Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Burke and Hare

Who else but the British could make a true story about serial killing funny? And no, I'm not talking about Jack the Ripper.

On August 5  SundanceNOW, which is sort of like Netflix for independent film, will be offering Burke and Hare a month before it's released in movie theatres. For those of you who prefer to watch films at home instead of with a bunch of rowdy, sweaty, cellphone- and texting-addicted compatriots, this is a great thing.

Ok, so John Landis is American, but don't forget: this is the guy who directed An American Werewolf in London, which makes my top 10 list of films celebrating U.S. and British relations. And the cast? SIMON PEGG! As in Shaun of the Dead, one of the best zombie films ever. Then there's Isla Fisher, who I find sweetly funny, Sir Christopher Lee, and Hugh Bonneville, the patriarch character in Downton Abbey. But I was sold on this when I saw Tom Wilkinson was in the film, one of the finest actors on earth. I'd watch him in a remake of Howard the Duck, I swear.

Anyway, combine this fine ensemble with black humor and  a true story about two men in Scotland who sold their victims' corpses to medical science in the early 1800s? I'm so there. (Family history note: my gr-gr-gr-grandfather Alexander Forrest, born about this time not far from Edinburgh, was a physician and surgeon.) How Landis is going to make this funny I don't know, but some of the biggest laughs in An American Werewolf in London came from a decomposing corpse, so let's trust him on this.

Trailer below:


Monday, July 25, 2011

Light Traffic Only mug

I was reading through Ben Pentreath's garden and design blog last week (o i'm so in love with his gardens) when my eye fell upon these delightful china mugs featuring typography from old-style English village signposts. So much more clever and stylish than china emblazoned with Will's and Kate's mugs, don't you think?  You can also get the design imprinted on tea towels. The mugs are just £10 ($16.30 U.S.) inclusive of shipping in the UK; call for international shipping. -- 59HIGHSTREET Gallery

Thursday, July 14, 2011

All hark the Bloggernacle Choir

I've always been fascinated with religions. Throughout my family tree there are many missionaries and ministers; my maternal great-grandfather, who from many accounts sounded like a cold-hearted bastard, traveled across the United States at the turn of the 20th century, evangelizing and founding Lutheran churches clear out to Seattle. My father's great-grandfather, on the other hand, was a much beloved Presbyterian minister in Nova Scotia, whose funeral brought the city to a standstill. My own religious background is a bit muddled. My staunchly Roman Catholic grandmother took it upon herself to have me baptized when I was three months old during a local Mass ... without my parents' knowledge. When I went to her house, she'd drag me off to Mass at churches with names like St. Mary's and Sacred Heart, and then when I was at my paternal grandparents, we'd go to services at the local Episcopal church: Catholic "lite." My mother dabbled in religions after her divorce from my father: there was a relapse into Catholicism, a couple months of services with a mainstream Protestant denomination I can't quite recall, and the strangest of all, a long, long embarrassing affair with a Southern Baptist church with long, overheated Sunday services I loathed.

Remember in the 80s how the religious right was convinced that rock and roll was filled with satanic messages? Well, my mother dragged me, my brother and one of my cousins to a teen revival at this Southern Baptist church where they had a backmasking expert play songs backward from Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Prince, and Pink Floyd and suggest to us there were messages they'd put in there like, "God is dead" or "Jesus wears pink tutus" or "Kill your mother for taking you to this stupid teen revival." That sort of nonsense. Then after all this, the minister asked all the teens to come up to the altar and vow to give up rock and roll. I may have muttered, "Yeah right" under my breath. Every kid went up there, except for me. I refused to budge from my seat. My mother, embarrassed, kept pushing me, begging me to go, but I held my ground. "Going up there would be hypocritical," I whispered. "Do you really think I'm going to part with Tattoo You or that David's never going to listen to Led Zeppelin 4 again? Haa!" So I held my head high and left the church with all the adults glowering at me, and I don't think I -- or my mother -- ever went back there.

But I digress. The Church of Latter Day Saints fascinates me, and not just because of Big Love. In fact, polygamy and the church's history with polygamy is only mildly interesting to me. It's more the culture of LDS and that anyone I've met who's been a Mormon has been so damn nice. And successful. And if they had kids, the kids were all really nice and successful, too, ALL of them, and well-dressed, never a hair out of place. On top of this? They don't drink caffeinated drinks or alcohol. I have to admit, that's what I find most fascinating. How can Mormon moms be so damn efficient and raise such nice kids without at least three cups of coffee before 8 a.m. or a cocktail at 3 p.m.? A life without Earl Grey. The mind boggles.

My interest in all-things-LDS has extended into my blog reading. Until today, I've been a little embarrassed by my predilection for Mormon mom blogs. I get a little thrill every time Katy at No Big Dill posts a new tutorial for making girls' clothing (she has five daughters. Me? Zero daughters. What the heck?) Then there's Stephanie Nielson at the Nie Nie Dialogues. I was reading her blog before she was seriously injured in a plane crash and thrust onto the national stage by Oprah. Through these blogs and other Mormon blogs, I've discovered places like Shabby Apple, an online store that sells dresses that you'd never see Britney Spears wearing. That's a compliment, folks. I like to wear clothes that keep my apples covered.

But today? Today I read this article, which appeared in Salon back in January, that informed me I'm not the only one who's harking to the Bloggernacle Choir. Mormon mom blogs are hot reading among secular feminists and mothers. I forwarded the link to one of my editors, who also shares my interest in all things LDS, and she said it was refreshing to read about the positive when so many blogs are filled with snark and angst. I have to agree. I love how these blogs celebrate parenthood and crafts and loving your spouse and being happy with what you have and that they're not embarrassed to share their enthusiasm with the world.

They kind of make Mormonism ... cool. What do you think? Are you a secret reader of Mormon mom blogs too?