Merry Christmas!

I'll be getting off work in a little while, and have a few errands to run, and a house to finish cleaning. Decided to post this greeting now in case I don't make it back to the computer tonight. I wish you and yours the very best this holiday season. I'm heading to NYC and will be back next week. Enjoy!


It's my world...you're just a squirrel trying to get a nut!

The other day, Crazy Aunt Purl wrote about Oran "Juice" Jones' "The Rain," and the song's been in my head ever since. Of course I went right over to download it from iTunes--I hadn't heard this song in ages.

I wanted to post the video here, but everything on YouTube says embedding was disabled by request. But, you can at least hear the song:

There are some classic lines in here:
* "Now close your mouth 'cause you cold busted!"

* "Now my first impulse was to run up on you and do a Rambo."

* "You without me like cornflake without the MILK!"

* "You gotta get on outta here with that alley-cat coat wearin', hush puppy shoe wearin', crumb cake I saw you with 'cause you dismissed!"

Check out the video at YouTube. Look for Juice's smooth moves at 0:36 and those of the backup singers at 1:51. And that lip-synching...oh my!

This is classic 80's cheese!


It's right around the corner....

No. I'm not talking about Christmas. I'm talking about the new season of American Idol. My sister and I know it's coming because Paula Abdul is suddenly doing interviews about the young lady who committed suicide outside Paula's home, what? A month or two ago? Paula is so sorry for what happened, and is also claiming that the producers knew this young lady was stalking Paula, yet allowed her into an audition--the whole thing freaked Paula out. Call us cynical, but Deb and I are wondering why Paula didn't express her sorrow at this young lady's troubles, um, WHEN IT HAPPENED?! Interesting that she's doing all the interviews now, a few weeks before the show's to start again. Yes. We are indeed cynical.

Now, last year I claimed that I wouldn't be watching this show again. It got on my nerves, and even though I was happy with the result (yay David Cook!), I was still annoyed by the show. Well, now they've added a fourth judge, and, of course I'm curious to see how that whole dynamic works. My friend Valerie, who knows me so well, wrote the following in an email:
I just KNEW you weren't going to abandon AI! It's in your blood, Val!! Even if there was no 4th judge this year, you wouldn't be able to hold out! And the sad thing is...you know it!

Argh! She's SO right. Dammit.

I guess AI is making some changes this year--only three weeks of auditions, instead of four. And there will be some wildcard selections left up to the judges for the top 12, outside of the America's votes. Well, that oughta spice things up.

We'll see how things go. The first time I get annoyed this year, that's it. It's over. I swear. (Shut up, Valerie.) :o)


The Flirt

The Flirt The Flirt by Kathleen Tessaro

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
The story was entertaining enough, but I think there were just too many characters. Every once in a while a character would be mentioned, and I'd have to flip back to see who we were talking about. Took me a while to read this one because there was never the sense that I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

Next up: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz


Gimmicky, yet kinda cool

I got an ad in the mail for a new show starting on Sunday called Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton. At first I thought it was going to be a DVD, but it was really bulky. I opened it up, and it's a thumb drive with the season premiere of the show. Wow. I haven't watched it yet, but I've liked TNT's other offerings such as The Closer and Saving Grace, so I'll give this a try. Cool.


Getting into the spirit

I have certain movies that I like to watch around the holidays, and that's what I've been doing for the past week.

First I watched my Thanksgiving movies: Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr., and Pieces of April with Katie Holmes and Patricia Clarkson. Both are about getting through the holidays with and despite dysfunctional families. Pieces of April is a little darker because it may be Patricia Clarkson's last Thanksgiving, since her character has breast cancer. Still, the movies has an uplifting ending. Home for the Holidays features a possible romance between Holly Hunter and Dylan McDermott, whom I love in this movie. I just love the ending--you don't know how things will end for the pair, but they get to share a great moment.

Then, to start getting into the Christmas mood (which is okay to do now that Santa arrived at the end of the Macy's Day Parade), I put on Love Actually. I can watch that movie over and over again and never tire of it. My favorite stories are those of the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) and his assistant 'Natalie,' and of Colin Firth and the Portuguese girl. Oh, and of the little boy learning to play the drums to impress 'Joanna.' Love it!

I also watched The Breakfast Club over the weekend--not to get into any kind of holiday spirit, but because I scored 100% on a Facebook quiz. I've seen this movie a hundred times, yet this weekend, I saw something I'd never noticed before. Emilio Estevez flips off the principal after the whole ordeal with trying to keep the door open ("The door's way to heavy, sir."). I couldn't believe I'd never noticed that before. Funny how that happens.


Catching up

On Amazing Race this week, Dan & Andrew (otherwise known as Dandrew) had a hard time completing a task where they had to gear up like the Russian military and then learn and perform their march. I rewound and watched this several times. I'll let it speak for itself.

In other TV news, the finale of True Blood was something else. ***SPOILER ALERT*** I went crazy when Sookie stabbed Rene in the next with the shovel. OH MY GOD!!!! Then, poor Bill (the vampire) risked his "life" (he's a vampire--he's already dead, but whatever) by coming into the daylight to try to save Sookie. He burnt to a crisp, and Sam buried him in the ground. He recovered, but had to feed on someone--he apparently chose Lafayette, another of my favorite characters. Now. Since Bill went through so much turmoil in having to convert that annoying girl to a vampire, I don't think he'd *kill* anyone else. I think (hope) Lafayette's still alive. And what's up with the social worker/shape shifter? What does she want with Tara and how does she know Sam?? This lady is played by Michelle Forbes whose acting has greatly improved over the years. She used to be on Guiding Light when I used to watch back in the late 80's. She played a dual role: Sonny (nice twin) and Solita (evil twin). Her acting? Not so much. Anyway, I can't wait to see what happens next on this show. I think it'll be back next summer.***END SPOILER***

Lessee. What else? Oh. ABC is canceling three shows I like: Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone & Dirty Sexy Money. I guess ABC is going to continue airing the episodes that are already made, but won't be ordering up for next season. Too bad.

I recently bought Seal's new CD, Soul, and Pink's new one, Funhouse. Love them both. I bought Soul because they were playing it over the system at Barnes & Noble and I knew I had to have it. I was trying to think of all the CD's I've bought for that reason--that marketing technique sure works on me. In addition to Seal, I've bought the following just because I heard them in a store and liked them a lot:

  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 10 Days Out - Blues from the Backroads
  • Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Naturally (heard at Tower Records)
  • Sharon Jones and the Dap Kins, 100 Days, 100 Nights (heard at B&N)
  • Duffy, Rockferry
  • Pure Jazz - compilation
OK. It's late (1:00am) and I do have to work tomorrow. It won't be so bad though...I get to leave 3 hours early. YES!


Just for laughs

I saw this on Ellen a few weeks ago and have watched it several times since--it still cracks me up.

Insert clever title here

Just some random thoughts:

  • I love Paul Rudd. He hosted SNL this weekend, and did a great job.

  • I also love Justin Timberlake. He made a surprise appearance on SNL, and did a hilarious sketch where he & two other guys wore a leotard & high heels to perform as one of musical guest Beyoncé's backup dancers. I love when Justin's on the show and look forward to him hosting again. (Apparently he was supposed to host next week, but had a cancel. During the Weekend Update, he "hosted" the show in two minutes.)

  • I do not love Beyoncé. Never have, never will. I hate her new song, "If I Were a Boy," and I don't care for "Single Ladies," which sounds like a coked-up version of Natasha Beddingfield's "Love Like This," which is a much better song.

  • I watched Young Frankenstein over the weekend. Still funny. I also watched the DVD extras about the making of the film. There's an outtake from a scene involving Marty Feldman biting the fox wrap that Madeleine Kahn is wearing. Marty ends up with white fur in his mouth take after take, and Gene Wilder couldn't hold it together, which then had me in tears from laughing so hard.

  • I love the comic strip Pearls Before Swine, and I'm really digging The Crass Menagerie collection that I got for my birthday. I like that the creator, Stephan Pastis, included commentary on some of the strips.

  • Favorite shows right now: Life, Life on Mars, The Mentalist, True Blood.

  • Even though it was so gimmicky, I enjoyed seeing Anthony Edwards/Dr. Greene back on ER. There were also quick glimpses of Drs. Romano and Weaver. I do hope they're able to get George Clooney to make an appearance before the series ends, and I can't wait for Noah Wylie.

That'll do for now.


Amy saves the day!

I've come to really, really dislike some people on this season's Biggest Loser (my sister doesn't like me to use the word 'hate'). In particular, Vicky & Heba.

And to a lesser extent, their husbands, Brady and Ed:


Ed, in the orange short, had been voted off earlier this season, but got to come back on this week's show. With these four and their alliance, there's really no chance for anyone else to get ahead. Plus, Vicky, is a crazy bee-yotch--I think there's evil in her eyes. For some reason, the other three always follow her lead. So, it is imperative that THEY fall into the position of possibly being voted off.

On tonight's show, the four of them, plus Amy were all on Bob's blue team. Because Brady (brown shirt) didn't lose enough weight this week, he was up for elimination. The other person up for elimination was Michelle, who's on the black team. Because the blue team outnumbered the black team by two, it stood to reason that all of the blue members could vote to keep Brady on the show. Before the elimination, Vicky, with the evil gleam in her eyes, made some snide remark about strength in numbers. As they went down the line, Brady had two votes and Michelle had two votes, so it came down to Amy. And, as my headline noted, Amy saved the day!!! She voted Brady off the show. Now Vicky will have to be on her own. Boo. Hoo. She got what she deserved. It would've been that much better if SHE were voted off, but alas, we'll have to wait one more week. In the meantime, thank you Amy!


Rachel Getting Married and stuff

Whoa. Talk about a heavy movie. Deb and I saw Rachel Getting Married today, and I really enjoyed it. (I think Debbie did too, but I realize now that I never asked her.) 'Enjoy' probably isn't the right word for a movie about a recovering drug addict and her F-ed up issues. But, the movie was excellently done. Anne Hathaway was fantastic. It was great to see Debra Winger again (I'll probably be pulling out Terms of Endearment soon--it's been a while). The movie was cast very well, the writing/plot was intense, the direction was spot-on, the soundtrack was interesting. I can't praise it enough. There's already been talk of Ms. Hathaway getting an Oscar nod for this role--it would be well deserved.

We saw some good previews before the show--the one I'm most interested in stars Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. That's really all I needed to know. Excellent cast aside, the story looked good too--seems that some scandal is taking place at a Catholic school in the 60's. Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are nuns, and PSH is a priest who may or may not have done something untoward with a black student. It's based on a play, and is called Doubt.

A couple weeks ago I attended my {gulp} 20th high school reunion. It was a lot of fun and it was great to see so many old friends. I started thinking about an episode of What Not to Wear that I'd seen a few years before where they made over four women who'd be attending their 20th. I remember thinking: gosh, they're only a few years older than me, but they look so....OLD. Yikes. I don't know if cameras add age or what, but I didn't think anyone at my reunion looked as old as the people on that WNTW episode. In fact, everyone looked great! What a relief.

OK. I promised I'd give 30 Rock another try this season to see if I could get into it. The answer is no, I can't. I watched this week's episode with Oprah, and laughed out loud once--at a site gag. (It was when they showed one of Olympic events NBC had made up to boost ratings and U.S. metals: synchronized running.)

That was funny, but not enough to get me to add 30 Rock to my Tivo queue. I tried, but it just isn't going to work out.

How cool is it that hulu.com let me select *just* that clip to share? Love that site!


It really is genius!

Version 8 of iTunes came out recently and it features Genius Playlists. I LOVE it. You pick a song in your music library, and Genius creates a playlist from other songs in your library that go great together. I have NO idea how it works, but it does create some cool playlists.

For example, I created a playlist around Parliament's "Flashlight" and the top 10 songs (out of 25) of the funky playlist looked like this:

1. Flashlight - Parliament
2. Tell Me Something Good - Rufus & Chaka Khan
3. Brick House - Commodores
4. That's the Way of the World - Earth, Wind & Fire
5. Love and Happiness - Al Green
6. Poison (Extended Club Version) - BBD
7. Feels Good - Tony! Toni! Toné!
8. Can You Stand the Rain - New Edition
9. Wishing Well - Terrence Trent D'Arby
10. I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) - Aretha Franklin

Then I did one around Nu Shooz' "I Can't Wait" and got a pretty good 80's mix:

1. I Can't Wait - Nu Shooz
2. Too Shy - Kajagoogoo and Limahl
3. Tell It To My Heart - Taylor Dayne
4. Dress You Up - Madonna
5. Our Lips Are Sealed - The Go-Go's
6. She Bop - Cyndi Lauper
7. Drive - The Cars
8. Groove Is in the Heart - Deee-Lite
9. One More Try - George Michael
10. Whip It - Devo

I can't wait to play around with this some more. I'm curious to see what Genius will come up with when I do a Maroon 5 song, or something from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I'll keep you posted!


Quick run through....

OK, lots has been going on over the past couple of weeks. But, it's 10:55 p.m. and I need to get ready for bed, so this will be a speed-through post. (Hey, at least it's something.)

1. Bill Maher's Religulous - I know it's controversial, but I enjoyed it. Bill posed the same questions to religious folks that I wonder myself. His message is that we don't know, and that we can't know. My thinking exactly.

2. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - Can I just say that I love Michael Cera? Even though he repeatedly plays the same awkward character he did in Arrested Development, he's so good at it, and it's very endearing to me. Cute movie. Could've done without the gross-out scenes.

3. Nikka Costa has a new album out. I loved, loved, LOVED her first album, Everybody Got Their Something and can't wait for the new one Pebble to a Pearl. I looked for it at Target today. Did you know they receive CD's a week after they've been released? Me either. Tomorrow I'll be hitting Best Buy. (I could always wait to go to Target next week, but I'm heading out of town this weekend and want to listen to it on my trip.)

4. Book moratorium. I have tons of books in my house that I bought but haven't read yet. I was thinking about this today and figure that I probably buy one new book every one to two weeks! That has to stop. I need to catch up on reading the ones I have, and therefore, will not buy another book for the rest of the year. I've put it in writing, so I have to stick with it, right?

5. The Godfather - Just finished reading the book over the weekend--it's great. I've always said that The Godfather movies (I and II--my favorites of all time) are an instance where the movie is just as good as the book. However, now that I've read it again, I've decided that the movies are even better than the book. There are a lot of subplots in the book that aren't in the movie, and I think that's for the best. Now I'm going to have to pop the movies in--it's been a while.

OK, that's it. It's 11:10. I got down quite a lot for a 15-minute post, eh?

(It feels good to get that all out of my system!)


11:25pm UPDATE: When I went to publish my blog at 11:11pm, (Hey! My favorite numbers!) I got the following:

Blogger is currently unavailable

Blogger is unavailable right now. We apologize for this interruption in service.

Oh, come on!


Should I use the headache excuse?

Sorry folks. I just haven't been in the mood to post any blogs. I'm sure I'll get my mojo back soon, but for now, I'll leave you with this:

I went to school with the guy who stepped on Nelly's Js, right around 1:15 in the video. Cool to see him in the video.

I was telling my friend Mark about the scene, and Mark immediately recognized it as a play on a scene from Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. (Mark has recall like no one else I know.) Anyway, the next day, DtRT was on TV--it was fun to see it again after all these years. Anyway, here's the inspiration for Nelly's video (you might want to let it load fully and then watch it. I had a lot of stops and starts. Also, sorry for the language...): http://youtu.be/w7UZ9g8wvFI.

I'll be back soon.


I found a new FNL fan!

I found out that my friend Mark has been watching Friday Night Lights on hulu.com and has become addicted. He said he remembered from my blog that I'm a fan.

He wrote: This is a really great show. I'm addicted and can't stop watching. Also, I crack up every time the coach calls Landry "Lance.

I wrote back: This year, the new season is running on DirecTV only. It'll air in reruns starting in February. I'm so annoyed by this. I'm glad to know the shows are on Hulu--I'll have to check them out. I love Landry! He cracks me up. I also love Matt Saracen. The coach and his wife are perfectly matched...great casting!

And Mark wrote: You're right about the casting. Just about every single character is really complicated, likable but with faults. Landry is great--one of my favorites. I also like Tim Riggins and Smash--but I want to knock some sense into them sometimes. Coach and his wife are excellent, their daughter too. They really feel like a family. Even Buddy Garrity is likable and complex. And the assistant coach, Mac just seems like a real guy. I think my least favorite characters are Jason Street and Lyla Garrity. They both annoy me a little.

I must admit that I do feel proud that I might have had a *little* part in getting a new fan for this great show. I'm still annoyed about the DirecTV thing, but I'll deal with it. Oh, and Mark's right about Jason and Lyla--they are annoying, but I liked them better in the 2nd season.

It looks like they've got all the shows from the first two seasons on Hulu, so please, check them out!


Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Over the weekend, I went with Debbie and our friend, L, to see Woody Allen's newest movie. We all really enjoyed it. I think Deb and I enjoyed it all the more because in scene after scene we were able to remember all we'd done when we were in Barcelona earlier this year. Vicky and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall, respectively, travel to Barcelona for the summer and get involved with Javier Bardem (man, he's sexy in this movie) and his ex-wife played by Penélope Cruz. All of the actors gave great performances, but Javier and Penélope were fantastic. There's a scene where they're arguing en español that was so passionate and heartfelt, it kind of took my breath away.

Our friend sat in between us, and before the movie started, she asked if Debbie and I wanted to sit next to each other to compare notes. We declined, and good thing because we would've become two of the people I detest most: those who talk throughout a movie.

Just like he's done with Manhattan over and over again, Woody Allen really showcased Barcelona in each scene. Every time a different locale was featured, I'd think to my self, we were there!

Web work at entrance to La Pedrera

And there!

Dragon @ Parc Güell

We were standing RIGHT THERE!

Parc Güell

Yeah, we would've driven L crazy.


America the Beautiful

I read about this documentary on Kerri Arista's blog the other day, and when I searched for more info, I discovered that there was a screening in DC tonight (Sept 10), with a Q&A period with the filmmaker, Darryl Roberts, to follow.

I just got back and am so glad I went. The movie is about America's obsession with beauty and how it's affecting women and young girls' self esteem. It was very thought provoking, and as one member of the audience commented, it should be required viewing for girls in junior high. The filmmaker said that after its run in theaters, he does plan to get an education distributor.

Just a note: he won't send it into schools until the movie's out of theaters because right now the movie is rated R due to a hilarious, but crude, comment made by Eve (The Vagina Monologues) Ensler in the middle of the movie. He didn't want to pull the comment because it was actually an empowering statement for a woman to say. He got big applause for that.

The movie screening was hosted by the Eating Disorders Coalition. In response to a question from the audience, the group's President said that anorexia and bulimia statistics are on the rise in young men and women over 50. That's so sad--it really is affecting everyone.

The movie could probably use a little more editing, but I think it's worth seeing. If you live in the DC area, it's going to be showing at the Union Station theater starting September 26. (That's an unfortunate choice of theater, but if they get a good run, maybe they'll open it wider.)


2008 TV Season

It's become an annual ritual: I get my Fall TV issue of Entertainment Weekly, read about all the shows, and then map out what I'm going watch. Here's my schedule for 2008.

(Click on the graphic for a larger view.)

  • I'm so disappointed about what they're doing with Friday Night Lights. DirecTV has an exclusive deal to air 13 episodes begining in October. NBC will then air the season in February 2009. So, if I'm either forced to order DirecTV to see my favorite show, or I have to wait several months after it's already aired. Who made this brilliant decision?! I'm still trying to figure out if I'll be able to watch it online, but haven't seen anything yet. I suspect if that option is available, I'll probably have to pay for it. We'll see.

  • I put Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on the schedule, but only plan to watch the first two weeks--that's when the show about the family from Gaithersburg, MD will air.

  • True Blood, a vampire series on HBO looks interesting--I'll watch it a week or two and see if I want to continue. Ditto for My Own Worst Enemy on NBC> I'm only giving that a chance because I've always been a big fan of Christian Slater.

  • I watched the first episode of Stephen Bochco's Raising the Bar last week. It was okay. The stories were okay, and the performances were okay. I was distracted by all the stylizing though--every time the scene changes, there's a graphic effect that I find annoying and distracting. I like the cast, so I'll watch it another couple of times and then decide whether to stick with it.

    Can you believe this: is Zack from Saved by the Bell?!
    Dude. What's with the hair?

  • I'm also going to try The Mentalist simply because Simon Baker's in it. I'm worried that it's too much like Psych though.

  • Gary Unmarried had a funny commercial running during the Olympics, so I'll give this a try or two also. I like Jay Mohr.

  • Do Not Disturb looks ridiculously silly, but I like Jerry O'Connell, and it's directed by Jason Bateman, so there you go.

  • I'm looking forward to Kath & Kim with Molly Shannon and Selma Blair. Also on Thursday night, I included 30 Rock. I've tried this show several times, and want to like it, but I can never get into it. Alec Baldwin was on 60 Minutes as I was doing my schedule--and truth be told, the clips they showed of him were funny, so I decided to try ONE MORE TIME.

  • Like so many other shows, Life on Mars is a remake of a British show. I never got to see it on BBCA, so I'd like to see this version.

  • I kinda like the premise of The Ex-List--a woman meets a fortune teller who says the woman has already met and dated the man of her life. She then goes on a quest to find him. What I don't like is that it stars Elizabeth Reaser, who played Rebecca on Grey's Anatomy--I just don't care for her, but maybe she'll be okay in this new show. We'll see.

  • Really looking forward to the return of Life, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money, my favorite new shows from last year.
OK, I guess that's it. Happy TV watching!!


You gotta have a plan

I spent Labor Day weekend in Omaha, NE visiting family. My dad and I had a talk with my 9-year-old cousin, C, about what he wants to be when he grows up. He told us that he wants to be an actor, a football player, a basketball player and a soccer player. My dad asked how he was going to do all that. His response:
Well, first I'll be an actor. And then I'll retire. Then, I'll play football. After that, I'll retire, and then I'll play basketball. Then I'll retire from that and play soccer. And then I'll retire.

DAD: So how old will you be when you're done with all that?

C: Umm....um...let's see.....I'll be around twenty-six.

He's going to have quite a life! (By the way, after all that, C will then become a doctor.)

In other news, my aunts from NYC were also in Omaha to visit. They stayed at my grandmother's house and we went over to watch Barack Obama's speech on Thursday night. My dad left soon after the speech and Debbie and I stayed to chit chat. All of a sudden, SOMETHING came flying into the room. I jumped up and screamed, WHAT IN THE HELL WAS THAT?!?! and ran into the kitchen. We were all screaming and going crazy. Debbie was holding a pillow over her head, for fear it'd fly onto her head. The thing just kept flying back and forth, back and forth. Finally, it went into the foyer area, and my aunt went to open the front door, hoping it'd fly out. It didn't. It went upstairs.

Oh. My. God.

We called my dad to see if he'd come back over to take care of the situation, but he was already in bed, and basically told us too bad. We settled down, and talked about what to do if it came back. Debbie suggested that we should remain calm and quiet--she thought our screaming is what made it fly back and forth so frantically. I told my aunts that if I were them, I'd sleep downstairs...there's no way in hell I'd go upstairs not knowing where that thing is.

Our hearts started beating normally and we got back to the gossip. About and hour later, here it comes again! Again, I was screaming like a maniac. Debbie kept telling me to be quiet. I tried, but every time it came near me, I screamed again--I couldn't help it! Finally, it went back to the foyer, my aunt opened the door again, but again, the thing flew upstairs. Wethey could see it flying back and forth in the bathroom at the top of the stairs. [I had no desire to see it again.] Debbie then came up with the idea to turn off the lights in the foyer, and she went outside with a flashlight, hoping the thing would be attracted to the light like bugs are. Sure enough....it flew right down the stairs and out the door. Yay Debbie!

I keep referring to it as a "thing" because we just don't know if it was a bird or a bat. It was flying so fast, we could never see its face or body that clearly. Most of my screaming was because I thought it was a bat and I want nothing to do with those creatures. I remember many years ago National Geographic ran a story about bats. There was a centerfold that showed the faces of at least 20 different species of bats. I couldn't even look at it--it made me feel sick to my stomach.


Anyway, fun times in Omaha!


Shut up, Blayne!

Blayne, I'm sure you're a nice guy. But, you think you're so cute on Project Runway and you *think* you're going to be this season's Christian, with your stupid "licious-ness" phrases, but you're not. You're annoying, and I think you're just getting by each week by the skin of your teeth. "Licious-ness" is not "fierce"! Give it up. Please.

Thank you, and have a nice day.


Lots o' recommendations

Here's what I'm liking these days:

The Dark Knight - finally saw this over the weekend. It was just as good as I've heard. I was truly mesmerized by Heath Ledger's performance and am so sad he's no longer with us. I was completely impressed with the special effects & make-up job done with Two Face. VERY cool.

The Lives of Others - add this to Netflix immediately. It's a German flick that won Best Foreign Film in 2006. It takes place in East Germany, circa 1984 and is the story of a Stasi (Secret Police) official ordered to spy on a playwright, and how the spy becomes entwined in the artist's life. It was very well done, very powerful message. I'm still thinking about it, two days later. The extras on the DVD were fascinating...particularly the interview with the writer/director.

Jen Lancaster - A couple months ago, I read her third memoir called Such a Pretty Fat and am now reading her second, called Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority Girl's Guide to Why it Often Sucks in the City, or Who are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next Door to Me?. It's even funnier than the other one. I keep embarrassing myself in public places by laughing out loud. She's great with the sarcasm.

Duffy's album, Rockferry - A few weeks ago my friend Mark & I were at Barnes & Noble and this song came on. At first I thought it was Amy Winehouse, and he said, no I don't think so, then it hit me. It was Duffy's song "Mercy," which I knew because Twitch & Katee had just done "The Door" performance to it the night before on SYTYCD. We went to the music section to confirm, and sure enough, it was Duffy. The guy working there gave me the CD to listen to (I LOVE that you can do this at B&N), and I bought it immediately. The guy said, "She's like Amy Winehouse without all the drama." I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that CD. Each and every song. In addition to Amy Winehouse, she also reminds me of Dusty Springfield--a lot of the songs have a 60's soulful feel to them. There are a lot of break-up songs--makes me wonder who she was writing about.

Bela Karolyi - his interviews with Bob Costas about the women's gymnastics events crack me up. He's SO opinionated and enthusiastic about the competition. He has mentioned repeatedly that he doesn't believe the Chinese gymansts are 16. I'll have to agree on that--one of them looks 10. I miss seeing Bela on the sidelines during the competitions. His wife seems like a nice lady and good coach, but she's just not entertaining like Bela was.


F***ing Bruges!

I watched In Bruges yesterday and really liked it a lot. It's about two hit men, who are sent to Bruges (Belgium) after completing a hit to hide out and await further instruction. One of them, Ken, played by Brendan Gleeson, is happy to be in Bruges and immediately starts to visit all the tourist attractions. Ray (Colin Farrell) on the other hand, can't stand it and wants to leave. Despite some pretty gruesome crime scenes, the movie's a dark comedy with some really great moments between Ken & Ray. Sure, they're killers, but they're also very human and humane, believe it or not. Ralph Fiennes is "the boss" who too has his own sense of morality. The scenes of Bruges were gorgeous. It's a medieval city that dates back to the 12th century. As they said in the movie, at every turn, it looks like a fairy tale. Anyway, the movie's great--check it out. Oh, and the language is a little harsh, but it sounds good with Colin's Irish accent.

Did you see the U.S. win the 4x100-meterr freestyle relay last night?! HOLY COW! What a fantastic race. This win was truly sweet since they beat the French team, who'd been doing some trash talking--saying they were there to "smash the U.S." Hah! Who's smashed now?! I was screaming at the TV. The neighbors might've heard me... Obviously, my screaming at Jason Lezak to push ahead worked. ;o)


Joshua takes the prize!

Tonight's SYTYCD finale was FANTASTIC. JOSHUA won $250K and a role in Alan Shankman's new movie. And, this year, for the first time, the top girl also got a prize. Katee's walking away with $50K herself. I'm so pleased for both of them. And as I suspected, the other dancers seemed genuinely happy for the winners, too.

There were tons of performances tonight. There were six judges on the panel who selected their favorite performances of the season. Out of the nine selected performances, Katee danced in four, and Josh was in two.

The dances we got to see again were:
  1. Selected by Nigel: Katee & Joshua's Bollywood dance. I thought it was even better tonight because they both seemed so relaxed and happy.

  2. Mary: Courtney & Gev's Rumba to "Wishing on a Star" by Rose Royce. This was beautiful. I just love Gev, and it was great to see these two dancing together again. Great choice Mary! I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but Gev reminds me of Casey Affleck. Not necessarily in this pic of Gev, though.

  3. Adam Shankman: Comfort & Twitch's hip hop to Chris Brown's "Forever." This performance marked Comfort's return to the show after Jessica got hurt. Another great choice.

  4. L'il C: Mark & Chelsie's "Bleeding Love" (Leona Lewis) routine. I loved this one too! These judges sure have good taste.

  5. Mia: Will & Katee's pas de deux to David Archuletta's "Imagine." Katee & Will made the turn tonight that they flubbed a bit the first time. They seemed so triumphant. The performance was stunning. Debbie Allen, one of the judges on the panel, looked so proud.

  6. Adam: Courtney and Mark's performance to "The Garden" by Mirah; choreographed by Sonja. Adam said this dance represents the last eight years of his dating life. Another great one!

  7. Mary: Katee & Twitch - The Door Routine, choreographed by Mia Michael's to Duffy's "Mercy." (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Duffy's CD for those who don't already have it.) This dance is my favorite of the season.

  8. Debbie Allen: Twitch & Kherington's Viennese Waltz to Céline Dion's "A New Day Has Come." This is the one that Jean Marc Généreux choreographed for his daughter. This one is my mom's favorite of the season. It was a great performance.

  9. Nigel: Katee/Joshua's hip hop performance to "No Air" by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown, and choreographed by Napoleon & Tabitha. This was another great one.

Other treats in the show:

  • The show opened with the top 20 performing a Shayne Sparks routine to "Boom" by Sin featuring T-Pain. I miss Shayne on this show. Watching this opening number was like watching a huge crew on America's Best Dance Crew. (which I'm watching as I type this now...they're doing party dances from the 80's! Fanny Pak just did a routine to "Lean on Me," "New Jack Swing," and "Ice Ice Baby...." GOTTA LOVE IT! I think they're gonna win this thing. I was dubious when they first auditioned on the show, but I really like them now.)

OK, where was I?

  • Oh yes. A wise person once wrote at the end of her blog on July 24, 2008 that she'd like to see Mary & Nigel dance on the show. Guess what?! They did! Mary did a Latin dance with Dmitry from season two--she was great. It's fun to watch her dance and not hear her screaming. Nigel did a tap routine with kids from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy to "Boogie Wonderland" by EW&F. I had a blast watching this one...Nigel was fantastic. I was very impressed.

    Adam Shankman said he'd like to come back next year and take Nigel on. Debbie Allen (or was it Cat Deely?) said that every judge on the panel should have to dance next season. I LOVE that idea--I hope they follow through.

  • To me, this isn't a treat, but the Jonas Bros. performed. I just saw them earlier this week, I think on Jay Leno. Once a week is enough, so I fast-forwarded. Maybe I'd feel differently if I were 13....

  • There was a POPPING BATTLE between two dancers from the auditions--Robert Muraine and Phillip Chbeeb. WOW. They danced (popped) to Kanye West's "Stronger." It was AMAZING. The judges cast their votes, and Robert won the battle 4-2. I voted for Phillip, because frankly, Robert scares me. He's multi-jointed and gets his body into positions that should not be possible. Adam Shankman said he's a freak of nature. I'll say! (Robert's on the left.)

  • Top 5 guys did their "Five Guys Named Moe" routine that was choreographed by Nigel. It was great to watch them because I realized once again just how much I like them all: Twitch, Will, Joshua, Gev and Mark.

  • The cast from Criss Angel: Believe by Cirque du Soleil performed a Wade Robson routine to "Homage to the Rabbits" by Eric Serra. The camera focused on a sign before the dance that read, "Homage to all of the Rabbits who died in the hands of incompetent musicians." This thing was CREEPY. All the dancers were dressed in rabbit costumes and it looked just like something out of Donnie Darko. It might give me nightmares.

  • Finally, dancers from seasons 1-3 provided updates on what they've been up to, and then danced to Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music." Great to see Lacey, Benji, Dmitry, Dominic, Hok, Travis, etc.

I think this was a great season, and I *might* consider paying to see this group when they go on tour. Not sure I want to spend all that time with a bunch of teenagers though.....

Hope everyone enjoyed the show as much as I did. Feel free to share your thoughts.

Oh. By the way--I spoke too soon earlier. Fanny Pak was just voted off. I hope no one took any bets.

The party's almost over...SYTYCD Final Four

It was the last night of competition on SYTYCD, and it was a great show. Each of the final four danced with each of the other dancers. I was so excited to hear this because I'd been waiting all week to see Twitch & Joshua perform together.

First up were Twitch & Courtney performing a Napoleon & Tabitha routine to "Church" by T-Pain featuring Teddy Verseti. I loved it. Courtney was the crazy ex-girlfriend, and Twitch was the guy who couldn't be bothered. Each of them were great in the characters the whole time--their fight was very believable. The judges loved it. Mary Murphy screamed and Nigel screamed back. Nigel said it was "absolutely perfect."

Solos were interspersed between couple routines. Courtney was up first, but before she danced, we saw a short interview with her and Cat. Cat asked about Courtney's boyfriend, and about the strong chemistry she had with Gev. Courtney pointed out that you don't have to be in love with someone to have chemistry with them. You just have to know them really well, and like them a lot, and she and Gev got along great. They were a great pair. Courtney's solo was to "They Weren't There" by Missy Higgins. It looked like she was really fighting for it. Judges gave HUGE compliments and everyone got emotional.

Next: Joshua & Katee (yay!), lyrical, Wade Robson (love him), "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room," by John Mayer. What a beautiful routine. It was passionate and emotional. Katee & Joshua were the best pairing on the show, and I was a little sad when it ended--it'd be the last time we'd see them together like that. They seemed a little broken up themselves. High accolades from the judges. Nigel said they were two of the best dancers ever on the show. Agreed.

Twitch's solo was next. His interview revealed that his nickname comes from when he was a kid and couldn't sit still. He was always dancing and twitching, whether at church or at school. His solo was fantastic as always. Mary said she was speechless. What? Mary, speechless?! Nigel said he was always happy when Twitch made the bottom three because he looked forward to seeing his solos. I think Twitch just comes across as having a good heart--he's so talented, and just so darn likable. I'm so glad he was on the show this season. So are the judges.

Here come Katee & Courtney doing a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine to "The Trolley Song" by Rufus Wainwright. I thought the routine was cute, but I wasn't wowed by it. The judges loved it.

Next was the moment I'd been waiting for: Twitch & Josh! They did a Russian Trepak dance choreographed by Youri Nelzine to "Trepak" from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite. IT. WAS. AMAZING. HOLY COW! I just have to show this to you...it was my favorite part of the show. (The recording isn't great since it's done from my little digital photo camera, sorry!)



Katee did the 3rd solo. They replayed the moment before she was announced as one of the Top 20 when Nigel called a re-vote since she said she'd give up dancing if she didn't make the show. She certainly proved herself on this show and the judges made the right decision. Her solo was to "Hide & Seek" by Imogen Heap. It was wonderful. Mary said she's going to cherish so many of the performances Katee did this year. Nigel said all of her characters were brilliant. Again, I agree completely.

Twitch & Katee next did the fox trot to "Feeling Good" by Michael Bublé (note: I like George Michael's version better, for what it's worth.) The routine was choreographed by Tony Meredith & Melanie LaPatin. I thought it was really good, but the fox trot confounds me so I was anxious to hear what the judges had to say. They loved it! Mary said it's a gentleman's dance, and that Twitch was "one cool gentleman." She told Katee, BRAVO. It was a beautiful routine.

Joshua's solo was last. In his interview Joshua said he had to choose between football and track & field or dancing and singing. He went the entertainment route (aren't we the lucky ones?) and he said his coaches hated him for it. Boo to them! His solo was to Funkadelic's "(Not Just) Knee Deep" and was FANTASTIC as always. Nigel said that Joshua has set the standard for any future non-trained dancer trying out for the show, and that Joshua is "absolutely superb." By the way--he looks so cute with his braces off. (I said that--not Nigel!)

Joshua and Courtney then danced the jive. It was choreographed by Jason Gilkison to "The Dirty Boogie" by the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Man--talk about energetic! My heart almost stopped at the end when Josh was swinging Courtney around his body with both arms and then he dropped her top half and swung her around by her feet. (Nigel says this is called "Around the World.") Oh my god! Mandy Moore, the guest judge and Mary loved the routine, but for some reason, Nigel panned it. He said he wants them to learn and grow so they can "be better every single time." I think he realized they're close to the end of the show and not a negative word had been spoken, so he had to say something. He got booed, and he deserved it. It wasn't really fair to Courtney & Joshua, I don't think.

Finally, the four dancers performed a Mia Michael's routine to "Hallelujah" by the Vitamin String Quartet. It was to represent them celebrating their wins, and enjoying their last time dancing together. For some reason, they were dressed in tartan costumes...the girls in very unflattering dresses. Mandy Moore said they looked like they could be part of a dance company because they danced as a unit. The routine was VERY demanding and athletic...I felt out of breath after it was over, so I can only imagine how the dancers felt. Nigel told Mia that he didn't get the routine or the costumes either. At least I wasn't the only one.

If I had to, I would rank the routines as follows:
6. Katee/Courtney - Broadway
5. Josh/Courtney - Jive
4. Twitch/Katee - Fox Trot
3. Josh/Katee - Lyrical
2. Twitch/Courtney - Hip Hop
1. Twitch/Joshua - Russian Trepak

4. Courtney
3. Katee
2. Twitch
1. Joshua

After all that, I decided not to vote for anyone tonight. I realized that I'd be completely satisfied if any of these four dancers wins. I like them all SO much. They are all so talented, so likable, so humble. As my mom said, there don't seem to be any divas or "divos" in the group. I think any of them will be genuinely happy for whoever wins. It's been a great season, and this is the best final four the show has seen. Can't wait for tomorrow's finale.


Getting some culture

I mentioned the other day that I was going to be "getting me some culture" on Thursday night. And, did I ever.

There's a beautiful local music center called Strathmore that hosts the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. This summer, they held a "Summernights" program on Thursday evenings, for very reasonably-priced tickets ($25).

A couple weeks ago, my friend Mark and I went to see a performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, which is one of my favorite classical pieces. The show was wonderful. The conductor and lead violinist, Jonathan Carney, was very expressive and dynamic--he seemed to be having a wonderful time on stage. The orchestra also performed Astor Piazzolla's The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, which is a tango interspersed with Vivaldi's piece. I liked the tango pieces just as much.

I noticed in the program that night that the BSO would be performing a tribute to Gershwin & Bernstein on July 31. I enlisted my parents and my friends Laura & Don to go with me, and we had a marvelous time.

For this performance we had seats that were behind and above the orchestra, and that was fantastic. We were facing the conductor and got to see his facial expressions and movements as he directed the orchestra. We also had a great view of each musician, and it was fascinating. It was a great vantage point, and I can't imagine sitting anywhere else for future performances.

The orchestra first performed a piece composed by the conductor, Bramwell Tovey, called Urban Runway. Mr. Tovey said he was inspired by busy shoppers on the street in New York or L.A., and you could definitely hear that influence in the music. I could just imagine people running in and out of stores, in and out of traffic.

Next they performed Gershwin's An American in Paris, which was lovely. I looked over at my dad at one point and he looked like a little kid in front of a candy store. I was so pleased that he was enjoying himself, because when I first talked to him about coming, he didn't seem all that interested or enthused.

My favorite part of the night was the performance of Rhapsody in Blue, another favorite of mine. Beautiful. Interesting info: A band leader at New York's Aeolian Hall talked vaguely to Gershwin about composing a concerto for a concert on February 12, 1924, but Gershwin didn't find out that he was actually on the program until January 3 that year. He wrote the piece in just a few weeks and it was an instant hit. Also, the original sound of the clarinet opener is not what we know today--that wailing bluesy sound. The clarinet player improvised that himself, and Gershwin insisted he keep it and wail as much as possible. Kinda cool.

After intermission, the orchestra performed the West Side Story suite. It was wonderful! The suite includes highlights from the dance songs of the show. I loved watching the percussionists during this piece. I was talking with Don about one part during "Mambo" where the percussionist hit a wooden block one time. It seems so insignificant, yet, the song wouldn't be the same without that one beat. I can't imagine how a composer puts all that together--very impressive.

The orchestra also performed an encore: Sousa's Stars & Stripes Forever. Now that's a great song to sit and watch the percussionists do their work. The cymbals and the bass drum, especially. It was fun.

As we were leaving, we couldn't stop talking about what a great time we had. My parents thanked me for letting them know about it--I'm glad they came and enjoyed themselves. A good time was had by all.


Short film winner at Cannes 2008

I just had to post this. It's beautiful, and very moving.

Historia de un letrero (History of a Sign)


Top 6 elimination show recap

The show opened with a beautiful contemporary routine from Mandy Moore to "The Rose" by Bette Midler. I love that song, so it was great to see it interpreted on the stage. The dancers all looked great.

Guest judge Adam Shankman announced that in addition to the top prize already established for the show this year, he's also adding a feature dance roll in a movie he's producing. That's mighty nice of him. That reminds me, my friend Jeanene told me that Twitch was in Hairspray--I was going to watch the movie that night, but didn't get around to it. I will try this weekend.

Before the elimination, the judges gave a pep talk to the dancers. Nigel was a downer though--told them they'll have to face rejection in front of millions of people. BUT...on a high note, each dancer pulled over 1 million votes. Good for them.

Mary was a bit verklempt. She was pleased with the maturity of each dancer & can see how they each grew over the weeks of the show. She said she loves them all.

Adam said "what she said." Adam commented on what great people the dancers are, and asked them to really remember every moment of the show--it can never be taken away from them.

Next, all six danced solos. (Of course they gotta drag this thing out as long as possible!) Courtney: nice; Mark: weird, but interesting tonight; Katee: energetic & emotional; Joshua: amazing to see the control he has over his body (and he looks so cute! he got his braces off!); Courtney: I didn't care for it, more because of the country song than her dance moves--she should've stuck with the Latin style; Twitch: very cool routine to "Don't Worry Be Happy"--how to you dance hip-hop to that?! Ask Twitch! He looked so cute & hopeful at the end.

A tiny child comes out to dance to "Planet Rock" -- what?! Tiny little B-Boy--so cute--he must be 5 or 6, doing windmills and spinning on his head! Impressive! He says he's 6 and has been dancing since he was 4.

OK. Here we go. We get a run down of what happened last night, and then Cat announces that Katee is safe. I think we all knew that. And then, Joshua moved on. Woo-hoo!!! The crowd seemed VERY happy!

Now comes Lady GaGa to sing "Just Dance." Who? Fast-forward. OK. Back to the girls. The girl joining Katee in next week's finale is COURTNEY!!! Woo-hoo!!!!!!! That's who I was pulling for! Great job! (Hmm.....could this mean Courtney's partner Mark did as well this week? I hope not. I don't dislike Mark, I just want Twitch in the final.) First we watch Chelsie's footage. She did have some good moments this season.

OK. Guys. Moving on is TWITCH!!!!!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!

So, our final four are Katee, Twitch, Joshua, and Courtney. I like all of these dancers SO much, I will be completely happy with whoever wins the final. Awesome!!!!

Oh, we're watching Mark's footage now--he seems like such a crazy guy. He's very talented and I wish him the best. He's got quite a personality, and he was very gracious in saying goodbye. I'm sure he'll be fine.

I can't wait for next week!

SYTYCD - Top 6 perform - late edition

I'm late with my summary of last night's SYTYCD, but I still have 4 hours until the top 4 are revealed, so I feel okay. I have 45 to enter this though, because tonight I'm going with my folks & some friends to get me some culture. More on that later.

OK. Here's how I'd rank last night's couples performances:

6. Chelsie/Twitch - Mambo - "Ahora Me Toca a Mi" by Victor Manuelle: The mambo isn't Twitch's thing. That's okay, I still love him. There were a couple times where I was worried their hands weren't going to connect. Chelsie is amazing--her legs go on forever and ever in these Latin dances I enjoyed it, just not as much as the others. I hate to put Twitch in last place on a dance, but that's just the way it is... :o(

5. Courtney/Mark- Viennese Waltz - "The Time of My Life" by David Cook (yay David Cook!): This was a beautiful dance; Courtney & Mark have good chemistry, and this V.W. seemed much better technically than others we've seen this season. Judges loved it.

4. Chelsie/Twitch- Hip Hop - "Control" by The Vitamin String Quartet: I really enjoyed this one. Chelsie held her own against Twitch.

3. Courtney/Mark - Jazz - "The Garden" by Mirah: Whoa! Mark really stepped it up last night. This dance was interesting with a great driving beat, and I couldn't stop watching either Mark or Courtney. Mark had the perfect facial expressions for it.

2.Katee/Joshua - Paso Doble - "Filet" from Le Reve (original soundtrack): Joshua pulled off the matador magnificently! The whole routine was fantastic. I loved how Joshua dragged the "slaughtered bull" (Katee) over to the judging area when the dance was over. Mary Murphy said it's true magic when Katee & Joshua are together. I'd have to agree. It was so good to see them together again.

1. Katee/Joshua - Contemporary - "All By Myself" by Céline Dion: WONDERFUL. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED when Katee jumped into a lept into a split, and Joshua stuck out his arms to catch her. Beautiful. (The leap is at 1:25 in the video.)

I'm not going to rank the solos, but just say I loved Twitch's solo to Midnight Star's "Midas Touch." I probably didn't need to see Cat Deely trying on Twitch's gold teeth though. Ew. I'll post a picture later on.

Notes: Paula Abdul was in the audience tonight--she looked bright & cheerful. Maybe they'll get her to choreograph something soon. I called several times for Twitch & Joshua last night. I hope they make it to the Top 2 guys. Keeping my fingers crossed! Can't wait to see what happens tonight!


Too Funky

Deb and I went to the George Michael concert last night, and it was fantastic! George looked great with his 5 o'clock shadow and tinted shades, and he can still swivel those hips like he did 25 years ago.

Now, tickets ranged from $55-$250, so of course we got the $55 tix, a.k.a the nosebleed seats. (Now, if this was Prince, I might consider that $250 price....). The show was supposed to start at 8pm, but hadn't started by 8:30pm. Deb and I could see that the house clearly wasn't sold out. Then we noticed some of the ushers giving people higher up than us new tickets and those folks moving. We guessed they were filling in lower rows.

So, the show starts around 8:40pm--George came out and everyone was so excited. He sang one song (that I can't remember), and then he sang "I'm Your Man" and Deb and I stood up to dance. We saw several people in front of us move themselves down to the front of the section, and then we saw an usher usher them back to their seats. Oops. But then, as George started singing "Father Figure," the usher came up to me and Deb and offered seats WAY down below. OF COURSE we took her up on it! So, we went from this, Section 410, Row M, where the stage was on the direct opposite side of the arena, to this, Section 101, Row H. Yeah, baby. The guy next to me said he paid $160 apiece for his tickets that day, and the guys behind had $150 tickets that they got from one dude's boss. And there we were. Ahhhh....

Oh, and I fell. In our rush to get to our new seats, I slipped on something wet, and landed on my left knee. Ouch. Deb laughed at me at first (as she's known to do--don't blame her, I tend to laugh too, but I try to wait until I'm sure the person is okay...), but then she realized I wasn't laughing, and she helped me up. I skinned my knee (don't think I've done that since I was 10), and it's a little swollen, and still hurts a little bit, but I'm otherwise okay. Deb and I think it was karma at work--earlier in the evening, we were laughing about a spill my mom took in Barcelona. It apparently came back to bite me in the butt. Sorry Mom!

The only thing noticeably missing from the concert was "I Want Your Sex," but, it's not on his TwentyFive album, so I guess we shouldn't have been surprised. He did "Careless Whisper" as part of his encore, and then he asked, "if you could hear one more song, what would it be?" The overwhelming response was "FREEDOM!" so off he went. It was a perfect ending to a great show.

I apologize for the crappy recording, but you get the idea...


Go Ernie! Go Ernie!

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook--I just had to share...

We have a new Food Network Star!

Aaron McCargo will be the Food Network's next TV star. He won the competition last night with his "Big Daddy's Kitchen" pilot where he cooked jerk rib-eye & honey glazed plantains, which looked wonderful. I'm glad he won--I only saw the last 4 or 5 episodes of the show, but I was always most interested in Aaron's style of cooking & I love his personality. I'm looking foward to his new show.

Doesn't Lisa Garza (below left) look like Sandra Bullock? There were times when Lisa was talking that the resemblance was really striking. (To me anyway....)

Update: In the comments section, Mark expressed hope that the honey-glazed plantains recipe is online. It is, and I added the link above. Also, Mark thinks Lisa looks more like this:

He definitely has a point!


I'm devastated...


Will was voted off SYTYCD tonight. "America" f'd it up AGAIN. I feel slightly responsible since I didn't watch the show until after voting was over and didn't get my own votes in. Shame on me! There's no excuse for Mark still being on the show & Will being off. I'm so upset by this. Here's Will in his solo from the week of the Top 12--in my opinion, it's the best solo ever performed on the show.

Oh, and Comfort's gone too, but we all saw that coming.

I loved Twitch's solo tonight, to "Hollywood Swinging" by Kool & the Gang. I love his moves, and now that Will's gone, I'm pulling for Twitch to win. Next week I'll have to make sure to get my votes in!

p.s. LL Cool J performed--did you see those arms?? Too bad the shirt was on.... ;o)


SYTYCD - Top 8 perform

I think last night's show was one of the best yet. I think Mary Murphy screamed for everything except Comfort & Mark's fox trot. Has anyone ever done a good fox trot? And what is the fox trot anyway? I told my mom I *get* all of the other dances, but not the fox trot. She said she learned it years ago, and couldn't really remember, but for example, where the waltz is done in a bit of a triangle, ONE-two-three ONE-two-three, the fox trot is done along lines in a four count. OK. Sounds good to me.

I forgot my notes again, so I can't recap the whole show, but I will say that Twitch & Katee's performance of Mia Michael's choreography was probably my favorite of the whole season. It told the story of a crazy girlfriend going off on her man. When he doesn't react and remains calm, cool & collected, it just makes her crazier. This routine was passionate and fun to watch. It started with a HUGE kiss between the two & just took off from there. I absolutely loved it!

My next favorite was Will & Courtney's Samba. SEXY!! Shake those hips Will!!!!

My favorite solo of the evening was Will's. He channeled James Brown and danced to Get Up Offa That Thing. He came out in a JB wig & commanded the stage. 30 seconds wasn't enough--I wanted it to go on and on. Will's solos are always my favorites. And now, I'm listening to JB on the iPod. Get Up Offa That Thing is my favorite song of his.

For a full recap of the show, check out levy on tv. I don't agree with everything he says (for example, he's rooting for Mark over Twitch) but he gives a thorough recap of the show.

I think Comfort & Mark will be going home tonight. The remaining six dancers are all to good too be in the bottom. From here on out, it's going to be really tough to see any of them leave. I still think Will should take the whole thing though.

One more thing--maybe I missed something, but I didn't really care for Joshua & Chelsie's disco performance. I thought their lifts were great, but I thought the timing was off in the beginning, and that Gloria Estefan's Everlasting Love was a terrible song choice. The judges LOVED it, though. What do I know?

Oh, wait! ONE more thing--this is it. I would love to see Mary or Nigel perform a ballroom dance on stage. They should arrange that for one of the Thursday shows. Mary's the "ballroom expert," so I'd love to see what she's got.

OK, now I'm really done. Ciao.


Books and stuff


On Friday night, I finished reading a book called The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian. It's been on my mind ever since. It's about a woman who works for an organization that finds homes for the homeless. After one of the organization's clients passes away, they discover a large box of photos, many of celebrities, some dating back to the Roaring 20's. The woman starts to investigate how a man who seemed to be a professional photographer wound up a homeless man. Interestingly enough, some of the characters in the book are descendants of the characters from The Great Gatsby, which has lead me to re-read TGG. Once I've done that, I'll need to re-read The Double Bind too. I don't want to give anything away, but I had so many questions about this book when I finished it. I'm not in a book club, but I think this would make for a great discussion. I found a website hosted by the author where folks have posted questions and discussions. The author seems to respond pretty regularly, but I notice his answers are often vague & even more thought provoking. Very interesting book. I look forward to reading it again to hopefully work out some of the questions I have.

I also recently finished a book called Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest To Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass LookBig, Or Why Pie is Not The Answer which my friend Dana & I each bought based on the title alone. It was hilarious, and I've become a fan of Jen Lancaster. I also bought Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority Girl's Guide to Why it Often Sucks in the City, or Who are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next Door to Me? and will start reading after I finish my Great-Gatsby/Double Bind project. Dana bought Jen's third book, Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass,Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office (which was actually her first, I think). We'll exchange them when the time comes. Jen says stuff that I might be thinking, but wouldn't dare say out loud. It's a nasty sense of humor, but she cracks me up.

  • The Closer and Saving Grace are back on TNT. Yay! Psych's back on USA. I love The Closer & Psych. Saving Grace I like a lot, though Holly Hunter's character sometimes gets on my nerves.
  • Mad Men starts July 27! AMC ran a marathon on Sunday. I didn't record the whole thing, but recorded the last three episodes so I can have a refresher before the show starts again. This is definitely one of the best shows out there. As my friend, Jeanene, says, it's addictive!
  • Saw Mamma Mia! over the weekend. Eh. The casting was bad--Pierce Brosnan had no business in this movie. He's nice to look at, but not when he's straining to sing a duet with Meryl Streep. Meryl seemed to be having fun. I enjoyed much of the music, but I'd really recommend waiting for video on this one.
  • Speaking of Meryl Streep, I watched Sophie's Choice over the weekend. One word: wow.
  • Also watched North by Northwest - Cary Grant was so yummy. I really enjoyed it.
  • Now in the middle of Raging Bull.
I guess that's it for the weekend round-up. Looking forward to seeing who's paired with whom on SYTYCD tonight tomorrow. UPDATE: I always get the nights confused with American Idol's schedule. Every Tuesday I turn on the TV and wonder where my show is. Hopefully I'll get over this by the time the season ends.


SYTYCD - Down to 8

So, Gev & Kherington are gone. Kherington I'm okay with. Gev, I'm not. As my friend Erika pointed out in the comments to the previous post, Gev's solos were so much better than Mark's this week. It really should've been Mark to go. My prediction about Comfort making it through panned out, but we'll see what happens next week. I just don't think she's as talented as Katee, Courtney and Chelsie. I'm SO excited that Will, Joshua & Twitch are in the top 4. After we hopefully get rid of Mark next week, they'll be the best top 3 guys the show's ever had, and it will be hard to say goodbye to any of them. The Top 4 for the whole show should be Will, Josh, Twitch & Katee. IMO, of course.


SYTYCD - Top 9 + 1 perform

Wow--so much happened on last night's show, and I forgot to bring my notes with me, so I'll just make a few observations:

1. Jessica is out, Comfort is in. At the beginning of the show, Jessica came out to announce she has some broken ribs and is going to be out for four weeks (it sounds like she'll still tour with the Top 10 though). Nigel said they felt it was fair to bring back the last girl who had been voted off, and that's Comfort. If she survives this week, I wonder if she'll be able to tour with the Top 10?

2. Kherington and Mark's pairing wasn't good. Their first dance, a country two-step, was HORRIBLE. The worst I've seen probably since season one. Their connections weren't there--it always looked like Mark was waiting for Kherington's hand to arrive. The two also couldn't muster any chemistry, which was very apparent in their second dance--a jazz routine. I thought they danced it well, but I was bored. The judges seemed to agree.

3. Gev can do anything. I forget that he's a B-Boy sometimes. Even though he's not perfect at other genres, he goes head first into them, and I thought he did a great job with the contemporary & the Jive. His solo was a lot of fun to watch--he bounces around and drops to the floor like he doesn't have any bones in his body. BTW, his partner this week was Chelsie, who's a little ball of fire. She's got the most energy of anyone on the show.

4. Anyway, Comfort danced with Twitch, who I love more and more every week, if that's possible. Their first dance a waltz, which was just eh. I think Twitch did better than Comfort did. Their second dance was a Hip-Hop routine choreographed by Dave Scott (Erika, it was great to see a different choreographer, right?) and I thought they knocked it out of the park. It was fun to watch, and I felt Comfort's dancing came close to matching Twitch's. (I won't say she matched him completely, because she didn't...but, she came close.) I think this routine might save her this week. (This week, eliminations are based solely on America's phone calls. I think Kherington and Mark might be in trouble.)

5. Will and Katee--A FANTASTIC PAIRING. I think they're the most talented and versatile guy & girl. Their first routine was Broadway and their second was a Pas de Deux, a first for the series. That Pas de Deux was wonderful. Mary Murphy called it exquisite. It was SO powerful and we got to see Will without a shirt again, which was just fine with me*. Except for one little mistake they made, I think this could've been a professional performance shown at the Kennedy Center. Just wonderful--my favorite of the night.

6. I still love Joshua too. He danced with Courntey this week, first a hip-hop routine, and then a rhumba. The hip-hop was cute, but woo-hoo! That rhumba was SEXY!!! Joshua & Courtney looked like they'd been dancing that style forever. I loved it!

Each dancer also performed a solo (I told you it was a busy show!) Will blew me away with his solo last week. I thought it was the best I'd ever seen on this show. He didn't disappoint last night either. I also enjoyed Twitch & Joshua's solos. Those guys are great at what they do.

After all that, my favorite routines were:

1. Will/Katee - Pas de Deux
2. Joshua/Courtney - Rhumba
3. Twitch/Comfort - Hip-Hop

Least favorties:
1. Mark/Kherington - Country Two-Step
2. Mark/Kherington - Jazz
3. Twitch/Comfort - Waltz

*Last night I was talking to my mom about Will and his amazing physique. I told her that I wasn't sure how old he is, but I hope he's in his 20's, because otherwise, I'd feel a little skeevy. (Good news: he's 21!) Then I had a flashback to the early 80's when we were at one of my sister's swim meets. One of the 18-year-old swimmers from another team walked by and my mom commented about how good looking he was--she probably commented on his physique because swimmers have great backs. Anyway, I was grossed out (I was 10 or 11) and told her "Mom, he's too young for you!" She replied, "I can still look." As we were talking, I realized that I'm now about the same age she was then (I'm 37), and am drooling over a 21-year-old on TV. My mom said something about the cycle continuing. UGH.


Why I Love Tivo

I discovered recently that Tivo has a feature that will record all movies on AFI'S 100 Years...100 Movies - 10th Anniversary Edition whenever they're on, whatever channel. So far I've seen The Best Years of Our Lives (#37) and half of Sophie's Choice (#91). That means I've seen 59/100 of the top 100 flicks. A Night at the Opera (#85), North by Northwest (#55), The Grapes of Wrath (#23), and Swing Time (#90) are in the queue. As long as the movies are on cable channels with no commercials, I'll watch 'em. Slowly but surely I'll whittle down my list of need-to-sees.

In case you're wondering, here's the rest of the list. Similar to what I did with the Entertainment Weekly list recently, movies I've seen are in bold text (if I've only seen part of the movie, I didn't count it):

  1. Citizen Kane (1941)
  2. The Godfather (1972)
  3. Casablanca (1942)
  4. Raging Bull (1980)
  5. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
  6. Gone with the Wind (1939)
  7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  8. Schlindler's List (1993)
  9. Vertigo (1958)
  10. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  11. City Lights (1931)
  12. The Searchers (1956)
  13. Star Wars (1977)
  14. Psycho (1960)
  15. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  16. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
  17. The Graduate (1967)
  18. The General (1927)
  19. On the Waterfront (1954)
  20. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  21. Chinatown (1974)
  22. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  23. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  24. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  25. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  27. High Noon (1952)
  28. All About Eve (1950)
  29. Double Indemnity (1944)
  30. Apocalypse Now (1979)
  31. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  32. The Godfather Part II (1974)
  33. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
  34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  35. Annie Hall (1977)
  36. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
  39. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
  40. The Sound of Music (1965)
  41. King Kong (1933)
  42. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  43. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  44. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  45. Shane (1953)
  46. It Happened One Night (1934)
  47. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  48. Rear Window (1954)
  49. Intolerance (1916)
  50. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  51. West Side Story (1961)
  52. Taxi Driver (1976)
  53. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  54. M*A*S*H (1970)
  55. North by Northwest (1959)
  56. Jaws (1975)
  57. Rocky (1976)
  58. The Gold Rush (1925)
  59. Nashville (1975)
  60. Duck Soup (1933)
  61. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
  62. American Graffiti (1973)
  63. Cabaret (1972)
  64. Network (1976)
  65. The African Queen (1951)
  66. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
  68. Unforgiven (1992)
  69. Tootsie (1982)
  70. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  71. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  72. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  74. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  75. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  76. Forrest Gump (1994)
  77. All the President's Men (1976)
  78. Modern Times (1936)
  79. The Wild Bunch (1969)
  80. The Apartment (1960)
  81. Spartacus (1960)
  82. Sunrise (1927)
  83. Titanic (1997)
  84. Easy Rider (1969)
  85. A Night at the Opera (1935)
  86. Platoon (1986)
  87. 12 Angry Men (1957)
  88. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
  89. The Sixth Sense (1999)
  90. Swing Time (1936)
  91. Sophie's Choice (1982)
  92. Goodfellas (1990)
  93. The French Connection (1971)
  94. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  95. The Last Picture Show (1971)
  96. Do the Right Thing (1989)
  97. Blade Runner (1982)
  98. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
  99. Toy Story (1995)
  100. Ben-Hur (1959)


What to rent, what to rent?

The Bank Job comes out on DVD today. Add this to your Netflix list immediately.

I LOVED this movie--one of my faves of the year.



SYTYCD - Top 12

Because I spent three $#*$% hours last evening trying to connect my DVD recorder so it could record, I was unable to see the whole show last night. I saw the last performance of the show live, and then watched the first performances of the six couples on Tivo.

Of the first six performances, the only one I didn't really care for was Thayne & Comfort's hip-hop routine. I agreed with the judges that the couple just didn't show any chemistry. Thayne did better than I thought he would, but it wasn't an exciting performance.

I LOVED Will & Jessica's contemporary performance--Mary Murphy said she was blushing--I think I was too! It was so sensual & intense. Will and Jessica were wonderful. I also liked Chelsie & Mark's salsa and Gev & Courtney's cha-cha (choreographed by last season's Pasha & Anya--it was great to see them).

Now, there are five performances I still haven't seen, but my thinking is that, hands down, Josh & Katee's Bollywood routine was the best of the night. It was FANTASTIC!!! My knees hurt watching all the stress they put on theirs. The routine was different and exciting, and it was a treat to see something new on the show.

I think Thayne & Comfort should go home this evening. The other 10 dancers are wonderful and deserve to be in the Top 10. I don't think Thayne & Comfort will be able to create that chemistry that the other couples have, and the two of them have been in the bottom three a LOT. Time for them to go.

About that DVD Recorder: I've had it set up to use as a DVD player for the last several months, but never took the final steps to fully connect it until now. Now it's necessary because I've got 12 episodes of SYTYCD on Tivo that I need to save to DVD for my sister, who was out of the country and missed the beginning of the show. The shows are taking too much room. Anyway, I probably spent a total of six hours over two days to get the connection correct. I kept searching online for help, but couldn't find any, until, a Google search lead me to a photo on Flickr.com of a couple's home theater--they had the same equipment (and more) as me, so I sent an email asking how they have it connected. Thankfully, the lady of the house wrote me back right away, and of course, the hookup was SO simple. I should've been able to figure it out on my own. Oh well. Anyway, my Flickr friend was terrific, and she takes great photos. I'm glad I found that home theater picture.

The whole ordeal reminded me of my college days as a computer science major. I'd spend a few hours in my dorm writing a program. I'd traipse across campus to the computer lab, type it in, and it wouldn't work. I'd then spend another few hours trying to figure out why not, and usually, it came down to the fact that I'd missed a colon somewhere. UGH!! That's why I dropped the computer science major.