Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The easy way out

I am so disgusted with Project Runway. I have generally been disgusted with the show this season--kicking off Alison instead of Vincent, the fat woman/skinny woman unfair challenge, keeping Vincent until the final six--but this past week's episode really takes the cake. (Spoilers, spoilers.)

At the beginning of the season we were told that there would be special rewards for winning a challenge, and sure enough, there were--the designers who had won a challenge were asked back later in the competition. But then there was this past week. Suddenly four designers are going to Olympus Fashion Week? What the hell? Were we told this might be a possibility at the beginning of the season? Nope. And yet it apparently was.

And...why? It wasn't like everyone's design this past week was so great. The judges liked Uli's and thought everyone else's was subpar. So as a reward for a sub-par performance...everyone gets to go to the finals? Where is the logic in this? (On another note, I actually really liked Jeffrey's dress and thought it totally worked with his design sensibilities--I was surprised the judges didn't like it.)

If the show was going to change the rules midstream (or more like endstream), I would have hoped it would be because all of the designs were so phenomenal that they simply couldn't make a choice. But that wasn't the case. Should they have kicked off Michael, who is the clear front-runner? No, I don't think so. But based on his dress this past week, they could have done so. Should they have kicked off Jeffrey, who has been a bit one-note in the past but has also shown creativity, and made an attempt to go outside of his comfort zone with his last design? No, I don't think so. But based on their belief that his dress didn't reflect the work he does, they could have. Should they have kicked off Laura, whose dress seemed well-made, but was exactly like every other dress she has done? (And for that matter, worn on the show.) Another plunging neckline, another sparkly hem? Yes, I do think so. The fact that we are at the end of the competition and they had to tell her that they didn't want her runway show at fashion week to consist of 12 plunging necklines really says a lot about just how one-note she is. Nina Garcia (or was it Michael Kors?) made a great point when she said that it was fine if Laura wanted to do cocktail, but she needed to expand from the same type of cocktail dress. But she has never even tried to do so (and no, I don't think the black and white challenge dress was much of a departure just because it had a straight neckline and cap sleeves). And by the way, plunging necklines are NOT that flattering. If you are tiny enough to wear them, your bones end up sticking out. It's disturbing. And how many AA-cups are there out there anyway?

So what was the problem here? Were the judges just afraid of making a pregnant woman cry?

As a viewer I feel cheated--the rules have always been that three designers make the finals, not four. In season one Austin Scarlett was far superior to Wendy Pepper throughout the season. But Wendy won the challenge and someone had to go, so it was Austin (even though the judges liked his dress, despite thinking it might be fancy for the Grammys). And in season two Kara had become quite popular and had really grown as a designer, but someone had to go, and they thought she had the least potential of the final four.

And this season they couldn't make that call? I don't think so. In the end, the producers just wimped out, and I really don't get why. But as a viewer I don't like being toyed with. The show is about a competition, and it's just wrong to change the rules when the game is almost over. And keeping four designers also makes the elimination of some other designers seem pointless. Sure, Alison might have had a bad day with her yellow dress and Minnie Mouse bow, but why eliminate her that week? Why not just say that they liked Alison so they were going to let everyone stay? Why not? Because the show is about having to make difficult decisions sometimes. And I just can't see how the Alison situation would be any different than what happened this week.

I love Runway, so I'll continue to watch next season, but this season has seemed gimmicky and really left me with a bad taste, and it worries me that the show will only get worse form here on out.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

It Happened Again

Two weeks ago, I put up a post about some random football thoughts/issues. My biggest complaint was when a network leaves a close game in the final minutes because the local game is about to commence. Well, on Sunday, I was in NJ and had been watching the Bears/Vikings game on and off since 1. At 4:11, with less than 2 minutes left in the game, the Bears having a 3 point lead, and the Vikings in possession of the ball, FOX left the game TO GO TO 4 MINUTES OF COMMERCIALS and then the Giants kicooff. I'm sorry, but this is just wrong, so I'm starting a campaign to get this fixed. Please contact the NFL at (212) 450-2000 to let your voice be heard. At the very least, they should, in the future, use a split screen to show both games. (I was told that the NFL can't do this in 2006 but could in the future. MLB already does this at times, so the technology exists.)

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Just Thought I'd Warn You

that I am on the warpath. Let's all root for me to get up to Hurricane Isaac!

Greetings from Kazakhstan

The excitement over Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan continues to grow. The buzz out of Toronto could not have been better, the early reviews have said it is the funniest movie in years, the Kazakh government keeps making absurd reactions to it, and, having seen Borat on Da Ali G Show, I know how funny he is. Now this: Borat showed up at the White House yesterday and, as reported here, tried to invite "Premier George Walter Bush" to a screening of the movie. Is it November 3 yet?


A professional beard?

Us Weekly is reporting a potential new coupling of Orlando Bloom and Penelope Cruz. My first thought when I read this? If anything was going to convince me that Bloom may, in fact, be gay, it was Penelope Cruz becoming his girlfriend.

Let's backtrack a little. Despite his relationship with Kate Bosworth, there have been rumbling that Bloom may prefer men (as opposed to women with boy-like bodies). I generally wrote those off as rumors based on Orlando's delicate features. But a few weeks ago (just after Kate and orlando called it quits again) Ted Casablancas made a suggestive statement about Orlando and Kate, saying that according to many their relationship was never real, and they just posed for the cameras.

The next day, Ted ran a Blind Vice (a piece of gossip where he doesn't give us the names of the celebrities) about a recently-broken up couple consisting of a closeted gay man and a superskinny woman. It screamed (to me anyway) Kate and Orlando. Check it out for yourself:
Another Hollywood bustup. Boo-freakin'-hoo. Excuse me if I'm not exactly cryin into my hanky. In this town, where relationships last about as long as lunchtime Botox sessions, peeps who manage to stay together are the real newsworthy ones, don't you all think? Anyhow, I never really thought Pete Poked and Charmaine Chuck-Up were such hot 'n' heavy lovebirds in the first place.I mean, you can't place your Prius in a spot that's already taken, can you? 'Course not! Kinda like how Char-love couldn't possibly be the stylish ride of choice for Petey's daredevil desires, 'cause he's already had a serious shotgun boyfriend for quite sometime. Yes, that's right: Just like Toothy and so many of the friggin' rest of 'em, P2 likes the boys, not the girls--no matter how thin or pretty or pouty they may be.I'm told this par-tick tight boyish twosome enjoys sportin' weekend jaunts to the mountains, where they can hit the slopes and canoodle by candlelight far, far away from those pesky papa-Nazis. Wonder if Charmaine recently found out about these little snowy va-cays and went berserk, hence their recent bustup? Or maybe she knew about them all along and is just dumping him now that her face has become so gaunt, she can't even fake the fake no more?
Note to snitty types: Eat! Or your emoting capabilities nosedive, as it were.

Since I usually trust Ted's gossip, I was beginning to wonder whether Orlando really might be gay (it's so upsetting that all the really good Hollywood gossip seems to involve outing people). And then I saw the Us Weekly story about Orlando and Penelope. And now I think I'm a true believer. Let's look at Penelope's last two boyfriends. Matthew McConaughey. Tom Cruise. Both have dodged gay rumors for years. And Penelope has dodged lesbian rumors as well. Many really do think she might be a full-time beard. Dating Orlando Bloom really doesn't make me doubt it much.


Story of the Week

On Wednesday, Red Fraggle and I were on a plane to, of all places, Des Moines. I was reading the NY Times, and we both noticed in the obituary section that Paul Vance, the writer of the "classic" song Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini had died (for the first time). Red Fraggle commented that she was sad to see his passing but that, we thought, was the end of the story.

We were wrong. I never thought this story could be a possible movie, but in yesterday's paper it is reported that Mr. Vance is, in fact, alive. It turns out that the guy who died--one Paul Van Valkenburgh--simply told his wife (and others) that he had written the song. I guess if one is going to claim to have written a song, it is much more believable to have written this ditty than, say, Freebird. And, of course, his real name and the composers are quite similar. What else did this guy make up? Is there more to the story? I want to read more about Mr. Van Valkenburgh, who has pathological liar potential. I'm curious to get the full story.


Anyone else watching this creepy show? I mentioned in my little fall TV recap that I'd be giving it a long leash because of the subject matter. This may be too much information, but I'm sickly fascinated with stories about surviving a nuclear war. Personally I'm not at all worried about getting killed in a nuclear blast, but surviving one? OH MY GOD NO!

I think it all started when I read Alas, Babylon in middle school. Now that was a CREEPY and terrifying book about a small Florida town after a nuclear war. I don't have a great memory for books, generally once I put something down it disappears from my head, but I still remember several important lessons it taught me: (1) do not live in a home that is unliveable without electricity (one of the characters lived in an expensive modern glass home that was partially open to the elements and became completely unliveable without airconditioning or central heating); (2) do NOT wear jewelry heisted from a jewelry store contaminated by radiation (there was a really grisley death brought about by this kind of greed). Now, hopefully I'll never put lesson (2) to use, but I definitely think about (1) every time I consider moving.

Then, in highschool, I took this strange history elective called Conflicts and Revolutions, which was supposed to be a class United States wars from the revolution to the modern day, but because my teacher was a little lazy, it more or less consisted of watching one war movie after another. In the strangest move of this very strange class, he decided to show us a little movie called Threads. Which was a BBC movie set in England. About nuclear winter. The connection to American history is really obvious isn't it? Anyway, if you've never seen this movie don't. It's completely scarring. Everybody I've talked to who's seen it has very visceral memories about the nightmares it invoked. I personally had dreams about it for months. This is from the BBC description of the movie:
We are treated to a graphically disturbing portrayal of the medieval conditions that might prevail after such a conflict, including starvation, nuclear winter, disease, psychological trauma, illiteracy and both mental and physical mutation.

Sounds grim, right? Well it is.

Slightly less grim was a book I read in college called The Postman. Yes, it was turned into a lame movie with Kevin Costner, but the book was really pretty good. It offered a much more hopeful look at a post-nuclear world in which not everybody is blind and eating rats and there is some hope at rebuilding civilization. What's interesting about The Postman is the idea that what could really kill civilization after a nuclear war isn't the effects of the war, but the destabilizing effects of crazy survivalists with guns. Because the book happened to be set in the area where I was living at the time, it also led to nightmares. In fact, for months I couldn't drive down certain roads in Oregon without imagining what they'd look like twenty years after cars stopped running.

And now there's Jericho, and given my history of nightmares, you'd think I'd avoid this show, but no. Of course not. I told you I was sickly fascinated by this little genre, so I will continue to watch. And maybe buy some potassium iodide pills. Just in case.


Ugly Betty

Anybody else catch this American telenovela last night? If not, I recommend you watch because I thought it was awesome. The premise is that a frumpy young woman is hired to be the assistant to the new editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine by the editor's CEO father. His sole purpose in hiring her is to provide a capable assistant that his son won't be tempted to sleep with. I normally HATE cringe comedy - the sort that is funny painful because the humor comes from the humiliation or idiocy of the characters. (See, e.g., The Office. I know it's supposed to be great, but I can't laugh because of all the cringing.)

But this show funny, campy, soapy and really engaging. The main character, the ugly Betty of the title, is played by the wonderful America Ferrera (of Real Women Have Curves and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) in a way that makes a show I would normally never be able to watch really appealing. Betty has some weird dignity that makes her humiliation, while painful to watch, bearable. You know that somewhere underneath the braces and the weird clothes and the willingness to do any debasing thing her boss requests is a girl with a lot of dignity who's going to kick some ass eventually. But what really sold me on this show was the performance by the actor who plays her self-obsessed playboy boss. This guy could be the most loathesome creature imaginable, but there's some bemusement in his face and eyes even when he's doing the most horrible things to Betty that make you think someday this guy may grow up enough to enjoy getting the ass-kicking Betty will undoubtedly give him.

Anyway, two thumbs up. Check it out.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Political Ads -- Where are the Democrats?

With the advent of TiVo, I hardly ever watch commercials anymore, except in the morning when I have the Today show on. Lately, it has been overrun with political ads. Oddly, though, they are all for Republicans.

First, Michael Steele, the Republican candidate for Senate in Maryland is running all of these ads railing against attack ads by the "political consultants in Washington." But I haven't seen a single ad for his opponent, Ben Cardin, much less a negative one. What is disturbing is that Steele comes across as a normal person, rather than the wingnut I suspect him to be.

Second, George "Macaca" Allen, the Republican candidate for Senate in Viriginia, is running ads calling his opponent, Jim Webb, a "fiction writer" who is disrespecting "Ronald Reagan's widow" by claiming that Reagan liked him. (He was a Reagan appointee after all.) This ad comes across as very odd if, like me, you have never seen Webb's ad. Also, George? THERE IS A WAR GOING ON. Whether James Webb is showing the proper amount of respect for Nancy Reagan does not seem like the most pressing issue facing our country right now. And, um, I don't know how to break this to you, but you might not be the right candidate to run on the character issue, what with your history of confederate flag worshipping, N-word using, and use of a noose as an office decoration and all.

Finally, Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich, has been blanketing the airwaves with ads extolling his virtues. No word yet from his opponent Martin O'Malley.

What's going on? Do the Democrats assume that they have the DC suburbs in the bag? Or do they not like the Today show?

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Project Runway

I just have to make one quick comment: Jeffrey is MEAN.

His commentary on Michael's dress and one-pager was just mean-spirited. He looks into the camera and called Michael's idea "STUPID." And you could tell he meant it in the mean kind of way. Now I hate him. When he was rude to Angela's mom I didn't seem to care, but Michael's another story.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The GOP Finds A Home

Today it was revealed that the 2008 Republican Convention is going to be in Minneapolis/St. Paul. (Book your rooms now.) A very strange choice, it seems to me. But then I remembered Calvin Griffith's quote in explaining why he moved the Washington Senators to Minnesota in 1961: "We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here." Seems fitting. This makes me hope even more that the Democrats have their convention in New Orleans. I can't imagine that the Big Easy was Mr. Griffith's favorite city (and how bout dem saints!).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

If you were going to compete on the Amazing Race...

wouldn't you learn to drive a manual transmission? I mean, really, right? It's the one thing you know you are going to have to do while racing. And every season some team screws up and can't drive its car. So you would think that after watching the same fate befall the team who can't drive a manual season after season would really ensure that every new team knows how to do this at the start of the Race. But every single season, someone messes it up. Again. (You know there are spoilers ahead.)

Who messed it up this season? Cheerleaders and theology students Jamie and Kellie. (And wouldn't it just have to be Kellie with an "ie?" Of course it would.) In episode one, the very first thing they did was have trouble with getting their car into gear. And so why am I surprised that they are gone this week? I guess because (Kar)Lyn (yes, the team name for the single moms is from here on out "(Kar)Lyn"--I don't know how I failed to notice this last week and instead called them "Team Alabama") seemed liked more likely candidates for elimination because of their level of physical fitness.

I won't mourn the loss of the cheerleaders. We can do without another ignorant, ditzy, street-dumb female duo. And their elimination makes Miss America stand out more. Not that they needed it--Miss America really showed that it could be a team to be reckoned with as the Race goes on. In fact, the only female team that has ever seemed as competant on the Race was the unfortunate Mormon sisters, Lena and Kristy. But Lena and Kristy were robbed of their chance, so hopefully we will get to see Miss America kick some ass. They are officially my favorite team. They can handle the physicality of the game, make smart choices and don't say anything offensive. Maybe that whole "Miss America is the biggest scholarship for women" thing means that some of the women are actually intelligent and deserving. Who knew?

There were definitely things I didn't like so much this week. Both of the straight couples suck (and (Kar)Lyn seemed pretty mean to others--I hate that). Rob and Kimberly just fight all of the time, capped off by Rob telling Kimberly he didn't want to hear her talk anymore. And Peter of Peter and Sarah really grosses me out. He's bossy and stressful, and he does things that seem demeaning to Sarah, including trying to get people to donate money if Sarah ran around with her fake leg and limp. I understand wanting to get extra spending money, and Gobo pointed out that Sarah seems really comfortable with her disability, so it probably doesn't meant anything to her. But it still made me a little queasy. Interestingly, it seems that, unlike almost every other woman coupled with a bullying man, she is wising up and doesn't want to deal with him much anymore. So at least there's that.

Peter and Sarah did finish in first, but I have trouble forgiving the horrible choice Peter made at the detour. After deciding to take the bundling challenge they got through half of the challenge (pulling the cloth off of the hut) and then Peter just decided he couldn't knot them up properly. He didn't try to knot them up. He didn't look closely at a knot that had already been made, or tried to unknot it to figure out how it was tied. Nope, he just decided, halfway through the challenge, that he couldn't do it and they had to bail and pick the other option. If you truly believe you can't complete a challenge, fine. But if you bail after completing half of it, you had better really be sure that you can't finish the challenge, otherwise you have wasted a huge amount of time. In Peter and Sarah's case, they wasted a huge amount of time. After getting to the second challenge (which involved making animals go where you want them to--always tough), Peter decided that, miracle-of-miracles, he could tie those knots after all. Hate.

But the quitting that annoyed me even more was that on the part of the cheerleaders. Sure, they knew they were last. And yeah, they probably figured this wasn't a non-elimination leg. But isn't there a pride in completing your task? They may have been shooting arrows for hours, but watching them give up and walk to the mat was really disappointing. I would like to think that the competitors respect the Race and have more of a competitive drive than to quit. The only other team to quit were the brother/restaurant owners Marshall and Lance from season 5, and even though one of them was hurt, I was still unforgiving. So the twitty cheerleaders really had no excuse not to finish.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Latest Craziness from the Hoff

Anybody see the story this morning about David Hasselhoff's 14 year-old daughter allegedly attempting suicide? I wasn't about to post about it because it seemed terribly sad and disturbing and no 14 year-old should be stuck having the internets talk about her attempt to end her life . . . and then the US Blog has this story:

David Hasselhoff’s ex-wife, Pamela Bach, claims that the former Baywatch star lied to cops when he called 911 to report that his younger daughter had tried to commit suicide.

Hasselhoff made an emergency call Sunday night saying that his daughter had “cut herself” in what was allegedly a suicide attempt. Now Bach tells TMZ that her daughter never attempted suicide and that David made the call out of pure revenge and to make her look like a bad parent.

According to Bach, Hayley Hasselhoff, 14, was scratched by the family cat Sunday night at around 6 p.m. She says her daughter was crying uncontrollably, so she called David and suggested they take the girl to see a psychologist on Monday. At that point Bach claims David threatened to call the police on her.

Now this might be a very fine line, but because it makes her parents look like idiots, and the daughter look like a normal teenager who's gotten screwed in the parental lottery, I feel ok about posting it. Am I wrong? Am I going to hell for reading this and then commenting on it?

Fall TV

I spent part of the weekend getting caught up on some of the drama pilots that I didn't catch last week. I watched: Six Degrees, Jericho, Kidnapped, Smith, Shark, and possibly some others that I've already forgotten. None of these pilots was awesome enough to leave me raving, but none of them were bad enough to cancel my season pass yet.

I love the premise of Jericho (small town in Kansas left completely isolated by nuclear war(?)) enough that I'll give it a very long leash.

I recommend that Fraggle replace the really horrible Justice (which has lost its season pass in spite of the presence of Victor Garber after only two episodes) with Shark, which is much smarter and has the awesome James Woods.

I really wanted to like Smith as well because I'm a huge fan of Ray Liotta and Simon Baker is HOT, but I really had to wrack my brain to remember even watching it. Not a good sign.

I liked Kidnapped more than I thought I would. I have a hard time not humming "rolling with the homies" under my breath every time I see Jeremy Sisto, but that's hardly his fault. I really like the boy who's been kidnapped so I'm going to try to get Clueless out of my head and watch.

Which leaves Six Degrees which I will definitely be watching because . . . OMAR! Ok, his name is really Michael Williams, but he plays Omar on my new favorite show The Wire and I'll follow him wherever he goes. Although I would like to see him play something other than a hood. Of course, Six Degrees also has Hope Davis, who is wonderful, and J.J. Abrams, so it automatically doesn't suck.

What does everyone else think? Overall I'm really impressed by the quality of the new shows. This season is definitely justifying my purchase of a second, dual tuner, tivo. And tonight we get the most anticipated new show of the season, Heroes. I may never leave the house again.


Sunday, September 24, 2006


So Lindsay Lohan and Harry Morton are no more huh? I guess that's . . . too bad? Sing it with me: "Summer lovin', happened so fast, summer lovin, had me a blast . . ."

Friday, September 22, 2006


I finished this fantastic book recently and I've been boring people to death at cocktail parties (okay, one cocktail party) talking about how great it was. It's called 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus. It's all about the latest research about what America was like before the Europeans came here. It's hard to do it justice in a blog post, but here are a few highlights:

First, a lot of archaeologists now believe that European diseases (especially smallpox) killed about 90% of the Indians. In some places, this happened before the Indians even came into contact with Europeans (through trade with other Indians), and definitely before contact with European settlers (as opposed to explorers). As a result, many of the impressions that early visitors had were of societies that had literally been decimated by disease. One result of this depopulation is that Europeans imported slaves from Africa for labor.

Second, corn is one of the most important inventions in human history. Unlike crops that were domesticated in the Middle East (like wheat and millet) it is so unlike its wild predecessors that there is disagreement about what they were. Someone had to purposely set out to create it, by a process that the journal Science called "man's first, and perhaps the greatest, feat of genetic engineering." And today it supplies a significant percentage of the world's nutrition. I found this really humbling. I mean, iPods and cars are great and everything. But people living in Mesoamerica thousands of years ago invented corn!

Third, Indians transformed the land, so that what we think of as "wild" is actually a manmade landscape. There is a fascinating chapter about the Amazon rainforest. Apparently, the soil there is very poor, and in fact the reason that the foliage in the rainforest is so lush is that plants have adapted to get their nutrients from the air rather than the soil. Archaeologists had always thought that this area could not support large scale human settlements, but they've had to rethink that in light of recent findings. It now appears that the people living there somehow created large patches of fertile soil that has remained fertile for thousands of years. No one knows how they did this, but it seems to have involved fortifying the soil with thousands of shards of broken pottery.

The forests of eastern North America were also transformed by Indians through the widespread practice of lighting forest fires to clear the brush. The Indians also hunted animals to keep their numbers manageable and to keep them away from their crops. When the Indians died, the brush grew back and the animal populations skyrocketed. So, what the early settlers assumed was the natural, timeless condition of the forests really was not.

Finally, in the conclusion, the author hints that the ideas that informed the American Revolution -- equality and liberty -- came as much from the Indians as from the Enlightenment. The early settlements had to offer their residents more equality and more freedom to compete with the Indians, and those ideas caught on. Likewise, he claims that is no coincidence that a lot of the early feminists came from the Finger Lakes area of New York, because the Indian tribes there had women as the heads of their clans.

My only complaint is that the book is organized thematically and so it skips around chronologically and geographically, which is sort of frustrating at times. You also have the nagging feeling that the author could be completely wrong about stuff. He is a journalist, not an archaeologist, and he is quite candid that there are raging debates in academia about some issues. He seems to do a good job of giving both sides of the argument, but you never know. Still, it's a fascinating book. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I don't listen to a lot of jazz, but a while ago I had our local NPR affiliate on in the background while I was cooking on a Sunday afternoon and they were airing the Playboy Jazz Festival. I wasn't really paying attention until a young, incredibly charismatic singer just started wailing a song about the vaguely pathetic angst of being "Twentysomething" and made me stop in my tracks. I immediately turned to the interent to find his website. Almost as immediately I downloaded the entire "Twentysomething" album from iTunes. Well, I finally got around to listening to it tonight to lighten the mood of an evening in the office, and it's definitely going to go into heavy iPod rotation. It has everything from the catchy original tune that first caught my attention, to quirky covers of standards like "I Get a Kick Out of You", to not so standard jazz covers like "Wind Cries Mary". I've actually liked every song on the album, and it's been awhile since I've been able to say that.

ETA: Fixed the link to Jamie Cullum's website!

Worth a watch

For anyone who just wasn't impressed with 'Til Death (I watched about five minutes before turning it off) and is looking for a traditional sitcom to watch, I definitely recommend The New Adventures of Old Christine. I just watched this season's premiere and was reminded that it really is quite a good show.

In many ways, it is a one-woman piece, and that woman, of course, is Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. Those who just don't like her probably won't like this show, as there is definitely some Elaine Benes in the character. But there is enough about this character that is different from Elaine--Christine is divorced, raising a child and has healthy relationships with other people--that you won't constantly be comparing the two.

The writing is generally strong, Louis-Dreyfuss is well-suited for her role, and there are some strong supporting characters (my personal favorites are the blonde moms from Christine's son's school and Christine's younger brother). The premise is straightforward enough: Christine is divorced mom who owns a gym, she has a good, friendly relationship with her ex-husband (which has sometimes become more-than-friendly), her brother lives in her home, and her son attends a ritzy school, where Christine does not fit in with the Stepford wives on the PTA. Last season, Christine's ex, Richard, was dating a younger woman named Christine (hence "Old Christine"), although they broke up at the end of last season and I am unsure whether she will reappear. The storylines all shoot off of this basic premise, and with the short synopsis I just provided, it shouldn't be hard to jump right in.

I enjoy it as an easy half-hour of television that doesn't insult my intelligence (and doesn't feature a fat man married to a hot woman), which seems almost impossible to get with a traditoinal sitcom of late.


Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

I finally had a chance to watch my third new show of the season, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. (My first new show was Celebrity Duets, which I have already blogged about, and my second was Justice, which is totally unrealistic and not at all great, but which I will continue to watch because it lacks the grit that turns me off from many dramas.)

I haven't been that excited about the new fall crop of shows--I saw both the NBC and CBS preview shows and not much looked very good. But I figured I had to give Studio 60 a chance, both because it is an Aaron Sorkin show and because it has received good buzz. My verdict: So far, so good.

The cast is quite good, even if every character Matthew Perry plays has Chandler Bing mannerisms, and even if Amanda Peet just looks way too young to be running a network (I thought that the relationship between Peet's character and Steven Weber's was confusing, although after looking at the show's website, I see that Peet's character is the president of the network while Weber's character is the chairman). And the show did little things that made me happy: when the show's original producer goes on-air to rant about the sorry state of network television, it was obviously a moment taken straight from the movie Network. And instead of ignoring that, the show made it obvious, with every television reporter offering commentary on the diatribe pointing out that it was reminiscent of "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." And having Felicity Huffman as the special guest was a nice little wink, as the discerning viewer knows she starred in Aaron Sorkin's critically acclaimed but quickly cancelled Sports Night.

I didn't love the first episode--they were obviously trying to cram a lot of information into an hour show--but it definitely showed potential. So, for now at least, it gets a season pass on my DVR.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Shoes, glorious shoes

I really love shoes. This admission isn't shocking to those who know me--I won't be seen in anything lower than a three and a half inch heel, and I definitely won't be seen in anything that isn't really, really cute. My pet peeve? Women who walk around in sneakers and a suit. If you need to wear commuting shoes, that's fine, but there is absolutely no reason they need to be ugly.

So I was happy to see that the Washington Post ran an article on women in DC who love shoes. But then I read the article, and all feelings of comraderie with these shoe mavens evaporated. The first woman profiled (Kira Leiberman) is 29 years old (just like me) and owns 371 pairs of shoes and 25 pairs of boots. And these shoes aren't $10 Target specials--her most recent purchase was over $1000 and with "shoes bearing labels such as Chanel, Prada and Chloe," I have to imagine there aren't many $300 pairs in her closet either.

Which leads me to my big question. How does a 29 year old political consultant afford almost 400 pairs of shoes and boots, probably averaging somewhere around $500 a pair? It's like the Sex and the City episode where Carrie realizes she hasn't ever saved any money, and then tallies how much she has spent on footwear over the years and realizes she has worn away $40,000. According to my math, if my average shoe price assumption is correct, Leiberman has spent almost $200,000 on shoes.

Am I doing something wrong in my life? How do I not have the money to afford this? Does anyone know Leiberman? Is she independently wealthy? Is her husband? Perhaps she is the best political consultant this side of Karl Rove, with fees to match? A trust fund baby? I must know. And wasn't she a little concerned sharing this information with the Post? Does she really want her co-workers, acquaintances and clients to know that she has spent what surely amounts to more than many of their yearly salaries on shoes? (I now feel the need to point out that the last thing I am is cheap with my footwear. So the fact that this blew even me away made me think it was extreme.)

The second woman profiled, Charisse Jordan, is the wife of the Washington Wizards' head coach. With only 200 pairs of shoes in her closet, she has nothing on young Leiberman. And I do understand Jordan's point that she goes to a lot of events and needs to change up her footwear accordingly. However, what I do not understand is her choice of shoe for the first game of the Wizards' upcoming season: "brown crocodile sandals with a clear wedge heel." A clear wedge heel?! Why? WHY?! There is really no excuse for anything "clear" on a shoe unless your name is Cinderella or your job attire does not include a top.

At least I have a reason to watch the first game of the Wizards' season.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why Baseball is so Great

Last night, after much griping from Mrs. Bartender, I went to bed shortly before 1 a.m. with the Dodgers/Padres game on. (Fittingly, I was finishing a very good biography of Roberto Clemente while watching.) This was the final game of a four game series in which the Padres had taken 2 out of the first 3 to move 1/2 game in front of LA in the NL West. So it was a big game. And yet, I'm not a Dodgers or Padres fan, I need to work, and the wife wanted the lights out--so I missed what was one of the greatest regular season games of all time.

When I went to bed, it was 6-4 Padres in the 8th, but the craziness was just beginning. The Padres go up 9-5 going to the bottom of the 9th, and the Dodgers promptly hit 4 CONSECUTIVE HOME RUNS to tie the game. And two were hit off of Trevor Hoffman, the second best relief pitcher of the past decade. Now, this is only the 4th time in the history of baseball that a team has hit 4 consecutive home runs, but this is the 9th inning, to tie a game, in mid-September, when two teams are 1/2 game apart for the division lead. BUT THE CRAZINESS ISN'T EVEN OVER. After the Padres go ahead 10-9 in the 10th, Nomar (that's Ramon spelled backwards for those of you scoring at home) Garciaparra hits a 2-run, walk off (or as the Japanese say, sayonara) home run TO WIN THE GAME. (Don't you love all caps--it's almost as good as excessive exclamation points!!) Let's just say that the 18 people still at Dodger Stadium (I kid--there were well over 500) went crazy.

So what are the morals of this post: First, a baseball game (unlike any sport with a clock) is never decided until the final out. Or to quote Yogi Berra. . . oh you know it . . . wait, this is a pop culture site . . . that "it ain't over 'til it's over." Second, I will blame Mrs. Bartender for my missing the end of this epic game. Come on, I must blame somebody!!!


Monday, September 18, 2006

The Race is on!

Ah. The Amazing Race is back. All is well in the world. I can't believe we are now in Season 10 (although I guess Season 9 if we pretend that The Amazing Race: Family Edition didn't happen, which is something we all want to do). Just some disjointed thoughts on the first episode (spoilers ahead). I tried to organize my thoughts by team.

First, as Holt pointed out to me last night, this had to be the most difficult first leg of the Race ever. Sending them to China at the outset? Making them climb up the Great Wall?! Usually the first few legs are a little easier, and a little closer to home. Not this time. Then again, Phil did say there would be major twists and turns this season.

The teams:
The Three-Legged Racers (or Team Tripod, as Gobo calls them): Yes, I know we are probably going to hell for making up these names for the team of two triathletes, one of whom only has one leg. Oh well. During their opening interview I thought they seemed like a really sweet team of two people deciding to bite the bullet and take a chance on love, corny as it sounds. But as the episode progressed, I started seeing disturbing shades of Ian, Jonathan, Ray and every controlling man who has come before in Steve (the male, two-legged member of the team). To be fair, he didn't put Sarah down at all and did support her when she had a hard time climbing the wall. But when they were trying to deal with strategy-type decisions, he got rude and clearly didn't want to hear her input. A bad sign so early on, but I'll write it off as first-day jitters and hope things improve. I think the biggest question on our minds right now (mine and Gobo's) is whether Sarah can get a replacement leg, since hers is now leaking hydrolic fluid. I wonder what the Race rules are for that.

I thought it was interesting that they are using her disability to do things like pre-board. I don't blame them--you need to take the advantages you can in this game. But did Myrna and Charla pull that card? I don't remember ever seeing it. I would have thought they would have tried. I wonder whether the disabled community is going to be annoyed with Sarah for using her handicap to her advantage when she doesn't actually need the special help, or whether they will just be proud that she is able to do so much with her disability. Or whether they won't care at all.

The Teams with Bad Nicknames (Team Karma, The Cho Bros) For those who didn't watch, Team Karma was a team made up of an Indian married couple. Did they really have to call themselves Team Karma? Really? I would like to think if I (a Greek Fraggle) were to join a team with another Greek we wouldn't call ourselves Team Opa. Of course, Team Karma's karma must have been pretty bad, since we will no longer be seeing them. Which wasn't a surprise--the first thing Gobo and I said when we saw them was "they will not last long." And they didn't.

The Cho Bros, on the other hand, are still around. They are brothers, and I assume their last name is Cho. So yeah, it kind of rhymes. But does that mean they have to put the team name on the back of their jackets? It's so dorkily unnecessary. But unlike last year's nerds, David and Lori, they don't seem to be celebrating their dorkiness and taking part in dorkdom with tongue in cheek. Not good.

Then we have the Muslims from Cleveland. Gobo, who is also from Cleveland, immediately decided they were his favorite team. In their first interview they said that because they are observant, they would find their five minutes a day to pray (they didn't mention doing so five times a day, but I have to imagine that would go with the territory). I was really waiting for the day when they were in a huge rush to the mat and had to choose between prayer and elimination. Unfortunately, that day will never come, as they were ousted when there wasn't even a pit stop. Ouch. When they were eliminated they said that their elimination just goes to show that we don't have control over anything, that only the Creator does. Um, yeah. If they are talking about the creator of the show, that is. Poor Gobo has to choose a new favorite team.

This Year's Fighting Couple. Every year there has to be a couple who just cannot get along. This year, the award goes to dating couple Rob and Kimberly. They are definitely going to be the annoying bickersons of the Race. There's really not much more to say about them.

The Cheerleaders and Miss America. Gobo was very disturbed by these two teams, because he didn't know how he was going to tell them apart. Luckily for viewers, Miss America is comprised of two blondes, while the cheerleaders have one blonde and one brunette. It's the subtle distinctions that matter. And I'm really upset that the Miss America contestants are not wearing their sashes and tiaras. Doesn't the pageant have rules about these things? Of the two teams, Miss America appears more impressive, not only because they didn't ask whether Muslims believe in Buddha (that was the cheerleaders, showing a level of ignorance even Kendra didn't reach), but also because they were really fast with the brick-laying.

Team Alabama is compised of two African-American single mothers. My first thought on seeing them last night was that they would be the first to be eliminated, because they just don't look as fit as the other teams. I was wrong, although they did have a lot of trouble with the climb up the Great Wall. Which, of course, made me so proud of them when they made it up. My favorite thing about Team Alabama is that they already hate the Three-legged Racers for jumping ahead in the boaring line because of Sarah's disability. You need some conflict to keep things interesting!

I was also proud of the Coal Miner's Wife when she made it up the wall. The most shocking thing about Coal Miner's Wife is that she is only 30 years old. Disturbingly, Coal Miner and Wife are another team where the man is dominant in the relationship. Haven't we seen enough of these on the Race? Too much of this dynamic just gets old after awhile.

Most impressive up the wall was Lesbian Lauren, who seemed to scramble up there really quickly, although her dad struggled. There's not much to say about them, other than the fact that her father openly cried when he thought about his daughter being a lesbian in his opening interview. Which was just...a little weird. She has been out for years. Is the pain still so raw that he cries about it on national television?

Next we have the "Boyfriends." I don't know why the Race has to refer to them as "Boyfriends." All of the other dating couples are just "dating." Couldn't they do that for Boyfriends as well? The viewer can easily see that they are both boys, so "dating" would allow us to know that they are, in fact, boyfriends. But no matter. I don't think Boyfriends will be with us for long--they are no Team Guido or Team Cha Cha Cha.

Speaking of gay, we have the current first place team, the Druggie Models. My big question is whether they are gay or straight? I'm leaning toward gay. They kind of reminded me, looks-wise, of the Frats from last year. But I loved, loved, loved the photos the Race ran of them back in their druggie days, with the nitrous tank next to one of them. Classic. They were pretty impressive, and I kind of liked them, although it would be great to finally see an all-female team win the Race. Just once. Is that so much to ask?

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Friday, September 15, 2006


I find myself feeling like a voyeur lately. Here's the situation: There are two couples whose blogs I stumbled upon because they comment on one of my favorite blogs. They both started dating in college and are now in their mid-20s, and they both lived in Washington until last fall when the girlfriend of each couple moved away for grad school/fellowship.

One of the couples had separate blogs and it sort of became clear through my occasional reading of them that they had broken up. This was confirmed recently in a comment on the aforementioned favorite blog.

The other couple had a joint blog. This week, they each posted that they would not be blogging at that site anymore and that they would each probably start their own blogs. That means they broke up, right?

The whole situation has me conflicted. On the one hand, they feel sort of like friends. I've been reading about their lives for a couple of years, and I feel like I know them. Except that I don't actually know them. Nor do I know anyone who knows them. (Although, once I saw one of the guys at the Bread Line.) On the other hand, they're sort of like characters on a TV show or celebrities. Except not really. So now I feel weird about knowing so much about them. Like, I decided not to link to them because it would seem really strange for them to know that a complete stranger is talking about their relationships on the internet.

Anyway, this is not really pop-culture related, but it does touch on how blogging creates relationships with people that don't it into any defined category.


I see via Pitchfork that there is a new REM retrospective out called And I Feel Fine, which features music from their first 5 albums, Murmur, Reckoning, Life's Rich Pageant, Fables of the Reconstruction, and Document. These albums came out while they were still on indie label IRS and before they signed to Warner and generally started sucking.

There is really no way to explain my emotional connection to those first 5 albums. I just love them, and they're an integral part of my sense of what rock music should sound like and be. I used to have an excellent mix tape (yep, I'm old) of music from those records, but tragically, I lost it. So maybe this compilation can replace it.

In a weird way, my love for early REM is inextricably tied up with my feelings about U2. They both had their breakthrough albums (Joshua Tree and Document) at about the same time. I know that a lot of people 5 or 10 years younger than me (including some of my fellow junkettes) now see U2 as this great rock band, but in my mind they'll always take a back seat to the boys from Athens, Georgia.

Men in Trees

I watched the pilot episode of Men in Trees last night. The new sitcom with Anne Heche. And I really, really liked it. And apparently I might be the only one in the world.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

You asked for it; you begged for it; nay, you demanded it

Yes, it's the worst hair in Congress. Only in DC could we combine our love of politics with this blog's love of pop culture/fashion/fashion gone wrong. (Hat tip, the Plank.) Btw, let me second the shout out to former Congressman Traficant. You are (in a sick way) missed. You were a disturbed criminal but at least you were open about it. Beam me up.


Like a cockroach

Project Runway spoilers ahead:

Well, I guess my happiness at seeing Vincent go home last week was short-lived. Every week Heidi says that there will be rewards for winning a challenge that will be revealed later in the show, and I have never really paid attention or wondered what the reward would be. Well, this week we found out: everyone who won a challenge and was later eliminated was invited back to the show for this episode. If the previously-eliminated contestant won this week's challenge, s/he would be back in. But if s/he didn't win outright, s/he would be sent home. Again.

In light of this reward, Angela and Vincent were invited back for this episode. I was surprised to realize that the only challenge winners up until this point were current contestants, Angela and Vincent. Well, and Keith, but I guess the reward for winning a challenge doesn't count when you are disqualified. It would have been great to see Kayne's reaction had Keith returned. Of course, I never felt Keith should have won that first challenge, since all he did was use a sheet to make his dress--it would have been great if Robert had won that first week and been able to return. Oh well.

Sometimes I feel that, becaue of editing, we don't get a real idea of who is liked and who is disliked by the other contestants on the show, but I think it was pretty clear that Angela really was universally-disliked. When Heidi invited her back onto the stage there was just dead silence. No one looked happy to see her. I imagine if Robert or Alison had walked in, everyone would have been clapping and smiling (even if they were actually upset because of the added competition).

The challenge this week--design a cocktail dress using only the colors black and white, and you must use all of your fabric, including the scraps. The results: generally okay, except for Jeffrey's hideous homage to the '80s. (Or, as he sees it "rock and roll," but really--thigh-high leggings? That's the '80s, even if leggings are allegedly making a comeback. I say allegedly because I have yet to see anyone walking the streets in them. Well, anyone other than overweight women pairing the leggings with oversized Looney Tunes tee-shirts.) Angela's design was pretty awful--the collar looked like a torture device--and Vincent's design was certainly nothing great, which sealed their fate for a second time.

And in the end it was no shock who went home: poor, glitzy Kayne. He tried really hard to design something sedate, and I thought it was actually really cute. But I think it came down to the fact that the judges didn't want to eliminate Jeffrey (despite the clear ugliness of his design), because they think he has more potential. And so Kayne was sent packing. I'll miss the glitter!

As for the winner--Laura finally pulled one out. Personally, I did not see the appeal of her dress. In fact, I would have kicked her off before Kayne! It just seemed kind of boring and already-done to me. At least the back of Kayne's dress was interesting, as was the cut. But Laura's seemed very basic and blah. Perhaps it looked better in person? The judges really were all over it, complimenting its "youthfulness." I was a little surprised and would have given the win (again) to Michael.

So it looks like we have the final four that I predicted. I definitely think Michael and Jeffrey are going to the finals. I know I called Uli as the third finalist last week, but now I'm not so sure. The judges really seem to be getting bored with her aesthetic. I think she or Laura can really save themselves by designing something great next week. But if they are both kind of mediocre, I think Laura goes home. I hope so, at least. Otherwise we will be forced to watch a lot of really low necklines, long sleeves with cuffs and fluffy collars.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Banning Gazelles

This article from Reuters is insane. I can't believe I didn't hear about it yesterday, but Madrid's fashion week has banned the use of models whose body mass index falls below some unspecified number. Apparently 30% of last season's models have been turned away by onsite medics!

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The Emperor's New Clothes

I am certainly no fashionista. In fact, I don't really understand the concept of fashion as an art form. And I know that Marc Jacobs is the reigning king of American fashion, and I have coveted his clothes in the past. But what the hell is going on with his new collection?


DVD Recommendation of the Day -- Rescue Me

If you are looking for a new TV show to start watching on DVD, I highly recommend Rescue Me. I think there have been three seasons so far, and I'm almost done with Season One. It's awesome. Love it.

Dennis Leary and a host of others play NY firefighters in a post-9/11 world. The characters' family lives are a big part of the story too. The entire cast is great, the writing is sharp (and oftentimes hilarious), and the story lines are gripping. It took me a few episodes to get into it, but now I can't wait to keep watching.

Also, the 9/11 references and related stories are not gratuitous. They are subtle and important and make the show even more poignant.


Rock Star: Final Performances

I really wish I had started watching Rock Star: Supernova earlier. Oh well. I did watch last night, and I thought there were a definite top two and bottom two based on the performances.

At the top: Dilana and Toby. Dilana's "severe calf injury" appears to have miraculously healed in one week. Who knew? I think she should win--her voice is the coolest, she has real stage presence, and even if "Supersoul" isn't the best song out there, it's not the end of the world. It's not like Motley Crue was known for its sophisticated lyrics either. I liked, but didn't love, her version of "Roxanne." I get that she made it different, and thought she did a good job with it, but at some point it should have been pepped up a bit.

I really liked Toby on "Karma Police," probably because he didn't mess with what is a great song. Actually, I should say I liked him on the song until the end. I didn't like what he did with the "for a minute there, I lost myself..." part of the song--I felt like he didn't get it. He sang it loud, proud and anthem-like, when that aspect of the song (and really the entire song in general, but particularly that part) has to be quiet and melancholy. It just doesn't make sense to sing those lyrics another way.

Toby's bigger problem was one he really couldn't do much about--his original song. He sang it twice last week because he was given the encore, and then had to sing it again this week (everyone had to sing their original song again). I thought that was a disadvantage, because it now seems boring and repetitive, whereas had he only sung it once last week, it would have seemed familiar but fun this week. Of course, if Toby ever wants to market the single, this would be the best way to do it--I think most people watching would be able to remember his song far more easily than the other three.

And in the bottom two, we have Lukas and Magni. Lukas was wearing way, way, way too much eye make-up. It just looked silly. He sang Coldplay's "Fix You," and although I know Bailey is not a fan of Chris Martin and Company, I really didn't think Lukas had the voice or abilities to do the song justice. Like Toby at the end of the Radiohead song, I felt that Lukas changed the song for the sake of changing it, and in doing so lost what the song was about. He did a jumping-up-and-down, exuberant take on the middle of the song, and it just sounded wrong. Should one really be happily scream-singing about how they will fix you? I don't think so.

I did like that Lukas changed up his original tune--he was the only one who tried to do something different with his original song. I thought that was a tactic Toby should have employed, although I don't know that Toby's song, with all those "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh"s would have worked differently. I liked the way the song sounded better the first time he sang it, but I do think he deserves a lot of credit for taking a chance really late in the game. I couldn't help but notice that his song is very repetitious, however--it seemed that every line was repeated, and sometimes repeated up to four times in a row ("You make my head spin, you make my head spin, why, why, why, why;" "I'm not perfect, I'm not perfect. I'm not perfect, I'm not perfect."). It was a bit much. In the end, I just don't think that Lukas' voice is strong enough to justify picking him over someone like Dilana.

And then there's Magni. I didn't love his Deep Purple tune, but I didn't dislike it either. I was just kind of indifferent. I think he had some problems with his original song--at one point he couldn't hit the high note ("As long as there are stars"--the "stars" sounded bad). So that was a problem. He definitely shouldn't be the winner.

My vote? Dilana. We will see!


Waiting for number three

Britney had baby number two on Tuesday morning. And contrary to all of the reports of her buying a ton of pink clothing, this one was another boy.

I didn't realize he was born two days before Sean Preston's first birthday. I know everyone rips on poor Brit for how close in age the two are, but my brother was born four days before my first birthday. It's cost-effective--Britney and Kevin will always be able to do what our parents did and throw one birthday party for the two kids at once.

Strangely enough, reports are saying that Lynne (Britney's mom) and Jamie-Lynn Spears (Brit's sister) were the only two people (other than medical personnel) present for the birth. Ummm...what about Kevin?

I think most people forget, but Britney was well on her way to losing the baby weight when she got preggers again. After only three months she was looking really good--I remember being shocked, because I never thought she would be thin again. Since she got pregnant again so quickly, and quickly put on the pounds, it's easy to forget. I bet her body bounces back in short order. And that she waits awhile before number three. I hope.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Project Delusion

Everyone watching Project Runway this season knows that Vincent is totally deluded. But I kind of didn't realize it was quite this bad. You have to read this article from Entertainment Weekly, in which (among other fantastic claims) Vincent tells us he is the only "real" designer out of the Runway contestants this year.

Yeah, because that basket with chains hanging off of it was really high fashion.

Oh, and we also learn Vincent's true feelings on Tim Gunn. It's really an all-around must-read.

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It seems so long ago that I got all weepy and sad over Malan's auf'ing from Project Runway, and now it looks all that angst was for naught as he's landed quite well. He's got his own blog on the Bravo website, and he just showed a collection during fashion week.

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Adopt a homeless pet

So pets are pop culture, right? Paris Hilton has a revolving door of them, Jennifer Aniston just got a puppy, and apparently Renee Zellweger tried to get a little girl to sell her dog for a few thousand dollars. So pets are totally pop culture.

How to be like a cool celebrity and get a pet of your own? Petfinder! This is the greatest site--it compiles available animal lists from most shelters and rescue organizations, and allows you to search for the perfect pet for you--you can search by species, breed, location, special needs, whether the animal is declawed, and even by name.

This is a phenomenal resource for shelters, as it allows them to reach a wider audience than they normally would, and potential pet owners can search until they find the perfect animal. Millions of animals are put to sleep in the U.S. every year because there aren't enough homes for them, so hopefully a site like this will help out.

I started using Petfinder a few months ago and searched until I found the perfect cat to join me and Gobo in our Fraggle family (we'll call her DoozerCat Fraggle from here on out). Petfinder really helped me make the right decision--I got to read a description of our cat before we picked her up, and then was able to contact her foster mother to get more information about her.

Our kitty has been a wonderful addition to the Fraggle family. And unlike Paris and Tinkerbell, we don't intend to "lose" her and replace her with a ferret in a few months.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Furballs and snowballs

I thought there was nothing cuter than a baby panda, but then I saw this video and realized that a bunch of baby pandas in a snowy playground takes the cake.

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Are you ready for some . . .

football! First, let me note that I am a bigger baseball fan than football fan, but there is something exciting about the start of football season. And with Jeter and co. destroying Baltimore yesterday, the Yankee game offered little to divert my attention. But some thoughs/pet peeves:

1. The rules governing/decision making of TV executives continues to befuddle me. It is my understanding--and someone correct me if I'm wrong--that the NFL here in DC is obligated to show Redskins games and cannot cut away from them even if the Skins have a huge lead/deficit. The networks are not, however, obligated to show Ravens games (and frequently don't) and they are allowed to cut away from them if they are lousy games. So what happened yesterday--we had one utter blowout (involving the Rames) and one minor one in the 1pm games. The Ravens/Bucs game was simply horrible and yet CBS stuck with it. (And a major thumbs down to CBS for not showing all NFL games in high def--come on, it's time.) And it wasn't like there weren't several close games that they could have switched to--Pats/Bills or Jets/Titans would have worked. But not until the 27-0 stinkeroo was over did we get the Jets/Titans game. And then because it was 4:15, THEY DID NOT SHOW THE FINAL FEW PLAYS OF THE GAME when the Titans were trying to tie the score. Instead, we see Greg Gumbell and company essentially providing play by play. Can someone tell me the point of this rule if there is such a rule? Anyone?

2. The only thing worse is when I spend 3 1/4 hours watching a game only to have the network leave it in the closing moments for a commercial and Redskins kickoff. This happens at least once a year, leaving me wanting to file suit. (I have left several irate messages for FOX execs the past several seasons.) I have been told from a very high source that the network is not obligated to do this but nonetheless decides to punish the fans who have dedicated much of the day to a game they care about only to miss the end. (I wouldn't beef if the earlier game was already decided, but this has happened in games where a team was trying to win or tie in the closing minutes.) It is infuriating and wrong. At worst, can't they do a split screen?

3. Please tell me that the ref who called the offensive interference penalty on the Giants last night is fined, fired, or getting lasiks today? Please.

4. Finally, the Colts ain't winning the super bowl with that defense and running game. Peyton looked great but he always does as long as it is before New Year's. We'll see what happens as the days get shorter.

As DC shuts down to watch the Redskins tonight, I am most looking forward to the game for Mr. Tony.

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Heaven is a Place on Earth!!!

Celebrity Duets officially kicks ass. The production values suck, the judges are are neither insightful nor funny, many of the celebrities singing pretty poorly. But...

Belinda Carlisle sang last week. Twice! Belinda Carlisle!!!!!

I hadn't read anything about the episode in advance, so it was a total surprise when Lea Thompson (Caroline and the City) announced Belinda Carlisle as her duet partner. I literally started bouncing up and down on the couch, waving my fists in the air. I didn't scream, although I wanted to, because I didn't want to miss any of her performance.

And she was really good. Unfortunately for Belinda, Lea Thompson was not so good, which took a little from the performance, but Belinda was amazing. She sang "Heaven is a Place on Earth," (you can watch it here) and I honestly felt like it was 1987 all over again and I was listening to "America's Top 40" with Casey Kasem. Back then I really loved Belinda like no other. Sure, I liked Debbie and Tiffani and all, but Belinda was far superior, which even my ten-year-old self knew at the time.

Not only did Belinda sound great, but she looked really good as well. I know she struggled with her weight earlier in her career, but at 48 she looked amazing! (And that's really saying something since she had to stand next to Lea Thompson, who really looks like a healthier Nicole Ritchie.)

Her performance was so good that Gobo and I rewound it to watch it again, and then gave the episode "Don't Erase Until I Delete" status. But there was more to come! The next day (the elimination episode) she and Lea sang again. Unfortunately it wasn't my other favorite Carlisle tune, "Circle in the Sand," but instead was "I Get Weak." Not that I'm complaining. "I Get Weak" is pretty great too. But it's not "Circle in the Sand." And she again sounded great, and Lea again kind of sucked, and then Lea went home.

But really, who wins this competition and who goes home every week is not the point. The point is that Belinda Carlisle sang! TWICE!!! Amazing.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Tennis, Anyone?

In the past week, I have actually watched a little bit of the US Open. When I was younger, I used to follow tennis much more closely, and I'm sure it says something about me that I always preferred the less charismatic players--Borg, Lendl, Sampras--to the showboats--McEnroe, Agassi. Now I rarely watch, but I did find the Agassi farewell tour in general and the first two matches in particular quite exciting. Two comments:

1. Agassi was a great showman and, as we heard over and over, he seriously matured over his 17 or so years of tennis fame. He deserved much of the praise he received and put on quite a show last week at Flushing Meadow. There is still something particularly special about the matches that go past 1am. (I remember, as many do, Connors' final run in 1991 with those amazing matches, but was at the semifinal that year where he got smoked by Courier.) That being said, let's not overstate things. Agassi was at least a notch below Sampras (who went out with a victory over Agassi in the Open final). Pete, for his lack of color, should not be overshadowed. But I wish Agassi well.

2. Instant replay in tennis. When I heard they were doing it, I was aghast. I still don't like it in football--it makes refs unwilling to make calls, creates situations where they claim the reply was indipsutable and yet I dispute it, and slows the game terribly (plus sometimes a coach can't even get the refs attention (ask Nick Saban)--and thought this would be a disaster. But I was wrong. Each player gets two challenges a set (plus one in a tie break) and the result take at most 2 seconds and it is obvious whether the ball was in or out. A great addition. (Now if only I keep watching . . . )

So will I be watching the Open this weekend. Let's see--we have the Yanks in Baltimore, the Nats on MASN (finally!), the Tigers and the Twins, and, oh yeah, football with the much hyped Manning battle on Sunday night. Guess not. Just tell me on Monday whom Federer beat.


Ugly bridesmaid

The ugly bridesmaid dress is a long-running joke among most women who have been in a wedding at some point or another. For me, the words generally conjure images of some bad 1980s-style get-up (much like an '80s prom dress), with big sleeves, pink lace, and lots of tulle, or, if I'm thinking about a specific dress, I usually harken back to my cousin's wedding, where the bridesmaids wore dresses with black velvet bodices, basque waists, poufy taffeta skirts that were shorter in the front and longer in the back in a teal/black color that changed as the light hit them, big teal butt bows, and sleeves that may have been stuffed with tissue paper. And of course, these dresses scream bridesmaid and could never, ever be worn again.

The obvious solution to me has always been to say no bridesmaid dresses at all. I'm not married, so I've never had a wedding, but it seems perfectly reasonable. After all, why force your friends or relatives to all wear the same thing? My friends are all perfectly capable of dressing themselves on a daily basis, it feels strange that if I decided to get married they suddenly wouldn't know what was appropriate. And it certainly seems wrong to dictate that adult women should have to wear the same clothing despite the fact that this never happens in real life and they have different body types, tastes and coloring.

Realizing that many modern brides find the tacky dress idea unpalatable, stores like J. Crew and Ann Taylor have come up with an alternative. Instead of having your bridesmaids trek to a bridal shop, try on one sample dress that isn't in any of their sizes, order dresses that take two to three months to arrive and get said dresses altered, these stores are offering off-the-rack styles that can be bought right at the store, or ordered online to arrive in a few days, rather than a few months. And to satisfy the brides who want to be "progressive" they offer a number of styles in the same color and fabric, so that different bridesmaids can wear different styles, but still compliment each other.

It's a great move, and one that I think has been pretty successful for these chains. However, it does worry me a little. Because I really like dresses.

These dresses are sold with the idea that they can be worn again. But now that they have become "bridesmaid dresses," can they really? Or has the definition of a bridesmaid dress now changed, meaning that these cocktail-type dresses are now bridesmaid dresses, and therefore can't be worn to other occassions? Does this mean that I can't purchase the the short Sophia from J. Crew or the Chloe strapless from Ann Taylor? Will everyone know it was really intended as some uniform in a wedding party?

I'm hoping not. Otherwise, it will be a lot harder to find cute dresses to wear to events where one is expected to dress up. And perhaps most people don't look at the websites of these stores as often as I do, and won't even realize it if I am wearing something from the Ann Taylor "Celebrations" line. But every time I consider buying one of these for myself, there is a small fear that I will walk into a wedding as a guest and realize I am wearing the same exact dress as the bridesmaids.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Real time vs. reality time

Watching Project Runway last night, one question kept popping into my mind. No, it wasn't "why did Michael think it would be a good idea to hand-ruche for the first time in a challenge?" Nor was it "can Laura design anything that isn't a body-skimming dress or that doesn't have a big collar with matching cuffs?" It wasn't even "how is it possible that Robert and Alison are gone but Vincent is still around?" Nope. It was "how much time is there between challenges on this show?"

One some reality shows, the amount of time that has passed is clear. Take Survivor. We know how many days everyone has been on the island because they tell us in every episode (which always makes me wonder why they are so over-emotional about being away from their families at day 14--sure, it must be hard to be out of contact, but it's two weeks!). And in Runway's case, I always assumed they were given a challenge (which usually lasts between one and two days), and then once that challenge is over they immediately get a new challenge, which then lasts one to two days, and so on. Maybe there is a day of rest here or there, but nothing major.

But now I'm not so sure. Two episodes ago (the totally unfair episode of large vs. thin), Laura announced she was pregnant for the sixth time. (This woman can't stand dogs but can manage to birth six babies? I don't get it.) When she made the announcement, everyone was shocked, and she wasn't showing. The next episode, she designed herself a cocktail dress that was body-conscious. Wearing it, one could see a slight, slight stomach bulge. But when I say slight, I mean slight. I'll be honest--my stomach is fatter, and there is no Baby Fraggle entering this world any time soon. The dress was not forgiving, so it wasn't like she was hiding her pregnancy with clothing at that point.

The comes this week's episode, the very next challenge after the cocktail dress, and she's totally showing. For much of the episode her belly was exposed, and it was definitely that of a pregnant woman. And when she was covered up, her belly was obvious, pushing out her shirts.

So how much time passed here? How did she go from pinch-an-inch to full-fledged preggers in two days? The progression was so dramatic it looked to me like it must have taken weeks. Does anyone have an idea how much time really passes on this show?

SPOILERS AHEAD (and unfortunately, as usual, Blogger sucks and I can't post photos)

I guess we can wait until next week to see if Laura has put on even more pregnancy weight. Because right now, I'm just very confused. Of course, we almost didn't get that opportunity, as Laura was in this week's bottom two, where I definitely thought she belonged. Her dress was just so typical--Uli was lambasted last week for making the same type of dress over and over, but Laura has really been the biggest offender in that regard. And this one really was ugly. As Gobo put it--she looks like a Victorian hooker!

I can't say, however, that I was unhappy to see Vincent go instead of her. The fact that he made it to the top six flabbergasts me--not only is he not talented, but he's just plain creepy. And his "couture" dress, which was really just a job for Elmer's glue, wasn't interesting in the least, nor was it attractive. I'm glad he's gone. I'm sad it wasn't much earlier, because it would have been fun to see the designs of some of the people eliminated in his stead. But he's gone now, and that's a good thing.

Uli and Jeffrey definitely had the best designs, and I think I would have gone with Jeffrey's for the win, just because it seemed more couture-esque. And I have to admit--I liked Kayne's design! I liked the sparkles, I liked the uneven corset, I liked the ombre, and I loved the fit. I felt tasteless for liking it after hearing the judges' comments, but there you have it.

But does anyone think that someone other than Michael is going to win this competition? I think it will be Michael, Uli and Jeffrey in the top three, with them finishing in that order. At this point, can it end up any other way?

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Paris Hilton - Caught by the Fuzz

The police arrested Paris Hilton last night for drunk driving. Couldn't she have had one of her bodyguards drive? I don't get why anyone thinks it's OK to drive after a few drinks.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

BSG Webisodes!

For those of our silly readers who don't check Televisionary regularly, I'm going to repeat a tip I picked up there: there are new webisodes of Battlestar Galactica here! They will be posting new webisodes that bridge the gap between the second season finale and the third season premier every Tuesday and Thursday until the new season starts. Just a little something to tide us over.


Separated at Birth

One is fired Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy (who seems to be in hiding with Phillip Michael Thomas since Pat Riley canned him); one is terrorist matermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; and one is porn legend Ron Jeremy. You make the call. Btw, I realize this "story" is somewhat old, but CNN.com is running the picture of Khalid again, which reminded me of the similarities--something I pointed out the first time I saw the Khalid picture several years ago. This one just never gets old.


Big Brother All Stars - The Ballad of Chill Town

There is no point in having a pop culture blog if you have to be ashamed of watching Big Brother, so I've decided to break blog silence and post about what's become a riveting All Star season. I haven't watched Big Brother regularly in the past, but there's generally not much on in the summer so I've seen parts of prior seasons and was able to recognize some of the old players brought in to play the All Star game.

I probably woudn't have watched this season either, but they brought back season 2 winner the Evil Doctor, Will Kirby (he has a dermatology practice in LA). I'm hardly Will's only fan, Television Without Pity stopped recapping Big Brother ages ago, but Miss Alli brought back the recaps for this very special season because of her equal fondness for Will. He's smart, funny, attractive, manipulative, and incredibly charming. Unfortunately, Will brought his friend from Season 2 and current business partner, restaurant manager Mike "Boogie", into the house with him to form the unfortunately named "Chill Town" alliance. While Will is pathologically charming, Mike is . . . not. Mike tries to be "cool" like Will, but instead of being amusing, it's desperate and a little sad, and more than a little mean. I don't think Mike would necessarily be a bad guy if he weren't stuck in Will's shadow. But he is, and we all have to suffer because of it.

For the last several weeks Mike and Will have been pursuing a strategy they called "Operation Double Date" in which they've each chosen a girl on which to excercise their (dubious) wiles. Mike chose the sadly insecure and on the rebound Erica, and Will chose the competition powerhouse and not at all insecure Janelle. Mike played on Erica's insecurity by trying to convince her that he was developing real feelings, and Will played on Janelle's vanity by flirtatiously reminding her how awesome she was all the time. The plan was to convince each of the girls that she, and only she, was part of Mike and Will's "Chill Town" alliance and the other girl was being duped. The plan worked marvelously well for weeks and got them to the final four along with their dupes. Will has a girlfriend outside the house (For Love or Money's Erin Brodie) and so he kept his "romance" of his dupe Janelle to the level of flirtation, without kissing or other physical intimacy, or at least tried to make it look that way. (He repeatedly whispered to her (as they were sleeping side by side at night) that he wanted a real relationship out of the house. Ick.) Janelle never seemed to be quite sure whether Will was for real or not, which kept the ick level to a minimum. But the ick was ramped up to max on Sunday night's episode where Mike's "showmance" of his dupe Erica (that definitely was physical) went too far. Mike tried his damndest to make Erica think this was a real relationship with real feelings, while telling the camera that he was planning to boot her as soon as possible and didn't give a damn about her. At the same time Erica was telling the camera how real their relationship was and that there were real feelings there. It was very very unsettling.

Luckily Operation DD came to an end last night when, in a shocking display of intelligence and strength from the two women who'd been the pawns in Will and Mike's ugly "Double Date" plan, the Evil Doctor was voted out and sent to the sequester house. When Mike put his supposed love Erica up for eviction and then promptly started ignoring her, the flaw in the DD plan became evident. It was entirely dependent on Erica and Janelle not talking to each other, and when Mike stopped talking to Erica, she got a clue and started talking to Janelle and they both realized just how foul the boys' plan was. Janelle, the only one with a vote this week, finally came out from under Will's charming spell and evicted the puppetmaster.

And it was beautiful.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Who cares if I have to squint?

Looks like the CW is going to be offering premieres of some shows, including Veronica Mars!, online prior to the date they air on television.

I cannot wait. I cannot wait. I cannot wait.

I don't know that I've been this excited since...well, since last spring's season finale!

It will be available September 26--23 days away!


Friday, September 01, 2006

You Have to Give Her Credit

After pulling a Frank Drebin and leaving her mike on while going to the bathroom (you can watch it below), CNN's Kyra Phillips showed up on Letterman last night to present the top ten list:

Top Ten Kyra Phillips Excuses Presented by CNN Anchor Kyra Phillips:

10. "Still haven't mastered complicated On/Off switch."
9. "Larry King told me he does this all the time."
8. "How was I supposed to know we had a reporter embedded in the bathroom?"
7. "I honestly never knew this sort of thing was frowned upon."
6. "Couldn't resist chance to win $10,000 on 'America's Funniest Home Videos."'
5. "I was set up by those bastards at Fox News."
4. "Oh, like YOU'VE never gone to the bathroom and had it broadcast on national television!"
3. "I just wanted that hunky Lou Dobbs to notice me."
2. "OK, so I was drunk and couldn't think straight."
1. "You have to admit, it made the speech a lot more interesting."

Okay, so it wasn't Clinton showing up on Carson after his brutal speech nominating Dukakis (that was over 18 years ago--boy I feel old), but it was still pretty savvy.


Elect Jerry Springer

He's barely recognizable, but this campaign commercial from 1982 has to be unique in American (and I'm sure world) political history. And it's not because the candidate ended up becoming uber-famous and is now on Dancing with the Stars.