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....


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.


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.


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!


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!


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!