Friday, April 27, 2012

TVD Recap! Season 1 Episode 8: 162 Candles

The return of TVD Recaps!

162 Candles

The creators of this series have a Joss Whedon-like ability to make you love someone and then rip your heart out with that someone, except way faster. It's hard to do in one episode, but somehow they manage.

This episode starts with Stefan moping at the Salvatore Boarding house. Some vampire is creeping on him, and he's genuinely just a little bit freaked out. No worries, though, because it's just his BFF Lexi! Lexi is awesome, and she's in town for Stefan's birthday. Apparently she and Stefan had a wild weekend with Bon Jovi. I DEMAND THIS EPISODE IN FLASHBACK.

There are many caps of her because her time with us is brief.
Lexi is hanging out at the boarding house because she doesn't have the nifty rings of daylight. Damon appears in bed with her, which causes her to roll her eyes. She sooo does not care about Damon, and when he annoys her she threatens to kill him. Which she could totally do, because she's older, and that means much stronger.

Damon is keeping up his "I'm a nice guy who wants to help" thing with Sheriff Forbes, and he delivers vervain to her, being careful not to physically touch it himself. I guess his flesh sizzling would give away the whole vampire thing, eh? He asks how she's doing with the vampire search, and she sighs and admits she's been thinking that vampires might have the ability to walk around during the day, and they're going to have to backtrack and start looking at the people who arrived in town just as the murdering started. This, clearly, concerns Damon as he was one of those people. (Well, and also, because he's been doing the murdering.)

Bonnie comes to check on Elena, who is still wallowing in bed. Bonnie gets her to admit what's wrong, and then Bonnie decides to cheer Elena up by tearing her pillow up.

Elena does have the best WTF look for this scene.
Just kidding, she lifts feathers with the power of her mind. So, you know, that's cool. It does seem to cheer Elena up, at any rate.

She's a witch! Burn her!
Caroline runs into Damon and starts berating him, so he compels her. Shouldn't her mom be feeding her vervain? I mean, if I knew vampires might be loose on the town that my teenage daughter lives in, you bet your ass she'd be so full of vervain Damon would get itchy just standing too close to her.

She looks so innocent when he compels her, it's sad.
Lexi is suggesting that what would really bring Elena around is if Stefan were to bone her. I wonder what she knows about his boning skill. Is he just that good? Because- no, that's off topic. Anyway, Damon suggests that they drop by the party, knowing that Lexi is in town specifically to celebrate Stefan's birthday and is going to drag him somewhere for funzies. Also, seriously, Stefan and Lexi Party Episode Flashback. It needs to happen. Even just pictures.

Elena is really feeling the guilt and stuff about knowing that Stefan is a vampire and not being able to tell anyone, and Bonnie unintentionally rubs it in when she confesses she wasn't supposed to tell anyone about being a witch, but had to tell Elena because Elena is her BFF. You can practically taste Elena's guilt. 

It tastes like candy.
Elena heads over to Stefan's so she can talk about the guilt that is eating her up, and runs into Lexi who is wearing nothing but a towel. In a bout of hilarious misunderstanding, Elena assumes that Stefan is boning the super cute Lexi, and Lexi has a moment where she's clearly like HOSHITIT'SKATHERINE.

OH SHIT!
Elena decides to leave, hoping to drive the awkward away, and Lexi goes to demand just exactly what the fuck Stefan thinks he's doing, because she knows what Katherine looks like. She asks if they're related. Stefan says "I have no desire to tie Elena to Katherine."

Lexi's actual response, which just cracks me up.
This does give Stefan the chance to talk about how awesome Elena is, which is kind of sweet.

Stefan talks to Elena and discovers she thinks he and Lexi were doing the Wild Thang, and has to explain that they are just friends. Elena goes with it, but she is still really upset at all the secret keeping. Which he seems to get, but it's clear things aren't going really well. Also, I guess I find it kind of weird that she doesn't know his birthdate (month and day, at least), although it may be one of those get to know you things he doesn't talk about- perhaps fearing that if people found out his actual birth date, they could match it to the original Stefan Salvatore. In a town full of vampire hunters, this is a legitimate fear.

Caroline tries to get the necklace back, and I wonder why Bonnie doesn't just tell Caroline why she's unwilling to give it up. She doesn't have to reveal that she's a witch, she could just be like "Look, this belonged to my ancestor and I have a picture of it." While Caroline wouldn't desist, she'd at least understand. Then Caroline tries to snatch the necklace, and gets burned. Damon, upon finding out that Caroline failed, is an utter ass. (Because he's disappointed and angry. He doesn't deal with his feels well.)

There are many DAMON YOUR FACE entries today. I don't apologize.
Stefan attempts to mend things with Matt by telling a partial truth- he'd been in Vicki's situation before, and he was just trying to help her. Matt, it seems, isn't really pissed off at Stefan, he's just irritated by the whole situation. His Mom will just split too, which means Matt's living all alone now. Which is both sad and probably means that child services should get involved, technically speaking. Is he 18?

Possibly a child endangerment case in the works.
Damon goes out and has himself a snack, and then compels the girl his dinner was with to some ill purpose. When Damon compels someone, it's not good news.

Elena shows up at the party and Damon appears, because that's how he is. Elena asks him what he did to Jeremy, since Jeremy is now all motivated to work and shit. Damon said that she asked him to take away his suffering, and so that's what he did. It's actually kind of a sweet moment. It's a little tempered by the fact that he JUST killed someone, but this is Damon we're talking about here. A body count comes with the territory.

This shit is in a bar so everything's dark. But still, this is what he looks like when he's admitting to being nice. Ish.
Lexi then corners Elena and they talk about relationships. Lexi confesses that she had a human lover, and it was hard, but they made it work. Because they loved each other. And she's also a little drunk, which is kind of adorable. Elena likes Lexi in spite of herself, and Lexi enters the wingman hall of fame.

She definitely ships Stefan/Elena.
Sheriff Forbes discovers the survivor to Damon's attack, the girl he compelled. She apparently remembers who attacked her. Meanwhile, Caroline is Very Drunk. And also depressed, and crying, and generally having a rough night. Matt decides to take her home, and winds up carrying her out and runs into the very disapproving sheriff. Matt looks like he nearly peed himself, and has the best I'M NOT DRUNK I SWEAR look on his face.

There's also a lot of mother/daughter sniping this scene. Poor Matt, in the middle of all this.
Forbes lets him take Caroline home, but makes sure nobody else can leave.

Damon and Lexi- no love lost, there. She tries to bribe him into telling his diabolical plans with alcohol. It doesn't work. While they're talking, Forbes brings the survivor in to point out her attacker, and she points in Damon's general direction. Forbes comes in, vervains Lexi, and they drag her outside. Lexi is, well, not much pleased.

Pissing off vampires: Bad Idea since always.
The wooden bullets barely phase her, which is interesting because they really took Stefan out of the game. Must be a combination of her age plus the fact that she drinks real blood. She's about to lay down some serious whoopass when DAMON STAKES LEXI YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE. Stefan and Elena, who'd seen that something was up, saw what happened.

I can't post pictures of dead Lexi. It hurts my heart too much.
Then, Sheriff Forbes arrests the bartender. At least she has her priorities in hand: first kill the vampire, THEN arrest bartender giving my daughter booze. Even more amusingly, it's entirely possible Lexi's body is in the trunk while the bartender is in the back seat.

Damon is very good at dissembling. Like, disturbingly good. He can whip out the "awww, shucks" better than just about anybody.

Matt tucks Caroline in! Awwwww! And sticks around until she falls asleep, because she asked! Hopefully he leaves before the Sheriff gets home, because she's unlikely to take well to this. Although, she is kind of friends with the much (much much) older guy who took her daughter out one time, so maybe she'd be cool with it?

Whoa, Stefan is gonna fuck Damon UP. He was not this pissed when Damon killed Zach. Of course, that didn't happen right before his eyes, and he hadn't known Zach for a hundred and some-odd years. Elena is trying to get him to cool down, not to protect Damon, but to keep Stefan from turning into Damon. This is, admittedly, a good point- Damon's primary issue is that he solves every problem with a good solid murdering. But Stefan pushes her away when she's just starting to reach out for him, telling her that she was right to not want to be with him. Dude, Lexi is dead and I can still hear her calling you names.

Damon claims he was protecting them both, but Stefan doesn't buy it. I do, one of the shows primary themes is family, and one of the things that is very clear is that even with all this antipathy, Damon and Stefan do care about each other.

Then, Stefan begins to fuck Damon up. Apparently anger does count for something, this is going much better than their last fight, which wound up with Stefan getting his ass handed to him. Then he STAKES DAMON.

Dude, what did you think was gonna happen?
Not in the right place- just enough to really hurt, but he's making the point that he could. And also because Damon saved Stefan from Logan Fell- and very possibly because Elena did get through to him.

He did leave Damon to unstake himself, which looks like it sucks. But, you know, Damon earned it.
Bonnie's having a freaky nightmare where she's running through the woods. Hint: anytime a witch or seer has a nightmare, that's Not Good. Then, Bonnie wakes up in the middle of the woods near a crypt!
 
Not at all freaky.
END EPISODE.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Movie Review: Grave Encounters

This review has taken me most of a week to put together because I have many feels about the subject. This one's a bit of  long one, so bear with me.

I always kind of hope that I'll be watching one of those ghost hunting shows (Ghost Adventures would be the best) and crazy shit would start happening. Like, dark figures climbing out of the wall, whatever. Because that would be awesomely creepy as fuck. It would probably send me climbing a wall if it ever happened, but I would also be screaming BEST SHOW EVER whilst clinging to the ceiling like a cartoon cat. Grave Encounters is, basically, that episode.

This film actually had me incredibly spooked when I finished it, and I was jumpy enough that I had to watch something inane and silly to clear my mind so I could sleep. However, I find ghost hunting shows to be naturally creepy. I get creeped out watching Ghost Adventures, and that's with all the "Bro! Dude! Bro!" going on in that show. I find the genre creepy, it's part of why I love it so much. So if you don't find this genre creepy, I don't know how creepy the movie will be for you. Probably not very.

Grave Encounters is a found footage film, so there's some shaky cam and running with cameras and whatnot. I think it justifies the found footage concept a lot better than most found footage films, but that's my personal opinion. If it sounds like your cup of tea and you want to watch the movie, go away and watch it. It's on Netflix and I think you can get it through iTunes and whatnot. Then come back and we'll dish in the comments.

As an aside: seriously, how has no ghost tv show ever used the name Grave Encounters? Because it is kind of perfect. Maybe my love of pun is interfering, but seriously. Grave Awakenings? Gravely Searching? Someone can do something with this, come on!

This film is set in an abandoned asylum called Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital (I forgot the name almost immediately), which is kind of awesome, because they're creepy without any help. They almost all have a bad history, mental asylums were awful and didn't really treat patients so much as kept them out of the way. (Here is the story from the official website for the movie.) Notably, this asylum was also known for some of the inmates breaking out and killing the doctor who was overly fond of lobotomies.

It's a brialliantly simple setup. Five people are staying overnight in Collingwood in order to see if anything ghostly happens in it.

We have Lance Preston, who is the host of the ghost hunting show, and looks kind of douchey. He's also incredibly cynical about what he's doing, and is just out to make the show and have some good scares, without really caring about whether there's an authentic ghost or not.

Lance and his faux-hawk
There's a young woman who is behind the camera a lot, her name is Sasha. She is the show's "occult expert", and she wears a black rosary, although I think that's partially for show. She is the target of some nasty stuff as paranormal shit heats up, and she's probably the only true believer in ghosts at the start of the film.

Also, she's kind of... goth light?
We have the tech dude who sets all the cameras up, that'd be Matt. He seems neat but his characterization was, uh, thin. He's a smoker? That's about it, a techie smoker.

He explains the equipment and then disappears, just about.
We have Houston, the "medium" who looks like some unholy mix of Steve Tyler and Mick Jagger. I assume he's an actor, he doesn't seem to be very much part of the group, and he gets told to shut up half the time, even when he's trying to do his faux-medium job.

I have nothing worthwhile to add.
Last but certainly not least, we have TC. He is the show's assigned cameraman, and while he does appear on camera several times, it's not as much as I would have liked. He is the only one we have family on or anything- he gets a call from his wife and talks to his little girl at one point. This is just a job for him, and he has a pretty good sense of humor until things go to shit, and then his ability to handle this bullshit gets maxed out quickly. I don't blame him, I can guarantee he wasn't making enough money to make that job worth it.

Sadly, getting even a half-way decent picture of him was really hard. It makes me sad, he was my favorite.
When they showed the introduction for the show Grave Encounters, I couldn't help laughing. The people who made this movie (it was directed by The Vicious Brothers, about whom I know little and my google-fu turned up no more) have clearly watched a lot of ghost hunting shows, they nailed the tone of those shows perfectly. People who are taking themselves way too seriously, know that they are taking themselves way too seriously, and are absurdly proud of it. All in a graveyard. There's also this amusing undertone of entirely fake "we know it's dangerous and we're doing it anyway". The job is scary, but not particularly dangerous, and they know it, so the attitude is a kind of falsified bravado. (Okay, it's dangerous THIS time, and I suppose occasionally there's the danger of a house collapsing on them and stuff like that, but other than that.)

Cemetery shot!
The movie takes on a standard ghost hunting TV reality show beginning. They get to the location, they intro the location, they talk to several people about the location and any ghost stories the available locals are willing to share (or can be bribed into giving). They then tour the location, and when evening falls (accompanied by a time lapse shot of the location as night falls) they set up cameras and get after it. In this case, they decided to be locked into the location, so they wouldn't be able to leave without breaking out of the hospital.

Matt gives a speech about ghost hunting equipment which I tuned out. This speech occurs in every episode of every ghost hunting show fucking ever, and it goes something like this: "Here's a EMF detector, it detects electromagnetic fields and we think ghosts use those fields to make their presence known, so a spike indicates their presence. Here's an audio recorder, we use these to record EVPs, which are Electronic Voice Phenomenon and it occurs when ghosts are trying to communicate with us. Here is some device that reads the ambient temperature of the room (sometimes this is a thermal camera, sometimes this is an infrared thermometer, sometimes it's both). When we see cold spots, that's when a ghost would be present. We take still photos to reveal mist shapes or orbs that might be the manifesting of ghosts."

The crew gets down to it and, for the first portion of their stay in the asylum, not a damn thing happens. They get bored, and wind up in a bathroom using a uv light on the wall, claiming that it is ectoplasm. This made me snort IRL. Strange fluid that lights up under UV light in a bathroom in an abandoned asylum, my first thought is not going to be ectoplasm.

Pick a bodily fluid, any bodily fluid!
The first actually paranormal occurrence is a shadow in front of the camera, followed by a window opening due to static.

I thought this thing was gonna be the low burn kind of found footage film (alliteration!) with mostly shadows and noises and jumps, and the only real effects shots at the end.

The following 10 minutes or so seemed to confirm this belief. A wheelchair moves when nobody (but the camera) is looking at it. Half the wheelchair was in near-total darkness, and could have been moved by a person. A door slammed shut as the camera was turning to face it. While they were all in one room arguing, a hospital gurney in another room got shoved over with an incredibly loud noise (I nearly peed myself). At one point, they are starting to think this might actually be real phenomena, and so they have their faux-medium try to contact the other side.

Every time I see this picture I crack up. Poster child for "Does not want to be here"
After a relatively unsuccessful session that devolves into an argument (there's a lot of shouting) they decide to leave, but before they do Lance takes three photos in rapid succession. These aren't developed until later, and this only hints at how fucked they are. The first one is pretty tame, as it contains orbs.

Orbz. Also, the wall on the left is drippy, which is creepy but normal.
Orbs are supposed to be the visual manifestation of spirit energy. In my experience with photography, it's generally floating dust particles refracting light. For fun and entertainment, go around your house and shake one thing that might have dust on it out, then take a picture of it with your flash on. Like as not, you'll get orbs too. If you ever search for ghost pictures on the web, the most common type contain orbs. I assumed the next picture would be something similarly common, and I wasn't disappointed.

Creepy mist!
This is another fairly common picture type, as mist is sort of easy to accidentally capture on film and it's super creepy. I personally think about 80% of mist photos are cigarette smoke. You'll see these a lot, although not as often as orbs (or several other varieties, which I won't go over here because then I won't shut up about it). I assumed the next photo would be roughly as innocuous, maybe a vortex or something. Nope.

Blurry person. Holy fuckballs!
This was the moment where I realized that the movie was going to take me the ghost thing much further than I expected. This is what one would consider, if IRL, a full body apparition. This is basically the holy grail of ghost hunters, this is what they are looking for. This occurs not quite 40 minutes into the film, which means that the ghost shit is just warming up.

After getting lost on the way back to their command center (and discovering that the walkies are unreliable), they start packing shit up so they can go home. They're just waiting for the dude to come at six am to let them out. While packing the cameras, Matt goes missing. They try to go find him, and then more weird shit happens, like TC getting pushed down half a flight of stairs by absolutely nothing.

The hour when they were supposed to be let out comes and goes. After discovering that the cell phones ain't workin' either, TC decides to bust down the door. I find this incredibly reasonable, if I were them I'd be trying to chip my way out with my face at this point. After more arguments (Lance tells TC this is coming out of his rates, and TC is so beyond caring it's not even funny) they use the gurney to break the front door open... into another hallway of the hospital. They find another door that says "Exit" above it, and it also leads back into the hospital. They try to batter their way out of a window. They try to go up to the roof, only to find the top of the stairs completely bricked off. Like it'd never been a stairwell. The hour sunrise should have occurred comes and goes.

The hospital is fucking with them. It knows they are there and it won't let them leave. It is glorious. A film that I expected to take place over period of 8 hours for the bulk of it was stretched into a time span of days. Things get worse. They run into full body apparitions, things with human bodies and horribly stretched faces, that shriek and bellow with inhuman noises. They wake up wearing hospital bracelets. One by one, the crew is knocked off (sometimes killed and sometimes just vanished), until it's Lance wandering in the dark corridors under the hospital, all alone.

Well, there are the rats.

I won't spoil the ending, mostly because I don't think I could adequately explain it without giving a much more thorough once over of the movie and this thing is already a million miles long. But it both surprised me and made perfect sense at the same time.

Grave Encounters used the expectations of the genre it comes from to its advantage. I didn't expect the activity to get so... active, I didn't expect things to get so fucked, I didn't expect for TC to disappear/die as late as he did (I was very concerned we were dealing with Black Guy Dies First, but it's not even clear he dies. He could have suffered Lance's fate), and I didn't expect the ending. It took a concept I have been hoping someone would put to film and did a great job with it, and I'm still pretty thrilled with it. I don't think this will be everyone's cup of tea, but I haven't been able to shut up about it since I watched it. Take that as you will.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Perfume Samples: Because I'm Bored

I'm currently working on my review for Grave Encounters, but that one is taking longer than expected due to my need for it to convey how much I loved that movie.

This post is also much girlier than usual, but fuck it. If you don't care about perfume or me rambling about perfume, there's nothing in this one for you.

The ULTA mailer came today with a bunch of perfume samples, and I really can't resist perfume samples anymore, not since I discovered how much I like perfume and perfume oils. (Anybody who wants to buy me the whole Labyrinth set from BPAL is free to do so. Oh god I needs it.)

So I tried them and I thought I'd write it up because, honestly, I was bored and feeling puny and I thought it might cheer me up.

The first one I tried was Ralph Lauren Romance, and it didn't go well. It's kind of a dark floral scent on the paper, but not in the way that I like dark floral scents. Maybe it's too musky for me, I dunno, but I applied it and then it started just smelling like soap.

Next was DKNY Be Delicious, which I really liked on the paper. Smells like slightly sweet green apples. But my skin chemistry kills all of the apple, it just smells like a kind of green perfumey smell on me. Which is fine (in fact I tend to stick to green scents in general) but bums me out, because I like apple. Golden Delicious came in the same sample paper and it smells a bit like honeyed apple to me. And when I apply it, it smells exactly like Be Delicious does on me, if you mixed a little honey in. I am the killer of apples.

Calvin Klein Euphoria was kind of a sweet fruity floral? It's hard to nail down these professional perfumes, they have SO many notes. When applied, it goes kinda vanilla on me. Not in a bad way, I kinda like it. Maybe creamy? It's nice, although a bit unexpected.

Beautiful from Estee Lauder smells kinda sharply floral to me on the paper. When applied it sweetens a bit, so it's a bit of a sweeter floral on me. I'm not much into very broadly floral scents, I like it much more when I can pick out specific flowers. But on my hand I'm getting... I think it's jasmine. Maybe a touch of rose? So it's nice, although I don't think I'd go out of my way for it.

If I were to look up anything, it'd be Euphoria, I don't have a lot of sweet scents and this one is a nice one on me. But it's nice and it's not OMG VANILLA and not like anything else I own right now. (If I get bored later this week I'll probably go through my whole collection and talk about them.)

Here are some links for those who might want them:

Ralph Lauren Romance
DKNY Be Delicious
Golden Delicious
Calvin Klein Euphoria
Beautiful by Estee Lauder

Sunday, April 15, 2012

One Month Later

This is the AUGH LIFE GOT IN THE WAY post. Augh. Life got in the way.

One of the issues I've been facing for years now is the slow degradation of my teeth. My teeth are, for lack of a better way to put it, crumbling out of my head (coincidentally, this is why none of my photos are ever of me actually smiling. Trust me, you don't want to see it). I battle constant infections and pain, and recently had a huge abscess that required a tooth being pulled. One of my front teeth. This is awkward, because it makes it even more difficult for me to bite things than it was.

Due to more or less constant infections and mouth pain, I get sick very easily, and combine that with the spring allergies and general bleh I have been very unmotivated to do, uh, anything. Also, it's kind of depressing as FUCK.

In theory, programming will resume shortly, but I honestly am probably gonna be kinda up and down on this whole thing until a more permanent tooth solution can be afforded. I'm looking at having to pay 7000 dollars to get this mess taken care of, so, um, might be a while.

This has been a kinda depressing post, so here's a picture of Bats and Jack:

Yes, he sometimes cuddles his toys. It is awesome.