12.30.2009

Book number 18

The Late Bloomer's Revolution The Late Bloomer's Revolution by Amy Cohen


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Just finished my 18th book of the 2009, The Late Bloomer's Revolution by Amy Cohen. I'd like to read more next year. To do that, I really need to pull myself away from the computer and the TV. They're taking over my life! Now, I'm not making any New Year's resolutions, per sé, just mulling this over in my mind. I have a friend in Georgia who I'd guess averages at least 3 books a month. (Jeanene, do I have that right?) ;o) Not sure I can swing that, but maybe I could manage two/month.

Anyway, about the book. I'd really like to give this 3.5 stars if I could, but Goodreads.com only lets you rate books in full number increments. I enjoyed this memoir by Amy Cohen, a single woman in her mid-thirties trying to find herself after a bad break-up and the death of her mom. I really related to Ms. Cohen and found some hope for myself in her story. I didn't give it a full four stars, or five, because toward the end, it seems like the the author got to a point where she gave up and said, "I need to finish this now." I feel like a couple of chapters in between were missing and the ending felt rushed. Still, I did enjoy it and would recommend it to those who like to laugh while they're reading, yet still be moved by poignant moments. It's a sweet book.



In other news....

I've seen several movies this past week. On Christmas Day, my family and I went to see Up in the Air with George Clooney. Man, he just gets better and better looking! We all enjoyed the movie a lot. Not the ending I was expecting, and that's why I liked it all the more. In the movie, George Clooney's character works for a company who is hired by other companies to come in and fire people. I remember hearing an interview with the director, Jason Reitman, where he mentioned a lot of the extras in the film were folks who'd been recently laid off work. The reactions of these people in the film were so heartbreaking. I found this bit of info from Wikipedia:
While shooting the film in St. Louis and Detroit, Reitman placed an ad in the paper asking if people who recently lost their job wanted to be in a documentary about job loss. He specified documentary in the ad so actors who wanted to be in the production would not answer the ad. Reitman was amazed by how many people of different age, race, and gender were willing to speak frankly about what happened and what a cathartic experience it was for these people. They received a startling amount of responses with 100 responses, 60 people on camera (30 in Detroit and 30 in St. Louis and 22 who made it into the film. They interviewed them for about ten minutes on what it is like to lose their job in this kind of economy and after that they would actually fire them on camera and ask them to either respond the way they did the day they lost their job or if they preferred, the way they wished they had responded.
Wow.

Also cool: Jason Reitman received a demo tape from someone who'd been laid off and wrote a song about his troubles. The songwriter/singer offered the song for use in the movie, and Reitman did use it during the closing credits.



On Sunday, my sister and I went to see "It's Complicated." I loved the performances of Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin and especially John Krasinski, but there were certain scenes that were over the top and unnecessary--these sort of dragged the story a bit. (For those who've seen it, I'm thinking right now about the kids' reaction to their mom and dad's big news, as well as some of the scenes with the girlfriends. Too much.) I think Meryl Streep's nomination for best actress in a musical or comedy for the Golden Globes is well-deserved (though, if she wins, it should be for Julie and Julia), but the nomination for Best Motion Picture--Musical or Comedy and Best Screenplay are a bit off. (By the way, my pick for winner in the Musical/Comedy category is (500) Days of Summer. The other three nominees in this category are Nine, The Hangover, and Julie and Julia. Too bad Julie and Julia wasn't just about Julia Child--that half movie could've won a best movie award, but as a whole? I don't think so.)

I also finally saw Up! on DVD. Simply delightful! Also watched Paper Heart, which was a lot of fun. I've just adored Michael Cera since his Arrested Development days, and he didn't disappoint.



And last but not least, tonight I watched the 32nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors. The honorees were jazz musician Dave Brubeck, Robert DeNiro, Mel Brooks, Bruce Springsteen and opera singer Grace Bumbry. Sting--whose beard and outfit made him look like he might set off to fight in the Civil War after the show--along with an enormous choir, closed the show with Bruce's The Rising. All the people in the Kennedy Center, including the Obamas, were on their feet singing, clapping and dancing. It was a terrific, rousing ending to a great show.

12.21.2009

Still don't like him.

I'm talking about David Archuleta.

He's on Hota & Kathie Lee and while I'm sure he's a nice kid, he's still as goofy as ever. He's promoting his Christmas album.

Look! It comes with a little elf on the cover:



I'm sorry--that probably isn't in the Christmas spirit, but I couldn't help it. :o)

12.16.2009

Yes!

Russell won SYTYCD! I'm so happy for him! The whole show went just as it should. The rundown was:

6th place - Ryan
5th - Ashleigh
4th - Ellenor
3rd - Kathryn
2nd - Jakob
1st - RUSSELL!!!

That was a perfect ending.

In other news, I'm so sick, sick, sick of hearing about Tiger Woods. Instead of talking about that, I thought I'd mention a couple of other stories I heard on the news recently.

This morning I heard about a four-year-old who decided to give away his Christmas toys to kids at a hospital. The little boy was born at that hospital and spent time in there due to health complications. Apparently when he saw pictures of himself in the hospital, he decided he wanted to help out the kids who are still there. Ummm...yeah, the news brought a tear to my eye at 6am this morning. How sweet is that? We need more kids like that.

I also heard a heartbreaking story about a little girl and her dog. Someone stole her dog out of the yard. The little girl wrote a letter to Santa saying all she wants is for him to find her dog. Jeez. The girl's grandmother didn't have the heart to tell the little girl that her request might be outside of Santa's scope. THANKFULLY, someone turned the dog in to the police department and the family and dog have been reunited. Yay Santa!

And today there's a story about a young woman who was abandoned on a doorstep as an infant. Two teenagers found her and got help. The baby was adopted and 20 years later, she found her rescuers on Facebook and sent a note to thank them. Nice, heart-warming story.

Finally, a couple of laughs. I usually fast-forward through commercials, but I have caught several funny holiday commercials this year. To wit:


The kid on the couch cracks me up, and I think what I really love about this commercial is that it's something we'd totally do to my dad.



Oops!

Better late than never

I'm just now watching last night's performance finale of So You Think You Can Dance. More specifically, I just finished watching Kathryn and Jakob's performance to Michael Bublé's version of "At This Moment." It seems each season there's a performance or two that brings tears to my eyes, and this season, on the second to last show, it finally happened. What a fabulous, passionate, beautiful performance. It left me breathless.

Hmmm...interesting. I just went to YouTube to see if I could find the video to post. There's a nasty message that says "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Dick Clark Productions, Inc." Okay, that's fine, but why can I find other performances from last night. I guess the Kathryn/Jakob performance probably got too many hits and the attention caught the spying eyes at Dick Clark Productions. Oh well. I'll keep looking for it over the next several days. Fox really ought to put the performances onto the SYTYCD website.

In a few minutes, I'll start watching tonight's finale show, already in progress...

12.09.2009

SYTYCD - ***SPOILER***

arrrrggghhhh....

I am SO friggin' annoyed that Ryan and Ashleigh made it to the SYTYCD finale. I think America gave them the sympathy vote.

Ashleigh couldn't dance last night because during rehearsals, her shoulder had come out of the socket. Despite that, they gave her a phone number and told America they can still vote for Ashleigh based on her work the entire season. I didn't, and wouldn't, vote for her because I've never liked her--not since auditions.

Then, later in the show when Cat was giving out Ryan's phone number, he interrupted and made a tearful and emotional plea for people to please call and vote for his wife. That was sweet, but...my cynical side can't help but think that Ryan knew exactly what he was doing and America's votes fell right into his and his wife's hands.

Mollee was FANTASTIC last night, and I just don't think it's quite fair that she's out of the finale and someone who didn't even dance is in.

In addition, I'm really pissed that Ryan kept my man Legacy out of the finale. Legacy is SOOOOO much more dynamic (and my god, have you seen him shirtless?!).

Oh well, as usual, America f'd it up. I'm not surprised really. It's completely typical.

So, in the finale we have Russell (yay!), Ellenor (yay!), Jakob (yay!), Kathryn (yay!), Ryan (boo!) and Ashleigh (boo!). Deep in my heart, I'm pulling for Russell who, seemingly, can do anything. I think Jakob is the best technical dancer and I love him too. After that I'll be happy with anyone except Ashleigh or Ryan winning.

Interesting that the finale has the Top 6 versus the Top 4 as in previous seasons. Looking forward to see what else they're changing.

Just a spoonful of sugar...

Heaping Spoonful Heaping Spoonful by Shauna Glenn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I stumbled upon Shauna Glenn's blog recently and find her to be really funny, so I was excited to read her first book. It's a quick and easy read, and I liked the main character, Claire, quite a bit. There were a few plot points that changed a bit abruptly for my liking, but beyond that it was a fun book, which seems strange to say considering it's about a woman surviving after her husband has passed away. I'm anxious to try some of the recipes that were included and I also enjoyed the short stories at the end. I look forward to whatever Ms. Glenn comes out with next.

12.05.2009

iPod Top 25 - December 2009 edition

Here I go again, posting my top 25 played on the iPod. Last time I did this was in February 2009, and judging from the list, I need to get in a bit more variety. I placed the Top 10 in a playlist in the sidebar.

  1. Imma Be - Black Eyed Peas
  2. Meet Me Halfway - BEPs
  3. Alive - BEPs
  4. Just Fine - Mary J. Blige (I just LOVE this song. And anytime I hear it, I can't help but think of her performance on the Today Show and David Gregory getting his groove on.)
  5. I Gotta Feeling - BEPs
  6. Don't Stop the Music - Rihanna
  7. Boom Boom Pow - BEPs
  8. Rock that Body - BEPs
  9. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson
  10. Missing You - BEPs
  11. Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis
  12. Forever - Chris Brown (I really should delete this. I feel like a hypocrite since I deleted Kanye West after the MTV incident. What Chris Brown was so much worse. OK. I talked myself into it. I'll delete it.)
  13. Umbrella - Rihanna
  14. Ring-A-Ling - BEPs
  15. Give It Away - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  16. Can't Stop - RHCPs
  17. Ramalama (Bang Bang) - Roisin Murphy (remember this from SYTYCD? Still one of my faves of all time.)
  18. Crazy in Love - Beyoncé
  19. 1+1+1 Is 3 - Prince
  20. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5
  21. California Love - 2Pac, Dr. Dre and Roger
  22. If I Can't Have You (American Idol) - Adam Lambert (this was my favorite performance of Adam's when he was on the show. The studio-recorded version that's on my iPod is even better.)
  23. My Humps - BEPs
  24. Party All the Time - BEPs
  25. Like a Star - Corinne Bailey Rae
OK, so I listened to the Black Eyed Peas CD almost non-stop for a month (or two) over the summer. Most of the other songs are from a playlist I created to listen to while on the elliptical at the gym. I must have music to get me moving while I'm there. I find the cardio machines SOOOO boring. I guess I've been listening to that pretty regularly. Tonight I'll reset the iPod and we'll do this all again some time in the future.

11.28.2009

Weekend doings

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I had a quiet day with my parents and sister. We did a potluck at my house. Mom and Dad brought the bird and gravy (and excellent potato rolls that my mom makes each year). One year I'll tackle a bird, but I didn't feel ready yet this year.

I'm sure I've mentioned before that every Thanksgiving I watch Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr., and Pieces of April with Katie Holmes & Patricia Clarkson. These are two great Thanksgiving movies following dysfunctional families. Watching these makes me realize how grateful I am to have a "normal" family. We don't argue with each other--well, my sister and I might have a tiff here and there, but they usually don't last long--and we genuinely get along with each other. I know I'm lucky and this is probably not the norm. It's nice.

On Saturday, I finally went to see Precious. As most critics have said, the performances in this movie were fantastic. The movie has some difficult themes, but I didn't find it as difficult to watch as I did to read the book it's based on, Push by Sapphire. ***I don't think this is a spoiler, but I'm giving heads up that I'm about to talk about the plot. The book goes into much more graphic detail of the abuse Precious falls victim too. That's the hard part. On the other hand, it also goes into much more detail about her journey in school and beyond, so in the book, I felt a little more connected to Precious and what she was doing. I guess she felt more like a real person as I was reading the book, and more a character when I saw the movie.End possible spoiler.***

On a happier note, I'm still loving the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys performance from the American Music Awards last week. My sister and I showed it to my parents on Thanksgiving and my dad immediately said, "Play that again." He had the same reaction I did--he really enjoyed the shots of the audience. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. The lead singer from Green Day looks a little perplexed, though. My sister said that maybe he was contemplating a joint venture with Jay-Z. Umm...doubtful, but sure, let's go with that. I love the arrangement and all the pianos on stage. Nicely done. Anyway, here it is in case you missed it:

11.23.2009

American Music Awards Round Up

The AMAs were on last night. I thought about doing a blow-by-blow post, but I watched Amazing Race, instead (go Globetrotters!), and then caught up on the AMAs on Tivo. This is a great way to watch becasue you can fast forward through what you don't want to see (Perez Hilton, or Taylor Swift's 4th acceptance speech) and watch and rewatch and rewatch what you DO want to see (Jay-Z and Alicia Keys performance of "Empire State of Mind.") Oh, and did J-Lo fall?! Yep, she sure did! Thanks Instant Replay!

So, as I hinted above, my favorite performance was Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. My sister has been singing, "New York...New York...New York" for a couple of weeks now, but somehow, her version just didn't do it for me. The live version on the AMAs was fantastic.

I also enjoyed Janet Jackson's lip-synced intro, Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, and though I didn't care much for the song she sang, it was great to see Whitney Houston back in the limelight. She looked amazing in her slinky white dress.

There wasn't anything I particularly hated. Lady Gaga and Eminem didn't do much for me, but I also didn't fast forward through them. I even enjoyed Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, and I am the furthest thing from a country fan that you'll ever find.

And THEN we get to Adam Lambert. I was shocked at his performance last night which involved S&M costumes, simulated oral sex and a male-male kiss. But, I wasn't shocked in a "eww, that's gross" kind of way--I was more shocked in a "oh my god, i can't believe he did that!" kind of way. I think there's a difference. In other words, I wasn't disgusted like many people on Twitter seemed to be, but I was surprised. And highly amused. I also watched this one a couple of times.

I read on RollingStone.com that there was discussion on whether any of Adam's performance would be censored for the West Coast viewing. I think Adam made a very valid point in that he didn't do anything different than what Madonna or Britney have done in the past, and they weren't censored. Touché. For what it's worth, it seems the West Coast got to see the kiss, but not the simulated oral sex. I guess that's a fair compromise. It was pretty raunchy after all. [Oohh...just read on RS that the West Coast also didn't get to see J-Lo's fall...intersting!]

In other news, am I the only person watching the show Trauma on NBC? I watch this show, and I *think* I enjoy it, but honestly, I sometimes feel it's going to put me into some sort of trauma.

The show is about an ambulance rescue squad in San Francisco. Any time the scene cuts to new characters you haven't seen before, you know that something HORRIBLE is about to happen to them. The anticiaption of this trauma makes my heart beat faster. It's like hearing the ominous music in a horror film.

Last week, they showed a group of co-eds playing softball. The male pitcher was taunting the female batter, who wasn't very good. She got two strikes, and then the guy taunted her even more--he was really obnoxious. He pitches the ball, she slams it straight to his forehead! Another time, a kid and his mom were at a flea market. They separated while the kid looked at one stand, and the mom looked at another. Suddenly, a car comes ploughing through--kid is spared, mom is seriously injured. Oh! And one time, a guy was arguing with a contractor about work being done on his house. They were both standing on scaffolding, and suddenly the homeowner loses his balance, falls 10-15 feet to the ground. He lands on his back and with some sort of metal pole piercing his chest. Man--that one was really bad.

Anyway, I know this is done up for TV, but I can only imagine what rescue squads really see on a day-to-day basis. I don't think know I couldn't handle it. I really like one of the main characters "Rabbit" -- he's a helicopter rescuer who's a rebel, yet has a good heart. I also like the comraderie between Derek Luke's character and his partner who is played by the guy from Friday Night Lights who was in the wheelchair and became friends/roommates with the injured quarterback. (Apparently, I can't be bothered today to look these things up--sorry about that!)

And finally, the Curb Your Enthusiasm season finale was on last night. In case you hadn't heard, the cast of Seinfeld was featured this season. The storyline was that they were back together to film a reunion show to make up for the bad series ending. It was well done and fun to see that group together again. Try to catch it (and last week's show, if you can) on HBO's On Demand.

Ciao for now.

11.20.2009

Liberty and justice for all.

I'm pretty impressed with this kid.

If I were still in school, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the guts to take such a stance. I agree with this kid 100%. I like his dad too.



I am NOT impressed with the interviewer who actually asked the question, "What is a 'gay-wad'?" Good grief.

11.12.2009

More excuses

Seems like every time I'm posting something, I have to first apologize for the length of time between posts. Sorry! This time my excuse is that my mom, sister and I threw a surprise birthday party for my dad last Saturday for his 70th birthday. I was consumed with preparation for that for two weeks before, and during this week since, I've been catching up on Tivo so I'll have something to post about. In any case, I'm thrilled to report that the party was a HUGE success. Whew--what a relief!

I'm two weeks behind on SYTYCD and you know what? I don't really care. My sister and I were talking about how it's just too soon for another season, and we've both considered dropping it. BUT...I was impressed with the talent of the top 20 and do want to see how they do. I'll catch up this weekend.

Glee and Modern Family are still my favorite new shows, and I'll probably add White Collar to that list, which is on USA and is a lot of fun.

Mad Men's season finale was fantastic. It's like they ended a chapter and will be starting a brand new chapter next season.

I'm off work tomorrow and am going to see Precious. I was also off today and wanted to see it, but it turns out it's not opening in the DC area until tomorrow. Oh well. I'm really looking forward to it.

Not much else to report. I'll get back to SYTYCD after I catch up this weekend.

10.30.2009

Must See TV

ABC's Modern Family.

To wit:


Stevie Wonder!

Wednesdays at 9pm eastern.

10.27.2009

SYTYCD

Tonight's the first night of competition and due to the World Series starting tomorrow, the judges will eliminate one guy and one girl tonight. America won't have the opportunity to chime in, and there will be no results show this week.

Nigel said he's still trying to get Paula Abdul on the show. He said she can judge, she can dance, or she can choreograph--it's up to her. She has an open invitation.

Sounds like it's been a rough week on SYTYCD. Nigel mentioned that Billy Bell became ill this week, and he won't be returning to the show this season. That's such a shame because Billy is SO talented--I was looking forward to seeing him perform. Brandon Dumlao will join the cast in Billy's place. I don't remember who he is from the auditions. In addition, Noelle injured her knee and isn't dancing tonight. So, what does that mean for the pairs, I wonder? Oh, I should've listened further...Melanie, the choreographer, will stand in for her.

The first couple is Channing and Phillip, dancing jive choreographed by Jason Gilkison. "Rockin' Robin" by The Jackson 5. Cute routine. I think Phillip danced a little better than Channing who looked like she might be counting in her head a couple times. What do I know? Adam Shankman said she was lovely. Mary said "not bad." She also said Phillip got lazy as it went on. Nigel said Channing needed more bounce, both needed more sharpness in their "flick kicks" and that they need to build up on their chemistry.

Ashleigh and Jakob - "sultry" Broadway by Tyce Diorio. "Hit Me With a Hot Note (And Watch Me Bounce)" - Sophisticated Ladies (original soundtrack). Jakob is amazing! His jumps and leaps are outstanding--he had all the tricks in the routine. Ashleigh didn't have much to do. Adam complimented Tyce on the smart choreography, and told Ashleigh it's going to be tough working with Jakob because Jakob will hit it every time. Mary loved it. Nigel went on and on about how talented Jakob is--said he and Billy Bell are two of the most talented dancers he's ever seen. Nigel thinks Jakob will take Ashleigh far along too.

Ariana and Peter - hip-hop by Tabitha and Napoleon. They'll be playing androids with no emotion, who, for some reason when they get next to each other...bow chicka bow wow (as Tabitha put it). "Black & Gold" by Sam Sparro. She's a contemporary dancer, he's a tapper. That was a cute routine. Once again, I think the guy was a little stronger than the gal. Adam says they weren't dancing like each other. He said there wasn't enough tension, action and reaction. Adam said, "I want you to focus on the similarity of your musicality.....Ooh, I sounded like Lil C!" Haha! Mary thought the middle got a little sloppy. Nigel thought Peter got closer to the style than Ariana did--or in other words, Nigel agreed with me!

Noelle & Russell (but not really Noelle since she's sitting this one out) - Fox trot by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin (who's dancing tonight). Wow...the pressure is on for Russell the Krumper! "Vagabond Shoes" by Vic Damone. I thought he was fantastic! I love the way he moves. He did a kick where his knee came to his nose. Adam said Russell continues to defy explanation. He said Russell had grace and elegance and style and smoothness--nothing seen in krumping. Adam also called it FANTASTIC! Mary said he has an "it" factor. Nigel said he's living proof about why we need to let kids experience dance in school. Mary & Nigel mentioned some things in his technique that could use some work, but both thought he did really well.

Bianca and Victor - contemporary by Travis Wall. (Travis!) "Wasted Time" by Me'Shell Ndegeocello. WOW...these two have chemistry. You can see it even though Victor's character is supposed to be ignoring Bianca most of the dance. Great performance from both of them. Adam gave props to Travis' choreography. Amen to that. He gave Bianca some tips to relax her shoulders and point her feet. He said Victor was a revelation. Mary thought Bianca conquered the style--she loved the passion and chemistry between her and Victor which was "off the charts." Nigel said it was the most connected performance between partners that we've seen tonight. Once again, the judges agree with me. (haha!)

Karen and Kevin - cha cha by Tony Meredtih and Melanie Lapatin. (Melanie was busy this week!) Karen's a Latin dancer, so she should do well. Kevin's a hip hop dancer. Now this is interesting--the song is Salt 'n' Pepa's "Push It" performed by the Glee cast. (Glee!) Not a lot of footwork from Kevin. In fact, I don't see much cha-cha'ing from either of them. Karen did a lot of hip shaking and sexy gyrating, but there wasn't much to it. Adam was all hot and bothered from Karen's performance, and he said, "for those who know me, that's not really my thing...." Mary said Karen was sharp, rhythmical, and sexy--like cha-cha should be. She said Kevin was rhythmical and sexy--needs to be a little sharper. Nigel felt Kevin danced it very well, and that Karen was a vision.

Ellenore and Ryan - contemporary from Sonya. They'll be playing two angelic creatures--one dark, overbearing (Ryan) and one pure, submissive, and he's trying to take over. "Aracdia" by Apparat. Wow...very powerful. They did so many lifts and were connected the whole time. Ryan's so strong and they had good chemistry. Adam said they just became the most exciting dancers on the show. Mary loved the chemistry between them. Nigel agreed. Said Ryan took him by surprise.

Pauline and Brandon (replacing Billy Bell) - smooth waltz, Jason Gilkison. Uh-oh...these are often trouble for the dancers. Especially when America is voting--hopefully it won't hurt them since it's the judges making the decision tonight. "You Light Up My Life" by Whitney Houston. Another good pairing...they look in love and like they light up each others lives. Oh, that was beautiful. Wow...Brandon just came on board a day and a half ago. Adam said Brandon needs to open up his upper body more in contemporary and ballroom. He loved Pauline's smile up at Brandon at one point that showed their strong chemistry. Mary said Pauline was elegant and beautiful and agreed with Adam about Brandon. Nigel said it was beautifully done, but technically, it wasn't strong enough. He felt Pauline didn't have enough extension. Sounded like he was laying the groundwork to let at least one of these two go.

Kathryn and Legacy - hip hop by Dave Scott. (I love Dave Scott--I think he's cute.) Anyway, it's supposed to be a humorous piece--we'll see. "On & On" by Missy Elliott. It was cute-- I thought they were both good. I like watching Legacy. Adam said it was hot and that their chemistry is fantastic. He thinks they can learn from each other. Mary screamed and screamed. In other words, she liked it. Nigel said Legacy brought it to life. And Kathryn's musicality brought it together too. He's looking forward to seeing this partnership develop across the season.

Mollee and Nathan - disco by Doriana Sanchez - "Turn the Beat Around (Pablo's 12" Remix) by Gloria Estefan. Looking forward to this--you know I love me some disco! MAN. That was HIGH ENERGY. Disco suited them very well. Adam complimented them on being the most adorable couple, and even though he's not a big fan of disco, he was a big fan of this number. Mary said it was really hard and these two pulled it off. She said the charisma is off the charts. Nigel said these two bring the fun to the competition.

After this two guys and two girls will have to perform solos, and then one of each will be cut. I'm guessing Ariana/Peter and Pauline/Brandon. Then, they'll cut Ariana and Brandon.

OK: decision time. Nigel says they're judging on everything they know since they've been in the competition, not just tonight's performances. They are:

Ariana
Brandon
Pauline
Russell

Russell?!?!?! WTF. (Maybe they just want to see him Krump again....) I predicted 3/4 correctly though.

Ariana's first -- "Darkest Hour" by Charlotte Martin. She looked a little desperate, but then again, she IS desperate. She's very talented though.

Russell -- "Give the Drummer Sum" by Black Milk. He is just exciting to watch. Great performance.

Pauline -- "Magalenha" by Sergio Mendes. (I like this song a lot!) I don't think her performance was as strong as Ariana's.

Brandon -- "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" by John Mayer. Interesting song choice for a hip-hop dancer. Unfortunately, I don't think it allowed him to really showcase what he can do.

I think we'll be saying goodbye to Brandon and Pauline. (It's that damn waltz, I tell you.)

The judges have made their decision. For the girls, the judges were unanimous. He reassures the girls that they are amazing dancers. Pauline dances with charisma, but needs more passion. Ariana is going home. Dang...I was wrong. They said she's a strong dancer, but needs more charisma. He said she's a remarkable dancer.

For the guys: again, the judges were unanimous. They urge Russell to keep dancing and learning other styles. Brandon will be leaving us--Nigel said he's there due to an unfortunate sequence of events--he wasn't originally in the top 20 because he still needs to grow. The rules of the show say that once you've been on the show, you can't compete in the future--Nigel's going to talk to the producers to see if they can allow him to come back next year.

The show will be back next Tuesday. See you then. (Unless I come up with anything to blog about in the meantime...)

Push by Sapphire

Push: A Novel Push: A Novel by Sapphire


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wow. Reading this was emotionally draining. There where several times where I found myself exhaling loudly as if I'd been holding my breath. (Mabye I was.) My eyes welled up at least three times. The story is about Claireece Precious Jones, a 16-year-old in 9th grade, about to have her 2nd baby. She's the victim of abuse, doesn't know how to read, and finds herself in an alternative school after she's kicked out of public school due to her pregnancy. The scenes of abuse were very difficult to read, but Precious' hope for a better life is what keeps you going. As the Newsday review says, it's a "horrific, hope-filled story." That says it all.

10.26.2009

Here we go again...

Yes, it's time again to start blogging about So You Think You Can Dance. It's Season 6, and the Top 20 were announced last week. Tonight is the first real introduction to them.

Cat Deely introduces the judges--Nigel, Mary and new permanent judge Adam Shankman. There's an empty chair next to Nigel for a guest judge whenever she's available. Nigel turns the chair around and it says "Paula Abdul." We'll see if she ever makes it on the show.

Tonight's show is just an exposition--no voting tonight. We'll see the dancers showcased in their own styles. That's cool.

Wade Robson choreographed the first performance to "Comanche" by The Revels. The dance takes place in a 1920s speakeasy. The whole group looks fantastic. Very impressive first dance.

Next up is a Tabitha & Napoleon routine performed by the season's hip hop dancers: Russell Ferguson (the Krumper), Kevin Hunte, and Jonathon Perez who goes by "Legacy." They dance to "Beggin' (District 78 Remix)" Madcon. These guys are awesome! Lotta cool tricks in that choregraphy.

The first set of contemporary dancers is up next to perform a routine by Tyce Diorio. We have: Channing Cooke, Jakob Karr, Ariana Debose, and Nathan Trasoras. The piece will be about how four people personalize sadness. They're performing to "Crying" by K.D. Lang. WOW. It was beautiful. The athleticism of the four of them was amazing, and when the judges talk about "beautiful lines," this is what they are talking about. I'm in love wih Nathan Trasoras, who makes it look so easy.

Now it's time for the tappers. They've never had tappers in the top 20 before and now there are three: Peter Sabasino, Bianca Revels, and Phillip Attmore. There's also a new choreographer for the tap routine, Derick K. Grant. "Take the 'A' Train" by Ella Fitzgerald is the song. The three of them look great--they have a lot of personality and look like they're having fun.

Jazz is up next. We have Mollee Gray, Pauline Mata, and Ellenore Scott. Sonya Tayeh is their choreographer. They'll be doing a "sexy" dance to "On A Cloud" by PPP. It was a cute routine, but not my favorite of the night. I really like watching Ellenore dance--she's gorgeous and my eyes were always drawn to her.

Now the second set of contemporary dancers: Victor Smalley, Noelle Marsh, Billy Bell, and Kathryn McCormick. Mandy Moore will be choreographing. "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay. This group's timing was a bit off..they were always slightly off sync. It was all I could do not to fast forward through this--not because of the dancers, but just because I can't stand the song. Still, I loved the guys--they're both very powerful dancers, and Victor is so tall, his legs just stretch to the sky when he kicks up.

Latin dancers are next. Karen Hauer, and married couple Ryan & Ashleigh Di Lello. Jason Gilkison is doing the choreography. "Everything I Can't Have" by Robin Thicke. Great routine...I love watching male Latin dancers. My mom was just asking me if I remember Dmitry because he's on Dancing with the Stars now. I told her--of course--he could shake his hips like nobody's business. Anyway, back to this show--it was a good performance--fun to see the married couple and the other woman. They all played well off each other.

So, we're back tomorrow for the competition. Should be a great season!

10.25.2009

The Wackness - an appropriate title

So, I watched a DVD last night called The Wackness, a coming-of-age story about a drug-dealing high-school grad and his crazy psychologist, played by Ben Kingsley. I'd been led to believe that this movie was a comedy, but instead I found it sad, tragic, depressing and disturbing. Ben Kingsley's character exchanges therapy with the kid for marijuana. At some point, the doc buys a dime bag and says, "Okay, that means you have 45 minutes left to talk." The kid had troubles at home, his family was about to be evicted from their home and his folks fight all the time. He had no adult direction in his life and then he's left with this druggie psychologist to help solve his problems. The movie didn't have a comedic feel or even look--the cinematography was dark, the "humor" was not funny. I watched the DVD extras and all the actors kept talking about how they were drawn to the script because it was so funny. What were they reading?! The only time I chuckled was at a joke where Ben Kingsley asks his step-daughter if he can watch TV with her. She says sure, then he asks her to give a run-down of what's happening on the show so far. She says, "Well...there's been a HUGE misunderstanding, and, um, Mr. Hurley thinks Jack's gay." Ba-dump-bump.

I see this is airing on cable now--maybe HBO or Showtime. (I've had it from Netflix for a while.) I recommend you just keep changing the channels if you come across it. Or, maybe it'd be more interesting if you went into it with realistic expectations. I was expecting funny, didn't get it. If I'd expected drama, maybe I would've connected better. I just don't know.

10.21.2009

Slacking again

Once again, I must come in here and clear out the cobwebs. I just haven't been in the blogging mood lately. (Okay, okay. The truth is that I'm completely addicted to Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook, and I spend too much time playing that game and not getting other stuff done. I also downloaded a game called "Sneezies" on my new iPod touch, and am totally charmed by it. It's by the same people that created Chain Rxn, which is also a good time waster.)

So, what's up?

This week we'll finally find out the top 20 finalists on SYTYCD. I haven't been that into the audition shows this year--there's no point because as soon as you like someone, they're eliminated. I'll start following closely after tonight's show.

I'm LOVING Modern Family on ABC. To paraphrase something someone posted on a washingtonpost.com chat yesterday, it's the funniest thing since Arrested Development, which I really missed after they canceled it.

I'm reading the first of the True Blood books, and am really enjoying it. The first season of True Blood follows the book pretty closely, except, there's no Tara in the book! Lafayette's there, but not Tara. Maybe she turns up later??

I'm also supposed to be reading Les Misérables, but it's v-e-r-y s-l-o-w g-o-i-n-g. I've seen the Broadway musical several times, and as I'm reading the book, I keep wondering when they're going to get to "such and such" song?! This one's going to take a while. My friend Mark is way ahead of me, and I keep asking, so does it get good--so far, he has not answered affirmatively. Hmmm...

The most recent movies I've seen were Drew Barrymore's Whip It and Chris Rock's Good Hair. Really enjoyed them both. I saw Whip It on a Saturday night, and until the lights went down, I was the only person in the theater. Not a good sign for a movie in its second week. I don't know if you've ever been in a movie theater by yourself or not, but it's kind of weird and creepy. While I was sitting there, the music from Psycho started playing! Not helping the creepy feeling. Then just as it reached the shower stabbing scene music (SCREECH, SCREECH, SCREECH, SCREECH) the lights went down and three other girls came in. I must say I was happy to see them.

Lesse. What else? Oh! I'm also enjoying this season's Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Seinfeld cast is reuniting on the show this season and it's been a hoot. The biggest laugh though, came this week when Larry David was dating a woman in a wheelchair and he was trying to get romantic with her. There's as hilarious site gag--try to catch it if you can on HBO.

I've got a couple of knitting projects that I'm getting ready to start--one is an entrelac scarf and the other is a flower washcloth. Both will be challenging, but I look forward to the finished result. (Assuming I do finish....I'm great at starting projects, but then I get bored and move to something else. I'm still working on a scarf I started two years ago.)

10.05.2009

I love clever movies

My sister and I went to see Ricky Gervais' The Invention of Lying yesterday, and really enjoyed it. The premise is that Ricky's character lives in a world where everyone speaks from the heart and right off the top of their heads. No one is able to lie, and anything someone says is accepted as truth. At a restaurant, a waiter delivers a drink to Jennifer Garner's character and says, "I took a sip of this before I brought it to you." She just nods and takes her drink. Anyway, for some unexplained reason, Ricky Gervais develops the ability to lie. Once he realizes it, he starts to use lying to his advantage.

I don't think this gives anything away, but I'll put a SPOILER ALERT here just in case. Something happens in this movie that so clearly demonstrates the purpose of religion. As it was unfolding, I found myself grinning and I wanted to tap my sister and say, "See--that's what I mean!" I'll leave it at that. ***END SPOILER***

I do recommend this one. It's funny and thoughtful. If you like Ricky Gervais, you'll like this.

9.25.2009

TV, TV and more TV

The new TV season has started and Tivo has been busy. New shows I've enjoyed so far are Glee, of course, Modern Family, Cougar Town, and The Good Wife. I'm still watching most of my old shows too, and so far I've enjoyed How I Met Your Mother and The Office, and I thought Grey's Anatomy last night was really good. Intense, but good. Unexpectedly, I found last night's Parks & Recreation to be hilarious.

I'm also watching a show on The Sundance Channel this week called Brick City. It's a documentary produced by Forrest Whitaker that looks at the city of Newark, NJ and how its mayor and police force are working to reduce crime. The Washington Post said it was a real-life The Wire. In the course of watching this show, I have fallen for the mayor, Mr. Cory Booker. He's not only easy on the eyes, but I love how he's gotten involved with his community. He's a great speaker, relates well to kids, comes from a good family, and he's SINGLE.

As an aside....I was at Target yesterday and an older gentleman--probably 60 or so, with thinning hair died jet black (like Gene Simmons), bad teeth, and a weird smell (mothballs and...???)--approached me. He said, "May I please compliment you on your exceptional beauty." I was quite surprised and said, "Oh! Thank you!" He had a thick accent--French? Spanish? I'm not sure. He proceeded to tell me that I'm the type of "voluptuous ebony" that he loves. (Um...okay...) He asked my name, asked if it was spelled with a 'y' or 'ie' and then said "Would Valerie care to join me for a romantic dinner at a French restaurant?" I told him thank you, but no because I'm seeing someone (which I'm not). He said, "He's a lucky, lucky man." Well that was flattering...in a weird, creepy way. Now I just need to figure out how to get Cory Booker to say those things to me....

9.13.2009

Kanye shows his ass AGAIN.

I watched the season finale of "True Blood" at 9pm tonight, while recording the MTV Video Music Awards. (It's been my experience that it's best to record that show so you can fast forward through crap. Also, sometimes stuff happens during the live broadcast that they won't include in future replays of the show.)

After True Blood, I saw that several people were posting on Facebook about what an asshole Kanye West is. I've known that for years, but was curious to see what he did this time that converted other people to my way of thinking. I put on the VMAs and saw Madonna give a very moving tribute to Michael Jackson. It was followed by a fabulous dance tribute featuring the routines from Thriller, Beat It, Smooth Criminal and Scream, which was performed by Janet Jackson. That was wonderful.

Then after a so-so monologue from Russell Brand, they gave the award for Best Female Video to Taylor Swift. She beat Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Katy Perry and Lady Ga-Ga. Taylor comes up to graciously accept her award ("I'm a country singer...I never expected to win a VMA....") and here comes asshole Kanye. He takes the mic from her and professes that Beyoncé "had the best video of all time!" Totally upstaged Taylor who didn't know what to do with herself after. The crowd booed like crazy and then they cut to a stupid Tracy Morgan/Eminem skit.

OK, first of all... Seriously? Beyoncé wearing a black leotard dancing around with two girls in black and white is one of the best videos EVER? No. We just saw a run down of some of the best videos ever--Thriller, Beat It, Smooth Criminal. The only thing good about Beyoncé's video was the spoof they did on SNL with Justin Timberlake. Second of all... Kanye has to show his ass every year at this show and I guess this was how he chose to do it this year. He wonders why he doesn't get voted for awards. He's a d*ck, that's why. Can't stand him. Never have. He owes a serious apology to Taylor Swift for stealing her moment like that. How dare he?!?! UGH. I only have one song of his on my iPod (Gold Digger) and I will be deleting it. He joins Wesley Snipes on my boycott list. (Wesley Snipes is a whole other story.)

Oh, and curiously enough, I just checked the MTV website to verify who else was nominated for the Best Female Video award, and guess what? Beyoncé isn't even listed! Maybe there was some goof on MTV's part where people couldn't vote for Beyoncé anyway?!?! Doesn't matter. Kanye still owes Taylor Swift an apology.

OK, now that I've stood up for Taylor, can I just say that I don't ever need to hear her sing live again? Any time I do, I don't enjoy it. This is where "fast foward" comes into play. Despite that, she still deserved her moment in the sportlight. Oh, and I don't need to hear Katy Perry live either, while we're at it.

UPDATE: Love it--later in the show, Puffy (P. Diddy...Sean Combs...whoever he is) was announcing the nominees for Best Male Video and Kanye West got booed all over again. The crowd even started chanting "Taylor! Taylor!" Kanye made a huge mistake tonight.

UPDATE 2: OK. This is it. Later in the show Beyoncé won Video of the Year. She got on stage and said, "I remember being 17 years old up for my first MTV award with Destiny's Child and it was one of the most exciting moments in my life, so I'd like for Taylor to come out and have her moment." Taylor came out and got to give her acceptance speech. She started, "Maybe we can try this again?" Beyoncé, that was CLASSY. Maybe you can teach Kanye a thing or two.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8 Lee

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoyed much of this book about what has become "American Chinese" food, but I found it meandered quite a bit and was a little unorganized. The last chapters about Chinese food around the world feels like they were thrown in as an afterthought. Still, I learned a lot of interesting tidbits that I find myself telling family and friends. It's entertaining, it just could've used some more editing.

9.11.2009

In rememberance...09/11/2001

Wrigley Bldg - Chicago


This is the Wrigley Bldg in Chicago, but there's a building in my home town that started draping a flag over the building like this right after 9/11. I noticed it was up today, but I was on the highway and couldn't take a picture. As I drove by, I couldn't help but think of that horrible day. I can remember everything so clearly, and I will never forget it. I will also never forget what I saw on 9/12/01. As I was driving to work, I saw a jogger on the side of the road carrying a huge flag as he ran. It brought tears to my eyes then, and when I think of it now, the same thing happens. I also remember how our country really came together in those days after the attacks. I hope we can get back to that common sense of pride in our country some day.

Today I am thinking of those who lost their lives or lost loved ones.

9.09.2009

Big news, but you probably didn't hear it here first

So, I came home this evening, after a fun time with friends in Georgetown, and turned on Tivo to watch yesterday's Ellen Degeneres show. She was talking about her summer and said the best part was when she got to host So You Think You Can Dance. She then brought out the top 10 from this season. After watching it, I thought, I should see if I can find that video to post on the blog. I Googled "Ellen Degeneres" and imagine my surprise when the first thing that came up said that Ellen's going to be the new permanent judge on American Idol!

Apparently she announced it during today's taping of her daytime show, and it will air on Thursday, and then the papers announced it.

Hmmm......I love Ellen, but I'm not sure this is the right move. Ellen isn't a singer and has no experience in the recording industry. Plus, I had my heart set on an earlier rumor I'd heard that they were thinking of Cyndi Lauper. BUT...I do see Ellen filling Paula's shoes as far as making the kids feel okay, even when they're getting negative feedback...."But you look AMAZING!" Should be interesting, and Ellen does make me laugh. We shall see! (I'm still hoping that Cyndi Lauper will make an appearance as a guest mentor or something.

Now, back to the SYTYCD video. Ellen really held her own!



9.08.2009

Making use of the DVD player

Rented and watched several movies this weekend. This is actually kind of unusual for me. I often will go into Blockbuster on a Friday evening, pick up three movies, maybe watch one that night and then wait a week or more to watch the others. Even though Blockbuster has really cut back on their late fees to compete with Netflix, I still accrue them from time to time (usually on the just-released movies that are due in two days). This time I picked up two just-released movies and one that was simply a "new release" and watched them all.

First up: Adventureland with Jesse Eisenberg (from The Squid and the Whale). This was a cute movie about a college grad who has to get a summer job at a local amusement park in order to pay for grad school. The movie also has Kristen Stewart from Twilight, though I read she filmed this first. I emnjoyed the scenes with Jesse and some of the other characters, like Martin Starr who I loved in Freaks and Geeks, but I couldn't really enjoy his scenes with Kristen Stewart--something about her just bugs me and I didn't like when she was on the screen. I think it's her hair. She's always running her fingers through it falls into this disheveled mess. In every photo I've seen of her, her hair looks exactly the same. I wish she'd get a style. Why this bothers me, I have no idea. It just does. Her acting's okay, but her presence is annoying. People who like Twilight and Kristen Stewart might appreciate her performance more than me. She's not so bad that I wouldn't recommend the movie, though.

Next: The Class, a French film about teaching. I really enjoyed the realism of this movie and was very impressed with the group of teens that made up the class. I was hoping for a different ending, but I really did enjoy the movie. There are some really sweet moments throughout. The guy who plays the teacher was pretty easy on the eyes too. :o) If you get this, watch the DVD extras about how the movie was made...interesting stuff.

Finally: Bottle Shock with Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman. This is based on the true story of the emergence of Napa Valley wines into the world domain in the 70s. It's also about the relationship between a father and his hippie son who are trying to get their winery off the ground. I loved this movie...very well done. And I just love Alan Rickman. What a voice!

I'd recommend all of these movies, especially Bottle Shock. Enjoy!

9.02.2009

I hate when high hopes are dashed

I was off work on Monday and decided to go see Taking Woodstock. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed. I think it was one of those instances of high hopes and expectations that just weren't met.

Before I talk about the movie, I'd like to highly recommend seeing a movie on a Monday afternoon when people are still at work AND it's the first day of school. Me and one other guy were in the theater--I didn't have to listen to people talking behind me, or to loud popcorn crunching. It was nice.

Despite that quiet setting, the movie left a little to be desired. The problem, for me, is that we never get a view of what's happening on stage at the concert. In fact, we barely hear any music from the show. I understand why this was done--the story's told from the main charater's (Elliot) point of view. It's based on a true story, and it turns out that this guy never did actually see any of the concert because he was working at his parents' resort hotel, hosting hundreds of hippies as they moved into town for the three-day show. That's fine, and I get that, but Ang Lee made extensive use of the split screen in this movie, and there's no reason he couldn't have shown "Jimi Hendrix" or "Janis Joplin" on stage on the left side, while showing Elliot changing sheets on the beds on the right side.

I think the movie's worth seeing at some point, but you don't need to rush out to see it. Certainly don't pay full price at night!

Oh! And in case you didn't know, the Best of SYTYCD is on FOX tonight at 8pm eastern. After that, they're replaying the pilot of "Glee," which is the show I'm most looking forward to this season. Check it out!

8.26.2009

Is anybody in here?

Hello? Hello....helllo....helllo....

Man, it's dusty and cold and this place is covered in cobwebs! What the heck happened?

Nothing really, I just didn't realize how long it'd been since I posted anything. So, what's going on?

I'm listening to...
The Hair soundtrack. A couple weeks ago I went to NYC with my sister and a friend and we saw the show on Broadway--loved it! Best show-ending ever. As "Let the Sunshine In" played, the cast members pulled audience members onto the stage and everyone was dancing and having a great time. This one guy in a tight red shirt stood front and center just shakin' his thang. He was sooooo happy to be onstage. I figure he thought, this might be my only chance to dance on Broadway, so I'll make the most of it. It was hilarious!

Tonight I listened to the soundtrack from Car Wash -- great album, and it came to me that it probably started my love of funk music back when I was six years old.

I'm Watching...
Top Chef, Project Runway, True Blood, Mad Men, Nurse Jackie and Psych and am looking forward to the new Fall season--especially Glee. My Entertainment Weekly Fall TV issue should be here soon. On Top Chef one of the contestants is from Frederick, MD, which is about 30 minutes north of me. Also, I have a friend who went to school with another of the contestants.

Right this second I'm watching Across the Universe -- it reminds me a lot of Hair, actually. I've seen it before, but since there's nothing else on right now, I figured it was good to see it again. I recommend you get the DVD and watch the extras--especially the casting process.

And speaking of Hair, I downloaded the movie and watched it after we got back from NYC. It's very different than the theater production...they changed the ending, and it's actually more powerful. I hadn't seen it in a long time, and enjoyed it.

Reading...
Just finished The Girl With a Dragon Tatoo, by Stieg Larrson. I enjoyed it for the most part, but could've done without one of the story lines about the finance situation in Sweden...that got a little dull for me, but the rest of it was great. I was reading at Starbucks one day and an employee came up to me to ask what I was reading. She said, "You looked so riveted...I just had to see what you were reading!"

Next up is Les Misérables. My friend Mark and I have talked about reading this for years, and this year we're going to take the plunge. I'll probably start this weekend.

At the movies...
Over the weekend, my sister and I saw Julie and Julia on Saturday and (500) Days of Summer on Sunday. I really liked Julie/Julia and still LOVED 500 Days... (This was my second time.)

Looking forward to Taking Woodstock and am curious to see Tarantino's new flick, Inglorious Basterds. I have EW's Fall Movie issue, but haven't been through it yet. My favorite time of year for movies is soon approaching--Oscar season!

So, that pretty much sums everything up! Time for Top Chef!

8.07.2009

And the winner is not Evan

I'm watching the SYTYCD finale right now. I decided not to do a blow by blow because, well, I just didn't feel like it. Throughout the show, the judges picked their favorite performances from the season. After the first hour, Cat Deeley announced that after all the millions of votes came in, Kayla was in fourth place. I wasn't that surprised. Then they showed another performance or two, and Cat brought Brandon, Evan, and Jeanine back on stage to announce the next elimination. I was worried about this--I was thinking Evan might be popular enough to cause an upset, but then Cat said he was in 3rd place. Whew. The top two are Brandon and Jeanine, just as I wanted it.

By the way, my Tivo only recorded the first 30 minutes of the show tonight. Thankfully, my backup upstairs recorded the whole thing. I think there's something wrong with the cable cards from Comcast and I need to give them a call. This is the second time that's happened during SYTYCD. Not acceptable.

Anyway, before the winners were announced, Melissa and Ade did an encore of the breast cancer piece choreographed by Tyce Diorio. Before they danced, he announced that he learned Thursday morning that his friend, for whom he choreographed the piece, is not cancer free. The encore was even more beautiful knowing that news. A friend of mine who survived breast cancer said she:
loved the fact that it wasn't only the woman dancing but the couple and that he was as moved as she and had to go through his own turmoil but kept coming backto hold her, to be held, and to lift her up.
She then said that she really thanked her husband in her own recovery. Wow.

After this performance, the top eight reprised "One" from a Chorus Line. At the end, we got to see the judges from tonight's panel (Nigel, Mary, Mia Michaels, Adam Shankman, Debbie Allen, and Tyce Diorio) do a little performance. (Hey, where was Lil C???) And may I say again, that the lighting production on this stage is horrendous? I'm not blinded like I was last night, but it's still pretty bad and my head's starting to hurt again.

And finally they get to the result. It's between Jeanine and Brandon. The winner is:

Jeanine!

WOW! WOW! WOW! Well done, America!!!!!!!!!! Well done, Jeanine!! Fantastic! I'm SO happy for her! I think last night she said she auditioned on a whim, and look where it got her. Amazing.

Hmm...they didn't say anything about Brandon getting a prize like they did for Katee last year--no fair.

Now I'm looking forward to the Fall season, and also the new show, Glee, which will follow SYTYCD on Wednesdays, I think.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On a sad note, I read tonight that John Hughes passed away, apparently from a heart attack while he was taking a walk. Wow. This man made so many movies that helped shaped my teen years. This weekend I'll certainly be popping in Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club and Some Kind of Wonderful. RIP Mr. Hughes.

8.05.2009

SYTYCD 2009 FInal Four

Our final four this evening are Jeanine, Evan, Kayla and Brandon. As I mentioned in my last post (posted about 1/2 hour ago), I think it's between Kayla and Brandon. We'll see how they do tonight!

They're in the Kodak Theater tonight--is that new for SYTYCD? Cat says it's an "amazing new set" and the "biggest live audience" they've ever had, so I guess so.

As they've done in previous years, tonight, each dancer with dance with each of the other dances. The guest judge is Adam Shankman. Love him!

First up is a group dance done by Wade Robson about two football jocks (um, Evan?) going after some cheerleaders who are too much for them to handle. The song is Boys Boys Boys by Lady Gaga. Cute routine--Kayla really put it all out there. I'm pulling for her tonight--time for another lady to win! Haha--they panned the audience and someone's grandma was covering her ears from all the noise.

Ooh! They just showed some amazing auditions from the upcoming Fall season of SYTYCD--can't wait!!

First couple is Jeanine & Evan doing a Sonya routine about a guy trying to keep his girl, who's not having it. Song: Heartbreaker by MSTRKRFT ft. John Legend. Both dancers were great in this. They maintained their characters the whole time and danced really strongly. Adam said it was great, and admitted that he underestimated Jeanine, and that he never saw Evan in the top 4, but the show wouldn't have been the same without him. He also gave props to Sonya, saying she choreographed to Jeanine & Evan's strengths. Mary thought Jeanine stood out a little more than Evan, but that Evan held his own. Nigel said it showed just how strong Jeanine has become in technique & personality. He told Evan to bring it tonight.

They next run through a one-on-one interview with Cat & Brandon. Brandon graciously gave a lot of credit for his success to his former partner, Janette. Here's my favorite performance of theirs:


Brandon then does a strong, electrifying and intense solo to Dies Irae by Karl Jenkins. WOW. Adam said "That is competing!" and said it was a "take no prisoners" performance. Brandon gave Mary goosebumps and she said he's born to dance. Nigel said he's amazing and that he "wiped out the opposition" (this was in reference to his board shorts).

Next, Brandon and Kayla do a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine to Bye Bye Love from All that Jazz (soundtrack). Ooh--it's a jazzed out version. Adam loved it and isn't surprised to see these two in the final four, and he said that getting to see them dance together is "heaven." Mary said they've been front runners from the beginning. Nigel said they were superb together and showed us why they're in the final four.

Jeanine's one-on-one. She started dancing when she was three, and hated the Russian folk dance (as we all did). OOh! She said that kiss between her and Jason on their beautiful contemporary piece was NOT choreographed. Ooh la la! Let's reminisce (dance starts at 2:30):


Jeanine dances her solo to Por Una Cabeza by The Tango Project (it's the tango song from Scent of a Woman that I love...note: if it ever comes up in a trivia question, this song also played briefly in Schindler's List. You're welcome.) Fantastic! I think that was her best solo ever. She danced with a flower in her mouth and I loved her piroutte that she seemed to come out of in slow motion. Standing "O" from the judges! Adam said, "Are. You. Kidding?!" He said she "killed it!" He said she just fought Brandon back. Mary said something about her doing it 100% every time (I wasn't paying attention). Nigel said it was a brave solo and that she pulled it off, and that she's in the Final Two as far as he's concerned. Hmm...it's going to be a tough vote! What I said in the earlier post about me being neutral on her? No more.

Here are Brandon and Evan doing a pop jazz routine by Laurieann Gibson. This story is about the guys being in a battle over the number one spot. Nasty by Janet Jackson. Great song! They come out in their leather jackets. I just can't buy Evan as the tough guy. He danced well, but not as strongly as Brandon. Adam said, "Evan, you got a little dusted on that one." Adam said Evan's natural sweetness never went away. Brandon went in and got nasty and dirty. Mary starts off with, "Evan, what's the nastiest thing you've ever done?" The audience goes crazy. He says, "That's a toughie--the list is so long." Touché. Nigel said that Evan's work ethic is beyond reproach, but there isn't a nasty bone in his body, so it was unfortunate that he got "Nasty Boy." He also said that Brandon out-danced him.

Kayla and Jeanine next do a Mia Michael's routine. It's about a journey, along the way, they shed layers of themselves. Mia says they have to dance out of their comfort zone. Song: The Four Sections: IV., Full Orchestra, Steve Reich. The girls were equally strong in this one. Adam said it was like watching two thoroughbreds racing. He wished them both good luck. Mary said they laid their heart and soul on the stage and that the girls were so well matched. Nigel felt the dancing was so strong and that Jeanine has peaked at the right time.

Evan's one-on-one. His favorite dance was the so-called "Butt Routine"-- that's my favorite of Evan's too. Take a look:



His solo was to The Best Is Yet to Come by Michael Buble. I love watching him dance his style. And he does an amazing split jump. It looks like he jumps a foot higher than his height! Adam said he took a calculated risk because it was a variation of his audition routine. Mary liked it and says he has excited millions of dancers into that Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire style. Nigel thinks Evan has the "Ahhhh" factor. However, he doesn't think Evan has grown this season as he would've liked. And, his solo wasn't as strong as Brandon or Jeanine's. See....that's going to get him sympathy votes. Voters will rebel against mean, old Nigel.

And now Kayla and Evan work with Tony Meredith & Melanie Lapatin to learn the jive. To: T.R.O.U.B.L.E. by Travis Tritt. The lighting production on this performance is horrible. Glaring lights everywhere. Can hardly see the dancers. It's giving me a headache! I don't know if they danced well or not--I was blinded by the huge spotlight at the back of the stage. Yikes. Adam didn't think it was a finale-level routine. Mary critiqued Evan pretty harshly, but said Kayla stole the show. (Meanwhile, I'm still seeing spots.) Nigel disagreed--thought they came out with their guns blazing. The 3000-people audience starts chanting Evan's name. Is that a tell-tale sign? Evan just might upset this whole thing.

Kayla's one-on-one. They showed Kayla's emotional grandpa...so sweet. Her favorite dance was the one about addiction. That was a good one, but my favorite of hers was the ghoulish one she did with Jason:



Kayla's solo is to the Eurythics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). Man. It was good, but after seeing Jeanine's solo, I just wasn't wowed. Adam didn't think the solo showed who she really is, but he thinks she's one of the best dancers they've ever had on the show. Mary said she's been touched by an angel and is gifted and exquisite. Mary loved the solo. Nigel said that despite the judges praise for her, America might not vote for her, but he says she deserves their votes.

And finally, Brandon and Jeanine will dance the Paso Doblé, my favorite ballroom dance. The choreographer, Louis Van Amstel, says that as a couple, these two are amazing. They dance to Tetsujin from The Matrix Revolutions (soundtrack). Fantastic! What a way to end the show. Brandon played the matador to the hilt! I didn't care for the music, but the performances were amazing. Adam loved their intensity and movement. Mary said it was phenomenal and gave her woo-hoo scream. Nigel screamed back at her. Nigel said Brandon and Jeanine are front runners for him, and they're edging the other two out by *this much*. I'd have to agree. Jeanine really pulled it out tonight--it was so exciting to see.

I'm going to call in for the both of them, in hopes that one will win and the other will come in second. Hopefully they'll have a prize for the runner-up like they did last year. Can't wait to see tomorrow's show!

Cat put the judges on the spot to predict the winners. Adam wouldn't man up. Mary wouldn't (wo)man up. Nigel said it will be Brandon or Jeanine. Here's hoping he doesn't bring the same curse that Simon Cowell does....

ACK!!!!

Dang people. I go away for one week and look what happens...ADE is voted off SYTYCD?!?!? WTF?! (Sorry--I just finished watching and am a bit wound up.) OK. With him gone, I think either Brandon or Kayla will win the show. I really like Evan--I do--but if he wins, I'll be really disappointed. If Jeanine wins, I'll just feel eh...I'm neutral on her. The Thursday show was really good--I enjoyed seeing the Emmy-nominated dances "live" and I never tire of the Jabberwockys. I am looking forward to the finale tonight. Hard to believe it's the finale already--where did the summer go?

8.04.2009

Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey

Bright Shiny Morning My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was a little hesitant to read this after the whole debacle with A Million Little Pieces. But, I've always felt that James Frey wasn't the only one to blame in that whole thing*, and I truly enjoyed his writing style, so I figured I'd give him another chance. I'm glad I did. Bright Shiny Morning follows four main stories of folks living in Los Angeles, as well as many, many other stories of what goes on in L.A. Of course, this time, Mr. Frey tells you up front, "Nothing in this book should be considered accurate or reliable," still, it was fascinating, interesting, and I think somewhat educational. I still enjoy his writing style which does not include quotation marks, many commas, or indented paragraphs. It takes some getting used to, but I think it helps pace the story, and enhances the energy of the plot. I took away a star because there were some sections of "facts" about L.A. that were too long and that I ended up skimming, but overall, I really enjoyed the book.

*Note: at the end of the book is an article about James Frey that originally appeared in Vanity Fair in June 2008. It says, "It now turns out that is was something of an open secret in the publishing world that the industry had been complicit in the scandal, and that Frey, though he was not an innocent, had become a whipping boy."

7.25.2009

(500) Days of Summer

There is nothing like coming out of a movie theater with a smile on your face, completely satisfied. It's the same feeling I had coming out of The Princess Bride, or Little Miss Sunshine or Juno. It's how I felt tonight coming out of (500) Days of Summer. I absolutely adored this movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was fantastic--so charming and cute, and he had perfect chemistry with Zooey Deschanel. My sister couldn't go with me tonight, but when she's ready to see it, I'll definitely be tagging along.

7.24.2009

SYTYCD marks its 100th episode

The special anniversary show opens with a routine to One from A Chorus Line (Original Broadway Cast). I'm so happy to see this! I've been all about A Chorus Line this year. All the dancers are wearing white and the mirrors from the original show are represented, though they're cracked. They're dancing to the haunted version of the song that the performers do as they're rehearsing for try outs. Loved it!

The judges discuss how important the show is, to them, to the dancers, to the world. Then we see some highlights of the past five seasons. So good to see old favs like Benji, Twitch, Joshua, Hok. A lot of the former dancers are also in the audience.

Next we get a run down of what happened last night and find out whose safe and not. Melissa is safe. Kayla is in the bottom two. Uh-oh. Cat announces that Janette has never been in the bottom two--is she tonight? Of course she is. I have a hard time choosing between Kayla and Janette, but I like Kayla just *this* much more. We'll see what happens.

Next, Hok and Jamie are back to dance the 3rd season's Emmy-winning routine from Wade Robeson, the Hummingbird and the Flower routine, danced to The Chairman's Waltz from Memoirs of a Geisha (soundtrack), which is so beautiful. I'm so happy to see it again.

Now let's get to the bottom two guys. Ade is safe (my 10 calls for him obviously worked) and Jason is in danger. Brandon is in the bottom two and EVAN is safe! WOW...that's a surprise! I like Evan a lot, but his technical skills don't match up to Jason or Brandon. His personality, which is wonderful, is winning him votes, methinks.

And now...the Park Bench routine with Travis and Heidi. I linked to this last week, but just discovered it's been removed from YouTube due to a copyright claim from Dick Clark Productions. We'll just have to remember it in our minds (which I think I always will). Heidi and Travis were just as good tonight as they were the first time. I love that I can see it in HD this go around.

I wish Cat would talk to the former dancers to see what they're up to now.

Now we see Kayla's solo again (the solos are the same as last night). She's so beautiful. Jason's next. He's great. Now's Janette. And now Brandon. Tough choice between Jason and Brandon, but I think Brandon's just a little bit stronger. (Literally and figuratively!)

And now Ramalama (Bang Bang) with a bunch of former dancers (including Benji, Travis, Dmitry, Heidi, etc.) AND Wade Robson, the choreographer. I will ALWAYS love this! FANTASTIC! Here's the same version I posted last night:



I'll look for tonight's version tomorrow.

Katie Holmes is going to dance next. First an interview. She's a part of the Dizzy Feet Foundation, which they mentioned a couple weeks ago, and gives scholarships to kids so they can dance. She'll be doing a routine that's choreographed by Tyce Diorio and is an homage to Judy Garland. She'll be singing AND dancing. She's dancing to Get Happy by....herself! She's not dancing live on stage--it's more like a music video. She's lip synching, and it's distracting....I liked her performance on Eli Stone better. Anyway, she's supporting a great cause, so good for her! She donated her fee to the Foundation.

Now it's time for the bad news. The girl leaving us tonight is....Janette. I'm sure she'll be just fine. Cat says it's the shock of the season. I wouldn't say that...someone has to go. It would've been a shock if she went before Randi or Nigel said she was his favorite and he thinks America got it wrong. I'm sure that makes Kayla, Jeanine and Melissa feel really good.

As for the guys: Jason's going home. I'm going to miss his cutie-pie smile. He'll be fine too. Aww...he's crying, and thanks everyone.

Cat ends the show with, "Here's to the next 100!" Amen to that!

UPDATE: Here's Wade Robson dancing in his Ramalama routine:

7.23.2009

The performance of the night

Here is that moving performance from Melissa and Ade on last night's SYTYCD. I'm still moved to tears and goosebumps. Enjoy.

7.22.2009

Top 8 perform SYTYCD

Hey folks. I'm not feeling so hot, so I'm just going to give the basic info from tonight's show. I've noticed that most people arrive at my site because they're looking for the names of the songs used on the show so that's what I shall provide. I love that Ellen DeGeneres is a guest host. Mia Michaels is the other guest. Mary and Nigel are still there, of course. This week the guys draw the partners out of the hat.

1. Group dance choreographed by Travis Wall; Let it Rock, Kevin Rudolf feat. Lil Wayne.

2. Evan/Janette, Jazz routine by Sonya; Move (Metronomony Remix) by CSS.

3. Kalyla solo; The Moment I Said It by Imogen Heap

4. Brandon/Jeanine, Waltz by Hunter Johnson; May It Be by Hayley Westenra

5. Jason, solo; ...Slowdance on the Inside by Taking Back Sunday

6. Ade/Melissa (Reunited! Yay!), Cha-cha by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin; Yeah (Como Goza Mi Morena) by Chino Espinoza y Los Dueños Del Son

7. Janette, solo; Seduces Me by Céline Dion

8. Jason/Kayla, Broadway by Tyce Diorio; Mr. Monotony (from Jerome Robbins Broadway) by Kim Criswell

9. Ade, solo; Hater by Various Productions Artist (Great solo!)

11. Evan/Janette, Rumba by Tony & Melanie; Heartless by Kris Allen! (That was a great performance from the American Idol winner.)

12. Melissa, solo; Heads Will Roll by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

13. Brandon/Jeanine, Pop Jazz by Laurieann Gibson (new choreographer); Battlefield by Jordin Sparks [I'll have to agree with Nigel that most of the show has been rather flat tonight, until now. AND...it was great to see that Mia has done a complete 180 on Brandon.]

14. Evan, solo; Old Devil Moon by Jamie Cullum

15. Jeanine, solo; let the Drummer Kick by Citizen Cope (another good solo!)

16. Ade/Melissa, Contemporary by Tyce Diorio; This Woman's Work by Maxwell. Tears and goosebumps here. Wow. Simply stunning. Everyone was moved to tears--Melissa, Nigel, Mary, Mia, Tyce...so powerful. (It was a routine about a woman with breast cancer. I'll post the video when I can find it.)

17. Brandon, solo; Ain't Nothing Wrong with That by Robert Randolph & The Family Band

18. Jason/Kayla, Hip-hop by Shane Sparks; They're Everywhere by Izza Kizza. Great way to end the show.

I've put in calls for Ade and Melissa. As well as Jeanine after her solo. I don't want to see Ade in the bottom again.

OK, back to snuggling under the covers for me. See you tomorrow.

Ooh! Tomorrow is the 100th episode of SYTYCD. They'll be revisiting favorite momemnts including Ramalama Bang Bang, which was one of my favorite Wade Robson routines. It's like Thriller's little cousin. I even downloaded that song from iTunes. Looking forward to tomorrow.

7.18.2009

Wade's Walden

At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life by Wade Rouse


My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this. Wade Rouse and his boyfriend leave the St. Louis city life and move to a small house in the woods near Lake Michigan. Rouse was influenced by Thoreau's Walden and wanted to learn to live in the country, find peace, and write. He learns many lessons along the way. Many of Rouse's stories are laugh-out-loud hilarious and some are quite poignant. This is my first introduction to Mr. Rouse's writing, and I will certainly seek out his other works in the future.

7.17.2009

SYTYCD's Emmy nods

You can see all four nominated performances here. (I couldn't find Tyce Diorio's or Dmitry's routines last night.)

Enjoy!

7.16.2009

Cutting down to the Top 8

Tonight's show opens with cool-looking Japanese-themed performance by the group to So Much Betta by Janet Jackson. I'm guessing Wade Robson did this. Yep! I was right. (His wife helped too.)

Cat announces that SYTYCD has received 4 Emmy nominiations for choreography. Mia Michaels for "Mercy" performed by Twitch & Katie. Hell yeah. Tabitha & Napoleon for "Bleeding Love" performed by Chelsea and Mark. Yes. Tyce Diorio for "Silence" performed by Jessica and Will, and Dmitry Chaplin for "A Los Amigos" performed by Chelsea and Joshua. WOW--all great dances. I'll find and post them in a bit. "Mercy's" my favorite of the group. The makeup department got nominated too. Yay!

Just Debbie and Mary are on board tonight. Nigel is not there because he is receiving an honorary degree in England. Good for him.

Tonight the dancers with the least amount of votes will say goodbye. The bottom two girls are: Randi and MELISSA?! Well, I guess someone had to wind up there, and Melissa, Janette, Jeanene and Kayla are strong dancers. The girls will "dance for their lives" even though they can't change the vote.

The bottom two guys are: Okay, wait. Evan was SAFE before Ade AND Brandon?! I thought for sure Evan would be in the bottom two with Kupono. OK, back to the results: Kupono is in danger tonight, as is ADE. WTF?! Are you kidding me?! Just last night I was saying how "America" usually makes better decisions on this show than American Idol and they go and do this?!?!?!?! ARRRRGGGH!!!

Here come the solos again--the dancers repeat what they did last night. Randi's first. Mary advised Randi that if she makes it through, she needs to take more chances. Debbie said that Randi might've been a casualty of the Paso Doble.

Kupono dances and said he just wasn't strong in the Paso Doble or his solo. They didn't ask Debbie's thoughts. (Or maybe they did and I just wasn't paying attention???)

Melissa's turn. Debbie says that if Melissa gets past tonight, she has to do more in her solo.

Ade's up. I loved his Righteous Bros solo just as much as I did last night. Why is he here????? Mary said that Ade is a STAR and she doesn't know what they could tell him to do differently.

Before we get the results, we get to see The Black Eyed Peas singing I Gotta Feeling. Wow--they really threw a party on the stage--confetti and everything. Ive been meaning to write about their new CD forever. Except for a week of Michael Jackson music, The E.N.D. is all I've listened to for the past month or so. LOVE IT! One thing I'm confused about is why it doesn't have a Parental Control sticker on it. Have they relaxed the rules? On this CD you hear "Bitch," the "N" word, "ding-a-ling" as in "the girls want ding-a-ling" in a song about booty calls; and in one song Will.i.am says something about a semen bank. Now, I'm not a prude--these things don't bother me at all. I was just surprised that I had no warning. The words don't matter though...the music on all the songs just makes you want to get up and move. I absolutely love it.

OK, back to business. The girl going home tonight is: Randi. No surprise there. I'm going to miss her though. Next week is going to be REALLY difficult among the rest of the girls.

The guy going home is....Kupono. Again, no surprise. What a character this guy is with his crazy outfits. I wish him well.

What? Ellen DeGeneres will be on the judges panel next week. Interesting.

As promised, here are the Emmy-nominated performances:

Mercy


Bleeding Love


Unfortunately, I couldn't find a good version of "Silence" and "A Los Amigos"on YouTube. Instead I find people's horrible recordings from the show's tour.

And finally, here are my three favorite performances from last night:

Ade & Janette


Jeanine and Jason (embedding was disabled on this one)

Dang. I couldn't find Ade's solo. I'll try again tomorrow.

'Night!