1.31.2010

Grammys!

As I started writing this, I was about three hours in to the Grammy show and you know? I think it was the first time I've watched an awards show and enjoyed most of the performances--including the country stuff. (Well, except Taylor Swift & Stevie Nicks. That wasn't good.)

Random notes:
  • My favorite performance of the night was Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli. I rewound and watched it 3 times.


  • I felt sorry for dude sitting behind Lady Gaga.

  • Speaking of Lady Gaga--her pairing with Elton John at the beginnin of the show was genius.

  • Ricky Martin?! Where did he come from? Where has he been? Oh well--he looks good.

  • I liked the "coming up" timer that said, (for example) that Maxwell would be on in 45 minutes. It was very helpful. Speaking of Maxwell, just one word: SEXY. Have you seen the Pretty Wings video? Whew!


  • I didn't have 3D glasses for tribute to Michael Jackson and felt a little left out.

  • HUGE segments of Eminem, Lil Wayne & Drake's song were silenced out. Why bother? Why not write an alternate version that can be done on TV. I find that so annoying. By the way, I don't think Lil Wayne has yet gotten the message from "Pants on the Ground."

  • I didn't really pay much attention to the actual awards given out, but was highly annoyed that Taylor Swift won Album of the Year. Granted, the award is for "Album of the Year," not "Live Performance of the Year" which she could never win. I'm sure I've said it before, but her live performances are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I'm not alone in this. Here's the first line from The Washington Post's review of the show:
    A night in the charmed life of Taylor Swift: Give an incredibly wretched vocal performance, go on to win the biggest Grammy of 2010, anyway.

    Ah, the magic of studio engineering/production.

1.27.2010

The answer is....no.

A couple of people have asked me if I gave up American Idol this season like I threaten to do at the end of every season. The answer is no.

How could I give it up now?

Ellen is going to be a judge. Love her!

Simon is leaving. I just have to see his last season!

So, there we are. I'll have regular updates on the show once we get through auditions. I feel there's no point in commenting on people now since chances are, we'll never see them again.

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I just saw a TV commercial with the Chicago Bears' Jim McMahon which alluded to this:



You're welcome.

(I had such a crush on Richard Dent (#95) back then....*sigh*)

1.26.2010

Another book review? So soon?

Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran & Oscar and the Lady in Pink Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran & Oscar and the Lady in Pink by √Čric-Emmanuel Schmitt

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars (Goodreads only allows whole-number ratings, but I really give this 4.5 stars.)

I recorded the most recent season of Curb Your Enthusiasm onto DVD and mailed it to a friend who lives in France, and as a thank you, she sent me this lovely book. She wanted to send me some "Frenchy-cana" in return for my sending her a bit of Americana. I'm so glad she did. Plus, it was perfect timing--I had *just* finished my previous book, Kindred.

There are two short stories included in this little book. (Or are they novellas? How do you know the difference?) The first story, Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran, is about the friendship between a young Jewish boy and a Muslim shopkeeper. The other Oscar and the Lady in Pink is about a young boy dying of leukemia and his friendship with a elderly volunteer at his hospital. Both stories are wonderful, touching, charming, funny and sad, all at the same time. I liked Oscar just ever-so-slightly more than Monsieur Ibrahim. (I give 4 stars to Monsieur Ibrahim and 5 to Oscar--hence my 4.5 overall rating. Oscar is so eloquent and beautiful. I sent a note to my friend as soon as I ws done, saying, "Please excuse me while I grab a tissue." I'll definitely be reading and cherishing these stories over and over again in the future.

I kinda think I got the better end of the deal in this exchange. Curb had it's moments this past season (Seinfeld reunion!), but it wasn't as good as this little book.

1.23.2010

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Kindred (Bluestreak Black Women Writers) My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was recommended to me by my friend, Erika. I was a bit hesitant because I knew Octavia E. Butler wrote science fiction, and I'm not a big fan of sci-fi. Even more, stories of time travel tend to give me a headache, because I tend to over-think the logic of them. But, my friend insisted this book was different because the story is not about how or why the woman is traveling through time, but rather about her experiences in the past and how they affect her. The time travel is just a device. I was very intrigued by the storyline: a black woman, who is married to a white man, travels back and forth across time between 1976 and the days of slavery in the early 1800s.

The main character, Dana, is repeatedly summoned to antebellum Maryland to save the life of Rufus, the white son of a slave owner, and one of her ancestors. She witnesses and experiences first-hand the horrors of slavery: beatings; hard labor; families torn apart when the Master sells children, husbands, wives; and submssiveness. The story is very well-written and is extremely thought-provoking and engrossing.

I highly recommend this book and feel so grateful that I gave it a chance.

1.18.2010

And the winner is not 30 Rock!

Glee's win for Best Comedy/Musical Series was my favorite announcement last night...I was so happy they won, and that 30 Rock did not win. (I have to admit though, Modern Family is edging Glee out as my favorite show right now. They were nominated too, so that was good.

Toni Collette won for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical for The United States of Tara, so no Tina Fey. (Though, I think of Tara as being more of a drama, but oh well.) Alec Baldwin still won in his category--poor Steve Carrell...I really think he deserves that award.

Best speech came from Meryl Streep who won Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical for Julie/Julia. She spoke of how her mother influence her portrayal of Julia Childs as much as Julia Childs did. Then she said,
I come to Golden Globes weekend and I am conflicted how to have my happy movie self in the face of everything I'm aware of in the real world, and that's when I have my mother's voice coming to me: Partners in Health, shoot some money to Partners In Health, and be damn grateful you have the dollars to help....And I am grateful. I'm really grateful."--Meryl Streep as quoted from the Huffington Post.
I was also happy that Drew Barrymore won Best Actress for Mini-Series or Made for TV Movie for her role as Little Edie in Grey Gardens. It struck me when she said she's been coming to this awards ceremony since she was seven years old. Wow. What a career she's had. I was also happy to see that she was there with Justin Long--I guess they're back together.

I didn't take notes while watching, so this is really all that comes to mind right now. Oh, and that Helen Mirren looked AMAZING.

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In other news, I finally saw The Blind Side last night. I didn't LOVE it, but I liked it quite a bit. Sandra Bullock won a Golden Globe last night for her role, which kind of surprised me, but good for her. I thought Quinton Aaron did a good job as Michael Oher--he really seemed like a gentle giant. It was a nice movie.

~~~~~~~~~~
And finally, time for the annual viewing of the King Holiday video. Happy Birthday Martin Luther King, Jr.

1.05.2010

To see or not to see?

I've been torn about seeing Avatar. I'm not really interested in it at all, yet people are talking about it all over the place, and it will probably have some Oscar nominations, so if I stick with my Oscar time traditions, I'll have to see it. A friend told me that the story is just "eh" but that the special effects were worth it. That seems to be the consensus.

I was finally leaning toward seeing it, in 3D and all--maybe even at an IMAX theater--until I talked to a coworker today. He saw it at an IMAX theater, from the 3rd row, and got motion sickness that lasted two days. I started to get a bit headache-y just hearing him talk about it. Don't forget that I got seasick at an AQUARIUM! [Oh shoot--I just did a quick search of my blog and it seems I never told that story. More on that later.] Anyway, now I'm back to debating on whether to go or not. If I do, I'll skip the 3D, methinks. Oh, and same coworker was at a restaurant and heard someone in the men's room who sounded pretty bad off. My coworker asked if the guy was okay--he was...he was just feeling sick from having seen AVATAR!

Now, about that aquarium. Last year I celebrated New Year's with my friend Jeanene in Atlanta. We went to the Atlanta aquarium. There's a huge tank that goes from floor to ceiling and in order to see it, you can either get onto a slow-moving sidewalk that takes you through, or you can walk through on your own. Jeanene and I chose to walk because the moving sidewalk was full. As we were going along, I happened to look down, and saw where the sidewalk was moving, but it felt like I was moving. The motion sickness hit right away and I never really recovered. (I like to say it was sea-sickness since we were surrounded by water.) After a while, I was still feeling pretty nauseated, so we gave up and went to the cafeteria so I could get some ginger ale. When we got home, I ate some crackers, took a nap, and then felt much better. Now, I ask you? Who gets seasick at an aquarium?

Yeah. This is why I won't be seeing Avatar in 3D.

1.04.2010

Perusing the Food Network

I often watch Food Network on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I love watching Paula Deen to see how much butter she puts into each recipe, plus she just seems like a fun person. Rachel Ray always has good tips, even though she's annoying, and I've tried several recipes from the Neely's, who are also annoying--there's no reason they need to call each other "baby" and "sweetie" 25 times in one half-hour show--still, the stuff they make is amazing. At Thanksgiving I used their recipe for a cranberry sauce.

You'd think with all this food television-watching that I do, that I'd be in the kitchen all the time, but the thing is, I don't really like to cook that much. (I prefer baking. Rachel Ray often points out the opposite: she prefers cooking and does not bake.) And actually, what I've really narrowed it down to is that I don't like cooking when it's just for me. When I have people coming over, I don't mind at all--it's gratifying to make food for people that they like. But when it's just for me? Eh. I guess I should just have people over more often!

Anyway, while watching Food Network over the weekend I saw a commercial for a new contest show called "Worst Cooks in America." Two chefs, Anne Burrell* and Beau MacMillan pick teams from among several people who were nominated by friends, family and even themselves, as the worst cooks in America. The chefs will teach the contestants various cooking techniques and each week, people are eliminated. The final two contestants--one from each team, I presume--will prepare a meal for food critics who think they're eating food prepared by the professional chefs.

On the first episode, each contestant was asked to prepare a meal--something they make all the time. From them, the chefs chose each other's team members, choosing from among the worst of the worst.

Oh my.

These chefs have some kind of fortitude. The food the contestants brought out just looked HORRIBLE and the pros had to sample it all. One guy boiled a whole chicken and then covered it with cheese and some sort of sauce and then melted the cheese in the oven. Another lady made a three-cheese mac & cheese with cheddar, COTTAGE CHEESE and smoked gouda. Chef Beau said it was the worst mac & cheese he's ever had in his life. Chef Anne had to spit out one guy's pork. Another lady drowned noodles in what looked like two cups of soy sauce and called it "Pad Thai."

Well, as I'm watching this show, I just can't help thinking, well, I may not like to cook, per sé, but I can cook. Big difference between me and these people, for sure. I don't get that experimental in the kitchen, but I can definitely follow a recipe. These poor folks can't do that and I can't wait to see how they progress through the coming weeks.

*Note about Anne Burrell--she has another show on Saturday or Sunday mornings called "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef." A couple years ago, right before Anne's show was premiering on Food Network, my aunts took my sister and me to Anne's restaurant Centro Vinoteca, in NYC. It's a cute little place in the Village, and the food is TO. DIE. FOR. Next time I'm up there, I'll have to make another visit. On her show, Anne Burrell makes that food look so easy. I haven't tried anything beyond her parmesan crisps to accompany a salad, but maybe some day I'll be more adventurous. In fact, this past Sunday she made an Apple Tarte Tatin which is a caramel apple upside-down tart and looked fantastic. I'll definitely be trying that some day.

Hmmm....after all this, now I'm feeling a bit hungry!