Tuesday, December 16, 2008

See Ya Latah, Sinners

Let me start off by saying I give Milk a B/leaning towards a B+ right off the bat. I really liked it, I think it is an important story that I didn't know about before now and it was well-written, well-acted and well-directed.

I have two cricisms, 1) I think in some places, the history took precedence over the story so I was lost in a "here's what happened" vs. a "here's how the story of what happened played out." Josh Brolin's charcacter for example. There wasn't much of a personal connection before Milk shows up at Dan Smith's kid's baptism. One minute he's on tv and the next he's just there. But, I will say that I think they did a good job in showing some great actual footage from The Castro and all over the news and whatnot. I would think that with good footage, there was a real danger that the actual clips could overcome the storyline-I thought that happened with The Queen somewhat, but it didn't happen here.

Along these lines with this first criticism, I had a hard time with the relationship between Milk and Diego Luna's character, Jack. I think that someone who really didn't like Jack must have been consulting on this project, because I think that I would have rather have seen that character and relationship fleshed out or toned down, but not left straggling out there the way it did. I like Diego Luna since his Y Tu Mama Tambien days too, so I am not sure what wasn't getting me there. Seeing little vignettes of all the bad sorts of things Jack ended up doing, doesn't really help bring to the grief that Milk must have been feeling later.

2) Before I say this, because I'm sure there are tons of people who would disagree, let me preface this by the fact that I love Sean Penn, but his portrayal here of Harvey Milk reminded me of his I Am Sam character more than any of the gay guys I know. I just didn't get there with him. Now I thought James Franco and Emile Hirsh both pulled off their roles with flying colors. I'd like to see James Franco get a supporting role nomination for this. He was excellent. And as a side note, the HSM kid was cute in this too.

Anyway, it is a great story, and an important one, especially in light of the California Prop 8 debacle. It makes it difficult to believe that we're actually walking backwards instead of forward in some respects. Can I blame that on W too? :-) Anyway, if you haven't already gone to Funny or Die to see the Prop 8 Musical, go watch, it is funny! But a sad commentary that stars need to come out to shine a spotlight on an issue that we should never be hearing about again. Come on CA! Get it together!

Hopes for a Good Show Smashed at the Aragon

Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis both panned the Smashing Pumpkins show back when they were at the Chicago theater. No, I hadn't read reviews before I went to see them at the Aragon. But I get that Billy could be an acquired taste and I VERY often don't agree with one or both of those critics so I take their reviews as input but definitely not as the last word. That being said, now, not after reading those reviews, but rather after seeing the show... I wish I would have saved my money. The apology show, was still an egomaniacal Corigan blunder.

I really did enjoy the first half of the show, but once Corigan cut loose in a crazed jam session, he left everyone hanging without coming back with some strong songs, instead he dropped a bunch of folksy songs that, let's face it, all sounded the same. Granted, I don't have the new CD. I have heard a couple of songs though and maybe some of the other new ones would grow on me but I'm not feeling it. I want Billy (writing Courtney Love and old Pumpkins) the songwriter up there, not a waste of $45 for an experimental show. I up and left. I felt like there was nothing worthwhile for me to stay to see, and I was sad. Even the Zwan show I saw at the Aragon was better than that show. Not that it was a bad show, but I'm just saying they could have done better.

Kot says, "Had the band come back strong with a couple of rave-ups, the night might’ve added up to a strong statement from the Pumpkins Mach II." But I'll tell you what, when I left, I left thinking that even if they had thrown in one or two good songs, it wasn't going to be worth it to stick around to find out. I was brought way too far down after a good strong beginning to be brought back up again.

Funny thing is, that my friend Jeff, an American transplant hanging out in Australia these days saw them down under and immediately posted on my Facebook page that he had the same reaction to their show there. I can understand that Billy might not be all that great at taking criticism, but shouldn't he at least read the reviews from his fans who WANT to see him do well? Listen to what we're saying Billy. This show could have been fixed ages ago, we still love you though. I'm sure I'll come to see you for the next iteration of Mr Corigan and the SP!

Last Chance to Not Bore Me

This past Sunday, Dec 14th, Talk Cinema gave us Rom Com hopeful Last Chance Harvey on the screen at the Century theater by Clark and Diversey here in Chitown.

It really was cute, well, sort of cute. Dustin Hoffman, is a very sad and pathetic guy. The kind of guy who people don't want to talk to on the airplane, who has a history of drinking, who is on his own, and whose daughter wants her stepdad to walk her down the aisle. He forgoes the chance to make sure he keeps his job to make a trip to London to attend his daughter's wedding. Of course when he arrives, daughter is colored not impressed, the job is lost. But to save the day, in the midst of it he runs into our lovely Emma Thompson.

Thompson character's is basically Elinor Dashwood, from Sense and Sensibility meets Sarah from Love Actually (though with a mother who she stops her life for to talk to on the phone all the time instead of a mildly retarded and violent brother). Kate Walker is the big sister/supervisor to the girls she plays with at work (and who try to set her up with an eligible bachelor) and the martyr who takes care of everyone else including taking her mother's crazy calls all the time because "she's had a hard run of it."

The problem is this, the movie sort of aims its sights at being a ROM COM but a romantic comedy needs comedy. The circumstances leading up to him being in a bad place aren't funny, they are simply depressing. The fact that the rich stepfather could be a class war against the struggling piano player. But, they let that go. Instead we're just left with a sad lonely woman taking the attentions of a messed up and desperate guy. It doesn't even come off as romantic at all (not to mention the afore mentioned lack of comedy). But there are some tender moments and I did laugh, just not enough for me to recommend it to anyone else except for as a renter.

I give it a C/leaning towards a C-

Monday, December 15, 2008

About A Boy Director To Helm New Moon

This is awesome news. Christopher Weitz has been tagged to direct New Moon. Now, let me say the good and bad about this. The Good- is About a Boy and his producing Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist...About a Boy is one of my favorite movies. Awesome, and could Nick and Nora's be cuter? Bad- is the Golden Compass- a favorite book but the movie, eh, not so good. Now let me tell you why I think it still, over all, is a good thing.

Golden Compass had some good special effects and that will help carry the day here. The problem with Golden Compass (the movie) was that the editing wasn't great. The wrong things were focused on. The story was maybe too dense. Here, that isn't a problem. Stephenie Meyer's books, I think I have said before, are enjoyable to read but the stories are not complex. Girl wants Boy, Girl Loses Boy, Boy is Honorable, Girl and Boy Stay in Love. It gives you what you want. Hardwicke did a good job establishing the Angst... but with Edward for much of the storyline, unless Weitz does a floaty head (a la Miss Elizabeth Bennett seeing the floating head of Mr Darcy Firth in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice and later mimicked by another floating head in Bride and Prejudice) and Bella gazes into her mirror or any available window to look dreamily into his eyes for minutes on end, we won't have some of the same problems we had in the first one.

Here's crossing my fingers. I think that Weitz did some good mojo with the whole angst of our boy Marcus in About A Boy...and we definitely see it in Nick from Nick and Nora so I'm hoping he brings some of that to Jacob. Jacob needs it if anyone is going to be okay with him in the 4th movie. He has to be likeable, just HAS to be. :-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Invite Me In

Let the Right One In... good vampire flick... head to your local indy theater to see it. I give it a B+

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My friend Dana's place is right by the Century theater on Clark so after we ordered some thai we walked over to see see Let the Right One In with a packed house. I really liked it. There were some things that I don't think I picked up on right away until after I thought about the movie a bit and the scenes are still sticking with me. My only critique would be that the dialogue was a bit slow in parts, but that might be a Swedish thing?

I have been a big vamp fan for a long time, really liking the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles, and enjoying Buffy (the movie before the show even came out- so much so that I watched from the very first episode to see the full glory of the show from the beginning) and then Angel. I also like True Blood this season on HBO. Since I haven't read the Charlaine Harris The Southern Vampire series (or frankly any of the other romance/urban vamp fantasy) I can accept the sussing out of the other charachters in the show. I would get tired of all Sookie Stackhouse/all the time. I did read the Twilight series purely for the pop culture value. In comparison, I would say that both Let the Right One In and the Twilight movies do what they set out to do.

Angsty Thirteen and excellent Lords of Dogtown director (not to mention a woman who was a production designer on a favorite movie of mine- Tank Girl), Catherine Hardwicke does the teen angst thing well for Twilight. But I think the staring longingly into one another's eyes but racing through the action sequences, along with some suspect dialogue, just left the movie falling flat. I felt like there was a lot of build-up for the movie and am hopeful they stick with her as a director and let her explore the next book, New Moon's sharper angles. I should note that it seems like Melissa Rosenberg has done nothing but good things, so maybe Hardwicke needs to pull back on letting Stewart and Pattinson make up any of their lines?

But Let the Right One In, does something totally different for me. It made the characters raw and real for me, in a way that I don't think any other vamp movie has been able to do. We have winter here in Chicago (and did in Pennsylvania where I grew up) but the landscape for the scenes gave a preternatural feel in and of itself outside of the vamp story. The slow dialogue lent itself (whether intentionally or not) to the preternatural, stark feel of the film as well.

I am more than a little concerned that the Cloverfield director Matt Reeves already is working on the Americanization of the book. (Not a remake per se, but a reinterpretation of the book's story.) It could be decent or disastrous. We shall see.

Also, see an interview with the author on Aint It Cool News.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Snoop makes Mashed Potatoes

Martha and Snoop Dogg make mashed potatoes using a recipe from Martha's mom, and Snoop adds his own secret ingredient.Drinking Game: take a sip of cognac every time Martha Stewart says something vaguely racist!

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Heroes, Season 3 Villains, Episode 6

Since I have new work email, I wasn't sure that I would be looped into this week's discussion, so I sent an email around. But, truly, Frank started this week's discussion... which I'll post as soon as I get the emails together.

Hey Matthew Sweet- Who Was That Drummer? (Oct 23, 2008)

I rushed back on Thursday, after waiting in La Guardia (maybe too long but you can never underestimate how long it will be for me to find my way back if I'm lost-which for someone with no sense of direction is highly likely). The sirens started going off for a while when I was waiting for my plane, which let me tell you, is creepy. I had the luck(?) of landing in the middle of rush hour. Luckily my cabbie and I conferred and agreed the fastest way to get home would be around the highway so we went back through Park Ridge to Peterson Avenue and down the city streets instead of down the highway.

I ended up getting in just in time to dump my bags, splash water on my face, have a Diet Mountain Dew and jump on the Clark Street #22 bus from Addision and Clark (across from Wrigley Field) down to the Armitage and Clark stop. From there, I met my pal Liz at Stanley's for a bite to eat and a beer and then met Tom and his pal Robert at Park West to see Matthew Sweet-a longtime favorite of mine. He is playing off of his new album, Sunshine Lies, which has been playing on repeat in my car for the last couple of weeks.

He played a lot of the songs from the new album, including the Room to Rock In... which is totally catchy and I really like, but somehow the Byrdgirl song has REALLY gotten under my skin so I was happy to hear that. Of course he (though he sounded pained doing it) sang Girlfriend. He did a few of my older faves, including Superdeformed but I felt like the show could have and should have been a little longer (though to be fair there were 3 single-song encores.) He seemed occasionally to be having fun (something missing from his shows recently)- last show I saw him in where he seemed to be having fun on stage was alone on stage with a bunch of Acoustic Guitars at Metro and then again playing with The Thorns before the Jayhawks at the Vic.

We left the show and scooted over to Gamekeepers for a couple of pitchers to watch the end of the Phillies game for Liz. They didn't do well that night but have picked it up since then.


I left the show wondering... who the hell was that playing the drums? He totally looked like he was wearing a disguise with the beard/hair/hat combo, all while having the bod of a much younger guy.

New Job WOO HOO!

So, I've been more quiet than normal, not having time to really get into the shows but I have been keeping up. Trust me.

I got a new job which totally spun my world around and I spent last week in New York trianing. Hopefully by the end of this week (or beginning of next week) I'll settle into a new schedule and be in good shape to continue to write here.

TV Shows, (Oct 19th- Oct. 25th)

True Blood: Show is good. I totally wasn't expecting the early departure of the four vamps.

Entourage: Eric becoming his own man is such a nice touch. The nice guy can make good even while the other guys are also making good at the same time. Interesting twist with Ari possibly leaving

Terminator, The Sarah Connors Chronicles: Still haven't caught up.

Life: Still have to check to make sure TiVo catches this.

Chuck: Nicole Richie isn't a great actress but I liked that they delved into Sarah Walker's past. Note they never said her real name. Agent Charles Carmichael is priceless.

Fringe- Still have to watch this one. Will update when I do.

ANTM, Cycle 11: So, Jocelyn is gone, saw that coming from a mile away... Marjorie is a disaster in front of a camera and Elina holds back? Who cares? They both take gorgeous pictures... the competition isn't for the next SUPERmodel... just next top model. Tyra needs to take a chill.

90210: Boring... I still have to remember to cancel this from recording when I go in to double check TiVo for Life.

Eli Stone I forgot that Katie Holmes could really sing when she was Joey on Dawson's Creek. She can sing. I like this potential love interest... I hope they email/text each other. Also, I think the journal as a "guidebook" for Nate is kind of a lame shortcut trick.

Numb3rs: Yay, Charlie is back in the FBI but who pulled the strings to get the boys reinstated? Should be interesting to find out.

I watched The Office is strong... the new HR female Michael is a nice twist. Earl is interesting... just when they bring the Godfather of Crime into the picture, they make him a joke. Awesome. ... This week is 30 Rock into the rotation and Reaper and Legend of the Seeker Still coming. Still excited for Joss Whedon's Dollhouse.
, come on already!

TV Shows (Oct 12th- 19th)

True Blood: Show is good, but once Sookie has sex with Mr. Compton... it may jump the shark. That's all I'm saying.

Entourage: Eh. The guy dying on the Golf Course to solve all the boys problems is kind of a lame short cut if you ask me.

Terminator, The Sarah Connors Chronicles: Still haven't caught up.

Life: Somehow I have to check to make sure TiVo catches this.

Chuck: Still a Guilty Pleasure.

Heroes, Season 3 Villains, Episode 5: We didn't really discuss this one. JJ was having a baby! YAY!

Fringe- The ex-boyfriend appearing and reappearing? Ugh. But I liked that the Observer came off of the elevator.

Project Runway, Season 5- Okay, so LeAnn wins... I totally thought Korto should have won. I thought her collection was much more diverse than LeAnn's. Though to be fair, Leanne's competing style worked for her. Glad there wasn't as much drama. Kenley? Jerrell would have been MUCH better...those ropes were hidious. Though I do admit the wedding dress still was pretty.

ANTM, Cycle 11: So, Lauren Brie gone... who will step up?

90210: Boring... I have to remember to cancel this from recording when I go in to double check TiVo for Life.

Eli Stone Eli decides to get his anneurism back. I really like the addition of the imaginary therapist and that this time he chose to be the prophet. The unlikely prophet I'm okay with, but the unlikely and unwilling? Seemed out of character for someone who was doing so much to save other people when he had it removed. I like the twist of the smarmy lawyer being with Taylor now and SORT OF being a good guy.

Numb3rs: This show never disappoints. The characters and writing are great.

I watched The Office and FF>> through Earl... Kath and Kim sucked (though I like the Actors) and I did delete that from my lineup. Maybe I'll add 30 Rock into the rotation at least until Reaper comes back. That show is bank. Also getting excited for Joss Whedon's Dollhouse.
. Waiting to see how Legend of the Seeker pans out, too.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SONG OF FIRE AND ICE on HBO!

Wow, I'm out of the loop. I just heard that George RR Martin's The Song of Fire and Ice series was optioned by HBO. This Variety Article confirms. This series is everything that an Epic Fantasy series should be. I first read this series and fell in love with it after reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time when I first started rereading fantasy as an adult (after reading the first two Harry Potter books that came out and not-so-patiently wanting to wait for the rest of them).

I'm very excited, not just because I love these books but also because I know HBO does such a fine job on all their series and I am guessing that the Terry Goodkind series that will be released by ABC, Legend of the Seeker, is going to be, well not that great. I'll watch, I'm a geek enough that I'll watch. But, the Goodkind books infuriated me with their right wing rants. I'm hoping Hollywood makes this series better. You know what I think of a book if I think the movie version has a strong possibility of being better than the written word. Hopefully Sam Raimi will bring a light to this series that right now is missing.

Heroes, Season 3 Villains, Episode 4

Frank started off this week's discussion:

Wow. What a great episode.

Lets go from best to worst, shall we?

Sylar, The Housewife...
What a bizarre scene. My first thought was "oh man, they've gone too far with this." But it played out perfectly and made sense. Zachary Quinto has really been tasked to do a lot of different things with this character, and he makes everything work. The entire scene at the Bennett household was awesome. Seems the fights are better this season - fighting how you would expect 'superheroes' to fight, powers and all. Remember back in Season 1, whenever there would be a fight, it would take 3 seconds and no powers would be used. When his son (do we know babymama?) was 'killed', I lost it. You don't see that kind of stuff on TV. Powerful scene, including the kabloom.

The future...
Last episode the future stuff was hit or miss - I think they've hit their stride in how they're going to use the future. Future Peter was mentioning that the line between Heroes and Villains is drawn by who was born with powers and whose powers were 'created'. Another question: Do we know if the ability to give people powers is from Suresh's stuff or the two-piece puzzle formula? I would guess its the two-piece puzzle - which leads to the next part...

Suresh's changes...
I liked the changes last episode, this episode was meh. I would think at the rate he's changing, in 4 years he would be an abomination. Every superhero story set around humanoids usually has one 'beast' type character. I would hoping Suresh would become this massive hairy monster of a character and would turn back around to being a hero.

Hiro and Ando...
Does Ando have a power? It's a stretch, but they spent quite some time with the two and the ceiling vent - could Ando's power be something along the lines of "he has the power to do something that others around him cannot do" or "...that others around him have failed at"? A stretch, I know, but something was up (maybe) with him being able to latch the vent - or maybe it was just a 'you need a partner, Hiro' type of message.

Frozen girl (wtf ever her name is now) and Nathan:
The scenes where she learned she was a triplet, or whatever, that seemed kind of forced. Again, her scenes seem so out of place - with everyone running around trying to figure out the future, or trying to find a forumla to save the world, she's... trying to kill herself? Ok, so 'i wanna die', 'nathan saves her life', 'she stays by his side while he becomes president', i get it. Moving on...

Parkman: painter, father...
Not sure I care much about this - interesting to see he's with Speedy, and that there's another daugther in the picture - his? theirs? another stolen child? Anyway, that was just ok.

Anyway, your thoughts?

TV Shows (Oct. 5- Oct.11th, 2008)

I forgot to add a couple of shows, I also watch Numbers and Life and Chuck and Reaper when it is on.

True Blood: Town starts to come around when it comes to Bill... can't wait to see what he does to the rednecks who brought the garlic press... I'm sure there is going to be some retribution there. Where is Erik, the Elder? You know he's coming for Sookie.

Entourage: Okay, this was funny, but my favorite park was Lloyd talking Ari down from tripping in the desert. Will Vince get the part? Can't wait to see what finagle they have to do to make that work.

Terminator, The Sarah Connors Chronicles: Still haven't caught up.

Life: Okay, ever since I saw this guy Damian Lewis in Band of Brothers and then in Dreamcatcher, I've liked him as an Actor. In Life, he plays Charlie Crews, who was set up for killing his Cop Partner's family and spent a couple years in the clink (cellmates of a white collar crime accountant played by Adam Arkin). Then he gets out and his wife has divorced him and remarried and the city has to pay him a HUGE settlement to account for the years he spent behind bars and they also have to promote him to detective.

He has one thing on his mind, finding out who killed his partner and best friend and figuring out who set him up for it. His partner, a sassy cop who has had a history of substance abuse is tied to him through her father- a career cop who is somehow involved in the setup. Adam Arkin is great as Ted Early (he lives above Charlie Crew's garage and manages his money). The best addition to this year's cast is Donal Logue as the smarmy captain.

What I like about this show is that Charlie Crews is a weird guy. He might seem all crazy (Turns out the other prisoners don't like cops in jail, so he had to learn a whole "zen" way of looking at the world that makes him come off as a kooky 3-dollar bill.) but his oddness and way of looking at the world helps him solve crimes.

Chuck: This show is a guilty pleasure. It makes me chuckle... that's the whole reason I watch it.


Fringe- Sadly, not on this week.

Project Runway, Season 5- Okay, this is the first time I've thought they chose correctly. I think that as much as Jerrell is over the top, he could/should have edited himself. It wouldn't have been that difficult. Plus, Kenley's wedding dress was to die for. That's what Bjork should have been wearing instead of the swan's head on top. I think right now LeAnn is looking the strongest. They may not like the simplicity of her palatte but they did with Chloe, right?

Lastly, my friend Cyndi sent me this article...Project Runway past stars... where are they now?

ANTM, Cycle 11: WOW... so Lauren Brie who was one of my top picks is gone... I still think that Elina and Marjorie will make it to the end. I guess I'm going to have to replace Lauren Brie with McKey.

90210: Yawn... WHY oh WHY do I keep watching. Maybe to see the Grandmother. She cracks me up... and Silver and Dixon are cute. BTW... I used to watch 21 Jump Street, I saw that student as a cop thing from a mile away.

Numb3rs: Cute show. I like the math angle, even though, mostly seems far-fetched. But it is a great cast and decent writing.

I do watch The Office and FF>> through Earl... but Kath and Kim should be good and I just don't have time to catch up with Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia or 30 Rock. Wahoowa Tina Fey! It is nice to see a fellow alum doing so well. Hard to believe we graduated from undergrad at the same time, both going to UVA as PA girls.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Beck: Phoning it in At the Aragon

So, Greg Kot describes Beck's performance as being businesslike on Thursday October 2nd. I saw him on Friday October 3rd at the Aragon and I thought he was kind of phoning it in. I enjoy his music and so I enjoyed the show. He's great. I'll see him when he comes to town. However, the theatrical Beck was missing in this show. In fact, it seemed like he wasn't getting into it at all. Maybe he gave all he could for Chicago on Thursday night.

I also think his other guitar player was annoying me a little bit. She seemed like a decent guitar player but I could tell her mic was turned down in a couple of places, because she was belting it out from where I was standing up front but the resultant sound didn't match when it came through the speakers. Then they had her shaking maracas and taking a couple of drum hits a little too seriously and it made me wonder why she was even there.

Love Beck... didn't love this show.

Greg Kot's review is here.

Review: Safety of the World on Her Shoulders-At Least the Sex is Good

I read Any Given Doomsday (The Phoenix Chronicles), by Lori Handeland on the bus on my way to and from work this week. The former cop turned bartender/P.I. is a psychic who is "called" to the crime scene where her foster mother has been murdered. Turns out the cops are looking for Elizabeth Phoenix's ex, Jimmy for the crime. Ruth has passed on her seer abilities to Elizabeth, who now needs to be trained up on leading the world of good against the world of evil that has been raging on the planet since the Nephilim (Fallen Angels not killed by the Great Flood which are all evil monsters bent on destroying humankind) fell from Heaven.

Despite that Lori Handeland clearly dislikes the Cubs... probably a Twins or Brewers fan? whatever... I give this one three of five stars, mostly because I think it is good, but not really good or great. It is a fun read. If you like those Laurell Hamilton vamp books or that genre then you'll like this. The steamy parts are good, the characters are good and interesting for the most part. I'm a sucker for the steamy parts and I think the empath and how she gets her powers is a clever way for the sexy parts to have to be included. There are just some things that don't get me from Point A to Point B and some dialogue I don't like too much. Lines like "Guess I'd just have to kill him and anyone else that gets in my way." doesn't really do it for me.

The characters do have me roped in and I'm curious what the next battle is and how this character grows. So, I'll keep reading unless I get more of the same. I'm guessing that some of the problems I have with this book are tied to the author setting up the world that Elizabeth is walking around in.

Heroes, Season 3 Villains, Episode 3

Julia started this week's discussion:

I am liking this season much better than last already…here are my quick thoughts:

Hiro/Ando/Daphne: not sure if like this one yet, although I did like how the Haitian had a run in with them and they are now on Level 5.

Mama Petrelli: she is SO evil…love it! What do you think, is she really Sylar’s mom?

Matt Parkman: yawn…wake me up when it is over.

Tracy (aka Niki/Jessica): not sure yet…although the idea of a genetically engineered group of clones may be interesting…we’ll see.

Peter: glad he’s finally out of the other villian’s body…what’s up with the future Peter? Not sure yet if I like this future storyline, since we’ve seen it twice before already

Claire: what is she going to be doing now? Chasing after the villains on her own? That’s just silly.

HRG: rocks, as usual

Sunday, September 28, 2008

TV Shows (Sept 28-Oct 4, 2008)

True Blood: So Sookie and Bill made it to Fangtasia to see if she can listen in and figure out who killed Dawn so that Jason doesn't keep the blame for it. Jason was saved by Tara both from jail since he hadn't been mirandized and from his squash-sized erection- and her obsession with him was made a little more clear since he saved her as a kid from her abusive mother. Once again, Bill declares that Sookie is his and Sookie confirms in order to preserve herself from Eric, the local ancient who is in charge of the vampires in that neck of the woods. Lastly, we keep going with the Sam as a dog story line when he breaks into Dawn's house and literally "sniffs around."

Entourage: Johnny Drama breaks down on National TV, Eric's clients want more money, that they get and Vince is relegated to 2nd post. All in all a good one, but when did Debi Mazur's character stop being so in charge... she lets Drama get arrested while she's in the car, with nothing more than mild protestations? I thought she was supposed to be a total ball-buster.

Terminator, The Sarah Connors Chronicles: Still haven't caught up.

Fringe- Okay, with respect to Fringe... I am unconvinced that Joshua Jackson's character saw anything out of the ordinary that would convince him that he needed to stay? The Observer takes one look at him and reads his mind and all of a sudden he's convinced? Doesn't make sense. The reading the pictures from dead minds or her brain connecting with her partner in a coma wasn't enough? Odd. And, who is The Observer reporting to? That also doesn't make sense.

My friend, Frank, commented "Whats the deal with the weird camera/lense flares that happen from time to time. When you guys watch the episodes and get caught up, see if you can see the weird light flash/lense flare thing. In one of the episodes I thought it was just when a certain person was on screen - now I've seen it happen in different scenes."

I'm wondering if it is related somehow to the light pin pricks surrounding the Frog (with a Greek letter Psi)/leaf/6-fingered handprint/slice of apple/butterfly with human in the middle that they show when they are going to commercial?

Project Runway, Season 5- Kenley is as annoying as ever. We'll see how one-trick pony she is when she shows them her collection. I'm sure she and Tim will have words when he comes to her place to check on her progress. Also, I didn't mind Korto's dress as much as the judges did. I thought it was pretty (with the exception of the lace, that is).

Lastly, Project Runway is not allowed to move to Lifetime? That kind of sucks. You know that they tried to lowball the PR producers or they wouldn't have jumped ship so willingly.

ANTM, Cycle 11: Clark, who I think was the weakest link on the show, was eliminated and we move one step closer to the final. Marjorie may have that self-loathing thing going on, but she's obviously competitive. She wants them to say "No, but you're so pretty!"? I lost a little respect for her this week. Paulina is great though.

90210: Hmmmm. The least believeable thing here was that the Mom's boss had SUCH a big freak-out over the fight with his biggest client, but mild-manneredly accepted that the son knocked out the guy? I would have liked to have had another scene where she tells him what happened and he comes in and demands that she be fired but he stands up for her and calls him a sleaze. The mom can't be the only one uncorrupted by the Hollywood scene? Also, I'm a little confused by the timeline... did Arriana send a text to Ty before or after she accused the Principal's daughter of being a narc?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Go Cubs GO

I've had this GO CUBS GO song in my head... hopefully we keep playing well. So dance it up to a little Manic Sewing Circle? Come on!

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I was there on Sunday (after they clinched Saturday) when the Iowa Cubs (seriously, they were playing all our 2nd and 3rd string players with the exception of the pitcher and Fukudome) beat the Cards. Sweet victory!

HEROES, Season 3 Villains- Episodes 1 & 2

I started this week's discussion

I saw some good things and some not so good things. The future Peter storyline and THE FORMULA storyline could get disastrous as could current Peter in the new body. I just hope they don’t leave things hanging- including the undisclosed guys who want the Formula in Germany. I would have liked to have seen Micah/family in New Orleans or Molly if not just to see where they are in all this. Here’s my take on the peeps:

The Good

So Nicki/Jessica were triplets? Huh. I like that this one is good...but where Nicki manifested Jessica (or was it the other way around?) Presumably because of their close connection, it will be interesting to see if this new one will manifest both of them now that she has used her power (I get the impression that she was using "form of an icicle" for the first time last nite. Hopefully this isn’t a memory loss kind of thing. Will we get to see a showdown between her and Claire’s Mom? Micah is going to be interesting in this scenario too.

Current Claire can't feel pain anymore? She can just be discovered more easily then? I’m guessing she is “the light”?

Parkman- he has been a constant good throughout the show, always trying to do the right thing (much how Peter starts out) Butterfly Effect? Landing him in the middle of Africa should have an interesting effect. His new friend in Africa is interesting too… that he paints and sees the future the same way as our first comic book artist… maybe he doesn’t really see the future or maybe he absorbs powers too?

Current Hiro- still trying to fulfill his destiny to save the world. Where is his sister? Why isn’t she helping him run the company?

Current Ando-poor guy can't catch a break. All he wants to do is help Hiro

Maya- she laid down pretty fast for Mohinder is all I’m saying. You would think that after Sylar she’d have a little more discretion. Do she and Mohinder have a kid and that kid is “the light”?

Horn-rimmed Glasses: Hunting down the bad guys/protecting his family… good guy.

The Undecided

Future Claire/Future Ando/Future Hiro- our opinions of these guys now shape how we see them in the future, so maybe they were not as good or bad as they seemed to turn out in the future. I like that Ando has Elle's power now.

Current Peter- what is his deal? He always tries to do the right thing? A different body is going to stop him now? We don’t even know if/how his powers will work in the new body? Does he still have his old ones or his old ones plus the new guys? What is the new guys’ power?

Future Peter-we already know he shot his brother, why couldn't he have gone back a little farther and just explained to his brother what the future looks like if Nathan revealed everything? I'm not convinced that his always trying to go back and save the world based on different histories doesn't mean there are not 10 future versions of himself running around in the present.

The Speedster/Catwoman- Hiro has placed her as a catwoman/ bad guy in ouir minds but she might juist be a fast Oliver Twist with a heart of gold? But Hiro has placed her in our minds as the “sexy” nemesis he’s always attracted to already.

Mrs. Petrelli/Linderman- I’m not convinced that these two (if Linderman isn’t a figment of Nathan’s imagination) are bad. Is the company such a bad thing? Also, is Hiro’s dad really dead if Linderman isn’t dead? Maybe Linderman got that invisibility power from the former partner of horn-rimmed glasses? Certainly suspect that she hasn’t revealed who her son is (she did the same thing to Claire!)

Nathan Petrelli- I don’t trust anyone who is overly zealous. Plus he’s in politics-that automatically makes him suspect. And, we know he has a dark side already. Which way will he go?

Mohinder- dude, what’s with the being good then all of a sudden turning into Dr. Moreau/Spiderman?

Elle- She could go nuttier or she could end up being a good guy, too soon to tell.

The Villains

Sylar- Okay, how long is that table going to hold him. I think not much longer. But, I’d like the world to play out without him in it for a while. He’s Nathan and Peter’s brother? That changes things. Right? When does Peter spend enough time around him that he can see how people “work” Will his connection to the Petrellis make him a “good guy” option?

Escapees- Okay so they’ve been locked up, have been torturing people already, but we don’t know them individually, maybe their motivations are different from what we think?

Okay- Thoughts?

Monday, September 22, 2008

(Sept 21-27) TV Shows

True Blood: Sookie apparently "belongs" to Bill, or at least he told his buds that she belonged to him to keep them off of her. So, Sam Trammell isn't a shape shifter, but I still think there's a connection between that dog and him and how he watches Sookie... or he wouldn't be barking in his sleep. WHY would Sookie's best friend sleep with him. Seems kind of cold, knowing that they might end up together someday. But, having lived in a small town, it kind of changes the rules a little bit. What the hell is wrong with that Jason kid. My friend Cory likes boys that are big and dumb, Jason would be perfect for him.

Entourage: Johnny Drama puking on a cake. Seriously, that kid is ridiculous. Eric knows how to pick 'em. Will he be able to make it work? We shall see. The boys are always amusing.

Terminator, The Sarah Connors Chronicles: I still haven't seen this yet... will update when I can.

Fringe-this week some poor schmuck was left with metal in his bloodstream which turned him into a human walkie talkie a la Wolverine meeting that old Brady Bunch episode with radio reception through their braces. Two reasons that guy will be back: 1) the stuff just moved around some in his head/they didn't get rid of it and 2).the picture he drew hasn't come true yet. This is the nice religious/destiny side of the show coming into play I think- the picture has a very Jesus on the cross connotation, the "bad guys" are communicating in Latin (the language of the Catholic church for today's viewers) and 3) what is it Walter says? how the body works might make sense logically but that doesn't make it less of a miracle. Lastly, the check-in/guys following Joshua Jackson makes it a question as to who he works for? Good guys? Bad guys? Belly's company? Bringing up the company, where IS Belly? He isn't dead, right? That lady is holding him hostage somewhere or she is him w a sex change operation? THAT would be funny. TBD

Project Runway, Season 5- AND we are down to 4. Too bad about Suede. Despite his reference to himself in the third person, he does have an endearing personality. Personally I feel like that decision was a "TV" decision to keep the drama and was not a mark of who lost that challenge. It might seem like I have it in for Kenley, who I admit is more and more annoying, even mistakenly getting cheeky with Tim Gunn...breaking a cardinal rule of the show, and of good of taste, by the way. (Tim Gunn, however, remained the impeccable-mannered Gentleman, neither putting up with her crap nor seeming to be insulting to her in any way-ending the concersation as he would with anyone- "Thank You Kenley.") So, you might think I have it in for her, but just looking at her outfit on its own merits? I thought it was HIDEOUS! It was nice to see her put in her place a bit, embarrassed as Jerrell's version of "Kenley Spears"...but LL Cool J didn't seem to mind! I'm sticking with my original top three. Kenley doesn't have the chops to think outside of her little 50s box she has primped for herself.

ANTM, Cycle 11: This week, Elina who is in my top three got one of hte worst pictures. Huh. I guess it is a good one to be the worst on since Tyra just made it up and it wasn't really inspired by any real photo shoot. Apparently, Tyra decided to do it when she was half in the bag on margaritas in Mexico. It would have made much more sense if it was a summer Cover Girl make up line or something. Isis, the first transgender girl to appear on the show, was eliminated. She was okay, but compared to the other girls, she definitely wasn't bringing it. Until Tyra mentioned that tired eye thing she had going (which my roommate in college- Barb- had when she was drunk) I didn't notice it. But, when they were showing her final pictures, she had that going in every single one. Good luck to her, huh? I'm standing by the Lauren and Elina picks but Marjorie may be out if she can't get her walk going (as well as her self-confidence, if the previews for next week's show count at all). Of all the girls that are left, I would say that only McKey and Analeigh are still in it. I would have said Samantha too (my friend Karyn pointed out her very strong makeover) but that girl CANNOT walk. She's athletic enough, she should be working on that.

90210: Really, look up "after school special?" Come on. Apparently Silver's blog is big in Bolivia? Come on. Sex for the first time storyline? Come on. The only thing I'm really liking in this show right now is Dixon and Silver together- and that's all that is keeping me watching at this point too. They need to step up their game. Though I will say that Adrianna as the bad girl was a nice surprise. That kicks into gear? I'm going to be happy. I know that Ty is supposed to be the opposite of the big dumb Kansas boy, but Ty seems pretty dim to me.

HEROES Season 3 PREP

FRANK gave a Heroes recap to our discussion group of the past couple seasons so we know where we're starting from:

Season 3 of NBC’s superhero drama Heroes starts up tonight in a special two-hour extravaganza that will introduce a season called "Villains." If you’re at a loss to recall exactly what transpired among the heaps of characters in this intricate, cliffhangery series, you’re not alone. So here’s a little five-point redux to get you back up to speed. (Spoilers from the last three seasons ahead.)

(1) Nathan Petrelli: Seemingly Dead. Then Alive. Now Seemingly Dead Again.
At the end of season one, the burgeoning politico saved the world by using his powers of flight to zoom his his radioactive little brother, Peter, into the air — so he detonate in space. Nathan was severely burned . . . until a self-healer/immortal named Adam Monroe befriended Peter and convinced the sibling to let him heal Nathan. The latter made a full recovery. However, at the end of season 2, the older Petrelli faced mortality once again when a mysterious person in a black coat shot him just as he was about to out himself while giving a public speech about superhumans. See video for even more on this plot below.

(2) The Company and Safe Virus
Formed in 1997, the Company set out to monitor, and sometimes perform tests on, mutant superpowered individuals throughout the world. After discovering the fatal Shanti virus—which shuts down the enhanced abilities of evolved humans—the Company developed a safe strain of said virus that would inhibit powers without inadvertently whacking the superhuman. This strain was used to control the erratic, schizo She-Hulk, Nikki/Jessica Sanders, and stifle the abilities of the power-sucking villain/psycopath Sylar. Sanders willfully subjected herself to this research; Sylar, however, has been on a warpath to obtain an antidote so he go get back to his badass self. The only cure comes from mixing the blood of self-healing cheerleader Claire Bennet and geneticist Mohinder Suresh. At the end of the season, Sylar obtains the serum from Mohinder through felonious means, then appears to “heal” himself. Muhahahaha.

(3) The Company and the Fatal Virus
As mentioned in No. 1, Peter Petrelli exploded in the sky and was presumed dead. So why is he alive (and frequently shirtless)? He actually healed himself after the fireworks, then had a run-in with the Company; they ran tests on him and Adam Monroe, the guy in the next cell over. After the duo made a break, Adam duped Peter into chasing after a vial of the original Shanti virus stored in a vault. You see, Adam is an immortal dude who was kicked out of the Company back in the day for his dubious morality, and in season two his mission was twofold: to (a) kill off his old Company compadres, among them Hiro’s dad; and (b) use powerful Peter to obtain the Shanti virus (under the guise of disposing of it) to obliterate humanity. After Peter realized what’s what, a scuffle ensued with himself, Adam, and Hiro Nakamura—the time-traveller who knew Adam's past as baddie from the feudal era. Peter grabbed the vial and destroyed it, while Hiro teleported Adam into a grave where he’s buried alive. Meanwhile, both Peter and Hiro have traveled into an alternate future where the virus has ravaged the planet.

(4) Nikki/Jessica: Possibly a Goner
The newly widowed, schizo-unstable mom moved her technopathic son Micah to New Orleans, where he could live with relatives while she went to the Company for help in stripping her of her out-of-control alternate personality Jessica (who has super-strength). Meanwhile, Micah discovered new powers — in his cousin Monica Dawson, who can imitate anything she sees on TV, including ninja skills, though that proved moot when she was kidnapped by thugs. The newly powerless Nikki—conveniently back in town—came in for the save and freed Monica from the burning building where she was held captive. Mama, however, did not emerge from the embers.

(5) The Horn-Rimmed-Glasses Man: Still a Tried and True Company Man Claire’s adoptive father, once a stoic, fearsome agent, quit the Company after they attempted to capture Claire. Last season, he teamed with Mohinder to take down the organization, with the latter as an inside man. But the scientist switched sides, and helped the Company nab Claire because he wanted to use her blood’s regenerative abilities to save other people. In retaliation, Bennet kidnapped the feisty, lightning-hurling Elle (daughter of another Company operative), bullying the Company into swapping the two abductees. Once free, Elle shot Bennet, who was taken to a Company hospital where they used Claire’s blood to heal him. To protect his family, Bennet agreed to work with the Company.

Rachel Getting Married: Welcome to the Family

I saw Rachel Getting Married this weekend at Talk Cinema, written by Jenny Lumet, granddaughter of Lena Horne, and directed by Jonathan Demme and starring most notably Anne Hathaway, though her sister in the movie, Rosemarie DeWitt as Rachel, was excellent (here's a good interview with her about it) as was Bill Irwin, who played the goofy, nurturing father in the movie. Sidney, Rachel's fiance, is sweet caring and supportive of Rachel and Tunde Adebimpe plays him marvelously. I cried unabashedly when he sang her some Bob Dylan during the wedding vows. Sidney's best man, Kieran is great, as played by Mather Zickel . Debra Winger makes a great supporting actress. I loved this movie. It has stayed with me, which for me is a good sign for a movie.

The homevideo quality of the filming really brings you into the family's lives and you get in the beginning that there is a tragedy, which is uncovered as you go. I read a review on IMDB that talked about how they ended up clapping during the Wedding Rehearsal dinner scene, and I confess that I did the same thing. It felt like I was there, like the minute that Kym is released from rehab, throughout the myriad of people that surround the house, and to the end, that we are witnessing it first hand. That home video quality was mirrored by a cousin home from Iraq who carries the video camera around as a shield. They tell him to put his down, but somehow you still are carrying your camera with you as you peek into this family's world well after he puts his down.

Because it has that quality of letting you into their lives, you alternately love and despise the characters as they love and despise themselves. The beautiful tug and pull of being with family meaning you are the most happy and most vulnerable and sad when you are with them (what is it? you take it out on those you love most?) really struck a chord with me. I happen to be one of those people who is at their best and worst in front of their family and I happen to be fortunate enough to be in a family that loves me in spite of myself.

As an ending comment, just as you might find in visiting a real family, this story left a lot of unravelled stories left to be uncovered. And, even though you're curious, you understand that you aren't going to know. Really intense, but really really good. The only thing I sort of questioned was the diversity of a small Connecticut town, because I got the feeling that all the people from the wedding (which was a diverse crowd) hung around the house a lot. IMDB says that Demme tends to use non-actor friends or musicians he likes, as long as they are "interesting". Well, using everyone from Fab Five Freddy playing himself to Brazilian dancers might be interesting, but that is really the only place the movie lost me. They seemed out of place there without further explanation.

Don't see it if you don't like Indies but I can't recommend it enough.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hey Chicago Whaddaya Say? 2 is the Magic Number

Go Cubs Go! Go Cubs Go... I saw Marquis lose Wednesday night's game (and I didn't even get my Zambrano bobblehead!) But, the Cubbies are 2 games away from clinching the Division with today's win. I'll be at the game Sunday, I REALLY hope that we'll have already clinched or will have a Sunday clinch. It would be especially sweet against the Cards.

NOTE TO SELF: there will be White Shoes all over the neighborhood! (My friend Matt points to the St. Louis fans trips to the big city in Chicago wearing their brand spanking new sneakers and says you can always spot the Cards fans because they all have "white shoes". That and the Foakleys are a big tip-off too, Matt.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

(Sept 14- 20) TV Shows

True Blood- the second episode was okay. Finally, Bill the Vamp gets more vampy, having to control himself from biting Sookie and he kills some people in her honor to boot. Also, his family history and ties to the town are explained a little better--a nice touch. What I want to know is whether the Vamps camping out at his house and their posturing were really bad or were they giving a little nod to the Kristy Swanson version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie? The poses seemed EXACTLY like what Joss Whedon had his vamps doing when they showed up to the prom and asked Buffy to come out from the school gym.

Entourage- Okay, it is nice to see Vince has his cajones back and is trying to be a celeb again. Carla Gugino is really cool, so I'm glad to see her character is back, and I hope Eric makes a shitload of money with her. Let's see some more Debi Mazar now that Vince is back in action!

The Closer- My GD Tivo cut off before the show was over. My friend Karyn says that she went online to make sure we didn't miss anything, but I'm still retaping and extending it by 5 minutes to make sure there wasn't anything else since it happened to her too. Turns out the expansion of the Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson's squad was a good thing. I really don't like giving things away but they find a bomb plot and the smarts win over the terrorists except for when Sanchez might be dying in the helicopter. I liked the one female cop in the squad-Detective Daniels (outside of Kyra Sedgewick's character) being out in front shooting at some guy on a roof who has the higher ground over her. As always, Provenza has the best lines on the show (even when he's pretending to sleep and just opening an eye to check things out...that beats out some of the other character's lines.)


Terminator, The Sarah Connors Chronicles: Good show. I like to see when John is a real boy. We have the crazy corporate raider terminator sighting and best of all there is a crazy message written in blood in the basement. What the hell? It will keep me engaged for a while anyway!

Fringe- Really really like this show. What the hell is up with the end-of-scene moving bright light on the PATTERNed apple slice/leaf with triangle/6-fingered handprint- btw/ one should always remember the brilliant Cubs sports announcer question of all time- asking Alfonseca if he was born that way [with six fingers]? (Is that a peep hole that keeps moving around? Is that Alfonseca's handprint?) The crazy dad is right up there with some of my favorite crazies like Murdock on the A-Team and Andy Kaufmann on Taxi. Also, what the hell is up with the numbers? This IS JJ Abrams... the numbers always mean something, don't they?

PR Season 5- Down to the last 5 when poor Joe went home, but that suit just wasn't good. I'm sticking with my Korto, Jerell and Leanne top three. BTW... what is up with J LO bailing on the finals judging. That is SOOOOO lame of her. Don't agree to do something and then bail. It just isn't cool. Victoria Beckham made it last year, was a trooper, and you are no better than her Jenny.

AMNTM-Cycle 11- Not enough drama this season, really. I think Elina, Lauren (woo hoo! Charlottesville!), and goofy Marjorie are the top three this year.

90210 Last and least, is 90210. The only thing that came out of this episode is the revelation that Kelly's baby's father is Dylan. YAWN!!! Gran is still the best part of a show that is supposed to be full of fresh, young, cool faces and stories. Maybe she SHOULD direct the show, guys? I don't know how much longer I can keep this in DVR rotation.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Women: Where is The Woman Power?

I saw The Women on Saturday. Eh, it was okay. Meg Ryan as Mary Haines get's shafted when the spritzer girl at Saks (played by Eva Mendes) steals her husband and her best girlfriends- stereotypical career woman, Sylvia Fowler (played by Annette Benning); stereotypical mom, Edie Cohen (played by Debra Messing) and stereotypical author/lesbian, Alex Fisher (played by Jada Pinkett Smith) act has her conernerstones as Mary's life is crumbling and then very quickly gets rebuilt. Mary's mom is Candace Bergen and housekeeper is Chloris Leachman. Debi Mazar, Carrie Fisher and Bette Midler also make good smaller appearances and I always like to see Joanna Gleason in anything. She cracks me up. Problem is that despite all this talent the movie fell flat. The chutzpah factor was almost as non-existent as the expressions on Meg Ryan's face from all that Botox. My friend Cyndi (who has curly hair) is also disappointed that they got her to be more chic by getting rid of Meg's curls. Cyndi has a point.

It is cute enough, just wait to see it on DVD and expect to be a little disappointed. I'm all for woman power, so I want to know where it went here? I am woman, hear me curl up on the couch and sleep?

(Sept. 7-13) TV Shows: Good Season Ahead!

The Closer: I always miss this show when it goes off the air. The show is typically clever and to boot, Kyra Sedgewick does a great job as LA's Deputy Police Chief Brenda Lee Johnson. This week, the show ends with Brenda and her fiance, FBI Agent Fritz Howard leaving a church that is dubbed "pretty"--leaving me to believe that they will be doing an extra teaser episode before the season starts next year, complete with a wedding in said church... or at least that we'll have one with the first episode of next seasons start. Oh, and it isn't all Kyra Sedgewick, the cast is excellent.

True Blood: The American Vampire League has unveiled that vampires exist but because of a synthetic blood called Tru Blood, they aren't really a danger. Meanwhile, Anna Paquin (who I've liked since her roles in Fly Away Home and Almost Famous) is Sookie Stackhouse, a mind-reading waitress in a dive in Louisiana. Her best friend has anger management issues and her boss is madly in love with her--silently of course (and he may shape shift into a dog? Twillight anyone?). Because she can hear people's thoughts, she discovers that the white trash Rattrays intend to harm a visiting vampire in town ("Bill"), and she saves him-- thus, beginning their relationship. Meanwhile she lives with her Gran and her brother, Jason (local hound dog) has just killed local girl, Marjorie Pickens and is arrested for it. The end of the show sees Sookie getting the crap kicked out of her when the Rattrays come back seeking revenge from when Sookie saves Bill. If done right, the show could be good. I liked the first episode, but I'm still reserving judgment until I see a few of them.

Project Runway: The Astrological Sign challenge was a doozy. Though I think it was only a matter of time before Blaine was gone. My picks for top three this year are: Korto, Leanne and Jerrell with Suede or Joe making up the 4th position at the Runway (so as not to let on who the final three actually are... they usually have a 4th person show-think Austin Scarlett or Chris from last year). I would also include Kenley in my prediction because I like her stuff but I think after she's done all the challenges so far, she is much more of a one-trick pony. She likes her look and sticks with that but I don't think that will win her any spots considering who she is up against. My big thing with PR since they've made the deal to go to the Lifetime Channel, is that it has been WAY too easy to predict who will be off the show after the first 20 minutes. One of the things I liked before was that it wasn't always clear who would win. Now, I think the slant is too much. When Stella started talking last week about how she was feeling confident, the show was all but over for me. Please go back to the old format! We can tell whose clothes suck, you don't have to go and make it so obvious at the beginning of each episode.

Terminator, The Sarah Connor Chronicles: This show is managing to halfway decent, even though we all know the ending pretty much. John Connor is growing up and his mom is protecting him and teaching him to fight against the robots of the world that turn into Terminators. Right now, we just have the one Terminator looking to kill John Connor and Summer Glau (of Firefly/Serenity awesomeness) is acting as the protector Terminator who malfunctions at the beginning of the episode as she starts to "wake up" to a more human consciousness-talking about love and faith. My problem is with the character of Catherine Weaver. She's a Terminator running a major corporation seeking to build the robots that Sarah and John are trying to dismantle. She's played by Scottish actress/singer Shirley Manson, who is awesome (notwithstanding that Garbage kicks arse!) But I am leery of the storyline. Lame/evil conglomerate run by a robot while Summer Glau's character Cameron, gets a consience a la Robin Williams' Bicentennial Man or Haley Joel Osment in AI? Might be too much unless done flawlessly. We shall see. I am reserving judgment on this season.

90210: Same cheesiness. Though the show didn't change too much. More of the same? I was hoping they'd mix it up a little and at least give us a little more to go with. Silver's mom is drinking again and is violent and Kelly is going to have to go and tell her off to protect her little sister. Only other thing interesting is that I hear that Shannen Doherty isn't sticking around much longer. She's done her shout-out to her fans and could be done for a while. I'll bet she shows up later. The money should be good. We'll wait to see if we see David Silver (he's busy on Sarah Connor Chronicles for now anyway.) The bowling episode made me yawn. We'll see if it is any good for a couple more episodes before I delete it from my Tivo line-up.

Update: EW did an article What Would Make You Keep Watching? Pretty much what I'm saying. Boring. I think they should have made the bad girls bad for MUCH longer, Naomi's bad could have been so good had they stretched it out. Instead she went from bad to good girl in a blink. How do they fix it now? I have no idea if it can even be done.

Fringe: Okay, so my Tivo bailed on recording Fringe the first time around so I got to see the special reduced commercial episode on Sunday night. I liked it. I like JJ Abrams (as evidenced by the LOST obsession) but I think that it will be a good vehicle to change things up every week and explore different topics instead of getting stuck in a rut like sometimes LOST gets stuck in. I mean, an ode to a child's first technological mystery (the tin can with a string in the middle as a "phone") means to me that Abrams intends to embrace his inner "boys with toys" mentality. I like the actress playing the lead and who wouldn't like Joshua Jackson. The only place I see the show getting stuck is this big bad pattern business. Hopefully they have learned their lesson with LOST as to how these shows get stuck in not revealing the big questions. Good stuff!

Entourage: Bratty Vincent Chase comes back to LA from living the paradise life down in Mexico. My favorite part of the show right now is how Eric is fighting to make it into his own.

Pittsburgh: Moby is A Prick?

I watched this documentary called Pittsburgh, about Jeff Goldblum going with his girlfriend back to his hometown of Pittsburgh to do The Music Man. His good friends Illeana Douglas and Ed Begley Jr. went with him too.

So, I really do like Jeff Goldblum and like him even more now that I've seen this documentary. He seems like a real decent guy. He shunned the big Michael Bey role to stick to a promise he made to do the musical in PA. I also really always have liked Illeana Douglas' work as well since I saw Grace of My Heart back in the 90's, and the excellent and cancelled-too-soon tv show, Action after that. And later, she was a pal to Lisa Loeb on the #1 Single show.

Come to think of it, maybe Illeana met Moby through Lisa Loeb? This guy is known for being a vegan and warning young stars about their drug-riddled habits. But after three weeks he decides that he needs more space and that he can't continue their budding relationship while on the road. I think that is fine, and if it isn't working out, it isn't working out. However, what I did see that made me cringe is ...well, let me ask you this? How much of a jerk do you have to be to break up with someone while walking around surrounded by people and as King of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade ? Ugh. I'd like to warn MOBY to chill with all the porn he seems to like watching so much and to worry about his own status as a good person rather than Amy Winehouse. Whatever. I've never even heard of anyone being broken up with that badly before. It really left a sour thought in my head for this guy. I liked his music before. So sad that he's really like that.

Anyway, Pittsburgh is a good documentary and quirky Jeff Goldblum is what you get. If you like him, you'll like it. Thumbs up.

Monday, September 8, 2008

L-O-S-T Season Prep: Lindelof as Fanboy

Frank sent along this article from io9 in prep for Lost this season:

Being A Fanboy Helps In Damon Lindelof's World

There's a reason that Lost's Nikki and Paulo died so quickly after fans refused to accept their insertion into ABC's time-traveling/teleporting island drama, according to show co-creator Damon Lindelof: The writers felt exactly the same way that the fans did, only earlier. The reason for that? The writers are the fans, apparently.

Lindelof explained how the writers' room can act as a petrie dish for their audience:

We're writing a television show that's supposed to be consumed by the masses. In the same way that a gladiator in the Roman arena lived or died based on whether or not he was entertaining, we feel like an instantaneous thumbs up, thumbs down response is huge for us. More importantly, the majority of the writers on Lost are fanboys. There's a ripple effect that occurs where we say, "Nikki and Paolo are not working. We don't like them, the audience isn't going to like them." By the time the audience starts complaining about Nikki and Paolo, we've already written a script where they get buried alive.

Not that this means that the fans will always get their way, he warned. After all, there is a plan at work: "The uber-mythology has to stay the same because there's stuff we've set up that has to pay off," he explains... although even that plan can change:

In our minds, Mr. Eko was going to be a character who made it to close to the end of the show, but because Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was so unhappy being on the show, we had to say, "Alright, life intervenes. Who else can we tell the story with? Can we re-jigger Locke to have it be him, or can we make Benjamin Linus a little bit more of a man of faith?" You adapt the characters as you go.

Also, when someone gets a DUI, their character has to die as punishment. It's the law in Hawaii, apparently.

Samurai Girl: "Infant Girl Survives Tragedy...

....to be adopted by a powerful man." Turns out our 19-year old heroine named Heaven is that girl of prophecy...they do a good job of myth building with this story.

On a side note, ABC Family is doing a couple shows I like right now. I really like The Middleman (the Nakatomi Protocol episode was my favorite- I got a kick out of seeing the Bruce Willis references.) I also watch The Secret Life of the American Teenager...mostly because I was dying to see Molly Ringwald, but all stereotype-embracing aside, it really is a sweet little show.

Back to Samurai Girl, these are 3 two-hour graphic-novel style vignettes, I assume in preparation for a running tv show. I liked them. Yes, though there are no vampires, they sort of steal from Buffy, Blade (location of their hq) and maybe a little Kung Fu mixed in together (after all they embrace the comparison when her friend calls her Grasshopper).  But those are all good things and the show does them well.

Heaven's brother's best friend is conveniently both a matial arts sensei as well as the brooding hot guy love interest. Heaven has two good friends she stumbled on who have her back too. There is ADD Cheryl who likes a little bit of everything and is Heaven's gal pal. Then there's Otto, the dufus comic book/sci fi movie loving/video game playing computer whiz who has a huge crush on Heaven. Otto reminds me of Spinelli on GH. I'm wondering if some of the writers are cross-overs from that ABC soap. Hmmmm. I guess not, but he did work on an episode of October Road and the Otto/slipper-wearing side of him does remind me somewhat of Physical Phil on October Road. His internet/tech prowess is certainly convenient, regardless.

Best about this show is that an empowered young woman is taking control of her life. What makes it even better are some of the Kill Bill-esque sword fights (another nod to David  Carradine!)

If it is a series ever, and any of what I'm talking about here interests you, I have no reservations about telling you to watch. The teaser episodes portend a solid show.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Good Luck Chuck: I Want a New Drug

I watched Good Luck Chuck last night. Underwhelmed is perhaps an understatement. Don't waste your time. The only thing I got out of this movie is that Dane Cook looks like Huey Lewis...in a sometimes creepy way. I want a new drug if I'm ever forced to watch this thing again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Uncle Kenny Passes Away...

So, on the 4th of September, my Uncle Kenny passed away... technically, I think he is my great Uncle as he is my father's Uncle. He is married to my Great Aunt Lou who was the younger sister to my Grandmother... Leah. I know he wasn't in the best of health in recent years, but he was such a good person that everyone who knew him loved him. I know he will be sorely missed. My Dad's cousins and all their kids and grandkids will all miss him as will everyone in his extended family and all the people who loved him down at the condo.

A cool thing about Uncle Kenny that not many people know about? He was a town doctor in Indiana, Pennsylvania and so took care of Jimmy Stewart's father when he wasn't doing well. Jimmy Stewart personally called and came to see him on several occasions to check on him.

Big hugs to the family and an especially big hug to Aunt Lou...I'm so sorry for your loss.

Review: Cullen Is No Lestat: Twillight Series

So, I've read the Stephenie Meyer Twillight series recently, and I've now dubbed it to my friends as "Anne Rice Lite". Let's just say that he might be younger in vampire years, but Edward Cullen is no Lestat. All in all I thought the series was cute. Not that the term "cute" is always a good thing, but these were cute in a good way. I think that if I were a 10-14 year old girl, I might even be ga-ga for Edward Cullen, but I'm not and I'm not ga-ga for him now. I'm just bored. Here's my take on the Twillight Series, but don't read unless you're perfectly willing to read some spoilers:

Twillight (Book 1) : Okay, I get it, we meet the Cullens, the book takes a while to figure out a reason for the family's strange behavior. Bella, the teenage girl who is completely adult and independent is our heroine. She moves to the unsunny Northwest and takes care (cleans/cooks) for her father, the bumbling distant (but, still caring) sheriff in town. She and Edward begin their journey together. I see the appeal and I'm curious enough to come back for more. I'm most interested in the Tribe and how the local native americans have physically reacted to the "unnatural" presences of vamps. Also cool? Vampire Baseball is a fab and fun idea.

New Moon (Book 2): So, here is where it loses me on the Edward and Bella romance. They fall for each other awfully fast. He leaves to protect her and she collapses and spends the rest of the book trying to figure out how to move on with her life. For me, I thought that for a strong independent young woman who had been "the adult" in her relationship with her mother to all of a sudden fall so desperately in love that she would stop eating and collapse in the wilderness was a stretch. She seems so wildly practical that the teenage drama of reacting like that just didn't fit at all for me. Where she finds when he runs to be away from her probably death was the best part. Well, that and Jacob... who starts in this book to be endearing but grows in later books to be a great character.

Eclipse (Book 3) : This was my least favorite of the four books. I thought there was a lot of set up, that Bells spent a lot of time worrying, and that I wasn't ever under the impression that the Cullens would lose their battle to protect her. Jacob makes much more sense to me for her and I love his character development here. I guess I'm a Jacob and Bella fan.

Breaking Dawn (Book 4) : This was my favorite of the four books. A real Dracula, a corrupt "government", breaking the rules.... and Bella gets to become a real mate for Edward. Now she's a real 17-year old grown-up... forever. The baby was kind of creepy and I can't say that I enjoyed her name at all... but all in all, if they're going to be in love and fight for one another... this is the way I prefer to see it done.

In the end, I have to say I give them a solid C+ as a whole. I mean that as a good C+ because I was engaged enough to read all four books, I was engaged enough to keep reading and I was engaged enough to really really like some parts of the books. However, in the end I was a little disappointed. I kept hearing rants and raves about these as the next "Harry Potter" so I had fairly high expectations. But if you want a story that skims the edges of emotion and romanticism that Anne Rice still owns, you'll enjoy. I will say that I am a Joss Whedon fan so I really enjoyed Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan as well as an Angel, but I thought those relationships matured from flirty, eyelash-batting romances to deep and true love romances. Here, he looks at her goofy, hangs around a little and bam... she's in love. I was a teenage girl once (and still act like it when I can) and to Bella and Edward? I just don't relate. I've liked bad boys before and I think I would have liked this better if he was more of a bad boy. Just being a vampire alone doesn't fit the bill, if he isn't bad... then he's just a goody-two-shoes, and *yawn* that doesn't do it for me. Sorry.

I haven't read any Charlaine Harris (though I am excited to see True Blood on HBO), nor have I read any Laurell K Hamilton, but I get the impression that those vampire series are intended to be more campy than the serious nature of the vampire that has lived for generations. My friend Chris Golden-personal trainer extraordinaire-is pals with Rachel Caine and he says her Morganville Vampire books are really good. I'll be checking those out soon.

I am stoked to see the movie Twillight though, I think that Robert Pattinson is the perfect guy to play Edward.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

New 90210 Premiere: Back to Where We Were

After a long game in which the Cubbies lost to Houston (boo!) I am about an hour into the new 90210 and already it is proving to be a sticky sweet bundle of fun that matches the old one...this week's lesson? Taking responsibility for your actions.

First of all, outside of the obvious guest appearance by Jennie Garth, they do a nice job of giving a nod to the old show. A Zuckerman ("What is she? 30?") does the news in a shout out to Andrea. Jennie Garth's Kelly gets a reference to her polka dot spandex leggings. And Brenda is in town for a month so we can look forward to seeing her for a while. Lastly, for continuity's sake, Nat and the Peach Pit are back as a meeting place for all the kids.

Let's start with the midwest transplants:
ANNIE is BRENDA
DIXON is BRANDON
But not twins, Dixon is adopted...though they do have an unerring sense of what is right and wrong that they must have picked up in Kansas)

ETHAN is DYLAN (troubled boy who gets inspired to be a better man by Annie, no motorcycle though-yet)
GEORGE is STEVE (a-hole who you can expect to have a heart after he loses his alpha male testosterone angles)
NAOMI is KELLY (remember? She did start out as a Hollywood byotch, turns out she is hard as nails to cover a mushy marshmallow inside.)
NAVID is DAVID SILVER (the goofy kid who has mad skills as something creative, oh except this new one has a porn producer dad)
ADRIANNA is ANDREA (overachiever already hooked on drugs, from the wrong side of the tracks but this one is an actress not a. star student)
SILVER is TORI and she is the heart of the show like Tori was the conscience of the first show except Silver can swim with the sharks- (oh and she is Kelly's little sister.)

Now we get to the adults. Mom played by Lori Laughlin is a true Kansas girl grounding the dad played by Rob Estes-who is returning to his 90210 roots as principal of West Beverly. She'll need to be there for him since he just found out he has a son with Naomi's mom...an old hs girlfriend who gave their high school baby up for adoption. (Is Palen's daughteer watching?)

Also interesting is the ruggedly handsome and witty English teacher and lacrosse coach who is a love interest for Kelly (who also has a 4 1/2 year old son--whose baby is that?)

Lastly and perhaps my favorite part of the show is the grandmother...the booze-swilling old Hollywood diva the Wilson clan has moved to LA to support from Witchita. She delights in telling hysterical stories about the old days...like Riccardo Montalbon cracking an egg on her ass. As a girl from central PA, I always liked the idea that the 90210 peeps were in HOLLYWOOD but the old show stayed away from the white elephant in the room. This character for me is a true nod to the famous zip code.

Thumbs up...let's just hope that the show continues its fun kitchy start that we all loved about the show to begin with.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Superior Donuts, an Immaculate Reception

So, I went to see Superior Donuts, at Steppenwolf last night with my friend Dana. Let me just say that the play was great and if you have a chance to go see it anywhere, you should go. Written by Steppenwolf ensemble member, Tracy Letts (also one of my FAVORITES on the Chicago theater scene,) the play told the tale of a small shop on Chicago North Side neighborhood, Uptown. Hippy Arthur P (played by Michael McKean) hires a young black man, Franco Wicks (named not like Generalisimo but instead like Franco Harris of Immaculate Reception, Pittsburgh Steelers fame) to work in the shop with him and their friendship centers the play for the cast of the culturally diverse neighborhood that stops to chat.

I haven't ever really talked about the theater, but let me just say this, Steppenwolf, even when I don't particularly like a play, always does a good job of putting their best foot forward with everything they do. I typically expect a pretty intense experience there, and this is one of the few that had me laughing. Tracy Letts' script is pure gold for Chicago audiences and I truly believe that it would translate for audiences in other areas of the country as well. The cast was excellent. My only criticism was the sad fight scene. But, it was supposed to be sad in a way too, so somehow even that worked. If you can, go see it, thank me later.

Monday, June 2, 2008

L-O-S-T, Season 4, Episode 13- FINALE (May 29, 2008)

For Doc Jensen's teaser article on the day before the show... click here.

Check the Doc Jensen EW Recap.

Frank also provided the following (click on the link):

Check this out. It made me laugh out loud, especially at Jin's dialog.

THE OPENING ACT FROM THE ORIGINAL,
UNUSED TELEPLAY OF LOST'S PILOT EPISODE
.
BY ANDREW BRIDGMAN


As per the norm with our Lost chats, JJ went first:

the last one of the year. : ( what will we do with ourselves until January? i'll worry about that later... it's time to discuss.

if you haven't watched the finale yet, don't you dare read this!!!



i thought the finale was very good and with the exception of a few obviously crappy reshoots they had to insert, it was pretty intense.

first off, i do NOT think that Jin is dead. my reason: he never got a close up through the entire sequence of the helicopter / freighter / bomb imperilment. L O S T invariably makes a big deal out of it when people die, especially a long established character. the complete lack of focus they put on Jin's possible death leads me to believe he may have lived through the freighter's destruction. I think that the whole group of characters on the helicopter, especially Sun, totally believe he is dead, but i don't believe he is.

that leaves me with doing the math of who is truly left. Daniel Faraday and the group of survivors he was trying to ferry back to the freighter are totally MIA. did they make it back to the island at all? they never made it to the freighter. are they just lost at sea? no clue.
So that means that the only Ocean survivors potentially still alive and on the island are Locke, Sawyer, Claire, and possibly Jin. that's it. not very many at all for the O'6 to go to all that trouble to lie and cover up the location of the island. The rest are all others or people the others have taken. only Kate and Hurley really care about Sawyer, so that means the only one they are really lying for is Claire, since they all hate Locke by this point. i don't think i would have gone along with Jack on this whole need to lie business. i would have challenged him.... but whatever.

sadly, i don't have unlimited time to write this, so i'll touch on some big things and then we'll get on with it:

I loved that Desmond survived and that he and Penny are reunited! yeah!!! i was going to be so pissed is Desmond died in the helicopter crash (which i feared would happen since he was not O'6, but was with them... i figured both he and Lapidus were goners). thank goodness that didn't happen. but he and Penny were brought back together and save the show for me from being a total downer. sweet. I loved the island moving and how that went. very cool. i did kind of predict how the O'6 would see the island vanish and all that stuff, but it was still done in an extremely cool way. so did the island just vomit up Benry in the desert once it moves? wieeeerd.

XinhXan observed that Sun is aligning herself possibly with Widmore as perhaps Sayid was forced to with Benry. and now that Sayid has seen Penny in person and Des and her together, could he ever go through with killing her for Benry if she is truly the top mark on his list? i think Ben will have to do it himself, or perhaps Sayid will take Benry out to free them all from his crazy plans. Benry is such a worm! when he said "so" to the freighter's destruction, i laughed because it was so Benry, but my mind was running down all the Benry lies about how they aren't killers and look at how totally soulless he truly can be / is. sick little weasel. So there could be a Sun / Widmore vs Sayid / Benry conflict in our future. we shall see... will the O'6 then be fractured into camps as the whole of the Ocean survivors were at the beginning of the season? some working with Widmore, some with Ben, some wanting to find the island, some wanting nothing to do with it. it certainly appears that way.

Locke in the coffin: so at some point, the island purges Locke off of itself, too apparently. and Locke is using a phony name and visiting the O'6 telling them they have to go back and that horrible things happened once they left. very curious. how long is Locke off the island and paying these visits? at the end of Season 3, my gut told me it was Locke in the coffin, but i just couldn't believe the Locke would ever leave the island with the rest of them. well, now we know differently. and i am very intrigued by Benry telling Locke that he is sorry for making his life miserable. does Ben mean his WHOLE life? i think he does!

The expanded O'6 press conference in the first part didn't add too much, but they did reveal the three names of the other initial eight survivors in the cover story: Boone, Libby, and Charlie. i thought these were very interesting choices, considering these are three characters that the O'6 were all certain actually did perish as they saw them all die and so did we. three people who the know can't still be alive on the island. but apparently might be off of it. We've seen Charlie and Libby and now know that Hurley enjoys playing chess with Eko. too bad we didn't get to see him again. that would have really been cool...

so one thing i am totally frustrated about: not a single island mystery has been solved. i am starting to doubt the writer's can explain everything to my satisfaction in the two short seasons that remain for the show. will they cheat us X-Files style and half-explain things? i hope not! this season was all Oceanic Six and the only real answer we got was who was in the coffin. let's run 'em down and see if they explain these things by the time the show does end in two years:

1) origins of Dharma and how they found the island and some more explanation on what they were really doing
2) the numbers
3) the smoke monster
4) what is up with all the dead people walking around
5) the whispers
6) what is the island?
7) who the f is Jacob?
8) what the time lag business all about
9) the four-toed statue
10) the Black Rock
11) what face cream does Richard Alpert face use
12) the Dharma shark
13) polars bears in the desert (did that polar bear move the island last time?)
14) Walt is Special
15) Aaron

more? you guys add them....

few quick hits and i'm done: Claire in Kate's off-island dream says don't bring Aaron back. how come? she knows Kate will return or try to. interesting. Christian Shepard says Micheal "can go now." i bet Harold Perrinau is not happy he bothered to come back to the show at all with how they chose to use him this season. i would be pretty irritated. and finally i think Keamy should have lived. he was a really good villain. Xinh and i think he has a sort of Chistopher Walken thing going on.... and nice going with the Others letting Syid and Kate do all their dirty work on the merc squad while they shot from the treeline. creepy sneaky bastards.

alright, what did you guys think?