Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Celebrity Sightings April 20, 2011

I have been MIA from this blog for the past few months, mainly because we are in the middle of relocating from Dallas to the L.A. area. We are looking forward to many things about our new home, including the nice weather and being close to many interesting destinations. Another small perk of living near L.A. is that we are likely to spot the occasional celebrity. I’m not one of those people who worships actors and musicians, and I don’t believe that encountering them in public will somehow change my life. After all, they are just people. For me, it’s more of a fun game, to see if I recognize someone famous, and then to observe them to guess what sort of person they are. I’ve only been to California a few times, but since Brad has been out there for work several times a year for the past eight years, I will include his celeb spottings here, too.

Me

  • Noah Wyle – When I was in high school, ER’s Dr. Carter was on my list of attractive famous people (does every teenage girl compile such a list?) So I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed him sitting in first class on my flight to L.A. a couple of weeks ago. The man sitting next to him started talking to me about Peter, and Noah looked up and smiled at us. In that brief moment I observed that he has aged (he’s almost 40!), he was sharply dressed, and was reading a book called The War of Art. You can’t tell much about someone in a few seconds, but I will say that he had kind eyes. You can see Noah on tv again this summer on TNT’s new scifi drama Falling Skies.
  • Thomas Hayden Church – While waiting to board my flight home to Dallas at the Burbank Airport, I recognized this Sideways star immediately. He was buying something at the snack/magazine counter, and appeared to be impatient with the lady behind the counter (I hadn’t been too impressed with her, either.) He is very tall, so it’s hard to miss him. Some of the other passengers started to point him out to each other. He never talked to anyone – he seemed anxious to get on the plane, and in fact was the first person in line for boarding. He was wearing a flannel shirt and cargo pants. I was sitting in the first row behind first class, so I had a view of him during the flight to Dallas. Whenever I looked up at him, he was either sleeping or reading what could have been a script.
  • James Denton – On a previous trip to L.A., I walked past this Desperate Housewives plumber at LAX. He was dressed in a suit, and I was struck by how blue his eyes were!
  • Mike Piazza – Going back about 18 years, when I was an avid Dodger fan, I spotted this Dodger catcher at the Galleria in Houston. My family was in town for an Astros/Dodgers game, and we were hanging out at the Galleria beforehand. Apparently the Dodgers were staying at one of the mall’s hotels, because while we were hanging out at the ice rink, Piazza strode past, looking nice in a suit. We tried to catch up with him for an autograph (of course! I was a teenage girl, and he was on my “cute” list), but he was already to the parking garage and out of sight. A bit later, my dad had a conversation with another Dodger player, Cory Snyder.
  • Quincy Jones – My strangest celebrity encounter happened in June 2009, the day after Michael Jackson died. I was in L.A. visiting my friend Lindsay. We decided to have afternoon coffee and dessert at a popular place called Pan e Vino. You can read all the details here. We both recognized Quincy Jones sitting at a table with family/friends in the corner of the patio opposite from us. It was strange to see someone who was a known friend and associate of Michael Jackson, only hours after Michael’s death. Quincy was dressed in black, whether out of mourning or because that’s his normal thing I don’t know. We guessed that he was with a daughter, son-in-law, and grand child based on their interactions with each other.

Brad – I should ask him to give me some more details about these spottings, but for now I’ll just give a brief run down.

  • Ted Danson – He shared a flight with him one time.
  • Mario Lopez – This was probably the most amusing celeb sighting for Brad. He even took a few discreet pictures with his phone to prove to me that he was sitting next to “Slater” at the airport.
  • Mike Tyson – He and his colleagues actually stopped Mike and asked for a picture at the airport.
  • Coolio – Spotted him walking through an airport
  • Blair Underwood – This has been Brad’s most interesting celebrity encounter. At the time Underwood was appearing on the now canceled show Dirty Sexy Money, and now he is somewhat more recognized as the president on NBC’s 24/Lost wannabe The Event. Brad didn’t just see Blair Underwood. He was actually sitting next to him on the flight to Dallas, and so he conversed with him periodically throughout the flight. As I recall, Underwood was going to Dallas for a funeral. 😦  Brad enjoyed talking with him about the ins and outs of the theater and tv industry, and to a certain extent about Blair’s efforts to remain successful. I would love to have such a conversation with an actor! Maybe one day I’ll have my chance. As someone pointed out to me recently, having babies or small children with you somehow makes conversations with strangers more acceptable.

If you could see or talk to a celebrity in person, who would it be? What would you want to talk to them about?

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Recently Purchased on iTunes October 26, 2010

Filed under: 1980s,1990s,Music — Emily @ 10:13 am
Tags: ,

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve finally gotten around to buying some new music on iTunes. I received a couple of iTunes gift cards last Christmas, so it was about time! Having $50 to spend on music is a big responsibility for someone who almost never buys music (and no, I don’t “steal” it either – I just tend to listen to what I already have). So how did I decide what to spend it on? First, I listened to Pandora and wrote down the names of songs I particularly enjoyed. I also paid attention when people on Facebook praised certain groups and artists. And finally, I dug deep into my memory banks to think of some old school classics that I’d enjoy having on my iPod. Rather than buying entire albums, I decided to mostly purchase individual songs so that I could have more variety. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far, but I still have $18 to spend!:

  • Mumford and Sons – Sigh No MoreI just purchased this album this morning; in fact, I’m listening to it for the first time right now and loving it! This group is so different from anything on the radio right now – refreshing, creative, folksy, yet modern – all at the same time. I’ve always liked a good folk music sound, and it’s even better when combined with other sounds. (Think Nickel Creek, Regina Spektor, Rich Mullins, etc.) I’ve heard good things about the Avett Brothers, too, so I will be buying some of their music in the near future.
  • Sara Bareilles – “Gravity” – I first heard this song a couple of seasons ago on So You Think You Can Dance, during Kayla and Kupono’s emotional “Addiction” performance. The song stuck with me as much as the routine did, so I’m glad to own it now.
  • Muse – “Uprising” and “Supermassive Black Hole” – I like Muse enough to buy their albums, but these two songs are a good start for my collection. Muse has a sharp, satisfying sound, and perhaps sadly, they represent some of the “heaviest” music in my collection.
  • The KLF with Tammy Wynette – “Stand By Jams” – Remember this classic late ’80s song? “Their justified, and their ancient, and they drive an ice cream van…” I have no idea what it was about, but the combination of country and dance music sure was catchy!
  • The Killers – “When You Were Young” – I really like the lead singer’s voice, and perhaps this group reminds me of the best of the ’80s, since they have a synthesizer/Duran Duran-ish sound. Plus, it’s fun to play this song on Guitar Hero! 😉
  • Joshua Radin – “No Envy No Fear” – This is one of the songs I discovered on Pandora. It has a sleepy, pleasant sound. I think I’ve heard it on a tv show, too.
  • Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind” – I was reminded of this song when the kids on Glee sang it a few weeks ago. No offense to Rachel, Finn, and the gang, but this is one of those times when I prefer the original over the Glee-i-fied version. This is a fun one to sing along to.
  • Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – This song has been played everywhere. I first heard it on the “Wizard of Oz” themed episode of Scrubs. Such a beautiful version of the classic song, and it makes me happy every time I hear it. 🙂
  • Christina Aguilera – “Ain’t No Other Man” – I admit it: I like a good Christina song every now and then! They are catchy, and the girl can sing. I’m sure I’ll purchase a couple more of her songs eventually, but for now this is it.
  • Britney Spears – “Toxic” – Let’s consider this a nostalgic purchase. Britney songs have always been catchy, so why not add a couple to my collection? For the record, though, she doesn’t have a particularly good voice – she’s just well-produced.
  • Brandi Carlile – “The Story” – This has been in my Pandora rotation lately, and when I investigated where I’d heard it before, I discovered it was featured in a Grey’s Anatomy promo, and a GM commercial during the Olympics. I love her voice – similar to Melissa Etheridge, and this is just a good song.
  • Beyonce – “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” – Ever since the Glee episode where Kurt led the football team in a dance number to this song, I can’t help but smile when I hear this song. It’s fun to dance and sing along to, and that’s enough reason for me to buy it.
  • Missy Elliot – “Lose Control” – This isn’t my typical choice of genre (most of my music is of the “chill around the house” variety), but I wanted to add some songs that will be motivating during a workout. Since this is one of the songs played during my cardio kickboxing class, I know it will keep me moving on the treadmill or stair stepper, too!

So there you have it. How should I spend my remaining $18? I am open to suggestions!

 

Spring Movie Roundup May 21, 2010

The tv season is winding down, but since I’m having trouble collecting my thoughts about shows like Lost, 24, and Fringe, I’ll share my thoughts on some movies I’ve watched recently:

  • Rain Man – This Oscar-winning movie from 1988 was fun to watch, as much for the 80s cultural references as for the well developed story. Since I was only ten years old when the movie was released, I’m not sure I had ever watched the whole thing before. It was thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. Dustin Hoffmann won best actor, and the movie also won Oscars for best picture, best director, and best screenplay. Most people these days still associate Tom Cruise with his “crazy phase” from a few years ago, with the sofa leaping on Oprah and whatnot. I don’t have much of an opinion about Cruise as a person, but he has been in a lot of good movies that represent a variety of roles. Some of my favorites include Collateral, Minority Report, and A Few Good Men. In this movie, Cruise and Hoffmann are a great team with good acting chemistry. The 80s cars, clothing, music, billboards, etc. were a nice backdrop to a story that would work well during any time period: self-centered Charlie discovers he has an older, autistic brother – Raymond – and during a cross country journey the two brothers develop an unlikely bond and Charlie’s perspective on the situation changes. If you’ve never seen this movie, I’d definitely recommend it, and it’s also worth a second look.
  • Soapdish – This campy comedy has been on my rewatch list for awhile, since my appreciation for all things Robert Downey, Jr. has increased over the past couple of years. The character Downey plays (a spineless producer for the show) in this soap opera parody isn’t very likable, but the movie is entertaining and represents the flavor of early 90s cinema (it was released in 1991). It features an appropriately histrionic Sally Field and Kevin Kline, a fresh-faced Elisabeth Shue, and a pre-Lois and Clark/Desperate Housewives Teri Hatcher. The convoluted story, which involves a power struggle between soap divas, a love triangle, and a surprise paternity revelation, is understandably ridiculous – as it is a soap opera parody, but the main characters are just likable enough that it also works as a romantic comedy. I watched this through Netflix Instant Watch – if you are home one night with no tv shows to watch, this is a fun way to pass the time.
  • An Education – This movie caught my eye only because author Nick Hornby wrote the screenplay. I always enjoy his books, which include About a Boy and A Long Way Down, so I was curious to see how his knack for creating interesting characters and situations would translate to the big screen. While the movie lacked appealing characters, it definitely presented flawed, complex individuals. The story centers around a 16 year old girl, Jenny, who falls for a much older man, David (he must be in his late 30s). The disturbing thing to me is that her parents actually encourage the relationship. David is a charming guy who sweet talks his way into Jenny and her parents’ lives, and the audience spends most of the movie uncertain about his true intentions/motivations. The title of the movie refers to how this experience affects Jenny’s world: she certainly learns some life lessons, and she also begins to question the goals that had always been straightforward before meeting David – to finish at her prep school, make it into Oxford, and study English. After becoming involved with David, she comes to regard school as boring and leading to a dull future, and regards life with David as exciting and full of possibility. If this movie were set during modern times, it would play out a lot differently (for example, Jenny’s parents would probably have David arrested instead of inviting him over for tea!). But, I can only assume that things were different in 1960s England, which is the time period during which we see Jenny’s story unfold. This is not a feel good movie, but it’s not a complete downer either. It’s worth seeing for the excellent writing and acting, and because it makes you think about the expectations society places on young women when it comes to getting an education and finding someone to marry.
  • The Proposal – I was surprised how much I enjoyed this movie. It’s far from Oscar worthy, but its entertainment value is off the charts. I smiled or laughed just about all the way through it. The story is your typical cliched romantic comedy fluff: New York editor Margaret forces her personal assistant, Andrew, to agree to marry her when she finds out she’s about to be deported to her home country of Canada. The business arrangement soon turns into something more as they take a weekend trip to Alaska together to share the “happy news” with Andrew’s family. Not surprisingly, we learn that Margaret isn’t the evil witch that everyone thinks she is, and she learns that there’s much more to Andrew than she had given him credit for. The real fun in the movie can be attributed to the “fish out of water” aspect of city girl Margaret adapting to life in the Alaskan wilderness, whether she’s dancing with Andrew’s grandmother (scene stealer Betty White) in the woods as a tribute to the gods, trying to prevent a hawk from stealing her cell phone, or enduring special attention during a performance by the local male exotic dancer (Oscar from The Office in an unlikely and hilarious role). But Bullock isn’t the only thing to love about this movie. Everyone was well cast, and I was really charmed by Ryan Reynolds, an actor who I had previously written off as someone who specializes in a brand of silly movies I have no interest in. It turns out that in addition to being quite attractive, he is a pretty good comedic actor. The final thing I’ll say about this movie is that parts of it were filmed on location in Rockport, Massachusetts, where I went on vacation a couple of years ago. It is a quaint, scenic little town close to Boston, and I loved it. I recognized the red barn that is a Rockport landmark, in the scene where Margaret and Andrew climb into a boat to ride to his family’s house. Seeing familiar sites in the movie made me happy. As far as romantic comedies go, this one is a definite winner, and one I could watch several more times before tiring of it.
  • The X-Files: I Want to Believe – As an avid X-Filer, I should have watched this movie in the theater, but I heard so many negative reviews of it that I kept putting it off. It’s not that the movie was bad – it just wasn’t great. For me, it was enough to see Mulder and Scully together again, investigating a string of mysterious disappearances. It was nice to see them years after the events of the series finale, settled into a comfortable domestic existence, with Mulder “hiding out” from the feds and Scully working as a medical doctor. A supposed psychic’s discovery of a human limb buried in a field, and his insistence that he is having visions of a woman’s abduction, leads the FBI to enlist Mulder and Scully to help investigate a case that involves a serial kidnapper, black market organs, and a connection to the psychic network. Many fans of the show were disappointed that Chris Carter didn’t take this opportunity to provide more answers to the show’s many unresolved conspiracy theories and alien investigations, but I was entertained. I agree with a review I read that the movie played out like an extended “episode of the week.” Was the movie as memorable as X-Files: Fight the Future? No. Is it worth watching again? No. But it was comforting to revisit these old “friends,” so I’m glad that I watched it.
  • Where the Wild Things Are – What an odd little movie this was. When the trailers first surfaced on the internet, the buzz among people of my generation was crazy. We grew up reading this book, and now Spike Jonze, the mastermind behind Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, was bringing it to the big screen! When the movie actually hit theaters, the buzz turned into more of a shoulder shrugging, “eh, it was okay” attitude. I even heard some people say it was depressing. There was debate about whether this was a movie intended for kids, or a movie geared toward the 30 somethings who first made the book popular. It seems to be a mix of both. The shenanigans of Max and the “wild things” he meets on the island are very silly at times, but Max’s home life that leads him on his adventure, and his complex emotions about his life and relationships, can only be appreciated by the adult audience. Most kids’ movies don’t delve beneath the surface to explore the reasons that a child is feeling lonely, alienated, or neglected, and this movie did an excellent job of that. However, I think the movie would have been better if Jonze had chosen one specific direction rather than dividing his vision between the two extremes.
  • Up in the Air – I had been looking forward to this George Clooney movie for awhile, and was curious to see if it would live up to all the Oscar hype. It was very good, but not at all what I was expecting it to be. The writing, acting, directing, soundtrack, cinematography were all top notch. The story was clever and kept me completely engaged. My husband and I appreciated the business traveler aspect of the movie, since he travels quite often for work and is familiar with the never ending sequence of airport security checks, hotel key cards, airline/hotel/rental car points, etc. It was the tone of the movie that was a surprise. I was expecting it to be a dry comedy, and it was at times, but there was a persistent theme of loneliness, isolation, and even despair that made it difficult to watch, particularly as it neared its end. I wasn’t sure what to take away from such a movie. It left viewers with no hopeful message, and really no message at all. We weren’t sure what to think about where the main characters ended up. As the credits rolled, I just said “huh” and felt a little gypped. Despite my disappointment with the direction of the plot, there is much to appreciate in this movie, so if you can handle your comedy with some twists, turns, and drama, give it a look.

Next on my movie list are Dear Frankie, my current Netflix rental, and Iron Man 2, a necessity for me to watch since it stars my beloved Robert Downey, Jr. What have you seen lately?

 

Into the Wild: A Closer Look December 14, 2009

Into the Wild is a movie based on a book based on a true story. Sean Penn directed and wrote the screenplay for the movie, and Jon Krakauer wrote the book based on Christopher McCandless’s experiences. While the movie is well executed (I assume the book is as well), McCandless’s life choices left me feeling disturbed and disappointed, and with a lot of questions to ponder.

A Well-Made Film

  • Cinematography – From the opening shots of McCandless trudging through the snowy terrain of the Alaskan wildnerness and his mother waking up from another nightmare about her missing son, it was clear that this would be a beautiful and emotional movie. The cinematography certainly highlighted the amazing wonders of the natural world, all right here in the United States of America. I was watching the blu ray version, and I enjoyed the breathtaking views of everything from snowy mountains to waving wheat fields to winding river canyons. This aspect of McCandless’s journey – the ultimate, no limits tour of America – was inspiring, but everything he sacrificed to pursue this adventure gave the story a darker tone.
  • Soundtrack – The music enhances the viewer’s experience of the landscapes and McCandless’s rollercoaster of emotions. At Sean Penn’s request, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder took on the soundtrack as a solo project, and the results are fantastic. The songs have a consistently “grunge folk” sound that works very well for this particular story. I may have to add this album to my collection of movie soundtracks.
  • Screenplay/Directing – Sean Penn weaves the tale of this recent college graduate by jumping around in the story, rather than going chronologically. We begin and end in Alaska, which throughout the movie is McCandless’s ultimate destination, and in between we see how his journey began, how his family dealt with his disappearance, and where he went before settling into his “magic” bus in the Alaskan wildnerness. Sean Penn is no stranger to tragic stories – two of the most difficult to watch movies I’ve ever seen were Mystic River and 21 Grams – and he brought a similar tone to this movie. Even though the mood shifts among inspiring, suspenseful, humorous, and dramatic, there is always an underlying tone of loneliness and loss. So, no, this isn’t necessarily an inspiring, feel-good movie, but it is certainly well worth watching.

Before she was Bella, Kristen Stewart played along side Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild.

  • The Acting – The movie features an all-star cast, and all of them did a great job portraying their characters. Emile Hirsch played the idealistic, adventureous Chris McCandless, and he also provided narration, along with Jena Malone, who played his sister. Their parents were played by Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt. Harden was disturbing with her artificial cheerfulness, and Hurt was her abusive husband, who was usually quiet but had a simmering anger and bitterness just beneath the surface. McCandless meets many people on his trek across America, some quirky, some lonely, but all well-meaning. Catherine Keener is great as McCallum’s surrogate mother, Kristen Stewart (before she achieved international fame as Edward’s beloved Bella) plays a teenager who falls in love with him, Vince Vaughn is impressively understated (as opposed to his typical comedic role) as a man who hires McCandless to work on his farm, and Hal Holbrook is memorable as a reclusive old man who develops an unlikely friendship with him. These actors bring the characters to life so well that it was heartbreaking to see McCandless eventually leave all of them behind on his stubborn quest to achieve fulfillment in solitude.

Trudging alone through snowy terrain in the Alaskan wilderness

Christopher McCandless

So now we come to the boy himself, Christopher McCandless – or, as he liked to call himself, Alexander Supertramp. Chris wasn’t the first person to find solace in the wild. Timothy Treadwell, the ill-fated subject of the documentary Grizzly Man also comes to mind, but I am sure there are countless others. What makes McCandless’s story so memorable? For starters, it is the way he started his journey. He wasn’t just taking a summer road trip, one last hurrah before finding a job with the college degree he had just earned. Instead, he was in it for the long haul. He wanted to make a complete break from society, so he gave away his life savings ($24,000!!) to charity, cut up his credit cards and drivers license, abandoned his car, and changed his name. By doing all these things, he made himself virtually invisible. Christopher McCandless no longer existed, and so it would be impossible for his family to find him unless he wanted to be found. In my opinion, McCandless’s decision to erase his identity and go off the map was a selfish and irresponsible one. In trying to understand what he did, I’ve divided his actions into four categories below:

  • Rejecting Family – Shortly after graduating from college, Chris followed through with his plans to leave life as he had known it behind. According to the movie, his main reason for doing this was that he wanted to distance himself from his parents, who had been a negative presence in his life, from their dishonesty with him, to his father’s domestic abuse, to their desire to control his future. Perhaps he wanted nothing to do with the traditional path of an upstanding American citizen, since career and marriage had brought his family so much pain.
    • During the years of his unhappy home life, Chris took comfort in the words of writers like Emerson, Thoreau, and London, and their portraits of nature and solitude seemed like his perfect escape from his family. Maybe he had a right to disappear and do his own thing – after all, he was over 18. But just because it was his right doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do, at least not the way he did it. Why couldn’t he pick up a phone and call his sister? Write them a letter? Send them a postcard? He left with no warning, and thus he, his sister, and his parents were never able to resolve their issues.
    • I’ve heard of people disowning their families and never speaking to them again, which is really sad. But in most cases, these people have other friends who become their family. Everyone needs at least one person to share life’s ups and downs with. Chris had the chance to be “adopted” into new families several times along his journey – the hippie couple, the farmer, the old war veteran… But each time they tried to get close to him, he rejected them in the name of his quest for individual freedom. Just think how his life may have played differently if he had fostered any one of these relationships. Perhaps someone would have joined him on his Alaskan adventure, or at least checked in with him from time to time. Instead, he found himself truly alone, at the time when he most needed someone’s help.
  • Rejecting Society – This is the part of Chris’s plan that I can understand the most. Sometimes it’s nice to feel invisible. He achieved that by changing his name to Alexander Supertramp, giving away all his money, and cutting up his identification. He was basically saying that he had no interest in the American dream of pursuing a successful career, making a lot of money, driving a nice car, getting married, having children, sending his children to college, etc. He had only seen the hardships that come with those choices, and so he rejected them. Even though I can understand him wanting to choose another path, his methods were still selfish. Wasn’t that his parents’ money, set aside for his education? And hadn’t they already paid his way through school? Since he bothered to graduate, he should have either tried out a job, or if nothing else given his parents an explanation for why he didn’t want to. Up until the point he became trapped in the wilderness of Alaska, his journey across America did seem exciting and fulfilling. He had no responsibility except to himself, no schedule to keep, and no limits to what he could do or see. Most people have to save up money and take time off of work to even take a small road trip, but he was able to meet new people, take on river rapids, hike mountains, swim in the ocean, etc.
  • Embracing a Life of Solitude – If Chris had been content to “establish” himself as a nomad, traveling from one place to another, one adventure to another, with some of his new friends, then I would have felt like he had a good thing going on, at least for awhile. He could have traveled with Rainey and Jan, or helped an old man live the last years of his life to the fullest by taking on Ron as his travel buddy. Instead, he left them all behind to live life alone. I can understand wanting to get away from the world for awhile, but he seemed to be in it for the long haul. He spent over 100 days completely alone, with no one to talk to, no physical contact. These are things that keep us healthy and sane! I got stir crazy just watching him go through his days of solitude. I don’t believe that anyone could find true happiness or fulfillment just by experiencing nature and not being attached to society. My guess is he eventually realized that his ideal was just that, an unreachable goal.
  • Experiencing Nature – I love nature. I always notice the full moon or a beautiful sunset, I’ve stood in awe beneath the huge, majestic trees of Muir Woods, and I would love to visit some of the places featured in the documentary Planet Earth. However, I don’t understand why he wanted to experience all these things alone. Chris came to this realization in the movie as he sat alone in his magic bus in Alaska. He had been marveling at the beauty of the mountains and the animals, but he didn’t have anyone to share his joy with. He wrote this simple, sad statement in his journal: “Happiness isn’t real unless it’s shared.” That statement was at odds with what he had believed throughout his journey – that relationships don’t bring satisfaction the way that true freedom does. It seems that Chris forgot to respect the darker side of nature. It’s not all big sky, clear water, and surmountable mountainsides. There’s a reason that humans have built homes, grocery stores, hospitals, and other comforts. You don’t always know what you’re going to get from nature, but you can always count on a warm place to sleep if you have a house, a hot meal to eat if you have a few dollars, and some medical attention when you need it if a doctor is in the area. In the end, Chris needed warmth, food, and medical assistance, but because he had cut himself off from society, he instead faced a grim outlook.

The saddest part of Chris’s story to me is how he was missing some vital information that may have saved him from his fate (I read about this part of his story elsewhere, since it wasn’t included in the movie). After about 90 days in the Alaskan wilderness, he prepared to return to civilization, but when he arrived at a river crossing, he discovered that the river was much wider and stronger than it had been in the spring. Rather than attempt to cross, or to walk along the bank and look for another way over, he simply returned to his bus. If he had had a decent map with him, or if he had walked 1/4 mile up the river, he would have discovered a hand-operated tram that would have easily transported him across the river.

I think that if he had really wanted to return to society and deal with some of the relationships he had formed and broken, he would have found a way across. Since he quickly gave up and turned around, I wonder if he was willing to accept the consequences of what could happen if he stayed in the wilderness alone. Maybe for him, it was all worth it, but to me, it looks like a life wasted. Christopher McCandless’s story is a grim reminder about the importance of maintaining relationships and respecting the power of nature.

 

Freaks and Geeks: A Review October 28, 2009

Why did it take me ten years to watch this gem of a show from 1999? Freaks and Geeks is a show about misfits at a suburban Detroit high school circa 1980. It is the antithesis of shows like Dawson’s Creek or the more recent Gossip Girl (worlds inhabited by beautiful teens with abnormally self aware conversational skills). If for no other reason, children of the ’80s should watch the show to revel in all of that decade’s music, cars, clothing, even wallpaper (or wood paneling) – I know I had many moments of nostalgia. Thankfully, there are many other reasons to watch the show besides its spot-on ’80s setting and atmosphere. Read on for several more reasons to tune in.

The cast of Freaks and Geeks

The Characters

  • The Freaks
    • Nick Andopolis (Jason Segel) – I was surprised and pleased when I discovered that Marshall from HIMYM was on this show. His character had arguably the most development of the trio of freak guys. Beneath his near-constant drug-induced stupor, and his dream of being a great drummer, he had a flair for the dramatic (see his song for Lindsay and his disco dancing) and uncertainty about the future, since his dad had basically ordered him to join the army. I didn’t really like where they left Nick – standing in a discotheque with a girlfriend he didn’t really like, while Lindsay walked out and moved on with her life. Nevertheless, he was a character I grew to love and root for.
    • Daniel Desario (James Franco) – I was impressed with James Franco in this role. He’s had quite a successful career since playing Daniel, the cool, laid back leader of the freaks. His on-again, off-again relationship with Kim was entertaining, but we also saw some of the pressure he felt at home, and his fear that he would never be good at anything. I love how we last saw him – playing Dungeons and Dragons with the geeks, and discovering that this game was something that was fun that he was pretty good at – even if his character was a dwarf.
    • Ken Miller (Seth Rogen) – Seth Rogen was little more than comic relief until late in the series, when his character developed an interest in a tuba player in the band. One of my favorite episodes is the one where she shares an important secret him, and although he struggles with processing it, he turns out to be cool with it. That episode also showed that Daniel, Nick, and Ken were loyal friends to each other. Loved it.
    • Kim Kelly (Busy Phillips) – Other than central character Lindsay, Kim was one of the few girls on the show. She was probably the least developed character of the main cast – she was mostly stuck making annoyed faces and insulting people. That’s not to say she wasn’t entertaining. Kim Kelly was a perfect character for Busy Phillips to play, and I much prefer her here than in Dawson’s Creek.
    • Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) – Oh, poor confused Lindsay. First she’s a Math-lete, then she’s dating Nick, then she’s a Math-lete again, for one second, then she’s hanging out with Dead Heads. Wait, I guess she was just acting like the majority of American teenagers, trying to find their place in the world. While I was disappointed with where the show took her character in the end (it left a lot of unresolved issues that we’ll never see), I suppose it’s more realistic than the alternative. (I won’t give specifics, so you can see for yourself.) Despite the realistic aspects to her character, I often found myself annoyed by her aimless wandering from group to group. She wasn’t one of my favorite characters. I guess she represented the uncomfortable world in between freaks and geeks.
  • The Geeks
    • Sam Weir (John Francis Daley) – John Francis Daley was the best thing about this show. He is adorable as awkward, geeky teen Sam Weir. Fans of Bones know him as psychologist Lance Sweets. He’s all grown up now, so it’s crazy that ten years ago he was just a sweet little 14 year old boy on Freaks and Geeks. While his friends Bill and Neal were sometimes unbearably dorky, Sam managed to be more charming with his adolescent confusion. For example, his crush on Cindy Sanders led to him getting all flustered around her, but when his dream of dating her actually came true, he realized they had nothing in common and was very bored and irritated with her. I liked most of his character’s developments, and the Cindy Sanders story was especially fun.
    • Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr) – Oh, sweet dorky Bill. As I mentioned earlier, I was sometimes irritated by how he left his mouth hanging open all the time, but he was a terrific source of entertainment for his friends and the television audience. He asked the tough questions, like when he couldn’t figure out what was so great about french kissing, and started coming up with horrific hypothetical scenarios about what could go wrong. His home life was a little sad (he spent his afternoons home alone and his evening watching Dallas), and the episode about his allergic reaction to peanuts was a downer, but usually Bill made me smile.
    • Neal Schweiber (Samm Levine) – Neal represents the stereotypically irritating dorky guy who is a little too confident in his witty one-liners and ability to charm the ladies. Despite this, he was a good friend to Sam and Bill. The situation with his dad was sad, but it was nice to see Sam and Bill help out their friend as he worked through his feelings of anger and disappointment. And no doubt, if the show had told us where these guys ended up, Neal would be a highly successful businessman married to a beautiful woman.
    • Millie Kentner (Sarah Hagan) – Millie was an odd character – so straight-laced, and representative of Lindsay’s pre-freak social scene. But beneath her awkward, serious exterior was a really sweet friend. It was horrible when Kim ran over her dog!
  • The Grown-Ups
    • Harold Weir (Joe Flaherty) – In the beginning, Lindsay and Sam’s father seemed like a stereotypical tv dad, muttering stories about “when I was your age” at the dinner table, but as the series progressed we saw another side behind his cranky exterior. Deep down, he cared deeply for his wife and kids, and was only trying to do what was best for them. One of my favorite moments from Mr. Weir was when he took Nick under his wing, when Nick’s own father wasn’t giving him any guidance or support.
    • Jean Weir (Becky Ann Baker) – Lindsay and Sam’s stay-at-home mom was always full of smiles and encouraging words, but she was mostly clueless about what her kids were going through at school. She and Mr. Weir were hilarious when they had scenes together, especially in the episode where they rekindled the romance in their relationship (resulting in a very awkward situation for the kids when they got home from school…). I felt so bad for her when she would go out of her way to make a special meal, or to bake cookies for Halloween, and no one would appreciate her effort.
    • Coach Ben Fredericks (Thomas F. Wilson) – Best known as Biff in Back to the Future, he was the rough around the edges, but generally well meaning P.E. coach. I loved how he sat Sam down for a heart to heart about real sex ed after Sam was freaked out by the porn that Daniel loaned him. And I also liked the episode where Coach Fredericks was dating Bill’s mom, and tried his hardest to find a point of connection with his potential step son. He was as surprised as anyone when that connection point turned out to be Dallas.
    • Jeff Rosso (Dave Allen) – The school guidance counselor, this former hippie was full of sage advice and cool vibes, which always freaked out the freaks. I loved the episode where Lindsay and her friends went to great lengths to secure fake IDs to go see a hot new band, and when they succeeded, they were disappointed to discover that the lead singer was none other than their dorky guidance counselor (who proceeded to direct the bartender to serve his students soda instead of alcohol).

    Hippie guidance counselor Mr. Rosso

My Favorite Episodes

  • Tricks and Treats – The main thing I remember about this episode was Bill dressing up as the Bionic Woman (so funny!) and Lindsay realizing what a jerk she was becoming when she egged her own brother during her friends’ Halloween joyride around town. It was also interesting to hear the characters talk about fears of tainted candy (the main reason that kids were throwing Mrs. Weir’s homemade cookies into her front yard). I always love Halloween episodes of tv shows, and this one didn’t disappoint. But the look on Sam’s face after Lindsay egged him was so sad! So was the look on her face…

 

Bill as the Bionic Woman

  • Tests and Breasts – This was the episode that found Sam, Neal, and Bill pondering the mysteries of sex, a topic of discussion brought up when they don’t understand a dirty joke, and when they start covering sex ed in P.E. Much awkwardness followed, including them watching the porn flick Daniel loaned them, and Coach Frederick’s honest Q&A with Sam.
  • Carded and Discarded – The title of this episode refers mostly to Lindsay and her friends’ quest to get fake IDs, but I was more interested in the geeks’ sub plot of them befriending a pretty new girl at school. This story gave them a chance to point out the normally harsh realities of kids choosing a group and sticking to it once the dust of newness settles. But the time they spent with the new girl was fun, especially when she enthusiastically joined them in launching rockets.
  • Smooching and Mooching – This episode took a game of spin the bottle to new levels of hilarity, from Neal’s pre-party practice on his ventriloquist dummy, to Bill’s unexpected heart to heart talk and makeout session with a cheerleader.
  • The Little Things – This is the episode that saw Sam’s crush on Cindy turn into the harsh reality of a relationship built on infatuation, with no common interests to hold it together. She was shocked that he didn’t want to hang out with all her friends, and he couldn’t believe she thought The Jerk was stupid! The more serious plot of this episode involved Ken’s girlfriend telling him her deepest, darkest secret. The way that Ken and she worked through it all was very realistic and well done, and gave me a greater appreciation for his character.
  • Discos and Dragons – This episode actually worked really well as a series finale. My favorite aspect of it was how Daniel started hanging out with the geeks – and having just as much fun with them, if not more, as with his regular friends. He finally found something he was good at in Dungeons and Dragons, and his participation in the game made the other guys feel cooler. I wasn’t as thrilled with the direction the show took Lindsay’s character, which I mentioned earlier. Oh, well. Overall, it was a great episode.

The "geeks" wait for Daniel to make his move in their game of Dungeons and Dragons

Standout Moments

  • Sam streaking through the halls at school (Episode 6, “I’m with the Band”)Sam lived out all of our worst nightmares of being naked at school! It was quite a memorable scene, with him running for cover, and not finding it anywhere.
  • Lindsay’s parents read her diary (Episode 10, “The Diary”) – I loved Mr. and Mrs. Weir, and this scene found them torn between giving their daughter privacy vs. making sure she wasn’t getting involved in anything bad. What they read ended up changing how they treated her and each other, which was bittersweet to watch.
  • Sam’s feathered hair and baby blue jumpsuit (Episode 11, “Looks and Books”) – Oh, my, this may have been the moment that made me laugh more than anything else on the series. He looked so ridiculous, but then most teenagers go to crazy lengths to achieve coolness, and we usually all fail miserably. He certainly did!

Sam's unfortunate choice of wardrobe and hair style

  • Bill watching tv and eating an after school snack (various episodes) – Eating snacks and watching tv are part of most people’s childhood, and yet you don’t see it very often on a tv show. I appreciated this glimpse of Bill’s life. Living with a single, working mom, he came home to an empty house, and Garry Shandling kept him company.
  • Coach Fredricks invades Bill’s happy home life (Episode 14, “Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers”) – From Bill’s incredulous scowl, to the awkwardness of Coach Fredricks drinking out of a mug that had Bill’s name on it, this plot seemed very realistic.
  • Daniel’s stint as a punk rocker (Episode 15, “Noshing and Moshing”) – It was so funny watching Daniel make himself into a punk rocker. He looked ridiculous (much like Sam in his jumpsuit), but at least he figured out pretty quickly that the look and lifestyle weren’t working for him.

Daniel looks in the mirror and realizes how ridiculous he looks

  • Future stars’ cameos – I couldn’t possibly list all the notable names here, but there were several cameos by actors who, at the time, weren’t household names, but who are now widely recognized. For example, any fan of The Office will get a kick out of seeing Rashida Jones (Jim’s ex, Karen) as a school bully who tormented Sam and his friends. Ben Stiller had a one episode stint as a secret service agent to Vice President George H.W. Bush, who was speaking at the high school. Lizzy Caplan (currently best known for her role as Amy in season one of True Blood) also showed up, as a love interest for Nick. Kevin Tighe, Locke’s con artist father on Lost, played Nick’s similarly heartless and cruel dad (he sold Nick’s drum set without asking – that’s almost as bad as stealing a kidney, right?) Aside from the core cast, who have almost all gone on to bigger and better things, the most notable familiar name is producer Judd Apatow. Before he was writing and producing movies like Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin, he was making tv shows about awkward teenagers (he later worked on Undeclared, which is about college kids). It’s nice to know that even though Freaks and Geeks didn’t live to see another season, many people who were involved in the show were able to use it as a launching pad for their careers.

Did you ever watch this show? If so, what were your favorite things about it? If not, add it to your rental queue right now. You won’t regret it!

 

Ipod Shuffle: What I’ve Been Listening To August 10, 2009

A few weeks ago, I wrote a series of posts about the music listening habits of my youth. I have long since graduated from dubbed cassette tapes to mp3s, but I never cease to be amazed by the still relatively new ability to have thousands of songs at my fingertips. I gravitate toward certain artists and albums when I am exercising or driving around town, but when I put my ipod on shuffle, I often come across classics that I’d forgotten about for awhile.

Here are a few of the songs that came up on my last cardio session at the gym:

  • “Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty – I loved this song long before Tom Cruise belted it out on the highway in Jerry Maguire.
  • “100 Years” by Five for Fighting – Most of Five for Fighting’s songs sound the same, but I really love this one. It’s a little bit sad, but also a celebration of all of life’s phases.
  • “I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin DeGraw – So fun to sing along to!
  • “Until” by Sting – From the movie Kate and Leopold, this song showcases Sting’s smooth voice and features a lovely classical guitar.
  • “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne – I am still getting to know this soulful, old school singer, but this is one of my favorite of his songs.
  • “Folding Chair” by Regina Spektor – I am in love with Regina’s latest album, Far, and this quirky, upbeat song is one of the catchiest ones on the album.

And now, I’ll do the Ipod shuffle and list out the next 10 songs that come up:

  • “I Will Buy You a New Life” by Everclear – Oh, what a fun ’90s song! For some reason this one doesn’t play very often.
  • “Hate Me” by Blue October – 😦   Such an intense song, but very good.
  • “Everything’s Not Lost” by Coldplay – A Coldplay song would have to come up in the rotation. I probably have more Coldplay, Ben Folds, and Dave Matthews Band songs than anything else. (The Dave Matthews songs are my husband’s – I got tired of them a long time ago.)
  • “Peace (A Communion Blessing from St. Joseph’s Square)” by Rich Mullins – A great little slice of Americana. This folksy, humanitarian artist died way before his time, about ten years ago, but he left behind some great music.
  • “We Might As Well Be Strangers” by Keane – Cool band, but I can’t listen to their stuff and be productive at the same time. Their style is just too mellow, and makes me want to curl up under a blanket on the sofa.
  • “Good” by Better Than Ezra – A fun song from my college days. “And it’s good, a-livin with you wa-haw.”
  • “Here in America” by Rich Mullins – Who knew that Rich Mullins would show up twice in ten songs? I only have about ten of his songs in itunes! I love that this song celebrating the landscapes and people of America features an accordion.
  • “To Make You Feel My Love” by Billy Joel – Great song, but a little more dramatic than my mood right now. Next.
  • “Hard to Handle” by the Black Crowes – Yay! More classic ’90s music. I had no idea what they were saying most of the time, but the music sure was fun.
  • “Yele” by Wyclef Jean – I prefer Wyclef’s Carnivale Vol II album, so I am not too familiar with this song from Carnivale. My husband introduced me to Wyclef, and I wasn’t impressed at first, but now Carnivale Vol. II is actually one of my favorite albums.

It’s probably clear from these lists that I lean more toward the lowkey end of the musical spectrum, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate some louder or heavier stuff when it’s worthy of admiration. What have you been listening to lately? Any recommendations of what I should be listening to?

 

Twin Peaks: “I’ll Have a Giant and a Log Lady, with a Slice of Cherry Pie” August 8, 2009

A wise giant. A dancing dwarf. A red curtain. Sounds like a fairy tale, and in some ways it is, but it’s certainly a warped, offbeat one. I’m referring to Twin Peaks, the short-lived primetime drama that aired on ABC from April 1990 to June 1991. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 18 years since we last saw Agent Cooper, Audrey Horne, and the rest of the gang inhabiting this small Washington town.

I’ve spent the past few weeks rewatching the entire series (30 episodes from two seasons). I had rewatched season one about seven years ago, but hadn’t seen season two since I was 13 years old. It was interesting to watch the series from beginning to end in a short span of time, and as an adult. There are certain aspects of the show that entertained me more as a teenager (such as the Andy/Lucy plot), and others that I appreciate and understand more now (such as the grief everyone experienced over Laura’s murder). One thing that remains the same is that the scenes that disturbed me as a 12/13 year old are still disturbing now. I can’t think of any other show that can go from comical to downright freaky so fast.

For those of you who are familiar with Twin Peaks, I hope that reading this post brings back some good memories. For those of you who have never experienced the show’s oddities and intrigue, I hope that this assessment of the show will pique your interest. I will make every effort to be spoiler free.

  • The Pilot Episode – This introductory episode to the series made my list of All-Time Favorite Television Pilots. Everything about it was perfect, from the music, to the discovery of Laura’s body, to the townspeople’s reactions. As a teenager, I didn’t really understand all the fuss over this girl, but now that I am a parent, I found Laura’s parents’ reactions to her death heart-wrenching. And once I was in that emotional state, I was more deeply affected by other characters’ reactions, including Laura’s best friends Donna and James, the town doctor, and the kooky psychiatrist. The introduction of Agent Dale Cooper was also a refreshing change of pace from TV’s typical FBI agent. Instead of an arrogant, bullying fed, he was a kind, cheerful man who was in tune with things that most people were not.

  • The Music – I loved the music on this show, including the theme song, which is on my list of Best Television Show Theme Songs. I love that each character had his/her own theme song, and how the instrumental music was constantly setting the mood (more so than other shows, in my opinion), whether the scene was quirky or ominous. Take for example a scene where we are looking up at a rotating ceiling fan from the first floor. Under normal circumstances, this would be nothing to be concerned about. But somehow, this image, combined with the sound of a skipping record player and some creepy music, sets up one of the most disturbing scenes in the entire series. The soundtracks to season one and season two are available at Amazon, so you can go there to sample the music and get a feel for the mysterious and dream-like mood that it sets.

  • The Main Characters
    • Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) – MacLachlan is an unusual looking guy, with his robotic demeanor and slicked back black hair (at least it was back then), so he was well cast as this quirky, zealous FBI agent who stumbles upon – in his opinion – a wonderful little town, delightful people, and some delicious cherry pie. He comes to town to investigate the murder of Laura Palmer, since there are some similarites to another murder he had investigated. Over the course of his investigation, he makes many friends, and is “visited” by some visions containing clues to the mysteries surrounding Laura’s murder.
    • Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) – Sheriff Truman just may be the most normal person in Twin Peaks. He doesn’t mind going outside the law to get things done with his Bookhouse Boys, but he also stands up for what he thinks is right. He’s also in a relationship with Josie, but other than his relationship with her, he always seems to be on the job.
      • Shelly Johnson and Bobby Briggs (Madchen Amick and Dana Ashbrook) – Shelly is a waitress at Norma’s cafe, and Bobby is a perpetually absent high school student. They are either very brave or very stupid, since they are seeing each other behind the back of Shelly’s violent, brutish, truck driver husband Leo. Shelly is one of the more likable characters on the show, but you have to wonder why she’s involved with a jerk like Bobby. Their plotline is one of the scarier ones on the show, next to the murder investigation.
      • Donna Hayward and James Hurley (Lara Flynn Boyle and James Marshall) – Before her lips were scary and she was on The Practice, Lara Flynn Boyle was on this show. Donna was Laura’s best friend, and James is a loner who spends more time riding his motorcycle than hanging out with the other kids from school, but after Laura’s murder, he and Donna become close and begin conducting their own investigation into the murder. Their relationship is very angsty and complicated, but I like them as a couple.
      • Norma Jennings and Big Ed Hurley (Peggy Lipton and Everitt McGill) – Norma comes across as very normal. She’s a former Miss Twin Peaks who owns the town diner, where she serves excellent coffee and pie, among other things. She and Big Ed, who owns a gas station in town, have been in love for years, but circumstances have prevented them from actually being together. Norma’s no-good husband, Hank, is in prison on the verge of parole, and Ed’s wife, Nadine, is, to put it nicely, mentally ill. Norma and Ed act as parental figures to the younger characters on the show, and are often approached for advice or a shoulder to cry on.
      • Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) – He is the richest man in town, and arguably the most morally reprehensible. In the world of soaps, he is the show’s villain, when it comes to business practices and relationships. He’s willing to do what it takes to get his way, and has little concern for anyone other than himself.
      • Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) – Audrey is Ben Horne’s daughter. She wears bowling shoes and plaid skirts, and dances around her daddy’s hotel lobby acting all cute and innocent. But when no one’s looking, she sneaks into a secret passageway and spies on her father, listening in on his supposedly private conversations in his office. This curiosity is what gets Audrey involved with Laura’s murder investigation and some other complications. She is a hopeless romantic, and falls awkwardly in love with Agent Cooper, who, being the gentleman he is, gently rejects her advances since she is only a teenager. Audrey is quite an entertaining character, perhaps one of my favorites on the show.
      • Catherine and Pete Martell (Piper Laurie and Jack Nance) – On the surface, this husband and wife pair seems more suited for a conventional primetime soap. They got married years ago after wealthy Catherine fell in love momentarily with Pete, a workman for her father. Their love has long since cooled off, and so now Catherine is involved in affairs and questionable business practices while seemingly simpleminded Pete is content to go fishing and make coffee for visitors.
      • Jocelyn Packard (Joan Chen) – Josie is a mysterious Asian woman who is the widow of Catherine’s brother, and so she owns the Packard family lumber mill that Catherine believes should be hers. Josie also is involved with Sheriff Truman. It is difficult to figure out Josie. Is she a sweet, innocent, misunderstood woman, or something more devious?
      • Deputy Andy Brennan and Lucy Moran (Harry Goaz and Kimmy Robertson) – I mentioned that these two were some of my favorite characters when I was younger, and that’s because they provided the comic relief that balanced out all the dark and disturbing stuff. Andy and Lucy are both complete ditzes, and both work for the police department. Their relationship hits a snag when Lucy finds out she is pregnant, and much hilarity ensues.
      • Leland and Sarah Palmer (Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie) – Both of these actors are recognizable from other roles – Wise most recently as the Devil on the CW show Reaper, and Zabriskie as Susan Ross’s mother on Seinfeld and as Lois Henrickson on Big Love. Over the course of season one, viewers witness their different ways of dealing with the loss of their only daughter. Leland turns to big band music and dancing to mask his pain, while Sarah spends a lot of time crying, crawling across the floor, and seeing visions of horses and strange men. Theirs is an interesting psychological character study.

  • The Strange and Unusual Supporting Characters
    • The Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) – The Log Lady is a woman who not only carries around a log at all times, but pets it and converses with it. No one else can hear what the log says, but she occasionally shows up at the police station or cafe to relay a message from the log to Agent Cooper.
    • The Giant (Carel Struycken) – One of the early signs that this was no ordinary show was when this giant appeared to Agent Cooper in a dream and delivered some cryptic clues about Cooper’s investigation. I’ll never forget the episode in which the giant appeared to Cooper and repeatedly said “It is happening again.” So bizarre.
    • The Dwarf (Michael J. Anderson) – Also known as “The Man from Another Place,” this dwarf in a suit appeared a handful of times on the show, mostly in Cooper’s dreams. He dances around and speaks in a strange voice.
    • The One-Armed Man (Al Strobel) – Originally he was only supposed to appear once, wandering through the Twin Peaks hospital, just as an homage to The Fugitive, but David Lynch liked the character enough to write a more integral role for him.
    • Nadine (Wendy Robie) – As I mentioned earlier, Nadine is Ed’s wife. She wears an eye patch, is feverishly working on her latest invention – silent drape runners, and possesses super strength. A lot of people complained that she was just too ridiculous, but I appreciated the comic relief her character provided.
    • Dennis/Denise (David Duchovny) – Yes, before Agent Mulder came to be, David Duchovny portrayed a cross dressing DEA agent on Twin Peaks. The role didn’t last very long, but I thought it was worth mentioning here.
    • Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) – Dr. Jacoby, the town psychiatrist, has an affinity for all things Hawaiian, and he wears eye glasses with different color lenses. He was Laura’s psychiatrist, and so he plays a role in the murder investigation. A couple of interesting tidbits about Russ Tamblyn – he played Riff in West Side Story (1961) and is Amber Tamblyn’s (Joan of Arcadia) father.
    • Bob (Frank Silva) – Long silver hair, a jean jacket, and a maniacal laugh are three things that make him a memorable character.
  • The Plots

    • The central plot of much of the series was the now well known question, “Who killed Laura Palmer?” Several episodes into season two, this question was answered, and so the initial premise of the show was resolved. David Lynch actually never intended to reveal Laura’s killer, but had to change his plan due to network pressure. The show went downhill after giving viewers the answers, but I am glad that we found out the answer to the question.
    http://annemette.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/the-log-lady1.jpg

    The Log Lady occasionally provided cryptic clues related to Laura's murder.

    • Another major plot centered on a business rivalry involving a planned housing development and a lumber mill. This was less interesting to me, but at least it made more sense now that I’m old enough to understand what was going on.
    • And in the tradition of more conventional primetime soaps, there were plenty of love triangles and betrayals. When I was 12, I didn’t notice that just about everyone except Agent Cooper was caught in the middle of some sort of romantic entanglement. For example, cafe owner Norma juggled her recently paroled, homicidal husband, and her high school sweetheart Ed – a situation that was further complicated by the fact that Ed’s wife Nadine was bonkers.
    • But it wasn’t just the main plots that drew me to Twin Peaks – the show’s tone and atmosphere are what really made it special. The jazzy music, the bizarre characters, the wind blowing through the trees ominously, an owl hooting outside while a lounge singer serenades the crowd at the Roadhouse. All of these things are what made the show absolutely mesmerizing and fascinating.
  • Overall assessment – I highly recommend all of season one, through about episode nine of season two. After that, the show became more uneven and absurdist, but is still entertaining. So if I haven’t convinced you to watch it yet, here are a few more reasons:
    • Unique characters – None of the show’s characters are stereotypical, and there’s more to almost all of them than meets the eye. If you like interesting characters, look no further than Twin Peaks.
    • Early 90s culture – The clothes, the hair, the technology, all represent the early 90s time period during which the show was made. I love watching stuff from my formative years and being reminded of how things were then.
    • Laughs, chills, and thrills – There’s a nice mix of humor and horror. By horror, I mean disturbing storylines and images, but nothing gory. David Lynch certainly knew how to make an audience chuckle and then shiver, and it’s this strange balancing act that makes the show unsettling.
    • Good conversation piece – Once you’ve experienced the strangeness of Twin Peaks, you will want to talk about it with other people who have watched, and they will be happy to do so. There are a lot of interesting questions and points to discuss.

If you’re new to the show, I’ll leave you with this clip that gives you an idea of its weirdness. If you’ve seen the series in its entirety, keep reading afterwards for my thoughts on how the series ended.

You are now entering a spoiler zone. I will discuss some details of the series finale, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read on!


  • The one disappointing aspect of the show is the way it left viewers hanging after the finale. David Lynch opted for an open-ended finale, in case the show got a last minute renewal. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and so some of our favorite characters were left in the most unfortunate of circumstances. Some of these situation would have been resolved in season three, but now we’ll never know. And some of the plots felt hastily thrown together and not in keeping with the show’s previous tone. Here’s how things ended (spoilers abound ahead – read on at your own risk!)
    • It was revealed that Ben Horne is actually Donna’s father, not Dr. Hayward, who raised her with her mother. In a fit of rage, Dr. Hayward, who up until that point had always been very level headed and calm, hit Ben over the head with a fire poker, leaving Ben unconscious and bleeding on the family hearth.
    • In attempt to draw some negative publicity toward her father’s business rivals, Audrey chained herself to a bank vault. Unfortunately, shortly afterward Pete Martell and his brother-in-law arrived to open a safety deposit box, the contents of which they had been dying to discover. Too bad for everyone who was in the bank that the box contained a bomb, which exploded just after they opened it. Presumably, this killed Audrey, Pete, and others in the bank. I like to think that they miraculously survived, in the tradition of soaps everywhere.
    • Josie supposedly died of fear at the same time that Agent Cooper was having a vision of Bob asking him, “What happened to Josie?” Our last image of Josie is her being trapped in the knob of a drawer in her hotel room. Say what? I hope they were going to resolve that in season three.
    • Agent Cooper entered the Black Lodge, had all kinds of strange encounters, but somehow managed to get back to reality with his new love, Norma’s sister Annie (played by a young, pudgier Heather Graham). Unfortunately, he came back possessed by Bob, and the series ended with Cooper bashing his head against a bathroom mirror and otherwise acting like a lunatic, while Sheriff Truman stood cluelessly on the other side of the door. After all that Cooper went through, it was just awful to see the show end with him being overcome by the evil that he was fighting against. Oh well. Overall, the show was still one of my all-time favorites.