Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It's Over

Here is Heather Havrilesky's list of the best shows of the past TV season (in no particular order, she says):

Best Shows of the Fall 2005 - Spring 2006 Season

1. "Veronica Mars" 2. "Big Love" 3. "Lost" 4. "The Colbert Report" 5. "24" 6. "Project Runway" 7. "The Sopranos" 8. "Battlestar Galactica" 9. "The Shield" 10. "The Office" 11. "The Daily Show" 12. "The Amazing Race," "America's Next Top Model," "Survivor" 13. "Weeds" 14. "Arrested Development"

I don't watch The Colbert Report, The Office, or Weeds (no Showtime). And I gave up on Survivor a few seasons ago. But I watch and like all of the rest. (Yep, that's a lot of TV.)

Is anything missing? I'm sure that there would be a few votes for Grey's Anatomy; not from me though. I really liked Thief.

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Guess Who?

Wow, she looks different. That's all I'll say. (And leave it to me to infuse the site with as many pointless celebrity photos as I can find!)

The Beatles v. The Stones

I ran across this old Slate article the other day, which reminds me that I have long had the theory that all art can be divided into two categories: Apollonian, which is characterized by reason, harmony, and rules and Dionysian, which is characterized by chaos, earthiness, and sex. I was positive that I had come up with this theory on my own, but Slate claims that Nietzsche thought it up first. Whatever.

The clearest example is the Beatles (Apollonian) v. the Stones (Dionysian). But Slate gives other examples, like Matisse v. Picasso and Emily Dickinson v. Walt Whitman.

So, the question is: can you come up with other examples? I would add Michael Jackson v. Prince (of course, Apollonia might disagree), and Fred Astaire v. Gene Kelly.

And which camp are you in? I hate to side against my girl Emily Dickinson, but I have to go with Dionysus.

The Hills

The first Laguna Beach spinoff premiers tonight on MTV and it's starring our favorite (or at least my favorite) side of the the icky love triangle from Laguna Beach's first season, L.C. The reviews from the Washington Post and the NY Times aren't half bad. It's not exactly going to fill my Tivo, but at least it's something new.


Good Bye Katie

Is anyone else watching the Today Show's farewell to Katie Couric? (No, I'm not at work yet. What's your point?) It's borderline insane.

I'm not a Katie-basher, but if you are trying to combat the impression that you are a raging egomaniac, it might not be the best idea to have a 3-hour television show devoted to your last day of work, complete with Tony Bennett singing "The Way You Look Tonight." I'm sure the folks at CBS Evening News are excited about their new boss! In her defense, she does seem a little embarassed by it.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Who Knew Music Was So Right Wing

Yes, NRO has 50 more conservative rock songs. See here for the songs you've been begging to download onto your IPod to show your support for the right wing. I would imagine that one could take random lyrics to most any song and find a cause/ideology to attach to the song.

You're Hire . . . I really don't care

As those of you who pay attention know, only Red Fraggle and I actually watch the Apprentice. And neither of us are very sure of why. Well, last night was the penultimate episde where we get to see the two finalists--Lee and Sam--begin their extremely difficult final tasks and experience awful perils. This year I find that I really could care less who Trump hires.

I want to like Lee, I really do, but he is so young, does some really dumb stuff--the way he assembled his team, his lack of preparedness--it just befuddles me. (I did enjoy the laugh Trump and Carolyn had when Lee selected Pepe to be on his team, and they had no idea who he was because he had been fired in week 2.) Of course, if Trump says to him "you're a politician" one more time, I think I'm going to throw up. The project could be a total disaster. Why didn't he meet with Dennis Leary? Why didn't he find out (1) how they raised money in the past and (2) how much they raised. I assume this fundraiser had been very successful previously.

As for Sean, what a pompous doufus he is. He is so smug and thinks he is so brilliant and yet he does stand up to numerous other contestants in prior iterations of the show. I actually like the English, but he is a total twit. His whole thing with Tammy is just pathetic (it looked like he was planning their wedding as he was wasting his time selecting appetizers), and while he assembled a better team than Lee, it too is majorly flawed: Andrea is an egomaniac (who is ill!), Tarik has been a lose cannon from day 1, and Tammy is too involved with the boss. I imagine he'll win, but so what.

Again, why do I watch? (To quote George Costanza, "Because it's on TV.") Thankfully, it is not on this fall, and will be back (in LA!) next spring. Whether I will be there remains to be seen.


Monday, May 29, 2006

RIP Principal Vernon

Paul Gleason, Dead at 67.

Meet the New Boss

So last night Mrs. Bartender and I went to see Springsteen at Nissan Pavilion. First, a note about the venue. After a disastrous trip there two summers ago to see Sting and Annie Lennox on a Friday evening, I vowed never to see another show there again. The traffic to get there was horrendous, but even worse was the hour we sat in the parking lot after the show . But Springsteen trumped my dislike of the facility. Plus, going on a Sunday night meant the drive out would be easy (it was), and this time we ponied up for premier parking, which was perhaps the best $20 I ever spent as we were out of the lot within 30 seconds of turning my car on. So Nissan is off the barred list provided that I am not driving out during rush hour.

But to the show. Bruce was simply amazing. It was my 10th Springsteen concert but totally different from all the others (other than in the high energy level). For those not in the know, Bruce's new album is We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. No, Bruce is not covering Turn the Page, it is Pete Seeger. Strangely, none of the songs were written by Seeger, but he had played all of them. They can most simply be described as folk songs, not like Dylan pre-64, but a sort of fusion of gospel and jazz. And most of all the songs are lots of fun, and the band supporting Bruce, including a banjo and large horn section, was terrific. The amazing thing about these songs is even if you've never heard them before, they are so catchy (and, to be fair, repetitive) that it is simple to join in with Bruce. (I was amused by watching an entire audience singing along to a black spiritual, with the only non-white people that I saw there being members of the band.) He played virtually the entirety of the new album, although ironically enough did not play Shenandoah (only 40 miles from where the concert was taking place). He also played a few of his own tunes (Johnny 99, If I Should Fall Behind, Cadillac Ranch, and Ramrod), but they were completely rearranged, and I preferred the songs from the new album. I have to say that was a first at a concert, preferring the new stuff to the classics! There was a lot of Katrina talk (he opened this tour at Jazz Fest and one of the highlight was a moving version of When the Saints Come Marching In), and some antiwar moments. Just a great show.

One side night. Mrs. Bartender had no idea what to expect. I had used the word acoustic to describe the concert, so she was expecting a Nebraska-esque night. (If you don't get the reference, you shouldn't be reading this post.) While she thought the music was great and normally would be attempting to pull a Courtney Cox and begging the Boss to pull her up on stage, she still is not physically able to enjoy the rollicking show as much as she would have preferred. The only damper on a great, great show. While I can't wait to see Bruce again with the E Street band, his willingness to tour America's musical routes is a valuable service to all music fans.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Super Group

In my continuing quest to find ways to spend the summer on my couch instead of productively (actually, I hurt my foot so I'm supposed to stay off my feet as much as possible, which sucks except that it makes me feel slightly less guilty for watching shows like the one that's the subject of this post) I stumbled on a new celebreality show that VH1 is putting on during their "Metal Month": Super Group. Basically, it's a mashup of The Real World (5 rockers, living in a house, having their lives taped) and Some Kind of Monster (let's watch some middle-aged heavy metal gods try to make music and fall apart at the same time) and it's AWESOME. The idea is that 5 rockers arrive at a ridiculously ugly house in Las Vegas, not knowing who else is going to be there, and the 5, once there, will have 12 days to put together enough original music for a live concert.

I am not really a hard rock chick. (I believe I had one Metallica tape (yes, tape) when I was in high school.) But I really enjoyed watching the first episode of this show. Not all of it was great. For instance, the obligatory macho crap about women was off-putting. But here are the reasons I think I'll keep watching:

(1) The cast. I've previously alluded to my love of Sebastian Bach. He was a very pretty star when I was at an age when girls get crushes on boys who are pretty rather than handsome. (A note on the picture at right. During the photo shoot one of his bandmates told him not to pucker like he always does and Sebastian protested: "I don't pucker!" Pictures don't lie dude.) And then, when he'd all but disappeared from view he took a role as a guitar player that spoofed his own image on The Gilmore Girls. And I believe there may have also been a Behind the Music episode on him which showed him living a fairly normal life in a nice suburban house with his very pretty wife and kids, and his BAND . . . Point is, I find Sebastian Bach entertaining. The rest of the cast isn't exactly boring: TED NUGENT! He's obviously a gun-toting kook, but . . . oh my is he fun. And then there's the porn-directing bass player Evan Seinfeld; quiet and seemingly intelligent drummer Jason Bonham; and shockingly normal (even with that crazy-ass goatee) Scott Ian.

(2) Watching creative types create can be fascinating. It can also be painfully boring. I think this show leans more toward interesting. I loved the Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster, and while Super Group is unlikely to have the psychological power of that movie, it does share some of the "this is how a song gets made" interest. And if I'm going to watch celebreality, I feel better watching a show that focuses on the skills that made the people famous rather than, say, watching a train wreck about "celebrity" relationships like My Fair Brady.

(3) Did I mention that sweeps are over and I'm under doctor's orders to stay off my feet as much as possible?

ETA: My love for this show is not diminishing in the second episode. There was a brilliantly edited little jam session with Ian and Nugent intercut with Ian's interview where he made his hero-worship for Nugent plain, which was unnecessary because you could see it so clearly on his face (and the "best friends" lyrics the editers used to score the scene). As if that wasn't enough, they followed it up with an interview with the Nuge where he says, chuckling to himself the whole time, and I quote: "I'm hoping that our cameras are picking up on some of the cute little Ted adorations. I just find them cute, and I'm such a fan of cute. In fact I think the cuter the critter, the sweeter the meat when it comes to barbecue. So cute is not just an aesthetic it's actually a protein." I almost never laugh out loud, but the whole thing had me almost falling out of my chair. Watch this show!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

He is everywhere

Maybe it's because when I was a kid, my father, brother, and I would watch Knight Ridder (coming soon to a theatre near you). Maybe it was seeing the kids in Austria with their Hasselhoff backpacks. Maybe it's the sheer cheesiness of it all. (I think it's the last.) But there is just no escaping the Hoff. Last night, I'm watching the Mavs/Suns game, and who is sitting in the front row, but Michael Knight himself. Turns out he was there because Mavs star player, Dirk Nowitski is a fan . . . of the Hoff's music. I guess we need to cut Dirk some slack, he is German.

Here's my NBA thought of the day: If Miami and Phoenix end up playing for the title, how many is it the Heat or the Suns bad jokes/comments are we going to hear? Or lines about the battle of the retirees? There really are a lot of possibilities here.

Is nothing sacred?

It looks like someone may have tried to hack into the computers at Us Weekly. I can't help but wonder if the culprit is someone who wants to get ahead in our proposed Us Weekly fantasy league.

I haven't looked at this week's issue yet, but I have to laugh at the cover story: Janet Jackson telling us "how I got thin." Ummm...isn't this Janet's M.O.? Get thin, put out an album, finish the tour, get fat, get thin, put out an album... lather, rinse, repeat. I hope the article points this out and makes mention that this yo-yo dieting, no matter how cut Janet looks now, just can't be healthy.

ETA: I actually thought about this after posting (yes, I know it is sad that I honestly think about Janet Jackson's weight while sitting at home or shopping at the grocery store) and I think I was being unfair to Janet. Sure, maybe it isn't the healthiest way to lose weight. But if Janet decides that she wants to enjoy food and that she doesn't mind photos being taken of her while a little pudgier, good for her. She has decided she likes being skinny but also really likes food (apparently). So instead of compromising every single day she decides to kill herself to get thin sometimes, but to totally enjoy her food for other periods of time. It seems like a valid choice to me. Sorry, Miss Jackson!

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Good news/Bad news

Who thought that Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale would have their baby before Brad and Angelina?

Well, they have (unless Bragelina just haven't informed the press theirs has come). Kingston James McGregor Rossdale. Congrats!

In other news, Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe have decided to divorce after all. I had hoped they would work things out, but the rumors over the past few months haven't been very positive. Note the E! Online headline. Totally unecessary.

Friday, May 26, 2006

50 Greatest "Conservative" Rock Songs

Ok, this is not a political blog, but if there are any regular readers, they may have noticed that we junkettes tend to lean a little left. In an effort to show that my pop culture addiction knows know political boundaries, I thought I'd share what I found to be a rather hilarious list put together by the National Review, of the 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs. In case you don't feel like clicking on the link, Number 1 is the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" with this explanation

The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naïve idealism once and for all. “There’s nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye. . . . Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.” The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend’s ringing guitar, Keith Moon’s pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey’s wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded — the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.

The list also includes "Can't Drive 55" by Sammy Hagar which the Review calls "a rocker’s objection to the nanny state." Seriously, it's funny. Although, I honestly had no idea there were so many anti-abortion songs out there.

Oh, and in case the people who know me IRL are wondering what the hell I was doing reading the National Review, I was just following a link from the Washington Post!


I Second That

Frank Bruni, the NYT's restaurant critic, must have the best job in the world. Not only does he get to eat at New York's best restaurants, but his editors pay for him to drive across the country sampling different national and regional fast food restaurants. I would do that for free!

Anyway, 2 of his 10 favorites were from a midwestern chain called Culver's. I totally agree! One of those opened up not too far from where my family has a lake house in Minnesota, and my brother and I now make it a habit to stop there on our way from the airport. Their featured item is something called a butter burger, which is basically a hamburger served on a buttered and toasted bun. Obviously, butter improves pretty much everything, but just as important is the patty, which is not made by a machine, but is loosely formed and sort of craggy, which makes it more flavorful. And they also serve frozen custard. Yum.

So, if your travels take you to the midwest this summer. I strongly recommend that you check them out.

Things to Read

Slate has been running a series this week about pulp fiction -- not the movie, but the literary genre. So, if you're in the market for some beach reading, check out what some of your favorite authors recommend. As an aside, I enjoy Michael Chabon's books, but why does it not surprise me that he comes across as smug? And I love that Michael Kinsley is recommending Evelyn Waugh and Trollope.

For those of you who do not like to stray too far from your computers, The Morning News has its annual list of Web sites to check out.

Unreliable Source

Clearly, the WaPo's Reliable Source does not read our blog, or they would have known what Macaulay Culkin and Mila Kunis were in town for.

Lost with all of my questions

I was a day behind and finally got to watch the season finale of Lost. Wow. I'm not going to rehash the episode, but rather I'm going to make a running list of the questions I have after this episode. Kind of spoilers ahead.

1.) How did Penny know what to look for in her search for Desmond? Yeah, yeah, if you have enough money and desire you can find everyone--I got that. But why search for electromagnetic fields?

2.) Who is Libby? Mental patient? Wife of dead mean who owned a boat? Psychiatrist/psychologist? All of the above? And now that she's dead, how will we ever find out?

3.) Why do the Others specifically want Jack, Kate and Sawyer, but no one else?

4.) What happened to Kelvin (aka the US soldier who taught Sayid how to torture his superior in Iraq, according to imdb his name was Joe Inman when he was in the Army) that he was left alone on the island? I know his companion committed suicide, but why didn't reinforcements go out there at some point?

5.) The experiment was being done on the people in the Pearl (obviously the pneumatic tube didn't take their log books to anyone who would read them). But why? And who was monitoring them?

6.) Kelvin/Joe Inman made the painting that Locke saw in the black light--is it really a map of the island?

7.) Has everyone just given up on the idea that they can be rescued? Are they all just thinking that they are stuck on this island because it has some type of power? If not, why didn't anyone (Sayid) try to work with the boat's communication mechanism?

8.) With that in mind, why doesn't anyone on the island ever tell anyone else what they have found? Didn't Locke think that Sayid might be able to use the equipment in the Pearl to get them out? Locke didn't believe that the button did anything anymore, so wouldn't he now want to be rescued as much as anyone else?

9.) Why haven't we seen any signs of the children the Others took from the tail end of the plane?
And, of course, the questions about what happens next:

10.) Will Hurley warn anyone, or just follow the Others' orders? (Hurley can't keep his mouth shut, I have to assume he will do something.)

11.) Where will the Others take their new prisoners? Will we get to see the Others' camp next season through Jack, Kate and Sawyer's eyes, or are we still stuck on the beach with everyone else?

12.) Will Michael make it to the real world? Will he regain his conscience and try to save his friends?

13.) Did Locke and Eko make it (I think yes)? Did Desmond (I think no)?

And, of course, perhaps the biggest question of all:

14.) Who are the Others?!?! Why are they dressing up to look like jungle people when they are in fact clean-shaven Americans? What did they get out of Walt (we do know he has some sort of special abilities)? What is their purpose? Are they connected to the experiment that was taking place on the islands?

Anyone have any thoughts on any of this?

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sentences. Like. This. Are. Stupid.

Can someone explain to me the popularity of putting a period after every word in a sentence for emphasis? Isaac's post below reminded me of this pet peeve, because I could see many titling it "Greatest. Website. Ever."

This convention isn't just seen on the internet. I have seen it in published magazines (I can't remember whether I saw it in Entertainment Weekly or US Weekly, but I think it was one of those). So what's the appeal? I guess when people first started using it they thought it seemed funny. But now it is just totally overdone.

Let's hope it goes away quickly. (And yes, I resisted the cheesy urge to separate each word in that sentence with periods.)

The Greatest Website Ever

Hoff. 'Nuff Said.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

American Idol Finale: A running diary

I thought I might keep a short running diary of the American Idol finale, although I always fast-forward past the stupid "we're in your town" stuff.

Paris: I thought she sounded good, although something sounded a little odd at the end--I couldn't tell if it was her or the guy she was singing with.

Chris: Sounded good when I could hear him, but he was drowned out a bit, I'm not sure whether it was by the band, by Ed Kowalczyk or by bad sound on the mics.

Kellie: When they said they had a show called "Puck and Pickler" that was going to teach Kellie about some of the finer things, I hoped that the other star was going to be Puck from Real World: San Francisco. Alas, it was Wulfgang Puck. I could have done without the "charming" bit on how Kellie is a bumpkin. Hoping it means she won't be singing. Kellie got a short haircut, I'm surprised. Kind of ballsy.

Katharine...and Meatloaf??!! Oh no, Meat. He's totally oversinging "It's All Coming Back To Me." Until this moment I had thought the recorded version was oversung! I now see how wrong I was. Katharine sounds good, though! I am impressed to me that Katharine is able to sing without bursting into laughter at the overwroght Meatloaf.

Okay, did Kellie Pickler not realize that the meat and fish she eats were at some point alive? The acting is ridiculous. Are members of the audience actually laughing?

The guys are singing. I had forgotten about Kevin. I had not forgotten Bucky. Elliott looks a lot better. His hair finally grew long enough to not look awful. Oh, god, Taylor just walked out. Yech. Chris can't be happy that Taylor is walking in like the conquering hero while Chris stands to his side. Great, Ace falsetto. The night wouldn't have been complete without one of those.

I just realized this means we will probably get to see Mandisa sing something for a few minutes! It's been so long since she was on. Poor Mandisa--had she not been kicked off in country week she might have made it really far. Maybe even the final two.

This Golden Idols thing is annoying. I imagine Wilder is crying along with Elliott's mother during this clip. Katharine's father is not all that endearing. How old is Elliott's mom?!

This is interesting. Elliott singing "One." If he doesn't sound good, there is certainly no blaming the song. Okay, he sounds really good. Why didn't he choose thing as his song last week?! He might have made the final two. Although I would have liked to hear Elliott sing this without Mary J. Blige. She's totally overpowering him, and their actions look strange on the stage together--Elliott's sway with Mary J's jumping around.

Carrie Underwood: Is she our "current" American Idol? Is this a pageant now? Well, I guess it kind of is. Why can't Carrie just sing "Alone" instead of this country song? I know this is her actual hit and everything, but...you know how I feel about Carrie singing "Alone." Carrie looks so much more comfortable on stage than she did while on Idol. I guess it helps that she is sitting down and not doing that squat she liked so much.

Taylor and Toni Braxton in the ghettooooooooo. Does anyone else think of Cartman arriving at Kenny's house when they hear this song? If you have never heard it, it's totally worth a listen.

Yay! It's the girls' song! Katharine is much more the star of this than Taylor was of the guys' song. The pants they put on Mandisa were a really bad choice. They usually did such a good job with her wardrobe. Paris looks super-cute in her skirt and boots. Mandisa is finally getting a chance to sing. Yay! I'm surprised they gave her as much play as they did on "I'm Every Woman." Kellie and Melissa clearly got the shaft on solo time.

Why is this Michael Sandecki on my screen? Please don't tell me David Bowie dyed his hair dark brown and had really, really bad plastic surgery. Oh my god. It's Clay Aiken. I guess I hadn't seen him since he had spiky hair. He looks horrible.

After his hit performance on The Apprentice, it's...Burt Bacharach! With the Idol contestant medly. Melissa is walking across the stage like she is about to pee any minute. Bucky is having trouble hitting the not-very-high notes in "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head." Mandisa sounds better on "Say A Little Prayer" than she did a few minutes ago. Lisa's facial expressions are just odd when she sings--they don't ever seem to fit the song lyrics. Elliott sounded good again. Kevin is just...not good. Chris singing "Theme from Arthur." I hope that's not the extent of his solo. He had to share it with Kevin and Ace, each of thom got to sing earlier in this segment. Paris sounds okay, although not so great on the low notes. Dionne Warwick does not look bad. She's 66! "That's What Friends Are For!" It's 1991! I'm at the Eighth Grade Dinner Dance with my Best Friends Forever. I wonder what happened to those girls.

"Brokenote Cowboys" actually don't sound that bad! The one with the blonde hair isn't as good as the other two, but the other two are pretty okay.

PRINCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My friend Scott is going to be mortified. He loves Prince. I'm pretty sure he must hate American Idol. Maybe Elliott can come out to stand next to Prince. I wonder who is shorter.


Taylor wins. Oh well. I wonder how many times he is going to say "Soul Patrol." Yup. There he goes. Katharine was very gracious in her loss. Now Taylor has to sing that cheesy coronation song. Nice little shout-out he worked in there, even though he had to say "Soul Patrol" a few more times while doing so. And the Hoff has tears in his eyes.

How come first year Kelly and Justin sang the same coronation song in the first season, Clay and Ruben sang different songs the next year, Fantasia and Diana each sang the same TWO coronation songs in season three. ThenBo and Carrie each sang two original songs, only one of which was sung by the both of them. And now Taylor and Katharine are back to the season two model? Has anyone explained this?

Okay, show over. Sorry for those who think a running diary is just a lazy way to write a post. You would be right.

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Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat

So here's something for summer viewing: MTV has finally decided to mix things up a little with its new installment of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Instead of two teams of teammates from RW and RR casts, there are 12 RW/RRers and 12 people who have never been on the show before, competing. It is unclear whether the teams are mixed between fresh meat and experience, and the website isn't very helpful.

For the benefit of us all, I decided to watch the On Demand trailer for this season as well as individual profiles for seven of the fresh meat contestants (that's all they had, I swear I would have watched more!). I decided to jot down my impressions while I watched:

Aviv--Israeli fighter slut who tells her parents everything.
Evelyn--Westchester 18-year old lesbian who says she is aggressive, likes people to be intimidated by her and looks like a cute version of Fergie. Plays softball and is fiesty.
Jesse--Manipulative, passive, flirty, tenacious, self-centered, flirty, a little effeminate.
Johnnie--24 year old confident athlete who got teased for doing homework by people in the Savannah, GA Black community and is fastidious. Fear of snakes and heights. Thinks he is "complex" and a jack of all trades, master of none.
Kenny--Likes "smoking hot chicks" and seems to think this is fascinating. Believes women should stay at home. Might be one of the dumbest people on Real World or Road Rules, ever.
Linette--Former bulemic Miamian with parents from Spain and Cuba
Ryan--Charming, cute, gay alpha male

Fresh Meat premieres May 29 at 10 p.m. on MTV (I'm sure I'll just watch it all On Demand when I have a few minutes).

I also got a great clip of Celebrity Deathmatch: Paris Hilton v. Nicole Ritchie. I watched it twice! Can't wait to see how it ends. There was also a clip of Where My Dogs At? featuring Maddox Jolie-Pitt, a total hellion who calls his mother "big-lipped lady." Both looked really good, both coming to MTV2 in June!

Amazing Race All-Stars: A Girl Can Dream

It is the one-week anniversary of the season finale of the Amazing Race, and I already miss it. I really love the Race. But what I would really, really, really love is if there were an all-star edition of the Race. I'm not holding my breath, since host Phil Keoghan has said he doesn't think it will happen any time soon. Of course, that doesn't mean I can't create my ideal all-star teams.

Most versions of the Race have featured 11 teams, although at least one season featured 12. With that in mind, I'm going with a 12-team all-star roster. I managed to get a team from each season, except season 8, the family edition which I like to pretend never happened. The teams, with my commentary are as follows:

1. Rob and Amber (season 7)
2. Eric and Jeremy (season 9)
3. Colin and Christie (season 5)
The three above teams are arguably the most dominant the Race has ever seen, perhaps along with BJ and Tyler, so they deserve a berth in my imaginary all-star world.
4. Team Guido (Bill and Joe) (season 1)
Okay, how can one not include Team Guido? The original Race villains, they thought they possessed class and talent that no one else could dream of. I love the Guidos. In fact, I bought their autobiography for my brother one year for Christmas and had the Guidos sign it! They were nice enough to have their dog (Guido) sign it as well. The inscription I requested: "Here's to a night sitting in front of the fire with two glasses of wine" (a shout-out to their super-cheesy opening shot during the credits of them doing just that).
5. Kevin and Drew (the original frats) (season 1)
I just loved them and their bald heads. They seemed like genuinely nice guys who came across as a little dumb, which made them more lovable. They also had the heaviest New York accents. And they couldn't stand Team Guido, which is just great for tension.
6. Emily and Nancy (season 1)
Another team from the first season, Emily and Nancy were a mother-daughter team that did really well (made it to the final five). I really loved Emily, and the dynamic between them was great--typical mother-daughter, with an exasperated daughter, a slightly protective mother, and a lot of love.
7. Lena and Kristy (The Mormon Sisters) (season 6)
They should be on the All-Stars just because they deserve a second chance. They had the worst luck I have ever seen on the Race, with poor Lena looking for a clue in haystack after haystack after haystack after... They actually got to the haystacks before most teams, but everyone else had the luck of choosing a haystack with a clue, while Lena didn't. She ended up searching for eight hours hours, until Phil finally went to the haystacks to tell them they had been eliminated. I thought that they had a real chance of being the first (and would have still been the only) all-female team to win the Race.
8. Flo and Zach (season 3)
9. BJ and Tyler (season 9)
10. Rob and Brennan (season 1)
You need some former champs to be in the Race, and I thought these three teams were good choices. You have to have Flo and Zach, because Flo was just so whiny, annoying and generally reprehensible (plus they went to my alma mater, so I have to choose them, right?). BJ and Tyler, although not as great as Eric and Jeremy, were strong racers throughout and should be considered all-stars. And Rob and Brennan, although boring, were the first winners and deserve a spot. Looking at the champs from other seasons, Uchenna and Joyce were probably the weakest team to ever win, and don't deserve an All-Star label (even if she did shave her head). I loved Chip and Kim, but they weren't all that exciting (and weren't even the best racers from their season). Boston friends Chris and Alex from season two--does anyone even remember them?! Reichen and Chip from the fourth season could definitely be included, but they have broken up, so I doubt they would play along. I just hated Freddy and Kendra from season seven, mostly because of Kendra's insensitive (giving her the benefit of every doubt) comments about the people in the countries she visited.
11. Danny and Oswald (Team Cha Cha Cha) (season 2)
How can I not include a team that professed they would prefer to be shopping?
12. Blake and Paige (season 2)
Because they were the creepiest, most incestuous brother and sister team ever.

First alternate team:
The Bowling Moms (Karen and Linda) (season 5)
They ended up in fourth place! I was so impressed with them, so if any of the above teams decided they couldn't make it, the Moms would be in.

And that's it! I guess if we needed additional alternate teams, I would pick Jill and John-Vito (season 3) because they were the nicest couple in the history of the show and Tara and Will (season 2), because they were good racers, and because Will had lied to Tara and she thought they were no longer married when they really were. You have to love that.

At the very least, I would like a reunion show. Did Jill and Jon-Vito get married and have really sweet kids? Did Lenny ever speak to Karen again after she dumped him on the elimination mat? I heard engaged couple Kelly and Jon broke up--is this true? Did the Dating Virgins ever get it on? I would really appreciate some answers.

The team that would never make it on my All-Star roster? Jonathan and Victoria. The other team? Ian and Teri. There's drama, and then there is me wanting to change the channel.


Song of the Day

The Washington Post says that Phoenix's "Long Distance Call" "might be the catchiest song we've heard this year."

I don't know about that. It reminds me a little bit too much of Maroon 5 for my comfort. But somehow I like it more knowing that they're French. It's nice to see France finally making a dent in the pop music deficit. Serge Gainsbourg, Daft Punk, and Air only go so far.

In need of good cry?

Try this story from today's Post. It's about a girl from Sierra Leone who lost her hand in the fighting there.

Idol Snoozefest

In past years, the Season Finale of American Idol has been one of my favorite television watching nights of the year. In particular, the finale with Fantasia stayed on my Tivo for months and months because her performance of the single "I Believe" was infused with so much raw emotion that I watched it every time I needed a good cry. This year, myeh. Taylor should win and he did a pretty great job, but nothing to get too excited about. Katharine really blew it and I'd be SHOCKED if she won.

Until next year.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Wills and Harry: They're Just Like Us!

Looks like we have something in common with everyone's favorite royals, Charles and Diana's sons William and Harry. That's right--according to this interview, they like reality television. What's more, they really like American Idol. I wonder if they are cheering for Katharine or Taylor?

Alias Finale - SPOILERS

For those of you who know me in real life, you know just what it took for me to stay up until 11:00 to watch the Alias season finale. But I did it, and I'm oh so glad I did. I actually watched the last three hours of Alias all in a row, and, sniff, was it a humdinger. Of course, it wasn't perfectly satisfying.

I'm still not entirely sure what Rambaldi's endgame was and what part Sydney really played in it. I guess the amulet's sole purpose was to disclose the location of Rambaldi's Mongolian tomb? Where the Horizon could get all bloody and do . . . what exactly? The Red Rambaldi Juice that was coming out of the Clifford the Mini Red Ball (TM TWoP) obviously confers eternal life . . . as opposed to Clifford the Big Red Ball which causes zombies . . . and the Green Rambaldi Juice which made Nadia channel Rambaldi and . . . I don't get it. I don't understand how the two red balls fit together at all, unless the mini red ball would also have caused zombies. And what about the red ball that when it burst gave Vaughan that horrible disease? Too many glowing red balls that all did different stuff. I really wish that Rambaldi had come up with different colors to distinguish the different effects that each of these glowing spheres would have. And is the Horizon just a receptacle for the Red Rambaldi Juice? Because obviously the Red Juice works outside of the Horizon since it made poor Sloane immortal even just spread around on the dirt like that. (Which, again, that Red Juice looked too much like the stuff they dipped Anna in to turn her into Sydney and . . . color coding people! Look into it.)

And motivation, oh my god. I can see endless life having a huge appeal to Sloane, but not so much to Irina. Is that really all she wanted? To launch a couple of missles at world capitals and live forever? I don't know, it seems like a really insufficient motivation to me and not much of a payoff for all these years. Immortality is obviously awesome, but worth killing your daughter(s) for? Really? I just expected something . . . more. Not that I can think of what that "more" could be. (But that's why I write a silly blog for free instead of getting paid to write Alias scripts.)

One last complaint before I compliment them on the good stuff: we don't care about Tom and Rachel! Cut them out, leave more room for Sark, Vaughan, and Irina, and everyone else we actually like.

Good stuff: Mrs. Marshall, she was great. It was wonderful to have her back. Sark, beautiful beautiful Sark. Loved Peyton's obvious small crush on him. That was very cute. Also loved his little comment about global genocide not really being his thing. I was very happy that they left him alive. Also good, Jack's noble death. So heart wrenching to see him stand up with multiple bullet wounds in his chest to wave goodbye to Sydney. I might have teared up just a little there. Sloane's ending was great. He gets what he wants, at the cost of all he loves, only to have it turned into the worst torture imaginable. Perfect. Ok, enough rambling from me. I look forward to reading others' thoughts.

Lionel Richie

Apparently, his appeal extends way beyond Libya.

Monday, May 22, 2006


This is sort of cool. It's a collection of word maps resized according to different criteria. The one here is net immigration.

5 Takes: Pacific Rim

Thanks to the blogosphere, I watched a show this weekend that I really enjoyed, 5 Takes: Pacific Rim. At first blush, the show kind of has an old-school Road Rulesvibe with 5 young strangers, given laptops, video cameras, and $50/day and sent on a 13 week adventure. But this is so much more interesting and high-minded than Road Rules. For one thing, they're called "travel journalists" or "TJs" and their "mission" is to learn about the places they're traveling and report back. . . which makes sense given that this show airs on the Travel Channel. In the one episode I saw there was no interpersonal drama, no hook-ups, or vomiting, or bickering. Each of these TJs seems to take this adventure and what they're doing seriously, and they all seem like people I wouldn't object to knowing in real life.

The idea is that each of these TJs has a "take" on what they're seeing. I.e. one is into nightlife, one extreme sports, one a culture vulture, etc. So there's no pressure for them to be all together all the time. For example in Melbourne, two of the kids were happily and without complaint getting lost in the suburbs looking for the city's botanical gardens while two others were checking out the city's underground art scene and the fifth was eating his way through the city.

Oh, and very interestingly, the show encourages audience participation! The episodes air the week after they're filmed, and the TJs are constantly on the show's message boards asking for advice on what to do where they are. The underground art tour was actually given by a Melbourne local that the TJs met online.

So here's one show that will be filling my Tivo after sweeps ends . . .

In what surprised no one

SPOILER ALERT! Vito Spatafore met his demise last night. Yet he served a number of quite useful purposes. First, we got to see in full light the conflict within Tony about what to do about Vito and what being a man required of Vito and of Tony. As much as Tony wanted to do nothing, he ultimately felt that his position required that action be taken. His debate with Sil was classic with Tony stressing that if only Vito could have kept his sexuality private, there would have been no problem, and Sil noting that he had kept it private. And, of course, we know that it's one thing if Tony wants to whack Vito, but another thing entirely when Phil (literally coming out of the closet) does it. I sense the culmination of the series is, in part, going to involve an all out war ("going to the mattresses") between NY and NJ. It is off to a good start.

Yet perhaps the most interesting part of the show involved Tony's other family. Carmela continues to struggle with who she is--a mobster's wife who needs his crime to maintain her life style. (As we saw last week, Carm is too well aware of and too complicit in what Tony does when she sought to have Sil "influence" the building inspector.) The trip to Paris was great--and David Chase et al. must have loved the excuse to go. She loved the beauty, the culture, the history, the un-New Jersey of it all. She had given up this type of beauty to be with Tony. (Even the utterly unreflective Ro did not want NJ brought to France when Carmela tried to discuss Jackie, Jr. (whom Tony, of course, had whacked).) Perhaps my favorite contrast was Carm admiring the slightly tarnished statue of a classically beautiful woman with the immediate cut to Sil having the nude woman on the sign of the Bada-Bing cleaned. Nice touch.

And Tony's moral compass is as skewed as ever. Because he didn't sleep with Nurse Hathaway, he expects certain things from Carmela--like a home cooked meal. Because he's good and she's neglecting him, she can't have her spec house. Yet when Tony lets her go to Paris, he can have his fun with the stripper. And yet, his confrontation with AJ was just what he needed, albeit breaking the windshield may deprive him of a nomination as father of the year. As much as Tony disgusts himself, at least he has done something with his life. AJ, he recognizes, is a bum, which is even worse.

So one more episode and then we have to wait until January for it all to reach a final crescendo.


This article in the NYTimes -- naming Toni Morrison's Beloved as the Best Work of Fiction of the last 25 years -- has totally inspired me to read that magical book again. I remember reading it years ago and loving every word and now I think I'll read it again.

Charlottesville Stalker

In the spirit of Gawker Stalker and Wilder's Vegas Stawker, I present Charlottesville Stalker.

Yesterday I was attending graduation for the students of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia (I was not one of said students) and I spotted Macaulay Culkin and Mila Kunis. Apparently Mila's brother was in the graduating class.

Not much to say about them. Macaulay looked short and Milla was very, very, very skinny. After seeing her, I can safely say the camera doesn't add 10 pounds--it adds about 20. She also carried a very large white purse.

I went to college with a few actors and actresses, so seeing an occassional former child star and his TV show girlfriend isn't really all that exciting (especially since I didn't talk to them or anything), but I thought my public might want to know.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sweeps Are Almost Over. Now What?

The NY Times Style section (of course) has an article titled, very appropriately for this blog, "I Do Have a Life; I'm Watching it Now" that examines finale madness and the letdown or relief that follows. I know Bailey is looking forward to the end of May, personally I'm dreading it. What will Bailey, Red, Wilder and I have to talk about IRL? Books? We have very different taste in books. Movies? There are only so many one can go to. Work? Bah! All I can say is thank goodness for the US Weekly Fantasy League!

So open question: this summer what will you be doing, and almost as importantly, what will you be talking about, when you've been freed from the shackles of episodic television?


Friday, May 19, 2006

Isaac, Jr.

While I realize the picture is small, I had to let the world see Isaac, Jr. I know what you are all thinking--where's the mustache. Give him time to look like dear old dad. One note--even though the little guy is taking up a lot of my time, he should not completely limit my ability to keep up on pop culture. While movies will be majorly reduced (although after seeing the reviews for Da Vinci Code, not seeing it seems like not much of a loss), I have plenty of TV (and DVD) watching time while I feed the little man. And we're going to our first baseball game tomorrow! (Go Nats!) Pretty soon we'll be mixing margaritas together on the lido deck.

Novelty T-Shirts

Just saw this amusing t-shirt for sale on the Best Week Ever blog. I'm not a huge fan of the novelty shirt, but I have a weakness for take-offs on the iconic image of Che, and well, we Junkettes are pretty strongly on Team La-Che, and I can't seem to make myself stop posting so . . .

Danny Almonte, Back on the Scene

Remember Danny Almonte? He was the star pitcher for the Rolando Paulino Baby Bombers, a Little League team, in 2001. He pitched the first perfect Little League game since 1957, and was so good that media outlets started to take notice, with espn.com actually comparing him, a 12 year old, to Randy Johnson.

Except it turned out he wasn't 12. Instead, Almonte's father had lied about his age, and Almonte was actually 14--two years older than the kids he was playing against. It was also revealed that he hadn't attended school for the entire year (and, since Danny didn't speak English, he knew nothing of the phony records his father had submitted regarding his age). In all, it was a pretty sad story.

At the time, I wondered if we would ever hear from Almonte again. Would he become a great pitcher? Did he look so good just because he was playing against kids so much younger than he was, or did he really have the potential to make it?

Looks like he still has some potential. In this article, espn.com reports that now 19, he is ranked the seventh prospect in baseball by USA Today and 43rd by Baseball America. He was also a 2006 All-American and has a scholarship to attend New Mexico Junior College if he decides not to sign with whatever team ends up drafting him this year. Oh, and he just married a 30 year old woman. (I will note that this is considered strange, yet no one bats an eye when 19 year old Lohan dates men over 30.)

Good luck Danny!


Defining "Miracle" Down

This is not at all pop culture related. But I just happened to be reading the business section yesterday and saw an article about the trial of Richard Scrushy, the former CEO of HealthSouth, who was acquitted of fraud charges. The focus of the article was Scrushy's wife, and her belief that God sent signs that they would win at trial.

These are the "signs" in question. First, Scrushy's lawyer used a metaphor about pancakes in his opening argument, and the government's star witness was cross-examined during National Pancake Week.
"That had to be God," said Leslie, who marked the week in the little red
Bible she carries. "I never even knew there was a National Pancake Week."

[A] series of uncanny events convinced Leslie that God was on their side. The day of the indictment, an inmate at Birmingham's St. Clair Correctional facility named Eddie Briskett, 41, in for life without parole on burglary and assault charges, sent Richard a letter. He would be acquitted, Briskett said. The Scrushys ignored these missives at first, but as Briskett made predictions that came true, they took him seriously. So did their lawyers, who paid Briskett a visit. "He thought we were in God's hands and would be protected," said H. Lewis Gillis, one of Scrushy's attorneys.

Briskett's most telling insight involved Formula 409. A few weeks before the trial,
Briskett called and suddenly said, "Do I smell lemons?" The children had just cleaned the kitchen with lemon-scented Formula 409. Then, the first government witness turned out to be a co-inventor of Formula 409. "That's got to be God," said Leigh Laatsch, a friend who was visiting when Briskett called. "Why would he pick up a lemon scent when he is on the phone?"

Um, is it just me, or are these people insane?

Breadline Online!

One of the best places in DC for a quick lunch is a small restaurant called Breadline, which features a little indoor seating, a little outdoor seating, and very good bread. It is very popular and usually has a long line at lunch time, but people move through very quickly--the people who work there are fast.

The problem is that Breadline has daily specials, and since they are so busy it is tough to get someone to answer the phone when you call around lunch time to ask what those specials are. So if you really feel like the excellent potato and leek soup, you just have to go there and hope for the best.

But the wonders of the internet have made all Breadline lovers' lives much easier! They now have a site on blogspot that provides their daily specials! So now I can check before I leave for lunch and never be disappointed again. If you're in DC and haven't checked them out yet, you really should.

I Never Saw This Coming

Jennifer Wilbanks--you remember her, the Runaway Bride--is not getting married after all. After declaring even after she took off that she still planned to go forward with her marriage, sadly, it ain't going to happen. The odds of this development were only slightly greater than Britney and KFed still being together in 5 years. Btw, can we now officially no longer care about Ms. Wilbanks. The next time I want to see her name in print is in a one paragraph obituary noting that years earlier the media--for some unknown reason--was fascinated with her flight. In fact, I'm mad at myself for even posting this story. See here for more if you must.


The Worst Kept Secret


I had to put the word spoiler in quotes above, because it seems to me that even those who conscientiously avoid spoilers, like me, knew Marissa Cooper would be no more after last night's "The O.C."

A few weeks ago, a number of press outlets had printed rumors that Mischa Barton wouldn't be on "The O.C." next year. At the time I thought it just meant that Marisa wouldn't be going to college like everyone else and would be written off of the show. Then earlier this week I saw the previews for "The O.C." which promised that "one of these people will die," while flashing shots of the main characters. At that point, I was able to use my Jessica Fletcher-worthy deductive reasoning skills to realize that Marissa was going to kick it.

Then I read Gawker yesterday, and its story lambasted Access Hollywood for sending an e-mail with a subject line that said Mischa Barton would be on yesterday's show confirming that Marissa Cooper dies in the finale. How can this be? Don't Josh Schwartz and the other producers of "The O.C." require their actors to sign confidentiality agreements or otherwise keep major plot points under wraps? But who knows--maybe Shwartz et al. decided that they wanted Barton to spoil the ending of the show, thinking lapsed viewers would turn in to see the reviled Marissa Cooper bite the big one.

As for the episode: the graduation scenes were a little much, with all of the photos being taken to remind us of how wonderful graduation is. I remember my high school graduation. It was fine. You lined up, you got a diploma, you took about three pictures outside, you went home and got ready for a party at someone's house where there would be a keg and you would eventually end up in a pool with your clothes on. The big part was the party, not the graduation. And that had to be more true for kids who go to a school like Harbor, where graduating high school is expected, not necessarily a huge accomplishment. The "Veronica Mars" graduation scene, with everyone just leaving in their cars afterward, was much more realistic.

I was actually surprised that I genuinely laughed out loud once during the episode, something that hasn't happened this entire season, when Sandy told Seth they had both screwed up and Seth said "And usually we're so awesome." It was a well-delivered line.

As for Marissa's death: First, I am glad that Mischa Barton is gone. This show is dying, and needs to change something. It has revolved around Barton since the first episode, and every storyline putting Marissa in trouble and sending Ryan to her rescue has been done to death. I think it's a good idea to wipe the slate clean. No idea if it will work, but at least it has some potential. Plus, we are finally rid of Barton's boring, dead-voiced line delivery! I was a little sad that Barton didn't have her gross, ratty extensions in (why can no one in young Hollywood get decent extensions?!--see photo for a pictoral description)--seeing those on her head before Marissa died would have somehow made it more satisfying.

I was surprised that the death was just a simple car accident. I expected Marissa to do something stupid, like O.D., or else take a bullet for Ryan or something. But I actually thought it worked.

Rumor has it that the next season is going to pick up when the fall semester of college is starting. I really hope this isn't the case--I think that the best part of killing Marissa off is that we get to see the fallout and how everyone copes. It would be good to see the show pick up the day of, or the day after, Marissa's death. Otherwise, why kill off Marissa at all? She could have sailed to Greece with Jimmy for all it matters if we don't get to see the impact of her death on those who cared about her. Although sending her sailing around the world wouldn't have been as good for ratings.

Finally, how overused has "Halelujah" become as a season-ending song when something tragic happens? I first remember hearing it on "The West Wing" years ago, when Bartlett gives an okay to murder some leader who is doing evil (oh, sorry, Bartlett didn't use words like "evil"). It was really well-done there. Since then I have heard it a few times on other shows, including "Scrubs." And then last night, as sung by Imogen Heap. I didn't enjoy it. Muscial advisors need to put the song away--it's been done. It's a great song, but...enough. Find something else depressing.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Go Read Go Fug Yourself

This post on Brandon Davis is the best thing I've ever read. Ditto!!!

The Nine Lives of Seventh Heaven

You have got to be kidding me. The new CW has released its fall schedule, and as previously reported here, "Veronica Mars" has been picked up for another season. So has Bailey favorite "America's Next Top Model." Not so lucky are fans of "Everwood," although apparently the show has filmed a season ender that provides some closure.

The most shocking show in the lineup? "Seventh Heaven." How is this show still around?! I used to watch an episode here or there in the early seasons, but it just got so preachy (I know this is a show about a preacher, but come on!), the writing is so stilted, the storylines are just ridiculous. And it's coming back again? Who watches this show? I mean, Barry Watson and Jessica Biel aren't even on anymore to provide some eye candy (although I never thought Biel was all that attractive).

La Lohan and Stavros?

So after yesterday's really gross Brandon Davis/Paris Hilton video, Page 6 is reporting that Lindsay Lohan may have gotten a teensy bit of revenge by making out with Paris's most recent shipping heir ex. These kids and their random hook-ups! Read the item, it's full of more (unneeded evidence) of how ridiculous it is that I find these wretched people entertaining.

Amazingly Disappointing


I'm still not really over the outcome of this Race; I think it is going to take awhile.

Eric and Jeremy were in the lead at every single bunching point on this leg of the race. But when I saw what the final task was--putting the flags of every country they had visited in the order in which they visited them--and I saw that BJ and Tyler were right behind them, I put my head in my hands and just gave up. But then, for a split second, hope, as Eric said to Jeremy "you take this one, you know the flags." They had studied the flags! I renewed my chanting of "Frats, frats, frats," which I had been repeating for the first hour and 45 minutes of the show. When both Eric and Jeremy AND BJ and Tyler messed up with the flags, I kept my hope up. But once my beloved frats switched Oman and Thailand (which they initially had correct) and didn't switch them back, I knew it was over. Damn those hippies.

I was surprised by just how disappointed I was. I guess I just hate that a team as dominant as Eric and Jeremy would end up losing the Race. They were in first or second place every single leg of the race but one, when they ended up in fourth. Of course, the time they were in fourth was one of two legs on which BJ and Tyler ended last, but they had the luck of non-elimination both those times.

This ending reminds me of the season when Rob and Amber were in first practically every leg, but lost to Uchenna and Joyce. And I hated it that time as well. Of course, I am a bit of a hypocrite, as I was happy when Chip and Kim beat out the far more dominant Colin and Christie. But Colin and Christie were pretty reprehensible, and the frats just weren't.

Eric and Jeremy never got upset with each other, never threw hissy fits, never whined that they were "out of it," and were never rude to the other teams (well, except for the taxi incident, but karma got them back on that and they totally realized it and took it well). They were able to handle the physical challenges as well as the more cerebral ones...well, until the one challenge that truly counted. And they really looked so disappointed at the end of the Race.

BJ and Tyler, on the other hand, were lucky enough to be in last on two non-elimination legs, were lucky that the Japan leg came so late in the Race (a big advantage, but hey, if you can speak Japanese, you probably deserve it) and often wasted time on the Race. Although I liked that they attempted to interact with the locals, they would also make stupid decisions, chatting when time is short, or begging for money before getting your plane tickets. And often their interactions with the locals were just the BJ and Tyler Show, where they would show how goofy they were while allowing the locals to take them in. That isn't learning about a culture as much as putting on an act for people to watch. I actually think they were two genuine people who really made an effort to get more out of the Race than just running from pit stop to pit stop, but I don't think they really did a good job of doing much other than being the center of attention. Of course, when they were asked how they felt after the Race, they credited their victory to their attempt to get to know the people of the places they visited. Again, I think they came up quite a bit short there.

For those of you who have been following these posts, you will know that some of the Junkettes have been involved in an Amazing Race pool, where each week we would decide which team would end up in which place, and we got points if we were right. Coming into this week, I was one point ahead of Bailey, and we were the only two who could win first place. I chose Eric and Jeremy to win, BJ and Tyler for second and Ray and Yolanda for last. She chose BJ and Tyler to win, Eric and Jeremy in second and Ray and Yolanda in last. So, I'm sure you can now see how it worked out. At least we both got Ray and Yolanda right. Damn Bailey.

Here are the final scores:
Bailey: 91 (all previous legs) + 12 (final leg) = 103
Red: 92 + 6 = 98
Diane: 75 + 6 = 81
Laura H.: 74 + 3 = 77
Laura I.W.: 61 + 3 = 64


Fantasy Leagues

Remember Wilder's post about a theoretical US Weekly Fantasy League? Well, we decided to make it a reality but today an article in the NY Times shows that this isn't such a new idea after all. There's a whole fancy Celebrity Fantasy League! For anybody interested, a new season starts on Monday and it looks pretty easy to sign up. Just a PSA.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What the fug?

Just this morning, I saw Eva Herzigova -- a heretofore unknown-to-me "supermodel" -- on the Today Show and was thinking how classy she seemed.

How wrong I was:

State Dinner

Back in the day, I used to love reading the lists of who attended state dinners at the White House. This was especially fun in the Clinton and Reagan years when all sorts of celebrities and random rich people were invited.

Among his other faults, Bush II has had very few state dinners. And this list from last night's dinner in honor of John Howard is sadly lacking in star power -- Kenny Chesney went with his mother. Is that really the best America has to offer? We can do better.

Brandon Davis

Ok, I feel a little dirty even posting on this, but TMZ has what other sources claim is a hilarious video of an inebriated Brandon Davis making derogatory comments about Lindsay Lohan's, um, private parts, as Paris Hilton giggles in the background. I haven't been able to make myself watch the video (yet) but just in case any of you are curious, here's the link.

The Worst Idol Ever?

I am just so bored by this year's American Idol. As I said in a comment a few weeks ago, there are just no real standouts in this crop. And, despite Simon trying to push Katharine as a favorite, claiming she has had "a moment" here and there, no performance this entire season has really struck me as a "moment" at all. I remember Fantasia singing "Summertime," Bo singing a capella, Carrie singing "Alone" and Kelly singing "It's Raining Men." The closest anyone has come this season, I think, was Chris' "I Walk the Line," but that was overshadowed by the Live controversy afterward.

The contestants in this Idol leave me kind of cold. I thought that Paris had the potential to have a defining moment, but it just never happened. As for last night, I thought that Elliott was treated unfairly by the judges. He finally got some personality in the last two songs, and his voice sounded quite good (on the last song he hit one high note badly, but that was it). But it seems the judges/producers want a Taylor/Katharine final, so that is what they are pushing. It reminds me of season two, when they pushed Ruben and Clay despite the fact that Kimberly Locke had improved so much in the last few weeks of the competition that she should have probably made the finals.

In all, I thought everyone did fine, but nothing really excited me, not even Katharine's "Over the Rainbow." I think Taylor is going to win the whole thing. And that makes me sad. Oh well.

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McCartney Divorce

I don't know about everyone else, but I was pretty shocked to hear that these two are getting divorced. They just seemed, well, to actually like each other.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Important News

For the Veronica Mars stragglers out there: UPN is reairing season two of Veronica Mars starting tonight at 9. Set your TiVos.

Also, rumor has it that The CW picked it up for a third season. Yay!


The Washington Post ran this article about new federal guidelines that ask all women of childbearing age to treat themselves as "pre-pregnant," regardless of whether they are planning to have children now or in the future.

Although many of the tips are reasonable--maintain a healthy weight, keep chronic medical conditions under control--the idea that women should be doing these things because they are potential baby-making machines is really disturbing. How about encouraging everyone to follow these guidelines for personal health? Or, at the very least, give women real information about how their actions before pregnancy (or in the early stages of pregnancy, when they may not be aware they are pregnant) affect the health of a fetus so that they can make informed decisions that make sense in their personal lives.

But to advise that all women between (roughly) the age of 12 and 50 refrain from touching cat litter because they may have a baby one day? Seems that would eliminate the possibility of single women of childbearing age owning cats. I know at least one such woman who happens to post on this blog who would not be very happy about that.

Edited to add: This article reminds me of a time when I was 16 and working as a hostess at a restaurant on Mother's Day. A customer wished me a happy Mother's Day and I told him, laughingly, that I wasn't a mother. He looked at me and said "well, happy potential mother's day, then." It totally creeped me out. Yuck.

Condi Rice's Top Ten

Apparently, Bono took over the reins of London's Independent today. Can you even imagine this happening in the US? No.

Anyway, one of the features was Condoleezza Rice's 10 favorite songs. I am a complete philistine, so I cannot comment on the 5 classical music selections. As for the pop music choices, our Secretary of State seems to dig the classic rock: Cream "Sunshine of Your Love"; Aretha Franklin "Respect"; and Elton John "Rocket Man." But what the heck is up with "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang? Has she been to too many weddings? Also, in context, choosing "anything" by U2 is a bit of a cop-out -- very diplomatic though!

PSA: Last Call

This has the potential to be very useful. It's a service that allows you to send a text message and get back a text message with movie listings, weather forecasts, metro arrival times, etc. And it's free!

Ellen Pompeo Doesn't Understand Meredith Either

I know, two posts on Grey's Anatomy in one day is probably overkill, and I should have just added this as a link to my other post, but . . . myeh. Via the Best Week Ever Blog (which is awesome and why had I never checked it out before?) I was led to this interview of Ellen Pompeo in which she basically says that she doesn't like Mereidith all that much either and really does not understand the choices she makes. Apropos of my earlier post, this is my favorite snippet:

Many fans don't understand Meredith's actions either, to which Pompeo says, "Well, Shonda understands it, and that's all that matters. In series television, they need these catastrophic events to happen, to supply the next five episodes with material.

"It's a catalyst for all the little waterfalls that have to happen, so I understand it from a writing standpoint, why things happen. But you do have to bring them to life, and when you don't understand something, it's quite difficult to do that."


Oprah saves the world, two breasts at a time

Does the power of Oprah know no bounds? She sheds light on AIDS in Africa, she tells us of the atrocities in Darfur, and now she helps women feel better about their breasts. And if you don't think that the last topic is an important issue, you are a man.

A few months ago, Oprah did a show on the importance of wearing a bra that fits properly. It turns out that the large majority of women in the U.S. wear the wrong bra size--most wear a bra with a band that is too big, which can result in sagging, and many wear bras with cups that are too small, which can result in the dreaded four-boob, also known as quadraboob.

Paula's cups overfloweth.

It is a bit of a mystery why women don't wear the correct bra size, although one theory is that they can't find the proper size, and therefore fit into something that isn't quite right. To expand on this theory, I think that many popular lingerie shops don't carry many sizes. Thus, in order to fit into these bras, many women have to be creative about their size. So, although Victoria's Secret may not carry a 32DD, they do carry some 34D and they definitely carry a lot of 36C. The cups on all three of those bras are the same size--it is just the band size that is different. So someone who should be wearing a 32DD goes to Victoria's Secret and buys herself a 36C, since her cup fits well in it, and ends up with no support. Or, worse, she buys a 34C, and not only lacks support, but also wears a cup size that is too small, so she sags and pops out all at once.

But it's Oprah to the rescue! Oprah specifically mentioned a store she frequents in Chicago, called Intimacy Bra Fitting Specialists. The store (which also has locations in NYC and Atlanta) carries a zillion styles in almost every size imaginable, from AAA to JJ. According to Oprah, their salespeople will fit you and make sure you find the perfect bra. I decided that it was my duty to determine whether Oprah was correct. So, I flew to Chicago, went to the third floor of 900 North Michigan Avenue, and asked to be fitted.

And, of course, Oprah was right. The salesperson I had didn't have to measure me. Nope, just by eyeballing me she was able to determine my size. She brought me at least 20 different bras to try on and I found quite a few that were pretty perfect (although because my back is small, the band size on one I bought had to be altered down an inch and shipped to me--all free of charge). Quadraboob and the potential for sag are now a thing of the past. (Note: the salesperson said Oprah never actually goes to the store, but rather sends for someone to bring bras to her home.)

Even more exciting? This store sells tank tops with built-in bras! Who knew? Up until this point I have either worn (1) nothing underneath, (2) a strapless bra or (3) a bra with thin straps that were exposed under the tank. None of these options were ideal, but it was all I had (and no, wearing a bra with clear straps is just not an option). But now, I have three new tank top-bras! Success!

Thank you, Oprah. You do truly wonderful things. And your breasts look great.

City of Men

If anyone is tired of May sweeps, I have just finished watching the four-part series "City of Men," which is showing on the Sundance Channel this month. It's made by the same people who made City of God, which I haven't seen, but now really want to.

It's about two boys who live in one of Rio de Janeiro's favelas, which are sort of hillside shanty towns. I'm sort of conflicted about it. On the one hand, it has this super-earnest after school special tone: The boys are always tempted to do something wrong (but not too wrong), and then they learn their lesson at the end.

On the other hand, it is something that you never see on TV in America. It is not cynical or sarcastic or loaded with product placements and pop culture references (not ones that I recognize anyway). The physical setting is amazing -- sort of squalid, but also gorgeous. This picture doesn't really do it justice. And it has poor people as its central characters -- not poor people as crime victims, or criminals, or patients, but as actual fully-developed characters. I can't think of a single American tv show that can say the same.


Grey's Anatomy

I haven't watched the last two hours of the THREE HOUR season finale (seriously, was that necessary???) yet. (And I just realized this morning that because of the president's speech my Tivo might not have recorded the whole thing which . . . ARGHHH!) But I thought I'd weigh in with my opinion of the first hour (mostly because it's my day to post and I can't think of a damn thing to write about). Not to put too fine a point on it, but I hated it. I actually fast forwarded through the scenes with Izzy and Denny. That's right people, I hit FF (multiple times) during an episode of Grey's Anatomy. And I don't feel like I missed anything. I'm not one of those Denny haters, but the turn this story has taken I found unbelievable, disgusting, and most unforgiveable of all, boring. The melodrama of it all is just too much. Way, way, way too much. I feel like the writers have lost control of the season and their characters and what started out as a smart, funny, soapy show has turned into over-the-top schlock. It's reminding me a lot of the trajectory of both the O.C. and Desperate Housewives. Both of those shows also started out as smart, campy twists on the night-time soap genre and then degenerated into straight night-time soaps.

I'm really hoping that the last two hours pull this story together in a way that doesn't make me abandon this show the way I was forced to banish the O.C. and DH from my Tivo. I really really want to like it. I do. But they're not giving me much to like. And I know that part of what's always been interesting about the show is the characters' flaws, but it's all flaws, all the time, and they're unbelievable flaws. I just cannot believe that Izzy would have gotten herself into the situation she did. I can't. A huge part of me is hoping that Denny just dies already so this stupid story can be over.

ETA: I'm completely spoiled for the last two hours, so feel free to comment on them. And I can't believe I forgot to mention the one awesome thing about Sunday's episode: the appearance of Vinnie Vanlowe from Veronica Mars as the creeptastic restaurant manager! First Duncan guest stars, and now Vinnie. Lovely!

Monday, May 15, 2006

The End of an Era

So President Bartlett has left the White House in the hands of President Santos. I think the country will survive. Last night, however, I thought the West Wing went out on a bit of a sloppy note. Leaving aside the plot (which was basically turn out the lights and pack the furniture), I expect this show to get the little things right, but on at least 3 occasions they blew it.

1. The discussion early in the show regarding who thought to inaugurate the President in January with Bartlett blaming Jefferson and Adams. Leaving aside that Jefferson wasn't involved with writing the constitution, until 1937 the President was sworn in on March 4. Blame FDR and those that wanted to shorten the time between the election and the inaugural, but the Framers are completely innocent. Very bad oversight.

2. The Chief Justice was referred to as the "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court." This is wrong. His/her title is "Chief Justice of the United States."

3. The oath. The Presidential oath is traditionally done as "I [state your name] do solemnly swear . . . ." I know the Constitution does not include the name part, but as far as I can remember, the POTUS has always inserted it.

So farewell to the West Wing. For a while, a great show, then a mediocre one, and finally a very good one. May Aaron Sorkin's next show be close to as good--and yes, I know that means Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (or whatever its title is).


Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Final Countdown

Is there a better time of the year than May sweeps? October/November provides close competition, between the World Series and the beginning of the fall season, as does any Olympics season. But May sweeps has a special excitement--all of my hard work watching television pays off, as each show's season ends, with revelations and resolution (and, for some shows, some great cliffhangers).

Last year I had the extreme misfortune of being away for the month of May--from the first weekend through two days before Memorial Day, I lived in a hotel room half a country away from my DVR. I brought a VCR with me to the hotel, but it couldn't be hooked up. So I completely avoided the news in every form, for fear that I would see some spoiler.

This past week wasn't close to as bad as last year's ordeal, but was still stressful. I was away from Wednesday through Sunday. Moreover, I was busy before I left town, so I hadn't had a chance to watch some shows that had already aired. As a result, when I got home today, I had the following waiting for me on my DVR: American Idol (Tuesday's performances and Wednesday's results), The Amazing Race, Alias, Lost, Big Love (last week's and today's new episode), The Sopranos (the last two weeks, plus today's episode), The Apprentice, Las Vegas, two episodes of Ed v. Spencer, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and two episodes of The Iron Chef featuring local chef Roberto Donna.

Obviously, I had to prioritize. I had time for five shows before going to bed. So I chose Idol first, followed by Alias, the Race, the Apprentice and Big Love. There is method to this madness: I knew that Idol would be ruined for me soon--it was hard enough to keep away from news about it, and everyone kept telling me "everyone was talking about it" after I said I didn't want any spoilers. I'm sure these well-meaning folk didn't think they were ruining anything, but even that tidbit led me to believe Chris was out (what else would have been so shocking?), which of course was right. I watched Alias because I wanted at least one action show, but had decided to wait to watch both episodes of Lost (the other action show available) together on Wednesday. I watched the Race because I knew the two-hour finale was coming up on Wednesday and didn't want to be behind at that point. Gobo chose the Apprentice, and Big Love is a good way to end the night--it isn't too stressful to get to sleep once it is over.

My thoughts on what I saw:

Idol: I don't really care who wins this season anymore, and I have never said that about any Idol season in the past. I just don't see any of the three who are left really sustaining a long-term singing career. Taylor isn't talented enough, Elliott doesn't have enough charisma (although he finally showed some signs of it in the last episode, despite the fact that I couldn't buy him as "evil") and Katharine over-sings every song, trying to make everything a glory note despite the fact that her voice just can't carry it. Katharine is just not Whitney, Mariah or even Kelly, and each week that becomes more obvious. For all of his credibility flaws, Chris was the only one who seemed like he could be a real act on a real stage for an extended period of time. And I liked his rendition of "Suspicious Minds."

Alias: I squealed with delight like a seven year old at the American Girl shop in Chicago (where I was this weekend) when I saw Sark return!!!! I haven't been reading spoilers on the last episodes of the season so I wasn't sure he would be back. This week's coming episode looks really great--Sark and Sloane together again, Syd pretending to be Anna pretending to be Syd, Vaughn back...it's going to be tough to see this end. But can we please do away with the Rachel/Tom storyline? NOBODY CARES.

The Amazing Race: It was just so great to see what I wanted to happen actually happen. I wanted MoJo out so badly, and I got my wish. And I did pretty well in our Amazing Pool as well, finally nudging Bailey out of her top spot. It is between the two of us on Wednesday for the money and the glory (minimum for anyone is three points, max is 12, so it's a two-woman race for the top spot). From the clips it looked like it will be a great show.
Pool Results This Week:
Red: 82(total after last week) + 10(this week) = 92
Bailey: 89 + 2 = 91
Diane: 75 + 2 = 77
Laura H.: 74 + 2 = 76
Laura I.W.: 59 + 2 = 61

The Apprentice was fairly interesting, although there isn't much to say and no one other than Isaac cares, and Big Love was another typically great episode. The last scene when Nikki pulled out her hotel bill was classic.

I still have so much to watch this next week! I almost feel like I am going to OD on television.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

TV Musings

1. For some reason on Wednesday night, my DVR stopped recording Lost about 4 minutes before it ended. Now, it normally knows when the show runs long, but for whatever reason, it did not know it this week. Two notes about this: One, am I wrong to frequently refer to my DVR as a TiVo? I find that TiVo has become a generic term like xerox or coke. It certainly is weird to say that I DVRed a show, but TiVo works great as a verb. Second, thank you ABC. Thanks to their making available certain shows for free on line, I was able to watch those final four minutes. Not much happened, but I was glad I could see it.

2. The Office has become my favorite comedy of TV. There are few shows that are laugh out loud funny (on a repeated basis) and then extremely poignant. In some ways, I prefer Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) to David Brent (Ricky Gervais), and I loved the British version of the show. But what I love about Michael Scott is that as obnoxious as he is, we also see both how sad he is (including his childhood in one painful moment) but, at times, why he is the office manager. In the episode where he hooked up with Jan, his ability to work a deal was made apparent (at, of course, Chili's) and he later did extremely well in protecting Jan. She actually brings out the bets in him, and she likes him more than even he realizes as we saw in the season finale. I look forward to season 3.