5.30.2009

Don't miss this Step!

I saw a wonderful movie this evening: Every Little Step. It's a documentary about dancer/actors trying to get on Broadway in the 2006 revival of A Chorus Line, which, is about dancer/actors trying to get on Broadway. I fell in love with the movie within the first five minutes. Back in 1974, Michael Bennett gathered together 22 dancers to talk about what it's like to be a dancer. He recorded the sessions, and from the tapes, created A Chorus Line. Every Little Step plays bits of those tapes, shows how the conversations were incorporated into the show's book, and how new actors are stepping in to say and sing those words. You see the actors auditioning for the show, and hear "God I Hope I Get It" playing, and know that each actor is thinking the same thing. My favorite song from the show is "At the Ballet" and the portion of the movie dedicated to casting the three roles for that song moved me (and others in the theater) to tears. (That song always moves me to tears anyway....)

A pleasant surprise was seeing Tyce Diorio from SYTYCD as one of the auditioners. He's so proud and sure of himself--kinda cocky actually--but don't you need to be a tad cocky, to get ahead in that business? If he doesn't believe in himself, who else is going to?

I just saw A Chorus Line on stage here in DC a few months ago. It was great to get this behind-the-scenes look at the show when it's still kind of fresh in my mind.

I know I wasn't the only one who enjoyed this movie tremendously--the audience clapped and cheered when it was over. That rarely happens at the movie theater any more, so when it does, you know you've seen something special.

What a great way to learn life's lessons

The Film Club: A Memoir The Film Club: A Memoir by David Gilmour


rating: 4 of 5 stars


I was in the bookstore for less than a minute and picked this up and knew I had to buy it. It's a father's memoir about his relationship with his son Jesse. Jesse wants to drop out of high school. His father agrees with it, as long as Jesse agrees to watch three movies a week with his dad. It's a great book for movie lovers--David Gilmour has a lot of insight and knowledge about the film making process. It's also a great book for parents and children. (All of us, in other words!) I don't have kids, but I could appreciate the father's inner turmoil over how to maintain a relationship with Jesse, without alienating him. I think about my parents and hope I never caused them such a struggle. The book is engaging, a quick read, tender and rewarding. I definitely recommend it. For what it's worth, I read this over two days--that's the fastest turn around I've had in a LONG time.

5.29.2009

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes...

...how do you measure a year? That's the question answered in "Rent," which is playing in DC again, and of course Deb and I were there. The original leads for Mark & Roger (Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal) were here and the show was fantastic. The energy of the crowd was great, and I love how the audience at this show claps in anticipation of what's to come, and not just after the song performances. My guess is that at least 75% of the audience had seen the show before. The Washington Post wrote a nice review of the show.

For those who haven't seen "Rent" yet, I recommend you add Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway to your Netflix queue. I do not recommend the movie version of Rent, which was a little bit disappointing. *I* liked it because most of the original cast was in it, but a lot of the magic is lost in the film version. (Here's my original review of the film.)

5.28.2009

Okay, I'm in.

My sister has been talking about The Real Housewives of... for a couple of years. She especially likes the ladies of NYC, and she has given me blow by blow recaps of some of the more entertaining shows. She always tells me, "you HAVE to watch," but for whatever reason, I just wasn't interested.

A few months ago she called to tell me about a particular episode with the NYC ladies, and guess what? "It's on again on Saturday, so you should watch it." The story she told me was about "The Countess." Deb kept repeating "She's off the chain! You have to watch." Well, again, for whatever reason, this time I tuned in. (The particular show Deb wanted me to see was when The Countess went to a Girls Club to meet with some teens. She was so condescending to them, yet totally believed she was there for the greater good...it really was "off the chain," and I wanted to see more. I set Tivo to record the rest of the shows that day (there was a mini-marathon) and then I tuned in for the rest of the season. And, although I had to ask Debbie a lot of questions about the relationships between those ladies, I became fascinated.

Then they started showing the previews for the Real Housewives of New Jersey, and I was like, oh yes--I HAVE to see that show. It looked like The Sopranos on estrogen. I've seen the first several episodes and I'm convinced that one of the ladies, Danielle, is crazy. First, she's a 46-year-old cougar, trolling sites like WealthyMan.com. (I'm not going to link to it because frankly, I'm afraid to see what's there. Can it be worse than SugarDaddy.com, which I've also never checked out?) She was dating a balding 25-year-old who looks like he's 50, and while she's talking about relationships and wanting someone to take care of her, we learn from one of the other ladies, Teresa, that he's only interested in getting his daily b-j from Danielle. Danielle then talks to Teresa and Jacqueline about breaking up with this guy, and if it's the right thing to do, and blah-blah-blah, blubber-blubber-blubber. She's a mess. OF COURSE she should break up with this guy, but she's acting like her life might end if she does.

Meanwhile, it looks like next week we're going to see that Danielle's mug shot appeared in a book called "Cop without a Badge: The Extraordinary Undercover Life of Kevin Maher" by Charles Kipp. I looked the book up on Amazon.com and came across this in the comments:
Hey Kevin: I've been speaking with your Uncle Lawrence and Uncle Ron, this entire book is a fabrication and you know it. You are a rat in every sense of the word. Your own sister won't speak to you, your Uncles want to have a "word" with you, (guess thats why you wont tell us where in jersey you are you rat fink) your cousins Donnie & Al would like a word with you as well, your Uncle Paddy, God rest his soul wanted to kill you till his dying day and your father, Kelly, would be turning in his grave if he read all the lies in here. That story about you rushing to the hospital as he died was priceless, how do you think that crap up? He had a heart attack and died on the subway you idiot, and you got the date wrong as well, BY OVER A YEAR!!! Do some research and get your facts right before you BS around them. Kevin Maher has been exiled by his entire family, he is a rat fink who never thought of anyone but himself. This ENTIRE book is a fabrication. Ask Kevin what happened when he showed up at his Uncle Paddy's funeral. Go on, tell em Kev.
WHAT? Now I'm totally intrigued as to how Danielle wound up in this book. Of course I'll have to keep watching.

And NOW....here's what was on washingtonpost.com yesterday: Knocking on Washington's Door: 'Real Housewives'. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, RH is coming to DC! The inherent political twist to the show being done in DC should be very interesting. Can't wait to see it.

Thanks Deb, you won. I'm hooked.

5.25.2009

Happy Memorial Day

I hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend. I didn't go to any festivals or parades or anything, but I did get to spend a lovely afternoon/evening with my dad and sister on Saturday. (My mom's out of town.) The weather was gorgeous so we sat outside. I continued to stay outside despite a surprise allergy attack. As my dad would say, I'm a glutton for punishment, apparently. It was just so nice out! A friend that we grew up with stopped by. We chatted with my dad for a while and then we went to meet another friend we grew up with for drinks. It's always fun to be with old friends.

One of these years, I will have to go down to DC to see the Rolling Thunder demonstration. These are a HUGE group of bikers who hold an annual ride from the Pentagon to the Vietnam Memorial to honor all veterans. I just checked their website and in 2005, 500,000 bikers showed up. I've never seen the full group ride, but in the days leading up to it, you tend to see huge groups heading into DC. When I was coming home from Georgetown on Friday afternoon, I saw a group of about 20-25 riders. Even that is impressive, so imagine 500,000!!!! Maybe I'll go down next year.

I saw a couple of quiet movies over the weekend. One is in theaters, called Management with Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn. Steve plays Mike, who works at a small motel owned by his parents. Jennifer Aniston is Sue, who stays at the motel while on business. Mike is instantly attracted to Sue and shows up at her door with a bottle of wine, courtesy of "Management." It's kind of creepy that he tracks her down to her company in Columbia, Maryland, but because it's Steve Zahn, it comes across as sweet, rather than stalker-ish.

The other movie, Wendy & Lucy was on video and features Michelle Williams as Wendy. She and her dog, Lucy, are heading to Alaska to look for work, when her car breaks down somewhere in Oregon. Something happens and she loses Lucy, and the movie just follows her trying to get her car fixed, manage her low funds, find her dog, and she meets a few people along the way. Not a whole lot happens, but Michelle Williams is great and her performance is worth watching.

I'm now watching SYTYCD from Thursday. I don't have much to say during the audition phase, except for the fact that I'm SO glad Napoleon and Tabitha are back. He is so damn cute! And she seems so nice...what a great couple. Can't wait to see how this season turns out. Oh dear...maybe I spoke too soon. Here comes a same-sex ballroom dancing team. It reminds me of Blades of Glory. One is straight and one is gay. Interesting. Nigel is sitting there covering his face cuz he's cracking up. And that was before one guy dropped the other and they both fell to the floor! Oops. Nigel said just what I said, "It was like watching Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory. The guys got sent to do choreography. Neither of them made it to Vegas. As they're walking out the door, you hear James Brown, "This is a man's world...but it wouldn't be nothing, nothing...without a woman or a girl." So cheeky!

UPDATE: The last dancer of the day at the Denver auditions was Brandon Bryant. Last season, it was between him and Gev, and Gev made it through. Thank god he came back. He danced to O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, which I just saw performed last weekend. He was AMAZING and it was wonderful to see his movement to that music. Also, remember Katee's roommate from last year--it was down to the two of them, and Katee was chosen? Well, Natalie came back this year and astounded the judges, particularly Sonja. Glad to see her back.

5.20.2009

And the winner is...

Well, I don't know yet cuz I just started watching. (Just got home--it's 10:00pm--they probably just announced the winner.) Randy is wearing a huge red velvet bowtie to match his red glasses this evening. Interesting.

The Top 13 are here to sing Pink's So What. You know, when they showed the group last night, there were a couple faces I'd completely forgotten about. Like the dude from Puerto Rico. They're lip synching again. Choreography's terrible. I can't see paying money to see this group tour the country. Group Sing is not their thing.

David Cook comes out to sing his song "Permanent.' There's light shining on him and the band that's the exact same shade of alien green that Paula was wearing last night. I still love his voice--his is my all-tine favorite AI voice. Kelly Clarkson's is next. The judges gave a standing O--I noticed that Simon was the first to stand up. After the show, they're going to put his performance on iTunes and all proceeds will go to ABC Squared which raises money to find a cure for cancer. Sadly, David's brother passed away recently.

Now it's time to give the Golden Idol awards and we get a replay from some of the worst auditions. These are hilarious. Oh, until they get to Norman Gentle. That was just sad. I still don't find him the least bit amusing.

Now Lil Rounds is singing "Queue (Cue?) the Rain" with Queen Latifah. The songs okay, not great, but Latifah looks hot. She's got the most beautiful skin.

Here come Anoop and Alexis AND Jason Mraz (who I also love). The rest of the group comes to sing along. This was a good performance, because I'm Yours is a great song.

Now Kris is singing with Keith Urban, who's wearing shoes! I think the song is "I Wanna Kiss a Girl." Maybe they should talk to Katy Perry. Bah-dump-bump. It's a good perfomancee.

Now the girls are singing lip-synching Fergie's "Glamorous Life." And now, here comes Fergie who's brunette these days. She sings "Big Girls Don't Cry," and then the rest of the Black Eyed Peas join her. It's an....interesting...performance.

More Golden Idol performances and here comes Bikini Girl. Boooooooo..... She walks out in her bikini and Simon mouths "wow." She looks like plastic. Ryan says, "I was gonna ask you what's new, but I think I know." Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Bikini got a boob job. Her singing is horrendous. But then Ms. Kara comes out and shows her up...Kara's got a good voice, actually. Remember B.G. challenged Kara during auditions? At the end of the song, Kara ripped open her dress to show off HER bikini!!! THAT WAS GREAT, and Kara's body is buff! She's SO thin--you don't notice that when she's sitting behind the table. I think I saw on Access Hollywood that she's a kickboxer. I actually enjoyed this bit. (Ryan said that they bet Kara wouldn't rip open open the dress, but because she did, a lot of money would be donated to her favorite charity.)

Allison's singing with Cindy Lauper--"Time After Time." Allison sounds great. And so does Cindy. And they sound great together. It's a good pairing.

Yay--here's Danny. Singing Hello. That song should be retired from the show after David Cook's version last year. But...Danny sounds good. I still love him. Danny then introduces Lionel Richie. Danny seems so pleased and honored to be there with Lionel Richie. They sang a song I didn't care for, and now it's All Night Long.

Adam's performing...he's all glammed up. I'll have to post a picture later of this outfit--it's his most outrageous yet, and his eyeliner's thicker than ever. He's wearing rhinestones or something along his bottom lash line. And the kicker--4-inch platform boots! No, make that 6-inch platforms! I love it! He sings "Beth"? And then introduces Kiss. Now his outfit makes sense. Jesus, how OLD are these guys??? I remember them being on American Bandstand every other Saturday when I was a kid. THIRTY YEARS AGO. Adam fit right in with those guys. (I want his midnight blue nail polish.)

And now, Santana. I love watching him...I have a concert DVD of his and he's just amazing. Matt's singing Black Magic Woman. I think he's wearing Michael Jackson's red jacket from the "Beat It" video. Now the group is singing Smooth.

Man, this is a long show.

Now here's a surprise for Adam & Kris presented by David Cook. They each got a new car!!! The Ford Fusion Hybrid. Good for them!

Now....here's Megan, Michael (oil rigger) and Steve Martin with his banjo! Steve looks rather distinguished. Michael sounds good. I'm cringing in anticipation of what Megan's going to sound like.... Eh. She sounds all right--I think she rushed through it. Nice song though. They did "Pretty Flowers" from Steve's new album.

Ohmygod. Another group sing--the guys are singing "If you want my body, and you think I'm sexy." Um...no. I wouldn't use the word 'sexy' to describe any of these guys.....

Next...Rod Stewart comes out in a loud plaid jacket. He was another Bandstand regular in the 70s. The years haven't been too kind to his face...and, he tripped as he went to the mike. His voice sounds the same though--he's singing "Maggie May." I guess this is for the parents in the audience. Adam's mom seems to be enjoying it.

More Idol awards. Ugh. It's 11:23pm--I'm just going to fast forward. Someone let me know if I missed anything good. Oh, I could see as I fast forwarded that I made the right decision -- there was Tatiana. UGH.

And now, Kris & Adam sing "We Are the Champions." Adam was made to sing Queen. Sorry, but Kris can't match Adam on this song. Oh! And Queen is there too! And a choir! Great performance!!

Ooh!! Commercials for SYTYCD!! It starts tomorrow, baby!!!!

AND FINALLY...we're going to find out the winner. Simon says, "I would just say to both of you, and I don't normally mean this--I thought you were both brilliant. Unusually incredibly nice people....And I think that both of you should be very proud of what you achieved last night, and the future's all yours."

There were almost 100 million votes last night. No wonder I could never get through!

OK. Dim the lights...here we go.

The winner of American Idol 2009 is......




HOLY SHIT!

WOW.

Kris is shocked and told Ryan that Adam deserves it. You know what--Adam looks genuinely happy for Kris. I really like that guy.

Adam has to sing Kara's song once again--No Boundaries. He's doing better with it tonight, for what it's worth.

Good for Kris--he came out of nowhere and won the whole damn thing. I'm happy for him.

That's all, folks! It was a great season.

5.19.2009

The "Guy Next Door" versus the "Guyliner"

 

Kris and Adam face off tonight on American Idol. Simon is dressed up for the occasion--he wore a jacket over a collared shirt.

Ryan announces that Kris won a coin toss last week and has chosen to go second--makes sense...I imagine he wants to gauge what he's up against.

Ryan then announces that the show is going to go a little long, so if we're recording, we should plan on it going a little long and add time to our recordings.

Um....

what if YOU'RE NOT WATCHING WHEN THAT ANNOUNCEMENT IS MADE BECAUSE YOU'RE RECORDING THE F$#!ing SHOW?!?!?!?!?!?

Sigh.

After the last timing snafu, I set my timer to add 11 minutes to each show. I hope that's enough for tonight.

OK. Here we go.

Adam's first song is "Mad World," which he sang during "Year of Birth" week. Dramatic stage production tonight with a fog machine and dark lighting. Adam sounds great tonight--he always does. He's wearing a long black coat--kinda reminds me of Donnie Darko. Oh wait. Isn't this song from that movie? Just checked--yes, yes it was. A+ from Randy. Kara said he rocked it again tonight. (Hey, Hannibal Lecter is in the audience!) Paula said he looks astonishingly handsome and that she's proud of him. (She hasn't said, "I told you you'd be here in the finale" but that's what she meant.) Simon thought it was over-theatrical tonight. Maybe because of the coat. It reminded him of Phantom of the Opera. Simon needs to see Donnie Darko so he has a different reference.

Kris' personal pick is "Ain't No Sunshine." He's playing the piano tonight with an orchestra behind him. Kris sounds good tonight too. Great performance--I don't see anything wrong with it at all. Randy, who's wearing a polka dot tie with a checkered shirt and Glen plaid** suit, said it was his best performance ever. Kara agreed. Kara says if Kris' performance doesn't move you, there's something wrong with you. I lost track of what Paula said cuz I wasn't paying attention. Simon said that last week, he wasn't sure America made the right choice when he heard Kris was in the finale. After this performance, Simon takes that all back.

We've got ourselves quite a competition ladies and gentlemen. Simon gave round one to Kris!

Here comes songs chosen by the show's creator--Simon Fuller.

Adam's singing "A Change is Gonna Come." Great choice! I love this song. This time he's in a nice shiny gray suit. Another great performance. Loved it! Randy noted how this is a great R&B song by the great Sam Cooke and it proved that Adam can sing anything and that he "can sing [his] face off!" Kara said it was his best interpretation of a song. The highs, the lows, the emotion. Paula said it the best she ever heard him sing. "Ever. Ever. Ever! Ever!" (Seriously--that's what she said.) She also said he looks like a superstar. She says no matter what happens with Idol, he's gonna be iconic. Simon said, "You are 100% back in the game."

Kris gets to sing "What's Going On." This time he's on the guitar. It's a nice arrangement with congo drums and a groovy rhythm. It's kind of quiet though. Too subdued. I think Adam won this round. Let's see what the judges say. Randy liked the song choice, but felt it was a little light. That's what I was trying to say too. If Kris was in a small, intimate venue, it would've been fine. Kara thought a socially-conscious song was good for him because he can sell the message and get people to change. Paula said he tore that song up and made Marvin Gaye proud. Simon said it was like three friends in their bedroom strumming along to Marvin Gaye. Too laid back for a night like this. Simon says round two goes to Adam "a million percent."

And now, round three--a song co-written by Kara called "No Boundaries."

Adam: Not a bad song--I would like listening to this on the radio. I liked Adam's performance a LOT. The crowd loved it. Randy, "dude, you can sing anything" but that was not my favorite Adam perforance. Kara was moved and proud that he sang her song. Paula said she will be a fan forever. Simon wouldn't judge the song (he couldn't deal with the mountains and hurricanes in the lyrics), and said he'd judge Adam. He said, "you have been one of the best, most original contestants we've ever had on the show. The whole idea about doing a show like this is that you hope you can find a world-wide star. I genuinely believe with all my heart, that we have found that with you. Congratulations." Awww...that was sweet.

Kris: Kris' style and voice go better with the song. It's the kind of thing he'd be singing anyway. He did a great job. Randy said what I said--the song fit his voice better than Adam's. Kara thinks the song was too high for him, but he shouldn't be judged on that. (Interesting that the song was written high--did they write it with Adam in mind???) Kara hopes people vote on the season, not just that song. Paula didn't critique his performance but says he deserves his place in the spotlight. Simon said first song was best performance and that he thinks back to when the season started and Kris didn't really have any confidence, but now, he thoroughly deserves to be standing on the stage tonight.

Welp. That's it. I've been trying to vote for Adam for an hour and all three lines are busy, busy, busy. Can't wait for tomorrow!

Hey, the show ended three minutes over time and included a performance by Carrie Underwood and a video montage of the season. And oh. Ryan reminded us that TOMORROW'S show is scheduled to go long and to plan accordingly. Oops--sorry I yelled at you earlier Ryan.

**I totally had to look that up.

Pretty in Plaid

Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomanical, Self-Centered Smart Ass Phase Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomanical, Self-Centered Smart Ass Phase by Jen Lancaster



rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is my favorite of Jen Lancaster's yet. I laughed out loud several times--especially toward the end when she treated herself to a trip to Las Vegas. Looking forward to what comes next.

5.17.2009

Carmina Burana!

I went with my friends Mark and Erika to get some culture today. We saw a performance of Carmina Burana by Carl Orff performed by the Master Chorale of Washington at the Kennedy Center. I got an email months ago advertising $10 tickets for the performance. It came about two weeks after Mark had been looking at CDs of the piece. By the time we were ready to order tickets, the $10 tix were sold out, but they were still selling seats for $25. Not too shabby.

Oh, in case your wondering, "Carmina who?" take a listen--you know this music and have probably heard it in plenty of movies and commercials.



We get to our seats and see in the program that we're first going to hear a piece by Randall Thompson called Frostiana, which was a collection of Robert Frost poems set to music. It was quiet and soothing and quite lovely. (The guy sitting next to me commented on how the "voices caressed the music." I couldn't never come up with a comment like that on my own, but I knew what he meant, and he was right.)

Oh! Before the performance started, a gentleman from a local radio station came out and announced that this was the final performance of the Master Chorale of Washington. Ever. This was it. We had no idea. It suddenly made sense to me why the audience was SO excited when the chorale came out--they gave a standing ovation before the show, which I found unusual. Now it all made sense. Mark and I were lamenting that we (not just he and I...all people) don't support the arts like we should, and it's a shame that a group like the MCW has to stop performing. I'm going to make an effort to do better. We have a beautiful concert hall just 25 minutes away and easily accessible by Metro. There are no excuses.

OK. So, we hear Frostiana, and then after intermission, it was time for Carmina Burana. This is from the program:
The governing image of Carmina Burana is cycles, tying the highs and lows of the Wheel of Fate to the return of springtime and the annual surge of love and carnal passion.** The opening chorus, "Fortune (Fate), Empress of the World," at once sets the mood of mystery, longing, and ritualistic chanting for the entire work, and it will return in exact repetition to round the cycle at the end.
When that first chorus started, with the timpani drums and the gong and the beautiful voices and the crescendo--I just got chills. It was wonderful and so powerful. The crowd roared when it was over, and then, since this was the final performance, the applause went on for probably 15 minutes. There was a brief encore, and then another 5 minutes of applause. I'm so sorry that this is the first time I've heard this chorale and that it has to be the last.

**Carmina burana is mentioned in a song called "La Vie Bohème" from RENT. It's nice to finally get the reference, and it makes perfect sense now since La Vie Bohème is about living and acting free without regard to conventional rules and practices.

Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp from the original Broadway cast are both touring with Rent now, and guess what? Deb and I will be there to see them on May 27! It's been 13 years since we first saw them on Broadway. CAN'T WAIT!! (Before you ask, I've lost track of how many times we've seen Rent. I think this will be 12 or 13....Maybe 14.)

Update: I got a comment from Esther, who performed with the chorale. I checked out her blog, where she expressed her thoughts on the chorale's existence coming to an end.

5.16.2009

I was here first, dammit!

I'm sitting here at Starbucks minding my own business. I'm sitting in a comfy chair by the fireplace (which isn't on now, since it's 75 degrees out). So, there's me and 3 empty comfy chairs when all of a sudden four teens come to sit. Three guys and a girl. The three guys each take a chair and the girls makes quite a scene of sitting in the lap of the guy across from me. Up and down a coupletimes until she's comfortable.

Next, the guy to my left makes a loud call on his cell. All I do is turn up the volume on my iPod.

Then they all start talking LOUDLY to each other...loud enough that I can hear them over Al Green.

They're probably not paying any attention to me, but in my mind they're being this obnoxious to get me to move.

I'm not going anywhere.

It's 9:30 and the place is open 'til 11. I can and will outlast them. There are SO many open tables in this place--I just find it so incredibly rude that they intruded on someone quietly reading a book. Ugh!

Anyway, back to my book: "Pretty in Plaid," by Jen Lancaster. I'm enjoying it and have LOL'd several times. Deb and I saw her at a book reading/signing last week--she was great.

5.14.2009

A new crush

I don't or haven't watch(ed) Family Guy or American Dad or Gilmore Girls or The War at Home or Star Trek Enterprise or Hellboy II, and I'm not really into science fiction or fantasy. BUT...I saw Seth MacFarlane--who created, guest-starred or does/did voice overs in all these shows and movies--on Bill Maher last week, and I definitely developed a little crush. I liked what he had to say and how he said it. Plus, he's kinda cute. And funny. And single. Wouldn't we be great together? Opposites attract, after all. Now he's in those Hulu commercials, so I stop fast-forwarding Tivo so I can see him. It's fun to have a crush, isn't it? :o)

5.13.2009

Best of luck, Danny

*Sigh* Danny got voted off tonight. I kinda figured he would. On the message boards I read, people seem to hate him--I don't know why. I think he's got an amazing voice, and he proved it when singing "You Are So Beautiful" tonight, which he did even better than last night. Someone mentioned that they hate when he adds the R&B/Gospel flair to songs. See? That's what I like best about him. I'll be downloading that and look forward to whatever he comes out with.

I look forward to the finale with Adam & Kris. They have SUCH different styles--it should be a good show.

The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found this to be a lovely book and really enjoyed it. It's the first "page turner" I've read in a long, long time. I had a little trouble with the resolution of the mystery, but because I was already so charmed by the book, I was able to suspend my disbelief and let it go. As others have mentioned, I wish I had a "Cemetery of Forgotten Books" to go to. I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona last year, and it was fun to recognize so many of the locales Zafón mentions in The Shadow of the Wind. I would love to go back and explore those streets again.

5.12.2009

A tough choice to make

Adam, Danny and Kris were all great tonight on American Idol. No time for an extensive post. I was hanging out with my sister while she got her hair done tonight, so I didn't get to give the show my full attention. But, I loved the way Simon tried to ensure people vote for Adam tonight and not just *assume* he'll be in the finals. Deb and I did our part. I also put in votes for Danny. I like Kris A LOT, but I've been rooting for Danny from the start, AND, he's ahead of Kris in my pool. :o) I thought Paula's choice of the Terrence Trent D'Arby* (Dance Little Sister) song was perfect for Danny--he did a great job. Adam was amazing. I got goosebumps during one of his high notes in Crazy.

Tomorrow morning I'll post the link to Lisa de Moraes' recap.

*Dang. I went to Wikipedia to verify the spelling of "D'Arby," and discovered that someone already updated the entry with the fact that Danny Gokey sang Dance Little Sister tonight. Talk about up-to-date! Seems that TTD is a little whacky--to wit: "He adopted the name Sananda Maitreya, following a series of dreams. His name was legally changed to Sananda Maitreya on October 4, 2001. He proclaimed in an interview that 'Terence Trent D'Arby was dead...he watched his suffering as he died a noble death,' in what was perceived as an attempt to reinvent himself artistically and free himself from what he believed to be the oppressive nature of the record business."

His "Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby" album that came out in 1987 is one of my favorite albums. It sure brings back a lot of memories.

5.11.2009

Oh, Meredith

I'm a little behind on my Tivo viewing, and over the weekend I watched the past two weeks' worth of The Office. I just had to post this. It's from April 30th's show, "Casual Friday."



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I've been watching two new cop shows that started recently. The Unusuals on ABC, and Southland on NBC. A couple of their plots have been similar, and so I sometimes get the shows confused.

The Unusuals takes places in NYC. Southland is in LA. Both have a rookie cop--on The Unusuals, it's a female. Both shows have cops with shady backgrounds. On The Unusuals, one used to rob stores; on Southland, there are a couple of alcholics, and one former stoner. This week they both had storylines about a cop in trouble. On The Unusuals, they had six hours to solve the case before it had to be reported. On Southland, they had twelve hours--both shows stressed that "we protect our own."

At this point, I prefer The Unusuals because it's got a bit more humor thrown in. Southland throws in some one-liners, but they're not as funny. I also love the partnership between Harold Perrineau and Adam Goldberg. The thing that really bugs me about Southland, is that they actually bleep out curse words. WHY?! It's SOOOOOOO annoying. Either don't write the words into the show, or put it onto HBO. (Or even TNT. They say the S-word all the time on Saving Grace.

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Kudos to Everybody Hates Chris for a fitting ending, if indeed the show on Friday was their series finale. Apparently, the decision won't be announced until May 21. In the last show, Chris decides to drop out of shcool and take the G.E.D. The final scene is set up just like The Sopranos finale. Chris comes in to a diner. Picks "Living on a Prayer" on the jukebox. Then his mom comes in. His brother and sister come in. Dad has some trouble parking his truck out front. Some shady characters come in. Dad finally comes in while the rest of the family is singing along to the music. Dad has an envelope that he says contains Chris' G.E.D. results. Chris says, "What does it say?" and the screen goes black. If they decide to cancel the show, it has a perfect ending, which is what Chris Rock was trying to do, apparently.

5.06.2009

The men rule the top 3

Allison had to say goodbye tonight. That's a shame. She's very talented, and I'm sure she'll be fine.

Tonight we got to see Paula lip-synch her way through a song. Then No Doubt performed live--it was great. Gwen even came down the stairs of death. (There was a malfunction on Wednesday, and apparently a couple of crew members were injured.) We also got to see Daughtry, who were great. I hope Allison can take some inspiration from him--he was kicked off at this same point during his season and look where he is now. Ryan Seacrest presented him with a plaque for selling 5 million albums.

Allison sang her swan song like a pro--she sounded even better than last night. I wish her the best.

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Meanwhile, I'm drowning here in Maryland. Today was the 8th day in a row with rain, and it's only getting worse. Tonight there are tornado watches in southern Maryland. Tomorrow will be more rain. Blah. Where's the sun?!

5.05.2009

THIS...is American Idol!

Tonight is Rock night for the Final Four. Ryan tells us that the kids have not had a proper dress rehearsal because the stage is falling apart. He then tells us that they'll be pairing up to sing duets. I've seen the group numbers and am not so sure that's a good idea. We'll see. This week's mentor? Slash. The kids go to Roxy on the Sunset Strip to be mentored.

Slash says he never thought he'd be a mentor on AI. Well, neither did we. He said there are a couple of stand outs (I'm sure Adam's included in that--and Allison?) this season and it was all his idea to come to a club and make it more "rock and roll." (It would've been cool if the whole show was recorded there, instead of back at the cheesy AI stage.)

Adam - Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin. Slash mentioned how effortless it is for Adam. Slash told him not to improvise so much in the high register (i.e., don't scream so much). We'll see what he does. The eyeliner is back in full effect, hair's trimmed up a bit. This is definitely his genre. He sounded fantastic! Randy said no one's going to be thinking about Broadway tonight and that he and Slash should make an album. Kara called him a rock god. Paula said he's a "whole lotta perfect." Simon agreed....said it was one of his favorite performances of Adam's. Ryan points out this is the first time a Zeppelin song has been done on the show.

Allison, Cry Baby, Janis Joplin. Oh, this should be good--I was just listening to this song earlier today--what are the chances? Allison looks terrific with new extensions and black sparkly pants that make her look like she lost 10 pounds without those poofy skirts she likes to wear. She sounds great. I think Simon will be able to say that she seems more confident this week. Randy didn't love the song choice. Kara said Janis is the right choice, but maybe "Piece of My Heart" would've been a better choice. Paula liked it. Simon did say she seemed more confident, but he thinks she tried to hard to sound like Janis and therefore, didn't show any originality.

Danny & Kris, Renegade, Styx. Ooh...nice harmony! Danny threw on a super thick chain necklace to look more rock-y, but it doesn't quite work. Still, he sounded good. Kris sounded good, but also doesn't seem too rock-y. Randy said the individual performances were okay, but the harmonies were great. Kara said these are not the two guys when you think of "renegades." Paula thought it was powerful and compelling. Simon said Danny was better than Kris. I concur. (I can't wait to see Adam & Allison's performance--I hope Allison can hold her own against him.)

Kris, Come Together, The Beatles. Kris says he had a hard time choosing a song; he chose Come Together over Revolution. Slash gave him a guitar and hooked him to an amp, which Slash thinks scared Kris a bit. He told Kris to try to make his performance a bit more animated. Dang...Kris sounds pretty good tonight too! It's going to be a hard choice for the final three. Randy enjoyed it, and particularly liked the guitar. Kara didn't care for it--thought he was trying too hard. I disagree with her. Paula liked his imprint on the song. Simon didn't care for it much either. Said it was like eating ice for lunch--it will leave you with nothing to remember afterward. Simon said he didn't believe anything was going to top Adam, and he was right.

Danny, Dream On, Aerosmith. I heard this song today too! (A version done by a friend of friend, Verlette Simon.) Love this song. Slash said Danny has to get the scream at the end because everyone's going to be waiting for it. This actually would've been a perfect song for Adam. Hmmm......Danny sounded great in the chorus, but I'm not so sure he pulled off the scream at the end--it was a little pitchy. I still love him though! Randy said it was a'ight, but he gave an A+ for a valiant effort. Kara thought he managed to add more edge, but thinks he took it too far. And then she said she'd like to see him doing "more early Aerosmith, Crying, Crazy..." Umm.......Dream On came out in 1973. Crying and Crazy came out in the 90s! What is she talking about? What is with her and these gaffes? (Studio 57, "I have six words for you" and then saying eight words?) Paula said it wasn't the right song choice, but she gave him an A++ for going for it. Simon said the last note was like watching a horror movie. Simon still thinks Danny will be safe tonight though.

Adam & Allison, Slow Ride, Foghat. Allison put a skirt and 10 pounds back on. This skirt isn't so bad as some of her others. They both sounded good, but I don't really care for this song, and I'm not sure it was made for duets. Randy, Kara, Paula loved it. Kara & Paula said they should do a duet together on their albums. Simon says they win the battle of the duets. Simon says Adam may have given Allison a chance of staying in the competition because of this performance. I think the producers created this duet thing just so these two could sing together. To make it fair, they should've done like they do on So You Think You Can Dance, where each contestant performs with each of the other three.

Tomorrow's show should be good--Doughtry and No Doubt will be on. And Paula Abdul will be taking the stage. What? Why? Maybe she's choreographed another routine.

So, Deb and I have been debating. I mentioned that Danny reminds me of Robert Downey, Jr. (a coworker first pointed that out to me, and I agreed.) Deb thinks he looks like MC Serch from 3rd Bass. You be the judge:

Danny


RDJ



Serch


[Jeez. I just took a walk down memory lane looking for that picture of MC Serch. When 3rd Bass' The Cactus Album came out in 1989, it's all I heard for several months because it's all my boyfriend at the time listened to. He fancied himself as the next MC Serch.]

5.04.2009

Weekend update

Saw The Soloist with Deb on Saturday. I was really looking forward to that movie; I guess too much, because ultimately, I was disappointed. I thought Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. were great (RDJ is ALWAYS great). My problem was with the artistic direction. I understand what they were trying to do in showing how the music transported Foxx's character, but instead you're left wondering, WTF. There was one scene that featured a black screen with a bunch of psychedelic colors pulsing to the music (kind of like you get with Windows Media Player), which at first it was fine, but then it went on for a good 90 seconds. Why do I want to pay $11* for that? I was telling Debbie that I was never moved by the story. I was more moved by the piece they did on 60 Minutes a few months ago. I think the movie's worth seeing, but I wouldn't pay full price for it--go to a matinee or wait for video.

*A note about the price. We saw the movie at Tysons Corner in VA and yes indeed, the full ticket price was 11 big ones. Jeez Louise. FORTUNATELY, I ordered discount AMC tickets through the Borders Rewards Perks program. They cost $7.50 apiece, and there are no restrictions, i.e., you can use them on opening night of a movie if you wish. You have to get a member card from Borders bookstore, and then you go to the Borders Perks website. I also buy similar tickets for Hoyts theaters at Costco. I refuse to pay $10 and up for a movie anymore--that's ridiculous.

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I started a new book, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafón. Finally, I've found a page turner! I'm only on page 97, but I'm completely enthralled with it, and look forward to reading it everyday. That hasn't happened in a LONG time. Plus, it takes place in Barcelona, and it's a nice reminder of all the places we visited last year.

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I sure wish I had some money on that 50-1 Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird! What I love about that story is that the owner paid $9,500 for the horse. There was another horse in the race that the owner paied $3.7M for! It's amazing that NBC devotes three hours to that two-minute race. Thankfully, I recorded it and just watched what I wanted to see. The hats, and the race.

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SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading if you haven't seen Amazing Race from last night yet. Thanks and have a nice day.

The ending to AR was very exciting last night, and I'm sorry to see the two sisters, Jen & Kisha go. They came in last, by a matter of seconds, all because Jen really, really, really had to stop and go to the bathroom. I dunno. If a million bucks were on the line, I might just have to keep on running and wet myself. Of course, doing that on national television would be quite humiliating, but I think people would understand. The sisters lost to Cara and Jaime, which is a shame. One of these girls (I get them mixed up) really rubs me the wrong way--there's always an undercurrent of xenophobia with her. She gets so upset that people in their own country don't understand her English. She screams at them, "DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!" as if the screaming will suddenly translate her words. I know the game can be frustrating, but that doesn't mean she should belittle people who don't understand her. I was really hoping she'd be gone this week. Oh well.