Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

How could I have missed this?

After reading Bailey's post of a few weeks ago, I finally decided to watch Rock Star: Supernova. And, as she assured me, it kicks so much ass! I can't believe I haven't watched this show until now. (Spoilers ahead.)

I only watched the results show, so I only got to see five of the six competitors perform. The thing that really stood out was that they all knew how to move around on stage. It was a stark contrast to American Idol.

Not to say that these performers are without fault. Far from it. The eliminated Ryan Starr was awkward on stage--all of his moves seemed very deliberate, as opposed to spur-of-the-moment rock and roll. At one point he climbed onto the speakers on stage, but it took him forever to do so. At another he told the audience to "sing it" but then he continued to sing the song, rather than giving the audience the opportunity. He also told the audience "I need you to jump." But he was singing the "Baba O'Rielly." The audience should have been jumping of their own accord--Ryan shouldn't have had to tell them to do so. He also seemed to lose the nuance of the song, just scream-singing it. (I also couldn't get past the fact that he had the same name as the female "rocker" from American Idol season one.)

Speaking of names, I can't get past the moniker "Storm Large." I mean...that's totally made up, right? And assuming it is, couldn't she have come up with something better? In addition to her name, I got off on the wrong foot with Storm because she kept saying she wanted to be in the bottom three because it would give her another opportunity to "rock out." I just didn't buy it. Nor did I love Storm's rendition of "Helter Skelter" when she did end up in the bottom three. As the song wore on I kept thinking to myself "is this almost over, or is there another verse and chorus to come?" I love "Helter Skelter" so I was kind of sad about that. But she does have the ability to sing, which certainly comes in handy in a singing competition.

I have heard that Dilana has been the front-runner throughout this competition, and I can see why. I didn't think that "Psycho Killer (qu'est-ce que c'est)" was the best choice for her--when she sang the "oh" part it sounded really melodic and sweet, which didn't fit with the raspy sound on the rest of the song. But it's obvious she can sing and she has stage presence.

I am officially addicted to this show--I'm sad there are only two episodes left. But Bailey told me that I can catch back episodes on You Tube. Yay!


You're Fired!

While only Red Fraggle and I watch (or at least used to watch) The Apprentice, the Donald has fired Carolyn! (CNN is reporting it here.) I guess he can't handle having someone who is also a star (to some degree) working for him. (Shockingly, he hired his daughter to replace her.)


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Didn't This Happen in the Naked Gun?

Just sit back and enjoy.


Just a reminder that the new Victor Garber show (love him!) premiers on Fox tonight. The Washington Post actually gave it a decent review, and I've already set my Tivo. This marks the kick-off of my fall season as the first new show that I'm going to give a chance. (I didn't even bother with Vanished.) I've been both dreading and anticipating this time of year, but it's here and unless I cancel my cable there's no going back. Good luck everyone!


Defending Sandra

In the last three days I have watched an inordinate amount of "Fashion Police" programming, critiquing the clothing at this year's Emmy Awards. I have also read a number of articles about the outfits. And everyone has been ripping on Sandra Oh. (I can just see the caption in Us Weekly, I imagine it will read "Sandra Oh No!")

Personally, I don't get it. I thought Sandra's dress was very pretty. It was flattering on her body. And sure, she was wearing a lot of jewelry, but I think it worked with the outfit. The dress was floaty and ruffly, and the abundance of jewelry added a bit of bohemian to the ensemble.

Sandra was one of the few people who took a chance with her outfit on Sunday, and I think she deserves to be applauded. Her choices reflected some personality. It's nice to see pretty dresses worn by pretty people, but it can also get boring after awhile. Sandra's outfit was pretty, appropriate and still interesting.


Pure Evil

Sure, I should have been clued in that Dean McDermott was pretty crappy when he left his wife, with whom he had just adopted a baby, for Tori Spelling. Tori herself couldn't be much better, as she reportedly dumped her first husband via her therapist. And then there was the fact that Tori mocked Dean's ex for not being able to bear any more children. Maybe not the best example of two sweet people you want to hang out with.

But this latest report is just too much for me. Apparently Dean is trying to make Tori get rid of her two senior cats. What is wrong with this guy?! Certainly their home is large enough to accomodate two old cats. I hope Tori realizes that she has some pretty bad karma coming back at her (I mean, not bothering to visit her father as he lay in the hospital for days before he died?) and spares the cats.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I checked out the newest Disney inspiration sport flick this weekend (the one starring Mark Wahlberg) and it didn't make me cry. When I told this to Bailey, she immediately knew what I meant and diagnosed it a failure. Inspirational sports stories are supposed to make the tears flow the way commercials for long-distance phone service used to! But I don't want to be too harsh on it, I enjoyed the movie, really, I did, it was gritty and sad and generally well done. It just didn't make me cry. So, be warned.


Jessica Simpson and John Mayer? Um.

So . . . sources are reporting that Jessica Simpson and John Mayer are a thing. Yes, John your-body-is-a-wonderland Mayer and Jessica -a-public-affair Simpson. This doesn't seem right. In fact, I can't even imagine them maintaining a conversation for more than five minutes. Weird.

Three Kinds of Murderers

SPOILER ALERT! I haven't generally posted on Deadwood even though it remains one of the best shows on television. Last night, Mrs. Bartender and I watched the season (and for many intents, the series) finale. While I'm sure many were disappointed that it ended not with a bang but with a whimper, as I reflected upon it (come on, can you do that with Two and a Half Men), I realized how perfect the ending was. As is often the case in literature (and sometimes life), the bad guys (or at least kind of bad guys in the case of Al) are more interesting than the good. And here, the contrast between Hearst, Cy, and Al is striking.

Start with Hearst--clearly the most evil and, unsurprisingly, most rational of the lot. His murder of Ellsworth was completely appropriate. He knew that killing Ellsworth was the best way to get him what he wanted--Mrs. Garrett's holding--and he did it without a single pang of regret, and, lo and behold, it worked. While he did want to avenge the woman who shot him, he was unwilling to destroy Deadwood for no reason. Once he got what he wanted--the holding and his (supposed) assailant dead--his work was done, and he moved on to his venture, the Anaconda. That he would die a little more than a decade later as a U.S. Senator is somehow fitting for this purely rational and purely evil man.

Then there is Cy. He aspires to something grander, but he is, at most, a second fiddle. Rebuked by Joanie (for a woman) and used (and abused) by Hearst, he is able to do no more than threaten to shoot Hearst only to murder instead the hapless opium addict, Leon, seemingly to demonstrate his frustration. This murder serves no purpose other than demonstrating Cy's impotence. He is cruel but weak, and it is no surprise that he has become nothing more than what he is.

Last comes Al, the true centerpiece of the series (and outstandingly acted by Ian McShane). He too shares a streak with Hearst of using murder to pursue a rational end. But there are major differences. First, he lets emotion interfere in a way Hearst never would. Simply put, Al cannot kill Trixie. She has done too much for him, and he knows it, and he lets sentiment put his own life at risk should the ruse be discovered. Second, even though Al is willing to kill an innocent prostitute, he knows he has done something wrong and must atone. That the show ends with Al cleaning the blood himself demonstrates his penance. As Adams aptly explains, "When he ain't lying Al's the most honorable man you'll meet."

Finally, kudos for the use of the Boss's version of Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep to end the show. A great song from a fantastic album.

Thankfully, we have 4 more hours of Deadwood before we say goodbye for ever.


God Help Me

I sort of love the new Justin Timberlake song, "SexyBack." I'm not exactly sure what's up with the apparently Alias-inspired video though.

So you think you can sing?

Tonight the two-hour series premiere of Celebrity Duets. Of course, I'll be watching. Will anyone else? Unfortunately, the "celebrities" aren't all that exciting: WWE star Chris Jericho, Lucy Lawless, Cheech Marin, 2004 Olympic Gold Medal-winning gymnast Carly Patterson, Alfonso Ribeiro, Queer Eye's Jai Rodriguez, Hal Sparks (featured on I Love the '80s) and Lea Thompson. So...not so exciting.

But the singers are a far better crop: Cyndi Lauper, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Randy Travis, Brian McKnight, Macy Gray, Patti LaBelle, Kenny Loggins, Chaka Khan, Richard Marx, Michael Bolton, Clint Black and Aaron Neville.

My early bet is on Alfonso Ribeiro--I think I remember him singing on some show in the past. Perhaps when he was on The Fresh Prince?

Now, VH1 did something similar a couple of years ago, having celebrities sing (without the duets part) and it really wasn't very good at all. But I'm hoping for better from this show.

Frankly, I'm just excited to see Cyndi Lauper on television. She always deserved more credit for being a great singer than she got. Team Cyndi!


Monday, August 28, 2006

What a Shock

According to CNN, John Mark Karr will not be charged in connection with the JonBenet murder. It turns out the DNA didn't match. Oh yeah, I predicted this a few weeks ago. Not that I was alone. What a whack job--not only a pedophile, but someone who will confess to a murder he did not commit.

Btw, when this story originally broke almost a decade ago, I paid virtually no attention to it. But in watching very little of the saturation coverage, there is one fact that strikes me as most interesting: the amount of money demanded in the ransom note--$118,000. A strange amount to be sure, but even stranger--it is the exact amount of a bonus (after tax) that Mr. Ramsey had just received. This cannot be a coincidence. Whoever wrote this note knew this information (and likely committed the murder). While someone could have found the pay stub, it points the finger right back at the Ramsey family now that Karr is innocent (at least of this crime).

Restaurant Recommendation

While not pop culture, I am not the first to pass on a recommendation here in the DC area. Some of you may know about Ray's the Steaks in Arlington, VA. It is often known as the best steak place in DC. Great food and relatively inexpensive. It is also an unusual place in that it is very small with no decor.

Well, a sister restaurant has now opened in Silver Spring, MD--Ray's the Classics--and Mrs. Bartender and I checked it out last week. It is fancier (albeit not overly so) than the Arlington establishment (they have table cloths!), but it was an outstanding meal. The steaks, in particular, were great (they also offer seafood and some other dishes) as was the Peach Charlotte. Impressively, the meal for the two of us was only just over $100 with tip. Now we each had a steak plus 2 side dishes, 2 desserts, and two drinks. (Salads are included.) And we had leftovers for dinner the next night! A comparable meal at most DC steakhouses would run 30-50 bucks more. And I think the food at Ray's is better. If you're interested, it's at 8606 Colesville Rd in downtown Silver Spring (across the street from the AFI). And tell them Isaac sent you. They'll look at you funny, but tell them.

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

SPOILERS! So quite a night for Ari Gold--he wins the Emmy only to get fired by Vince! If you were to wager on what next for Ari, would you guess that (1) he is off the show when it returns next spring or (2) he is back with a vengence to return Mr. Chase to his stable of clients. It's a tough one, but I'm going to have to go with number 2. And a tour de force performance (as usual) from Mr. Piven last night. I don't think I'd ever seen a Japanese internment joke before, but it was damn funny. As was Lloyd's reaction--"I'm not Japanese." Lloyd has actually developed into a fantastic foil to Ari and not simply a punching bag. It makes Ari's abuse of him all the funnier and makes Lloyd a more three dimensional character. Kudos all around.

And who woulda thunk that Drama would be the smartest of all of the entourage on what Vince should do (leaving aside his 40 point scale for rating the agencies). He was logical, methodical, and, in the end, right (even if they dumped Ari (for now)).

Finally, I fear that we have seen the last of Bob Ryan. I did recently learn that (1) Robert Evans may sue HBO for Ryan's portrayal of "him," and (2) Evans allowed his house to be used as Ryan's. How about them apples? But what if I told you that I had a script in which Ari and Bob reunited and were able to get the Ramones movie made starring Vincent Chase. Is that something you'd be interested in?

Until the spring!

Big Spender

I've been meaning to post about this show, and its host, for awhile now. The premise is really simple, it's Intervention for the non-budget savvy. Each week, Larry Winget and his wildly odd embroidered western-wear descend on a couple or family in financial trouble, show the woman in the family (so far, it's always women with the spending problem) how their out-of-control shopping is destroying their credit, lives, families, relationships etc, explain the basics of financial planning, put them on a strict budget, and give them some strategies for getting out of debt, and then show back up in a few weeks to see how they're doing. Larry seems nice enough, but as host he does the worst Dr. Phil impression I've ever seen. His charisma on camera seems confined to the aforemeantoned crazy shirts. I'm not sure how long this show can survive. Not that there aren't plenty of people in financial crisis, but the half-hour format doesn't give you nearly enough time to really get interested in the individuals as individuals, and since the advice is pretty basic - cut your spending, get second jobs, etc. - there's really not much to it. Given all this, I'm not sure why I've watched three episodes of this show - other than the fact that I love spending money, and it's kind of disturbing to watch where it could lead me if I'm not careful.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Emmy Awards: a running diary

My spelling bee running diary was such a hit, I decided to try another for the Emmy Awards. Unfortunately, I didn't think to do this until an hour into the show. So I'll do a quick recap of the first hour and move on. (My intent is to post photos, but guess what? Blogger sucks. Hopefully I will be able to add them at some point.)

Fashion: The color of the night was clearly purple. It's actually kind of odd just how many actresses chose it: Evangeline Lilly, Jamie Pressly, Cheryl Hines, Sandra Oh (a lavendar-cornflower sort of color), Leah Ramini, Cloris Leachman and Ellen Pompeo all wore some shade of the color. Don't any of them share a stylist? Don't their stylists talk to each other? It seems a strange coincidence that so many would show up wearing an otherwise uncommon color.

Among the women in purple, Lilly would have my pick of best dressed--just a very pretty, flowing dress. My other purple vote would be for Ellen Pompeo. She looks like she gained about 15 pounds! And that's a really good thing. Far more attractive than usual.

My personal favorite woman overall, however, would be a tie between Katherine Heigl, who looked amazing in a skintight nude dress, and Heidi Klum, just because (as you all know) she is the most gorgeous pregnant woman ever. During the red carpet she and Seal told an interviewer that Heidi has been pregnant for 104 of the 150 months they have known each other. And she looked amazing every second!

Surprisingly, Tim Gunn named Mariska Hargitay one of the best dressed women of the night, but I thought she was among the worst. Mariska had a baby three months ago, and, understandly, she hasn't quite lost all of the baby weight. But that is not an excuse for exposed back fat. She just generally looked stuffed into her dress and lumpy, which is never good. Nor did I like Debra Messing's dress--too many tiers and frills. Tim Gunn liked her, too, however. Just a few days ago Tim was the only person I could find who agreed with me that Vincent's dress was ugly. And now we can't agree on the Emmy Awards? So sad.

Oh, and a special shoutout to Virginia Madsen's breasts. She's not the youngest of women anymore, which makes her feat all the more impressive.

All of the supporting awards were given, without much excitement. Megan Mullaly for Will and Grace, again (thank God that show is done), Alan Alda for the West Wing (didn't even bother to show!), Blythe Danner for the now-cancelled Huff (her second in a row, and well-deserved--her role was great) and Jeremy Piven for Entourage (wearing an ascot).

My biggest disappointment in the first hour? Kate Winslet did not win for her guest role on Extras. If you have the chance to watch her episode (titled "Kate Winslet") you must. It made me love her so much more than I had before, and I was a fan to begin with. She plays herself on a movie set, a totally bawdy, lewd Brit who gives "helpful" advice on how to dirty talk. A brilliant performance. (Also up for his guest role on Extras: Ben Stiller. And guess what? He played a loud, annoyed, angry guy. When will this schtick get old? Enough already. At least he lost.)

Okay, now we join the show in progress, as the Dick Clark tribute goes on. Dick has just introduced Barry Manilow. Barry has been all over the place this year, and he just looks and sounds awful. His face looks like Roy Horn before the tiger got to him--I wonder if he takes Roy's photo to the plastic surgeon with him as an inspiration. And his performances now lack all energy. I grew up with a lot of Manilow in the background, so I know of what I speak here. I know he's old now, but it's sad to see.

Back from the commercial brak with Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan. Tina looks pretty cute in a very low cut black dress. FYI--I'm not going to comment on the attire of any men unless it is something that really stands out. Best individual performance in a variety or musical program. Manilow is up for this. If he wins, there is no justice. Okay, there is no justice. He just won. How can this be? Has the whole world closed their eyes to how much he now sucks? And I'm saying this as someone who loved the cheese that was Barry Manilow back when everyone else was making fun of him.

The accounting team introduced a la a sporting event. Among the four? Kareem Abdul-Jabaar. Okay, so at least they made it fun this year. But why do the accountants need to be introduced? Couldn't the host just say that Ernst and Young did the accounting and not introduce the reps? Why does this happen?

Evangeline Lilly and Wentworth Miller introducing the winners for guest actor in a drama series. This award has already given, but I don't know who won. I'm going to guess Michael J. Fox in a sympathy vote over the much more deserving Henry Ian Cusick for Lost. For the women, I have to go with Ricci for her role as the terrified paramedic in Grey's Anatomy. Okay, wrong on both counts. Christian Clemenson, winner of the men's award, is presenting the directing award for a drama. I believe this is the only award Big Love was even up for, which is just shocking to me. Went to 24, which I just don't watch, so I can't really comment. Writing award went to The Sopranos. Unlike most, I really enjoyed this season, so it's good to see a win.

Okay, sorry, I skipped some awards I didn't care much about. But I'm back with best lead actor in a miniseries or movie. Hugh Laurie and Helen Mirren are presenting and are genuinely good at it--no awkwardness in their little skit. I guess that's what happens when the actors are genuinely talented. Andre Braugher, of the late, lamented Gideon's Crossing, wins for Theif.

Next presenters: Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry. Best lead actor in a comedy. This show is just flying along. Tony Shaloub wins for Monk. I'm sure it wasn't a popular choice, but I actually do watch Monk (how could I not?--I still record Murder, She Wrote, Columbo and Matlock), and he really does a good job. And at least it wasn't Kevin James or Charlie Sheen winning for their insipid shows.

Oh! Up next: Aaron Spelling salute! Can't wait! Damn watching live--it means you have to suffer through commercials.

Wait, what? Candace Bergen is introducing the Dick Aspen. Who, you ask? The chairman and CEO of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. This is who they got to present the Spelling tribute? Sorry, but pretty damned weak. They should have just thrown Candy and Tori on the stage to see what would happen.

Okay, I kind of take it back. He's just introducing Joan Collins (Dynasty), Stephen Collins (Seventh Heaven) and Heather Locklear (Dynasty, T.J. Hooker, Melrose Place). That's better. A quick cut to Candy and Randy Spelling. No Tori in sight. Oh, here's a shot of Tori and husband Dean McDermott. Looks like they are sitting far from Randy and Candy.

A quick clip of Spelling's shows, followed by Jacklyn Smith, Kate Jackson and Farrah Fawcett walking onto the stage together. This might be great. Farrah looks like she fell asleep in the tanning bed and then popped a handful of quaaludes. (Quaaludes seems appropriately Spelling-esque.) Okay, Kate Jackson has stopped speaking and Farrah has taken the mic. Damn, nothing embarassing. She got misty-eyed, but that's expected. Oh well, it had promise. Candy Spelling is crying up a storm. Or, at least, "crying" up a storm. Who knows? End of tribute.

Eva Longoria is still ahead. I'm surprised I haven't seen a photo of her dress yet.

Back from commercials. Looks like the editing got messed up, because it cut right into the presentation of nominees, without een introducing the presenters or the cateogory. Looks like The Girl in the Cafe is the winner for...something. Oh, wait, for best made for television movie. I guess the excellent Mind Over Murder, which introduced Tori Spelling to now-husband Dean McDermott, just missed the cut. The woman who won was stuck all the way in the back, making for a very, very long walk to the podium.

Colbert and Stewart presenting. Colbert seems just as upset that he lost to Manilow as I am. At least someone else sees the light. Best reality show. I don't know what I want here? Do I cheer for Runway? Root for the Race? I'm so torn. Sophie's choice, here. Winner: The Amazing Race. Oh, how I miss it. And there's Phil! He's looking a little...too tan. Either a lot of this season was spent filming in the tropics or Phil's been spending a little too much time with Farrah Fawcett.

I just saw a commercial for ER. This show is still on the air? Really? Honestly, I didn't realize that.

Katherine Heigl and Omar Epps are presenting. Heigl looks very Charlize Theron. Including, unfortunately, skin that looks pretty orange. What's with all of these bad tans? They are presenting for best directing in a miniseries or movie. Goes to Elizabeth I. I meant to watch that when it first aired--I should really get around to it at some point. Wow. This speech is a real downer and he isn't even saying anything depressing. The winner looks like he is being held hostage or something. Kind of disturbing.

Emmy for outstanding writing in a miniseries or movie: The Girl in the Cafe. This is the third award for that show, which I hadn't heard of until tonight. Maybe I'll rent it? What's it even about?

James Gandolfini and Edie Falco presenting. Outstanding miniseries. I'm going to guess The Girl in the Cafe, considering its success thus far. And...I'm wrong. Elizabeth I. That was going to be my other guess. Never bet against a show starring Helen Mirren (by the way, Mirren is wearing an amazing emerald necklace tonight).

Now it's time for the In Memorium portion of the show. Let's see who gets the most applause. I think even money is on Spelling, assuming he gets his photo on after already having a special tribute. A bit of a swell for Mike Douglas. I would have liked to see more appluase for Pat Morita. Oh, here we go--Don Knotts. Much more applause than anyone else. A lot of applause for John Spencer. Laughter for Richard Pryor. No additional showing of Aaron Spelling. So Knotts beats out Spencer.

Felicity Huffman and Keifer Sutherland. Interesting dress choice from Felicity. Looks like some kind of jersey material, in a putty color. I think it was a good option--she was so formally dressed throughout the last awards season, this looks good. And the winner for best actress in a miniseries...Helen Mirren. Of course! Never bet against Mirren! Plus, she just said it was "a great triumph not falling ass over tit" as she climbed the stairs. Excellent.

Calista Flockheart looking good. Presenting for best actress in a drama. Winner: Mariska Hargitay. Looks like the back fat has subsided. Perhaps I just saw her from a bad angle earlier. I still feel sorry for Mariska a few years ago when she lost the Emmy to Alison Janney, who then invited all of the other nominees (Hargitay was the first she asked) to stand up on stage with her. Mariska got on stage, but no one else did, so she just kind of stood up there awkwardly. It was so embarassing. Not surprisingly, she didn't invite Janney to share the stage with her tonight.

Tyra Banks and Victor Garber presenting together. What a strange combination. Garber is so droll. Best actress in a comedy. I know Kudrow is a favorite of many, but I'm going for Louis-Dreyfuss. And she won! Yay Old Christine. She only won for Seinfeld once.

Ah, here are Virginia Madsen's breasts. She looks really good--hair, make-up, everything. Presenting lead actor in a drama. Keifer Sutherland. It's his first win in nine nominations. What has he been nominated for other than 24?

Bob Newhart presenting best comedy. Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office, Scrubs, Two and a Half Men. All I know about this is that Two and a Half Men cannot be the winner here. And it isn't. The Office wins. I saw some clips from the show last night and I think I'm going to have to start watching it this season.

Final award--best drama--presented by Annette Bening. Nominees are Grey's Anatomy, House, The Sopranos, 24 and The West Wing. 24 wins. They really had a good night tonight. I just never started watching the show. Gobo really enjoys it though. I'm sure it's good.

And it's over. I just flipped over to E! and they are showing Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna, asking Harry about the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. Which is all well and good, but...shouldn't they be congratulating him on his turn as Aaron Echolls? Oh well.

Oh, god. And Paula Abdul has walked into the post-show interviews. She seems so wasted. She's rambling on and on. This is so embarassing--they are drowning her out with music and she's just on the post-show red carpet! Is she just the loopiest person ever or is she always on something?

On that note, I should probably call it a night. Maybe next year I'll try to set up a pool.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Fall TV Preview: Saturday

8 pm: Saturday Night College Football (ABC); Dateline NBC (NBC); Cops (Fox)

8:30 pm: Cops (Fox)

9 pm: America’s Most Wanted (Fox)

10 pm: 48 Hours Mystery (CBS)

Okay, even I wouldn’t watch any of this crap.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Fall TV Preview: Friday

8 pm: America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC), Ghost Whisperer (CBS), Crossing Jordan (NBC), Nanny 911 (Fox), WWE Smackdown (CW)

9 pm: Men in Trees (ABC), Close to Home (CBS), Las Vegas (NBC), Trading Spouses (Fox)

10 pm: 20/20 (ABC), Numb3rs (CBS), Law & Order (NBC), Battlestar Galactica (Sci Fi)

I, of course, have an active social life and would never be home watching TV on a Friday night. That being said, Battlestar Galactica! You have to watch this show.

I have previously posted about the odd appeal of Ghost Whisperer. It's not TiVo material, though. More there's-nothing-else-on material.

Old school Law & Order is returning with a new, female, detective and a new ADA. Check out this amazingly detailed wikipedia entry about the show.

All I know about Men in Trees is that it stars Anne Heche and it is set in Alaska.


Mom mom would have totally rocked the runway

Spoilers ahead, of course. [Blogger won't let me post photos, yet again. I will try to add them in later.]

I really wanted to like this week's Project Runway. The idea was cute--everyone's mom came to the show (in Robert's and Vincent's cases, their sisters instead of their mothers) and each designer had to make an outfit for someone else's family member. But there was one major problem with the concept--Vincent's sister (Robert designed), Kayne's mom (Uli designed), Michael's mom (Kayne designed) and Angela's mom (Jeffrey designed) were all plus-sized, while Uli's mom (Vincent designed), Laura's mom (Angela designed), Jeffrey's mom (Laura designed) and Robert's sister (Michael designed) were average-sized (and in the case of Robert's sister, pretty hot). I love the idea of the designers making clothing for large women. Hell, I would love it if they had to design for non-model sized people who weren't even plus sized every once in awhile. But the problem here is that half of the women were large and half were not. Those with an average-sized model were at a huge advantage--most of these designers don't make clothes for larger women all that often. And this was apparent when they had to choose--the first four designers picked the smaller women, leaving the last four designers with the larger ones. Not only was it unfair to the designers, but it was unfair to the women as well--I felt so sorry for the bigger women as they stood while the smaller ones were picked first, and then for Angela's mom as she was the last one taken. A 55 year old woman shouldn't have to feel like the last kid picked for kickball.

The main controversy of this episode was Jeffrey's treatment of his model, Angela's mother. Angela's mom told Tim Gunn that she didn't like the fabrics Jeffrey had chosen for her outfit, and Jeffrey got really angry with her and was totally insulting and rude. I really had no sympathy for him there. The thing that shocked me the most about this wasn't Jeffrey's behavior, it was that he behaved this way in front of his own mother! His mom then tried to apologize for him (after he made Angela's mother cry) by saying Jeffrey was under a lot of stress. I know she's his mother and all, but, um...aren't the other seven designers under stress too? Not an excuse to be rude.

The runway was the most disappointing part of the episode. The judges' three favorite designs--Uli's, Vincent's and Michael's, and their least favorite--Robert's, Kayne's and Jeffrey's. What do the bottom three have in common? All plus-sized women. And in the top? Two of the three were small women. I don't think this is a coincidence. Throughout the episode the designers complained that they just didn't know how to drape clothing for large women. And it showed. Except for Uli. Her plus-sized design was really great. It looked really good on Kayne's mom, and I thought it should have been the clear winner, particularly because she had the challenge of working with someone larger and made something that looked really nice.

But no. Instead the judges continued with their inexplicable fondness for Vincent. Vincent! Vincent won a challenge! I actually thought the dress was hideous, although I know Wilder, Holt and Bailey all disagree with me (although Tim Gunn is totally with me on this). The collar was not only ugly, but the color of the collar was almost the same as Uli's mom's skin tone, so the effect was to make her neckline look like an exaggerated sweetheart and her boobs look odd as a result. It also made her look like she had a little bit of a stomach paunch, which she just didn't, and the just-below-the-knee length wasn't flattering. More importantly, the construction seemed really poor--when Uli's mom turned around, there was puckering all over the dress seams down the back, particularly at the butt and waist. I actually thought that Vincent's design belonged in the bottom three. He had so much to work with, and really came up short. Again. It's really a good thing that there is no immunity for this week's winner.

And then for the bottom: Jeffrey and Robert ended up as the bottom two, and the judges pointed out that they had opposite problems. Jeffrey didn't listen to his client at all, and she hated her dress (as would have anyone with taste--it was ugly and just didn't really make any sense. What was it? All of those layers and the strange collar? It just looked thrown together). Robert, on the other hand, listened to his client completely, and as a result made something boring and unflattering. Much like Nora in season one, Robert was eliminated because he failed to bring his own sensibility to the design and relied too much on his client's direction.

And I will agree that Robert's dress was ugly. But Vincent's sister was the largest person on the runway, and she didn't seem very confident. I can understand that this is really what she wanted, and Robert wanted to make her happy. When one is really big they have an idea of what they "can" wear and can often be adament about not wearing anything different. I think that Robert just wanted Vincent's sister to be comfortable. In the end, it was his undoing.

I'll miss Robert. His white dress with the red bows and wall hanging from week one will remain one of my favorite outfits. I know the designers found his stuff from the last few weeks boring, but I think that had he been able to stick around he would have shown us some really cute stuff. Maybe I can commission him to make me something?


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fall TV Preview: Thursday

Did you think I forgot about you? I was in meetings all day, but, don't worry, TV was never far from my mind.

8 pm: Ugly Betty (ABC), Survivor (CBS), My Name Is Earl (NBC), Til Death (Fox), Smallville (CW)

8:30 pm: The Office (NBC), Happy Hour (Fox)

9 pm: Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), CSI (CBS), Deal or No Deal (NBC), The O.C. (Fox), Supernatural (CW)

10 pm: Six Degrees (ABC), Shark (CBS), ER (NBC)

I don't really watch any of the returning shows. I occasionally get sucked into Survivor. I have a love/hate relationship with Grey's Anatomy. Mostly hate, though. I figured out what I don't like about it: their complete lack of professionalism makes me anxious. Like, when their patient is having a seizure or something and they're not paying attention because they're talking about their stupid personal problems, I get really nervous. (Yes, I am extremely anal.) But people swear by My Name is Earl and The Office, so I might add those to the agenda.

New shows: Ugly Betty, an adaptation of popular Colombian telenovela Betty La Fea, is getting a lot of buzz. And I'm looking forward to the new J.J. Abrams show Six Degrees. How many seasons do you think it will be until I get annoyed with it? Not too excited about the James Woods legal drama, Shark.


More Privacy Violations

UsWeekly has an interesting little tid bit on some 50 people, including Paris Hilton, who've had their accounts cancelled by a company that provides a service that keeps their phone numbers from appearing on caller IDs. At least some of the people who've had their accounts cancelled, have been accused of using their accounts to access other people's voicemail . . . including that of Ms. Lindsay Lohan. Sigh. GROW UP!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Music Notes

I wasn't able to watch Rockstar last night, so no recap. But the reason I missed it was because I was at Wolf Trap watching Lyle Lovett and his large band. It was a lovely evening -- relatively cool, no humidity, and a nice breeze. (So much better than the last time I was there -- Aug. 1 -- to see Guster, Ray LaMontaigne, and Rogue Wave, when it was like 100 degrees.)

He is not kidding about the large band thing. All told, there were 18 people on the stage, including Lyle, 2 drummers, 4 kinds of horn players, a piano player, 4 backup singers, and 6 people playing different kinds of stringed instruments. And, wow, they were good, individually and as a group.

As an aside, Wilder would have loved it, because I know that she generally likes singing by black women with very powerful voices. One of the backup singers was just such a person, and she sang a couple of blues songs on her own while Lyle was taking a break. Really good!

It must be fun to be Lyle Lovett. You get to tour around and play music with your buddies. And tell your funny little stories between songs. And although -- let's face it -- you are one weird looking dude, you have women drooling over you. Nice life.

Tribes By Race?

I just read that next season's Survivor will divide the contestants by race. There will be four tribes: black, white, asian, and hispanic. Sounds like the worst idea I've ever heard. What do others think about this? Am I being overly sensitive or is CBS insane to do this?


Fall TV Preview: Wednesday

8 pm: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), Jericho (CBS), Twenty Good Years (NBC), Bones (Fox), America’s Next Top Model (CW)

8:30 pm: 30 Rock (NBC)

9 pm: Lost (ABC), Criminal Minds (CBS), The Biggest Loser (NBC), Justice (Fox), One Tree Hill (CW)

10 pm: The Nine (ABC), CSI: NY (CBS), Kidnapped (NBC)

Okay, this will have to be quick. My picks among returning shows: America's Next Top Model and Lost. Although Lost is on probation -- it needs to deliver something resembling answers in the first few episodes or I might have to write it off.

New shows? The one I'm most intrigued by is Kidnapped, which is about guess what -- a conspiracy! -- and features Jeremy Sisto and Timothy Hutton. (Televisionary review here.) I know that Holt is looking forward to Jericho, which is some sort of post-apocolyptic thing featuring Gerald McRainey (aka Major Dad) and Skeet Ulrich. 30 Rock is the Tina Fey-written sitcom version of Studio 60. Justice is a legal drama, which -- except for the Victor Garber factor -- yawn. Televisionary panned The Nine, about people thrown together by a bank hostage crisis.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

PSA: Cheap Books

I recently went on a little apartment-decluttering binge brought on by too many episodees of Clean Sweep and Mission Organization. During this binge I gave away dozens of books that I really didn't need anymore while vowing to use the public library more, especially for mysteries. But then . . . I found this website that has super cheap books. I'm hopeless.

Fall TV Preview: Tuesday

8 pm: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), NCIS (CBS), Friday Night Lights (NBC), House (Fox), Gilmore Girls (CW)

9 pm: Knights of Prosperity (ABC), The Unit (CBS), Standoff (Fox), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC), Veronica Mars (CW)

9:30 pm: Help Me Help You (ABC)

10 pm: Boston Legal (ABC), Smith (CBS), Law & Order: SVU (NBC), Nip/Tuck (FX), The Streets (BBC America)

At 8, I will be TiVoing House. I love me some House, as they say. But since I can record 3 shows, I might also add Friday Night Lights. I have loved Kyle Chandler since the late lamented Early Edition, and this is one of the new shows that TWOP is recapping.

At 9, Veronica Mars of course. But how can I pass up Standoff featuring Ron Livingston? I can’t, that’s how. I note for the record that Knights of Prosperity used to be called "Let’s Rob Mick Jagger" and is about a planned heist on Mick Jagger’s New York apartment. Potentially awesome.

At 10, I don’t know. Televisionary recommends Smith, starring Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen and many others, about criminals who pull off heists. (Two recurring themes: heists and conspiracies.) I detest Law & Order: SVU. I get it -- people who commit crimes against children are bad. Can you shut up now, Dick Wolf? I know that Wilder loves Nip/Tuck, but I’ve never been able to get into it. Too over the top.

What will you guys be watching?

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Let's Make A Deal (Or Maybe Not)

SPOILERS! So I found last night's Entourage both interesting as far as plot goes and very funny. Let's start with the least consequential part of the action--Turtle's hunt for limited edition Nikes. I understand that everything that occurred is based on fact. I, for one, don't understand the fascination with sneakers, but I guess this aspect of the show proves that Entourage is Sex and the City for men. I mean Carrie Bradshaw never spent $20k on a pair of Jimmy Choo's. (That I know what Jimmy Choo's are is frightening in and of itself.) Yet it is great that Vince spent the day hunting and then spending a fortune for sneakers while Ari and E were trying to get him a job and Drama, of all people, was actually acting.

As for the hunt for Vince's next movie, once again the fates seem aligned against Mr. Chase. This time Ari's decision to screw over Martin Landau (or at least keep him out of a meeting) led us to see that the old guy still had something in him (other than Sanka). Just when you thought he was going to ask to meet with Walt Disney himself (and not just the frozen body), he goes to see Alan Ross at Warner Bros., Vince's nemesis, who is none too sad to screw over Vince once again. Whether Ari can salvage Vince's career and Vince as a client probably won't be known when the season ends next week. (Do not dispair as Entourage will be coming back in March following the return of Tony and company.)

Finally, Drama. What can be said except that his relaxation technique--even if a rip off of Something About Mary (starring none other than Drama's real brother)--was classic as was his reaction when Ed Burns revealed the public nature of his activity. (On a complete tangent, last night Mrs. Bartender and I also watched last week's Deadwood, which is a great show, and I thought the writing was particularly sharp on that episode. I subsequently discover that not only did Al's henchman, Dan, write the episode, but he also played Warren (Mary's brother) in Something About Mary. He looks utterly different, and he is a fantastic actor.) So Drama not only had his moment of high comedy, but his career finally seems to have something more than Viking Quest. It seems only fitting to end this post with Victory. Until the season finale.

Fall TV Preview: Monday

Oh my gosh. It turns out that the fall TV season is starting tonight with the premieres of Prison Break and Vanished on Fox. Here’s the Monday lineup:

8 pm: Wife Swap (ABC), The Class (CBS), Deal or No Deal (NBC), Prison Break (Fox), 7th Heaven (CW)

8:30 pm: How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

9 pm: The Bachelor (ABC), Two and a Half Men (CBS), Heroes (NBC), Vanished (Fox), Runaway (CW)

9:30 pm: The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS)

10 pm: What about Brian? (ABC), CSI Miami (CBS), Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

Hmm, this is a little tougher. At 8 o’clock last year, I TiVoed Prison Break, but never really felt like watching it. It’s the kind of show where I want to know what happens but I don’t really want to invest the time in actually watching it. I think I’ll just save myself 58 minutes and read the recaplet on TWOP. What will take its place? Alan Sepinwall really likes How I Met Your Mother, and it’s got Doogie. Maybe I’ll give that a try. The Class looks like a standard-issue sitcom set in a school though.

At 9 o’clock, it’s a choice among three new shows: Heroes, about people all over the world who develop super powers overnight; Vanished, about a missing senator’s wife and the conspiracy that surrounds her disappearance; and Runaway, starring Donnie Wahlberg, about a family that goes undercover in Iowa after the father is framed for murder by -- you guessed it -- a shadowy conspiracy. I want to like this, remniscent as it is of Running on Empty starring River Phoenix, but Televisionary describes it as “7th Heaven on the run.” Ouch. I’m leaning toward Heroes. But what about Christine -- another Sepinwall favorite? Does anyone watch that?

At 10, I’ll be watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the new Aaron Sorkin show. I watched What about Brian? for awhile in the spring until I realized that I did not care about any of the characters.

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The Weekend in Sports

I managed to watch a lot of sports this weekend, and while, for the most part, the games weren't that close, I found them particularly enjoyable. So with no further ado, a brief report:

1. Let's start with the Boston Massacre II. (The first one was in 1978 when the Yanks came up to Fenway and swept the BoSox in a four game set outscoring them 42-9. Yes, I know there was also one in 1770 but it did not involve the NY Yankees.) While a final game is currently in progress (0-0 in the 3rd), the Yankees have gone to Fenway and beaten the Red Sox every which way. The first and third games were just old fashion throttlings. In the second game, the Yanks were down 10-8 with two outs in the 7th inning and proceeded to score 6 times. The key hit by . . . Derek Jeter (of course). That was the longest 9 inning game in MLB history, clocking in at a not so manageable 4 hours and 45 minutes.

But last night's game was by far the best of the bunch. The Yanks scored in the 8th and 9th to tie the game (doing so off of rookie phenom Jonathan Papelbon, who has been hittable for the past month or so) and then 3 in the 10th to win it. Once again, Derek Jeter had the key hit, a two out flair single in the 9th to tie the game, the first time the Yanks won a game at Fenway in which they were one out from losing since September 1991--a game I happened to attend! Jeter's performance this weekend has done nothing to hurt his chances of finally winning an MVP (he has gotten votes every year since 1996 except for 2002) although Ortiz definitely has a strong case as well. We'll delve into that debate at another time.

While the Yankees have some weaknesses, the middle relief--their biggest problem--is starting to come around. Scott Proctor has pitched very well of late as has Ron Vallone (although he gave up a bomb to Ortiz last night). Mike Meyers is a good left handed specialist, and Farnsworth is serviceable. And, of course, Rivera to end the game is the best. Ever. Whatever happens today, the Red Sox are likely toast--their pitching is awful, and it is amazing (and a testament to Ortiz and Ramirez) that their record is as good as it is. So while all Yankee fans would love the 5 game sweep, regardless of today's outcome, September should be much more relaxing in the Bronx than in Beantown. October will be another story.

2. While we are on baseball, just a brief shout out to the Twins, who look quite tough coming down the stretch. They are still a game behind the ChiSox in the Wild Card race having taken 2 of 3 this weekend, but if Liriano can come back, they should make the postseason. And they just don't lose with Santana on the mound. He is amazing. Hugo Chavez must be so proud. I'm surprised he hasn't tried to nationalize him.

3. But this is (once again) a Tiger weekend. Every major he wins features some new facet to his game. And once again, when he is prowling, everyone else just falls back. While Nicklaus was regularly challenged (and defeated) by Player, Trevino, and Watson, almost no one has ever gone toe to toe with Tiger and won. (An argument could be made that Michael Campbell and Rich Beem did, but Tiger was trailing at the start of the final round in both tournaments and never led, I believe, on Sunday.) In fact, with rare exception (Chris DiMarco, Bob May), no one even bothers to go toe to toe when Tiger is ahead.

Yesterday, he went out and played immaculate golf for the first 6 holes. Then, when his play was less perfect, he made some amazing shots. On 7, he hit a 5 wood from 250 yards to 15 feet after hitting a terrible drive. (Phil would have tried to hit a great second shot and possibly made 6 or worse while Tiger just punched out.) On 8 he makes a 35 foot putt for birdie, on 9 a great up and down. And with no one making a move, the tournament, in which 8 players were tied early on Saturday, was over after less than 9 holes on Sunday.

Tiger is going to end up with more than 20 majors. I remember when Jack won his 18th at the '86 Masters and thinking that no one could come close. (Jack counts his two US Amateurs to his major count to give him an even 20, but by that count Tiger has 15 as he won 3 Amateurs.) I'm intrigued to see if Tiger can end up with the most titles at each of the four majors. The records: 6 Masters (Nicklaus) and Tiger has 4; 4 U.S. Opens (Nicklaus, Hogan, and Willie Anderson), Tiger has 2; 6 British Opens (Harry Vardon), Tiger has 3; and 5 PGAs (Nicklaus and Walter Hagen), Tiger has 3. So it's definitely doable, and if he keeps playing the way he has, it will happen.

4. I do not care in the least about preseason football. The only way I would care is if Joe Gibbs or some other coach asked me a play a few downs for my own Rudy moment. It is meaningless, and anyone who bets on these games really needs to get some help.

However, I was at a bar on Saturday night were one of the televisions was tuned to the Nats game. As I do not have MASN (although I will as of next Friday! Finally!), I had not seen what it airs other than Nats games. The channel just went to 24 hour coverage, and now I know what a start up sports network televises on a Saturday night--taped CFL games. I'm sure many of you wagered on the battle between the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes, so I'm sure it got a great rating. I guess you want to find cheap sports programming, and they found it. I'm also sad that since 2002, there were no longer two teams in the CFL called the Rough Riders/Roughriders. Yes, Ottawa folded, leaving only the Saskatchawan Roughriders. What a league!


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fall TV Preview: Sunday

It's an exciting time of year in pop culture land -- just one month until the fall TV season starts. It's time to think about programming the TiVo. Here's a preview of the Sunday schedule (new shows in bold):

7 pm: America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC); 60 Minutes (CBS); Sunday Night Football (NBC); Everybody Hates Chris (CW)

7:30 pm: All of Us (CW)

8 pm: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC); Amazing Race (CBS); The Simpsons (FOX); Girlfriends (CW)

8:30 pm: American Dad (FOX); The Game (CW)

9 pm: Desperate Housewives (ABC); Cold Case (CBS); Family Guy (Fox); America's Next Top Model repeat (CW)

9:30 pm: The War at Home (Fox)

10 pm: Brothers and Sisters (ABC); Without a Trace (CBS); The Wire (HBO)

This one's a no brainer for me: The Amazing Race and The Wire are two of my favorite shows. I will also check out Brothers and Sisters, which has an all-star cast, featuring Calista Flockhart, Sally Field, Ron Rifkin, Balthazar Getty, and Rachel Griffiths, among others, but has been in the news lately for casting changes and losing its show-runner.

Nothing else really appeals to me. Maybe I'll finally give Everbody Hates Chris a try. I've never been much of a fan of prime-time football, because I like games that end before midnight. But NBC has some potentially great games in the first month of the season -- Indianapolis v. NY Giants (Peyton v. Eli) on Sept. 10, Washington v. Dallas on Sept. 17, Denver v. New England on Sept. 24, and Chicago v. Seattle on Oct. 1 -- and they get their pick of the best games starting Nov. 12. Plus the kickoff has been pushed from 9 pm to 8 pm. So, you never know.

What will you be watching?

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Assassination Vacation

I meant to mention that on Saturday I headed up to the National Museum of Health and Medicine, which is located on the Walter Reed campus, to see their exhibit commemorating the 125th anniversary of President's Garfield's assassination. Garfield was shot in the spine on July 2, 1881, and lived 80 days until September 19. Apparently, the injury would not have been fatal, except that his doctors unwittingly killed him by repeatedly sticking their unsterilized fingers and instruments into his wound to try to figure out where the bullet went. Oh, and also starving him to death. Oops.

The exhibit itself consists mainly of a preserved piece of Garfield's vertebrae (pictured above), which is exactly as interesting as it sounds. It continues until September 19.

The Real Little Miss Sunshine

Despite the war in Iraq, the (temporary) cessation of hostilities in Lebanon, and the (possible) attempt to blow more planes out of the sky, the American media is focused, once again, on the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. And with the arrest of John Mark Karr (as Red Fraggle pointed out, what is up with killers and three names), the case seemed to have finally been solved. I have no doubt that Karr is (1) truly disturbed and (2) a pedophile, but I strongly, strongly doubt he killed Ms. Ramsey. And I sense that by early next week, we will know this for certain. He was certainly obsessed with the case and is sick enough to confess (to something he may not have done), but he does not seem to be the monster he initially appeared. (He may still be a monster but child killers have a special circle of hell even if Dante didn't mention it.) I particularly enjoyed Karr commenting in his e-mail the understanding he felt for Michael Jackson. They do appear to have a lot in common (provided Karr didn't actually murder JonBenet--as sick as Michael Jackson is, he is not a murderer).

It is also interesting what this will do to the general view of the trustworthiness of confessions. Karr, however, appears somewhat of a special case in that it doesn't appear he was being grilled about the Ramsey murder and then confessed to it but rather wanted to confess for whatever reason. Of course, we don't know all the details. So like too much of the media, I am speculating on something I know little about, but I'm betting that Mr. Karr will be a footnote by next week. Maybe OJ can find the real killer. And for all of you interested in prepubescent beauty pageants (or just good movies), go see Little Miss Sunshine.

Rather Disappointing

Last night, Mrs. Bartender and I went to see Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby. I was looking forward to the film as a number of reviews were positive (although certainly not all of them). But the film was surprisingly unexciting. As with many of Ferrell's movies, it played like a series of SNL skits, but ones that just were not so funny. Will Ferrell plays Will Ferrell--this time George W. Bush as race car driver, and the plot, such as it exists, is pure boilerplate. Most troubling, it had too few laugh out loud moments, something one expects and needs from a movie like this. (A few of the funniest ("Help me, Tom Cruise") I had already seen in the trailer, something that occurs far too often.) Now perhaps this movie will get better when one watches it over and over on cable. Anchorman, for example, becomes much better on repeat viewings although I enjoyed it the first time I saw it. But I can't recommend this film.

That is not to say there is nothing to enjoy. The biggest plus is the amazingly talented Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Ali G) playing the gay, French Formula 1 driver Jean Girard who is Ricky Bobby's rival. The advance buzz on his Borat movie is that it is hysterical, and the website certainly is.

Finally, Mrs. Bartender made an astute observation. According to the White House, the President read Camus' The Stranger while on vacation in Crawford. Leaving aside the fact that it is a great book (and not that difficult a read), I among others was skeptical. However, in the movie Jean Girard is reading the novel, leading her to conclude that perhaps Bush saw Talladega Nights, and because a character in it was reading the novel, he determined that he too had read it. That seems to make more sense than Bush actually reading Camus.


Total garbage!

I watched Project Runway a day late because of problems with my DVR, so my apologies for not posting on it earlier. Of course, spoilers ahead:

I pretty much loved this episode until the end, at which point both Gobo and I were disgusted, with Gobo swearing off Runway forever.

First things first: the challenge involved the designers going to a recycling plant in New Jersey (and New Jersey was really at its ugliest the morning they drove out there) to get their supplies for the challenge: all recyclable materials. Everyone scrambled for a half hour to get their materials, then went to a crafts store where they had $25 to buy paints and other supplies, and then had one day (as opposed to the two days they have been given until this challenge) to design their outfits.

Generally, the designs were not that great, which is to be expected considering the materials the designers were working with. The worst? In my opinion, and the judge's, Alison's and Vincent's. Alison's made her model (called "zaftig" by Tim Gunn) look fat. Poor Alison spent most of her time working on a different design, but realized about four hours before deadline that it wasn't going to work, and so had to scramble to make something else. Vincent, on the other hand, never strayed from his "vision"--white paper covered with paint and embellishments. He called it "wearable art," but most everyone else just called it ugly. And what was going on with the black tank underneath the dress? Was it the model's own sports bra? Ugly.

The most disturbing aspect of Vincent's outfit? He continually said that it "got [him] off." Ew. And worse? Immediately after that, he said that it reminded him of a "child's drawring." (Yes, the extra r in drawing was purposeful, that's how he pronounces it.) So a child's drawing worn by a grown woman gets Vincent off? Somehow, I'm not surprised. But again, ew.

And so with Vincent and Alison in the bottom two, Alison was eliminated. And I understand that her design was truly unflattering. Of course, I also thought that an outfit like hers was something that the judges might like: it had a very sculptural feel and was definitely different--things the judges have liked in the past. More important, in my mind, was that Kayne had been in the bottom three and although the judges hated his design they cut him slack because of his past performances. Didn't Alison deserve the same? In episode one she was safe with a white minidress with a necklace hanging from the front. In episode two she worked with Jeffrey on a brown Miss Universe dress in multiple layers and fabrics that was neither the highest or lowest rated. In episode three (the dog episode), she was in the top three with her leather, silk and linen dress and jacket combo with matching leather outfit for the dog. In episode four, she and Jeffrey completed Keith's design after he was ousted, and despite the depleted manpower finished in the top two. In episode five, she was safe with her look for Farrah Fawcett, which was really quite cute. So to recap: twice in the top three, never in the bottom three until this last episode (the sixth).

On the other hand, Vincent has been in the bottom three a total of five out of six times (in the first challenge with that hideous dress with the straw pockets and straw hat with chains; in the second episode with the ill-fitting green Miss Universe dress with elfin-inspired sleeves which also showcased his complete inability to work with others when he ostracized Angela; in the fourth episode working with Robert and Kayne on the dress and ugly-jacket combo; last week with his Twiggy-inspired dress complete with tacky crescent-shaped pockets, an ugly plaid print, and a color-blocked bodice; and in this most recent episode). He has never been in the top three. He is clearly the least-talented of the remaining designers, whereas Alison really had potential. And his dress this week was legitimately bad (and Laura had a point that his model couldn't walk in it). I really would have gone another way with this decision.

As for the rest of the designs? Michael won, although I would have put him third, behind Jeffrey (who I would have put first, in large part because his dress did move) and Robert (who got almost no airtime but created what I thought was a kind of cute mylar dress). The dresses are posted here in the order in which I thought they should have finished.

Laura ended up in the top three again, but I have to agree with Jeffrey that her stuff is just getting really boring. I have already noted her tendency to repeat the same design (fur collar and cuffs in two outfits already), and this wasn't that different, with another low-cut neckline and high waist. The "For Nuts Only" print on the back of the skirt was a cute touch, but shouldn't have been enough to put her ahead of Robert in the top three.

I just don't understand how Vincent is still in this competition. Maybe next week is his week to go?


America's Favorite Dancer

Before I get to that, can I just say that Donyelle's speech totally made me cry? I was not, of course, the only one, both Mia and Mary had tears running down their face, and I think even Nigel was sincerely touched. As annoyed as I was that Donyelle stayed in the competition longer than some more talented dancers (Allison!!), it didn't keep me from being really touched by how much the experience meant to her.

And aside from seeing some of my favorite routines again, that was one of the highlights of the season finale of So You Think You Can Dance: how sincerely the dancers were in being grateful for the whole experience. Heidi's farewell speech didn't make me cry, but it did remind me (though I didn't need a reminder) why I always loved her. I really believe she was sincere when she said she wasn't there to win, but to learn to be a better dancer! Obviously winning would have been nice, but she appreciated the whole experience. The thing that really really endeared her to me was her choice of encore, the contemporary routine with Travis choreographed by Mia. Now this was a routine, as the show reminded us, that brought Heidi repeatedly to tears in rehearsal because she just couldn't move the way Mia wanted her to. And Mia was the one judge who was repeatedly harsh with Heidi, pointing out her limitations as a dancer. But in spite of how hard that routine was for her, Heidi chose it as her favorite, and performed it again because it pushed her more than anything else. It was so corny and awesome! And Travis did the same thing, choosing a ballroom routine (his kryptonite throughout the show), the paso doble with Heidi, as his favorite. It was slightly less corny though, because he got nothing but praise for that routine, so, not quite as daring, but still beautiful.

I also loved that the judges got to call for their favorite routines (or at least the routines that they wanted to see again - I have a feeling that some of that was producer driven, but whatever, it was nice.)

As for the actual dancing, I can't tell you how excited I was to see the Wade Robson group routine again - the one to Ramalama Bang Bang where they all looked like the zombies of Victorian chimney sweeps - because that routine was one of the bighlights of the whole season for me. It was just so beautiful and interesting and fantastically choreographed. (But what was with Benji's complete crazy eyes that he seemed to hold forever as Kat was taking them from that routine into break? They scared me!)

I was also happy to see Benji and Heidi's mambo. That routine was so hot and perfectly executed. It only skeeved me out a little bit to remember that they were cousins.

I could go on and on (and if you've read this far you probably think I have) so I'll wrap it up by saying that I'm completely happy with Benji being voted America's Favorite Dancer (TM). He was entertaining and talented, and I hope we see him again. I have no fear that Travis will have a phenomenal career. Mia will definitely hire him after the tour if he lets her.

Oh, one last thing, having Slain Demon (as my college roommates and I used to call her) end the show really brought me down from my dancing high. Please don't do that again next season. Talk about anti-climax.

And The Front Runner For The 2006 Todd Bridges Award Is . . .

Hailey Joel Osment. According to CNN, he has been charged with driving under the influence (and was drunker than Mel Gibson and he's only 18) and marijuana possession. No anti-semitic tirade, however. So sad that he seems to be joining the every growing list of child stars who self destruct. And yet not altogether surprising considering the attention received and the difficulty of growing up. But he was a great child actor, and he will always see dead people (even without the aid of narcotic substances).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Icy Hot

It seems that whenever I am in the office someone is complaining about the temperature. Holt just walked into my office a few minutes ago and complained it was way too cold. When I walked into her office early this morning, I couldn't believe how hot it was.

Generally, the whether one is too hot or too cold breaks down along gender lines: men sit in a room and sweat while women shiver. And it seems that no one is ever truly happy with the temperature.

The biggest complainer about this is Gobo, who constantly gripes that woman walk around his office in the summer wearing skirts and sleeveless tops, insisting the temperature sit at 78 degrees while he has to suffer wearing wool pants and a long-sleeved shirt. And generally I think he has a point--it tends to be easier to put on a layer of clothing than to take it off, and since women in most business casual offices have a lot more flexibility in the summer months than men, I don't have a problem keeping the temperature a few degrees lower and carrying a cardigan when I go into a conference room.

But it seems that maybe we are all complaining just a little too much. At least we are if you believe this Washington Post article. According to it, most people aren't truly bothered by a temperature difference of a few degrees, and the feeling of being too hot or cold is in large part psychological.

Of course when Gobo showed the article to people from work, not one of them believed that the study could possibly be right.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Remember when . . .

I said I could no longer muster any interest, let alone shock, for the celebrity anorexia stories in the weekly glossies? (I can't find the damn link, but I know I said it in some comment on this site.) Whatever, it didn't last long. This picture of Nicole Richie made me gasp out loud. I think it's the bathing suit that droops like a diaper, and the sad loose stomach skin where she's obviously losing the muscle that used to keep it anchored to her frame. Completely depressing.

Farewell, Young Clemenza

Bruno Kirby died on Monday at the age of 57. I hadn't seen much of him in recent years until he popped up on Entourage a few weeks ago. He didn't look good (in fact he looked a lot like old Clemenza), but I didn't know he was ill. It seems he may not have either. He had a fine resume with roles in Godfather, Part II (the greatest movie of all time), This Is . . . Spinal Tap, and When Harry Met Sally among other fine films. He was even in the pilot of MASH.
He will be missed.

Dennis Leary on Mel Gibson

Dennis Leary joined the Red Sox announcing team last night, and the conversation turned to the fact that the Sox first baseman, Kevin Youkilis, is Jewish. This led to a hystical exchange on Mel from Dennis and the Red Sox announcing team. If you want to see it, which I highly recommend, check it out here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Project Runway

Red didn't do her usual post about Project Runway last week, so I just want to post a couple of thoughts before this week's episode airs. First, I love Michael and I was so happy to see him win. And I liked his outfit even if hot pants are ridiculous. But the absolute best thing was when he said "I'm not trying to play Captain Save-A-Ho, as we say in the hood." Would Captain Save-A-Ho be like the most awesome superhero ever? Also, this really isn't relevant, but is Michael gay or not? My gaydar is failing me on that one.

Kayne is starting to annoy me. I was not thrilled with the way he handled the whole Keith thing last week. First, why not talk to Keith himself? Second, when Keith apologized, he really was not gracious at all. Then this week, the way he talked about his model I thought was really rude. Sure, she seemed like an airhead, but he was very contemptuous of her. Not a great attitude for someone who makes his living catering to women. I also did not get the love for his dress. It clung to his model's butt in a way that I did not think was flattering at all. Finally, his pageant background gives me the creeps. If you've seen Little Miss Sunshine, you know what I'm talking about.

Finally, poor, poor Bradley. I'll miss him. I have to admit that he's not a great fashion designer, and it's not clear why he was chosen for the show. I was willing to overlook the weird wrap thing in the first challenge, because it did look sort of like one of those avant-garde Japanese designers. And I didn't really like that gold top in the third week, but the judges seemed to like it. And the brown pants fiasco last week could have been Bonnie's fault. But this week it became clear that he doesn't really know what he's doing. How do you not know who Cher is? All that being said, I still liked him just because of his interviews. He either had an extremely dry sense of humor or was just amiably dopey. I couldn't tell; I just know he cracked me up.



Another celebrity break-up. This time it's Brad Garrett and his wife. I almost wrote "Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond)" which is probably indicative of how many times he is likely to appear in this blog. Poor "wife" doesn't even get a real name. Okay, she has one: it's Jill Diven. Yeah, I kind of didn't think anyone had heard of her.

But don't worry--they say they will continue to be best friends. I wonder how many people who make this claim actually follow through on it. I always think that if Gobo and I were to break up, he would be my best friend. But is this realistic?

Regardless, I just needed to beat Wilder to the celebrity breakup punch.

Rockstar: Supernova

I've been meaning to post about my new favorite summer show -- Rockstar: Supernova. I really expected not to like this show. As you might have gathered, my taste in music runs mostly to indie rock, which places a lot of emphasis on authenticity and having something original to say. This show, by contrast, is all about artifice. But I started watching it based on Alan Sepinwall's enthusiasm, and it is pretty awesome.

The premise of the show is that Gilby Clark (the latter-day Izzy Stradlin), Tommy Lee, and Jason Newsted (formerly of Metallica) are putting together a band, and they need a lead singer. Coincidentally, CBS just happens to have a reality show set up to look for rock singers. The three members of Supernova are the judges and they are assisted by Dave Navarro, who is also sort of a judge, but not really. Brooke Burke is the emcee. And there's a house band, which is fantastic.

On Tuesday nights, all of the contestants sing one song. They are given a list of songs, and have to haggle among them selves about who will sing each one. The judges give comments and then the audience can vote. At the end of the show, Brooke lets the audience know who are the 3 lowest vote-getters based on the first few minutes of voting. I think that this supposed to induce fans to vote for their favorites if they are in danger.

On Wednesday nights, the band chooses one person to do an encore, and that person does the same song they did the night before. Then the 3 lowest vote-getters each perform a different song of their own choosing. And then the band decides which person to eliminate.

Here's a quick run-down of the 8 remaining contestants.

1) Dilana. She's my favorite. She sort of has this goth look with metal studs in her face and red streaks in her hair. (This show could not exist without hair dye.) But she's really versatile and can do everything from straight ahead bar band music to more punky stuff.

2) Storm Large. That is supposedly her real name. I can see her winning. She is gorgeous, has a good voice, and an over the top personality. She's also a great performer in the sense that she apparently has no inhibitions.

3) Patrice. Boring. I feel bad saying that because she seems nice, has a great voice, and I think we have similar taste in music. She's been in the bottom 3 twice and once sang a Radiohead song and the other time she sang a Jeff Buckley song. But still, there's something about her -- too girl next door.

4) Zayra. Her forte is wearing skin tight outfits and singing really badly. They've basically admitted that they're just keeping her on for entertainment value. And I can't blame them, because there is something riveting about her.

5) Lukas. He is also one of the favorites. I don't like him because he looks like a little elf with he weird hair and eye-makeup. But he totally has the rock star strut down, and it was pretty cool when he forgot the words to "Celebrity Skin" and just turned his back to the audience and made up his own words. Last week, he sang "Creep" and was fantastic.

6) Magni. He is from Iceland and has no hair. For some reason the judges really like him, but he bores me -- too remniscent of Coldplay.

7) Toby. He's from Australia and looks like a country singer. Another mysterious judge favorite.

8) Ryan. What to say about Ryan? Until two weeks ago, he seemed like a boring emo boy. But then two weeks he did this version of "Everybody Hurts" on the piano that was fantastic and got the encore. Then last week, things went a little haywire. He came out in this hoodie, with a wig over it. And then when the lights came on he dramatically ripped off the hoodie to reveal his eyes which were covered in black eyemakeup, similar to a raccoon. And then he sang a weird goth version of "Paint It Black." The band was openly laughing and he was in the bottom three. But he survived with a rousing-if-oxymoronic rendition of "Enjoy the Silence."

Anyway, there's a new episode tonight and I'll have a recap tomorrow whether you want it or not.

Step Up

As promised, last weekend I saw Step Up with my friends Spellbound and She Who Is Too Cool To Have A Blog Identity (Switcthabi for short). Sadly, of the three of us, I was the least enthused as we discovered while doing a post mortem over several pitchers of sangria. (Which I think was our biggest mistake, clearly the sangria should have come BEFORE the movie.) My less than completely enthusiastic response to the movie led to another debate. Judged on either the dancing or the acting/story, which modern (meaning last ten years or so) dance movies lead the pack?

On the table were, of course, Step Up, Center Stage, You Got Served, Honey, The Company, Save the Last Dance, and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. While each of us had our own favorites (Switcthabi really pushed for Step Up and Spellbound has a crazy fondness for Honey. My own favorite is Havana Nights. Sue us. We've never claimed to have perfect taste.) We eventually came to a concensus. For pure enjoyment of the dancing, we're saying pony up for Step Up. If you actually want decent acting and characterization the only one really on the radar is Save the Last Dance. Thoughts? Debates?


Monday, August 14, 2006

Celebrity Break-Up Shocker!

Apparently, it's my job to report when Hollywood couples enter Splitsville. Well, PopSugar and People are reporting that Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson are done. Shocker!

Dancing with the "Stars"

Dancing with the Stars has announced their celebrity line-up for season three. Things could get pretty interesting!

So our celebrities are:
Tucker Carlson (I wonder if Jon Stewart can make a guest appearance.)
Vivica A. Fox (Has anyone seen what she has done to her face? She used to be so pretty, but the knife has not been kind--I tried to post photos, but Blogger isn't letting me yet again. I'll add later if possible.)
Harry Hamlin (It will be good to see Aaron Echolls on television this fall, and this surely means special guest appearances from Lisa Rinna.)
Jerry Springer (No comments are necessary.)
Mario Lopez (This is the man who cheated on Ali Landry right before their wedding, prompting her to leave him weeks after they got married)
Joey Lawrence (Whoa!)
Shanna Moakler (She's going through a divorce, we already know she's kind of loud and abrasive, excellent.)
Emmitt Smith (I guess he's going to try to follow in Jerry Rice's footsteps? I always think it is most impressive when genuinely talented athletes go this route--it must be a real leap of faith for them to put themselves in a position where they will be potentially ridiculed.)
Sara Evans
Willa Ford
Monique Coleman (I didn't know who the last three women were before looking them up--Sara is an "award-winning country music star," Willa is "an American pop singer-songwriter, producer and occassional television personality and host" and Monique Coleman starred in High School Musical, which I really need to get from Netflix.)

My personal bet for the win would be Monique, since she starred in a movie all about singing and dancing. But then again, so much of the show is a popularity contest as opposed to a talent contest that a relative unknown probably can't win (unless they have changed the voting system from last year--otherwise, how does one explain Stacy Keibler losing to Jerry Rice and Master P lasting for more than one round?). So with that in mind...

Aaron Echolls all the way!


What Do These Two Men Have in Common?

SPOILERS! To start, let me say that I was much more pleased with last night's Entourage than the prior week's.

Let's begin with Turtle--it is so good to see that his dreams of being a hip hop impresario have failed, and he can go back to doing what he does best--mooching off of Vince. At least he finally made a little money, and with the assistance of Lt. Drama was able to find Saigon. I also love that once Drama was recognized from Viking Quest, all was forgiven from his near death experience.

As for Vince, nice touch with the woman in the book store and being on her list. A few things, however: 1. The whole list concept is good and all but really totally unfair to guys. If the odds of a reasonably attractive woman meeting someone on her list are extremely slim, if it happens, there is at least a decent chance something could happen. If, however, a reasonably attractive guy meets someone on his list, the odds that she would sleep with him have to approach zero. Not that I've tried, but that's life. 2. Now is bookgirl simply a one night (day) stand or something more? Because Entourage actually ran for almost 30 minutes last night, my DVR cut off before scenes for next week, but is she back? Or is Vince going to focus on acting? Or both?

And now for the highlight of the show--Martin (Don't call me Robert Evans) Landau. What a sad and wonderful performance. The Oscar winning actor (see Ed Wood for a number of outstanding performances and a wacky and fascinating film) gives it his all as a very old but once very great producer. His stories (Dusty Hoffman's sexual prowess, Candy Bergen playing tennis in her underwear) are too funny and too dated, but he may have one last trick up his sleeve. And Ari's attempt to get even with Eric may result in a win for all involved (provided that Ari can focus on his job and not the decor in his office).

So we had plot, humor, and sex. All in all, a fine night with the boys.

Let the Sun Shine In

Bailey has already favorably reviewed Little Miss Sunshine, but let me add my (and Mrs. Bartender's) wholehearted endorsement to this movie. It's a fairly simple, fairly short road movie about a very dysfunctional family on their way to the Little Miss Sunshine competition (yes, a beauty pageant for 7 year olds) with a lot of hijincks, sadness, and, of course, new connections. The Joan Benet Ramsay want-to-bes are truly frightening, and the acting is first rate--Steve Carell continues to enter new territory as an outstanding actor, and the actress playing Olive (the 7 year old) is amazing. I only fear how much longer The Office will last before Carell decides to only do movies.

One very small nit, and you will think I am a complete geek for raising this (although we have already had a discussion of road geekdom on this board). To drive from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach, CA (near LA), as the protagonists are, one would normally take I-40 across AZ into CA where it ends at I-15 and then to I-10 (or the 10 as they say in LA). (I did this drive a decade ago.) Now, because one of the characters had a reason to go to Scottsdale, AZ (outside of Phoenix), I could see going out of the way by taking 40 to 17 (or cutting across AZ on state highways) and then taking the 10 to LA. To go through Phoenix adds mileage but makes sense with the plot (although they are supposedly rushed to get to CA!). Here's my beef: at one point early in the movie, you see the van getting on (or at least going towards) I-10. Later, you see the van at an intersection, on what has to be I-40, where the choice is between taking I-17 toward Phoenix or proceeding to LA on I-40. But we have earlier seen the I-10 sign and it is not possible that the van would have been on or near I-10 by this point. Just a small editing blunder, I know, but if this is my big beef with the movie, it is indicative of how much I enjoyed it. I think that you too can get over this small issue.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

At home with Brad and Angelina*

Us Weekly is currently running a poll on its website, asking its readers whose relationship would make a better reality show: Jen and Vince; Brad and Angelina; Pam and Kid or Nick and Vanessa. The current leader? Kid and Pam. And they aren't just leading--they are the clear preference, with 68% of readers choosing them (followed by 15% for Brangelina, 9% for Vaughniston and 8% for Nick and Vanessa).

I am honestly really, really surprised here. What would be fun about watching Pam and Kid? It would be yet another trainwreck, some sort of mixture of The Osbournes, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica and 'Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen and Dave. Is there any new door that Pam and Kid could open for us? I think not.

But who wouldn't want to watch Brad and Angelina? Doesn't anyone wonder how this couple works? What are the interactions like between a white-bread guy from Missouri who used to be married to America's golden girl and a blood-wearing, brother-snogging, bisexual who once confided on the red carpet that she had just had sex in her limo? What do they talk about? How much of her "quirky" ways has Angelina retained in her new life of mommyhood and charitable giving? Is Maddux really sweet or a total brat?

Of course, no one could ever give them enough money to donate to charity to have them agree to such a show. But it would totally kick ass. And it would be a lot more interesting than watching Pam and Kid wear funny hats and get drunk.

*I originally titled this post "At home with Brad and Angie" but quickly changed it, just because I have never heard anyone who knows her actually refer to Angelina Jolie as "Angie." And it kind of drives me crazy that the press does. I guess the fact that I almost used the term myself is a testament to how I have saturated myself with celebrity gossip.


The summertime blues

Or, as South Park so eloquently put it, summer sucks. At least it does when you're a working adult. You've got slim pickings when it comes to new programing on television; rather than the three month vacation you enjoyed in your youth, you don't even get three weeks--hell, you're lucky if you take three days and drag it into a week by tacking on the unexpected four-day Fourth of July holiday; the "songs of summer," aka tunes by the likes of Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson, are repeated on the radio ad nauseum; celebrity gossip is so slow that Us Weekly has nothing better to put on their cover than a story about Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn's "engagement" more than a month after first breaking the news; and although the weather is good, you're stuck in the office.

But now...the end is in sight. Weeds airs its season premiere tomorrow. Prison Break returns next week (sure, I don't watch, but I get to see the commercials for something new!). And I saw some ads for The Amazing Race!

Is it sad that all of my excitement is dependent on the new television season? Sure. But this is my life. Things are definitely looking up.

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