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.