Saturday, May 31, 2008

Flicksburgh

During my brother's last visit to Los Angeles, I was showing off my blog to him--specifically, the post on Dweeby TV Heartthrobs that I had just finished before he arrived. At first James demanded equal time with a list of TV's "Mary Ann" type hotties, but later he decided I should do a post (or more accurately, I should post HIS thoughts) on his favorite Pittsburgh set films. Home of the Pirates, the Penguins and the Steelers--as well as my brother James--Pittsburgh is far more picturesque than its name suggests. The Three Rivers, the Triangle, the renovated downtown, the quaint and ethnic neighborhood all make for a visual feast for cinematographers.

So here is his list of favorite hometown flicks (Disclaimer from James: "Keep in mind a large portion of my ranking system is how well the movie showed off my beloved city of Pittsburgh!"):

#5 - INSPECTOR GADGET - Features Matthew Broderick and Dabney Coleman in a typical Disney kids movie. I vaguely remember the cartoon, I didn't enjoy the movie much, but it showed off the city of Pittsburgh (called "Rivertown" in the movie) extremely well. Our beautiful city scape, bridges and the PPG building (easily Pittsburgh's most beautiful building) was the main focus of the film.

#4 - INNOCENT BLOOD - Anthony LaPaglia, Robert Loggia, Angela Bassett, Don Rickles and more big names plus a ton Soprano cast members round out this Mafia Vampire movie. TOTALLY WORTH WATCHING! I loved it and it showed off the 'Burgh great.

#3 - KINGPIN - Woody Harrelson, Bill Murray, Randy Quaid. Supposedly Pennsylvania Amish country, but was actually the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh - MURRYSVILLE TO BE EXACT! Great movie filmed where we grew up. Roy Munson's home is actually in my now adopted home town of Trafford. This housing is not indicative of Trafford and even though it looks slummy, it's now very famous. Roy Munson was suppose to be played by Chris Elliot but contract complications with Tostitos prevented that.

#2 - STRIKING DISTANCE - Bruce Willis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert Pastorelli, Dennis Farina,Tom Sizemore, Andre Braugher, Brion James and more... WOW! This is what I call bad film, good movie. Fun to watch, excellent car chase scene in the beginning. I spent a lot of time watching the filming from my own boat at the time. This movie really shows off my city great.

#1 - DOMINICK AND EUGENE - Ray Liotta, Jamie Lee Curtis and other big names. Shot in the late 80's, a heart warming type of "Of Mice and Men" type tale. If you don't cry at the end of this movie, you have no soul. Filmed almost entirely on Pittsburgh's South Side, it really catches the blue collar essence of Pittsburghers the way most of outside world thinks of us.

Honorable Mentions:

MOTHMAN PROPHECIES and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS both filmed in Pittsburgh instead of West Virginia where the stories actually take place.

MONEY FOR NOTHING -Starring John Cusack--was filmed in Pittsburgh instead of Philadelphia.

SCREWED - Features Norm MacDonald, Dave Chappelle, Danny DeVito and is surprisingly funny, but you can barely tell it was filmed in Pittsburgh.

THE DEER HUNTER, of course and here's a shocker I hope you see:

THE BREAD MY SWEET- Are you ready? Scott Baio!!!!! Yes, you heard me--Chachi (or Charles in Charge if you prefer...)! Honestly, a surprisingly decent performance in this heart warmer about a successful business man (Baio) who likes to work in an Italian Pastry store in Pittsburgh's Strip District as a chef more or less for fun (like hobby type of fun). When the affable elderly Italian women who owns the store is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he scrambles to find her estranged daughter. The Pittsburgh strip district again synonymous with the blue collar ethnic tradition of Pittsburgh.

And later today I got a voice mail from James saying he forgot this last pick:

#6 - GUNG HO - Ron Howard film starring hometown boy, Michael Keaton. Doesn't really show off the city of Pittsburgh all that well. Most of the recognizable shots are in nearby Beaver--especially the park scene. The film crew built the gazebo especially for the film, and left it as a gift to the city, where it remains today.

And then he called AGAIN to say he forgot a very important entry: George Romero's classic DAWN OF THE DEAD which was filmed on location in the Monroeville Mall. I remember going to the Monroeville Mall often while growing up in Murrysville--thankfully I didn't run into any zombies! James pointed out that the mall was one of the first of its kind in the country--being the largest shopping mall in the United States at the time it was built in 1969. It also had an ice skating rink in the atrium of the bottom floor--although it was converted to a generic mall food court in later years. And Romero was a Carnegie-Mellon University graduate.

Also during our conversation, James remembered ANOTHER flick he left off his list -- HOUSEGUEST starring Sinbad, portions of which were shot at Longview Country Club where James on occasion has played golf. Fortunately, he had to get back to watching the Penguins-Flyers Stanley Cup game or else this post would be even LONGER! James didn't include one of my favorite Pittsburgh-based movies, Wonder Boys. While the movie features excellent performances by Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Robert Downey Jr. and France McDormand, its real star is the beautiful city of Pittsburgh.

I also stumbled onto some other sources for movies featuring or shot on location in Pittsburgh: the Pittsburgh Film Office which lists 123 films and TV programs that were filmed in James' beloved hometown and Pittsburgh in Hollywood, an organization formed to encourage the interaction between the entertainment industry and the University community (including University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon University, Duquesne University and Point Park College).

Friday, May 30, 2008

LOST - No Place Like Home part 2 & 3

In a blog post at latimes.com, the writers talked about their use of the "F" word to denote intensity within the scripts. So, in the same spirit let me FUCKING say that last night's season fucking finale was un-FUCKING-believably AWESOME!!! The night long LOST extravaganza started off with the re-airing of part one--with additional scenes and subtitles in which we learned:

1. Boone, Libby and Charlie were the additional survivors in the concocted story about who made it off the plane and onto the island. Along with Kate, Hurley, Jack, Sun and Sayid that would be the Oceanic Eight. Their deaths plus Aaron's birth gives us the Oceanic Six. Why those three were chosen as part of the lie, we don't know yet...

2. Aaron is supposed to be 8 weeks old, but as part of the lie he is being represented as only 5 weeks old. He looks bigger than 5 weeks--he looks bigger than 8 weeks--but that's because it's difficult to use actual infants while filming.

3. When Ben flashes the mirror he's communicating with the Others, not Jacob.

4. The device on Keamy's arm was in fact a detonator for the C-4 explosives on the freighter.

5. Kate learned to track from her stepfather, the military guy. I'm glad we got that little factoid--it was frankly bugging the @#$% out of me...

Part Two started out where the now famous first flashforward scene left off (which was three years after the Oceanic Six got off the island): a drunken, drugged out Jack calling after Kate, "We have to go BACK!" Very clever way to start things off. We learn that the man in the coffin was "Jeremy Bentham" which at first seems to be a new character but in fact we find out at the very end of Part Three that it was John Locke. (Alternate endings--obviously filmed to fake out the cast and crew to keep the secret unspoiled--had Sawyer or Desmond in the coffin. Now we know Kate would have gone to either of their funerals, so out of the three, how could anyone NOT figure that one out?) So how and when did John get off the island? Especially after Ben moved it? And more importantly, why?

With Ben out of the picture, Locke was the new head of the Others--but apparently he came back as "Jeremy Bentham" to convince Jack and Kate to return. Especially Jack, who tells Ben that John told him that bad things happened after he left, it was his fault and he had to back. Before getting off the island, Jack and John had a final showdown where John attempted to convince Jack to stay telling him, "You're not supposed to go home...You know you're here for a reason." When Jack refuses to stay, Locke tells him, "You're gonna have to lie...It's the only way to protect it." So it appears Season Five may be about Jack and Ben attempting to convince the rest of the Oceanic Six to return to the island. Ben told Jack, "The Island won't let you come alone...All of you have to come back." Apparently when the Island says ALL it means ALL as Ben tells Jack--in reference to the now deceased Locke laying in the coffin, "We're gonna have to bring him, too."

The episode included a heckuva fight scene between Sayid (who unfortunately did not get a chance to use his famous breakdancing move...) and the seemingly indestructible Keamy. Just when it appeared the Keamy would strangle Sayid, he was shot in the back by Richard Alpert who had masterminded a plot to rescue Ben. For Kate and Sayid's assistance, Ben allows them to leave the island. But Keamy rises again--much like Alexander Godunov at the end of Die Hard--courtesy of bulletproof armor. But before he can capture his quarry again, Ben jumps out and slits his throat. Unfortunately, the detonator on his arm has a heart rate monitor--Keamy's heart stops and the freighter blows up. John is furious with Ben saying, "You just killed everyone on that boat!" Ben's cold-blooded response: "So?" With Keamy's last breath, he tells Ben "Widmore will find you." "Not if I find him first," Ben counters.

With Keamy out of the way, Ben continues with the plan to move the island. Locke is concerned after having watched the infamous Orchid video--"You mean time traveling bunnies?" says Ben. Apparently there's a warning NOT to put any metallic objects in the vault--which is exactly what Ben does. The metallic objects blow a hole in the vault (an allusion to Alice in Wonderland and the rabbit hole that takes her there perhaps?) and before Ben enters it, he suits up in the same parka he was wearing in the flashforward scene in The Shape of Things to Come telling John, "I'm going somewhere cold" and "Whoever moves the island can never come back..." When he goes down the hole, he injures his arm--which we saw again in The Shape of Things to Come--and lands in an icy cold room (Which reminded me of the scene where Lucy exits the wardrobe and enters Narnia...). Before he turns the giant frozen donkey wheel, he says "I hope you're happy, Jacob..." A screeching noise is heard on the island and then a flash of blinding light and then the island--disappears! Right when the chopper with the Oceanic Six and Frank and Desmond are trying to crash land on it!

Before the island moves, Daniel attempts to convince Miles and Charlotte to get on his next Zodiac run. Miles says he's staying, but Charlotte is about to leave when he says to her, "I'm surprised you want to leave...After all that time you spent trying to get back here." So has Charlotte been to the island before? She explains to Daniel that she's staying because she's still looking for where she was born. Daniel is worried that if she stays it will be for forever but she tells him, "Nothing's forever..." Also left behind on the island with Charlotte and Miles and Locke and the Others, are Juliet and Sawyer. Sawyer bailed out of the helicopter to lighten the load, but not before whispering something (perhaps regarding the favor she does for him in Something Nice Back Home?) to Kate and giving her a passionate kiss good-bye. (Did you love how he managed to lose his shirt on the swim back to the island to provide us with some eye candy as he emerged from the water? Yummy.) Juliet, who planned to get off in the last Zodiac ferry, was sitting on the beach, drinking rum. When Sawyer asks her what she's celebrating, she replies, "I'm not celebrating..." and nods towards the spot in the ocean where a billow of smoke is all that is left of the exploded freighter.

Killed on the freighter were the Losties that Daniel ferried there in the Zodiac. We know that Michael finally bit the bullet--as right before the C-4 exploded Christian appeared and told him, "You can go now, Michael." What was confusing was in the flashforward, Walt visits Hurley in the Santa Rosa mental institution and asks him why he never came to visit him when he got off the island. "Do you know who did come to see me? Jeremy Bentham," he tells Hurley and asks why they're all lying. Hurley replies, "We're lying because it's the only way to protect everyone who didn't come back." "Like my Dad?" Walt asks to which Hurley replies in the affirmative. Except Michael isn't on the island--he was killed in the freighter explosion. Why wouldn't Hurley tell Walt that?

It looks like Jin died in the explosion as well--although there's a chance he was able to jump off the ship before it blew up. Sun was in hysterics and Jack was certainly convinced that he died. But the best news is that Desmond survived and was reunited with Penny! Yay! (Lindelof and Cuse promised us one spectacular kiss on the finale, but gave us TWO--and a shirtless Sawyer! Thanks Carlton and Damon!) That had to be the highlight of the show. Not quite the stand up and cheer moment that Hurley careening out of the jungle in the van to save the day was last season, but definitely a satisfying emotional moment. We saw how the Oceanic Six story was concocted and it looks like Oceanic had nothing to do with it. Penny's freighter, which tracked Desmond down due to the call he made in The Constant, picked up the Six plus Des and Frank from the lifeboat after the chopper crash and dropped them within several miles of the island of Membata. As Desmond and Penny say their good-byes to the Six, Jack tells Des "See ya in another life, brother..." I hope we get to see Des in next season!

We don't know what happened to Daniel or the other Losties he was ferrying to the boat before it exploded and the island disappeared. I didn't see them when the helicopter crashed into the ocean, so perhaps they got sucked into the island relocation vortex. I also wonder if Rose and Bernard survived? Claire is appearing to Kate in nightmares telling her, "Don't you dare bring him back!", Hurley is playing chess (and winning!) with Mr. Eko, Sayid is in assassin mode and busts Hurley out of the nuthouse, Sun is forming alliances with Widmore and Ben and Jack are teaming up to round up the Losties and go back to the island. Season Five premieres in February 2009--Aaaarrrghhh! That's NINE months from now--I can't wait!

Check out the recap at Lostpedia, screencaps at Dark UFO and Celebritology's Dueling Analyses.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Make a Music Video!

The Offspring have a new album coming out on June 17th, 2008 courtesy of Columbia Records entitled Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace. In anticipation of this release, the band is having a video contest in which you can create your own video for the new single Hammerhead and win yourself the Grand Prize of $10,000. You can go to the official website to download a FREE MP3 of the new single and enter the contest.

The band will pick their favorite from the top rated videos and award prizes as follows:

Grand Prize Winner: $10,000 (picked by band)
Most Viewed Submission: $3,000
Most Favorited Submission: $2,000

No rules, except these:

Please do not use any videos/photos of The Offspring in your video.
No length requirement, you can use as little or as much of the song as you like.
Acceptance of the submission agreement required.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a TWO step entry process.

1) Uploading your video to the YouTube group.

2) Registering your video in the contest via the entry web page.

Submissions accepted 5/14/08 – 6/24/08
Open to U.S. residents only.

My Most Annoying TV Characters

My blogging buddy Rae posted a fun TV poll on her blog (inspired by fellow blogger, Just Jody) as to the Most Overrated TV Couple. Not surprisingly (to me, anyway...), the on-again, off-again relationship of Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd garnered the most votes.

I think part of the reason for that lies not in the mind-numbingly predictable running hot and cold nature of the scripted soulmates, but that one half of that relationship is the drippy, whiny--let's not forget "twisty" Meredith Grey. And that's reason enough to wish they'd just please go away...Ah yes, Meredith Grey--all squints and grimaces as played by Ellen Pompeo. She has got to be one of the most annoying TV characters EVER.

And so I make this list. My list of TV characters that incessantly irritate me. I won't post character who are INTENDED to be annoying like Urkel or Screech (not that I watched those shows anyway...) or the entire cast of Seinfeld (about which I had an epiphany sometime during season seven--I don't like these people. I would never be friends with these people. Why in the world am I wasting a half hour every week to watch these people?).

So on with the list:

1. Meredith Grey, Grey's Anatomy - This was a no-brainer. How could a list of Most Annoying TV Characters NOT include the self-absorbed--er, I mean self-REFLECTIVE, damaged doctor. Would you let this woman operate on you? You could blame the endless grating on the writing--but it sure doesn't help to have the shallow pseudo-philosophicals delivered in that nasal, whiny voice. Remember the episode when Mommie Dearest woke up from her Alzheimer's to declare that Meredith was ordinary? She's worse than ordinary--she's BORING. Snore.

2. Ally McBeal, Ally McBeal - The David Kelley show chock full of quirky characters had Calista Flockhart as an angst-ridden woman child at its center. Unfortunately, Ally was as paper thin a personality as the actress who played her. Pouting, petulant and completely out of rhythm to the song playing in her head, I often wished her roommate and best friend played by Lisa Nicole Carson would give her a smack upside her head. Get over yourself, McBeal!

1. Allison Parker, Melrose Place - Ah, yes--another "Ally." This time the helpless, hapless Allison Parker. Sweet, small town girl trying to make it in big, bad ol' Los Angeles. Was I wrong to secretly delight in the constant smackdown of poor little Allison by the entirely evil Amanda? And remember Billy and Allison? There's one to add to your poll of overrated couples, Rae!

4. Susan Mayer, Desperate Housewives - Teri Hatcher may have originally been Desperate Diva Numero Uno, but this past season it seems like she's just a zero. Adorable klutzy Susan certainly got leftovers as far as storylines went and I for one breathed a big sigh of relief. How much high-pitched histrionics can one take? No wonder poor Mike was driven to drugs...

5. Logan, Gilmore Girls - I've been harshing on the ladies a bit so let's give the double X's a break. I despised the smug, self-satisfied rich boy character of Logan Huntzberger on Gilmore Girls. I'm sure it's every girl's fantasy to live in a penthouse apartment with their fabulously wealthy boyfriend, but I always thought Rory had more sense than that. Thankfully the writers got it right at the end and had Rory turn down his marriage proposal. I always wanted her to end up with Jess anyway....

6. Michael Vaughn, Alias - I know millions of women think Michael Vartan is an uber-hottie, but to me he looks like a ferret. Of course, I didn't care for Jennifer Garner's character of Sydney Bristow, either. She always looked like she was about to cry--deer caught in the headlights kind of thing...I stopped watching Alias after Season Two. I hear the writers killed off Vaughn eventually--good move!

7. Marin Frist, Men in Trees - I've heard that Anne Heche dated and broke the hearts of Steve Martin, Lindsey Buckingham as well as Ellen DeGeneres. I don't get what the attraction is. If she was a flavor, she'd definitely be vanilla. No wait--even blander than vanilla. She's watered down skim milk. Blech! As fish out of water city girl Marin Frist transplanted to Alaska, she's supposed to be the female version of Northern Exposure's Dr. Joel Fleishman. That is if Joel were blonde, bland and boring...

8. Nikki and Paulo, LOST - Remember in Season Three how the writers felt it necessary to introduce us to two new Losties (probably because they killed off hotties like Boone and Shannon and Libby...)? Remember how the fans HATED the useless, clueless newbies? Remember how the writers then appeased the irate fans by killing them off by having them be buried alive? That was awesome.

9. Maya and Alejandro, Heroes - Again two new characters introduced after the show was in full swing and generally despised by the fans. The writers have killed off one of the twins--unfortunately it was the smarter, less annoying one. Show of hands: How many of you are hoping Sylar finishes off the other half and eats her brain? I thought so...

10. The entire cast of What About Brian? - This J. J. Abrams misstep aired a total of 24 episodes before being canceled. In my opinion, that was 23 episodes more than was necessary.

So that's MY list...Anyone you think I should have included? Feel free to post your own suggestions in the comments.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

This was my latest reading exercise. The goal to read one book a month is going very well. I may not have accomplished any of my other New Years Resolutions, but I'm whizzing along with this one. Of course it helps that this novel was only about 220 pages long. The story about a fifteen year old boy named Christopher who decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog, despite his autism, clips along at a brisk pace. Because Christopher is a bit of a mathematical savant, the chapters are numbered using prime numbers and occasionally the protagonist will go off on a logical or algebraic tangent. But Christopher's investigation leads to an unexpected tangent of its own--one that threatens to upset the carefully planned stability of his own existence.

Haddon, who worked with autistic children as a young man, deftly captures the inner workings of Christopher's mind. I was completely drawn into the story, although I wouldn't say this is one of my favorite books. I initially heard about it from my friend Ari and it would figure he would like it since he's a bit of a math wiz himself. I liked the book but due to the compartmentalized, detached, logical nature of the narrator it lacks the poetry and lyricism and emotional resonance of Angela's Ashes or even The Autograph Man.

Here's an example:

It was 5:54 pm when Father came back into the living room. He said, "What is this?" but he said it very quietly and I didn't realize that he was angry because he wasn't shouting.

He was holding the book in his right hand.

I said, "It's a book I'm writing."

And he said, "Is this true? Did you talk to Mrs. Alexander?" He said this very quietly as well, so I still didn't realize that he was angry.

And I said, "Yes."

Then he said, "Holy fucking Jesus, Christopher. How stupid are you?"

This is what Siobhan says is called a rhetorical question. It has a question mark at the end, but you are not meant to answer it because the person who is asking it already knows the answer. It is difficult to spot a rhetorical question.

The book was also included on a list of 1001 must-read novels. I've read more than sixty (it's hard to know exactly--some of the titles sound like I've read them, but I can't recall what they were about...) of the books on the list and I've got ideas for another dozen or so to add to my reading wishlist. I might also add Haddon's follow-up A Spot of Bother as well...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Good Day for Musicians

Today is the birthday of Neil Finn (Crowded House, Split Enz), Bruce Cockburn, Andre 3000 of OutKast and Susan Janet Ballion, also known as "Siouxsie Sioux" of Siouxsie and the Banshees. It's only fitting that we celebrate since I just recently downloaded Cities in Dust from iTunes. The psychedelic punk tune about the destruction of Pompeii is more post-apocalyptic warning than history lesson. And it's got a great dance beat, too!



Cities in Dust

Water was running; children were running
You were running out of time
Under the mountain, a golden fountain
Were you praying at the Lares shrine?
But ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend

We found you hiding, we found you lying
Choking on the dirt and sand
Your former glories and all the stories
Dragged and washed with eager hands

But ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
your city lies in dust

Water was running; children were running
We found you hiding, we found you lying
Water was running; children were running
We found you hiding, we found you lying
your city lies in dust
ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend

Hot and burning in your nostrils
Pouring down your gaping mouth
Your molten bodies blanket of cinders
Caught in the throes .......

Ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
Ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
Ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
Ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend

Your city lies in dust

NIKE Be True Family Reunion '08


Filter Magazine and NIKE invite you and a guest to the NIKE Be True Family Reunion:

Date: Sunday, June 1st
Time: 2 pm - 6 pm
RSVP: E-mail nikebetrue_la@nike.com - Put "Filter Guest" in the subject line.
Place: Location will be disclosed in confirmation e-mail. (I'm pretty sure it will be somewhere in the Los Angeles area...)

Celebrate 23 years of NIKE with BBQ, Games, Music by No Age and The Cool Kids. You must be 21 and over to attend.

Monday, May 26, 2008

R.I.P. Sydney Pollack

Director, producer, actor
Sydney Pollack
died of cancer today at age 73. If he had directed nothing but the brilliant Tootsie, I'd still be upset over his passing. But he's associated with a slew of great films and if you haven't seen them, you should definitely add these to your Netflix queue:

1. Tootsie - Directed and had a small cameo as Michael's (Dustin Hoffman) befuddled agent.

2. Michael Clayton - Produced and had a pivotal role in this legal thriller starring George Clooney.

3. The Firm - Directed and produced this Tom Cruise vehicle which was adaptated from the John Grisham novel. I've never read Grisham, but I sure do like his books as movies.

4. The Talented Mr. Ripley - Produced this terrifically engrossing flick with Matt Damon in the title role as a psychopathic killer.

5. Sense and Sensibility - Executive Producer of Emma Thompson's adaptation of this Jane Austen classsic.

6. White Palace - Executive Producer of the drama starring Susan Sarandon and James Spader.

7. The Player - Had a small role in this classic Robert Altman flick.

8. Searching for Bobby Fischer - Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated coming of age story.

Not to mention his direction Oscar winning Out of Africa, Absence of Malice, Three Days of the Condor and many, many more. Or his recurring turn on Will and Grace as Will's Dad, George Truman.

Sigh. He will be missed...

It would be funny if it weren't painfully true...

A recent article in The Onion stated, "A report on growing disparities in the concentration of U.S. aluminum-can wealth, released Tuesday by the Department of Commerce, revealed that 66 percent of the nation's recyclable assets are now held by the poorest 1 percent of the population." It goes on--tongue firmly in cheek--to obliquely describe the growing trend of dumpster diving to retrieve recyclables for cash. It's not much cash--maybe a nickel or dime per bottle or can--but for the very poor and homeless who dig through the trash, it can mean the different between eating or not.

I live in an area heavily populated with apartment buildings--and behind each one a communal dumpster. The scavengers go from one to another to rummaging through to find a cast-off can or two. I have no problem with it--recycling is always a good thing. My only issue is with one intrepid scavenger who chose 6:30 am as the appointed hour for her rummaging activities. Not only did the THUMP of the dumpster lid and clattering sounds of going through its contents disrupt my sleep, but she then would CRUSH and CRUMPLE every single can and bottle before putting them in her giant trash bag.

So one morning I dragged my weary ass out of bed and confronted her at the dumpster. I didn't mind her rummaging, but could she please do it at a more decent hour? Say after 9 am? I'm not sure she understood me because, although she scurried off after I made my request, she was back the next week. After my third request (which was decidedly more threatening than my initial plea), she disappeared for good. I'm not sure if it was my words or my just rolled out of bed at 6 am appearance that scared her off. I'm betting on the latter.

I'm not the only one disturbed by scavengers skulking in off hours--according to this article in the Palo Alto Daily, "Police say taking recyclables to sell them for cash is theft and can result in citations. But trash authorities say little has been done to crack down on the problem." The growing trend of dumpster diving has led some to expand into can poaching--retrieving recyclables thrown into city owned recycling receptacles. The director of Minneapolis' Recycling and Solid Waste Program estimates that the city loses $700 a day to can "thieves." And in the Big Apple, the recycling theft was such an issue that they have instituted and enforced stiff new penalties.

Of course, some of these "can thieves" are driving around and taking recyclables from bins and receptacles placed curbside. These are not the homeless looking for a way to get some change to get some food or even "Freegans" (Can't you tell how much I love using that word?). They're not digging through garbage to get an odd aluminum can or two--in some cases they even take the bin itself! And they're not cruising through the neighborhood with a shopping cart, but instead often are driving pick-ups with out-of-state license plates...

The guy who goes through the trash in my neighborhood now is a little, old Hispanic man. I like him because he comes in the middle of the day. And since he's not disrupting my sleep, I save my bottles and cans for him. Whenever I hear him rummaging, I grab the trash bag full of soda cans and run down to catch him. He's always so polite and grateful. Last week I hadn't seen him in a while so I had TWO full bags of cans. When I handed them to him he was so appreciative. He kissed my hand! Then he ask me if I spoke Spanish. Not really--maybe just a few words. Well that launched him into a long and eloquent speech in Espanol. My few words of Spanish are: fiesta, siesta, burrito, enchilada, quesadilla, nachos, uno, dos, tres, mucho, por favor, gracias, buenos dias and hasta la vista, baby! I am pretty well-equipped to place an order at Taco Bell, but that's about it...

I just nodded my head and smiled. And felt good that a few cans could not only help the environment, but brighten a little old man's day as well.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Keyword Redux

Determined that no keyword search should lead to a dead end...

Television
:

1. Who plays Billie, Earl's wife on The Hickeys?

That would be Alyssa Milano, formerly of Who's the Boss? and Charmed.

2. Who played the doctor on My Name is Earl?

Ravi Kapoor played the hysterical, "I'm Indian. We're the new Jews..." doctor on the episode I Won't Die with a Little Help from my Friends.

3. Who played the pretty redhead on last night's episode?

That would be the character of Greta, the Camdenite. And I can't find the actress' name ANYWHERE! (Dammit people--update your IMDB pages!)

4. What is shaving a kangaroo?

A reference to the No Heads and a Duffel Bag episode--I'm pretty sure it was just meant to be funny. Like herding cats, only stupider...

5. The Office landlady actress?

Pam's landlady Margaret who was ignominiously sacrificed to Michael as possible dating material (Michael dismissed her as lacking "Crawfordness") was played by Brooke Dillman. There's an excellent interview with B. J. Novak (aka "Ryan") who wrote the episode over at OfficeTally.

6. On Desperate Housewives, whose grave did Katherine go to?

Apparently, it was the secret grave of the REAL Dylan, who was accidentally killed as a young child when a bookshelf toppled over onto her.

7. What did Aunt Lilly's note say on Desperate Housewives?

Well, the parts that the substitute Dylan found said something about "mother" "murder" "father." Given what happened in the finale, it appears that Aunt Lilly was trying to tell Dylan that she was the stand-in for Katherine and Wayne's biological daughter, because if Dylan's FATHER ever found out about the real Dylan's death, he would MURDER her MOTHER.

Anyway, that's my guess...

8. Christina having Bradford's baby, is it Wilhelmina's egg?

Yes. On Ugly Betty, Christina is the paid surrogate--providing a non-hostile womb to carry the egg that Wilhelmina provided that was fertilized with sperm from the deceased Bradford. Oh god, I just used the word "sperm" on my blog--watch out for hits from the pervert contingent!!!

9. Matthew Abbadon is a threat to Alpert?

Hmmm--good point! They both seemed to be competing for Locke in the LOST Cabin Fever episode. Abbadon works for Widmore, while Alpert is associated with Ben and Jacob. They seem to be playing on opposite teams, therefore not only would Abbadon be a threat to Alpert--but vice versa as well...

10. Benjamin Linus harmless?

Haha! Surely you jest! Benjamin Linus might ultimately turn out to be one of "the good guys" as he insists he is, but he is anything but harmless. Manipulative, devious, cold-blooded, possessive, obsessive. Yeah, not harmless. One of my favorite assessments of Ben came from Jimmy Kimmel while interviewing producer/writers Cuse and Lindelof when he pointed out that "Linus" sounds like "lying to us." I think you hit the nail on the head, Jimmy!

11. Erica Kane histrionic?

The long-running All My Children diva histrionic? Well, duh! Soap opera character = melodramatic. Next question!

12. Like the sands of time soap opera?

That would be Days of Our Lives which use to open with MacDonald Carey's voice intoning, "Like sands through the hourglass...so are the days of our lives!"

13. Actor who played Marco Dane on One Life to Live?

That would be Gerald Anthony who also played good twin Mario Corelli--except he wasn't really Mario but Marco PRETENDING to be Mario.

Movies:

1. What do the closing credits say on The Bank Job?

"...the names have been changed to protect the guilty."

2. Closing song in Juno?

Michael Cera and Ellen Page's cover of The Moldy Peaches Anyone Else but You.

3. How much money did Under the Same Moon earn?

According to Box Office Mojo, as of May 22nd the film has earned about $12.4 million dollars. Iron Man made more than that in one Saturday almost three weeks after its initial release...

4. Average screenplay salary?

There aren't really "salaries" for a screenplay. There are options, sales or assignments. And there's no such thing as "average" for options or sales--they can be as little as a dollar or some deferred amount or multiple millions. The WGA Minimum Basic Agreement gives the contracted rates that MBA member producers must pay Guild writers, if that helps at all...

Misc. and Random:

1. Why do we sweat in the gym?

Well, if you're like me you go to the gym to workout. Working out raises your body temperature. Sweat is the body's way of cooling itself.

2. Can I bring a robe to the gym?

Speaking from personal experience--Please, please, please bring a robe to the gym! As I've mentioned previously, there's good naked and bad naked--and most of us fall into the latter category. Spare your fellow gym rats from exposing our tender eyeballs to bad naked--and if you happen to fall into the former category, spare us anyway. Like we need to see you parading your perfectness in our face!

3. Multiple searches on "my blood sugar is 313," "blood sugar 575" and "what to do if sugar level hits 600"?

What to do? Get thee to a doctor! If you're already under a doctor's care, get a hold of him or her! Elevated glucose levels are very dangerous. Insulin, in appropriate dosages, can bring blood sugar levels down, but I've also found that gentle exercise--like a nice long walk--can also help in that regard. But you really need guidance from a doctor IMMEDIATELY!

4. Can you find out who is reading posts on Craigslist?

In a word, no. But if you work on the technical side of Craigslist, and have statistical software installed, you can track IP addresses and ultimately trace the person surfing the 'net from that address. Or you can check browser history to see a list of the URLs that have been browsed in the last 30 days if you're trying to catch your boyfriend reading the Casual Encounters section.

But otherwise, no.

5. Countering the pit maneuver?

Are you any relation to the guy who wanted to blackmail a drug dealer?

Best way to avoid the pit maneuver? Don't get yourself involved in a high-speed police chase!

6. Ideas for pothead clothing company?

Cannabis Clothes? Ganja Garments? Weed Wear?

7. Pay to have sex with a Superhero?

Would a hooker wearing a cape suffice?

And finally,

8. Adam is above average blog

Ah, yes. Adam may be above average, but Stella's blog is WELL above average.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

HIYA, KIDS!!! A 50s Saturday Morning...

It seems the Saturday morning ritual of watching kiddie TV programs while Mom and Dad slept in has been around for over 50 years. Well before Josie and the Pussycats and Scooby Doo, kids were watching Roy Rogers and Howdy Doody. To celebrate this fact, Shout Factory released a four DVD collection of twenty-one children's programs from the 50s on May 6th. Each DVD from Hiya, Kids!! is designed like a Saturday morning programming block from the era, with shows for the very young first on the menu. As the older siblings “wake up,” the programs become more and more “sophisticated."

The programs include some titles that may sound somewhat familiar: Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Howdy Doody, Lassie, Annie Oakley, Flash Gordon, The Roy Rogers Show, The Cisco Kid and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Some of the lesser known titles include Ding Dong School, which paved the way for preschool television such as Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, or Captain Z-RO which was the even cheesier sci-fi forerunner of such shows as Lost in Space. I must point out--Howdy Doody and Kukla, Fran and Ollie were well before my time. I'm more of the H. R. Pufnstuf and Sesame Street era... And compared to the rudimentary puppeteering of the 50s, Sesame Street's Muppets are both subversive and sublime in their brilliance.

Still, it's a trip to see what entertained the rugrats back in the day. I learned that the recurrent themes were puppies and puppets and cowboys (and cowgirls!) and clowns. And kids back in the 50s had a much longer attention span than candy-coated cereal infused children of today. You think five year olds today would watch The Rootie Kazootzie Club when they can see Power Rangers kicking @$$? I don't think so. But for those who grew up during this time period, the kitschy, quaint and rudimentary productions will have them waxing nostalgic and reliving their childhood.

Perhaps a "swell" Father's Day gift?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ugly Betty - Decisions, decisions...

The main drama on the season finale of Ugly Betty last night was Betty needing to make a choice between accepting Henry's marriage proposal and moving to Tucson or going to Rome with Gio for a month. I know which one I would have picked--but the writers left us with a cliffhanger for the summer. We saw Betty packing a bag and an airplane flying overhead--but was it flying to Tucson or to Rome? And was Betty even on it?

If we think about this logically, it's doubtful that a show called Ugly Betty is gonna work without Betty. And it's doubtful about a so-called plain Jane trying to make it at a New York high-fashion magazine is going to translate that same fish out of water spirit to some random southwest publication. So most likely Betty did NOT end up flying to Tucson. Or if she did, you can bet she'll be back by the time the fall season starts. It's quite likely she did end up going to Rome with Gio, but I wouldn't doubt that her summer involves learning some lessons about exploring and experiencing life on her own. Maybe she cashes in the first class itinerary Daniel gifted her with and takes a solo trip to Paris. We'll have to wait until September to find out I guess...Anyone have a theory they'd like to share?

Thankfully Lindsay Lohan's guest appearance was limited to a mercifully brief cameo in a flashback. Unfortunately, according to rumors, Lohan is scheduled to appear on FIVE more episodes next season. Gack! Let's hope her appearances are of the same blink and you'll miss it variety as last nights. I'm sure I speak for my buds Elisabeth and Rae when I say, "Forget Lilo and bring back CLIFF!"

Whew.

In other drama, Hilda's dreamy Coach Diaz turns out to be a two-timer when he explains to her, "I'm not single." Hilda walks away from the situation (Yay!) but by the end of the show she's back in the double-dipping Diaz's arms (Boo!). Turns out Daniel's a Daddy--his illegitimate progeny (Julian De La Celle) of a fling with a French hand model showed up in his office after his mommy died. Of course, Willie managed to manipulate this to her advantage and convinced Alexis to oust Daniel as Mode Editor-in-Chief and install her in the role instead. Mama Claire looked none too happy at the celebration following the annual Mode vs. Elle Charity Baseball game (which was won due to Willie--the woman knows how to throw a curve ball!). Claire owns Mode, so I expect that she'll intercede and reinstate Daniel when the show returns next season.

As usual the best lines came from Amanda or Marc. Like when Amanda was showing off her cheerleader outfit and told Marc, "Pretend you're a man for a minute and tell me how hot I look!" or when she met Daniel's little French son for the first time and asked him, "Do you mind if I dress you up as a doll and put makeup on you?" or when she intercepted the reporter at the baseball game to apologize to all her "fans" telling them, "I'm gonna be back with a new single, reality show or sex tape really soon!"

In the better late than never category--the season finale of My Name is Earl. I had this all set up to tape while I watched Ugly Betty last week. Only one problem--I neglected to check the TV schedule and didn't realize it was a one hour episode. So right in the middle of watching the show, the tape turned to snow. Aaarrrgggghhhh! I had a similar issue with taping the finale of Dancing with the Stars--I set up the VCR and then neglected to turn the TV to the correct channel. So I taped whatever was on NBC for the first 35 minutes. Fortunately I got home from my screening and the only thing I really missed was Cristian getting knocked out of the competition.

God, I need TiVo...

Anyway, based on the first half of the episode I was not all that impressed. I finally got a chance to watch the second half online on Wednesday. I liked the way they brought back some of the list characters, such as the Kevin the Unicorn Man, when Billie (Alyssa Milano for the person who was searching to find out the name of the actress who played Earl's wife...Guess they never saw Who's the Boss? or Charmed...) goes around Camden County undoing Earl's list. I also liked the way the writers managed to get rid of the Billie character expediently without either her or Earl ending up as the bad guy. My favorite moment in the show was when Randy was explaining to Camdenite Greta about modern technology:

"That's a phone, isn't it cool?" "How does it work?" "Nobody knows..."

It reminded me of the time my parents put me on the phone to try to explain what a fax machine was to my grandmother. "It's like a combination telephone and xerox machine...you can transmit documents over the telephone lines..." "How does it work?," my grandma asked. "It's magic!" I replied.

Let's face it--other than Joy snappy remarks (which have been too few and far between this season) and the really sweet sibling relationship between Earl and Randy, the best thing about My Name is Earl is the kitschy 70s/80s tunes that populate the soundtrack. The finale featured tunes by Fleetwood Mac and John Denver.

Sweeeet!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Filter Magazine and MTV present Sneak Peek Week!

In association with the 2008 MTV Movie Awards (live on June 1st!), MTV and Filter Magazine are hosting a week-long kick-off to summer with screenings of some of the most anticipated flicks of the season. MTV Sneak Peek Week happens from May 25th through May 30th with special screenings of:

You Don't Mess with the Zohan (Adam Sandler)
The Fist Foot Way
The Rocker (Rainn Wilson)
Kung Fu Panda (Jack Black)
Pineapple Express (Seth Rogen)

Not only do you get a first look at what will be the most popular movies this summer, but there will be Q&As with the stars as well! For more info and to RSVP, go to the website--but remember, an RSVP is no guarantee! You need to show up EARLY to make sure you get your seats to the hottest ticket in town!

I love Adam Sandler so You Don't Mess with the Zohan is already on my list of summer movies to see--and trailer for Pineapple Express was absolutely hysterical (will it be this year's Superbad?) so I'm anxiously awaiting it as well.

The Blog Carnival Explores Worldstock Jewelry at Overstock.com

One of the coolest things about the internet is that you can shop the world without leaving your living room. Overstock.com always has a great selection of stuff at really excellent prices (and cheap shipping, too!), so it was a good place for the Blog Carnival to explore on our latest virtual shopping trip. Their selection of World jewelry includes handcrafted pieces from Indonesia, China, Peru, Mexico, Thailand--to name a few.

There were so many pretty things to choose from, I had quite a bit of trouble settling on just one piece--but the Freshwater Pearl Necklace from Israel is the one item I kept coming back to. First off, I really like its elegant simplicity. I have a small frame and need to wear smaller, more delicate pieces. I also like the versatility--you can wear it as a single strand, doubled up, as a lariat or a choker, or just as a simple necklace. It's the sort of thing that you can wear with jeans and a tank top or to finish off a more dressy look.

Tami from fête à fête chose a gorgeous Pearl and Sea Carnelian necklace--the colors remind me of an East coast autumn. L.A. Story's Stevie picked out a really pretty Roman Glass bracelet with Amethyst that showcases her hip and unique sense of style. Hopefully Nancy and Sandra will get around to posting their picks one of these days. They have such excellent taste, I'm sure they'll come up with some great options!






Wednesday, May 21, 2008

BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER *

The subtitle of Christopher Bell's feature documentary exploring issue of performing enhancing drugs in our society is "The side effects of being American." Bell hypothesizes that our country's obsession with winning is the root of the evil known as "steroids." From the press release on the film:

In America, we define ourselves in the superlative: we are the biggest, strongest, fastest country in the world. We reward speed, size and above all else: winning – at sport, at business and at war. Metaphorically we are a nation on steroids. Is it any wonder that so many of our heroes are on performance enhancing drugs?

It's a good point--and Bell makes it with a film that is both personal and topical, informative and entertaining--and ultimately thought-provoking. Bell's initial assessment is that steroids are bad--if not for the physical risks, then at the very least they are "cheating." But he struggles with the issue for a very personal reason: both his older brother and his younger brother are on the "juice." The documentary is his exploration of the influences which created the monster: WWE, superheroes, action heroes such as Rocky and Rambo, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We get both sides of the issue--those who cite the negative side effects of the drugs vs. those who point out that deaths due to steroids are largely non-existent. Bell explores other arenas in which performance enhancing drugs are used legally and ethically: students taking Adderall to help with concentration, musicians overcoming anxiety with beta-blockers and a porn actor who injects his penis with Viagra. One of the funniest moments in the film is when he posits to the porn star the moral implications of "performance enhancement," to which the actor replies that he works in the PORN industry and morals aren't a big issue.

The film wends its way through the medical, political and cultural topics associated with the issue. At times it seems it could have benefited from a bit more focus and a little judicious editing--re: Shorter, Deeper, Quicker. Overall, however, Bell succeeds in not only exploring an explosive issue, but putting a human face on it as well. Although it would appear that he leaves with the same mindset that he started off with--steroids equals cheating--he presents a balanced enough discussion of the issue to leave the viewer re-evaluating their position.

BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER* opens on May 30th in New York and Los Angeles and expands into other markets beginning in June. It's definitely an entertaining and eye-opening experience. Check it out!

DWTS - And the winner is...

Well, they managed to drag out the drama for TWO HOURS. Three if you count the repeat of the finals broadcast on Monday. Every single cast member came back to dance one last dance and make their predictions or plug their projects. As I predicted, Cristian did not make the final cut. He's scheduled for surgery on his ruptured tendon on Friday. Fingers crossed that it goes well. The boy's got a bright future after raising his profile and Q score by doing the show.

After waiting an hour and a half, we got to see the last two standing dance their final dances. Kristi reprised her perfect scoring Jive and earned yet another 30 for a total of 90 judges points. Jason followed up with his classy Quickstep and upped his score from 29 points to a perfect 30. But the nine point deficit was not overcome by the viewers votes. Not surprisingly, Kristi Yamaguchi and her partner Mark Ballas took home the Mirrorball Trophy. I think we all saw this one coming from week one. I knew it would come down to a showdown between Kristi and Jason.

For the record, my predictions were correct two out of three times. Not too shabby. Now I have my Monday and Tuesday nights free again--until the Fall season of Dancing with the Stars begins...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for many years. Since my local library was closed for several weeks for renovations, I thought it was as good a time as any to finally read it. Actually, I attempted to read Philip Roth's I Married a Communist which has also been sitting unread on my bookshelf. There's a reason for that--it's completely unreadable. Angela's Ashes, on the other hand, was completely compelling.

As Frank McCourt recounts his childhood in this memoir, he starts off saying,

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."

He goes on to paint a picture of abject poverty that is so dismal and abysmal, it makes a Dickens novel look like a charming little fairy tale. But the portrait of unrelenting hardship is tempered with a great deal of humor and compassion. McCourt's father was both a charming storyteller and a shiftless alcoholic who abandoned his wife and child. McCourt relays the realities of his father's disease, but also astute enough to grant him some absolution as he writes:
"I think my father is like the Holy Trinity with three people in him, the one in the morning with the paper, the one at night with the stories and prayers, and then the one who does the bad thing and comes home with the smell of whiskey and wants us to die for Ireland."
Initially I thought this book would be about his mother, the Angela of the title. Angela, however, is far from the saintly martyr implied by the title--she suffers the burden of poverty, of a resolutely itinerant husband, the deaths of three of her children--but suffering is all she seems to do. The four remaining children--Frank, Malachy, Michael and Alphonsus--practically raise and fend for themselves.

The book offers an acerbic look at faith and the Catholic church with a young Francis mesmerized by lurid tales of Saints or being disowned by his Grandmother because he got sick after his first Communion and threw up the body of Jesus in her backyard. But again he supplies a more sympathetic view as in this passage where he's confessing to having stolen a drunkard's dinner:
"Why my child?
I was hungry, Father.
And why were you hungry?
There was nothing in my belly, Father.
He says nothing and even though it's dark I know he's shaking his head. My dear child, why can't you go home and ask your mother for something?
Because she sent me out looking for my father in the pubs, Father, and I couldn't find him and she hasn't a scrap in the house because he's drinking the five pounds Grandpa sent from the North for the new baby and she's raging by the fire because I can't find my father.
I wonder if this priest is asleep because he's very quiet till he says, My child, I sit here. I hear the sins of the poor. I assign the penance. I bestow absolution. I should be on my knees washing their feet. Do you understand me, my child?
I tell him I do but I don't.
Go home, child. Pray for me.
No penance, Father?
No, my child.
I stole the fish and chips. I'm doomed.
You're forgiven. Go. Pray for me."
The book is full of colorful characters and anecdotes. Strict schoolmasters, generous neighbors, crotchety relatives--all regaled in McCourt's lyrical voice. I plan to read the sequels, 'Tis and Teacher Man as well as rent the film version. Frank McCourt has a matter of fact style--never indulging in melodrama or wallowing in self-pity--and yet his words are so eloquent you can actually see and hear and feel the lanes of Limerick come alive.

DWTS - The Finals

In a matter of hours, the sixth season winner of the Dancing with the Stars Mirrorball Trophy will be announced. Let's see how the chances for each contestant are looking:

The evening started out with a Cha-cha face off--each couple dancing the Cha-cha for one minute to the same music. Cristian was up first--he was working the open shirt thing which I'm sure is a crowd pleaser but it comes off a little lounge lizard to me. He and Cheryl front-loaded most of their "tricks" and turned in a capable performance. Jason followed him and although there were plenty of lifts, his performance was a bit restrained. Kristi was up last--but definitely not least as she blasted onto the dance floor as if being shot out of a cannon, with a brief stop to plant a smackeroo on a surprised Bruno. Her Cha-cha was jam packed with energy and exurberance and she won the face off with a perfect score of 30. Cristian came in second with 26 and Jason placed last with 24.

Next was the freestyle round--the chance for the dancers to show off what they've got, no holds barred and lifts allowed. Kristi went first with a hip-hop inspired number that was fast and frenetic and full of energy--but stalled with an excessive amount of acrobatics. The judges loved it, however, and awarded her another perfect score. Barring viewer insanity, my money's on Kristi to win it. Jason did a funky freestyle that included loads of lifts and flips. I found it a bit blah, but it was good enough to earn him a 27. I thought Cristian's Latin-influenced freestyle was actually the best choreographed and best performance of the round. Unfortunately the judges didn't agree and only scored him a 26.

So given the disappointing score and probably the weakest fanbase of the three, I'm predicting Cristian will be knocked out of the competition, Jason and Kristi will dance the last dance and Kristi will be the second woman to win it all.

Girl Power!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Desperate Housewives - Season Finale Heroics

The season finale of Desperate Housewives went out with a whimper instead of a bang (although gunshots were fired!) last night. Speaking of whimpering--the was the basic storyline for Susan this season. Last night's two part episode had her whining about naming the new baby Maynard after Mike's recently deceased grandfather. After much ado, she finally relents after Mike explains that his grandpa started the first integrated elementary school in Tennessee and took him and his Mom in when his Dad went to prison. Excuse me people, but the kid will get teased--we couldn't have Maynard as the middle name? Sheesh.

Susan's other conniption came when Julie announced not only had she been accepted to Princeton, but she was granted an internship for the summer as well. Susan's not ready for her older baby to leave the nest, so she tries to prevent it by telling Julie she can't afford it. Eventually she also relents here and lets Julie leave after a tearful Mother-Daughter scene. That's what passes for drama in the Mayer household. The writers have clearly had enough of Teri Hatcher. It's surprising that she's not leaving Wisteria Lane instead of Edie--who was no-where to be found in the finale. Guess she's already hit the road. Hmmm....

Bree's drama came in the form of Orson skulking around trying to get her to forgive him and take him back. She tries to dissuade him by pretending to flirt with the church's pastor, but that backfires when the pastor makes a pass at her. (Get it? Pastor makes a pass at her. Oh, nevermind...) Angry at being rebuffed, the pastor is about to preach about "a red-headed harlot in our midst who needs to be unmasked" when Orson steps in to defend his wife. An altercation between the two sends Orson to the hospital and puts Bree in a more forgiving state of mind. Orson shows up again after a flat tire and dead cell phone has Bree pushing an ice sculpture in Benjamin's stroller, but Bree still insists she can't forgive Orson until he turns himself into the police.

The ice sculpture was for the reception for Bob and Lee's commitment ceremony. It was good to see the token gay couple again--even if they were merely a comic foil for the ladies' stories. Bree and Katherine were slated to inaugurate their catering company for the nuptials--but Katherine bailed on Bree leaving her to coerce Gabby, Lynette and Susan to help her pull off the party. Although she has issues with their contributions telling Lynette, "Your swan is pathetic and I'm firing you from napkin duty!" When Orson offers to help she tells him, "Don't you dare throw your calligraphy skills in my face!" Bree had some of the best lines all night.

The police set up a sting operation to catch Elly's dealer, but when she walks in on Roy, the undercover cop, and Gabby, Gabby throws herself at Roy pretending that he's the handyman and she's having an affair with him. Gabby tells Elly, "Sometimes you get bored and a big, greasy handyman really hits the spot!" But Elly reveals the "secret" to Carlos who in turn confronts Gabby. Gabby is pissed to find that Elly has ratted her out--"You trust someone and they betray you. It sucks!" and tells Carlos it was a ruse to keep Elly in the dark about the sting. Carlos isn't too sure about it given Gabby's past history with cheating on him. Gabby confronts Elly about the betrayal only to feel sorry for Elly when she reveals how her father left when she was only thirteen after catching her Mom cheating. So when the dealer shows up and the cops make their bust, Gabby warns Elly to slip out the back.

Later, Elly calls Gabby to ask her if she'll bring her teddy bear. Apparently it was a gift from her absentee Daddy--but of course it was where she stashed her drug money. The strapped Solis' find $180k stuffed inside the bear and decide to keep it to cover their debts. (Seriously, how long would $180k last with Gabrielle's shopping habits? A month?) Elly threatens Gabby to get her money back and Gabby sets her up by tipping the cops off. Elly slips into the Solis house to retrieve her money and of course a catfight between her and Gabby ensues. When Gabby calls out for the cops, Elly slips out and blends into Bob and Lee's reception.

The commitment ceremony almost didn't take place with Bob and Lee arguing over the ice sculpture. Lee wants a castle, Bob wants a cherub. Bob pretends to appease Lee but tells Bree to stick with the cherub, "And later when he bitches about it, I'll just buy him some jewelry." Lee's insistence on the cherub was due to Tom's advice that if he caved, it would set the tone for the entire marriage. Of course, Tom is having issues of his own due to having to send the evil spawn Kayla to live with her grandparents--although what the nice old couple ever did to deserve Satan's daughter, I'll never know.

Kayla's exit (big sigh of relief!) came after she attempted to get Lynette jailed for "abusing" her. The family therapist, Dr. Dolan, calls Social Services after Kayla tells him that she's afraid of Lynette (actually--it was the other way around!) and Kayla ups the ante by burning herself with a curling iron and telling the social workers that Lynette did it. Lynette is carted off to jail and Tom tells Kayla when she is released, the two won't be able to live in the same house. Kayla is psyched because she thinks it means that Lynette will be leaving, but Tom tells her, "She lives here, Kayla." Kayla admits that she made it all up and Tom makes her promise to tell the truth--but when he tells her she will still have to leave, she tries to blackmail him, too. Fortunately, Tom had his cell phone recording Kayla's confession with Dr. Dolan at the other end.

Even though he realizes that Kayla was evil and had to go, Tom is angry about it. But Lee and Bob's bickering makes him realize that his marriage is more important. He tells them, "If you're willing to break up over an ice sculpture, you two should definitely not get married" and then goes on to give a passionate speech about sticking with each other through thick and thin--tornadoes and cancer and demon children. It was all about heroics last night--especially with the men. First Orson's chivalry, then Tom's passion and last but not least, Adam arriving to save the day...

The biggest drama was the Katherine/Dylan secret coming to a head last night. Wayne, the abusive ex-husband, kidnaps Adam and tries to beat the truth out of him. When he thinks Adam is dead, he goes after Katherine. Meanwhile, Katherine is desperately trying to get out of Dodge--thus the reason for bailing on the catering job--but Dylan isn't leaving without an explanation. So Katherine tells her the truth--and Dylan runs out crying. Katherine searches the neighborhood for her unsuccessfully and when she returns to the house, Wayne is waiting for her. She runs to the kitchen to get her gun, but Wayne beats her to it. She tells him to just go ahead and shoot her and he says, "What about Dylan? Or should I say that girl that lives here with you?"

While in the midst of the showdown, Elly walks in trying to escape from the cops outside. Wayne shoots her. Then Bree shows up to rail at Katherine for leaving her in a lurch--and Wayne takes her hostage, too. So Katherine is forced to tell Wayne the truth about Dylan. When Wayne last tracked her down, she was about to run again but Wayne showed up at the house. They had an argument, she hit Wayne with the candlestick and he left. She thought it was over--but while she was celebrating by drinking scotch with Aunt Lilly, little Dylan climbed up the bookshelf to retrieve the doll her daddy gave her. The bookshelf toppled on top of her and she was dead when Aunt Lilly found her the next morning. Lilly convinced Katherine she couldn't report it because Wayne would claim it was murder. So they buried Dylan and Katherine adopted a Romanian orphan that looked just like Dylan to cover up the real Dylan's death.

When Wayne hears the story, he's ready to kill Katherine, but a bloody, beaten Adam arrives in the nick of time--literally crashing Bob and Lee's party. He manages to subdue Wayne, but when he and Bree go to call the police, Wayne taunts Katherine telling her it's not over. She says, "I know" and shoots him dead. Bree then concocts a scheme telling the police that there was a struggle and Katherine managed to wrest the gun from Wayne and it went off. The other ladies corroborate the story and the police deem the shooting self-defense.

That would have been sufficient for the season finale--but for some odd reason Marc Cherry chose to torment us with a "Five Years Later" epilogue:

- A dumpy, hausfrau Gabby running after two rambunctious daughters
- Bree as the new Martha Stewart with son Andrew as her personal assistant and apparently reunited with Orson
- Lynette dealing with her juvenile delinquent biological offspring
- Katherine without Adam but on good terms with a newly engaged Dylan
- and Susan with a new, young husband?

What the @#$%?!!!