Sketchy Recs: What to Do This Weekend: 4-6 December 2009

In Theaters: Brothers: I'm intrigued by this film. The reviews are decidedly mixed, but the cast is receiving raves. I'm curious to see what Tobey Maguire does with a challenging role for once. Maybe I'll finally be able to stop accidentally calling him Elijah Wood and vice versa, since Brothers could mean the "No, not the one in Sin City and Free Willy (thanks for the correction, Karin), the one in Spiderman and Brothers" distinction. Iraq war dramas are big this year and this one looks at the home life rather than the war itself. Or else you can see Precious and finally understand what has been missing in your cinematic life.

Listen: The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga: In the wake of a disappointing Grammy categorization (apparently she's just a dance artist with one cross-over hit and surprising albums sales), I can still take joy in listening to The Fame Monster. The album is far more sonically challenging than the first and even more catchy in its total lack of care towards what should be popular in today's music scene. She's not just a simple pop (or dance) artist. There is surprising depth here and potential for great growth in the future. I'm excited for her career.

Watch: Ghost Hunters Academy: Let's be clear on this: I support Ghost Adventures for sheer hillarity and results, but there are fans of Ghost Hunters/HQ/International out there. I respect that. I think Ghost Hunters Academy is a stronger show by value of combining a clear explanation of what is being done with a smarter approach to competitive reality shows. Yes, there are eliminations, but the contestants are acting like respectable, professional human beings and maintaining a spot in the contest by virtue of performance, not manipulation. The hosts are intentionally screwing with the contestants to ensure no crazy, naive, or just plain stupid people stay on the show too long. That's not to say there aren't crazy people on the show or random acts of utter stupidity. If you ignore the sexism (and it's hard, believe me, when the male contestants are admonished for letting female contestants take the lead in an investigation) and constant hatred towards empaths/psychics trying to integrate science into their own investigation (the third episode has them eliminating one because the crew just can't work with that kind of evidence even if she was willing to do extra research on her own to verify her readings), it's entertaining and informative. On the whole, it is demonstrating a level of sensible thinking that other shows of this kind lack. All of the episodes are available online at SyFy.

Visit: Horror Board Short Story Contest: It's happening again for December. I revamped the website, added a blog, and changed up the rules a lot. If you have the time, why not try writing up a quick short story just for kicks. There are, as always, fabulous hand-crafted prizes for the winners and feedback from actual horror fans.

Have a great weekend, everyone.