed one of her most beloved characters last week at an event at Carnegie Hall.

To the surprise and applause of many of her fans, she announced to a packed house that Albus Dumbledore -- the former head of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry -- is gay.


Did anyone else see this coming?

Now, I'm probably one of the biggest Harry Potter fans out there. I've read all the books at least twice (I'm in the process of my second time with #7 right now) and I don't think Dumbledore's sexuality ever came into question for me. Perhaps, Voldemort's sexuality, but not Dumbledore.

I had always thought that secretly Albus had lost a love from long ago and that's why he had always told Harry about how important it is to love. I guess in a way I was right. I just never thought that it would have been with Gellert Grindelwald -- the wizard who was kicked out of Durmstrang for his use of underage Dark Arts.

Since I've started reading "Deathly Hallows" again I have noticed a few tidbits that Jo has thrown in there to hint at this long-lost love affair that took place when the two talented wizards were 17. But beyond that I think mostly that she has just announced that she is working on a prequel that will focus on the life and lies of Albus Dumbledore (yes, it will probably be named just like Rita Skeeter's seething biography from Book 7).

In other HP news, filming has begun for "Half-Blood Prince." If you search online you can see pictures of the outside facades of the house that will be used for Horace Slughorn's home in the beginning of the film. Reports from the set have announced that this week, Dan Radcliffe and Ralph Fiennes are filming a few of their scenes.

Also, a few new actors have been linked to Film 6. Most notably, (and this has not been confirmed by the studios or the actors themselves) Naomi Watts's name has surfaced as a fore-runner to play Narcissa Malfoy (wife of Lucius - played by Jason Isaacs, sister of Bellatrix Lestrange -- played by Helena Bonham Carter, and mother of Draco Malfoy -- played by Tom Felton, who has to be like 30).

Jim Broadbent has been named as the actor portraying Horace Slughorn. Most recently he was in "Hot Fuzz".

Also being linked to the film, are Bill Nighy. I have heard that he could play either Fenrir Greyback (the werewolf known to have a blood thirst for children and Weasleys) or as the new Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. There have also been reports that "Pirates of the Caribbean" and BBC star Jack Davenport (Admiral Norrington) has been offered an unspecified role.

It seems that the only Brits who haven't signed on to the Harry Potter series are Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, and Joseph Fiennes...

Err...Actually, Joseph Fiennes (Voldy's younger brother who's famous for the Oscar-worthy "Shakespeare in Love") has also been linked to an unnamed role.

I guess with all those death eaters roles to fill, they need to keep it in the family. My hope is that Johnny Depp will take the role as Sirius Black's brother and Voldemort follow, Regulus A. Black.

This Took Me Back...

I was uploading some music to use as bumper's for Sunday's shows and I found this one video from back in high school.

I used to bop to it. I hate to admit that I actually liked it. I remember going to see the movie with a group of friends and during the credits I got up and started doing the dance from the video. So embarrassing!

What is this little ditty?

Oh, check the link to find out...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Rumpledoodle

Last night, Brett and I watched one of our favorite movies...ever!

"Pooh's Heffalump Movie"

I know. I know. You're probably laughing at us right now. What? No drama? No adventure? Your favorite movie is an animated Disney feature?

I didn't say it was, like, our favorite movie of all time. But, it has a soft-spot in our heart. Back at our days when we stayed at "The Chester," we first watched this cute little heart-warming story in the middle of the hottest and longest summer ever in 2005.

I still remember coming home from work one afternoon to find Lindsay and Kristin sitting on the futon mattress in the living room (we couldn't find a frame, but that's another blog completely) crying their eyes out yelling at me, "We hate you Relacion!"

Anyways, the movie still holds a sentimental place in our hearts and we had nothing better to watch last night, so we popped it in the DVD player and grabbed the two kids (Huggles and Lumpy -- our pseudo-children -- again, another blog completely).

About an hour later, Brett's t-shirt was completely soaked in both my tears and my snot. (Note: He did change his shirt) It's just such a freakin' cute movie and I'm not afraid to admit that I get choked up in it like a little school child who just had their dog run over by a semi-truck.

Well, on the DVD features there's a recipe to make "Rumpledoodles," a little biscuit-like cookie that are a heffalump's favorite. So, I decided to make a batch today for the Lumpster. And...lemme say they're not half bad. I'm going to have to tweak the recipe just a tad because they're a bit oily but for the most part they're a sweet, crispy cookie made with oatmeal, coconut, raisins and molasses.

I guess if anyone wants a rumpledoodle you know where to find me!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wow, its been a while...

I haven't had the chance to post on this in such a long time. Maybe I'll try to post on here more or link it somehow to my MySpace blog that already has a bunch of loyal readers...

I'll have more shortly...