A R.I.P. Movie-Pallooza

I can’t believe Halloween is basically here and October is almost over! Not only does this mean my other two favorite holidays are just around the corner (Thanksgiving and then HELLO, Christmas!) but it also means I’m down to the wire to finish all those great R.I.P reviews! Seeing as how I haven’t watched nearly as many scary movies as I would have liked to, and the fact that I’ve been watching them rather sporadically, I figured I’d just do one mega-post of the 5 screen-y things I’ve made sure to watch to get myself in the Halloween mood!

There are 5 movies (well, 4 movies and 1 TV show) that I’ve included in this year’s go-round of Peril on the Screen. This is for a couple of reasons: 1.) I think I left most of my good movies at my parents house last Halloween, when I was home housesitting, as I can’t seem to find almost any of them. 2.) FBM is not exactly a scary-movie kind of guy, so it’s either watching them alone (clearly not always the best idea) or finding something in the common ground. So, keeping those two things in mind, here’s what the past month or so has been all about, film wise.

1.) Hocus Pocus – This has been one of my favorite Halloween movies since I was a little girl! My dad and I actually went to see this one as one of our first father-daughter dates (other hits include Anastasia and a crap-ton of Pizza Hut individual pizzas) and every year I wait for just the right mix of cloudy night and cooler temperatures top pop in this classic! I think the reason I love this movie so much, besides the fact that the lovely Bette Midler is one of the idols of the women in my family, is that it’s really a great blend of scary, sad, and funny for kids (and adults that think they’re kids). The scary scenes never get too scary, and the sad scenes end up having pretty much happy endings. Plus, the two ‘evil’ kids in the story, Ice-Man and Jay, crack me up every time I watch. They’re this hilarious mix of, like, white ghetto kids with nothing to do but steal candy from kids and make lame jokes. They’re not intimidating at all, which is what makes them so much more hilarious as ‘bullies’! This movie also inspired me to ‘fly’ around my house singing the song that Sarah Jessica Parker sings to lure all the children of Salem to her (“Come little children, I’ll take thee away/into my garden of magic). If you have no idea what this movie is about, or what I’m prattling on about, do you, your kids, and/or your inner child a favor and  go check it out!

2.) The Exorcist. Or, what my mom still calls ‘the scariest movie ever made’. She told me this when I was 14 and saw the movie for the first time  and I watched it and was just, like…”really? scariest movie ever? really?” (NOT a recommended viewing age, by the way. Not because of the scare factor but because watching a ‘possessed’ girl stab herself in the naughties with a crucifix is too disturbing on too many levels). Even now I don’t necessarily consider this movie “scary”. I mean, don’t get me wrong. The concept of demons and possession and exorcism freaks the hell out of me. But the dialouge is stilted, the guy who plays Dimi (the junior priest helping with the exorcism and dealing with his own metaphorical demons at the same time) is like a bad Marlon Brando, and the special effects are anything but. But all of that isn’t necessarily the point. This movie has a GREAT scary soundtrack, and some of those cold and blustery shots of Georgetown really do set a fantastic horror-movie mood. I think the thing that will always stick out to me about this movie, though, and what has kept me watching pretty much every Halloween, is the fact that so many other people have been scared out of their wits by this movie, my mom included. I mean, there are reports of people having strokes and heart attacks and believing in their own possesssion after they saw this movie in theatres! Plus, the actress who plays the little girl, Reagan, never worked on or in another movie – CRAZY!!! It’s kind of like the curse with Poltergeist and all the unfortunate things that happened to that cast (no idea? check out this wikipedia). Definitely a must see, and not a scary movie to be particularly worried about. At least, not for me!

3.) Beetlejuice – This is one of those movies that, when it’s mentioned, everyone around nods their heads and goes ‘oh, yeah! I forgot about that one…’ At least, that’s what happened when I mentioned to a bunch of co-workers that I was excited to watch another one of my mostly-funny Halloween movies. Be warned, though, that this one is a little bit creepier than Hocus Pocus (and possible The Exorcist, depending on what you find scary). Michael Keaton does a FANTASTIC job as the ghost-with-the-most, hell-raising bioexorcist Beetlejuice, who does nothing but plague Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis after they die in a car accident. And yes, these characters have names in the movie that aren’t Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, but whatever. Anyway, Winona Rider actually gives one of her least-annoying performances here, too, as the dark and depressed Lydia Deetz, a step that doesn’t seem too far removed from the real Winona. This movie sprung from the mind of one Mr. Tim Burton, who I have often believed should share his DNA with one Mr. Neil Gaiman and one Mrs. Helena Bonham Carter (who Burton is technically already married to) in order to produce a super-genuis child of twisted creativity. If the name Tim Burton isn’t ringing a bell, he also did Edward Scissor Hands, The Corpse Bride, and Ed Wood, just to name a few. Oh, and the most recent version of Sweeney Todd, the one with Johnny Depp. Oh, and The Nightmare before Christmas (another great classic that works for both Halloween and Christmas!) Wow…apparently he’s done more of my favorites than I thought. But yes, you can see the style that Burton works in, and Beetlejuice is no different!

4.) Carrie – A great movie based on a GREAT Stephen King novel (I mean, honestly, The Shining is probably a better movie, but Carrie is a far better book) about a girl with telekinetic powers who gets pigs blood dumped on her at the prom and then goes APE SHIT WITH HER MIND POWERS and kills everyone she knows. Like, pretty much literally. Not to mention the fact that her mom is a religious wack-job, she gets tampons thrown at her in the school shower when she starts her period, and she’s asked/taken out to prom by the most popular boy in school just to be humiliated…yeah, I’d be pretty pissed too. In all fairness to the popular boy and his girlfriend – they’re good people, they were just trying to help, and really didn’t know about the pig’s blood. Sissy Spacek does an amazing job in this movie, striking just the right balance between scared and shy and really, really damn mad when the time calls for it. The movie as a whole might by more jumpy or freaky than scary, but if you can watch those last ten minutes without jumping out of your own skin, than you’re doing way better than I am! It’s best not to have one of those guys or groups of guys who think it’s really funny to wait for an obviously tense moment to grab your shoulder and shout intelligibly, laughing when you jump and spill popcorn and Diet Coke everywhere. Not that I’ve had that happen…I’m just saying. There are a number of  ‘gotcha’ moments that will make you jump, and having a group like that around could very quickly ruin your upholstery. Of all the movies posted here so far, this one is probably the scariest for me, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that Carrie’s mom is not only crazy, but crazy religious and there is just something about mixing fanatic Christianity with insanity, possible schizophrenia, and a daughter with mind powers that gets under my skin.

5.) Criminal Minds – Yes, this is a TV show. But Carl said we could do that, so hah! *blows raspberry*. Sorry about that. I’m done being, like, six now. Promise. Anyway, this show is fantastic. So fantastic that I’m thinking about  doing a Nerdgasm volume on it. For those of you out of the loop (or who watch things on TV that aren’t crime-solving, procedural cop or courtroom shows), Criminal Minds follows a team of profilers who work for the FBI’s B.A.U (Behavioral Analysis Unit, got to give it up for the federal love for acronyms). These guys and  girls basically profile different suspects, victims, and locations in order to learn who killed whoever died on this week’s episode. Basically, it’s a show about the brains of sociopaths, murderes, rapists, pedophilists, and other various real-life baddies (and the people who make it their work to understand these brains). I know by now you’re probably what makes this R.I.P. worthy – which it is. It’s all-year-round worthy. The answer you’re looking for is that, if you’ve been following any of my R.I.P. reviews, you know that I often think that the horrible things human beings do to each other is more scary than any monster, werewolf, or vampire out there. And this show if chock-full of real life monsters, on top of witty dialogue and characters I just dare you not to fall in love with (Reid! Garcia and Morgan! I just love you all so much!). If you’re looking for a 45 minute fictional glimpse in to the kinds of horrors man can do to each other (where the bad guy actually gets caught in the end, unlike, say, the news), this is most definitely the show for you!

And there you have it, ghosts and ghouls! With Halloween weekend upon us, I hope you’re doing whatever it is (tricking or treating) that puts you and your family in to that delicious, candy-apple-and-wood-smoke fall feeling we all love about this time of year! I’m off to the twisty alleys of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Cirucs, but I wish you all happy reading!

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Nerdgasm Vol. 3: The Gilmore Girls

Okay. Writing this post might be completely unnecessary. I am only one of many, many bloggers out there (especially in the book-blogging sphere) who absolutely adore this show. I just consider myself one of their ranks. However, as school approaches and my mornings get earlier and earlier (thus increasing my coffee intake rather exponentially) I’ve rewatchd The Gilmore Girls with a kind of reckless abandon, regardless of the fact that I’ve seen every season an unhealthy amount of times.

As someone who lives without cable – HELLLLLO broke! – I have to rewatch all the DVDs I have (and that Netflix will let me borrow) and grow tired of them often. But I have yet to grow tired of TGG, picking out favorite episodes to reflect any variety of given moods. Feeling academic? How about that one where Jess, Rory, and Paris all sit around the kitchen table discussing Beat authors? Need a laugh? How about that scene where Michele has ennui and convinces Sooki she has it too? The scenes between Rory and Lorelai – whether peaceful in earlier seasons or stressful in later ones – continue to change my ideas of how people, especially families, can and should relate to each other. But my love for TGG goes beyond just it’s versatility. In fact, there are enough reasons that I’ve decided to dedicate an entire volume of Nerdgasm to it, if that tells you anything!

As a girl who grew up as a reader (seriously. I got the crap kicked out of me in school a couple of times because I thought kicking a ball back and forth or trying to swing a ball around on a string was stupid in comparison to books, and I was not afraid to share these ideas with the other kids kicking said balls or swinging them on strings) it was one of the most amazing things in the world to find a show about a girl who was like me. No, my grandparents weren’t loaded and my mom didn’t have me as a teen and there is NO WAY I could talk that fast – I’ve tried. But here was a girl who liked to read, loved school, and didn’t really see the point in drinking, doing drugs, or partying. She got along with her parents, liked her home and her town, and seemed removed from all the teen angst that seems so common on shows like Gossip Girl and Secret Life of the American Idiot Teenager who gets Pregnant and Band Camp. This love of books and learning was enough to infatuate me with the show forever more.

Of course, this wasn’t the only amazing part of the show, and has played only a part in the reason I’ve watched it so many times. Another incredibly amazing part of this show is just how real it feels. Granted, not all the situations, but the characters and their situations all feel as though they are people you could meet, could be friends (or enemies) with. The characters change over the course of the show – Paris being a key one that comes to mind – and even though I know many people hated the Rory/Lorelai rift, I like it because, if nothing else, it gave both of the characters to grow in ways they might not have otherwise. Even the less perfect parts of the shows – the ‘dark sides’ if you will, as when Dean and Rory sleep together even though he’s married, or Lorelai marries Christopher on such a whim of frustration and regression – seem to be logical leaps and progressions given the characters established.

Lastly, and perhaps most overwhelming in my TGG Nerdgasm is just the pure, lovely, and deeply imbued escapism and role-model-ism that the show wraps up together (yes, I know that’s not a word. Sue me.) Look at that town square, that gazebo, the yellow daisies left over after Max’s proposal to Lorelai – who wouldn’t want to live there?! Who wouldn’t want to live in a town where, to borrow from another great show, everybody knows your name, where you have people who love you and who are there for you in a way that isn’t present in a great number of towns. The setting is idyllic, the characters are crazy enough to be hilarious while not so much to be completely fantastical. And, under it all there is, for me at least, a kind of motivational factor. No, it’s never possible to exactly be a fictional character. But it does go through my head from time to time – what would Rory do? What would Lorelai do? And, to be honest, there have been times when asking myself that has led me to push harder on an assignment, pick up a book I might not have otherwise, or to respond with wit and kindness where meanness may have been my first instinct. And a show that can do that, ladies and gents, is a powerful show indeed!

Lastly, because I’m me and I can’t really do something like this without some kind of list, I’ve decided to put together a quick top five of my favorite Gilmore Girls scenes, and would love for you to leave me some of your favorites, too – there are so many out there, these top five are nowhere near all there is!

1.) The final scene, where Lorelai and Rory stop at Luke’s and, as the camera pans out, we’re presented with the exact same shot as the series began with seven seasons ago – it made me cry! There really isn’t any better way to end it than that.

2.) The Life and Death Brigade – Rory learns to loosen up, we get to see Logan being a little less of a jerk, and I’ve always wanted a guy to push me out of my comfort zone like that!

3.) The Max proposal – First of all, Max Medina is a TO DIE FOR man. Seriously, there have been dirty dreams about this rather large-nosed poet of a private school English teacher. Add to that a great proposal speech and a thousand yellow daisies, and consider this cynic’s heart melted!

4.) The scene where Rory can’t get all her books to fit in her backpack – the first true glimpse, I feel, of the depths of that girls addiction to books.

5.) The date scene between Luke and Lorelai – where he shows her that he’s been carrying around the horoscope she gave him the first day they met. I mean, who knew Luke was such a softy?!

Happy reading, guys, and if you didn’t catch Nerdgasm Vol. 1 or Vol. 2, make sure those get your fair attention too!

Will the Real Book Maven Please Stand Up?!

Guess who’s back….back again…lol. That’s right, y’all. This is it. I promised myself I’d be back to blogging on the first of June (which is actually today! color me shocked, even when I made that goal I was slightly doubtful it would happen) after taking of the last bit of May because of all the hecticness that was life. Luckily, since the 20th of May (Graduation Saturday), things in and around my life and town have slowed down quite considerably and I’ve been able to sleep/dream/drink away some of that crazy go-go-go that was the first few weeks of May! I also, in the tradition of giving my brain a little TLC at the end of the school year, have managed to read a few children’s book that will face reviews in the upcoming days. I also have a few books backlogged that I read in the heat of my first few Kindle-owning weeks and still never quite got around to reviewing. So, on the forefront for the upcoming week review-wise?:

           

That’s right. A few Roald Dahls (the man was a master of creativity. And silliness. Seriously, a Lewis Carroll for a new generation), the Portia de Rossi memoir – because I absolutely love her, and love Ellen Degeneres, and just love their lesbian love. Seriously. And, yes, a Dan Brown and DON’T YOU DARE JUDGE ME!!! I can’t help it. I’ve got two voices running through my head the whole time I read any Dan Brown book. Voice one: “oh my God this is such crap I can’t even believe I’m reading this what are these words scattered across the page that disgust me so”. Voice two: “what’s going to happen? whats happening? oh my God is this all secretly true and I’ve been blind to another government conspiracy yet again this man is a genius.” I can’t help it. Dan and I have a love-hate relationship that I seem intent to keep engaging in.

Also on the roadmap for the upcoming week? A Library Loot, which is awesome if for no other reason than my library and I finally squashed our squabbles and they’ve agreed to let me take home their pretty pretty books again (also, the local library here is running an adult summer reading program on being an arm-chair explorer, with focuses in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the United States and some bitching prize packages to be had, which is just peachy!) I’ll also have a couple more volumes of Nerdgasm, a feature on the blog that I’ve done a few times in the past (see Volume One here and, of course, Volume Two) and thought needed a revisiting because, while I may not have a ton of books to share, I’ve had plenty of other wonderful things to keep my busy in my down time! Look for a debate on The Gilmore Girls: Lorelai v. Rory, an adulation of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, and a little insight in to the internet cocaine that is World of Warcraft. If I were you, I’d be excited…Until then, happy reading!

 

Review: Tina Fey’s Bossypants

 Oh my God, how much did I TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY FRACKING LOVE THIS BOOK?!?!?!?!?! Not only is Tina Fey one of my top five “I would totally go gay for you” crushes, but this book continues to cement in my mind that she is beautiful, funny, and an incredible business woman. Tina discusses everything from growing up in the suburbs, getting her period, and how to keep your daughter a virgin forever (hint: theatre camp, Greek eyebrows, and gay best friends) to working for Second City Improv in Chicago, writing for Saturday Night Live and then, of course, 30 Rock. The book is part comedy manifesto, part autobiography, part behind-the-scenes look at being one of the leading ladies of comedic television (and, really, television in general). She hits on body issues, commitment issues, getting along in the workplace, and finding comfort in being yourself. This book was amazing and, I have to say, had me laughing out loud every few minutes. Seriously. My boyfriend believes I have either gone crazy or started taking psychotropic drugs because of my random bursts of laughter. And, after the heaviness that was Escape, it was wonderful to read another book about another empowering woman that didn’t make me feel like cutting off every penis I come across or crying my pretty little eyes out.

I was SO LUCKY that the library had this sitting on the shelf when I happened to chance by, and I don’t think I’ve ever had as many people stop and say “ohmygodthatsthebookIwanttobereadingrightnowyou’resocool
andluckytohaveitI’mnowinstantlyinlovewithyou.” Or something like that. I could continue to rant and rant and rant about how much I love this book (which I do) and Tina Fey in general (which I also do, but in a much more naughty way) but this post has already topped the 1,000 word-good-gracious-how-can-you-write-that-much mark that I try to stick to, so instead I’ll just leave you with a smattering of quotes that made me laugh so hard, I’m pretty sure I felt a little pee come out. But don’t think these are the only funny part’s. They aren’t. So the book is still totally worth reading for yourself. Trust me!

On her first day at school: “We colored together in silence. I was so used to being praised and encouraged that when I finished my drawing I held it up to show Alex, who immediately ripped it in half. I didn’t have the language to express my feelings then, but my thoughts were something like ‘Oh, it’s like that, motherfucker? Got it.’

On getting a pamphlet about her period from her mother: “The explanatory text was followed by a lot of drawings of the human reproductive system that my brain refused to memorize. (To this day, all I know is there are between two and four openings down there and that the setup inside looks vaugely like the Texas Longhorns logo.)”

On inheriting traits from her father: “It’s my face, too, it turns out. The cheekbones later discovered there by a team of gay excavators are courtesy of my dad. “

Discussing one of her primary crushes in college: “I met HRW (Handsome Robert Wuhl) the next evening at his off campus apartment…He introduced me to one of his roommates, Jess or Chris or something. He was a wiry little guy who would be joining us on the climb. This was news to both me and Jess-Chriss. To say he was unfriendly would hte the biggest understatement since the captain of the Hindenburg said ‘I smell gas.’ He alternated between ignoring me and shooting me disdainful looks that clearly said ‘Who is this ugly off-brand non-sorority girl ruining our homo-erotic bro-times?'”

A moment that is both funny and, also, insightful: “My dream for the future is that sketch comedy shows become a gender-blind meritocracy of whoever is really the funniest. You might see four women and two men. You might see five men and a YouTube video of a kitten sneezing. Once we know we’re really open to all the options, we can proceed with Whatever’s the Funniest…which will probably involve farts.”

From the chapter on beauty tips: 2.) The Right Undergarments Are an Essential Part of Your Silhouette – I developed breasts very early, around nine years old. I developed breasts so weird and high, it’s possible they were above my collarbone. At that point, wearing a bra was not so much about holding the breasts up, as clarifying that they were not a goiter”

MY FAVORITE QUOTE FROM THE ENTIRE BOOK: “We should leave people alone about their weight. Being chubby for a while (provided you don’t give yourself diabetes) is a natural phase of life and nothing to be ashamed of. Like puberty or slowly turning in to a Republican.”

This passage is a bit long, so bear with it, but it’s totally worth it! It comes from the section where Tina is responding to some of her ‘fan-mail’:
Posted by jerkstore on perezhilton.com: “In my opinion Tina Fey completely ruined SNL. The only reason she’s celebrated is because she’s a woman and an outspoken liberal. She has not a single funny bone in her body.”
                Dear Jerkstore,

                           Huzzah for the Truth Teller! Women in this country have been over-celebrated from too long. Just last night there was a story on my local news about a “missing girl”, and they must have dedicated seven or eight minutes to “where she was last seen” and “how she might have been abducted by a close family friend”, and I thought “What is this, News for Chicks?” Then there was some story about Hillary Clinton flying to some country because she’s secretary of state. Why do we keep talking about these dumdums? We are a society that constantly celebrates n one but women and it must stop! I want to hear what the men of the world have been up to. What fun new guns have they invented? What are they raping these days? What’s Michael Bay’s next film going to be?
                      When I first set out to ruin SNL, I didn’t think anyone would notice, but I persevered because – like you trying to do a nine-piece jigsaw puzzle – it was a labor of love.
                      I’m not one to toot my own horn, but I feel safe with you, jerk-store, so I’ll say it. Everything you ever hated on SNL was by me, and anything you ever liked was by someone else who did it against my will. Sincerely, Tina Fey.
                     PS: You know who does have a funny bone in her body? Your mom every night for a dollar.”

Last one, promise!: “‘Blorft’ is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.”

Happy reading, and I’m hoping to be back soon with another Library Loot!

Nerdgasm, Vol. 2: Boys, Boys, Boys

Lets face it: when you don’t have cable TV and you’re the kind of person who needs some kind of white noise to concentrate, you get very good at watching things on repeat. This, along with a massive amount of TV on DVD, has lead to my personal obsession with more than one fictional TV man. And, because I’m a woefully Type A personality, I’ve put my favorite top-5 fictional male TV characters, as well as why I love them .

1.) MAX MEDINA:: Max Medina was the first and second season love interest for Lorelai Gilmore, charming and silly mother whose witty banter with Max Medina is of the kind that most witty people can only envy. He’s an Ivy-league educated, private school teaching, English obsessed and beautiful man who does things like read Proust and wear big baggy fisherman sweaters. He proposes to Lorelai with a thousand yellow daisies, and even when he gets all mad and possessive and hyper-manly, he’s still incredibly adorable and a throw-back to the kind of gentility and chivalry that just bemoans New England prep and cultured money class.

2.) PACEY WHITTER:: Beginning as the lovable oafish and acceptable underachiever of Capeside and transforming to the daddy-issued top chef with a buxomy blonde girlfriend, Pacey Whitter is the most tolerable and absolutely MOST ADORABLE character on Dawson’s Creek, that incredibly dated and already nostalgic 90’s teen dramedy that is, at that same time ridiculously unbelievable and also incredibly addicting. Pacey’s best moments come towards the middle of the series, where his intense relationship with girl-next-door Joey Potter leads to some of the hottest PG, ‘takes place at a ski lodge while on the senior ski-trip’ sex to ever grace the television networks!

3.) LOGAN HUNTZBERGER :: Rich, blonde, full of himself and abnormally fast-talking, Logan is the perfect example of the kind of guy I love the most but know I shouldn’t love. And while he does go through the transformation from cocky bad boy to love-tamed heartthrob, he always has that telling rich-boy smirk that gets me every time. And, while, usually I don’t like blonds, HOW CUTE IS HE? Even in the last season, when the “will they/won’t they” between him and Rory gets to be just a little too much after just a little too long, he still has a certain kind of charm that you know could break your heart if you ever actually encountered it in reality. It’s addicting.

4.) LOGAN ECHOLS:: Much like the Logan listed above, this Logan is also obnoxiously rich and incredibly witty. He’s also suffering from a pretty severe case of daddy-issues, which while in reality can be depressing, is actually incredibly hot on TV. Not to mention he spends most of the three seasons the show aired hiding his burning, passionate love (alright, forget the oversentemntality. I can’t help it. Look at him) for his best friend’s ex-girlfriend/his occasional leading lady Veronica Mars (who is, as it just so happens, the title character). But, out of everything, the reason I just can’t stop loving the marvelous Logan Echolls is because, at the end of the day, he’s just so damn sweet. No matter how hard he tries not to be.

5.) DEXTER MORGAN:: Okay, so he’s a serial killer responsible for the horrible murder of countless people throughout Miami. BUT: a.) look at him! He’s freaking adorable! b.) he only kills people who really do deserve it. I know that sounds morally relativistic, but seriously. They really do deserve it. c.) he’s based on a literary character which, to be honest, just deserves extra props (although I haven’t read the book yet, it’s definitely on the TBR pile). Not to mention the fact that Michael C. Hall, who plays Dexter, is a recent cancer survivor. He’s an ass kicker, in fiction and reality, and what’s not to love about that?

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed the latest installment of Nerdgasm, and I’m already looking for the next topic to write about. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you around soon,

Maven

Nerdgasm Vol. 1: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

I must admit it, I’ve long been afraid to unleash my inner dork as fully as possible here on the blog. Perhaps to give myself some reassurance that I am not, in fact, a complete and total nerd. However, it’s been too hard a fight and I just can’t do it anymore. So I hereby proclaim for all the here: I AM A NERD. A DORK. A GEEK. It happens. Previously to this past week or so, though, my nerd-dom was mostly literary, or at least of a certain variety: Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings/comic books kind of nerdy. But, thanks to the appearance of a new friend, hereby named GingerBoy due to a very large mass of very bright red hair, I’ve gotten hooked on a number of anime series. This is shocking for two main reasons:

1.) I do not watch anime and;

2.) I DO NOT WATCH ANIME!!!

However, it seems that this may no longer be the case, as this weeks Nerdgasm (and my recent obsession of the past few weeks) is the anime series Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, which is not technically the ‘original’ Fullmetal Alchemist but is, according to GingerBoy, the far superior series.

I usually don’t do this, but the plot of this series is one of those that can get easily muddled if not explain right, so I’m cribbing this straight of wikipedia:

“Edward and Alphonse Elric are two alchemist brothers searching for the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, a powerful object which would allow them to recover their bodies (which were lost in an attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy). Born in the village of Resembool from the country of Amestris (アメストリス, Amesutorisu?), the two brothers live there with their parents. Their father, Hohenheim, leaves home for unknown reasons and years later, their mother, Trisha Elric, dies of a terminal illness leaving the Elric brothers alone. After their mother’s death, Edward becomes determined to bring her back through the use of alchemy, an advanced science in which objects can be created from raw materials. They research Human Transmutation, a forbidden art in which one attempts to create or modify a human being. However, this attempt fails, ultimately resulting in the loss of Edward’s left leg and Alphonse’s entire body. In a desperate effort to save his brother, Edward sacrifices his right arm to affix Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armor. Some days later, an alchemist named Roy Mustang visits the Elric brothers, and he tells Edward to become a member of the State Military of the country to find a way to recover their bodies. After that, Edward’s left leg and right arm are replaced with automail, a type of advanced prosthetic limb, created for him by his close family friends Winry Rockbell and her grandmother Pinako.

Edward sets out to become a State Alchemist (国家錬金術師, Kokka Renkinjutsushi?), an alchemist employed by the State Military of Amestris, which infamously annihilated most of the Ishbalan race (Ishbal) in the past decade. Becoming a State Alchemist enables Edward to use the extensive resources available to State Alchemists, but it also turns him into what they call a “dog of the military”. His more friendly relationship with Roy Mustang however, whom he reports to and who recruited him, allows the brothers freedom to search for the Philosopher’s Stone as part of Edward’s research, as each State Alchemist is expected to independently research new things which may be of a use to the State Military of Amestris. The brothers set off in search of the Philosopher’s Stone as a means to restore their bodies. Throughout their journey, they meet many antagonists, including those who are willing to do anything to obtain the Philosopher’s Stone; Scar, one of the few surviving Ishbalans, who seeks vengeance on the State Alchemists for the destruction of his race; and the homunculi, a group of human-like creatures who carry pieces of the Philosopher’s Stone inside themselves, and from it derive the ability to survive almost any harm. As the story progresses, Edward and Alphonse discover the vast expansion of Amestris was the result of the homunculi, who created and secretly control the State Military. The homunculi and much of the high-ranking military officers are commanded from behind the curtains by the creator of the homunculi, a man simply known as “Father” who gained immortality by using a copy of Hohenheim as his new body centuries before the series’ timeline. He plans to use Amestris as a gigantic transmutation circle, possibly to transmute the entire country into the Philosopher’s Stone. When Edward and Alphonse discover Father’s plans, they, along with other members of the State Military, set out to defeat him.

There are 43 episodes of the show online now, with more on the way (I’m all caught up and now have to wait, painfully, for the episodes to be aired weekly – DAMN YOU, MARATHONS!) and while the full knowledge of this show definitely lends itself to the dorky nature of myself, there are also some really intense questions that can arise from the show: what would you give up to get back the people you’ve loved and lost?” “Just how important is family?” “What are the boundaries between mind, body, and soul? Between intentions and actions?” Not to mention the Ishbalan extermination calls to mind a number of other political atrocities – everything from the Serbian/Bosnia conflict to the recent skirmishes arising from America’s current involvement in Iraq. I also find the concept of alchemy to be incredly enchanting – it’s basically magic based in science – as well as the idea of equal exchange – that for each favor asked, something of greater value must be exchanged.

My favorite/the most disturbing episode to date is the one in which a State Alchemist has come to his annual review, and must prove that his experiments (in this case, as an alchemist his goal is to work with transmutation and the creation of creatures out of other creatures) to produce a chimera (any mythology fans out there?!) that understands human language, or he risks loosing his State Alchemist position – and with it, the financial and social prestige and protection that comes with that. Faced with the pressure, he transmutes his young daughter and his dog together, essentially making a talking dog that is doomed to live as a mutant hybrid creature. This is made even more disturbing because this torture was enacted upon this poor girl by her father. It’s hard to explain just how disturbing this is (you can watch the episode here, if you’d like a real idea) but it raises a number of REALLY uncomfortable questions when you realize that his horrible behavior and the actions of the main characters may not be so far apart.

I’m reserving my complete thoughts until the show has reached it’s end (DREAD THE DAY!!!) and I’m begging any other Fullmetal fans out there to come out of the woodwork so I can have SOMEONE other than GingerBoy to discuss it with (my friends mock me mercilessly, which I don’t blame them for, see numbers 1 and 2 above for historical precedent)! And there you have it, folks, my incredibly, overly verbose rantings on this week’s Nerdgasm! Happy reading (or watching, hopefully!)