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."