Monday, March 31, 2008

Biotherm Rides Repair

Well, we've tried alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, vitamins A, C and E, antioxidants and peptides--all in search of the perfect formula, the perfect ingredient to make our skin look, well, "perfect." And it turns out that ingredient may be:


Whoa! Wait a minute, here--don't we buy products with ANTI-bacterial properties to prevent skin problems? Are you telling me that the very thing I try to avoid is actually GOOD for my skin? Yes--IF the bacteria is GOOD bacteria.

Good bacteria, also known as "pro-biotics," has been used to promote good digestion and therefore enhance the immune system. You've seen the ads for DanActive, YaKult, Activia--food products containing active cultures of pro-biotic bacteria. Now, pro-biotic benefits can be found in our skin care in the form of a 3 billion year old micro-organism called "thermal plankton". A research study conducted at Stanford University concluded that Pure Thermal Plankton closely resembles the pro-biotics contained in yogurts but instead of strengthening the intestines, it strengthens the skin's natural defenses.

Biotherm has combined Pure Thermal Plankton with the power of pure mineral silicium in a "Dermabiotic" skin care line called Rides Repair. The line consists of an exfoliant, day and night creams, an eye treatment and a serum. I've had a chance to test out everything (except for the serum) and I'm very impressed with the results. First off, let me tell you what I did NOT like about the products:

1. The packaging - Actually, the packaging is very classy. Very clinical and modern. I would have preferred that the day, night and eye creams were in tubes or pumps instead of jars for more sanitary application. Otherwise, it's all good.

2. The fragrance - It's not overwhelming, but there's a bit of fragrance to the day and night creams and the exfoliant. Being sensitive to fragrance, I would have liked all the products to be fragrance-free like the eye treatment, but overall it wasn't enough to affect me adversely.

Okay, that's what I did NOT like about the products. What I DID like: EVERYTHING else.

The Rides Repair Instant Polish is a fine-grained exfoliant that gently sloughs off dead cells leaving skin smoother and more even-toned. The Rides Repair Eye treatment is a light cream that absorbs easily and makes the eye area look younger and reduces the appearance of fine lines. The Rides Repair Day cream is rich and hydrating without leaving skin feeling greasy or blocking pores. I love everything else about these products: the texture, the quality, the effectiveness. Most importantly, the effectiveness--this stuff works! It ROCKS!!! After just one application, I woke up with skin that looked awake and refreshed. Healthy, hydrated, happy. Happy skin equals happy ME!

So for optimum health, make sure you get your daily dosage of GOOD bacteria-- both inside and out!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Horton Hears a Who!

Due to popular demand (by two voters anyway...), I checked out the popular animated feature (over $100 mil domestic gross and counting...) Horton Hears a Who! this morning. 21 and Run Fatboy Run got lackluster reviews and I wasn't sure I was up for the war movie Stop-Loss, so this light-hearted kid's story fit the bill.

Prior to the movie, I had to sit through trailers of upcoming kiddie flicks. It's easy to see why Horton is doing such good box office given the dearth of quality material for the younger set. Speed Racer looks loud--a bombardment of garish images and sounds, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl featuring Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin looks insipid and she can't save Nim's Island either (Breslin's mini-ingenue career rivals Amy Adams--she's got top billing over former child star Jodie Foster and 300's Gerard Butler in Nim's Island..). The animated Wall-E looks fantastic ,although the title character bears a striking resemblance to the robot in Short Circuit and there's another Ice Age movie upon us--this one features dinosaurs (Admittedly, I'm not so great with science, history or geography but I thought dinosaurs PRECEDED the Ice Age. Maybe Ice Age 3 is a prequel...).

Oh, and despite there being maybe half a dozen people in the theater, once again someone comes in ten minutes after the feature has started and sits down in the row RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! I get up and move one row back only to have the hunched over geezer who came in late leave after five minutes. Maybe he meant to see Drillbit Taylor and stumbled into Horton by mistake...

The animation for Horton is breathtakingly beautiful. In addition to details such as water ripples, shadows and light and fur that looks soft enough to stroke (there are at least nine people credited as "Fur Technical Director" on the film!), the colors and shapes of Dr. Seuss' beloved characters and settings are perfectly captured. Ken Dauro and Cinco Paul, who adapted the Seuss classic story for the screen, have managed to stay faithful to the tone and timbre of the tale of an elephant who discovers a tiny little world in a speck on a clover.

Vocal talent is provided by some of today's top comic actors: Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Amy Poehler, Jaime Pressly, Will Arnett, Isla Fisher, and the great Carol Burnett as an uptight and domineering kangaroo. The two leads, Horton and the Mayor of Who-ville, are voiced by Jim Carrey and Steve Carell respectively, but the often scenery-chewing famous funnymen are notably restrained in their roles here. If I hadn't known in advance that Carrey and Carell were the voices behind Horton and the Mayor, much of the time I wouldn't have been able to tell. They are pitch perfect in their delivery of the earnest and faithful elephant and the well-meaning Mayor and set aside their usual shtick. The funniest line in the movie, however, was the Mayor's response to his assistant when she reminds him that he has a "Who-root canal" appointment: "Sticking "Who" in front of everything doesn't make it hurt any less!" I'm pretty sure that was a Steve Carell ad-lib and it was priceless! Carrey gets his shot in with a nod to Apocalypse Now as Horton is being pelted with fruit saying, "I love the smell of bananas in the morning!"

Horton Hears a Who! manages to combine dramatic tension, guileless charm, humor and tenderness in a mere 88 minutes. Although I can't say it beats out How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the animated Holiday staple featuring Boris Karloff, not the crap-tastic Jim Carrey live action version...) as best Seuss adaptation, it definitely ranks right up there.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Great Computer Crash

My Dell laptop is over three years old. That's like 21 years in dog years and about the same in computer years. It crashed the other day. For some inexplicable reason, I left it on while I ran some errands and came home to find the screen black with a message that it couldn't find some file, so I rebooted it. It wouldn't start up, so with an amazing calmness (for me anyway--one must remember that I have no patience and being disconnected from the internet for more than several hours at a time completely freaks me out...), I pulled out my Operating System CD and started to reinstall Windows XP.

This required booting up with the CD drive, which required me to hold the drive door shut so the computer would read the CD (it's been a little tricky for ages now...). About an hour later, I had everything back up and running--although I spent another hour or so running virus checks and file scans just to be safe. Reloading Windows caused a couple of quirks--the first was that I kept getting message alerts that my registry files needed cleaning. Are you @#$% kidding me? After I spent 2-3 hours reinstalling Windows and running scans? Turns out the problem was "fixed" by disabling the alert system. My sister used to cover weird car noises by turning up the radio, but I don't think this is the same thing...

The second "quirk" occurred when I went to recharge my iPod. Within seconds iTunes erased almost 100 songs off my nano because my computer wasn't authorized to share them. Now THAT freaked me out. But a quick search of the iTunes help showed that you can authorized your computer by logging into iTunes. Whew! That's a relief. I guessed the authorization got wiped out with the XP reinstall. So I logged into iTunes to have it authorize my laptop and got all but 34 of my songs returned to my iPod. Started freaking out again until I realized that I must have purchased the other 34 songs under another iTunes account. So I logged into the iTunes store using my old e-mail address (Lycos--aka "Spam Central") and was able to recover the other 34 tunes.

It's kind of weird that iTunes has this Big Brother thing going on. I mean, you can authorize up to five computers to share your tunes and the only songs iTunes had "issues" with were the ones I purchased from iTunes. Songs copied from my CD collection (and uh, "other" sources...) required no authorization. How strange is that?

All's well that ends well and I'm thankful my computer is running just fine right now. Couldn't live without it! Amazing how dependent we've become on them--really only in the last decade or so. Useful for research, obtaining and distributing information, making and maintaining connections--and this story in the Washington Post epitomizes everything that's so great about the computer and the Internet: Amateur Sleuths Name Anonymous Dead. Through perseverance and the use of technology, civilians are tracking down the identities of Jane and John Does.

A much better use of the Internet than downloading porn, in my opinion...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Missing Must See TV

It's only been a week and already I'm suffering from LOST withdrawals. Thankfully, I have only four more weeks to go until it returns with original episodes. I satisfied my cravings last night by watching the enhanced version of The Beginning of the End last night. According to the subtitles, the drawing on the blackboard is a clue to what Matthew Abaddon REALLY wants...

Next week, My Name is Earl returns with new episodes and NBC did this promo featuring CEO Jeff Zucker that apparently has been causing quite an uproar. I have no idea why. It was written by some My Name is Earl writers. And Zucker seems to poke fun at himself and the other media moguls ala Michael Bay's send-up in the recent Verizon FIOS commercial. One of Zucker's zingers refers to the biggest issue of the WGA strike--residuals for online streaming: "So we put together a little recap to get everybody back up to speed. It's right here on, where you can watch all of your favorite shows -- preferably within the first 17 days."

Seems some oversensitive souls were pissed at the NBC Universal CEO's admonition for viewers to watch episodes online "within the first 17 days"--as that is the window where the studios are not obligated to pay residuals to the writers. C'mon now, people! Have a sense of humor here--it's a JOKE.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Song of the Day - Hungry Like the Wolf

Remember music videos? Whatever happened to them? Now MTV is loaded with The Real World, or Road Rules or My Super Sweet Sixteen (Have you ever seen that show? It's absolutely horrifying!) or The Hills (ditto on the horrifying...). MTV may have pioneered the music video revolution--once upon a time, but it was Duran Duran who made it an art form.

The 80s New Wave faves are back on tour--and it's not going so well. Apparently, bassist John Taylor stormed off stage and singer Simon Le Bon forgot the lyrics to Hungry Like the Wolf. Mon Dieu! Not Hungry Like the Wolf! That's probably one of my favorite Duran Duran songs, and the video for it was as steamy as its lyrics:

Straddle the line
in discord and rhyme
I'm on the hunt,
I'm after you.

Mouth is alive

with juices like wine

And I'm hungry like the wolf.
The video is for your enjoyment. The lyrics so Simon can study up for the next performance...

Hungry Like the Wolf

Dark in the city
night is a wire
Steam in the subway
earth is afire
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doodoo doodoo doodoo

Woman you want me
give me a sign
And catch my breathing
even closer behind
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doodoo doodoo doodoo

In touch with the ground
I'm on the hunt
I'm after you
Smell like I sound
I'm lost in a crowd
and I'm hungry like the wolf
Straddle the line
in discord and rhyme
I'm on the hunt, I'm after you
Mouth is alive
with juices like wine
and I'm hungry like the wolf

Stalked in the forest
too close to hide
I'll be upon you
by the moonlight side
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doodoo doodoo doodoo

High blood drumming on your skin
it's so tight
You feel my heart
I'm just a moment behind
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doodoo doodoo doodoo

In touch with the ground
I'm on the hunt
I'm after you
Scent and a sound
I'm lost and I'm found
and I'm hungry like the wolf
Strut on a line
it's discord and rhyme
I howl and I whine
I'm after you
Mouth is alive
all running inside
and I'm hungry like the wolf

Hungry like the wolf
Hungry like the wolf
Hungry like the wolf

Burning the ground
I break from the crowd
I'm on the hunt
I'm after you...
I smell like I sound
I'm lost and I'm found
and I'm hungry like the wolf
Strut on a line
it's discord and rhyme
I'm on the hunt
I'm after you
Mouth is alive
with juices like wine
and I'm hungry like the wolf

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Until I Find You by John Irving

John Irving is one of my favorite authors. I have not yet his first three books, but just about every one after that:

The World According to Garp
The Hotel New Hampshire
The Cider House Rules (One of my favorite books, although not so enthralled with the movie version...)
A Prayer for Owen Meany
Trying to Save Piggy Sneed
A Son of the Circus (Another favorite Irving novel)
A Widow for One Year (This one was a disappointment. I don't feel Irving does female protagonists that well...)
and now most recently his most recent work, Until I Find You.

Like many of his novels, Until I Find You explores thematic issues of absent fathers, strong mothers, sex and sexuality and New England. The world of Amsterdam's red light district which was a part of A Widow for One Year reappears in this book. Irving's love of wrestling is also included, as is Phillips Exeter Academy, which Irving attended and is referenced in four of his novels. A new element in this book (or at least one I don't recall in the others I've read) which is featured prominently is the view into the world of the tattooist and tattoos. I found this particularly interesting...

In a case of life imitating art--or art imitating life, I noticed a certain number of similarities between Irving's protagonist Jack Burns and himself. First off, their names: Jack is a nickname for John. Also, John Irving's birth surname is actually "Blunt," so both he and his character have the initials "J.B." Both attended Exeter, both wrestled, both were somewhat short in stature with small frames. In the novel, Jack Burns wins an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay the same year Irving actually won the Oscar for his adaptation of The Cider House Rules.

The similarities don't end there. According to an interview in the New York Times, both Irving and his main character were sexually abused as young boys of 10-11 years old. And both grew up without ever knowing their biological father. In the novel, Jack Burns is reunited with his "Pop," but unfortunately John Irving's father died without ever meeting him.

Irving said of this book, "I have not written a novel that disturbed me so much." And frankly, I found it a bit disturbing myself. I am used to the weird and wild plots and eccentric characters of Irving's novels, but the first third of the book describes the life of Jack Burns from age four to his late teens and throughout it he is being sexually abused. The actual sexual assault of the ten year-old at the hands of a predator in her forties is preceded by hanging out in tattoo parlors and around prostitutes at age four and being molested by teenage girls from ages five to nine. I kept having to remind myself that it was just a fictional character. Even Lolita was twelve when she was defiled by Humbert Humbert!

Irving writes, "In this way, in increments both measurable and not, our childhood is stolen from us–not always in one momentous event but often in a series of small robberies, which add up to the same loss." And Jack's childhood is not only stolen from him by repeated sexual incidents, but in the manipulation of his memories by his mother, Alice who prevented him from knowing his father William.

Jack eventually becomes an actor--or as Irving puts it: "According to his mother, Jack Burns was an actor before he was an actor...," but the Hollywood references in the saga felt a bit forced and contrived to me. Given Irving's experience with the industry I would have thought he'd be able to convey it with more verisimilitude. His depiction of Jack's grade school years--particularly his early forays into performing--are wickedly funny. And, unlike Irving's own experience, the damaged and depressed Jack Burns gets a happy ending--connecting with a half-sister he never knew and reuniting with his father.

As the story end, Irving writes, "Jack had stopped acting. He was just Jack Burns--the real Jack Burns at last." And with that one realizes the "Until I Find You" tattoo worn by Jack's mother Alice is not about her search for William, or Jack's search for the truth or his father but in fact the universal search to find, accept and forgive ourselves.

DWTS - And then there were ten...

Couples left to dance next week, that is. I'm 1 for 2 in my predictions--I correctly guessed that Monica Seles would be the first lady leaving, but on the males side, Adam Carolla somehow managed to escape elimination (I'm guessing that people were actually voting for his partner, the bubbly Julianne Hough, instead of the annoying and unfunny comedian...). It was Penn Jillette who failed to work enough magic to continue on in the competition.

Ah well--it's not like I had money riding on the outcome!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Tudors

The second season of the semi-historical series debuts March 30th and, in anticipation, I had the opportunity to watch the first season of The Tudors which is now out on DVD. See how clever the cover of the DVD is with Henry seated in front of three voluptuous women with their head cropped out of the frame? In actuality, Henry VIII beheaded only two of his wives (and he annulled the marriages prior to their execution so technically he didn't behead ANY of his wives), but it just goes to show that the post-medieval melodrama takes as many creative liberties with historical fact and its subject took marital partners.

The casting of hottie Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry may be one of the bigger schisms with reality. The concept was to show Henry as the young, vital, virile man he was at the beginning of his reign, rather than the old, fat, hobbled monarch that died in his mid-fifties. And it's true: Henry was an athlete and a scholar, a poet and musician; jousting, hunting and dancing in his younger years. When the series begins in 1520, Henry VIII is 29 and has been married to Catherine of Aragon for eleven years. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is about the same age as Henry at the beginning of the series, while Maria Doyle Kennedy who plays Catherine is twelve years older than Rhys Meyers instead of the only six years that actually separated the King and his bride.

Despite the fact that Rhys Meyers bears little physical resemblance to Henry VIII, he does an excellent job of conveying the passion and intensity of the powerful monarch. Since each of the ten parts in season one represents one year in Henry's reign, it would have be nice to some aging on Rhys Meyers. He is, after all, pushing 40 at the end of season one and is coming into the time where he does become the fat, gouty old man. I guess that would mess up the original concept, but when Jonathan Rhys Meyers intones at the beginning of each episode: "You think you know a story, but you only know how it ends. To get to the heart of the story, you have to go back to the beginning...," it makes me wonder why the creators DIDN'T go back to the beginning--Henry's marriage to Catherine at age eighteen, his coronation that same year. Instead, they have chosen to depict the MIDDLE of the story which is already fairly well-known.

Natalie Dormer, who is only 5 years younger than Jonathan Rhys Meyers, plays Anne Boleyn who was in fact a decade younger than the King. Although very beautiful, Ms. Dormer's acting is limited to an arched eyebrow and a perpetually pouty smirk. She can't be totally faulted. While the historical Anne Boleyn was a force to be reckoned with--educated, too smart and opinionated for her own good, passionate and petulant--the Anne Boleyn of The Tudors is somewhat of a cipher. (Boleyn managed to string Henry along for 7-8 years prior his marrying her and making her Queen. Given the King's notoriously short attention span, that is quite an accomplishment!) The rest of the cast is made up of a combination of solid character actors (Sam Neill as the conniving and corrupt Cardinal Wolsey and Jeremy Northam as the principled and pious Thomas More) and pretty faces. Henry Cavill who plays Charles Brandon in particular has the bland good looks of a second rate soap actor rather than a 16th English duke.

There is a lot of juggling of storylines along with the facts in The Tudors. I found it interesting that characters peripheral to Henry were given their own subplots, but annoying when those subplots went nowhere and characters were seemingly randomly killed off for want of what to do with them. The costumes by Joan Bergin are exquisite if not all that historically accurate. The black silk boxers encrusted with Swarovski crystals in the shape of a cross that Henry wears are probably a prime example of creative liberty.

I was impressed at how the show appeals to both male and female viewers. Females will no doubt be drawn in by the costumes, the romance and hottie Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Males get political intrigue, jousting and lots of naked boobies. For a historical costume drama, there's a good deal of nudity and a bit of soft core porn-type sex as well. Hey, Henry VIII WAS married SIX times and had a number of mistresses as well, so I've no doubt that at least THAT is accurate.

For all the inaccuracies there are some surprising facts that came to light when viewing The Tudors. Despite his beatification, Thomas More did burn six "heretics" (which was the euphemism for Protestants back then) . Quite a different portrayal than Paul Scofield's saintly turn in A Man for All Seasons. Anne's sister Mary did have a brief liaison with the randy young King prior to his pursuit of her. And Henry's obsession with producing a male heir inspired his desire to annul his marriage with the aging Catherine and, when that was thwarted, precipitated his break with Rome and the establishment of the Church of England.

So many facts, so little time! It's amazing what they did manage to cram into ten hours (well, nine hours and sixteen minutes to be exact!) of The Tudors. The four DVD set that comprises season one also includes many bonus features including featurettes on the production design, costumes and locations for the series and free episodes of This American Life and Californication. As a presentation of historical fact, The Tudors falls short but as an exploration of power, corruption, greed and obsession, the series weaves an intricate and intriguing tale.

DWTS - Who will go home?

Two "stars"--one male, one female--will get their walking papers tonight on Dancing with the Stars. I'm still predicting it will be Monica Seles for the ladies--whose Mambo last night was much better than last week's Foxtrot, but she still looks extremely uncomfortable. So much so than I think she would be relieved to ditch the dancing shoes and get back to the tennis court.

Adam Carolla is still my favorite for first male to leave the competition. Although his Mambo was also an improvement over last week's Foxtrot--earning him 19 points and Len's praise calling it "Brilliant"--he is so annoying. He reminds me of Gilbert Gottfried and that's not a good thing. Penn Jillette and Steve Guttenberg had lower scores last night--Steve got a 16 for a Mambo that looked much better in rehearsal and Penn scored 17 for his Quickstep (the big man is NOT light on his feet!)--but their showmanship and fan base will likely keep them around for another week or two.

The women stars are very strong this year, but Kristi Yamaguchi is the clear favorite. I wouldn't count Shannon Elizabeth out yet, though--she overcame her nerves last night to deliver a fast and furious Quickstep that the judges loved. I think they could have been more generous with the scores, though--she got a 24; I think she deserved a 27. Marlee Matlin and Priscilla Presley also did well again last night--score-wise anyway. Priscilla got a 21 for her Mambo, but her fluid hip-work was marred by her frozen face with the scary Kewpie doll lips. (And what was with that creepy crawl toward the camera at the end? **Shudder.**) Marlee Matlin is such a pretty lady and she got a 24 for her Quickstep. To me it looked like she was struggling just a bit. Marissa Winokur had a much better score last night with 21 for her Quickstep. She was also struggling a bit--I think the height difference between her and Tony (and he's not that tall!) makes the holds in the dancing difficult.

Rounding out the men, the clear favorites are R&B singer Mario, who delivered a charismatic Quickstep earning a 26, and football player Jason Taylor, who danced a smooth and sultry Mambo earning a 27. These guys are HOT! and will make it very tough again for a woman to win the Mirrorball trophy this season. Last and maybe least is Cristian whatever-his-last-name-is. He's a hottie, too--but his Quickstep was a bit stiff and being an "International Film Star," I don't think he has the fan base to stick around too long in the competition. Even with the amazing Cheryl Burke as his partner...

Monday, March 24, 2008

derma e Microdermabrasion Recovery Serum

As much as I try to take care of my skin--using products with natural and/or organic ingredients, keeping it exfoliated, protecting it from the harmful rays of the sun--there are times when I go a bit overboard. And when that happens, the smooth and clear lustrous skin that I long for turns red and angry and ugly.

Fortunately I've found something that can soothe and calm irritated skin: derma e Microdermabrasion Recovery Serum. Although it was formulated as a companion product to derma e's Microdermabrasion line, this blend of anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory nutrients not only comforts newly exfoliated skin, but calms other forms of irritation as well.

The ingredients include:

Glycerin - shores up the skin’s natural protection by filling in the area known as the intercellular matrix and by attracting just the right amount of water to maintain the skin’s homeostasis.

Aloe - has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial qualities.

Panthenol - can be effective for hydration and wound healing.

Allantoin - considered an effective anti-irritant.

Willowherb - can have antimicrobial and anti-irritant properties for skin.

Calendula - antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Pycnogenol - a potent antioxidant with strong free-radical-scavenging properties.

I can see this product being an invaluable addition to one's skin care arsenal with summer coming up soon: to soothe a sunburn, to comfort post-shaving, to calm and reduce redness after tweezing or waxing and to nourish and protect after exfoliation. And like all derma e products, it is is paraben-free, cruelty-free, 100% vegetarian.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day isn't just a good movie. It's an absolute delight! Crisp, brisk, witty--it sparks and sparkles. Filled with engaging performances, including the enchanting Amy Adams as the madcap actress/singer Delysia LaFosse, Shirley Henderson (you probably know her as "Moaning Myrtle" from the Harry Potter movies) as the slyly ascerbic Edythe Dubarry, Ciarán Hinds as the gallant Joe Blumfield and of course the indisputably talented Frances McDormand as the unflappable, stalwart title character.

McDormand gives the character of Guinevere Pettigrew depth and nuance and has chemistry with EVERYONE in the film. She brings pathos and poignancy to what might have been a mere caricature of a role. But amazing as McDormand (always!) is, my hat's off to the delectably delicious Lee Pace whose Michael Pardue is truly (to quote Miss Pettigrew) magnificent. He's only on screen for a few moments before Miss Pettigrew makes that assessment, but when she does you are in complete agreement with her. Aaahhhh!

I was expecting a frothy comic romp--and was not disappointed. The amusing fish-out-of-water antics along with the frantic juggle to keep all of Delysia's balls in the air (no pun intended) make the stakes suitably high enough to ramp up the tension and keep the audience engrossed. But in addition to the comic foibles and sweet romance, Miss Pettigrew also exhibits a darker side. The tale is set in London just before the country is about to enter World War II. When a squadron of war planes flies over Delysia's raucous party, the young revelers go out on a balcony to gawk--leading Miss Pettigrew to remark to Joe Blumfield, her generational compatriot, "They don't remember the last one.."

As the story careens gleefully along to its inevitable happy ending, it may be a bit idealistic and simplistic to sum everything up with the usual "love conquers all" mentality. But everything about this movie--from the tight and sprite script by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy (adapted from Winifred Watson's novel) to the exquisite costumes designed by Michael O'Connor--is just perfection. And unlike many comic confections, this one is much more lasting and satisfying.

Happy Easter!

I must admit I'm no fan of jellybeans. Or the sugary candy eggs. Give me chocolate! Big chocolate bunnies and not the hollow ones either...Solid milk chocolate. None of this "white chocolate" crap! I'm also a fan of easter eggs. Well, coloring them anyway...

Not so big on the marshmallow peeps either. They're sticky, gooey, sugar-coated and completely inedible. Maybe that's why the Washington Post has found a better use for the ubiquitous pastel treats. Their second annual Peeps Show features the marshmallow chicks and bunnies in crafty dioramas. Remember dioramas from 4th grade? Well, I'm sure you've never seen anything like this:

There were over 800 entries this year. Check out the 37 best at I bet you never look at a yellow marshmallow chick in the same way ever again...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Obviously I spend far too much time at the movies...

This post is brought to you courtesy of my friend from the gym, Teri. While I was working out today, Teri and Carol walked by and said, "Hi." Carol said she needed needed help with something and she was sure I knew the answer. Seems she was trying to buy movie tickets online and MovieFone wouldn't let her purchase tickets to AMC Theatres.

Now MovieFone is one of my favorite websites to check out showtimes and reviews for movies I want to see. I suggested she check out Fandango (I think Carol may be the only human on the planet who hasn't seen the paperbag puppets ads playing before the movie trailers since she wasn't familiar with the name...), but then I remembered the obvious answer:

I told her she should go to the AMC Theatres website, sign up for their MovieWatchers card and then when she purchases tickets on using her MovieWatchers I.D. number, the service charge is waived.

In addition, you earn two points for every movie ticket purchased (four points total per visit) and every 10 points earns you a MovieWatcher freebie--at 30, 60 and 90 points, you can get a large drink and large popcorn at the concession stand or cash in on a free movie ticket at the Box Office on your next visit. At every 100-point milestone, you get a bonus "Night at the Movies" (free ticket, popcorn & soft drink).

I use my AMC MovieWatchers card a lot since I take advantage of their A.M. Cinema promotion where tickets for shows before noon on Friday, Saturday or Sunday are $6.00 (or less).

Anyway, when I told Carol all this Teri said I needed to blog about it. I think I should start carrying a Fandango paperbag puppet around with me since apparently I'm a walking advertisement.

Friday, March 21, 2008

LOST - Meet Kevin Johnson

It appears that Aaron is one of the Oceanic Six--this according to the promo that flashed the faces at the end of last night's episode.

And the "someone will DIE!" promo from last week: looks like Karl and Rousseau are history--felled by gunshots as they, along with Alex, were on their way to seek refuge at the Temple.

And finally, Michael is definitely Ben's man on the freighter. Didn't you love the episode recap by Sawyer (You mean Michael who shot and killed two people and betrayed us so he could leave the island with his son?). Or perhaps that's yet another Sawyer nickname...

Michael may very well the person in the coffin we saw in Through the Looking Glass as he definitely exhibited suicidal tendencies throughout the episode. I was struck by how similar his post-island despair was to Jack's in the Through the Looking Glass. Michael was suffering from extreme guilt over shooting Libby (who continues to haunt him) and Ana Lucia (who obviously doesn't have a contract with the show). That guilt, in addition to his estrangement from Walt to whom he confessed what he had done, causes him a great deal of pain. Like Jack who attempted to jump off a bridge, Michael drives his car into a wall--but miraculously survives.

He pawns the watch Jin gave him to get a gun. When he attempts to shoot himself, he is interrupted by none other than Mr. Friendly, aka Tom from the Others. Tom says, "Manhattan, huh? We let you leave one island and you just come to another..."So we've learned that Ben and Richard Alpert aren't the only Others who can leave the island and that Tom is gay. I'm not sure what the point of introducing Arturo the boytoy was other than to let us know that Mr. Friendly is uh, friendly. So are we supposed to feel bad that Sawyer shot him in the chest now?

Tom tells Michael, "You can't kill yourself. The island won't let you." And as he attempts for a third time to kill himself, he is not only stopped by a jamming gun but by the newscast of the found wreckage of Oceanic 815. When he shows up at the Hotel Earle to confront Tom about this news, Mr. Friendly tells him that the wreckage was faked by Charles Widmore and offers Micheal a chance to redeem himself. He can save his fellow crash survivors by killing the freighter people.

Michael aka Kevin Johnson joins the freighter crew as a deck hand. We get to see Minkowski and Naomi alive and well again, as well as the bloodthirsty Captain Gault who shoots skeet with a machine gun. When Michael/Kevin says he thought this was a rescue mission, he is told to go mop something. This gives Michael the balls to utilize what's in the box that Mr. Friendly sent to him. But before he can set the bomb off, Libby haunts him again telling him not to. He pushes the button, the timer counts down and--a note pops up. It says, "NOT YET." Those Others--such kidders!

Later, Minkowski tells Michael/Kevin he has a call from the mainland from "Walt." Only it's not Walt, it's Ben who tells Michael that the bomb didn't go off because, "I will not kill innocent people." Yeah, right Ben. You're the "good guy." He tells Michael to make a list (Another "list"? Orders from Jacob perhaps?), disable the radio room and take out the engine. When Sayid confronts him in the engine room asking him why he is on the freighter, Michael says, "I came here to die" and then relays the whole story to Desmond and Sayid. Sayid incredulously asks, "You're telling me you're working for Benjamin Linus?" Ah, Sayid--little do you know that YOU will be working for Ben as well soon enough! But Sayid drags Michael to the Captain and outs him as a spy and a traitor.

So that's where we are until April 24. Four weeks to wait to find out who shot Rousseau and Karl (I'm guessing it was a hit ordered by Ben), what happens to Kevin/Michael, who really faked the crash wreckage (Ben says Widmore, Widmore says Ben), how the Oceanic Six made it off the island and what happens to those who aren't part of the "Six." Until then check out the recap at Lostpedia, screencaps at Dark UFO and Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney's Dueling Analyses and the LOST Hour chat via the Washington Post's Celebritology.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dr. Hauschka Holistic Home Remedies

One of the interesting new things I saw at the Natural Products ExpoWest were a line of holistic home remedies from Dr. Hauschka. Dr. Hauschka Skin Care has been a venerable and trusted staple in the natural products industry utilizing holistic principles for over 40 years. This Spring, they launch nationwide eight over-the-counter medicines formulated using homeopathic traditions.

Homeopathy is the philosophy that like cures like--or the law of similars. Using diluted formulation of substances that would in a healthy person create the same set of symptoms, the homeopathic preparation allows the body to heal itself. The philosophy is not all that different from that of vaccines--which uses dead or weaken forms of a micro-organism in order to encourage the body to develop the necessary immune system response to fight off the actual disease.

The eight holistic remedies Dr. Hauschka that are launching nationwide this Spring are:

Ouch! Aid Arnica Compress- a topical treatment which provides first aid for sprains, strains and bruises.

Arnica Bump and Bruise Relief - Homeopathic pellets to speed recovery for sprains, strains and bruises.

Calendula Wound Cleanser - Remember Mom spraying Bactine on your scraped knees? Here's a more natural alternative to disinfect, soothe and help heal minor cuts and scrapes with the gentle astringent action of calendula.

Mercurialis Wound Rescue - A topical cream which utilizes mercurialis and calendula to reduce inflammation and infection. In addition to treating poorly healing cuts or splinters, this would be an excellent prophylactic to use after a manicure or pedicure! I would massage this into the nailbeds to prevent infection.

Agropyron Cold Relief - Homeopathetic pellets relieve the pressure and pain from head colds utilizing a formula of couch-grass, dandelion and cinnabar.

Apis Belladonna Sore Throat Rescue - Belladonna has been used for centuries in medicine as is the basis for this formulation of homeopathic pellets to relieve the pain of earache, sore throat and nasal inflammation.

Nicotiana Cramp Relief - Potentized tobacco, chamomile and white birch charcoal are infused into homeopathic pellets to ease the symptoms of menstrual and abdominal cramps.

Borage Varicose Vein Relief - Five therapeutic botanicals combine in homeopathic pellets to provide temporary relief from varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

The full line of Holistic Home Remedies is slated for Spring 2009.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Some People Have WAY Too Much Time On Their Hands...

I got an e-mail today from "John Landis" saying that "John Landis did not have anything to do with An American Werewolf in Paris. Read the credits before you write a review."

I meant to type An American Werewolf in London when I was doing my latest round of Netflix Quick Picks not PARIS. John Landis is credited (according to IMDB) as having written and directed An American Werewolf in London. He is also credited (again, according to IMDB) as a writer (for characters) on An American Werewolf in Paris. So it's not COMPLETELY accurate to say he had nothing to do with it.

I replied to "John Landis" (I hope the actual producer/writer/director has better things to do with his time than Google himself and write irked missives to random bloggers who don't appropriately appreciate his movies...) and noted that I had meant to type "London" (it's fixed now, John!) and that IMDB credits do seem to indicate that Landis was associated with "Paris."

So he writes back to tell me I'm lame.

Yeah, I'M lame. Sheesh.

DWTS - Ladies Night

It was the female stars turn to take a spin around the dance floor on Dancing with the Stars last night and true to my prediction, skater Kristi Yamaguchi is the one to beat. Not only did her Foxtrot look (as Carrie Ann said) "effortless," but she appeared to be enjoying herself on the dance floor as well. I was off the mark about Priscilla Presley who turned in a competent Foxtrot as well--but she didn't look like she was enjoying herself at all! That permanently Botoxed grimace on her face won't help her with audience votes I'm sure.

The judges unfairly penalized crowd-pleaser Marissa Winokur--so adorable and spunky! She ended up with a 16 because partner Tony's choreography wasn't challenging enough. Boo--hiss! I really want her to stick around because I think she can give Kristi a run for her money, so I voted for her. Uh, 24 times...(Yes that's a bit obsessive for so early in the season, I know!)

As much as Marissa was under-rated, Shannon Elizabeth was over-rated in my opinion. Her Cha-cha looked tentative and awkward to me--although her long limbs are perfect for a dancer. Still, she'll improve and stick around for a Jennie Garth style run I predict. Marlee Matlin looked fabulous--what a cutie she is! But as great as her technique was, it never looked like she was dancing with the music. Marissa's low scores notwithstanding, it looks like Monica Seles may find herself being the first female to get knocked out of the competition. The pro tennis player looked very uneasy on the dance floor, although the judges were much easier on her than they were for Marissa.

They all get the chance to dance again next week, but I think the writing's on the wall: Adam Corolla and Monica Seles should be out of the competition by this time next week.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Netflix Quick Picks - Round 7

I've been really busy since Round 6 so let's get right to the movies I think you should add to your queue:

1. Wonder Boys - I haven't read the Michael Chabon novel, but I have to say the Curtis Hanson adaptation is aces. Wonderful performances by Michael Douglas, Robert Downey Jr. and Tobey Maguire. And a special shout out to Tobey's hair which was mesmerizingly perfect. Rent it!

2. Disturbia - This teen version of Rear Window jump-started Shia LaBoeuf's career. Shia makes his next big appearance in the new Indiana Jones movie but his sidekick played by Aaron Yoo hit the jackpot as well with a supporting role in the soon to be released 21. The flick plods along in the beginning--not good for a thriller. But it certainly picks up speed at the end. Genuinely anxiety-inducing if you're up for that. Worth a look. Rent it.

3. Dirty Pretty Things - Other than the somewhat miscast Audrey Tautou as a virginal Turkish Muslim girl (uh, yeah right...), this is a compelling piece of work about people trying to get by and living under the radar. Directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen) and also featuring the consistently amazing Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Okonedo and another charmingly chilling turn by Sergi Lopez (he played the evil stepfather in Pan's Labyrinth), there's a lot of talent here and it all shows on screen. Rent it.

4. Immortal Beloved - Again you've got a film filled with talent: Gary Oldman, Isabella Rossellini, Valeria Golino and the music of Ludwig von Beethoven. This period piece fails as a narrative but where it excels, in addition to making the classical music enchant and enthrall, is the depiction of Beethoven's deafness and the miracle that was his genius in the face of his disability. If you like period pieces and classical music, rent it.

5. Dangerous Beauty - Oh god, this is the Harlequin romance version of a period piece. Catherine McCormack, while undeniably lovely, looks more suited for a stint on Melrose Place than as a 16th century Venetian courtesan. Cheesy soft-core masquerading as feminist art. Skip it.

6. Transamerica - Despite the edgy subject matter of gender reassignment, this is at its core a road trip bonding buddy movie. Felicity Huffman, an attractive actress, get kudos for her convincing portrayal of a man in the process of becoming a woman who finds an unlikely obstacle in the form of a son he/she never knew she/he had. The masculine appearance and lower register voice work is astoundingly good and Huffman's efforts elevate a fairly pedestrian story to new heights. Still, there are better films out there...Soldier Girl comes to mind. Skip it.

7. An American Werewolf in London - I don't know what I was expecting with this. Possibly more humor, more satire. A biting (excuse the pun) story about celebrity or the ugly American tourist? Unfortunately, except for the groundbreaking special effects--at the time anyway, although they pretty much hold up today--there's not much to recommend about this banal and bland werewolf movie. I was expecting more from John Landis. Skip it.

8. Blue Velvet - You either love David Lynch or you hate him. I'm in the former category. Some of his recurring cast members make an appearance here: Laura Dern playing the ingenue, Kyle MacLachlan also playing an ingenue and a courageous tour-de-force performance from Isabella Rosselini. Set in a small town that appears to be caught in a time warp of the 1950s (but then, don't all Lynch's movies have that 1950s retro look to them?), it's weird and violent and visceral and strange and mystifying and the strains of the kitschy Bobby Vinton hit weaves it all together. If you love Lynch, rent it.

9. The Shining - This classic Kubrick horror flick based on the Stephen King novel is way too long and spends much too much time on the scenery. Jack Nicholson perfects his over-the-top shtick, but the creepiest character is actually the little boy who talks to his finger. He's a creepy cutie, but not surprisingly doesn't have much in the way of credits other than this film. I guess it's hard to find cute little kid roles after you've been typecast as the creepy kid who talks to his finger. Still, it's worth it just for Scatman Crothers. Rent it.

10. My Life Without Me - Sarah Polley indie flick about a young woman who finds out she has only a few months to live. So she keeps the news from her family and makes a list of things she wants to accomplish before she dies: recording birthday messages to her two young daughters, finding a replacement wife for her husband, visiting her estranged father in prison and having an affair with Mark Ruffalo to boot. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't very good either. This is more Lifetime melodrama than insightful indie filmmaking. Skip it.

11. Me Without You - An interesting look at a co-dependent friendship over the years featuring Michelle Williams and Anna Friel. There are some contrived moments, but the dynamic between the two leads is fascinating. Rent it.

12. The Long, Hot Summer - Was a long, slow movie. Although based on a Faulkner story, it felt like a rehash of Tennesse Williams characters: there's Orson Welles playing Big Daddy from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Joanne Woodward doing Laura from The Glass Menagerie--maybe a bit of Blanche DuBois as well, Anthony Franciosa and Lee Remick give a "Stanley and Stella" Streetcar impression and Richard Anderson seems a riff off Sebastian in Suddenly Last Summer (although he doesn't get eaten by cannibals...which is too bad 'cuz it might have livened the whole thing up a bit...) It feels stiff and stagy and surprisingly lacking in sparks from the two leads. Paul Newman is the essence of cool and completely engrossing as usual. But he's been in better movies...Skip it.

13. Superbad - Frequently funny, but sometimes pushing the envelope just a little too far. My favorite scene was the cops, with McLovin in tow, turning on the siren so they could get through traffic. I KNEW it!!! Great for some bellylaughs--and a couple of sweet moments as well. Rent it!

14. Stalag 17 - Like The Great Escape, you can see the genesis of the classic TV show, Hogan's Heroes. There's a jovial Sergeant Schultz, an ambitious Colonel Klink-type running the camp, tunnels and radios and escape plans. But this POW camp also has a spy. I had to watch this twice in order to appreciate it. It's a bit slow, stagy (it's based on a play) and claustrophobic (what'd ya expect--it's set in a POW camp!), but all in all it's an intriguing story. William Holden won an Oscar for his role. Rent it.

15. Brokedown Palace - It's Midnight Express set in Thailand instead of Turkey and with chicks (Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale) instead of guys. And it's boring instead of compelling. Except for one dramatic scene where Claire Danes begs for her friend's freedom, it's a snooze. Not even Bill Pullman as a shark lawyer can save it. Skip it.

16. Training Day - Oh the awesomeness that is Denzel in this move! He most definitely deserved that Oscar. And Ethan Hawke stands his ground as well. Really intriguing morality play. Rent it!

17. Year of the Dog - Mike White writes very quirky and weird stuff (The Good Girl, Chuck and Buck, School of Rock). This is no exception. Molly Shannon plays Peggy, an introverted woman whose main relationship is with her dog, Pencil. When Pencil dies unexpectedly, Peggy's world is shattered and weirdness ensues. I think the story would have been better served with a tighter script and a sense of direction. The best thing about the film was the dog who played Pencil--what a cutie! Laura Dern is also magnificent as the self-centered control freak sister-in-law. But all in all--skip it.

18. The Painted Veil - A period piece about a married couple (Edward Norton and Naomi Watts) who find themselves getting to know one another and falling in love while in the midst of a cholera epidemic in rural China. Oddly affecting performances by both leads. Rent it.

Sucked in once again by DWTS!

After last season's lackluster cast and the disappointing early dismissal of the competition's BEST dancer, Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan, I thought it was over for me and Dancing with the Stars. But after last night's premiere featuring dancing by the six male "stars," it looks like it might be an exciting season.

My pick to get eliminated first round next week? Adam Corolla who has the fortune to be paired with two-time champ and terminal cutie Julianne Hough, but he been cursed with two left feet. Penn Jillette was also a low scorer last night, but I think he has the fan base and the performance skills to stick around a while. The dancers to beat are R&B singer Mario, paired with Karina who did very well a few seasons back with another hot Mario; and football player Jason Taylor who is surprisingly graceful right out of the gate. Looks like partner Edyta, who is perennially paired with some of the worst male stars, has finally gotten herself a contender!

"International Film Star" Cristian de la Fuente could be a fierce competitor. He has the charisma and another two-time champ in Cheryl Burke as his dancing partner, but I think his lack of fan base will probably do him in sooner than later. Rounding out the cast is actor Steve Guttenberg who Carrie Ann called "adorable" on last night's show and was he ever! He got low scores, but I think his charm will have him staying in the competition.

The women dance tonight and looking at the field, I'm already betting on Priscilla Presley to be voted off early. Her face is just too scary looking! Whatever she's had done, it's so tight and stiff she couldn't even manage a smile last night--just some weird grimacing! And Monica Seles does not look good as a blonde. We'll see how well she dances, but I wouldn't be surprised to see her out of the competition early. I'm sure skater Kristi Yamaguchi will be a contender much like Apolo Ono was several seasons back. I also expect that actress Marissa Winokur will do well--especially given the fact that she played the dancing Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray on Broadway. She may be hindered by a small fan base, but I think she'll win over the viewers.

Actresses Shannon Elizabeth and Marlee Matlin round out the female cast. It will be interesting to watch how they stack up against the men tonight!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day!

I'm part Irish. But then again, I'm also part Scotch-English, so I guess they cancel each other out. But everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, huh? I wore my green today--an olive colored hoodie with a sage colored tank top underneath. And my camo-colored Converse kicks. Other than eating shamrock shaped cookies or drinking green beer or watching a parade, there's not much to the celebration of St. Patty's Day. So instead of eating green colored food (I had a salad tonight, does that count?), I thought I'd make of list of Irish things to be thankful for:

First off, the brothers Affleck. Both Casey and Ben are of Irish descent as evidenced by their gorgeous peaches and cream skin. Doesn't it just suck when guys have nicer skin than you do?

And then there's George Clooney, who not only has the gorgeous Irish skin, but beautiful thick black eyelashes to boot! Gah! If I didn't love him so much, I'd probably hate him.

Add to the list of Irish hotties: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jim Caviezel, Jerry O'Connell (that pudgy little kid in Stand By Me sure grew up nice, didn't he?), Dylan McDermott, Gabriel Byrne, Patrick Dempsey, all the Baldwin brothers and Luke and Owen Wilson. And speaking of talented Irish families, there's John Cusack and his siblings. Who doesn't love Lloyd Dobler?

We have Ireland to thank for Stephen Rea and Neal Jordan who combined talents for one of my all-time favorite movies, The Crying Game. Irish American comic Denis Leary makes me laugh like no other and the music of U2 and lead singer Bono can bring tears to my eyes.

I'm not a beer drinker, but back in the day I'd have many a drink made with Baileys Irish Cream. Mudslide, anyone? Yummy.

Favorite Movies Quotes - The Final Two

OK, no-one got number 6 or 7, so:

6. Crash - When Peter (played by Larenz Tate) puts a St. Christopher statue on the dashboard of the SUV they just carjacked, Anthony (Ludacris) goes off on this rant. The whole St. Christopher statue thing turns out to be a major plot point down the road...

7. Gone Baby Gone - Part of the opening voiceover of Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Natural Products ExpoWest 2008

This is how I spent my Sunday: wandering up and down aisle after aisle lined with zillions of exhibitors. The Natural Products Expo West claims to be the largest (and I believe it!) natural and organic trade show with over 2,800 exhibitors. I don't think I even saw one-tenth of what was there--and that's with almost three hours of trekking through the health and beauty section!

Even if I had managed to get there at 10:30 am as I planned, I don't think I would have had enough time to see everything that I wanted to see. It didn't help that I got a bit lost on the way to the Convention Center, or that the line to get into the satellite parking lot took FOREVER or that I had to hike about a mile from where I parked to get to the Convention Center (for this I had to pay $12 to park! Can you believe? For $12, I should have been able to park right outside the door!). And when I got to the Convention Center I had to hike another half mile to the registration entrance (Note to future convention planners: put the registration entrance nearer to the FRONT). Fortunately, my friend Stevie who had clued me in to the Expo had greased the skids with the press office, so getting a press pass went smoothly.

Then I met up with Stevie at the Dr. Hauschka booth. They were by far the nicest and most generous exhibitors. I have a slew of stuff from them--including their new holistic home remedy line--to test out. Check back later for that review! We also visited with the people at derma e. Matt was telling us how he's in charge of their blog to which I replied, "I know about your blog! You link to me on it!"

We stopped by and said "Hi!" to the Earth Science people and checked in with Mychelle, Giovanni, Weleda, Lavera, Pharmacopia--just to name a few! There was also plenty of food there--and not just soy, gluten-free, vegan stuff. They had organic chocolate! Dairy-free ice cream and frozen yogurt. Popcorn. Seriously, if the tons of samples aren't enough to weigh you down, you could eat yourself into a bigger jeans size before you are done testing all the goodies out!

Speaking of jeans, Stevie and I both wore skinny jeans which we both tucked into black boots and topped with a red sweater. And no, we didn't call each other to plan matching outfits! All in all it was an interesting experience. Next year I'll make sure to get there early, spend more time and bring a cart to wheel out all my loot. I saw people loaded down with 2, 3, even 4 bags of stuff! I only got one--but there's still plenty of stuff to keep me busy for a while!

Left Behind

This morning's Washington Post featured an article titled Left Behind about things that were once common that are now obsolete or on their way. I thought it was an interesting follow-up to my own post on Obsolescence which, by the way, I posted SIX months earlier (Sheesh, Washington Post...keeping up with the news much?).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Revisiting the Keywords

I decided to catch up with the unanswered search terms that lead to my blog on a monthly basis. So without further ado:

1. "LOST Ben causing 815 crash" - This is obviously from a LOST fan who HASN'T BEEN WATCHING CAREFULLY! Ben did not cause Oceanic Flight 815 to crash (though he seems capable of most anything...), DESMOND did. But it was an accident, so we still love Henry Ian Cusick.

2. Will Ty Treadway come back to One Life to Live?

Ah yes, the very hot soap star played the evil Dr. Colin MacIver and when that character got killed off, he came back as his identical twin brother, the good Troy MacIver. Unfortunately Troy went mad, then went bad and then was locked up in an insane asylum somewhere. This is a good sign. After all if they had killed off Troy, it would have been hard to bring Ty back as a MacIver TRIPLET. But be assured if OLtL does bring Ty back, he will be shirtless within 5 minutes...

3. Speaking of shirtless, I got a hit by someone looking for "average people naked." Good God--why?!!! But seriously, if you want to see average people naked, check out re-runs of NYPD Blue (and perhaps catch a gratuitous Dennis Franz butt shot), Harvey Keitel in The Piano (some bodies should keep their clothes on!) or rent some foreign films. German ones are particularly good in that regard. There was an Austrian film called Dog Days (aka "Hundstage") that is chock FULL of average naked people. So much so I told my friend Jack who had suggested seeing it that I hadn't realized it was a HORROR flick. Yeeesh!

4. Speaking of average, someone was wondering what Johnny Depp's average paycheck was. Well, it was $10 mil for the first Pirates movie and doubled for the second. Way to go, Johnny!

5. More averages:

Weight of an average cell phone
? My Motorola RAZR weighs 3.45 oz. if that helps...Of course I don't have a lot of numbers in it. If you have a lot of phone numbers it might weigh more...(Just kidding, of course!)

Lantus daily amount average? It's very individual. In general, higher doses for larger and/or more insulin resistant people, smaller doses for smaller and/or more insulin sensitive people. There are all sorts of formulas based on weight or percentage of total daily dosage, but the ideal dosage is one that keeps your blood sugar fairly stable throughout the day. I inject 14 units in the morning.

Average tattoo time? That depends on the size and complexity of the design. Most of mine were small (1-2 inches) and simple (outline and 1-2 colors) so they took about 20 minutes. The Celtic tree on my shoulder was a bit bigger, more intricate design and a number of colors. It took almost an hour. Sleeves or full back tattoos may take several long sessions to complete.

5. Speaking of tattoo searches: I've gotten a hit from "new tattoo working out" - I was told to keep mine covered for the first couple of hours and to gently wash the area and keep it moisturized with Aquaphor or A&D ointment, but there's no issue with working out when you've just gotten a tattoo.

Also "where will tattoo hurt least?" That's easy--fatter, fleshy parts of the body. Places where there's little fat (neck, feet) or that are bony (base of spine, wrists, ankles) hurt much more. If you really want as little pain as possible, get one on your tummy or tushy.

My condolences to the person whose "tattoo scabbed bad"--a bit of scabbing is normal and general it is painless and peels off in a week or so. Bad scabbing could mean that the tattoo needles went in too deep. Might want to get that checked with a doctor...

And last "tattooed surfer whore." Uh, yeah. Whatever...

6. Questions about people:

Someone wondered about the "girl in the scope white mouthwash commercial" - That would be model Josie Maran who had the dubious distinctive of being the first "celebrity" voted off Dancing with the Stars this past fall.

Which actress is a Barbie Girl? You mean other than Josie Maran? I think you might mean Lene Nystrom Rasted who played the role in the video for the "Barbie Girl" song.

"Jane Seymour Elizabeth The Golden Age" - Not sure what this person was looking for. The character of Jane Seymour was not in Elizabeth or The Golden Age sequel. She died giving birth to the Tudor heir who preceded both Mary and Elizabeth on the throne. She is, however, a character in The Other Boleyn Girl.

"August Rush Joaquin Phoenix" - I think this person confused Joaquin with Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Understandable--they do look similar.

7. Movie questions:

A few questions related to No Country for Old Men: Based on a true story? No, it was the adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name. What time period was it set in? 1980, because that's when the Mexican crack trade exploded and it also allows Josh Brolin's character to be a fairly young Vietnam vet--which becomes a significant plot point later in the movie.

Someone was searching for "prison break movies" and my favorite would be The Shawshank Redemption. Another good one is Escape from Alcatraz (from which The Shawshank Redemption quite liberally "borrows"). You could try one of the zillion versions of The Count of Monte Cristo (I'm partial to the recent remake with Jim Caviezel). Papillion is another movie featuring an escape from prison--although you watch Steve McQueen age for decades before it happens. There's also Midnight Express--but again you have to wait through hours of excruciating events before the actual break.

"When does December Boys come out on DVD?" Appropriately, it was released in December. The 11th to be exact.

I think think the person searching for "I Lost Everything in the Fire" meant Things We Lost in the Fire...

And to the person seeking "what rhymes with Juno," try "uno" (Spanish for "one"), Nuno (as in "Bettencourt," former lead guitarist of Extreme), Bruno or "you know." I wondering if they're writing a love poem to Diablo Cody?

Then there's a bunch of weird keywords that I can't help with--although the people searching definitely need help:

"Pros and cons of breakdancing" - Unless you have a time machine to transport you back to the 70s, it's all cons, dude...

"Sexy toad venom topical" - Hmmm--sounds like this person is looking for the recipe for the perfume Fay Summers concocted for Claire Meade on Ugly Betty. You do know that it's just a TV show, right?

"She was shackled in a jumpsuit" - Well, if use that sexy topical toad venom on people, there's no telling WHAT will happen!

"Thelma Scooby Doo lesbian" - OK, Thelma was the pudgy, brainy one with short hair and glasses but let's not make assumptions on her sexuality based on that...

"Piano notes for wombat on a surfboard" - Not a single clue...

And my all-time favorite, "I was made a slave at my sister's slumber party!"