6.29.2010

Another DC reality show

Dang. I saw a Tweet earlier this afternoon that a little shop in DC called Georgetown Cupcake is going to be featured in a new reality show on TLC, beginning July 16.

I've been actively boycotting this store since last October. At that time, Georgetown Cupcake participated in an event called the Taste of Georgetown. At the event, you buy tickets and use them as payment for samplings of food from various restaurants. Georgetown Cupcake ran out of cupcakes at their booth, but told people if they went to the store, they could redeem the tickets for two cupcakes per ticket. I didn't go, buy heard from my parents that when they got over to the store, the line went around the block. (The situation is nicely described at Nerdvana, about halfway down the page.)

Call me cyncial, but my questions were these:
  1. How did they have so many cupcakes at the store, but not enough at their booth?
  2. Since the store is only a couple blocks away, why didn't they bring more cupcakes to the booth as needed?
My theory?  They selfishly wanted to divert people away from a nice family and community event and bring all the attention to their store. It's like they were saying, Look at me! Look at me! A guy on the radio mentioned that a camera crew was at the store during all this--I'm now wondering if it was part of the reality show being shot. How convenient for a camera crew to catch on tape the long lines in front of the store. (Note: Okay, okay, so Georgetown Cupcake often has long lines on any given day. It's still nothing like that on the day of the Taste of Georgetown.)

Anyway, not cool.

What I haven't told you is that there's another cupcake store in Georgetown, called Baked and Wired. Their cupcakes are my favorite, and they also have other baked goods--breads, pies, and cakes that are scrumptuous. They also have coffee, chai, and regular tea, AND they have a couple of nice seating areas with couches and big tables. I actually think the folks at Baked and Wired would make for better TV, considering 1) the name of their store, in and of itself, and 2) the fact that they sell a product called "Hippie Crack." (It's a highly addictive granola mix.)

So, although my inclination is continue my boycott and ignore this TLC show altogher, I'm now very curious to see what time of year it was shot and if the whole Cupcake Debacle is included. I've got a couple weeks to figure out what to do. We shall see.

6.28.2010

Cross-advertising

Just wanted to call your attention to a new blog my friends and I have started.  It's called Third Thursdays, or Whenever, and refers to when we get together for our recently-formed dinner group.  Each month, we take turns selecting a restaurant, and then try to meet there on the third Thursday, or, if that doesn't work with everyone's schedule, whenever. 

Since we only meet monthly, it won't be updated that frequently, but I just wanted to call attention to it in case you're looking for a restaurant to try in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. 

I added a link in my blog list on the right side.  Enjoy!

6.27.2010

Summer TV

There are a couple of new shows I'm enjoying this summer.

First is Work of Art on Bravo.  It follows the same pattern as Project Runway and Top Chef, but this time we're looking for the best artist.  The contestants all work in different mediums (photography, sculpture, painting, performance arts, screen printing, etc.), and it's interesting to see how they interpret each assignment.  Last week, they were asked to design a cover for one of six Penguin Classics:  Frankenstein, Dracula, Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, The Time Machine, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  The entries are on Bravo's website.  My favorite was the Dracula design on page six.  It came in 2nd place.  The winner, for The Time Machine, is on page 12.  The winner's selection will be on the next printing of book from Penguin Classics.

The other show is Memphis Beat with Jason Lee and Alfre Woodard.  Jason Lee plays a cop by day in Memphis, and a singer by night.  After 20 minutes, I sent my dad an email and told him he should check this show out.  I loved it.  It's not a comedy, but there are funny moments, and I love Jason Lee's character.  The show's also got a great soundtrack.

OMG, thank god for Facebook tonight.  I didn't realize the BET Awards were on tonight, and thanks to my cousin's post, "Prince is so beautiful," along with several others, I tried to figure out what people were watching.  Then I found it.  I turned BET on just in time to see a tribute to Prince.  He's in the audience (looking quite handsome) and right now, Alicia Keys is singing a great rendition of "Adore."  Wow--she really did it up...got up on the piano and everything.  Patti LaBelle came out and sang "Purple Rain."   I've always wanted Patti to be my friend.  I remember seeing an interview about the first time she met Prince, and she said he was so thin--she just wanted to cook up some food for him.  The show airs again later this week...I've already set Tivo to record it.  I can't believe I almost missed it.   Patti and Chaka Khan then present Prince with the BET 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award.  All I'm thinking is, when is this man going on tour again.  His was the best concert I ever saw.

OK, sorry for that interruption.  Back to summer TV.  I'm also enjoying True Blood, Royal Pains, Drop Dead Diva, and Top Chef.  Plenty to keep me busy.  Oh, and I'm also watching the first season of Dexter on DVD...great show--not sure why I wasn't watching all along.  I'm looking forward to the return of White Collar, as well as the start of a new show, The Big C, with Laura Linney, later this summer.

My friend Kerri recommended Hot in Cleveland.  Unfortunately, my power went out as it was recording last week, so I only got to see the first five minutes.  I'll try again this week.

So, any other recommendations?

Get thee to see Cyrus

Deb and I saw indie film Cyrus tonight, and really enjoyed it. It stars John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill. John C. Reilly plays John, a divorced, lonely guy. After his ex-wife, played by Catherine Keener, announces that she's getting remarried, she invites him to a party in hopes that he'll get out of the house and interact with people, and talk to women. At the party, he meets Marisa Tomei's character, Molly, and the two connect right away.

All's well and good until John meets Molly's overly dependent 21-year-old son, Cyrus, played by Jonah Hill. Molly and Cyrus' relationship is very close--uncomfortably close, and John starts to wonder about it. The three become involved in a strange sort of triangle, with John and Cyrus fighting for Molly's attention.

John gets himself into many awkward moments at which I laughed, and at the same time felt a little uneasy. Jonah Hill did a great job as Cyrus--he's creepy and you're often wondering, where is this guy coming from? One review I read pointed out that it's good to see Jonah Hill in a non-raunchy role...I agree with this wholeheartedly. Marisa Tomei is great too...I've always loved her.

As an aside, I don't know how I can research this, but I'm pretty sure she wore a dress in this movie that she wore in The Wrestler. I'm not even sure how or why I'd notice a detail like that. I'll have to see The Wrestler again to see if I'm right.  This is the dress I'm talking about:


Anyway, Cyrus is funny, has great performances, and was well worth my ten bucks.

6.25.2010

Michael Jackson's Greatest Hits - according to me

Photo of graffiti on 7th Ave between 28th and 29th streets, New York City


It's hard to believe it's been one year since Michael Jackson's passing. To mark the anniversary, the Washington Post issued a challenge:
Here are the rules: Ten songs. Solo material only. No Jackson 5 stuff. And as difficult as it is to type these words, no "Blame it on the Boogie."
Limiting the list to 10 songs is really difficult, but here's my Top 10 (in no particular order):
  • Don't Stop Til You Get Enough
  • Rock with You
  • She's Out of My Life
  • Billie Jean
  • PYT (Pretty Young Thing)
  • The Way You Make Me Feel
  • Man in the Mirror
  • Smooth Criminal
  • Remember the Time
  • You Rock My World
I also considered Thriller and Beat It, but for me, it's all about the videos with those two songs.

So, whaddya think? Anyone else want to put a list together?

SYTYCD Down-to-9 Results Show

The show opened with a group dance to Royal T by Crookers feat. Róisín Murphy (she of Ramalama (Bang Bang) fame. The dancers are wearing red and black and are bathed in red lighting. Looks like a Sonya routine. Cat comes out, and I was right, Sonya choreographed that dance.

Another announcement/reminder about National Dance Day on July 31 from Nigel.

The first three contestants come out for resutls--Kent, Adéchiké (AC) and Cristina. I suspect they're all safe, OR, perhaps AC is in the bottom three.

Kent is safe. And what? AC is safe, but Cristina is in the bottom three. Adam Shankman admitted that he's shocked to find her there. She'll dance for her life later.

Next out are Alex, Ashley, Melinda and José. Alex looks petrified, and I think he was trying to see Cat's card before she read the result. He's safe. Huge sigh of relief from Alex. José's next. And he's safe too. It's down to the girls. Ashley's safe. Melinda isn't.

Lauren, Billy and Robert come out next. Of these three, I think Robert might be in danger. Lauren's safe. The final dancer in the bottom three is Robert. Billy's safe. Mia said she was shocked in the bottom three, and she said he's one of the judges' favorite dancers and they don't want to see him go, so he better bring it in his solo. I think what she really told him was, "Don't worry, we've got your back."

Time for the first guest performance--it's Bryan Gaynor, the young pop-locker with scoliosis. During tryouts, Nigel told Bryan and his crew, RemoteKontrol, that they'd be invited to perform on the show this season, and here they are. They perform to Agnus Dei by Eskmo. OH MAN. They are AMAZING. I have to find a video of this tomorrow and post it. They were all dressed in gold, and wore gold masks, so didn't even look human as they danced--they really looked like robots. So cool!

Time for the solo performances.

Crisitina dances to Quimbara by Celia Cruz & Johnny Pacheco. She looked great.

Melinda taps to Heels by Q-Tip (love him!). While her tapping is impressive, I don't think her performance was as exciting as Cristina's was.

Robert dances to Everywhere I Go by Lissie, and proved that he shouldn't have been in the bottom three in the first place.

I think Melinda will be saying goodbye tonight, and then Nigel will express regret at losing their only tapper.

The judges go to deliberate, and we get to enjoy a performance from "Costa Rican superstar," Debi Nova singing Drummer Boy. Six of the All-Stars are dancing with her: Ade, Mark, Comfort, Neil, Courtney and Lauren. It was a fun performance, but Debi could use a little work on her lip-sync skills.

They come back with the results and Nigel announces that it is not unanimous. He then tells Robert that he is safe. He asked Melinda to step forward and said he doesn't understand why the public is not connecting with her, and that it was his opinion that she should go this week, however, Mia and Adam wanted her to stay, so she's safe. Poor Cristina is out, even though she was so good last night. Nigel tells her that she was "absolutely brilliant last night" and that she's grown so much. He wished her love and said they give her so much respect for what she does. She was very gracious, vowed not to cry, and said she'd always remember this experience.

That's it 'til next week.

Update (6/25/10): Here's the video of RemoteKontrol. The way these guys move is incredible.

6.23.2010

SYTYCD Top 10 perform

It's SYTYCD night--yay! We get some backstage scenes and dramatic music as Cat opens the show. Not necessary--the backstage stuff didn't work on AI, and they shouldn't do it here either.

Last week, the Top 10 each selected one of the 12 All-Star (AS) dancers from a hat. The selected AS dancer then announced which genre they'd be performing. Here's this week's line up:
  • Billy - Comfort - Krump
  • Lauren - Dominic (yay!) - Lyrical Hip Hop (I think that means a Napoleon/Tabitha routine)
  • Adéchiké (AC) - Allison - Contemporary
  • Kent - Courtney - Jazz
  • Melinda - Ade - Contemporary
  • Alex - Lauren - Broadway
  • Cristina - Pasha - Paso Doble
  • Ashley - Mark - Jazz
  • Robert - Anya - Argentine Tango
  • José - Kathryn - Bollywood
Neil and Twitch won't be dancing this week. That's okay because I get to see Dom and Pasha!

Cristina's up first. We get to hear stories about the contestant's childhoods this week. Unless there's anything really interesting, we'll skip that part. Jean-Marc Genereux and France choreographed the Paso Doble. Pasha and Paso Doble go together so well. Song: Ira Deorum/Sanctus by James Dooley. Very dramatic music--the dancers needed to bring the passion and they did, big time! Cristina held her own against Pasha. Nigel says that Paso Doble requires passion, power, fire and control, and that Cristina brought it all. He says thank goodness she didn't go home last week or we wouldn't have seen this routine. Mia said it was "everything." Adam said, "¡Mucho caliente!"

AC is next up. OK, he has a sad story--many of his memories of dance performances were burned in a fire, so everything's in his mind. Mandy Moore is choreographing this contemporary dance--she said there's no story, it's just about emotions. Mandy advises AC to take a more light-hearted approach. Song: Listen to Your Heart from (Edmee's Unplugged Vocal Edit) D.H.T. featuring Edmee. AC is a great dancer, but I agree that he often looks angry as he's dancing, hence his need to lighten up a bit. Allison looked elated and in love, but he looked like they might be breaking up. He smiled at the end though. I guess he's just concentrating really hard. Nigel saw major improvement in AC, but asked that he not interrupt the flow of his emotional side with the steps. Mia says he needs to tap into his joy more consistently. She also said he needs to remember that dance is not just an art form, it's a "heart form." Adam said AC's technically so good, but he's dancing from his head, not from his heart.

Alex's turn.  Tyce Diorio choreographed this Broadway routine in Fosse style, but with his own take on it. Alex and Lauren are dancing to Summertime by Sylvester. Great synchronization between Alex and Lauren, especially in using the hat prop. Good routine! Alex's leaps and splits are amazing, but he looked a little uncomfortable in parts with the Fosse style. Nigel said that Alex has got the technique down, but he needs to bring a little more power to his performances. Mia said she needed more *something* -- she went through another sound effect thing that I can't really replicate. Adam said Alex's talent is so expansive, so the contest for him needs to be about his versatility and his growth. Adam thought it was the antithesis of Fosse...it was a lot of flash and no smolder.

Ashley is next. Travis Wall is choreographing a dance about Ashley breaking up with Mark and then realizing she wants him back. Song: Wonderful by Annie Lennox. I just love Travis' choreography. It was a great routine...I think Ashley nailed the emotion this time. Nigel thought it was a well-choreographed routine, but it wasn't really a jazz routine, so he didn't see Ashley (a contemporary dancer) doing anything new. His negative critique was directed at Travis, not the dancers. He feels he hasn't learned anything this week. Mia admitted that Ashley is one of her favorite girls, and that Ashley delivered. Adam agreed with Mia, and felt she needed to "fill the space" and lose herself a little bit.

Our fifth performance comes from Billy. Krumping. Oh my. Choreographed by Lil' C. Lil' C tells us that Krumping originated in the pit of South Central L.A. - the "belly of the 'hood. " Lil' C is going to work on transforming Billy Bell into "Billy B. Buck." During rehearsal, Billy's trying to look hard, but then he speaks, and, not so much...it's kinda funny, really. Song: So U Think U Can Krump by Tha J-Squad. Wow...Billy did MUCH better than I expected. He really held his own against Comfort. He looked tough, masculine, hit all the moves sharply, and never lost his character. Awesome! And then, he speaks. It's so funny because his voice is so effiminate. Nigel started off with "I hate that music." Yeah, I have to agree with him there. Nigel said this is the most alien style for Billy, and that it's a warrior's dance, but that Billy didn't find the warrior within, yet. But, he did put all he had into it. Mia said he knocked on the warrior's door, but was afraid to open it. She thought it was a little awkward for her to watch. Adam said "you were trying so hard out there, man." Comfort thought Billy was "buck" to her. Adam said it was a bad, failed experiment. I disagree with the judges this week...I think Billy did a great job.

Robert's next. another Jean-Marc and France routine...Argentine Tango, in case you forgot. Song: Libertango by Bond Quartet. Woo--this dance was HOT! Robert did a great job! Cat said she got chills. Nigel said Roberto looked magnificent. I have to admit here that I do kinda miss Mary Murphy's comments on the ballroom dances. Meanwhile, Mia said this dance didn't give her chills at all. She needed more power from Robert. She said the man is supposed to devour the woman, but that Anya devoured him. Anya said she wouldn't have looked that way without Robert's partnering. Adam is like Switzerland and understood what both Nigel and Mia were saying.

Melinda and Ade are next for a contemporary number by Stacey Tookey, who says the dance is about the relationship between Mother Earth and Mankind. Song: Squander by Skunk Anansie. I suppose she's been watching the news every night about the oil spill.  Wow...I think Melinda did much better than last week--she tapped in to the emotion this time. Nigel said, "for a tapper, you've got fantastic lines." He thought she was tremendous, Ade was too. Mia loved the concept and story, but didn't like Melinda's dress. She ultimately said it was a "Yay." Adam said Melinda was fantastic, and that he's glad the judges kept her last week when she was in the bottom three.

Here comes B-Boy José. He gets to dance Bollywood. José doesn't know what Bollywood is, and choreographer, Nakul Dev Mahajan, has never worked with a B-Boy. The piece is telling a genie-in-a-bottle story. During rehearsals, Kathryn says José is really out of his element, but that he's got a lot of positive energy. Song: Marjaani Marjaani Kasame, from Billu Barber (Soundtrack). I gotta say, José was pretty impressive tonight. I'm not sure what it is, but hip-hoppers and B-Boys tend to do well with Bollywood, even though the styles are SO different. His arms weren't always as tight as Kathryn's, and it looked like he almost lost his footing a couple times, but he kept up with the speed of the dance and looked like he was having fun. Cute ending...José released Kathryn from the bottle at the beginning and it ended with her putting José into the bottle. Nigel said José didn't quite make it to India, but he did really well. Mia said, "I love you so much right now. You made us smile." She talked about how he brought a groove into it that probably wasn't right, but it was fun. Adam said "if there were a prize for the brightest light on this show, you would've won it already. You're an absolute joy." He said the dance was totally wrong, but that José's so much fun to watch.

Lauren's next. She gets to dance hip-hop with Dominic. I was wrong, Napoleon/Tabitha aren't choreographing--it's a new choreographer Tessandra Chavez. The dance is about an abusive relationship. Wow...heavy. Song: If I Were a Boy by Beyoncé. Wow...it was really good. Last week Lauren was criticized for not showing the emotion, but that was not a problem this week. She did really, really well. I rewound and watched it again before hearing the judges' critiques. It was great. Nigel said, "I believed the performance." Technically, he said her feet were a little too close together, and that he back seemed to sway a bit. Mia said it's just that she has a good butt. Mia wanted to "feel" the abuse more than just dancing steps--she was looking for it to be more disturbing, still, she thought it was one of the best performances of the night. Adam complimented Lauren for taking his notes from last week; in doing so, she got better. He said he can see that she's still in an emotional space even after the dance, and told her to celebrate that because she tonight she turned into an actor. Dom was in that space too--he seemed upset and wasn't his usual playful self afterward.

Kent gets to dance the last performance of the night with Courtney for one of Tyce's jazz routines.  It's about a couple who's together, then not together.  Tyce said it's "you want what you can't have."   They need some sexual tension, which Courtney is fine with, but Kent's a bit virginal in this area.....  Song:  Amy Amy Amy by Amy Winehouse.  Kent and Courtney danced on and around a table on the stage.  Kent was able to pull of the sexiness of the routine.  Woo!  Cat said, "From a boy to a man."  Nigel said his journey from small-town Ohio (I'm not even going to attempt to spell it), is moving very fast.  He also made a remark that *this* was a jazz routine, as opposed to what Travis did earlier. Travis was sitting right next to Tyce, and mumbled something, but I couldn't make it out. He looked pissed though. As for Kent, Nigel said he didn't seem to have as much fun with this like he did with the cha-cha last week.  Nigel thinks Kent was thinking too much.  Courtney thought Kent was fabulous at being sexy.  Mia thought there were great moments of technique and physicality, but that he didn't transform himself to "eat her alive."  She thinks Courtney ate Kent alive, instead of the other way around.  He needs to be more mature now. Adam said, "I'm just getting hungry now."  Adam said Kent needs to work every week on finding the connection with his partner, but that it was great to see Kent dance.

OK.  Here's how I'd rank the performances this week--basically based on how much I enjoyed the performance, not so much on how well the dancer danced it technically.  I didn't dislike any performance this week, but someone has to be last.

10.  Billy - Comfort - Krump
9.  Adéchiké (AC) - Allison - Contemporary
8.  Kent - Courtney - Jazz
7.  Alex - Lauren - Broadway
6.  Melinda - Ade - Contemporary
5.  Ashley - Mark - Jazz
4.  José - Kathryn - Bollywood
3.  Cristina - Pasha - Paso Doble
2.  Robert - Anya - Argentine Tango
1. Lauren - Dominic - Lyrical Hip-Hop

The girls really stepped it up this week.  We'll see what happens tomorrow.

6.18.2010

SYTYCD - 1st results show

Tonight's show opened with a group dance choreographed by ______ (I'm not sure--I couldn't catch her name when Cat introduced her, and she's new to the show. I'll have to get her name next time). The song was Acapella by Kelis. Everyone's dressed in white and gold and they all do great. Billy was a standout with his kicks. It's like his legs go on forever.

Nigel promotes National Dance Day coming up on July 31. The intention is to get everyone up and moving on that day. Napoleon and Tabitha created a routine for the whole country to do. It's at the Dizzy Feet Foundation website. I might just have to get some girls together that night to go dancing. It'd be funny if everyone in the club broke out into this routine.

Time for some results. The first four contestants are up: Alex, Robert, Lauren and Kent. The guys are all safe.

And so is Lauren.

Next up are Melinda, Billy, Ashley and Alexie.

Melinda is in the bottom three. Billy's safe. Ashley is safe and Alexie is in the bottom three. Melinda's not a surprise, and I'm not that surprised about Alexie either, based on the judges lukewarm comments the night before.

José, Adéchiké (from here on out, I'm going to refer to him as AC), and Cristina are the final group. José's safe. AC's safe. Cristina's in the bottom three. I got 2/3 right on the bottom three. I was wrong about Alexie, and thought AC would be there.

After the commercial break, we have a guest performance from the Broadway show Come Fly Away, created by Twyla Tharp, and performed by Karine Plantadit and Keith Roberts to "That's Life" by Frank Sinatra. Whew! They were great!!

Now the girls come out to dance for their lives.

Melinda taps to I Got the Feelin' by James Brown. She was awesome--ended with James Brown's trademark shuffle.

Alexie performs to I've Been Loving You Too Long by Otis Redding. Beautiful.

Cristina dances to La Guarachera by Celia Cruz & TITO PUENTE. In case you're wondering, I put Tito Puente's name in all caps because of a scene from the movie, Hollywood Shuffle, it's how I hear his name in my head. I've been doing that for 20 years...can't stop now. It's just like when I hear Madonna's name, I think of Robin Williams in Birdcage, "Madonna, Madonna, Madonna!"

Anyway, Cristina was good. The judges have a tough decision ahead of them. I think Melinda's going to be in trouble though.

While the judges go to deliberate, we get to see Usher perform OMG. I didn't care for this song when he did it several weeks ago on American Idol, but now it's grown on me. and I really don't care what Usher's singing--I just love to watch him dance. Next, Usher introduces the world premiere of Justin Bieber's new video for Somebody to Love, featuring Usher. I didn't fast forward at this point as I normally would have because a friend told me she kinda liked it. I figured I should watch. And well...it wasn't bad. I agree with my friend that Justin could work on his dance moves some more, but the song was catchy, plus we got to see more of Usher's dancing. Note to my friend who admitted kind of liking this--I didn't want to call you out. If you'd like to identify yourself, please feel free. ;o)

Time to find out who's going home. Nigel announces that there's a unanimous decision. He first tells Melinda that she needs to bring fire. He tells Cristina that she brought the fire, but she didn't bring the steps, but they felt she was dancing for her life tonight. Alexie is told that she was very contained in her movement--she must learn to dance to the extent of her movement. BUT, she won't get to learn it on this show because she's going home. Aww...I feel so bad for her--she's so sweet. This was her 4th time auditioning for the show, she made it, but then she gets cut first. Mia assured her that she will work as a dancer, so she shouldn't feel bad.

~~~~
I cannot believe I wrote yesterday that I don't really remember Allison. I looked her up and as soon as I found this routine with Ivan, I was like, OF COURSE! This was one of my favorite all-time performances. Ivan's a hip-hop dancer--you'd never know it watching this piece.



Allison's a gorgeous dancer, and on Wednesday she and Alex achieved perfection:

6.16.2010

SYTYCD 2010 - 1st night of competiton

Tonight's the first night for the Top 11 dancers to perform. Cat introduces the dancers, and then the judges--Adam Shankman, Mia Michaels, and Nigel Lythgoe. (Mia's now a permanent judge--it's my understanding that Mary Murphy will be doing some choreography this season. I gotta admit--I will not miss her screaming each week.)

After last week's show, each contestant drew the name of an All-Star (A-S from now on) out of a hat. Then they met with a choreographer and rehearsed.

First up is Billy, who we learn, is a do-it-yourself-er. He's paired with A-S Lauren to do a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine to Footloose by Kenny Loggins. Wow...this routine is fast, and Billy is great. His kicks are leaps are fantastic. And, I still love Lauren...glad to watch her dance again. Off to a great start. Nigel warned him to be careful with chemistry with his partner. Mia said he did an awesome job, and Adam said Billy's biggest challenge will be that dancing is too easy for him...he needs to focus on his character, and fill out what's in between the step.

Cristina's next. She tells us she once auditioned for an American-Idol type show in Mexico, but she got cut. She's paired with A-S Mark, doing one of Sonya Tayeh's jazz routines, which was inspired by a snake. They perform to Starstruck by Santigold. Mark was made for Sonya's choreography. It was hard for me to take my eyes off him. Cristina did very well, but just isn't dynamic like Mark is. Nigel said, "in truth, that routine was all about the coming together of Sonya and Mark again." Exactly. He added, however, that Cristina was tremendous in it. Okay, after that remark, I rewound and forced myself to focus on Cristina. She was good and held her own. Mia said she was paired with the best in that genre, but she did an awesome job. Mia said that Cristina displayed skills that Mia didn't expect her to have since Cristina's a salsa dancer. Adam said he wasn't just proud, he was stunned. He saw no trace of a salsa dancer.

Next is B-boy José, who does yoga everyday. He's dancing with A-S Comfort in a hip-hop routine by Napoleon and Tabitha. They say the routine is about two predators ready to attack, but we don't know who's going to be the prey. The song is Beautiful Monster by Ne-Yo. Best part: Comfort ran and jumped into José's arms, and somehow landed with one leg around his neck! WOW. They were great. Nigel loved the routine and thought it José was outstanding. Mia said the only criticism was that he seems to be thinking about the choregraphy too much. That's not what she said...she instead used a sound effect of some sort, but I think that's what she meant. Adam suggested he work on power moves that are faster.

Adéchiké comes next. He went to the Fame school La Guardia Arts, which produced Tyce Diorio, who we learned didn't do so well his junior year. Adéchiké is paired with A-S Kathryn for a Travis Wall jazz routine about a man's fantasy. He's an office worker who has a daydream about what he wishes he were doing at work, seducing (or being seduced by) a pretty lady in red. Music: Addicted to Love by Florence + the Machine. Adéchiké is very talented, but once again, I was more interested in Kathryn, who was fantastic. Nigel kind of said the same thing--he didn't believe this was Adéchiké's fantasy. Kathyrn was really giving herself, but it didn't seem like Adéchiké wanted her. I agree with that...he just wasn't into the roll. Nigel said it's not just about steps, it's also about dancing and performing. Mia complimented Travis' choreography, but said there was no sexual chemistry between the two, despite all that Kathryn was giving. She said he was stiff and brought nothing to the stage. Adam said technically, he was a good partner, but that Adéchiké didn't take that extra step. He then demonstrated an intense look with Mia.

Melinda, the tapper, is up next. She's on As the World Turns--I'll have to ask my mom about her. She gets to dance with Pasha. Lucky girl! They're doing a jive routine from Melanie Lapatin and Tony Meredith. The routine's about love. The song: L.O.V.E. by VV Brown. Melinda's steps weren't always in sync with Pasha's, and she looked a little lost once or twice, but the performance aspect missing from the previous dancers was all there. She looked like she was having fun. Nigel said the style didn't suit Melinda, and expects she'll be dancing for her life tomorrow night. Mia agreed with Nigel, and said there's something she can't quite pinpoint the problem, but that Melinda comes across pigeon-toed. Adam said when she watches it back, she'll see what they're talking about and will learn a lot. He said she's a good actor, and a good entertainer/performer, but she used it too much to mask her weaknesses in the dancing.

Alex tells us that he loves to sing and play the piano. He's dancing with Allison to another Sonya routine about salvation. Allison is the only all-star that I don't really remember. I think she's from Season 2. The song: Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. These two dance beautifully together, and completely in sync. Oh my god--that was amaaaaaazing. Standing "O' from Mia and Adam. Cat remarked, "First chills of the season." Nigel was speechless for a minute. He then said that Alex has set a new standard for SYTYCD, and Alex got emotional. Nigel said it was utterly fantastic, and that Alex and Allison were mega lightyears beyond everyone else. He also gave props to Sonya. Mia said it was the best piece of work danced on SYTYCD ever and that Sonya completely outdid herself. She said Alex is sheer perfection. Adam said that usually a choreographer will raise the level of the dancer, but in this case, he thinks the dancers raised Sonya to new heights as a choreographer. He said that Adam is unbelievable.

It's Alexie's turn. She tells us she was on Star Search as a kid, and coincidentally, Adam Shankman was a judge! He looked so young! She's dancing with Twitch. Yay Twitch! It's another Nape-Tab routine about young love. They're dancing to Butterfly by Jason Mraz. It's a cute routine and Twitch and Alexie have great chemistry. Alexie did a great job. Nigel said, "You're such a cute little dancer." But, he said when dancing hip-hop she can't be too cutesy. Mia said she danced like a young adorable girl, but Twitch was Mr. Swag, so her dancing didn't quite match. Adam said her performance was won over by charisma, but she needs to bring some more power in the future.

Lauren's next. She works with kindergartners. Tonight she's dancing with Ade--another lucky girl. They're doing a Mandy Moore pop-jazz routine about a first date. In rehearsals, Lauren was having trouble being sexy. The routine is to Oh Yeah by Yello. Yes, that Oh Yeah from Ferris Bueller ("chick. chicka-chickahhh..."). They start out on a couch, and Ade goes to make a move on her. This was another great pairing...I loved it. Nigel didn't though...he didn't find any chemistry between Lauren and Ade, but I disagree. Mia said, again, that Lauren needed to "fill in the space" emotionally and character-wise. Adam said the dance was about character and connection, but he didn't see any of that...there was no cat-and-mouse with Ade. I can see what the judges mean, but I still liked the routine. There was nothing wrong with her technique.

Kent tells us he was Homecoming King at his school. He adds that there were only 14 guys in his class. Wow...talk about a small-town boy. I can't relate to that at all. My graduating class had 611 people. Kent will be dancing with Anya to a Melanie/Tony cha-cha. Song: Lady Marmalade by Diva Invasion. (Who?) Kent did a good job, but I was completely distracted by his facial expressions and the fact that he kept opening and closing his mouth. Anya was great as always. It was cute, at one point he did this huge shoulder shimmy and when it was over, he had a HUGE grin like he was having the time of his life--that was cool to see. Cat asked, what was going on with those lips? Nigel said the overriding factor of the entire routine is that Kent ENJOYED it. He loved every second of Kent's performance. Mia said he looked like a "ballroom boy" and Kent said, "Oh cool!" Adam compared Kent to former contestants Gev and Dominic, who were so far out of their style, yet have had more determination that anyone.

Don't worry folks, we're almost done. Two more dancers to go....

Ashley tells us that she does crazy voices. She's dancing with Neil in a Tyce Diorio contemporary routine about love, to For All We Know by Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway. The opening lyrics of the song set the mood, 'For all we know, we may never meet again." Bravo--that was great. Ashley's a very powerful dancer, yet graceful. They did a great job. Nigel said something about using her emotions more, but said she's a beautiful dancer. Mia felt Ashley's emotion, but she wasn't sure which emotion it was. She said Ashley brings something innocent and is a beautiful dancer. Adam thought she created "incredible pictures" but he didn't connect emotionally to her performance.

And finally, Robert performs with Courtney , but first he tells us that he wanted to be a professional baseball player. New-to-the-show (I think) choreographer, Sean Cheesman, created a African-jazz routine about two mystical creatures who one moment in a year, become human. Song: Norweg, from the Cirque du Soleil Saltimbanco Soundtrack. Hmm...I didn't love it, but I can't really figure out why. They danced well--maybe it was a lack of chemistry thing. Nigel loved it and said Robert is a dark horse in the competition. Mia said there are so many things she loves about Robert. Then they growled at each other. It was bad. Adam is loving the All-Star thing and thinks Robert & Courtney were great with each other. He thinks Robert is one of the best contemporary dancers ever on the show. Hmmm...maybe I need to go back and watch it again. It's late--I'll do it tomorrow.

OK. That's it. Here's how I'd rank the dancers tonight:

11. Melinda
10. Adéchiké
9. Cristina
8. Alexie
7. Lauren
6. Robert
5. Ashley
4. José
3. Kent
2. Billy
1. Alex

6.15.2010

Unreal Housewives

My friend Jeanine and I have been going back and forth about the Real Housewives of New York and RHO New Jersey. We're both kind of over both shows.

Now the buzz is about the upcoming DC show. Bravo confirmed yesterday that the White House party-crashing Salahis are part of the show (as if we didn't already know that). Being from the DC area, I am a bit curious as to what Bravo will do with this edition of Real Housewives. Plus a friend of a friend of my sister's is one of the wives, so that has me intrigued.

BUT...

On the other hand, I do not wish to contribute ONE IOTA to any television success for the Solahis. This feeling is stronger than any curiosity I have, so I likely won't watch at all.

I'll get my DC reality show fix from Top Chef instead--it starts this week.

6.12.2010

SYTYCD is back!

Well, actually it's been back for a few weeks, but now the audition shows are over, and we were introduced to the top 5 girls, and top 6 guys on Thursday. (I'm late on posting because I was working on my photos from my recent trip to Albuquerque, NM. I only got half of them up, but will finish this weekend.)

There are lots of changes for the show this season, including the inclusion of SYTYCD All-Stars. On last night's show, each newbie performed in his or her style along with one or more All-Stars. There was no voting; this was just a chance to see who's who. Another new addition last night is that the choreographer for each piece sat at a microphone and provided their thoughts on the performance or the meaning of the choreography. I liked that feature, but don't know if it was just for the exhibition show, or if that will be a weekly feature.

Thursday's show started with a group performance to David Bowie's "Fame." It was choreographed by Wade and Amanda Robson. The dance was performed on astro-turf, and looked like a 1920s summer party, with croquet and all. I loved it. I love having the All-Stars back, especially Mark, Dominic, Twitch, Ade, Pasha (and his abs), and Lauren. The newbies are all very talented and I'm excited about this new season.


Mia Michaels is back this season as a judge, and it was kind of surprising that Mary Murphy was not on stage. Wonder why?

The next performance was danced by newbies Lauren (I like her a lot) and small-town boy Kent (like him too). All-Stars Mark (Season 5) and Kathryn (Season 6) performed too. The performed a jazz routine choreographed by Travis Wall to "Paris is Burning" by St. Vincent. Very well done. Adam Shankman loved it.

Alexie and Melinda next perform a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine to "There's Gotta Be Something Better than This" from Sweet Charity (Original Broadway Cast). Alexi was a Laker girl for two seasons and this was her 4th attempt at getting on the show. Melinda is a tapper, but is really good in other styles too. All-Stars Allison (Season 2) and Lauren (Season 3) dance too. It might be because she's the tallest, but I found myself drawn to Melinda throughout the performance. Nigel told Alexie and Melinda that they have the technique, but they need to find the "fire" that Lauren and Allison have.

B-Boy José got to perform a hip-hop routine with All-Stars Twitch and Comfort (Season 4) and Dominic (yay! Season 3) to "Din Daa Daa (District 78 Remix)" by George Kranz. Loved it!!! it was a battle of José against the other 3 (he was wearing black, they were wearing multi-colored shirts. Then, after a cool trick/somersault between Dominic and José, he shed his black shirt and became one of the group. This was choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha, who gave José props.

Next is Cristina, a Latin dancer, who performs with All Stars Anya (going blonde these days) and Pasha to "Work (Freemasons Radio Edit)" by Kelly Rowland. Whew! Pasha's still sexy as ever. The two ladies competed to dance with Pasha. And thankfully, Pasha took his shirt off at one point--OOO LA LA!! Choreographer Jason Gilkison said that Cristina was amazing. Nigel said that Pasha and Anya are the best ballroom dancers in the WORLD, (not just on SYTYCD) and was proud that Cristina held her own against them, though he mentioned she needs to pick her feet up a little bit more.

Alex and Billy dance a Mia Micheal's piece to "This Bitter Earth/On the Nature of Daylight" by Dinah Washington and Max Richter. Mia explains that the piece is about the passage of time from a child, to a man in his prime, to an old man (played by All Star Ade). Of all the pieces this week, this is probably the only one that didn't need explanation --it was pretty clear cut. And beautiful. I just wish Ade could've played a bigger role than the old man, because I love to watch him dance.

And finally, we AdéChiké, Robert, and Ashley perform a lyrical piece to "Freak" by Estelle featuring Kardinal Offshall with Neil (Season 3) and Courtney (Season 4--yay! Good to see her too!). Sonya choreographed this one. Great routine. Sonya said she's excited.

That's it. Next week the competition starts for real. Can't wait!

p.s. In case you hadn't noticed, I made some changes to the blog. Hope you like the new look!

6.10.2010

Checking in on the AFI Top 100 list

A couple years ago, I posted the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Movies - 10th Anniversary list, and indicated in bold which movies I'd seen. It's my goal to see all of these movies at some point, and I've now updated below the movies I've seen since the last time I posted about this. Newer movies are in red bold text (and also marked with asterisks). In two years, I've only added four. I need to get to work! I'm now up to 63 movies out of 100. Slowly but surely...

  1. Citizen Kane (1941)
  2. The Godfather (1972)
  3. Casablanca (1942)
  4. Raging Bull (1980)**
  5. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
  6. Gone with the Wind (1939)
  7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  8. Schlindler's List (1993)
  9. Vertigo (1958)
  10. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  11. City Lights (1931)
  12. The Searchers (1956)
  13. Star Wars (1977)
  14. Psycho (1960)
  15. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  16. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
  17. The Graduate (1967)
  18. The General (1927)
  19. On the Waterfront (1954)
  20. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  21. Chinatown (1974)
  22. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  23. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  24. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  25. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  27. High Noon (1952)
  28. All About Eve (1950)
  29. Double Indemnity (1944)
  30. Apocalypse Now (1979)
  31. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  32. The Godfather Part II (1974)
  33. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
  34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  35. Annie Hall (1977)
  36. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
  39. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
  40. The Sound of Music (1965)
  41. King Kong (1933)
  42. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  43. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  44. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  45. Shane (1953)
  46. It Happened One Night (1934)
  47. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  48. Rear Window (1954)
  49. Intolerance (1916)
  50. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  51. West Side Story (1961)
  52. Taxi Driver (1976)
  53. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  54. M*A*S*H (1970)
  55. North by Northwest (1959)**
  56. Jaws (1975)
  57. Rocky (1976)
  58. The Gold Rush (1925)
  59. Nashville (1975)
  60. Duck Soup (1933)
  61. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
  62. American Graffiti (1973)
  63. Cabaret (1972)
  64. Network (1976)
  65. The African Queen (1951)
  66. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
  68. Unforgiven (1992)
  69. Tootsie (1982)
  70. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  71. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  72. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  74. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  75. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  76. Forrest Gump (1994)
  77. All the President's Men (1976)
  78. Modern Times (1936)
  79. The Wild Bunch (1969)
  80. The Apartment (1960)
  81. Spartacus (1960)
  82. Sunrise (1927)
  83. Titanic (1997)
  84. Easy Rider (1969)
  85. A Night at the Opera (1935)
  86. Platoon (1986)
  87. 12 Angry Men (1957)
  88. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
  89. The Sixth Sense (1999)
  90. Swing Time (1936)
  91. Sophie's Choice (1982)**
  92. Goodfellas (1990)
  93. The French Connection (1971)
  94. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  95. The Last Picture Show (1971)**
  96. Do the Right Thing (1989)
  97. Blade Runner (1982)
  98. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
  99. Toy Story (1995)
  100. Ben-Hur (1959)

6.09.2010

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods American Gods by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Howdy! I've been on vacation, and while I was gone, I finished reading American Gods. I read this as part of a book club experiment on Twitter (One Book, One Twitter - http://twitter.com/1B1T2010). I finished the book a couple weeks ahead of schedule, and while I didn't follow the Twitter feed about it that closely, I did enjoy the whole experience. This book is strange, clever, thought-provoking, and educational. It has sparked in me a new interest in mythology, beyond that which I learned about the Greeks & Romans in the 7th grade. It's difficult to summarize what the book is about, but basically, the main character, Shadow, is pulled into a mysterious world filled with mythological figures who are facing an oncoming war to maintain their existence in America. I really enjoyed it, and will definitely read it again some day, after I've learned a bit more about different mythological stories from around the world.

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