Wednesday, September 14, 2011


This probably won't come as a surprise to most of you, since it's been a month since I've posted, but the time has come to say goodbye to the Daily Shill.

As many of you know (since most readers are my friends and family in real life), I was recently hired as a full time Adult Services librarian. The job is wonderful, and I am always happy to go to work in the morning. However, I still have a year's worth of classes left on my Masters degree-- something I need for the job. Which means that on top of going to work 40 hours a week, I am taking two grad school classes (and doing all the homework associated with the classes...which is a lot). That leaves me with next to no time to do anything else. And the Daily Shill takes up a lot of time.

Additionally, I have seriously missed reading whatever books I want to. And while that's been more of an annoyance, now that I'm responsible for recommending books to others, I need to start reading books that I actually want to recommend. There's only so many times I can pull Packing for Mars off the shelf. In the past month, I've read a ton of books I've been meaning to read for ages (or books that just caught my eye). And it has been wonderful.

So thank you all for reading, for supporting me, for linking to my blog posts and liking my page on Facebook. When I finish grad school (now slated for December 2012), there's a chance I may start a new review blog. It won't be the Daily Shill, though. Liking the idea for a blog is not enough for me; I need to like the process as well. If I do start something new, I will post it here. Also, I post to the Chelsea District Library Adult blog about once a week (and there are other posts by the amazing librarians I work with). If you need an Emily-fix, visit there (or actually visit the library!)

And I'm not shutting this door completely. If I happen to read or see something that was promoted by the Daily Show, and if I happen to have the time and inclination to write a review, I'll post it here. And I kind of want to do another stream of consciousness blog. So, instead of goodbye, I'll say see you later.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, though a quality show, was a bit too sciencey for me (though my use of the word “sciencey” is a good indicator of my scientific aptitude). His show, which premiered about a year ago on the Science Channel, explores scientific questions seemingly without answers. This review is of the show’s first episode: “Is there a Creator?”

Freeman doesn’t pull any punches, jumping right in with a question that could easily stir up some controversy; after all, religion and science are often thought of as opposites. The show, with narration by Freeman of course, alternates between interviews with scientists and scientific explanation (complete with animated diagrams, like those movies we’d watch in science class). Though the scientists interviewed don’t come out with anything conclusive (can you imagine the headlines: “Science TV show proves the existence of God” or, conversely “‘There is no God!’ shouts Freeman”), both sides seemed to be equally represented.

Unfortunately, I was never really drawn into the show. Maybe it was because I watched it at the end of a long day and didn’t really feel like exercising my mind anymore. Maybe it was because I couldn’t consider the idea that the creator is a computer programmer and we’re in a virtual world like the Sims. Maybe it was because I was distracted by Freeman pronouncing the last syllable of creator as “tore” rather than “ter.” However, those are all personal issues with the show. As I watched it, even though I wasn’t too interested, I continually thought about how much my dad and my grandpa (Papa, I’m talking about you!) would have enjoyed it. I’m just not the ideal audience.

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman gets a 3/5.

Watch Jon Stewart's Interview with Morgan Freeman

Buy the Season 1 DVD

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blue Valentine

I had a suspicion watching Blue Valentine was not going to be all new books and Heath Bars (you mean that's not happiness for everyone?), but I didn't think it could be that bad. I mean, all of the quotes from critics on the back of the DVD talked about what a great love story it was. Love stories have happy parts, right? Not this one. After watching Blue Valentine, I felt like I would never be happy again. I thought, "Oh my gosh, this is awful" multiple times throughout the movie. I would have turned it off if I didn't have to watch it for the Shill. I can step back and objectively see that it was a very good movie, but I will never see it again.

Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean’s (Ryan Gosling) marriage is falling apart. Cindy is frustrated with Dean’s childishness and his lack of initiative despite his talent. Dean wants to do all he can to make the marriage work, but his progress is often set back by his alcoholism and extreme jealousy. All of these issues are further complicated because the two have a daughter: the incredibly adorable Frankie (Faith Wladyka). Dean’s last-ditch effort to save the marriage by taking Cindy to a motel (and leaving Frankie with her grandfather) is intersperced with events from the past that brought the two together in the first place.

Cindy and Dean are both three-dimensional characters—neither fit a complete stereotype, and both of their points of view are understandable. Gosling and Williams’ performances are spot-on; their emotions and actions are raw and believable. I cared for both of them and wanted for them both to somehow get what they were hoping for, making it all the more heartbreaking when I realized (early on) that it was impossible.

There’s no question that Blue Valentine was a well-made movie, but the experience of watching it was not worth it—at least not for me. Still, it gets a 4/5.

Monday, August 1, 2011

How Do You Know

I love Paul Rudd. I love Paul Rudd so much that during my junior and senior years of college, my roommates and I had a “Rudd-a-thon” where we watched as many of his movies as possible. I love Paul Rudd so much that my top three celebrity crushes, from biggest crush to slightly less big, are Jason Segal, Paul Rudd, Jon Stewart. Yes, he edges out Jon Stewart. But despite all that Rudd love, I wasn’t particularly excited about watching How Do You Know. It just looked bad. And guess what, it was!

How Do You Know chronicles the troubles of Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) and George (Rudd) and how they are eventually brought together. Lisa, a professional softball player, has just been cut from the team, and, as a way to cope, has started dating Matty (Owen Wilson) a clueless man-whore of a professional baseball player. George, meanwhile, is in the process of being indicted by his father’s company and, consequently, finds himself without a job. Oh, and also without a girlfriend, since his chose to leave him just as his life was going bad.

I realized about 15 minutes into the movie (about the time that the lesbian softball player caricatures showed up) that I should have done another stream-of-consciousness blog, but I wasn’t going to go back and watch the beginning again. Instead, you just get a few complaints from me.

What bothered me most about How Do You Know, was how unlikeable and unrelatable the characters were. Lisa was whiney and frustrating and someone I wouldn’t want to be friends with. George was nervous and neurotic and the not-cute kind of awkward (where was the Rudd charm?). Matty, who I should have hated because of his playboy tendancies, was the only one who won me over; he just reminded me of a dumb puppy. In a chick-flick (which I think is what this movie was supposed to be), I should fall for the romantic interest (in a good one, I should fall for both guys in the love triangle). Instead, I didn’t like anyone and counted down to the movie’s end.

How Do You Know gets a 1/5. I would have rather watched this SNL sketch, this Romeo + Juliet trailer (look for Rudd at the 23-30 second point. He's the dancing astronaut), and this scene from Sesame Street 100 times (and I probably did over the course of the Rudd-a-Thon).

Watch Jon Stewart’s interview with Paul Rudd

Monday, July 25, 2011

Progress Report #3

Oh man, at the beginning of July, I was supposed to write another progress report! Summer has been just slipping away from me, and it's hard to believe the month is almost up. So here is the next progress report, albeit a few weeks late.

Progress Report #3:
Timeline: Well, I’m not going to finish this project by the end of this year, like I was hoping to. This summer, in particular, has left very little time for reading Daily Shill books.

Here’s where I stand:
I’ve read 43 of 73 books.
I watched 28 of 35 films.
I’ve watched 9 of 15 TV shows.
I’ve heard 3 of 4 albums.

I’ll continue to plug away at this, but I recognize it’s not realistic for me to reach my goal of completing all sections by the end of December. Oh well!

Writing: I’m happy with where I’ve come with this blog, and I certainly feel more confident in my ability to write for it. Lately, I was especially pleased with my review of Unstoppable and my review of The Blueprint (both are quite different).

Best Book: Packing for Mars
Worst Book: Courting Disaster

Best Film: A Single Man
Worst Film: Unstoppable

Best TV Show: Louie
Worst TV Show: Hot in Cleveland

Best Album: The Suburbs
Worst Album: More Malice

Am I Glad I’m Doing This?: Sometimes, but not always. Lately, especially, I’ve come close to quitting, and the novelty of this project has worn off. Even though I’m ready to be done (and relatively far from it), I’m still glad I’ve worked on this project. I’ve certainly expanded what I read, which is a good thing for anyone, but especially for a librarian.

Thank Yous: First off, a huge Thank You to Mom, Nana, Uncle Greg, Amanda, Brodie, Caroline and Theresa for being regular readers. (There may be more of you out there...thank you to you as well!) As always, thanks to the Chelsea District Library for helping me get all of the books, movies, and albums I need to review, and thanks to Anna at the library for taking my profile picture. Thanks to Kate and her handy-dandy list of Daily Show books. And thanks to the folks at Ignite Chelsea 2 for giving me the opportunity (and talking me into) giving a talk on the Daily Shill (which you can see here!)

Expect fewer reviews in the months to come—I’ll do my best to continue posting something every Monday, but I can’t make any promises.

Again (as I’ve said in every progress report), I’d appreciate any feedback you have—positive or negative.

Have a super week, everyone!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Unstoppable: A Stream of Consciousness Blog

I am about to watch a movie. It is called Unstoppable. It’s about a train that doesn’t stop. And it is going to be bad.

This is what I imagine the movie will be like. Except it won’t be funny.

I will write this blog as I watch it. It might get a little long, and will probably have spoilers.

1:06- They want me to know that this movie is “Inspired by True Events.” They are also trying to make me afraid of trains. So far, it’s not working.

2:17- Unnecessary Chris Pine crotch shot.

2:59- Now Pine is trying to reach a wife(?) girlfriend(?) on the phone. There has been no talking in this movie yet. Lots of dramatic music, though.

4:10- Hey, that daycare center/retirement home quip from the SNL parody was actually in the movie. Yikes.

5:08- Now they’re talking about how a track needs to be cleared because some school children are coming to ride trains. Maybe SNL didn’t make anything up. Here’re the kids. And the dramatic music builds.

6:10- They just announced that the train doesn’t have brakes. Danger is brewing!

7:20- “Railroading” was used as a verb. Oh man, a real life train is going by right now! I hope it has brakes.

8:30- The plot thickens. Pine has received a call from his friend(?) saying that he can come in for a trial and then go home. I suspect this has something to do with the lady from earlier. But now the train has left the station, and we all know that it is not going to stop. The personal drama must be set aside for the train drama.

10:25- A minor character named Dewey just deserted a moving train with no brakes (and now it’s driving itself). I’m confused because I thought it was Denzel and Pine’s train that wouldn’t have brakes. The music is pretty dramatic still.


11:40- False alarm. He just didn’t catch up to it (because after deserting the moving train, he realized that was probably a bad plan. Dewey’s pretty dumb.) Now it’s a runaway train. Dewey couldn’t stop it. You might say it’s unstoppable.

12:30- We’re getting a look at Denzel’s personal life now. He’s got some good looking daughters, but I sense there’ll be some trouble there. They seem to be having a party that Denzel was supposed to attend. Instead, he’s on a train.

14:25- Denzel and Pine are having a heart-to-heart about being old and young.

15:19- I think Dewey is my favorite character of this movie so far. They’re giving him a hard time about letting a train with no brakes drive itself. I guess he deserves it. A line: “It’s a train, Dewey, not a chipmunk.”

17:22- They’re calling the runaway train a “coaster.” I keep thinking they’re talking about a roller coaster. You know, a runaway train might make a good rollercoaster—is that what Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is at Disney?

18:44- More heart-to-heart between Pine and Denzel. We learn that Pine is “sort-of” married and Denzel’s daughters work at Hooters.

20:08- A safety inspector is here to talk to the kids. What an unfortunate day to have a “coaster.”

21:28- Some incompetent railroad employees are arguing, oh, hey, Dewey’s with them. We’re learning that they don’t have a “coaster” because the train is going fast.

23:19- The runaway train is approaching the children’s train. They aren’t going to kill them off this early (or really at all, I don’t think). …And they’re safe. The trains just quickly pass each other.

24:45- Things aren’t so good for Pine and his lady trouble. His restraining order is continuing for at least another 30 days. Wonder what he did.

25:50- I haven’t written about Connie, the lady in charge of the trains. She’s kind of boring.

26:47- Dewey’s incompetent friend is trying to jump on the train. I don’t think it’ll work, since there’s still an hour left. Oh man. He just ran into a sign. Is he dead?

28:13- Now Pine and Denzel are fighting. Their relationship is confusing. Pine seems to have some kind of family relationship with the railroad. Their train is also too long. I bet the runaway train will complicate that problem.

30:52- Oh man, they just announced on the news that Dewey will be held accountable for the runaway train. Poor, stupid Dewey.

31:37- And now we find out that the train is carrying some kind of scary glue chemical.

33:10- The Chrysler Building line just came up. Ha!

34:32- A trailer of horses just got knocked into the path of the runaway train. First kids, now animals—they are trying to get us scared from any angle they can. Don’t worry, the horses make it.

37:19- I’m really impressed with what good impressions Jay Pharoah and Taran Killam (the SNL actors) did of Denzel and Pine.

40:00- A 22 year old Afghanistan War Vet is now trying to stop the train (by a helicopter? I don’t quite get it). He’s not going to make it.

44:47- The soldier tried to parachute down on the train. He couldn’t do it, and got injured. And now the other train that was trying to stop it fell of the tracks AND IT’S EXPLODING! I think we’ve reached the first casualties of the movie.

48:26- Pine and Denzel’s train is heading towards the runaway one. Are they going to make it? (Yes. My guess is yes.)

48:45- And cut to Hooters…

51:23- After they closely pass the train without getting hit, Denzel decides to chase it in the engine of the their train (they’ve ditched the cars). You know, he really is looking old. I guess Remember the Titans was a long time ago.

55:52- I am watching a movie where the villain is a train.

56:00- Oh man, we just learned that Denzel is being forced to retire. Drama!

1:00:05- We’re getting Pine’s backstory, and I don’t even care anymore. Something about pulling a gun on a cop. I’m bored of this movie. The novelty of making fun of it as I watch has been lost.

1:02:00- They are shooting at the train. It is a movie where the bad guy is an object, and they’re still shooting it.

1:04:00- Oh my gosh, there’s still half an hour of this left. How much longer do I have to watch some guys chase a train?

1:05:51- Denzel is trying to impart some life lessons. We’ll see if they stick.

1:08:38- I accidentally stopped paying attention and wikipedia’d Taran Killam. I have a little crush on him, I think.

1:09:31- Oh my gosh, Killam was Spaulding on The Amanda Show. Weird. In Unstoppable they are still chasing the train. Pine’s wife is trying to call him now. How the tables have turned…

1:10:52- What!? Killam is engaged to/has a baby with the lady who plays Robin on How I Met Your Mother! Whoa! Meanwhile, they are still chasing the train. Debris is hitting the train like hail. I’m not sure where it’s coming from because I stopped paying attention for a couple minutes.

1:13:20- I just learned that Chris Pine’s character name is Will. He’s fallen between cars on the runaway train. They’re saying his name a lot. Maybe they should’ve said it more early on, and then I might’ve cared about him more than I care about Dewey—who, by the way, has been missing from the movie for a long time.

1:14:26- They attached the two trains, but Will’s foot is hurt. He’s fixing it with duct tape, though.

1:15:32- They are now pulling at the runaway train in the opposite direction (I guess that’s why they’re chasing it?). I hope it works so this movie can end already. You know, this two trains thing feels a little like a math problem

1:17:24- This drawn out tension reminds me of the end of reality shows…”There are only two more photos in my hands…”

1:20:37- This movie doesn’t have enough talking to keep me interested. On the other hand, I just learned that Denzel’s character name is Frank. Also, the brakes on the train Frank is driving (the one that could be stopped) have broken. Now they have two unstoppable trains. (Though they’re connected, so I guess it counts as one train)

1:26:39- With ten minutes left, I’m trying to figure out if there has been any character development in this movie. I don’t think there has. Will’s wife cares about him now, and Frank’s daughters care about him, but that seems to be the only change. And I guess Will and Frank are friends now.

1:28:44- Inspirational music has started playing. Will is climbing into the engine of the runaway train. People everywhere are cheering. Hey, a shot of Dewey; he’s pretty happy.

1:30:00- And the train has stopped. So much for that unstoppable business.

1:31:12- Will is reunited with his family, and all marital problems are solved.

1:31:50- And Frank gets to keep his job. These guys really owe Dewey. What if he hadn’t deserted that train?

1:32:59- And here we are at closing credits. Enjoy your 1/5, Unstoppable. Wait, guess who got the last "where is he now" feature? It’s Dewey—he’s now working in the Fast Food Industry. Poor Dewey.

Watch Jon Stewart's interview with Rosario Dawson (the one who plays Connie, the boring character)

Did you like this style of post? Was it funny? Obnoxious? Too long? Let me know. I have more terrible movies ahead of me, and could certainly do this again if it works.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Switch

I was under the impression that The Switch was aiming to be an uproarious romantic comedy—taking the comedic angle more than the romantic one—and, truth be told, I was over the movie before it even started. However, The Switch had a lot more heart than most rom-coms, and, in fact, almost doesn't belong to be classified that way. And, though I don’t plan on watching it again, The Switch was not a bad movie-- certainly better than I expected.

Wally (Jason Bateman) and Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) are best friends who drift apart after Kassie has a son via sperm donor and moves away. What Wally and Kassie don’t realize is that Sebastian (Thomas Robinson) is actually their son together, since drunken Wally accidentally dumped Kassie’s donor sperm and replaced it with his own. When Kassie and Sebastian move back to New York and into Wally’s life, Wally realizes both that Sebastian is his son, and that he has feelings for Kallie, and is unsure what to do about either.

Though the trailers play up the relationship between Wally and Kassie, the one that the story really follows is that between Wally and Sebastian—who, can I say, is absolutely adorable. I want Robinson to be every movie's “cute kid.” Though it certainly got too cornball on more than one occasion, Wally’s and Sebastian’s interactions seemed genuine, and—though I am loathe to admit it—had me teared up on one occasion. And Bateman certainly had more chemistry with Robinson than he did with Aniston.

The romance plotline, with Kassie’s sperm donor Roland (Patrick Wilson) coming in to complete the love triangle, could have been more developed and less cliché. Though I didn’t mind it taking a back seat to Sebastian’s story, it was what kept The Switch from being a good movie. Still worth the watch, though, with a 3/5.

Watch Jon Stewart’s interview with Jennifer Aniston. (It is the most awkward interview I have ever seen on the Daily Show)

Watch Jon Stewart’s interview with Jason Bateman
(Yes, this movie was promoted twice—a two for one deal for me!)

Buy the DVD

Hope you all had a Happy 4th-- that's why this review is one day late!